Critics Say the Green New Deal Is Too Costly. Here’s the Cost of the Status Quo.

Taxpayers are spending billions subsidizing polluting industries.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) at a press conference introducing a resolution calling for a Green New Deal, February 7, 2019. Source: Senate Democrats


Cows. Source: Pexels

Beef and Dairy

There’s enough excess cheese in the US to wrap around the Capitol building. Source: Pixabay
An airport. Source: Pixabay

Air Travel

Airplanes are a significant source of carbon pollution. Source: Pixabay 

The coal gasification plant in Kemper, Missouri. Source: XTUV0010

Coal Power

Coal. Source: Pixabay

The 2014 People’s Climate March in NYC. Source: South Bend Voice

 

How Insane is Global Trade?

Watch and Share our 3-Minute Film:

The way trade works in the global economy can be insane – it wastes resources, worsens climate change, and undermines the livelihoods of millions of small-scale producers worldwide. Yet it is an almost unavoidable consequence of de-regulatory ‘free trade’ agreements and the billions of dollars in supports and subsidies – many of them hidden – that prop up the global economy.

To raise awareness about this issue, we’ve produced a short film and a fully-referenced factsheet that helps to explain how and why ‘insane trade’ happens:

Read our ‘Insane Trade’ Factsheet (PDF)

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SNC-Lavalin controversy shows danger of dabbling in economic nationalism


Seven weeks of carnage in Canadian politics prove Justin Trudeau’s choice to stare down the independence of the justice system for the benefit of a corporation was a bridge too far, Heather Scoffield writes.  (JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

If economic nationalism exists on a spectrum, where Donald Trump’s America is at one end, and hands-off, open economies are at another, Canada has traditionally been somewhere in the middle.

Yes, politicians advocate for Canadian corporations, negotiate trade deals on their behalf, and deal in programs and incentives to encourage their growth. But no, they don’t force companies to locate here, or compel trading partners to buy their wares, or jimmy with Canadian institutions to pave the way.

The SNC-Lavalin controversy shows the gravitational pull of the Trumpian side of that spectrum. But if there’s anything that’s heartening in the vitriol that has infected the public discourse on this matter, it’s that Canadians seem to generally agree: don’t go too far in that direction.

From day one, SNC-Lavalin has made little secret that Ottawa should head to that place. MORE

Robyn Allan: An open letter to Rachel Notley and Jason Kenney


Left, file photo of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley by Alex Tétreault. Centre, photo of Alberta oilsands by Andrew S. Wright. Right, photo of United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney by Alex Tétreault

Dear Rachel Notley and Jason Kenney,

Whichever one of you is entrusted with the opportunity to lead Alberta into the future after the provincial election, here is what you need to know to navigate the most challenging issue in your province’s history — the era of stranded assets in the oilsands.

The Alberta oilsands sector is a mature sector, not a growth sector. It has entered the phase in its lifecycle where corporate boardroom discussions have transitioned from the inevitability of rapid oilsands expansion to how best to sustain current production. In this phase of the oilsands lifecycle, Trans Mountain’s expansion is obsolete.

No amount of market intervention or increased oil industry subsidization can alter the course these captains of industry are on. However, that will not stop them from angling for taxpayer handouts by pretending another wave of oilsands investment is just beyond the horizon. The more taxpayer money they can convince all levels of government to transfer to their corporate treasuries, the easier their transition off fossil fuels becomes.

The idle promise of further oilsands investment is the likely motivation behind the Trudeau government quietly negotiating such a sweet toll rate deal for Trans Mountain’s shippers last fall. Despite Finance Minister Morneau’s promise to Canadians that it would not happen, Trans Mountain has agreed to provide oil producers who use the existing line with a $2 billion toll subsidy over three years mounting to a $3.4 billion toll subsidy over five years. . MORE

Indigenous clean energy shift must be built on trust and respect

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

MORE

Will there be a market for the coming explosion of electric cars?

EVs will become as cheap to own as gas-powered vehicles in 2022, even with no tax breaks or subsidies. But can we count on car buyers make the rational choice?

[Source Image: Volkswagen]

Electric vehicles still make up only a tiny fraction of total car sales. But in 2017, the industry reached a new milestone, selling more than 1 million cars. In 2018, sales may have more than doubled. By 2022, according to a recent report from Deloitte, electric cars will reach a tipping point: owning an electric vehicle will be as cheap as owning one that runs on fossil fuels, and sales will grow much more quickly.

“By 2022, we believe EVs will reach cost parity with gasoline or diesel vehicles regardless of subsidies,” says Jamie Hamilton, the U.K. automotive strategy lead at Deloitte. In some markets, because of subsidies, electric cars have already reached that point. The numbers consider the total cost of ownership–that is, not just the sticker price, but how much less it costs to charge an electric car each year instead of buying gas or diesel, and how much less the vehicles cost to maintain.

If you live in the U.K., Germany, France, the Netherlands, or Norway, an electric car is already a better deal, according to another recent report from the International Council for Clean Transportation. MORE

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Leading International Electric Vehicle Policies: Success Stories of Norway and China

The global electric vehicle (EV) market continues to power up, with potential global sales of 11 million in 2025. China is the leading EV market with a global market share of 48%, followed by Europe with 26%. In Europe, Norway has been the frontrunner in both EV incentive policies and purchases.

The two case studies described in this blog illustrate examples of policy stickiness and policy ambition. A sticky policy is one that improves a complex social problem by kickstarting a transformation and gaining wide public support over time. Norway’s “sticky” policy kickstarted the EV revolution with strong incentives, and attracted public support over time. When the initial niche support expanded to include more Norwegian regions and social groups, the policy “stuck” because future governments could not easily roll it back.

China’s EV policy is part of the government’s ambition to combat air pollution and meet its climate change goals, as outlined in its 13th Five-year Plan for 2016-2020 and its nationally determined contribution. With a new dual-credit system to regulate automotive manufacturers, generous subsidies, and infrastructure support, China’s policy demonstrates high ambition to promote all-electric battery electric vehicles (BEVs) over traditional vehicles, including over plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). MORE

Trudeau’s oilsands supply outlook reflects a future that doesn’t exist


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to reporters at a news conference in Ottawa on June 20, 2018. File photo by Alex Tétreault

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is relying on an aggressive and outdated Western Canadian crude oil supply outlook to re-approve Trans Mountain’s expansion. Trudeau’s outlook seriously contradicts the supply forecast oilsands producers support as commercially viable.

The outlook Trudeau is clinging to was prepared in early 2015 when Stephen Harper was still prime minister. It predicts that by 2035 there will be an increase in oilsands supply of more than two million barrels a day from its current level of three million barrels a day, taking total oilsands supply to five million barrels a day. Trudeau expects an increase in oilsands supply of almost 70 per cent in little more than 15 years. This is a future that no longer exists.

Ottawa seems not to have noticed that major multinationals have pulled out of the oilsands selling to mainly Canadian-based producers whose debt loads are too high to satisfy investors that it’s financially prudent for them to expand. Overpaying for reserves that are threatened to become stranded assets makes sophisticated investors skittish. MORE

Pipeline politics: Why $1.6B in aid for oil and gas industry is awkward for Canada

Hard to reconcile with the UN’s “life or death warning” for more and immediate action to limit global warming.

This morning [Dec 18] in Edmonton, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi and International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr announced a $1.6 billion federal aid package for Canada’s oil and gas industry. The money is spread over a variety existing programs to help companies find new markets, invest in clean technology and train staff.

Throw in Ottawa’s summer purchase of the aging Trans Mountain pipeline — $4.5 billion, with a promise to spend as much as $7.4 billion more for a planned expansion — and Canadian taxpayers now find themselves on the hook for somewhere between $7.7 billion and $15 billion in new support for an industry that was already receiving more than $3.3 billion a year in government   MORE