“The NDP is coming late to the issue of dealing comprehensively with climate change. Can it compete effectively with Elizabeth May’s Greens on this front? We shall see.” – Thomas Walkom
Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats have discovered climate change.
The party had been reluctant to take too uncompromising a stand on global warming for fear of alienating potential voters. That reluctance has gone.
Now the NDP is calling for an end to the entire fossil-fuel industry in Canada.
“The future of our country cannot involve fracking,” Singh said Monday in Ottawa, referring to a controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas. “It cannot involve the burning of any fossil fuel.”
He said Canada must adhere to carbon reduction targets that are much stricter than those proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government if it to seriously fight climate change.
And he declared that he now opposes ambitious plans by British Columbia’s NDP government to build a massive liquefied natural gas project in the province’s north.
[In the past] the Leap Manifesto’s call to ban any new fossil-fuel energy projects, from pipelines to fracking, was seen as too radical. No more. Now, with his call for a Canada free of fossil fuels, Singh has outleapt the Leapers. MORE
The oilsands’ investment problem won’t be easily fixed, they warn
Energy experts warn Alberta’s boom times are unlikely to return, no matter who takes power of the provincial government on election night. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)
…some of Canada’s top energy thinkers — as well as international experts — warn there’s no pedal any premier can stomp to make that engine rev like it used to.
“No policy of any Alberta government can change things,” said Mark Jaccard, an energy economist at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University, who has advised governments on climate policy and helps write reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“If Albertans are unwilling to accept a steady oilsands output, with the resulting employment, I fear for them.”
The University of Manitoba’s Vaclav Smil, one of Canada’s most widely quoted energy analysts, said any move to renewable energy will take decades, not years. The transition, however, may be felt sooner.
“All energy transitions are slow,” he said. “Oil will be with us for decades to come — but not necessarily with high annual growth rates.”
They’re very high-cost, capital-intensive projects. Why would you invest in that when oil prices have been so volatile and there are demand threats on the horizon?– Andrew Grant of Carbon Tracker
The world has changed, said Andrew Grant of the London-based research group, Carbon Tracker.
“Companies [are] much more reluctant to invest capital in projects that require very, very high capital outlay and take years and years to pay back. That encapsulates the oilsands.” MORE
Illustration by Left Voice
…Today, Canadian politicians still pander to large corporations instead of pursuing meaningful industrial policy. Trudeau’s Liberals imagine that they have managed to negotiate the binary between economy and environment but that binary only exists because they continue in their well-trod rut. They are putting off the transition from the inevitable end of fossil fuel extraction, letting the manufacturing sector erode rather than retool, and are foreclosing public sector expansions that could be leading the way to a new economy.
Is this the model of industrial development that Canada should follow into the 21st century?
The alternative for Canada is a Green New Deal, a program of economic and social transformation commensurate to the twin crises of inequality and climate change facing the country.
It is a cruel joke that investment in a pipeline – ultimately a relatively small sum – is a major policy move, while other far larger, far more necessary investments are not being made on the scale required. Imagine energy workers in Alberta’s north setting up wind farms rather than mining bitumen. Imagine manufacturing workers in southwest Ontario mass producing new electric public transit vehicles. Both would be integral to a Green New Deal; both prioritize people over profit.
Beyond energy and transport, imagine investments in universal child care (and the good, green child-care jobs they create), in truly affordable, dense public housing, and in public pharmaceutical companies that build on the public funds already going into basic research. A just transition should not just foster new technology, it should redistribute social power and increase living standards for the many – these are the common interests between nurses and autoworkers, and energy workers and early childhood educators.
…a Green New Deal could greatly expand the scope of collective decision making – heralding democratic planning and marshalling of social resources on a large scale. With every passing year and with every new decision to support fossil fuel infrastructure and corporate restructuring in the name of profit, the scale of the alternative plan to counter these actions needs to become more ambitious and far-reaching. A Green New Deal can put workers and the environment at the centre of economic policy and ensure that the necessary transformation reaches all areas of people’s lives. Unlike pipelines and plant closures, an expansive, just transition could unite workers and communities all over Canada in a broad common task. MORE
A just transition case study
David Isaac, owner and CEO of W Dusk, stands on the roof of the Lower Nicola Indian Band school in Merritt, B.C. (Courtesy of David Isaac)
As the people of the land, air, and waters, Indigenous nations have been the first to feel the impacts of climate change. Just as we are at the front line of climate impacts, we must also be at the forefront of climate solutions. This is where Indigenous Climate Action (ICA) was born.
“We respect the sovereignty and the autonomy of Indigenous communities to determine what they need to do to address climate change,” Eriel Deranger, executive director of ICA and a Dene woman from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, tells me. “Indigenous Climate Action supports a growing movement of Indigenous climate justice leaders. This year, we are building up a Just Transition program because we see this as a critical component in supporting self-sufficiency and resiliency.”
Energy sovereignty means enabling Indigenous communities to own and operate our own energy systems; to use renewable and locally available energy sources like wind and solar; and to stop burning fossil fuels and stop relying on corporations for energy. These kinds of democratic energy systems are aligned with Indigenous cultures, knowledge, and land rights, and they increase the resiliency of Indigenous communities that have been negatively impacted by colonialism and capitalist resource extraction.
ICA is guided by a volunteer steering committee of Indigenous peoples stretching from Mi’kmaq to Dene and T’sou-ke country, and including the many territories in between. Twenty stewards, leaders, and change-makers carry out ICA’s mission to nurture an energy sovereignty movement from the ground up. MORE
As 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.
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
Determined Quinte activists, young and old, send Todd Smith a message. But does anyone in the Ford government actually listen?
A group of marchers hold signs aloft that call for action on climate change in the Quinte region and abroad during the “Earth Hour: One Message, One Voice” walk and educational rally on Friday. PHOTO: BROCK ORMOND/INQUINTE.CA
Helping to educate future generations tackle the growing concern of climate change and raise awareness on supporting renewable energy was the goal behind the Earth Hour Walk and Rally on Friday.
About 80 people, including a small group of students from Centennial Secondary School, participated in a walk entitled “Earth Hour: One Message, One Voice,” and an educational rally to raise awareness on the realities of climate change and what kind of impact it will have on the younger people growing up.
The group marched from Zwick’s Park in Belleville, across the Norris Whitney Bridge to Todd Smith’s constituency office in Rossmore to hear speeches and view displays showcasing why people should be supporting renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, solar panels and other eco-friendly initiatives.
The group says they are not happy with the provincial government’s cancellation of renewable energy projects like the WPD White Pines Wind Farm Project in Prince Edward County.
One of the organizers, Jen Ackerman, says she was generally pleased with the turnout, and was especially happy with the youth’s initiative to make their voices heard for their future.
“We heard them here today, they are strong and they are going to get stronger,” Ackerman said. “They care about the future, the planet, the inhabitance on this planet. Those kids are just wonderful.” MORE
Governments, media and industry use ‘low-carbon economy’ frame to continue business as usual.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan celebrating LNG Canada’s investment decision as an investment in the low-carbon economy. They’re missing a critical point: we need a zero-emissions economy. Photo: BC Government Flickr
In a recent Vancouver Sun column describing the introduction of enabling legislation for the Shell LNG Canada project in the B.C. legislature, Vaughn Palmer ends with these words:
“The finance ministry reckons that even with the estimated $6 billion in relief over 40 years, the province would still reap $22 billion in revenues over the same period. Without the project, returns would, of course, be zero.”
It’s a compelling comparison. With the project we can pay for schools, hospitals and poverty reduction. Without it, we have nothing.
Yet it is fallacious, a comparison promoted by Big Oil and adopted by most governments. It takes our minds off alternatives.
The correct comparison is between revenues generated from $40 billion invested in fracking and fossil fuel production versus revenues generated from $40 billion invested in renewable energy, such as solar, wind and thermal.
Two similar-sounding phrases lie at the heart of this issue. One has gained predominance, the other relegated to the margins of climate change discourse. The first is “low-carbon economy,” an economy in which even fracking and liquefied natural gas have a role. The second is “zero-carbon economy,” an economy in which no more greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. In this second framing, the goal must be an economy fuelled entirely by renewable, non-carbon-emitting sources. MORE
UNITED NATIONS, March 28 (Xinhua) — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday urged the international community to end subsidies for fossil fuels.
“We must set radical change in motion. This means ending subsidies for fossil fuels and high-emitting, unsustainable agriculture and shifting towards renewable energy, electric vehicles and climate-smart practices,” the UN chief told the High-level Meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development for All, which was held at the UN headquarters in New York.
“It means accelerating the closure of coal plants, halting the construction of new ones and replacing those jobs with healthier alternatives for the people there employed, so the transformation is just, inclusive and profitable,” he added. MORE
Improving relationships key to ending diesel dependence in remote communities
Hybrid 20 kW solar photovoltaic and 50 kW diesel system at Wawakapewin First Nation. Photo: Dave Lovekin, Pembina Institute
Many opportunities and challenges are facing remote Indigenous communities in Canada as they shift towards a clean energy future. More than 70 per cent of these communities are powered by diesel generators. The burning of fossil fuels has negative impacts on health, well-being, the environment, and climate change. In some cases, communities’ reliance on diesel-based electricity also limits the energy available for them to thrive and grow — contributing to difficult economic conditions and social inequalities.
Indigenous communities are leading the way in bringing new renewable energy projects to remote places. Over the past few years, enthusiastic leadership, targeted capacity building programs, and new government funding have also helped shift the clean energy landscape. However, many barriers still remain to fully deploying and deeply embedding renewable energy systems in remote communities and ending the era of diesel dependence. Some of the main barriers are:
- the perceived — and, in some cases, real — high capital costs of remote renewable energy compared to diesel systems
- government funding mechanisms and practices that still focus predominately on supporting familiar diesel energy systems
- a subsidy system that skews the true cost of diesel systems — but which helps keep energy bills somewhat affordable
- competition for limited human capacity — communities face many challenging issues, and staff resources are limited
Alberta needs a government that recognizes the coming transformation in the energy sector, says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Contrary to what you might have heard, Alberta’s current economic malaise has little to do with government policies or “foreign-funded” environmentalists.
The real problem is that the global oil and gas sector is in the midst of a fundamental transformation.
The first dimension of this transformation has to do with the United States. As a result of the fracking boom, U.S. oil production has more than doubled in 10 years, turning the U.S. into the world’s largest oil producer, surpassing both Saudi Arabia and Russia.
This change has upset the world’s oil supply-demand balance, creating global supply gluts which have driven prices down and led to investment cuts and job cuts in all oil-producing jurisdictions around the world, including the U.S. itself.
It has also allowed the U.S. (the world’s biggest oil market and Alberta’s biggest customer) to become more self-sufficient — a change that undermines Alberta’s business model.
It’s important to understand that this is not just another boom-bust cycle. MORE