Archive for the ‘Tar Sands’ 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)
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Fossil Fuel Divestment   Leave a comment

February 13 / 14 has been designated as “Global Divestment Day(s).

From a blockade at the International Petroleum Conference in London to hundreds of people dumping their dirty banks on the same day in Australia, the photos and videos are already pouring in from our friends on the other side of the globe. Click here to see (and share!) some of today’s early photos on Facebook:

Today people are demonstrating that there are thousands of people around the world who know that fossil fuel divestment is both the smart thing to do and the right thing — and those people are willing to take action in their own communities. We know that if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.

Earlier this week, the fossil fuel industry launched a concerted counter-attack on the divestment movement, only to have their efforts fall rather flat. This (perhaps apocryphal) Gandhi quote feels more apt than ever: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Let’s show the world that we’ve got the guts, the heart, and the numbers to win against the power and money of the industry driving the climate crisis.

Let’s make fossil fuels history.

For information on what one courageous church community is doing, check out: http://www.trinitystpauls.ca/climate-justice/

Harper Rules out Crackdown on Greenhouse Gas Emissions   Leave a comment

‘We’re clearly not going to do it,’ PM tells Commons.

By Jeremy J. Nuttall, 9 Dec 2014, TheTyee.ca

Oilsands development

Oil prices recently incurred a 35 per cent drop. Oilsands image via Shutterstock.

Falling oil prices have made the possibility of placing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions for the oil and gas sector a “crazy” endeavour according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper said Canada would not unilaterally impose restrictions on the industry.

The prime minister made his assertion during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday (December 9, 2014) when, once again, he was pressed by the New Democrats on when emission limits, promised since 2007, would be introduced.

Usually the Conservatives use that question, which often occurs daily from Opposition members, to attack the Liberal Party on its greenhouse gas emissions record, but on Tuesday Harper had a different answer.

We’re clearly not going to do it,” he said to cheers of approval from his party after saying that initiating controls “under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy.”

Harper said Canada is not willing to introduce restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, especially with oil prices recently incurring a 35 per cent drop.

“Regulating the oil and gas sector is something we would like to do, but we must do it on an integrated basis in a continental economy,” he said, in reference to working together with the U.S. on restrictions.

‘A new excuse’

But Greenpeace researcher Keith Stewart said the U.S. is already working on emission restrictions for the oil and gas sector, so all Canada needs to do is follow along, despite Harper’s insistence it’s not a good time.

“They’ve always had a new excuse as to why they’re not doing it,” Stewart said.

Stewart pointed to an internal memo sent from Environment Canada to the federal minister in 2013. That memo explained that the climate action plan, which the U.S. released in 2013, included emission restrictions for methane gas fracking.

He said the constant claims that restrictions on energy emissions would hurt the industry are blown out of proportion.

Stewart said the restrictions requested by environmentalists and Opposition parties would only result in a cost of 20 to 90 cents per barrel to the oil and gas industry, which he said is nothing compared to the recent price drop leaving oil at about US$65 per barrel.

“You’ve had a lot worse happen and it hasn’t changed things that much,” Stewart said. “What’s the cost of doing nothing?”  [Tyee]

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Suzuki comments on latest IPCC report – choices?   Leave a comment

IPCC report is clear: We must clean up our act

Wind Farm in Germany
Germany, the world’s fourth-largest economy, now gets a third of its energy from renewable sources, and has reduced carbon emissions 23 per cent from 1990 levels and created 370,000 jobs. (Credit: David via Flickr)

It’s become a cliché to say that out of crisis comes opportunity. But there’s no denying that when faced with crises, we have choices. The opportunity depends on what we decide to do.

What choices will we make when confronted with the fact that 2014 will likely be the hottest year on record? According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, global land and sea temperatures up to September’s end tie this year with 1998 as the warmest since record keeping began in 1880. “If 2014 maintains this temperature departure from average for the remainder of the year, it will be the warmest year on record,” a NOAA statement says.

The world’s warmest 10 years have all been since 1998, and last year carbon dioxide levels rose by the highest amount in 30 years.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report, released November 2, summarizes three reports released over the past year on the physical science; impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and mitigation. It offers a stark choice: Unless we quickly curtail our fossil fuel dependence, we face “further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.

As a broadcaster, I’ve interviewed hundreds of scientists over the years, but I’ve never heard so many speak so forcefully and urgently as climatologists today. It’s a measure of the seriousness of the crisis.

What choices will we make? Will politicians close their eyes while fossil fuel industry executives shovel money at them and enlist propagandists to spread misinformation and lies? Will we listen to those who, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, continue to say the global warming they once claimed never existed stopped 18 years ago, or that human activity doesn’t contribute to climate change?

Or will we heed scientists from around the world who offer evidence that we still have time to do something about this very real crisis — and that confronting the challenge presents more opportunities than pitfalls?

Believing our only choice is between a strong economy and a healthy environment is absurd. Yet that’s the false option many political leaders and fossil fuel industry proponents present. Never mind the insanity of thinking we can survive and be healthy if we destroy the natural systems on which we depend; research shows taking measured steps to address global warming would have few negative economic effects and would offer numerous benefits. Failing to act would be disastrous for the economy and environment.

Energy conservation and clean fuels offer the greatest opportunities. Conserving energy makes precious, non-renewable resources last longer, reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, saves consumers money and offers many economic benefits. More than 100,000 Canadians are directly employed in improving energy efficiency, with total wages estimated at $8.27 billion for 2014.

The fast-growing clean-energy and clean-technology sectors offer similar benefits. Improved performance and cost reductions make large-scale deployment for many clean-energy technologies increasingly feasible. By focusing on fossil fuels, Canada is clearly missing out. Worldwide spending on clean energy last year was $207 billion. Canada spent $6.5 billion — a start, but we could do much better.

Germany, the world’s fourth-largest economy, now gets a third of its energy from renewable sources, and has reduced carbon emissions 23 per cent from 1990 levels and created 370,000 jobs.

In contrast, Canada subsidizes the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $1.3 billion a year, despite a 2009 G20 agreement to phase out subsidies. The federal Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner’s recent audit found Canada has no detailed plan to shrink carbon pollution and meet its international commitment, and has failed to release or enforce oil and gas sector emission regulations for our fastest-growing source of emissions, the oil sands, promised since 2006. Expanding oil sands and liquefied natural gas development will only make matters worse.

People around the world want leadership from elected representatives on climate change and pollution. Business leaders are getting on board. Will we take advantage of the numerous benefits of energy conservation and clean energy or remain stuck in the old way of just blindly burning our way through? The choice is clear.

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

Environmental Rights in Canada   Leave a comment

IMG_1840MP Linda Duncan recently introduced “An Act to Establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights” in Parliament. If it’s passed, our federal government will have a legal duty to protect Canadians’ right to live in a healthy environment.

David Suzuki writes that:

“Progress is possible when enough people recognize its necessity and come together to make it happen. Protecting our country and planet, our health and the future of our children and grandchildren is absolutely necessary. We can’t live and be well without clean air and water, nutritious food and the numerous services that diverse and vibrant natural environments provide.”

 

Read the remainder of Suzuki’s post at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2014/11/the-movement-for-environmental-rights-is-building/

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

ClimateSummit_600px.jpg

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,

Global Day of Action   Leave a comment

Government leaders from across the globe will be meeting in New York City on September 23 for a one-day United Nations climate summit. The People’s Climate March precedes it on September 21 and will send out a massive, united call for climate justice and a strong climate treaty.

We can’t all go to New York, but KAIROS invites you to participate in this historic mobilization from wherever you are! Some suggestions:

This would be a good time to check out ClimateFast, which KAIROS has endorsed, as it counts down to this year’s fast on Parliament Hill (September 28 to October 2) and extends an invitation to everyone to join in fasting on the first day of each month.

Citizens for Public Justice, in collaboration with the Canadian Council of Churches, has created resources for faith communities in Canada specifically related to the UN summit and the People’s Climate March. These include a bible study, bulletin inserts, an infographic on the moral implications of climate change, sermon notes, hymns for Creation, prayers of intercession and activities for youth and young adults, all of which would be particularly appropriate for worship services on Sunday, September 21.

Green Faithan interfaith coalition based in New Jersey, is offering resources and an invitation to faith communities to become Climate March Faith Communities.

KAIROS has a long history of advocacy for climate justice and has produced in-depth analysis on climate change that can help to put the September events into perspective:

Stay tuned for another analytical report following the New York summit.

KAIROS also has a new Watershed Discipleship workshop hot off the press that includes biblical and personal reflection, consideration of the issues facing your watershed, and the opportunity to connect those issues with others across Canada and around the world. With climate change affecting every watershed in some way, this could be a timely opportunity to organize a workshop in your area. If you would like to host a Watershed Discipleship workshop, retreat, or train-the-trainer event and support a growing network, please contact Sara Stratton, KAIROS Members Relations and Campaigns Coordinator at sstratton@kairoscanada.org.

If you would like to go to New York for the march and are in the Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal area, buses are being organized.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu reminded participants at the So Long as the Rivers Flow conference in Fort McMurray earlier this year, we are all connected by the urgent need to protect our planet from catastrophic climate change, the effects of which have been felt for some time by poor and vulnerable communities in the Global South. KAIROS invites and encourages you to join with others to participate in these efforts in whatever way you can.

If you have questions or need more information, please contact John Dillon, KAIROS Ecological Economy Program Coordinator at jdillon@kairoscanada.org.