Behind the Numbers

Entries Tagged as 'Environment'

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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IPCC: Time for a Global Carbon Budget

September 27th, 2013 · · Environment

Political commitments on climate action, to the extent they exist, are usually pitched in terms of targets and timelines. BC, for example, has a legislated target of 33% below 2007 levels by 2020; Canada’s official target is a 17% reduction by 2020 relative to 2005 levels. Neither target will be met under status quo policy, which is, de facto, to extract as much carbon and put it in the atmosphere as possible.

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Memo to Obama: Canada’s carbon problem IS the tar sands

September 10th, 2013 · · Alberta, Environment

Canada’s Harper-ment is getting increasingly desperate. The quest to double production out of the Alberta tar sands needs new pipelines (or rail). In recent months, we have seen new proposals for pipelines to the west and to the east, amid further delays of the KeystoneXL pipeline to the south. The success of US activists (environmentalists, but also first nations, farmers and ranchers) in delaying a decision on KeystoneXL is significant: this project was viewed as a slam dunk a few years ago; now there is a very good likelihood of it being denied. To sway the decision, the PM has stated to President Obama that Canada is willing to commit to “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector.” No official White House response has been made, although the two had a talk about this on Friday at the G-20 meetings.

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Economist <3 car-sharing

August 1st, 2013 · · British Columbia, Cities, Environment

It started with a car accident in February, and the total loss of our 2004 Prius, which had only been ours for less than a year. We were quickly compensated for its market value and were in a position to buy another car, but we held off due to a looming sabbatical that would take us out of the country for a couple months. So, we did not buy a car then, and upon our return we are still car free.

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The absurdity and injustice of now

July 25th, 2013 · · British Columbia, Environment

I’m back from a short sabbatical, grateful for some time outside of my daily work and home life, feeling all big picture. But as I settle back into work, I feel like I’m seated in a Theatre of the Absurd play. My news feeds are pulling up astonishing things.

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