Canada and global warming: a state of denial

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Norway Becomes World’s First Country to Ban Deforestation

Norway has become the first country to ban deforestation. The Norwegian Parliament pledged May 26 that the government's public procurement policy will be deforestation-free.

Any product that contributes to deforestation will not be used in the Scandinavian country. The pledge was recommended by Norwegian Parliament's Standing Committee on Energy and Environment as part of the Action Plan on Nature Diversity. Rainforest Foundation Norway was the main lobbying power behind this recommendation and has worked for years to bring the pledge to existence.

“This is an important victory in the fight to protect the rainforest," Nils Hermann Ranum, head of policy and campaign at Rainforest Foundation Norway said in a statement. "Over the last few years, a number of companies have committed to cease the procurement of goods that can be linked to destruction of the rainforest. Until now, this has not been matched by similar commitments from governments. Thus, it is highly positive that the Norwegian state is now following suit and making the same demands when it comes to public procurements."

Norway's action plan also includes a request from parliament that the government exercise due care for the protection of biodiversity in its investments through Norway's Government Pension Fund Global.....

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Canada needs its own Green New Deal. Here's what it could look like

Clayton Thomas-Müller

Like a lot of people in Canada, I was pretty shocked when I saw five of Canada’s most infamous conservative leaders grace the front cover of Maclean’s under the banner of “The Resistance.” As a Cree man, the term drums up images of resistance leaders of old like Louis Riel or Cree Chief Big Bear, so it was ridiculous to imagine that the collective power of Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer, Brian Pallister, Scott Moe and Doug Ford could resist anything other than social progress. But, more importantly, I couldn’t help but wonder... if these guys are the resistance to climate action in Canada, who are they actually resisting?

It’s true that Kenney, Scheer, Pallister, Ford and Moe are the worst of the worst when it comes to climate change and respecting Indigenous rights. But, when their so-called opponents are pushing pipelines and trying to sell us massive increases in fracking as climate solutions and reconciliation, we have a bigger problem on our hands.


The Green New Deal, catapulted onto the national agenda by a fiery mixture of political champions like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and mass youth-led organizing by the Sunrise Movement, is perhaps the most straightforward policy proposal for tackling climate change that many of us have ever seen.

And, like it’s post-Great Depression namesake, it’s a bold economic policy that takes care of the most vulnerable among us. As the signs that young people across the U.S. have held during countless protests supporting this Green New Deal say, it boils down to two key demands: Good Jobs and a Liveable Future.

That’s the same thing we need here in Canada – a climate plan that stops fossil fuel expansion, gets us to 100 per cent renewables and guarantees a good job for impacted workers. And, it has to do it all in full partnership with Indigenous peoples.

This won’t mean turning the taps off overnight in places like Fort McMurray, but it does mean that we cannot build massive new fossil fuel expansion projects like the Teck Frontier Mine in the Alberta oilsands, the Trans Mountain pipeline, the LNG Canada facility in B.C. or offshore oil rigs by BP (yes, that BP) off the coast of Nova Scotia.

And, if we’re going to do what the science says we need to do and stop expanding fossil fuels, we need a plan to transition to 100 per cent renewables within the two decades. For that, we need the federal government to step up and guarantee that every single worker, family and community impacted by this transition will be supported. The best way to do that is to borrow from the Green New Deal and implement a federal job guarantee that tells every single person in Canada that they don’t have to choose between putting food on the table and ensuring our children inherit a liveable planet.

This kind of climate plan would ensure that Indigenous peoples have the ability to continue to hunt, fish, gather, practice ceremony and build sustainable economies on an adequate land base and it would support the restoration of lands despoiled by the fossil fuel economy. Put another way, a climate plan built on this basis could make good on so many politicians’ hollow promises around the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the ninety-four calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report....

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..more from above.


This doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. In the United States, they’re calling it a Green New Deal, but I have a simpler name for it here in Canada – The Good Work Guarantee.

It’s called the Good Work Guarantee because that’s exactly what it is, a guaranteed good job for workers connected at the hip to a climate policy that moves Canada off of fossil fuels and respects Indigenous rights. And, despite what our political leaders tell us, we have every reason to believe that this kind of bold policy is possible here in Canada.

According to a 2010 report from the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, climate change will cost Canadians between $21 billion and $43 billion a year by 2050. In extreme scenarios, that cost is closer to a staggering $90 billion.

Refusing to act at scale won’t eliminate these costs, but transfer them onto the shoulders of cities, provinces, Indigenous communities, small businesses and everyday people all across Canada.

On the flip side, a proposal from Canada’s Green Economy Network to create a million climate jobs would cost less than 5 per cent of the annual federal budget, a significant portion of which could be paid for by ending subsidies and incentives for fossil fuels and instead using those resources to drive the transition.

Polling continues to tell us that more than three quarters of people in Canada believe that climate change is a serious problem and two thirds think we have a moral duty to do more to address it. According to another poll, nearly that many people – 60 per cent – are worried that Justin Trudeau’s carbon price won’t bring down emissions and nearly a quarter of people in Canada don’t think any political leader has a climate plan that does enough.

There’s also massive support for a Good Work Guarantee-style policy among both energy workers and the broader public. In 2016, the energy worker non-profit Iron & Earth released polling that found that nearly 70 per cent of energy workers support a time-bound transition to 100 per cent renewable energy in Canada. That same poll found that between 80-95 per cent would support government programs to support workers through that transition. Within the general public, these numbers are even higher.


I posted this under Alberta politics but it has relevance here because, sadly, the ongoing growth and expansion of Alberta oil industry based on bitumen exports and pipelines is an economic pipedream and environmental disaster as its greenhouse gas emissions helps destroy the planet at the same time. 

Canadians have been hosed by the federal government, the Alberta government, banks, the pipeline companies, and the oil industry. There is NO ASIAN MARKET FOR BITUMEN, as the following article explains. Not only that, the bitumen oil sands projects are economically unviable, in addition to being environmentally disastrous. But politicians can't say that and get re-elected.

Canadians are often told the Trans Mountain pipeline project is imperative to access Asian markets anxious to buy Alberta bitumen. ...

Crunching the cargo statistics from the Port of Vancouver a very different picture emerges. In 2016 — the last year that complete data is available — the U.S. accounted for 99.99 per cent of outbound crude oil shipments. Of the 1,185,289 tonnes of crude shipped in bulk tankers that year, 1,185,121 tonnes were delivered to the United States.  In fact, total crude tanker shipments from Vancouver peaked eight years ago in 2010 at 4.3 million tonnes and have since declined 72 per cent.

And what about those hungry Asian markets? Crude exports from Vancouver to China topped out in 2011 at only 28 per cent of total outbound shipments. By 2014, they dropped to six per cent, and in 2016 they were essentially zero. The next largest Asian importers of crude from Vancouver were Singapore, which peaked at four per cent of total shipments in 2009, and India reaching two per cent in 2013.

The market seems to have decided that shipping diluted bitumen across the Pacific Ocean is a money loser. Like it or not, the main customer for Alberta bitumen remains existing refineries in the U.S. already tooled up to process high-sulfur low-value bitumen. And with the current U.S. administration anxious to complete the Keystone XL pipeline to refineries in Louisiana, why do we need to endanger the B.C. coast with tankers carrying dilbit to the same market? 

Many Albertans would prefer to believe that once the Trans Mountain pipeline is rammed through, the good times will be here again. Again, the numbers tell a different story. 

Oil economist Jeff Rubin recently published a damning assessment of the viability of increased pipeline capacity out of Alberta. Asian markets actually pay $8 a barrel less than U.S. refineries for heavy oil like Alberta bitumen. Likewise, European refineries typically pay $3 below the U.S. market after a long expensive boat ride.

Many multi-billion-dollar bitumen projects are already the economic equivalent of dead men walking, according to Rubin. 

“Exxon had to write off US$16 billion of its oil sands assets, including all 3.5 billion barrels of bitumen reserves at its massive and still expanding Kearl Lake mine,” he writes. “Following the huge decline in oil prices since 2014, Exxon’s high cost oil sands resource no longer meets the US Securities Exchange Commission’s definition of a proven reserve, which is one that can be commercially exploited at today’s prices with current technology. Having already spent billions of dollars to develop the mine, Exxon and its Canadian subsidiary, Imperial Oil, have little choice but to complete the ongoing expansion, whose increased output only adds to the current glut of oil already weighing on the price of WCS (Western Canada Select diluted bitumen).”

In other words, the bottom has already fallen out of many bitumen projects, yet they stagger on, animated solely by political and economic inertia. Of course hope springs eternal in the oil industry, which clings to the idea that if the Trans Mountain project is uneconomic now, perhaps in 10 to 40 years prices will improve. 

On the same planet, but in an alternate universe, policy makers are striving to keep global temperature increases below two degrees Celsius. This would require decreasing oil demand by 20 per cent by 2030. If these efforts are successful, the market share of the most expensive, lowest value petroleum on the planet will be the first to go. 

The U.K., France and China have all announced impending bans of the sale and manufacture of gasoline and diesel vehicles. These bold actions are in stark contrast to the moral origami of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is maintaining with a straight face that the best way to protect the climate is by massively scaling up bitumen production. So absurd is this position that it seems hardly worthy of even ridicule. Beyond climate conference photo-ops and aspirational rhetoric, Canada has a wretched record reducing carbon emissions, and Ottawa seems determined to make it even worse.

So what about continued calls to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline? In this age of conflicted information, it is important to look at the sources and their interests. For instance, Scotiabank recently released a report advocating rapid pipeline approvals, stating “The sooner governments move to allow additional pipeline capacity to be built, the better off Canada will be.” Scotiabank has the largest exposure to oilsands debt of any Canadian bank at $32 billionAccording to Peter Routledge, an analyst at National Bank Financial quoted in the Financial Postregarding the dangerous debt exposure of oilsands creditors, “Banks effectively go into business with their clients, businesses or households, when they lend to them. Therefore, it is in a bank’s interest for its clients to remain going concerns.”


The NDP BC provincial government is concerned that many of the dikes built to protect communities in the province are too low by up to a metre to deal with flooding caused by rising sea levels created by climate change. Most of the dikes in the Lower Mainland were built to a design standard set in 1969, before global warming and sea level rise were considered a factor. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources plans to survey  1,000 km of dikes and their crest heights around the province. The cost of raising these dikes would be enormous. A 2012 study concluded that protecting low lying areas of Metro Vancouver, such as Richmond, Delta and False Creek, alone would cost $9.5 billion by 2100. (

Another Metro Vancouver study concluded that a flood at the previous highest level in 1894 would cause $23 billion in damage (see below), but with time and sea level rise due to global warming that level could well be topped. 

I'm sure there are many other communities across the country facing similar problems and costs. Besides sea level rise casuing coastal communities problems because of climate change, the more rapid melting of snow packs because of global warming will also threaten many inland communities. 

Like many other global warming related problems, Canada, not just BC, is ill-prepared to deal with this consequence of climate change. 

Studies commissioned by the province and local authorities suggest that the “frequency and extent of flooding is likely to increase” due to temperatures and precipitation driven by climate change, according to a recent assessment of Lower Mainland dikes. About 290 dikes in B.C. are managed by dozens of diking authorities, many of which cannot bear the expense of significant upgrades. ...

Among the impediments to addressing the issue is that no one knows for sure which dikes need to be raised, because crest height was not included in the last provincial assessment.

“The lack of dike crest information (in conjunction with lack of design flood modelling) makes flood risk planning extremely challenging in these communities,” reads the ministry’s request for proposal. That “snapshot” of B.C.’s dikes will help with efforts to create infrastructure that is more resilient to climate change, said Valerie Cameron, a manager with the ministry’s water management branch. ...

Because dikes tend to settle and erode over time, crest height estimates could be more than 40 years out of date, she said. In 2015, a desktop study of Lower Mainland dikes found that none of the Lower Mainland’s dikes meet current provincial standards. 

While no field work was done for that report, records showed that more than half of the dikes are too low to withstand “design flood levels,” based on water levels on the Fraser River during the flood of 1894, the highest on record, and 1948, the second highest. A rapid snowmelt in May, 1894, caused the river to rise, triggering flooding from Harrison to Richmond and devastated parts of Chilliwack.

Only four per cent of the dike segments are high enough to contain a co-called “design event” with at least 60 centimetres to spare, the report says. More than 70 per cent of Lower Mainland dikes would fail by overtopping if those conditions occurred today. A study by the Fraser Basin Council put the cost of such a flood at $23 billion.

The provincial government is assuming that sea levels will rise by one metre by the end of this century. Design criteria for sea dikes have not yet been updated to account for such a change.

Communities near the mouth of the Fraser will feel the combined effects of higher seas, rising river levels and violent weather. “Coastal storm surges are creating higher water levels as far as the Alex Fraser Bridge (20 km from the ocean), so that is a pretty significant flood risk,” said Litke. “If the sea level rose a metre, that transition point would move even further upriver.”



Swedish philosopher bashed for demanding 'global climate dictatorship'

"If humanity is to be saved at all, which is highly uncertain, this will happen with the help of an enlightened global despotism,' Tarbjorn Tannsjo elaborated..."

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In Sweden, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg has been protesting inaction on climate change since August, going on strike from school every Friday to sit outside her country's parliament. Greta writes for the Guardian Australia about why she believes Australian students should join her: "The adults have failed us. And since most of them, including the press and the politicians, keep ignoring the situation, we must take action into our own hands, starting today."

full Guardian story:


Pentagon Has World's Biggest Carbon 'Bootprint' - Activist

"The elephant in the middle of the room is the US military's massive contribution to global warming."


NDP Premier released his greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan today aimed at cutting BC greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent by 2050. However, the reductions that were outlined in the plan, only meet 75 per cent of the 2030 target.  The Premier said the other 25 per cent will be determined and announced during the next 18 to 24 months. The major question about the plan is whether the province can electrify the LNG extraction and production process that now largely uses natural gas to power plants and pipelines.

One of the goals of the plan is to attract world leading green energy organizations and businesses to BC by establishing an environment that favours their operation. 

However, environmentalists have praised the plan. 

The plan includes previously announced increases to the carbon tax, which is $35 a tonne of carbon and will rise to $50 a tonne by 2021. ...

There is enough “clean” electricity available until after 2030 to feed the plan but then more sources would be needed. ...

The largest chunk of reductions unveiled Wednesday are targeted at industry, including electrifying extraction and production of the natural gas and oil sector in northeast B.C., which accounts for 20 per cent of methane emissions. ...

The B.C. government will provide about $240 million a year in incentives — through rebates to industries with low carbon intensity and a fund to which industry can apply to for projects to lower carbon emissions.

In the housing sector, Horgan’s government wants to see retrofits to existing housing, both public and private, including through incentives such as for heat pumps. By 2032, all new buildings must be net-zero energy, meaning they produce the power they need, perhaps through technologies such as solar panels and extracting heat from waste water.

The plan also includes a recently announced requirement that by 2040 all new vehicles will be zero-emission. The idea is to push the change through incentives, such as rebates to buy electric vehicles and install more charging stations in the province. The province also will increase the low-carbon fuel standard to 20 per cent by 2030, the same as California.

Environmental groups were pleased with the plan. The Wilderness Committee said it was optimistic B.C.’s new climate plan will put the province on track to meet its emissions targets while laying the groundwork for increased ambition on climate action. “It’s taken almost a year, but the Green-supported NDP government has started to head in the right direction,” said climate campaigner Peter McCartney.

Greg D’Avignon, president and CEO of the Business Council of B.C., said the tools within the plan support a low-carbon industrial strategy and position B.C. businesses and the province to be a supplier of choice for international markets seeking lower-carbon intensive energy, commodities and other inputs for their expanding economies.

— The strategy will require an additional 4,000 gigawatt hours of electricity over current demand, equal to increasing B.C. Hydro’s current system-wide capacity by about eight per cent, or about the demand by consumers in Vancouver.

— By 2032, new buildings will be 80 per cent more efficient than homes built today. Emission from buildings will drop by 40 per cent, the government says. ...

— Fossil fuel use for transportation will drop by 20 per cent by 2030, spurred by 30 per cent of sales of new light-duty cars and trucks being zero-emission vehicles.

— By 2025, methane emissions from the natural gas sector will drop by 45 per cent.

— Ninety-five per cent of organic waste from agriculture, industry and municipalities will be diverted from landfills and turned into other products by 2030.

— Seventy-five per cent of landfill methane will be captured by 2030.

— The legislated target for 2030 is a reduction of 25.4 megatonnes of greenhouse gas from the 2007 baseline.



The David Suzuki Foundation has also praised BC's greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan while also pointing out what still needs to be done.

In implementing its new climate plan, B.C. can re-assert itself as a climate leader in Canada. The plan contains comprehensive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. From zero emission vehicles to increasing efficiency of buildings, and from cleaner fuels to electrifying industry, the plan has the potential to meet the province’s climate target of 40 per cent emissions reductions from 2007 levels by 2030. The plan represents a distinct shift away from fossil fuel use while recognizing the need for a just transition for affected industries and workers as the province moves to an alternative, clean economy.

Some key elements are still missing though. The plan is broken into two phases, and this phase will only get us 75 per cent of our needed emissions reductions. Phase two, which will be developed over the coming year, is meant to get us the remaining 25 per cent.  In addition, the province is still developing effective regulations to reduce and eliminate harmful fugitive methane emissions from the fracking industry.

Transportation: including personal vehicles, transit and the movement of goods — represents a large share of B.C.’s emissions. The new climate plan includes a few measures to tackle transportation pollution head on. A range of incentives and support will improve cost and access to charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. The government intends to make it much easier for consumers to buy electric vehicles by introducing a requirement that sales of zero emission cars and trucks increase over time so that by 2040 all new vehicles are non-emitting. They also have plans to support electric and low-emission buses and heavy transport vehicles. The plan commits to increasing the share of low carbon fuel in gasoline and diesel for cars and trucks, which will help keep emissions down during the transition to zero emission vehicles.

More efficient buildings: Another major source of emissions in the province is the energy used to heat and maintain buildings, including your home. The climate plan focuses on incremental changes to the code for new and existing buildings that will increase minimum standards for things like insulation. Existing buildings will also be tackled through improved energy efficiency standards and incentives for switching to more efficient heating and cooling, such as the use of electric heat pumps. ...

Industrial emissions: The plan gets a bit complex and squishy in places when addressing industrial emissions. It’s worth noting that the carbon tax applied to all fossil fuels used in the province (something all British Columbians pay for) will begin to increase annually again and provides one of the most important incentives for reducing industrial emissions. Carbon taxes work to reduce the demand side of fossil fuels, which is broadly effective and gives consumers and industry options for making reductions that fit best with their unique circumstances. Outside of the carbon tax, there’s a mixed bag of incentivizing fuel switching used in heavy equipment, improving electricity transmission lines to make it feasible to use electricity in some sectors instead of fossil fuels, and tackling some specific industrial emissions (like diverting agricultural waste to biomethane, as discussed above). There’s also a commitment to better reporting and data transparency, which is an important step. Despite these measures, industrial emissions are still projected to be significant in 2030, which raises some questions about how government plans to meet its longer-term targets, especially in light of its commitment to LNG and other industrial development.

Does this put B.C. on track?: Overall, the climate plan is a big step forward for B.C. It’s relatively broad and comprehensive and tackles some of our biggest emission sources. Government will have to move swiftly on phase two of the plan. Though another 25 per cent may sound like a bit of cleanup, some difficult and important work is needed to close the gap.


What's the Good of An Effective Carbon Tax If It's Politically Impossible To Implement?

"Developments in France and Alberta, though quite different in tone, suggest carbon taxes may not be a viable way to address climate change..."

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Energy, climate dominate Trudeau's meetings with premiers

Canada’s premiers and prime minister met under tense circumstances in Montreal Friday, and left a day of meetings without a shared agenda on energy or the environment.

Before the meetings, Ontario Premier Doug Ford threatened not to come to the table at all. New Quebec Premier François Legault made clear his province isn’t interested in reviving the Energy East pipeline, despite New Brunswick’s interest and Alberta’s struggling oil and gas sector. And the Alberta government purchased ads in Quebec newspapers Friday morning pointing to its website, which advocates the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline and claims each day the pipeline is delayed represents a loss of nearly $8 billion in revenue for the country.

Heading into the meeting Friday morning, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley called her government’s interim mandatory cuts to oil production “a sign that things aren’t working very well.”

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Notley explained that most premiers were sympathetic to the impact of tumbling oil prices on Alberta, though she acknowledged that Legault has made it clear that he would like his province to move away from oil dependency.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters that he felt the discussions on the subject were “positive and engaged,” and said the federal government wants to work with Alberta and Saskatchewan.

However, no tangible solutions came out of the meeting.

“We don’t have the answers yet,” Notley said.

A new pipeline in Quebec ‘not socially acceptable’

Newly-elected New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs arrived in Montreal hoping to discuss the prospect of reviving Energy East with his provincial counterparts.

He was met with steadfast opposition from Legault, who insisted that “it is not socially acceptable” to have a pipeline pass through Quebec’s borders.

Legault continuously brought the focus back to Quebec’s surplus of hydroelectricity, arguing that like Alberta oil, Quebec hydro needs more avenues for export. He said he would not hesitate to refuse “dirty energy” due to having access to a cleaner source of power.


Environmental policy takes centre stage

At the head of the meeting, Trudeau praised Quebec for its cap-and-trade system – a joint market for buying and selling emission credits that Ontario was a part of until Ford was elected.

Trudeau described the system, which now joins just Quebec and California, as “a successful market-based approach to reducing pollution,” and stressed that the environment and “clean growth” must remain a priority for all provinces.

“After all, future generations, our kids and grandkids, are counting on us as leaders to act,” he said.

Talks around greenhouse gas emissions, however, became a point of contention when some premiers insisted that goalposts for reductions had been moved farther away for some provinces.

To meet its obligations to the Paris climate agreement, Canada needs to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Ford claims that during the meeting, Trudeau said certain provinces will have to “carry more water than other provinces.” That, Ford said, is a punishment for Ontarians and “sets uncertainty in our economy.” He maintained that Ontario was on track to meet the 30 per cent target.

“This is not what we have agreed to,” said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, echoing Ford’s account of the meeting

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..while the meeting of premiers and prime minister produce nothing substantial re climate..there comes a response from below.

Alberta tarsands production cuts here to stay: Indigenous-led movement will make sure of it

By Stewart Phillip, Serge ‘Otsi’ Simon

Alberta was forced to announce oil production cuts this week in order to both liquidate existing backlogged oil and in the hopes of fetching higher prices.

This was welcome news for all those fighting to prevent the worst, most catastrophic impacts of our rapidly changing climate.

An alliance of Indigenous Nations from across Canada and the U.S., now numbering 150 Nations, warned back in 2016 when the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion was first launched, that all attempts to further increase production of the tarsands, whether by pipeline, rail or marine tankers, would be blocked.

An entire Indigenous-led movement of people of all ages and backgrounds has been standing up to these tarsands pipelines and enforcing the ban, including by starving the tarsands of its financial backers, sometimes by even going to jail and putting their bodies on the line. Heroes, all of them.

Industry chose to ignore these warnings and continued to increase production, with plans for much more. They are now butting up against current pipeline capacity, adding to the already existing price differential that heavy tarsands oil always suffers from as a result of increased refinement costs and its distance from refineries.

These production cuts are exactly what are needed and what this movement has been fighting for — to limit expansion of the Alberta tarsands.

And for those saying this will be a temporary problem that will soon be solved when Enbridge’s Line 3 comes on line next year, don’t count on it — the resistance to that tarsands pipeline is massive and growing. Enbridge is truly in for a repeat of its Northern Gateway experience.

As for the Trans Mountain expansion tanker and pipeline project, one way or another, it will be stopped. And as for Energy East, TransCanada already closed the door on that one after they saw the resistance they faced. TransCanada knows it will not even be able to get Keystone XL built.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to build pipelines that will allow GHG emissions from the tarsands to continue to rise and yet Canada is not even on pace to meet its weak Harper-era emission reduction targets. One of the biggest reasons Canada has not been able to reduce emissions is that tarsands production has kept going up.

Now let us be clear. Our target is not Alberta, communities or workers. We have said since the beginning that we need a rapid but just transition away from the tarsands that supports workers, communities and First Nations. We need government to invest in renewable energy and a decarbonized economy that leaves no one behind.

A true friend of Alberta would not help it take yet another step into the tarsands abyss and allow industry to leave behind an even bigger toxic disaster. So many also seem to forget that Albertans will be a huge victim of climate change, with more events in store like the devastating wildfires and floods they have experienced.

That’s why we absolutely must and will do anything we can to address the climate crisis that our planet is facing.


The North American oil industry over the last decade with shale oil and tar sand gunk hit new levels of production. Our national media does not believe it is a glut on the supply side that is the problem they buy the idea that a pipeline will magically make low grade product worth top dollar. The propaganda in this country is unrelenting.


What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel?

"a novel plan to mitigate the climate calamity."

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Canada Commits to Faster, Deeper Carbon Cuts in 2020

Canada will adopt tougher greenhouse gas reduction targets when the Paris Agreement takes effect in 2020, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said yesterday, just days before her departure for this year’s United Nations climate change conference in Katowice.

Now, climate and energy transition hawks across the country will be watching for Ottawa to set an ambitious enough target to do its fair share to reverse the climate crisis—and then meet the target. The IPCC’s landmark report on 1.5°C pathways last October concluded that the country “needs to cut emissions almost in half if it is to do its part,” the Canadian Press reports. Canada’s current target is to cut them by about 27%,” and the country is far behind that goal.

McKenna’s interview with CP came on the same day that her boss, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, lectured Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band for her outspoken opposition to the now taxpayer-owned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion....

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The globe’s biggest maritime shipping company is abandoning fossil fuels

The world’s largest maritime shipping company is slowly ditching fossil fuels, and in doing so has thrown down a challenge for the rest of the industry to follow suit.

Denmark-based AP Moller Maersk this week said it will cut its carbon emissions completely by 2050. That’s a significant goal for the company, which is part of an industry responsible for about 3% of the world’s emissions, according to the United Nations. If shipping itself were a country, data show it would be the world’s sixth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter. Maersk accounts for about 20% of the world’s sea-based freighting.

If shipping were a country, it'd be the 6th-biggest CO2 emitter

1. China 10.43 billion metric tons

2. USA 5.01

3. India 2.53

4. Russia 1.66

5. Japan 1.23

6. Cargo ships 1

7. Germany 0.78

8. Canada 0.68

9. Iran 0.64

10. Korea 0.6


In February, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) told a private Calgary audience that cleaning up after the pollution created by Alberta's fossil fuel industry could cost as much as $260 billion. However, the documents supporting this were only revealed to the public in November when they were obtained by several media (the National Observer, Global News, the Toronto Star, and StarMetro Calgary).  For years, the public has been told that the clean up would cost $58 billion. The government meanwhile has only collected $1.6 billion in liability security from companies.

In 2015-2016, Albertans "collected $1.54 a barrel in royalties" ( for the privilege of turning over a barrel to the fossil fuel industry, getting pollution for 0.5% of the clean up costs, increasing carbon dioxide emissions, and adding to a $260 billion taxpayer bill. For the fossil fuel industry, it's been nice work. 

The documents were used by Rob Wadsworth, a high-ranking AER official, in providing liability estimates to a private Calgary audience back in February. The liability costs pertain to the amount needed to shut down inactive oil and gas exploration wells, abandoned facilities and pipelines, as well as toxic tailings ponds near Fort McMurray, Alta.

Wadsworth blamed the costs on a “flawed system” of industrial oversight, urging companies and stakeholders to accept tougher regulations and begin the cleanup process promptly. 

“We can continue down our current path until the impacts are felt by the public … or we can start to implement the numerous changes that we know need to be made,” Wadsworth’s notes indicated. 

Until now, the public had been told the cleanup would cost approximately $58 billion. The AER said that Wadsworth’s estimates are based on a “worst-case scenario” of a total industry closure, yet Wadsworth’s presentation suggests the actual costs will be more than his estimates. Several experts who have reviewed Wadsworth’s presentation describe the situation as an economic and environmental crisis, the National Observer reports.




The day after the documents revealing that Alberta had a $260 billion fossil fuel cleanup on its hands, the Alberata Energy Regulator (AER) announced that its president and CEO, Jim Ellis, would be resigning in January (see last post for background). I guess the regulating agency finally woke up to the fact that $260 billion libability is a lot of money for taxpayers to cough up for the fossil fuel industry's pollution. Of course the announcement praised Ellis for saving the fossil fuel industry $2 billion (I thought it was $260 billion but who is counting) and said the resignation was "unrelated" to the release of the $260 cleanup documents. And of course there was not a peep about regulatory capture - the thought never crossed their minds.

The president of Alberta’s fossil fuel industry regulator will resign in January, after the organization publicly apologized for the alarm caused by its $260-billion estimate of financial liabilities in the province’s oilpatch. Jim Ellis, president and chief executive officer of the Alberta Energy Regulator, will be resigning effective Jan. 31, 2019, the organization announced Friday. He became president of the regulator in June 2013.

The announcement comes on the heels of a Nov. 1 report by National ObserverGlobal News, the Toronto Star and StarMetro Calgary that revealed the regulator’s stunning internal estimate of the cost of cleaning up aging and inactive oil and gas exploration wells, facilities, pipelines and toxic tailings ponds from oilsands mines.

The estimated financial liabilities, contained in a presentation by the regulator’s vice-president of closure and liability Robert Wadsworth, were $200 billion greater than a previous public estimate of just over $58 billion.

The AER said the decision for Ellis to resign “has been in the planning stages for the past several months.”

"The story you reference is unrelated to today's announcement," said AER's communications and international relations director Bob Curran, referring to the liabilities report.

The documents were released as part of a joint investigation for the ongoing Price of Oil series, and obtained under freedom of information legislation. The news report led to questions in the Alberta and federal legislatures and a statement by the regulator that the “staggering” numbers in its presentation sparked "concern and confusion.”

The resignation statement quotes AER Chair Sheila O’Brien crediting Ellis for having “built a new organization from the ground up,” and having “led a team that focused on initiatives that have delivered more than $2 billion in industry savings while protecting public safety and the environment.” It said the board of the AER will begin a “broad-based search” for a new CEO “immediately” to ensure “continuity of leadership in the organization.”



 Environmental groups and Environmental Defence at the UN climate change talks in Poland today say that " Canada is living in a fantasy if the government thinks it can meet its greenhouse-gas promises without reducing how much oil and gas the country produces". The groups used the UN meeting to release a report that accuses the fossil fuel industry of undermining Canada's climate plans (

"Oil and gas is the major obstacle to Canada actually being a climate leader and not just talking about being a climate leader," said Dale Marshall, national program manager for Environmental Defence. The report accuses the industry of successfully lobbying Canada to water down climate policies or exempt it from them, including delaying cuts to methane emissions from oil-production facilities and exempting up to 80 per cent of oilsands emissions from the federal carbon price due to kick in next year. Marshall said Canada's policies to allow oilsands production to expand, and even buying the Trans Mountain pipeline to facilitate that expansion, are counterintuitive for a government that keeps claiming it wants to be at the forefront of global climate action.

Patrick McDonald, the director of climate for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, dismissed the report as a "targeted effort by special interest groups looking at only our industry." ...

The report, however, says the emissions from each barrel of oil produced in Canada have grown 20 per cent between 1990 and 2016.

Catherine Abreu, the executive director of Climate Action Network Canada, said at a news conference at the meeting in Poland Monday that even if the industry can use technology to reduce emissions per unit of oil, gas or coal produced, that's just a temporary fix in a world where the long-term plan has to be to stop using fossil fuels entirely. "There are a lot of countries who, like Canada, seem to be under the impression that their fossil fuels are somehow different from everyone else's fossil fuels," she said. "As if their coal, oil or natural gas is magically non-emitting and actually good for the climate, while everyone else's fossil fuels are the problem." ...

Right now the world's policies have it on track to exceed 3 C in warming by the end of the century. Canada is currently planning to trim its emissions by about 200 million tonnes a year -- the equivalent to what is produced by about 44 million passenger cars -- but a recent UN report from dozens of respected climate scientists said that if the 1.5 C target has any hope of being met, Canada's share of the necessary emissions reductions would be more like 400 million tonnes.

The oil-and-gas sector is one of the few areas where emissions are still increasing in Canada. Tzeporah Berman, international programs director at, said if oil-sector emissions keep growing, Canada will have to "squeeze" every other province and industry to get them to cut even more. Since most of the existing plan addresses the easiest and cheapest reductions we can get, cutting those other sectors further would require more costly and difficult regulations and policies, she said.



For all the free marketeers (translation free polluters) out there, a new report by 415 institutional investors controlling $32 trillion warns that climate change could trigger the next global recession that would be worse than 2008. 

Global investment funds overseeing US$32 trillion in assets gave a stark warning to governments Monday: cut carbon emissions and phase out coal mines or face a financial crisis several times worse than the 2008 market crash. On Monday, 415 institutional investors from across the world (including several from Canada) released a statementdemanding urgent action on the Paris Agreement as policymakers meet for the second week at the UN climate summit in Poland.

“The reality is that the long-term nature of the challenge has, in our view, met a zombie-like response by many,” said Chris Newton of IFM Investors. The investment managers said they have a responsibility to “manage and protect the assets of millions of savers and individuals worldwide, including from the effects of climate change,” citing their concern with the lack of implementation of the Paris Agreement, which world leaders are currently trying to finalize at the summit.

The group of pension and investment funds said world leaders are falling short of the goal to slow global warming to below 2 C above pre-industrial levels.

Failure to act and lower carbon emissions could lead to permanent economic damage three or four times the scale of the impact of the 2008 financial crisis, British investment firm Schroders said, adding that it could cost $23 trillion of global economic losses a year in the long term without rapid action.

“The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society and the financial system to climate risks,” the statement said.

The warning also comes almost a few weeks after the release of a U.S. government report that warned climate change will cost the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century, damaging everything from human health to infrastructure and agricultural production.

The group recommended that to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting the increase in global temperatures by 2 C, a coal phase-out is needed by 2030 in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and in the European Union; by 2040 in China; and by 2050 in the rest of the world.



Canada and the federal Liberals are facing more pressure at the Katowice Poland climate change conference. 

Catherine Abreu, executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada, said at the moment the only developed country really fighting for tougher cuts to emissions is New Zealand. ...

Other countries know that Canada is struggling to meet its own targets, that the Liberal government is facing legal and political pressure over its planned carbon tax and that Canada is continuing government support for developing oil and gas reserves.

Some officials are snarking that Canada is good for talking points but not action. ...

The existing policies under the Paris agreement have the world on track to exceed 3 C in warming. 

That report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says Canada would have to double its planned emissions cuts to do its share to keep the world to the 1.5 C goal, but Canada's existing policies don't even get us all the way to our current target, let alone anywhere close to a tougher one.



The Jimmy Dore Show

"Dems betray environment - appoint Neanderthal Joe Manchin."


The Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES)  has given the Moe government's environmental plan a failing grade in a report, entitled "Prairie Resilience" is not Enough, released this week. It warns about the growing costs associated with global warming to the province of Saskatchewan. SES warns that not implementing a price on carbon in Saskatchewan would lead to annual growing emissions as happened in Australia after its carbon levy was removed.

The report says parts of the province are seeing record-high summer temperatures, record-low precipitation levels and intensifying forest fire seasons, while other parts are seeing major flooding and "intense precipitation events." It says there has been an "acceleration in the number of extreme weather events, as reflected in Saskatchewan government spending on disaster assistance." The government spent $1,500,000 in 2002 and $32,795,000 in 2017 under the government of Saskatchewan's Provincial Disaster Program, according to the report. Between those years, the highest amount spent was $157,115,000 in 2012. The report says these numbers don't include crop insurance payments or firefighting costs.

The report also addresses Saskatchewan's greenhouse gas footprint and emphasizes the need to reduce it.  Saskatchewan has one of the highest per-capita emission rates in the world, according to the report. It says Saskatchewan makes up 10.8 per cent of Canada's emissions total, despite having just over three per cent of the country's population. ...

SES says it supports a carbon tax, citing the "positive impact of adopting a price on carbon and in negative impact of removing it," referring to a carbon levy in Australia. Australia saw a 1.1 per cent drop in greenhouse gas emissions under a levy, according to the report, but emissions have been rising on an average of 1.3 per cent each year since the levy was repealed in 2014. "In order to have any chance of achieving the required level of reductions these will need to be accompanied by a price on carbon," said Ann Coxworth, co-author of the SES report. ...

The SES report has numerous recommendations, such as cutting back on venting methane gas unless it's for safety reasons, setting strict regulations for monitoring and repairing methane leaks and denying further permits to extract the heavy oil resources with the highest carbon content. The report also recommends completely phasing out conventional coal-fired power stations, investing "heavily" in electricity efficiency and expanding renewable power such as wind and solar power, among other measures. ...

"We're also uneasy about the fact that as Saskatchewan moves off coal, it's increasing its reliance on natural gas for electricity generation," said report co-author Bob Halliday. "That's a problem in itself and it's an unsustainable practice." There is an emphasis on reducing emissions in the transportation sector as well, which includes establishing financial incentives for purchasing electric, hybrid and ultra-fuel-efficient vehicles. ...

The SES report points out that Prairie Resilience indicates the province is aiming for 12 million-tonne reduction in greenhouse gasses between the electricity generation sector, the oil and gas sector and the industrial sector, but it doesn't include emission targets for other sectors.  The SES report says this is a step in the right direction, but for Canada to meet its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement it would need to reduce 28 million tonnes of greenhouse gas per year.


As is so often the case the young tell us the brutal truth. 

“Whatever our world leaders are 'doing' to reduce emissions, they are doing it wrong. We have to understand what the older generation has dealt to us, what mess they have created that we have to clean up and live with.” – Greta Thunberg, 15-year-old Swedish climate hero speaking at COP24 

The primary force overheating our planet, destabilizing our climate and acidifying our oceans is the surging levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.  Since 1990, at the Rio Summit, world leaders have met annually and pledged to stop this "speeding freight train" before it gets too dangerous. Right now they are meeting in Katowice, Poland, for the twenty-fourth year in a row, at a United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 24). Despite decades of global promises and negotiations CO2 levels have not stabilized. Not only are emissions still rising, they are actually accelerating upwards.  Despite these decades of global promises and negotiations — on climate policies, emissions targets, clean energy and efficiency — CO2 levels have not stabilized. Not only are emissions still rising, they are actually accelerating upwards. 

That's the dismal story revealed by the most recent CO2 data from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Take a look.


Atmospheric CO2 with decade trend lines. Annotated with UN COP years.

Total CO2 In our atmosphere — Data from NOAA, in parts per million (ppm). Chart by Barry Saxifrage

The bold red line in my chart above shows the level of CO2 in our atmosphere since 1960. I've added all twenty-four of the United Nations COPs in the year they happened.  To appreciate how fast CO2 levels have been accelerating, look at the dotted lines. Each one shows the average rate of increase for a different decade. Instead of reducing our pollution pace since the COPs started in the early 1990s, we've increased it more than fifty per cent.

You can see why kids like Greta have become so frustrated and angry. We are literally accelerating their generation into a chaotic climate future, and doing nothing meaningful to stop it. ...

There is no mystery about where all this new CO2 is coming from — fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal. Every year, humanity digs up and burns more fossil carbon than it did the year before. And every year we continue to dump the resulting tens of billions of tonnes of CO2 pollution directly into our atmosphere. My next chart shows this clearly.

Cumulative fossil fuel CO2 since 1960. Red line shows amount remaining in the atmosphere. Annotated with UN COP years.

Cumulative CO2 since 1960 — All values in GtCO2. Fossil fuel CO2 data from Oak Ridge National Lab. Data for CO2 remaining in air from NOAA; converted using 7.81 GtCO2/ppm. Chart by Barry Saxifrage

This chart shows the cumulative amount of CO2 that’s been emitted since 1960.  The bold black line shows the CO2 released by fossil fuel burning (plus a relatively small amount from cement production). As you can see, that line is accelerating too. Last year, humanity dumped an all-time record — exceeding 36 billion tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) for the first time ever. This year we are on track to exceed 37 GtCO2. The red line shows the amount of CO2 that has remained in the air. 

“We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change … It is hard to overstate the urgency of our situation … Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.” — United Nations Secretary General António Guterres speaking at COP24



Environmental activists are believe that the COP 24 agreement reached in Poland is not ambitious enough to deal with the rapidly intensifying climate disaster. 

Diplomats from around the world have agreed a major climate deal after two weeks of United Nations talks in Poland. But climate campaigners warned the deal – effectively a set of rules for how to govern the 2015 Paris climate accord – agreed between almost 200 countries lacked ambition or a clear promise of enhanced climate action. ...

The agreement establishes rules to govern the 2015 Paris climate accord, which includes a goal of capping global temperature increases at no more than 1.5C.

However scientists say emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide need to drop sharply by 2030 to prevent potentially catastrophic global warming. And the meeting postponed decisions on pledging more ambitious action to fight global warming and on regulating the market for international carbon emissions trading.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director at Greenpeace International, said: “A year of climate disasters and a dire warning from the world’s top scientists should have led to so much more.  “Instead, governments let people down again as they ignored the science and the plight of the vulnerable. Recognising the urgency of raised ambition and adopting a set of rules for climate action is not nearly enough when whole nations face extinction. Without immediate action, even the strongest rules will not get us anywhere. People expected action and that is what governments did not deliver. This is morally unacceptable.” ...

Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said world leaders were in a “state of denial” about the problem. “They’ve made important progress, but what we’ve seen in Poland reveals a fundamental lack of understanding by some countries of our current crisis,” he added.  “Luckily, the Paris Agreement is proving to be resilient to the storms of global geopolitics. Now we need all countries to commit to raising climate ambition before 2020, because everyone’s future is at stake.”





Fifteen year old Greta Thunberg admonished the politicians and bureaucrats at COP 24 for doing so little in the fight against climate change. Who is she?

Thunberg led Swedish students in mass walkouts from school earlier this year, and last month thousands of students in Australia, inspired by her, also left their classrooms. ...

Thunberg is on the autism spectrum, which she connects to her focused interest in climate change. As she told the New Yorker’s Masha Gessen earlier this year, “I see the world a bit different, from another perspective. I have a special interest. It’s very common that people on the autism spectrum have a special interest.” (video of speech is included)

Here is 15 year old Greta Thunberg's speech to COP 24 in full:

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden.

I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now. 

Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn't matter what we do.

But I've learned you are never too small to make a difference.

And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.

You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don't care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. 

Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.

Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn't do anything while there still was time to act.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself.

We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.

We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time.

We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.



epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Poor and vulnerable countries were bullied at UN climate talks

I have just returned home after spending two weeks in Katowice, Poland, attending the U.N. climate talks, known as COP24 - my 24th such conference. The objective of COP24 was to agree on a “rule book” to put into practice the 2015 Paris Agreement, and that was indeed achieved.

However, it needed 24 hours added on at the end to get it done, despite an extra day already scheduled at the beginning. And the process was not pretty.

Having been a close adviser to the Least Developed Countries Group at the negotiations for many years, I have observed at close quarters how poor and vulnerable countries are bullied into accepting text that is nowhere near adequate for them.

The two biggest bullies are the United States and Saudi Arabia, although their tactics are quite different.



The United States does its bullying by arranging pre-COP bilateral meetings with poor countries behind closed doors where its shares its red lines, and makes implicit and sometimes explicit threats of adverse consequences if those countries challenge the U.S. position. 

It is extremely difficult for a poor country to defy such threats. The only time the most vulnerable developing nations have managed to do so - for example in Paris, to get 1.5C mentioned as an aspirational goal - has been when they have all acted together collectively.

The bullying tactic from Saudi Arabia is somewhat different and more procedural. It was also clearly on display at Katowice. It is to drag out the negotiations on any topic, no matter how trivial or important. The objective is to simply delay the negotiations beyond the allocated time (they have on one occasion held up the acceptance of a meeting agenda for several days!).

Most of the delegates from poorer developing countries have to go home after the scheduled conference time, and cannot stay on for the dragged-out negotiations to end. The result is often a very poor compromise text that they are unable to block. This is what happened in Katowice.


Like the cigarette industry, the fossil fuel industry in the United States is now being sued because the industry knew for at least thirty years and did nothing to warn the public, but instead denied the problem, just like the cigarette industry. In fact, some of the same people have been used in the denial game in the two industries. The cigarette industry is paying $246 billion dollars to state governments because of the increased costs to health care. Unfortunately, much of this money is not being spent on health care and prevention of smoking .(

In Canada Quebec Supreme Court award $15 billion against three major cigarette corporations but that has been appealed. Total lawsuit claims in Canada now total $120 billion. (

Children are also suing governments for their failure to prevent an environmental disaster that will have its greatest effect on them. The following article updates where these lawsuits are at in the United States. 

A wave of legal challenges that is washing over the oil and gas industry, demanding accountability for climate change, started as a ripple after revelations that ExxonMobil had long recognized the threat fossil fuels pose to the world.

Over the past few years: Two states launched fraud investigations into Exxon over climate change, and one has followed with a lawsuit. Nine cities and counties, from New York to San Francisco, have sued major fossil fuel companies, seeking compensation for climate change damages. And determined children have filed lawsuits against the federal government and various state governments, claiming the governments have an obligation to safeguard the environment. The litigation, reinforced by science, has the potential to reshape the way the world thinks about energy production and the consequences of global warming. It advocates a shift from fossil fuels to sustainable energy and draws attention to the vulnerability of coastal communities and infrastructure to extreme weather and sea level rise.

From a trove of internal Exxon documents, a narrative emerged in 2015 that put a spotlight on the conduct of the fossil fuel industry. An investigative series of stories by InsideClimate News, and later the Los Angeles Times, disclosed that the oil company understood the science of global warming, predicted its catastrophic consequences, and then spent millions to promote misinformation. That evidence ignited a legal clamor that included calls for a federal criminal investigation of Exxon. The challenges gained momentum when attorneys general in New York and Massachusetts subpoenaed the oil giant for internal climate change-related documents. Then some of the country's largest cities entered the fray, seeking billions of dollars to fortify against climate change.  

The storm of litigation could have a broad impact if it succeeds in holding fossil fuel companies accountable for the kinds of damages they foresaw decades ago, said Harold Koh, a professor of international law at Yale Law School who served as senior legal adviser to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"The industry has profited from the manufacture of fossil fuels but has not had to absorb the economic costs of the consequences," Koh said. "The industry had the science 30 years ago and knew what was going to happen but made no warning so that preemptive steps could have been taken.  

"The taxpayers have been bearing the cost for what they should have been warned of 30 years ago," Koh added. "The companies are now being called to account for their conduct and the damages from that conduct."

Following is a summary of the major legal battles pitting Exxon and the oil and gas industry against American states and cities, and environmentally inspired young people against the government. 

This timeline will be updated as events unfold. (see url below for a description of what has happened in individual lawsuits)



In Canada, 50 BC based organizations have demanded that the provincial government "enact a Liability for Climate-related Harm Act — a law that will clarify the liability of companies that extract, refine and sell fossil fuels for their share of climate-change harm suffered in B.C. 

When a similar bill was debated in Ontario’s Legislature, supporters pointed out that it’s fiscally irresponsible for governments to assume that taxpayers will pay for the rising costs of climate change without recovering some costs from the industry that helped create them."  ...

We can stand with, and learn from, communities around the world that are taking fossil-fuel companies to task for their contribution to climate change:

• Ten B.C. communities — as well as the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) representing 53 local governments have written to 20 of the world’s largest fossil-fuel companies demanding that they pay their share of local climate impacts.


However, threats from the fossil fuel industry have intimidated some communities. 

Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton was forced to back-pedal last week after a letter he sent to petroleum producers seeking costs for climate change sparked a new skirmish in the ongoing B.C.-Alberta conflict over fossil fuels.

Crompton’s letter prompted swift protest from some in Alberta’s energy industry and led to cancelled travel plans and a decision to cancel part of an investors conference in Whistler. The mayor said he sincerely regretted that anyone would feel unwelcome in his resort town.

For experts, the outgoing letter illustrated at a local level several broad trends coming together in the conversation around climate change, while the forceful reaction it prompted was indicative of how polarized the debate has become.

Whistler was not alone in asking for payment from producers. More than a dozen other B.C. municipalities recently voted to join a campaign led by West Coast Environmental Law to ask oil and gas companies to chip in on the costs local governments are paying for climate change. The firm did not respond to a request for comment by deadline Sunday.

Kathryn Harrison, a political-science professor at the University of B.C., said the campaign was consistent with a larger strategy to shift attention from those who use fossil fuels to those who produce them, and to account for the here and now costs of climate change. It also comes as municipal governments around the world are taking on vocal roles on environment. “They are not typically the level of government that has the authority and responsibility for adopting things like carbon pricing and tailpipe emissions standards … but they are the ones on the front line when it comes to adapting to the impacts and costs of climate change,” Harrison said. ...

Among the municipalities that have joined the campaign is West Vancouver, according to West Coast Environmental Law. A form letter that was printed on letterhead from the district’s mayor’s office and posted to the environmental firm’s website requests industry recipients to make a financial contribution “to the mitigation of climate change.” The letter was neither addressed nor signed, but it was attributed to Mayor Mary-Ann Booth, who could not be reached for comment Sunday. “It is our position that you have played a key role in degrading the global atmosphere and creating a range of threats to our community. Your contribution is readily detectable globally and is therefore considered legally significant and actionable,” read the letter. “(As) we undertake the task of planning for, and building and modifying our infrastructure and services and developing a community that can withstand current and anticipated climate change, we request you to pay your fair share of the resulting costs.”

Squamish, Victoria, Saanich, North Saanich, Colwood, Highlands, View Royal, Sooke, both the city and district of Powell River, Sechelt, Castlegar, Rossland and Slocan were all listed by West Coast Environmental Law as having voted to send “accountability letters.” It is unclear how many in fact did mail letters.

Lisa Helps, the mayor of Victoria, sent a letter to Chevron asking for the company to pay 3.34 per cent of the city’s climate-related costs going forward. That letter was posted on West Coast Environmental Law’s webpage.  ...

Letters of response that municipalities had received from BHPTotal and Shell were also posted on West Coast Environmental Law’s website. “BHP accepts the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment of climate change science, which has found that warming of the climate is unequivocal, the human influence is clear and physical impacts are unavoidable,” wrote Fiona Wild, BHP Billiton’s vice-president of sustainability and climate change. “As a leading global resources company, we are committed to playing our part in addressing climate change.”

Manoelle Lepoutre, Total’s senior vice-president of civil society engagement, said Total had always been guided by the observance of laws and regulations. “In view of the foregoing, we consider that Total cannot be held liable for the consequences of climate change.”



The never-ending subsidization of Canada's fossil fuel industry continued today with the Trudeau Liberals providing $1.6 billion in financial support to Alberta's fossil fuel sector. This comes after buying the Liberals by the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion with an estimated cost to twin it of $7.4 billion that has already risen by $1.9 billion for a total cost of $13.8 billion (and these megaproject costs always continue to rise). (

Kinder Morgan was glad to dump Trans Mountain on the Trudeau Liberals because, guess what, there is no Asian market. Not only that, the bitumen oil sands projects are economically unviable, in addition to being environmentally disastrous. But politicians can't say that and get re-elected.

And what about those hungry Asian markets? Crude exports from Vancouver to China topped out in 2011 at only 28 per cent of total outbound shipments. By 2014, they dropped to six per cent, and in 2016 they were essentially zero. The next largest Asian importers of crude from Vancouver were Singapore, which peaked at four per cent of total shipments in 2009, and India reaching two per cent in 2013. The market seems to have decided that shipping diluted bitumen across the Pacific Ocean is a money loser. Like it or not, the main customer for Alberta bitumen remains existing refineries in the U.S. already tooled up to process high-sulfur low-value bitumen.

The International Monetary Fund, which is the furtherest thing one can imagine from a left-wing environmental organization, puts Canada's subsidies to the fossil fuel industry at a much higher amount, $34 billion. 

Justin Trudeau has a problem. How can Canada meet our international climate commitments so recently inked in Paris with an increasingly empty economic larder? The International Monetary Fund may have the answer. Last summer, the IMF updated its global report on energy subsidies and found that Canada provides a whopping $46.4 billion in subsidies to the energy sector in either direct support or uncollected taxes on externalized costs. ...

To be clear, the IMF is including all untaxed externalized costs of energy use under their definition of subsidies. The figures flagged for Canada still include $1.4 billion in direct “pre-tax” subsidies -- the kind of direct public giveaways that Trudeau campaigned to eliminate. The remaining $44.6 billion is in the form of externalized costs to society from dirty and dangerous fossil fuels -- things like air pollution, traffic congestion and climate change. ...

According to IMF economists, Canadian carbon-based fuels should be taxed an additional $17.2 billion annually to compensate for climate change, $6 billion for air pollution, $14.9 billion for traffic congestion and $2.1 for traffic accidents. Tacking on another $3.5 billion for uncollected value-added taxes, $880 million for road damage and of course the $1.4 billion in direct subsidies, we arrive at almost $50 billion annually that could help transition to a greener economy.

However, the biggest subsidy is actually the externalized cost of the pollution created by Alberta's fossil fuel industry, which has reached $260 billion, mostly under the Progressive Conservative governments that ruled the province from 1971 to 2015, but continued under the NDP, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator, while the fossil fuel corporations have only had to pay $1.6 billion (0.5%) in cleanup costs. (

Meanwhile in 2015-2016, Albertans "collected $1.54 a barrel in royalties" ( for the privilege of turning over a barrel to the fossil fuel industry, another form of subsidy. 




Here's the details on the latest subsidy of $1.6 billion handed out by the Trudeau Liberals to the Alberta fossil fuel industry. Canada already had the largest fossil fuel subsidies by far of any G7 country. At the same time, we are ignoring the $415 trillion, that's right trillion - not billion, that investors have available for investment in non-fossil fuel industries (see quote below). 

This comes just after Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau's November fiscal update update that increased fossil fuel subsidies to write off a larger fraction of assets during the year investments occurred.

At the same time, Liberal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna continues the doublespeak of saying we are going to increase our carbon reduction targets while at this month's COP 24 climate change conference that just finished this weekend, while the Liberal Natural Resource Minister and the Trade Diversification Minister hand out fossil fuel expansion subsidies. 

Canada will make available $1.6 billion in financial support to help Alberta's oil and gas sector expand into new markets, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced Tuesday. Sohi made the announcement alongside International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton. Carr described how the money will be used to help the oilpatch in part with liquidity concerns. ...

Export Development Canada (EDC), the Crown corporation that is already managing the loansrelated to the government's purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, will make another $1 billion available to "exporters of all sizes" to help companies invest in new technology, "address working capital needs or explore new markets," Sohi said. Another Crown corporation, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), will be creating another $500 million "energy diversification" financing program for "higher risk" oil and gas companies dealing with market uncertainty. Sohi pointed out there is also $50 million available through Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program and another $100 million available through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund. ...

Sohi said the financing being provided through EDC and BDC is "not a subsidy for fossil fuels. These are commercial loans, made available on commercial terms. We have committed to phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, and we stand by that commitment," he said.

Environmental Defence didn't see it that way, in a statement released shortly after Sohi'sannouncement. "Today, Canada announced another massive backslide on its longstanding commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies," said Patrick DeRochie, Environmental Defence's climate and energy program manager. Today's announcement, he said, "caps off a year of irresponsible government handouts to support an industry whose growth is incompatible with Canada’s climate targets."

A recent study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development showed that, per unit of GDP, Canada is the largest provider of fossil fuel subsidies in the G7. The G7 pledged in 2016 to eliminate “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” by 2025.

This month, 415 investors, with $32 trillion in assets-under-management, called on governments to “set a clear timeline by 2020 for the phase-out of all fossil fuel subsidies.” ...

Canada has committed to cutting its carbon pollution 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and the Trudeau government has moved to implement a price on pollution nationwide, alongside other measures such as investments in green infrastructure.

But Canada's Paris climate agreement target won’t achieve the emission cuts the IPCC report said is necessary. In addition, the UN environment agency said without stricter measures, Canada will fall short of its current target. Nevertheless, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said this month she expects Canada to adopt even higher carbon pollution targets in 2020.

Annie Bérubé, Director of Governmental Relations at Équiterre, said investments in Alberta's energy sector should be in renewable energy, and not fossil fuels. "The federal government’s support for oil and gas workers must be an investment in a just and equitable transition towards renewable energy," she said. After this month's international climate talks, COP24, where Canada promoted more ambitious targets to cut carbon pollution, "it is incomprehensible that the federal government is still investing in increasing the amount of dirty energy that we export," added Bérubé. ...

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s Nov. 21 fiscal update allowed Canada's oil and gas industry to benefit from a new program that allows businesses to write off a larger share of assets in the year an investment was made.



More evidence of the Trudeau Liberals and especially of Catherine McKenna's doublespeak on global warming was in evidence at the COP 24 climate change conference in Katowice Poland. She was promoting a global carbon market, which has many problems, which is what one should suspect when it is supported by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the report backing it was paid for by Trans Mountain and Enbridge!

At the conclusion of the United Nations COP24 climate talks in Katowice, Poland, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna boasted that Canada "played a leading role in laying the groundwork for a global carbon market."

In short, this is a corporate-friendly approach backed by the World Bank Group in which a central authority allocates or sells a limited number of credits to corporations to discharge specific quantities of carbon pollution. Polluters that want to increase their carbon emissions must buy credits from other corporations willing to sell their excess credits.

McKenna further noted in her December 15 media statement that "Canada took part in the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition" and that "more work remains over the next year to finalize the guidelines for international trading." Her comment suggests that COP25 -- which will take place November 11-22, 2019 in Chile -- may well be a key moment where this agenda will be furthered, or indeed as she hopes, finalized.

During COP24, Oil Change International noted, "Friends of the Earth International, Corporate Accountability and other NGOs demonstrated outside a forum by IETA -- the International Emissions Trading System -- for promoting false solutions to climate change." The Bretton Woods Project, which critiques the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, has noted, "Despite the emergence of ETS [emission trading systems] markets in North America, Europe and China, the jury is still out on whether they can be an effective tool to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions."

That's in part because most of these schemes price carbon at less than $10 a tonne, while the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices recommends the price should be between US$40-$80 a tonne by 2020 and between US$50-$100 a tonne by 2030. ...

Somewhat echoing the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices, Simon Fraser University economist Marc Jaccard has stated that the carbon tax in Canada would need to start at $30 next year and rise to $200 a tonne by 2030 to meet the federal government's (weak) commitment under the Paris climate agreement.

During COP24, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce expressed its support for carbon pricing -- with some significant caveats. Their report cautioned:

"Carbon pricing systems cannot be a tax grab. Provincial and federal governments should use revenues to reduce the costs of climate policies to businesses and households through tax rebates or programs aimed at incentivising investments in energy efficiency and other climate technologies."

Furthermore, the report says the Chamber will continue to advocate "for the pipelines necessary to get our oil to tidewater and to international markets." This perhaps isn't surprising given the report boasts that "this report was made possible by the generous support of" Enbridge and TransCanada!

In short, we have the Trudeau government pushing for a global carbon market and a carbon pricing scheme with the price per tonne well below what's needed to meet even its weak carbon emission reduction targets (30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030).


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Norway sees boom in electric cars, fueled by the government

A silent revolution has transformed driving in Norway.

Eerily quiet vehicles are ubiquitous on the fjord-side roads and mountain passes of this wealthy European nation of 5.3 million. Some 30 per cent of all new cars sport plug-in cables rather than gasoline tanks, compared with 2 per cent across Europe overall and 1-2 per cent in the U.S.

As countries around the world — including China, the world's biggest auto market — try to encourage more people to buy electric cars to fight climate change, Norway's success has one key driver: the government. It offered big subsidies and perks that it is now due to phase out, but only so long as electric cars remain attractive to buy compared with traditional ones.

"It should always be cheaper to have a zero emissions car than a regular car," says Climate and Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen, who helped push through a commitment to have only sell zero-emissions cars sold in Norway by 2025. The plan supports Norway's CO2 reduction targets under the 2015 Paris climate accord, which nations last agreed rigorous rules for to ensure emissions goals are met.

To help sales, the Norwegian government waived hefty vehicle import duties and registration and sales taxes for buyers of electric cars. Owners don't have to pay road tolls, and get free use of ferries and bus lanes in congested city centres.

These perks are being phased out in 2021, though any road tolls and fees would be limited to half of what gasoline car owners must pay. Gradually, subsidies for electric cars will be replaced by higher taxes on traditional cars.

Registration tax on new cars is paid on a sliding scale with a premium for the amount of emissions produced. Elvestuen pledges that the incentives for electric vehicles will be adjusted in such a way that it does not scupper the 2025 target.

"What is important is that our aim is not just to give incentives," he says. "It is that we are taxing emissions from regular cars."


Another extreme weather event hit Canada last month, which is exactly what climate change models predict will occur with increasing frequency because of global warming, when a powerful storm hit the Magdalen Islands in Quebec causing considerable damage to infrastructure and extensive coastal erosion.

As Magdalen Islanders discussed how to deal with such a catastrophe and a future where climate change is likely to bring more of the same, Quebecers demonstrated across the province in support of the COP 24 climate change conference in Katowice Poland. 


High waves during a massive storm in November ate away at the large sections of the coastline on the Magdalen Islands. (Luc Paradis/Radio-Canada)

As thousands of Quebecers marched through city streets on Saturday to mark the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland, citizens on the Magdalen Islands spent the day cleaning up debris on the archipelago's many beaches. 

The call to action was organized by the citizens' group Un coup de main pour la nature, in an effort to call attention to the coastal erosion that is affecting the Magdalen Islands. Co-organizer Bruno Savary said the massive storm that paralyzed the region last month left behind a ton of debris. High waves also ate away at much of the coastline. Ironically, the storm happened just days after a meeting with different stakeholders on the Islands, where discussions turned to the future of its ecosystem.

Savary said participants looked at the different scenarios the community should prepare for over the next decade, including the worst case scenario. "Two days later, the catastrophic scenario came true with the storm," he said.

Telecommunications lines were ruptured, telephone poles were broken and a power outage affected Hydro-Quebec customers for more than 48 hours, in some cases.

The erosion caused by the storm was "almost record-breaking," Savary said. ...

Savary said it was also a good opportunity for parents to speak to their children about coastal erosion and the impact of climate change on their environment.

Meanwhile thousands of people gathered on the streets of Montreal, Quebec City, and Alma, among others, to mark the COP-24 UN meeting, which runs from Dec. 2 to Dec. 14. "The fight against climate change has become a very important citizens' movement," said Karel Mayrand, from the David Suzuki Foundation. 

An estimated 4,000 people gathered at Montreal's Place des Festivals, demanding that climate policies respect the targets set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a 45 per cent drop in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels.


Here's a summary look at how climate change will affect the different regions of Canada: 


Pacific Region

Climate change could impact dramatically on British Columbia and the Yukon:

  • Higher air temperatures could result in droughts in southern coastal and interior zones; cause landslides by melting glaciers and permafrost in northern and mountainous areas; reduce the flow of rivers and streams; make forests drier and more defenceless against pests, diseases, and fire; and imperil wildlife on land and in water.
  • Warmer ocean temperatures could result in shifts in the ranges, spawning time, and food supplies of marine species, like Pacific salmon, thereby depriving terrestrial species, like bears and bald eagles of nourishment.
  • Rising sea levels could threaten such coastal zones as the Fraser River delta with floods and erosion.
  • Increasing rain and snow could cause flooding throughout the interior.

Western Mountain Region

The Rockies’ extremes of climate and altitude make them particularly prone to the effects of climate change:

  • As temperatures rise, low-elevation glaciers are rapidly melting and may disappear or cause landslides that put wildlife habitat at risk; plant and animal species are shifting upward, for example, sagebrush is replacing glacial meadows, and life forms restricted to the highest peaks are being displaced by others moving up from below.
  • Increasing precipitation means deeper snow, which could make it more difficult for animals like deer and elk to forage for food and drive them into valleys where they are more vulnerable to car and train collisions and predator attacks.

Prairie Region

The consequences of climate change in Canada’s Prairies could be severe:

  • Rising temperatures, decreasing rainfall, greater rates of evaporation, and drier soils will mean habitat loss both on land and in water.
  • Warmer weather may prolong the growing season and expand agriculture further north. It could also cause longer, more frequent droughts, diminished crop yields, and the spread of desert-like conditions over part of the southern Prairies.
  • Widespread fires in the boreal forest region may cause the northward expansion of grasslands and shrink the habitat of the woodland caribou and many other species.
  • More than 50 percent of Prairie potholes could disappear.

Boreal Forest Region

Scientists predict that this northern region – comprising one-third of the planet’s forests – will be one of the areas most affected by climate change:

  • Dry, warm weather could alter the ecosystem, making the forest fire season weeks longer, sparking more frequent and sever “monster blazes,” and doubling the area burned each year. Rising temperatures could also result in more frequent and deadly attacks by forest pests, including spruce budworm and pine beetle.
  • The species composition of the forest could change as conditions suitable for the growth and regeneration of pine, spruce, fir, and other temperature-sensitive trees continue to shift.
  • The timberline could move hundreds of kilometres further north, pushing the tundra back to the Arctic Islands and reducing it to one- to two-thirds its current size.
  • As evergreen trees lose ground to hardwoods in the region’s lower latitudes, losses from the southern margin of the forest will likely exceed the gains in the north.
  • More than half of the boreal forest could vanish in the next hundred years due to climate change.

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region

Climate change models predict major impacts on this region’s lands and waters:

  • Average temperatures could rise by 2 to 5°C while precipitation could increase by up to 25 percent by the end of this century.
  • More days when heat stress and air pollution threaten the health of wildlife and humans, changes in forest composition due to shifting vegetation zones, increases in the frequency and severity of forest fires, the northward extension of agriculture, and a longer growing season are among the changes expected on land. Significant declines in the populations of neotropical migratory birds, including many wood-warbler species, could result.
  • As the region warms up, the temperatures of lakes, streams, and rivers will rise and much more water will evaporate. The levels of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River could fall by a metre in 30 years, reducing the volume of water that flows through the system and circulates oxygen to biologically productive zones.
  • These changes will benefit some aquatic species and spell disaster for others. Cold-water fish, like salmon and trout, could suffer substantial loss of both habitats and populations. Such species at risk as the spotted turtle and swamp rose-mallow could see their habitats dry up while the nesting sites of waterfowl become more accessible to predators in Great Lakes marshes.

Atlantic Region

This region will be particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and increased storm activity.

  • Increased coastal erosion, sedimentation, flooding of low-lying habitats, shrinking of tidal flats and nesting beaches needed by shorebirds, and submersion of barrier islands vital to breeding raptors and colonial birds are among the effects of sea level rise.
  • Most at risk are salt-marshes. These coastal wetlands have adapted to a unique mix of fresh and salt water. Too much salinity could throw them off balance and harm the habitat of a wide range of species, particularly fish and waterfowl.
  • Heavier rainfall would increase the volume of run-off polluting bays and estuaries that provide key stopovers for migratory bird sand nourish and feed countless species of molluscs, crustaceans, and fish.
  • Changes in sea temperature would affect the range, distribution, and food supplies of sea-bird and marine-mammal populations.
  • Heightened storm intensity, frequent fires, and other ecological pressures would increase the die back of coniferous trees and promote a transition from boreal to mixed and temperate forests.

Arctic Ocean Region

The far- reaching impacts of climate change will be felt nowhere greater than in Canada’s Arctic, one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth:

  • As temperatures rise, climatologists anticipate not only the shrinking of the Arctic tundra but also the shrinking of the Arctic sea ice . This frozen platform is integral to the lives of a huge array of species, such as walruses , seals, and polar bears, that feed, travel, and breed on its vast expanses. Algae living under the sea ice are the foundation of an ocean food chain that supports plankton, copepods, fish, sea birds, and mammals. The average thickness of the sea ice has shrunk by 40 per cent in the past three decades, jeopardizing the future of this web of life.
  • Among the species affected most is the black guillemot, a sea bird whose populations have plummeted since 1990 as the melting of sea ice increases the distances it must fly to forage for food.


Energy economist Marc Jaccard argues that evidence points to regulation being more effective than carbon taxes in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Another problem with "revenue neutral" carbon taxes is that that netralizing revenue is typically done by lowering income taxes which result in much larger tax breaks for the rich while increasing taxes on the middle class or poor. 

Some 30 years of GHG reduction efforts globally shows that carbon prices still are not anywhere near levels needed to achieve the internationally agreed climate targets of staying within 2C of warming above pre-industrial times. Regulations are generally not stringent enough either. But the evidence is clear that a government requiring the closure of coal-fired power plants, as Ontario did, is more effective than any attempts thus far at emissions pricing. Likewise, regulations that force low-carbon fuels have done much more than the carbon tax to reduce transport emissions. All of this suggests that we have to start paying more attention to political limitations. ...

You can tell everyone that your carbon tax is revenue-neutral till you’re blue in the face, and few will believe you. Worse still, they will believe the Trumps of the world who say, in spite of the clear evidence, that it is a tax grab pure and simple. ...

Some political opinion research suggests that Alberta’s carbon tax will be a key contributor to the defeat of [NDP Premier Rachel] Notley in 2019. Her rapid decline in popularity set in shortly after the introduction of the tax. Yet my research team has calculated that around 95 percent of the GHG reduction in the province between now and 2030 will be a result of her government’s phase-out of coal-fired power plants, energy efficiency regulations, industry performance standards, and so on, not by this tax. In BC, Campbell’s Liberals went on to lose a 20 percent lead in six months after the introduction of the tax. The federal Liberal leader at the time, Stéphane Dion, embraced a carbon tax and went down to defeat to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper who denounced it as a job-killer. ...

We should not ignore the value of flexible regulations: policies that set a target such as a low-carbon fuel standard, but do not impose rules about which technologies, such as batteries, hydrogen, biofuels, synfuels, or natural gas, must be used to achieve the standard. All that matters is that the standard is met.




While Canada has a grand total of 50,000 electric vehicles out of 33,800,000 (0.15%), the Norwegian government has been highly successful in encouraging a shift to electric cars and plans to allow electric car sales by 2025. Although there are some problems, such as battery life and not enough recharging stations, Norway is way ahead of Canada in the shift to electric cars to reduce carbon dioxide emisssions. 

A silent revolution has transformed driving in Norway. Eerily quiet vehicles are ubiquitous on the fjord-side roads and mountain passes of this wealthy European nation of 5.3 million. Some 30 per cent of all new cars sport plug-in cables rather than gasoline tanks, compared with 2 per cent across Europe overall and 1-2 per cent in the U.S.

As countries around the world — including China, the world's biggest auto market — try to encourage more people to buy electric cars to fight climate change, Norway's success has one key driver: the government. It offered big subsidies and perks that it is now due to phase out, but only so long as electric cars remain attractive to buy compared with traditional ones.

"It should always be cheaper to have a zero emissions car than a regular car," says Climate and Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen, who helped push through a commitment to have only sell zero-emissions cars sold in Norway by 2025. The plan supports Norway's CO2 reduction targets under the 2015 Paris climate accord, which nations last agreed rigorous rules for to ensure emissions goals are met.

To help sales, the Norwegian government waived hefty vehicle import duties and registration and sales taxes for buyers of electric cars. Owners don't have to pay road tolls, and get free use of ferries and bus lanes in congested city centres. These perks are being phased out in 2021, though any road tolls and fees would be limited to half of what gasoline car owners must pay. Gradually, subsidies for electric cars will be replaced by higher taxes on traditional cars.

Registration tax on new cars is paid on a sliding scale with a premium for the amount of emissions produced. Elvestuen pledges that the incentives for electric vehicles will be adjusted in such a way that it does not scupper the 2025 target.

"What is important is that our aim is not just to give incentives," he says. "It is that we are taxing emissions from regular cars."

Using taxes to encourage consumers to shift to cleaner energy can be tricky for a government — protests erupted in France this autumn over a fuel tax that hurt the livelihood of poorer families, especially in rural areas where driving is often the only means of transportation.

In this sense, Norway is an outlier. The country is very wealthy after exporting for decades the kind of fossil fuels the world is trying to wean itself off of. Incomes are higher than the rest of Europe, as are prices. ...

Norway has pledged to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 40 per cent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. The country has work to do: by 2017, emissions were up 3 per cent compared to the 1990 baseline. Cutting emissions from road transport will allow Norway to reduce the amount it has to spend buying up emissions certificates from other European countries to meet its target. The savings are likely to run into billions, potentially balancing out the cost of subsidizing electric cars.

Norway is looking to China for help in developing the market. China has invested heavily in electric vehicles as it looks to meet its own Paris climate accord commitments, to clean up its choking cities and to get in early in a growing area of manufacturing. In October, 6 per cent of new cars were electric, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, up almost 50 per cent from a year earlier. The market has huge growth potential, experts say, and like Norway, the market boom has relied on government incentives. The hope in Norway is that the sheer size of China's market will encourage the industry to develop the technology more quickly — improving battery life, for example — and force down prices.

Experts say the electric vehicle market needs to develop more for sales to keep growing. Battery life on smaller vehicles is slim and the resale market is untested. Fast battery charging points are slow compared with gasoline pumps, and on Norway's often empty mountain roads, these points are uneconomical despite government subsidies for the private companies that set them up. Even in city centres, construction of such points has not kept pace with sales.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

COP24: No Response to the Crisis


Clinging to Profitable Fossil Fuels

In a different world, Katowice would have been the window for a communicative and political opportunity not only to decide on an effective rulebook for the Paris Agreement, but also to deal with the global climate crisis as such. Despite this, Katowice has become a yardstick for flagging how obstinately the global elites cling on to profitable fossil fuel business models and how governments defend their national interests associated with them. In exchange, they willingly accept the escalation of climate disaster.

Although the UN summit has decided on a rulebook to deal with the crisis, i.e. with general rules on the reporting of climate targets, actions and finance which are all necessary. This however falls short of what the situation actually requires. Industrialized nations are clearly not making greater efforts to cut emissions, even though this is what is urgently needed. And if this was not bad enough, the resolutions of Katowice lack substance and are unfair in many regards.

The wrangling over the IPCC’s 1.5 degrees special report was scandalous and, despite it having been commissioned by the international community, it was watered down in the extreme by any means necessary due to pressure from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and the USA, before it could be included in the Katowice agreement. Instead of welcoming the report and its results (or demands), which is what diplomats say when they recognize the report’s scientific validity, the IPCC received appreciation and thanks for finishing the report on time. Parties however avoided making direct and affirmative reference to the report’s conclusions. At this stage, it is absurd that the reality of climate disaster can still become a matter of debate.

Human Rights as a Bargaining Chip

The human rights principles enshrined in the preamble of the Paris Agreement have also become a bargaining chip. Alongside human rights, are food security, the rights of indigenous peoples, gender equality, public participation, intergenerational equity, ecosystem integrity and a just transition. Even though the Paris Agreement declares it will consider these rights, the rulebook provides scarcely palpable and mostly only veiled references to them. Future wrangling over how to refer to the Paris Agreement to bring charges regarding human rights violations in the implementation of measures of climate protection and adaptation is therefore inevitable, for example when people lose their traditional rights to a forest’s resources because, as a carbon sink, it has become a commodity.

This only increases the risk that those making money from such projects drag it out before they are potentially held accountable for human rights abuses. And the struggle about the status of human rights principles in the rulebook also highlights the unequal distribution of power between the Global North and South. Whereas certain principles became the bargaining chips of the negotiations, the plenary of negotiating parties unanimously recognized the Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration, providing support for just transitions that threaten to become a fig leaf for lax climate policy. Moreover, this could potentially distort a concept which was originally from the left for securing jobs with good social security in the Global North, at the expense of the livelihoods of millions of people in the Global South, who would not only lose their jobs, but also their entire basis of existence.


Some crumbs in the form of financial commitments have been thrown at developing nations: Germany and other countries have committed to stepping up financing of the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund (the latter – which is one of the few positive outcomes, is now firmly enshrined in the Paris Agreement). This is positive but the pledges do little to hide the fact that the key issues were not even on the agenda in Katowice. For a start, the $100-billion that industrialized nations are due to provide annually starting in 2020 is far from enough to build protective dikes, repair destroyed houses or create new bases for a good livelihood.

Secondly, there must be a reliable and transparent path for the expansion of necessary means. Talks, however, on how to increase climate finance after 2025 are only due to commence in 2020. This is much too late considering that the fundamental right to a life in dignity is at stake for millions of people and considering the nations that industrialized early bear the responsibility for the climate crisis.

However, one of the hardest slaps in the face of the nations most affected by climate change is that no concessions have been made regarding compensation for climate loss and damage. Only after long drawn out wrangling does this key issue now appear in the final document in a few places. While this is a minimal negotiating success, it is far from what is needed: a stand-alone, well-financed fund from which people can quickly and easily receive compensation for inevitable climate loss and damage.

In many respects, Katowice highlights the fact that we cannot wait for governments to act. This makes more and more people angry. This anger is based on a radical political impetus which no longer believes that ‘those above’ can solve the problem.

This is exactly what we find in many newer movement initiatives: the wave of school strikes that Greta Thunberg initiated, the extinction rebellion movement that began in the UK a couple of weeks ago and is spreading, Ende Gelände and the solidarity actions for Hambach Forst, the resistance against the tar sand Keystone XL pipeline, the climate camps, the alliance between the climate movement and the French ‘yellow vests’ (gilets jaunes) movement. The conviction that connects all these initiatives is that the radical challenges of climate change demand equally radical answers. We need to delegitimize fossil fuel capitalism – by means of strong grass roots movements.


jerrym wrote:

Norway is way ahead of Canada in the shift to electric cars to reduce carbon dioxide emisssions.

Electric cars perform poorly in cold weather. Despite what many think about Norway it's actually fairly mild there during the winter thanks to affected by the Gulf Stream.  Karasjok can see tempatures in the -20s, the majority of other cities and built up areas see low tempatures of Oc to -6c.  Size comes into play as well, Canada being 31 times larger than Norway.

It's tricky comparing electric cars success in milder & smaller Norway than to Canada.

Installing adequate recharge stations across Canada, close enough to take into account how quickly extreme cold weather depletes batteries, is going to be a very big and expensive undertaking. Rushing to shut off the oil and gas industry is irresponsible.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Rushing to shut off the oil and gas industry is irresponsible.

..i'm quite sure you know this already paladin. according to the reports posted in this thread re canada or many world governments, this is the last thing on their minds. in fact in canada and elsewhere are going the other way by increasing financial support. increasing infrastructure support. and that is the problem. the huge problem. now that is what is irresponsible.


It doesn't seem like that to me when I watch the news. Happy to be mistaken of course.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture weren't aware that canada bought a pipeline? i find that hard to believe. also look at #333 and #340


Does that count though? Seems like a huge huge mess to me and wether the new pipeline is actually going to get built or not still seems to be up in the air.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture's a huge subsidy. in the billions on top of the other subsidies. built or not canada paid for it.


So if Canada paid for it and it doesn't get built then do "we" get the money back or does the American company keep all the money?

I suppose it is still an example of Canada not abandoning the oil and gas industry (I stand corrected) but it doesn't seem like it will achieve the goal so to speak.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..canada bought it for the purpose of twinning it. twinning it for the purpose of expanding the tar sands project at a faster rate. meanwhile 70 or 80% of the industry is exempt from the carbon tax. the industry while still making tons of money even in the depressed market has so far been exempt from cleanup costs which will fall on alta and can. those costs have been pegged at around 240 billion. this is governments supporting the corporations and not the peoples of can and alta. this is a disaster. and we still haven't even spoken a word about climate/ecology or indigenous rights.


Canadians continue to be BSed about Canadian oil being sold at a discount in an effort to promote the building of more pipelines. 

Yes, there is a price differential between Canadian oil and most U.S. oil, but it’s not because of any “discount.” It’s because Canada’s heavy crude, called Western Canadian Select, is a lower-quality product. ...

The simple fact is that not all oil is equally valuable The price for a barrel of oil depends on many factors: the type of oil, the difficulty and cost of refining it, as well as the cost, distance and method needed to transport it. These factors are what drive the price of Canadian oil down, not a discount. Yes, oilsands crude typically sells for $15 to $25 less than lighter oil, but it's because it's an inferior, heavier oil that is more expensive to transport and refine. Occasionally, as in October, the differential spikes — often because a pipeline has ruptured or a refinery has shut down — but generally quickly returns to the average margin, as it did this fall.

Heavy oil transportation costs are also higher, primarily because it is thicker and has to be diluted with an expensive, gasoline-like lubricant known as condensate to make it slippery enough to pump through pipelines, which an extra cost that lighter oils don’t require. A recent government report estimates that diluting with condensate costs an additional $14 on each barrel of heavy oil shipped.

Tack on the higher costs of refining the complex, sulphur-rich hydrocarbons in heavy oil and there you have it: the price differential explained, without resorting whining about Canada or Alberta being picked on. In fact, if you correct for higher transport and refining costs, most of the time Canadian oil has been selling at a premium, not a discount.

Canadian oil prices will likely drop even further in the future as new fuel standards for marine shipping kick in. The new rules, known as International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2020, will limit the use of lower-quality, higher-sulphur heavy sour crude like those produced in Alberta. This will shrink Alberta’s share of marine fuel market and add an additional two to three dollars a barrel in refining costs to remove the sulphur. ...

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Trudeau’s manipulation of the word “discount” to describe the price differential between heavy Canadian oils and lighter oil down south is Big Lie #1. Premier Notley knows that different quality oils fetch different prices, but touts the so-called discount anyway to try to save her political skin. Jason Kenney, Alberta’s opposition leader, is even more outrageous in his “discounted oil” rhetoric, threatening to provoke a constitutional crisis or attack the charitable status of oilsands opponents. Federal Liberals, led by Trudeau and Finance Minister Morneau, are equally barefaced promoters of this propaganda. Shame on all of them. And shame on the Canadian media for regurgitating this snake oil in up to 100 stories a day.

But it doesn’t stop there. Big Lie #2 is the claim that Canada is losing $80 million a day because of the so-called oil price discount. The “$80 million a day” lie is the oil discount lie juiced up on steroids. 

Where did this huge number come from? It comes from Rachel Notley and it's built on quicksand. Notley’s source is a highly-criticized Scotiabank report claiming a $40 million per day loss from the phony oil discount. Scotiabank’s report has been discredited for relying on faulty assumptions, inaccurate calculations and good old-fashioned puffery. Yet hundreds of articles cite Notley’s claim without mentioning the source’s flaws — or even pointing out that she inexplicably doubled Scotiabank's $40 million calculation to $80 million. Not to be one-upped in Whopper World, Jason Kenney is now claiming a Trump-like $100 million a day in losses. ...

Recently Notley said, “Make no mistake, this price gap is a real and present danger to the Canadian economy." She contends the phony gap is due to a lack of pipeline capacity to move Alberta oil to markets. Trudeau, Morneau, Kenney and others are spewing similar fibs. Their scheme is impressive: Use discount frenzy (#1) to allege an $80 million a day national economic crisis (#2) in order to demand support for the Trans Mountain pipeline as The Solution (#3).

Canadian discount boosters claim that the Trans Mountain pipeline is essential to access new markets in Asia to create competition. Competition, they argue, will drive up prices. Sounds good in theory, but it ignores the extra processing and transportation costs of heavy oil. A new pipeline doesn’t make those costs go away, or get rid of the upcoming IMO 2020 sulphur standards, it just adds additional costs for oil tanker transport across the Pacific. The boosters' claim that shipping to Asia will bump up prices also falls apart under scrutiny. If this claim were true then you’d think that oil companies would be elbowing each other out of the way to ship their current oilsands crude to Asia on the existing Trans Mountain pipeline (you know, the one that Trudeau just spent $4.5 billion of our tax dollars to buy).

The reality is that there is no backlog of oil waiting to be shipped to Asia. In fact, Trans Mountain frequently operates at less than full capacity and, despite a blip last month, Alberta producers shipped hardly any oil through it to Asia over the last few years.

The reason? There is no price premium in Asia. In fact, former CIBC Chief Economist Jeff Rubin concludes "heavy oil ... typically trade at more than US$8 a barrel less, not more, in Asian markets compared to the prices Gulf Coast refineries pay.” Canadian oil producers aren’t lining up because they don’t want to lose $8 a barrel by selling their oil in the Asian market. ...

Give Notley, Kenney, Trudeau and Morneau credit for nesting three Big Lies on top of one another to exponentially multiply their impact. Even the Liar-in-Chief down south has trouble matching that. Despite its erroneous factual basis, the Three Big Lies strategy is working. The Canadian media is amplifying Alberta’s claims and Trudeau has Ottawa ponying up $1.6 billion more of our hard-earned tax dollars to subsidize Big Oil in Alberta.

The truth is Alberta has no one to blame but itself for the fix it is in. Generations of bad provincial policies dug Alberta into this hole, and now Notley and Kenney are using brinkmanship to force Trudeau to fast-track more bad policies to dig Alberta out. While the discount frenzy idea metastasizes, what’s missing from most media coverage is the fact that the Alberta government has known for years that the lesser quality (and therefore lower price) of oilsands crude makes their industry vulnerable to boom and bust cycles. ...

Sadly, successive Alberta governments ignored the warnings, and now want Canada to bail them out with further subsidies and climate unfriendly policies. Unfortunately, the gap between the rhetoric and the reality isn’t unique to Albertan or Canadian politicians. It’s a global problem. Trudeau inspired the world at the Paris Climate talks in 2015 by claiming “Canada is back.” He’s good at promises and apologies, not so much at standing up to Big Oil. While in years past, that may have been merely annoying, now it’s life-threatening.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

CSIA-Nitassinan- PRESS RELEASE - December 20th, 2018

Paris, France - The Committee in ​Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples of the Americas (CSIA-Nitassinan), an ​Indigenous peoples' support group established in Paris, France in 1978, took part, last saturday, with several environmental NGOs, including Friends of the Earth - France and Action Climat Paris in a direct non violent action to call the French bank Société Générale to divest from fossil fuel industry.

On ​December 14th, 2018, the last day of the COP24 conference in Poland, more than 900 people attended a divest action in front of the headquarters of the bank Société Générale in the center of Paris, France. People blocked the street calling the bank to act for the climate. The police in full riot gear attacked the crowd. They used violence, threw tear gas and arrested one person (who was released later on).

The CSIA-Nitassinan urge​s the ​French bank Société Générale to divest from all projects connected to tar sands in Canada, from the pipelines - Line3 / Enbridge and Trans Mountain, from Rio Grande LNG Terminal and the whole fossil fuel industry. We also call for the respect of ​Indigenous peoples's rights fighting on the front lines against these projects, including their right to Free Prior Informed consent (FPIC) guaranteed by the United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Furthermore, our organisation condemns the violence used by the police in Paris during last saturday's direct non violent divest action against Société Générale and would like to express its support to the Indigenous peoples on the front lines against Line3 / Enbridge, TransMountain and especially to the people on the Unist’ot’en / Wet’suwet’en territory in British Colombia (Canada), currently under threats after Justice Marguerite Church's December 17th, 2018 injunction connected to TransCanada / Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline....


jerrym wrote:


The truth is Alberta has no one to blame but itself for the fix it is in. Generations of bad provincial policies dug Alberta into this hole, and now Notley and Kenney are using brinkmanship to force Trudeau to fast-track more bad policies to dig Alberta out. While the discount frenzy idea metastasizes, what’s missing from most media coverage is the fact that the Alberta government has known for years that the lesser quality (and therefore lower price) of oilsands crude makes their industry vulnerable to boom and bust cycles. ...

Sadly, successive Alberta governments ignored the warnings, and now want Canada to bail them out with further subsidies and climate unfriendly policies. Unfortunately, the gap between the rhetoric and the reality isn’t unique to Albertan or Canadian politicians. It’s a global problem. Trudeau inspired the world at the Paris Climate talks in 2015 by claiming “Canada is back.” He’s good at promises and apologies, not so much at standing up to Big Oil. While in years past, that may have been merely annoying, now it’s life-threatening.




How do equalization payments factor in to this. This statement says that Alberta needs  a bailout but aren't they giving the most WRT equalization payments?

In 2018-2019 Quebec will recieve a whopping $11.7 BILLION dollars in payments. The next closest province is Manitoba at 2 billion. What the hell is Quebec doing?

How does Alberta need to be bailed out when they're giving the majority of equalization payments out (I read somewhere over 50%) and Quebec is taking 11 billion dollars. Sounds like Quebec is the one that needs help?


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