Canada and global warming: a state of denial 2

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The Trudeau Liberals are up to their usual doubletalk when it comes to global warming. Just as they did when they announced last year that Canada was in  a climate change emergency and the next day approved the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, the same day that they announced that they were recommitting themselves to fighting climate change in the Speech from the Throne, they were in court asking the judge to throw out the case brought by Canadian youth who feel that this and previous government's actions on global warming threaten their futures.


 Robin Loznak

"We want our voices to be heard, and we want our climate to be protected for us in the future,” said Sierra Robinson, 17, one of the plaintiffs in the children's climate lawsuit filed Oct. 25, 2019, in Canada. Credit: Robin Loznak

While the federal government restated its commitment to fighting climate change in Wednesday's throne speech, CBC has learned Ottawa has also urged a judge to throw out a case brought by a group of young Canadians claiming their right to a safe, stable climate has been breached. 

The case, La Rose et al. v. Her Majesty the Queenwas initially filed on Oct. 25, 2019, and has yet to be argued in federal court. It involves 15 youths and teenagers from across Canada who are making a relatively novel legal argument — that their rights to life, liberty, security and equality are being violated because Ottawa has not done enough to protect against climate change.

The hearings are scheduled to begin in Vancouver on Sept. 30 and are expected to last two days.

The stakes are high. If the young people win, a court could force the government to overhaul its plans, reducing Canada's harmful emissions more rapidly and potentially ending fossil fuel industry subsidies.

"This case — it's the only way forward," said 16-year-old Ira Reinhart-Smith of Caledonia, N.S., who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. "We can't wait for the government to keep saying, 'We'll make a plan that will be up to the most current science.' We need them to be forced to make a plan that's to the current science, because unless the courts are ordering them to do that, we've seen in the past they're not going to follow up on the promises," Reinhart-Smith told Laura Lynch, host of CBC Radio's What on Earth.  ...

Another plaintiff in the Canadian case, 17-year-old Haana Edenshaw of the Haida Nation (photo above), is experiencing the effects of climate change on her very doorstep in the village of Masset on Haida Gwaii, off the northwest coast of B.C.

"The water comes right up past our porch, it goes by the door of my room, and it's really scary because it's just going to keep on getting worse every year," Edenshaw said.

Other countries and courts have recognized a constitutional right to a safe environment, but that does not mean Canada will follow suit.

No one from Environment and Climate Change Canada would comment on the case, saying it is before the courts. But in documents filed in the case, lawyers for the federal department acknowledge that "climate change is real … and is having very real consequences on people's lives. Its impacts will get more significant over time."

In its arguments to dismiss the case, though, the federal lawyers argue the lawsuit doesn't target any particular law. "Instead, it asks the Court to decide whether the executive is governing well." And that, the lawyers assert, is not a proper case to bring before a judge.

There is no explicit environmental right in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The young plaintiffs want a judge to rule that such a right is implicit, as with a number of other rights, such as sexual orientation.

One of the lawyers for the young plaintiffs, Catherine Boies Parker, contends their claim is serious, substantial and rightly argued in a full hearing. 

"It can't be the case that the government can, without any constitutional constraints whatsoever, continue to engage in" activities that jeopardize its climate targets, which are to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, said Boies Parker. "Everyone understands now it is causing all of this harm to the plaintiffs. It can't be that [politicians] get a free pass on that just because climate change is complex."


Young activists and students around the world are back demanding action on global warmimg with strikes in 3,500 places in 150 countries around the globe. 

There were strikes and protests in major cities in India, including New Delhi

 There were strikes and protests in major cities in India, including New Delhi.

Supporters of the school strike movement Fridays For Future gather in Berlin, Germany, on Friday

Supporters of the school strike movement Fridays For Future gather in Berlin, Germany, on Friday. Photograph: Filip Singer/EPA

School pupils, youth activists and communities around the world have turned out for a day of climate strikes, intended to underscore the urgency of the climate crisis even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Social distancing and other Covid-19 control measures dampened the protests, but thousands of activists posted on social media and took to the streets to protest against the lack of climate action from world leaders. Strikes were scheduled in at least 3,500 locations around the globe.

Friday’s strikes – some in the form of mostly socially distanced physical marches on the streets, and some purely online meetings – were on a smaller scale and far more subdued than last year’s September week of action, in which at least 6 million people around the world were estimated to have taken part.

Greta Thunberg led a strike in Sweden, which was limited to 50 people by the country’s lockdown laws – “so we adapt”, she tweeted, with a picture showing strikers more than 2 metres apart. The day of action also marked the 110th week of her own school strike, which began in August 2018. ...

One innovation brought on by Covid restrictions was a 24-hour Zoom call, featuring people from across the world speaking about the issues in their region, interspersed with activism-related activities for callers.

Fridays for Future, the global youth movement that coalesced after Thunberg’s pioneering strike, said demonstrations were planned in at least 150 countries.

Protesters gathered on the lawns of Australia’s parliament in Canberra, with posters calling on politicians to “fund our future – not gas”, and recalling the catastrophic bushfiresthat raged through the region earlier this year.

In the Philippines, marchers and banners linked the strike to concerns over terror laws being used to outlaw protests, and to the plight of developing countries ignored by the rich world. Mitzi Jonelle Tan, an activist, said: “We Filipinos are among the most impacted, ranking second in the latest global climate risk index, yet our contributions to greenhouse gas emissions are so little. The least affected are often those who have contributed the most to the climate crisis – and what are they doing now? Nothing. It is time for world leaders to wake up to the truth of the climate crisis.”

There were strikes and protests in major cities in India, with placards complaining that “it’s getting hot in here”, reflecting predictions that hundreds of thousands of people could die each year from heatwaves in India in coming decades, if global heating continues to rise at current rates.

“Countries like India are already experiencing a climate crisis,” said the activist Disha A Ravi. “We are not just fighting for our future, we are fighting for our present. We, the people from the most affected are going to change the conversation in climate negotiations and lead a just recovery plan that benefits people and not the pockets of our government.”...

Strikes in Bangladesh drew attention to the threat to the country from rising sea levels, as tens of thousands of people are already refugees after their homes were inundated. ...

Hundreds of people marched through Pretoria, in South Africa, calling for the government to declare a climate emergency. Across Africa, protesters gathered in the streets and on the steps of public buildings to call for political action. Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, a Fridays for Future activist in Uganda, contrasted the action taken to control the coronavirus with the far weaker progress on the climate.

“In order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, governments have taken strong and bold measures, pulling on the brakes, deciding on a long lockdown. We’ve stopped striking temporarily – but we know that the only way we can contain climate change is by our actions. That’s why we are striking again today, and will keep on mobilising in the future,” she said.

The most northerly strike was at the edge of the Arctic ice, north of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, where Mya-Rose Craig, an 18-year-old ornithologist known as Birdgirl, was with the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.

“I’m here because I want to see for myself what’s at stake as this crucial protector of the planet, the Arctic Ocean, melts away at a terrifying rate,” she said. “Fridays for Future activists from all over the world are standing up to call for urgent action against climate breakdown.” ...

China surprised the rest of the world by announcing a new goal to become carbon neutral by 2060, and to cause its greenhouse gas emissions to peak and then decline before 2030. The Climate Action Tracker thinktank estimated that the commitments, if followed through, would reduce global temperature rises by between 0.2C and 0.3C.

If borne out, that would go a long way to keeping within reach the Paris agreement target of holding temperature rises to well below 2C, with an aspiration of a 1.5C limit.

Ahead of the asssembly meeting, the EU also announced a strengthened target, of cutting greenhouse gases by 55% compared with 1990 levels by 2030. That would be the strongest commitment of any major economy, though green campaigners pointed out that the new target was looser than the old as it takes into account the impact of increasing carbon sinks such as forests.

The US, the world’s second biggest emitter, is scheduled to withdraw from the Paris agreement this year, and under a second term of Donald Trump as president would hold to that timetable. ...

The UK, which is to host the next UN climate summit – called Cop26 – in November 2021, has also stepped up its diplomatic push. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, and the UN secretary general, António Guterres, will convene an interim summit of the world leaders from major economies this December, on the fifth anniversary of the Paris agreement.

At that interim meeting, all countries will be expected to come forward with their national plans – called nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, in the UN jargon – to strengthen their carbon-cutting efforts, as required under the 2015 accord. Current commitments would result in temperature rises of 3C, which would wreak devastation and extreme weather over swathes of the globe.

Youth activists in the Fridays for Future movement are planning their own mock Cop26 conference this November, when Cop26 was originally scheduled before its delay owing to coronavirus. School strikers from around the world want to contrast the urgency they feel with the slow progress in international forums.


Below are stories about some of the climate change youth activists from MAPA (Most Affected People and Areas) countries around the world leading this new wave of climate strikes. Not accidently they all are from developing countries. 

Youth climate activists from MAPA countries (Most Affected People and Areas) are sharing their first hand experiences of confronting the climate crisis in their countries and their expectations and plans for the September 25th strikes. Here are some of the powerful voices you can expect to hear from this September:

Mitzi Jonelle Tan – Manila, Philippines

I am Mitzi Jonelle Tan from Manila, Philippines, lead convener of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP). ... In 2017, I was integrating with the Lumad indigenous people, and one of the leaders told us about how they were being displaced, harassed, and killed just for protecting their lands and the environment from extractive mining companies. The simplicity of how he said, in passing, that there is no choice but to fight back and become activists made me realise that individual lifestyle change was not enough. Since then I have been very passionate about demanding climate justice — particularly in the context of places like the Philippines, which is disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis and is always part of the top three countries most dangerous in the world for environmental defenders.

Why are you striking? The Philippines is the 2nd most vulnerable country to the climate crisis, yet our contribution to the global greenhouse gas emissions are minimal. With this planetary emergency, common sense would dictate that climate be at the top of the agenda and those already protecting the environment would be listened to. Instead, we have no concrete climate plans, and our environmental activists and defenders are being killed, harassed, and displaced. The wilful ignorance of world leaders is pushing us all to become climate activists, pushing us all to strike for justice. I am an activist because of my deep love for the people and the environment, a love that binds me to the movement calling for climate and social justice.

What action would you like to see on climate in 2020? In the Philippines, we need to declare a people’s defined climate emergency and impose a moratorium on any new dirty energy projects. We then need to start developing and prioritizing research and development into renewable energy and consulting with the people, especially the workers, on how to begin our just transition. Empowering the youth and those most vulnerable with knowledge is also a key part in ensuring active citizen participation in climate policy building.  ...

Eyal Weintraub – Buenos Aires, Argentina

My name is Eyal Weintraub, I’m From Buenos Aires, 20 years old and one of the founders of Jóvenes por el Clima Argentina (Youth for climate Argentina). Currently, climate change does not affect me and my individual standard of living in any significant way.  I am a white, middle class male from the capital of Argentina. I am extremely privileged. That is another of the most devastating aspects of climate change. It affects in much greater numbers those who are already socially vulnerable. Climate change hurts most those who have contributed to global warming the least. That is something extremely important to consider when we talk about climate justice. Climate justice is not only mitigating the amount of CO2 levels we produce to prevent future damage, but also to provide adaptive measures for those places where it is already being felt and reparation for those affected.

Why are you striking?  In a country like ours where you have 50% of the population living below the poverty line it is not enough to speak in abstract about the climate crisis. It is necessary to find ways to directly relate it with the hardships and struggles that we suffer daily. I strike so that the government and corporations take direct action regarding the mitigation and adaptation of the climate crisis, before it becomes the worst crisis in the history of humankind.

What action would you like to see on climate in 2020? If there is one thing the Coronavirus pandemic has proven, it’s that governments have the ability to initiate drastic measures to avert catastrophes when necessary. The climate crisis is just as serious as this new global pandemic and yet we are not doing what is required to lower greenhouse emissions by 50% for 2030. ...

Disha A Ravi – Bangalore, India

I’m Disha A Ravi, co-founder of Fridays For Future, India. My motivation to join climate activism came from seeing my grandparents, who are farmers, struggle with the effects of the climate crisis. At the time, I wasn’t aware that what they were experiencing was the climate crisis because climate education is non-existent where I’m from. Only when I did my research, did I find out about it. Millions of people are affected by the climate crisis every single day but no one talks about it. I wanted to change that.

Why are you striking? I’m striking because we’re living through the climate crisis. Heavy rains and lax measures taken by governments have led to millions of people being displaced because of floods, particularly in India. My house was flooded last week and there are multiple different impacts – my city is expected to run out of underground water by the end of the year. The climate crisis is our reality, we’re striking for our survival. 

What action would you like to see on climate in 2020 Aiming to stay below 1.5 C is not enough. 1.5 C is still harmful for several countries, we need to work on a just transition and a just recovery from this. We have the resources to make this happen, what we need, above anything else is political will to make it happen! 

Kevin Mtai – Eldoret,  Kenya

I am a climate activist and environmentalist from Soy, Kenya. I am the Africa Continental Co-ordinator for Earth Uprising, member of Global children’s Campaign and a Campaigner for Climate friendly food at the UN Climate Conference.

Why are you striking? I am striking for a future for myself and my peers.... Recently, East Africa has experienced all kinds of effects of climate change like an invasion by a desert swarm of locusts, windstorms, a severe drought, landslides and floods due to huge rainfall. If we see global temperature rise much further, the consequences will be unimaginable.

What action would you like to see on climate in 2020? I would like to see world leaders understand and follow what science says we must do. They must believe scientists and adjust their policies accordingly. Covid-19 has shown us that politicians can treat a crisis like a crisis if they want to, and that we have the capacity to repair our earth.

Laura Verónica Muñoz – Bogotá, Colombia

I am Laura Verónica Muñoz. I am an audiovisual and multimedia communicator, and a climate activist with Fridays for Future Colombia and PactoxElClima. I hope more people will join the movement for climate action in Colombia. I am also convinced that more female representation is needed in the political, economic, scientific, business and academic spheres, to be able to build more sustainable and resilient solutions to climate change.

Why are you striking? The climate crisis needs everyone’s action, but it also needs justice. Climate change is an environmental and social problem that, although it affects all people, does not affect them equally. Those who are feeling and will feel the impacts of the climate crisis most strongly are those who bear the least responsibility in the matter.

What action would you like to see on climate in 2020? I would like to see a just recovery that works to close the giant gaps that exist in terms of health, education, economy and gender. Without this, there is really no climate justice because many people would continue to be left behind.

Nicole Becker – Argentina

I am 19 years old, a student, and a climate activist from Buenos Aires, Argentina. When I started to understand that climate change is a social issue, and not just an environmental one, I co-founded Jóvenes Por El Clima, a movement that talks about climate change from a Latin American and human rights perspective. In 2019, we successfully pushed to have the country declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency and to sanction the first Climate Change Law. In March 2020, I was selected as one of the Escazú Champions, with the aim of ratifying the Escazú Agreement and I spoke in the Argentine congress to demand climate action. I was also selected by the Argentine Congress as one of the most outstanding women in the country because of my role in creating the climate movement.

Why are you striking? I am striking  because I believe this is the best way to show that there are millions of us who demand climate action, and that it is our greatest tool to raise our voice. Argentina and my entire region are on fire, and this is the future that world leaders are leaving to my generation. My country is suffering a huge economic crisis and due to Covid-19, more and more people are in a situation of poverty, so they don’t have the resources to face the impacts of the climate crisis. 

What action would you like to see on climate in 2020 In Argentina, wetlands represent 25% of our national territory, however, there is no law that regulates them. #LeydeHumedalesYa is one of our greatest demands. On the other hand, at the regional level, the most important thing is that the states commit to putting out the fires and ratifying the Escazu agreement...


Climate strikes also started up again in Canada on Friday. They also called out the Trudeau Liberal government for their abysmal climate change action proposals in the Speech from the Throne. 

Toronto climate strike September 25th 2020.

On Friday, students and workers across the country took to the streets to protest the federal government’s inaction on earlier green promises, such as curbing greenhouse gas emissions and planting two billion trees, which have been put on the backburner due to the outbreak.

Protests, walkouts, and sit-ins took place in several Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Saskatoon, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax, on Friday to mark the return of the global Fridays for Future movement led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. ...

“We are scared of bringing up another crisis in 2020. That’s not what people want to hear. And yet, it is absolutely what we need to talk about,” climate activist Allie Rougeot, a coordinator of Fridays for Future Toronto, told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday. “We have to say, ‘We are not going back to the system that is allowing the climate crisis.’ So after COVID, we need a new normal that has also climate in mind.”

That doesn’t mean, however, the young demonstrators will be throwing caution to the wind and ignoring public health guidance related to the outbreak as they gather on Friday, Rougeot explained. The 20-year-old activist said she and her fellow organizers for the downtown Toronto event have been planning for participants to physically distance from each other during the three-hour demonstration. ...

In a statement released on Friday morning, the national network Climate Strike Canadacalled the throne speech “abysmally inadequate” and called on youth to mobilize across the country in reaction to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s failed green promises.

“A year ago Trudeau committed to planting two billion trees. They’re nowhere to be seen,” the group said. “This gap between promise and reality is the lens through which young people heard his speech. Moreover, even if his promises were fulfilled, they would remain woefully insufficient. And so we march and shout and protest, because our lives depend on it.”

In the speech, the minority government vowed to plant all two billion trees, present legislation formalizing their goal of hitting net-zero emissions by 2050, and move forward with their 2021 ban on single-use plastics.

While Rougeot acknowledged the usefulness of single-use plastics to prevent further spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic, she reminded people to think about where that plastic is coming from and what could be used as alternatives in the future.


Sofía Gutiérrez, an 18 year old Columbian, talks about why the relationship between climate change, income inequality and violence in her country prompted her to take action with regard to climate change. 

It wasn’t until last year in August, when part of my country’s rainforest was being burned down, that I found shelter in climate activism. That is when I created a movement to connect youth with NGO’s, so they’d knew how to be part of the change. Thanks to the movement, I started going to climate strikes, and getting to know the climate activists in my city. I helped organize three climate strikes in my city.  

My country has some of the highest inequality rates in the world, and Colombians were tired of it. In October, we faced a social crisis that held endless protests across the country, but specially in my city – Bogotá. Social causes from education to environment, fought together to demand just action from the government. I was part of some of the protests. I suffered from police abuse. And that is when I understood that my country could not move forward in environmental matters, if we did not even have education.

Being part of the massive protests in my country made me realize the magnitude of the relation between climate change and social issues, as I was able to listen first hand to the people that suffer first the climate change impacts in my country. And I was aware that violence in my country has built the society I live in -from the conquest to the armed conflict. But, it was not was until I decided to speak that I feared for my life, and I knew what I was getting myself into. I may have the privilege to live in the city and have some kind of “security” that social leaders lack, but with that privilege I decided to raise my voice, for all of those that had died doing the same thing in my country. I grew up with the stories of my granny telling me how she and her family had to move to the city so they wouldn’t get killed due to the violence in my country. I don’t want to continue telling the same story. That’s why I raise my voice, so defending the lives in my country doesn’t mean you have to put yours at risk

That is when I took a different path with my activism, I started listening, and then I had the chance to be part of three national dialogues with my government regarding fracking, the Declaration of Climate Emergency and educational matters. I introduced myself to politics, putting my fears of public speaking aside, I worked with my local and national government, and I decided that I would fight for the access to quality environmental education.

Nowadays, I am part of a youth organization called Pacto X el Clima, where I created the environmental educational program, and since last year in November I have been teaching workshops to different audiences (specially youth). With my activism I look forward to make a change in the society I live in, and with that make a better world out of it, that is why I joined Fridays For Future, to keep learning how to make a change, and to tell my country’s story.


Below is a list of youth led climate strikes that occurred around Canada on September 25th and 26th, 2020.

Merci Canada. 65 #FightClimateInjustice verified. Regardez la carte canadienne interactive. 
We exist to curate & connect Canadians strikers accurately. BIG WEEK NEXT WEEK Confidence vote in the House of Commons & possible election.

 11 people, text that says '#FightClimatelnjustice September 25 rre. Une DEUX CHANCE LIMATET 26 Whitehorse YK Williams Lake Burns Lake BC Port Hardy BC erre Mere M 27,2019 Tntho front lines September Verified Canadian #FightClimateInjustice Events 25.09.2020 & 26.09.2020 Dauphin MB Ottawa Brandon MB Perth Thunder Bay Surrey Sudbury BC ON ON ON Newmarket ON Hope Montreal/Sept Mont 'Assomption QC Sherbrooke Region Gravenhurst Sound Calgary ON ON Saskatoon SK PE Hampton NB ON Halibut Kitchener Guelph Windsor ON ON Halton Hills onger striking please ask Apologies advance mistakes NS Shelburne NS Scotia St John' Stratford have strike removed from their Grassroots organizing chaotic. map.'


Minh Nguyen talks about what it's like to protest in Singapore, where any kind of protest, let alone a climate strike, is suppressed. 

In Singapore, public assemblies and processions by even a single person requires a police permit. Unlike other countries which protect the right to protest on public grounds, Singapore actively restricts such demonstrations. It turns protesting from a right into a closely monitored privilege. The police don’t particularly need a reason to deny a permit. So instead of “it’s your right”, the question is “will it be non-offensive enough to be approved?”. 

But it’s not the law that stops protests in Singapore. It’s self-censorship. Every country considers itself unique and in Singapore, protests are seen as something that just can’t happen. Singaporeans associate protests with Hong Kong and how Singapore could never handle chaos that will destroy its economic prosperity. As for school strikes, that’s even more taboo. Academic success is the greatest priority of any young Singaporean, at least according to Singaporean parents. Protesting is not something students do, period. Singapore’s last student strikes occurred in 1974, and the organisers are still in exile.

You might be wondering: If I knew all this, how did I eventually end up holding a sign and being questioned for ten hours by the police?

Like many activists, I did it because someone else did it first. On March 13 2020, J-Min, an 18-year old high school student held a piece of paper that said “Exxon Kills Kittens” outside ExxonMobil’s offices and posted it online as “Fridays4FutureSG”. For context, “FridaysForFutureSG” was taken by at least two other groups, both of which were inactive.

Later that day, I messaged her and we spent the next week co-founding Fridays4Future SG. I went out with a sign a week later. I figured that whatever happened, the movement could not stop at just one person. That one person should not face this alone. If so, every potential climate striker in Singapore would learn about what happened to the first climate striker, and they’d whisper to themselves that protesting for the environment is dangerous. That protesting destroys your future career prospects, which is the most important thing in Singaporean society. Then they’d repeat that idea to everyone else they know. And thus, a self-fulfilling prophecy that protesting for climate change never happens in Singapore. Singaporean activists have a term for it: Killing the chicken to scare the monkeys. ...

But if it wasn’t just one person. If there was a second. And a third. And a tenth. If there were Singaporeans who see the immense threat that climate change poses to everyone’s future. That although it may seem like Singaporeans don’t care about climate change, some are willing to stand up for it despite the risks, real and perceived. That if you do it, there are others alongside you.

In my case, there’s been about two hundred people since last week. After my investigation was publicised, a local activist named Jolovan Wham held up a smiley face sign in solidarity. On May 24, he was called in for questioning. Since then, hundreds of Singaporeans have posted photos of themselves holding smiley face signs, tagging #smileinsolidarity and asking the question: why was holding a smiley face sign even worth investigating? Two petitions have been drafted, one calling for an end to the investigation and another calling for loosening of restrictions on public assembly. 

Honestly, I don’t know where all this leads. I just knew that I couldn’t stay silent about climate inaction. That when I was sixty years old and watching the news about the latest wildfire, flood or typhoon, a child would ask me what climate change is. And then they’d ask me why no one did anything. I couldn’t look them in the eye and tell them, as adults tell me now, that we couldn’t.

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Stop Funding Tar Sands

Tar sands is one of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fossil fuels on our planet.

Pipelines like Keystone XL, Line 3, and Trans Mountain are disastrous for people and the planet. They’re built on Indigenous lands without consent, endanger the safety of Indigenous women, and poison nearby communities.

Join us Friday, October 2nd from 2-330 EST / 11-1230 PST for a digital rally to hold the funders of tar sands accountable.


I posted this in the activist section but I also posted it here to get wider coverage of the petition to demand the end of UN climate change conference sponsorship by fossil fuel corporations and large polluters.

Alok Sharma, the business secretary and Cop26 president, speaks during an event to launch the private finance agenda for the Cop26.

 Alok Sharma, the business secretary and Cop26 president, speaks during an event to launch the private finance agenda for the Cop26. Photograph: Reuters

BP and Shell have had meetings with the British government in which they offered money to become sponsors of the Cop26 which was cancelled from its  9-19 November 2020, in Glasgow, UK because of Covid-19. Instead it will take place it would take place from 1-12 November 2021, in Glasgow, UK. 

In August, the U.K. government said that sponsors must have “have set ambitious net zero commitments by 2050 or earlier, with a credible short-term action plan to achieve this." That’s an abrupt shift from past years, when the conference has been criticized for taking money from utilities, mining companies, and other fossil fuel interests." ( Note that this does not prevent fossil fuel firms or other major polluters from being sponsors by simply making these promises which of course have no penalties if they are not met. 

You can sign the petition at the url below to demand that no fossil fuel company or big polluter be allowed to sponsor Cop26.

Kick polluters out of COP26!

Dear Alok Sharma, President of COP26: Keep big polluters out of the UN climate talks.

If you are to deliver, as COP26 President, your claims of climate ambition and leadership, we call on you to:

  • Publicly rule out fossil fuel companies as sponsors because they are responsible for high levels of greenhouse gas emissions [1] and are continuing to invest in fossil fuel extraction.
  • Ensure that no big polluters - or companies facilitating other forms of environmental destruction - are included as sponsors of the COP.


Here is some more information on why petitioning to stop the sponsorship of UN climate conferences described in the last post is important. 


In 2000 BP redesigned its logo as part of a company rebrand to signify supposed diversification away from fossil fuels. Guess what happened?

 From oil and gas majors like BP and Shell to tech giants like Microsoft and Apple, to food behemoths like Unilever, the number of companies that have made or strengthened promises to reduce their climate impacts to zero by 2050 in the past eight months is unprecedented. ... 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the calculus is a bit slippery, and the aforementioned pledges all mean slightly different things.

This whole trend of going “net-zero” is tied to the Paris Agreement, which was reached at COP21 in 2015. While the agreement doesn’t set specific emissions reduction goals, it does require nations to do their darndest to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). In 2018, a groundbreaking report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the only chance in hell the world has of doing that is by achieving net-zero emissions by around 2050. That’s why net-zero by 2050 became the de facto deadline to decarbonize. ...

But the weird thing was that back in Paris in 2015, when delegates were shaking hands and agreeing to cut carbon emissions, they were doing it surrounded by banners and billboards bearing the logos of the conference’s corporate sponsors — some of which were fossil fuel companies. There was Engie, a French electric utility company and the country’s largest importer of natural gas, and EDF, another electric utility heavily invested in coal. BNP Paribas, a major bankroller of coal mines and coal-fired power plants, was also a sponsor.

Coal was king at the conference in 2018, when it took place in Poland and was sponsored by three Polish coal companies. The host city of Katowice operated a booth that was constructed with chunks of coal and featured an array of products also made from coal, like soap. One of the three sponsors, JSW, organized its own expert panels during the conference. Last year the trend continued in Madrid, where the conference was sponsored by Endresa and Iberdrola, two major Spanish energy companies and large greenhouse gas emitters.

In addition to allowing these companies to plaster their branding on the conference, many have criticized conference organizers for giving fossil fuel companies and trade groups an invite to send representatives to the annual climate talks since they began in 1995. Advocacy groups say their presence is the reason little progress has been made in advancing global climate action since 2015. Fossil fuel influence at the talks is no secret — in 2018, Shell executive David Hone said that the company put together a straw proposal that made it into the Paris Agreement regarding cap-and-trade systems.

The U.K.’s new rule won’t keep trade groups and lobbyists out of the hallowed halls of the conference, but it may keep fossil fuel companies off the banners. Climate Home News reported this week that the U.K.’s requirements for sponsorship mean it is effectively banning fossil fuel partners. But a spokesperson for COP26 declined to confirm whether that interpretation was accurate. ...

If the conference does consider fossil fuel sponsors, BP could be an enticing contender — the British company has arguably a more ambitious plan to reduce its emissions than of any of its peers, and it recently said it expects to cut oil production by 40 percent in the next 10 years. That could potentially meet the “short term action plan” part of the requirements. However, both Carbon Tracker, a financial think tank, and the Transition Pathway Initiative, a global investor group, have found that BP’s emissions targets are not, in fact, aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.


Reliance buys Canadian heavy crude to offset Venezuelan decline

"Canada's oil industry profits directly from murderous US sanctions on Venezuela..."


There is another petition demanding that the UN not allow fossil fuel companies not be allowed to sponsor UN climate change conferences with a longer explanation of why this is so important. You can sign it at the url below. 

Demand that Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Refuse Funding From Fossil Fuel Corporations For COP26!

We no longer have time for fruitless conferences so that world leaders and fossil fuel executives can speak empty words without commiting to measurable action plans. In 1896,  Nobel Prize winning Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius, first described how carbon dioxide influences the climate. And so, since 1896, (over 130 years) humanity's capacity to warm the climate with our industrial carbon emissions has been understood. However, based on the trajectory first-world governments are on, resources are running out and no urgent action is being taken to prevent fossil fuel industries from drilling into the earth's surface. It is imperative to acknowledge that in order for a just transition to occur we must first call out the systems of power that have allowed for the continued exploitation of resources for centuries. It is no coincidence that these same systems of power are also allowing fossil fuel to have the most substantial and influential seats in the most significant gatherings in the world. That is the legacy of our present economic systems. We refuse to accept extinction as human fate. 

Millions of students took to the streets in the past few months alone. People raised billions of dollars in an attempt to reach politicians and policy makers. We signed innumerable petitions and online forms. We’ve pointed governments to the science. Wildfires, super storms, famine and drought torment the global south, Australia and California.  Food supplies and fresh water are disappearing. We the people, have attended panels, have been tossed around like trophies, been sources of inspiration and yet no serious action has been taken. That is because behind every major conference, progessive plan, and resolution is a fossil fuel company influencing and preventing change. It is time for us to rise against the fractured systems which have put profits and monetary gain over sustainable economic and social systems. Where the climate summits have failed us, we will give the platform back to the people. Where they refused to take action, we will make amends. Where they let suffering continue, we will do all that is in our power to help stop it. We demand just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and repairs the effects of ongoing ecocide to maintain a livable, just planet. In order to do that we need to kick polluters out, once and for all.

I oppose all financing from fossil fuel corporations to fund, sponsor or influence the plans, negotiations and outcomes of COP26. I oppose the monopolization of green energy by these companies without being held accountable for the global catastrophe they have caused. The concerns put forward by billionaire executives do not represent me. Under the UN law, their interests should not have more weight than the people. I demand that the UNFCCC no longer permits executives, representatives, and officers of the fossil fuel industry to partake in negotiations and discussions with world leaders at the Conference of the Parties.


BP and Shell have quit several high-profile organizational fossil fuel groups that have campaigned to undermine greenhouse gas emissions in order to give themselves a better image and to try to make it look like they are shifting toward renewables.Instead BP and Shell  often pick smaller organizations not well known to the public or organizations with consumer-friendly or environment-friendly sounding names that work to sabotage any fossil fuel regulation. Besides giving themselves a better public image, this would also help them become sponsors for Cop26, the next the UN's climate change conference that will be held in Glasgow in November 2021 (delayed for one year because of Covid-19). 

You can sign the petition to prevent BP, Shell and other greenhouse gas emitters at the url in the previous post.

The following article shows that BP and Shell despite leaving several fossil fuel associations are still funding and are members of many other such organizations. 

Changing your sign to a greener symbol doesn't change what you are selling. 

Earlier this year, oil giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell assessed the climate lobbying done by trade associations they have been involved with, and publicly quit a handful of high-profile industry groups campaigning to undermine regulations to reduce greenhouse gases. 

The effort was part of a vow to increase corporate transparency and bring planet-heating emissions to net zero over the next few decades. 

But Shell and BP ― the second- and fourth-largest oil companies by revenue last year ― are still active members of at least eight trade organizations lobbying against climate measures in the United States and Australia, an Unearthed and HuffPost investigation has found. These groups were not disclosed in the public reviews.

Reviews of leaked and publicly available documents show those groups are part of the sprawling network of state and regional trade associations that have, in at least one case, boasted about quashing the very carbon-reduction policies the oil giants publicly claim to support. 

The companies said they either hoped to reform the trade groups, including the eight identified here, of which they are still part, or planned to review their membership going forward. But both BP and Shell refused to disclose full lists of trade associations where they have ongoing involvement.  ...

A Shell spokeswoman said its next review would “select the additional industry associations because their climate-related policies have brought them to the attention of investors and non-governmental organisations, and because they operate in regions or countries where we have significant business activities.” ...

But the findings cast a dim light over the oil behemoths’ ballyhooed new climate pledges, raising questions about how seriously they can be taken when the companies are still funding lobbying operations that undermine their new commitments. ...

In the United States, both Shell and BP support groups such as the Alliance of Western Energy Consumers, which crusaded against Oregon’s efforts to put a price on carbon emissions, and the Texas Oil & Gas Association, a trade group in the nation’s top oil-producing state battling rules to restrict output of methane, a super-heating greenhouse gas. 

In Australia, the two giants back the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association and the Business Council of Australia, two groups fighting to undercut the country’s contributions to the Paris climate accords. Shell, meanwhile, quietly held its seat on the Queensland Resources Council, a key advocate of building the world’s largest coal mine. 

“This is a standard business practice,” said Robert Brulle, a climate denial researcher and professor at Brown University’s Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. “They’re trying to have it both ways, being socially responsible without changing their actual positions.” ...

Shell acknowledged its membership in hundreds of industry groups worldwide, but said its review assessed only 19 organizations selected “because their positions on climate-related policy have brought them to the attention of investors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).”

BP declined to provide a ballpark estimate of how many trade associations it affiliates with, but said its review focused on 30 groups “on the basis that they are actively involved in energy policy discussions and salient to stakeholders.”

“BP and Shell’s disclosures focus on a narrower selection of industry associations,” said Faye Holder, an analyst at InfluenceMap, a British research outfit that analyzes the fossil fuel industry’s finances. “These groups tend to be the larger and more visible ones that already disclose their corporate membership, while the smaller, regional and sometimes less transparent ones are more likely to be left out.” ...

Among the more jarring examples of groups the companies omitted from the reviews are two regional organizations whose names suggest they represent coalitions of ordinary citizens concerned about energy prices.  In fact, the groups represent some of the biggest companies in the world, a tactic known in politics as “AstroTurfing,” wherein powerful industry players create front groups meant to appear like grassroots organizations with Average-Joe followings.

In February 2019, Alliance of Western Energy Consumers, which represents heavy industry on the West Coast, boasted that it had “defeated all carbon pricing bills” in Oregon ― describing efforts to drive “grassroots opposition” and coordinate “vote counts” during the state legislative session, emails obtained by the Climate Investigations Center show. ...

Though the companies failed to disclose it in their reviews, BP and Shell are also listed as top members of the Consumer Energy Alliance. The group bills itself as the “voice of the energy consumer,” but is actually run by the Republican-linked consultancy HBW Resources. 

After running campaigns to oppose President Barack Obama’s rules to limit emissions of methane from oil and gas operations and pollution from coal power stations, the Consumer Energy Alliance turned its attention to state-level fights. The group was party to a lawsuit seeking to overturn Oregon’s clean fuel program, which aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels. The case concluded unsuccessfully in March 2019. ...

When the Environmental Protection Agency finalized plans to gut the methane rule in August, David Lawler, the head of BP America, issued a statement saying the company “respectfully disagrees with today’s decision by the administration.”

Both companies remain members of the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s largest and most influential lobby in the United States and a fierce proponent of the Trump administration’s changes to the methane rule. Yet perhaps even more influential on the rollback were the state-level organizations whose smaller members claimed the biggest benefits from the deregulatory effort. 

BP remains a member of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association, and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. Shell and BP are members of the Texas Oil & Gas Association. ...

Among the other major groups BP and Shell left off their reviews was the National Ocean Industries Association, which successfullylobbied the Trump administration to open up the United State’s entire continental shelf to drilling. ...

 Both companies have said they will seek to change some trade associations from within and identified others as being fully aligned with them on climate policy. But two powerful lobby groups that BP and Shell publicly support ― the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association and the Business Council of Australia ― back the use of a controversial loophole that could slash Australia’s contribution to the Paris goals.

The loophole involves using surplus carbon credits from Australia’s overachievement in meeting weak emissions reduction targets it secured under the Kyoto protocol. According to an analysis of the Australian government’s plans, using the credits would effectively cut the country’s 2030 climate target from 26% to 14%.  

The European Union has banned member states from doing this on the grounds that it threatens the integrity of the Paris Agreement and no country other than Australia is openly planning to do so.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Beware of climate delay, masquerading as climate action

As political leaders face growing calls for climate action, we must be careful to understand where investments in technological development are, in fact, a form of climate delay, masquerading as action. 

A set of recent announcements around the development of a hyperloop train between Calgary and Edmonton and small modular reactors (SMRs) in Alberta were framed as a step forward in climate action.

But a closer consideration of the technologies involved, and the gap in the deployment of other, more realistic technologies, shows it's better understood as a form of climate delayism. 

Unlike outright climate denial, "climate delay" acknowledges the reality of a changing climate and the role of carbon emissions from human activity in climate change. But instead of actively working to deal with the issue, it seeks to create a debate about what should be done, who is responsible, and how we should allocate costs and benefits.

The end goal is to significantly delay action to reduce emissions. 

It is an effective strategy. Slow-walking action on climate has almost the same impact as outright denial. Ensuring we remain bogged down in discussion means little actually happens, while leaders can claim they are taking action on climate. 

There are four primary types of climate delay, all of which can be found in the Canadian debate.

  • Redirect responsibility — The focus is put on the importance of individual action, while excusing collective action. An example is the idea that it's consumption, rather than production, that matters. Another variety argues that small contributions from a given country or industry on the global scale are immaterial.
  • Emphasize the downside — This pushes the fallacy that the cost of action is higher than the downside risk of climate change. In many cases this argument includes an appeal to social justice, such as emphasizing the costs of action borne by disadvantaged groups, when in fact the downside risks of inaction faced by these groups are typically highest, while the costs can be mitigated through policy design.
  • Surrender — This is a form of climate doomerism, claiming falsely that we can't possibly make changes to reduce the impacts of climate change, therefore the only thing to do is focus on adaptation.
  • Focus on non-transformative solutions — This involves taking actions and making investments in technology that won't result in transformative change, including technologies far from market, focusing on carrots rather than sticks. It also relies heavily on technological optimism to solve problems within a narrow solutions space.

The Jimmy Dore Show

Planet of the Humans: Censorship from billionaire-backed professional activists


A Dutch Supreme Court decision imposing a minimum 25% reduction in greenhouse gases by the end of 2020 from 1990 levels could have an impact on four Canadian cases making their way through the courts. The fact that Canada is emitting far more greenhouse gases per capita and is one of the ten largers emitters in the world could also play a role in these court cases. 

ETA: Unfortunately, unlike the Netherlands, thanks to both Liberal and Conservative governments have increased greenhouse gas emissions by 20.9% between 1990 and 2018 (the last year for which data is available). Between 1990 and the economic crash of 2008 under Liberal except for the last two years, there was a 24.1% increase that fell off for a few years due to the global economic downturn. (

Under the Trudeau Liberals and the Paris Agreement, this sad record has continued causing the auditor general in March 2018  to conclude  the Trudeau Liberal government "is likely to miss the 2020 Copenhagen target as well". ( In April 2019 Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand concluded "Canada is not on track to hit its 2030 target,". These targets were actually those of the Conservative Harper government that Trudeau adopted despite proclaiming himself the climate change candidate in the 2015 and 2019 elections. (

This pathetic failure to meet any standards strongly forewarns that the same will happen, even under a Canadian Supreme Court order to reduce emissions. 

A group of children and teenagers stand in front of a building

Some of the young people who are part of the lawsuit filed against the federal government, seen at a press conference in Vancouver, B.C., in October 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The case, The Netherlands vs. Urgenda, established that a country’s inadequate action on climate change can violate human rights. For the first time, a court imposed a legally binding target and deadline for a government to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by at least 25 per cent from 1990 levels by the end of 2020. 

Urgenda was a major victory for climate justice activists, who have launched human rights lawsuits attempting to require governments to take more substantial and timely action against climate change. This landmark decision could prove influential in Canada, where similar cases will be decided. ...

There are now at least four pending Canadian climate cases invoking human rights, including La Rose et al vs. Canada, in which the federal government’s effort to have the lawsuit stopped before it goes to trial was argued last week. ...

Past Canadian climate cases based on other grounds have failed. But Urgenda may be particularly relevant to current litigation because it is based on human rights and some of the federal government’s arguments in La Rose reflect the Netherlands’ unsuccessful arguments. 

For example, Canada acknowledges the threat of climate change, but maintains that a court cannot order it to take action because climate change policies are for elected politicians — not judges — to decide. The government also argues that climate change is a global problem that Canada alone cannot solve. ...

The pending Canadian cases will require our courts to decide similar issues as Urgenda, including: 

  1. Does the right to life under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms require the government to take specific action on climate change? 

  2. Is it appropriate for courts to review climate change policies?

  3. Does the concept of an individual but shared global responsibility overcome the “de minimis contribution” defence?

Other issues have been raised in these cases that are not addressed here, including equality rights for young people and Indigenous Peoples. ...

In Urgenda, the court concluded climate change poses a “real and immediate” threat to the right to life, which the Netherlands has a legal obligation to address under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). While this convention is not binding in Canada, Section 7 of the charter protects the right to life. Canada is also bound by international treaties recognizing the right to life. ...

The interplay between international and domestic law is complicated, but the Supreme Court of Canada has established that charter rights should provide at least as much protection as corresponding rights under binding human rights treaties. It has also held that other sources of international human rights law — including cases interpreting the ECHR — may be considered in charter litigation. Finally, Canadian courts often canvass relevant foreign decisions. 

These principles open the door for our courts to consider Urgenda relevant. And, if our judges think the approach to similar issues in Urgenda is persuasive, they could follow it. ...

That being said, Canadian plaintiffs still face significant obstacles due to how the the right to life under the charter has been interpreted. 

For example, the courts would need to adopt a broader understanding of a “real or imminent” threat, and to recognize that the government must take action to protect the right to life. As the law currently stands, the government is not required to take action to address indirect threats. ...

In addition, the UN Human Rights Committee has more recently concluded (in a different context) that the right to life under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — a binding international treaty — can impose positive obligations on Canada. These decisions may leave room for climate plaintiffs to argue that our courts’ approach to the right to life is too restrictive and is falling below international standards. ...

In La Rose, Canada argues that the plaintiffs are asking the court to “step outside its judicial function” and become involved in “crafting a policy response to global climate change.”

This argument failed in Urgenda. In the Dutch Supreme Court’s view, an order to reduce GHG emissions was within its authority because it is the court’s role to review the reasonableness of laws and policies and the legislature remained free to determine what laws and policies to implement to meet the Netherlands’ obligations.

Canadian courts also often review the reasonableness of laws and policies. So, if climate change is considered a threat to charter rights that Canada must address, Canadian courts could follow the same approach as Urgenda. While the government’s obligation to meet an emissions target would be new, elected officials would still decide relevant laws and policies. ...

In the Dutch Supreme Court’s view, the shared global responsibility for climate change necessarily entails an individual responsibility on each country to do its fair share. And the court concluded that the Netherlands was not doing its part. ...

If Canadian courts accept the premise of individual responsibility, they would similarly assess whether Canada is doing its fair share, and the statistics could be on the side of the plaintiffs. 

Canada emits more GHG per capita and in total than the Netherlands. Its emissions target under the Paris Agreement is lower than the Netherlands for 2030 (a 30 per cent reduction from 2005 levels compared to 40 per cent — and Canada is not on track to meet it). And it has been argued that Canada ought to be able to “reduce its GHG [emissions] without major economic repercussions.” 

Our courts may also find it compelling that, even though Canada’s emissions amount to 1.6 per cent of global emissions, “Canada is still among the top ten global emitters … on an absolute basis, and in the top three on a per capita basis.” ...

As Urgenda shows, human rights cases could force leaders to listen — and act. If Canada continues to not do its fair share and if Urgenda marks the beginning of domestic and international decisions requiring countries to take specific action against climate change, it may only be a matter of time until Canadian climate justice plaintiffs prevail.


The Kenney government has proclaimed it is going green by starting a hydrogen, a zero emissions fuel, industry. What he fails to add is that the hydrogen is being generated from burning fossil fuels. Can you say shell game? Not only is this going to increase greenhouse gas emissions, our fossil fuels production costs are greater than their selling price. Can you say more government subsidies? All this is put forward as the global fossil fuel industry continues to lay off people. Kenney is keeping his promise that he wants Alberta to be the place where the last barrel of oil is taken out of the ground. Sounds like a great future, just like the buggy whip industry in 1895 as the car came on the scene.

Premier Jason Kenney, Energy Minister Sonya Savage, and Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity Dale Nally announced, in Edmonton on Tuesday, October 6, 2020, a strategy to grow and expand the natural gas sector.

A new plan for diversifying and growing Alberta's natural gas industry will position the province as a post-pandemic powerhouse for responsible energy development.

The Natural Gas Vision and Strategy is a key part of Alberta's Recovery Plan and shares the actions Alberta's government will take to grow the sector and seize emerging opportunities for clean hydrogen, petrochemical manufacturing, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and plastics recycling.

"This plan outlines exciting new opportunities for Alberta job creators and workers. We will meet growing global demands for clean and sustainable energy by building on Alberta's success in natural gas. Alberta is ready to lead in safe, clean and reliable energy today and into the future. This is a key part of Alberta's Recovery Plan, designed to build, to diversify, and to create tens of thousands of jobs." Said the Premier.

In addition to fuelling countries around the world, natural gas – expected to pass coal as the world's second largest energy source by 2040 – has many other uses, including being the foundation for creating hydrogen. Alberta is already a leader in hydrogen production and has strong carbon capture and storage infrastructure in place. Combined with a number of projects being built across the province, Alberta has the potential to be a strong global competitor through the creation of a hydrogen economy.

Also in attendance were Nancy Southern, CEO, ATCO, and Sarah Marshall, director of sustainability, NOVA Chemicals. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Premier Jason Kenney announced a new natural gas strategy on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, with Energy Minister Sonya Savage and natural gas and electricity associate minister Dale Nally.PHOTO BY CHRIS SCHWARZ /Government of Alberta

Alberta is setting its sights on hydrogen, a zero-emissions fuel source, in a bid to diversify the natural gas industry as clean energy becomes a global focus.

Premier Jason Kenney unveiled the government’s new natural gas strategy Tuesday, which outlines hydrogen as one of five broad initiatives to grow the sector while reducing its environmental footprint. ...

The province is planning to utilize existing carbon capture and storage facilities as a source of hydrogen with a goal to be exporting the chemical globally by 2040. The emerging hydrogen industry could be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050, according to the Hydrogen Council, a global group of corporate executives encouraging investment in the hydrogen economy.

“Putting Alberta on the global hydrogen map now as this energy source is beginning to gain prominence and promise will be crucial,” said Kenney.

Alberta’s plan comes as producers, who have struggled with low oil demand and prices as a result of the pandemic, look to invest in low-carbon energy. Royal Dutch Shell cited both factors when it announced last week it will cut up to 11 per cent of its global workforce. ...

Nancy Southern, CEO of Atco, said there are infrastructure challenges to scaling up to commercial hydrogen production and delivery from natural gas through carbon capture, which is still five to six years away.

“We do have to crack the carbon capture nut on a commercial level. We’re very, very close,” said Southern at the news conference. ...

As part of its natural gas strategy, the province will continue to seekinvestment in petrochemicals, along with working with the Plastics Alliance of Alberta to make the province “the western North America centre of excellence for plastics recycling by 2030,” said a government news release Tuesday.

At the news conference, the premier took a jab at the federal government’s plan to ban single-use plastics, saying it would drive investors to other jurisdictions.

Associate minister of natural gas and electricity Dale Nally announced a grant program for the petrochemical industry with no price tag three months ago.


"Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact."



The Australian Invasion: Big Coal's Plans for Alberta

"Meet the speculators from Down Under aiming to carve up the Rockies with a chain of open-pit mines."

Barbaric. Must be stopped.



The people living in the southwest region of Alberta are fighting back against the invasion of the Australian mining companies. In addition to generating more greenhouse gas emissions than any other fossil fuel, coal mining creates numerous other environmental problems. 

We know Kenney is already in the Australian mining companies hip pockets. The silence on this from the Trudeau Liberals is deafening. 

Montem - Tent Mountain (20 sq km)

Montem Resources Tent Mountain mine location.png

Montem -Chinook Project (100 sq km)

Montem Resources Chinook Project location.png

Atrum/Elan - Isolation South, Elan South (230 sq km)

ATrum-Elan coal projects map.jpg

Impact of Mountain Top Removal Mining on the Region

T eck Coal Mine near Sparwood                                            photo/Narwhal

Teck Coal Mine near Sparwood, which is just across the BC border from the six proposed mines in Alberta shows the damage that strip mining does.                   photo/Narwhal

The Livingstone Landowners Group (LLG) represents landowners and supporters of the Livingstone-Porcupine Hills area in southwest Alberta, some of the most biodiverse and sensitive ecosystems in the province. ...

Alberta’s vulnerable South Eastern Slopes and the heart of southern Alberta’s water supply are being offered up to international coal firms intent on mountain top removal mining of the area’s metallurgical coal.

An Alberta government decision to rescind the Coal Policy protections that have been in place since the 1970s has opened the door to intensive coal development in the region. Coal leases cover an area greater than 500 sq kms (50,000 ha) of public and private lands from the Castle Park boundary north to Chain Lakes.  Significant exploration activity has already been completed and more is underway. ...

Three large Australian-owned coal mining companies are in various stages of regulatory approval for six extensive mountain top removal coal mines. If approved, these mines could blanket the region south and north of Crowsnest Pass with a series of 40-50 kilometre long swaths of industrial destruction.

Several of the proposed Alberta mine locations (by Riversdale Resources and Elan Coal) are only about 30 km east of Teck Resource’s massive mines in the Elk Valley of B.C. These Teck mines have had a devastating impact on the Fording River and the Elk River waterways. ...

Impact of Mountain Top Removal Mining on the Region The Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains in southwest Alberta have been flagged for decades as an area that should be protected. Land use plans have identified multiple key wildlife and biodiversity zones.  The area between the Alberta/B.C. border and the Livingstone Range provides sensitive habitat for at risk and endangered species and is a popular region for backcountry recreation (camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, exploring). Cattle grazing lease operations have co-existed in the area for a century. ...

Mountain top coal mining is extremely invasive, stripping the soil, vegetation and rock from thousands of hectares of land, dumping the waste rock into the valleys, leaching toxins into natural waterways and destroying or severely disrupting native wildlife.

Independent research over many decades has identified serious issues with mountain top removal mining, including human health risks, environmental risks related to water volumes and quality and destruction and fragmentation of critical habitat for plant and animal species relying on these unique ecosystems for survival. Open pit coal mines are intensive water consumers and generate a range of toxic waste from the coal mining processing and from the leaching of dangerous chemicals from the massive piles of waste rock dumped on the valley floor.

Selenium Poisoning Release of elements like selenium are notoriously difficult to control and often result in fish deformities and deaths.  This can prove devastating to an area renowned for its fly fishing, pristine mountain rivers and outstanding recreation and tourism potential. 

Water Supply and User Impacts Water from the Oldman River headwaters (located in the heart of the newly targeted mining area in Alberta) provides the bulk of southern Alberta’s water supply, supporting communities with drinking water and water for irrigation.  The Oldman River watershed supplies water to 40% of the irrigated land in Alberta and all of the water used by the City of Lethbridge. The watershed is already under tremendous pressure with declining flow rates, highly variable water flows and increasing demand.  Multiple mines diverting water for their operation and dust-suppression could prove to be devastating for downstream users.

Air-borne Contaminants The frequent and extreme wind conditions of the region also create high risk for air borne contaminants to affect residents and communities long distances from the actual mine sites. Mining activities provide multiple pathways for the generation and distribution of mineral dusts that are readily transported by the wind over large distances. Airborne contaminants pose human health risks.

Summary The South Eastern Slopes are an important landscape. They provide for biodiversity, water supply, agricultural industry and recreation use.

Please contact your MLA, your MP and provincial and federal government ministers if you are concerned about the direction of policy that appears to be supporting foreign coal companies instead of the public’s best interest.


Of course it is better to see an electric car park than a petrol one, but that image still shows too many cars in an urban area. Elon Musk has a most reactionary view on public transport. That electricity should power trams and buses in Oslo, and cars and other vehicles in remote northern regions.


Here's a look at solar energy market and jobs. With 4,261 jobs out 3.8 million globally we have 0.1% of the jobs even though we are 0.5% of the world's population and have a high income economy. The article focuses first on BC but also looks at the rest of the country. 

A solar installation in Oliver, B.C. Terratek Energy Photo / Facebook

Solar energy businesses in British Columbia believe their market is at a tipping point following years of niche status, as costs come down, governments demand greener buildings and residents offset rising utility bills from power-hungry electric cars. Industry leaders also said the Canadian playing field has become more level after Alberta and Ontario ended government rebates on solar energy upgrades. ...

Scott Fleenor, principal at Terratek Energy Solutions, said he was doubling his capacity next year, thanks to rising demand. He predicted the industry would likely double in the province over the next few years. “Until now, we’ve been working with early adopters,” he said. “Now we’re starting to get into the mass market.” ...

There are just 4,261 jobs in solar photovoltaic (PV) across all of Canada, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).  Recently released figures from the agency show that the solar energy sector has a 3.8-million strong global workforce — but most of those jobs, 83 per cent, are in Asia. China dominates the field, with 59 per cent of all solar PV jobs. But other countries such as Japan, the United States, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brazil, Germany and the Philippines also play big roles in solar employment.

B.C. has not had a direct government rebate program that might have created a boom in business early on, argued Rob Baxter, principal at Vancouver Renewable Energy. In B.C., there is a provincial sales tax exemption, as well as a commercial incentive for businesses to add panels. ...

“In the last few years, the industry has been growing more in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and before that it was Ontario. So a lot of the jobs that were created were in those areas,” Baxter said. “In Ontario, they had some really good government incentives — that’s the reason why the market there was growing. In Alberta there were also some incentives, and they also have more expensive and dirtier electricity. Here in B.C., it’s just that we have relatively low electricity rates.” Under the former Ontario Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne, the province offered thousands of dollars in rebates for solar installations and other green upgrades such as smart thermometers. ...

The Progressive Conservative government of Premier Doug Ford pulled Ontario out of the cap-and-trade market after it came to power in 2018, and wound down the green rebate program.

The former Alberta NDP government of Rachel Notley had also offered rebates on solar power and other green upgrades in that province, which covered up to 30 per cent of a system’s initial cost. It, too, was paid for by a provincial carbon tax, and that rebate program and the carbon pricing that funded it was also ended by the United Conservative government of Premier Jason Kenney, after it came to power in 2019. ...

Baxter said the price of solar energy has come down, making the product more attractive to consumers looking to invest. “About five years ago we did more business in one year than we did the previous 10 years combined, and then last year it was even higher. So yeah, definitely a growing market here,” he said.

Another issue is the push toward “net-zero” buildings in B.C. John Horgan, the BC NDP leader who is currently on the campaign trail, has promised to legislate net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 if re-elected. Henrikson said new tenders coming out at the municipal level are more likely to have solar integrated into the designs now — everything from schools to aquatic centres and ice rinks. 

Sales of electric vehicles in B.C., which does have a provincial incentive program of its own, could help drive solar adoption as well, he said. Solar can help offset the higher electricity costs that come from home car charging. ...

“If you get an electric car, you’re basically paying an extra 40 per cent always when you’re charging at your house,” Henrikson said. “If you add, say, 10 solar panels on your roof, you can basically keep out of that Step 2 — or, your hydro will never go up, even though you’re charging your car.”


The UN World Meteorological Agency is warning that the number of weather disasters occurring around the world due to global warming is growing rapidly and these problems will long outlast Covid-19.

In the wake of heat waves, global warming, forest fires, storms, droughts and a rising number of hurricanes, the U.N. weather agency warned Oct. 13 that the number of people who need international humanitarian help could rise 50% by 2030 compared to the 108 million who needed it worldwide in 2018.

In a new report released with partners, the World Meteorological Agency says more disasters attributed to weather are taking place each year. It said over 11,000 disasters have been attributed to weather, climate and phenomena like tsunamis that are related to water over the last 50 years — causing 2 million deaths and racking up US$3.6 trillion worth of economic costs.

In one hopeful development over that period, the average number of deaths from each separate weather disaster per year has dropped by one-third, even as the number of such events and the economic costs from them have both surged.

The 2020 State of Climate Services report, compiled by 16 international agencies and financing institutions, calls on governments to put more money into early-warning systems that can improve countries’ ability to prepare for, respond to and mitigate the impact of such natural disasters.

“While COVID-19 generated a large international health and economic crisis from which it will take years to recover, it is crucial to remember that climate change will continue to pose an on-going and increasing threat to human lives, ecosystems, economies and societies for centuries to come,“ said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to move forward along a more sustainable path towards resilience and adaptation in the light of anthropogenic climate change,” he said.


A record 16 global warming disasters, each costing more than $1 billion have hit the US already this year. 

fire Firefighting resources have been stretched to the limit by the scale and extent of the wildfires IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES

The number of climate change-driven disasters and extreme weather events costing in excess of a billion dollars, has beaten the annual US record in the first nine months of 2020 - with another two months of wildfire and hurricane season still to come. 

The price tag of the disasters was totted up by scientists at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), part of the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Six of those events - unprecedented wildfires in the American West, a drought and heatwave across the west and central belt, a Midwest derecho, then Hurricanes Sally, Laura and Isaias - have all happened in the past three months.

The first nine months of 2020 are already tied with the annual record of 16 events that occurred in 2011 and 2017. 

In September alone:

  • Wildfires wreaked havoc across California: Since mid-August, more than 4 million acres have burned across California, breaking the statewide burn record set in 2018 by more than 2 million acres. Five of the top six largest wildfires on record in California (dating to 1932) burned between August and the end of September.
  • The tropics were very active: The Atlantic hurricane season continued at a record pace last month. In September alone, 10 named storms formed — Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, Wilfred, Alpha and Beta. For the first time since 1971, five named storms churned in the Atlantic Basin at the same time.

  • Drought got worse: According to the U.S. Drought Monitor report, 42.6% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up about 3 percentage points from the beginning of September. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across much of the Northeast and the western half of the contiguous U.S.


In another warning sign of the ever growing danger of global warming, September was the warmest September in history globally and the first nine months of 2020 are the second warmest ever, with a 65% chance based on scientific models of 2020 being the warmest year ever. 

September 2020 was the warmest September since global record keeping began in 1880, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, NCEI, reported October 14.

The month was just 0.02 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous record, held jointly by September 2015 and 2016. NASA and the European Copernicus Climate Change Service also rated the month as the warmest September on record, and the Japan Meteorological Agency rated it as the third-warmest September on record. Minor differences in rankings often occur among various research groups, the result of different ways they handle data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.

The nine months of January through September were 1.02 degrees Celsius (1.84°F) above the 20th-century average, NCEI reported. That nine-month period ranks as the second-warmest such period on record, only 0.04 degrees Celsius (0.07°F) behind the record set in 2016. According to NCEI’s annual temperature outlook, the year 2020 is virtually certain to rank among the five warmest years on record, making each of the seven calendar years 2014 through 2020 one of the seven warmest years on record, dating back to 1880.

The NCEI outlook finds that 2020 has a 65% chance of displacing 2016 as the warmest year on record, and a 35% chance of being the second-warmest year on record. These odds are based on statistical relationships rather than unfolding weather and climate events, and the La Niña event now in progress (see below) will make 2020 less likely to be the warmest year on record.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for September 2020, the warmest September for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Europe had its warmest September on record, while South America, Asia, and Oceania had their second-warmest September since regional records began in 1910. (Image credit: NOAA/NCEI).

Global ocean temperatures during September 2020 were the fourth-warmest on record, and global land temperatures the warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures in September 2020 for the lowest eight kilometers of the atmosphere were the second-warmest or third-warmest in the 42-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville and Remote Sensing Systems, respectively.

Global temperature records are more likely to be set during the peak of the solar cycle, and during strong El Niño events, when the extra heat from the tropical Pacific Ocean is given up to the atmosphere. Remarkably, the record warmth of September 2020 came during the minimum of one of the weakest 11-year solar cycles in the past century, and during a La Niña event, when cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean helps cool global temperatures. That record warmth of September 2020, and for the year as a whole, underscores the dominant role of human-caused global warming in heating the planet.

In an October 14 press release, climate scientist James Hansen argued that global warming has accelerated over the past five years. As evidence, he pointed out that the global temperature increase, which had been stable at 0.18 degrees Celsius per decade, has increased substantially. He attributed the acceleration to changes in levels of sunlight-blocking aerosol particles in the atmosphere.



The following video, titled "Climate change in Russia: Can Siberia's permafrost be saved?", discusses the risk of Siberia's tundra frost disappearin. Of course the same question can be asked in Canada. The caption notes "In parts of Siberia, the permafrost is thawing. That endangers not only roads and buildings but also underground cold-storage facilities. Cracks are appearing in more and more of them."

In half a century, global warming has widened the Batagay in Siberia megaslump from a small gully to a yawning pit more than 900 meters wide. KATIE ORLINSKY/NATGEO IMAGE COLLECTION 

Global warming is inflicting wounds across Siberia. Outbursts of pent-up methane gas in thawing permafrost have pocked Russia’s desolate Yamal and Gydan peninsulas with holes tens of meters across. Apartment buildings are listing and collapsing on the unsteady ground, causing about $2 billion of damage per year to the Russian economy. Forest fires during the past three summers have torched millions of hectares across Siberia, blanketing the land with dark soot and charcoal that absorb heat and accelerate melting.

Intensifying this year’s fires was a heat wave that baked Siberia for the first half of 2020. On 20 June, the town of Verkhoyansk, just 75 kilometers from Batagay and one of the coldest inhabited places on Earth, reached 38°C, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic. The record-breaking heat “would have been effectively impossible without human-induced climate change,” said the authors of a 15 July study by World Weather Attribution, a collaboration of meteorologists who analyze the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events.

An abiding question is how much carbon the thawing soil will release to the atmosphere, and whether the lusher growth of Arctic plants in the warming climate will absorb enough carbon to offset the release. The Arctic may already have reached a tipping point: Based on observations at 100 field sites, northern permafrost released on average about 600 million tons more carbon than vegetation absorbed each year from 2003 to 2017, scientists estimated in October 2019.


Latest reports by the International Energy Agency (IEA) predict that the global demand for oil is rapidly declining. And, that if our governments take climate change seriously, it will keep declining after the pandemic.



Change in global electricity generation by source and scenario, 2000-2040

     coal            gas                  other low           wind          solar PV


Change in global electricity generation by source and scenario, 2000-2040

So, why is the federal government still wasting tens of billions of dollars on the Trans Mountain pipeline and along with Kenney pumping more subsidies into Alberta's fossil fuel industry? Once again, as the IEA warns, we are not shifting towards the renewable growth industries and further increasing greenhouse gas emissions that have catastrophic consequences for the entire planet. 

It has been a tumultuous year for the global energy system. The Covid-19 crisis has caused more disruption than any other event in recent history, leaving scars that will last for years to come. But whether this upheaval ultimately helps or hinders efforts to accelerate clean energy transitions and reach international energy and climate goals will depend on how governments respond to today’s challenges.

The World Energy Outlook 2020, the International Energy Agency’s flagship publication, focuses on the pivotal period of the next 10 years, exploring different pathways out of the crisis. The new report provides the latest IEA analysis of the pandemic’s impact: global energy demand is set to drop by 5% in 2020, energy-related CO2 emissions by 7%, and energy investment by 18%. The WEO’s established approach – comparing different scenarios that show how the energy sector could develop – is more valuable than ever in these uncertain times. The four pathways presented in this WEO are described in more detail at the end of this press release.

In the Stated Policies Scenario, which reflects today’s announced policy intentions and targets, global energy demand rebounds to its pre-crisis level in early 2023. However, this does not happen until 2025 in the event of a prolonged pandemic and deeper slump, as shown in the Delayed Recovery Scenario. Slower demand growth lowers the outlook for oil and gas prices compared with pre-crisis trends. But large falls in investment increase the risk of future market volatility.

Renewables take starring roles in all our scenarios, with solar centre stage. Supportive policies and maturing technologies are enabling very cheap access to capital in leading markets. Solar PV is now consistently cheaper than new coal- or gas-fired power plants in most countries, and solar projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen. In the Stated Policies Scenario, renewables meet 80% of global electricity demand growth over the next decade. Hydropower remains the largest renewable source, but solar is the main source of growth, followed by onshore and offshore wind.

“I see solar becoming the new king of the world’s electricity markets. Based on today’s policy settings, it is on track to set new records for deployment every year after 2022,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director. “If governments and investors step up their clean energy efforts in line with our Sustainable Development Scenario, the growth of both solar and wind would be even more spectacular – and hugely encouraging for overcoming the world’s climate challenge.”

The WEO-2020 shows that strong growth of renewables needs to be paired with robust investment in electricity grids. Without enough investment, grids will prove to be a weak link in the transformation of the power sector, with implications for the reliability and security of electricity supply. 

Fossil fuels face varying challenges. Coal demand does not return to pre-crisis levels in the Stated Policies Scenario, with its share in the 2040 energy mix falling below 20% for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. But demand for natural gas grows significantly, mainly in Asia, while oil remains vulnerable to the major economic uncertainties resulting from the pandemic.

“The era of global oil demand growth will come to an end in the next decade,” Dr Birol said. “But without a large shift in government policies, there is no sign of a rapid decline. Based on today’s policy settings, a global economic rebound would soon push oil demand back to pre-crisis levels.”

The worst effects of the crisis are felt among the most vulnerable. The pandemic has reversed several years of declines in the number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa without access to electricity. And a rise in poverty levels may have made basic electricity services unaffordable for more than 100 million people worldwide who had electricity connections.

Global emissions are set to bounce back more slowly than after the financial crisis of 2008-2009, but the world is still a long way from a sustainable recovery. A step-change in clean energy investment offers a way to boost economic growth, create jobs and reduce emissions. This approach has not yet featured prominently in plans proposed to date, except in the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Korea, New Zealand and a handful of other countries. 

In the Sustainable Development Scenario, which shows how to put the world on track to achieving sustainable energy objectives in full, the complete implementation of the IEA Sustainable Recovery Plan moves the global energy economy onto a different post-crisis path. As well as rapid growth of solar, wind and energy efficiency technologies, the next 10 years would see a major scaling up of hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and new momentum behind nuclear power.

“Despite a record drop in global emissions this year, the world is far from doing enough to put them into decisive decline. The economic downturn has temporarily suppressed emissions, but low economic growth is not a low-emissions strategy – it is a strategy that would only serve to further impoverish the world’s most vulnerable populations,” said Dr Birol. “Only faster structural changes to the way we produce and consume energy can break the emissions trend for good. Governments have the capacity and the responsibility to take decisive actions to accelerate clean energy transitions and put the world on a path to reaching our climate goals, including net-zero emissions.” 

A significant part of those efforts would have to focus on reducing emissions from existing energy infrastructure – such as coal plants, steel mills and cement factories. Otherwise, international climate goals will be pushed out of reach, regardless of actions in other areas. Detailed new analysis in the WEO-2020 shows that if today’s energy infrastructure continues to operate in the same way as it has done so far, it would already lock in a temperature rise of 1.65 °C. 

Despite such major challenges, the vision of a net-zero emissions world is increasingly coming into focus. The ambitious pathway mapped out in the Sustainable Development Scenario relies on countries and companies hitting their announced net-zero emissions targets on time and in full, bringing the entire world to net zero by 2070. 

Reaching that point two decades earlier, as in the new Net Zero Emissions by 2050 case, would demand a set of dramatic additional actions over the next 10 years. Bringing about a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 requires, for example, that low-emissions sources provide nearly 75% of global electricity generation in 2030, up from less than 40% in 2019 – and that more than 50% of passenger cars sold worldwide in 2030 are electric, up from 2.5% in 2019. Electrification, innovation, behaviour changes and massive efficiency gains would all play roles. No part of the energy economy could lag behind, as it is unlikely that another would be able to move fast enough to make up the difference.


ETA: Human Rights Watch is warning today that global warming is threatening First Nations food supply in remote Canadian First Nations communities. At the end of the article are statements from a variety of First Nations communities describing how climate change is impacting their lives. 

Sun sets over snowy plains

  • Climate change is taking a growing toll on First Nations in Canada, depleting food sources and affecting health.
  • Canada is contributing to the climate crisis, which acutely affects Indigenous peoples who live off the land.
  • Canada should urgently scale up its efforts to reduce emissions, and provide financial and technical support to First Nations dealing with the effects.

(Ottawa) – Climate change is taking a growing toll on First Nations in Canada, depleting food sources and affecting health, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Canadian government is not adequately supporting First Nations’ efforts to adapt to the mounting crisis and is failing to do its part to reduce the global greenhouse gas emissions that are driving it. 

The 120-page report, “‘My Fear is Losing Everything’: The Climate Crisis and First Nations’ Right to Food in Canada,” documents how climate change is reducing First Nations’ traditional food sources, driving up the cost of imported alternatives, and contributing to a growing problem of food insecurity and related negative health impacts. Canada is warming at more than twice the global rate, and northern Canada at about three times the global rate. Despite its relatively small population, Canada is still a top 10 greenhouse gas emitter, with per capita emissions 3 to 4 times the global average. 

  • Climate change is taking a growing toll on First Nations in Canada, depleting food sources and affecting health.
  • Canada is contributing to the climate crisis, which acutely affects Indigenous peoples who live off the land.
  • Canada should urgently scale up its efforts to reduce emissions, and provide financial and technical support to First Nations dealing with the effects.

“Climate change is pushing increasingly dangerous levels of food poverty in First Nations,” said Katharina Rall, senior environment researcher at Human Rights Watch. “By flouting its emissions-reduction commitments, Canada is contributing to the global climate crisis that, within its borders, is being felt most acutely by Indigenous people who live off the land.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 120 people, including residents, chiefs, and council members in First Nations in Yukon, northwestern British Columbia, and northern Ontario, as well as medical providers, educators, and environment and health experts, including Indigenous mental health counsellors and staff of Indigenous representative organizations. Human Rights Watch also reviewed academic research and peer-reviewed scientific studies documenting and projecting the impact of climate change in the areas studied, and contacted federal, provincial, and territorial government officials about the issues.

In the three geographic locations studied, residents reported drastic reductions in the quantity of food they are able to harvest, and increased difficulty and danger associated with harvesting food from the land. These changes are being driven in significant part by climate change impacts on wildlife habitat, including changing ice and permafrost conditions, more and increasingly intense wildfires, warming water temperatures, changes in precipitation and water levels, and unpredictable weather.Interview: 

Life is getting harder for First Nations in some of the most remote stretches of Canada. Senior environment researcher Katharina Rall visited communities to learn how the climate crisis is impacting food, health, and land like never before, and how they are fighting back.

Households must supplement their traditional diet with more purchased food. But grocery stores are often remote and the prices for nutritious foods prohibitive. As a result, people said, they tend to eat more affordable but less nutritious foods, compounding existing health conditions resulting from historic marginalization and poor access to health care in rural and remote Indigenous communities. Children, older people, and people with chronic diseases are particularly affected. Some children go to school hungry, and some older people cut down on their food. People with chronic diseases often cannot afford to follow medically recommended diets. Access to adequate and sufficient food corresponding to cultural traditions is an essential component of the human rights to food and health.

Across the country, First Nations are working to address the impact of the climate crisis. Some maintain strong traditional food sharing networks, while others have created monitoring systems for climate change impacts on their environment. Yet, all these efforts require resources and capacity, which many communities lack, and the federal and provincial governments are not doing enough to support them, Human Rights Watch found.

Federal climate change policies have largely ignored the real impact of climate change on First Nations. While climate change is already exacerbating historic inequalities experienced by First Nations, most existing policies fail to monitor – let alone address – current human rights impacts in these settings.

Subsidies, health resources, and other resources needed to respond are often not available, insufficient, or do not reach those who need them most. The federal government’s Nutrition North program subsidizes transporting nutritious foods from registered southern retailers, but healthy store-bought food options remain financially out of reach for many in remote and northern communities.

Canada is also not doing its part to advance global efforts to address climate change. Canada has not set adequately ambitious carbon emissions reduction targets consistent with the goal of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement, and the government is not even on track to meet its own targets.

The federal government acknowledged that food security is a critical issue and that more work is needed to cut emissions and meet First Nations food security needs. But it has not clarified how it will curb emissions or concretely address climate-exacerbated food insecurity.

Weenusk First Nation member, Mike Wabano, sets up camp for caribou hunting on a frozen river near Peawanuck, December 14, 2019. As a result of warming temperatures, ice and snow cover is often thinner and more unstable.  © 2019 Daron Donahue

Provincial and territorial government responses varied. The Yukon territorial government has committed to monitoring and tracking food insecurity and acknowledged the need to address the unique impact on Indigenous peoples. Ontario’s government, by contrast, has cancelled numerous climate adaptation and mitigation programs that benefited First Nations.

British Columbia has collaborated with First Nations to develop a climate adaptation strategy but did not respond to requests for further information on the details of this strategy, due to be released this year. Neither Yukon, Ontario, nor British Columbia have made any significant progress in reducing their emissions.

“If Canada does not urgently scale up its efforts to reduce emissions, it will continue to fuel the global climate crisis that is already having an outsized impact on First Nations,” Rall said. “The government should also urgently provide financial and technical support to First Nations already facing the devastating impacts of climate change.”

Selected Community Accounts

A map of Canada with the provinces outlinedAreas where Human Rights Watch conducted interviews. © 2020 John Emerson for Human Rights Watch

“Climate change is really affecting First Nations right now. There is no food for animals to eat. The animals won’t be there for us to hunt.” – Chief Madeek, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief, Skeena River watershed, British Columbia 

“I am concerned about the caribou. Already now there is less caribou [nearby].... They might have changed the route because of the wildfires.” – Elizabeth Kyikavichik, childcare worker, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, Yukon

“My biggest fear of climate change [is] losing everything. Losing our tradition over the weathers, over melting ice. [I]f we lose what we have now, what will we have to show our children in the future?” – Kyle Linklater, father, hunter, and resident of Weenusk First Nation, Ontario

“There [are] a lot of kids who do not eat on the weekends. We have programs here where kids take food home for the weekend. Lots of schools have lunch programs but they do not offer traditional food.” – Teacher in Smithers, Skeena River watershed, British Columbia

“First Nations peoples know what is wrong, and what is needed. Most are plagued with over-crowding, high unemployment rates, health issues such as diabetes. Any real solution to address the climate crisis and food poverty must protect First Nations’ traditional territories and traditional food sources. Canada needs to fund climate change adaptation projects so families can grow their own food and plan ahead for the future.” – Sam Hunter, community climate monitor, Weenusk First Nation, Ontario


The following map shows the cities around the world at risk from sea level rise. " Miami, Guangzhou, and New York are the top three cities in terms of the value of assets exposed to coastal flooding between 2010 and 2070; between 2 and 3.5 trillion dollars." With three cities facing these kinds of costs, there are not enough resources available to save most of the coastal cities if we continue our current path. The map below shows Vancouver and Montreal as the two biggest cities at threat in Canada of the 570 cities with a total population of 800 million under threat around the world. 

Figure 1 – Cities at risk from sea level rise

Sea level rise 0.5 meters 2050s

Sea level rise 0.5 meters 2050sCities projected to receive at least 0.5 meters of sea level rise by the 2050s under RCP8.5.


  • By 2050, over 570 low-lying coastal cities will face projected sea level rise by at least 0,5 meters.
  • This puts over 800 million people at risk from the impacts of rising seas and storm surges.
  • The global economic costs to cities, from rising seas and flooding, could amount to $1 trillion by mid-century.
  • Local factors mean that cities will experience sea level rise at different paces. Cities on the east coast of the United States, along with major cities in Asia, are particularly vulnerable.
  • Sea level rise and flooding can impact essential services such as energy, transport, and health. When Hurricane Sandy struck New York in 2012, coastal floods impacted an estimated 90,000 buildings, 2 million people lost power, which caused extensive damage and disrupted commercial activity to a cost of over $19 billion.
  • Resilience strategies, strengthened coastal protection, upgrades to existing buildings and infrastructure, relocation from the most at-risk areas as well as community engagement and preparedness can help cities adapt to sea level rise and coastal flooding.

Many coastal communities around the world already live with the threat from sea level rise and coastal flooding; where climate impacts can drown neighbourhoods, put people’s lives at risk and wreak economic havoc. But, if the world fails to commit to the Paris Agreement’s goalof reducing carbon emissions and limit global average temperature rise to 1.5oC, many of the world’s cities will face an extraordinary threat from rising seas and coastal flooding by mid-century. According to the new The Future We Don't Want analysis, the total urban population at risk from sea level rise, if emissions don’t go down, could number over 800 million people, living in 570 cities, by 2050. It is therefore crucial that Paris Agreement pledges are honoured if the social and economic impacts of catastrophic climate change are to be avoided.

Estimates suggest that the global economic costs to cities, from rising seas and inland flooding, could amount to $1 trillion by mid-century. As with other climate hazards, local factors mean that cities will experience sea level rise at different paces. Cities on the east coast of the U.S., including New York City and Miami, are particularly vulnerable, along with major cities in South East Asia, such as Bangkok and Shanghai. In the U.S., east coast cities are witnessing sea level rise that is two to three times faster than the global average while cities along China’s Yellow River Delta are experiencing sea level rise of more than 22 cm (9 inches) per year. According to a 2016 report by Christian Aid; Miami, Guangzhou, and New York are the top three cities in terms of the value of assets exposed to coastal flooding between 2010 and 2070; between 2 and 3.5 trillion dollars. But it’s Kolkata, Mumbai and Dhaka that have the highest number of people at risk from coastal inundation; between 11 and 14 million.


Another warning sign that impact of climate change is growing with every passing month: we now going to have the latest freezeup of Arctic ice in history, which has major ramifications for the world, including a speeding up of the melting of the Greenland glaciers and sea level rise, and an even greater impact on Arctic countries, including Canada. 

 A delayed freeze in the Laptev Sea could have knock-on effects across the polar region, scientists say. Photo by Tapio Haaja on Unsplash.

For the first time since records began, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing in late October. The delayed annual freeze in the Laptev Sea has been caused by freakishly protracted warmth in northern Russia and the intrusion of Atlantic waters, say climate scientists who warn of possible knock-on effects across the polar region. Ocean temperatures in the area recently climbed to more than 5 C above average, following a record breaking heat wave and the unusually early decline of last winter’s sea ice. ...

“The lack of freeze-up so far this fall is unprecedented in the Siberian Arctic region,” said Zachary Labe, a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University. He says this is in line with the expected impact of human-driven climate change. "2020 is another year that is consistent with a rapidly changing Arctic. Without a systematic reduction in greenhouse gases, the likelihood of our first ‘ice-free’ summer will continue to increase by the mid-21st century,’ he wrote in an email to the Guardian.

This year’s Siberian heat wave was made at least 600 times more likely by industrial and agricultural emissions, according to an earlier study. The warmer air temperature is not the only factor slowing the formation of ice. Climate change is also pushing more balmy Atlantic currents into the Arctic and breaking up the usual stratification between warm deep waters and the cool surface. This also makes it difficult for ice to form....

“This continues a streak of very low extents. The last 14 years, 2007 to 2020, are the lowest 14 years in the satellite record starting in 1979,” said Walt Meier, senior research scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. He said much of the old ice in the Arctic is now disappearing, leaving thinner seasonal ice. Overall the average thickness is half what it was in the 1980s.

The downward trend is likely to continue until the Arctic has its first ice-free summer, said Meier. The data and models suggest this will occur between 2030 and 2050. “It’s a matter of when, not if,” he added.

Scientists are concerned the delayed freeze could amplify feedbacks that accelerate the decline of the ice cap. It is already well known that a smaller ice sheet means less of a white area to reflect the sun’s heat back into space. But this is not the only reason the Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the global average. ...

If ice forms late in the Laptev, it will be thinner and thus more likely to melt before it reaches the Fram Strait. This could mean fewer nutrients for Arctic plankton, which will then have a reduced capacity to draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

More open sea also means more turbulence in the upper layer of the Arctic ocean, which draws up more warm water from the depths.


Federal Court judge  Michael Manson ruled today " the network of  government actions that contribute to climate change is too broad for the court to grapple with, and the court has no role in reviewing the country's overall approach to climate change." However the case which involved 15 youth activists who claimed that their Charter rights were being violated by the Trudeau and previous governments inaction, will be appealed to the Supreme Court. 

Canadian Youth Plaintiffs in Climate Lawsuit

Thirteen of the 15 youth activists suing the Canadian government over its alleged inaction on climate change stand on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Oct. 25, 2019, after filing their lawsuit in federal court.

Federal Court Justice Michael Manson rejected a lawsuit initiated by the youths aged 10 to 19 years old. Their case called on the court to compel Ottawa to develop a science-based climate recovery plan. But Manson ruled the claims don't have a reasonable cause of action or prospect of success, so the case cannot proceed to trial. The lawsuit filed in 2019 says Canada's failure to protect against climate change is a violation of the youths' charter rights. ...

Plaintiff Haana Edenshaw, 17, of the Haida Nation, says despite her disappointment, she is refusing to get discouraged and plans to keep pushing to have the case heard, after seeing the effects of climate change in her village of Masset on Haida Gwaii off B.C.'s North Coast.

She said poverty rates and the location of communities leave Indigenous people at higher risk to the negative effects of climate change.

"Indigenous youth in Canada are often the first hit and the hardest hit," she said. ...

Another plaintiff named Sophia said that it is "a big wake-up call for all Canadian and Indigenous youth. Canada has tried to silence our voice in court and block our calls for climate justice. We won't be dissuaded." ...

In September, government lawyers argued the lawsuit should be thrown out, as it was far too broad to be heard in court. In Tuesday's ruling, Manson agreed the terms were too broad. Joe Arvay, the lead lawyer on the case, says it's a disappointment, but he plans to push forward and appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Canada. ...

The case, La Rose et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen, was initially filed on Oct. 25, 2019.

The lawsuit argued that the plaintiffs — 15 children and teens from across Canada — had their rights to life, liberty and security and equality violated by a government that had failed to do enough to protect against climate change....

The statement of claim was filed the day teen climate activist Greta Thunberg visited Vancouverand led a climate strike rally attended by thousands. It says that "despite knowing for decades" that carbon emissions "cause climate change and disproportionately harm children," the government continued to allow emissions to increase at a level "incompatible with a stable climate capable of sustaining human life and liberties." But there's no explicit environmental right in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And, in his decision, the justice disagreed that right is implicit, as argued in the case. ...

"Of course it's disappointing, but the journey is far from over," said Brendan Glauser of the Suzuki Foundation. Glauser said the ruling acknowledged the negative impact of climate change as something that's significant and pointed out the justice also said the "public trust" doctrine is a legal question that the court can resolve — which, he said, offers legal ground with which the group can attempt to move forward. "We are proud of our plaintiffs. These brave young plaintiffs know we only have a decade to turn things around, and so far, we are not on track," said Glauser.


Only one day after declaring a climate emergency, the Trudeau Liberals used their parliamentary majority to approve the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline that it bought for $4.4 billion, saying the expansion would have a $7.4 billion construction cost. The construction cost has now ballooned to $12.6 billion, giving a total price of $17.0 billion for a project that more and more studies now say is not needed. Money wasted that could have used to start building a green energy economy. 

Trans Mountain pipeline construction continues during COVID-19 pandemic: Safety and environmental concerns by many groups persist for a pipeline that studies show is not needed


Emissions caps, new and expanded pipelines to the U.S., higher transportation costs and lower prices in Asia all lead to the conclusion that a twinned Trans Mountain pipeline is not needed.

That’s the conclusion of a report authored by David Hughes for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The latest report, published Thursday, builds on one Hughes authored in 2017 for the CCPA that made some similar arguments.

Since his last report in 2017, however, Hughes notes that a number of new pipelines, expansions or pipeline reversals to the U.S. have been announced or sanctioned that render the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion unnecessary. They include the Enbridge mainline, and the Aurora-Rangeland, Keystone XL and Express pipelines.

Hughes also notes an emissions cap of 100 tonnes of CO2 for Alberta’s oil sector that may constrain future expansions of bitumen production.

The Canadian Energy Regulator (CER), Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and International Energy Agency (IEA) have all made estimates on Alberta’s potential to increase oil sands production in the future. All could be met with existing, new or expanded pipelines or rail access, Hughes argues.



If Joe Biden is elected President next week, there will be a major shift towards a renewable energy economy in the US. That would put the Trudeau Liberal's purchase and expansion of Trans Mountain pipeline that is not needed (discussed in the last post), to say nothing of Trudeau's and Kenney's other massive fossil fuel subsidies, totally out of synch with the long term future of the energy sector. The President of the Alberta Federation of Labour, Gil McGowan,  and a growing number of fiancial institutions recognize that there are potentially large number of jobs and economic growth in this sector. Unfortunately, Trudeau and Kenney show no sign of changing their approach, something that could leave Canada with setting sun industry. 

U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden’s comments about the oil industry show that he understands the unparalleled global financial realignment happening due to climate change, the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour says.

Gil McGowan said Biden's remarks during the presidential debate, including that he would “transition from the oil industry ... over time” to renewable energy, indicate that the presidential hopeful’s attention is firmly fixed on a green recovery — a massive opportunity for jobs and economic growth for both American and Canadian workers, in particular those in the fossil fuel industry, if governments play their cards right.

“I watched the debate ... and I was thrilled to hear (former) vice-president Biden talking about the energy transition in no uncertain terms,” said McGowan in an interview.

“I don’t think we’ve ever heard that kind of unequivocal stance from a politician in Canada, regardless of their political stripe. Not only is it encouraging, but I think that, if he’s elected, it will force politicians in other parts of the world to address the same realities.” 

In the past several years, more than a dozen financial institutions have established new rules restricting or prohibiting investments in the oilsands. ...

According to a report in Reuters, these include ING Group, BNP Paribas, Societe Generale SA, Axa SA, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS, Norges Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Deutsche Bank, Zurich Insurance Group and Robeco.

The Bank of Canada has warned that the shift to a green economy is already underway and carbon-intensive sectors like oil and gas, as well as the banks that loan money to them, are exposed to risk. Legal analysis in Canada shows directors of corporations are obligated to act on the risks posed by the climate crisis as part of the basic responsibilities of their jobs. ...

McGowan said it is critical that prominent politicians like Biden speak openly and frankly with working people and voters about the reality of climate change and its consequences for the economy and the environment, especially to those people in jurisdictions that have traditionally relied on oil and gas revenues, such as Alberta. ...

“Burying your head in the sand is never a good economic strategy — but that’s exactly what (Alberta Premier) Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party have been doing for the past number of years,” said McGowan.

“The fact is, global investors have crossed the Rubicon on issues of climate change and the environment, and what this means is, big money is not going to come pouring back into fossil fuels — ever. It’s time for Albertans to acknowledge that fact, and until we do, we are going to continue to struggle economically.” ...

Peer-reviewed federal scientific research has concluded that Canada is heating up at double the average rate of the planet, or three times as fast in the North, and it is likely that the majority of this warming was caused by human activities like burning fossil fuels.

Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, a senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives who studies climate change and international trade, said Biden’s comments reflect how he’s listening to people who take the climate problem seriously. “I do think it’s significant,” said Mertins-Kirkwood. “This is the kind of language that would be inconceivable, even 10 years ago.”


The UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has warned that the "The global average temperature is set to rise to at least 1.2 to 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the next five years". It could could reach 1.5 degrees above, thereby reaching the the 2015 Paris Agreement breaking the goal of keeping the temperature belwo the cap on the  the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees that it set. Yet  the Trudeau Liberal federal government and most provincial governments keep on subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. 


A thermometer mounted on the headquarters of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn Germany shows a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius—107 degrees Fahrenheit—in July 2019. (Reuters Pictures / Wolfgang Rattay)

The global average temperature is set to rise to at least 1.2 to 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the next five years, a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) official said on Monday, close to a limit adopted in a global treaty. ...

The agreement, adopted by almost 200 nations, set a goal of limiting warming to "well below" a rise of 2 C above pre-industrial times while "pursuing efforts" for the tougher 1.5 C goal. A rise of 2 C is expected to wipe out more than 99 per cent of  coral reefs and melt most of the sea ice in the Arctic.

"Basically we are on track to reach at least 1.2 to 1.3 degrees centigrade [above pre-industrial levels] over the next five years," Omar Baddour, WMO senior scientific officer, said in response to a Reuters question at a Geneva news conference. "It needs drastic actions," he added. ...

"Not only are these statistics alarming they dispel any false sense of security that maybe we will muddle through this," said Maxx Dilley, director of the climate prediction and adaptation division of the WMO, told journalists.

"There is going to have to be a dramatic scale up in the level of ambition and as well as in the level of actual follow through on the current policies that are intending to address this," he added.

The WMO report also showed record carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere recorded over the same period, with the pace of carbon dioxide growth up 20 per cent versus the last five-year assessment.

There is a lag in the period that the world's climate responds to carbon dioxide and other gasses, meaning that the emissions produced today can affect temperatures 20 years later, Dilley added, locking in the warming trend.


One in three Canadians see climate change as the most important issue facing them while 78% are concerned about its impact on future generations and 88% feel they have already been adversely impacted by global warming. 

Despite the unprecedented economic and employment turbulence Canada faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change or global warming ranks as the number one extremely serious issue Canada currently faces by one in three Canadians (31 per cent). This compares to other key societal and economic issues cited as extremely serious, including government deficits and debt (29 per cent); unemployment and economic growth (26 per cent); wealth and income inequality (23 per cent); racism and inequality in society (19 per cent); and having access to affordable, sustainable and nutritious foods (18 per cent). While 88 per cent of Canadians report being personally impacted by climate change, 57 per cent report being significantly impacted, which is on par with the percentage of Canadians who report that unemployment and the current state of Canada's economy have significantly impacted them or their loved ones. The vast majority of Canadians (78 per cent) expressed they are very concerned about the negative impact of climate change on future generations. ...

When asked about their level of understanding about clean energy sources, about 50% said they had a good understanding of solar, with a similar percentage claiming a good understanding of hydro and 47% for wind power.


The rapidly increasing emissions from Canada's forests is another problem that the Trudeau Liberals are failing to deal with when it comes to global warming and have shifted from being a carbon sink absorbing large carbon dioxide to being a great emitter of this greenhouse gas. Canada's forests were being counted on to act as carbon offsets for our fossil fuel industry. Instead they are now the opposite.

Canada's vast managed forest lands used to be critical allies in our climate fight and efforts to build a sustainable, carbon neutral forestry economy. That's because these forests used to be healthy enough to absorb the huge amounts of CO2 created by the logging industry's harvests — plus lots more.

This huge forest carbon sink benefited us in many ways in addition to climate safety.
 The logging industry benefited because it allowed them to promote their wood products as both sustainable and carbon neutral. But now they find themselves cutting more than is growing back — putting both their economic advantages and social licence at risk. Other carbon-intensive industries, like oil and gas and aviation, have been counting on a large and enduring forest carbon sink to supply carbon offsets to meet climate targets. Without millions of tonnes of these hoped-for Canadian forest carbon offsets, these industries face faster, deeper and more expensive cuts to their own climate pollution.

Unfortunately for all of us, our forests' deep and valuable carbon sink has nearly dried up. Decades of human abuses — from climate disruption to clearcutting — have left them too battered and weakened to even keep up with business-as-usual logging. Put simply: Our continent-spanning managed forests are now being cut down faster than they are growing back. The result has been a rising flood of CO2 pouring out of our managed forests and accumulating in our atmosphere — worsening both the climate and ocean acidification crises. ...

Canada logging CO2 emissions vs amount absorbed by managed forests

The rising black line shows the cumulative CO2 emitted by the logging industry's harvested wood over the last 10 years. These logging emissions added up to more than 1,200 million tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2).

Now compare those emissions to what our managed forests were absorbing over those same years. That's the faltering lower dashed line. The forests absorbed less than 100 MtCO2 — not even one-tenth of what the logging industry emitted.

The remaining 90 per cent of those logging emissions, shown by the red area, have been accumulating in our atmosphere, intensifying climate disruption. The decision to keep cutting more than is growing back has resulted in more than a billion tonnes of excess CO2 emissions — so far. And, as we will see in detail below, the long-term trend lines show the problem growing increasingly worse. ...

Ottawa continues to exempt one of our largest sources of climate pollution — the roughly 155 MtCO2 per year emitted by the logging industry's harvests. ...

In addition, Ottawa also exempts logging emissions from our other emission-reduction policies and targets. For example, under Canada's 2030 Paris Agreement pledge, the target for all other sectors is a 30 per cent emissions cut. But Ottawa created a separate target just for these logging emissions that allows them to rise, not fall. ...

Efforts in Canada to push this clear and growing threat off our books with creative accounting simply allows the crisis to spiral out of control. What we need instead are new policies from Ottawa to address this threat.

The climate-safest new policy option would be to require logging emissions to not exceed what our managed forests absorb. That would stop the CO2 flood and return the forests to net zero. Doing this would require a lot of government support for the impacted forestry workers and forestry economy. But it could also have significant long-term economic benefits compared to the current path of not acting.


While the Trudeau Liberals have promised to plant two billion trees to help absorb carbon dioxide emissions, so far  it has not put aside a single cent to do so, nor has a single tree been planted under this plan. As the following shown Trudeau is always ready for the PR event but draws a blank when it comes to action on global warming. Under both the Harper and Trudeau governments Canadian forests have been emitting tons of carbon dioxide every year. 



Liberal leader Justin Trudeau plants a tree with sons Xavier and Hadrien (left) during a campaign event in Plainfield, Ont. on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Trudeau's massive tree-planting promise from the 2019 election has yet to be allocated a budget.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's massive tree-planting promise from the 2019 election has yet to be allocated a single dime. 

Trudeau pledged a year ago that the government would plant two billion more trees by 2030, or about 200 million extra trees per year. It was to be part of a $3-billion, decade-long effort to manage, conserve and restore forests, grasslands and wetlands, starting with $300 million in 2020-21. ...

It was clear last month that no trees had been planted this year, a failure Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan's staff chalked up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it has become clear the program was never given any money. ...

NDP environment critic Laurel Collins agreed with Conservative MP Rachel Harder that the Liberals have constantly promised to take action on climate change but the follow-through has been abysmal. Collins said the fact the tree promise didn't even have a budget yet is "kind of shocking."

Typically about 600 million trees are already planted each year in Canada, and the pledge for two billion more over a decade was to be on top of that. Over 10 years, that would have meant about 33 million more trees a month during tree-planting season. Over the nine years left, the government will have to plant at least 37 million more a month. ...

Forests can be large carbon sinks, absorbing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide, keeping it from trapping more heat in our atmosphere. However when trees die, they emit the carbon dioxide they stored.

For more than a decade Canada's forests have been a net contributor to global warming, emitting more carbon than they are absorbing.

The Forest Products Association of Canada last winter outlined for the government some of the challenges inherent in fulfilling its tree-planting pledge, including the pressures on nurseries to grow millions more seedlings for planting — seedlings can take one to four years to mature. 

As well, FPAC warned there are regular struggles to find workers able and willing to do work that is physically demanding, mostly seasonal and often without benefits.


The day after the election, November 4th, Donald Trump fulfilled his promise to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, making America the only country to do so. If Biden wins, it has the potential to increase the pressure on Canada to shift away from fossil fuels to renewabales, if Biden shuts down the Keystone pipeline, diminishing Canada's opportunities to export oil. 

Donald Trump at the White House on 4 November.

The United States on Wednesday officially became the only country in the world refusing to participate in global climate efforts, with the fate of the crisis hanging on the still uncalled presidential election.

Donald Trump as of Wednesday has withdrawn the US from the Paris climate agreement, an international pact to try to avert dangerous temperature increases that are already leading to more extreme weather and threaten to shrink world food supplies, force millions to flee their homes and deprive many of basic human rights. Trump’s administration set the US exit in motion a year ago, but it didn’t automatically take effect until 4 November. ...

The deal was meant to keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5C to 2C above the average before industrialization. Already, the Earth is more than 1C hotter than it was before industrialization, largely because of humans burning fossil fuels. This last year has demonstrated how the climate crisis will touch the lives of every American, with more heatwaves, intense wildfires, record hurricanesrising seasfloods and droughts.

Trump’s challenger, Joe Biden, would immediately rejoin the agreement and push lawmakers to spend big on green infrastructure to try to reverse the economic downturn from the pandemic. Should he win, however, Biden’s ambitions may well be stunted by the US Senate, which as of Wednesday morning appeared to be leaning towards remaining in Republican control. 

Trump would intensify his quest to expand fossil fuels, undermine climate science and rescind environmental protections. A second Trump term would be a stunning loss to the climate movement and would reverberate around the world. A Trump win would be a “huge uphill battle” for US climate action, said Kate Larsen, a director at the independent research firm the Rhodium Group. ...

Pete Betts, the former lead climate negotiator for the EU and the UK, said global action will continue, albeit at a slower pace without the US. ...

A re-engaged US, however, could pressure allies like Japan, Canada and Australia to step up, Betts said. A Biden administration could work with the EU and China to agree on bigger targets. Last month, China announced it would try to zero out its climate emissions by 2060. While China is the biggest current emitter, the US has contributed more climate pollution historically than any other country.


Once again the Trudeau government is speaking out of both sides of its mouth as it changes offshore drilling rules in Newfoundland in order to make it easier for the fossil fuel industry to meet them and then proclaiming that the industry must live up to those standards while environmental organizations complain about the changes.  The Liberal government has also excluded new drilling from environmental assessment there. This has become even more important with the announcement of the discovery of oil in two new places in the Newfoundland offshore. 

Canada’s environment minister defended government regulations Wednesday related to the impacts of oil drilling off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told the House of Commons environment committee that “all drilling projects must respect high environmental standards” after a Bloc Québécois MP raised questions about a government rule change meant to help industry.

Monique Pauzé asked Wilkinson about the Liberal government’s announcement in June that it was excluding individual exploratory offshore drilling projects from having to undergo a federal impact assessment. 

That change was touted by the government at the time as lending a helping hand to Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore oil industry, which has been battered by the pandemic’s economic toll as well as low global oil prices. Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan said it was the “number 1” request that “business and investors” had been asking for. ...

Last week, energy company Equinor said it had discovered oil in two locations east of St. John’sfollowing an exploration drilling campaign. Newfoundland and Labrador's oil and gas industry group called the discoveries, which Equinor made with partner BP Canada, an “encouraging” sign for business “at a time when encouraging news is needed.”

Environmental groups have raised concerns about the government’s exploratory drilling exemption. WWF-Canada, Sierra Club Canada Foundation and Ecology Action Centre have said a larger regional assessment of the impacts of exploratory oil drilling off the province’s coast was “flawed” and so cannot be used as a basis for allowing individual exemptions.

One of Canada’s marine refuges, the Northeast Newfoundland Slope is also east of St. John’s. The 55,000-square-kilometre section of the ocean is important for biodiversity since it contains fragile corals and sponges that help out other marine life by acting as spawning grounds or nurseries, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“In your documents, you talk about biodiversity of oceans,” Pauzé asked Wilkinson in French. “You excluded important offshore drilling projects from environmental assessments ... is there not a contradiction in terms of what the government’s saying?” ...

Equinor's two discoveries appear to have been made to the southeast of the marine refuge's southern tip based on location data sourced from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the fisheries department.


Biden's election has important implications for the dealing with climate change, the Paris Agreement, the United States and Canada. Let's look at the implications of Biden's win for the Paris Agreement, which he could rejoin without Senate approval. However, he could carry out some executive actions to reduce emissions, but not nearly enough to meet the targets science dictates are necessary to avoid catastrophic impacts from global warming.  

 Representatives of the UN Member States sit in attendance in General Assembly Hall for the climate agreement opening ceremony, April 22, 2016.

Representatives of the UN Member States sit in attendance in General Assembly Hall for the climate agreement opening ceremony, April 22, 2016.

The day after a nail-biter of a historic election, the United States became the only country to back out of the Paris climate change agreement. After the required waiting period, on Wednesday, President Donald Trump officially followed through on a threat he has been making since his first campaign to pull the United States out of the accord. This is a big deal: The Paris agreement marked a breakthrough in bringing rapidly growing nations like China and India under the same terms as the historically worst polluters, like the United States and Europe, as time is running out to contain global warming.

One silver lining: Not a single country has followed the United States’ lead yet to exit the agreement. In fact, 38 more countries have joined since Trump’s announcement in 2017. Yet many of the ominous predictions experts made when Trump first announced his intention to withdraw three years ago are holding up. I wrote then that Trump had no sense for the backlash in store for the United States for his isolationist foreign policy:

Two factors will especially hurt the US: First, the world has been dealing with the US as an unreliable partner on climate change for more than two decades, and leaders still well remember the other times the US reversed course on its promises; second, the world has never been more aligned in favor of action, making climate change a much bigger factor in the US relationship with its allies in non-climate related issues—from trade to defense to immigration—than it once was.

In a New York Times op-ed in 2017, George Shultz, a former Cabinet member of the Reagan and Nixon administrations, and Climate Leadership Council’s Ted Halstead begged Trump to remain in the accord. They predicted that Trump would create a power vacuum with global-level consequences. “If America fails to honor a global agreement that it helped forge,” they wrote, “the repercussions will undercut our diplomatic priorities across the globe, not to mention the country’s global standing and the market access of our firms.”

That has proven accurate: Without Trump, countries have forged ahead with domestic climate action. European nations and China have sought to fill the vacuum left by the United States. Now, China, India, and Europe have shown their appetite for strengthening their initial clean energy goals, while Trump has continued to talk about reviving the fast-declining coal industry. ...

[Biden] has promised to re-enter Paris on Jan. 20th next year, which will take effect one month later. Then, things get complicated.

“Rejoining Paris—that would be the easy part,” Alden Meyer, an independent expert who has 30 years of experience in international climate policy and science. “The harder part would be delivering the goods.” After joining Paris again, Biden would have to resubmit a new emissions target, which experts expect would initially look modestly similar to where Obama’s targets once were. But the United States needs to go even further to prove it’s serious about permanent changes to create a low-carbon economy. Biden would also need to put money where his mouth is by finally delivering on the United States’ $3 billion commitment to the Green Climate Fund, an international pot of money to help developing countries counter climate change. His first task would be to come up with the remaining $2 billion that Trump reneged on. ...

The president can pressure other countries to reduce foreign investments and exports in coal, and he can use the Environmental Protection Agency’s existing powers to slash carbon emissions. But the most ambitious, fastest timeline for doing anything requires laws passed by Congress. 

“The Senate matters a lot because all the analyses shows that using existing authority under the Clean Air Act and energy legislation with executive agency action, you get the United States somewhere maybe in the 30 to 32 reduction range [by 2030],” Meyer says. “But to get closer to the 40 to 50 percent range that science and equity at a minimum demands, it would be hard for the United States to get past that benchmark through executive action alone.” 

Congress matters for another reason, too: The world has understandably lost faith in the continuity of US politics on climate change. Congressional action on climate would provide some assurance, Meyer says, that “we’re not going to be on a rollercoaster of policy changes administration to administration.”


Below is a look at the implications for Canada's fossil fuel industry with the election of Biden.

Former vice-president Joe Biden gives a speech about the climate crisis on Sept. 14, 2020.

Vice-president Joe Biden, meanwhile, has outlined a platform that includes a “clean energy revolution” and “environmental justice.” 

It includes a US$2-trillion plan to get the country to net-zero emissions by 2050 ⁠— Canada’s Liberal government has made a similar promise ⁠— and proposals to crack down on top polluters who disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of colour. The platform also includes pledges to increase the country’s use of clean energy, help fossil fuel workers transition and build green infrastructure to drive economic recovery from COVID-19. ...

“When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs,’” Biden said in August.

In general, his plan would bring a “higher level of motivation in terms of ambition” than Trump, Harrison said.

Even beyond the climate impacts, the fact that the U.S. is Canada’s top trading partner means America’s path forward will shape our economy as much as theirs.

A Biden victory could accelerate broader shifts to clean energy and have a huge impact on Canada’s oil and gas sector, said Warren Mabee, director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen's University. “I think the social movement that is going on right now is going to demand a shift to cleaner energy,” Mabee said. “I think Biden will bring it in faster.”  ...

Historically, Canada has followed the U.S. on climate action. That’s because our markets are very integrated, and it can be challenging for Canadian businesses to compete with American ones if they’re subject to different rules, Harrison said. 

We’ve been out of step before. The U.S. and Canada originally committed to similar climate targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, but the U.S. dropped out in 2001. When Canada tried to forge ahead anyway, industries lobbied against it, frustrated that they’d have harsher rules than businesses south of the border, Harrison said.

“There was significant risk that Canadian manufacturers would be at an economic disadvantage,” Harrison said. “We didn’t (implement) the kind of policies that were needed to meet our targets, and eventually the Harper government withdrew.”

Our two countries are currently out of step again: “We're ahead of the U.S. on carbon pricing,” said John Dillon, a senior vice-president at the Business Council of Canada.

Canada has a carbon tax that’s scheduled to increase until 2022, while the U.S. has no such national policy. ...

Though Canada’s federal and provincial carbon tax systems include adjustments to help Canadian businesses compete against American ones, that flexibility doesn’t fully even the playing field, Dillon said. ...

Difficulty could arise further down the road, Harrison said. Canada’s federal government will have to increase the carbon tax significantly beyond what’s planned for 2022 if we’re to meet our current emissions-reduction targets under the Paris Agreement, a 2019 report by the Ecofiscal Commission found. 

The Liberal government has refused to speculate about whether that price will increase beyond 2022. It will be politically challenging for any government to raise the tax if U.S. industries aren’t subject to similar rules, Harrison said. “The longer we are out of line with the U.S., the harder it is to raise that carbon price … after 2022 because Canadian industries will complain,” Harrison said. 

Neither Trump nor Biden has outlined plans for a carbon price, and previous attempts to pass such legislation in the U.S. have failed. But Biden has said he would, if elected, impose adjustment fees or quotas on carbon-intensive imports from countries that don’t meet their climate obligations.

“They could only justify that legally if they had their own carbon pricing regime in the United States,” Dillon said. It’s unclear, however, what such a scheme could look like and how it would affect trade between the U.S. and Canada. ...

A Biden victory doesn’t guarantee a walk in the park for environmentalists. ... Biden was witness to such pushback when he was vice-president to Obama, who ran into significant roadblocks when he tried to pass climate legislation. Biden would likely also face a steep lobbying effort from industry in the U.S. ...

At the very least, a Biden victory would likely mean an American climate agenda that’s more closely aligned with Canada’s, Harrison added.

“I think we would be in the nice position of being able to follow a leader again,” she said. “It’s hard for Canada to lead because we’re the small player in this relationship. When the U.S. starts leading, it reverberates around the world, but especially in Canada.”

The U.S. under a Biden administration could be a good influence on us, Harrison said. If the U.S. starts using stricter emissions standards for cars, for example, Canadian automakers would likely need to do the same since auto production in North America is quite integrated. 

Canada might also be in a good position to do business with the U.S. if it were to pursue Biden’s net-zero plan, Dillon said. Many Canadian provinces have excess hydroelectricity that could be sold to the U.S. if new power lines could be built, and many of the precious metals needed for clean technologies such as solar panels and electric vehicles are made in Canada.

“That's certainly an opportunity for Canadian manufacturers,” he said. 

In other ways, it might be more complicated, Mabee said. The U.S. is a major importer of Canadian fossil fuels, and if demand there drops, that would be troubling for Canada’s oil and gas industry. Biden has already said he would cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Alberta oil to American refineries on the Gulf Coast. ...

Environmental organizations criticized Biden’s climate goals when he was seeking the Democratic nomination. He’s since won a few over ⁠— he struck a committee that included popular progressives like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and released a more expansive environmental plan.

And although Biden has distanced himself from the idea of a Green New Deal, calling it “not my plan,” it does have some similarities to the Democratic nominee’s climate strategy. “He moved left,” Harrison said. ...

“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant,”  Pierre Trudeau said in a speech in Washington, D.C. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” When it comes to environmental rules, that remains the case for Canada, Harrison said.


Does 'Green Finance' Offer a Solution to Climate Change? (podcast)

"Big names in finance [Mark Carney] think they can reverse capitalism's effect on the planet."

Or get richer selling that to us?


Some good news on the fight against global warming for a change as the result of a lawsuit brought by seven young environmental defenders, three of whom are indigenous, in Ontario.  "The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ruled the climate crisis does threaten fundamental rights protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that Canadian citizens can therefore challenge their governments’ climate failures on constitutional grounds."

Seven Ontario youth, represented by Ecojustice, are part of a youth-led climate lawsuit against the Ford government

Seven courageous young Ontarians and their lawyers win recognition of  safe climate rights being protected under Charter

The youth activists, who filed their lawsuit last November 26, include:

• Sudbury native Sophia Mathur, the first young person in North America to follow in the footsteps of Greta Thunberg and strike for climate action;

• Toronto #FridaysforFuture member Zoe Keary-Matzner;

• Shaelyn Hoffman-Menard, who lives in Peterborough and “has worked on issues of climate change, biodiversity, Indigenous-led conservation, youth and community engagement on environmental issues, and cultural and language revitalization initiatives”;

• Shelby Gagnon, who lives in Thunder Bay and is involved with “Indigenous food sovereignty in northern Ontario communities and has taken local action to help her own community become more sustainable in response to climate change”;

• Madison Dyck, also of Thunder Bay, who “has sailed through Lake Superior giving presentations on climate change impacts in surrounding communities and to youth”;

• Ottawa’s Alexandra Neufeldt, an active member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada;

• Beze Gray of the Township of Tiny, a “community organizer focused on environmental, climate, and Indigenous issues, including in their home community of Aamjiwnaang First Nation.”

The applicants were between the ages of 12 and 24 at the time the lawsuit was launched last year.

The ruling that Mathur et al. v. Her Majesty in Right of Ontario transcends the interest of the applicants “delivered a rebuke of the Ford government’s attempt to shut down the youth-led lawsuit,” writes Ecojustice. Describing the province’s tactics, the environmental law charity explains that government lawyers sought to persuade the Superior Court that “the courts aren’t the right forum for addressing the climate crisis, that climate impacts will play out so far in the future we can’t understand them now, that the climate crisis is so big and complicated that Ontario’s targets don’t make a difference, and that the young people bringing the case can’t represent the interests of future generations.”

Ecojustice says Mathur v. Ontario will be the first time a Canadian court “has recognized that the harms caused by climate change can engage our Charter-protected rights to life, liberty, and security of the person.”

In its ruling, the Superior Court found that the youth applicants had sufficient cause to argue that the Ford government’s November 2018 Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan “violates the unwritten constitutional principle that governments are prohibited from engaging in conduct that will, or reasonably could be expected to, result in the future harm, suffering, or death of a significant number of its own citizens.”

Stressing that the court’s decision, while cause for celebration, marks the beginning of a long campaign to ensure that the Ford government is held to account for dropping the ball on climate, Ecojustice is urging readers to contribute what they can to support the seven campaigners in their suit.


The Liberal 25 year history of promising to deal with global warming has been one long series of promises followed by actions that always fail to meet their greenhouse emissions reduction targets and often result in an increase in emissions. This week the Trudeau Liberals announced they will soon release a new plan for zero missions by 2050 with reduced emissions targets for 2030, of course well after Trudeau is highly likely to be gone from office and when the global crisis is likely to be in full bloom. 

If this sounds vaguely familiar, here's the Liberal track record under Chretien and Martin:

“Canada has missed two separate emission reduction targets (the 1992 Rio target and the 2005 Kyoto target) and is likely to miss the 2020 Copenhagen target as well. In fact, emissions in 2020 are expected to be nearly 20 per cent above the target.” (

And here's how  Trudeau's own government agencies have assessed his performance: 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on Nov. 13, 2020.

How many more broken climate change promises will there be?

In March 2018 the auditor general concluded  the Trudeau Liberal government "is likely to miss the 2020 Copenhagen target as well". (

In April 2019 Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand concluded "Canada is not on track to hit its 2030 target,". These targets were actually those of the Conservative Harper government. (

Now let's take a look at what we know about the new Trudeau proposal, keeping in mind that in the same week they announced this Trudeau was phoning Biden to not stop the Keystone pipeline so Canada can export more tarsands oil. The Liberals have also allowed oil companies to drill exploratory oil wells off Newfoundland that have already hit oil twice, are in the process of redefining what a fossil fuel emission is it appears lower than under the previous definition, bought and are building the Trans Mountain pipeline, have allowed the completion of a pipeline to Manitoba that will deliver more oil to the US Midwest next year: 

 Trudeau pledged more than a year ago that his government would set “legally binding” five-year targets to make sure Canada can slash its way to its ultimate goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s office is being tight-lipped about the upcoming bill, declining to comment Monday even on the intent of such legislation.It would only point to last year’s platform pledge that vowed to set five-year “milestones” for emissions reductions and appoint an advisory panel of experts “to recommend the best path to get to net-zero.” 

But opposition parties and climate activists are stepping into the silence, urging the minority government to ensure this legislation helps make it possible for Canada to do what it has never done: fulfil a pledge to slash greenhouse gas pollution. ...

“Canada has been making and missing climate targets since the early 1990s. There is clearly something off about the way that we take action on climate change,” said Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada, referencing every pledge this country has made to slash emissions since the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. “We keep making these promises and letting the world down,” she said. “We need to figure out how we are going to keep our promises when it comes to climate change in the future.”

Other countries have already implemented national climate accountability regimes, including Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. ...

For the NDP’s Laurel Collins, the MP for Victoria who is the party’s environment critic, the legislation must have strong obligations to report progress, with a “third party” of experts to set Canada’s targets outside the arena of partisan politics. “Missing our climate targets is not a small thing, and we’ve been doing that again and again,” she said. “We need more ambitious targets, we need mechanisms to make sure the government is on track to meet those, and we need to see the plan.”


Here's more criticism of the Trudeau Liberals' new climate plan: 

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson speaks as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.

Opposition members and some environmental groups panned the new legislation, saying it lacked the necessary enforcement mechanisms that would actually ensure emissions are reduced. Industry groups broadly supported the bill, but said more details on actual emissions reductions are needed. ...

Canada has missed all of the previous emissions targets it set over the last three decades. It missed its 2012 target under the Kyoto accord by more than 100 million tonnes and at the end of this year will miss its 2020 target by an even wider margin.

Climate experts say Canada is on now on track to miss its 2030 Paris target, first agreed upon by the Harper government, that aims to reduce GHG emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels. ...

Speaking to reporters, Trudeau acknowledged that the legislation would not in itself force future governments to meet the 2050 target. He said accountability for meeting those targets would ultimately be carried out by voters, who increasingly support stricter climate change policies. ...

Catherine Abreu, executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada, said she was more hopeful than she had been about the pending legislation, because the title of the bill has the words “transparency and accountability” in it.

She said to live up to its title, the bill will need to set specific carbon budgets for how much Canada can emit each year, decide where those emissions are going to come from, and then show the ways to hit those budgets.

It will also, she said, require an enforcement mechanism that isn’t just about targets, but setting out who decides if they have been met and what happens if they are not.

“There is a difference between legislating a target and legislating climate accountability,” said Abreu. “We need to fundamentally fix the way we do climate action in Canada because it is not working.”


Trump is planning to sell off drilling rights in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge in an attempt to foil Biden from protecting the area, which borders the Yukon, when he takes office on January 20th. So a spill could have a major impact on Canada as well, to say nothing of its impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Alaskan natives have long fought to preserve the reserve ( 

Caribou migrate onto the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)

Since Joe Biden's victory in the Nov. 3 election, a group of environmentalists and environmentally conscious investors has been putting pressure on corporations to oppose drilling in that pristine habitat home to polar bears, Arctic foxes and other wildlife. 

At the same time, President Trump's team is hurrying to ensure Wall Street keeps money flowing toward arduous efforts to drill in that chilly corner of northeast Alaska.  ...

The latest salvo is a new Trump administration regulation aiming at blocking banks from restricting financing for Arctic drilling. 

Under a rule proposed Friday by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, big banks would not be allowed to refuse lending to entire business categories that don't break the law. 

Five banking behemoths — Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo — have said they will restrict lending to Arctic drilling projects after facing pressure from green groups and activist investors.

The administration's proposal came after complaints from both the fossil-fuel sector and Alaska's all-Republican congressional delegation that banks weren't willing to finance the projects. It was issued to ensure “fair access to financial services, credit, and capital [that] are essential to our economy,” according to acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks. ...

Graham Steele, director of the Corporations and Society Initiative at Stanford Graduate School of Business, said banks are thinking twice about such lending because many of them are inherently financially risky as a result of the volatility of oil prices and difficulty of getting pipelines approved, among other factors.

The proposed rule, said Steele, formerly a Democratic staffer on the Senate Banking Committee, “starts from the premise that they are doing this solely for political reasons… when there are a whole bunch of economic factors.”

Environmentalists, meanwhile, have been turning up the heat on corporations to oppose drilling in the Arctic animal habitat. 

In the past week alone, a coalition of Native Alaskans, activist investors and green groups asked AIG, Allianz and other insurance companies to stop supporting any oil and gas projects in the refuge, while Trillium Asset Management filed a shareholder resolution with Bank of America demanding it explain why it hasn't joined other Wall Street banks in refusing to finance Arctic drilling. 

Both moves are designed to plug the flow of financial support to working in the refuge, even as the Trump administration moves forward with plans for an auction of drilling rights or leases.

Many oil companies have tried keep their heads down on the hot-button issue — by either saying flatly they will not place bids or by not disclosing whether they plan to do so. One exception is Chevron, which told the Bureau of Land Management in March that it thinks “industry can safely develop” inside the wildlife refuge.



Biden will face an uphill fight in trying to permanently protect the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge because of Republican legislation in 2017, but there are things he can do through executive order. Environmental and indigenous groups are also planning to sue in an effort to stop fossil fuel development in the refuge. 

Biden faces uphill battle to 'permanently' protect Alaska wildlife refuge

Biden’s climate plan, released during the campaign, included a promise to protect the 1.6 million acres in Alaska that were opened up to oil drilling during the Trump administration. But unlike many Trump-era policies that Biden aims to undo unilaterally through executive action, the authorization for drilling along the Alaskan refuge’s coastal plain became federal law through the GOP’s 2017 tax-cut bill, which required two oil and gas lease sales in the refuge by the end of 2024.

Still, there are some avenues Biden can pursue to reduce drilling or make it more difficult for the fossil fuel industry. Some of those options will be determined by whether the Trump administration is successful in completing one of the lease sales before Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

This past week, the administration published a “call for nominations”that sought input on which pieces of land should be leased for drilling, noting that a sale was “upcoming.” That came a month after it proposed allowing a company to test for oil deposits in the refuge, home to grizzly bears, polar bears, gray wolves and more than 200 species of birds.

Asked if the administration planned to hold a lease sale before Inauguration Day, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spokesperson Richard Packer said in an email that “a sale may take place after the nomination period has closed and a notice of sale [is] published in the Federal Register.”

Legal experts say that if no sale takes place before Biden takes office, there are a range of actions the new administration can take to limit drilling there. ...

The most desirable, though seemingly unlikely, is to sign legislation repealing the provision in the 2017 tax law that required the lease sales. But that would require Democrats winning both runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 to gain control of the Senate.

If the leases are sold after Biden is in the White House, he would have more discretion over what land is sold and could also decide the terms of the lease. “They could basically not sell any leases that they think are going to compromise in some significant way the wildlife resources on the refuge and...they can also impose stipulations on the lessee that will make development much harder and much more expensive, but will also be designed presumably to protect the wildlife resources that are on the refuge,” said Mark Squillace, a natural resources law professor at the University of Colorado.

Environmentalists have also suggested Biden should revisit the initial environmental impacts statement behind the record of decision (ROD) that opened up the area to drilling.

“What the new administration needs to completely reassess what’s gone on here,” said Garett Rose, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Go back to the drawing board and take a whole new look at the kind of impact analysis that was completed."

Even if the Trump administration completes a lease sale before Jan. 20, Biden could still attempt to put restrictions on drilling....

Lessees would be required to apply for drilling permits, which would trigger another round of studies of the environmental impact. Sara Gosman, an environmental law professor at the University of Arkansas, said the drilling permits would require additional analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). ...

Squillace added that an environmental impact statement could be used to create new hurdles for drillers. “One of the things that you can do in conjunction with an environmental impact statement is insist upon mitigation of the adverse impacts,” he said. “If a Biden administration were to decide that they were going to require the developer to mitigate the adverse impacts, that could be a fairly expensive proposition and it could further make the prospects for developing that resource expensive and complicated and maybe not worth the effort.”

Opponents of the drilling plans are already pursuing court challenges. Environmental and indigenous groups, as well as 15 states, have sued over the decision to open up the entirety of the refuge's coastal plain to leasing. ...

A court ruling that sides with opponents could require the Biden administration to reassess the environmental impacts, giving it the opportunity to come to a different conclusion on the effect of opening up parts of the refuge to drilling. In light of the complications and low demand for oil, Squillace said he’s not sure many companies will even want to purchase leases.


Despite Covid-19's slowing of greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continue to grow, having already reached a reached 410 parts per million in 2019, the last year for which data is available. 

The global average atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2019 was 409.8 parts per million (ppm for short), with a range of uncertainty of plus or minus 0.1 ppm. Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.

Carbon dioxide over 800,000 years

Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations (CO2) in parts per million (ppm) for the past 800,000 years. The peaks and valleys track ice ages (low CO2) and warmer interglacials (higher CO2). During these cycles, CO2was never higher than 300 ppm. On the geologic time scale, the increase (orange dashed line) looks virtually instantaneous.

“We breached the global threshold of 400 parts per million in 2015. And just four years later, we crossed 410 ppm. Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records. The lockdown-related fall in emissions is just a tiny blip on the long-term graph. We need a sustained flattening of the curve”, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.  

Reduced activity associated with COVID-19 lockdowns is expected to cut carbon emissions by 4-7 per cent this year, Professor Taalas said.    

Oksana Tarasova, WMO Chief of Atmospheric and Environment Research Division, told a news conference in Geneva that although it looked like the pandemic had brought the world to a standstill, carbon emissions had continued almost unabated because lockdowns only reduced mobility, not overall energy consumption.    ...

“The CO2 which we have now in the atmosphere is accumulated since 1750, so it's every single bit which we put in the atmosphere since that time that actually forms the current concentration. It's not what happened today or yesterday, it’s the whole history of the human economic and human development, which actually leads us to this global level of 410”, Dr. Tarasova said.  

CO2 levels rose by 2.6 ppm in 2019, faster than the average rate for the last ten years, which was 2.37 ppm, and are now 48 per cent higher than the pre-industrial level.   

Professor Taalas said that in order to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which governments pledged to try to stop temperatures rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the world needed to switch from coal, oil and gas-fired energy towards solar, wind, hydropower and nuclear power, as well as adopting less-polluting modes of transport, including electric vehicles, biofuels, hydrogen and bicycles.


A new study of western Canadian glaciers shows that although they are thicker than previously estimated, they are still expected to totally disappear within 65 to 80 years, leaving BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan with a much reduced water and hydroelectricity supply amongst other problems.  In fact peak water flow from the glaciers has already likely been passed. 

Glacier researcher Ben Pelto (front, far right) leads friends in taking radar measurements while towing radar on the Nordic Glacier. Credit: Jill Pelto.

First-of-its-kind research in Canada’s Columbia Basin shows that the glaciers that supply the Columbia River with meltwater are 38 per cent thicker than previously thought, but researchers say this won’t offer much of a lifeline against melt due to climate change. 

The Columbia River basin produces over 40 per cent of hydroelectricity in the United States, with the Canadian portion of the upper basin providing 30 to 40 per cent of total runoff, predominately from snowmelt but also ice. The river is a vital downstream freshwater source and habitat for aquatic ecosystems. 

The research, led by University of Northern British Columbia scientists and supported by the University of Victoria hosted and led Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), was published this autumn in the Journal of Glaciology

The researchers calculated the glaciers’ true size by using ice-penetrating radar, towed by skis, to measure ice thickness over five glaciers in BC’s Columbia Mountains from 2015 to 2018. They then combined that data with two previous surveys for two glaciers in the Rocky Mountains. 

After analyzing more than 34,000 data points measured over 182 kilometres, researchers found that glacier thickness is, on average, 38 per cent thicker than previous computer model estimates. ...

“At current rates of glacier mass loss for this region, our study shows that glaciers will disappear from the basin in about 65 to 80 years. This aligns with evidence from separate studies that found that glaciers in the basin will lose 60 to 100 per cent of their ice by 2100, depending on greenhouse gas emissions,” he says. “Disappearance of these glaciers will negatively affect the basin’s surface hydrology, freshwater availability and aquatic ecosystems, potentially affecting fish stocks and habitat.” 

Pelto says in fact, peak water flow from these shrinking glaciers may have already occurred, as found by an earlier study, because as glaciers retreat they lose their low-elevation ice first, shrinking the glaciers. 

“Essentially, glaciers act as on-demand water towers, supplementing streams with cool, plentiful water during late summer when runoff from snowmelt has passed. For example, the Mica Basin in the Northeast Columbia Basin contributes up to a third of streamflow from glacier ice melt during August and September,” he says. “Ice area loss is reducing the capacity for glaciers to act in this manner.” ...

The report is called Bias-corrected estimates of glacier thickness in the Columbia River Basin, Canada. Five of the seven study Columbia Basin glaciers lie within the Columbia Mountains (the Conrad, Kokanee, Zillmer, Illecillewaet, and Nordic glaciers), while the West Washmawapta and Haig glaciers lie within the Rocky Mountains.


In facing a climate change emergency, we need to undertake an emergency mindset, as Canada did during WWII and the current Covid-19 crisis. The four markers for when you know that a government has shifted into emergency mode are:

  • It spends what it takes to win;
  • It creates new economic institutions to get the job done;
  • It shifts from voluntary and incentive-based policies to mandatory measures;
  • It tells the truth about the severity of the crisis and communicates a sense of urgency about the measures necessary to combat it.

Spend what it takes to win The benefit of an emergency mindset is that it forces governments out of any previous austerity thinking. ...

When C.D. Howe, the then-minister of munitions and supply, was pressed about government spending, he famously replied, “If we lose the war, nothing will matter… if we win the war, the cost will still have been of no consequence and will have been forgotten.” ...

As a result of increased spending on pandemic relief measures, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that the federal government will run a deficit of about $328.5 billion, and the debt-to-GDP ratio will end the 2020-21 fiscal year at 47.9 per cent. ...

However, federal spending on climate action and green infrastructure pales in comparison. In October, the government announced new climate-infrastructure spending amounting to a meager $2 billion per year – to be cumbersomely administered through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, rather than be nimbly financed through the Bank of Canada. Compare this to the climate plan of U.S. president-elect Joe Biden, who proposes spending US$2 trillion over four years on climate action, or US$500 US billion a year, which divided by 10 (to make it equivalent to the Canadian economy) amounts to US$50 billion a year, or about $65 billion Cdn. ...

Create new economic institutions to get the job done During the Second World War, starting from a military production base of virtually nothing, the Canadian economy and its labour force pumped out planes, military vehicles, ships and armaments at a speed and scale that is still simply jaw-dropping. Remarkably, the Canadian government (under the leadership of C.D. Howe) established 28 Crown corporations to meet the requirements of the war effort. ...

Similarly, during the pandemic, we have witnessed the federal government creating audacious new economic programs, like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, with a speed that few would have predicted.

But in response to the climate emergency, we have seen nothing of this sort. In contrast to C.D. Howe’s wartime creations, the Trudeau government has established two new Crown corporations during its time in office – the Canada Infrastructure Bank (which has thus far accomplished very little), and the Trans Mountain Corporation. ...

Shift from voluntary and incentive-based policies to mandatory measures The Second World War saw rationing of core goods and all manner of other edicts under the War Measures Act. The pandemic has seen our governments issue health orders and take strong actions to shut down non-essential parts of the economy when needed. ...

Where it matters most — actual GHG emissions — we have accomplished precious little. Why? A major reason is that actions taken to date have been almost entirely voluntary. ...

Tell the truth about the severity of the crisis In frequency and tone, in words and in action, emergencies need to look and sound and feel like emergencies. The leaders we remember best from the Second World War, such as Winston Churchill or Franklin Delano Roosevelt, were outstanding communicators and orators who walked a careful line. They were forthright about the gravity of the crisis, yet still managed to impart hope. ...

None of this consistency and coherence, however, is present with respect to the climate emergency. When our governments do not act as if the situation is an emergency – or when they send contradictory messages by approving new fossil-fuel infrastructure – they are effectively communicating to the public that it is not an emergency. Where are the regular media briefings on how the climate emergency response is going? Where is the government advertising to boost the level of public “climate literacy” and to explain their policies? Where are the daily media climate emergency reports, telling us how this fight for our lives is unfolding at home and abroad? Most importantly, where are the federal or provincial political leaders who should be forthrightly telling the truth – that the health and stability of all of us, of our economy, of our planet requires that the fossil-fuel industry be wound down in a carefully managed way over the next two decades? We need these kinds of leaders, with the courage to tell us the truth, and then lead us through the critical years ahead.