An era is ending?

We want to share with our supporters some hopeful news, and some not quite so hopeful.   The hopeful news suggests the era when we depend on fossil fuels for energy is coming to an end. First to Norway.  Statoil’s Chief Executive, Eldar Saetre, told a meeting of senior industry executives that the industry cannot ignore climate change …

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Climate Change Forum – Questions and Answers

Question: The BC Carbon Tax is only on the combustion of fossil fuels:  livestock is a major emitter of GHG – so why isn’t the livestock business taxed? A Partial answer:  Environmentalists are aware of this issue but for the most part have not yet identified cattle ranching as a necessary target. The livestock industry is a …

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A misguided policy

The Canadian Government has used a number of catch phrases to legitimize its support of fossil fuels.  The Government described its environmental monitoring and regulation of the tar sands as “world-class”, also referring to Canada in this context as “a world leader”.  Although the international community recognized these words as meaningless hype, many Canadians were re-assured that environmental risks were under control.

The value of Canadian dollar, also known as our petrodollar, soared.  Most Canadians considered that this development validated the goal of Canada as “an energy super-power”.

The Canadian Government countered criticism that an inflated dollar was detrimental to Canada’s manufacturing base. Supported by the Alberta Government and the fossil fuel industry, it emphasized that the exploitation of the tar sands resulted in substantial purchases of goods and services from suppliers in other Provinces.

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The New Economy

There are countries whose existing industry interests create problems for adoption of renewable energy.   Australia and Canada have very large investments in fossil fuels.  Australia has enormous coal reserves, and Canada has its tar sands.  The US has large investments in coal, gas and oil.

The US also has perhaps the world’s largest investment in new technology. Technology heavyweights such as Apple and Google have committed to expand use of renewable energy. So the current political struggle pits the fossil fuel industry (coal mining states) against the technology sector (California, New England states).

Many countries leading the transition to renewable energy do not have to overcome opposition from local fossil fuel interests. Germany, a manufacturing powerhouse, is shutting down its remaining coal mines by 2018.  So . . .  without a large fossil fuel industry, Germany has had an easier task in developing both the infrastructure for renewable energy and investment in renewable installations.

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Fossil Fuels Promotion = Horse Manure

So, Canada’s federal government has finally approved construction of the proposed Enbridge pipeline that is intended to carry bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands to Kitimat, and thence by ocean to China.

If we do not go ahead, the Prime Minister warns us, Canada’s economy will be in grave danger. “No country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country,” he declared a week ago, in a joint statement with the openly climate denying Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott.  Read more at “Prime Minister Harper ups the ante!”

But what if none of this is true? What if there were two possible directions that Canada’s future economy could take, not just one? What if there was another future built on clean technology, renewable energy, sustainable transportation and zero-carbon buildings, in which Canada could prosper without the tar sands and the unwanted pipelines, and without all the fracking, the oil-polluted waters, the exploding trains, the waves of public opposition and the legal challenges from First Nations?

To Stephen Harper and his supporters, such a future is unthinkable. He would far rather we dwelled on the danger of not supporting fossil fuel expansion than the far graver danger of a world that is four, five or even six degrees warmer due to the carbon released by the fossil fuels. Read more at  “A Half Truth or a Suppressed Truth”.

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A  Fight against Climate change – not a war on coal!

The US Environmental Protection Agency has released its much-awaited rules requiring reduction of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) from coal-fired power plants.  These plants are responsible for 75% of the US GHG emissions from the generation of electricity, but produce only 38% of US electricity.

To prevent the rules being characterized as purely a climate change measure, the EPA points out that lessening emissions from coal will reduce air pollution, moderate asthma rates and avoid deaths caused by heart attacks.  The EPA refers to these benefits as the “clean-air” revolution. The saving in health costs through a decrease in these medical problems will be significant.

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Carbon Crash – Solar Dawn

In July 2011, 4RG carried a commentary on The Great Disruption, a book by Paul Gildings. The message was simple: In one sense our problem is not climate change, but the delusion that we can have infinite quantitative economic growth supported by fossil fuel energy.  Fossil fuel energy has two large problems:  it is a finite resource where …

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