Endless Canadian delay on climate change mitigation

2009-05-29

in Canada, Politics, Rants, The environment

Fiddlehead ferns

Jim Prentice, Canada’s Minister of the Environment has said that Canada might not impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions until 2016. This is simply preposterous. It makes a mockery of this government’s pledge to cut emissions to 20% below 2005 levels by 2020. It is also hypocritical. This government argued that they could not meet their Kyoto Protocol targets due to the inaction of their predecessors. They argued that the short time left before the deadline would require them to simply shut down Canadian industry and services to homes (See: The Cost of Bill C-288 to Canadian Families and Business) Of course, dallying until 2016 would put whatever government was in charge then in an even tighter bind.

In order to meet this government’s 2020 target, Canadian emissions will need to fall by about 170 million tonnes over the next eleven years: a task equivalent to making the entire province of Alberta carbon neutral. Obviously, waiting until 2016 to begin dooms the project to failure. That ignores the fact that even the 20% target is insufficiently ambitious, when you consider the risks associated with different global emissions pathways and the fact that rich, developed states must lead the way on the transition to low- and zero-carbon sources of energy.

The idea that we could do nothing substantial for another seven years is an affront to ethics, good sense, Canada’s international obligations, and our reputation as good global citizens. If Canada cannot show the leadership or vision necessary to appreciate the risks of unconstrained climate change, as well as the opportunities in moving the energy basis of our society to a sustainable basis, our best hope is that we will be made into a pariah state by our most important trading partners. For Canada to maintain growing emissions for another decade would be shameful, but not a global crisis in itself. For the United States, European Union, China, and Japan to do so would quite probably doom future generations to a world very different from ours. If those states do show the fortitude required to begin the transition to carbon neutrality, they will be quite justified in imposing stiff carbon tariffs against a Canada too blind or selfish to see upon or act as must be done.

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{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

. May 29, 2009 at 10:25 am

Emissions rules won’t take effect for six years

Prentice announces delay in development of climate change regulations to match proposed U.S. timetable

Gloria Galloway

Ottawa — From Friday’s Globe and Mail, Thursday, May. 28, 2009 09:51PM EDT

Forced cuts to industrial greenhouse gas emissions that had been expected at the end of this year will be delayed until similar reductions are demanded in the United States, the federal Environment Minister said Thursday.

Jim Prentice said in a telephone conference from London that greenhouse gas reduction targets will be co-ordinated with those south of the border, where they will be staggered over a period of four years, starting in 2012.

R.K. May 29, 2009 at 10:57 am

With luck, this government won’t exist for much longer. Almost certainly, it will be gone long before 2016.

. May 29, 2009 at 11:15 am

May 28, 2009
Pembina Reacts: Federal Climate Regulations Delayed to 2012

“A government that is willing to wait six or more years after taking office before regulating emissions clearly doesn’t understand the threat or the urgency of global warming.

“Canada has had four different climate change plans in the past decade. If all we have to take to the global climate negotiations this December in Copenhagen is yet another plan — but without the actual regulations to implement it — Canada’s credibility is going to remain stuck at rock bottom.

“President Obama is working with Congress to finalize the detailed legislation to cap greenhouse gases within a year of taking office. If Canada leaves the legal details until next year, we’ll be falling even further behind the U.S.

“Canada must develop and implement regulations urgently if we are to have a chance of influencing U.S. decisions, ending the uncertainty that is bad for business, and meeting emission-reduction targets that are aligned with science.”

Anon May 29, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Canada’s loophole-ridden plan is unlikely to produce any real reductions until it is tightened, anyhow. That means another couple of years of delay, once the regulations go into effect.

An economy-wide carbon tax that went into effect quickly would be much, much better.

Tristan May 29, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Milan,

“We’re not doing anything until 2016” is key for, “we’re not doing anything, period. Business – its safe to support us.”

It’s quite naive to think that any government that puts off difficult action for 7 years actually intends to follow through with that action 7 years from now. If the conservatives are still in power 7 years from now, we will see no action on climate change – they will have received several mandates not to act by then.

Milan May 29, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Actually, I think business would appreciate more clarity on the future of climate change policy. After all, they need to invest in assets that will last for 40 or 50 years.

I bet a lot of firms (even big energy firms) would rather deal with a predictably rising carbon tax than continued wild shifts in announced policies.

Tristan May 30, 2009 at 2:57 am

That would be nice, except, actually, you’re wrong. The interest of business means the short term interest of share holders – that’s how share capitalism works. (And, incidentally, one of the reasons investors speculate that companies which are not owned by shareholders such as the Porsche group do better than ones that are, such as the GM and Chrysler groups).

Capitalism is essentially shit insofar as all it can afford to care about is its profit this quarter. CEOs have an average tenure of less than 3 years. Which “Business” actually thinks more than 4 years in advance, other than on paper?

The failure of the market to give a shit about its own long term interest is its own demise. We’re seeing it now, incidentally.

Milan June 1, 2009 at 11:25 am

Which “Business” actually thinks more than 4 years in advance, other than on paper?

Certainly anyone who builds facilities that will operate for decades: such as power plants, transmission lines, oil platforms, etc.

Indeed, utilities that are involved with these sorts of projects probably do think across longer time horizons than most governments (precarious minority governments, especially).

. June 1, 2009 at 3:19 pm

November 9, 2006

A climate greenwashed
By Matthew Burrows

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “made in Canada” solution to climate change is not well known in Britain.

However, that hasn’t stopped best-selling author and Guardian newspaper columnist George Monbiot from dismissing it as “greenwash”. And in his unflinching new book, Heat (Doubleday Canada, $29.95), the Oxford, England–based environmental activist calls on Canadians to demand better from a leader he describes in the foreword to the Canadian edition as an “irresolute wimp”. (See facing page.)

On October 10, following the Thanksgiving weekend, Monbiot spoke to the Georgia Straight by phone from his home. At the time, Harper and Environment Minister Rona Ambrose were about to unveil the now-stalled Clean Air Act—a Kyoto Protocol replacement—which they felt would “rebrand” the party’s reputation among environmentalists.

“Yes, well, there’s an awful lot of rebranding that needs to be done,” said Monbiot, who will speak at a November 15 book signing at the Canadian Memorial Church and Centre for Peace. “The only thing, in my view, that could rebrand their image is a complete reversal of the environmental policies that they’ve pursued so far. The Canadian government under Harper now stands as one of the villains of the story of global climate change.”

. June 1, 2009 at 3:20 pm

EDITORIAL
TheStar.com | Opinion | Ottawa voiceless on climate change

Jun 01, 2009 04:30 AM

Ontario moved ahead last week with plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Quebec announced a similar scheme two weeks earlier. British Columbia is already on board, and Manitoba is up next.

The intensive preparations in provincial capitals would be laudable if not for the reality that something is sorely missing: a truly national response to the global spectre of climate change.

After more than three years in power, the federal Conservative government is still spinning its wheels on greenhouse gas emissions, not knowing which way to go. The result is policy paralysis in Ottawa at a time when other governments are taking the lead – not just provincially, but in Washington and around the world.

Both Quebec and Ontario have come forward with enabling legislation that paves the way for a future “cap-and-trade” program to reduce overall emissions. Important details are still to be ironed out, but the demonstration of political will by the provinces underscores the policy vacuum in Ottawa – and puts our federal leaders on the spot.

. June 10, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Wind money given to oil producers instead, Raitt tape suggests

By STEPHEN MAHER Ottawa Bureau | EXCLUSIVE
Wed. Jun 10 – 4:32 PM

OTTAWA – Money earmarked to support wind energy producers was diverted to research and development in the oil patch in backroom budget wrangling, the minister of natural resources said in a conversation with an aide in January.

Lisa Raitt told aide Jasmine MacDonnell that she suspects Environment Minister Jim Prentice took the money for wind power and redirected it to his Clean Energy Plan – a $1-billion fund for research and development in the oil sands.

The revelation is likely to intensify criticism of the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper as unfriendly to the environment.

. June 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Ottawa unveils carbon market plan

Steve Rennie
Ottawa — The Canadian Press, Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2009 02:48PM EDT
The federal government took the long-awaited step Wednesday of detailing its plan to trade pollution permits on the open market.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice released two draft documents laying the ground rules for a federal carbon-offset scheme.

The guidelines set out which offset projects qualify for the federal system, how others can apply for inclusion, the value of each offset credit, how emissions cuts are tracked and verified, and other nitty-gritty details of the plan.

“The offset system, like all elements of our climate-change plan, is aimed first and foremost at reducing emissions in Canada,” Mr. Prentice said.

. June 10, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Notes for an address by the
Honourable Jim Prentice, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment
on Canada’s climate change plan

. July 3, 2009 at 11:07 am

July 2, 2009
Canada and Japan blocking climate-change deal, Sir David King warns

London Canada and Japan were blocking a possible deal on climate change at the Copenhagen summit, Sir David King, the former Chief Scientific Adviser, warned yesterday.

Speaking at the World Conference of Science Journalists, Sir David said that the two countries had stepped into the breach left by the Bush Administration, which had strongly resisted cutting CO2 emissions.

“Copenhagen is faltering at the moment,” said Sir David. “The Americans are now fully engaged. But several countries are blocking the process.”

Governments previously were able to hide behind the US’s intransigence on climate change, he said, but the pro-climate policies being launched by the Obama administration means this is no longer possible. “The time has come for people to reveal their cards,” he told delegates.

. July 3, 2009 at 11:09 am

Canada seen worst of G8 not curbing climate change
Wed Jul 1, 2009 11:55am EDT

By Daniel Flynn

ROME (Reuters) – With only five months to go until a new global pact on climate change, none of the Group of Eight nations is doing enough to curb global warming, with Canada and the United States ranking bottom, a study said on Wednesday.

The “G8 Climate Scorecards,” compiled by environmental group WWF, said even the greenest members of the rich nations’ club — Germany, Britain and France — were not on track to meet a “danger threshold” of limiting temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius.

G8 leaders gather in Italy next week to discuss the world financial crisis and climate change, hoping to make progress toward a new pact on global warming due to be signed in Copenhagen in December to replace the 1997 Kyoto deal.

They will be joined by members of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Major Economies Forum in a bid to forge broad consensus.

. July 8, 2009 at 9:26 am

Jeffrey Simpson
On climate change, Ottawa’s still emitting hot air

It’s not an issue the Tories feel passionately about, and given Canada’s track record, silence might be the preferred option

Last, dead last. That’s where Canada stands among the G8 when it comes to climate-change policies.

In fairness, Russia gets a slightly better mark – finishing seventh – in the study by the World Wildlife Federation and the German-based insurance company Allianz only because it gets credit for the emissions that disappeared when the Soviet Union evaporated. So Canada should really rank seventh out of eight. So let’s hear it for Canada: “We’re No. 7”

Canada’s emissions have risen faster than those of any industrialized country since the Kyoto Protocol was ratified. At Kyoto, Canada pledged to reduce emissions by 6 per cent from 1990 levels. Instead, they have increased by 26 per cent.

Germany, Britain and France, by contrast, have met or exceeded their Kyoto-reduction targets, although Japan and Italy have not. (The U.S. did not sign the pact; its emissions have risen slightly less rapidly than Canada’s.) Not surprisingly, Germany, Britain and France rank first, second and third in the WWF/Allianz rankings.

Okay, so that was the past. What about the future? Can Canada rise up the ranks? Not with current policies, although Prime Minister Stephen Harper undoubtedly will assert the contrary when he addresses the issue at this week’s G8 summit in Italy.

. July 10, 2009 at 11:41 am

Political expediency trumps fate of planet

Jul 10, 2009 04:30 AM

Christopher Hume

Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice, a man whose attitude toward his portfolio borders on contempt, natters on about “aspirational goals.” In a display of fatuity rare even for a Conservative cabinet minister, Prentice blithely announced this week that “we don’t need to change our policies.”

Does Prentice himself believe the nonsense he spouts? Probably not. More than most, he must know how dire the situation really is in Canada as the country falls behind much of the developed world in its attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More likely he says what he does because it is the price of power. The man is little more than a messenger, a mouthpiece, for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a politician whose hold on power is as shaky as is his grasp of reality.

Clearly, it will be up to the cities and provinces to save Canada from itself; and so far they have not been doing a great job.

. September 8, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Canada’s environmental politics: the tragedy of delay

By Ray Grigg, Courier-IslanderSeptember 4, 2009

Critics who are frustrated with the slow movement of governments to address the issue of “global warming” and “climate change” suggest that the consequences of rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide should more aptly be called “global heating” and “climate crisis”.

In a world where words make a difference by casting their long shadows of connotation, perhaps more threatening terms would incite a greater sense of urgency. “Warming” seems so harmless. Like being cuddled into a cosy bed, it has no suggestion of the fire smouldering beneath it. And “change” is too vague. It could be associated with the newest must-have fashion instead of weather havoc, searing temperatures, burning forests, rising oceans, spreading deserts and collapsing food supplies.

Denial is a common reaction in politicians if they can’t reconcile the enormity of climate change with their economic and social philosophies — some might even find the problem too big for their theologies and imaginations. But nature is indifferent to political agendas or election cycles.

. September 15, 2009 at 11:23 am

Canada’s becoming a ‘global carbon bully’: Greenpeace

Our greenhouse-gas emissions are up 26 per cent since 1990

By Monique Beaudin, Gazette Environment ReporterSeptember 14, 2009

MONTREAL – A new report from Greenpeace says oil production in Alberta’s tar sands has made Canada into a “global carbon bully.”

Little has been done to tackle climate change in Canada, and the federal government has actively tried to block international agreements and laws targeting climate change, says the report, called Dirty Oil: How The Tar Sands Are Fuelling the Global Climate Crisis.

Meanwhile, oilsands projects in northern Alberta are creating more greenhouse-gas emissions (GHGs) per year than several small European countries, and by 2020, will be more than what’s produced by Austria or Ireland, the report says.

Continued growth in the oilsands will mean that by 2020, more carbon dioxide will be produced there than by all the volcanoes in the world put together, the report says.

“Canada is now one of the world’s leading emitters of GHGs, and a global defender of dirty fuels,” writes author Andrew Nikiforuk, an award-winning Calgary-based science writer who last year published Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent.

Canada’s emissions from greenhouse gases, which are linked to climate change, have increased by more than 26 per cent since 1990. Canada’s goal is to reduce emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020, a target that environmental groups say falls far short of what Canada must do to combat climate change.

“This report shows how Canada is not doing its part in the fight against climate change – in fact, it is allowing foreign oil companies to massively invest in the tar sands,” said Virginie Lambert-Ferry of Greenpeace Québec.

Canadian environmental groups are trying to garner attention about the environmental impact of the oilsands ahead of a meeting in Washington Wednesday between between US. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

. September 22, 2009 at 10:46 am

Canada should put oil sands on hold: climate change expert

Monique Beaudin, Canwest News Service Published: Monday, September 21, 2009

MONTREAL – Canada should be doing much more to tackle climate change, and consider closing down the oilsands projects in northern Alberta, the head of an international scientific panel on climate change said Monday.

Canada should follow the European Union, which has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, said Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In contrast, Canada’s plan is to only cut emissions by 20% below 2006 levels by 2020, a target that many scientific and environmental observers say is far too low.

Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions climbed 26% between 1990 and 2006.

“In the last couple of years, I’m afraid, Canada has not been seen as sitting at the table,” Mr. Pachauri said in an interview in Montreal on Monday. “I think Canada should be doing much more.”

. October 13, 2009 at 10:06 am

Canadian position prompts walk-out by developing countries at climate talks

By Steve Rennie (CP) – 19 hours ago

OTTAWA — The government’s push to abandon much of the Kyoto protocol prompted dozens of developing countries to walk out on Canada’s address during recent climate talks in Thailand, The Canadian Press has learned.

The mass walkout came after the Canadian delegation suggested replacing the Kyoto Protocol with an entirely new global-warming pact, according to one of the negotiators and notes taken by others at the meeting.

A widening and bitter rift between rich and developing countries over climate change was laid bare last week when delegates from 180 nations met in Bangkok to shape a successor to Kyoto before its first phase expires in just over two years. The United Nations hopes to broker a draft deal in time for a meeting in Copenhagen this December.

The delegates discussed whether all or parts of Kyoto should end up in the new agreement, according to notes taken by a delegate from a developing nation as well as one of the South African negotiators.

. November 17, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Climate change laws years away: Prentice
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | 1:23 PM ET
By Susan Lunn, CBC News

The federal environment minister says it may be a few years before Canada tables regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Jim Prentice said the world has to first negotiate a new climate change treaty and Canada and the United States must finish their continental agreement on the same issue.

“I think its fair to say that this all needs to knit together,” Prentice said during a teleconference call from Copenhagen.

Prentice is taking part in the last round of climate change talks before the formal United Nations conference begins next month.

He also dampened any hope an international treaty will be reached in December.

“I think even a few months ago there had been an expectation on the part of the outside world that we would arrive at a full international treaty in December in Copenhagen. That clearly is not going to happen.”

Instead, Canada is hoping a broad political agreement can be reached next month that will maintain the momentum towards a full international treaty, he said.

. November 25, 2009 at 11:59 am

Quebec splits with Ottawa on climate change

Rhéal Séguin

Quebec — Globe and Mail Update Published on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009 2:32PM EST Last updated on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009 9:16PM EST

Quebec is taking the final step in its break from Ottawa on climate change, unveiling an ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gases and blasting the federal government for inaction only a few weeks before a major international environmental conference.

Premier Jean Charest announced Monday that, by 2020, the province will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels, a goal similar to the target the European Union has adopted.

The ambitious target-setting is the latest in a series of policy moves on the environment from the provinces, with Quebec and B.C. leading a surge ahead of the cautious position of the Harper government.

Mr. Charest warned that Canada will pay a heavy price if it fails to reduce greenhouse gases significantly, because Europe is set to enforce aggressive emission cuts and is threatening to impose duties on imports from countries that don’t follow suit. He said Canada-Europe trade relations could be affected if no international consensus is reached at next month’s United Nations conference in Copenhagen, which representatives of Quebec and other provinces will attend as part of the Canadian delegation.

. November 30, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Scientists target Canada over climate change

Damian Carrington
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 26 November 2009 22.54 GMT

Prominent campaigners, politicians and scientists have called for Canada to be suspended from the Commonwealth over its climate change policies.

The coalition’s demand came before this weekend’s Commonwealth heads of government summit in Trinidad and Tobago, at which global warming will top the agenda, and next month’s UN climate conference in Copenhagen. Despite criticism of Canada’s environmental policies, the prime minister, Stephen Harper, is to attend the Copenhagen summit. His spokesman said today: “We will be attending the Copenhagen meeting … a critical mass of world leaders will be attending.”

. December 1, 2009 at 11:26 am

Most Canadians agree warming planet is a defining crisis that demands action: survey

By Steve Rennie (CP) – 21 hours ago

OTTAWA — Most Canadians think climate change is the planet’s defining crisis, a new poll suggests.

That belief is held most strongly in Quebec and less so in the Prairies, a survey conducted by Harris-Decima on behalf of the Munk Debates has found.

The poll asked Canadians if they agreed or disagreed with a resolution to be debated Tuesday during the fourth Munk Debate in Toronto, that: “Climate change is mankind’s defining crisis, and demands a commensurate response.”

Nearly two thirds of Canadians agreed while 31 per cent disagreed. A tiny fraction had no opinion.

“I think it shows the extent to which not just the environment, but the actual issue of climate change, has ascended up the public agenda to point where it is reminiscent of those other big causes that have shaped a lot of Canadian history,” said Rudyard Griffiths, co-organizer of the Munk Debates.

. January 11, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Prentice leads way in contact with lobbyists

Analysis shows environment minister nearly matched by calls to Clement

By Glen McGregor, The Ottawa Citizen
January 10, 2010

Ottawa’s lobbying industry reported communicating with members of the Harper cabinet more than 1,500 times last year, posting more contacts with Environment Minister Jim Prentice than any other minister.

A Citizen analysis of communications reports filed by registered lobbyists shows that, on average, about seven times every working day in 2009, a lobbyist spoke on the phone to a Conservative cabinet minister spoke or met one in person.

With the environment near the top of the public agenda this year, Prentice’s door swung open the widest for lobbyists, with 136 face-to-face or telephone contacts reported in the year, the data show.

Of these contacts, the majority — 81 of 136 — were with lobbyists representing oil, gas or other energy companies, including EnCana, Suncor, Shell Canada and ConocoPhillips. Prentice met to discuss energy issues with Imperial Oil on 14 occasions, more than any other company or organization.

. January 18, 2010 at 12:53 pm

“Here is a government, from its head down, that practices ignorance-based public policy. Huge areas of the human condition go completely unrecognized – AIDS, global warming, Africa, to name only a few. To Africa, they are simply indifferent. Who knows why? To AIDS and climate change, they are actively hostile or in denial. This is a prime minister who humiliated Canada before tens of thousands of social activists and scientists from around the globe by refusing to appear at the giant biannual International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006. This is a prime minister who, as we all recall, gave Canada a black eye for his shabby performance at the Copenhagen climate summit the other day. This is a prime minister who is single-handedly reversing Canada’s stellar reputation (too often vastly overrated, I’m afraid) around the world. I’ve just come from Africa, and I promise you this is no exaggeration.”

. January 28, 2010 at 10:26 am

Tories hedge on emissions targets

Government says target will depend on levels set by United States

Shawn McCarthy

Ottawa — From Thursday’s Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 8:39PM EST Last updated on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 3:09AM EST

The Harper government is hedging on its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, saying the actual Canadian goal will depend the level of ambition adopted by the United States.

In an interview Wednesday, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said the government’s overwhelming priority is harmonizing its regulatory approach with that of the U.S. – including the targets for emissions reduction.

Mr. Prentice acknowledged that there are considerable questions about how Washington will proceed on climate change, which means a delay in Ottawa’s plan to impose emission regulations on industries such as Alberta’s oil sands.

“We are committed to harmonization with the United States on our climate change plans,” the minister said in his Parliament Hill office

. February 1, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Environmental groups losing interest in lobbying Prentice
Frustration is mounting that the government has locked itself into an environmental policy bunker on climate change.
By JEFF DAVIS, CYNTHIA MÜNSTER
Published February 1, 2010

Canada’s leading environmentalists say they’re losing interest in lobbying federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice because the government has locked itself into an environmental policy “bunker” and is not giving their ideas serious consideration.

Meanwhile, according to the Registry of Lobbyists, representatives for big oil companies frequently lobby the minister, and appear to be a major source of policy advice on energy and climate issues.

Following a decade of consultations that have resulted in virtually no action on climate change, environmentalists are now questioning whether it is even worth their time to lobby the minister.

“As an environmental movement, we have resources and people and time and we have to prioritize,” said Marlo Raynolds, the executive director at the Pembina Institute. “It is questionable how valuable those meetings are when you have no tangible action.

“If they were interested, they would actually listen sometimes,” said John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club. “They’ve basically put themselves in their own bunker and are telling us what the solutions are.”

One longtime Ottawa insider said it is quite clear that the government, with its Western political base, is motivated to listen to the oil industry, which is located largely in its backyard.

“As a general proposition, this government knows more about and cares more about the oil and gas sectors than it does about most, and that has to do with its roots,” he said.

More importantly, he said, the government is not receptive to the policy options provided by the bureaucracy, and ends up going instead to industry for advice.

“The dirty little secret about this government is that its relations with the bureaucracy are very, very poor, and particularly with the policy side of the bureaucracy. It doesn’t trust it, and it doesn’t trust the options and the policy prescriptions its being given,” he said. “There really is an imperative for them to reach out to players in the private sector for expertise, for policy help, for analysis because of the fundamental distrust it has with the bureaucracy.”

He said the government feels an obligation to hear our environmentalists’ points of view, it knows these groups will likely not provide policy prescriptions they are likely to implement.

“[Environmentalists’] proposals are probably more draconian and dramatic than the government is willing to entertain, so it looks for expertise it has more comfort with and will provide it with options that are in its sweet spot,” he said.

Milan February 11, 2010 at 10:26 am
. February 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm

“Stephen Harper’s sincerity in tackling climate change was challenged Wednesday after his former foreign affairs minister assailed what he described as alarmism over global warming.

The Prime Minister’s Office insisted Maxime Bernier was speaking strictly for himself.

But opposition parties pounced on the Quebec Conservative MP’s comments to charge that the Harper government is finally showing its true colours as a climate change skeptic.

In a letter to La Presse newspaper, Bernier argued there is no scientific consensus on the matter and he applauded the Harper government for taking a go-slow approach.

“The debate over climate change, stifled for years by political correctness, has finally broken out in the media,” he wrote in a letter published Wednesday.

“The numerous recent revelations on errors by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have supplemented the alternative theories put forward for many years.”

. February 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm

“Maxime Bernier, Canada’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs stated in the French language daily La Presse:

“Every week that goes by confirms the wisdom of our government’s modest position…There is, in fact, no scientific consensus. What’s certain is that it would be irresponsible to spend billions of dollars to impose unnecessarily stringent regulations to resolve a problem whose gravity we still are not certain about. The alarmism that often characterized this issue is no longer at stake. Canada is right to be cautious.”

Bernier went on to opine that the sun might be responsible for temperature changes and that the Earth might actually be cooling.

Anyone doubting that Bernier’s sentiments are not shared by his boss Stephen Harper has not spent much time in Canada lately. Harper’s government has been described as having “tightest message control of any first-world industrialized government” and is renowned for vetting all communications to the media, including letters to the editor.

The Prime Ministers Office now inserts itself into freedom of information requests, stretching the limits of legality in an effort to control the flow of information to public. If Bernier said it publicly, Harper wanted it out there.

Milan February 26, 2010 at 4:37 pm

The above makes me worry that the government may be testing the waters before reconsidering their existing public support for climate change science (if not for actually implementing climate change mitigation policies).

Tristan February 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm

If there is a forceful turn against climate change skepticism among the swing vote, this could very cleanly lose Harper the next election.

. March 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Budget puts climate action on ice

Shawn McCarthy

Ottawa — From Friday’s Globe and Mail Published on Thursday, Mar. 04, 2010 9:15PM EST Last updated on Thursday, Mar. 04, 2010 10:47PM EST

The Harper government has taken a pause in financing federal action on climate change.

In his budget speech Thursday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was literally silent on the issue – climate change was not mentioned, though the government has in the past described it as one of the major challenges of the age.

Rather than provide new spending for programs to reduce Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions, the government is standing pat as it prepares to regulate emission reductions in transportation, electricity and industrial sectors.

Environmental groups say Ottawa is failing to stimulate the development and adoption of the technologies that are needed if Canada is to meet its emission targets.

“Just when we thought that it couldn’t get any worse, [Thursday’s] budget is a monumental failure of this government to do what it takes to address climate change in a meaningful way,” said Graham Saul, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice said the government intends to impose regulatory limits on emissions in concert with the United States, and will not provide additional incentives for companies to meet their legal obligation, beyond some “clean energy” funds established in last year’s budget.

. March 10, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Budget deep freeze will lead to end of climate research lab

Critics say end to funding indicates Tories’ skepticism of climate-change science

Shawn McCarthy

Ottawa — From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Mar. 09, 2010 10:33PM EST Last updated on Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2010 12:18PM EST

Scientists who study climate change from a remote post on Ellesmere Island are planning to shut down their cash-strapped project after the federal government refused to refinance a key climate-change research foundation.

The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) is located 1,100 kilometres from the North Pole, and collects data on the changing climate of the Far North, where global warming is found to be most intense.

But in a conference call this week, PEARL scientists were not discussing their findings but were making plans to shut down the lab, including complicated arrangements to air lift out their equipment.

In its budget last week, the Harper government provided no new money for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmosphere Sciences. The foundation is the country’s main fund for scientists studying everything from global climate models, to the melting of polar ice and frequency of Arctic storms, to prairie droughts and shrinking Rocky Mountain glaciers.

For many in the research community, the budget decision merely confirmed the view that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government remain skeptical of climate-change science and hostile to those who provide evidence that aggressive action must be taken to avert catastrophic global warming.

Milan March 13, 2010 at 10:57 am

For example, 53 per cent of Canadians believe the government is doing “just enough” to fight global warming. (The Conservatives, as opposition politicians like to point out, are doing virtually nothing to fight global warming.) Only 33 per cent think the Tories are doing too little.

With the public so pliable, it is no wonder Canadian politicians have been unwilling to do anything meaningful about the problem.

. March 15, 2010 at 7:06 am

Climate-change scientists feel ‘muzzled’ by Ottawa: Documents

By By Mike De Souza , Canwest News ServiceMarch 15, 2010 7:02 AM

OTTAWA — A dramatic reduction in Canadian media coverage of climate change science issues is the result of the Harper government introducing new rules in 2007 to control interviews by Environment Canada scientists with journalists, says a newly released federal document.

“Scientists have noticed a major reduction in the number of requests, particularly from high profile media, who often have same-day deadlines,” said the Environment Canada document. “Media coverage of climate change science, our most high-profile issue, has been reduced by over 80 per cent.”

The analysis reviewed the impact of a new federal communications policy at Environment Canada, which required senior federal scientists to seek permission from the government prior to giving interviews.

In many cases, the policy also required them to get approval from supervisors of written responses to the questions submitted by journalists before any interview, said the document, obtained in an investigation into the government’s views and policies on global-warming science that was conducted by Climate Action Network Canada, a coalition of environmental groups.

The document suggests the new communications policy has practically eliminated senior federal scientists from media coverage of climate-change science issues, leaving them frustrated that the government was trying to “muzzle” them.

“Many (federal climate change) scientists are recognized experts in their field, have received media training, and have successfully carried out media interviews for many years,” said the document, leaked by an Environment Canada employee who asked not to be named.

. March 17, 2010 at 10:04 am

PATRICK PICHETTE: Thank you for talking to that, sir. Switch again topics: the environment. So Shannon in Victoria sends us this question about…and she’s just lived the Olympics with the warmth there. So her question is: “We’re experiencing our warmest winter in BC. Climate change is obviously affecting the weather here in Canada. Is your government willing to take the strong measures necessary to adequately deal with climate change?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, the answer’s yes, and basically, Patrick, I would say to the questioner that there are – I missed the name, but there are…

PATRICK PICHETTE: Shannon.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Shannon. There are three broad things we’ve been doing to deal with the climate change issue. The first is to try and come up with an effective international treaty on climate change, and in our view, our position since we’ve been elected is that to have an effective international treaty, you have to have one that covers all emissions. Now, we didn’t have that before. We had, previously had an agreement that covered only a very, frankly, about a third of global emissions. So we said we needed a treaty that covers all emissions, and that’s the agreement we got at Copenhagen. Now, it’s not perfect, but at least for the first time, we have virtually every country in the world saying they will be part of an effort that will include their emissions. So we’re obviously making commitments under that agreement, and further negotiation will go forward internationally in the next year or so to try and hammer out some more details and that. So we’re doing that internationally. At the continental level, as you know very well from your own background, Patrick, as a displaced Canadian, we live in an integrated North American economy. We believe we need also a continental approach, particularly when you’re dealing with a lot of aspects of regulation or control of actual emissions in Canada. Because the problem we have with the high integration of our economy, if we impose emissions regulations on plants and firms that don’t exist just south of the border, those things will move overnight, because we have a fully integrated economy, so we need a joint approach. Since President Obama was elected, I mean, you know, President Obama’s obviously, you know, had a very different position on this than his predecessor. He certainly indicated a willingness to tackle climate change and to work with us on this. When he came up to visit me in Ottawa shortly after his election, we established what we call a clean energy dialogue, where we’re working together on a series of joint projects, and ultimately I hope a continental cap and trade system on greenhouse gas emissions. So that’s the second thing, what we’re doing continentally. And then the third thing are some national actions. We continue to fund, I mean literally billions of dollars into research to deal with the development of clean energy technology. You know, Canada, as you know, is in a remarkable position, is that we are maybe the only country in the world that literally has a surplus of virtually every form of energy. Energy security is not an issue in this country. So whatever the energy mix of the future is, Canada is going to be a major player in the energy business. That’s why I say we’re an emerging energy superpower, but we want to make sure we’re a clean energy superpower, so whatever the future energy mix is, we want to make sure we’re doing the most advanced, we have the most advanced technology in those areas, and that we have the cleanest form of energy in all of those areas. That’s why we’re investing in things like carbon capture and storage. That’s why we have, you know, we have the green infrastructure fund in our economic stimulus program. We have a series of what we call eco-energy initiatives to encourage the development of new technology and energy efficiency. We have, you know, as I say, we just have really…we have the gamut. And we’re going to make sure whatever the energy mix of the future is, we’re a major provider, and we’re doing it as cleanly as possible. So those are the three things we’re doing, you know, internationally, continentally and nationally. Still a lot of work to be done. This is, you know, this is not an easy area. I think what all your viewers should realize is what causes emissions is economic activity. You know, all emissions virtually are caused by either people heating themselves or moving around or engaged in economic activity of some kind. So to change our energy use carbon footprint over time requires the development and adaptation of a new generation of technology, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

. March 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

“The Kyoto Protocol is a binding international agreement reached in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, in which developed countries agreed to set limits on the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Canada was one of the first signatories and ratified the Protocol in 2002. In 2005, the Liberal government proposed an implementation plan, but the bill had not passed when the Conservatives won a minority government in the 2006 federal election.

Harper’s Conservatives oppose Canada’s Kyoto commitment, but Parliament adopted the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, 2007 despite Conservative objections. The KPIA requires Canada to develop a plan to comply with the Protocol and to publish annual progress reports. What was the response of our national government? Sulky defiance: our party did not vote for this law and we won’t comply with it. (This is part of why international environmental groups called Canada “Fossil of the Year” at the Copenhagen climate change conference last December.)

Outrageous, but don’t Canadians have a remedy to such defiance of Parliament? Won’t our courts enforce our law? In September 2007, environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE) launched a lawsuit seeking an order that our government comply with the KPIA. In 2008, the Federal Court of Canada decided that this wasn’t their job. It’s “not justiciable,” i.e. not a matter for the courts, they said: climate change is too complicated and political. In 2009, the Federal Court of Appeal agreed, dismissing FOE’s appeal.”

. April 1, 2010 at 11:14 am

Conservatives cap energy retrofit program, let Canadians down once again

By Tyler on EcoEnergy retrofit

It continues to amaze me how hostile Canada’s current federal government is to programs aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Word tonight is that the Harper government is winding down its EcoEnergy home retrofit program. But, as is often the case, it didn’t give homeowners advance warning. The program technically runs until March 31, 2011, but if you haven’t already done or booked a pre-retrofit energy audit you’re out of luck — only those who have already booked this first audit can continue to benefit from the federal program, which pays out up to $5,000 in incentives for people who do home energy retrofits (matching incentives from the provinces may still be in effect).

This means if you’re considering solar thermal, ground-source heat pumps, a new high-efficiency furnace, a high-efficiency air conditioner, or measures to make your home more air-tight, you’ve pretty much missed the boat. It would have been nice to see some numbers from the government to justify this move. We know that 85,000 people have already had audits that eventually led to $91 million in incentives being paid out. How much energy savings resulted? How much of a reduction in greenhouse gases did we see? How many jobs did it create? I would love to see these numbers, given that most energy experts will tell you that incentives for home energy retrofits represent one of the lowest-cost ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If the Harper government is discontinuing a climate program considered cheap compared to other alternatives, then it’s crystal clear that this government couldn’t care less about meeting its international obligations or even meeting its own greenhouse-gas reduction targets.

. April 16, 2010 at 11:00 am

Ottawa stalls on emissions rules

Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice THE CANADIAN PRESS

Government waiting for the United States to decide how it will impose climate-change regulations before acting here

Shawn McCarthy and Gloria Galloway

Ottawa — From Friday’s Globe and Mail Published on Thursday, Apr. 15, 2010 6:50PM EDT Last updated on Friday, Apr. 16, 2010 2:44AM EDT

Environment Minister Jim Prentice is signalling further delays in imposing greenhouse gas emission standards on the oil sector and other industries, saying Ottawa does not want to lose jobs and investment by driving activity out of the country.

The Conservative government is waiting for the United States to decide how it will impose climate-change regulations before acting here. And the U.S. Congress could take up to two years to pass legislation that sets caps on greenhouse gas emissions, Mr. Prentice told a Senate committee Thursday.

In the meantime, he said, Ottawa will pursue regulations to reduce emissions in transportation, which account for 27 per cent of Canada’s total, and in the electric power sector, which accounts for 16 per cent.

But he said Ottawa is being more cautious when dealing with industries that compete internationally for investment or markets, including the oil and gas industry, which accounts for 20 per cent of the country’s emissions.

. April 20, 2010 at 10:19 am

World headed for ‘pretty horrendous impacts’ due to climate change, Canada urged to act now

Mark Jaccard says political leaders will only react when it actually becomes a crisis. But Canada still has no public policy to fight climate change after more than 20 years of federal political promises.

By KATE MALLOY
Published April 19, 2010

Prime ministers have been setting GHG targets since the days of Brian Mulroney, but the world will see “pretty horrendous impacts” due to climate change and Canada still has no public policy to fight climate change after more than 20 years of political promises, says Mark Jaccard, one of the country’s leading experts on environmental economics.

Both the government and opposition parties need to stop the “grandstanding” and “games-playing,” and finally put a price on carbon, said Mr. Jaccard, also an award-winning author and professor.

Mr. Jaccard, 55, the lead author on the Global Energy Assessment, a special adviser to the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, a member of the NTREE, and co-author with Jeffrey Simpson of Hot Air: Meeting Canada’s Climate Change Challenge, said the world is likely headed toward a global crisis, but said political leaders will only react when it becomes a crisis.

. April 23, 2010 at 11:11 am

“The same can be said of the battle against greenhouse-gas emissions. The Harper government doesn’t like the climate-change file, starting with the Prime Minister himself, who has never given a full speech on the topic on Canadian soil. He thinks it is a political loser and an economic drag.

As a result, his government has essentially turned its policy over to the vagaries of the U.S. Congress, saying Canada will harmonize with whatever emerges in Washington. (What happens if, as is likely, nothing emerges from Washington remains unclear.) Provinces head in different directions with absolutely no national leadership even trying to pull them together. Quarrelling provinces made a spectacle of themselves at the Copenhagen summit, holding press conferences to dump on the federal government and each other while trying to score cheap political points at home. It was Canadian federalism at its worst.

Alberta and Saskatchewan want no part of any national cap-and-trade emissions trading system. British Columbia has a carbon tax, but no other province will adopt one. Ontario is driving up energy prices by subsidizing solar and wind power, while importing only small amounts of much cheaper clean hydro from outside the province. Relations between Hydro-Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro are toxic. With energy at the core of the economy of every advanced industrial society, and with climate change remaining a global challenge that will only intensify, the national government’s passivity and the provinces’ tunnel vision won’t cut it any more. Not if Canada want to maximize its economic potential and make much greater strides against greenhouse-gas emissions, where the country’s record remains an international embarrassment.”

. August 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm

“His teeth must have been gritted, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper did manage to utter the words “climate change” during this annual Arctic tour.

Mr. Harper, as we know, hates the climate-change issue. It causes nothing but political trouble for him. He’s got a gaggle of MPs who don’t believe in the science; he’s got conservative media beating the same dead horse of faulty science every week. And he himself thinks climate change is a loser – economically, if anything serious were to be done; politically, if his government did anything serious.

But a Canadian prime minister just can’t spend a week in the Far North and not say “climate change” at least once, painful as it must have been for Mr. Harper, because the principal reason for all this attention to that vast area is, well, climate change.

The ice there is melting and cracking under the assault of a warmer climate. During Mr. Harper’s visit, a huge chunk of ice, estimated to be the size of Bermuda, fell off the country’s largest remaining ice sheet, on Ellesmere Island.”

. September 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm

“Climate change campaigner Matthew Bramley, of the Pembina Institute, argues that the “performance of the Harper government is so awful” on climate change, that “its not news anymore.” Journalists have stopped writing about it and “people have become desensitized.”

At the same time, he says, many opposition politicians lack the courage to press the issue, because any serious attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will require sacrifice and change. As a result, there are no consequences for the Conservative government’s continued delinquency.

. September 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Tightened muzzle on scientists is ‘Orwellian’

Documents reveal federal researchers, whose work is financed by taxpayers, need approval from Ottawa before speaking with media

By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News September 13, 2010

The Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age.

Natural Resources Canada (NRC) scientists were told this spring they need “pre-approval” from Minister Christian Paradis’ office to speak with journalists. Their “media lines” also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation.

The documents say the “new” rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply to not only to contentious issues including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago.

They also give a glimpse of how Canadians are being cut off from scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers, critics say, and is often of significant public interest — be it about fish stocks, genetically modified crops or mercury pollution in the Athabasca River.

“It’s Orwellian,” says Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of Victoria. The public, he says, has a right to know what federal scientists are discovering and learning.

Scientists at NRC, many of them planetary experts, study everything from seabeds to melting glaciers. They have long been able to discuss their research, until the rules changed this spring.

. September 24, 2010 at 1:43 pm

‘Clean energy superpower’ an empty buzzword, say insiders
By Carl Meyer

The Harper government’s three-year effort to market Canada as a “clean energy superpower” does not appear to have caught on with energy industry insiders, with many dismissing the term as empty words.

However, there is also a sense that if the government can somehow turn that widespread obliviousness around, the branding effort could pay big dividends in the long-run.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper first tried out the term during a 2007 speech, saying: “Canada must not be merely an energy superpower, but a clean energy superpower.”

Since then, it has been increasingly used by Mr. Harper and other Cabinet ministers to describe the government’s attempt to protect traditional Canadian energy exports by promising to be a better environmental steward. The expression figured prominently in the 2010 Speech from Throne, and has been used in reference to natural resource development projects, federal regulatory changes to the energy sector, infrastructure and technology investments, and public outreach initiatives.

But while Canada’s status as a major exporter of energy is well-known throughout the industry, Embassy found that only a small proportion of attendees at the World Energy Congress in Montreal last week could identify the phrase “clean energy superpower” in relation to its connection with Canada.

. November 18, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Tory senators kill climate bill passed by House

Gloria Galloway
Globe and Mail Update
Posted on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 10:56AM EST

The Conservatives have used their clout in the Senate stacked by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to kill an NDP climate change bill that was passed by a majority of the House of Commons.

Without any debate in the Red Chamber, Conservative senators caught their Liberal and unelected counterparts off-guard on Tuesday by calling a snap vote on Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act introduced by Bruce Hyer, a New Democrat who represents Thunder Bay-Superior North in the House.

It is the first time that the unelected Conservative senators have used their near-majority to kill a bill passed by elected politicians. The absence of more than 15 Liberals from the Senate allowed the bill to be defeated by a margin of 43 to 32.

“This was one of the most undemocratic acts that we have ever seen in the Parliament of Canada,” NDP Leader Jack Layton said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

“To take power that doesn’t rightfully belong to them to kill a bill that has been adopted by a majority of the House of Commons representing a majority of Canadians is as wrong as it gets when it comes to democracy in this country.”

. December 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Conservatives keep departmental climate work under the radar
While individual departments are taking the issue seriously, lack of political leadership means they are working in silos.

By Carl Meyer

It is Dec. 2, and Gordon McBean is preparing for the first of two major conference calls on climate change.

The call is a meeting of the steering committee for the Harper government’s newly-minted National Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction. That organization, a unique new approach to planning for potential national emergencies run by Public Safety Canada, was born in 2009, but only held its first meeting in Fredericton, NB on Oct. 26.

Mr. McBean, a University of Western Ontario professor, is co-chairing its science and technology working group alongside Mark Williamson, who is director general of the Centre for Security Science at Defence Research and Development Canada.

The two scientists are mandated to provide advice, in part, on the possibility of environmental hazards stemming from climate change—a peculiar topic for a government that has developed a reputation for “obstructionist” tactics when it comes to representing the country’s climate position on the world stage, and a penchant for referring to climate change issues in purely economic terms.

But Mr. McBean has much to lean on when it comes to the subject. As a former assistant deputy minister in Environment Canada, he understands the machinations of the federal government. As chair of the board of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, he understands the impending severity of climate change in Canada. And as chair of the scientific committee on the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk, a program under the International Council for Science, he understands the danger the world is in.

But getting the political masters in Canada to take action, he says, is sometimes difficult. The foundation, his brainchild after he left Environment Canada in 2000, runs out of funding this year, and the Conservative government has so far shown no indication that it plans on providing more.

“Unless something happens in the budget process, we have given out our last grant,” he says with a bit of hesitation.

Mr. McBean left Environment Canada in 2000, but even back then he says he was arguing that the federal government needed a “more centralized focus on climate change”—not just as an environment issue but through all its facets. He recommended the Privy Council Office or the Prime Minister’s Office assume some sort of leadership role to co-ordinate all the emerging federal government action on climate change.

To this day, that has not technically occurred. There have been abortive attempts, says Mr. McBean, but they have not been government-wide, instead simply reporting to Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada.

While the public service has produced a series of well-researched and well-documented studies on the impact of climate change, until very recently, Mr. McBean could see scant evidence of any true government-wide approach to the topic.

But now, the National Platform is “encouraging” him.

The platform is Canada’s response to its adoption of the non-binding 2005 UN disaster reduction treaty called the Hyogo Framework for Action. The implementing body for Hyogo, the so-called International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, explicitly contains climate change as one of its major issues—and is coincidentally the co-ordinator of Mr. McBean’s second climate change and disaster conference call on Dec. 3.

. December 19, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Cooling climate change: Environmental inaction seems to be taking hold

Hand it to Mark Jaccard for keeping his chin up, and pressing on when he knows he faces little hope. The professor of environmental economics at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University — who shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize given to scientists behind the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), along with Al Gore — even went ahead and released a policy prescription for reducing carbon emissions this week. From the C.D. Howe Institute, it explains how Canada could tax carbon emissions and return the money to the emitting provinces to cut taxes, so even Alberta and Saskatchewan could retain most of their investment competitiveness while still penalizing emitters.

But, Jaccard acknowledges, it’s not likely to happen. “The government we have in Canada today doesn’t seem to want to do anything,” he says.

The global effort to fight climate change that environmentalists have been trying for two decades now? Almost certainly a bust. “I think it’s highly likely that humanity will not act on this problem, and that we will have grave consequences.”

The evidence would appear to back up his assessment of future inaction. In the last few weeks alone, so much purported progress on fighting global warming has dissolved like a thawing ice shelf. The Chicago Climate Exchange, set up 10 years ago for what was predicted to be first, a $US500 billion market, with feverish estimates eventually imagining US$10-trillion, announced in November it was closing its doors forever. The Republican rout this month in the U.S. House of Representatives officially turned Congress against any planned cap-and-trade scheme. And this week, Al Gore publicly repented for all his work promoting corn-based ethanol as an alternative fuel, calling it a “mistake” with benefits that were “at best very small.”

. February 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Peter Foster: Canada dodges carbon suicide

Harper right to kill ‘irresponsible’ bill that would have erased legions of jobs

Opposition MPs and warmist NGOs this week responded with outrage that the Harper government should have dared to use the Senate — an unelected body that the Conservatives claim they want to reform — to kill the Climate Change Accountability Act.

Mr. Harper, however, noted that there was an issue here of somewhat greater importance than procedural nicety or political consistency: the fate of the Canadian economy. He rightly dubbed Bill C-311 a piece of “completely irresponsible legislation” that set suicidal “targets” that would have destroyed hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs.

Ironic, meanwhile, that radical environmentalists who assert that we may have to ditch democracy, and even freedom, in order to save the world are now so keen that democratic procedures should be followed. In fact, the Harper government broke no parliamentary rules, although there was much finger pointing about how Bill C-311 actually came to a vote. Some suggested that the Senate Liberals had shot themselves footwise by accidentally precipitating the fatal head count. But if this was a matter of Stephen Harper outfoxing his opponents, we should all be grateful. At least, those of us do not have an economic death wish should be grateful.

Critics claim that Mr. Harper has, yet again, deviously stalled climate action. You bet he has! But why would one want him to promote action that would have no impact, apart from destroying jobs?

. March 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm

The Harper government is projecting some major cuts over the next year to several of its environmental initiatives, including climate change and clean air, according to newly released federal estimates.

The numbers, released Tuesday by the Treasury Board Secretariat, show a 59 per cent cut in globalwarming and air-pollution spending as part of more than $1.6 billion in annual, government-wide reductions to environmental services across the different federal departments. The shift is the equivalent to a 14 per cent reduction in spending that also includes a $222-million or 20 per cent reduction in spending at Environment Canada.

Natural Resources Canada is estimating a $928-million (21 per cent) decrease in its spending for the next year, including a $390-million decrease in spending due to the end of a popular retrofit program that subsidized homeowners for renovations that reduce energy consumption and utility bills.

Environment Minister Peter Kent suggested that some funds could reappear following the upcoming federal budget.

. March 12, 2011 at 12:33 am

What is clear, however, is that there will be winners and losers in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s austerity drive.

The winners list is not surprising. Corrections Canada will get a 21 per cent increase in public funds (including 57 per cent more for prison construction). Canada Border Services Agency will get a 14 per increase. The budget of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority will double. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will get 8.4 per cent more. And the Department of Defence will get an additional 8 per cent for new equipment.

The losers list is more revealing:

Environment Canada will take a huge hit, affecting everything from park maintenance to climate change initiatives. The department’s overall budget will drop by 20 per cent. But its clean air program will be chopped by 59 per cent. Environment Minister Peter Kent says there is no need for alarm. Several large programs are scheduled to “sunset” but he has asked Flaherty to renew them in his budget. Environmentalists don’t have much confidence in either minister.

The axe will fall on dozens of cultural programs. Almost every agency funded by Heritage Canada will lose money, but the deepest cuts will come at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the National Library and the Office of the Status of Women. Across the board, spending will fall by 4.5 per cent.

. March 22, 2011 at 8:10 am

Canada’s ambassador to the European Union privately promised EU politicians a year ago that the government would bring in regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands, newly released documents indicate. But Ottawa has yet to act on that commitment.

Meetings between Ambassador Ross Hornby and European parliamentarians were part of a campaign to derail the EU’s proposed clean-fuel standards that would penalize the oil sands as “dirty fuel.”

The industry is worried the EU will add to the momentum among U.S. states to adopt low-carbon fuel regulations that would penalize refiners who use crude from the oil sands.

In concert with the oil industry and province of Alberta, the federal government has launched an “engagement strategy” aimed at burnishing the image of the oil sands in the U.S. and Europe.

. May 24, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Tories take cap-and-trade system off the table’: Kent
TORONTO STAR

OTTAWA majority Conservative government will move ahead with regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada but a cap-and-trade system won’t happen anytime soon, says Environment Minister Peter Kent.

Not much changed personally for the Thornhill Tory MP since the election. He’s back in the job he held before the campaign and has no major plans to change course now that his party isn’t beholden to a majority of opposition MPs.

He said the five-week election temporarily delayed the introduction of new regulations to cut emissions in line with an international pledge to get to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.

But we’re on that now. From the swearing in of cabinet (Wednesday) I went right back to the department and we’ll be turning to that this afternoon in terms of the next steps, Kent said Thursday.

First on the agenda are new federal rules to cut emissions from coal-fired electricity plants, a particular scourge in Ontario. Generating stations will be required to either find new sources to fuel their plants, such as natural gas or nuclear power, or pump the carbon emissions underground with a carbon capture and storage set up system.

The oilsands … will be in the next set of regulations that will come down after the coal-fired electricity generating sector, Kent said. We’ll be addressing that later this year.

But any companies eager for a cap-and-trade system to help them meet those stringent targets are out of luck, at least for the next few years, he added.

. May 31, 2011 at 7:28 pm

What else might Mr Harper do with his new power? Certainly he is unlikely to rush to introduce measures to curb carbon emissions as the opposition wanted and as the energy-producing western province of Alberta, with its carbon-belching tar sands, feared. “Western Canada can breathe a lot easier,” Mr Harper said in Calgary, the Albertan oil capital that he represents in parliament.

. June 9, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Canada decides to drop Kyoto Protocol support
REUTERS
Ottawa reaffirms it can’t meet commitments

Canada confirmed Wednesday that it would not support an extended Kyoto Protocol after 2012, joining Japan
and Russia in rejecting a new round of the climate emissions pact.

The current Kyoto Protocol binds only the emissions of industrialized countries from 20082012. Poor and
emerging economies want to extend the pact, creating a deadlock at United Nations climate talks running
from June 6 to 17 here.

The confirmation makes it clear Canada is following the line its ruling party pursued ahead of last month’s
election.

“Now that we’ve finished our election we can say now that Canada will not be taking a target under a second
commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol,” Judith Gelbman, a member of Canada’s delegation, told a
negotiating session of the talks.

. June 22, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is calling on Environment Minister Peter Kent to reverse job cuts in his department that she says are disproportionately targeting climate change researchers.

May said she’s received emails from employees and that the scientific community is buzzing about layoff notices recently given to 46 workers.

According to Parliament’s only Green MP, the employees were given one-month notice that their temporary positions were being eliminated.

“Word is leaking out in the scientific community, we are losing scientists and we are losing capacity,” May said at a news conference on Parliament Hill.

May said the job cuts were made from four different research groups within Environment Canada that do modeling and data analysis work on climate change and on how Canadians can adapt to climate change and shifting weather patterns. She said she’s been told the operating budgets for the research programs have also been cut, but did not say by how much.

May said based on the information she’s received, the Conservatives are “disproportionately” cutting climate change researchers and programs, and she called on the government to reconsider the job cuts and to be more transparent about staff and budget reductions.

. June 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Tory axe hits ‘muscle and bone’ of climate science, Elizabeth May says
JANE TABER
OTTAWA – Globe and Mail Update
Last updated Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2011 6:05PM EDT

http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/tory-axe-hits-muscle-and-bone-of-climate-science-elizabeth-may-says/article2070874/?service=mobile

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is accusing Stephen Harper of letting ideology dictate job cuts to climate scientists at Environment Canada. And she is calling on Environment Minister Peter Kent to reverse them.

“What is clear to me is that the cuts are not in fat,” Ms. May said. “This is cuts into muscle and bone.”

. September 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm

When it comes to emissions, we have bureaucracy run wild

Since their first day in office, the Harper Conservatives have been both big spenders and users of the tax system to achieve social (and political) objectives. What they haven’t done is deploy regulations to achieve their objectives.

Instead, they’ve railed against excessive regulations. They even established a Red Tape Commission to reduce regulations that got in the way of doing business.

They’ve been quite clear: Spend and tax to achieve objectives, but don’t regulate. Except, it seems, in one huge area – greenhouse-gas emissions. In this case, the Harper Conservatives have jettisoned their usual approaches and opted for the least economically efficient methods imaginable: regulations and subsidies. Predictably, the government is failing to meet its own targets.

It has recently been announcing regulations for new coal- and natural gas-fired plants. Later regulations will arrive for existing coal-fired plants. Still later, perhaps at the end of 2012, will come regulations for oil operations. These will be so detailed as to be specific to each plant across the country, a task of mind-boggling complexity designed by civil servants.

. September 24, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Over the past several months we have seen major cuts to Environment Canada that are leaving it without any real scientific or research power. We have seen many prominent scientific jobs cut, research funding slashed, and our ability to effectively do environmental assessment and management largely neutralized. Our scientists have been muzzled, and their ability to go to press has become tightly managed by a new “media relations office” put forth by the Harper Government. There is no more money to do research on Adaptations and Impacts as we do, projects on water quality have been halted (including those serving Aboriginal reserves and northern communities), and many of the tools and researchers necessary in order to adequately measure the consequences of the Athabasca Tar Sands are presently in a questionable state of limbo. This rearrangement of staff – preceding the 5-10% first round of budget cuts coming in February as part of Harper’s “balancing the books” will effectively leave Environment Canada powerless and effectively useless. They even went so far as to slate twenty-one out of twenty-four water quality monitoring stations in the Northwest Territories for shutdown – an act that managed to embarrass Harper (who was touring the region at the time) sufficiently for it to be reversed. But the cuts and targeting of research in the public interest continues.

Tony Clement perhaps put it best: Environment Canada is now “open for business” – you may now hire their award-winning scientists at will, privatize their research and keep them from working in the public interest. One of the most prominent areas to be hit was climate change research and adaptations: exactly what our thirty-person lab has focused on and our broader Adaptations and Impacts Research Section has pioneered in for the past seventeen years since its formation. Dr. Bass is a co-recipient of the IPCC Nobel Prize, and the work many of our researchers do is critical to the advancement of science and the development of viable responses to climate change the world over. Because Environment Canada scientists cannot go to press over this, coverage (and response) has largely been muted – and the Canadian public, by and large, is unaware of the changes that are taking place. This is, to put it lightly, a major problem not just for Canadians but for the whole of the international community.

. October 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Oilsands issues will just heat up, ambassador told

Promises, but no action

By Mike De Souza, Postmedia News October 12, 2011 2:09 AM

Opposition to oilsands expansion in “Canada’s Texas” and the controversial Keystone pipeline project is growing because of a failure to crack down on climate-change emissions, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, has been told by staff.

“The anti-oilsands campaign shows no sign of letting up,” Marc LePage, adviser on climate change and energy issues at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, told Doer in a Sept. 29, 2010, email.

“This will intensify in the absence of movement on climate-change legislation.”

Successive federal governments have delayed action to regulate industrial emissions.

. November 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Canada won’t confirm Kyoto withdrawal

Environment Minister Peter Kent wouldn’t confirm or deny Monday that Canada plans to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, as talks on the accord’s future got underway in Durban, South Africa.

“I won’t comment on a speculative report,” Kent said in response to questions about a report that Canada will announce it is pulling out shortly before Christmas.

Kent was making an announcement in Ottawa about continued funding for the Conservative government’s clean air agenda – $600 million over the next five years – and was asked repeatedly about Canada’s commitment to the 1997 agreement.

The environment minister said that in Durban he will try to convince the other parties that signed the protocol that a new international agreement is needed, one that includes the world’s major polluters. He leaves for the two-week conference later this week.

. January 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Ottawa backtracks on coal emissions

SHAWN McCARTHY
GLOBAL ENERGY REPORTER
OTTAWA

From Friday’s Globe and Mail
Last updated Friday, Jan. 06, 2012 8:20AM EST

The federal government is offering the provinces a way to avoid tough new regulations that would eventually force power companies to shut down the country’s fleet of coal-fired power plants.

Environment Minister Peter Kent and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have privately indicated they are willing to provide flexibility in how new power-plant emissions rules are implemented, provincial and industry sources said Thursday. Mr. Kent is expected to release the final version of the long-promised regulations in the coming months.

. January 9, 2012 at 10:21 am

‘Radical groups’ spur Tories to speed pipeline review process

The Conservative government will bring forward new rules to greatly shorten environmental reviews of pipelines and other major projects, arguing that “radical groups” are exploiting the reviews to block proposals vital to Canada’s economic future.

On the eve of hearings into the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific coast, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver released a strongly-worded open letter Monday condemning some opponents of the pipeline. A copy of the letter was provided in advance to The Globe and Mail.

“The objective should be that these reviews would no longer go on for many, many years. They would have a definitive timeline that would provide certainty to the participants who are sponsoring the project.”

. January 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Through Access to Information Legislation, Canadian reporter Mike de Souza obtained letters exchanged between Alberta Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Canada’s U.S. Ambassador Gary Doer. The correspondence shows Canada’s explicit lobbying efforts to persuade the U.S. to exclude climate change impacts from its final decision about the Keystone XL project.

However, the U.S. EPA pushed back and argued that the U.S. government should factor the entire footprint of oilsands pollution into the decision, since it affects its own citizens as well as the rest of the world:

“Given that the possible consequences of greenhouse gas emissions are global in nature, they include potential impacts on the United States, and we believe it is appropriate that the State Department consider these upstream greenhouse gas emissions in its evaluation,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote on Dec. 7, 2010 in response to a letter from Doer.

Even Environment Canada agrees that “the oilsands are Canada’s fastest growing source” of greenhouse gas emissions, and by no means is this growth insignificant. Over the last two decades, greenhouse gas pollution from the oilsands has grown by over 150 per cent. From 2005 to 2020, Environment Canada’s number show, they’re going to keep right on growing, tripling from 30 million tonnes in 2005 to 92 million tonnes in 2020.

. January 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm

The Alberta government has acknowledged that the Obama administration had accurate information about environmental impacts of oilsands development, but unsuccessfully urged it to disregard the industry’s footprint on the planet’s climate in an evaluation of the Keystone XL pipeline project, newly released correspondence has revealed.

The letters, exchanged between Alberta Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Canada’s U.S. Ambassador Gary Doer, reveal new aspects of a Canadian lobbying campaign to persuade the Americans to exclude climate change from its final decision about the expansion of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone pipeline expansion project. The proposed expansion would link the oilsands industry with refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

But the EPA’s top officials said in separate letters that the U.S. government should factor in the entire footprint of oilsands pollution in the decision since it affects its own citizens as well as the rest of the world.

“Given that the possible consequences of greenhouse gas emissions are global in nature, they include potential impacts on the United States, and we believe it is appropriate that the State Department consider these upstream greenhouse gas emissions in its evaluation,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote on Dec. 7, 2010 in response to a letter from Doer.

. February 3, 2012 at 11:00 am

Pipeline itself not the only problem we should worry about

By Mark Jaccard, Vancouver Sun

Our political leaders are lying to us if they aid and abet the expansion of tarsands while promising to take action to prevent the imminent climate catastrophe. If you love this planet and your children, and are humble and objective in considering the findings of science, you have no choice but to battle hard to stop Gateway and other tarsands pipelines. It is time to face up to this challenge with honesty and courage.

. March 9, 2012 at 11:01 am

Federal bureaucrats were troubled by media coverage of a decision by Environment Canada last year to deliberately exclude oilsands emissions data from an inventory report to the United Nations on greenhouse gas emissions, reveals newly-released government records.

The internal correspondence suggests that the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade saw the media reports as a setback to its lobbying and marketing efforts to promote the oilsands industry and discourage foreign climate change policies.

“Program people over here are quite concerned about the coverage below,” wrote International Trade spokeswoman Caitlin Workman in an email to her counterparts from Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada on June 1, 2011. “Do you guys plan to respond in any way? Do you have lines you might be able to share?”

. April 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Ten years ago, a very senior federal deputy minister told me that implementing Canada’s Kyoto Protocol target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012 would force an adjustment on the Canadian economy greater than that of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. (The FTA, which was ultimately of great economic benefit to Canada, had a significantly disruptive effect on the Canadian economy, especially the manufacturing sector, in the short term.)

This bureaucrat’s comment on Kyoto, made five years after Canada signed the Protocol and the year it was ratified by Parliament, reflected the dominant view within the government at that time. Even with the relatively strong Canadian economy that then prevailed, and with a decade in which to implement Kyoto, conventional wisdom in Ottawa held that Canada’s target was a bridge too far. And this was the opinion within the Chrétien government, which signed Kyoto and remained rhetorically committed to it. As a result, nothing meaningful was done to reduce Canada’s GhG emissions at the federal level during the Chrétien years.

And while the short-lived minority government of Paul Martin claimed adherence to Kyoto’s goals, and proposed “Project Green” under then environment minister Stéphane Dion to help Canada reduce its emissions, it too failed to seriously come to grips with the problem. Neither the Chrétien nor the Martin governments had the stomach, even during periods of strong economic growth and when protecting the environment ranked historically high in public opinion, to move forward with the most effective and efficient tools for reducing carbon emissions — a carbon tax and/or a “cap and trade” regulatory regime. During the Liberal era, the prevailing orthodoxy of fear over the alleged dire political and economic costs of reducing GhGs had an iron grip on the Ottawa mind, even when the political economy conditions for a strong federal push to curb emissions seemed at their most accommodating.

. April 16, 2012 at 11:57 am

Inventory report confirms oil-and-gas pollution rising

By Mike De Souza, Postmedia News April 11, 2012

OTTAWA — A new inventory report on greenhouse gases Wednesday has confirmed that Canadian emissions levels continued to drop in most sectors for 2010 except in the oil-and-gas industry’s booming oilsands activities.

Canada is required to submit the inventory to the international community as part of its obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the latest figures show that the country’s overall annual emissions increased by 0.25 per cent in 2010 to the equivalent of about 692 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Led by provincial policies in recent years, including the Ontario government’s efforts to close its coal-fired power plants, the country’s overall emissions have stabilized while the economy continues to grow.

Separate figures released by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers show that annual emissions increased in 2010 by 14 per cent for the oilsands sector, while emissions per barrel in that industry increased by two per cent in the same year.

Canada’s official report last year generated controversy because of a decision to exclude a breakdown of oilsands emissions from the inventory, even though this emissions breakdown was included in the previous year’s inventory. The missing details eventually revealed that the booming sector’s pollution was dramatically rising to levels that would make it difficult for the federal government to meet its own annual emissions target of 607 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2020.

. April 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Fight over greenhouse gas rules; Documents show Tories caving to industry, critics say

Petroleum producers weren’t happy with the federal government’s plans last year for regulating greenhouse gases from the oil and gas sector and may have delayed the new rules from being introduced, federal documents reveal.

Correspondence obtained under access to information shows the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Conservative government were sparring in mid-2011 over what CAPP said were “serious deficiencies” in the government’s apparent plans to release – by last June – broad outlines for adopting new GHG regulations for the upstream oil and gas industry, including the carbon intensive oilsands sector.

Ten months later, the long awaited proposed regulations still haven’t been released. Environmental groups argue the documents further demonstrate the federal government is too often caving to the demands of industry.

In a letter from CAPP president David Collyer to Environment Minister Peter Kent, the lobby group said it was “deeply concerned by the lack of constructive dialogue and pursuit of common objectives on this file,” and that the two sides should meet before any proposed regulations were issued.

. April 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Oil lobby may have delayed greenhouse regulations; Environmental groups accuse Tories of caving to petroleum producers’ demands

Petroleum producers weren’t happy with Ottawa’s plans last year for regulating greenhouse gases from the oil and gas sector and may have delayed the new rules from being introduced, federal documents reveal.

Correspondence obtained under access to information shows the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Conservative government were sparring in mid-2011 over what CAPP said were “serious deficiencies” in Ottawa’s apparent plans to release – by last June – broad outlines for adopting new GHG regulations for the upstream oil and gas industry, including the carbon-intensive oilsands sector.

Ten months later, the long-awaited proposed regulations still haven’t been released. Environmental groups argue the documents further demonstrate the federal government is too often caving to the demands of industry in setting policy for the oil and gas sector.

In a letter from CAPP president David Collyer to Environment Minister Peter Kent, the lobby group said it was “deeply concerned by the lack of constructive dialogue and pursuit of common objectives on this file,” and that the two sides should meet before any proposed regulations were issued.

. April 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm

How Canada’s green credentials fell apart

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328585.900-how-canadas-green-credentials-fell-apart.html

Canada once enjoyed a deserved reputation for scientific and environmental leadership, but those days are now long gone

MOST people around the world, if they think of Canada at all, think of it as the national equivalent of the nice boy they’d like their daughter to marry. A bit boring, perhaps, but unfailingly polite, and someone you can always count on to do the right thing. That is a stereotype, of course, but like most stereotypes there is some truth to it, as those of us who live here recognise.

Lately, though, that nice boy has turned into a bit of a bully. Last year, the Conservative Party of Canada, led by Stephen Harper, won a parliamentary majority after being in a minority government for five years. It has since staked out an aggressively right-wing position on many issues, notably science and the environment.

The Harper government has abandoned Canada’s climate commitments, cut back on science spending and muzzled government scientists who might stray from the official line. Hardly the cuddly Canada the world thought it knew.

That is a big change for a country with a proud history in science and environmental policy. In the 1980s, under conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, Canada led the way in international policies to control acid rain and chlorofluorocarbons: the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is the most successful piece of international environmental legislation ever enacted.

Those days are gone. After a decade of tepid efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Canada formally withdrew from its Kyoto pledges in December. In part this merely recognised that the targets had been a fiction for years, as previous centre-left governments made little effort to cut emissions. This inaction seems to capture the mood of the Canadian public: the one serious attempt to promote a carbon tax, by the Liberal party, ended in electoral disaster in 2008.

But under Harper, the government has moved from apathy to outright hostility. At the 2007 Bali climate conference, Canada and Russia stood alone in opposing science-based emissions targets. Canada’s foot-dragging at the 2009 Copenhagen conference earned it a “Fossil of the Year” award from environmental groups. As host nation of the G8 and G20 summits in 2010, Canada resisted making emissions a priority issue, and the government has continued to advocate strongly for development of Alberta’s tar sands (though, to be fair, resource development is largely controlled at province level).

The government is also considering backtracking on other environmental matters. Last week, a former fisheries official leaked documents suggesting that the government wants to reword its Fisheries Act so that it no longer prohibits activity that harms fish habitat. Instead, the ban would cover only activities that harm “fish of economic, cultural or ecological value”, a much narrower – and harder-to-prove – restriction. The change would make it easier to gain approval for industrial developments such as pipelines.

. May 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm

John Ivison: Conservatives risk backlash over inaction on environment

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/05/08/john-ivison-conservatives-risk-backlash-over-inaction-on-environment/

The Harper government sees politics as a constant battle of “sword” and “shield” issues.

The Prime Minister wields them like a great lord in Game of Thrones – going on the offensive on “sword” issues; parrying on “shield” issues, where even talking about them is considered a vote-loser.

There is no subject on which the Harperites are more defensive than the environment, and, given their recent stumbles, it was a particularly inopportune time for the release of a new report from the Environment Commissioner, Scott Vaughan. He suggested Tuesday there is no plan to meet the targets on greenhouse gas emissions that the government set for itself and, consequently, those targets are unlikely to be met.

To be fair, the Tories haven’t been completely inactive on the file.

Regulations to control greenhouse gases have been developed behind the scenes. The problem is, that’s where they have remained.

The Conservatives circulated a notice of intent to regulate the oil and gas sector last summer that went to Cabinet but was spiked in the face of opposition from the industry and Ed Stelmach’s Alberta government.

As Mr. Vaughan pointed out in his spring report on Canada’s 2020 climate change commitments, in the absence of such regs, the government is unlikely to hit its target of emission levels 17% below 2005 levels.

. May 13, 2012 at 12:07 am

Andrew Coyne: National leaders unanimous in their inaction on climate change

If there is one thing on which all federal parties and all national political leaders are agreed, it is that they “believe the science” on climate change. They believe that the earth is warming, they believe its effects are on balance malign, and they believe it is caused by human activity. As such they believe it can and should be mitigated by human action, namely by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

There isn’t any dispute between them over this. Every party agrees there’s a problem, every party agrees on its cause, and every party agrees on its solution. And no party (or none with any chance of governing) has anything resembling a serious policy to achieve it.

More than two decades have passed since the Second World Climate Conference in 1990, at which Canada committed to stabilize its emissions of greenhouse gases at then-current levels within a decade. Since that time we have had a succession of different federal “strategies” and “processes” — Action Plan 2000, Project Green, Turning the Corner, on and on — with emissions reductions commitments to match. The current federal climate plan lists more than 20 different programs aimed explicitly at reducing GHG emissions, from the Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program to the Marine Shore Power Program to the various ecoENERGY schemes.

. May 14, 2012 at 7:45 pm

The Canada I went overseas to fight for was a tolerant and open society, always striving to do the right thing, and to bring to the world a sense that tomorrow can be better than today.

Today, though, the government in Ottawa seems to want to throw all that out the window. Stephen Harper’s vision of Canada seems to begin, and end, in the tarsands, and everything else be damned. Tolerance is redefined as applying only to anyone who agrees with that vision. Everyone else is “radical,” an “extremist,” or even included in his government’s new program battling terrorism.

This is an insult to those of us who have fought, and sacrificed for our country, against real radicals, real extremists and real terrorists.

When I read about ministers of the Crown attacking and smearing heroes like David Suzuki, who are trying to put us on a more sustainable pathway, I wonder what’s happened to Canada. I fear for the kind of world my daughter and son stand to inherit should we cave in to this oil-driven agenda. Not a good one, I am certain.

. May 17, 2012 at 8:10 am

How we stopped talking about climate change

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/Climate/6625856/story.html

Let’s recap the Harper government’s record on climate change, shall we?

In the beginning, the Conservatives said nothing. Climate change wasn’t even mentioned in the 2006 election platform.

But in 2007 climate change became a top public priority and Stephen Harper became very concerned. Climate change is “perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today,” the Prime Minister declared. And yes, the Conservatives had plans. Big plans. Unlike the Liberals, who talked lots but accomplished little, the Conservatives were going to get the job done.

In early 2008, the government promised to work with the United States to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions by creating a North American cap-and-trade system. When Stéphane Dion’s Liberals also promised to put a price on carbon emissions, but with a carbon tax instead, the Conservatives savaged it as a “tax on everything” and vilified Dion as the man who would destroy the economy.

When the global economy melted down, public concern about climate change plunged. At the same time, and to the same extent, the prominence of climate change in government communications also plunged.

In December, 2009, in Copenhagen, the government met with others from around the world and agreed to cut Canada’s emissions by 17 per cent from the 2005 levels by 2020. It later formally scrapped Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, which had committed this country to much steeper reductions. The government said Canada couldn’t possibly meet the Kyoto targets without damaging the economy, which was probably true since it, and its predecessors, had spent so many years doing nothing. But anyway, Peter Kent said when he became environment minister, the government was fiercely committed to the Copenhagen targets.

In 2011, after the Conservatives won their long-desired majority, the government delivered a Throne Speech. Climate change wasn’t mentioned. Same for the 2012 budget.

. May 17, 2012 at 8:10 am

So what can we make of all this? There are two possibilities.

First, Stephen Harper and Company may be sincere about tackling climate change. In that case, they are grossly incompetent. Their policy is a mess. They have accomplished little or nothing. And there’s no reason to think they will do any better in the future.

The other possibility is that Stephen Harper and Company are lying. They do not have any intention of tackling climate change. They never did. Their only real goal is to manage the file so it doesn’t become a political liability, which they have done with considerable success.

When I’ve raised these possible explanations in the past the response has been curious.

Unsurprisingly, critics of the prime minister write to say, in effect, “hell yeah he’s lying!” But so do many conservatives. Climate change is a fraud, they say, but the government has to pretend it believes in it, and is doing something about it, to satisfy the gullible. It’s a lie, they say. But it’s a noble lie. Hooray for the prime minister.

That strange argument has even made the august pages of Policy Options, where Michael Hart — a Carleton University professor who apparently believes anthropogenic climate change is some sort of socialist plot — praised the prime minister. “Harper has successfully ridden the climate change juggernaut to its inevitable end,” Hart wrote. “By not directly confronting an inherited policy that he found distasteful, he has been able to manage it to a conclusion that has alienated fewer and satisfied more Canadians. In the years to come, as the international climate change file gradually fades into obscurity, similar to many other such utopian initiatives, he can look back with satisfaction at a job well done.”

That’s how professors say, “hell yeah he’s lying!”

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/Climate/6625856/story.html

. June 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Climate strategy back on drawing board; Alberta admits missing target to cut emissions

The Alberta government acknowledges it likely missed its 2010 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal and is now revamping the province’s overall climate change strategy to meet future targets.

Alberta Environment said Tuesday the province didn’t meet its goal of reducing emissions by 20 megatonnes below business-as-usual projections in 2010, although final audited numbers have yet to come in.

The PC government has also been criticized for not being on track to meet its own target for 2020, which calls for a further emissions reduction. Alberta is supposed to start cutting absolute emissions that year, rather than just a reduction per unit of economic production.

With the province responsible for one-third of Canada’s growing greenhouse gas emissions, Environment Minister Diana McQueen said Thursday that Alberta is taking steps to ensure the next target in eight years is met.

“What I’ve asked the department to do is to come back with a strategy that’s renewed,” McQueen said in an interview. “What do we have to change in order to adapt so that we do meet our 2020 targets?”

McQueen said Alberta’s performance on emissions is crucial to the province growing the oil and gas industry, and gaining access to export markets.

. June 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Canada plans draft pollution rules by 2013

Facing questions about its upcoming withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol and “gaps” in its existing policies, Canada told international climate change talks in Germany Thursday that it planned to crack down on oil and gas pollution through draft regulations by next year.

Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada’s chief negotiator and climate change ambassador, said the Canadian government was “working toward draft regulations for 2013” in the oil and gas sector as it continued efforts to meet commitments made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 17 per cent below 2005 levels.

In a presentation, Saint-Jacques noted the government was already implementing and finalizing regulations in two of Canada’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, transportation and electricity generation, but was also consulting with the provinces and industry to tackle pollution from the oil and gas sector.

“Once we have finalized the oil and gas regulations, we will have covered some 60 per cent of our emissions,” Saint-Jacques told his inter-national counterparts.

The government has estimated that the oilsands sec-tor in Alberta is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. Internal government records have also warned that the sec-tor’s heavy energy and water consumption could leave an irreversible environmental footprint and a “financial risk” to the province.

But the Alliance of Small Island States, a group of countries that have warned they may not survive the planet’s changing climate, urged Canada and other developed countries to work harder at reducing emissions.

“So it’s clear that more needs to be done to put Canada on a path to meet its target,” said M.J. Mace from St. Lucia, who spoke for the alliance, showing a chart that said Canada was not on the right track and would see annual emissions rise to 33 per cent above 1990 levels by 2020.

. June 9, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Ottawa locks in emissions with delays in carbon rules, agency warns

The longer the federal government waits to clamp down on emissions and business continues as usual, the more difficult and costly it becomes to meet environmental targets, the research concludes.

These findings come from the soon-to-be-defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, the federally funded advisory group formed to give advice and research on sustainable development.

The Harper government is in the process of abolishing the agency.

It’s likely the first time analysts have measured the country’s shrinking room to manoeuvre as a result of investments made while businesses wait for governments to crack down on emissions.

The research also shows that electricity could be the salvation, as long as that sector can attract huge investment.

The research will be included in one of the advisory body’s final reports to be published in a few weeks, but was presented by the round table’s president, David McLaughlin, at a conference earlier this month. His slide presentation was obtained by The Canadian Press.

. July 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Many strange things are asserted in Question Period (as my colleague Aaron Wherry documents tirelessly), but every so often something so arrestingly unexpected is said that it commands special attention. So it was with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s claim yesterday that today’s Conservative government has—“objectively speaking,” mind you—“made more progress on the quality of our environment and the air that we breathe than any government in the history of dominion.”

Is there any chance he’s got a point there? (I’ve asked his office exactly what he had in mind, and will post on the response.) Kenney mentioned in passing five ways the government has achieved this triumph: “through the Clean Air Act, through the restriction on toxins, through the increased enforcement of our environmental laws, through higher fuel standards, through the reduction in carbon emissions as a result of our plan…”

Which brings us to “reduction in carbon emissions as a result of our plan.”

I take it he’s alluding here to the Environment Minister Peter Kent’s recent interpretation of a report showing that Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions held steady in 2010 even though the economy grew.  Kent said this showed that the link between economic growth and rising emissions has been broken, and suggested this was evidence of “good progress in our sector-by-sector approach to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”

But how this 2010 data could possibly indicate anything about the Conservative GHG emissions policy is mysterious, since the new auto efficiency standards only came into effect for 2011 model year cars and light trucks, and the only other GHG emissions regulations the government has proposed, for the coal-fired electricity sector, aren’t slated to come into effect until 2015.

In fact, so spotty and uncertain is the Conservative GHG emissions policy that the this spring’s report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development states: “The regulatory approach does not identify which specific industries within each economic sector the regulations will target and when, or how these regulations will contribute to reducing GHG emissions.”

http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/06/05/has-this-government-presided-over-the-most-environmental-progress/

. December 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Canada won’t budge on environment, Peter Kent insists

Environment Minister Peter Kent arrives at the United Nations climate summit in Qatar this weekend with a target on his back, representing the only government that has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol and taken a hard line on the need for emerging-market countries to make binding commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

In an interview before leaving Ottawa, Mr. Kent made it clear that Canada would not deviate from its contentious path or sacrifice economic growth to cut emissions.

“We are taking our obligations seriously,” he said. “But we are balancing our obligation and engagement on climate change with sensitivities to the realities of Canada’s still-recovering economy, job creation and job growth, and we will continue on that course.”

. December 2, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Bureaucrats told Peter Kent reforms could undermine environmental protection

OTTAWA – Oil and gas companies were pushing for a weakening of conservation laws that could undermine the federal government’s ability to protect the environment, bureaucrats warned Environment Minister Peter Kent more than a year ago.

Their briefing material, obtained through access to information legislation, was prepared a few months before the government overhauled Canada’s environmental laws to reduce federal oversight and duplication in federal and provincial environmental assessments.

Those changes were then welcomed by industry in recent months as an improvement of the review process, eliminating nearly 3,000 environmental reviews on existing projects.

But one year earlier, Environment Canada officials told Kent that his government had already adopted legislation, prior to this, that had “effectively” addressed duplication in federal and provincial environmental assessments. They said that this eliminated the need to further narrow the federal government’s authority to evaluate projects such as development in Alberta’s oilsands.

. March 11, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Then, in 2011, Harper finally won a majority. He was now free to pursue his vision of this nation as a wealthy, fossil fuel–developing “energy superpower.” He still talks about his climate promises and his intention to enact regulations that will achieve his target. Meanwhile, it is full speed ahead with the fossil fuel agenda. In late 2011, Canada formally withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol. Environment minister Peter Kent justified this as avoiding financial penalties for missing our target; with no hint of irony, he blamed the “incompetent” Liberal government for setting a target without implementing policies to achieve it.

A few months later, the government eliminated the national round table, an institution with a twenty-five-year history of providing non-partisan sustainability advice to Canadian governments and the public. Foreign affairs minister John Baird defended this by criticizing the round table for repeatedly promoting a carbon tax (something it never actually did): “It should agree with the government. No discussion of a carbon tax that would kill and hurt Canadian families.”
Fossil fuel exports are now a key foreign policy priority, with Harper lobbying President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the US, and criticizing the European Union and California for threatening to restrict oil sands imports because of the higher rate of carbon pollution caused by their production.

Domestically, the government laid off hundreds of scientists who monitor the health of our environment and the activities of industry. It “streamlined” the environmental review process to accelerate approvals of new oil and gas pipelines and coal port expansions. Minister of natural resources Joe Oliver justified these changes as a way of countering the delay tactics of “radicals” with “funding from foreign special interest groups.”

This is Canada today. The Harper government supports accelerating the extraction of fossil fuels from our soil, which will send more carbon pollution into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, that same government brazenly assures Canadians that it will keep its 2020 and 2050 emission reduction promises. But I know these assurances are worthless, for the very reason that Chrétien’s Kyoto promise was worthless. The 2020 target is only seven years away. Emissions have fallen slightly because of the global recession. However, the combination of economic growth and oil sands expansion will increase emissions. In a chapter of the Auditor General’s spring 2012 report, “Meeting Canada’s 2020 Climate Change Commitments,” his commissioner on environment and sustainability, Scott Vaughan, noted, “It is unlikely that enough time is left to develop and establish greenhouse gas regulations… to meet the 2020 target.” Instead, Canada is on a path to be “7.4 percent above its 2005 level instead of 17 percent below.”

. December 19, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Canada’s new emissions rules on hold again, Harper says

Canada is once again delaying emissions regulations in the oil and gas sector, despite major pipeline projects that continue to put intense scrutiny on the energy industry’s environmental track record.

The long-promised federal regulations, most recently due this year, now need to be done “in concert with” the United States, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Global News in an interview. “So that’s what I’m hoping we’ll be able to do over the next couple of years,” he said.

. February 7, 2014 at 10:04 pm

The evidence is overwhelming, from the government’s own reports, that Canada will not meet its commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020. This looming failure, it should be noted, builds on similar failures by previous Liberal governments that never came close to meeting international commitments they made in Canada’s name.

Despite the government’s own reports, Mr. Harper’s spin machine keeps insisting the government remains on course to meet its 17-per-cent target. We’re halfway there, insist the spin doctors, whereas much of the short-term reduction is linked not to government actions but to the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

But what does reality suggest, based not on studies by others but the government’s own reports?

Recently, the government was obliged to submit Canada’s emissions outlook until 2030 to the United Nations. It was a long, detailed report, the most thorough done in recent years, a credit to those who prepared it and an indispensable document for anyone interested in the issue.

Predictably, because the report contained information the government did not want to receive wide publicity, it was not put on a website, was not accompanied by a press release and would have otherwise been ignored had alert environmentalists not tipped off a few reporters.

It showed – remember these are the government’s own numbers – that whereas the Harperites had promised to reduce emissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020, Canada was on target for almost no reduction. In absolute terms, Canada was emitting 737 million tonnes in 2005, and is on target for 734 million tonnes in 2020, assuming that no additional measures are taken. Quite likely more will be taken, either by a new federal government or by provinces, but not enough to meet the target of 17 per cent.

. February 7, 2014 at 10:05 pm

From 2005 to 2030, Canada’s overall emissions are expected to increase by 78 million tonnes, almost the same increase as is expected from the oil-and-gas sector: 79 million tonnes.

Since the bitumen is primarily located in Alberta, it’s not surprising that the Harper government’s numbers show emissions jumping by nearly 100 million tonnes in that province from 2005 to 2030. That’s more than the increase for the entire country, where emissions are expected to hold steady or shrink elsewhere, except between 2020 and 2030 in British Columbia.

As long as bitumen emissions grow as expected, no matter what happens in other sectors or other parts of Canada, by the Harper government’s own numbers there is no chance of meeting the government’s targets for 2020 and beyond.

. February 24, 2014 at 9:09 pm

NDP roasts government for ignoring deputy ministers’ climate change advice

OTTAWA – Canada’s official Opposition says the Conservative government is effectively rejecting climate change and must explain why it’s ignoring the advice of its own most senior bureaucrats to do more to reduce greenhouse gases and fight climate change.

The questions in the House of Commons on Monday followed a Postmedia News story last week about a secret report from a committee of federal deputy ministers to the country’s top bureaucrat that highlighted the need for the federal government to do more to combat climate change.

The report from the Deputy Ministers’ Committee on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment to the Clerk of the Privy Council Wayne Wouters said more action is needed to mitigate climate change and manage the risks that threaten Canadian communities, government infrastructure, food security and human health.

. April 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm

How Canada’s incoherence on climate is killing Keystone

In the absence of ambitious climate policies, Edmonton and Ottawa have decided on an ambitious program of wordsmithing

by Andrew Leach

As an antidote to our lack of ambition on policies, our governments both in Edmonton and in Ottawa have decided to work on an ambitious program of wordsmithing. We talk about emissions reductions, when what we really mean are reductions in the rate of growth of emissions. Our government representatives tell us that they are still committed to their targets, when their own modelling tells them that their policies won’t even get them close. When our government talks about growing oil demand, they cite scenarios for fossil fuel consumption consistent with global emissions growing far beyond the levels to which they committed jointly with other countries in international climate change negotiations. A new policy for oil sands emissions at the Alberta or Federal level is not going to solve any of these problems, because the ambition simply isn’t there.

. August 5, 2014 at 10:09 am

With the excuse that Kyoto was too expensive, Mr. Harper replaced it with his own emission target for 2020, which he presented in his 2007 policy statement, “Turning the Corner.” Two years later, he reconfirmed it alongside U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders at the Copenhagen climate conference.

Just like Mr. Chrétien, however, Mr. Harper failed to immediately implement the necessary policies. Canadian emissions have declined slightly, for which he tries to take credit. But analysts agree that the main causes are the 2008 recession, some decline of heavy industry, Ontario’s reduction of coal-fired power, and climate policies in British Columbia and Quebec. Mr. Harper’s adoption of U.S. vehicle regulations will have a small effect by 2020, not his coal regulations.

But instead of honestly admitting that it won’t achieve the 2020 target, the Harper government still pretends that it will. And it won’t admit that its vigorous promotion of oil sands and new pipelines, such as Keystone XL and Northern Gateway, is a key factor in Environment Canada’s prediction that Canadian emissions in 2020 will exceed the target by at least 20 per cent. Growth in oil sands emissions alone will account for half the overshoot.

My analysis shows that if Mr. Harper had “competently” enacted in 2007 the regulations he promised, the effective price on carbon would have started around $15 per tonne of CO2 in 2008, reaching $100 in 2020. This would not have harmed the Canadian economy. It would have phased-out most coal plants, as Ontario has done. It would have shifted transportation toward natural gas, biofuels and electricity, as is occurring in California. It would have substantially slowed the growth of oil sands, and led to investments in carbon capture, as in Norway. Oil sands jobs would not have grown as rapidly, but would not have declined. And job creation in alternative energy would be substantial, as has occurred with renewables in B.C. and Ontario. There would be no Keystone XL, no Northern Gateway.

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