Canada’s Energy Industry Number One for Emissions

“Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche

When looking at what contributes to an entire country’s greenhouse gas emissions, there are a lot of sources that play a part. Often the largest sources of emissions come from the transportation sector and the energy used in homes and other buildings. Canada is frequently accused of more emissions per capita than many ofter nations, but the excuses that we’re a big country with vast distances between cities, and a colder climate are often used to explain that statistic.

But excuse no more: Canada’s energy industry has officially surpassed transportation as the largest source of greenhouse gases. This should come as no surprise given the very dramatic increases in tar sands development in the province of Alberta and the significant emissions associated with that endeavour, much higher than any other source of oil we obtain on the planet. (This is why it’s so often referred to as the dirtiest oil.)

Environment Canada reported that oil and gas production now makes up one quarter of all of Canada’s emissions, and that’s more than the transportation sector for the first time ever. Continue reading

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Today is Earth Day

The official theme of Earth Day 2014 is Green Cities. The campaign focusses on helping cities all over the world to reduce their emission and become more sustainable. There are three key elements to making a difference—buildings, energy, and transportation. The campaign aims to help cities move more quickly toward a cleaner, healthier, and more economically viable future. How? Through improvements in efficiency, investments in renewable technology, and regulation reform.

This one minute video reminds us all about why it’s so important to consider what our planet’s future means to us today. Earth Day is but one day of the year. Consider our planet today.

Consider it every day.

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Keystone XL: Hurry Up and Wait!

“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”
Plato

It may not be an election year for the President, but there are midterm elections later this year, so it might come as no surprise that the State Department has decided to “extend the government comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline, likely postponing a final decision on the controversial project until after the Nov. 4 midterm elections.” What was expected to come as soon as next month is now more than a half-year away.

In the agonizingly long period of time it’s taking to come to a decision on the controversial pipeline carrying tar sands products from Alberta down to refineries in Texas, this extension means the decision-making process will move into its sixth year.

Apparently, rationale for postponing things further is in part to allow more time for eight federal agencies to give more consideration to the project. But the State Department also referred to a district court decision that happened two months ago preventing a Nebraska law that would put the power of that state’s decision into the hands of its governor. Continue reading

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The EU Takes Their Emissions Seriously

“The report is clear: there really is no plan B for climate change. There is only plan A: collective action to reduce emissions now.”
—Connie Hedegaard

China and the U.S. are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet. But what will make them decide to try to cut back those emissions? Maybe the challenge offered by European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard will make a difference.

Hedegaard put the challenge this way:

… since we need first movers to set a plan into motion, we in Europe will adopt an ambitious 2030 target later this year. Now the question is: when will YOU, the big emitters, do the same? The more you wait, the more it will cost. The more you wait, the more difficult it will become.

The basis for the challenge comes from the recent IPCC report, and the UN’s goal of preventing global warming from passing two degrees Celsius which the authors of the report consider completely attainable if we as a civilization can manage to change the ways we generate and use our energy. Continue reading

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Northern Gateway: Rejected by the People

“The people have spoken. That’s what we wanted—it’s a democratic process”
—Joanne Monaghan, Mayor of Kitimat, British Columbia

Keystone XL isn’t the only pipeline we stress about in Canada, but it gets most of the press because of its course through the U.S., leading to the requirement that President Obama and the State Department need to approve it. But there are other proposed pipelines we shouldn’t forget about, and one in British Columbia (B.C.) is getting some attention as well: Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline is a 731-mile twin pipeline project intended to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to the west coast.

This past weekend, citizens living in Kitimat, B.C.—the last stop of the pipeline’s planned route—voted no to its construction. Armed with that information, Kitimat’s city councillors will weigh in on the project at their next council meeting.

Fifty eight percent of Kitimat’s residents voted no to the pipeline, despite that fact that a federal review panel gave it conditional approval last December—as long as Enbridge meets 209 conditions. (A tall order: I wrote about the Northern Gateway project last month, pointing out many experts believe it can never be as safe as Enbridge claims it will be.) Although many of the conditions pertain to the environment, none of them consider climate change or carbon pollution. Continue reading

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