Canadian Oilsands Firm Denied Its Own Science On Climate Change

While Imperial Oil was calling the link between fossil fuels and global warming an ‘unproven hypothesis,’ internal reports had confirmed the connection.

SmokestacksSunset.jpgContradicting the company’s own assessment of CO2 from 1970, Imperial Oil’s then chairman wrote in 1998, ‘Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but an essential ingredient of life on this planet.’ Photo by Jonathan Franson, the Canadian Press.

Oilsands giant Imperial Oil continued to call the link between fossil fuels and global temperature rise an “unproven hypothesis” decades after its own research confirmed the industry’s role in global warming, newly released documents show.

That decision made Imperial Oil, which is majority-owned by Exxon, an early supporter of an oil industry campaign of climate denial that continues to slow progress in combating the greatest existential challenge of our time.

Brendan DeMelle, executive director of the research group DeSmog, said the documents show that as early as the 1970s Imperial Oil had confirmed the link between fossil fuels and global warming. DeSmog and the Climate Investigations Center last week published thousands of pages of official Imperial Oil documents found in an archive in Calgary.

DeMelle said that with pressure building in the late 1990s for Canadian climate change solutions that might reduce fossil fuel consumption and hurt the company’s business model, “they start talking about scientific uncertainties and doubt.”

Imperial Oil declined to provide comment for this story, instead pointing The Tyee to its website, which states that “We believe that climate change risks warrant action and it’s going to take all of us — business, governments and consumers — to make meaningful progress.”

That was not what the company was arguing in the late 1990s, however, as its 1996 Annual Report makes clear.

“Imperial is active in the debate concerning what international commitments, if any, Canada might make with respect to reducing greenhouse gas emissions after 2000 by limiting or restricting fossil-fuel consumption,” the report reads. “In Imperial’s view, such actions are inappropriate given the continuing widespread uncertainty regarding the impact of human activity on potential global climate change.”

Imperial, which operates Esso-branded gas stations across the country, made similar comments the next year after Canada joined delegates from over 150 countries in signing the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first major international treaty to address the growing climate emergency.

“Imperial has joined many other Canadian corporations and business groups in expressing grave concern over the federal government’s commitment, made at the Kyoto conference on climate change last December, to reduce Canadian emissions of greenhouse gases,” wrote then Imperial chairman R.B. Peterson in a 1998 letter to shareholders.

“The Government of Canada appears to be on a course to mandate a substantial reduction in the use of oil and other hydrocarbon fuels, based on the unproven hypothesis that consumption of these fuels will cause global climate change,” continued Peterson, who is now honoured in the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame.

Though shareholders and the Canadian public likely didn’t know it at the time, Imperial’s own researchers had acknowledged internally that climate change was indeed happening, posed potentially serious global risks and was made worse by the burning of fossil fuels. They also identified a shift towards renewable energy and an economy-wide price on carbon emissions as potential solutions.

As early as the 1970s, for instance, Imperial Oil had included carbon dioxide on a list of global air pollutants, the same decade that its parent company Exxon was conducting research into the causes and impacts of climate change.

In 1980, Imperial produced a report stating, “it is assumed that the major contributors of CO2 are the burning of fossil fuels…. There is no doubt that increases in fossil fuel usage and decreases of forest cover are aggravating the potential problem of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.”

A decade later, Imperial noted in “A Discussion Paper on Global Warming” that “the scientific basis for the so-called greenhouse effect was well established decades ago.” Despite observing that “many scientific contradictions and uncertainties remain,” the Canadian oil company warned, “the possibility of global warming is a complex and potentially serious issue for the world community.”

By then, the company had learned that alternatives to fossil fuels were feasible. A report Imperial commissioned in 1975, for example, concluded that “theoretically, up to 75 per cent of the energy for [household and commercial] uses could be provided by solar energy. We estimate the potential market for solar climate control at over $1 billion by 1985.”

And in 1993, the company learned from a separate study that a Canadian “carbon tax building up to $200/tonne of carbon by 2005 could stabilize CO2 emissions.” Such a policy, the study noted, could potentially reduce Imperial’s “downstream revenue” by 12 per cent.

Despite the company’s knowledge about climate change and its potential solutions, which was well-ahead of the Canadian public’s, Imperial Oil had decided by the late 1990s to join Exxon and other large oil companies in denying that a looming emergency even existed.

“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but an essential ingredient of life on this planet,” then Imperial chairman Peterson wrote in 1998, contradicting the company’s own assessment of CO2 from 1970, which had labelled it an “air pollutant.”

“One thing is clear in this debate. There is absolutely no agreement among climatologists on whether or not the planet is getting warmer or, if it is, on whether the warming is the result of man-made factors or natural variations in the climate,” Peterson wrote. “At this stage I feel very safe in saying that the view that burning fossil fuels will result in global climate change remains an unproved hypothesis.”

Several years later, Imperial Oil was bragging to investors about the hundreds of millions of dollars it was investing in the oilsands, one of the planet’s highest carbon oil sources.

And though Imperial Oil now accepts the global scientific consensus on climate change — it warns in official documents of “serious impacts to humanity and to ecosystems” — the company continues to make large investments in climate-destroying projects, including most recently a $450-million expansion of its Cold Lake thermal oil project.

The Climate Investigations Center says the evidence from the hundreds of newly revealed Imperial documents is clear.

“These documents show yet again that the fossil fuel industry had more than enough information to act on climate change many decades ago, but repeatedly prioritized their profits over the future of the planet,” it argues. SOURCE

This Search Engine Uses Its Profits to Plant Trees Across the World

Meet the Berlin-based tech company that is taking on the might of Google and tackling climate change at the same time.

Ecosia is the rarest of things—a search engine with a conscience: It refuses to steal data, evade taxes, or take any profits at all. Instead, it puts its revenue into tackling climate change by planting trees the world over. It’s the brainchild of Christian Kroll, a mild-mannered, 35-year-old German tech entrepreneur. He started the site with his sister in the storage room of a mosaics workshop in Berlin a decade ago. Today, it operates out of a hip warehouse in the Kreuzberg neighborhood, the entire operation running on its own purpose-built solar plants.

As Ecosia prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary this December, it seems their mantra of good not greed has struck a chord: Last year it saw an 82 percent year-on-year increase in searches globally. We asked Kroll to tell us about his plans for world transformation.
VICE: We keep hearing people say they have just switched to Ecosia. Can you tell us what it is and a little bit about the ethos behind it?

Christian Kroll: It’s really simple. It’s a search engine that uses the profit from the advertising revenue to plant trees all over the world. Search engines are the technology of the 21st century. Everybody uses them to get information and make decisions. They are slowly becoming our personal assistants—making choices for us without us really being aware of it. So while we already have Google, I think it’s important there should be an independent search engine that actually upholds certain ethical standards and isn’t designed purely for profit.

It sounds like a good idea—especially with monetization of data being such a big issue right now. So how does it actually work?

Microsoft[’s Bing] provides the algorithms for our search page, and so our results are different from Google. I would say that 95 percent of all my searches are answered by Ecosia. But one of the greatest advantages to using us is that we don’t track user information [permanently] and we certainly don’t sell any data. We anonymize all searches after four days and that means we basically don’t know anything about our users. It means we are making a little less money, but we decided we wanted to do what felt right.

That must be quite hard when you are up against one of the biggest and richest companies in the world. How do you hope to compete?

To a large extent I admire Google. It’s a very smart company and so not easy to win against. But I think that no company should be allowed to have as much power as Google has. In America and in many European countries it has around 90 percent share of the market. And that is a 90 percent share of probably the most important industry of the 21st century. I wouldn’t want Ecosia to have that. A search engine can never be neutral. It’s impossible for Google to be neutral: It has the power to decide what information people receive and so to influence their decisions. At Ecosia our aim is to encourage people to make decisions that are good for them but also good for the planet. It’s a lot of responsibility.

It’s a huge responsibility. What made you decide that planting trees was the best way to invest your profit?
I was in South America in 2006 and I found myself driving for hours and hours through these vast soy plantations, where the rainforest used to be, and which are now basically green deserts pumped full of chemicals. You never hear the sound of a single bird.

I started reading a lot about deforestation and became aware that climate change would probably become the most important topic of the 21st century, which currently it certainly seems to be. It’s a fact that if we planted one trillion trees we could pull enough carbon out of the air to massively reduce the risk of impending climate catastrophe. And trees don’t just help with climate change either, but also with poverty, hunger, flooding, and drought, as well as the biodiversity crisis. MORE

Did Ottawa mislead Canadians about the true cost for Trans Mountain?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau in Ottawa. Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Photography by The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick

Ever since Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the Liberal Cabinet decision to buy Trans Mountain from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion on May 29, 2018, Canadians have been asking “How much will this pipeline end up costing us?”

There are two price tags. First, the cost for the 66-year-old pipeline. And, second, the cost to build the expansion.

Canadians were assured by Morneau that, “This investment represents a fair price… The core assets required to build the Trans Mountain Expansion Project have significant commercial value, and this transaction represents a sound investment opportunity.”

On that same day Canadians were also led to believe that the second price tag was $7.4 billion.

Facts tell us otherwise.

Hidden deep in hundreds of pages of government documents is one small figure. And it’s strong evidence that on the day the government told Canadians the cost to build the pipeline was $7.4 billion, its own estimates showed the cost to be an extra billion dollars.

What we now know is that Morneau’s advisers were well aware of escalating project costs. Internal government documents released through Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) tell us the government’s project team ordered a study from Leidos Engineering to determine the cost to build the expansion. That study was underway in April 2018 before Trans Mountain’s purchase was announced.

Briefing notes in the ATIP documents show that the Leidos report was meant to include “new costing and scheduling for (an) $8.4 B project” — 15 per cent more than the cost Ottawa admitted to publicly when it announced the purchase. The new cost is tucked away on page 272 of a 601-page release — the only reference to expected higher project costs that isn’t redacted. Current indications, as detailed in my brief, are that the cost to build the project has likely reached $12 billion.

Taxpayers as owners are at serious risk. An increase in the cost to construct of this magnitude might not be a problem if Trans Mountain could pass all these costs onto the shippers who use the pipeline through higher toll rates. The problem is that Ottawa cannot do so, and this is where the huge taxpayer funded subsidy on the expansion project comes in. At a capital cost of $12 billion, and with the information available, Canadians are on the hook for an additional $3.5 billion from Trans Mountain’s expansion.

That’s the cost of subsidies we are on the hook for a new expanded pipeline. But we are already paying subsidies for the existing pipeline which are currently about $3.4 billion over five-years because Trans Mountain has been losing money since Ottawa bought it. That and the fact that the government paid way too much for the 66-year old pipeline.

Then there are other promises Ottawa has agreed to such as First Nations accommodations, revenue sharing with B.C, and marine safety that exceeds more than $1 billion. Adding it all together subsidies have reached $8 billion and counting.

The cost of the construction has always been a concern to Canadians — for good reason

After Morneau’s press conference announcing Trans Mountain’s purchase in May 2018, his officials held a more detailed briefing with reporters. Staff promised that if the minister knew Ottawa would buy Trans Mountain by July 22, 2018, Canadians would be given an update on the estimate of the cost to construct the expansion. That date came and went and still no mention of the $8.4 billion provided in the Leidos report. Given what we now know, it was clear then that Ottawa had something to hide.

Leidos engineering wasn’t the only one to come up with that $8.4 billion figure. Kinder Morgan knew it and was more forthright with its shareholders than Ottawa has been with Trans Mountain’s new shareholders — the Canadian public. In July 2018, Kinder Morgan filed an Information Circular with the U.S. and Canadian securities regulators that included a Fairness Opinion prepared by TDBank. The opinion included a capital cost estimate of $8.4 billion if the project’s in-service date was 2020 — which everyone knew at the time was the earliest possible date of completion — and a $9.3 billion if the project’s in-service date became December 2021.

When the likely $1.9 billion increase in the project’s cost hit the papers, Ottawa would not support the figure, claiming it was “not an official cost forecast.” But what was known about the delays of the project at that time made $9.3 billion more accurate than $7.4 billion. Instead of advising the public that Ottawa’s own estimate had risen to at least $8.4 billion, it clung to the false narrative of $7.4 billion cost estimate as its ‘official’ figure.

When the project was approved by the prime minister last June, we were again promised an updated cost, but none has been provided. Trans Mountain Corporation CEO, Ian Anderson, was reported as saying on June 19, 2019 that, “there is no update on the last estimated project cost of $7.4 billion.”

So has the government misled Canadians all along or did it have an honest belief that the $7.4 billion expansion cost was accurate?

It seems unlikely. In fact, it seems bizarre.

Because no project manager with a modicum of budget-control expertise would enter into a construction phase for a multi billion-dollar project without an updated and detailed construction budget and reliable construction schedule. And where is Trans Mountain’s Board oversight in all of this? Why would a Crown corporation board allow the project to proceed if they don’t know what it’s going to cost to build and how long it’s going to take?

But what does it matter given that the project is long delayed and costs have skyrocketed, likely well beyond the $8.4 billion in any case?

The apparent lack of project control is chilling. On Dec. 3, Trans Mountain held a press gathering to generate fanfare around construction on Phase 1 in Edmonton. There were appearances by Federal Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan and Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage. No one explained the disconnect between promises of construction start in August, and an announcement that construction had begun four months later in December. No one mentioned that the announcement indicates another major delay.

At the press gathering Trans Mountain refused to cop to the out of control costs for this project. Mr. Anderson was reported as saying the pipeline will take 30 to 36 months to build, which means it could be completed in the second half of 2022, but he declined to update the last cost estimate of $7.4 billion because the schedule is not yet confirmed. Remember, Trans Mountain used to say it would take 24 to 30 months to build, so a 20 per cent increase in time line has been quietly slipped into the schedule—that’s a 20 per cent addition in construction activity and carrying costs.

What have we learned from all this? First we have learned that Ottawa makes promises to give us information about the financial future of Trans Mountain but repeatedly goes back on its word. And then, when Ottawa does give us information we are entitled to, we now know it can’t be relied on. SOURCE

Unprecedented protest rocks ‘Kafkaesque’ COP25

UN security struggles to control an unprecedented protest inside the climate negotiations. Dec. 11, 2019. Photo National Observer

Protests led by Indigenous leaders shut down the main hall of COP25 in Madrid on Wednesday. In an unprecedented event, about 500 people stormed the area outside the high-level negotiations decrying the lack of action by assembled governments to address the climate emergency.

The state of negotiations at COP25 was described as a “Kafkaesque absurdity” by the head of Climate Action Network Canada, Catherine Abreu. On Tuesday, negotiators at one session spent 20 minutes arguing over whether to “adjourn” or “close” their meeting and an equal amount of time debating whether to display items on a projection screen.

The protests themselves had a Kafkaesque quality, taking place in the grand hall festooned with enormous UN signs declaring “#TimeforAction.”

Daira Tukano, from the Tukano nation in Northeast Brazil said the Indigenous leaders had no choice but to break the norms of international diplomacy and upset the negotiations.

Daira Tukano was somehow overlooked by UN security staff clearing the high-level negotiators’ main hall at COP25. Dec. 11, 2019. Photo National Observer 

“The Amazon is being destroyed by criminal fires, our leaders are being imprisoned and ‘disappeared.’ This is supposed to be the place where governments protect the earth and the rights of people, but we are not being heard,” Tukano said.

The protest took place just hours after Greta Thunberg addressed the delegates, accusing world leaders of “creative PR” and condemning the fact that “Since the Paris Agreement, global banks have invested $1.9 trillion in fossil fuels.”

United Nations security staff scrambled for about an hour, unsuccessfully, to contain the crowd until reinforcements were finally able to kettle the protestors and force them outside through a large rolling door in the hall.

Private security guards (foreground) and UN security (in blue) finally contained the protests in a loading dock outside the negotiations. Dec. 11, 2019. Photo National Observer 

This is the first time the UN climate negotiations have been rocked by large protests within the negotiating areas. It was not immediately clear what consequences the UN Secretariat would impose as the protestors all had to hold UN accreditation in order to access the area. MORE


Alberta government attacks knowledge with cuts to post-secondary education

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks to media December 6, 2019. Image: Government of Alberta/Flickr

The days when many young Alberta men could join major oil companies or wildcatters, or find work as roughnecks and roustabouts earning six-figure salaries within months of high school, are over and not coming back. Between 2014 and 2016 alone, over 40,000 jobs were lost in the oil and gas sector, according to the Labour Force Survey done by Statistics Canada.

The male-dominated oil patch is facing continued retrenchment because of low prices, high costs, and greenhouse gas-intensive bitumen extraction.

Alberta needs a major economic transformation.

A government that prized gender-based analysis and budgeting would make a difference. So would seeking wisdom from a wider circle than those who gave large donations to the winner of first the Progressive Conservative then the UCP leadership races before becoming premier.

Jason Kenney raised over $2 million in funds from donors that remain, for the most part, unknown to the public, but presumably know how to make themselves heard to the premier.

The province should be building on its recognized education system (students ranked third in the world in science and reading, seventh in mathematics) and welcoming more graduates to the most complete post-secondary system in Canada.

Alberta has two research universities rated in the top 200 in the world. As post-secondary education expert Alex Usher has pointed out, based on population size, only Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Massachusetts do better.

Created over 50 years ago, the Northern Alberta and Southern Alberta Institutes of Technology (NAIT and SAIT) give Alberta two big polytechnical schools that along with big and small universities prepare graduates to contribute to the knowledge-based economy.

In an incomprehensible attack on the foundations of an advanced society, the Kenney government has decided to slash funding for the current financial year (that ends next March) to the university sector by five per cent, with further cuts of five per cent projected for each of the following three years.

With four years of cuts coming, taking inflation into account, 21 post-secondary Alberta institutions (colleges, universities and technology institutes) will lose one-quarter to one-third of their public funding.

Pointedly, the Kenney government excluded the four faith-based Christian universities from its cuts, while singling out Grant MacEwan University and Bow Valley College for initial 7.9 per cent reductions.

Victims of immediate 6.9 per cent cuts are the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. The consequence will be to throttle back the research activities of these world-class institutions, forcing the universities to reduce all spending on items not covered by long-term contracts and denying Alberta students access to important opportunities in the emerging sectors that drive the modern world economy.  MORE

First Nation says Alberta premier is ‘killing’ proposed oilsands mine by failing to address concerns

‘This would be the first time that the Alberta government is killing its own oilsand project,’ says chief

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks to the Canadian Club of Ottawa, Monday December 9, 2019 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is urging the federal government to approve an oilsands mine which would be the largest Canada has ever seen — but a northern Alberta First Nation says the main obstacle facing the project is Kenney’s own government.

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, north of Fort McMurray, Alta., is accusing the Alberta premier of sabotaging the project by neglecting to address lingering environmental concerns.

“The Alberta government is killing its own oilsands project by not negotiating with ACFN,” Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam told CBC News.

Vancouver-based Teck Resources wants to develop a $20.6-billion oilsands project about 110 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. The project would disturb 292 square kilometres of pristine wetlands and boreal forest over its 40-year lifespan (although Teck won’t actively mine its whole lease at once). That’s an area half the size of the city of Edmonton.

Kenney was in Ottawa this week to urge the Trudeau government to act on a list of provincial demands, including the swift approval of the Frontier mine.

“Another thing that must be done is to get to a positive approval of the Teck Resources mine in northern Alberta,” Kenney said Monday during an address to the Canadian Club. “(The mine) has multiple deep partnerships with Indigenous communities.”

‘The premier has to take a step back’

Unlike past oilsands projects, Frontier isn’t getting vocal opposition from large numbers of Indigenous communities. Teck has secured the support of all 14 First Nations and Metis communities the mine affects. That includes the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation — which Kenney singled out in recent remarks by noting its chief once hosted anti-oilsands Hollywood celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Jane Fonda.

“Chief Adam has given his conditional support to the Teck Resources oilsands mine because he sees it as an opportunity to move his people from poverty to prosperity.” Kenney said.

WATCH the complicated relationship Indigenous communities have with the Teck Frontier oilsands mine

WATCH: One Indigenous community’s complicated relationship with the oilsands  4:51

Historically Indigenous communities in Northern Alberta have oppos oilsands development. Now they have thrown in their lot with a major mining company. But as CBC’s David Thurton finds out, not everybody is on board. 4:51

But Adam, who was also in Ottawa Monday and attended Kenney’s speech, said the Alberta government has failed to meet with his nation to address outstanding environmental concerns.

“The premier has to take a step back,” Adam told CBC News immediately after Kenney’s speech. “We won’t let Canada approve this project unless Alberta is at the table fulfilling their obligations. Because we are not just going to take hot air anymore.”

Adam said the Alberta government needs to satisfy fears about the loss of fish, bison and caribou habitat before the federal cabinet makes its decision on the mine at the end of February. Adam has threatened to take legal action if Alberta doesn’t address those concerns

Allan Adam is the chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

“If they don’t do that, Alberta is going to kill this project by themselves,” Adam said, suggesting the project will die in the courts.

If approved, Teck’s Frontier mine would produce 260,000 barrels of oil a day starting in 2026.

The mine underwent a review in 2018 by both federal and Alberta regulators. The joint-panel review concluded the mine would be in the public’s interest but would significantly harm the environment and Indigenous peoples. The regulators issued several recommendations, citing the need to mitigate negative effects on the environment and habitat.

Adam said his nation has been meeting with the federal government to resolve its concerns. But the Alberta government hasn’t come to the table.

The ore crushing unit at the Fort Hills oilsands mine on Sept. 10, 2018. (David Thurton/ CBC)

The Alberta premier’s office directed questions to Alberta Environment and Parks. In an email, the department’s press secretary, Jess Sinclair, said the provincial government has met with ACFN several times.

“Throughout these meetings, we were able to focus a discussion on key items for consideration, which was communicated to ACFN,” Sinclair stated. “The items include working toward establishing the biodiversity stewardship area, which is completed.”

But an ACFN spokesperson said Tuesday night there are still a number of outstanding concerns that need to addressed.

Sinclair also said the Alberta premier had a brief phone call with Adam to congratulate him on his re-election as chief and to discuss working “productively with ACFN on this critical project.”

Teck Resources’ spokesperson Chris Stannell declined to comment for this story. SOURCE

World’s first fully electric commercial aircraft takes flight in Canada

Company hails start of the ‘electric aviation age’ after 15-minute test flight in Vancouver

The world’s first electric commercial during its maiden flight in Richmond, British Columbia Photograph: Jonathan Hayward/AP

The world’s first fully electric commercial aircraft has taken its inaugural test flight, taking off from the Canadian city of Vancouver and flying for 15 minutes.

“This proves that commercial aviation in all-electric form can work,” said Roei Ganzarski, chief executive of Australian engineering firm magniX.

The company designed the plane’s motor and worked in partnership with Harbour Air, which ferries half a million passengers a year between Vancouver, Whistler ski resort and nearby islands and coastal communities.

Ganzarski said the technology would mean significant cost savings for airlines and zero emissions. “This signifies the start of the electric aviation age,” he said.

Civil aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions as people increasingly take to the skies, and new technologies have been slow to get off the ground.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has encouraged greater use of efficient biofuel engines and lighter aircraft materials, as well as route optimisation.

The e-plane – a 62-year-old, six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane retrofitted with a 750hp electric motor – was piloted by Greg McDougall, founder and chief executive of Harbour Air. “For me that flight was just like flying a Beaver, but it was a Beaver on electric steroids. I actually had to back off on the power,” he said.

McDougall took the plane on a short trip along the Fraser River near Vancouver international airport in front of around 100 onlookers soon after sunrise. The flight lasted less than 15 minutes, according to an AFP journalist on the scene.

“Our goal is to actually electrify the entire fleet,” said McDougall.

On top of fuel efficiency, the company would save millions in maintenance costs because electric motors require “drastically” less upkeep, Mr McDougall said.

However, Harbour Air will have to wait at least two years before it can begin electrifying its fleet of more than 40 seaplanes.

The e-plane has to be tested further to confirm it is reliable and safe. In addition, the electric motor must be approved and certified by regulators.

In Ottawa, transport minister Marc Garneau said ahead of the maiden flight that he had his “fingers crossed that the electric plane will work well”. If it does, he said: “It could set a trend for more environmentally friendly flying.”

Battery power is also a challenge. An aircraft like the one flown on Tuesday could fly only about 160km on lithium battery power, said Ganzarski. While that’s not far, it’s sufficient for the majority of short-haul flights run by Harbour Air.

“The range now is not where we’d love it to be, but it’s enough to start the revolution,” said Ganzarski, who predicts batteries and electric motors will eventually be developed to power longer flights.

While the world waits, he said cheaper short-haul flights powered by electricity could transform the way people connect and where they work. “If people are willing to drive an hour to work, why not fly 15 minutes to work?” he said. SOURCE


All systems go: 1st all-electric seaplane takes flight in B.C.

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time’s Person of the Year

Swedish 16-year-old has made it her mission to urge politicians to take action against climate change

View image on Twitter

Greta Thunberg, the teen activist from Sweden who has urged immediate action to address what’s being called a global climate crisis, on Wednesday was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

Thunberg, 16, was lauded by Time for starting an environmental campaign in August 2018 that became a global movement, initially skipping school and camping out in front of the Swedish parliament to demand action.

“In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the UN, met with the Pope, sparred with the president of the United States and inspired four million people to join the global climate strike on Sept. 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history,” the magazine said.

“Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year,” Time said.

Thunberg, who turns 17 in January, continues to beat the drum, saying in Madrid last week that the voices of climate strikers are being heard, but politicians are still not taking action.

WATCH:  Greta Thunberg, in her own words, at the Montreal climate march

Greta Thunberg, in her own words, at the Montreal climate march The Swedish teen addressed an estimated half a million demonstrators in Montreal on Friday. 14:50



Mitsubishi Eyes Leading Position in Europe’s Energy Market With Eneco Acquisition

Offshore wind will be at the center of Mitsubishi’s growth plans in Europe as it leads an acquisition of Dutch utility Eneco.

offshore wind europe photoPhoto via papundits

A group led by Mitsubishi beat out other bidders including Shell in reaching a €4.1 billion ($4.5 billion) deal to buy Dutch energy company Eneco, which the Japanese conglomerate intends to make the centerpiece of its growth in the European energy market.

The winning consortium includes Mitsubishi, with an 80 percent stake, and Japanese utility Chubu, with the remaining 20 percent.
Owned by several dozen Dutch municipalities, Eneco is the second largest electricity supplier in the Netherlands and is also active in Germany and Belgium. The company operates about 2 gigawatts of wind capacity, roughly a quarter of it offshore, alongside nearly 300 megawatts of solar.
Mitsubishi is already a substantial investor in Europe’s electricity market, including a 20 percent stake in U.K. electricity supplier OVO. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, part of the Mitsubishi Group, is co-owner of offshore wind turbine manufacturer MHI Vestas.
Mitsubishi plans to transfer 400 megawatts of offshore wind assets to Eneco once the all-cash acquisition goes through.
Eneco offers “a platform to further grow in the European market, in which we intend to have a leading position in the energy transition,” Takehiko Kakiuchi, CEO of Mitsubishi Corporation, said in a press statement. MORE


LETTER: Addressing Ontario’s disastrous energy policy

Image result for Independent Electricity System Operator transmission linesHydro Quebec is offering us a 20-year electricity deal at a price that is 45% lower than Ontario Power Generation’s current price of nuclear electricity

Dear Leaders of the Opposition at Queen’s Park,

According to the Independent Electricity System Operator, Ontario’s electricity-related greenhouse gas pollution will rise 300% between 2017 and 2025 as the province ramps up the output of gas plants to keep our lights on when the Pickering A and B Nuclear Stations close in 2022 and 2024 respectively. This is concerning given that Provincial Auditor Bonnie Lysak has found that the Ford Government’s climate plan is full of holes and will not meet its already inadequate targets, a finding that comes on the heels of Energy Minister Greg Rickford claiming that tearing up 800 green energy contracts would not lead to increased use of gas generating plants.

Fortunately, we don’t need to increase greenhouse-gas pollution in the midst of the world’s climate emergency. We still have zero emissions options to keep our lights on, which includes all those wind and solar energy projects that have been cancelled and in some cases, as here in Milford,  being torn down at huge expense to taxpayers and our environment. ( see )

By making a deal for low-cost water power with Quebec and by investing in energy efficiency, we can lower our greenhouse gas pollution and our electricity bills.Unfortunately, Premier Ford isn’t interested, even though Hydro Quebec is offering us a 20-year electricity deal at a price that is 45% lower than Ontario Power Generation’s current price of nuclear electricity. And the cost of energy efficiency is 80% lower than the price of nuclear electricity.

We are respectfully asking you 3 opposition party leaders to  jointly move a motion in the Ontario Legislature requesting that Ontario make a deal with Hydro Quebec to prevent rising greenhouse gas pollution from our gas plants. Thank you for considering our request.

Don & Heather Ross, Millford, ON