Top Tory contenders will fight carbon tax if they win leadership race

Peter MacKay, who is running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, said he would ‘roll back the Trudeau carbon tax.’

The key contenders in the Conservative leadership race say they plan to keep fighting the federal carbon tax, if they win the party’s top job.

While Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole and Marilyn Gladu have tried to distance themselves from other elements of outgoing leader Andrew Scheer’s election campaign, all confirmed to The Globe and Mail that on the carbon tax they agree with Mr. Scheer. The positions reflect the stark divide between the Conservative base’s opposition to the carbon tax compared with the strong backing it gets from Liberal and NDP supporters.

In a statement, Mr. MacKay said he would “roll back the Trudeau carbon tax.” In a separate statement, Mr. O’Toole said he would “scrap the federal carbon tax and focus on how Canada can become a global leader in zero-carbon technology like nuclear.”

Neither candidate was available for an interview.

Who’s running for the Conservative Party leadership? The list so far

Carbon pricing in Canada: A guide to who’s affected, who pays what and who opposes it

When Ms. Gladu first floated a leadership bid in December, she said she didn’t think it would be “profitable to try to take away” the carbon tax, noting “Canadians have said that they will accept it.”

Now that she is an official candidate, Ms. Gladu has changed her mind. She told The Globe she believes a carbon tax is “really not an effective way to get a reduction” in emissions.

“I will revoke the federal carbon tax,” she said.

According to the Ecofiscal Commission, an independent group that championed carbon taxes before it closed in 2019, the measure has limited or reduced emissions in jurisdictions such as British Columbia and Sweden.

Ruling out a carbon tax removes a key tool for tackling climate change and comes as Canadians put an increased focus on it. According to a December poll from Nanos Research, more than one-third of Canadians believe the environment should be the top priority in 2020.

After Doug Ford rode to power in Ontario slamming the carbon price, the Conservatives were hoping the same position would help them federally. Instead, more Canadians voted for parties that championed a carbon tax.

But as Ontario MP Michael Chong learned in his failed 2017 Conservative leadership bid, strong support for carbon pricing stops at the party’s doors. At the time, Mr. Chong was the only candidate to advocate for a carbon tax; in December, Mr. Chong said he didn’t know if he would still back it because the party should respect its members views.

On Wednesday, he ruled out a leadership bid, telling The Globe he concluded, “There’s no path to victory.” He said the next leader needs an “ambitious agenda to deal with our subpar environmental and economic performance.”

But he said that doesn’t have to include a carbon tax, which he called “the most economically efficient way to reduce emissions” but not the only way.

On Wednesday, Manitoba MP Candice Bergen also confirmed she would not make a leadership bid.

Conservative MPs John Williamson and Michelle Rempel Garner are still considering leadership bids.

The carbon tax is the most prominent and contentious part of the Liberal government’s climate plan, but it is just one part of more than 50 measures Ottawa has introduced to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Other policies include regulating methane emissions, incentives for zero-emissions vehicles and investments in green infrastructure and clean technology.

The policies still leave Canada well short of meeting its 2030 emissions targets; the Liberals have said they will introduce more measures to reach the goal.

The Conservatives will elect their next leader in Toronto on June 27.

In 2018, the federal government announced that all provinces would need to implement a carbon-pricing system by April 1, 2019 and those that didn’t would fall under a federal carbon tax. But what is carbon pricing anyway?   SOURCE


Sweden’s Green Tunnel Vision

Sweden’s cities are already threatened by power shortages due to inadequate energy infrastructure

(This article originally appeared on Lone Conservative)

Sweden is aggressively going green, but progressive crusaders are facing an inconvenient truth of their own. Even before shutting down the rest of their nuclear and fossil fuel energy sources, Sweden’s cities are already threatened by power shortages due to inadequate energy infrastructure.

According to Bloomberg, Sweden’s third largest city, Malmö, was on the brink of blackouts during the past winter. During an especially cold week, power costs spiked from an average 0.28 kroner per kilowatt hour in 2017 to 0.63 kronor.

Sweden is still growing. Energy demands in major cities are surging as their populations increase. Power shortages are limiting the ability of Swedes to build housing, subways, and businesses needed to keep their lives in motion. In Stockholm, new daycare centers have had to wait months for power, and a bread factory in Malmö was denied a license to expand because it would consume too much power. And it’s not just small businesses that suffer. Sectors from high tech to mining require huge amounts of affordable energy to remain feasible.

How did this happen?

A dry summer had depleted the country’s hydro power supply to its lowest levels since 2016. Calm conditions rendered wind farms useless, coal production was sharply reduced due to new regulations, and two nuclear power reactors were shut down due to a 1980 bill to phase out nuclear energy.

It was a perfect storm of sub-optimal weather conditions that highlighted the greatest weakness of renewable energy sources. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, they simply don’t work.

Even with optimal conditions, the usefulness of Sweden’s wind farms is limited because they’re clustered in northern Sweden, far from the largest population centers. Infrastructure to transport energy from these productive regions is inadequate, and adequate supplies of foreign energy can’t be imported for the same reason.

Some Swedes have described the current energy policy as “madness” because of the destabilizing impact on the country’s power supply. Power shortages would unquestionably undermine the country’s economy, which has benefited from cheap power, largely because of its abundance of hydro and nuclear power. Sweden’s generous welfare system cannot function without a strong economy and very high levels of wealth.

Bureaucratic and technical barriers to improve wind and solar energy infrastructure will take at least a decade to navigate, but the current Swedish government is firmly against reversing course on nuclear shutdown. A coalition of opposing political parties will force them to reconsider, though. Energy supply has become the center of public discourse in recent months.

And things could still get a lot worse. Sweden’s grid operator warned in 2017 that the country will need to add 2.6 gigawatts (GW) of power generation by 2040–enough to power 1.1 million households. (Sweden had 4.7 million households in 2018). And that estimate didn’t even factor in the impending loss of the country’s five remaining nuclear reactors, which will be phased out by 2040, a loss of another 5.5 gigawatts.

Henrik Bergstrom, head of affairs for the Swedish power company Ellevio, has stated that Sweden has “reached a point where we no longer can connect all the changes the society is facing.” Upcoming waves of new technology like 5G and will require massive amounts of data processing, which will require massive amounts of energy. Sweden has continually been on the cutting edge of technology, but inadequate power will undermine its competitiveness.

Even the green movement itself is threatened by power shortages: a federally subsidized surge in electric car sales led to a spike in demand for electricity, exacerbating supply problems.

Ultimately, the limits of Sweden’s current power infrastructure will force authorities to pick and choose who can access their artificially limited power grid.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Nuclear energy is not without its own environmental hazards, but it’s still an extremely efficient energy source with very low carbon emissions. And while solar and wind make sense in many contexts, especially in very sunny or windy areas, they simply can’t compete with fossil fuels for reliability and efficiency.

Policy makers with “green tunnel vision” fail their constituents by refusing to recognize the shortcomings of their good intentions. The passion of environmental alarmists needs to be tempered by a humble and realistic exploration of the limitations of green technology. SOURCE

Sweden to Investigate Phasing Out Fossil Fuels and Banning Sales of New Gasoline Vehicles

The government of Sweden has launched an inquiry into how to phase out fossil fuels and how to ban the sale of gas-powered cars.

In European First, Proposed Constitutional Amendment in Sweden Would Enshrine Rights of Nature

“When we’re in the beginning of an ecological and climate collapse,” said the lawmaker who introduced the measure, “I hope we can re-think our relationship with Nature.

Pine forest in Sweden. The proposed amendment to Sweden’s Instrument of Government would secure the Rights of Nature to “existera, blomstra, regenerera och utvecklas”—which translates as “exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve”—in order to provide the people and government of Sweden the ability to defend and enforce these rights on behalf of Nature. (Photo: Peter Lesseur / EyeEm/ iStock)

Heralded as the first of its kind in Europe, a proposed constitutional amendment in Sweden seeks to enshrine the rights of Nature to ensure that the creatures, fona, and features of the natural world are protected from exploitation and abuse by endowing them with legal status previously reserved only for humans and select animals.

“Economic growth has been the real goal, not a healthy environment. I’m tired of this era, where our arrogant worldview has driven us far beyond the planetary boundaries.”

The proposed amendment to Sweden’s Instrument of Government, the nation’s constitutional document, would secure the Rights of Nature to “existera, blomstra, regenerera och utvecklas“—which translates as “exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve”—in order to provide the people and government of Sweden the ability to defend and enforce these rights on behalf of Nature.

Introduced by Swedish MP Rebecka Le Moine with the backing of a coalition of national and international groups—including Rights of Nature Sweden, Lodyn, and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund’s International Center for the Rights of Nature—the change to Swedish law mirrors that of others in the world but, if passed, would set a new precedent in Europe.

“For twenty years, we have been working with the national environmental goals in Sweden. After all this time, we are barely reaching two of them,” Le Moine said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The underlying value in our society is that we are the dominators of this world, and Nature is just a resource for us to use,” she continued. “Economic growth has been the real goal, not a healthy environment. I’m tired of this era, where our arrogant worldview has driven us far beyond the planetary boundaries. Now, when we’re in the beginning of an ecological and climate collapse, I hope we can re-think our relationship with Nature. And for me, it starts with admitting that Nature has rights.”

On its website, the group Rights of Nature Sweden explained the process for having the amendment adopted this way:

A proposed rights of nature amendment to the Constitution could be introduced directly into the Riksdag by Members of Parliament. Members of Parliament may introduce private motions for consideration by the Riksdag. This occurs in the autumn, when the Riksdag opens, during which time Members may propose private motions. Each motion is referred to a parliamentary committee for its review and consideration (a rights of nature amendment possibly would be referred to the Committee on the Constitution, or the Committee on the Environment and Agriculture). The committee then examines the motion and presents a proposal for how the Riksdag should decide before it adopts a position in the Chamber.

As the group also noted, this approach to defending the natural world is hardly new, with legal rights of nature having already been “recognized in laws and court decisions in the United States, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, India, New Zealand, and Colombia.”



Media Release: Rights of Nature Constitutional Amendment Introduced in Sweden’s Parliament
Sweden could become 1st country to enshrine the rights of nature
Nature Rights vs. Natural Rights

Volvo’s sporty looking Vera self-driving electric truck will go to work in Sweden

This is disruptive technology for the transportation industry. In Canada more than 280,000 drivers are employed in trucking even as the trucking industry is facing a shortage of drivers. Amazon has recently cloned a neighbourhood  to test its delivery robots. Huge changes are coming.


The Vera autonomous, electric truck from Volvo’s trucking subsidiary is not what you might expect in a transport truck — it looks like a road-hugging sportscar, something emphasized by its lack of a place for humans to sit. The real reason it looks like this is that it’s totally self-driving, however — and tailor-made for use in specific situations like serving the Swedish port in Gothenburg where it’ll soon begin operations.

Vera’s inaugural job will be to move goods packed in cargo trailers from a logistics center to the actual port terminal, where it’ll be loaded onto boats for transport. This first commercial use of the connected, electric freight-moving vehicle will be done in partnership with logistics company DFDS.

Use of the Vera will make up one part of a larger connected system to move goods from the logistics center to distribution destinations around the world. They’ll operate autonomously but be monitored by a central operator working out of a control tower, and they’ll be operating at a top speed of only around 24 mph. MORE

In-depth Q&A: The UK Becomes First Major Economy to Set Net-Zero Climate Goal

The UK is to raise its ambition on climate change by setting a legally binding target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to “net-zero” by 2050, prime minister Theresa May has announced today.

No.10 Downing Street at night, London, UK. Credit: Jeff Gilbert / Alamy Stock Photo.
No.10 Downing Street at night, London, UK. Credit: Jeff Gilbert / Alamy Stock Photo.

The 2050 net-zero goal was recommended by the government’s official adviser, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), last month. The CCC’s advice was requested following the 2015 Paris Agreement, which raised global ambition with a target to limit warming since the pre-industrial period to “well below” 2C and to make efforts to stay below 1.5C.

In a letter confirming the decision, May says: “Ending our contribution to global warming by 2050 can be the defining decision of this generation in fulfilling our responsibility to the next.” The UK would be the first member of the G7 group of major economies to legislate for net-zero. It joins others having set net-zero targets, including Sweden, New Zealand and Japan.

May’s announcement diverges from the CCC advice on some details, including the use of international “offsets”. It does not explicitly mention emissions from international aviation and shipping, but responding to questions from Carbon Brief the prime minister’s office says: “This is a whole economy target…and we intend for it to apply to international aviation and shipping.”

Draft legislation implementing the new goal must now be approved by both houses of parliament, in a process that could be finalised in a matter of days. The government says it will review the target within five years “to confirm that other countries are taking similarly ambitious action”.

Why is the UK setting a net-zero target for 2050?

The UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act includes a legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. This was set in the context of international ambition to limit warming to no more than 2C above pre-industrial temperatures.

In 2015, the Paris Agreement changed the rules of the game by raising global ambition to “well below” 2C and adding an aspirational goal of limiting warming to 1.5C. The Paris deal also commits signatories to “balance” greenhouse gas emissions and sinks “in the second half of this century” MORE


Is Ontario doing its fair share on climate change?

Sweden has figured out how to keep food free of salmonella. Why can’t Canada?

‘It’s not a small, quick, overnight measure. It’s a painful measure to industry’

Whole chicken tends to be cooked thoroughly enough to kill salmonella. It’s when the chicken is cut up and under-cooked that people are more likely to get sick. (Valeria Aksakova/Shutterstock)

When it comes to controlling salmonella outbreaks, Canada could learn a lot from Sweden.

The Nordic country is on a passionate mission to eliminate the harmful bacteria from its food. Thanks to strict regulations that apply to chickens and other animals, few Swedes get sick from salmonella.

Meanwhile, outbreaks caused by contaminated food, especially chicken, are frequent occurrences in Canada.

Every year, there are an estimated 87,500 cases of salmonella infection across Canada, according to the federal government’s yearly foodborne illness estimates. While it’s not clear how many of them were caused by contaminated chicken, as of last week, 566 Canadians had been diagnosed since May 2017 with salmonella infections linked specifically to frozen breaded chicken products, and 95 of them were so sick with fever and diarrhea, they had to be hospitalized.

As a consequence, there have been 13 recalls of raw breaded chicken products in Canada since July 2017.

While Canadians continue getting sick, Sweden is leading the fight against foodborne illness. Along with strict biosecurity rules, it’s normal procedure in the country to heat chicken feed to kill bacteria and to regularly inspect for salmonella contamination. MORE

Phasing out dirty coal was smart. Stalling on climate action is not

Sweden has shown, Minister Phillips’ assertion that there is a trade-off between reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and growing our economy is simply not true. 

Image result for Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid minivan
The Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid minivan is manufactured in Windsor, one of only two EVs made in the province.

We can address the climate crisis and keep our economy humming by pursuing three smart actions:

1. Keep Premier Ford’s promise to reduce our electricity costs by 12% by buying Quebec water power and investing in energy efficiency to make increasing use of zero-emission electricity cost effective.

2. Direct Enbridge Gas and Union Gas to ramp up their energy efficiency programs to reduce our natural gas costs by $85 billion and lower our natural gas-related GHG emissions by 18% by 2030.

3. Develop a strategy to make Ontario a world leader in the development, production and sale of electric vehicles.