Top News

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 15:26 • Chris Rose
connie hedegaard, climate change, EU

The European Union has reached a new legally-binding climate change agreement that would see greenhouse gas emissions drop by at least 40 per cent of 1990 levels by 2030.

The agreement, signed off in Brussels two weeks ago by the EU’s 28 member nations, is designed to ensure Europe meets its objective of cutting emissions by at least 80 per cent by mid-century.

It also puts Europe in the lead position to help persuade other nations trailing far behind the EU’s emissions-reduction goals to reach a long-sought global climate change accord next year in Paris.

The 2030 climate and energy plan also calls for the share of renewable energy to increase to 27 per cent of 1990 levels while seeing a 27 per cent increase in energy efficiency.

In an official statement, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said the 2030 package is very good news for the fight against climate change.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - 17:25 • Guest
David Suzuki Blue Dot Tour

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

The idea of a right to a healthy environment is getting traction at Canada’s highest political levels. Federal Opposition MP Linda Duncan recently introduced “An Act to Establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights” in Parliament. If it’s passed, our federal government will have a legal duty to protect Canadians’ right to live in a healthy environment.

I’m travelling across Canada with the David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot Tour to encourage people to work for recognition of such a right — locally, regionally and nationally. At the local level, the idea of recognizing citizens’ right to live in a healthy environment is already taking hold. Richmond and Vancouver, B.C., The Pas, Manitoba, and the Montreal borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie all recently passed municipal declarations recognizing this basic right.

Our ultimate goal is to have the right to a healthy environment recognized in the Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and a federal environmental bill of rights is a logical precursor. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms itself was preceded by a federal statute, the Bill of Rights, enacted under Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s Progressive Conservative government in 1960.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - 16:22 • Carol Linnitt

Clean energy advocates transformed one of Western Canada’s oldest oil derricks Monday by draping it with pro-solar banners and surrounding it with solar panels that powered sun-themed music.

It was a really nice day here,” Greenpeace Canada energy and climate campaigner Melina Laboucan-Massimo told DeSmog Canada, “and so sunny.”

Despite the November chill, Laboucan-Massimo said the day was perfect for capturing solar energy. 

“Even though it’s chilly there’s still sun,” she said. “You actually increase efficiency for solar panels when it’s cold, because they don’t overheat. So when it’s cold it’s still fine to produce energy, as long as you have the sun.”

Laboucan-Massimo and the other campaigners are working to demystify solar energy in Alberta, a province with massive untapped solar potential.

I think a part of what Greenpeace and other organizations and First Nations have been really successful at is pointing out the problem, but I think we need to start pointing to solutions and really articulating what those are and how to implement them,” she said.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - 10:02 • Erin Flegg

From now until November 30, if parents and teachers want to support Lower Mainland schools, all they need to do is fuel up at Chevron gas stations within their district.

As part of a program called 
Fuel Your Schools, for every 30 litres of gas purchased, Chevron donates $1 to participating school districts. The program has been in effect in North Vancouver since May when the Board of Trustees decided to opt in. Chevron has ads up in its gas stations informing drivers of the program.

North Van was the fifth district in B.C. to join the program, joining West Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey and Coquitlam. If the fundraising goal is reached — a total of $565,000 to be split between the five districts — B.C. drivers will have purchased just under 17 million litres of gas.

In spite of the incentive to buy more gas and to buy it from Chevron — the company behind the proposed Pacific Trail pipeline that would carry one billion cubic feet of natural gas from Summit Lake to Kitimat — Victoria Miles, spokesperson for the North Vancouver School District (NVSD), told DeSmog that the district believes a relationship with Chevron “in no way impedes” its sustainability mandate.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - 08:55 • Carol Linnitt
Christy Clark Encana tour

According to British Columbia’s auditor general, the province has handed out $1.25 billion in financial incentives to the oil and gas sector since 2009 to encourage production.

Auditor General Carol Bellringer outlined the incentives in her 2013-2014 summary of the province’s financial statements.

To encourage production of oil and natural gas in B.C., the province provides financial incentives to oil and gas producers,” she said in the report.

Producers have incurred expenditures that will qualify for $1.25 billion in incentive credits,” she said, “but have not yet produced enough oil or natural gas to claim these amounts.”

That means as producers generate revenue, they can simply claim their incentive credits, reducing how much money the B.C. government collects on the resource.

In this case,” she notes in the report, “this represents a reduction of $1.25 billion in revenue in future years if all the incentives are used.”

Monday, November 3, 2014 - 15:41 • Chris Rose

Oil companies and fossil fuel investors seeking further developments in the Alberta tar sands have been dealt another setback with the publication of a report showing producers lost $17.1 billion USD between 2010-2013 due to successful public protest campaigns.

Fossil fuel companies lost $30.9 billion overall during the same period partly due to the changing North American oil market but largely because of a fierce grassroots movement against tar sands development, said the report — Material Risks: How Public Accountability Is Slowing Tar Sands Development.

A significant segment of opposition is from First Nations in Canada who are raising sovereignty claims and other environmental challenges, added the report, which was produced by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and Oil Change International (OCI).

Tar sands producers face a new kind of risk from growing public opposition,” Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at IEEFA, and one of the lead authors on the report, said. “This opposition has achieved a permanent presence as public sentiment evolves and as the influence of organizations opposed to tar sands production continues to grow.”

Monday, November 3, 2014 - 13:14 • Emma Gilchrist
Marc Eliesen

An energy executive is weighing in on the federal review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion with a scathing letter that calls the National Energy Board’s review process “fraudulent” and a “public deception” — and calls for the province of British Columbia to undertake its own environmental assessment.

Marc Eliesen — who has 40 years of executive experience in the energy sector, including as a board member at Suncor — writes in his letter to the National Energy Board that the process is jury-rigged with a “pre-determined outcome.”

Eliesen is the former CEO of BC Hydro, former chair of Manitoba Hydro and has served as a deputy minister in seven different federal and provincial governments.

In his letter, Eliesen tells the National Energy Board (NEB) that he offered his expertise as an intervenor in good faith that his time would be well spent in evaluation Trans Mountain’s proposal.

Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that the board, through its decisions, is engaged in a public deception,” Eliesen writes. “Continued involvement with this process is a waste of time and effort, and represents a disservice to the public interest because it endorses a fraudulent process.”