U.S. and Canadian oil production pushing planet’s climate goals out of reach, says IEA

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, speaks as Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi and University of Ottawa professor Monica Gattinger listen in Ottawa on Feb. 26, 2019. Photo by Kamara Morozuk

A surge in U.S. and Canadian oil production over the last decade has added the equivalent of “one Russia or one Saudi Arabia” to the markets — pushing the planet farther away from ever getting a grip on the pollution that is driving climate change.

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, revealed this fact Feb. 26 while discussing what he saw as a “growing disconnect” between the countless scientific studies calling for a decline in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions — each more urgent than the last — and the fact that pollution continues to rise, hitting a record high last year.

In order to avoid the extreme flooding, drought, heat waves, rainfall, disease outbreaks and other dangers to human health that climate change will provoke, nations must stop burning fossil fuels in sufficient amounts to limit the rise in average surface temperature to below two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

The problem, said Birol, is that there is already no more room to increase the amount of pollution that humans add each year to the atmosphere. All of the cars, trucks, power plants, factories and other facilities that have already been built around the world, he said, will eat up the rest of the planet’s so-called “carbon budget” — an expression used to describe the maximum amount of pollution that could be generated if the planet wants to limit the rise of average global temperatures — by 2045.

Canada has committed to investing billions of dollars over the next several years in clean technology that Birol said can take a big bite out of oil demand. For example, the Trudeau government is investing in a national network of electric-charging stations to help precipitate a flood of electric car sales in the 2020s. MORE

The hidden key to the SNC-Lavalin scandal

Left: Muammar Gaddafi in Addis Abeba on February 2, 2009, photo by Jesse B. on Wikimedia Commons. Right: File photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by Alex Tétreault

SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian corporate giant with an established history of corruption, is charged with bribing the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal regime over many years, in exchange for lucrative contracts.

This case is the most serious and important prosecution of corporate corruption in modern Canadian history, and we’re arguing about jobs and whether Jody Wilson-Raybould is hard to get along with.

It is not only appropriate, but essential that this matter go to trial in an open and public hearing, so that Canadians can see how the world’s bloodiest tyrants are cossetted, indulged, and enabled.

Perhaps the most depressing spectacle of the entire affair is watching Justin Trudeau, a man who clearly aspires to greatness, debase himself and this nation, by begging, pushing, imploring Canada’s attorney general to let this company off the hook. Then effectively firing her when she wouldn’t comply, and allowing her credibility to be undermined. MORE

Trudeau government rolls out funding to women-owned businesses

Mary Ng, Member of Parliament for Markham, becomes Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion during swearing in ceremony for new ministers after summer shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, on July 18th, 2018. File photo by Alex Tetreault

The new strategy aims to support women in entrepreneurship and double the number of women who own businesses in Canada by 2025. According to StatCan, there are around 309,000 women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada. Men are majority owners in over a million enterprises.

“We know women are highly capital efficient,” @vickis says. “They get to profitability really quickly. They…create more connective tissue in their local community, and build sustainable solutions for challenges we’re facing.”

“I think [Canada has] made major headway with this new investment,” she added. “There just needs to be further assessment into how we can make investment available to earlier-stage companies.”
The new strategy aims to support women in entrepreneurship and double the number of women who own businesses in Canada by 2025. According to StatCan, there are around 309,000 women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada. Men are majority owners in over a million enterprises.
“I think [Canada has] made major headway with this new investment,” she added. “There just needs to be further assessment into how we can make investment available to earlier-stage companies.” MORE

Trudeau-appointed task force proposes solutions to address fear, anxiety and mistrust among coal workers

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna introduces the task force for coal workers on April 25, 2018 in Ottawa. Photo by Alex Tétreault

There is mistrust and suspicion of government intentions. There are fears about devastating impacts to communities. There’s anxiety over whether officials can deliver on promises. And there’s frustration with being disparaged as dirty.

These are some of the stark assessments from the thousands of workers in coal mines and coal-fired power plants across Canada that were captured by 11 experts appointed by the government almost a year ago.

The special task force was launched by Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna on April 25, 2018 to investigate how to fairly provide for these workers as their livelihoods are taken offline over the next decade.

They delivered their findings in a 41-page report that recommends federal spending “well into the hundreds of millions of dollars” on a long list of new infrastructure, financial and jobs programs, employment training and other solutions. MORE


SHOCK, HORROR: Poll Finds Strong Majority Support for Declaring a Climate Emergency

Image result for fear hope

In five countries —  Australia, the USA, Canada, the UK and Switzerland  — an impressive 382 local government authorities covering more than 33 million people have recognised or declared a climate emergency. And now polling conducted in Melbourne shows that a sizeable majority in that city support declaring a climate emergency.

That will be a shock for some of Australia’s largest climate advocacy organisations, who have steadfastly refused to use the climate emergency framing, saying that such language is not plausible, is not supported by market research or that appeals to fear do not work.

Perhaps they should tell that to David Wallace-Wells, the author of the just released book, “The Uninhabitable Earth”, which is destined to become a runaway best seller.

Wallace Wells says that “fear is what animated me.”  He explains: “To go back to the Second World War analogy, we did not mobilise in that way because we were optimistic about the future. We mobilised in that way out of fear, because we thought Nazism was an existential threat. And climate change is obviously an existential threat and it is naive to imagine we could respond to it without some people being scared”.

[Counterposing “fear” and “hope” narratives is a false dichotomy, because both are needed. Research shows that increased commitment to taking action can be achieved by just reading a climate message that forthrightly describes the seriousness of our situation. Strong fear messages have been found to be more effective than weak fear messages; when fear is combined with hope, this can create an emotional drive that motivates a change of habit.]


Germany: Parents support young climate activists

The Fridays for Future climate protests by schoolchildren have divided opinion. Now, a group of parents has come out in support of the youngsters protesting in Germany.

 Students' demo in Hamburg (Getty Images/A. Berry)

This coming Friday, thousands of youngsters in Germany will once again skip school and take to the streets to protest against global warming, joining a movement that has gained worldwide momentum.

But not everyone supports the campaign. Like Andreas Scheuer of Germany’s conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) party, who said on Wednesday that “we do not want kids playing hooky from school.”

Some parents, however, have now come out in support of the youngsters. One of them is Thomas Stegh, a father of four who lives near the western German city of Cologne. He helped create the Parents of Future initiative (link in German).

“We support our kids and their demands, and explicitly support school strikes,” he says.

Both the young and the older activists have a simple demand: They want global leaders to honor the Paris Climate Accord, which was agreed in 2015 by 196 countries in an effort to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. So far, the commitments made by individual countries leave much to desire,making this goal seem ever remoter. That is why the protesters are urging the world’s governments to deliver on their promises. MORE

The bogus number at the center of the GOP’s Green New Deal attacks

Republicans’ estimates that the climate plan would cost $93 trillion are based on a think tank study that doesn’t endorse that total.

Mitch McConnell
Republicans have said that the Green New Deal would cost $93 trillion — more than enough money to “buy every American a Ferrari,” according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. | Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republicans claim the Green New Deal would cost $93 trillion — a number that would dwarf the economic output of every nation on Earth.

The figure is bogus. But that isn’t stopping the eye-popping total from turning up on the Senate floor, the Conservative Political Action Conference and even “Saturday Night Live” as the progressive Democrats’ sweeping-yet-vague vision statement amps up the political conversation around climate change.

The number originated with a report by a conservative think tank, American Action Forum, that made huge assumptions about how exactly Democrats would go about implementing their plan. But the $93 trillion figure does not appear anywhere in the think tank’s report — and AAF President Douglas Holtz-Eakin confessed he has no idea how much exactly the Green New Deal would cost.

The Green New Deal isn’t even a plan yet — at the moment it’s a non-binding resolution that calls for major action to stop greenhouse gas pollution while reducing income inequality and creating “millions of good, high-wage jobs.” But top Republicans have embraced the $93 trillion price tag, using it to argue that the climate plan would bankrupt the United States.

“Is it billions or trillions?” asked Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “Any precision past that is illusory.” MORE

Georgina Wilson-Powell: If you think individuals’ actions can’t solve our environmental crisis, you’re wrong – here’s why

Image result for March For Our Lives
The nationwide rally for gun laws takes place March 24. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

I was asked last week for International Women’s Day who was inspiring me in 2019. My answer was a 16-year-old Swedish girl. If you don’t know the name Greta Thunberg, she’s the schoolgirl behind the fast-growing student movement, supporters of which are striking every Friday to highlight how much our governments are effectively sticking their fingers in their ears and humming every time anyone asks what we’re doing about our growing environmental crisis.

The American movement Sunrise is on the same track. Students are leading the way in challenging their congresswomen and men on their environmental records and commitments. It’s easy to roll your eyes and talk about how that won’t change anything, but in the age of global instant communication, individuals have more clout than ever. Arguably, the Parkland survivors and March For Our Lives organisers have done more to highlight gun violence and hold lawmakers to account than decades of failed policies. MORE


Greta Thunberg, schoolgirl climate change warrior: ‘Some people can let things go. I can’t’

Online voting: Now Estonia teaches the world a lesson in electronic elections

In this month’s Estonian parliamentary elections, a whopping 44 percent of the ballot was cast using e-voting.

Image result for estonia electronic votingOnline voting has become a norm in Estonia – and it is now more secure than ever.


This month’s Estonian parliamentary elections set a new digital record: almost half the counted votes were cast online — 247,232 out of 561,131.

In the tiny Baltic state, the overall winner of this year’s election, the center-right Reform Party, also won the online election, receiving 40 percent of the e-votes. Second place was narrowly claimed by national conservative party EKRE with 13.5 percent, while another conservative party, Isamaa, came third with 12.5 percent.

Voting online, or i-voting, as it is often called in Estonia, takes place during the advance voting period that runs from the 10th until the fourth day before the election. It is not possible to i-vote on election day.

The voting process itself is fairly simple. The voter needs a computer with an internet connection and a national ID card or a mobile ID with valid certificates and PIN codes. MORE

The nuclear reactors that might stop climate change

From sodium-cooled fission to advanced fusion, a fresh generation of projects hopes to rekindle trust in nuclear energy.

A photograph taken in 2016 shows the central confinement vessel of a prototype fusion reactor built by Tri Alpha Energy (now TAE Technologies)

BP might not be the first source you go to for environmental news, but its annual energy review is highly regarded by climate watchers. And its 2018 message was stark: despite the angst over global warming, coal was responsible for 38% of the world’s power in 2017—precisely the same level as when the first global climate treaty was signed 20 years ago. Worse still, greenhouse-gas emissions rose by 2.7% last year, the largest increase in seven years.

Such stagnation has led many policymakers and environmental groups to conclude that we need more nuclear energy. Even United Nations researchers, not enthusiastic in the past, now say every plan to keep the planet’s temperature rise under 1.5 °C will rely on a substantial jump in nuclear energy.

For many, though, the great energy hope remains nuclear fusion.Fusion reactors mimic the nuclear process inside the sun, smashing lighter atoms together to turn them into heavier ones and releasing vast amounts of energy along the way. In the sun, that process is powered by gravity. On Earth, engineers aim to replicate fusion conditions with unfathomably high temperatures—on the order of 150 million °C—but they have found it hard to confine the plasma required to fuse atoms. MORE