Scheer Peddling ‘Conspiracy Theory’ About Oil Industry, Says NDP MP

An old debate is new again in a fresh session of Parliament.

TORONTO — The first day of debate in the new session of Parliament began with a throwback claim that “foreign-funded activist groups” are hijacking Canada’s energy industry.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer responded to the throne speech on Friday, raising concerns about the Alberta and Saskatchewan economies. He warned his colleagues in the House of Commons not to underestimate feelings of alienation on the Prairies — which didn’t sit well with all members.

Scheer reaffirmed his party’s commitment to support Canada’s energy sector, saying one of his party’s core commitments is to “ban foreign-funded activist groups from participating in the pre-approvals process for large energy projects

The mention of “foreign-funded activist groups” having a role in landlocking the energy industry in Western Canada resurrects an argument made in a 2012 open letter by former Conservative natural resources minister Joe Oliver.

Amid debate about the fate of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, Oliver blamed foreign-funded “radical groups” for finding any means necessary to “achieve their radical ideological agenda” to block resource development.

“Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth,” he wrote at the time. “No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.”

Scheer’s resuscitation of a similar line of argument irritated NDP MP Charlie Angus.

The Timmins—James Bay MP mocked the Conservative leader for seemingly blaming activists for job losses — and dragged Scheer for failing to propose “any coherent climate change plan” before and during the election.

“We get the conspiracy theory of foreign radicals who are trying to undermine our industry. Nobody buys that. We don’t have any coherent plan other than, ‘Grrr grrr grrr carbon tax.’”  PARLVU SCREENGRAB

Scheer has no credibility on the “single biggest crisis facing our planet,” Angus said in reference to climate change. The longtime NDP MP chastised the Conservative leader for using national unity issues as a way to leverage support the expansion of fossil fuel production.

The Opposition leader “tells the rest of Canada that they have to go along with his conspiracy theories … or they will break up our country,” Angus said before making a veiled attack at the leadership and party unity challenges currently facing Scheer.

“I would tell that member to drop that kind of language because the ground is certainly melting beneath his feet very quickly at this point.”

Scheer brushed off Angus for delivering “idle rhetoric.” He called the NDP MP’s words “despicable,” which prompted an exchange with the Speaker about tone in the House.

Greta Thunberg and other youth call on Trudeau to ditch fossil fuels

Fifteen young people co-signed a Dec. 10, 2019 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to block any new oil and gas projects and move quickly to phase out existing production. Photos compiled by Alastair Sharp via https://childrenvsclimatecrisis.org

Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and 14 other young people are calling on Canada to block any new oil and gas projects and move quickly to phase out existing production, saying that to do so would blaze a trail that other countries reliant on fossil fuel industries could follow.

The group of youth from across the world said Canada has taken a leading role globally in pushing for climate action, but must apply the same commitment domestically, in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and dated Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.

“Canada must apply its international climate leadership to all domestic action,” the letter says. “It must demonstrate how a major fossil fuels producer and exporter can transition away from these pollutants, blazing a trail for other fossil fuel-reliant economies to follow.”

They also wrote separately to Norway, another developed economy with a major and still-expanding oil and gas industry, with similar demands.

The group — which in September filed a complaint at the United Nations against Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey — argues that climate inaction amounts to a violation of the rights of children, who will bear the brunt of the negative effects of a warming planet.

Trudeau has sought to align himself with Thunberg, who has galvanized the world’s young people to demand action on climate change after she started skipping school last year to protest outside the Swedish parliament. They met in September ahead of a massive climate march in Montreal, which they both took part in.

Canada is the world’s fourth-largest producer and exporter of oil, which mostly comes from the oil-rich province of Alberta and mostly goes to the United States. The combustion of oil and gas releases carbon and other gases into the atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect that traps heat and is leading to more frequent and more extreme weather events and rising sea levels.

Trudeau’s government, which was re-elected with a minority in the October election despite strong opposition to its climate policies from Alberta and fellow oil and gas province Saskatchewan, has promised to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The youth letter points out that to achieve that goal would require a block on all new projects.

Canada is currently considering an application from Teck Resources to develop the $20-billion, 260,000-barrel-per-day Frontier project abutting the Athabasca River in Alberta’s northeast, which, if approved, would be the first new open-pit petroleum-mining construction in the country’s oilpatch in many years. The government’s decision is due by the end of February.

Canada “must demonstrate how a major fossil fuels producer and exporter can transition away from these pollutants,” @GretaThunberg and other youth write in letter to @JustinTrudeau, calling for a block on all new oil and gas projects.

The letter also refers to other expansion activities, including the nearly complete 1,600-kilometre Line 3 pipeline between Alberta and Wisconsin, and the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which Ottawa bought last year and which, if built, would triple the capacity of that route from the oilsands to the British Columbia coast.

The Line 3 pipeline alone could boost Canada’s oil production by 10 per cent. Canada’s overall oil production is projected to expand by 60 per cent between 2017 and 2040, while gas production is set to expand by 34 per cent, they said.

Canada “must end the development and export of new oil and gas reserves, and set a plan to quickly phase out existing production fields,” says the letter, written by Michael Hausfeld, the youth group’s legal counsel. “It must stop prioritizing short-term economic gains over the future of its children and all children around the world.”

Four of the young people, represented by international law firm Hausfeld, come from the tiny Pacific island countries of the Marshall Islands and Palau, where rising sea levels risk inundating limited habitable lands, and where sources of freshwater used for growing food have already been infiltrated with salt.

The others come from countries across the world, namely Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia and the United States.

The pressure from Thunberg and the others adds to Canada’s growing legal challenges regarding climate inaction, with a group of 15 young Canadians filing a domestic lawsuit against Ottawa in October, while a separate group in Ontario took the Doug Ford government to court last month.

The letter was also copied to Trudeau’s new environment minister, Jonathan Wilkinson; Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Marc-André Blanchard; and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd.

It asked that Trudeau respond within two weeks. His office passed a request for comment to Wilkinson’s office, which said the government had made a lot of progress over the last four years, including $63 billion of investments in green infrastructure and clean energy, while acknowledging much more still needed to be done.

“Young people and Canadians across the country are counting on us for accelerated action on climate change,” Moira Kelly, a spokeswoman for Wilkinson, wrote in an email. “We hear them, and all of the Canadians who sent a clear message this election, that continuing to fight climate change needs to be a priority.”

She said the government was committed to hitting the net-zero target for 2050, which it plans to write into law, and to exceed its 2030 targets under the Paris Agreement. To help it do so the government is pledging to plant 2 billion trees and create a $5 billion fund to electrify parts of the economy including the resource and manufacturing industries.

“We know we need to make a transition to a cleaner economy and we know that this will not happen overnight,” she said. “We are committed to taking thoughtful solutions with Canadians to ensure that the clean economy is affordable for everyone.” SOURCE

Greta Thunberg helps lead massive protest in Madrid

Photo posted on twitter by Thunberg: “School strike week 68. They say more than 500,000 people showed up tonight beside the Swedish parliament building,’ the teen tweeted.

MADRID — Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg helped lead tens of thousands of protesters advocating for global action to combat climate change Friday evening just a few miles from where world leaders are convening for the United Nations climate summit.

Demonstrators from dozens of countries marched down Paseo del Prado in central Madrid, drumming and chanting. Among the signs in the crowd: “Denial is suicide,” “Don’t be fossil fools,” and a giant banner reading “No hay planeta B” (“There is no planet B”).

Organizers estimate the event drew more than half a million people, although no official tally was available late Friday.

Greta Thunberg

School strike week 68. They say more than 500 000 people showed up tonight in Madrid!

View image on Twitter
Thunberg arrived in Madrid by train on Friday after sailing by catamaran across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States to Lisbon, Portugal ― all part of an effort to use carbon-free transportation.

The 16-year-old earned celebrity status after she went on strike from school last year following Sweden’s hottest summer on record. For weeks, she sat outside her country’s Parliament, holding a “School strike for climate” sign and calling for her home country to enact policies in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate action. Her actions inspired thousands of other school strikes, and in March an estimated 1.4 million young people in more than 100 countries mobilized for a global strike, part of what has come to be known as the Fridays for Future movement.

Earlier Friday, Thunberg joined other teen activists for a staged sit-in at the U.N. 25th Conference of the Parties. At a press conference ahead of Friday’s demonstration, Thunberg stressed that the world can’t afford to delay action any longer.

“We have been striking for over a year and still basically nothing has happened,” she said. “The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power. We cannot go on like this. It is not a sustainable solution that children skip school.”

Thunberg also called on members of the media to not just focus on her.

“I’m just activist, a climate activist,” she said. “A small part of a very big movement. And, yes, we need more climate activists.”

It appears to have done little to keep the press and her supporters at bay. French media reported that Thunberg was forced to leave the rally soon after it kicked off.

“The police say that we cannot continue like this. So unfortunately, I cannot participate in the march because I literally cannot move around,” she said in a video posted to Twitter. “It is because of safety, because of all of the people being stepped on … Of course, I had looked forward to being in the march.”

This week, world leaders are convening in Madrid for the UN’s COP25 summit, which runs through Dec. 13. The countries are working toward bolstering their individual commitments to reduce carbon emissions, as set by the historic 2015 Paris agreement to combat the climate crisis.

No officials from the administration of President Donald Trump — who has repeatedly dismissed the threat of climate change and last month formally began withdrawing the United States from the Paris agreement — are expected to attend.

Earlier this week, a delegation of congressional lawmakers, all Democrats, attended the summit and attempted to affirm the United States’ commitment to climate action, despite Trump’s actions.

The massive protest is expected to end at Nuevos Ministerios, a complex of Spanish government buildings, where protesters will gather for speeches and musical performances. Among those expected to attend is Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem, according to Spanish media.

Renee Salas, an emergency medicine doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, marched with a group medical students and professionals from the U.S. and abroad.

“There has to be a huge mobilization in the health sector,” she told HuffPost. “A key part of translating the climate crisis into the health emergency that it is making sure we train medical students and doctors on how climate change is harming health.”

WATCH THE VIDEO:   National Observer – Greta Thunberg in Vancouver from David Lavallee on Vimeo.

Climate Strike, Oct. 25, 2019. Greta in Vancouver. By Devyn Brugge for National Observer.

Last month, Salas co-authored a report published in the medical journal The Lancet, warning that the climate crisis has created a public health emergency.

The two-week conference brought together thousands of environmentalists, many of whom are working to raise awareness about a variety of specific issues. Rebecca Hubbard, a resident of Madrid, was among a group of people marching with a banner that read: “Ending overfishing for climate action.” She’s the program director of Our Fish, an organization that works to prevent overfishing in Europe and advocates for more sustainable fishing practices.

“Our message is that the ocean is absolutely critical to the climate, and overfishing right now is the biggest threat to the ocean,” she said. “We really need to end overfishing to rebuild the health of the ocean, which will enable it to protect us from the worst of the climate crisis.” SOURCE

 

In-depth Q&A: How ‘Article 6’ carbon markets could ‘make or break’ the Paris Agreement

A little-known and highly technical section of the Paris Agreement could “make or break” the regime – and its aim of avoiding dangerous climate change.

Image result for carbon brief: In-depth Q&A: How ‘Article 6’ carbon markets could ‘make or break’ the Paris AgreementDelegates gather at COP24, 14 December 2018. Credit: IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

These “Article 6” rules, for carbon markets and other forms of international cooperation, are the last piece of the Paris regime to be resolved, after the rest of its “rulebook” was agreed in late 2018.

To its proponents, Article 6 offers a path to significantly raising climate ambition or lowering costs, while engaging the private sector and spreading finance, technology and expertise into new areas.

To its critics, it risks fatally undermining the ambition of the Paris Agreement at a time when there is clear evidence of the need to go further and faster to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

If the Article 6 rulebook is to be agreed, a set of interlocking, overlapping and conflicting national priorities – a veritable “four-dimensional spaghetti” of red lines – will have to be traded off at the December COP25 UN climate talks in Madrid, or, failing that, at COP26 in Glasgow in 2020.

This is a classic example of the horse-trading that characterises international negotiations. But the stakes are high ahead of the crunch 2020 talks, where countries are due to raise their currently inadequate ambition towards the 1.5C and “well-below 2C” twin goals of the Paris Agreement.

In this in-depth Q&A, Carbon Brief breaks down the Article 6 text, explaining the key points of contention and how they might be resolved.

What is Article 6 of the Paris Agreement?

On 1 January 2020, a new international climate regime will take effect under the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to detailed rules agreed at the COP24 climate summit in December 2018.

But one piece of that regime is unresolved, having proved so contentious that countries have been unable to agree the rules governing its use. This is Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, covering a single side of A4 and containing just nine densely worded paragraphs (6.1 through 6.9).

This short text contains three separate mechanisms for “voluntary cooperation” towards climate goals: two based on markets and a third based on “non-market approaches”. The text outlines requirements for those taking part, but leaves the details – the Article 6 “rulebook” – undecided.

In simple terms, the first mechanism would allow a country that has beaten its Paris climate pledge to sell any overachievement to a nation that has fallen short against its own goals. This overachievement could be in terms of emissions cuts, but might also cover other types of target. For example, some countries have set goals for renewable energy capacity or forest expansion.

The second mechanism would create a new international carbon market, governed by a UN body, for the trading of emissions reductions created anywhere in the world by the public or private sector. Carbon credits could, for example, be generated by a new renewable power plant, an emissions-saving factory upgrade or the restoration of an area of forest. MORE

‘It’s a constant battle’: Nearly 40% of Canadians experience racism in the workplace, survey reveals

Subtle slights or insults include being treated as less smart than white people

Karlyn Percil says she was laughed at by former colleagues for her accent, while also praised for being able to ‘speak well.’ She left a position in Toronto as a senior project manager in international banking and now is a motivational speaker. (Samantha Clarke)

After years of working on Toronto’s Bay Street, Karlyn Percil was burnt out — not from the demanding workload, but from the subtle racial slights from colleagues that had finally taken their emotional toll.

Percil, originally from St. Lucia, said these microaggressions came in the form of derogatory comments about her accent, or expressions of surprise that she was smart and articulate, and presented herself well.

“I had panic attacks at work. I was crying myself to sleep,” said Percil, who eventually left her investment banking job in 2017. “It takes a toll on you.”

And it’s something that many Canadians of colour have experienced. Indeed, a new study, Race Relations In Canada in 2019, conducted by Environics Institute For Survey Research, has found that one in five Canadians experiences discrimination regularly or from time to time.

While Canadians surveyed said a significant number of these incidents occur “on the street,” an equal number, nearly 40 per cent, said they experience racial discrimination in the workplace.

Subtle slights or insults

Some of that, according to the study, takes the form of day-to day experiences involving subtle slights or insults, such as being treated as being not as smart or mistaken for someone who serves others.

Percil, who was a senior project manager in international banking, said there were times when it was assumed she was at a meeting to take the minutes.

Meanwhile, other colleagues, she said, wanted to get rid of their accents and take classes to try “to learn to speak like everybody else.”

She was also self-conscious about being considered too loud, and would be reluctant to share ideas with passion “for fear of being called ‘the angry black woman.’

“It’s exhausting … the anxiety sets in. The fear of saying the wrong thing. You find yourself speaking less, you find yourself holding back,” Percil said.

‘It’s a constant battle’

Even today, as a motivational speaker and the founder of SisterTalk Group, a network aimed at mentoring women of colour, Percil said she experiences similar prejudices. For example, when she walks into a room to speak at an event, organizers rarely assume she’s the keynote speaker.

“It is a constant battle that we have to go through. It’s not just once.”

The Environics survey was conducted online between April 17 and May 6 with a sample of 3,111 Canadians 18 and over. (CBC)

Shakil Choudhury, a Toronto-based consultant who provides diversity and unconscious-bias training to police and teachers, said the more obvious egregious slurs are lessening in the workplace.

“The overt racist and the overt bigot is really, really hard to find. I don’t even think very many exist in the context of a lot of organizations,” he said.

“I think the stuff that happens in the workplace is actually way more subtle.”

It’s not unusual for  women and people of colour to experience being cut off and not being heard when they’re at meetings, Choudhury said. As well, ideas expressed by them and by Indigenous people only get validated when they are mentioned by white people, he said.

“The micro is one of those things that if you’re not in a body that’s experiencing it, you’re not going to notice it.” MORE

Green Deal branded as ‘hallmark’ of new European Commission

Frans Timmermans in Milan, 24 May 2019. [Photo: EPA-EFE/DANIEL DAL ZENNARO]

“I want the European Green Deal to become Europe’s hallmark,” said European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, as she tasked her second-in-command with overseeing Europe’s goal of achieving climate neutrality by mid-century.

“At the heart” of von der Leyen’s new Commission “is our commitment to becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent,” the incoming Commission chief said on Tuesday (10 September) as she presented her team and their respective portfolios.

The appointment of Frans Timmermans as Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal – as well as Climate Action Commissioner – was von der Leyen’s opening revelation as she unveiled her new team.

Climate neutrality “is a long-term economic imperative,” she stressed, saying “those who act first and fastest will be the ones who grasp the opportunities from the ecological transition.”

“I want Europe to be the front-runner. I want Europe to be the exporter of knowledge, technologies and best practice,” the new Commission chief said, introducing Timmermans as her second-in-conmmand.

Ursula von der Leyen

@vonderleyen

The European Green Deal has to become Europe’s hallmark. I want Europe to be the front-runner. I want Europe to be the exporter of knowledge, technologies and best practice.

View image on Twitter

55% carbon reduction target

Timmermans, who is currently serving as first deputy to outgoing Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will also be the Commission’s head of climate action, taking over duties from Spain’s Miguel Arias Cañete.

In a break with Juncker’s structure, the top officials will now have access to the services of the executive’s directorates-general. In Timmermans’ case, that is DG Clima.

“We need an ambitious Green New Deal for Europe, which shapes the future for our children and ensures their health, prosperity and security on a green and thriving planet,” the Dutchman tweeted, adding that he is “excited to work on this for the next five years”.

Von der Leyen has already made specific asks of Timmermans, outlining in her mission letter that she is entrusting him to fulfil a number of pledges she made during her campaign to secure the European Parliament’s blessing for her presidency.

New EU chief flags climate policy as Europe’s ‘new growth strategy’

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reacts before the vote of Members of the European Parliament on her college of commissioners at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 27 November 2019. [EPA-EFE/PATRICK SEEGER]

The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, cited climate policy as the most pressing issue facing her new executive team, which was officially confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday (27 November).

EU lawmakers confirmed von der Leyen as European Commission president along with her new team of 26 Commissioners, with 461 voting in favour, 157 against and 89 abstentions.

And the climate crisis featured at the top of her address to MEPs.

“We don’t have a moment to waste any more on fighting climate change,” von der Leyen told the assembly shortly before the vote in a speech delivered in English, French and German.

“If there is one area where the world needs our leadership, it is on protecting our climate. This is an existential issue for Europe – and for the world,” said the 61-year old former German defence minister, citing forest fires in Portugal and the recent floods in Venice as compelling reasons to move forward as quickly as possible.

But for von der Leyen, climate policy is about much more than protecting the environment or tackling air pollution. It’s also chiefly an economic policy.

“The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy,” she said. “The faster Europe moves, the greater the advantage will be for our citizens, our competitiveness and our prosperity.”

The European Commission last year calculated that the EU’s GDP will increase by 2% by 2050 if the bloc slashes its emissions to a net-zero level. And the EU’s fossil fuel import bill could be cut by €2-3 trillion over the 20 years leading up to 2050, the EU executive said in its long-term energy and climate strategy published in November last year.

But von der Leyen also warned that climate policies “will need massive investment” and that green initiatives would have to be “inclusive” – a gesture to member states such as Poland that still rely on coal for jobs, energy and growth.

“We will support people and businesses with a targeted just transition mechanism,” she said in a nod to countries like Poland, which have requested additional funding to phase out its highly polluting coal power sector. MORE