Absolute Impact: Why oil majors’ climate ambitions fall short of Paris limits

There is growing recognition that drastic changes to oil and gas consumption are required to meet the finite limits of a global carbon budget and the goals of the Paris agreement.

Building on our recent work analysing company ambition, Carbon Tracker defines the structural “Hallmarks of Paris Compliance”, and then uses this framework to derive a relative ranking of company climate targets for the seven majors plus Equinor and Repsol.


Climate targets in the oil and gas industry need to recognise the finite limits that the energy transition places on current business models and their investment decisions. Companies that continue to assume growth and sanction projects outside climate limits risk creating stranded assets, potentially destroying significant shareholder value.

We provide a relative ranking of climate goals for a selection of the largest oil and gas producers (7 majors plus Equinor and Repsol) based on our assessment framework which we describe in detail.

We expand on our three “Hallmarks of Paris Compliance” as pre-requisites for company goals to link to a finite climate budget. To achieve this structural link, ambitions must be framed on an absolute basis, cover scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, and account for activities based on a company’s full equity share.

An intensity approach to target-setting fails to link to finite climate limits. Targets which are set on an “all-energy” basis can also mask oil and gas production growth in the short to medium term.

Interim targets are critical to ensure timely action, and that the emissions pathway followed fits with Paris goals.

Not all “net zero” targets are equal among recent climate announcements. There are key differences in the metrics used, the scope and extent of emissions covered, and the emissions pathway followed.

We find a three-tier approach to emissions targets:

      • Eni, Repsol and BP – Scopes 1, 2 and 3; absolute basis to upstream ambitions.
      • Shell, Total and Equinor – Scopes 1, 2 and 3; intensity approach to goals.
      • Chevron, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil – Scope 1 and 2 emissions only.

Eni tops our ranking based on its structure, despite the scale of ambition not reaching net zero. Its upstream targets fulfil the three Hallmarks, and it has a significant interim target (30% reduction in absolute upstream emissions by 2035).

ExxonMobil brings up the rear as its target covers upstream emissions alone, and even then it only covers assets operated by Imperial Oil, a Canadian oil sands company in which it has a majority stake. This fails to acknowledge the impact that reduced demand for fossil fuels will have on its fundamental business.

An industry-standard approach to reporting needs to be adopted. Almost every ambition is framed differently, making comparison challenging; we therefore encourage, where possible, the development of consistency around the calculation and reporting of climate metrics.


‘6 Months Left to Avoid Climate-Based Civilizational Collapse’


There’s a famous quote of oft-disputed origin that frequently gets attributed to Winston Churchill that goes: ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste.’ The quote is also often applied to the doctrines of hard-right economic shock therapy which were famously espoused by economist and modern-day originator of neoliberalism Milton Friedman and his ideological bedmates at the University Chicago. These doctrines are the ones that were infamously tested out in the field by the savage economic war waged on Chile by Augusto Pinochet and the CIA following the coup in 1973. The implications of the phrase when ascribed to either Churchill or the Friedmanite Chicago Boys are clear: In times of crisis, use the confusion and the disarray to reshape society as you see fit; while the people are panicked, let the powerful jerk the needle to the right. As Naomi Klein described it in her seminal 2007 book, ‘The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism’:

It was in 1982 that Milton Friedman wrote the highly influential passage that best summarizes the shock doctrine: ‘Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.’ It was to become a kind of mantra for his movement in the new democratic era. Allan Meltzer elaborated on the philosophy: ‘Ideas are alternatives waiting on a crisis to serve as the catalyst of change. Friedman’s model of influence was to legitimize ideas, to make them bearable, and worth trying when the opportunity comes.”

One of the most striking modern-day examples of the violence in which American Friedmanite neoliberalism imposes itself upon the world was, of course, the destruction of Iraq that started under George W. Bush. Klein describes this succinctly in ‘The Shock Doctrine’, painting a picture of the state of the occupation post-invasion:

Iraq under Bremer was the logical conclusion of Chicago School theory: a public sector reduced to a minimal number of employees, mostly contract workers, living in a Halliburton city state, tasked with signing corporate-friendly laws drafted by KPMG and handing out duffle bags of cash to Western contractors protected by mercenary soldiers, themselves shielded by full legal immunity.

‘Never let a good crisis go to waste,’ has another possible origin however. In his 1971 book ‘Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals’, community activist and political theorist Saul D. Alinsky wrote that, ‘in the arena of action, a threat or a crisis becomes almost a precondition to communication.’ Alinsky’s point came at things from entirely the opposite side of the spectrum: When there is a crack in the armour of the status quo—a disruption to the corrupt, sleepy norms—use it to shatter that status quo, and attempt to build a better world by uniting grassroots campaigns into a powerful unit. In other words, a strikingly opposing worldview to the likes of Churchill and Friedman. Others picture yet another figure when they think of the crisis quote: one Rahm Emmanuel, former Mayor of Chicago, then-President Obama’s Chief of Staff, and perennial burst pustule on the face of this green Earth. Emmanuel, naturally aligning himself with the high priests of neoliberalism who hailed from his hometown, is said to have expressed a ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste,’ sentiment in response to the great crash of 2007/8. The more classically inclined point towards another likely candidate as the source of the saying: Niccolò Machiavelli himself, who said: ‘Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.’

In terms of pure chronology, then, it would seem pretty clear that Machiavelli could most likely lay claim to being the originator of the quote. Of course, just as interesting as whatever the actual origin of a saying might be is the way the saying is taken and morphed and amplified, and by whom, down the ages.

As the global lockdowns from Covid-19 begin to be eased—in many places directly against the advice of science and common sense—environmentalists have been sounding the alarm, and pleading for a divergence from the path of madness. Covid-19 is the biggest, most structure-shaking crisis the world has seen in a lifetime. Within the space of a few weeks, entire systems previously taken for granted were dismantled, ground to a halt, or were reconfigured. Air travel came to a virtual standstill. Capitalist factories and chains of production and distribution were repurposed to serve the greater human good by producing hand sanitiser or PPE. And, most tellingly, CO2 emissions plummeted by a global average of 17% in April as compared to 2019. That kind of paradigm-stalling judder has the potential to be seized on by forces both malign, and progressive. Scientists and environmentalists have been issuing stark warnings against not using the opportunity afforded by this crisis to dramatically reconfigure our approach to global energy production and carbon emission. They have been stressing the need for a green recovery, and highlighting the madness of rebounding back to business as usual. A few days ago, Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, told The Guardian:

The next three years will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond. […] If we do not [take action] we will surely see a rebound in emissions. If emissions rebound, it is very difficult to see how they will be brought down in future. This is why we are urging governments to have sustainable recovery packages.

The IEA’s own calculations show that governments are set to spend about $9tn in the next few months on rescuing their economies from the coronavirus crisis. If this is not done in a dramatically greener, more sustainable way going forward than has been the case up until before the crisis, then we are likely past the point of no return. The three years timescale to avert catastrophe given above may also seem like a dramatic tightening of the noose from the oft-touted figure of a decade or so, but in fact in the same Guardian report the IEA representative refines that figure to a more realistic, and far more depressing, six months. According to a report in Media Lens, a UK-based corporate media watchdog:

[T]he crucial window for action is likely much shorter than that. And it is not just the ‘usual suspects’ of Greens and wild-eyed radicals who claim so. According to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, the world has just six months to avert climate crisis. This is the timescale required to ‘prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe’.


Why are First Nations Indigenous rising across the land?

Why are First Nations Indigenous rising across the land?

While under the COVID 19 pandemic, Trudeau’s Liberal government has continued implementing zoom forced tactics, verbalizing policy without concrete funding and looking at legislation that will continue to threaten First Nation Indigenous existence.

Canada was formed as an afterthought for the British Empire. Canada was to be a colony beholden to the United Kingdom for their livelihood. Canada has no standing as a country without the “inheritance” left for them by Great Britain.

This “inheritance” is conditional where Canada must maintain a good relationship with the original peoples. Treaties and inherent rights were negotiated so that the European rabble would have some say in the new land. This “say” was not to be absolute. The ability for Canada to govern was tempered by living a peaceful co-existence with the original peoples.

How is Canada faring in living up to this “inherited duty?” Canada is failing. World indexes that measure health or quality of life place the non-Indigenous settler immigrants as “living highly” on this land. But the First Nation Indigenous come in last on any measurement of health, housing, quality of life or ability to go forward within this state.

Canada has been working on destroying the last strongholds of inherent rights holding nations that exist outside of legal international treaty jurisdictions. Canada’s department of Indian Affairs worked for many years with a racist archaic document in its federal Indian Act legislation. The Indian Act chipped away at the original people’s rights, jurisdiction and land bases.

Canada’s department of Indian Affairs did not have legislation beyond the Indian Act and delineated powers over First Nations who had not signed treaties or agreements whether in a province or territory. While Canada worked on nullifying the rights for bands in provinces, they also set up “self-government” processes in territories that took years to complete.

Once Canada completed withering away rights in self-government agreements, Canada then rewrote federal legislation to include a division of services (Department of Indigenous Services) and a division of crown relations (Department of Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs). First Nation analysts who know of past federal maneuvers wrote critiques and posted these findings on social media platforms to make all First Nation Indigenous people aware of the federal agenda under various federal governments.  Whether these federal government actions were developed by the Liberals or by the Conservative governments, there remained an active termination agenda.

Mainstream Canadians do not see a problem with the special words and tactics that undermine First Nation Indigenous people in this country. Why? For one thing, Canadians have been misled historically and have been given one-sided racist accounts that fit into the manifest destiny video.

Today, First Nation Indigenous groups are rising to contest the one-sided histories, misrepresentation and broken legal undertakings that continue to mark Canada’s attempt to stand on its own with stolen lands.

Canada has had a three-pronged attack advancing on the indigenous. In addition to breaking Indigenous societies by disrupting clan systems with the residential school kidnappings, Canada has also been utilizing its administrative, judicial and legislative branches to complete their coup.

The administrative control comes in the form of contribution agreements. These are haphazard amounts that Indian Affairs bean counters make in back offices in Ottawa and run to Treasury Board and the sitting house for genocidal approval. Federal offices release these poverty dollars with lofty deliveries such “a new path” or “the way forward”. Whatever the term used, they are empty words without substance. It is the same as putting lipstick on a pig.

Legislative control came from the Indian Act but sneaky federal attempts over the years continue to derogate or abrogate the long held way of life of the original peoples. Canada has introduced or tried to introduce governance legislation, education legislation, transparency of spending legislation and recently a new framework. These legislative attempts are heralded with big news releases complete with federal employees showing up with somber faces, ruffling through serious papers delivered in deadpan voices. Sometimes, Trudeau or the leader of the day sheds tears.

The judicial control has been more insidious. With each case, whiteman made law attempts to build a colonial box of “aboriginal law”. This law is supposedly the First Nation Indigenous people’s law. In fact, it is the application of whiteman made law about First Nation issues. Therefore, whiteman made law can only surmise what “aboriginal law” really means. We know from existing case law that it is sui generis or of it’s own kind from the case called Guerin.

Judicial decisions are argued then decided by predominantly non-First Nation jurists who think they understand First Nation issues or problems. These non- First Nation jurists apply their mainstream tests, towers and tidbits of thinking to try to develop solutions in a cookie cutter fashion with application to all other “Indian” cases that come before them. This is completely wrong.

Individual bands or nations are nations, so lumping all these cases together results in a hodgepodge of rules that don’t make sense to the nations seeking remedy or relief. The Vuntut Gwitchin were just handed such a case decision.

Twenty years went into making a self-government agreement for this nation. What was the result? The first challenge to the governance structure went into the whiteman made courts for a final decision. This decision was made without adequate knowledge of the people affected or their prior ways of governing. What was written in a linear fashion has become the governance of the Vuntut Gwitchin subject to Canada’s whiteman made courtroom interpretation for a governance system that is older that the Canadian courtrooms. This is not Vuntut Gwitchin governance. This is Vuntut Gwitchin forced governance still defined by colonizer institutions.

First Nations are rising because the world is changing. The environment and land are interconnected to our governance systems, therefore the self-government agreements being pedaled by Canada are inadequate and fraudulent. Canada has been acting like a used car salesman, peddling dud rides to the original peoples. This genocidal treatment has not gone unnoticed globally. Perhaps Canada should try to understand securing First Nations equity first in their own backyard before globe trotting around at the UN level on failed campaigns.


Mu WÎyan Î’uch: Thunder Woman Speaks

In Canada and Australia Indigenous women are murdered or go missing at staggering rates.

Clean water is a human right. In America it’s more a profit machine

When it comes to water infrastructure, America’s challenges resemble those of a developing country. It’s time for that to change

‘Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, nearly 14m households were unable to afford their water bills. Illustration: Erre Gálvez/The Guardian

How can it be that in the midst of a pandemic, children living in the richest country in world history are being poisoned by tap water? For decades, our government has put corporate profits ahead of guaranteeing its people the right to clean water. We have neglected the most basic public investments to keep Americans healthy and safe. Now, as America battles an unprecedented public health crisis, we can no longer continue along a course in which companies have been allowed to buy up, privatize, and profit off a basic human right. The solution is not more privatization – it is for Congress to end decades of neglect and immediately invest billions into our public water systems so that we can finally guarantee clean drinking water to everybody.

That’s why we joined with Representative Ro Khanna to introduce the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (Water) Act. This comprehensive legislation would provide up to $35bn per year to overhaul our water infrastructure across the nation.

Unbelievably, when it comes to water infrastructure, America’s challenges resemble those of a developing country. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our drinking water infrastructure a “D” grade and our wastewater infrastructure a “D+”. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that raw sewage overflows at least 23,000 times each year. Up to 1.7 million Americans lack access to basic plumbing facilities such as a toilet, tub, shower, or basic running water. Almost 200,000 households have absolutely no wastewater system. Up to 10m homes across America get water through lead pipes. Six years since the start of its water crisis, Flint still does not have clean water. Meanwhile, in Denmark, South Carolina, families are forced to travel 20 miles each month in order to collect clean drinking water. 

Not only do Americans have to deal with poor-quality and often toxic drinking water, we have the “privilege” of paying an arm and a leg for it. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, nearly 14m households were unable to afford their water bills, whose prices increased more than 40% since 2010. At this rate, more than a third of American households may not be able to afford their water bills five years from now. ⁠Furthermore, due to the economic meltdown caused by the coronavirus, millions of Americans who don’t know where their next paycheck will come from are now at risk of losing their water service. As public health officials warn that this deadly disease will be with us for quite some time, how are families supposed to wash their hands regularly when their utility company is shutting off their water?


It should not be a radical idea to say that all families should be able to protect themselves from the coronavirus and other illnesses by practicing good handwashing and hygiene with affordable, clean water in their homes. Our legislation is designed to ensure that disadvantaged communities – including small, rural, and indigenous communities – receive the funding and assistance they need to cover everybody. The Water Act would provide grants to households and communities to make repairs to water infrastructure, replace lead service lines and safely filter out toxic compounds from their drinking water. Under the bill, families who need help could get grants for upgrades to household wells and septic systems. Schools would also receive up to $1bn a year for water infrastructure upgrades to address lead and other water problems. And this bill helps hold utility companies accountable for engaging in service shutoffs, discrimination, and civil rights violations.

The United States of America should not have toxic or unaffordable water. When people in the world’s richest country turn on their taps, the water they drink should be clean. As we deal with a deadly virus that has killed 120,000 Americans already, handwashing, good sanitation, and safe, hygienic environments are not optional. Let us go forward together, and demand that Congress finally make the necessary investments in clean water for all Americans, putting human lives ahead of corporate profits. Our most vulnerable communities depend on it.



Defunding the police is only the first step to abolition

Image: Mitchel Raphael

Image: Mitchel Raphael

“I don’t know about you, but I never thought I would wake up to see an article about abolitionism in Cosmopolitan magazine!” said Syrus Marcus Ware as he joined other abolitionists on a live webinar organized by Toronto Prisoners Rights Project.

Ware led a talk on June 11 to discuss abolitionism with fellow leaders of the movement in Canada such as Sandy Hudson, Kyisha Williams, Ashanti Omowali Alston, Viviane Saleh-Hannah and Morgan Switzer-Rodney.

In the talk, they discussed what it’s been like to see the movement spur into a cross-national discussion of possible alternatives to policing structures that value community accountability.

“Community accountability comes away from punishment as the goal, it recentres change as the goal and support as the goal,” said Kyisha Williams.

Abolitionism has many different meanings, especially in today’s context of civil unrest after the death of George Floyd sparked protests all over the world. His death, which was filmed and distributed to the masses, spurred a widespread movement to defund the police in cities across North America.

#DefundThePolice calls for the gradual reallocation of funds to social services and away from the policing institutions in all cities across the country. It’s part of an overarching movement to dismantle the carceral system and reimagine what public safety could look like by addressing the root cause of crime.

“We’re asking for people to take a conceptual leap with us,” said Syrus Marcus Ware, an abolitionist scholar and activist. “We know the police and prison system as it currently stands, does not keep us safe or more secure. It’s brutalizing our communities and it’s resulting in a disproportionate amount of death of Black and Indigenous people on Turtle Island.”

So what would defunding the police look like? It’s hard to imagine, but it’s been done before. In 2012, Camden, New Jersey moved to disband their police force and replaced it with an entirely new one since corruption made it unfixable. Before the reforms, the city had one of the highest crime rates in the United States, and a long history of police brutality.

After police reforms, the crime rate plummeted by 42 per cent over the last seven years. City officials have pointed to their improvement of community-oriented policing which emphasizes de-escalation and engaging with the residents in communities.

While the impact of disbanding the police force in Camden showed shocking results, this isn’t exactly what abolitionism is about.

“The problem with institutions is that [its] purpose is to preserve itself,” said El Jones, an activist and abolitionist. She refers to a concept coined by Michael Jackson, a prison lawyer, who sums up the history of prisons as a cycle of crisis and reform. In the 1960s, there was a sweeping reform that modernized prisons across the country, which also indubitably securitized the prison system.

“Once something exists, there’s a notion that it has to be preserved and there’s no other way to do it… The police are a relevantly recent invention, so why do we have to do something we were doing in 1830 in 2020? How does that make sense?” she said.

In January, Jones made a plea with the City of Halifax to freeze the police budget until they could prove that they are no longer racially profiling community members. This plea came shortly after video footage of Santina Rao, a 23-year-old Black mother, showed her violent arrest in front of her children. Jones said her request was not positively received at the time, and that at the meeting one of the officers asked if she could say something nice about the police in an effort to mock her.

“You only get the budget you have until you can demonstrate any progress, and even that was treated with a quite large amount of disrespect and then skepticism and ignored,” she said.

Jones points to the lack of police accountability as one of the main reasons why reform isn’t going to work. Initiatives like body cameras and banning chokeholds don’t address the root cause of harm in our communities.

Watching the world respond to COVID-19 has shown that we’re more capable of change than we may have once thought. Jones says she’s been advocating and pushing officials to allow incarcerated people to serve their time in communities, and was met with a lot of pushback and criticism. Yet once COVID-19 proved that prisons were a public health threat, many were eventually let out.

“We can build the community structures of care,” says Jones. “These things we’re told that can’t be done, that are ridiculous and radical, are actually the most practical and real thing we can do. We can’t believe that these things are impossible because we’ve seen it.”

Since incarceration takes perpetrators out of their community networks and connections to resources, community care has become another pillar of abolitionism. Imagining a team of social workers, mental health workers and paramedics could appear at every 911 call instead of a person who is armed and lacks skills in de-escalation.

“When we say abolition, we are imagining public safety without these kinds of structures in place which are punitive, which are meant to kill, meant to deny human, social and economic rights, to particular groups of people. [Especially] those who are Black, Indigenous, racialized and most marginalized,” said Beverly Bain, a scholar and activist on abolitionism.

Bain says that we’ve been watching governments divest money from housing, education and employment and funnel it into policing structures so they can “facilitate a much more brutal law and order agenda that we are constantly experiencing today.”

“Why do we need police to be armed and why do we need them to be intervening in these kinds of situations when we can have this money go into communities where various kinds of support can be created in order to take care of our community,” she said.

So far we have seen cities like Minneopolis, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles propose legislation or take steps toward defunding the police. Even though this seems like a step in the right direction, Justin Piché, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa says that he remains vigilant.

“We’ve seen calls for social justice flare up in the past, and we have to really guard against both conservative backlash and liberal co-optation,” he says, and points to examples of band-aid solutions like implementing expensive body cameras or investing millions in one halfway-house project — which ultimately fail to address the root cause of harm in our communities.

“Frankly that’s bullshit. That’s not what people are calling for and that’s not going to end anti-Black and anti-Indigenous discrimination, that’s just piecemeal reform. That’s going to bring us back to a crisis,” he said.

Piché has been teaching abolitionism for years, and every year he always wondered how his teachings could not only make it into mainstream discussion, but also transform the way we respond to social harm.

“An abolitionists’ vision of policing is decentred, prisons are decentred as a solution in favour of other ideas like drug decriminalization, mental health supports, peer support, youth programs and transformative justice.”

The Criminalization and Punishment Education Project and the Toronto Prisoner’s Rights Project have put together an email zap tool. It’s a computerized form that plugs in your information into an formulated letter that automatically sends it to your city councilor. The tool was made to help people easily contact their representatives and tell them to defund the police.

“Very soon, we’ll be back here. If we don’t win this time, we’ll be back here making these calls again. So we have to stay vigilant and be ready,” he says.


Lidia Abraha is a freelance journalist based in Toronto, whose work has appeared in VICE Canada, NOW Magazine, The Canadian Press and Exclaim! She is the recipient of rabble.ca‘s 2020 Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship. Her work at rabble focuses on some of the issues most urgently affecting racialized and marginalized communities, notably racism in the criminal justice and policing system.


Saskatchewan sets up nuclear secretariat to plan for reactors

An employee at Cameco Fuel Manufacturing Inc. Uranium dioxide powder is refined into fuel. Powder is checked for consistency to make pellets for use in fuel bundles.  Photograph courtesy of Cameco Corp. 

The provincial government unveiled its plans Wednesday to establish an office to co-ordinate nuclear policy and program work within the Climate Change and Adaptation Division of the Ministry of Environment.

The new nuclear secretariat is mandated to develop and execute a strategic plan for the deployment of “clean-energy small modular reactors” in the province. No timeframe commitments were made in the announcement, which also did not provide sites in Saskatchewan where new reactors will be installed.

“The deployment of small modular reactors in Saskatchewan will require collaboration with several partners to fully encompass the benefits Saskatchewan could see in way of jobs, enhanced value chains for Saskatchewan’s uranium, and our made-in-Saskatchewan climate policy,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said.

All the uranium mines in Canada are in Saskatchewan, while processing, refining, conversion, fuel fabrication, research and waste management happen on a national scale with nuclear power stations located in Ontario and New Brunswick. Source: Natural Resources Canada.

All the uranium mines in Canada are in Saskatchewan, while processing, refining, conversion, fuel fabrication, research and waste management happen on a national scale with nuclear power stations located in Ontario and New Brunswick, according to Natural Resources Canada.

In December, Premier Scott Moe signed a memorandum of understanding (or MOU) on small modular reactors with the premiers of Ontario and New Brunswick to co-operate in deploying the new technology across the country.

In December, Premier Scott Moe signed a memorandum of understanding on small modular reactors with the premiers of Ontario and New Brunswick to co-operate in deploying the nuclear technology across the country. Photograph courtesy of the Saskatchewan government.

The province said that broader collaboration will enable opportunities for financing, regulation, labour capacity, public engagement and economic growth.

“Clean nuclear energy will provide Saskatchewan the tools to fight climate change,” Duncan said.

“The advancement of small modular reactors in Canada brings economic and environmental benefits with new clean technology that is also safe, reliable and competitively priced power.”

Small modular reactors are nuclear power reactors that can produce electricity in the range of 50 to 300 megawatts, as compared to current nuclear power plants that range between 600 and 1,600 megawatts. Small modular reactors are low-emitting technology that can provide baseload power within an electrical grid.

“The advancement of small modular reactors in Canada brings economic and environmental benefits with new clean technology that is also safe, reliable and competitively priced power,” Saskatchewan Environment Minister Dustin Duncan.

Total share of world nuclear power production by country in 2018. Canada ranks second after Kazakhstan in terms of world uranium production, but accounted for just four per cent of nuclear power production. Graphic courtesy of Natural Resources Canada.

Cameco Corp. is the leading publicly traded uranium company in the world and accounted for 18 per cent of global production in 2015. It is also an economic engine for north Saskatchewan.

Cameco is one of the largest global providers of the uranium fuel needed to supply reactors. Cameco Fuel Manufacturing is one of two suppliers serving Canada’s reactor fleet and is the largest Canadian-based fabricator of in-core reactor components for CANDU reactors around the world.

The mining giant shuttered extraction at its Cigar Lake mine, the last operational uranium mine in Saskatchewan, due to COVID-19 and has yet to announce a reopening date.

The province said its new framework will keep Saskatchewan at the forefront of innovation in nuclear power as provinces and territories across Canada “explore pathways” in the federal government’s Small Modular Reactor Roadmap.

The spot price for uranium increased by more than 35 per cent after Cameco announced the first disruption at Cigar Lake mine on March 23. The company reopened its Ontario Port Hope Conversion Facility’s UF6 plant and its Blind River refinery in Ontario on May 11 following its first-quarter financial results May 1.

A 2018 advertisement for Cameco’s fuel manufacturing facilities in Ontario. Bruce Power is Canada’s first private nuclear generator, providing 30 per cent of Ontario’s power. Courtesy of Bruce Power.

“We are confident that we can maintain the required roster of qualified operators to run the UF6 plant going forward, enabling us to carefully bring the plant and the UO3 refinery back into production,” Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel said.

Reactor components manufactured in Cobourg, Ont., and fuel bundles assembled in Port Hope, Ont., are used in most CANDU reactors in Canada and abroad.

“We will continue to provide the fuel required to power the nuclear reactors that will be part of the critical infrastructure needed to ensure hospitals, care facilities and other essential services are available during this pandemic,” Gitzel said.

Cameco is to release its second-quarter financial numbers July 29.


Michael Bramadat-Willcock/Local Journalism Initiative/Canada’s National Observer

How Canada tries to hide its racism by pointing a finger at the U.S.

The United States is like a thick fog that Canada uses to hide reality and create the fantasy that we are better. Photo by Shutterstock.

In 1969, then prime minister Pierre Trudeau famously said that living beside the United States was like “sleeping with an elephant.” Indeed, a beast of such size is impossible to ignore in even a king-sized bed, and his every grunt and movement becomes the problem of his bedfellow.

Canadians love to conceive of our relationship with the United States like this: we are helpless and can do little against the giant beside us. Roll over. Put a pillow on your head. Hope to God he doesn’t roll over on you.

But the relationship is much more than a tale of a helpless small animal keeping an even keel in the midst of an elephant. Our identity is formed not simply by lying beside the beast, but also by using the United States to whitewash and obscure our own reality.

The United States is more like a thick fog that we use to hide reality and create the fantasy that we are better: our racism is kinder, our inequality is milder, our problems aren’t as bad and therefore, life here is great.

This mythmaking forms the basis of mainstream thought that can be applied to pretty much any issue. The Globe and Mail editorial board used this as a justification for why Canadians should not support defunding the police: “Canada’s problems, though related, are different in nature and scale. As noted earlier this week, the number of people who die at the hands of police in Canada each year is around 26; in the U.S., it is more than 1,300.”

Policing, gun violence and racism get this treatment the most. White Canadian pundits and politicians are fast to reach to American statistics to argue that things here aren’t so bad.

When premiers Doug Ford and François Legault denied that systemic racism exists in their provinces, Shelby Thevenot argued that this is a common trope: “The premiers’ comments reflect a misconception that runs through the veins of Canadian society. Canadians have a history of presenting themselves as ‘less racist’ than the U.S., but systemic racism is as old as Canada itself.” She then details how Canada’s immigration system has discrimination built into it, through the points system that allows some people to immigrate to Canada more easily.

Deflecting criticism by referencing the United States has a long history in Canada, and it helps maintain white supremacy by calming people into believing that things in Canada aren’t so bad, if you look at the United States.

When politicians and journalists dodge criticism by pointing to the United States, they weasel out of needing to take how a problem has evolved specific to Canada seriously. It becomes an easy way to ignore important issues.

Canada might rank behind the United States in police killings, but the rate of people killed by police is far higher than most other countries, including France, Australia, the Netherlands and Portugal. The Globe and Mail missed this detail.

The defund the police and Black Lives Matter movements have roots in Canada that are as deep as they are in the United States.

“The habit of using American fog to hide Canada’s own systemic racism has perpetuated white supremacy, and allowed decision-makers to avoid dealing with the problems that racism causes.”

Canada’s legacy of slavery is different than the United States’ but because of that difference, the echoes that exist today look different. Different is not a synonym of better.

More than 4,000 people were enslaved in Canada, and the richest Canadian families and religious orders owned slaves. Slaves were a mix of Indigenous and Black people, and a Black slave was evidence that someone had greater economic power.

Mainstream Canadian history took stories from the Underground Railroad to sanitize this history: rather than being a nation built on slavery, Canada welcomed freed slaves.

Where the economic power from slave-grown crops in the United States formed the basis for modern capitalism there, Canada derives its economic power from natural resources. Clearing vast territories to make way for resource extraction or farming: that’s the foundation of Canada’s modern economy. To do this required a concerted genocide against Indigenous Peoples, organized by the state and religious organizations and carried out by soldiers, police and religious activists.

The most efficient tool to achieve this was through the Canadian Pacific Railway, built to flood Western Canada with white settlers and to ship goods to market. The CPR was built by thousands of Chinese labourers. They weren’t slaves, but they were paid less than half of what white workers were paid, and given the most dangerous jobs along the most brutal parts of the railway to do the work.

Canada’s labour market, where racialized people are paid less and expected to put themselves in danger, is the true legacy of this history.

There is a straight line between the origins of Canada’s racist economy and the fact that the overwhelming majority of workers who have died from COVID-19 have been racialized: among health-care workers, the majority have been Black.

There are so many other examples too, the largest being the temporary foreign worker program, which is premised on the idea that foreign workers can be paid less to do difficult or dangerous work at wages that Canadian workers refuse.

The habit of using American fog to hide Canada’s own systemic racism has perpetuated white supremacy, and allowed decision-makers to avoid dealing with the problems that racism causes.

Until we ditch this trope, white supremacy will remain firmly entrenched in Canada.


Toronto Mayor John Tory calling for police reform in bid to ‘stamp out systemic racism’

Tory’s motion for the creation of a new non-police response team will be debated by city council on June 29

Toronto Mayor John Tory is calling for the creation of a new non-police response team for calls that do not involve weapons or violence. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

Toronto Mayor John Tory is calling for numerous changes to the city’s policing system, including the creation of a new non-police response team for calls that do not involve weapons or violence.

Tory revealed the list of proposed reforms Thursday morning as part of a motion he will take to council next week.

“In recent weeks, here in Toronto and around the world, people have been raising their voices and calling for an end to racism generally, to anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism, and to racism against marginalized communities,” Tory writes in the motion.

“We must fix that model by changing the way policing is done in order to stamp out systemic racism within our police service and to rethink, in some cases, whether police are the right community response at all.”

The motion also calls for increased funding of programs that support Toronto’s Indigenous, Black and marginalized communities, as well as others that provide mental health supports.

Tory’s recommendations — which you can read here — do not call for a defunding of the service, a demand that has become a rallying cry among concerned residents in recent weeks.

Tory said he instead favours the idea of “detasking” police rather than slashing the budget.

Recent police-involved deaths put ‘spotlight’ on force

Toronto police have been under increased scrutiny in recent weeks amid large protests and calls to defund the force.

The Toronto protests were ignited by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, but also the death of Toronto woman Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who fell from her balcony after police responded to a call at her home in May.

Police in nearby Peel region are also facing scrutiny after the death of Ejaz Choudry, who was fatally shot by police last week while he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

“Finally, the world’s spotlight is on policing and people do not like what they see,” said deputy mayor Michael Thompson.

“I think what we are about to do could be the model right across the world.”

People leading the charge for substantial police reform dismissed Tory’s proposals as unambitious and said they were destined to be watered down.

“What we’ve heard today falls very short of what communities are expecting,” said Syrus Marcus Ware of Black Lives Matter Toronto, which is calling for a 50 per cent reduction of the police budget, which currently stands at about $1.2 billion annually.

Syrus Marcus Ware, a member of Black Lives Matter Toronto, said the proposal does not include the type of structural change needed to reduce police violence. (Joe Fiorino/CBC)


The group argues that diverting money from police will allow Toronto to better fund initiatives such as mental health programs, community centres, food programs and universal basic income projects.

“When we talk about defunding the police, we’re talking about investing in our communities,” Ware said.

A group of more than 50 doctors also published a letter sent to city hall Thursday, in which they described policing as a “public health crisis.” The doctors support Black Lives Matter’s call to defund police by 50 per cent, with similar hopes that the money could be directed to more helpful programs.

Council to debate 10% budget cut

While no city councillors have voiced support for such a drastic reduction, there is a proposal to cut the service’s budget by 10 per cent. That motion will also be debated by council during its next meeting on June 29.

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who is supporting the 10 per cent reduction, said Tory’s plan “is not good enough” because it does not specifically call for a budget reduction.

She said on Twitter that cutting funding for police is “at the core of the movement to reform policing.”

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada’s largest mental health hospital, has also called for police to stop responding to incidents involving people in crisis.

Tory acknowledged the growing public appetite for major reform and cited the “tens of thousands” of residents who have written emails and made phone calls in demand of change.

“I know these calls stem from real concerns,” he said.

Peaceful protestors painted the words ‘defund the police’ outside Toronto police headquarters on June 19. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)


While Tory’s motion resists calls to deliberately defund the service or otherwise slash its budget, he argued that the proposed changes will drive budget reductions.

“I am confident it will lead to a reduction in the Toronto Police Service budget,” he says.

“We want a safe city, but we also want everyone to feel safe in our city.”

Premier says he’ll consult police before making any changes

Tory’s motion also includes changes that would have to made by the provincial government, including a proposal to “review and overhaul” regulations governing police equipment and use of force.

It suggests new regulations to emphasize de-escalation techniques, and also calls for Ontario to examine “alternative models” around the use of deadly force, though specific ideas are not listed.

Premier Doug Ford said that he would entertain the proposals, but not without consulting police.

“I’d be more than happy to sit down and talk to the mayor,” he said. “But I also want to sit down and talk to the police as well.”

Ford reiterated during a Thursday news conference that he is staunchly opposed to defunding the police. On the issue of responding to non-violent mental health calls, Ford suggested officers receive additional training rather than relinquish that responsibility.

“You just don’t cut front-line police officers,” he said.


By Nick Boisvert

Tory unveils plan for Toronto police reforms


Canada should end Meng Wanzhou extradition proceedings, Lloyd Axworthy says

Former Liberal foreign affairs minister says government should prioritize getting arrested Canadians home

Former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy is one of 19 high-profile Canadians who signed a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that says the government of Canada has the legal right to intervene to free Meng Wanzhou and end the extradition trial that could send her to the U.S. (CBC)

Former Liberal foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy says the Canadian government should prioritize getting two Canadians detained in China home safely and end the extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou.

Axworthy is one of 19 prominent former politicians and diplomats from across the political spectrum who have signed a letter that argues releasing Meng Wangzhou could free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians who were detained in China shortly after Meng’s arrest. The Huawei executive is under house arrest in Vancouver as she fights extradition to the United States, which requested her arrest.

CBC News obtained a copy of the letter Wednesday.

In addition to Axworthy, the letter was signed by former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour, former Conservative foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon, former Conservative senator Hugh Segal and former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, among others.

In an interview, Axworthy said Canada’s top foreign relations priority should be protecting Canadians abroad, not catering to U.S. President Donald Trump’s demands.

“We’ve got two Canadians sitting in a jail in a very sordid situation and facing serious legal charges, so I think what we’re saying is that the rationale being used by the government to say that they have to retain the integrity of the extradition process doesn’t hold all that much water,” he said.

Justice Minister David Lametti can request an end to an extradition case and should do so in this matter, Axworthy said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the calls to release Meng.

He said Thursday that while he’s sympathetic to Spavor and Kovrig’s “terrible and trying” situation, bowing down to pressure from China would set a bad precedent and potentially put other Canadians in danger.

“We will continue to remain steadfast and strong and say very clearly in our actions and in our words that randomly arresting Canadians doesn’t give you leverage over the government of Canada anywhere in the world,” he said.

Trudeau said the government is doing everything it can to bring Spavor and Kovrig home, but he refuses to give in to political pressure.

Axworthy said the purpose of the letter was to prompt some debate on the issue and ask the Canadian government to be more assertive.



Multiple crises signal the need to change course

microscopic image of COVID-19 virus

The virus spreading COVID-19 worldwide jumped from non-human animals to people — as have most new diseases, from AIDS to SARS to Ebola. We may not know the precise origin of this particular coronavirus, but we understand the factors behind its spread to humans. And we’ve seen the devastation a tiny, mysterious, rapidly spreading virus can wreak on people in a globalized system.

This pandemic could be a trial run for how we respond to the almost-inevitable next pandemic. Or it could be the wake-up call that finally compels us to employ the many available and developing solutions to resolve this and other related emergencies, including the climate and biodiversity crises, as well as the severe inequality crisis.

Recent research confirms what we’ve known for some time: Destruction of natural spaces, intensification of agriculture and livestock production and the unsustainable wildlife trade are driving the spread of diseases from non-human animals to people — known as “zoonotic” transmission.

According to a WWF International report, “We do not know where the next new disease will emerge or how many people it will affect, but the risk of a new zoonotic disease emerging in the future is higher than ever.”

The report is just the latest warning from health and biodiversity experts worldwide. WWF International director Marco Lambertini, UN Convention on Biological Diversity executive secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema and World Health Organization environment department director Maria Neira wrote in the Guardian that these new diseases “all illustrate that our destructive behaviour towards nature is endangering our own health — a stark reality we’ve been collectively ignoring for decades.”

This lack of respect for all that we’re part of extends to a lack of respect for each other.

We’re also endangering our health with pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss. This lack of respect for all that we’re part of extends to a lack of respect for each other. Now many people have had enough. Those who would destroy the things that keep us alive and healthy for the sake of short-term profit and power, and who would oppress others and divide us against each other, are a minority, and they’re being called out.

We’re at a turning point. We can go back to a “normal” existence beset by pollution, climate chaos, disease, racism and massive inequality, or we can take this opportunity to reset. It’s time for those who have enjoyed the privileges bestowed by skin colour and background to question their own inherent biases, to be part of the solution — or get out of the way. It’s time to listen to the experts about health, climate and biodiversity, and also to those our societies’ have marginalized and mistreated — and who are most affected by pollution, climate change and inequality. We all need to understand what Indigenous people and people of colour must endure in a “multicultural” country like Canada.

Research also shows COVID-19 is especially hard on Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, as well as the poor.

Marginalized people face greater risks from climate change and environmental damage, in part because industrial development is often situated near remote, vulnerable communities, and because they often don’t have the resources to protect themselves. Research also shows COVID-19 is especially hard on Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, as well as the poor.

The world slowed during the pandemic. Many of us changed the way we work — and this far into the 21st century, it’s past time to move beyond 1950s working hours and conditions. People have also been standing up for what’s right, for equality.

Changing our ways is a challenge, but as we’ve seen with the pandemic response, the barriers are more political than technological or rational. We know why pathogens — from Lyme disease to COVID-19 — are moving from the wild to human societies. We know why our planet is heating toward levels beyond which human health and survival can be sustained. We also know many of the factors behind inequality.

All of these crises are grounded in outdated systems that prioritize profits and economic measures over human health, well-being and survival. We have no end of solutions to these crises, but ultimately, systemic change is required to overcome the short-sighted greed that has sent us speeding down this path.

The climate and biodiversity crises didn’t go away with the pandemic. But the health crisis has further exposed the flaws in our outdated systems. People are calling for change. It’s time.


Written by David Suzuki with contributions from Senior Editor and Writer Ian Hanington