The most depressing sentence of the year!

The fall report of Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment released today starts with this sentence: “Within the federal government, Environment Canada is the lead department on the issue of climate change. It has primary responsibility for the current federal approach…..” In a recent blog we made some negative comments about Canada’s Federal Minister of the … Read more

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.

Read moreA misguided policy

Climate Change: Key to Canada’s 2015 Federal Election

Our last blog, A Ray of Hope, suggested that the Federal Government might become active on renewable energy after two years of indifference.   What is the basis for this optimism?

First, the Ontario Liberals, who have been very active in promoting renewable energy, now have a comfortable four-year mandate.  The Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glenn Murray, understands the importance and challenges of renewable energy better than any Federal Minister.

Secondly, Quebec, a Province where a great majority of people have constantly supported mitigation of climate change, now has a Liberal Government that intends to move forward on this neglected area.

Read moreClimate Change: Key to Canada’s 2015 Federal Election

Climate Change Policies “down under”

So – has Australia progressed in reducing GHG emissions to meet its 2020 targets?  And, if not, what steps will it take to do so? Australia is the source for about 1.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.  On a per capita basis these emissions are nearly twice the OECD average and more than four times … Read more

Further Delays for Keystone XL

You have to follow issues arising in the approval of Transcanada’s Keystone XL pipeline closely to understand the latest delay.

Two plus years ago TransCanada realized it had to re-route the path of Keystone to avoid fundamental criticism from environmentalists,. The path originally chosen threatened the Oglala aquifer, a critical source of water in the dry American Midwest.

To expedite a new routing, TransCanada moved quickly, using all legal and commercial means at its disposal.  Unfortunately certain Nebraska farmers were not prepared to be steamrollered. They took their case to court, arguing that the methods TransCanada used were improper.  Late last fall the court delivered its verdict, siding with the farmers.  TransCanada appealed this decision.  Sometime later this year or next the Nebraska Court of Appeal will deliver its judgement.

In the meantime, the US State Department has extended the period for its administrative review. Until its final review is completed, President Obama will not decide whether Keystone should be approved.

Read moreFurther Delays for Keystone XL

Writing on the Wall: the IPCC Fifth Assessment (mitigation)

The most important statement in the recently released IPCC Report from Working Group III on mitigation is the affirmation that disastrous effects of global warming can still be avoided.

In practical terms avoidance of disastrous climate change requires international agreement on a price for carbon. The price must reflect the emerging scarcity of disposal space for carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.

With a price on carbon, fossil fuels will lose their competitive edge over renewable sources of energy. Canada and certain other countries will find that dependence on fossil fuels for energy cannot be sustained.

There is another consequence for Canada in the displacement of fossil fuels as a source of energy. In future Canada’s fossil fuel resource industry will progressively contribute less and less to our economy.

Read moreWriting on the Wall: the IPCC Fifth Assessment (mitigation)

The Prospect of Resiliency

In January 2013, Norm Kelly, now the Deputy Mayor of Toronto, reacted with scepticism to a study by experts describing the impact that climate change will have on Toronto. Kelly estimated that accepting the recommendations in the study would require billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades.

Kelly and other councillors shrugged off concerns that climate change would contribute to more frequent and more severe extreme weather events.  Kelly said that warmer temperatures in the future “tain’t bad”.   In effect Tennessee’s climate of today will be Toronto’s climate tomorrow. Perhaps he did not appreciate that extreme heat waves cause serious problems for seniors and in other countries have lead to a spike in deaths of aged people?

Read moreThe Prospect of Resiliency

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