Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate economist calls Paris Climate Conference “A Charade”

Cap and Trade won’t work without enforceable caps.

Voluntary commitments won’t work if there is no way of compelling the countries to adhere to those commitments.

Then there is Plan C, “Stiglitz’s plan is to set a single, global price for carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas. The idea is to make it so expensive to use carbon that consumers and businesses voluntarily use less of it. Countries could raise the price of carbon either with a tax or with a domestic cap-and-trade system, Stiglitz says. In his vision, if a country didn’t set its carbon price high enough, hoping to gain a pricing advantage, other countries would be allowed to charge tariffs on its exports. He would throw in a green fund to compensate hard-hit poor countries.”

For the full article in Bloomberg Business go here

 

Paris 2015 – Cop 21 and “BC Climate Leadership”

Premier Clark is off to Paris to tout B.C.’s “climate leadership”, while acknowledging that the province will miss it’s legislated greenhouse emissions targets for 2020.

When Premier Clark announced the B.C. LNG Emissions Law in 2014, as a smokescreen to cover the potentially atmospheric rise in BC carbon emissions from new LNG plants. Our 2020 targets would be challenged but not beyond our reach. Environment Minister Polak said increased LNG production will test carbon emission targets, which have legislated at one-third below 2007 levels by 2020, and the province will also consider cutting emissions in sectors such as transportation and construction.

“It is going to be a challenge, no question,” she said. “Sure, it’s going to be really difficult but it means we’re going to have to be drilling down more and more on the everyday things that we can do to reduce GHG emissions.”

Last week with the release of the Climate Leadership Report and acknowledging the news that BC will miss it’s 2020 target Minister Polak confirmed that, “We always knew it was going to be tough to meet”.  Merran Smith, Climate Leadership Team member and Executive Director of Clean Energy Canada, suggested that the targets will be missed because, “we stopped putting in place any new climate action for the past few years.” So while we were supposed to be “drilling down”, Polak just backed off any new climate action.

Today as the Premier heads to Paris, even without any LNG deals producing increased carbon, we are missing our 2020 target. To come: “the Pembina Institute estimates that even the lower end of that (LNG) development scenario would produce a staggering 73 million tonnes of carbon pollution per year by 2020.” Yikes! That’s more than double our current level of carbon in the province.

Christy Clark Selling LNG

One can only wonder if British Columbia’s interests in slowing climate change are best served by Clarks trip to Paris or staying home and implementing the recomendations of her Climate Leadership Team.

Premier Clark has said since day one that by providing liquid natural gas to the world we can clean up the worlds air. “We’re going to have a really clean product and we are going to help China wean itself off coal.” Trouble is in the long term that will only mean replacing one demon carbon with another.

The U.S. Department of Energy talks about research from the science journal Nature investigating the long term effects of natural gas potentially displacing coal and low-emitting energy sources over the long term.

Because natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, many people hoped the recent natural gas boom could help slow climate change — and according to government analyses, natural gas did contribute partially to a decline in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions between 2007 and 2012. But in the long run, according to this study, a global abundance of inexpensive natural gas would compete with all energy sources — not just higher-emitting coal, but also lower-emitting nuclear and renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar. Inexpensive natural gas would also accelerate economic growth and expand overall energy use.

  • Natural gas replacing coal would reduce carbon emissions. But due to its lower cost, natural gas would also replace some low-carbon energy, such as renewable or nuclear energy. Overall changes result in a smaller reduction than expected due to natural gas replacing these other, low-carbon sources. In a sense, natural gas would become a larger slice of the energy pie.
  • Abundant, less expensive natural gas would lower energy prices across the board, leading people to use more energy overall. In addition, inexpensive energy stimulates the economy, which also increases overall energy use. Consequently, the entire energy pie gets bigger.
  • The main component of natural gas, methane, is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. During production and distribution, some methane inevitably escapes into the atmosphere. The researchers considered both high and low estimates for this so-called fugitive methane. Even at the lower end, fugitive methane adds to climate change.

Portland Propane Project Derailed

In September of 2014 Pembina Pipleline announced that it planned to build a $500 million propane export terminal near the Port of Portland . In May, in spite of a promise of 800 construction jobs and $12 million in taxes being injected into the economy every year, local citizens concerned about the environmental impact of the project, torpedoed the plan.

Initially, the Mayor of Portland Charlie Hales, supported the project, downplaying safety concerns about moving propane by rail though the port. Once environmentalists and community organizations organized against Pembina creating overwhelming opposition to the project, the mayor reversed his support.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JONATHAN HOUSE - Protesters came out in force against the proposed project at the Port of Portland during the Planning and Sustainabiltiy hearings on it.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JONATHAN HOUSE – Protesters came out in force against the proposed project at the Port of Portland during the Planning and Sustainabiltiy hearings on it.

On May 7, Pembina reaffirmed its plans to proceed towards next steps in the development of its proposed Portland Propane Export Terminal Project. Mayor Hales will be one of five votes that will be represented at the City Council hearing, scheduled for June 10, 2015.

For a summary of the story from the Audubon Society of Portland click here

 

What To Do About Climate Change

The climate change issue is very complex. First Things First Okanagan recently sponsored UBC professor Simon Donner to speak to the issue at the Penticton Library. Simon gave overwhelming evidence that climate change is real, happening now and caused by humans. Many people feel overwhelmed and repeated ask WHAT CAN WE DO? We as volunteers do not have all the answers. First Things First Okanagan encourages you to become active, engage, learn more, demand that Canada model better outcomes. Change will only come if and when people like you do something. It is up to US, the human race, individually and collectively to find ways to change the path of destruction we seem to have embraced. We have a responsibility as global citizens to care for the earth.

Here are some suggestions of what you can do:

  • Vote- to influence the direction of local and federal decisions
  • Write politicians and demand that Canada commits to the Copenhagen Accord. Take action at the Paris summit. We, as a country need to do better
  • Create study groups, become educated and talk to others
  • Support organisations you believe in: Lead Now, Dogwood Initiative, Suzuki Foundation are just some groups interested in Environmental protection
  • Plant trees, compost and garden to reduce your carbon footprint
  • Support alternative sustainable energy systems: some countries subsidize solar and wind initiatives
  • Protect our environment: Protest when air and or water quality is jeopardised
  • Use your voice and or $$ to influence decisions
  • Live your life a little differently. Be creative
  • Google: How to reduce your carbon footprint
  • Check our website: firstthingsfirstokanagan.com

Katherine Tomczuk – member of the FTF Board

March 21, 2015

Alberta Federation Of Labor And Deep Decarbonization – Conflict or Harmony?

Can Canada continue to grow employment in oil and gas and at the same time develop employment opportunities in technologically innovative clean energy sectors?

While federal performance standards are yielding a decline in vehicle emissions and the electricity generation sector is producing the largest reduction in CHG’s due to government clean air measures, Environment Canada’s 2013 publication, Canada’s Emission Trends, forecast Oil and Gas to be the largest contributor to CHG emissions by 2020 with a 23% increase. This will basically replace the the reduced 38 Mt of carbon emissions from electricity generation that government measures have produced.

“The electricity generating sector is the largest contributor to total emissions reductions, largely due to the combined impact of various government measures to create a cleaner electricity system, predominately by replacing coal fired generation with natural gas and hydro capacity. Electricity emissions are projected to decline by 38 Mt (31%) between 2005 and 2020. In contrast, increased production in Canada’s oil sands is expected to drive a rise in emissions from the oil and gas sector of 38 Mt (23%) between 2005 and 2020”.

In a recent Tyee interview the President of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), Gil McGowan talked about how a  more regulated pace of development would be good for workers and the environment. “It certainly wouldn’t kill the industry”.

Can Canada better balance Tar Sends development and carbon emissions from transportation and electricity generation to still reduce our total emissions? Check out the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project to hear from another source about the innovative transformation Canada can make towards “deep decarbonization”.

Enviro Canada’s Failing West Coast Weather Bouys

On March 18 The Federal Government announced new safety measures for Pacific Coast shipping to allay British Columbian’s fears of potential West Coast oil spills.

At the time Canada’s (then) Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Transport Minister Denis Lebel flew to British Columbia to announce the new measures where they advertised the plan for “world class tanker safety.”

Even B.C.’s Minister Of The Environment Terry Lake got in on the good news. “It looks to me like they’re making a great effort and they understand from British Columbians that you can’t simply increase the transport of hazardous goods through B.C. without also increasing the environmental safeguards and protection mechanisms that are in place.”

Shortly after that announcement, one of the offshore weather stations used by mariners in Queen Charlotte Sound went off the air, no longer transmitting reports to ocean going traffic. According to a story by The Tyee there are two other weather tracking stations on the West Coast, managed by Environment Canada that are also our of commission, one of which will probably not be fixed until May of 2015.

The Tyee also reported in March, ” that Environment Canada weather services will be slashed about 18 percent between now and 2016/17. Funding for “reliable, accurate and timely forecasts and warnings” will drop from $166 million to about $143 million in 2017″.

Looks like a sequel –  “The Perfect Storm II”, on the West Coast of British Columbia coming to theatres near you.

Penticton Climate Action Advisory Committee

Did you know that the City Of Penticton has a Climate Action Advisory Committee?

According to their Terms of Reference the Committee’s mandate is to make recommendations to Council on all matters referred to the Committee, including:
 The City of Penticton Corporate and Community Climate Action Plan;
 Fostering public awareness, recognition and support for a healthy and
sustainable natural environment;
 Providing Recommendations on specific environmental, planning, building
construction, and waste management goals, policies and bylaws;
 Providing input on submissions to other levels of Government in relation to
environmental issues;

 Recommending changes to operational protocols that would make the City
more sustainable.
 Making suggestions to help the City achieve carbon neutrality and its climate
action obligations under provincial legislation.
 Implementation of the City’s Corporate and Climate Action Planning work.
 Making recommendations to help the City adapt to Climate Change.

For more information on this group you can go to:

http://www.penticton.ca/EN/main/city/committees-boards/climate-action-advisory-committee.html

Kinder Morgan and Burnaby Mountain

“This is not the end of this. This is only the beginning of what is a long war to protect our rights … this battle is between federal forces and local governments beyond Burnaby.”

The words of a misguided environmental activist?  No, a statement by the newly re-elected Mayor of Burnaby Derek Corrigan. Burnaby City Council has refused to issue a permit for the pipeline and is fighting in the courts, many thousands of British Columbians would like to see Kinder Morgan turned away and there are a handful of people taking a stand.

John Vaillant writes in the November 22nd Tyee, “On Burnaby Mountain Confronting The Gorilla”  why he is on the Mountain.