Behind the Numbers

Entries Tagged as 'Environment'

Anticosti: fool’s gold

March 26th, 2014 · · Environment

The elections campaign is currently in full swing in Quebec, and three out of the four political parties represented in the National Assembly agree on the economic interest which lies in producing shale oil in Anticosti. Between the environmental risks of producing fossil fuels on this island in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the $14 billion economic benefits for both the Quebec government and its society, the choice seems inevitable: dig deep, but dig well (pun intended), i.e. by meeting the “highest environmental standards.” Even Daniel Breton, former Environment minister and ex-environmental activist, has rallied behind the cause and accepted the idea that we should at least explore the potential of these deposits, held by the new public-private partnership “Quebec, Petrolia, Maurel, and Prom.”

older updates No CommentsTags: ···

Ukraine and the Arctic Council

March 23rd, 2014 · · Environment

When the Arctic Council meets this week in Yellowknife, participants will no doubt be thinking of the Ukraine. But they probably won’t be talking about it, at least during the official sessions.

Ukraine will be on their minds because Russia, which accounts for half of the Arctic region, is one of the eight nations making up the council, along with representatives of six Indigenous Peoples’ organizations.

older updates No CommentsTags: ···

Fact-Checking Rock Stars

January 17th, 2014 · · Aboriginal Issues, Alberta, Environment, Media, Saskatchewan, Satire

Has anyone else noticed the explosive rise of fact-checking in the Canadian media as of late? This is certainly a welcome development. Instead of the usual “He said, she said,” muddle in the name of balance, we are in the throes of a renewed quest for pure facts and unadulterated veracity. Surely this sea-change in fact-checking must be in response to some scandalous claim by a major politician or some other Canadian that wields an immense amount of power over our daily lives.

Unfortunately, no.

older updates 4 CommentsTags: ····

Alternative Person of the Year Award for 2013: Pipelines

January 7th, 2014 · · Environment, Quebec, Satire

The Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques (IRIS) has released its third Alternative Person of the Year Award. In 2011, rating agencies had been its recipients whilst last year Chinese labour camps rose to the top. This year, competition was rough. After lengthy discussions, our jury did come to a conclusion: in 2013, oil pipelines came first.

In contrast with preceding editions, we did not choose a subject which goes under the radar, but one which is discussed using the wrong terms of reference. In Québec, especially since the Lac-Mégantic disaster last July, the ongoing conversation on oil transportation has often taken strange turns. As early as August, commentators praised the merits of the Line 9B Reversal Project, which was developed to bring Alberta’s tar sands oil to Québec, in the name of security and economic development. The reaction of oil producers and their experts following the trauma of last summer’s tragedy was swift.

older updates No CommentsTags: ······

The Long Walk

December 7th, 2013 · · Environment, Human Rights, Youth

Images of three separate but interconnected events are in my mind tonight.

The first is the outcome of another negotiating session of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw two weeks ago. The second is a sunny fall afternoon in 1998 when South African President, Nelson Mandela, spoke at Ottawa’s Human Rights Monument. The third is a classroom of seven year-olds in a small medieval town called Montluçon, in the Auvergne region of France.

older updates No CommentsTags: ··

Protection for our cheeses or protection from the Taliban?

October 31st, 2013 · · Environment, International Trade and Investment, Quebec

In times like ours of accelerated islamization in Québec, we cannot possibly ask the government to do everything. Of course, in an ideal world, it would worry about the consequences of the pipeline through which Enbridge will transport dirty oil across Québec and it would put an end to austerity which has revealed itself counter-productive both for the economy and for services to the population.

But one must prioritize, and the government launched a battle against religious symbols in the public service. Now the attack is taking up all the space available in public debate.

older updates 1 CommentTags: ···

Global carbon budget is a harsh reality check for Canadian investors

October 30th, 2013 · · Environment, Pensions

The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be a wake-up call for Canada. With a development model based on ever more fossil fuel extraction, Canada’s economy and financial markets are on a collision course with the urgent need for global climate action.

The IPCC, for the first time, stated an upper limit on total greenhouse gas emissions – a global “carbon budget” to keep temperature increase below 2°C. This is considered to be the threshold for “dangerous” climate change, and also the target for international climate negotiations.

older updates No CommentsTags: ·

Corporate social responsibility: “doing good” or just doing better?

October 30th, 2013 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Environment

This past summer, two major events raising the issue of corporate social responsibility occurred in Québec. First, the Lac-Mégantic tragedy highlighted the dangerous strategies put in place by railway companies to save money. Then, illegally stored PCB was found in Pointe-Claire, in the West Island of Montréal, after which discovery the offending firm kept silent for many days regarding its hidden activities.

By an odd coincidence, this summer also saw weekly magazines Maclean’s and L’Actualité publish a special feature on Canada’s most socially responsible companies. It included a short description of all the companies listed in a Sustainalytics top 50, highlighting the criteria which made it stand out. At least neither of the firms involved in the above events are listed, but a number of choices remain questionable.

older updates No CommentsTags: ··

LNG: BC’s Quest for a New Staple Industry

October 21st, 2013 · · British Columbia, Environment

I have a post as part of a new series from the Progressive Economics Forum celebrating 50 years of Mel Watkins’ publication of “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.” Watkins’ piece follows the insight of Harold Innis to develop an understanding of economic growth uniquely rooted in the Canadian experience. The series begins with an intro by Jim Stanford here. The CCPA will be publishing a volume with all of the commentaries at some point.

older updates No CommentsTags: ·

Why the City of Vancouver should divest from fossil fuels

October 9th, 2013 · · British Columbia, Environment, Pensions

This is the text of remarks I made today to Vancouver city council on divestment. Earlier this year, Council requested that staff report back on how the city’s financial investments align with the city’s mission and values, and various ethical programs like the city’s purchasing policy and the greenest city initiative. So the meeting was essentially about the contents of the staff report.

The outcome of the meeting was a small victory for divestment. Council recommended:

older updates No CommentsTags: ···