Climate Change: the Need for Optimism

Not so long ago, the US and China were regarded as obstacles to the reduction of GHG emissions that are the principal cause of climate change. Yet these two countries very recently ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which requires a country-by-country reduction in emissions needed to avoid global warming to a degree that …

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Energy Strategy and Emission Targets

Past performance suggests that Canada’s progress towards GHG emissions targets will significantly depend on provincial efforts.  The Quebec Government has been the catalyst for discussion by Provincial Premiers (in their capacity as Council of the Federation).   The Premiers are scheduled to meet at Quebec City in April to decide what further efforts should be taken. Leaving the decision …

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People’s Climate March

People everywhere!

People on Central Park Avenue, a broad street on the West Side of New York’s Central Park. People on side streets where organizations participating in the March were forming up. People on the Avenue sidewalks, moving slowly among the throngs trying to make their way north or south to join up with their organization.

A mass of people walking slowly shoulder-to-shoulder as the parade moved off.  The large video screen at Columbus Circle showing people everywhere, including many miles to the North where the crowd was densest.

People of all ages: 9 months to 90 years, happy to be participating!  Happy to be showing where they stood for the benefit of country leaders gathering at the UN Climate Change Summit the following Tuesday.

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Hypocrisy?  You be the judge.

So what did Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s Minister of the Environment say when she spoke to the recent United Nations Climate Summit?

As predicted Ms. Aglukkaq referred to recent draft regulations governing emissions from motor vehicles.  These regulations, promised two years ago, align Canada with similar US regulations.

The Minister also referred to the regulation of coal-fired electricity generating plants.  Nothing new there:  these regulations have been around for some time, and won’t  result in reduced emissions for many years.

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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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