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Thu, 2010-12-09 11:24Bill Hewitt
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The Paradox of Canada’s Tar Sands and America’s Drive to Substantially Decarbonize Energy

America is addicted to oil,” said the arch-environmentalist and fervent renewable energy advocate George W. Bush in his State of the Union address in 2006.  Good thought.  His successor, Barack Obama, has actually acted on that perception, though, and worked to reduce America’s reliance on oil and other fossil fuels.  He and his administration have negotiated a long-term agreement to significantly increase gas mileage; issued a directive to radically improve the environmental performance of federal buildings and vehicles; and designated a large portion of the economic stimulus package for green initiatives.  Obama said in March that “…for the sake of our planet and our energy independence, we need to begin the transition to cleaner fuels now.”

Looming over the border in Canada, however, is the specter of the tar sands.  Production of crude oil from the tar sands is tracking at 1.5 million barrels a day for 2010.  Of this, over a million barrels is exported to the U.S.  The environmental and public health impacts of the extraction, processing and transportation of tar sands have been well documented and reported.  These are concerns that have been expressed by environmental groups in North America and Europe, but now the economic and security implications of increasing tar sands development are being addressed by key members of the U.S. Congress as well as analysts working on the critical interface between energy, environment and security.

Barring Tar Sands Oil 

Congressman Henry Waxman, the outgoing chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, was the driving force behind Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 [PDF].  Section 526 prohibits federal agencies from procuring alternative fuel unless its life cycle GHG emissions are less than those for conventional petroleum sources.  This provision set off alarm bells in Canada.  The Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Wilson, wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates [PDF] within a couple of months of EISA becoming law to say that “Canada would not want to see an expansive interpretation of Section 526, which would then include commercially-available fuel made in part from oil derived from Canadian oil sands.” 

Tue, 2010-11-30 23:06Emma Pullman
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Canada Already on Track to be Fossil of the Year in Cancun; Cleans up on Day One of the Talks

Canada is off to an impressive start at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, if what you’re measuring is climate inaction and environmental embarrassment. 

Today, at the first set of the Fossil of the Day awards, Canada took home not one, or two, but all three of the awards.  The dubious ‘honour’ is voted on by an international coalition of than 400 leading international environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, who vote on the countries that performed the worst during the past day’s negotiations.  Turns out if you are really committed to climate inaction, fail to have any plan to meet already weak targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, defeat a climate change bill that was already passed in your House of Commons by holding a snap vote by an unelected Senate after no debate, and are complicit in trying to weaken climate policy outside of your own national borders, you can win all three of the humiliating prizes. 

The gentleman accepting the shameful awards on behalf of Canada hopped from podium step to podium step, barely able to juggle his armful of awards.  Looks like Canada can clean up humiliating awards, but can’t clean up its act.

In the next two weeks, we’ll see if Canada will take home the Fossil of the Year for the forth year in a row.  From the look of things now, we might as well preemptively cue the Jurassic Park theme music. 

Watch this hilarious video to see Canada’s flagrant lack of commitment to climate change policy given its due recognition.  We can only hope that history does not repeat itself once more.  Prove us wrong, will you Mr. Baird? 

Mon, 2009-10-12 20:20Richard Littlemore
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Canada: Criminal NegliGENTS are us.

Canada’s ongoing campaign to undermine international climate change negotiations seems to be right on track. In its most recent success, the country was able to drive the accumulated representatives of most of the developing world out of the room in Bangkok, so offensive is the Canadian negotiating position.

As CTV reports here, Canada is bent on ripping up the Kyoto Protocol, perhaps incorporating elements of the beleaguered agreement into some watered down planet-wasting alternative that will allow Canada to continue to commit itself to a dying (and deadly) resource.

Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice makes periodic noises to suggest that he knows what climate change is and that he has some flickering conscience. Then he leads the international assault on the single agreement that has some hope of counteracting the threat. It’s time that Canadian travellers started buying U.S. flags to sew on their backpacks. It’s too embarrassing to be recognized outside the country as Canadian.

Fri, 2008-12-12 15:22Richard Littlemore
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Poznan: Canada replaces U.S. as "single worst" country

After eight years during which the United States was consistently derided as the most obstructive force in international climate negotiations, Canada moved into worst place today, receiving the “Colossal Fossil” award for having done more than any other country to drag down talks at the UN climate negotiations in Poznan.

Fri, 2008-05-09 11:13Bill Miller
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University research linked to global warming

A Canadian scientist says university research should be added to the list of human activities that contribute to global warming.

Professor Hervé Philippe of University of Montreal has found that his own research produces 44 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

The average American citizen, in contrast, produces 20 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Thu, 2008-05-08 10:05Bill Miller
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Solutions: Switch to faucet fuel from fossil fuel to stop global warming

Is it possible that amidst all the bogus claims, political controversy and foul cries about looming economic destruction, there’s actually a simple solution to the ravages of climate change?

A prominent Canadian engineer and scientist believes the solution – not just any solution but the only solution – rests within a tiny cell we ingest every day. And it can eliminate both carbon emissions and world conflict over oil supplies while saving the planet from global warming.

So pour yourself a glass of water and read on.

Sun, 2008-04-20 12:48Bill Miller
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Nature throws one-two punch at global warming

Reducing greenhouse emissions won’t be enough to stop global warming.

Three respected climate experts made the troubling argument in Nature that changing light bulbs, carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems will have little impact because warming is already greater than anticipated and set to go much higher.

So much so, in fact, that we’re going to have to find new technology to bail us out.

Wed, 2008-04-16 13:02Darren Barefoot
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Mowing Down Pollution

The folks at the Clean Air Foundation recently announced this year's version of Mow Down Pollution. It's a campaign, started in 2001, that encourages Canadians to turn in their old and busted lawn mowers. When I first heard about this project I was, like, really? Lawnmowers are big polluters? As it turns out, they matter:

Mon, 2008-03-10 11:13Bill Miller
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Highway dustup in British Columbia highlights gap between talk and action on climate change

One only has to go a few miles northwest of B.C.’s capital in Victoria to see what governments are really doing about global warming.

While provincial Finance Minister Carole Taylor was finalizing her “go green” budget, governments at the federal, provincial and local level were taking steps that guarantee sprawl, gridlock and greenhouse emissions will continue to spiral.

Mon, 2008-01-14 12:56Bill Miller
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It’s already later than we realize in the struggle to arrest climate change

A recent essay says the most pressing current scientific and political challenge is to avoid what is known as “dangerous” global warming – the point where world temperatures become irreversible.

As there’s a 25-to-30-year lag between greenhouse emissions and the full impact of their warming, current climate chaos is a result of carbon spewed in the late 1970s. The hit from more recent discharges – including China’s coal plants – is but pain yet to come.

So we’re dangerously close already.

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