Deadline coming: Scientists tell environment minister to speed up conservation


Catherine McKenna is surrounded by Carleton University faculty and students during a funding announcement for two energy efficient building research projects at the university, in Ottawa on Friday, July 26, 2019. File photo by The Canadian Press

Some of North America’s top conservation scientists have written to the federal government urging it to speed up land protection in Canada.

The 32 scientists from 23 universities and other organizations say Ottawa is not on pace to meet the 2020 conservation targets it promised in an international agreement. The letter, addressed to federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, also warns the government not to include in its totals land that’s protected by provincial regulations or informal agreements instead of actual legislation.

“The natural world is telling us through all the indicators that we need to speed up the rate of protection if we’re going to have any chance of slowing and stopping this decline,” said Jeff Wells of the Audubon Society, who signed the letter and speaks for his colleagues.

Canada has promised to conserve 17 per cent of its lands and water by 2020 under the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty ratified by all UN members except the U.S. Just months before the deadline, Canada stands at 11.2 per cent.

The letter encourages the government to turn to First Nations for help. It says so-called Indigenous protected areas — land set aside from development and managed by local First Nations — are the fastest way forward.

“With a large country like Canada, that means you have to have some very large protected areas,” Wells said. “The federal government has made some of the biggest investments in history trying to move forward, but it’s still going to take some very big landscapes to reach that goal.

“As far as we could see, the only way to do that is support the Indigenous proposals for protected areas.” MORE

Federal carbon tax favours coal-fired plants, could “diminish” renewables investment, new report says

 

Image result for climate clockAs far as a sustainable energy policy goes, the Liberal’s attempt to square the circle  is doomed to failure: allow tar sands to expand and their emissions to rise; give coal production a pass; meanwhile ship the world’s dirtiest oil to foreign markets via the TransMountain pipeline. But in the real world, it just makes no sense. Still Catherine McKenna, with a straight face , zealously attempts to sell this preposterous program. Meanwhile the doomsday clock keeps ticking as we approach global ecocide

A regulatory proposal introduced in December could ‘diminish’ investment in renewable power in Canada, according to the C.D. Howe Institute

A giant drag line works in the Highvale Coal Mine to feed the nearby Sundance Power Plant near Wabamun, Alberta on Friday, Mar. 21, 2014. JOHN LUCAS/EDMONTON JOURNAL

OTTAWA — The federal carbon tax could favour coal-fired power plants over clean sources like wind and solar in its approach to industrial emissions, a new report says, potentially undermining a central aim of the Liberal government’s policy.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna released a regulatory proposal in December 2018 that provided details on the heavy emitters portion of the carbon tax, including how levies would be applied to electricity generators. Independent think-tank The C.D. Howe Institute reviewed the proposal and found it would actually give a leg up to higher-intensity emissions like coal and “diminish” investment in renewables, due to a decision to raise a critical threshold on certain producers.

“This is indisputably a carve-out for coal that departs from the principle of an economy-wide carbon price,” said Grant Bishop, who wrote a report on the institute’s findings published Tuesday.

The report could add weight to claims that the federal carbon tax introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does little to target high-intensity industrial emissions. It could also have an impact on coal-related emissions in Alberta, which still depends heavily on the fuel source to generate power.

In December, McKenna released a regulatory proposal for the [output-based pricing system]  OBPS that would force coal-fired facilities to pay levies based on a threshold of 800 tonnes per gigawatt hour (GWh), compared with a threshold of 370 tonnes per GWh for natural gas. That higher target effectively provides more space for coal providers to sidestep levies, giving them a comparative advantage over natural gas or even emissions-free energy sources like hydro, wind and solar. MORE

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Kenney defiantly challenges Trudeau on climate

Canada’s emissions target gets further away as 2017 report shows increase

 

The oft repeated mantra that “We can create clean jobs, grow our economy, and protect our environment ” only works if the economy is not based on the tar sands ecocide. Present Liberal policy supports an expansion of this climate disaster rather than committing to leaving the dilbit in the ground–something climate scientists tell us  we are required to do prevent climate disaster.

A list of MPs’ emails is found here

The uptick pushes Canada even further away from its Paris climate change agreement pledge to slash emissions to 70 per cent of what they were in 2005 by 2030.


Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna speaks to reporters during a press conference on the Climate Action Incentive at a Canadian Tire store in Ottawa on Monday, March 4, 2019. Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions edged up for the first time in three years in 2017, pushing the country even further away from its international climate change commitments. JUSTIN TANG / THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA — The return of oil and gas production following the devastating Fort McMurray wildfire and a colder than usual winter pushed Canada’s national greenhouse gas emissions up in 2017 for the first time in several years, a new report says.

The latest national inventory report on emissions, filed this week with the United Nations climate change secretariat, showed 716 million tonnes of greenhouse gases were produced in Canada in 2017, an increase of eight million tonnes from 2016.

The uptick pushes Canada even further away from its Paris climate change agreement pledge to slash emissions to 70 per cent of what they were in 2005 by 2030.

Canada needs to get emissions to no more than 511 million tonnes by 2030 to meet its pledge, even though international scientists last year warned the country must have steeper reductions to prevent the impacts of a warming planet from becoming impossible to mitigate.

The report follows one released two weeks ago — made public amid a political battle over the new federal carbon tax — that said Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna defended her government’s record on emissions despite the uptick. She said the government’s “strongest” measures to fight pollution hadn’t been implemented in 2017, including the carbon tax, clean fuel standards and phasing out coal power.

“Canada’s climate plan is working, and the overall trend in emissions is downward toward 2030,” she said.

The 2017 emissions are two per cent below what emissions were in 2005.

Canada’s existing climate change action plan, which includes the carbon tax and subsidies to spur electric vehicle purchases, only gets Canada about 60 per cent of the way to its 2030 commitment. McKenna has previously said she thinks that gap will be closed as people adopt cleaner technology faster than expected. MORE

 

EXCLUSIVE: OTTAWA LEANS TOWARD CALIFORNIA ON FUEL ECONOMY RULES, WILL SEEK FEEDBACK ON FOSSIL SUBSIDIES


Catherine McKenna/Twitter

The federal government is leaning toward supporting tougher fuel economy standards against Trump administration rollbacks, and is about to announce incremental progress on curbing fossil fuel subsidies, The Energy Mix learned Thursday evening, during a town hall hosted by Environment and Climate Minister Catherine McKenna.

Ottawa is planning two releases next week, McKenna told the public session in her home riding of Ottawa Centre: a call for input on some of the detailed issues arising in the discussion of a subsidy phaseout, and a major science report on climate impacts in Canada.

The report will show that “we need to adapt right now,” she said, citing flooding as the biggest short-term climate risk the country faces. “City planners need to think about these things. What happens if we have more power outages because it’s so hot? What are the impacts on vulnerable populations? What is the impact of flooding? What are the impacts of Zika (virus)?” Canadians face a “huge number of impacts of climate change, and we need to be more resilient and build in a more resilient way.” MORE

Canadian government plans to award millions of dollars for group to create climate watchdog


File photo of Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is planning to award a multimillion dollar grant to a non-profit organization that will take on a watchdog role, holding the federal government to account for its climate change commitments and policies, says a spokeswoman from her office.

The minister’s office confirmed the plans after McKenna’s staff met with the chief executive of the U.K.’s climate watchdog, who was visiting Ottawa this week.

McKenna’s office said that such an institute could help fill the void created by the government of former prime minister Stephen Harper when it cancelled funding for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, or NRTEE, forcing the independent organization to close its doors in 2013. MORE

McKenna’s global carbon market plan more charade than genuine climate action

At the conclusion of the United Nations COP24 climate talks in Katowice, Poland, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna boasted that Canada “played a leading role in laying the groundwork for a global carbon market.”

In short, this is a corporate-friendly approach backed by the World Bank Group in which a central authority allocates or sells a limited number of credits to corporations to discharge specific quantities of carbon pollution. Polluters that want to increase their carbon emissions must buy credits from other corporations willing to sell their excess credits. MORE

COP24 delivers progress, but nations fail to heed warnings of scientists

UN conference reaffirms Paris Agreement commitments, leaving Canada and other countries with a lot more to do at home

[KATOWICE, Poland] (December 15, 2018) – The annual United Nations climate change conference in Katowice (COP24) ended today, making progress on some issues but putting the real work of addressing climate change squarely on the plates of national governments.

The conference took place in the wake of the IPCC’s latest report, which warned the world of the dangerous impacts should global warming exceed 1.5˚C, including more devastating wildfires, floods and famine. Like many countries, Canada is far from a trajectory that is compatible with a 1.5˚C world, and needs to commit to getting on track now….

Yet Canada failed to reiterate its earlier signal that it will increase the ambition of its climate pledge ahead of 2020, as other countries have done. This represents a missed opportunity to show leadership on the world stage. It is critical that Minister McKenna shows this leadership when she returns home, by announcing that Canada will have a process in 2019 to put the country on track to a 1.5˚C-compatible climate pledge. MORE