Canada and global warming: a state of denial 2

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The rapid oil price drop due to Saudi Arabia and Russia's announcement of increased oil production when combined with the economic shock hitting the global economy because of the Coronavirus sends an economic signal for Canada to shift away from fossil fuels especially when financial resources are already starting to shift away from this sector to renewable energy. The following article discusses the American situation but much of it applies to Canada, which as a high price fossil fuel producer is particularly at risk in this downturn and in the future as more and more investments shift to green energy.

 The sudden upheaval in the oil markets may claim victims around the world, from energy companies and their workers to governments whose budgets are pegged to the price of crude.

The fallout may take months to assess. But the impact on the American economy is bound to be considerable, especially in Texas and other states where oil drives much of the job market.

With the coronavirus outbreak slowing trade, transportation and other energy-intensive economic activities, demand is likely to remain weak. Even if Russia and Saudi Arabia resolve their differences — which led the Saudis to slash prices after Russia refused to join in production cuts — a global oil glut could keep prices low for years. ...

Saudi Arabia depends on high oil prices to fund its ample social programs, but it has the lowest production costs of any producer, so it can operate profitably even at lower prices. Russia has sufficient financial reserves and can devalue its currency, the ruble, to sustain the flow of money through its economy even when prices decline.

That leaves the higher-cost producers, and the service companies that drill for them, most immediately vulnerable. ...

Some analysts say the global industry may not be as well prepared for the latest challenge. Increased concerns about climate change and the growing reluctance of investors to pour money into a sector that has strained to make profits in recent years hobbled the industry even before the virus hit.

“In many respects, this time will be different, but not in a good way,” said David L. Goldwyn, the top energy diplomat in the State Department during the first Obama administration. “Low oil prices will not necessarily result in increased demand due to the firm commitment of many countries to decarbonization. The uncertain trend line for coronavirus suggests demand recovery will be slow in coming.”



In February  the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists published a paper by three internationally renowned environmentalists, proposing a "fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty" because the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere present a similar threat to civilization around the world that nuclear weapons did in the Cold War. The shutting down of Teck's Frontier Mine occurred for a complex set of reasons, including market forces, lender resistance and widespread public opposition, but it also sent a signal that Canada needs to start shifting away from fossil fuels in a major way. 

 Nelson de Witt/Flickr

Teck corporation's decision not to proceed with the $21-billion Frontier mine project may signal the beginning of the end for fossil fuel exploration and development. Market forces, lender resistance and public opposition already block development. Now global civil society organizations are investigating how to word an international agreement that places strict limits on finding and producing fossil fuels.

On February 4, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists published a paper by three internationally renowned environmentalists, proposing a "fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty": "Just like the accumulation of nuclear weapons, the continued buildup of carbon in the atmosphere -- caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels -- is a clear and present danger to life on Earth," begins the document from Tzeporah Berman, Peter Newell and Matthew Stilwell.

The authors say that, "Taken together, coal, oil and gas account for close to 80 per cent of all carbon dioxide released since the Industrial Revolution. Consequently, a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty is needed as urgently now as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."  

"Non-proliferation" in both cases means a global halt to production. Ending exploration is the first of three points in the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty. Says the Bulletin paper:

  • "Non-proliferation would prevent new exploration and production. This prevents the addition of unnecessary fossil fuels that lock in catastrophic climate disruption, and it protects investments, workers and communities from becoming stranded."
  • "Disarmament would phase out existing stockpiles and production to align fossil fuel supply with internationally agreed climate goals in the Paris Agreement."
  • "Peaceful use of technology would fast track the transfer of clean, renewable energy to poorer nations, enable a just transition for workers and communities, and support economic diversification in fossil fuel dependent countries ... "

Halting production as called for in the groundbreaking 2017 Lofoten Declaration (named for Norway's northern Lofoten islands) may seem extreme. The declaration says, "Equally as critical as reducing demand and emissions is the need for immediate and ambitious action to stop exploration and expansion of fossil fuel projects and manage the decline of existing production in line with what is necessary to achieve the Paris climate goals." Environmentalists now see this as an existential goal in the climate crisis.

"A global transition to a low carbon future is already well underway," says the Lofoten Declaration. "Continued expansion of oil, coal, and gas is only serving to hinder the inevitable transition while at the same time exacerbating conflicts, fuelling corruption, threatening biodiversity, clean water and air, and infringing on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and vulnerable communities." By September 2019, 530 organizations in 76 countries had signed the declaration, up from 220 civil society groups when it was announced in 2017.

Saudi Arabia's recent decision to sell oil at US$30 a barrel demonstrates the hazards of allowing fossil fuel producers and marketers to control the world economy. ...

At, the global divestment campaign reached a new milestone in September 2019, with the announcement that, "Over 1110 institutions with more than USD $11 trillion in assets under management have committed to divest from fossil fuels ... Divestment, once strictly a moral call to action, is now also seen as the only prudent financial response to climate risk."    ...

In their Bulletin article, Berman, Newell and Stillwell chose a vivid metaphor: "Our current path, in which we expand the production of fossil fuels, is akin to the fire department showing up with gasoline to save a planet on fire. This cannot continue." Controlling supply is easier than trying to control emissions, they say. ...

As for Albertans and others who depend on a fossil fuel economy, the authors suggest they'll be employed in the conversion to a clean economy, paid by reallocating funds now used to "prop up" oil companies. Oil Change International estimates those funds at US$444 billion a year, for the G20 countries. That kind of money could advance renewable energy dramatically towards the 2030 deadline.

Sean in Ottawa

I am not sure where this should go as it is not so much aout denial as a challenge to environmental progress.

There are a number of articles about hot air hand dryers vs paper. I cannot find links to all of them here but the issue is interesting.

Some speculate that the dryers blow the virus around when the paper towel, wasteful of trees and paper are more effective.

Also the heat may or may not contribute to difficulty of the skin with frequent washes and chemicals.

Also that the dryers take so long that many shake their hans and leave with wet hands and that wet hands are a greater risk for transmission.

Depending on the source of electricity, the maintenance etc. It is hard for me to understand just how environmentally friendly those machines are in the first place. Are they there to save money? Requre less maintencance in replacing the paper? or to help the environment? Not sure.


Here is just one article bringing up some but not all the issues:


Trudeau is being urged Indigenous, labour, social justice, environmental and other organizations not to subsidize the fossil fuel industry but instead end fossil fuel subsidies and use this money to retrain fossil fuel workers for low carbon energy jobs, despite the Coronavirus crisis. 

The Trudeau government should not use the oil-price crash and the economic downturn stemming from a public-health crisis as an excuse to back away from environmental commitments in the upcoming federal budget, warned a coalition of civil society leaders.

Speaking on Parliament Hill on Tuesday, representatives from Indigenous, labour, social justice and other organizations said now was not the time for Canada to shy away from tackling the climate emergency.

Instead, Ottawa should move forward with ending fossil fuel subsidies, strengthening carbon pricing, raising taxes on top earners and directing the windfall into retraining oil and gas workers for low-carbon-economy jobs, they said.

“We know, in these times of uncertainty, there can be a temptation to double down on the status quo,” said Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada. ...

“And we’re saying that, rather than doing that, Canada must actually take this moment to figure out what a new vision for Canada looks like — a vision that addresses the climate crisis, and other economic challenges, while giving communities the investment and tools they need to decide what this transformation looks like for them.” ...

Ottawa has not laid out a precise plan for how it will achieve net-zero by 2050; in fact, it still cannot say precisely how it will achieve its more pressing 2030 target of roughly 511 megatonnes of carbon pollution equivalent. Teck hinted at this lack of clarity when it announced it was abandoning the Frontier mine. ...

After Bay Street’s tumultuous ride on Monday, which saw the Toronto Stock Exchange temporarily halted after it fell by the most since Black Monday in 1987, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he was “looking at how we can make sure that we are appropriately dealing with those challenges” faced by the tourism and energy sectors in particular. Doing so shouldn’t mean forking over more money to the oil and gas sector, said Julia Levin, climate and energy program manager with Environmental Defence.

“In a world moving away from fossil fuels, we should not be using limited government resources to prop up rich corporations, or pay those same companies to pollute less, or not pollute at all,” Levin said. “We should instead invest in retraining oil and gas workers, funding community-driven renewable-energy projects and creating social supports for all of those impacted by the transition away from fossil fuels.”

Canada promised more than a decade ago to phase out non-tax “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” by 2025, but the government’s progress on this front has been hard to measure. Last year, the independent environment commissioner criticized the government for not conducting a rigorous enough assessment and making its criteria far too broad.

A November report from Levin’s organization estimated that the government was handing over $600 million in direct subsidies, $3 billion in non-tax spending and at least $1 billion in tariff exemptions all to the industry, not to mention support for specific projects, such as $1.6 billion for the Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

“It is likely that this federal budget will contain ongoing and additional subsidies to oil and gas companies. In a climate emergency, this shows a lack of leadership,” Levin said.

The intertwined climate crisis and economic crisis demonstrates the need for stimulus spending to help achieve the low-carbon transition, said Toby Sanger, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness.

He called for increasing taxes on top incomes and strengthening the carbon-tax framework for large emitters, and floated the idea of applying taxes to carbon-intensive imports. ...

Abreu said there were “concrete steps” the budget could take, including borrowing ideas from the European Union’s Green Deal, that she said can help stimulate renewable-energy and energy-efficiency programs. The government should also take the opportunity to provide retraining in carbon-intensive jobs, said Ken Bondy, national representative of Unifor, the largest private-sector union in Canada. With federal government support, Canada’s universities, community colleges and trade schools could provide fresh training for new, green manufacturing processes, he said. ...

That model could be extended to oil and gas workers, added Karri Munn-Venn, senior policy analyst at Citizens for Public Justice. The groundwork has been laid already, she said. "There’s real lessons that now need to be expanded to oil and gas, as well,” Munn-Venn said.

Ottawa can also lead by example, said Julee Sanderson, first national vice-president at the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. The postal union, she noted, has developed a “community power” plan that envisions “climate-friendly delivery,” postal banking and other pollution-cutting measures. “We believe that the postal system can help drive transition with its vast infrastructure,” Sanderson said. Canada Post, with the largest public fleet of vehicles, has committed to buying hybrid vehicles — but it could go further, and commit to electric cars, she said.

But Canada should also recognize "non-market solutions" grounded in the rights of Indigenous Peoples, said Lindsey Bacigal, communications director for Indigenous Climate Action. “Carbon markets will not act at the speed we need,” Bacigal said. “They will further enable the legacy of dispossession, privatization, violence against Indigenous women and girls and two-spirit people and destruction of Indigenous lands and cultures.”


The following article demonstrates that the sexual-oriented media attacks on Greta Thunberg go well beyond Canada and  "Harrassment of women online has become a norm", especially for women 18-30, and particularly for outspoken young women who raise issues such as climate change. The failure of police to deal with the issue speaks volumes about the intersectionality of the police, government and corporate viewpoints. 


Greta Thunberg sitting in front of a TV camera

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has been the target of a great deal of gendered online harassment recently. PHOTOGRAPH: FABRICE COFFRINI/GETTY IMAGES

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is 17 years old, legally a minor. Despite her age, in the past week, numerous actual adults have made her the subject of many forms of online harassment. Some say she ought to be “burnt at the stake”; others have circulated images of a sex doll that resembles Thunberg and purportedly “speaks” using recordings of her voice; still others created and distributed a cartoon that appears to depict the activist being sexually assaulted.

That last bit of harassment, which shows a nude woman with the word “Greta” tattooed across her lower back having her pigtails grabbed by two large hands, has been linked to Canadian oil company X-Site Energy Services, whose logo appears on the image. X-Site Energy Services employees reportedly turned the image into a sticker and shared it among themselves. The company’s general manager initially denied the company’s involvement, but X-Site Energy Services’ website has since been replaced with a statement committing to destroying the decals and apologizing for “the pain [they] may have caused.” In closing, the oil company promised to “do better.”

The internet didn’t create this problem, but it does amplify it. The same forces that have allowed Thunberg and her message to climb to global virality are, in the hands of those who wish to discredit the teenager, the best weapon to use against her. While these smears are especially troubling in Thunberg’s case because of her age, they mirror the kinds of targeted online harassment employed against many people and groups by those who wish to silence them. The behavior is shocking, but not a shock.

To begin with, Thunberg is a woman on the internet. While there is debate about whether men or women experience more harassment online, studies have shown the harassment women experience tends to be more personal, more gendered, more sexual, and more likelyto be intense enough to drive them off of the social media platform where they’re being harassed. “The saddest thing that has emerged from my research is that young women aged 18 to 30 have accepted harassment as part and parcel of being online,” says Jessica Vitak, who studies online privacy and security at the University of Maryland. “They have various ways of dealing with it, but they don’t include thinking, ‘This shouldn’t be happening, and I should be fighting to make it stop.’” Harassment of women online has become a norm.

The harassment is only heightened when the woman in question is, like Thunberg, a public figure. The Inter-Parliamentary Union, a global organization including the parliaments of 179 member countries, found that more than 80 percent of female parliamentarians had experienced psychological violence, the most common form being online harassment. According to Mona Lena Krook, who studies women in politics at Rutgers University, women activists like Thunberg have very similar experiences, and often in the exact form that Thunberg has been experiencing this week. “The first place people go are gender-based slurs or sexualizing tactics,” Krook says. “Photoshopped sexual images are really common. When you sexually objectify somebody, your perception of their competence and humanity changes. It’s about delegitimizing them to a broader audience.” Politicians and activists from Hillary Clinton to US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Malala Yousafzai are frequently pornified by their critics. ...

“Like men, women are attacked for their political ideas and ideologies,” Krook says, “and they’re attacked because they’re women. It’s more about keeping a certain group of people from participating in politics. ...

The reason Thunberg’s harassment is so intense, and intensely normal, is that who she is places her at the center of multiple lines of traditional, identity-based delegitimization tactics. “This is an intersectionality issue, and it’s making her experience pretty horrible,” Vitak says. “She’s a woman, she’s young. People harped on her being autistic. It’s common historically for women and female activists to be labeled as irrational or too emotional.” Critics, including President Trump, have already dismissed Thunberg as too young to listen to, or as “mentally ill” or “very angry.” ...

Because so many of Thunberg’s harassers are older, conservative men, Vitak recommends encouraging other men to step up as more vocal allies, since harassers tend to listen only when their own cohort speaks up. A stronger response from tech companies might also help. Still, both Vitak and Krook agree the most powerful response to this kind harassment has likely come from Thunberg herself: owning it. “They are starting to get more and more desperate,” Thunberg tweeted, referring to the sexually explicit cartoon. “This shows that we are winning.” The harassment may never end, but by documenting it, denormalizing it, and mocking it, she may be able to steal its power.



BC's climate change plan, like those of many countries, provinces and cities suffers in regards to its transportation component from its unwillingness to tackle urban sprawl.


Subdivisions in Coquitlam, BC. Ending sprawl is a tough conversation, which is why we seem to be putting it off. Photo via Alamy.

There’s a hole in B.C.’s climate plan big enough to drive a subdivision through.

While civil servants in Victoria diligently seek emissions reductions throughout the province to hit our climate targets, the people working in B.C.’s municipal governments routinely approve more suburban sprawl, meaning more drivers in private vehicles pushing emissions up.

More frustrating is that local governments are ultimately creatures of the provincial government. This means the B.C. government is essentially working against itself. The CleanBC plan includes all kinds of policies, from efficient buildings to promoting electric vehicles to workforce training. But it’s strangely silent on the number one municipal climate issue: suburban sprawl. ...

Transportation accounts for the most emissions at the city level, and those emissions are driven by development patterns. If municipalities approve dense development close to services, people can walk, bike or be well served by transit. If they approve spread-out subdivisions far from services, people have no choice but to get in their vehicles every time they leave the house.

And no, electric vehicles will not save us from bad development decisions. While a growing minority of people are indeed going electric, they still account for less than four per cent of new car sales in Canada. Meanwhile, many buyers are increasingly shifting to gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs, making Canada’s fleet the least efficient in the world.

This is a policy failure in itself, but also a reminder that there is no one fix to climate change. We need to do it all, and local governments must play their part.

Sprawl also requires more energy to build and to service, with more roads and longer sewer and water systems. It’s more expensive for local governments, putting upward pressure on taxes, and is less conducive to building affordable housing. It’s a bad deal all round.

So why the reticence to tackle it? Because it means taking on old school developers and local government officials around B.C. — both elected and otherwise — who are used to churning out low-density subdivisions and who will fight changes to the status quo. ...

This is not to say there aren’t climate-minded councillors across B.C. trying their best to turn things around. Local governments have several potential tools at their disposal to curb sprawl, and these are deployed with varying degrees of success, sometimes over the resistance of city staff who are used to a certain way of doing things and who are cozy with developers who are used to the same. But we need to end sprawl now, not just slow it down a little bit.

Here’s an example of how hard this is. Recently a councillor in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island introduced a motion to limit sprawl while a new greener Official Community Plan could be developed. Opponents in the development industry showed up at city hall with their trucks, circling and honking their horns in an act of intimidation that ultimately worked. The motion failed and more sprawl — and more emissions — will be the result. 

B.C.’s local governments aren’t going to end sprawl and systematically reduce emissions unless they have to. There is just too much inertia in the system, with the default development option outside of major city cores based on building low-density single-family homes. And local governments are unwilling or unable to standup to the developers who want to keep it that way. ...

At a minimum, the B.C. government should require climate accountability from local governments. The provincial government recently passed accountability legislation for itself that requires it to set interim emission targets and report annually — with specific figures — on its progress.

B.C.’s municipalities need similar accountability requirements. There is currently no systematic reporting on how local governments are doing relative to their climate targets, and little inclination to even talk about it. This needs to change.

But the climate crisis — and the housing crisis — demands much more, and quickly. We need a green building boom of dense affordable housing built close to services and well served by transit, effectively ending urban sprawl and at the same time creating jobs. Such a boom could be a core part of a “green new deal.”

But we will simply not get there without the province taking responsibility and mandating new development patterns that get people out of their vehicles.


After PEI announced it was switching to electric school buses, parents around the country, especially those in BC, began demanding their provinces do likewise for the future of their children both because of climate change and the diesel fumes current buses release. 

Electric School buses manufactured by Quebec's Lion Electric. Handout photo by Lion 

Just days after Prince Edward Island pledged to make the province’s entire school bus fleet all-electric, a network of parents has launched to convince other provincial governments to follow suit.


The new organization, For Our Kids, is starting in British Columbia where the provincial government is actively looking to accelerate climate action to meet its targets. 

The call for electric school buses was supported by Dr. Melissa Lem, a mother and board member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. 

“Reducing our kids’ exposure to harmful diesel fumes is good for their lungs and the planet,” said Dr. Lem. “Children are among the most vulnerable members of society health-wise, so we should be prioritizing solutions like electric school buses.”

Paul Shore, a father of two in Whister B.C. says he got involved with For Our Kids because his family had switched to an electric car and even an electric snow blower but every school day he had to watch as the local kids were breathing diesel fumes to get to school and back.

“B.C. says it wants to be a leader on climate change so what’s the hold up? Electric buses are readily available and being adopted all over North America, from Virginia to California to Montreal."

Shore is planning a presentation to his local school board and is already in touch with parents in other regions. “Every new fossil fuelled school bus we buy from this point forward locks our children into many more years of climate pollution and negative health impacts.”

B.C's Ministry of Education issued a news release following the launch of the For Our Kids campaign. The ministry announced that, "school districts will now have the option to purchase electric school buses through the Bus Acquisition Program." ...

The statement specified that, "The 2020-21 Bus Acquisition Program provides $13 million for 31 school districts to buy 101 new buses, including up to 15 electric buses. Districts that buy electric buses will also have access to provincial funding for charging station infrastructure."

Galen Armstrong, a For Our Kids spokesperson responded that, "15 electric buses out of 101 new ones is a great start, but it also means buying 86 diesel buses that lock us into years more pollution for our kids and the climate they'll inherit. This is why we’ll keep involving parents around BC in the campaign to make all new school buses electric and to transition the existing fleet by 2030 to help BC meet its climate targets,” Armstrong said. ...

The world leader in electric bus adoption is in China where the city of Shenzhen has switched its entire transit fleet and now has over 16,000 (not a typo) e-buses in operation. Bloomberg estimatesthat, thanks mostly to China, by the end of 2019 electric buses were displacing a cumulative 270,000 barrels of diesel demand per day, "more than three times the displacement by all the world’s passenger electric vehicles." 

Several Canadian cities have tested electric buses in winter conditions and are moving forward.Following successful trials, Montreal bought 42 e-buses and has mandated 100 per cent zero emission transit by 2040. Edmonton has bought 25 and the Toronto Transit Commission will purchase only zero emission buses after 2025.


There is more and more evidence that many large important ecosytems could collapse with devastating consequences far earlier than previously thought. 

 Bruno Kelly/Reuters]

Fires in the Amazon and Australia, made more likely by climate change, threaten forests' ecosystems [File photo: Bruno Kelly/Reuters]

Large ecosystems the size of the Amazon rainforest could collapse within decades once a tipping point has been passed, scientists have warned, predicting a much faster breakdown than previously assumed.

Research published on Tuesday in the scientific journal Nature Communications concluded that big biomes the size of Caribbean coral reefs could die off in only 15 years if they reach their own point-of-no-return, while those the size of the Amazon rainforest could degrade within 50 years. ...

In both examples, the projected threshold for irreversible change stems from the effect of global warming and environmental damage - deforestation in the case of the Amazon, and pollution and acidification for corals.

The United Nations climate science advisory panel, the IPCC, has said that 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) of atmospheric warming above preindustrial levels would doom 90 percent of the world's shallow-water corals, while a 2C (3.6F) rise would spell their near-complete demise. Earth's surface has already heated up more than 1C (1.8F).

Meanwhile, the change in pH level - the measure of how acidic the sea actually is - reduces the ability of marine organisms to form shells and corals to grow branches, affecting their life, growth and reproduction.

In the case of the Amazon, the temperature tipping point is less clear - but scientists estimate that clearing 35 percent of its surface would trigger its eventual demise.

About 20 percent of the Amazon basin rainforest - straddling seven nations and covering more than five million square kilometres (two million square miles) - has been wiped out since 1970, mostly for the production of lumber, soy, palm oil, biofuels and beef.

"We must prepare for regime shifts in any natural system to occur over the 'human' timescales of years and decades, rather than multigenerational timescales of centuries and millennia," the study of more than 40 different kinds of ecosystems read. ...

Scientists have long warned about the deteriorating status of ecosystems due to increasing temperatures and ecological damage, but larger ecosystems were believed to be more resilient due to their size. However, the authors of the new research found that the rate at which these systems can disintegrate and then disappear is significantly faster than in smaller ones. The reason is that their sub-systems and habitats can initially seem more resilient, but then unravel very rapidly when a tipping point is reached.

"The messages here are stark. We need to prepare for changes in our planet's ecosystems that are faster than we previously envisaged," said John Dearing, professor in physical geography at the University of Southampton and lead author of the report.


Instead of ending subsidies to existing fossil fuel projects and allowing new ones, as Trudeau has done in the face of the oil price wars and the effect of COVID-19 on demand, he should be shifting government money to renewable green energy projects. Instead he is continuing to do the exact opposite despite the evidence that the oilsands are not financially viable in the long run, in addition to being environmentally catastrophic.

Oilsands mining 

In the face of an economic crisis triggered by the global spread of COVID-19 and worsened by the Saudi Arabia-Russia price war, the outlook for new projects in Alberta’s oil patch – even those already approved – is bleak.

The federal government announced a major economic aid package Wednesday, as the country “teeters on the brink of recession,” according to an economic forecast released Tuesday by the Conference Board of Canada.

In the meantime a number of oilsands projects that have already secured a greenlight could be in limbo as oil companies face plunging prices, based on a list of approved projects that are not currently operating provided to National Observer by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER).

The list contains more than 45 projects, including projects that have been “approved but not constructed”; projects that have been “approved, constructed, then postponed or delayed”; projects that have been “approved, constructed, began operating, then suspended”; and projects that have not been constructed “but are planning to operate in the future,” according to the AER. ...

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced $82 billion in economic aid Wednesday to help lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Thursday morning, there were more than 735 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 34 probable cases. The Canada-U.S. border has now been closed to all non-essential travel in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

The government’s economic response to the crisis includes $27 billion in direct support to individuals and businesses and $55 billion in tax deferrals. Targeted measures to support the oil and gas industry and other particularly affected sectors are on their way but have yet to be announced.

We’re going to actively work with organizations in the oil and gas sector, in the airline sector in order to come up with approaches that enable them to bridge through the challenging time, that’s critical,” Morneau said. “We’re not far enough along in those discussions to identify specific measures that we will take, but we do recognize the urgency of those discussions and are proceeding with that in mind.”

For Alberta's oil and gas industry, the situation is nothing short of a crisis, one that's left the fate of multiple project uncertain.

Among those that have been approved, but not yet constructed are Suncor’s Meadow Creek projects.

Just last month – two weeks before the Alberta government gave its Meadow Creek West project the final nod – Suncor announced it was shelving both its Meadow Creek West and Meadow Creek East projects until at least 2023.

That was before the U.S. Energy Information Administration downgraded its 2020 oil price forecastfor the benchmark West Texas Intermediate to an average $38 U.S. per barrel, down from an earlier forecast of $55 per barrel this year. The WTI was above the $25.00 U.S. a barrel mark mid-day Thursday, while the price for Western Canadian Select was slightly above the $11.00 mark during the same time period. ...

Oilsands producers have been struggling under the weight of depressed prices and limited pipeline access for a number of years now. 

That reality was brought into sharp focus earlier this year when Teck Resources pulled the regulatory application for its massive Frontier oilsands mine. But even before Teck’s surprise decision, analysts were questioning the economic feasibility of such a major undertaking in the oilsands, as well as the fate of numerous other projects, approved already. ...

Capital investments in the oil patch have declined since 2014, but just a few months ago, there was some expectation that the investment picture in the oilsands would improve this year as new pipelines came online.

“Of course, that’s all changed now,” said Pedro Antunes, the chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada in an interview with National Observer.

In the wake of the price crash, oilsands companies have made dramatic cuts to capital budgets for the year ahead. On Wednesday, Canadian Natural Resources Limited announced a $1 billion-reduction to its 2020 capital spending budget, though the company noted in a release today that it “is well positioned through the current global COVID-19 challenges.” Cenovus announced it was cutting its capital spending plans by 32 per cent and “deferring final investment decision on major growth projects.”


With Alberta tar sands crashing to $5 a barrel, the cry has went out again to bail out the oil and gas industry with billions of dollars more. The Trans Mountain pipeline which was aimed at tripling oil delivered to the BC coast has already mushroomed in construction costs by 70% from $7.4 to $12.6 billion, in addition to its overpriced purchase cost of $4.5 billion. Now the Trudeau Liberal government is proposing a $15 billion bailout for the beleagured industry despite all the evidence that the high priced dirty oil sands is not competitive in a market glut created by massive shale oil production, a Saudi Arabian and Russian oil price war and the massive decrease in demand created by COVID-19. In addition there is evidence that tar sands oil is dirtier now than it was earlier in the decade despite promises that the opposite would occur. 

The fossil fuel industry is also asking for the removal of the carbon tax and a tax holiday. It is time to shift to renewable green energy and to focus on getting money to workers, not the fossil fuel industry. 

 Alex MacLean

Syncrude’s upgrading facility at the company’s Mildred Lake oilsands site. Photo: Alex MacLean

As the world weathers an economic crisis being likened to the leadup to the Great Depression, Canada’s federal government is reportedly preparing a $15 billion bailout package for the oil and gas industry — which is raising questions about the best ways to support workers, while incentivizing environmental innovation.  

Oil prices have tumbled alongside global markets, with the price of Western Canadian Select — the benchmark commonly used to measure the value of crude from Alberta’s oilsands — falling to just above US$5 per barrel last week.

Following reports of a federal bailout for the oil and gas industry, on Friday the Government of Alberta also announced it would step up support for the sector. The provincial government will make $113 million in payments for levies owed to the Alberta Energy Regulator — which is normally entirely funded by industry — on behalf of struggling companies for six months.

These moves have led some to question whether, and how, the oil and gas industry should be supported through the economic challenges of the pandemic.

The International Energy Agency is calling for governments to take into account climate challenges when designing stimulus and support packages. “This situation is a test of governments and companies’ commitment to clean energy transitions,” wrote Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency. ...

“There was going to be a number of companies that … weren’t going to make it anyways. But [the recent oil price crash] is just speeding the whole process up significantly,” Chris Severson-Baker, Alberta regional director of the Pembina Institute, told The Narwhal. ...

Last week, dozens of businesses in Alberta, including many companies from the oil and gas sector, signed a letter to the federal government asking for widespread relief programs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They requested, among other measures including postponing planned increases to the federal carbon tax and suspending income tax payments, “a federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) modeled after the U.S. program developed in 2008 to purchase positions in distressed companies.” ...

The Government of Alberta, for its part, has been reluctant to provide funding for nascent clean energy industries in the province, cancelling Alberta’s rebate program for energy efficiency upgrades and scrapping the province’s renewable electricity program — creating uncertainty for former oil and gas workers transitioning to jobs in the solar sector.

As the oil industry faces yet another crisis, some are left wondering if governments at all levels should be more creatively incentivizing environmental innovation in the oil sector, while finding ways to support workers through the pandemic fallout. ...

The International Energy Agency is advocating that governments work environmental incentives into bailout programs in the face of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Large-scale investment to boost the development, deployment and integration of clean energy technologies … should be a central part of governments’ plans,” wrote Birol of the International Energy Agency. That, he wrote, would “bring the twin benefits of stimulating economies and accelerating clean energy transition.” ...

In a paper published earlier this month, Hussey found Alberta’s oilsands have been producing more bitumen in recent years, and at the same time have been creating fewer jobs.

“The industry in Alberta, and across Canada, has been shedding jobs consistently over the last five years,” Hussey told The Narwhal.  “We’re talking about an industry that is cutting costs, it’s cutting jobs, and it is the fastest-growing sector for greenhouse gas emissions in Canada,” he said. ...

There is a growing coalition of environmental groups calling for governments to target financial support during the pandemic to workers, not oil companies.  Dozens of groups signed an open letter sent to the Prime Minister earlier this week calling on the government to take into account the climate crisis when designing a bailout.

“The federal government has the opportunity with this stimulus package to immediately and directly support workers in Alberta and across the country while also investing in what is needed to grow and support a low carbon economy, and the kind of economy that can weather storms,” they wrote. ...

“What we’ve seen with this pandemic is the importance of government. Governments are taking action,” Laxer said. “The market isn’t providing solutions for this, government is. Governments are national. We have no global government. It’s going to lead to some deglobalization.”

Alberta hasn’t had a plan for how the province will cope with a decline in demand in the future, or how it will respond to climate change and the large number of liabilities left behind by struggling oil and gas companies, says Severson-Baker. ...

For Laxer, bailing out oil companies in an effort to save jobs would be akin to sending cash to Blockbuster Video stores in an increasingly online world.



The Citizens for Public Justice (consisting of  labour, health, environmental, faith and social justice organizations) have written an open letter to Trudeau asking that the federal government shift away from subsidizing the fossil fuel industry as it continues to massively consume the money of Canadians and help build a modernized, diversified green economy to replace our fossilized economy. A 2015 International Monetary Fund (certainly not known for environmentalism) estimated that " Canada subsidized the fossil fuel industry to the tune of almost $60 billion in 2015 — approximately $1,650 per Canadian.  ". (

Yet since that time the Trudeau government has only sunk many billions more into the fossil fuel industry in a futile attempt to rescue it only to see Canadian oil drop to $5 per barrel in a COVID-19 global recession (depression?) where Canada's dirty high cost oil was already not competitive as described in the last post. 

Below is a copy of the letter they sent to the Trudeau Liberal government. 


To the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, 

Cc: Federal Cabinet Ministers 

COVID-19 is presenting real and immediate risks to people’s health and livelihoods. It is appropriate and necessary for the federal government to make major interventions to keep people safe and healthy, to keep food on our tables and roofs over our heads. What is clear in these unstable times is how much we need economic resilience. Any federal government intervention to protect health and livelihoods must build an economy that’s ready to weather any crisis. Oil and gas workers and their families, like many others across Canada, urgently need financial support. 

The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Russia was enough to devastate Canada’s oil and gas industry before COVID-19 forced the economy-wide slowdown. Now, oil prices have reached historic lows and they may never reach levels that support Canadian production again.

The federal government has the opportunity with this stimulus package to immediately and directly support workers in Alberta and across the country while also investing in what is needed to grow and support a low carbon economy, and the kind of economy that can weather storms.

Decades of the impacts of colonialism including government neglect in healthcare in Indigenous communities has led to an overall lack of pandemic preparedness. The two key public health measures recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are hand-washing and social distancing. Neither can be effectively carried out in the majority of Indigenous communities with non-potable water and substandard, overcrowded housing, deepening the impact of the burden of illness at the community level. There is consistent evidence that Indigenous people in particular are at increased risk of severe outcomes and health status disparities during outbreaks, demanding equitable distribution of human and material resources.

Giving billions of dollars to failing oil and gas companies will not help workers and only prolongs our reliance on fossil fuels. Oil and gas companies are already heavily subsidized in Canada and the public cannot keep propping them up with tax breaks and direct support forever. Such measures benefit corporate bottom lines far more than they aid workers and communities facing public health and economic crises. 

We, a collection of labour organizations and health, environmental, faith and social justice organizations, representing more than 1.3 million people across Canada, are asking the Federal government, which has committed to the Just Transition Act, to put in place a recovery program with measures to hasten a just transition and protect workers as production continues to decline in the coming years. Instead of providing a bail out to oil and gas companies in the form of share purchases or loan guarantees, the Federal government must create an economic stimulus package that includes three critical measures: 

  • Oil and gas workers, like all workers from all sectors, need to be able to immediately access income support in order to preserve personal and public health. This support includes increased access to employment insurance and paid emergency leave as needed for all workers, regardless of immigration status, as well as income security. This applies to migrant and undocumented workers. 
  • Stimulus money should offer immediate relief directly to workers and provide opportunities for training, education and employment in existing and emerging low-carbon sectors like energy efficiency, technology, healthcare and renewable energy. A program styled on the bailout of automakers in 2008 will unfortunately put the public at similar risk of having spent billions of dollars with little to show for it in a decade.
  • Money for orphan well cleanup should be administered by an independent fund with representation from Indigenous communities, local governments and landowners who can ensure it is used to reclaim wells where the company is bankrupt and its remaining assets have already been spent for this purpose. It should also be tied to regulatory change in Alberta to ensure the province puts in place a polluter-pays program so the public is not left with these liabilities in the future.


The time is now. I for one can not figure out how the oil barons gained so much power in our country. In the midst of this pandemic they are still building infrastructure for industries that will be noncompetitive as sources of energy.

Sean in Ottawa

kropotkin1951 wrote:

The time is now. I for one can not figure out how the oil barons gained so much power in our country. In the midst of this pandemic they are still building infrastructure for industries that will be noncompetitive as sources of energy.

Just watch how we will subsidize oil being sold for $10 a barrell


A Canadian barrel of oil now costs $4 a barrel (which contains 42 American gallons or 35 Imperial gallons). Here's the best way of framing that: when the costs of $8-$10 a barrel to ship the oil to the Gulf of Mexico, the producer actually ends up paying to sell the oil. Note that I said shipping costs, not production costs. "Projections estimate the cost to produce a barrel of oil at this operation will be around $85 a barrel." ( This quote is from an 2018 article written titled  "Why Canadian Tar Sands Oil May be Doomed" when tar sands oil was believed to have hit rock bottom at $19 a barrel. I guess they forgot that rocks fall all the way to ground zero. 

I guess the oil companies could start a new marketing campaign: Drink oil, it's cheaper than beer. At least they wouldn't be lying because if beer were priced at this oil rate a beer would cost one cent (including tip).

However, besides all the lies by the oil companies about climate change, their marketing of oil sands oil as Western Canadian Select (WCS) is a lie as this oil which costs $85 to produce, not including shipping costs, is still so heavy thick it is considered low grade, helping driving down its price. Furthermore, the China market is closed to nearly all oil because of the economic effects of COVID19 and overstocking of supplies. The following article, from a business website which is not known for environmentalism,  warns that even the higher quality oils in the US that sell at much higher prices in today's tight market are facing a major problem because as storage facilities in the US fill up in 30 to 60 days because of the economic shutdown in America, their oil prices will collapse. Guess what happens to the price of Canadian tar sands oil then. 

" Canada subsidized the fossil fuel industry to the tune of almost $60 billion in 2015 — approximately $1,650 per Canadian.  ". ( The Trans Mountain pipeline which was aimed at tripling oil delivered to the BC coast has already mushroomed in construction costs by 70% from $7.4 to $12.6 billion, in addition to its overpriced purchase cost of $4.5 billion( Now the Trudeau Liberal government is proposing a $15 billion bailout for the beleagured industry despite all the evidence that the high priced dirty oil sands is not competitive in a market glut created by massive shale oil production, a Saudi Arabian and Russian oil price war and the massive decrease in demand created by COVID-19 (

It's time to demand Canadian governments end all subsidies of our fossil fuel industries for our environmental and economic survival. 

A pint of good beer up in Canada will probably cost you about $5 bucks. You can now get a barrel of oil for less than that.

Traders tell me that the price of Western Canada Select (WCS) is being quoted at $4.18 per barrel as of this writing.  A “wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen the trade screen myself” kind of situation. But there it was. ...

To be fair, WCS ain’t WTI. Western Canada Select is actually not very select. It’s a heavier blend, more acidic. If the good Texas stuff is like water, WCS is like maple syrup. Because of this it always trades at a fairly deep discount to the premium West Texas blend, usually anywhere from $8 to $15 bucks per barrel.

But $4 dollar oil is incredible nonetheless.

Traders tell me one reason it’s so cheap is that the China market is basically closed, so you can’t ship it to Asia. Sending it to the Gulf of Mexico by rail and pipeline adds about $8-10 dollars to the price, and no one down there really wants it anyway because there’s so much oil everywhere and the tanks are filling up. ...

Right now it’s just WCS that’s under $5 per barrel. But when all the storage is full — and it’s probably 30 to 60 days away from being tapped out anywhere in North America — it’s not inconceivable that other, more expensive grades, go negative in more places, perhaps even larger parts of Texas. The market isn’t there yet, but with less a billion barrels of storage available, and tens of millions of barrels piling up each day, the math says it won’t be long.

A barrel of oil is 42 gallons, or about 5,400 fluid ounces. So if a beer were priced the same as WCS oil, the bottle would cost you about a penny...with tip. That kind of price could come in handy at a time like this.

Currently, there are a few out-of-the-way places in smaller oil markets where stories of negatively priced crude are happening now. As Goldman Sachs wrote today, “the demand shock is extremely negative for oil prices and is sending landlocked crude prices into negative territory.”

In other words, producers pay someone to take the crude, rather than get paid for it. Why would they do that? Because it’s expensive to shut down or reopen a well, and may actually be cheaper to simply pay someone to remove it, especially if you believe prices may turn higher in a few months.


We could be heading for another Standing Rock Sioux Reservation type showdown, this time with Jason Kenney if his new Keystone pipeline project proceeds. 

Today Premier Jason Kenney announced he intends to spend $ US 8 billion ($11.3 billion Canadian) building the Keystone pipeline in a project that would produce 1,400 direct jobs and allegedly 5,400 indirect jobs until it is finished in 2023 ( 

In an email on the weekend the Kenney government cut educational funding by $128 million. That money was to be used to be "used for transportation, substitute teachers and educational assistants, all of which is being reduced while in-person classes remain cancelled", while teachers were to continue being employed for online learning during the COVID-19 crisis. ( The CBC reported that the $128 million in savings would result in 20,000 to 25,000 lost jobs. 

This makes no economic sense. In fact there are severe problems faced by the Keystone pipeline project. While Trump has approved it, the Obama administration twice rejected it, many Democratic candidates in the presidential campaign have come out against, and while Biden has nothing about it now, he came out against it in 2003. One way this might end is with the Democrats shutting it down if Biden is elected. But the problems faces many other hurdles as Kenney, like a heroin addict, can't overcome his addiction to fossil fuels, no matter what it costs to other Albertans and the world in investments, jobs and the environment. 

The New York Times reports that  Governor Bullock of Montana has already told Kenney he is concerned about 100 pipeline workers coming into Montana because of the COVID-19 crisis. In the US environmental opponents and Native American tribes are continuing to challenge the pipeline in court. There is a Montana court hearing is already scheduled for April 16th in front of a judge who has already ruled against this project.

Opposition to another pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline, from American Native tribes and environmentalists at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation went on for months, sometimes resulting in police violence. Even if Kenney wins all the court battles he could end up with another Standing Rock.

USA Protestlager gegen umstrittene Ölpipeline geräumt (Reuters/T. Sylvester )

The camp set up by Native American activists and environmentalists to protest against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

A Canadian company said Tuesday it plans to start construction of the disputed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline through the U.S. Midwest in April, after lining up customers and money for a proposal that is bitterly opposed by environmentalists and some American Indian tribes. ...

Despite plunging oil prices in recent weeks, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province's resource-dependent economy could not afford for Keystone XL to be delayed until after the coronavirus pandemic and a global economic downturn have passed. ...

A spokeswoman for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said he had been in contact with Kenney to raise concerns over an estimated 100 workers coming into the state for the line's construction. Bullock said that could further strain rural health systems facing the coronavirus.  “TC Energy holds a tremendous responsibility to appropriately manage or eliminate this risk and we will continue to monitor the plans for that response," Bullock spokeswoman Marissa Perry said. There was only one confirmed infection as of Friday from eastern Montana counties along the line's route, but the virus has been spreading in rural areas in recent days. ...

The pipeline was rejected twice by the administration of President Barack Obama over worries it could make climate change worse. President Donald Trump has been a strong proponent of the $8 billion project and issued it a permit that environmentalists say was illegal.

A court hearing in the permit dispute is set for April 16 before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls. Morris has previously ruled against the project. The company has previously said it also plans in April to begin work on camps where pipeline construction workers would live in Fallon County, Montana and Haakon County, South Dakota. ...

A representative of the Sierra Club said the decision to push forward with the project amid the coronavirus pandemic was “a shameful new low" for the company. Pipeline opponents contend workers could inadvertently spread the virus to rural areas with limited health care services. 

“By barreling forward with construction during a global pandemic, TC Energy is putting already vulnerable communities at even greater risk," said the Sierra Club's Catherine Collentine. “We will continue to fight to ensure this dangerous pipeline is never completed."

Opposition to another pipeline built through the region several years ago, the Dakota Access Pipeline, culminated in months of protests, sometimes violent, near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota state line.

Lawmakers in some states have sought to curb the possibility of similar protests against Keystone XL. ...

Another oil pipeline in TC Energy’s Keystone network in October spilled an estimated 383,000 gallons (1.4 million liters) of oil in eastern North Dakota. 

Critics have said a damaging spill from Keystone XL is inevitable given the length of the line and the many rivers and other waterways it would cross beneath.


The following article was written before Jason Kenney's desperate kamikaze gambit of buying into the Keystone pipeline but reflects the perilous position the Alberta government finds itself in, but still continues to deny. Instead it continues to act as a fossil fuel addict, just like all other addicts, who are unable to change their behaviour. 

Kenny has now done exactly what The Tyee predicted as economic conditions, a pandemic and, critically for the long-term financial and environmental future, climate change: when the fossil fuel companies can't see any profits, even on the long-term horizon, his government has become the funder of last resort in a project that will only bring much greater economic and, if it overcomes all the hurdles outlined in the previous post, environmental, damage. 

In the middle of mugging the feds, Kenney was hit by a double whammy for the ages. COVID-19 took the world by storm, crashing the stock market like a house of cards. And then there was the catastrophic drop in the price of oil after Russia, OPEC and Saudi Arabia rumbled over the issue of cutting supply to prop up sagging prices. ...

There is only a ticking clock on fossil fuels as they overheat the planet, decades of bad resource management in Alberta, and Jason Kenney’s determination to carry on the tradition. ...

Simply put, the province has a lot of a resource that no one wants, and fewer institutions are willing to invest in as the carbon window closes on a dying industry. There is a reason that so many companies have simply sold their interests in the tarsands: Koch Industries, Royal Dutch Shell, Norway’s Statoil, and Marathon Oil. They can’t make money. Not making money doesn’t fit into anyone’s strategic plans.

There is also a reason that other companies like Imperial, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil admit that billions of barrels of oil within their tarsands holdings will likely be left in the ground. 

These are the stranded assets that the former governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, made headlines with a few years ago. He told the insurers of Lloyd’s of London that if humankind wanted to keep rising temperatures to 2 C, (reaping the whirlwind is the alternative), the vast majority of known oil reserves were “unburnable.” New reserves were simply superfluous.

Kenney must have missed that speech. He remains king of a carbon bubble he stubbornly refuses to see. There never will be a return to Happy Days, oil patch style, and the big boys know it. ...

Kenney can argue that even if tarsands companies aren’t making money, at least they can still borrow it from banks like Toronto Dominion and Royal Bank of Canada — which, to their everlasting shame, is true. But even the lending picture is changing. 

The financial sector is slowly realizing that it too is a climate player, in many ways the most critical one. After all, bankers are financing the very industry that scientists tell us has given us a fevered planet. ...

The European Investment Bank, the largest public bank in Europe, decided in 2019 to wash its hands of financing for most fossil fuel projects. Ten other European banks have followed suit. One of them, UBS in Switzerland, has specifically dropped financing for Arctic oil, coal mines, and tarsands projects. 

When companies can’t make money from their tarsands assets, and more and more banks won’t finance such projects, there is only one option left — the one Jason Kenney will likely choose: government will become the financier of last resort for a doomed industry. ...

Whether they admit it or not, a low carbon future is coming, and it will radically change the energy industry. By clinging to a dream of the 1970s, Alberta’s political leadership is missing the train to the future. Destination: transition training and the creation of alternative, sustainable industries for the province. If their supporters ever realize that, Kenney will one day be driving the Zamboni at the Saddledome.


The challenges facing BC's Coastal Gas pipeline grow every week. Already facing challenges from First Nations blocades, dropping LNG prices and disappearing Asian markets due to Coronavirus and American LNG production, the ever growing list of subsidies to keep it going, increasing competition from cheap solar and wind energy, there is now the a report that "LNG Canada has confirmed a case of COVID-19 in an employee who works at the site of its future export facility in Kitimat, B.C." ( This also creates a substantial risk to communities in the North, where healthcare services tend to be much smaller than in Metro Vancouver. This is even more true for First Nations communities near the path of the  pipeline. 

Its time to end this project due to the environmental problems it creates,  its failure to address First Nations territorial rights, and  its lack of financial viability without ever more subsidies. 

Coastal GasLink Pipeline Map

Since early February, when the RCMP arrested Wet’suwet’en matriarchs, hereditary chiefs and their supporters — setting off nation-wide blockades of rail lines and ports and igniting a national debate about Indigenous rights and title, large resource projects and the global climate emergency — Coastal GasLink has risen from obscurity to infamy.  ...

demand has recently stalled due to milder winters and the novel coronavirus outbreak, threatening to make LNG plants around the world unprofitable.)  ...

Government press materials tout LNG Canada as a $40 billion project, calling it “the largest private-sector investment in B.C.’s history.” But LNG Canada estimates a $25 to $40 billion investment for a two-phase project. Only phase one of the project has received approval. For phase one, LNG Canada has only committed to spending between $2.5 and $4.1 billion in B.C. and acknowledges that between $7 and $11.1 billion for phase one will be spent on foreign soil. This includes the cost of construction of the export facility, which will be manufactured abroad and shipped in pieces to Kitimat. ...

According to the B.C. government, the LNG Canada project will emit four megatonnes of carbon emissions each year during its first phase — the equivalent of adding 856,531 cars to the road.   ...

If the project’s second phase goes ahead, LNG Canada will emit more than double the carbon of the cancelled Frontier oilsands mine project — 8.6 megatonnes per year in 2030, rising to 9.6 megatonnes in 2050.  That’s roughly the equivalent of putting 1.7 million new cars on the road each year.  The B.C. government’s emissions estimate includes only the first phase of the project. ...

Industry has successfully marketed gas as ‘natural’ because, like other fossil fuels, it comes from the earth. The term “natural gas” is now widely used. The majority of gas shipped through the Coastal GasLink pipeline will come from northeast B.C., where the predominant form of extraction is a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. B.C. is the fastest-growing natural gas producer in Canada, thanks in large part to the advent of fracking. ...

Fracking uses vast amounts of fresh water. Recent frack jobs in northeast B.C. have used more than 22 million litres of water per well — enough to fill about nine Olympic-sized swimming pools. The water becomes contaminated after the fracking process and must be disposed of in tailings ponds or by being injected deep underground. The industry’s pressing need for fresh water has resulted in the construction of at least 90 unlicensed dams in northeast B.C. Fracking releases significant carbon emissions through fugitive leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. New research published in the journal Nature suggests natural gas is a much dirtier fossil fuel than previously thought, with emissions that put it on par with coal. ...

The publicly funded Site C dam, currently under construction on B.C.’s Peace River, will provide subsidized electricity for the LNG Canada project. ...

B.C.’s NDP government had an opportunity to cancel the project after it came to power in 2017 but chose to continue construction, approving another $2 billion for the dam’s escalating tab, which now stands at $10.7 billion. The Site C dam will flood traditional Treaty 8 territory, including First Nations burial grounds, trapping and hunting grounds and cultural and spiritual sites. It will eradicate some of Canada’s richest farmland, inundate protected heritage and archeological sites, destroy habitat for more than 100 species vulnerable to extinction and flood 800 hectares of carbon-storing wetlands. ...

A UBC study found the Site C project will have more significant adverse environmental effects than any project ever examined in the history of Canada’s environmental assessment act, including oilsands projects, mining projects and the Northern Gateway project, which was cancelled by the Trudeau government on the grounds that impacts on First Nations and the environment were unacceptable. ...

To attract the corporations behind LNG Canada, B.C.’s NDP government offered a smorgasbord of direct subsidies worth an initial $5.35 billion, in the form of tax reprieves, tax exemptions and discounted electricity rates.  Without government handouts the LNG Canada project, set to begin operation by 2025, would not be economical for the companies involved. ...

The list of subsidies is long but it’s your money so you might want to know how it’s spent. Grab some popcorn and settle in. Ready? Here we go. 

While British Columbians have to pay provincial sales taxes on, for example, an electric car, LNG Canada’s PST exemption means the company will not have to pay this tax during its construction period. That gives the consortium what is essentially an interest-free loan for two decades, for an annual savings of about $19 million to $21 million, according to economist Marc Lee, who has called the LNG Canada project a “carbon bomb.”

The NDP government has also eliminated the LNG income tax (a tax the B.C. NDP supported while in opposition), while a natural gas tax credit gives LNG Canada an additional three per cent corporate income tax cut.  While touting its Clean BC plan, the provincial government has at the same time exempted LNG Canada from increases in the B.C. carbon tax above $30 per tonne. 

The consortium will get a rebate that economist Lee pegs at about $62 million a year (once the carbon tax, now at $40 per tonne, rises to $50 per tonne next year).  And, even as BC Hydro customers face rate hikes totalling eight per cent from 2019 to 2024, the publicly funded Site C dam will provide subsidized electricity for LNG Canada. According to Lee, the new power supplied from Site C will cost about double what LNG Canada will pay for it — amounting to a subsidy valued at between $32 million and $59 million per year. That leaves ratepayers to make up the difference. ...

Through its “Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan,” the federal government will contribute $83.6 million to the cost of building a new transmission line to supply B.C.’s natural gas industry with power from the Site C dam. BC Hydro, a publicly owned utility, will provide $205.4 million. If you’re a BC Hydro customer, that’s your money.  In August 2019, the B.C. and federal governments also announced a $680 million fund to support the further electrification of LNG in B.C. Details about what each level of government will pay, and when spending will occur, have not yet been announced.  Additionally, the federal government has granted a $1 billion tariff exemption for the importation of steel modules for the LNG Canada and Woodfibre LNG projects. ...

The B.C. budget released last month shows that natural gas royalties would have been $534 million this year. But after royalty credits are deducted the number drops to $153 million — a far cry, Lee points out, from gas royalties in the $1 billion to $2 billion range the province collected in the early 2000s.  Deep well credits are yet another form of subsidy for the gas industry, with the B.C. government providing $1.2 billion to fracking companies over a recent two-year period. 

There is also increasing evidence of human health issues linked to fracking. One studyfound mothers who live close to a fracking well are more likely to give birth to a less healthy child with a low birth weight.  Human health issues related to fracking were recently flagged by Dawson Creek doctors as a potential cause for concern after they saw patients with symptoms they could not explain, including nosebleeds, respiratory illnesses and rare cancers, as well as a surprising number of glioblastomas, a malignant brain cancer. ...

Even before a fracking boom gets underway for the LNG Canada project, there are more than 11,000 inactive fracking wells in B.C. that need to be decommissioned and the land restored to its previous condition. In an audit last year, B.C.’s former Auditor General Carol Bellringer found the oil and gas commission had not secured enough money from companies to cover an estimated $3 billion in cleanup costs. Bankrupt fracking companies have also left the commission — and, ultimately, taxpayers — responsible for cleaning up a burgeoning number of orphan wells, including contaminated sites and wastewater pits.


While Canadians are focused on COVID-19, the Trudeau Liberal government is accelerating the process of developing Newfoundlands offshore oil by carrying out a public consultation to eliminate the required environmental assessments for Newfounland offshore drilling. This involves rougly 100 drilling holes according to the following article from Le Devoir. I used Google Translate to convert the article to English. 

The reason for doing this: "According to the government, the report produced by the "committee" that conducted the regional assessment "concludes that the effects of exploratory drilling for oil and gas offshore are well known, cause minor, localized and temporary disturbances, and are not likely to 'be important if standardized mitigation measures are put in place'."

The goal: to produce 650,000 more barrels of oil a day by 2030 from the Newfoundland offshore. So much for Trudeau's greenhouse emission reduction targets.

Proposed exploratory oil well drilling off Newfoundland

As Canada is hit by a health crisis that is hogging media attention, the Trudeau government continues to take steps to accelerate oil drilling in the marine environment, Le Devoir noted.

It is currently conducting a public consultation to eliminate the environmental assessments required for exploratory drilling in eastern Newfoundland. At least 100 of these holes are planned by 2030. The ongoing process goes completely unnoticed as Canadians face the coronavirus crisis, but it is nonetheless crucial to foster the development of the petroleum industry in eastern Canada over the next few years.

The Trudeau government is conducting a 30-day online public consultation on a draft regulation that will “exclude” oil and gas exploration drilling from an environmental assessment conducted under the rules currently in force under the Act respecting impact assessment. "The draft ministerial regulation aims to improve the efficiency of the assessment processes for exploratory oil and gas offshore drilling while maintaining high environmental protection standards for these projects," said the consultation document, which ends on April 3. Is the consultation continuing as planned, despite the COVID-19 crisis? "The Canadian Impact Assessment Agency has not changed the deadline for this consultation period at this time. The Agency will consider extending the deadline in light of the circumstances related to COVID-19, "Le Devoir was told.

The Trudeau government is therefore continuing to take steps to ease environmental regulations targeting the petroleum industry. Until now, an oil company that wanted to conduct a first drilling project on an exploration license located in the waters east of Newfoundland and Labrador had to file a project notice and produce an impact study . A review was then conducted by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which produced a report for the Minister of the Environment. The latter then decided to authorize or not the project.

Things should change soon, however. The Trudeau government indeed commissioned in 2019 a "regional assessment" which covers a maritime territory of more than 735,000 km2 located in the Atlantic. This large area, which cuts across the large commercial fishing sector of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, has many major ecological zones and is home to several endangered species. The region also includes most of the exploration permits held by oil companies in the marine environment in the east of the country. ...

Minister Wilkinson released draft regulations on March 4. It provides that all exploration wells drilled in the 735,000 km2 area will be exempt from the review of the Impact Assessment Act. It should be noted that this rule even applies to drilling projects carried out in "marine refuges" set up by the federal government to protect the marine environment. ...

A specialist in marine mammals and ecosystems, Lyne Morissette deplores the ways of the Trudeau government. "This region does not belong to the oil industry, nor does it belong to the fishing industry. I therefore do not understand the interest of conducting such a consultation “in secret”, at this time, when the impacts concern several stakeholders who must be consulted. " ...

She also stressed the importance of protecting the maritime region off the coast of Newfoundland. "It is a sector of very high biological productivity, which is the basis of all biodiversity. It is an ecosystem that is rich and there is an increasing interest in these areas, for example when we see species moving more to the north, as is the case for the right whale. These are regions that will be critical in the coming years, particularly for species at risk. " For biologist Sylvain Archambault, the draft regulation is "worrying". "Their goal is to speed up the approval of drilling projects," he said. Fishermen's associations also fear these drilling projects. “These are marine environments that are extremely productive fishing sites. After all, this is the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, "said Archambault. Newfoundland and Labrador wants at least 100 exploration wells to be drilled by 2030 to increase oil production in the coming years. The goal would be to produce more than 650,000 barrels a day.



In addition to approving more oil drilling off the coast of Newfoundland, as noted in the previous post, the Trudeau Liberals are also at work redefining away some of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, as if they are a mere nuisance to his real goals. 

This is done by ignoring forest greenhouse gas emissions created by wildfires, insect destruction and extreme weather, which have grown enormously in recent years. Previously these were counted in greenhouse gas emissions totals. They have also changed from reporting emissions in the year wood was cut to when the wood was no longer useful to humans at some future vague date. This still left the Liberals with a major problem because as our forests rapidly disappear from logging, wildfires etc, their greenhouse gas emissions grow. So the Liberals weakened the rules governing what could be used as a carbon offset. All of this was done to try to help get Canada to reach its 2030 greenhouse emissions targets, while at the same continuing to cut Canada's forest and grow its fossil fuel industry. 

The sad thing climate change doesn't care whether the Trudeau Liberals play with the definitions of emissions and offsets, it simply grows ever larger in the great damage that it produces as the federal government tries to pretend it away.


A major climate crisis is unfolding in Canada's managed forest lands, as they tip from carbon absorbers to super-emitters. Put simply, our forests are now dying and being cut down faster than they are growing back. That's according to data in Canada's latest official National Inventory Report (NIR).

My first chart shows the overall trend. The green area means the forests are gaining carbon; the red area means they are emitting it. And the bold black line shows the net carbon balance of our managed forests.

Carbon balance of Canada's managed forests.

As you can see, these forests reliably gained carbon in the past. They were critical CO2-absorbing sinks. But not anymore. Now they've flipped to emitting CO2. Lots of it. In 2017, they lost 230 million tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2)

Driving this trend is an un-natural surge in native insect outbreaks and wildfires. Humans are turbocharging both. Our relentlessly high levels of fossil fuel burning are rapidly altering the climate in favour of more insects and infernos. In addition, decades of poor land use practices have produced unfit, vulnerable, monoculture forests.


Logging more than grows back

Carbon balance of Canada's managed forests. Forest growth plus logging carbon.

As our managed forests have weakened under the strain, they are no longer replacing the amount of carbon that logging is taking out of them.

My second chart breaks this down. Canada reports forest carbon in two parts: forest growth (grey line) and harvested wood (yellow area).

Harvested wood volumes have averaged 185 MtCO2 worth per year, since 1990. In recent years, it's been around 160 MtCO2 worth.
All that extracted forest carbon used to be replaced each year as new growth pulled even more CO2 out of the air. But our faltering forests can't keep up anymore. Now logging is pushing our forests over the edge from absorbers to emitters. And all the excess logged carbon is accumulating in our atmosphere -- just like CO2 from fossil gas, coal and oil. ...

One obvious policy option is to treat excess carbon from forestry like we treat excess carbon from fossil fuels -- putting it under the same climate target and levying the same carbon pricing on it. That would at least provide some incentives and tools to push this new emissions source back down again to safe levels. After all, the climate reacts the same to both. 

Instead, the government has been working to push the carbon bomb exploding in our managed forest off the books. Well … off the current books, anyway. And to do that they had to weaken their carbon accounting rules in three significant ways. 

Rule change #1 -- ignore most of it

The first change was to stop reporting on any forest areas that have been heavily impacted by fires, insects or extreme weather. This change pushed a quarter of Canada's managed forest lands -- and most forest emissions -- off the books. Canada's emissions inventory used to cover all managed forests. Now it only reports the healthiest forest areas called the "reported areas". The carbon balance for this subset is shown by line "A" on the chart. ...

Rule change #2 -- push gigatonnes into the future

Historically, Canada reported the carbon in harvested wood in the year the trees were cut. This is the default method approved by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) rules. Two years ago, the government switched toreporting harvested wood carbon when the wood is no longer useful to humans. This change pushed a quarter of harvested wood CO2 off the current books -- and deposited it on the future books. The light-yellow area on the chart shows how much is now being moved to the future. ...

Rule change #3 -- weaken the target

Ottawa has been wanting to use a big whack of forest carbon "offsets" to meet Canada's 2030 climate target. But our forests are collapsing so fast that even the two huge rule changes discussed above weren't enough to save any. So, the government made a third rule change to weaken the target used to claim offsets.

Historically, Canada has used the same target for all its land use sectors, which includes managed forests and the wood logged out of them. This target is zero per cent below their 2005 baseline level. My next chart shows how this applied to managed forestry. 

Climate pollution by Canadian sector, with excess logging carbon included

The bold grey line is the managed forests' 2005 baseline. Anything below that would be claimed as "carbon credits" towards meeting our climate targets (green area).

However, as the chart also shows, emissions are projected to rise above that baseline by 2030 (red dot). That means no offsets.

So, the government decided to create a new, weaker, type of climate target just for managed forests. It's called a "reference level" target and is shown by the orange dotted line on the chart. This is their guestimate for business-as-usual. Now, anything below this guestimate (orange area) will be used to "offset" emissions elsewhere. 

As you can see, this third change weakened the target so much that it turned zero credits into more than twenty million tonnes of credits.



Although some of the world's banking giants have stopped financing fossil fuel developement in the Arctic, Canadian banks are more than willing to do so. First Nations are leading the protests against these banks for doing this. 

Geraldine Blake (L) and Councilor Cheryl Charlie (R) outside CIBC building in downtown Toronto. Photograph by Malkolm Boothroyd

Geraldine [Blake] hails from Tsiigehtchic in the Northwest Territories, on the banks of the Mackenzie River. She’s here representing the Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Gwich’in Youth Council. We’re also joined by Councillor Cheryl Charlie and Liz Staples, with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation of Old Crow, Yukon. Chris Rider and I round out the delegation. We work for the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. 

The bankers listen as we talk about the great congregations of caribou that converge on the coastal plain of the Arctic refuge to give birth. The refuge is called Iizhik Gwats'an Gwandaii Goodlit in the language of the Gwich’in, The Sacred Place Where Life Begins. Oil drilling would strike the heart of the Porcupine caribou herd’s calving grounds, where they are most vulnerable.

Even though the Arctic refuge is in Alaska, the impacts of oil drilling would hit Canada hard. The Porcupine caribou herd is fundamental to the culture and subsistence ways of life of the Gwich’in in communities in the Yukon and Northwest Territories — where a bag of apples can be $17 and two litres of milk costs $8. The fate of the Gwich’in is tied to the fate of the caribou. ...

The Arctic refuge is in grave peril. In 2017, American legislators used unrelated tax legislation as a Trojan horse to legalize drilling in the refuge. Now, the U.S. government is racing to complete an environmental review. It hopes to sell leases in the coming months.  But an energetic campaign is pushing back. One strategy focuses on corporations, and it’s paying dividends. ...

On the eve of our arrival in Toronto, Goldman Sachs announced it wouldn’t provide new money for fossil fuel developments in the Arctic — and made specific mention of the Arctic refuge. More than a dozen banks from around the world have implemented similar policies, including Barclays, National Australian Bank and BNP Paribas. The positions these banks have taken are critical, because of the shifting landscapes of Alaskan oil production. 

Some of the world’s wealthiest oil companies are pulling out of the state. In 2015, Shell abandoned plans for offshore drilling in the Chukchi Sea, at a $7-billion loss. In 2019, British Petroleum sold the entirety of its Alaska operations. These moves increasingly leave Alaskan oil production in the hands of small players most people have never heard of — companies such as Hilcorp, Oil Search and 88 Energy. 

Drilling in the Arctic is costly enough, let alone in places with no existing infrastructure, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The miniature oil companies left in Alaska likely couldn’t afford to drill in the refuge without outside investment. The pool of finances available to these companies could drain if enough banks come out against drilling in the Arctic refuge. ...

Canadian banks are noticeably absent from the list of banks that oppose drilling in the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd. Any bank that finances drilling in the Arctic refuge would be complicit in the destruction of one of the world’s great wild places, the worsening of the climate emergency and the erosion of the Gwich’in way of life. ...

Enacting a policy against Arctic refuge drilling would be an easy win for Canada’s banks. There’s immense support for protecting the Arctic refuge across Canada. Also, banks wouldn’t have to extricate themselves from prior investments, because no companies are operating there yet. ...

The decisions made in the banking towers carry huge importance: for the Gwich’in, for the climate crisis and for newborn caribou taking their first steps on the Arctic refuge tundra.


While Canadian police have been used to hassle and arrest environmental protesters including indigenous groups the Canadian fossil fuel company Pembina Pipeline Corp. has went much further by buying its own police force through paying for the entire unit involved in protecting its project within the Coos County Sheriff's department. The unit's sole purpose is to protect Pembina's Jordan Cove project, a proposed liquid natural gas pipeline and export terminal, in Coos County Oregon. 

Many of the strongest opponents of this project are First Nations.

Having police forces directly paid by fossil fuel companies means these companies now define what the laws mean. 

Pembina was the sole funding source of a unit in the sheriff’s office dedicated to handling security concerns related to Jordan Cove — despite the fact that there is not yet any physical infrastructure in place to keep secure. The pipeline and terminal cannot begin construction without approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is scheduled to vote on whether to license the project in February. Yet between 2016 and 2020, the department’s liquid natural gas division, known as a “combined services unit,” spent at least $2 million of Pembina’s money. The energy company put the funding on hold in April 2019 but left open the possibility that the arrangement could be revived in the future. Pembina and the sheriff’s department are currently discussing how they may continue to work together, and Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni said he expects the partnership to be renewed.

In addition to hosting the law enforcement training, the unit used Pembina’s funds to purchase riot control equipment, monitor the activities of Jordan Cove opponents, and coordinate intelligence-gathering operations with private security companies that also worked for Pembina. Local residents, environmental activists, and tribal members have staged rallies and sit-ins and participated in public hearings in opposition to the project, which they say would exacerbate the global climate crisis, damage vital waterways, and violate Indigenous sovereignty. Dozens of property owners could see their land seized via eminent domain.

Law enforcement agencies often receive funding for equipment via corporate-backed professional associations and private foundations — a practice that civil liberties groups have criticized as enabling private influence with little oversight. The arrangement between Pembina and the Coos County Sheriff’s Office was unusual, however, given the department’s scrutiny of activists engaged in First Amendment-protected speech in opposition to its corporate benefactor.

“It’s stunning. It’s the complete opposite of how the police have presented themselves in recent history — that they are neutral parties positioned above the political fray,” said Jeff Monaghan, a criminology professor at Canada’s Carleton University who studies police surveillance. “This is a public police force that has essentially opened up a private, corporately funded wing and, in doing so, is entrenching itself on one side of a very complicated political debate.” ...

The Coos County partnership is an extreme example of a trend in policing that has gained momentum across the United States — particularly since thousands of protesters from around the world gathered at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota in 2016 and 2017 in an effort to halt construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Corporations are developing creative means to funnel millions of dollars to local law enforcement groups, and this funding has often been paired with increasingly elaborate private security and propaganda operations. ...

“Pembina and other corporations are trying to build out the infrastructure now to lock us, as a planet, into using big reserves of fossil fuel,” said Brendan McQuade, assistant professor of criminology at the University of Southern Maine and author of a recently released book on police fusion centers. “The most distressing element of these documents is that they show the police both locally and nationally lining up, in a rigid way, behind corporations carrying out fossil fuel extraction.” ...

First proposed in 2005, the Jordan Cove Energy Project has become one of the longest-running battles in the country between the fossil fuel industry and opponents of new hydrocarbon energy infrastructure. If built, the project would transport 438 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, the Jonah Field in Wyoming, the Piceance Basin in Colorado, and the Uinta Basin in northern Utah. The 233-mile Pacific Connector gas pipeline would snake beneath five major rivers as it pumps natural gas to a new export terminal at Coos Bay, where the gas would be chilled and liquefied before being carried to Asian markets on massive tankers. ...

In 2016, landowners in the pipeline’s proposed path successfully lobbied the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which provides permits for the construction of natural gas infrastructure, to deny an application to build the project. The agency asserted that developers had not proven the need for it. Pembina reapplied a year later, in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. ...

Since then, Trump has appointed individuals to the five-member commission who are more in favor of fossil fuel projects than their predecessors. ...

In the meantime, grassroots environmental groups have helped rally tens of thousands of people to submit comments opposing Jordan Cove to state and federal permitting agencies. The Karuk, Yurok, Klamath, Tolowa Dee-ni’, Siletz, and Round Valley tribes have all passed resolutions opposing the project.


According to the climate change watchdog organization Influence Map, Exxon Mobil lobbied the European Commission to water down its European Green Deal watered down so that fossil fuel vehicles were not disadvantaged. This is part of fossil fuels 3D strategy of deny, doubt and delay when it comes to dealing with climate change. I'm sure they and their fossil fuel allies are doing the same to any environmental measures of Canadian governments. 


The European commission stopped short of proposals to phase out combustion engine vehicles and has plans to consult on whether to include vehicles in its carbon-pricing scheme.

The European commission stopped short of proposals to phase out combustion engine vehicles and has plans to consult on whether to include vehicles in its carbon-pricing scheme. 

 The European commission stopped short of proposals to phase out combustion engine vehicles and has plans to consult on whether to include vehicles in its carbon-pricing scheme. Photograph: Alamy

 The European commission stopped short of proposals to phase out combustion engine vehicles and has plans to consult on whether to include vehicles in its carbon-pricing scheme. Photograph: Alamy

Documents unearthed by InfluenceMap revealed that Exxon lobbyists met Brussels officials in November to urge the EU to extend its carbon-pricing scheme to “stationary” sources, such as power plants, to include tailpipe emissions from vehicles using petrol or diesel.

Green groups believe this would be the least effective way to disincentive fossil fuel vehicles, and would rather allow countries to set their own emissions standards and targets for road emissions.

The move appears to be an attempt to stall the rollout of electric vehicles by keeping a lid on the cost of driving a traditional combustion engine vehicle running on fossil fuels. The European commission stopped short of proposals to phase out combustion engine vehicles and has plans to consult on whether to include vehicles in its carbon-pricing scheme. ...

Edward Collins, a director at InfluenceMap, said the document “represents yet another evidence piece” of ExxonMobil’s long-term strategy of delaying climate action by focusing on “long-term technical solutions” to try to avert “decisive regulatory action” that is urgently required to tackle the climate crisis.

A Guardian investigation last year found that Exxon has spent €37.2m (£32.4m) lobbying the EU since 2010, more than any other major oil company, according to the EU’s transparency register. It revealed that Shell spent €36.5m and BP spent €18.1m lobbying Brussels officials to shape EU climate policy.

Exxon is also facing legal action in the US courts after accusations that it misled investors over the business risks caused by regulations aimed at addressing the climate crisis. ...

The lawsuit claims that Exxon scientists told the company’s management in 1977 there was an “overwhelming” consensus that fossil fuels were responsible for increasing the levels of carbon in the atmosphere that lead to global heating. In 1981, an internal company memo warned that “it is distinctly possible” that CO2 emissions from the company’s 50-year plan “will later produce effects which will indeed be catastrophic (at least for a substantial fraction of the Earth’s population)”.

Exxon’s latest lobbying efforts have surfaced after documents emerged earlier this year showing that BP successfully lobbied US policymakers to weaken a landmark environmental law to clear the way for fossil fuel projects to move forward.


Despite all the denials of global warming and the lobbying to prevent, or at least delay action on this, the evidence of climate change's impact on life around the planet continues to pile up, including in Canada. The latest data shows that the winter of 2020 was the warmest ever in the northern hemisphere. 


According to NOAA, the winter of 2019-2020 was the warmest on record across all continents north of the equator.

With an average temperature 4 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, this winter ranks first among the warmest winters on land in the Northern Hemisphere, beating the very mild winter of 2015-2016. ...

Up until now the 2015-2016 winter was the clear winner for warmth, but now it must split that distinction with this season. When you factor in the ocean surface in addition to land temperatures, 2015-2016 still holds the record. That's because that winter, the Earth experienced a super El Niño, overheating the surface waters of the equatorial Pacific and radiating heat into the atmosphere. It's years like that where record warmth is expected. But there was no El Niño to be found this winter, and yet, at least over land, it impressively still managed to exceed a super El Niño year.


Climate change scientists are also warning that Amazon will be converted from a jungle to a savannah in less than 50 years if we don't take immediate action. Such a change would have disastrous consequences for the entire world. 

  • Climate models coupled with real world biome changes are causing prominent scientists to forecast that, unless action is taken immediately, 50 to 70% of the Amazon will be transformed from rainforest into savanna in less than 50 years.
  • That ecological disaster would trigger a vast release of carbon stored in vegetation, likely leading to a regional and planetary climate catastrophe. The Amazon rainforest-to-savanna tipping point is being triggered by rapidly escalating deforestation, regional and global climate change, and increasing Amazon wildfires — all of which are making the region dryer.
  • While models produced the first evidence of the tipping point, events on the ground are now adding to grave concern. The Amazon has grown hotter and dryer in recent decades, and rainforest that was once fireproof now readily burns. Plant species adapted to a wet climate are dying, as drought-resistant species flourish. Deforestation is escalating rapidly.
  • Scientists say the tipping point could be reversed with strong environmental policies. However, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is moving in the opposite direction, with plans to develop the Amazon, including the opening of indigenous reserves to industrial mining and agribusiness, and the building of roads, dams and other infrastructure. ...

Amazon wildfires occurring August 15-22, 2019. Recent studies have found that events on the ground fulfill forecasts made by climate models: The Amazon is getting progressively dryer, leading to far more numerous wildfires. However, those fires typically are in edge areas where the rainforest is under pressure from agribusiness. Image courtesy of NASA/Fotos Públicas.

A rainforest without rain isn’t a forest

The first signs of a forest-to-savanna shift — propelled by a changing climate, accelerating deforestation, and increased wildfires — are beginning to show up on the ground, according to Nobre. The tipping point is “no longer a theoretical forecast about the future,” the climatologist told Mongabay; previously he had based his forecasts on climate models.

After signs of a changing Amazon were revealed by several biome studies over the last two years, Nobre and Lovejoy decided to up the ante on their previous forecast. What they had predicted via climate models, was now happening in real-time, and far faster than expected.

Nobre now projects that 50 to 70% of the Amazon will become savanna in less than 50 years. “For over half of the Amazon to become a degraded savanna in 50 years — that is falling off a cliff,” Nobre warns. “In evolutionary biology, it’s a snap.”

At the heart of this forecast, and a major factor in Nobre’s and Lovejoy’s upgraded warning, is a landmark scientific report from a long-term international scientific collaboration known as RAINFOR, which collected data from 106 different Amazon one-hectare (2.5 acre) plots over three decades. The study, led by ecologist Adriane Esquivel Muelbert of the University of Birmingham, shows that species adapted to a wet rainforest climate are dying while drought-resistant species are on the rise.

“Our project was quite conservative. We didn’t take samples from deforested areas,” Muelbert told Mongabay. “This is why it’s so worrying. Even in the most remote corners of the planet, we are seeing the human impacts.”

A NASA study published in October 2019 co-authored by Sassan Saatchi and Armineh Barkhordarian corroborates these findings. Humidity is decreasing across the region, their research found, even in areas unaffected by deforestation. Aridity has steadily increased by 20-30% over the last three decades.

This real-world data points to a knock-on effect: a positive feedback loop long seen by scientists in their models, which has begun pushing the Amazon to the tipping point. “Even the Northwest [Amazon], which is supposed to have huge resilience and lush rainfall is being impacted,” Saatchi reveals; drying effects began showing there after the 2005 drought. In the Southeast Amazon — a region with far greater deforestation — drying tendencies have been tracked since the early 1990s.

“It’s extremely alarming.” Saatchi says.

Impacts are now being seen at all levels: Tree canopies and leaves are getting warmer and the air around them less humid. The soil below, increasingly parched by long-term drought or washed out by intensifying floods, holds less water to feed roots. “In rainforest areas, length of dry season has increased by 5-7 days per decade consistently over the last 30 years,” reports Saatchi.

Trees act as pumps, sending water from the ground back toward canopy leaves, then into the sky, keeping the atmosphere humid and recycling rain across the Amazon forest. Since trees regulate climate, and climate affects trees, small changes in either can create a domino effect.


The COVID-19 global pandemic provides a warning about how extremely susceptible everyone around the world is to global warming. 


Illustration of globe with bandaids and different scenes of commerce stalling.

The global high-tech society we've built over the last 100 years is actually a series of networks laid on top of one another. Zack Rosebrugh / for NBC News

We've been living in a dream. We climb into jet planes and fly across continents, never giving the accomplishment a second thought. We drive to grocery stores, assuming the shelves will be stocked with endless boxes of food. And every day we plug our devices into the wall, sure that electricity will flow from the outlet. Other than the occasional hurricane or earthquake, we have lived our whole lives taking for granted that this thing we call "civilization" was a machine that could never fail.

It's time to wake up. 

The international COVID-19 pandemic is many things, but its deepest impact may be fostering a recognition that this machine of civilization that we built is a whole lot more fragile than we thought. And that is why, in the long term, the coronavirus will one day be seen as a fire drill for climate change.

To understand the powerful connection between this pandemic and climate change, we must understand exactly what "modern civilization" means from a scientific point of view. For researchers, the global high-tech society we've built over the last 100 years is actually a series of networks laid on top of one another. ...

Modern civilization is a delicate layer cake of such networks, one stacked on top of each other. 

The transportation network — roads, trains, ships and airplanes — moves our goods around. Energy networks — electric grids, oil and natural gas pipelines — deliver power where and when it's needed. Economic networks — banks, investment firms and brokers — keep money for trade circulating. And, as we are coming to see in stark relief, there's the health care network — doctors, nurses and hospitals — that manages the endless stream of sickness and injury.

So how robust or resilient are these networks? If you kick them hard, will they still function? COVID-19 is exposing just how complacent we've been in answering that question. Health officials across the country are watching in horror and desperation as their network gets overwhelmed. The fear the pandemic has caused is already pushing on the food distribution and economic networks. ...

Suddenly all of these systems that were invisible just a month ago are standing in front of us in sharp relief. Some are even blinking red with warning. ...

So what does any of this have to do with climate change? Like this pandemic, climate change is also going to push on the networks that make up our civilization. Unlike the pandemic, its effects will be long term, and there won't be a vaccine that can save us. ...

When most of us think about climate change, we visualize changes to the planet: soaring temperatures, rising oceans, melting ice caps. That's hard enough to imagine on a global scale. But where our imaginations really fail is in asking what will happen to us, to daily human life, and that is a question about the invisible civilization networks. Climate change will mean one emergency after another, year after year, as heat waves, floods, fire and storms blow cascades of failures through our systems. ...

As with the threat of a pandemic, scientists who study climate change have been warning for decades that we are unprepared for what lies just over the horizon. Using the same kinds of mathematical tools deployed by epidemiologists, they have predicted the course of global warming, laid out its potential effects on the networks that make up civilization and told us what needs to be done to avoid calamity. ...

Examples of threats these scientists worry about range from the disruption of global supply chains due to increasingly extreme weather, to failures of food production and distribution networks as climate patterns shift, to failure of investment networks as risk assessment and getting insurance become more difficult. ...

But in response, these warnings have been politicized. Those who deny the science claim it's specious and there's no need to worry. Of course, that's what many of them said about COVID-19 just a few weeks ago. But our government had enough warning that it could have begun stockpiling essential equipment and preparing the health care system for the shock that was sure to come. ...

The pandemic has awakened us from our slumber. It is letting us see the real consequences of denial.


David Suzuki will be discussing COVID-19 ans climate change on Zoom on Thursday April 16th.

Join us on Zoom for a lively conversation
David Suzuki and Linda Solomon Wood

When: Thursday, April 16 at 7:30 
Where: Zoom

RSVP in subject line to Janel at [email protected]. Spaces limited.

Janel will send you the link to join the Zoom Event. Invite your friends and family to join us, too.  Thank you in advance.


The Alberta insanity continues as its Western Canada Select oil stays below $5 a barrel, yet Kenney pushes ahead with the $7.5 billion dollar provincial investment in the Keystone XL pipeline despite the entire North American continent running out of storage space to store all its excess oil. (

 Johannes Ko/Flickr

At the end of March, Premier Jason Kenney announced his Alberta government would underwrite the Keystone XL pipeline construction costs for this year, with a $1.5-billion equity investment, and $6 billion in loan guarantees for its builder TC Energy. Formerly known as TransCanada, TC Energy was certainly pleased to see Kenney -- on behalf of the citizens of Alberta -- take the risk of adding Texas to its existing Hardisty, Alberta to the U.S. pipeline network. 

In early April, you could buy a barrel of Alberta heavy crude for less than US$5. It cost about US$30 a barrel to extract it from the bitumen sands. What Keystone XL carries -- heavy oil -- can only be sold at a huge loss, so the project is an obvious loser at anywhere near current prices. 

As TC Energy has indicated, and Kenney knows full well, the permission to build Keystone XL could be revoked by a Montana court, or Joe Biden in the White House.  Opposition from the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations is strong and continuous.

After four days of video conferencing, beginning last Thursday, OPEC-plus (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus Russia and others) decided to reduce their oil production by 9.7 million barrels of oil per day. This may sound like a lot, but world demand, which was 98.7 million barrels a day in 2018, has declined by an estimated 30 million barrels a day because of the COVID-19 world economic slowdown.  The highly publicized production cut by OPEC-plus leaves 20 million barrels of oil per day going into storage because it cannot be sold. Downward pressure on oil prices will not go away until the world economic shutdown relents, despite the announced production cuts.

Press reports suggest that a dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia over how to set production levels has fuelled the oil price slump that followed the COVID-19 pandemic.  ...

Russia and Saudi Arabia are two very low-cost oil producers. Saudi oil is produced at a cost of US$2.80 a barrel; the Russian production costs are in weak roubles (heavily devalued because of U.S. led sanctions) while their revenues from oil sales are in strong dollars. Even at low oil prices, Russian sales are profitable thanks to this premium dollar advantage for the oil sold. 

Producing petroleum from Alberta bitumen is a high cost operation. High costs kept development of the Alberta sands from taking place for nearly two decades after the 1948 success of the Alberta Research Council bitumen sands separation project revealed the sands had vast potential, but poor prospects for commercialization. High production costs have stymied bitumen expansion for now, and probably as long at it takes for the world to run down known conventional oil and gas reserves, which could be as much as 50 years.  ...

With low-cost Saudi Arabia and Russia squeezing high-cost producers, the Alberta government made a bad bet to subsidize building the Keystone XL pipeline.  Saudi Arabia and Russia have considerable support for providing world markets with low cost petroleum. World GDP is collapsing. Low-cost fuel oil and gasoline look very attractive to consumers, businesse, and non-petroleum producing countries.


The Alberta Oil Bonanza promise of Jason Kenney has become the Alberta Wasteland

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E.P.A. Weakens Controls on Mercury

The Trump administration on Thursday weakened regulations on the release of mercury and other toxic metals from oil and coal-fired power plants, another step toward rolling back health protections in the middle of a pandemic.

The new Environmental Protection Agency rule does not eliminate restrictions on the release of mercury, a heavy metal linked to brain damage. Instead, it creates a new method of calculating the costs and benefits of curbing mercury pollution that environmental lawyers said would fundamentally undermine the legal underpinnings of controls on mercury and many other pollutants....

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Judge cancels Keystone XL pipeline permit

A district judge in Montana reportedly ruled Wednesday against the Keystone XL pipeline, canceling a key permit necessary for the project's construction.

According to The Associated Press, Judge Brian Morris ruled in favor of environmental groups who argued that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan to construct the pipeline over rivers did not properly take endangered species into consideration.

The setback for TC Energy, the pipeline's sponsor, comes just days after construction on the pipeline began near the U.S.-Canada border, the AP noted. Environmental groups celebrated Wednesday's court victory, with the main group behind the lawsuit calling it a "significant hurdle" the pipeline would face.

“It creates another significant hurdle for the project,” Anthony Swift, of the National Resources Defense Council, told the AP. "Regardless of whether they have the cross border segment ... Keystone XL has basically lost all of its Clean Water Act permits for water crossings.".....

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Apr 14 1964 - Death of Rachel Carson, US scientist, ecologist and activists. Her "Silent Spring", about the dangers of pesticides for ecosystems helped launch the modern environmental movement and led to the banning of DDT.

50 years of Silent Spring

The publication of Silent Spring 50 years ago in September 1962 caused shockwaves through an America dominated by the belief that, through technology, humans could dominate nature in their own interests. The book and its author, Rachel Carson, are credited with inspiring the modern environmental movement.

Born in 1907, Rachel Carson had been a biologist working for the US Fisheries Bureau, but became a full-time writer in the 1950s. Her trilogy of books on the sea explored ocean life and had been bestsellers. In Silent Spring she examined the growing environmental problems caused by pesticides, locating the problem in the wider interaction of humans and the natural world. It was a book that was rooted in growing environmental awareness, particularly public understanding of the dangers from radiation.

The pesticide industry had its roots in chemical weapons manufacture. Since the 1940s over 200 chemicals had been created to deal with pests. This had led to “the contamination of man’s total environment with such substances of incredible potential for harm – substances that accumulate in the tissues of plants and animals and even penetrate the germ cells to shatter or alter the very material of heredity.”...



Alberta's oilsands north of Fort McMurray.

Alberta's oilsands North of Fort McMurray. Photo: Louis Bockner / Sierra Club BC 

Today Trudeau announced $1.7 billion "to clean up orphan wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia". ( with $1 billion going to Alberta where it is expected to create 5,200 jobs. It is good that these oil wells are getting cleaned up and created 5,000 jobs for out-of-work fossil fuel workers. However, in November 2018, Vice President Rob Wadsworth of Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) , which is responsible for collecting the cleanup fees, told a private audience that it could cost $260 billion to clean up 94,000 inactive wells and 3,400 abandoned wells. ( The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), who is paid by the industry and therefore its captive, also warned "It may take more than 2,800 years to clean up some of the decommissioned oil and gas wells currently dotting Alberta’s landscape" (

Therefore, Trudeau's cleanup subsidy is only a token down payement on what Canadian taxpayers will end up paying for this financial and environmental total screwup.

And why are Canadian tax payers for this cleanup of the fossil fuel industry's environmental disaster when even in red-neck Republican ruled North Dakota, fossil fuel companies must at least pay some of the estimated cleanup costs in advanced of doing any drilling? " In North Dakota, a $50,000 bond is required for a well." (

Of course this is only a small fraction of Canada's subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. "According to a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) report, Canada subsidized the fossil fuel industry to the tune of almost $60 billion in 2015 — approximately $1,650 per Canadian." (


epaulo13 wrote:

Judge cancels Keystone XL pipeline permit

A district judge in Montana reportedly ruled Wednesday against the Keystone XL pipeline, canceling a key permit necessary for the project's construction.

The Kenney government, through a spokesperson for the Alberta energy person (see below) vows to push ahead with Keystone anyway despite the price of its oil dropping below $5 a barrel when costs of production are estimated to average $85 a barrel (( and "Sending it to the Gulf of Mexico by rail and pipeline adds about $8-10 dollars to the cost" (

Kenney is totally in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry and shows zero signs of recognizing the world is starting to shift away from fossil fuels.

Indigenous and environmental groups played a major role in fighting this Keystone pipeline court decision.

Native American tribes and environmental groups pressured a U.S. federal judge on Thursday to shut down work on the disputed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Nebraska, citing fears workers could spread the coronavirus and construction could damage land. ...

"With the rise of the pandemic, it is even more important to protect the tribe to at least put a pause on this activity, take a hard look at this," said Matthew Campbell, an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund representing the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota and the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes of the Fort Belknap reservation in Montana. ...

The same judge who made that ruling, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in the Montana city of Great Falls, presided over Thursday's hearing, which also included arguments over whether Trump's authorization was legal. Late Wednesday, Morris handed another setback to TC Energy with a ruling that invalidated a key U.S. Army Corps of Engineers clean water permit. The so-called nationwide permit applied to a broad range of projects including Keystone XL, and is needed to so the pipeline can cross rivers, streams and other waterways. ...

Morris ruled that the Corps violated federal law by failing to adequately consult on risks to endangered species and habitat, and it must comply before it can apply the nationwide permit to any project. ...

Kavi Bal, a spokesperson for Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage, reiterated the government's commitment to the project in a statement to CBC News.

"A Montana judge ruled on a very narrow and specific decision asking the United States Army Corps of Engineers to conduct additional review regarding two specific Keystone XL pipeline river crossings," he said. Keystone XL has had a significant amount of anti-energy activist opposition in the past and this challenge is not surprising. We cannot surrender development to those who seek to kill projects with endless court challenges."


Below is a summary of Suzuki's discussion of the links between COVID-19 and climate change. He warned that people will have to take the lead in demanding moving away from fossil fuels to a green economy as governments, including all Canadians have been talking about climate change since 1988 but doing very little to address a crisis that will be worse than COVID-19.

Canada's best-known environmental activist, scientist and broadcaster was participating in a Zoom call hosted by National Observer to discuss the intersection of COVID-19 and climate change. ...

Suzuki acknowledged the burden millions of people are facing, but noted once the pandemic subsides, there is an opening to respond differently to climate change.

“This is a very, very tough time, but it’s a time when we can discover community,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity, now, to say, ‘What the hell have we done wrong that got us into this mess, and how do we go about getting out of it?’”

And that doesn't mean trying to re-establish yesterday’s economy, but redesigning it for the future, in a way that values the common fundamentals of life such as air, water and food. The constraints and laws of the natural world are not flexible, but the economy is a human construct that can be adapted, Suzuki said. ...

Asked what he’d say to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in relation to tackling the climate crisis, Suzuki replied he’s stopped talking to Trudeau about climate.

“The COVID crisis is a crisis for human beings, but the climate crisis is a crisis for life on the planet.” David Suzuki on the importance of battling climate change. 

There was much adulation and hopefulness about Trudeau’s environmental commitment after his election and following Canada’s signing onto the Paris Agreement on climate change, he noted.

“But then he bought a pipeline,” Suzuki said.

The federal government’s $4.5-billion buyout of Kinder Morgan’s struggling Trans Mountain pipeline demonstrates politics trump the environment, even if the results have lasting reverberations for future generations, he observed.

“Even the future for his own children … that has to come second to the political reality that his highest priority is getting re-elected,” Suzuki said.

People must stop looking to political leaders to lead change when it comes to the climate crisis, he said.

Suzuki cited various examples of the Canadian government’s dismal performance in protecting the environment over the three decades since scientists first sounded the climate-change alarm at the Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere in 1988. ...

“The political system cannot deal with (the climate crisis) unless civil society rises up and demands they do it,” Suzuki said. “Then, they will jump on board.”

Massive efforts on the part of the public are critical, Suzuki said, pointing to the half-million demonstrators who accompanied Greta Thunberg in the global march for climate action this past September.

“Dammit all if that isn’t a demonstration that politicians will pay attention to,” he said.

Suzuki figured if just 3.5 per cent of the global population truly committed to pushing for climate action, it would make a huge difference worldwide.

When asked why government is listening to scientists about coronavirus, but not about climate change, Suzuki cited government’s short-sightedness.

“When bodies are being carted out to the crematorium or the graveyard, you respond in a different way to something that is 10 years, 15 years down the line.” ...

Government’s measures and responses to contain the coronavirus and its effects were unimaginable before the pandemic, he said.

It demonstrates huge opportunities to stem climate change, Suzuki said.

“I think the important thing is you make the commitment to solve it,” he said. “Then, you pull out all the stops — the old rules and constraints no longer apply.”


One immediate effect COVID-19 is having on climate change is a dramatic drop in greenhouse gas emissions as economies shut down to a significant extent around the world, something that all the world's governments promise, including Trudeau's, but have not been able to accomplish. 

This COVID-19 induction greenhouse gas emission reduction provides an opportunity to start to redesign our economy away from fossil fuels to be more livable and to pay the essential workforce of food and other workers that have been underpaid for a long time but are now required to maintain life, especially in our cities.

However, the enormous drop in oil prices creates the economic pressure to move back to fossil fuels as economies recover and makes recycling financially extremely difficult as very cheap plastics will also be available. Government legislation will be needed to mandate recycling and a move away from fossil fuels. 


temple in Nepal

As emissions fall, air quality around the world is skyrocketing. The climate consequences of the coronavirus pandemic go even further.PHOTOGRAPH: NARAYAN MAHARJAN/GETTY IMAGES

Back in February, an analysis by the climate group Carbon Brief found that as the pandemic seized hold of China’s economy and heavy industries shuttered, emissions from the country plummeted by an incredible 25 percent. Another analysis by Carbon Brief in early April estimated that globally this year, emissions could fall by 5.5 percent from 2019 levels. That figure may seem low, given that fewer cars are on roads and industries have stalled, but with context, it’s stunning: Until now, emissions have been reliably increasing by a few percent year after year. That’s happening even though the world’s nations pledged to individually reduce their emissions as part of the Paris Agreement, with the ultimate goal of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial global temperatures.

The 5.5 percent figure tops the 3 percent reduction in emissions that followed the 2008 financial crash, when economies also slowed and people traveled less. But emissions bounced right back as the economy recovered. Indeed, says Zeke Hausfather, the director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute, which advocates for climate action, we can expect economies to roar back with fervor to make up for lost income. “Broadly speaking, the only real times we've seen large emission reductions globally in the past few decades is during major recessions,” Hausfather told WIRED in March. “But even then, the effects are often smaller than you think. It generally doesn't lead to any sort of systematic change.” ...

Anecdotally, we can say that Americans are driving far less, given all the empty freeways. And now Northern Arizona University climate scientist Kevin Gurney has the data to back it up: The amount of gasoline supplied in the US—a close measurement of direct consumption—fell by 50 percent over the two-week period ending April 3. ...

If the streets are a city’s veins, cars are the blood coursing through them—but they’re a pathogen, of sorts. Cars killed over 6,000 pedestrians in 2018 in the US, and air pollution kills perhaps 200,000 more here each year.

With all those cars now sequestered in garages, air quality around the world has gone through the roof. In March, for instance, researchers at Columbia University calculated that carbon monoxide emissions in New York City, mostly coming from vehicles, fell by 50 percent. With that will come a dramatic improvement in public health, and at just the right time: New research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that air pollution is associated with higher Covid-19 death rates. ...

But maybe our suddenly clearer skies don’t have to be temporary. We’re getting a taste of how much more livable our cities would be if we designed them for people, not cars. Closing roads to cars altogether—as cities like Boston and Oakland, California, have done during the crisis—means people can walk and bike in safety, itself a boost to public health. ...

Done incorrectly, though, a rethinking of cities could exacerbate inequalities. Cities have, necessarily, severely curtailed public transportation to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. But this disproportionately affects those who can’t afford cars, and who might rely on public transport to get to their essential jobs or shop for food. ...

Done incorrectly, though, a rethinking of cities could exacerbate inequalities. Cities have, necessarily, severely curtailed public transportation to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. But this disproportionately affects those who can’t afford cars, and who might rely on public transport to get to their essential jobs or shop for food. ...

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the economics of recycling were a mess. For it to make financial sense to recycle plastic bottles, a recycling company has to make more money selling the recycled material than it takes to gather and process those bottles. Given the low price of oil in recent years, it’s often cheaper for companies to buy virgin plastic bottles than recycled ones. (And oil producers’ sales have crashed and the price of oil cratered even further now that we’re all staying home.) ...

In the age of coronavirus, many recycling facilities are shutting down to protect their workers, so what little was recycled before now isn’t recycled at all. ... "During Covid, we saw that the recycling equation that was bad anyway and trending down is even worse.” ...

Scientists who monitor the effects of climate change on wildlife can’t go out and collect photos from camera traps. Conserving species imperiled by climate change isn’t a passive process—conservationists have to be out there actively monitoring and preserving their habitats. If you study how permafrost is thawing in the Arctic, you’re out of luck as well. Even if a scientist can collect data remotely, for instance by aggregating government data, they may not have access to the requisite computing power at home.



jerrym wrote:

One immediate effect global warming is having on climate change is a dramatic drop in greenhouse gas emissions as economies shut down to a significant extent around the world, something that all world's government promises, including Trudeau's, have not been able to accomplish. 

This provides an opportunity to start to redesign our economy away from fossil fuels to be more livable and to pay the essential workforce of food and other workers that have been underpaid for a long time but are now required to maintain life, especially in our cities.

However, the enormous drop in oil prices creates the economic pressure to move back to fossil fuels as economies recover and makes recycling financially extremely difficult as very cheap plastics will also be available. Government legislation will be needed to mandate recycling and a move away from fossil fuels.

I agree with most of this but would really like to see plastic packaging banned rather than recycling mandated. Everything we consume comes with packaging. That is what needs to change. When we talk about oil and gas we forget what plastic is made out of. Outlawing plastic based packaging will both significantly reduce our waste and the demand for oil. I for one am tired of having to deal with the plastic garbage that is attached to everything. Paper is a fine product that comes in many shapes, sizes and thicknesses and unlike plastic it can go in my garden compost pile.


Yesterday the foolishness of Trudeau's purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline and allowing further test oil wells off Newfoundland, Horgan's proceeding with the LNG pipeline, and Kenney's subsidizing of another attempt to build Keystone XL, of continuing down the fossil fuel road hit home as North American oil prices went negative for the first time in history yesterday. This occurred because there is almost no place to store just produced oil due to the 30% drop in demand caused by COVID-19.

For example, West Canada Select from Alberta sold yesterday for minus US$62.57 per barrel. In other words you had to pay someone US$62.57 to take the oil. Today it sold as high as $10.13 and as l0w as $3.87. Earlier this month bitumen was selling for $0.97. Since "Enbridge charges between about $7 to a little over $9 a barrel to ship heavy oil to Texas, excluding additional charges such as for power, according to tariff documents." ( and average tar sands production cost are $85 a barrel, Alberta oil is not going to be profitable in the forseeable future. 

In fact on Al Jazeera, oil industry experts (yes those who make money predicting oil prices) said both US shale oil and Canadian oil are high cost producers that are likely to face extinction in the not-too-distant future as they won't be able to compete with cheap producers in the Middle East and even Russia. Yet the government subsidies keep rolling out to the fossil fuel industry in Canada from Trudeau and Kenney. 

The end result for Alberta, according to the Conference Board of Canada, is the worst recession in Alberta's history. When will Trudeau and Kenney get the message that fossil fuels cannot survive over the long-term in Canada?

  • Oil producers in Canada began the week facing record low prices for front-month contracts. Western Canada Select (WCS) at one point in the day traded for negative US$62.57 per barrel. 
  • With a large portion of North America on lockdown and airline companies suspending flights, refineries have significantly cut back the production of gasoline and jet fuel, and thus demand for crude oil. ...
  • Production cuts in Western Canada have hitherto lagged the drop in refinery demand in the United States, where over 95 per cent of Canada’s oil and gas exports are destined for each year. This is in large part due to the nature of mining operations on Alberta’s oil patch. 
  • Oil sands producers in Alberta can’t easily turn on and off production, leaving them at a big disadvantage during oil price crashes. Surface mines incur large fixed costs in order to get them up and running and require constant production to remain profitable. Furthermore, shutting them down and booting them back up is a lengthy and costly endeavor. In situ mines require a constant flow of pressurized steam once they have been tapped; cutting off the flow of steam can result in permanent damage to the reservoir and restarting production can be cumbersome and costly. 
  • Canadian oil companies have cut capital budgets by over $8 billion since the beginning of March and are shutting in oil production—even at costly oil sands mines—to weather the storm. Our latest forecast shows Alberta’s mineral fuels mining industry will contract by 5.3 per cent this year. The combination of declining investment and shut in production will result in Alberta’s worst recession on record.


In less than two years Greta Thunberg and the student-led strikes for climate change have accomplished a lot but now face new challenges in the age of COVID-19. The following articles discusses those successes and the challenges ahead as the Global Climate Strike scheduled for April 24th has been called off.  

Participants of a Fridays for Future climate demonstration parade through Hamburg, Germany on Feb. 21, 2020.

For more than a year, just about every Friday at noon, Invaliden Park in downtown Berlin was transformed into a vivacious, noisy, swarming hubbub with teenage speakers, bands, and live dance acts — as well as Germany’s top climate scientists — all sharing a makeshift stage and a microphone. ...

The happening was the weekly “school strike” in Berlin of Fridays for Future (FFF), the climate crisis movement that began in 2018 with the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg skipping school once a week to protest her country’s half-hearted response to climate change. The movement then ricocheted across the globe, mobilizing school-age young people — in wealthy countries as well as poor — as never before. Last year, the campaign culminated in international demonstrations of millions in cities and towns from Cape Town, South Africa to Anchorage, Alaska, all with the same goal: to force their nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon-neutral by 2050. ...

Fridays for Future can claim some significant achievements, including strongly moving public opinion in favor of climate action and helping Green parties in Europe make major gains in elections. Still, even before the coronavirus outbreak and the banning worldwide of gatherings and demonstrations, the momentum of Fridays for Future had slowed. Fewer young people were attending the weekly protests, and the movement was recalibrating its strategy and tactics, shifting to stepped-up election activities and direct-action campaigns against fossil fuel interests, with mixed success.

Now, the worsening coronavirus pandemic is forcing Thunberg and other leaders of FFF to further alter tactics. Fridays for Future in Germany and other countries has suspended all public demonstrations — until now the movement’s mainspring and source of its high-profile media image, as well as donations. “In a crisis we change our behavior,” Thunberg tweeted earlier this month, “and adapt to the new circumstances for the greater good of society.” The Global Climate Strike, an international demonstration scheduled for April 24, has been called off. ...

Thunberg’s tweets don’t hint at it, but the virus and the public lockdowns have thrown the movement — already struggling to build on its spectacular protests of 2019 — into confusion. How can it pressure governments or businesses when gatherings are banned? How can the movement attract media coverage in the midst of a global pandemic? Will ordinary people faced with children at home or sick relatives or no jobs care about the climate when the COVID-19 crisis has turned their lives upside down? And will countries now sideline climate protection in order to put all of their energy and money into fighting the pandemic? 

“Last year climate change was topic No. 1,” says Volker Quaschning, a professor of renewable energy systems at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, and one of the German scientists who had lobbied officials to take decisive steps to curb climate change. “Today it’s corona.” ...

Luisa Neubauer, the 23-year-old face of FFF in Germany, was a constant presence on talk and news shows during the height of the protests in 2019. Neubauer, who is often referred to as “Germany’s Greta,” told Yale e360 that the movement is in transition, adding“We’re trying to figure things out now. Beating the coronavirus is the first thing we have to do, but the fight to save the climate can’t stop. It will continue in other ways and when this crisis is over the climate crisis will look different. We may even have a better chance. We know that political will, when it is there, can move mountains. We are experiencing this right now in the corona crisis.”

As for Thunberg’s call for digital activism, Neubauer admits that it can’t replace what FFF had accomplished on the streets. “But our generation and the climate movement are already digital,” she says, “and there are things we can do.” Already, the German branches of FFF have an internet learning program on YouTube for the millions of children not attending school.

FFF has unquestionably enjoyed major successes over the past year-and-a-half. The protests struck a chord with people who until then hadn’t taken climate change seriously enough to have it impact their vote or lifestyle. The movement was strongest in Europe, but even in the United States the protests caught on and helped propel the Green New Deal, a proposal for tackling the climate crisis in the U.S., high on the agenda of Democratic presidential candidates. Last September, 250,000 people across the U.S. marched in the FFF’s Global Climate Strike — the largest number ever to turn out for a U.S. climate protest. ...

Outside of the U.S., the numbers of those prioritizing global warming shot up dramatically in the wake of the FFF demonstrations, opinion polls and elections showed. Before the coronavirus, people in Europe and in China identified climate change as the foremost challenge. And many European Green parties, which had campaigned for rigorous climate policies for years, have doubled their vote tallies in local, national, and European Union elections — a result also of the extreme weather in 2018 and 2019 that brought record droughts, heat, and floods.

The FFF demonstrations “changed the whole landscape of the climate movement and the way ordinary people think about the climate crisis,” says Insa Vries of the German anti-coal group Ende Gelände, which had been occupying coal production facilities since 2015. “They were able to get through to much larger swaths of the population than we ever could, including unions, established NGOs, older people, and the world of pop culture.” ...

Despite these achievements, the outbreak of the coronavirus has found Fridays for Future in a period of soul searching and experimentation. The group’s leaders were growing disappointed with FFF’s concrete results, most notably that the protests had not prodded governments to respond with the resolute, far-reaching measures that would enable them to meet the goals of the 2015 UN Paris Agreement, which would hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels.

A seminal moment for the German FFF movement came on September 20, 2019, when in the largest climate demonstration of the year, tens of thousands of protestors clogged Berlin’s city center, and more than a million more took to the streets in 500 other German cities and towns. As the Berlin demonstration unfolded, just a stone’s throw away at the offices of German Chancellor Angela Merkel the government announced its long-awaited climate policies package. But the proposals fell far short of the students’ demands, which were that Germany set policies that would end coal use by 2030 and generate 100 percent of the country’s electricity with renewable energy by 2035. The activists had also demanded a tax as high as 180 euros-per-ton of CO2.

“It was bizarre, scandalous, how bad it was,” says Neubauer about the German climate protection package, which proposed a mere 10 euros-a-ton tax on CO2. “Despite all of the demonstrations and lobbying, what came out wasn’t even an attempt to meet the Paris Agreement. ...

The Germans weren’t the only climate activists rethinking things in the face of tepid government action. “We concluded that school strikes alone aren’t going to make governments change anything,” explains Vipulan Puvaneswaran of France’s Youth for Climate, the French ally of Fridays for Future. “We need a more radical change — the system has to change — and for that we need more radical protest forms.” In February, the group briefly occupied the Paris offices of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, covering its walls with graffiti.

The Germans, too, shifted course, moving away from school strikes to the targeting of businesses and intervening in election campaigns. “Businesses are more flexible, they can change faster than states,” says Neubauer. “They have to step up and help us make governments change.” ...

FFF Germany set its sights on the multinational giant Siemens, which had recently invested in a new Australian coal mine — a small investment for Siemens, but a tempting target for the climate activists. ... 

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, who met one-on-one with Neubauer. Media coverage was intensive for a week, but in the end Siemens opted to proceed with the project.

“FFF has managed to mobilize enormous numbers of people and create a big buzz,” says Vries of Ende Gelände, “but we come out in the end empty-handed. Maybe we have to rethink how we pick our fights.” ...

FFF has enjoyed more success in targeting elections, which has greatly benefitted Europe’s Green parties. “Green parties across Northern Europe have been given an unbelievable push,” says Ellen Ueberschär of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, a German foundation close to the Green Party. In polls, Germany’s Greens have tripled their tally since the 2017 general election, turning the Greens into the country’s second-largest party.

Now, however, FFF’s path forward is unclear. If the movement is denied street demonstrations for months, it may find its resources drying up and activists demoralized. “I’m worried that their anger and frustration, which had generated so much positive energy, will turn into hopelessness,” says Ueberschär. “At best, what can happen,” says Neubauer, “is that we turn the crisis experience into a crisis management experience. Because we are now tackling [the coronavirus] collectively, in solidarity and sustainably, we can learn how to cope with others. This can be helpful for the climate crisis.”

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Friday, April 24, 2020
Tune in to CKUW 95.9FM

From Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition's Facebook Page:

April 24 10am-11am
- Walk out of your home or workplace to play the music - at a safe physical distance
- Blast our music as loud as you can, wherever you are on April 24 at 10:15 a.m. Tune in to CKUW 95.9 to play the recording!
Have your noise makers, pots/pans, instruments, and songs at the ready - and listen for instructions from the radio! Let’s turn up the volume for climate action!


The Trudeau Liberal government's latest report to the United Nations on greenhouse gas emissions for 2018, the latest year of publicly available data, shows Canada's overall emissions and those of many provinces have grown once again despite both federal and provincial plans to reduce emissions. Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson argued since the data was from 2018 it “does not fully reflect the emissions reductions impact of the federal price on pollution and the impact of many other key initiatives in the current climate plan.” The trouble this is the same story that has been going on since the federal Liberals, helped along by their provincial counterparts, first promised to reduce emissions in 1993.

The newest edition of Canada’s National Inventory Report released Wednesday says that B.C.'s carbon emissions grew to 66 million tonnes, or megatonnes (Mt) in 2018 compared to 63 Mt in 2017. 

Other provinces also saw significant increases during this period: Ontario’s carbon pollution climbed from 155 Mt to 165 Mt, while Quebec’s grew from 80 Mt to 83 Mt. The rest of Canada's provinces and territories stayed the same or had minor fluctuations of one Mt or less.


A breakdown of carbon pollution from different sectors in Canada in 2018. Canada's National Inventory Report screenshot

Canada's carbon pollution up 15 million tonnes

The inventory report shows that the oilsands, a region in Alberta and Saskatchewan that represents 166 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, was responsible for 84 Mt. Emissions from the oilsands, which are deposits of a heavy, tar-like oil beneath the Western Canadian boreal forest, have grown every year since 2013.

Oilsands emissions continued to grow because crude oil production continued to climb through 2018. From 1990 to 2018, crude oil production shot up by 170 per cent, almost entirely driven by oilsands operations, according to the report. ...

Alberta’s emissions have grown by 41 Mt, or 18 per cent, since 2005, “primarily as a result of the expansion of oil and gas operations,” the report stated. Canada has the world's third-largest proven oil reserves after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Canada’s oil and gas sector was responsible for the largest portion of the country's carbon pollution in 2018, at 193 Mt, or 26 per cent, up by five Mt from 2017. 

Overall, Canada emitted a total of 729 Mt of carbon pollution in 2018, up 15 Mt from 2017. This is almost the same amount of pollution as Canada emitted in 2005, at 730 Mt. The year 2005 is the baseline year for Canada’s Paris Agreement commitment, which promises to cut emissions 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Canadian government scientists have concluded that the country and the rest of the world must reduce its carbon pollution to "near zero" by 2050 in order to avoid the more extreme effects of climate change, ranging from floods to wildfires, loss of fresh water and damage to coasts and ecosystems.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson argued Wednesday that because the inventory report contained data up to 2018, it “does not fully reflect the emissions reductions impact of the federal price on pollution and the impact of many other key initiatives in the current climate plan.” ...

The Liberals have promised to “exceed” the 2030 Paris target and have also said they will ensure Canada’s emissions will drop to “net zero” by 2050, meaning any pollution emitted would be cancelled out by other initiatives that pull emissions out of the atmosphere.

The inventory report said Canada’s 15 Mt increase from 2017 to 2018 was due to the combined effect of factors such as higher production levels of oil and gas, more fossil fuels used in industry, more emissions from heating due to a colder winter, and more fuel consumed by vehicles.



The first report assessing the changes that have already occurred in Canada's Arctic region, which was done by federal scientists and Inuit observers, illustrates the dramatic changes that already occurring in a region that is warming two to three times faster than the global average, thereby acting as a canary in the figurative fossil fuel coal mine that everyone now inhabits. 

ETA: It is good to see the scientists, at least, are starting to make use of indigenous knowledge in their reports. No one knows the region better. It's time the federal government did as well.

It describes a vast ecosystem in unprecedented flux: from ocean currents to the habits and types of animals that swim in it. The Arctic Ocean, where climate change has bitten deepest, may be changing faster than any other water body on Earth, said lead scientist Andrea Niemi of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. ...

Changes are coming so fast scientists haven’t even had a chance to understand what’s there. 

Sixty per cent of the species in the Canada Basin — like the worms found living in undersea mud volcanoes and living off expelled methane — are yet to be discovered, the report suggests “Who knows what else is down there?” Niemi asked. “So much in the Arctic, we’re still at step one.” ...

The first assessment of fish species in the Beaufort Sea wasn’t done until 2014, she said. Still, changes are hard to miss, right down to the makeup of the water.

It’s 33 per cent less salty than in 2003 and about 30 per cent more acidic — enough to dissolve the shells of some small molluscs. The Beaufort Gyre, a vast circular current that has alternated direction every decade, hasn’t switched in 19 years. Nutrient-rich water from the Pacific Ocean isn’t getting mixed in as it used to, which affects the plankton blooms that anchor the Arctic food web. Sea ice is shrinking and thinning to the point where Inuit communities can’t get to formerly dependable hunting grounds. ...

Shorelines are on the move. Erosion has more than doubled in the last few decades.

The mix of species is changing. 

Killer whales are becoming so frequent they’re altering the behaviour of other species such as narwhal and beluga that Inuit depend on. Pacific salmon, capelin and harp seals are moving up from the south. “In some cases, the communities are putting out their nets and they’re just catching salmon,” Niemi said. The effect of the salmon on other species is unknown. ...

Coastal fish species are being found much further offshore. Ringed seals can’t finish moulting before the ice breaks up and accompanying high ocean temperatures seem to be making them sluggish and more prone to polar bear predation.

Humans are making their presence felt, too. Increased Arctic shipping is making the ocean noisier and masking the sounds animals from seals to whales use to communicate.

The report’s conclusions are hamstrung by a lack of long-term data all over the North. Niemi said it’s hard to measure changes when you don’t know what was there in the first place. ...

 Inuit communities want to know what’s going on in their home, she said. “They’re interested in a holistic view of what’s going on. But we’re just handcuffed sometimes to provide the mechanisms behind the changes.” ...

One thing is certain: The old idea of the frozen North, with its eternal snows and unchanging rhythms, is gone forever.



Spring flooding has forced the evacuation of 13,000 people from Fort McMurray, as well as killing one man on the nearby Fort McKay First Nations reserve where many homes have also been flooded, as well as the Tallcree First Nation at Beaver Ranch. 

Don Scott, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo which includes Fort McMurray, said "This is the one-in-a-100-year flood that people talk about when they're doing planning." Just another one-in-a-100-year flood that couldn't have anything to do with climate change causing the rapid warming of frozen water in the spring that is occurring repeatedly across Canada every year now. It's just like the ever growing number and intensity of wildfires that also destroyed a large part of McMurray and other places in Canada and Australia in recent years, have nothing to do with climate change. Not when we have to keep growing our fossil fuel industry. 

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Fort McMurray flooding 2020

Some 13,000 people, mostly from Fort McMurray, have been evacuated from their homes because of flooding caused by ice jams on the Athabasca, Clearwater and Peace rivers. ...

Don Scott, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, told Tuesday's news conference he had consulted with Premier Jason Kenney Monday about the possibility of military intervention to help break up the ice, even using CF18 jet fighters and explosives. But those thoughts were ruled out, Scott said. ...

The entire lower townsite in Fort McMurray, with the exception of a single neighbourhood and the community's only hospital, has been placed under mandatory evacuation. Access to the downtown was closed on Monday, and residents who left the area were prohibited from returning. ...

"This is the one-in-a-100-year flood that people talk about when they're doing planning. It's just unfortunately this year on top of the COVID pandemic."

More than 200 rescue operations were performed yesterday and additional calls came in overnight, said Scott Davis, the municipality's Director of Emergency Management.

Anyone who travels into restricted areas put themselves and first responders at risk, he said. "This is a critical situation at a critical time," Davis said Tuesday. "Everyone needs to take it seriously. Water levels on the Clearwater are still rising. What some don't realize is that there are electrical [hazards] and contaminated waters that can threaten your safety."


A Fort McKay First Nation man is dead after being injured in the Athabasca River during major flooding that forced thousands of people from their homes in and around Fort McMurray, Alta. ...

The RCMP said two men were on ATVs on a trail when water levels suddenly rose and they ended up in the Athabasca River. The men held on to a submerged log and were able to phone for help, the RCMP said in a statement Wednesday evening. 

One man was taken to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre by helicopter in critical condition, while the other was taken by ambulance. The first man was later pronounced dead at the hospital, RCMP said.


Gaia is fighting back.


The world is facing a global oil glut because of Covid-19 and the oil price war triggered by Russia and Saudi Arabia that threatens to leave North American oil uncompetitive not just in the short-term, but in the long-term. Yet we see no concrete plans by Canada to move away from fossi  fuels for economic and/or environmental reasons. 


The record volume of stranded crude cargo illustrates a deepening crisis in the global oil industry. Demand for oil has fallen so severely, and at such pace, that there is little space left on land to store the crude made redundant by the coronavirus crisis. At least 160 million barrels are now stored at sea,outside global shipping ports from Singapore to Suffolk and along the US gulf coast as oil traders brace for storage facilities to reach capacity imminently.

Market forecasts suggest that the world’s conventional oil storage – which can hold about 3.4 billion barrels – will be filled to its limits within the next month. In the meantime, oil traders are turning to alternative storage options: supergiant tankers, rail freight carriages and even underground salt caverns have become sought-after havens to stash millions of barrels of surplus crude. ...

In the US and Canada, where the cost of transporting oil from landlocked oilfields is higher than in regions with offshore rigs, oil producers have taken the difficult decision to shutter their wells.

There are heavy costs involved in shutting down production, and there is a chance that a forced shutdown could cause irreversible damage to oil wells, which may not produce the same volumes once they are restarted. The risk of a sudden shutdown must be weighed against the risk of continuing to pump crude.

Against this backdrop, the oil market may have already passed a tipping point, according to analysts.

A major shock is brewing … unless there is a firmer response, we will soon be discussing the greatest energy crisis in history. ...

“As we see it, a wave of shut-ins is inevitable for the oil market to come closer to a balance. Not having enough storage is not only a theoretical problem but a practical one. Unless more production shuts down, the extracted oil will literally have nowhere else to be stored,” says Bjørnar Tonhaugen, the head of oil markets at Rystad Energy, a Norwegian consultancy. “This is not something the industry has ever seen or ever been prepared for; maybe that is why we see a slow reaction. A major shock is brewing for producers and unless there is a firmer response from their side to voluntarily slash output, we will soon be discussing the greatest energy crisis in history.”




Hundreds of millions of barrels of unwanted oil is now being stored in tankers offshore because on land there is no storage space left to put the oil. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) concludes in a just released report that the largest decrease in energy demand since WWII brought on by Covid-19 will trigger a decades long decrease in fossil fuel consumption, while renewable energy consumption will continue to grow well into the future. Renewable energy consumption is expected to grow by 5% this year to make 30% of global consumption of electricity. The report concludes that renewable energy should be central to any economic stimulus plan.

Meanwhile the Trudeau Liberals continue to say they will support Alberta's fossil fuel industry. 

Oil tankers

Oil Supertankers Piled Up With No Place to Unload Their Oil Because Storage Is Already Full

Supergiant oil tankers are floating outside the world’s largest shipping ports with enough oil to meet the world’s daily demand twice over. Only months ago these vessels criss-crossed the globe laden with up to 2 million barrels. Today they stand motionless and bloated with crude that no one will buy.

The record volume of stranded crude cargo illustrates a deepening crisis in the global oil industry. Demand for oil has fallen so severely, and at such pace, that there is little space left on land to store the crude made redundant by the coronavirus crisis. At least 160 million barrels are now stored at sea,outside global shipping ports from Singapore to Suffolk and along the US gulf coast as oil traders brace for storage facilities to reach capacity imminently. (

Renewable electricity will be the only source resilient to the biggest global energy shock in 70 years triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the world’s energy watchdog.

The International Energy Agency said the outbreak of Covid-19 would wipe out demand for fossil fuels by prompting a collapse in energy demand seven times greater than the slump caused by the global financial crisis.

In a report, the IEA said the most severe plunge in energy demand since the second world war would trigger multi-decade lows for the world’s consumption of oil, gas and coal while renewable energy continued to grow.

The steady rise of renewable energy combined with the collapse in demand for fossil fuels means clean electricity will play its largest ever role in the global energy system this year, and help erase a decade’s growth of global carbon emissions. ...

Renewable energy is expected to grow by 5% this year, to make up almost 30% of the world’s shrinking demand for electricity. The growth of renewables despite a global crisis could spur fossil fuel companies towards their goals to generate more clean energy, according to Birol, but governments should also include clean energy at the heart of economic stimulus packages to ensure a green recovery.

“It is still too early to determine the longer-term impacts,” said Birol. “But the energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before.”

The impact of the coronavirus has triggered a crisis for fossil fuel commodities, including the collapse of oil market prices. ...

Demand for gas is expected to fall by 5%, after a decade of uninterrupted growth. It is the steepest drop since gas became widely used as an energy source in the second half of the previous century. Coal demand is forecast to fall by 8% compared with 2019, its largest decline since the end of the second world war. ...

The Paris-based energy authority used data from every country and across each energy sector to analyse the impact of the pandemic on the global system.

It found that global energy demand was likely to plummet by 6% this year, the equivalent of losing the entire energy demand of India – the world’s third largest energy consumer – or the combined energy demand of France, Germany, Italy and the UK. The impact of the pandemic on energy use will be more keenly felt in advanced economies where demand is expected to fall by 11% across the EU and 9% across the US. ...

The collapse of fossil fuel demand could lead global emissions to fall by 8% compared with 2019, a drop six times larger than the record fall after the financial crisis in 2009 to lows not seen in the past decade.


In BC, environmental organizations are concerned that the provincial government has allowed logging companies to cut down untouched forest, not just waste wood, to make wood pellets to be used as fuel because "ecologically important primary forests do not represent a renewable resource since they take a long time to regrow, while pellets release carbon pollution into the atmosphere instantly when burned." The government says that only 'inferior' trees will be cut and that the government position has 'evolved' over time, but many environmentalists fear at least some of these 'inferior trees' will be old growth, trees whose cutting will greatly disturb the natural ecosystem and greatly increase the release of greenhouse gases stored in these trees. 

The companies in some areas are cutting down trees using the pretext that they are pine beetle invested in areas where there is no pine beetle infestation.


Environmental groups say this photo shows a logging truck entering a pellet plant in Prince George, B.C.

Companies can cut down whole trees to be ground into pellets for fuel if they are “inferior,” says British Columbia’s natural resources ministry, a position that has led to concerns the government is "rebranding" old growth forests as low-quality in order to justify logging them.

B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development told National Observer on April 27 that “timber harvesting has evolved over time” and that the industry is now focusing on sending “high-quality” lumber to sawmills.

Other whole trees, the ministry said, can get sent to plants that manufacture wood pellets, a type of biomass fuel that is burned for heating or electricity and is made by compacting together wood material. ...

That’s a disturbing change from how the provincial government has portrayed the wood pellet industry in the past, argued Michelle Connolly, director of the volunteer-run community group Conservation North, and Tegan Hansen, forest campaigner for the non-profit environmental organization They say that in past communications, the B.C. government has talked more about using “waste” wood or “residuals” from logging or sawmills, like dead timber, tree branches or sawdust, to manufacture pellets, a growing industry in Canada that exports over three million tonnes a year. ...

“The B.C. government appears to be rebranding primary and old growth forests as ‘waste,’ ‘inferior’ or ‘low-quality’ in order to justify allowing companies to level them and grind them into pellets,” said Connolly. “Keeping natural forests intact, in particular old forests, is actually one of our best hopes for addressing climate change. Exploiting forests for bioenergy will make climate change worse, not better.”

Hansen agreed: “it seems like the province is calling ecologically rich, primary forests ‘inferior’ in order to justify logging them for pellets. That is deeply concerning,” she said. “From what I've seen, the province's communications are potentially misleading the public about the sector's impacts on forests and the climate.” ...

Environmental groups have long pointed to evidence that untouched forest, not just waste wood, is being cut down to feed the global pellet industry, and that ecologically important primary forests do not represent a renewable resource since they take a long time to regrow, while pellets release carbon pollution into the atmosphere instantly when burned. ...

Conservation North and released a report April 23 that said companies are clear-cutting in the B.C. Interior “under the pretence of harvesting insect-infested trees” and pellet plants have obtained wood harvest due to “apparent spruce beetle infestation” despite a 2019 investigation turning up little evidence of a beetle attack. It also says burning wood pellets for power generation is worse than coal at the smokestack. The report singles out the two wood pellet companies highlighted by Horgan and Kahlon, Pacific BioEnergy and Pinnacle Renewable Energy, as using whole trees in their pellet production.


The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which provides independent advice to the United Kingdom's government on building a low-carbaon economy as global warming continues, is warning of the need to rebuild a cleaner, more resilient economy as the UK recovers from COVID-19, advice that Canadian governments have done nothing to take to heart so far. 

The CCC emphasizes that the UK must avoid lurching from the coronavirus crisis into a deeper climate crisis, the government’s advisers have warned. They also recommend that jobless people should be re-trained for work in geographically-spread labour-intensive “green” industries such as home insulation; tree-planting; and peatland restoration.

The government faces a post COVID-19-lockdown choice between green growth or propping up polluting  industries (

In letters to the Prime Minister and First Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Committee on Climate Change sets out six key principles to rebuild the nation following the COVID-19 pandemic whilst delivering a stronger, cleaner and more resilient economy. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change are integral to the UK’s recovery package, the Committee says.

Immediate steps are needed to support reskilling, retraining and research; to build a climate-resilient economy; to scale up housing retrofits and build new homes that are fit for the future; to invest in low-carbon, resilient infrastructure such as improved broadband instead of new roads; to make it easy for people to work remotely, walk and cycle and to expand tree planting, peatland restoration, green spaces and green infrastructure.

CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has shown the importance of planning well for the risks the country faces. Recovery means investing in new jobs, cleaner air and improved health. The actions needed to tackle climate change are central to rebuilding our economy. The Government must prioritise actions that reduce climate risks and avoid measures that lock-in higher emissions.” ...

Governments in all UK nations should prioritise actions to recover from the pandemic based on six resilience principles. These are:

  1. Use climate investments to support economic recovery and jobs. The CCC has previously identified a detailed set of investments to reduce emissions and manage the social, environmental and economic impacts of climate change. Many are labour-intensive, spread across the UK and ready to roll out as part of a targeted and timely stimulus package.
  2. Lead a shift towards positive, long-term behaviours. The Government can lead the way to new social norms that benefit wellbeing, improve productivity and reduce emissions. This includes actions to support home-working, remote medical consultations and improve safety for cyclists.
  3. Tackle the wider ‘resilience deficit’ on climate change. Strong policies are needed to reduce the UK’s vulnerability to the destructive risks of climate change and to avoid a disorderly transition to Net Zero. They must be implemented alongside the response to COVID-19 and will bring benefits to health, well-being and national security.
  4. Embed fairness as a core principle. The benefits of acting on climate change must be shared widely, and the costs must not burden those who are least able to pay, or whose livelihoods are most at risk as the economy changes. Lost or threatened jobs of today should be replaced by those created by the new, resilient economy.
  5. Ensure the recovery does not lock-in greenhouse gas emissions or increased risk. As it kick-starts the economy, the Government should avoid locking-in higher emissions or increased vulnerability to climate change in the longer-term. Support for carbon-intensive sectors should be contingent on them taking real and lasting action on climate change, and all new investments need to be resilient to future climate risks.
  6. Strengthen incentives to reduce emissions when considering tax changes. Revenue could be raised by setting or raising carbon prices for sectors of the economy which do not bear the full costs of emitting greenhouse gases. Low global oil prices provide an opportunity to increase carbon taxes without hurting consumers.


The following article examines the history of climate change litigation and its increasing prospects of success, including the January 2020 UN Human Rights Committee recognising "the right for refugee claims on the grounds of climate change for the first time" and also and emphasizing "that it is unlawful for governments to return people when their life will be at risk due to the climate risks in their home countries".

World map of climate change lawsuits




Globally, 2019 saw a strong rise in climate related litigation. As at January 2020, the total number of climate change cases filed to date has reached approximately 1,4441, up from 1,302 since our update in March last year. Cases have now been filed in at least 33 countries, in addition to cases brought in regional or international courts or commissions. The vast majority of these cases continue to be commenced in the United States (US), followed by Australia, United Kingdom, European Union, New Zealand, Canada and Spain.

Claimants are increasingly relying on constitutional and human rights laws in their attempts to hold governments accountable for addressing climate change. This is likely to continue following the landmark Urgenda ruling in December 2019, discussed below, which according to the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelete, “provides a clear path forward for concerned individuals in Europe – and around the world – to undertake climate litigation in order to protect human rights.”

The nature of the claims against corporations has also diversified beyond the unsuccessful tort and public nuisance actions pursued predominately in the US in the 2000s and early 2010s.4 This comes as corporations, and their shareholders, increasingly acknowledge the threat of climate change to their bottom line. Meanwhile the growing demand from consumers for environmentally sustainable goods and services is prompting ever increasing scrutiny from consumer advocates and regulators into misleading and fraudulent corporate climate claims or commitments.   

Climate attribution science

Developments in climate litigation are being influenced by advancements in the scientific understanding of climate change. Climate attribution science aims to establish the relationship between anthropogenic emissions and specific extreme weather events. Progress in this field is allowing claimants to better pinpoint and quantify the environmental impact of projects, policies and laws. 

As the scientific consensus that humans are at least partly responsible for climate change is now firmly established, disputes are increasingly revolving around proving causation, allocating responsibility and jurisdictional arguments as to the role of the courts in ‘regulating’ climate change. Climate attribution science is essential in resolving such issues, especially as many of the recent studies aim to develop methodologies that link harmful environmental impacts to specific emitters.

In January 2020 the UN Human Rights Committee considered the case of Ioane Teitiota who had unsuccessfully sought protection from New Zealand due to rising sea levels threatening his life in the Republic of Kiribati. The Committee rejected Mr Teitiota’s claim because the likely timeframe for sea level rises rendering Kiribati uninhabitable is 10 to 15 years and therefore he did not face immediate danger. This timeframe allowed the Republic to take affirmative measures to protect and if required, relocate its population. However, the Committee recognised the right for refugee claims on the grounds of climate change and emphasised that it is unlawful for governments to return people when their life will be at risk due to the climate risks in their home countries. ...

In December 2019, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines announced that the world’s biggest carbon polluters could be held liable for their role in contributing to climate change. The announcement was preceded by a 3-year investigation into whether 47 major fossil fuel firms, including Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron, should be accountable for the human rights harms caused to Filipino citizens as a result of climate change. The petition prompting the investigation was submitted by Greenpeace Southeast Asia as well as a number of other individuals and organisations.

The Commission ruled that whilst legal responsibility for climate change is not addressed by current international human rights law, major fossil fuel companies are morally obligated to respect human rights, as enunciated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These companies are also obligated to invest in clean energy. Further, under the laws of Philippines, the Commission considered that the existing civil and criminal laws of the Philippines provided grounds for action against these companies. ...

In May 2019, a group of eight Torres Strait Islanders lodged a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee against the Australian government for breaching human rights obligations owed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It is argued that the Australian government’s failure to take sufficient action to curb emissions and implement adaptation measures has violated the right to culture, right to a family and right to life under the ICCPR. The complaint is yet to be reviewed by the Committee.


One industry that is already being impacted by climate change is the insurance industry, which has to take into account the exponentially  growing number of insurance claims caused by global warming, which is already the biggest long-term risk for insurance firms. 

As the insurance sector adjusts to respond to challenges related to the novel coronavirus, flood season in Canada is beginning.

Today, residents in Fort McMurray, Alta., are returning to clean up their flooded homes and businesses on the anniversary of a wildfire four years ago that caused almost $3.8 billion in insured damage to the town (the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire remains Canada’s largest insured catastrophe event).

Climate change is not going to pause while the world is trying to control the pandemic.

Accounting firm PwC observes that climate change is the biggest long-term risk for insurers. Human activities are causing the rise of global temperatures, resulting in increasing frequency and severity of acute events such as wildfires and flooding. ...

From 2010 to 2019, insurance payouts in Canada for catastrophic losses from natural disasters exceeded $1 billion per year. Globally, insurance payouts typically cover approximately one-third of economic losses, with many businesses facing a widening protection gap.  Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports that water damage claims are now the most frequent claim in Canada. Insurers have been offering overland flood insurance products to homeowners since 2015, two years after a flood event in Calgary caused almost $2 billion in insured damage, the third-highest insured damage loss in Canadian history.

The International Association of Insurance Supervisors reports that climate-related extreme weather events are resulting in unforeseen large payouts and shocks to the sector. ...

Chronic events, such as rising temperatures and heavier precipitation, are being magnified by the continued expansion of cities into existing floodplains. At the municipal level alone, avoiding the worst impacts of climate change will cost Canada an estimated $5.3 billion per year, equivalent to 0.26% of GDP. ...

Outside Canada, more than 2,000 lawsuits are now underway — including claims for damages, and claims that directors and officers violated corporate and securities law by failing to address or disclose climate-related financial risk. When these lawsuits appear in Canada, directors and officers that have been duly diligent and acted reasonably are likely protected from liability. Inaction likely means they are not.