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8 May 2015


Solar's New Promise from Canada 8 May 15

At age nine, Eden Full had already built herself a solar powered car. Now 23 years old, she is an accomplished inventor who has dramatically increased the effectiveness of solar panels, landing her on Forbes' 30 Under 30: Energy list three years in a row.

As Full got into engineering as a teen, she noticed the influence of the oil and gas industry. A high-school trip to the Arctic – a "visceral, physical" experience where she saw climate change harming polar bears first-hand – sealed her commitment.

The result is the SunSaluter, a low-cost device that makes solar panels track the movement of the sun using water bottles and gravity. The SunSaluter increases energy output by 40 per cent while producing clean water. The device uses water-filled bottles that drip through a filter, becoming lighter, and causes the solar panel to adjust its angle, tracking the sun during the course of a day.

The SunSaluter aims to increase energy and clean drinking water accessibility to off-grid communities, and thus mitigate environmental and health implications from traditional energy and water sources.

The SunSaluter has won the Westly Prize, the Mashable-UN Foundation Startups for Social Good Challenge, second prize at the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, and the grand prize at the Staples-Ashoka Youth Social Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Visit Sunsaluter website
View May 7, 2015 The Huffington Post article
View May 7, 2015 CBS News article
View 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology report

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NDP Sweeps Alberta Election 8 May 15

Decades of petroleum politics went up in flames when NDP Leader Rachel Notley carried her party into power in Alberta with an New Democratic Party majority government.

Under an NDP government, resource extraction will be based on scientific research rather than “the outcome of a lobbyist meeting on a golf course somewhere,” Notley told reporters during the campaign.

This NDP election victory in Alberta is a shake-up with ramifications across the country, Notley is committed to tougher provincial action against climate change and a new approach to pipeline mega-projects.

“For the first time, we’re thinking seriously about how Alberta can be part of the climate solution,” said Keith Stewart, head energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. It’s one of many groups that opposed new pipelines from Alberta on the grounds that expanded oil sands production will add to the greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.

“With this election, Albertans have voted for change — and that change includes improving Alberta’s environmental record and its approach to climate change.” Ed Whittingham, executive director of the Pembina Institute, stated in response to the outcome of the Alberta election.

View May 6, 2015 CBC News article
View May 5, 2015 Pembina Institute media release
View RAchel Notley's 2015 Election Platform
View May 5, 2015 Toronto Star article
View May 5, 2015 The Globe and Mail article

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Manitoba Deserves Transparency on Energy East 8 May 15

Environmental groups in Manitoba are raising questions about provincial energy costs and environmental risks associated with the proposed TransCanada Energy East tar sands pipeline, after an analysis of the project’s National Energy Board application revealed the size and extent of new pump stations and transmission lines needed across the province.

“People in this province need to hear about the tremendous investment this proposed pipeline needs from us in Manitoba,” said Eric Reder, Manitoba Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee. “The large pumping stations needed to push bitumen across Manitoba will require 176 megawatts of power. This is roughly as much as the Wuskwatim dam generates.”

Alex Paterson of the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition said what’s missing in the debate over Energy East is how Manitoba Hydro fits into the building of a national oil pipeline.

"We have a right to clear and informed information about the implications of our energy decisions in the province," Paterson said. "It also means that Manitobans of any stripe collectively deserve a right to say ‘no’ to any energy project."

Gaile Whelan-Enns, Manitoba WIldlands Director, said, “It’s time for Manitoba’s government to admit how many leases, work permits, water permits, and environmental licences they would issue to Energy East.’

View May 8, 2015 DeSmog Canada article
View May 7, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article
Watch May 7, 2015 News Conference: Manitobans demand answers on provincial energy commitments for Energy East pipeline
View May 7, 2015 Wilderness Committee article
View May 7, 2015 Winnipeg Sun article
View January 13, 2015 CBC News article
View February 2014 Alternatives Journal article
View Manitoba Energy East Justice Coalition Mythbusting Energy East page
View Manitoba Wildlands Energy Development page

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Manitoba Budget 2015 1 May 15

The Manitoba 2015 Provincial Budget shows an expected $422 million deficit this year and Manitoba does not expect to balance the books on core government revenue and expenditures until 2018.

The brochure for the budget indicates that Manitoba intends to leverage $ 1B Cdn over five years to ‘enhance water quality’, and return Lake Winnipeg to its former function and health. While the Clean Environment Commission is considering its recommendations about regulation of Lake Winnipeg water levels, and providing Manitoba Hydro with a final licence, this budget acknowledges Lake Winnipeg needs scientific and environmental programs, and funding.

Funds to modernize Spruce Woods Park, Birds Hill Park, and Grand Beach provincial parks are included in 2015-16 expenditures. The budget speech also indicates that there will be continued funding for First Nation lands planning – which are often for territories located in boreal forest regions.

A climate change fund will assist companies to reduce their emissions and create green jobs in the transportation and agriculture sectors. Infrastructure investments are going to further flood proofing efforts and expand wetlands – both relevant in the face of repeated and increasing flood events in Manitoba.

View Manitoba Budget press releases
View Manitoba Budget home page
View April 30, 2015 CBC News article
View April 30, 2015 CBC News article
View April 30, 2015 CJOB article
View April 29, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article

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Vatican: Time for Action on Climate Justice 1 May 15

Top officials from the Vatican, the head of the United Nations and leading scientists came together at an April 28th summit in Vatican City to label the fight against man-made climate change as a "moral issue."

"Mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects are necessary to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce inequality and secure equitable, sustainable economic development," said Ban Ki Moon, U.N. secretary-general, in the keynote speech.

"This is an all-embracing moral imperative: to protect and care for both creation, our garden home, and the human person who dwells herein — and to take action to achieve this," said Cardinal Peter Turkson, who heads the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

In September, the pope is scheduled to address Congress, as well as a United Nations summit meeting on sustainable development, where he is expected to reiterate his environmental message. The pope has said that climate change is “mostly” a result of human activity.

Pope Francis is not the first pope to address environmental issues, but his encyclical is expected to be the most comprehensive Vatican document so far on the links between sustainable development, concern for the poor and care of the planet.

View May 1, 2015 The Columbus Dispatch article
View April 30, 2015 article
View April 29, 2015 USA Today article
View April 28, 2015 The New York Times article
View April 28, 2015 The Guardian article
View April 28, 2015 BBC News article

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Tarsands To Invade West Coast 1 May 15

Canadian oil producers hope to dramatically increase the transport of tar-sand crude by rail and ship to the state of Washington and the rest of the West Coast, according to a new report released April 28 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, NextGen Climate America, Forest Ethics and more than two dozen partner organizations.

The new report notes that if current plans for infrastructure to handle tar sands oil transportation proceed, “tar sands refining on the West Coast could increase eightfold, from about 100,000 barrels per day in 2013 to nearly 800,000 bpd in coming decades.” To put this in perspective, this is approximately the amount the proposed TransCanada KXL pipeline would transport to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“The West Coast is about to fall victim to a tar sands invasion, unless our leaders choose to protect the health and safety of our communities and say no to Big Oil,” said Anthony Swift, deputy director of NRDC's Canada Project. “At a time when the nation is moving toward a clean energy future, there is no reason to welcome the dirtiest oil on the planet into our communities.”

View April 29, 2015 DeSmogBlog article
View April 28, 2015 Natural Resources Defense Council blog post
View April 2015 Natural Resources Defense Council report
View April 2015 Natural Resources Defense Council issue brief
View Natural Resources Defense Council Energy Document
View West Coast Environmental Tar Sands, Tankers & Pipelines page

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CEOs Call for Paris Deal - Jurists Release Principles 24 April 15

Experts in international, human rights and environmental law fields released a set of Principles in March 2015 as the basis for a new international climate changepact. The precautionary principle leads the experts’ list. Business and corporate entities are included in the sets of responsibilities identified in their principles. An example: “Enterprises in the banking and finance sectors should take into account the GHG effects of any projects they consider financing.”

More recently a global group of corporate CEOs have issued a strong call for a new international climate deal to come from the December Paris negotiations, and lead up conference to prepare for Paris. They appear to support the UN Secretary General’s call for “a collective agreement binding the international community to a zero-carbon world by the end of the century; individual countries coming up with their own plans; a financing package that by 2020 would provide poor countries with $100bn (£68bn) to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects and a stronger role for the private sector to use its innovative skills to find ways of reducing emissions.”

The CEOs issued an open letter, and made commitments to cut their companies’ emissions. The group of 43 chief executives, said they would set internal emission reduction targets and called on negotiators to make sure a new international climate deal limits the global rise in temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius. (Link to letter below.)

Most governments missed the March 31 deadline to submit their emission reduction targets for the Paris negotiations, to the UN. Canada has indicated that it will not file emission reduction targets until the G8 meets in summer 2015.

Companies signing the CEOs letter include cement maker Lafarge, telecom group Erikson, consumer goods company Unilever, and car maker Volvo

View April 16, 2015 Reuters article
View April 13, 2015 The Guardian article
View Oslo Priniples on Global Climate Change Obligations
View CEOs to World Leaders Letter: Lets Partner on Climate Change Now

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Marilyn Baptiste - North America 2015 Goldman Prize 24 April 15

The Goldman Environmental Foundation in San Francisco has announced the recipients of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize, an annual award that recognizes grassroots environmental leaders from around the globe.

Marilyn Baptiste, A former chief of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, led her community in defeating one of the largest proposed gold and copper mines in British Columbia – the Prosperity Mine. The project that would have destroyed Fish Lake — a source of spiritual identity and livelihood for the Xeni Gwet’in.

The Xeni Gwet’in, also known as the Nemiah Valley Indian Band, is one of six Tsilhqot’in First Nations. For generations, they have been steadfast protectors of their territory and the surrounding pristine environment of forests, lakes, streams and diverse wildlife such as bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, wild salmon and wild rainbow trout.

The Xeni Gwet’in territory became ground zero in Vancouver-based Taseko Mines Limited (TML)’s long quest to build Prosperity Mine. Baptiste has followed in her father’s footsteps in the fight for her community’s rights. She worked her way up at the First Nation’s legal center, and in January 2008, she was elected chief of the Xeni Gwet’in. She also co-founded First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM), in the thick of TML’s relentless pursuit of the Prosperity Mine project.

View Marilyn Baptiste bio on The Goldman Environmental Prize website
View April 21, 2015 Philanthropy News Digest article
View April 20, 2015 The Guardian article
View April 20, 2015 Business Wire article
View more information on the 2015 The Goldman Environmental Prize winners

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Federal Budget Canada 2015 24 April 15

Finance Minister Joe Oliver tabled details of the government’s long-awaited budget Tuesday, April 20th, 2015. In its 518 pages, there’s zero mention of climate change compared to 106 references to oil.

A lot of funding is earmarked for cleaning up government sites and toxic chemicals – but nothing referring to climate change initiatives. Even a modest $300 million promised last November for the Green Climate Fund, designed to help developing countries tackle climate change, was nowhere to be found. As the world mobilizes to build a cleaner future, Canada is at risk of being left behind in the new green economy while alienating partners around the world.

Given there is new clear evidence oil producers had a direct line to the Prime Minister’s Office through now disgraced Senator Mike Duffy, the lack of climate change initiatives in the 2015 Federal Canadian budget does not surprise.

Some relevant highlights of the Canadian budget include;

  • Continuing to support, with $75 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, the implementation of the Species at Risk Act to protect Canada’s diverse species and secure the necessary actions for their recovery.
  • Providing $2.0 million in 2015–16 to the Pacific Salmon Foundation to support the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project.
  • Extending the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Program by providing $10 million per year for three years, starting in 2016–17, to support the conservation of recreational fisheries across the country.
  • Dedicating $34 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, to continue to support meteorological and navigational warning services in the Arctic.

View Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives 2015 Federal Budget Analysis
View April 22, 2015 David Suzuki Foundation article
View April 22, 2015 National Observer article
View April 21, 2015 Global News article
View April 21, 2015 Huffington Post article
View April 21, 2015 National Post article
View April 20, 2015 Global News article

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Canadians Want Climate Action Before Oil - National Poll 12 April 15

A recent poll shows Canadians believe climate disruption is a moral issue and that climate protection trumps development of the tarsands and pipelines. They want politicians to control carbon pollution and give citizens a say in energy decision-making.

The national random sample telephone poll of 3,040 Canadians was conducted for Climate Action Network Canada (CAN-Canada) by Oracle Research Limited from March 12 to 30, 2015. The margin of error for the total 3040-person survey is +/- 1.78%, 19/20 times. In addition to national summary totals, poll results were analysed by gender, province and voter intention.

“Canadians are looking for political leadership. We will bring our feet and voices to the need to Act on Climate in a march on April 11 in Québec City. Business, labour and environmental leaders will reinforce the possibilities at the Canadian Round Table on a Green Economy, April 13, and we expect provincial governments to tell the country what they will do to protect the climate. The federal government is missing in action. It is time for all federal and provincial leaders to take responsibility for doing their part to protect the climate, says Steven Guilbault, Senior Policy Director, Équiterre.”

‘We suggest everyone look at Manitoba’s raw numbers in this poll. Once again Manitobans are ahead of the curve on environmental issues,; says Gaile Whelan-Enns, Director of Manitoba Wildlands

View April 9, 2015 Natural Resources Defense Council blog post
View April 7, 2015 Climate Action Network article
View April 2, 2015 CBC News article
View October 30, 2014 The Wall Street Journal article

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Manitoba Energy East Questions Not Answered 12 April 15

Manitobans are beginning to realize that TransCanada Pipeline’s Energy East repurposed pipeline goes across Manitoba. With the company deciding to delay the pipeline by at least one year and deciding not to build a terminal in Quebec in Beluga Whale waters, Manitobans are looking for answers about the project.

Energy East's capacity would be 1.1 million barrels per day – adding a one-third increase in pipeline-network capacity. It is also 30 – 32 million tonnes of annual emissions, more than 1.5 times the emissions Manitoba generates a year.

Environment Canada's projections for tar sands climate-pollution growth predict it would cancel out emission reductions made by all other parts of Canada's economy.

TransCanada had more pipeline ruptures in the last 10 years than all other Canadian pipeline companies combined. When Energy East spills, the sheer capacity of the pipeline means it could be the largest pipeline oil spill in Canadian history. An oil spill like the one in the Kalamazoo River has the potential to pollute not just one river but the entire Red River Basin and the Hudson’s Bay Basin

With energy stations along the way pushing the bitumen through the pipeline there is no answer on how long it would take to stop the pipeline if it ruptured. Manitoba Hydro would be providing transmission lines and energy stations to keep the pipeline operating across Manitoba, and may be counting on this revenue.

The 50 year old bitumen pipeline would cross beneath or near critical Manitoba waterways including the Assiniboine River, Red River, Little Saskatchewan River and the Shoal Lake watershed. It would cross two metres below the aqueduct that supplies Winnipeg's drinking water.

View The Council of Canadians Energy East page
View April 8, 2015 The Council of Canadians article
View April 8, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article
View April 8, 2015 CBC News article
View April 2, 2015 CBC News article
View March 10, 2015 Vancouver Observer article

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Time To Look At Alberta For Real 12 April 15

In a paper to be released April 9th, 2015, Environmental Defence and Greenpeace Canada conclude that expansion of oil sands production must be curtailed if Canada is to have any reasonable chance of meeting its international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.

“Continued expansion of the tar sands would lead to emission increases that would swamp emission reductions from Ontario, even if Ontario was successful in implementing policies – like carbon pricing – that would allow the province to meet its 2020 carbon pollution target,” Dale Marshall, national program manager with Environmental Defence, said.

Carbon pollution, because it is so intimately linked to energy development, must be an integral part of any energy strategy. The strategy will need to be cohesive, showing that energy development in Canada is consistent with climate commitments made by the provinces and the federal government, and with our global partners.

Essentially, one province with 11 per cent of the population, driven by an industry representing just 2 per cent of Canada’s GDP, would have levels of carbon pollution that are 93 per cent of emissions in the rest of the country. That’s not a scenario that reflects any notion of fairness.

View April 9, 2015 Greenpeace blog post
View April 9, 2015 The Globe and Mail article
View Environmental Defence Take Action page

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