Archive for the ‘pipelines’ Tag

Riding two horses simultaneously   Leave a comment

It is possible to ride two horses at the same time – provided that they are going in the same direction, and at the same pace.

However, it isn’t possible for us to simultaneously reduce our carbon footprint, as we agreed to at COP 21 in Paris (2015), AND enable additional “development” of Canada’s tar sands in northern Alberta. Even David Suzuki is confused about the actions of Canada’s new federal government. He wonders why we are still talking pipelines.

Read Suzuki’s blog on this at:  http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2016/01/paris-changed-everything/

Photo: Paris changed everything, so why are we still talking pipelines?

(Credit: Shannon Ramos via Flickr)

Climate Depression   Leave a comment

Naomi Klein counsels all of us NOT to succumb to “climate depression”, but to continue to act to reduce carbon emissions, AND to speak up. In her book, This Changes Everything, she says that little has happened to reduce carbon emissions because the actions that would do so, and benefit the vast majority of humankind, “are extremely threatening to an elite minority”.

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Winter 2014 on Lake Ontario

She also writes that, “during the same years that our governments failed to enact a tough and binding legal architecture requiring carbon emissions, supposedly because cooperation was too complex, they managed to create the World Trade Organization – an intricate global system that regulates the flow of goods and services around the planet, under which the rules are clear and violations are harshly penalized.”

Is it any wonder that the agreement reached in Paris in December 2015 did not have legally binding provisions?

Addressing climate change cannot be relegated to governments, and the political elite. It is what all of us can do, both as individuals and as a part of grassroots communities that demonstrate that the power to do the right thing will not be taken away from us.

 

Oil train trouble in Toronto: citizens demand answers   Leave a comment

A Toronto neighbourhood is taking the unusual step of asking the Auditor General of Canada to get answers to the urban community’s oil train concerns.

Oil trains in Toronto - Safe Rail Communities group
Oil trains rolling past a Toronto west end homeowner’s backyard at dusk. Photo by Safe Rail Communities.

A Toronto neighbourhood group, alarmed by what appears to be a surge in oil trains rumbling past their urban backyards, is taking the unusual step of urging the Auditor General of Canada to intervene to help it get answers to safety concerns.

The group, called Safe Rail Communities, says it has been asking basic questions to CN, CP Rail and the federal government about the safety of transporting these explosive fuels, but found the responses lacking.

“We’re getting stonewalled,” said Helen Vassilakos, co-founder of Safe Rail Communities, who lives near the train tracks.

“Transport Canada is refusing to speak with us and the minister is actually refusing to send anyone out to our meetings.”

Full story from the Vancouver Observer at: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/oil-train-trouble-toronto-citizens-demand-answers

Latest UN Climate Report – is Harper Listening?   Leave a comment

Latest UN Climate Report Spells out Tough Work Ahead

And the world’s eyes are on carbon-spewing Canada. Your move, Harper.

By Nick Fillmore, November 5, 2014, originally published by: TheTyee.ca

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We would like to avoid what happened in Denmark, in Copenhagen, where the heads of state and governments thought they could reach an agreement in the very few, last few hours.‘ French President Francois Hollande told Canadian Parliament of the upcoming Paris climate summit.

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Canada’s dismal record on fighting climate change was brought into the spotlight twice this week — first with a crucial UN report spelling out the tough task ahead for the world’s nations, and second, with the president of France delivering an embarrassing lecture to the Harper government in our own Parliament on Monday.

Practically tongue in cheek, French President Francois Hollande, glancing at Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told Parliament that he had no reason to doubt Canada’s commitment to reaching a global agreement on climate change when the final round of negotiations are held in Paris in December 2015.

But the president warned Parliament that negotiations must not be left to the last minute.

“We would like to avoid what happened in Denmark, in Copenhagen, where the heads of state and governments thought they could reach an agreement in the very few, last few hours. This is not possible,” said Hollande. “We have to find an agreement within the coming months.”

Released Sunday, the latest United Nations report on the threat of global warming is by far the most comprehensive to date, and includes the most serious warnings ever. It describes in detail the disaster ahead unless humankind can reverse carbon emissions by 2020 and then phase out emissions entirely by the end of this century.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was prepared to provide up-to-date information for governments attempting to deliver a new global treaty on climate change during the final UN Climate Summit next year.

The looming Paris summit presents a new challenge for the Canadian government in view of the fact that Canada remains, by some measures, the worst performer in fighting climate change of all industrialized countries.

Bad Canada

As hinted by the French president, Canada plays a leading role in destroying the atmosphere. Mechanical engineer John Abraham of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota toldScientific American: “If we burn all the tarsand oil, the temperature rise, just from burning that tarsand, will be half of what we’ve already seen — an estimated additional nearly 0.4 C from Alberta alone.”

A federal election is scheduled to be held before the Paris summit. Over the next few months, Harper’s government will have to decide if it will adopt a more progressive climate change position — a move that, while unlikely, would probably win the Conservatives votes in the election. If another party becomes the government next October, it would have very little time to develop a new position in advance of the summit.

The IPCC strongly acknowledges that carbon emissions are rising at an alarming rate. While changes in the weather are not having a big impact in developed countries, climate chaos is already causing massive destruction and an estimated 150,000 deaths annually.

Even so, the IPCC report also offers hope. Panel chair Rajendra Pachauri said the world has the means to limit climate change. He said if the right solutions are put into place there can be continued economic and human development.

But considering the overall content of the report — as well as the harsh information in a number of earlier reports — it is questionable how much progress can be made because of a number of difficulties that must be overcome.

What must be done

The UN lacks the power to force governments to follow any particular course of action. While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sounds like he is in charge of a solid campaign for change, he’s really a concerned cheerleader. Moreover, Sunday’s report includes only vague — and questionable — suggestions concerning actions that should be taken to slow global warming. It says that:

  • Most of the world’s electricity should be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050;

  • Renewables will have to grow from the current 30 per cent share to 80 per cent of the power sector by 2050;

  • Fossil fuel power generation without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology would need to be phased out almost entirely by 2100. (However, the world has only one CCS plant in operation as the technology has not proven to be reliable);

  • Behavioural changes, such as eating less meat, can have a role in cutting emissions (a meek offer).

One ongoing issue that could delay progress concerns to what extent wealthy countries, which are responsible for much of the climate destruction to this point, are willing to assist less developed nations in covering the costs of mitigating the damage caused by climate change.

However, pledges to the Green Climate Fund, which was to raise $100 billion, have been slow to come in, so the UN now hopes governments and the private sector will commit $15 billion as starter capital. The Council of Canadians says the federal government should contribute $4 billion a year to the fund.

A serious issue ahead concerns whether the U.S. and China can reach a bilateral agreement on the burning of coal. If not, some countries may be reluctant to sign onto a binding deal next year.

UN officials fear that U.S. President Obama will not be able to sign a full agreement in Paris because the Senate, with many members receiving large donations from the energy sector, will veto the agreement, and the non-governmental sector is claiming that powerful multinational corporations are trying to hijack the entire UN climate process.

In anticipation of the release of the IPCC report, 55 Canadian environmental researchers and academics came together to urge the Harper government to begin fighting climate change in a serious way.

The group praised work carried out by lower levels of government to mitigate climate change. They pointed out that Ontario is phasing out coal-fired electricity plants and that Vancouver is promising to be the greenest city in the world by the year 2020, but they emphasized the country is lacking overall federal leadership to help co-ordinate such activities.  [Tyee]

Read more: Federal PoliticsEnvironment,

On climate, Canada buries its head in the oilsands   Leave a comment

 Canada was once a leader on the world’s most pressing ethical issues, such as apartheid. When it comes to climate change, Prime Minister Harper prefers silence, says Tony Burman. He goes on to write about dis-investment in fossil fuel corporations, and parallels with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Burman even quotes Rev. Desmond Tutu.

 

Read the full commentary at:

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/09/27/on_climate_canada_buries_its_head_in_the_oilsands.html

 Special to the Toronto Star, Published on Sat Sep 27 2014

Lac-Mégantic (7)   Leave a comment

IMG_1065The unit-trains carrying oil from America’s Bakken oil fields, or the tar sands in Alberta, keep rolling. When will the Lac-Mégantic occur?

Train wrecks are only one dimension of this issue.

“No excuse – from jobs to security to cheap gas – can override this central fact: Access to more oil will result in the use of more oil. Use of more oil will increase carbon emissions and exacerbate climate change. And, as always, the poor will disproportionately shoulder the burden.”  Katherine M. Preston writing in Sojourners, September-October, 2014 p. 24

 

Tsilhqot’in Decision: Time to Grow up, Canada   Leave a comment

In June, 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada reached a decision that will have immediate and far-reaching implications for the relationship of First Nations peoples and settlers in the land called Canada.

Like Rafe Mair, I grew up, and was educated in an anthropocentric worldview. Part of that worldview was our relationship with “the Indians”, who I now recognize as First Nations peoples. It has been quite a journey for me, as it has for Rafe Mair, whose reflection on this journey begins as follows:

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Schoolbook depiction of Iroquois society: growing up in Kamloops, a white child learned about some eastern First Nations but virtually nothing about those in B.C.

The Tsilhqot’in (Roger William*) case is a game changer.

There is aboriginal title and it does not depend, as our title to our houses does, upon the Crown but is totally independent of Crown interests. Moreover — and this is perhaps of more immediate concern — no longer are developers just required to consult with First Nations in proposing development, they must get consent.

There will be, of course, more cases but they’ll be by way of explanatory rather than breaking the new ground. No doubt other First Nations will want to define their rights and there may be actions by developers with respect to their proposals. At the same time, because of William, one can expect governments to be much more in the mood to settle, especially since First Nations seem incapable of losing in the Supreme Court of Canada!

The full story is at: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/07/07/Tsilhqotin-Decision/