True leaders work for us, not the fossil fuel industry

 

The Kochs, ConocoPhillips, and PetroChina have profited enormously from the tar sands ecocide and the planet has paid an enormous price as carbon emissions threaten our human existence. They were and are actively supported in this environmental rape by successive neoliberal governments. You and future generations will be left with the debt. Unless…

Image: Melbourne Water/Flickr
Image: Melbourne Water/Flickr

Some politicians believe protecting a sunset industry’s interests is more important than looking out for the citizens who elected them. In Australia, the coal industry holds sway over government policy. In Canada, bitumen and fracked gas rule. In the U.S., it’s all of the above. Fortunately, many people, especially youth, are heeding the rational voices of those who acknowledge the tremendous opportunities in cleaner energy and economic diversification.

Politicians often justify their undying support for the fossil fuel industry by claiming they’re looking out for jobs and the economy — but those claims don’t hold up.

Despite assertions of some political representatives in Australia and the U.S., coal doesn’t have a bright future and “clean coal” doesn’t exist. In Canada, pipeline opponents, Indigenous communities, and environmental groups aren’t putting bitumen jobs at risk; automation, market forces, and change in the face of the climate crisis are behind the declines.

Calculations of “energy return on energy invested” — the amount of energy output over the amount required to produce it — shows one reason for bitumen’s lower price compared to conventional oil. The latter historically delivered 30 units or more for each unit invested, although that’s declining as easily accessed sources become depleted. Recent research shows wind energy can also reach this level, while solar is closer to 9:1 or higher. Oilsands bitumen is 5:1 or lower, because large amounts of energy are required to extract, process and refine it, which makes it costly, inefficient and much more emissions-intensive than conventional oil.

But instead of a rational debate about how to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy with minimal disruption to workers and society, media and short-sighted politicians inundate us with logical fallacies and absurd conspiracy theories about who’s funding the people and organizations that want a prosperous future with clean air, water and soil and a stable climate.

True concern for workers means helping them find new ways to employ their skills, including offering retraining and incentives for jobs in the growing clean energy sector — a process Canada’s government recently started with its Just Transition Task Force for Canadian Coal-Power Workers and Communities. All political parties should find ways to reform employment policies to reduce waste, inequity and rampant consumerism, including improved work-life balance with shorter workweeks.

Decision-makers who care about the people they represent and understand science, social trends and technological potential know that a low-carbon future offers better health, livability and economic resilience. The fossil fuel industry is still the most profitable (and among the most destructive) in human history, but those days are coming to an end. True leaders understand this. SOURCE

Canada is betting on climate failure

“We all have family and friends under the age of forty who will face terrible uncertainties within their lifetimes if action on climate change is not taken. But in Canada the burden will not be carried by the young alone. We are all likely to face economic crisis in the next ten years as a consequence of the current plan to double down on expensive oil.” Write to your MP!


File photo of Alberta oilsands facility by Kris Krug

Oil and gas extraction has been a cornerstone of Canada’s economy for decades, but plans for expansion of the oil sands represent an enormous economic risk in a world moving to electric vehicles and action against climate change.

The federal and some provincial governments of Canada are not only planning to keep the oil and gas industry running at full steam, but to massively expand it. At the same time, the majority of demand for oil comes from fuel for road vehicles, a segment undergoing a huge technological transformation towards electrification. Canada appears to be grossly underprepared for a future where global demand for oil declines and not only that, our political and industry leaders are currently doubling down on oil as an economic engine — oil that is more expensive to produce than virtually anywhere else in the world.

The plans and investment decisions of the Canadian Government and oil industry leaders imply that, despite what they may be saying in press releases, they are assuming that we are headed towards two, three or more degrees of catastrophic warming globally. In other words, they are betting on global climate failure.

Planning for massive expansion of the oilsands is an enormous risk in a world moving to electric vehicles and action against climate change, writes James Kurz

The IPCC’s recent special report, along with countless others, highlight the absolute urgency of addressing climate change. Global protest movements like the student climate strikes, Extinction Rebellion, Ende Gelände and others are increasing pressure on politicians, while at the same time dramatic cost reductions in renewable energy, battery storage systems and electric vehicles (EVs) mean solutions are clearly affordable and available. As global policy makers are finally starting to seriously consider the implications of these warnings and as technological solutions become clearly affordable, it increasingly looks like a massive shift will occur in the coming decade. MORE

Corporate America Is Terrified of the Green New Deal

As this article argues, a carbon tax allows polluters to continue to pollute as long as they pay up. It does not guarantee emission reductions. It does not put polluters out of business.

There’s a reason more big businesses are pushing for a carbon tax—and it’s not because they want to fight climate change.


Oli Scarff/Getty Images

There is a “major shift” afoot in corporate America on climate change, according to Axios. On Monday, energy reporter Amy Harder reported that major companies “across virtually all sectors of the economy, including big oil producers, are beginning to lobby Washington, D.C., to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions.” These companies, in other words, are asking the government to make them pay more in taxes in an effort to solve global warming.

It’s not as surprising as it sounds. For several years now, the heads of oil companies like Suncor and ExxonMobil and BP have been publicly calling for a carbon tax, in which the government would charge polluters for every ton of climate-warming gases they emit. They’re doing this because a carbon tax, as a market-based policy rather than a mandated regulation, is the most business-friendly solution being floated in Washington.

So why are corporations so passionate about a carbon? “It’s not really about saving the planet,” Harder noted. Indeed, in the face of growing public support for climate action, these companies increasingly realize they need to throw their weight behind some kind of climate policy. They want a carbon tax because it doesn’t threaten the industry’s very existence and allows them to keep polluting—so long as they pay for it.

But a carbon tax isn’t just corporate America’s favorite option; it’s the only option. The only serious mainstream alternative to a carbon tax is terrifying to corporations: an aggressive climate plan that doesn’t cooperate with polluters, but seeks to put them out of business.
A carbon tax does not appear in the Green New Deal—at least, not the version popularized by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. It doesn’t appear in Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s $5 trillion plan to fight global warming. Even Washington Governor Jay Inslee—who is running for president explicitly on climate change and who spent his career trying to enact a fee on carbon—doesn’t include a carbon tax in his $9 trillion climate jobs plan.
There are many reasons for the absence of a tax in these plans, but the main one appears to be that it doesn’t guarantee emissions reductions. Democrats are starting to realize that drastic action is necessary to prevent catastrophe, and a carbon tax simply isn’t drastic enough. MORE

Scientists Propose a Wild Idea For Cleaning The Atmosphere, And It Would Mean More CO2

The removal of methane to pre-industrial levels would be a huge benefit to the climate. But can it be done? The goal of atmospheric restoration provides a positive framework for change at a time when climate action is desperately needed.

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Cattle produce some of the world’s methane. (Ryan Song/Unsplash)

The window for climate action is closing before our very eyes, and as emissions continue to rise, researchers at Stanford are asking us to consider the lesser of two evils.

In a new commentary, the authors propose a wild idea that would intentionally release more carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, while getting rid of an even worse greenhouse gas – methane.

Methane is the second most dominant greenhouse gas, and while slightly less prolific than CO2, it is 84 times more potent. Converting this agricultural and industrial byproduct into more CO2 is therefore not as crazy as it might sound at first.

A crystalline material, known as zeolite, has the potential to act as a sponge, they say, soaking up methane from the atmosphere.

“The porous molecular structure, relatively large surface area and ability to host copper and iron in zeolites make them promising catalysts for capturing methane and other gases,” says co-author and chemist Ed Solomon.

Of course, swapping these two gases would require industrial methane removal as well as efficient conversion technology, neither of which currently exist.

If both these hurdles can somehow be cleared, however, the authors think their idea could remove 3.2 billion tons of methane from the atmosphere, restoring concentrations to pre-industrial levels and reducing global warming by 15 percent.

“I’m excited about this project because we have a chance to restore the atmosphere to the way it used to be and give people a reason to hope for the future,” says lead author Rob Jackson, in a recent video on the research. MORE

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Methane removal and atmospheric restoration

‘Stars Aligned’ to Make BC First to Protect ‘Force for Good’ Businesses

This BC legislation should be replicated across Canada. 

How insurance advisor Bernie Geiss went to Victoria and made history.

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Citizen Bernie Geiss got Green Leader Andrew Weaver excited, who easily won support from Premier John Horgan and his NDP. Result: BC is first to safeguard ‘benefit companies.’ Photo: Wikimedia.

You start a company intending it to be a “force for good” by being environmentally or socially responsible. What protects that mission down the line, when new investors gain control?

Nothing in most of Canada. But a new law in British Columbia locks in your intent.

The idea was to create a law similar to ones already existing in 35 states in the United States of America — but nowhere in Canada or the rest of the Commonwealth — that allow business owners to register a company as a “benefit company.”

Registering “allows business owners to lock in and protect their purpose and mission for the long term, while protecting their right to serve a broad range of stakeholders,” Geiss said.

An owner running a company in a socially and environmentally responsible way would be able to ensure that it would continue to be run that way after they sold it or were otherwise no longer involved. The ability for directors to have goals beyond making a profit would have more legal protection.

“It’s about recognizing that business has a very important role to play in many of the societal issues and challenges of our time, whether it be environmental issues or whether it be social issues there is a role for business and this enables them to do that.” —Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver

[Geiss]  hoped other provinces and the federal government would now follow B.C.’s lead, taking a signal from the unanimous support that the idea is non-partisan. “Maybe it’s not as big a hill to climb as the result of one province adopting it for the other provinces to get their heads around.” MORE

Andrew Scheer Told Anti-Abortion Group He’d Let Conservative MPs Reopen the Abortion Debate

Oops!

“I’ve always voted in favour of pro-life legislation”

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Conservative leader Andrew Scheer wants Canadians to have “absolute confidence” he will never reopen the abortion debate, even though he said the exact opposite when he was running for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

After Alabama and several other Republican-controlled US states moved to pass draconian anti-abortion laws that criminalize abortion and jail doctors, Scheer’s Conservatives were quick to distance themselves from their American cousins.

“I’ve made it very, very clear,” Scheer told reporters last week when he was asked if he would reopen the abortion debate.

“Canadians can have absolute confidence that a Conservative government after the election in October will not reopen this issue.”

There’s just one small problem, of course — Scheer gave a very different answer to an anti-abortion group when they asked him the same question about reopening the abortion debate.

During the 2017 Conservative leadership race, Scheer sat down for an interview with the anti-abortion group RightNow who asked him if he’d allow Conservative MPs to table private members bills targeting abortion as well as permit backbenchers and cabinet ministers to vote freely on anti-abortion legislation.

Scheer said yes. MORE

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Scheer talked energy policy with Imperial Oil boss at posh Ottawa fundraiser