Ontario Divisional Court Quashes Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks’ Decision to Revoke Nation Rise Wind Farm’s Renewable Energy Approval

TORONTO, May 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — EDP Renewables Canada Ltd. (EDPR) is announcing today that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court) has granted EDPR’s judicial review application in Nation Rise Wind Farm Limited Partnership et al. v. Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks et al. In doing so, the Court has reinstated the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the Nation Rise Wind Farm, a 29-wind turbine, 100-megawatt wind energy project in the Municipality of North Stormont.

In its reasons, the Court stated that “this is a case where the Minister’s decision is not reasonable and does not deserve deference. The decision does not meet requirements of transparency, justification, and intelligibility, as the Minister has failed to adequately explain his decision.” The Court concluded, “this is a rare case in which the Minister’s decision should be quashed and the decision of the ERT should be reinstated.”

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) first issued the REA for Nation Rise Wind Farm in May 2018, and that decision was confirmed, without conditions, by the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) in January 2019. The Nation Rise Wind Farm was under construction when the Honourable Jeff Yurek, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, released a decision on December 6, 2019, revoking the project’s REA, effectively halting construction. EDPR applied for judicial review, and, in its May 13, 2020, decision, the Divisional Court quashed Minister Yurek’s decision, thereby reinstating the decision of the ERT.

Given the Court’s decision, EDPR is eager to recommence construction of the Nation Rise Wind Farm, which will bring much needed jobs and investment to the community. This delay has resulted in unnecessary expenditures to-date, at a time when governments and businesses should be focused on reducing costs and restarting the economy.

Nation Rise Wind Farm was competitively procured under the IESO’s Large Renewable Procurement program and will provide low-cost energy at approximately half the price of typical residential electricity rates, while producing zero emission electricity.

Nation Rise represents a significant infrastructure investment for the local and provincial economy which is needed now more than ever and can be readily deployed. It has already created more than 230 local construction jobs and will create around 10 full-time local jobs as well as numerous indirect jobs during operations. Additionally, the project will inject more than $45 million over 30 years into the local community through municipal taxes, a community benefit fund, charitable contributions and landowner payments.

“EDP Renewables stands behind the benefits of the project and its commitments to the local community,” said Miguel Prado, EDP Renewables North America CEO. “We look forward to the Nation Rise Wind Farm stimulating the local economy in the Township of North Stormont, United Counties of SD&G and the Ottawa region.”

The Divisional Court’s judgment will be publicly available from the Court’s website:

 https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/decisions/.

Landmark agreement recognizes Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and sparks protests from band councils

It won’t stop Coastal GasLink, but future energy projects will need to be negotiated with traditional leaders

The Wet’suwet’en will be the first Indigenous Nation in Canada to have their Aboriginal title over their territory recognized by agreement with the federal and provincial governments, according to materials released today by the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. This includes a memorandum of understanding on Wet’suwet’en title that is scheduled to be signed by ten hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and representatives of the B.C. and Canadian governments on May 14, 2020.

“Canada and BC recognize that Wet’suwet’en rights and title are held by Wet’suwet’en houses under their system of governance,” states the agreement.

Negotiations will continue over the next year as to how “aboriginal and crown titles interface” in order to determine how to implement title and transfer jurisdiction in several areas — including child and family wellness, wildlife, and lands and resources — to the Wet’suwet’en.

The agreement establishes that any future resource project that may cross Wet’suwet’en territory must have the approval of the hereditary chiefs.

“There will be no impact on existing rights and interests pertaining to land until jurisdiction is transferred to the Wet’suwet’en,” continues the agreement, explaining that “in some cases the jurisdiction that is transferred to the Wet’suwet’en will be exclusive and in some cases it will be shared with Canada or BC.”

The draft agreement was released today by the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a non-profit organization that represents the nation’s hereditary chiefs.

This followed yesterday’s release by elected chiefs representing four of six Wet’suwet’en band councils, which called for the MOU to be scrapped and for Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett to resign, a request that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected.

The band councils have complained about a process they feel is rushed and consultation meetings that were cancelled or moved to Zoom as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They say they have not been sufficiently consulted and should have been included in the negotiation process.

Resource benefit agreements on the line

Longstanding tensions exist between the elected band council chiefs, who govern reserves where many Wet’suwet’en people live, and the hereditary chiefs, representatives of a traditional governance structure whose authority over Wet’suwet’en territory was affirmed by Canada’s Supreme Court in the landmark 1997 Delgamuukw decision.

While the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been steadfast in their opposition to the controversial Coastal GasLink pipeline, most elected band councils chose to enter into resource benefit agreements with the pipeline company, which provided them with cash payments.

The hereditary chiefs maintain that the band councils do not have authority to approve the pipeline and that government and industry sought out the wrong partner for negotiations. Band councils were created through the Indian Act to administer reserve lands, and their authority is limited to management of those reserves — a small fraction of the territory held collectively by the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

“They will not be able to ever again approve a project without your government being fully part of the decision as to what will and will not happen on your territory.”

The MOU does not impact the Coastal GasLink project or change the rights and powers of band councils. It “will not affect the rights of Indian Act Bands or other land rights within the Yintah [territory] as it exists since the imposed Indian Act,” the hereditary chiefs wrote in a May 8, 2020, letter.

But the agreement does establish that any future resource project that may cross Wet’suwet’en territory must have the approval of the hereditary chiefs. This undermines the band councils’ ability to negotiate resource benefit agreements down the line.

In their statement repudiating the agreement, the four band council chiefs wrote that they have informed provincial and federal ministers that “the process they have conducted to date is completely unacceptable and disrespectful to our people.”

“The elected councils are the existing legal authority in the territories and are actively involved in all the issues included for negotiation in the MOU. We feel it is important to reiterate that we agree with the pursuit of negotiations for Wet’suwet’en Rights and Title, but we take issue with the improper consultation with respect to an MOU that would lead to negotiations.”

‘Clarity’ on Wet’suwet’en governance structures

For over two decades, since the Delgamuukw decision, the Wet’suwet’en, like other Indigenous Nations, have been stuck in the modern treaty-making process. Not only is this process long and expensive, but it requires the extinguishment of pre-existing rights.

letter from the hereditary chiefs dated May 11, 2020, suggests that band councils see the MOU as just another treaty agreement where Indigenous Peoples “negotiate away” their rights and title. Arguing that is not the case, the hereditary chiefs say the agreement recognizes rights the Wet’suwet’en people have been fighting for over generations of negotiations and court cases.

The letter goes on to note that concerns were raised by some band councils about the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, the non-profit directed by the hereditary chiefs.

“As you may know, we were compelled after the Gisday Wah [Delgamuukw] decision to create a society to enter the treaty process. That was not our choice. We now have the opportunity to present how proper Wet’suwet’en government can operate based on our House and clan system.”

One requirement established by the MOU is “clarity on the Wet’suwet’en governance structures, systems, and laws, that will be ratified by the Wet’suwet’en and will be used to implement their title.” What that will look like in practice is unclear.

“This is just the beginning,” reads a backgrounder posted by the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, “but that recognition means that they will not be able to ever again approve a project without your government being fully part of the decision as to what will and will not happen on your territory.”

While the B.C. and Canadian governments have insisted that the Coastal GasLink pipeline will be built since they have already approved the project, the agreement likely means that no future resource projects will go ahead based solely on the acquiescence of Wet’suwet’en band councils.

The Coastal GasLink approval process led to RCMP raids on non-violent Wet’suwet’en sites followed by solidarity blockades that shut down rail lines and economic infrastructure across the country last February. SOURCE

RELATED:

‘They’re proceeding without us’: Elected chiefs in B.C. push back on Wet’suwet’en rights and title agreement

Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs call for minister to resign, withdrawal of gov’t agreement

Natural Gas Exports Slow as Pandemic Reduces Global Demand

Businesses in the United States, Israel and other countries were planning to invest billions in export terminals. Now, those projects are being canceled or delayed.

Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Houston-based Cheniere, the top American L.N.G. producer and exporter, says its final decision on a major expansion of an export facility outside Corpus Christi, Texas, now hangs on whether it can strike enough contracts with foreign buyers.

Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, announced on May 4 that it would delay a final decision to build an export terminal in Port Arthur, Texas, until next year. Earlier, Texas LNG delayed a final decision on a proposed terminal in Brownsville, Texas, and Royal Dutch Shell withdrew from a Lake Charles, La., joint venture with Energy Transfer.

Tellurian, also based in Houston, recently laid off 40 percent of its 176 employees and cut other expenses in an effort to save a proposed project in Lake Charles. The company is struggling to finance construction despite having a federal permit to produce and export 27.6 million metric tons of L.N.G. annually.

Still, industry executives are hopeful that their business will bounce back.

“The coronavirus is going to delay decisions by a year, but it is not going to change the fundamentals,” said Charif Souki, Tellurian’s chairman. He noted that China, which appears to have largely stopped the spread of the coronavirus, is starting to use more gas. “There is no incentive to use coal at the moment,” Mr. Souki said.

The falling price of gas has also encouraged countries like India, which is dependent on energy imports, to buy more. Partly as a result, global gas sales have dropped only slightly in recent weeks. The International Energy Agency projects a worldwide decline in gas consumption of 5 percent in 2020.

Still, some industry experts said the pandemic could weaken the prospects for natural gas relative to renewable energy. With prices of solar and wind power declining, battery storage technology improving and concerns about climate change growing, renewables could be the biggest long-term threat to natural gas.

Jason Bordoff, the director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, said demand for gas could recover in a few years and continue to replace coal in developing countries trying to reduce air pollution in big cities. But he added that the pandemic, especially if it was lasting, could force political leaders and business executives to be more wary of relying on gas imports that come from distant shores.

“L.N.G., even before coronavirus, was a market that required large capital investments in the face of uncertainty about the future of markets, pricing and policy,” Mr. Bordoff said. “And those concerns are now even more uncertain coming out of Covid-19 then they were before.”

Since American L.N.G. exports began in 2016, the United States has become the third-biggest exporter after Australia and Qatar. The United States last year built more production capacity than any other country, a trend that is continuing in 2020.

Much of the American gas export boom has been based on the cheap gas bubbling up with oil from shale fields in Texas. But that advantage may fade now that oil producers are shutting wells and decommissioning rigs because of the economic downturn and slide in energy demand.

“The coronavirus and lower crude prices are going to create a multiyear decline in associated-gas growth which is the key to U.S. L.N.G. competitiveness,” said Mark Le Dain, vice president for strategy at Validere, a Canadian provider of software for oil and gas companies. “This change will structurally reduce U.S. market share in global L.N.G., especially in Europe, and Russia will grab more of it.”

Egypt has halted all liquefied gas exports.Credit…Shell
Russia already has a robust global pipeline network and is working to increase production and exports of L.N.G. with tax incentives. Qatar is also hoping to keep expanding exports, along with the political influence that energy sales gives it across the Middle East and North Africa, even as its revenues fall.

The most immediate and drastic impacts are being felt in the eastern Mediterranean, where political leaders had pinned economic and geopolitical hopes on the gas boom.

Windfall natural gas discoveries off the coasts of Israel, Egypt and Cyprus, and the promise of more in Lebanese waters, made the region a hot exploration zone in recent years. Israel, in particular, hoped gas sales to Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian consumers would ease tensions. But the new gas has flooded a market where prices are crashing, delaying a bigger windfall on global markets.

Egypt in recent weeks shut one L.N.G. export terminal and canceled a deal to reopen a second one. Lacking lucrative markets, Egypt also halted all liquefied gas exports. That was a setback for Israel, which had hoped to export its newfound gas riches through the Egyptian plants, and at least one company has postponed exploration along the Israeli coast. And after the first well drilled off the coast of Lebanon came up dry, an auction for future foreign investment was delayed because of a lack of industry interest.

“They were on the verge of a regional transformation, and now they are stuck with a question mark and a cloud,” said Nikos Tsafos, a natural gas expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “People are wondering: Is development delayed, or will it even happen? That’s my sense regionally and also globally.” SOURCE


Clifford Krauss is a national energy business correspondent based in Houston. He joined The Times in 1990 and has been the bureau chief in Buenos Aires and Toronto. He is the author of “Inside Central America: Its People, Politics, and History.” @ckrausss

Trudeau says wealth fund blacklisting of Alberta companies a wake-up call on climate change action

Norges Bank decision based on recommendations from fund’s ethics watchdog

The Norwegian central bank has excluded four Canadian energy companies from its wealth fund, which is the world’s largest. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says news that one of the world’s largest investment funds will exclude four Canadian oilsands producers from consideration for investing is part of a continuing shift in global attitudes for which oil companies will have to adjust.

On Wednesday, Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, announced it would stop investing in Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., Suncor Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil Ltd. after concluding they produce unacceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

It also excluded three other non-Canadian companies, two over environmental concerns and one for human rights reasons. It said its holdings in all of the companies have been sold.

“We’ve seen investors around the world looking at the risks associated with climate change as an integral part of investment decisions they make,” said Trudeau on Wednesday in response to a reporter’s question.

“That is why it is so important for Canada to continue to move forward on fighting climate change and reduce our emissions in all sectors.… I can highlight that many companies in the energy sector have understood that the investment climate is shifting and there is a need for clear leadership and clear targets to reach on fighting climate change to draw on global capital.”

The decision was based on recommendations from the Council on Ethics, the fund’s ethics watchdog, because of the companies’ carbon emissions from production of oil, the central bank said.

Carbon emissions became a criterion for exclusion from the fund four years ago, and in 2017 the Council on Ethics recommended “a small handful” of firms be blacklisted for producing too much greenhouse gas emissions in either the oil, cement and steel sectors.

Norges Bank also excluded three other companies — Egypt’s ElSewedy Electric Co, Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA , and Brazilian power holding Eletrobras — for causing severe environmental damage.

The central bank said it took a long time to sell shares of several of the blacklisted companies in a reasonable manner due to the “market situation, including liquidity in individual shares.”

The fund, formally called the Government Pension Fund Global and set up in 1996 to save petroleum revenues for future generations, has grown to almost three times Norway’s annual gross domestic product, far exceeding original projections.

Alberta’s energy minister called the boycott “poorly informed and highly hypocritical.”

“Canada’s energy producers have some of the highest environmental, social and governance standards in the world. A recent review of these standards put Canada — driven by Alberta’s energy sector — third behind only Norway and Denmark,” Sonya Savage said in an emailed statement.

“When looking at the top ten oil exporting nations Canada ranks first — well above other countries, some of them with little or no human rights, supplying the world’s growing oil demand.”

More about publicity than fact, says Cenovus

Cenovus’s CEO said the company is focused on its environmental footprint.

“Pulling investments from the oilsands and claiming it’s for climate change reasons is more about publicity than fact,” Alex Pourbaix said in a statement.

“Cenovus has reduced the GHG emissions intensity at our oilsands operations by approximately 30 per cent over the past 15 years. And we’ve set ambitious targets to reduce our emissions intensity by another 30 per cent across our operations by 2030 and hold absolute emissions flat during that time.” SOURCE

Is COVID-19 Mother Nature’s latest effort to rid herself of the virus of humankind?

Image: NIAID/Flickr

Image: NIAID/Flickr

Back in the 1970s, chemist James Lovelock, with his associate microbiologist Lynn Marguilis, developed what they called the Gaia hypothesis: the theory that our planet is a sentient organism dedicated to promoting and protecting all forms of life.

Gaia is the ancestral name of the primal Earth goddess, whose regulation of all organic components of life — until the Industrial Revolution and the spread of capitalism — maintained a viable existence for humans and other creatures.

During the past 150 years, however, the operation of international trade and industry has steadily come under the control of “free enterprise” corporations. Their obsessive pursuit of profits for the rich and powerful, and the consequent poverty, hunger and inequality that has devastated nearly half the world’s population, have seriously sabotaged Gaia’s global guardianship.

She has witnessed an alarming growth of human overpopulation; the pollution of the planet’s oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and soil; the contamination of its atmosphere with fossil fuel and carbon dioxide emissions; hacking down the rainforests; driving hundreds of animal and marine species to extinction; underdeveloping the planet’s renewable forms of energy, and — most tragically — raising global temperatures to lethally intolerable levels.

Lovelock surmised that humans have now pushed Gaia to her limit of toleration. In self-defence, she has been forced to treat humans as malignant invaders, whose many injurious activities have to be curbed.

She had hitherto confined her retaliatory measures to ramping up floods, droughts, hurricanes, wildfires and other climatic deterrents. But, these having proved ineffective, she has resorted to the imposition of a global pandemic onslaught. Unlike previous such epidemics, however, COVID-19 has two deadlier aspects: it proliferates very quickly, and (so far) has no vaccine.

For humans, such a virulent assault on their health, security, mobility, and social and economic welfare is an appalling experience. The sooner it can be overcome and their lives restored to normal, the better.

For Gaia, on the other hand, COVID-19’s effects are quite beneficial — not just in terms of restraining humans’ harmful activities, such as deforestation, destruction of biodiversity and the depletion of non-renewable resources — but also in helping moderate the baneful effects of human-generated global warming.

A major drop in travel by airplanes, cruise ships and motor vehicles — all significant CO2 emitters — has effectively cut greenhouse gas emissions and helped detoxify the atmosphere.

So has the shutdown of many factories and refineries — also big industrial polluters.

The main question that the COVID-19 pandemic raises is whether such a severe reprimand by Mother Earth — when it eventually runs its course — will be heeded and appropriately acted upon, or whether we will promptly return to our old reckless, asinine and ultimately suicidal ways.

If we take the latter self-destructive course, humankind’s future will be put in imminent jeopardy. With key economic, political, cultural and climate policies continuing to be set by capitalism’s profit-deranged CEOs and investors, hope for the human race’s survival will be inconceivable.

Gaia will of course survive. Over the millennia, she has overseen the rise and fall of many previous dominant lifeforms, from the dinosaurs and reptiles that ruled the planet for 175 million years to mammals and primates such as monkeys and apes, from whom humans eventually evolved.

The crucial distinction between humans and earlier mammals was that humans were endowed with a superior intelligence that, over time, led to hunting and gathering skills and then to farming and high-tech devices. Unfortunately, it also led to wars, poverty, inequality, overpopulation, capitalism and global warming.

If humans precipitate their own extinction, Mother Earth may have a role to play in supplanting us with a species that shuns conflict, greed, inequality and capitalism — and thus survives as long as the dinosaurs.

As we are confined by COVID-19 in our homes for the next several months, we might well contemplate the kind of society we would prefer to have in the aftermath of this crisis. It’s either a resumption of the perilous free-market status quo, or a firm commitment to the creation of a fair, safe, progressive, clean and epidemic-free environment.

The choice we make will shape the future of our children and grandchildren, and the fate of potential generations that may or may not succeed us. SOURCE


Ed FinnEd Finn grew up in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, where he worked as a printer’s apprentice, reporter, columnist and editor of that city’s daily newspaper, the Western Star. His career as a journalist included 14 years as a labour relations columnist for the Toronto Star. He was part of the world of politics between 1959 and 1962, serving as the first provincial leader of the NDP in Newfoundland. He worked closely with Tommy Douglas for some years and helped defend and promote medicare legislation in Saskatchewan. This article originally appeared on Ed’s personal blog.

The oilsands’ other dirty little secret: Canadians hardly own them

An oil sands plant in Fort McMurray, Alberta, in 2012. Image: kris krüg​/Flickr

Image: kris krüg​/Flickr

It’s the other dirty little secret of the oil sands: Foreign companies and their shareholders are benefitting from the huge dividends produced by Alberta’s vast bitumen sand deposits while Canadians are stuck with the vast bill for the cleanup.

It’s like a latter-day update on one of those country and western hurtin’ songs we love so much out here in Wild Rose Country: They get the goldmine, we get the shaft.

So while it’s shocking, the facts released in a report yesterday by three prominent environmental organizations aren’t exactly a shock.

The report by Stand.earth, Environmental Defence and Équiterre — “Who Benefits? An Investigation of Foreign Ownership in the Oil Sands” — indicates that the money is going exactly where you’d expect it to go when more than 70 per cent of Alberta’s oil sands production is owned by foreign corporations. To wit, into foreign pockets.

So it’s time, argued Stand.earth international program director Tzeporah Berman in an online news conference, that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party government “stop wasting time and money on war rooms and propping up oil companies like Suncor and CNRL who claim to be Canadian but are sucking this country dry.”

“Premier Kenney has used his bully pulpit to attack Canadians that are concerned about the climate and the toxic mess being left behind by the oil and gas industry of somehow being unpatriotic,” Berman said. “This research shows clearly that the majority of revenues from the oil sands are going to foreign investors while Canadians are left paying for the cleanup.”

“Oil and gas companies are delivering lower and lower social benefits to Canadians, with jobs, corporate taxes and royalties all plummeting even as the industry expands production,” agreed another participant in the newser, Dale Marshall, national climate program manager of Environmental Defence. “Even before COVID, oil and gas companies were getting rid of workers through mechanization. Those jobs are never coming back.”

Of course, the fact foreigners are reaping most of the gains from the oil sands is a dirty little secret because basically everyone in the oil patch knows it’s true. It’s just not the sort of thing you’re supposed to say in polite company in Alberta.

And that includes journalistic company, apparently. Y’all remember how upset Kenney got on April 24 when some reporter asked a question at a news conference about renewable energy and said the three little words every good Albertan is supposed to hate? You know, Green New Deal …

“When you talk about the Green New Deal, listen, our focus is on getting people back to work in Alberta, not pie-in-the-sky ideological schemes,” Kenney harrumphed. “That kind of question, in the middle of an economic crisis, from a Calgary-based media outlet, really, frankly throws me for a loop. Sounds like you’re reporting for The Tyee or something.”

Just last week, Kenney was accusing former Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May of being “un-Canadian” for channeling oil industry voices that have privately conceded the market for Alberta’s heavy oil is all but dead.

So we know where Kenney thinks the limits to acceptable speech in Alberta ought to be.

Still, it won’t make him happy to hear one of Canada’s most prominent environmentalists using her bully pulpit to note that in the first three quarters of last year, the big five oil sands corporations — Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Ltd. and Husky Energy Inc. — shipped $8 billion to their mostly foreign shareholders.

U.S. interests alone own more than half the oil sands’ production, she said. “If any one group is calling the shots in Alberta … it’s American.”

“Even before the world was turned upside down by the first global pandemic in history, the oil and gas industry in Canada, despite rising production levels, was cutting jobs and paying less than royalties while demanding higher and higher subsidies,” Berman said. “The majority of profits from the industry are leaving the country.”

Now these are the sort of facts the UCP used to angrily dismiss as a “misinformation campaign of defamation.” As Kenney said in his huffy Green New Deal riposte, “we are actually not trying to amplify, but to fight back against the political agenda of the green left that has been trying to landlock Alberta energy. So we’re not going to cooperate with the folks that are trying to shut down Canada’s single largest sector.”

This is a misrepresentation, of course. Berman obviously understands that whatever the future holds, “Canada will produce oil for some time.” The real question about the oil sands, she said, “is whether we should expand them.”

“Whatever happens with the price of oil over the next 18 months, what’s clear is that it doesn’t make sense to be expanding this industry making workers and their families, even more vulnerable. … It doesn’t make sense to shovel Canadian tax dollars to U.S. shareholders. We need a plan.”

The report’s conclusion — the opposite of Kenney’s, naturally — is that “the oil sands are no longer in our national interest.”

This is certainly outside the limits of respectable conversation as defined by Kenney. It’s supposedly what the eerily silent inquiry into foreign-funded environmental campaigns and the COVID-shuttered war room were set up to counter.

These days, though, other than occasional outbursts from Premier Kenney when some reporter pushes his buttons, it’s hard to hear much over the sound of the crickets. There was very little news coverage of the Stand.earth-Environmental Defence-Équiterre report last night.

Maybe it’s that the coronavirus pandemic is sucking up all the oxygen in the newsroom.

Or maybe the UCP and its allies in media are realizing discretion is the better part of valour when it comes to a truth all but universally acknowledged. SOURCE


David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on his blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir Joins Progressive International, Warns of Right-Wing Surge

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has taken a seat on the advisory council for Progressive International, a new left-wing alliance.

The advisory council, of which Katrín is now a member, is a group of left-wing politicians, activists and intellectuals who are responsible for Progressive International’s strategy decisions. Other members include Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy and Yanis Varoufakis.

Progressive International launched this month in response to a call for “progressives of the world to unite” issued by Democracy in Europe Movement and the Sanders Institute in 2018.

Its members strive to create a democratic, peaceful, egalitarian, sustainable world, rejecting capitalist principles. So far the alliance has backed campaigns for a global green new deal and to cancel the debt of countries in the Global South.

Katrín will host the inaugural advisory council convention in Reykjavík in September, pandemic permitting.

In a statement on the Progressive International website, Katrín warned that the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to a wave of nationalism, authoritarianism and injustice across the globe. In this time of crisis she believes international co-operation is the only solution.

Katrín warns that leaders may use the pandemic as a cover to erode civil liberties. Although stressing that certain draconian measures are vital to contain the virus, she expressed concern about restrictions on freedom of expression and greater use of surveillance technologies. She also fears right-wing leaders may use the crisis to restrict women’s reproductive rights and to strip away refugees’ legal protections.

Another key concern is that the pandemic may “deepen divisions between states and within them”. Discriminatory border restrictions, xenophobia and a perceived “external danger” may stoke the fires of nationalism she claims, citing the political impact of world war two.

She explains that the crisis may exacerbate economic disparities between the Global South and richer northern countries. Poorer nations in the southern hemisphere will be worst hit by discriminatory trade restrictions, possibly facing dangerous shortages of much needed supplies. Katrín stresses that it is far easier to shield the vulnerable and practise social distancing in wealthier communities and countries.

Katrín also takes the opportunity to praise Iceland’s welfare state. “The Covid outbreak has demonstrated, once again, that universal healthcare and robust welfare systems are not only essential ingredients of social justice but also of properly functioning societies”.

The full statement, which is well worth a read, is available here.


Chomsky, Sanders and Varoufakis unite to launch Progressive International

LEFT-WING academics and authors including Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein launched the Progressive International (PI) initiative on Monday, which will hold a founding conference in September.

Forty notable figures, also including Greece’s former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir and exiled former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, were joined by the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM) and the Sanders Institute to launch the PI’s website.

The PI says that its activities will be “divided across three pillars: the movement, aimed to forge a global network; the blueprint, to develop a policy blueprint for a progressive international order; and the wire, which offers a newswire service to the world’s progressive forces.”

It aims to hold an inaugural summit in Reykjavik in September, co-hosted by Ms Jakobsdottir’s Left-Green Movement.

With the Covid-19 crisis deepening economic inequality, coupled with the rise of the far-right, Professor Chomsky said that the PI is necessary to challenge international neoliberalism and its structures.

The group’s co-ordinator David Adler said: “Only a common international front can match the scale of our crises, reclaim our institutions and defeat a rising authoritarian nationalism.” SOURCE

Progressives Unite Globally to Tackle New Crisis

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:

GUEST: David Adler, General Coordinator of Progressive International

BACKGROUND: The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the whole world and exposed the common fault lines of neoliberal capitalism and rightwing authoritarianism. This week prominent left figures from all over the world joined together for the launch of a bold new coalition called Progressive International that sees itself as, “an institution for the world’s progressive forces, with a mission to make solidarity more than a slogan.”

Progressive International was born from a call made two years ago by Janes O’Meara Sanders of the Sanders Institute and Yanis Varoufakis, former Finance Minister of Greece. Council members include such left luminaries as Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, and Naomi Klein, but also Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa and actor Gael Garcia Bernal. SOURCE

Naomi Klein: COVID-19 shows “for-profit medicine does not make any kind of sense”

May 13, 2020

If a COVID-19 vaccine is developed in the U.S., will it be made available to everyone regardless of income? Naomi Klein says the question demonstrates how “for-profit medicine does not make any kind of sense.”

The senior Intercept reporter uses the disastrous rollout of COVID-19 antibody tests as a recent indicator of what could come of a healthcare industry that views the pandemic as a money-making bonanza.

“We saw something absolutely absurd happen within the Trump administration, where they decided that in order to expedite the rollout of antibody tests, they would not regulate it at all, just create a kind of free-for-all,” says Klein. “The market was flooded with garbage antibody tests. Lo and behold … regulation actually matters. So now people don’t know whether they can trust these tests at all, and we are once again losing valuable time.” SOURCE

Exclusion decisions and decisions to revoke exclusion

Norges Bank has decided to exclude seven companies from the Government Pension Fund Global and revoke two exclusions.

Norges Bank’s Executive Board has decided to exclude the companies Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus Energy Inc, Suncor Energy Inc, and Imperial Oil Limited after an assessment that acts or omissions that on an aggregate company level lead to unacceptable greenhouse gas emissions, ref. section 3, subsection d, of the Guidelines for Observation and Exclusion of Companies from the Government Pension Fund Global. The Council on Ethics recommended to exclude the companies because of carbon emissions from production of oil to oil sands. It is the first time this criterion is being applied.

In addition, the companies ElSewedy Electric Co and Vale SA are excluded after an assessment of the risk of contribution to severe environmental damage, ref. section 3, subsection c, of the guidelines. It was recommended that ElSewedy Electric Co be excluded because of its participation in the development of a hydropower project in Tanzania. It was recommended that Vale be excluded as a result of repeated dam breach.

The Executive Board has also decided to exclude the company Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA (Eletrobras) because of unacceptable risk that the company contributes to serious or systematic human rights violations, ref. section 3, subsection a, of the guidelines. It was recommended that the company be excluded because of human rights violations in connection with the development of the powerplant Belo Monte in Brazil.

The Executive Board’s exclusion decisions were made based on recommendations from the Council on Ethics. For several of the companies of which exclusion is now being made public, the market situation, including liquidity in individual shares, has meant that it has taken a long time to sell the shares in a reasonable manner. That explains why a long period of time has passed between some of the decisions and the publication.

Decisions to revoke exclusion

Norges Bank has decided to revoke the exclusion of AECOM and Texwinca Holdings Ltd.

The Executive Board’s decision to revoke the exclusion of the companies was made based on recommendations from the Council on Ethics, which shall regularly assess whether the basis for observation or exclusion still exists, ref. section 5, subsection 5, of the guidelines.

AECOM Ltd was excluded in 2018 on the basis of production of nuclear weapons. These activities have now been discontinued. Against this background, the Council on Ethics has recommended that there is no longer a basis for excluding the company. Texwinca Holdings Ltd was excluded in 2019 because of systematic breach of workers’ rights in factories owned by a subsidiary. The Council of Ethics has been informed that the subsidiary is liquidated. Based on this information, the Council on Ethics has recommended that the exclusion be revoked.

Norges Bank’s Executive Board has not independently assessed all aspects in the recommendations, but finds it adequately substantiated that the criteria for exclusion and observation have been fulfilled under the guidelines.

The Council on Ethics’ recommendations

Canadian Natural Resources Limited

Cenovus Energy Inc

Suncor Energy Inc

Imperial Oil Limited

ElSewedy Electric Co

Vale SA

Centrais Electricas Brasileiras SA (Electrobras)

AECOM

Texwinca Holdings Ltd

SOURCE


 

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