Archive for the ‘fossil fuels’ Tag

Council Urges Church to Sell Fossil Fuel Holdings

Council Urges Church to Sell Fossil Fuel Holdings

Posted on: August 11, 2015 – 15:53 by Kevin Cox

Commissioners of the 42nd General Council are urging the United Church to sell its $8.7 million holdings in fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy co-operatives.

The Bakeapple (Yellow) Commission, one of three decision-making bodies of the Council, heard spirited arguments on both sides of the issue before passing a proposal to “encourage the United Church of Canada Foundation and direct the Executive of the General Council to take active steps to sell their holdings in the 200 largest fossil fuel companies.”

The motion also calls for the reinvestment of the funds into renewable energy.

The commission also called for the United Church pension board to review the extent and rationale for its fossil fuel investments and determine if its holdings “align with the Christian imperative of seeking justice, resisting evil, and living with respect in Creation.”

According to background material on the motion, the United Church of Canada Foundation holds $2.8 million in fossil fuel investments or 5 percent of the portfolio. The Treasury has $5.9 million in fossil fuel stocks or 4.7% of that portfolio.

Several other faith groups have made moves to divest from fossil fuel companies because of the industry’s contribution to climate change.

Jim Hannah of British Columbia Conference said the church needs to speak out about the role of the fossil fuel industry in climate change. “This is about the survival of this planet. This is about the survival of this species. For my grandchildren’s sake I want to do everything I can,” he said. “It’s going to cost us money, it’s going to cost us jobs. We’re going to have to change how we live in this world. We have to do this.”

Erik Mathiesen, the United Church’s Chief Financial Officer, said a lot of research and lobbying is being done by groups in the church on issues such as responsible investing and climate change. “The concern is that commissioners may not have all the information about everything underway,” he said.

Several commissioners said the church should hold onto its shares and use them to influence the policies of fossil fuel companies. David Pollard of Alberta and Northwest Conference said some of the large companies are doing valuable research and development work. He suggested that the church should be affirming companies that are environmentally responsible.

But Manitou Conference youth commissioner Aidan Legault said that the church’s voice hasn’t been heard at the corporate table. “Just being at the table, we aren’t making a difference. The way we can make a difference as a church and say we are not going to stand for any irresponsible environmental management by these companies is by divesting,” Legault said. “We can do it by taking our own money and saying we are going to put it elsewhere.”

Hanna Strong of Montreal and Ottawa Conference said the church would have more say if it held onto its stake. She also urged commissioners not to demonize the people who work in the petroleum industry.

“People work in this industry. In the church I have a very difficult time walking up to someone saying we have divested and you don’t have a job,” Strong said.

“It’s all great to be for the environment but there are humans on the other side of these 200 companies.”

Good News on “clean technology”

Clean-tech is good for the economy and environment

Protest with Clean Energy for us sign
Credit: Chris Yakimov via Flickr

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

What’s the fastest-growing sector in Canada’s economy? Given what you hear from politicians and the media, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the resource industry, especially extraction and export of fossil fuels like oil sands bitumen and liquefied natural gas. But we’re no longer just “hewers of wood and drawers of water” — or drillers of oil, frackers of gas and miners of coal.

Although extraction, use and export of natural resources are economically important and will remain so for some time, we’re starting to diversify. According to Ottawa-based consultants Analytica Advisors, clean technology, or clean-tech, is the country’s fastest-growing industry.

The firm’s “2014 Canadian Clean Technology Report“, found direct employment by clean-tech companies rose six per cent from 2011 to 2012, from 38,800 people to 41,000, with revenues increasing nine per cent to $11.3-billion. According to Industry Canada, mining and oil and gas sector revenues grew just 0.3 per cent in the same period, manufacturing 1.9 per cent and the construction industry 3.9 per cent.

At the current growth rate, Analytica estimates Canada’s clean-tech industry will be worth $28 billion by 2022. But with the global market expected to triple to $2.5 trillion over the next six years, Canada hasn’t come close to reaching its potential. It’s our choice to seize the opportunity. With just two per cent of the global market (matching our share of population), we could have a $50 billion clean-tech industry by 2020 — double the size of today’s aerospace industry.

Clean-tech also outshines other sectors on research and development investment, with $1 billion invested in 2012 and $5 billion from 2008 to 2012. That’s more than the combined R&D investments of natural resource industries (oil and gas extraction, mining, agriculture, forestry and fishing), and only $200 million less than the aerospace sector.

“If you look at the sum of the investments and revenues of all these companies, we have a significant industry today, Analytica president Céline Bak told the Hill Times. “Given the growth in investments today, it will continue to be significant and can grow into an industry comparable in size to other significant industries, like aerospace for example.”

The clean-tech sector is broad. “These companies are working on problems that we all care about, like how to use the constant temperature from the ground under our offices buildings for heating and cooling and how to replace expensive and polluting diesel power in our remote communities with clean affordable energy or transforming greenhouse gases into stronger concrete to build greener buildings,” Bak said in a Vancouver Sun article. Clean-tech comprises about 700 companies in 10 sectors across Canada, including renewable energy, water treatment, green building and development of environmentally friendly consumer products.

Many experts argue that putting a price on carbon, through carbon taxes or cap-and-trade, is a good way to stimulate clean-tech, by targeting greenhouse gas emitters and encouraging technologies and measures aimed at energy conservation and renewables.

But we could lose out if we take the industry for granted — especially because 74 per cent of clean-tech companies here sell products and services outside Canada, with export revenues of about $5.8 billion in 2012 and 42 per cent going to markets other than the U.S. “High-performing companies are often bought by international players that take the intellectual property, manufacturing and jobs to other countries,” Bak cautioned, adding, “The world already looks to Canada for our clean technology solutions. Isn’t it time that we did too?”

And, while the federal government has strategies to track and promote the fossil fuel and aerospace industries, it has yet to do this for clean-tech.

Diversity in nature is important — ensuring ecosystems remain resilient in the face of threats. So, too, for the economy. It’s folly to rely too heavily on extracting and selling finite resources, especially those that cause pollution and contribute to climate change and other threats to the environment and human health and survival. Canada’s economic growth potential through clean energy is huge, but it needs to be given the same priority government gives other industries.

Clean-tech may not be the answer to all our problems, but it’s a sector that offers a lot of promise for our economy and environment.

For more information, please watch this video.

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

Optimism about Climate Change

(Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

 

 

 

Here’s Why Al Gore Is Optimistic About the Fight Against Climate Change.

A new study predicts that more than half the world’s energy will come from carbon-free sources by 2030. “The 2030 Market Outlook is Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s long-term view of how the world’s power markets will evolve to 2030. These are the findings from the global overview report, covering the major economic and technological findings.”

 

The full report from Bloomberg is available at: http://bnef.folioshack.com/document/v71ve0nkrs8e0/who42hnkrs8fo