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Clean Energy – A Greener Nafta? 14 February 16

Canada's federal government used to be out of step.

We all know how that story ended. When President Obama did say no to Keystone late last year, the new Trudeau government's response pivoted straight to cleaner energy, stating that Canada will work with "like-minded countries to combat climate change, adapt to its impacts, and create the clean jobs of tomorrow." In other words: we hear you, and we're going to start talking clean.

Canada, the United States and Mexico have signed a trilateral agreement to mark the start of discussions on the first North American accord on climate change and clean energy. Canada's Energy Minister Jim Carr, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Mexico's secretary of energy, Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, signed a memorandum of understanding on North American climate change and energy collaboration in Winnipeg on Friday February 12, 2016.

"It's the fact we are recognizing that our energy relationship is more than just oil, and there is more to the Canada-U.S. relationship than the Keystone pipeline," said Keith Stewart, head of Greenpeace Canada's climate and energy campaign.

The urgent need to move away from energy produced by fossil fuels – such as coal, oil and gas – was made abundantly clear earlier this year when the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report that said the world needed to make a "massive shift" to renewable energy in order to curb climate change.

The end of the fossil era is inevitable and the renewable energy era has already begun. With the renewable job sector already providing more jobs than fossil fuel based sectors it is clear that green, clean energy jobs are key to boosting both the economy and meeting Canada's climate change commitments.

View February 12, 2016 Huffington Post article
View February 12, 2016 Clean Energy Canada article
View February 12, 2016 CTV News article
View January 22, 2016 CNN article
View January 13, 2016 Mashable article
View June 20, 2014 The Guardian article
View Campaign Against Climate Change website

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Canadian Fossil Fuel Subsidies Ridiculous: $46 Billion 14 February 16

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is estimating Canada’s fossil fuel subsidies at $46.4 billion per year, far more than the $5.2 billion in subsidies and public finance calculated by Oil Change International and the Overseas Development Institute in a report released ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris last fall. The IMF also shows the subsidies are rising.

The big gap reflects the IMF’s method of calculation that includes uncollected taxes and externalized costs, as well as direct support.

Globally, this figure balloons to US$5.3 trillion or 6.5 per cent of the world's GDP. To put that enormous sum in perspective, the global giveaway to the energy sector amounts to 40 times more money than is contributed in aid to the world's poorest people.

What could Canada do with another $46 billion each year? There are proposed light rail projects that could be built and only Canada would have $35 billion left to spend. Canada’s need to build and maintain affordable housing, is estimated to be a $3 billion annual cost. Canadian national pharmacare programs might cost an extra $1 billion each year . A guaranteed annual income for each Canadian is another example.

Even after those large national projects, billions and billions of annual public revenue could provide tax relief to those shifting away from fossil fuels as well as transition training and jobs for displaced workers in our beleaguered oil sector.

Using the fossil fuel subsidies revenue differently and collecting all the back taxes owed to the Canadian government by the fossil fuel industry would go a very long way to making the transition to clean and renewable energy a reality. It would also mean Canada would reach its emissions and climate change goals.

View February 8, 2016 Clean Technica article
View February 3, 2016 The Energy Mix article
View February 1, 2016 The Tyee article
View July 17, 2015 International Monetary Fund article

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Renewables The Key To Climate Goals - IRENA 30 January 16

According to a report released January 30th, 2016, countries can deliver on the promises of the historic Paris climate change agreement by rapid scaling up wind and solar power to 36% of the global energy mix by 2030.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) meeting in Abu Dhabi - the first major global gathering since Paris - is seen as an important test of countries' readiness to put those plans into action.

Technology will help solve our energy issues. The urgency of climate change and the energy needs in the poorest parts of the world require an aggressive global program for zero-emission energy innovation. The new model will be a public-private partnership between governments, research institutions, and investors. Scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs can invent and scale the innovative technologies that will limit the impact of climate change while providing affordable and reliable energy to everyone.

"The Paris agreement set a long-term vision for the deep reduction of global emissions and the need to decarbonise the energy sector," Adnan Amin, IRENA's director general said in a prepared statement. "The IRENA assembly must now take the next steps and establish a blueprint for action to meet our climate goals and set the world on a path to a sustainable energy future."

In an effort to spur countries to action, the IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) report released found doubling the share of renewables by 2030 would increase global GDP by up to 1.1% or about $1.3tn, and provide jobs for more than 24 million in the renewable sector.

Not only can renewables achieve the desired shift in energy generation for climate goals, but the shift to renewables will also be a complete economic win both short and long-term with regards to job creation and return on investment.

View January 26, 2016 Salon article
View January 16, 2016 The Guardian article
View December 17, 2015 Huffington Post
View December 12, 2015 The Guardian article
View May 5, 2015 Solar Choice article
View International Renewable Energy Agency website
View Climate Action Network presentations
View Energy Technology Perspectives 2015 - Mobilising Innovation to Accelerate Climate Action

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Pipelines New Review Principles Still Not Enough 30 January 16

After Canada's environmental assessment regulations were dismantled in a 2012 Onmibus Bill, the National Energy Board summarily decided to exclude consideration of greenhouse gas emissions from its assessments of major pipeline projects.

Canada's environmental assessment processes are badly broken. By setting out broad expectations that resource projects will have to meet, the government has begun the process of earning public and stakeholder confidence in the process.

It is vital that the Canadian government include all greenhouse gas emissions (upstream and downstream) in its assessment of major energy proposals like the Energy East pipeline and the Trans Mountain expansion. It is not yet clear what criteria Cabinet will use to determine the acceptable level of emissions from each project.

Clarity on what is and is not acceptable in energy development in Canada is the first step in diversifying the country's resource economy and ensuring a fair, smooth transition for people who work in the fossil fuel industries. Clean energy already produces more direct employment in Canada than the tar sands, even before falling oil prices set off layoffs in the Alberta oil patch.

Canada committed to efforts to limit global warming at last month's Paris climate conference, noted John Bennett, with Friends of the Earth in Ottawa.

"You can't say you're committed to keeping emissions below 1.5 degrees, and then not count downstream emissions when you're assessing the project," Bennett said. "They're trying to fool themselves or Canadians that we can deal with climate change, and not deal with the fact that we're pumping fossil fuels out of the ground."

Bennett said if the Liberals hoped this announcement would achieve "pipeline peace," they're wrong.

View January 29, 2016 National Observer article
View January 28, 2016 The Tyee article
View January 28, 2016 DeSmog Canada article
View January 27, 2016 article
View January 20, 2016 article
View February 6, 2014 Pembina Institute article

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Regional Chiefs To Trudeau - Fix The NEB 30 January 16

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) are seeking greater change than the modest reforms to Harper's signature pipeline review process announced by the Trudeau government for TransCanada's Energy East pipeline and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline.

"First Nations and Canada have a lot of work to do regarding measures needed to finally put us all on the path of reconciliation and partnership. We focus here on one such measure - the overhaul of the review and assessment process for Tar Sands export pipelines.

The current system, a product of the unconstitutional Omnibus Bills C-38 and C-45 which First Nations vigorously opposed, has: recklessly compressed pipeline reviews; sidelined critics; excluded essential considerations such as climate change; and violated Indigenous rights and sovereignty. Meanwhile, the National Energy Board (NEB) is no longer an independent arbiter in such reviews. It has become a politicized and industry-captured 'rubber stamper' that pays only lip service to the respect for the positions and rights of First Nations. All of these changes unravel opportunities for First Nations who are directly impacted by regulators like the NEB to offer them and industry vitally important information about the lands and resources. The current restrictions further damage the relationship with First Nations and undermine the public trust, legitimacy and openness of the federal environmental assessment process.

In light of your Government's stated positions in respect to such matters, our First Nations in British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec call for the establishment of a new pipeline review and assessment process, to be developed and implemented in collaboration with First Nations, that will enable a thorough and objective environmental assessment of these pipelines that respects our rights under the Constitution of Canada as well as under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Before proceeding with such desperately needed reforms, however, we insist on the immediate cancellation of the NEB review processes for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain, Enbridge's Line 3 and TransCanada's Energy East Tar Sands pipelines. Such reviews will need to be completely re-thought in line with the above reforms to be established collaboratively by First Nations and Canada. We are encouraged that Liberal MP Terry Beech, Burnaby North-Seymour, has already said there will be no decision on Kinder Morgan in January, and that Kinder Morgan will have to go through a new, revised process."

View January 29, 2016 Ricochet article
View January 29, 2016 The Real News article
View January 10, 2016 The Star article
View December 17, 2015 Union of BC Indian Chiefs article
View November 29, 2015 Metro News Winnipeg article

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Court Rules B.C. Government Failed To Consult First Nations 15 January 16

A Supreme Court ruling has that found the BC government abdicated its statutory duties and breached its duty to consult with the Gitgat'a First Nation and other Coastal First Nations, when it signed and failed to terminate an Equivalency Agreement that handed the federal National Energy Board (NEB) sole jurisdiction over the environmental assessment decision making regarding Enbridge's Northern Gateway project.

The ruling, which is a major victory for the Gitga'at First Nation, means the equivalency agreement is invalid, that the government must now make its own environmental assessment decision regarding the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, and that it must consult with and accommodate First Nations along the pipeline route about potential impacts to their Aboriginal rights and title.

"The province has been talking a lot about its opposition to oil pipelines in recent days," said Art Sterritt, a member of the Gitga'at First Nation. "Now it must put its money where its mouth is and apply the same rigorous standards it advocated for during the Joint Review Panel process, while consulting with every single First Nation who would be affected by this project. We've said it before: The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is dead."

The ruling means that, until the province makes a decision on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and issues an Environmental Assessment Certificate, none of the approximately 60 permits, licenses and authorizations necessary for the project to proceed can be issued.

"Consultation does not mean explaining, however fulsome, however respectfully, what actions the government is going to take that may or may not ameliorate potential adverse effects," Justice Koenigsberg wrote. "Such a means of dealing with the admittedly difficult issue looks very like 'we know best and have your best interests at heart'. First Nations, based on past experience, quite rightly are distrustful and offended at such an approach."

View January 14, 2016 CBC News article
View January 13, 2016 National Observer article
View January 13, 2016 The Georgia Straight article
View January 13, 2016 Coastal First Nations article
View Judge Koenigsberg Re Coastal First Nations v British Columbia (Environment) 01-13

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Site C Dam Protests Heating Up 15 January 16

A small number of Indigenous protesters are trying to halt Site C by occupying land near the mega dam construction site. Construction on the $9 billion dollar dam project has been underway for four months near Fort St John.

"We have a peaceful protest camp," Yvonne Tupper, a Saulteau First Nation woman from Chetwynd, told CBC News. "Site C is infringing our treaty rights. No Treaty 8 First Nation has ever given consent prior to construction. And it's an insult and an assault to continue construction while there are pending court cases. "

Site C dam, the third on the Peace River in British Columbia, will create an 83-kilometre-long reservoir and flood an area where protesters are currently camping. It has long been a controversial debate in the region and has been opposed for years, prompting legal challenges by several groups concerned about the impact a new lake created by the dam will have on the Peace River area.

Environmental activist David Suzuki is throwing his support behind First Nations protesting the construction of the $9-billion Site C dam in northeastern British Columbia. Suzuki and the grand chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Stewart Phillip, travelled to the remote Rocky Mountain Fort Camp in the Peace Valley on Tuesday morning. Suzuki said he made the trip to thank the protestors for continuing the fight against the dam.

"I wanted to go and thank them ... because I was one of many, many people 30 years ago that was opposing the dam at Site C — exactly the same dam and we won that one," he said. So I can't figure out what the hell — we already had this battle before and we're having it again."

Meanwhile, Grand Chief Phillip says he is infuriated by what he called a "provocative and aggressive approach" from BC Hydro and the province.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that BC Hydro is relentlessly clear-cutting forests right now to prepare for the flooding of the Peace River Valley, which will destroy archaeological sites and eradicate prime farmland," said Phillip.

View January 13, 2016 Aboriginal Peoples Television Network article
View January 12, 2016 CBC News article
View January 12, 2016 Energetic City article
View January 12, 2016 The Vancouver Sun article
View January 11, 2016 The Globe and Mail article
View January 5, 2016 CBC News article

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Manitoba & Alberta Sign Climate MOU 15 January 16

Premiers from Western Canada's two NDP provinces met in Winnipeg today to talk climate change policy and renewable energy. Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley exchanged ideas on energy infrastructure, renewable energy and climate change priorities.

The premiers discussed climate change and energy infrastructure. They say Alberta's and Manitoba's actions and leadership on climate change have advanced the national dialogue on important infrastructure projects such as hydroelectricity transmission and pipelines. The premiers agreed that Canada's energy infrastructure must be built in an environmentally responsible and safe way.

The two premiers signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) that, in broad terms, commits their provinces to further emissions reductions and energy efficiency. The MOU includes a commitment to share information and develop co-operative measures related to energy conservations programs, renewable energy development and greenhouse-gas reduction policies. It also emphasizes the importance of improving integration of electrical grids in western Canada to open up economic opportunities, improve energy reliability and resiliency, and continue transition to a lower-carbon economy.

Building sizable transmission capacity to Alberta would be a long-term and costly project. Provinces have previously pressed the federal government, without success, for help in funding a national east-west grid.

Both premiers support Energy East, which is not going to reduce emissions. Both provinces' emissions are rising. And a comparison of their new climate plans does not favour Manitoba's climate plan.

View January 8, 2016 Alberta Government article
View January 8, 2016 CBC News article
View January 8, 2016 The Globe and Mail article

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COP 21 Paris Agreement Makes History 14 December 15

International leaders have reached a pact to keep global warming "well under" two degrees, and "pursue efforts" to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, Chair of COP 21, said the deal would be legally-binding, and that targets would be reviewed every five years.

As part of a concerted effort to avoid catastrophic climate change, the world's governments unanimously committed to an ongoing effort of increasingly deeper emissions reductions aimed at keeping total warming "to well below 2°C [3.6°F] above preindustrial levels." The full text of this Paris Agreement goes even further, with the parties agreeing "to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change."

"Canada has reasserted itself on the world stage by playing a strong role in developing the historic Paris agreement to curb the climate threat facing us all," said Anthony Swift, Canada Project Director at NRDC.

Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, described the Paris goal of 1.5 degrees C as "encouraging," but warned that an accelerated transition to renewable power was vital if such an ambitious deal was to succeed.

"At last, a historic international agreement on climate change has been finalized. Now it's up to citizens and their governments to ensure a safe future, free from catastrophic climate impacts. And that means Canada has work to turn its strong words in Paris into actions at home," said Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence.

To help avoid catastrophic climate change and keep global warming within 1.5 degrees C, Gray said Canada had to roll out a new federal climate framework within the next 90 days aimed at total decarbonisation by 2050.

"It sets the international framework," Christine McKenna, Canada's Environment and Climate Change minister, said. 'We need to be ambitious now in Canada too.'

View December 14, 2015 National Observer article
View December 12, 2015 National Observer article
View December 12, 2015 National Observer article
View December 12, 2015 Environmental Defence article
View Climate Action Network Canada news page
View Manitoba Wildlands International Climate Meetings page

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National Energy Board Moves Towards Transparency 14 December 15

As of November 26th, 2015, Canadians have online access to pipeline company field inspection reports from the National Energy Board. A press release from the Government of Canada says this initiative reflects the NEB's mandate of' openness and accountability to Canadians.' It is not yet known whether monitoring reports will also become public.

"Canadians really deserve to have this information. I think what you are looking at is a new NEB," said Darin Barter, a National Energy Board spokesperson in Calgary said of the announcement. Barter said if disclosing pipeline issues prompt Canadians to lose confidence, "I would say the companies need to step it up then."

NEB Inspection reports will be available online within six weeks of the inspection taking place, so that it can be reviewed for accuracy and translated for posting in both English and French. Detailed findings, outcomes and any enforcement and compliance action taken by NEB Inspection Officers will also be posted.

In recent years because of appointments of oil and gas industry professionals to the board, the NEB has been criticized as a pipeline approval machine. Independent panel members have been resigning due to the NEB's troubled proceedings for recent hearings. The summer 2015 board appointment of a Kinder Morgan consultant by the former federal government shows there is a long way to go to regain public trust.

View November 27, 2015 CBC News article
View November 26, 2015 National Observer article
View November 26, 2015 Government of Canada news release
View November 26, 2015 Energetic City article
View November 14, 2015 CBC News article
View November 12, 2015 CNW article

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Mount Polley Mine Reopens 14 December 15

The B.C. government has granted a short-term water discharge permit to Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine to ensure a containment pit used to store mining waste will not overflow. The company is using the Springer Pit, excavated to obtain ore, to temporarily store mining waste while it comes up with a long-term plan to deal with the waste and water. The Mount Polley mine will drain its waste from a tailings pit into Quesnel Lake.

In a statement announcing the permit, the B.C. Environment Ministry said treated water will be discharged into Hazeltine Creek, flow into a pond where sediment will settle out, and from there will be piped into Quesnel Lake 30 to 40 metres below the surface.

Secwepemc Nation spokesperson Kanahus Manuel is outraged by the province's decision, and worried for the people who use Quesnel Lake.

"This effluent and this treated water that Imperial Metals is discharging into Quesnel Lake is not meeting the drinking water guidelines," she says. "It is going to be flowing right down into the Fraser River which 63 per cent of B.C. depends on for our watershed."

View December 2, 2015 CBC News article
View December 1, 2015 The Vancouver Sun article
View November 22, 2015 The Globe and Mail article
View July 9, 2015 CBC News article
View July 2, 2015 CBC News article

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Paris Climate Talks 2015 - Week One Ends 6 December 15

The first week of Paris United Nations negotiations for a new international climate agreement is over. Environment ministers from many of the 190 countries attending are participating in week two negotiations.

The international response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the 'Rio Convention' included the adoption of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This convention set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid "dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."

For the first time in years of UN negotiations, the EU aims to achieve a new legally binding and universal agreement on climate at COP21 in Paris. France, as host & chair for COP 21, is responsible for delivery of a consensus agreement by December 10, 2015.

Current key issues at COP 21 defining negotiations for language in a new climate agreement include civil rights, indigenous rights, the actual temperature goal to aim for, and the role of 'non parties' who do not sign a new UN agreement. These include cities, non government organizations, and sub national provinces, states, countries, etc.

Visit COP 21 website
View COP 20 Presses for Climate Agreement
View November 27, 2015 EcoWatch article
View Green Party of Canada videos
View The Plan Through Paris page
View November 27, 2015 EcoWatch article
View December 3, 2015 The Guardian article
View December 3, 2015 The Guardian article
View Manitoba Wildlands International Climate Meetings page

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