Canadian clean-tech companies show their stuff at CEM

Canadian innovation and breakthrough technologies present a glimmer of a green future.


Simon Beller, CFO, left, and Jos Hoetjes, chemical engineer, BC Biocarbon. Image: Nelson Bennett/Business in Vancouver

Last week’s Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver gave Canadian clean-tech companies a chance to show their stuff.

The event, hosted by Natural Resources Canada, is described as “a global forum where major economies and forward leaning countries work together to share best practices and promote policies and programs that encourage and facilitate the transition to a global clean energy economy.”

Here’s a look at some of the Canadian companies that presented their technologies.

TERRESTRIAL ENERGY: SMALL-SCALE NUCLEAR POWER

Based in Oakville, Ontario, Terrestrial Energy was named one of the top 10 breakthrough technologies in MIT Technology Review, curated by Bill Gates.

It is among a handful of companies developing small-scale molten salt nuclear reactors. Terrestrial’s process has cogeneration capabilities in that it can use the heat from its nuclear power plants to produce hydrogen cheaply, and combine it with carbon to produce low-carbon gasoline.

The company plans to start building its first commercial plant in Ontario in the 2020s. A second plant is planned for the U.S.

Traditional nuclear power plants can cost between $8 billion and $20 billion, but Terrestrial Energy claims it can build a 200-megawatt plant for $1 billion. Molten salt reactors do not have the same dangers of meltdowns that have plagued traditional water-cooler nuclear power plants.

Canadian and American governments have provided 25% of the company’s financing to date, with the rest coming from high-net-worth individuals.

AGORA ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES: CO2-BASED FLOW BATTERY

Spun out of the University of British Columbia, Agora Energy Technologies is a B.C. clean-tech startup that is developing a redox flow battery that uses carbon dioxide, which is then turned into a storage medium.

Flow batteries are believed to be a better storage solution than lithium-ion batteries for intermittent wind and solar power. Large amounts of electricity can be stored in liquid form for much longer periods of time using any number of catalysts – vanadium being the most common. But Agora plans to use captured CO2, which would then be converted into the storage medium, which is proprietary.

“The carbon dioxide enters the battery and the catalyst converts it to a storage medium, and that storage medium is what is used to store the energy,” said Hannah MacDonald, Agora content manager. “So carbon dioxide and electricity go in, the carbon dioxide gets converted and stored.”

MacDonald said the Agora battery system could be used to produce a carbonate product – soda ash – which is used in detergents, glass and other industrial processes. MORE

Climate Irony in Alberta: Version 2.0

The proposed Ecocide Act under the Rome Statute would hold those with principal responsibility  (ie. politicians, corporate executives, financiers, etc) accountable before the International Criminal Court if they knew or ought to have known that their actions would cause ecocide. 

Climate Irony in Alberta: Version 2.0, Below2C

In his recent Opinion piece in the Tyee, Mitchell Anderson sums us Premier Jason Kenney’s vision to return the Oilsands to their glory days as the beginning of a grim environmental endgame. “As the rest of the planet strives to curb carbon dependence, Alberta is instead stepping on the gas,” writes Anderson. Alberta is boldly accelerating new oil wells and abandoning the old ones as wildfires rage.

In 2016, I wrote about an inescapable climate irony as the massive Fort McMurray wildfire raged out of control. “Tar Sands are a dirty fuel producing high carbon emissions that cause global heating. Climate change makes extreme climate events such as wildfires more intense and severe. Alberta wildfires are made worse because of carbon emissions produced in its own back yard. The circle is complete.” And now in 2019, it’s much the same.

The following post by Mitchell Beer highlights the ongoing climate irony unfolding as the 2019 wildfire season intensifies. It was first published in The Energy Mix. MORE

New Brunswick: Minister says First Nations consultation only required after shale gas exemption approved

While the New Brunswick PC government may be acting legally, are they acting as true partners with Mi’kmaq Chiefs? 

PC cabinet approved Sussex-area exemption in province-wide moratorium


Jake Stewart, minister of aboriginal affairs, said while he would respect the government’s legal obligations to consult First Nations about partially lifting the shale gas moratorium, that obligation only began when the order-in-council was approved. (CBC)

The Higgs government is defending its decision to wait until its partial lifting of a moratorium on fracking to begin consultations with Indigenous people on shale gas development.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jake Stewart told the legislature Thursday he would respect the government’s legal obligations to consult First Nations about the possible resumption of shale gas development in the Sussex area.

But he said that obligation only kicked in with the recent cabinet approval of an order-in-council allowing an exemption from the province-wide moratorium.

The previous Liberal government imposed the province-wide moratorium on fracking after winning the 2014 election, a campaign dominated by the shale gas issue.

Last December, the Progressive Conservatives won a confidence vote in the legislature on their throne speech, which included a section on exempting the area around Sussex from the moratorium.


Corridor Resources started extracting gas in the Sussex area since 1999 but halted new fracking after the Liberal government of Brian Gallant imposed its moratorium after the 2014 election. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

But opposition parties and Mi’kmaq chiefs are warning that the government may already have failed to fulfill its legal obligations.

“Consultation should take place early and often,” Chief Bill Ward of Metepenagiag First Nation said in a tweet. “Doing so after making the decision isn’t really consultation, it’s just notifying us. …Consultation is being treated as a ‘check mark’ in the list of things to do, rather than building an actual relationship.” MORE

RELATED:

AFN Fully Supports Natoaganeg First Nation in Exercising Their Treaty Right to Fish in their Territory

 

Indigenous communities across Canada need women’s shelters now

The genocide continues…

The Liberal government announced it will build five new shelters on reserves by 2019. But those who work in these communities say that’s not nearly enough.

Canada's indigenous communities need women's shelters now
Portraits of murdered and missing women on a memorial table at the 2nd National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg last year. Photo, The Canadian Press/John Woods.

Up to 4,000 indigenous families were glued to the media earlier this month when the five Commissioners for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held their first press conference in Ottawa. It was a long time coming. Since the inquiry officially began on Sept. 1, 2016, families have been waiting patiently for public hearings to begin.

Though the inquiry is finally underway, the many urgent needs facing indigenous women and girls across the country somehow still seem to be falling on deaf ears. Some of the requests being put to the government by families and advocacy groups include very basic human needs, like better access to health care, education and clean drinking water. But one of the most pressing — and overlooked — needs is shelters and safe spaces for women and girls suffering from domestic violence.

On any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters to escape abuse, while about 300 women and children are turned away because these shelters are already full. Of the 455 women’s shelters across Canada, just five percent serve women and children in indigenous communities. This statistic is especially disturbing given that indigenous women are subject to five times more violence than other demographics in Canada (they’re also six times more likely to be murdered). Between 2004 and 2009 alone, some 48,000 indigenous women reported having experienced some form physical or sexual spousal violence at home (according to Stat Can, that number didn’t change significantly when data was collected again in 2014.) MORE

Canadian mining companies will now face human rights charges in Canadian courts

Holding those with principal responsibility accountable in a Canadian court  will have a profound impact on corporate responsibility. An Ecocide Law would help prevent ecocide from occurring.

Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources mining company has been faced with years of resistance to its silver mining operation in Guatemala. Mining Watch Canada says two managers are presently in jail, one over an environmental issue, the other because of a shooting attack on protesters. Photo Credit: Resistencia PACIFICA “El Escobal” website

Canada is the undisputed powerhouse of the mining industry, home to 75 per cent of its companies — but the industry is plagued by allegations of rape and slavery abroad. Now those who feel harmed or violated can seek justice back in Canada

In April 2013, a group of Guatemalan farmers, among them Adolpho Augustin Garcia, converged outside the front entrance of Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine. Located in southeast Guatemala near the community of San Rafael Las Flores and operated by Tahoe subsidiary Minera San Rafael, the mine was already controversial even though it hadn’t yet begun production.

Garcia and fellow protesters faced off against private security personnel working for Alfa Uno, the firm that Minera San Rafael had contracted to guard Escobal, which went on to become one of the world’s largest silver mines, producing a world record 21.2 million ounces of silver concentrate in 2016. Lucrative as it potentially was, the mine was plagued by protests by the local Indigenous Xinca, small-scale farmers and community leaders, many of whom fear its impact on water and land.

That day, under the orders of the head of security, a Peruvian named Alberto Rotondo, personnel guarding the mine allegedly fired on protesters with rubber bullets as they fled the entrance. Seven were injured.

Six years later, this skirmish is reverberating throughout the Canadian mining industry and has the attention of the country’s legal system.

A case for which court?

In June 2014, seven Guatemalan plaintiffs, including Garcia, launched a civil suit against Tahoe Resources in B.C. Supreme Court, alleging negligence and battery at the hands of Escobal mine security. Then in November 2015, Justice Laura Gerow ruled that a Canadian court didn’t have jurisdiction, agreeing with Tahoe that the case should be heard in Guatemala.

“If a board of directors knows that it will be responsible for the conduct of its subsidiaries abroad, that will have a profound impact on corporate responsibility.”

However, the plaintiffs appealed a year later, and in 2017 the B.C. court of appeal overturned Gerow’s decision, supporting the argument that the Guatemalans likely wouldn’t get a fair trial in their own country.

(Guatemala ranked 96th out of 113 countries in the 2017-18 Rule of Law Index published by the independent World Justice Project, compared to No. 9 for Canada.)

Tahoe asked the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal, but the request was denied that June. Garcia vs. Tahoe had cleared its final legal hurdle, and this potentially game-changing case is set to proceed in a Vancouver courtroom.

It’s a shot across the bow of corporate Canada, warning companies that when it comes to overseas operations, they can no longer pawn off responsibility for human rights violations to in-country subsidiaries. MORE

It is time we had a law prohibiting profit, investment and policy that causes or supports ecocide.

Powerful letters to local media like the one below are a good way for you to commit to a better world. In Canada we do not have a legislated right to a healthy environment — to clean water, air and soil.

Letter: Committing Ecocide

Image result for nelson bcNELSON IS A MOST ENCHANTING AND EXTRAORDINARY CITY.” — City of Nelson

 

When I arrived in Nelson 49 years ago, I was deeply saddened by how the local environment was being treated. The City of Nelson was burying garbage on its waterfront and occasionally burning cardboard and wood waste there. The Kootenay Forest Products mill pumped smoke into the air and spewed fly ash throughout Fairview. When I hiked in the local mountains, I encountered damaged ecosystems left by logging and mining activities.

While the air quality within Nelson is now at the mercy of colossal vehicle traffic and wildfire smoke, our local mountains are still being treated as a thing of property, an asset to be exploited. I spent Mother’s Day at Gerrard watching spawning trout, then drove past the destruction of prime old growth habitat for caribou on the eastern side of Trout Lake. I’ve been told a beautiful fir forest at already heavily logged Glacier Creek is in the crosshairs of BC Timber Sales. BCTS has also allocated 40 per cent of our area’s annual allowable cut to be located in people’s watersheds.

A fundraising campaign had to be started to preserve the area around Cottonwood Lake Park from clearcut logging. Despite celebrating Earth Day since 1970 and World Environment Day since 1974, 40 per cent of insect species are facing extinction and thousands of tufted puffins in the Bering Sea are dead partly because of starvation and stress brought on by changing climate conditions. In addition, glaciers are melting in Peru and the Himalayas, the islands of Tuvalu are disappearing due to sea level rise, and the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere measured 414.48 parts per million at Mauna Loa Observatory on May 31.

It is clear to me that we humans have failed to take responsibility for the health and well being of planet Earth. Human-made ecocide is corporate-driven activity such as deforestation, pollution dumping, and unconventional oil and gas extraction. It is time we had a law prohibiting profit, investment and policy that causes or supports ecocide. If we are to uphold the right to life for future generations, we need a Law of Ecocide.

Michael Jessen
Longbeach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Climate Change Emergency Leads to First World Forum on Climate Justice

landscape photo of seashore at golden hour

OXFORD, England: Elsevier and the Glasgow Caledonian University Centre for Climate Justice are pleased to announce a partnership that will provide the platform to discuss the impacts of climate change on weather forecasting, people trafficking and growing spread of mosquito-borne malaria, among other topics, at the first World Forum on Climate Justice, June 19-21, 2019 at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

This inaugural conference brings together an outstanding line-up of international speakers, led by Mary Robinson, Kerry Kennedy and Professor Tahseen Jafry. Difficult conversations around the current and future impact of climate change on the world’s societies and economies will be explored, to aid further promotion and collaboration about the latest science and thinking as to how these issues can be tackled.

Around one hundred short talks will cover the diverse challenges posed by climate change from the impact on fair access to food and water to the spread of diseases like malaria; the growing vulnerability of communities to extreme weather events; and the resulting challenges on migration and population displacement. This Forum brings a diverse range of expertise in the emerging field of Climate Justice together for the first time to consider the impact climate change is already having on people and their communities across the world. MORE