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North American Leadership On Reducing Emmissions 19 December 14

“The time to take swift, collective action on climate change is now. Ontario is proud to be among many jurisdictions in North America that recognize the urgent need to stop the irreparable damage caused by climate change. This statement affirms our resolve to lead by example, encourage other regions to do their part and leave our future generations with the legacy of a healthy, prosperous planet.” Glen R. Murray ,Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Ontario, together with California, Quebec and British Columbia, have issued a joint statement, demonstrating leadership and collective action on climate change. The four regions were in Lima, Peru, for the annual United Nations conference on climate change, COP 20

The Joint Statement on Climate Change, announced by respective environment and climate change ministers:

  • Identifies climate change as a serious environmental and economic threat.
  • Recognizes the immediacy and importance of taking action now to stop irreparable damage along with the opportunity to create a new, low-carbon economy, generate jobs and improve productivity.
  • Resolves to work together towards mid-term greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The statement builds on the leadership and collaboration shown by Ontario and Quebec through the climate change Memorandum of Understanding signed by both provinces in November 2014. The agreement commits both provinces to collaborate on a range of measures, including exploring market-based approaches to reducing carbon emissions and fostering a strong, green economy in central Canada.

View December 9, 2014 Electric Light & Power article
View December 8, 2014 Ontario Government news release
View December 8, 2014 British Columbia Government news release
View December 8, 2014 British Columbia Newsroom article

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Lake Winnipeg Hearings Schedule Released 19 December 14

Manitoba’s Clean Environment Commission (CEC) has posted its schedule for hearings to review the regulation of Lake Winnipeg by Manitoba Hydro in relation to generation of hydro electricity. The review and hearings include impacts from regulation of the lake, since the 1970’s. The mandate for the hearings is based on the Water Power Act interim licence, in place since the 1970s, with annual renewals.

Participants can register until end of January. Steps to apply for participant funding are outlined on the CEC website. The process to file formal written Information Requests for Manitoba Hydro is underway. There is no public registry for this review due to it not being held under the Environment Act.

Hearings in Winnipeg start March 9. In January and February the CEC will be holding hearings in several locations in Manitoba. They will also be visiting First Nations who have invited the CEC to hold a hearing in their community. Detailed schedule is posted on the CEC website.

Manitoba Wildlands is a participant in the Lake Winnipeg Regulation hearings, with similar activities and mandate as during the Wuskwatim, Bipole III, and Keeyask CEC hearings.

View Lake Winnipeg Hearings Schedule
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Lake Winnipeg page

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COP 20 Agreement Weak - Next Paris 2015 19 December 14

The latest round of climate talks just concluded in Lima, Peru (COP 20) after two days of overtime negotiations. A new document was created, the Lima Call for Climate Action that sets up framework for negotiations on a new climate treaty that will be decided in Paris next year. A binding global climate treaty that supports real change will depend on reaching agreements with the 20 nations that emit 80% of total global greenhouse emissions (GHG), and the economic sectors that have the biggest impact on the world’s climate.

Included in the text coming out of Lima is a goal of phasing out carbon emissions by mid-century, which was supported by over 100 countries. That this made it out of the COP 20 in Lima is significant. The only way to achieve this scenario is by moving away from fossil fuels - this pits the UNFCCC process directly against the fossil fuel industry.

The Lima Accord is different from other negotiations, because for the first time all nations agreed to cut carbon emissions. Each country is going to report how they will make this happen. However a big problem with the language means that participating nations will not be held accountable for reporting their plans – it’s as if each country “will be marking their own homework ahead of the critical Paris meeting.”

Elizabeth May was the only Canadian opposition elected representative attending COP 20 in Lima, Peru.

View article
View December 19, 2014 DeSmog Canada article
View December 16, 2014 The Tyee article
View December 15, 2014 Elizabeth May article
View December 13, 2014 CBC Radio article
View December 15, 2014 Democracy Now! article
View September 23, 2014 United Nations Development Programme article

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Whiteshell Park Borders Expanded 19 December 14

Whiteshell Provincial Park will be expanded by almost 3,000 hectares with more space inside the park to be protected from mining and development. This addition of land and water will expand the park's northwest boundary to the Whitemouth Bog Ecological Reserve and Whitemouth Bog Wildlife Management Area. Protecting the Whitemouth Bog wetlands will help clean water before it flows into Lake Winnipeg. Before this expansion the park was 272, 900 hectares.

In addition to the increased area, the province is increasing the protected areas within the park by 20,375 hectares - roughly six times the size of Birds Hill Provincial Park. This will bring the percentage of protected area within the park up to 44 from 35 percent.

Unfortunately the two regulations required under the Parks Act, and the Mines Act, were not available as of Friday, December 19, 2014.

“We will monitor this announcement to see wether newer land use zones are regulations are put in place,” commented Gaile Whelan-Enns, Manitoba Wildlands Director.

View December 16, 2014 Wilderness Committee article
View December 16, 2014 Winnipeg Free Press article
View December 16, 2014 CBC News article
View December 16, 2014 Metro article
View December 16, 2014 Ducks Unlimited Canada article

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Canada's National Energy Board - No Credibility 12 December 14

It took a Waterloo waitress to stop Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline reversal in Southwestern Ontario. One of only a handful of interveners allowed into the National Energy Board's review hearing of the Line 9 reversal, Louisette Lanteigne, pointed out the need for shutoff valve's on either side of major tributaries. This is the reason no oil is flowing in Line 9 at the moment.

Most recently, Louisette uncovered an internal e-mail, from the National Energy Board (NEB), through an Access To Information Request, that appears to boast about new Harper Conservative government rules that reduce the public's ability to ask questions at pipeline hearings. In the report attached to the memo, the NEB's Hearing Manager for Oil Pipeline Applications told colleagues about the "successes" of a recently concluded Line 9A pipeline hearing in the summer of 2012. The manager states that the public's inability to cross-examine witnesses at the hearing was one of several achievements.

The e-mail was written three weeks after the Harper government omnibus bill C-38 became law. Bill C-38 puts new limits on NEB hearings. Conservative Minister Joe Oliver said at the time that the reforms were necessary to halt "environmental and other radical groups" from hijacking pipeline reviews.

The new bill and the new limits on the NEB demonstrate a complete disconnect from due process and public participation. If the NEB is seeking to limit public participation - the same public whose best interests it is supposed to be safeguarding then it is obviously operating without any credibility.

View December 9, 2014 Vancouver Observer article
View December 3, 2014 The Commonsense Canadian article
View November 4, 2014 The Vancouver Sun article
View October 30, 2014 Vancouver Observer article
View April 23, 2014 The Tyee article

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Canada: Second Worst Environmental Performance - Germanwatch 12 December 14

The annual Climate Change Performance Index is an instrument to enhance transparency in international climate politics. Its aim is to encourage political and social pressure on those countries, which have failed to take ambitious actions on climate protection as well as to highlight countries with best-practice climate policies. Using standardized criteria, the index evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 58 countries that are responsible for more than 90 percent of global energy-related CO2emissions. 80 percent of the evaluation is based on objective indicators of emissions trend and emissions level.

Global emissions have reached a new peak, but recent developments indicate a new readiness for action on climate protection. This is the message of the 10th edition of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI); a ranking of the climate protection performance of the 58 highest emitters worldwide published by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe at the UN Climate Conference in Lima.

"We see global trends, indicating promising shifts in some of the most relevant sectors for climate protection", says Jan Burck (Germanwatch), author of the Index. "The rise of emissions has slowed down, and renewables are rapidly growing due to declining costs and massive investments."

Canada is only outdone in poor performance by Australia. Making it one of the countries lacking the most action on climate change. Polls across Canada show a majority of Canadians are worried about the impact of climate change on future generations, and more than half support a carbon tax. Clear evidence of the gap between the people of Canada and the current Canadian government.

View Germanwatch The Climate Change Performance Index 2014
View December 8, 2014 Climate Action Network Europe article
View December 8, 2014 The Guardian article
View December 5, 2014 CBC News article
View November 21, 2014 The Guardian article

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COP 20 Moving Beyond Climate Talks 12 December 14

Climate negotiations in Lima, Peru have once again demonstrated the complexities of navigating politics influenced heavily by old energy realities and the distance between the people and the leaders.

With the Harper government obviously, and perhaps quite deliberately, falling far behind on its commitment to cut emissions and combat climate change, we should not be surprised by the scepticism of other nations at Canada’s presence at COP 20. Canada openly committed to $300 million in support of developing countries working to cut emissions – with no clear mandate at home. At one time this sort of practice would have been called ‘simony’ – back in the day when you could pay the Catholic Church of Rome a certain amount of money to have your sins forgiven. Now it is just called politics.

The rhetoric from Canada’s Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is always about how Canada is very interested in forging alliances with it’s fellow compatriots in this battle against climate change. The Harper government is demonstrating hot not to act, and how not to talk and how not to engage in the practice of leadership when it comes to climate change. The current government of Canada is not a representation of the feelings of the peoples of Canada when it comes to climate change.

The climate talks currently going on in Lima, Peru have within them great seeds of potential for global action to finally begin to happen. While a binding agreement will not be the final result of the COP 20, the road to Paris 2015 can be paved with the actions of those engaged and committed as leaders to acting on climate change for future generations.

The global awareness of climate change has reached a tipping point. Acting, with or without a global agreement is required. Waiting is not an option any more.

View December 12, 2014 Peru this Week, Living in Peru article
View December 12, 2014 The Indian Express article
View December 11, 2014 article
View December 11, 2014 Aljazeera article
View December 9, 2014 UN News Centre article
View December 9, 2014 Cato Institute article
View December 9, 2014 article
View December 8, 2014 The Guardian article
View December 5, 2014 CBC News article
View November 17, 2014 Peru this Week, Living in Peru article

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When Will Manitoba Ban Fracking? 5 December 14

Nova Scotia has just passed a law that extends its moratorium on fracking. The bill, extends a moratorium on “high-volume hydraulic fracturing” in shale formations until the government can develop regulations and an onshore atlas of available natural gas resources.

The use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which often-dangerous chemicals are mixed with large quantities of water (or other base fluid) and sand and injected into wells at extremely high pressure is an ever expanding problem. Unconventional development of oil and gas resources, using advanced fracking methods poses threats to water, air, land, and the health of communities.

US studies have shown dangerous levels of toxic air pollution near fracking sites; Oil and gas extraction have caused smog in rural areas at levels worse than downtown Los Angeles. Oil and gas production have been linked to increased risk of cancer and birth defects in neighbouring areas; as well as to increased seismic activity and earthquakes.

To get more oil and gas out of the ground the techniques being used crack and break up bedrock that also protects underground water sources such as acquifers and the rivers and lakes above ground. With so many rivers and lakes in Manitoba – can any government of Manitoba consider it sane to allow fracking when there is so much potential risk for such short term financial gain?

When will the Manitoba government show leadership and require environmental assessment before any hydraulic fracturing in Manitoba?

View December 5, 2014 The Guardian article
View November 28, 2014 article
View November 14, 2014 The Chronicle Herald article
View Clean Water Action Fracking: The Dangers page
View Carleton College Fracking information page

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Canada Failing To Protect Wildlife 5 December 14

"What's at risk is biodiversity in Canada," says Brett Favaro, a research scientist with Memorial University's fisheries and marine institute, in an interview with Quirks & Quarks. "Extinction is forever ... If something goes extinct, this is millions of years of evolution that we're losing."

A new report and assessment of species at risk in Canada has been published. Protecting and promoting recovery of species at risk of extinction is a critical component of biodiversity conservation. In Canada, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) determines whether species are at risk of extinction or extirpation, and has conducted these assessments since 1977.

COSEWIC assessments to identify whether at-risk species have been assessed more than once tended to improve, remain constant, or deteriorate in status, as a way of assessing the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in Canada; 369 species met criteria for examination, 115 deteriorated, 202 remained unchanged, and 52 improved in status.

Only 20 species (5.4%) improved to the point where they were 'not at risk', and five of those were due to increased sampling efforts rather than an increase in population size. Species outcomes were also dependent on the severity of their initial assessment; for example, 47% of species that were initially listed as special concern deteriorated between assessments. After receiving an at-risk assessment by COSEWIC, a species is considered for listing under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), which is the primary national tool that mandates protection for at-risk species.

The Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq decides whether or not to list the species under the Species at Risk Act. It is designed to respect "the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada," according to the Act.

"The government can choose not to list the species even if it needs listing," says Favaro. "That decision takes into account how expensive it would be to protect them."

View December 1, 2014 CNW article
View November 28, 2014 Huffington Post article
View November 28, 2014 CBC News article
View November 17, 2014 PLOS One report
View Manitoba Wildlands Biodiversity & Species page

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COP 20 Presses for Climate Agreement 5 December 14

This December, 195 nations plus the European Union are meeting in Lima for two weeks for the crucial UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, known as COP 20. They aim to draft language for the next international climate agreement.

International political response to climate change began with the adoption of the United nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, which sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has 195 parties.

The importance of this Lima, Peru event lies not only in the progress of international agreements, but also in the public's interest and power to give a voice to key stakeholders including scientists and communities that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Behind each negotiation protocol signed once a year, there is an ongoing effort on the part of researchers, NGOs, the private sector, local governments and communities to integrate climate adaptation and mitigation in the fabric of people's everyday lives.

Technology transfer, balancing the need for international actions and locally appropriate interventions, and designing effective adaptation programmes are among the practical issues key to negotiating and enforcing international treaties.

Success in Lima will depend in part on Peru's Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal. As official president of COP 20, Pulgar-Vidal's determination and energy will be crucial, most observers believe.

Climate change is a major issue in Peru, since Lima and many other parts of the country are dependent on freshwater from the Andes glaciers. Studies show they have lost 30 to 50 per cent of their ice in 30 years and many will soon be gone.

View December 3, 2014 Huffington Post article
View December 1, 2014 Prevention Web article
View December 1, 2014 CBC News article
View November 28, 2014 Greenpeace article
View November 26, 2014 article
Visit UNFCCC Lima Climate Change Conference website
Visit Lima Climate Change Conference website
View Manitoba Wildlands Climate Change Meetings page

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Quebec And Ontario Energy East Standards 24 November 14

Ontario and Quebec are forging a common strategy on TransCanada’s $12-billion Energy East pipeline project to address its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, environmental assessments and to ensure their natural gas customers will not be disadvantaged. The two provincial leaders are allies in pushing the climate agenda to the forefront in provincial/territorial talks, arguing there needs to be a national energy strategy that focuses on both pipelines and emissions.

Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel laid out a series of conditions TransCanada must meet before the provincial government accepts the Quebec portion of the company’s massive Energy East pipeline project.

  • A full environmental assessment that looks at impacts of the project on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A thorough emergency plan which includes a compensation fund in case of a spill.
  • The company must consult nearby communities on potential social impacts of the project.
  • The pipeline project must respect the highest technical standards to assure public safety and protection of the environment
  • The project must satisfy issues dealing with First Nations and must involve them wherever needed
  • The project must generate economic benefits for all of Quebec, especially in job creation in areas where the pipeline will be located.
  • Make sure there is no impact to Quebec’s natural gas supply.

Ontario is expected soon to present its own list of criteria for approving the pipeline, says Keith Stewart, an Ontario climate campaigner with Greenpeace. “Ontario and Quebec in particular have been saying that any kind of a national energy strategy has to include climate change and that is something the federal government just doesn't want to hear,” he said.

View November 24, 2014 The Council of Canadians article
View November 23, 2014 Mondaq article
View November 21, 2014 Financial Post article
View November 21, 2014 CBC News article
View November 21, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View November 21, 2014 The Council of Canadians media release
View November 21, 2014 Greenpeace article
View November 21, 2014 Ontario Government news release
View November 21, 2014 Huffington Post article
View November 21, 2014 Montreal Gazette article
View November 20, 2014 The Globe and Mail article

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IEA: Fossil Fuel $550 Billion Subsidy Hampers Renewables 24 November 14

“The huge subsidies fossil fuels enjoy worldwide gives incentives to their consumption, which means that I’m paying you to pollute the world and use energy inefficiently,” Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The new IEA report; World Energy Outlook 2014, puts Fossil-fuel subsidies at $550 billion in 2013 – more than four-times those to renewable energy – and are holding back investment in efficiency and renewables. In the Middle East, nearly 2 million barrels a day of crude oil and oil products are used to generate electricity when, in the absence of subsidies, the main renewable energy technologies would be competitive with oil-fired power plants.

More than half of the world’s fossil-fuel subsidies go to oil, and many of the subsidies are concentrated in oil- and gas-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The subsidies that go to fossil fuels dwarf the subsidies for renewable energies, which the IEA put at $120 billion in 2013. The U.S. had about $27 billion in renewable subsidies in 2013, mostly going to solar PV, wind and biofuels.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), an autonomous agency, was established in November 1974. Its primary mandate was – and is – two-fold: to promote energy security amongst its member countries and provide authoritative research and analysis on ways to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond.

View November 17, 2014 Energy Matters blog post
View November 12, 2014 Bloomberg article
View November 12, 2014 Fusion article
View October 4, 2011 IEA presentation
View IEA Energy Subsidies page
View World Energy Outlook 2014

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Manitoba Wildlands2002-2014