Behind the Numbers

Entries Tagged as 'Environment'

Nothing Changes Much With New “Plan Nord”

May 15th, 2015 · · Energy Policy, Environment, Quebec

Last month, on April 8, the government proudly announced its new revamped Plan Nord. Premier Philippe Couillard’s project, though much less ambitious than that of Charest’s government, appears to be just as risky.

The government is intent on investing 2 billion dollars to build infrastructure in the North in order to make it easier for mining companies, usually foreign-owned, to gain access to the resources. By 2035, some $20b will have been invested by Hydro-Québec on new projects to reinvigorate the North’s economy. (It’s worth mentioning that details regarding these investments have not been made available.)

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The case against a revenue-neutral carbon tax

January 16th, 2015 · · Energy Policy, Environment, Taxes and Tax Cuts

I’m a fan of carbon taxes, but increasingly I see the term “revenue-neutral” attached to it. Where I live, in BC, we have perhaps the most prominent example of a revenue-neutral carbon tax, and carbon tax advocates have come to promoting the BC model to other jurisdictions, such as Ontario, who are contemplating their own carbon tax. This includes the new EcoFiscal Commission, which endorses a naive view of markets – the magic of free markets is alive and well, and if only we could put a price on carbon to change marketplace incentives, all will be well.

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Now is exactly the right time to regulate oil and gas

January 16th, 2015 · · Energy Policy, Environment

Late last year, Prime Minister Harper declared that, given plummeting oil prices, now would be a “crazy” time to introduce regulations on the oil and gas sector.

This comes after promising nine years ago that the federal government would bring in new GHG regulations on the oil and gas sector (but failing to do so), and after committing at the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 that Canada would reduce its GHG emissions by 17% by 2020, a target that Environment Canada now says the government has no plan to meet.

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IPCC doom, gloom and an LED light at the end of the tunnel

November 17th, 2014 · · Energy Policy, Environment

The latest from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a super-synthesis of the state of agreed knowledge about climate change, adaptation and mitigation. Imagine thousands of research papers summarized in three major volumes (released over the past year), with this new report the grand summary of that. And even that condensed into a 40-page summary for policymakers.

Now I will humbly boil that down to a few key observations: climate change is happening and costs are piling up; it’s caused by human activity, primarily the combustion of coal, oil and gas; staying on our current pathway risks ever-greater danger of irreversible adverse impacts around the world; and, perhaps most importantly, we still have time for a soft landing if we act quickly.

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Climate Change: The Great Educational Challenge

September 23rd, 2014 · · Education, Environment, Nova Scotia

This blog is the third in CCPA-NS’ series called “Progressive Voices on Public Education in Nova Scotia.”

 

The People’s Climate March showed an incredible level of solidarity across our planet and was a visible way to capture the news cycle and send a message to world leaders to act. But, climate change itself is not news. For those of us who are latecomers to the scene, Al Gore’s 2006 award-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” should have alerted us. If that didn’t do it, surely the Fourth Report (2007) and the Fifth Report (2013) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would have. We can no longer hide from the extremely unpleasant fact that climate change is the most serious crisis humankind has ever faced. We must take action commensurate to the weight of this remarkable challenge.

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What’s wrong with the tar sands boom? (in one graph)

August 5th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Environment, Income Inequality, Uncategorized

So let’s say that you don’t care about pipelines. Let’s say climate change doesn’t concern you or your children. Let’s say you aren’t concerned about the radical alternation in the landscape of northern Alberta.

What if when I say “tar sands” and you say “Show me the money!”

Well even if you didn’t care about the above, you should care about the money and where it has been going since the tar rush began. The value of crude oil since 1986 has risen 50% from $379/m3 to $570/m3 ($2010). That has created a resource rush like Canada has never seen. At its epicentre, the richest Calgarians have seen their average incomes rise over $600,000 (inflation adjusted) an increase of over 180% since 1986…make it rain!

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Financial Risk and Alberta’s Tar Sands

July 16th, 2014 · · Alberta, Environment

When it comes to global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that what matters is the total volume of greenhouse gas emissions going forward. This amounts to about 30 years of emissions at current levels – a global carbon budget that would provide the world a 66% chance of staying below 2°C. There is some debate about whether an upper limit of 2°C is itself too high – it poses unacceptable and catastrophic consequences for the most vulnerable countries – but nonetheless the 2°C target has been adopted in international negotiations towards a new treaty to address climate change.

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Will Enbridge’s Pipeline Ever Get Built?

June 18th, 2014 · · British Columbia, Environment

You have to wonder why the Harper government bothered with process at all. It’s like there was never any doubt that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would get approved. But historians may look back on this moment as the beginning of the end of pipeline politics.

Opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline is BC’s largest social movement. A large majority of British Columbians are opposed to the pipeline. BC First Nations, who hold the ultimate trump card – the constitutionality of their rights and title, have said no means no. Thousands testified to the Joint Review Panel (and its arguably limited flawed process). Even friend of fossil fuels, Premier Christy Clark, maintains her five conditions for BC’s approval have not been met.

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Leitão’s Budget: Austerity in All but Name

June 6th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Environment, Quebec, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Both before the budget was tabled and during its presentation, Finance Minister Carlos Leitão spoke of “rigour” and “responsibility,” but never used the term “austerity.” Yet, this is truly an austerity budget: many government departments will be receiving less next year than they have this year. Here is a summary of the budget cuts:

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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.”

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