Canada: environment

Written by  //  September 5, 2017  //  Canada  //  No comments

25 naturally beautiful photos of B.C.’s pristine Great Bear Rainforest
by Ian McAllister

Liberals struggling to reverse Harper’s cuts to climate science
(National Observer) Budgets for seven key independent projects are set to expire, including the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) — arguably the most important Arctic research lab in the world.
“The PEARL facility nearly went under in 2013 — in fact, we were within a few weeks of starting the shutdown when we got new funding. The problem is now repeating itself, since we will run out of funding early in 2018 and there seems to be no prospect of any additional funding.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals swept into power in the 2015 election with a promise to put scientific evidence at the heart of government decisions. But despite the rhetoric from Liberals about paying attention to science and making climate change a key priority, the Trudeau government continues to struggle in its efforts to rebuild what was lost during the Harper era.
Even if PEARL gets new funding today, there will still be gaps in data, noted Katie Gibbs, executive director of Evidence For Democracy, a non-profit group that advocates for government decisions based on evidence.

23 June
Trudeau government proposes opening St. Lawrence marine protected area to oil exploration
(Globe & Mail) The Liberal government is proposing to allow oil and gas exploration in a new marine protected area that it plans to establish where the Gulf of St. Lawrence meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Ottawa released an impact statement Friday on its Laurentian Channel protected area, a 11,619-square-kilometre stretch of ocean in which commercial activity would be limited in order to protect vulnerable marine life. The establishment of the marine protected area (MPA) is part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to set aside 10 per cent of Canada’s coastal waters by 2020.
But some environmental groups and ocean scientists argue Ottawa is undermining the effort by allowing future oil and gas exploration in the zone. A study in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, released last week, concluded that intense acoustic signals used in oil and gas exploration cause significant damage to zooplankton populations that are critical elements of the marine food chain.

1 June
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada in response to the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement
“We are deeply disappointed that the United States federal government has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth. Canadians know we need to take decisive and collective action to tackle the many harsh realities of our changing climate.
“While the U.S. decision is disheartening, we remain inspired by the growing momentum around the world to combat climate change and transition to clean growth economies. We are proud that Canada stands united with all the other parties that support the Agreement. We will continue to work with our domestic and international partners to drive progress on one of the greatest challenges we face as a world.
“This is not only about the huge economic opportunities of clean growth and the need to address the pressing threats of climate change. This is about an ambitious and unshakeable desire to leave a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet for our kids and for generations to come.
“We are all custodians of this world, and that is why Canada will continue to work with the U.S. at the state level, and with other U.S. stakeholders, to address climate change and promote clean growth. We will also continue to reach out to the U.S. federal government to discuss this matter of critical importance for all humankind, and to identify areas of shared interest for collaboration, including on emissions reductions.”

26 May
Re-Energizing Canada: Pathways to a Low-Carbon Future
Commissioned by Natural Resources Canada in Fall 2016, Re-Energizing Canada: Pathways to a Low-Carbon Future bridges decision-making and academic thought around energy and climate change, offering suggestions on how Canadian governments, companies and citizens can advance decarbonisation in a manner coherent with the Paris Agreement. We draw on data, peer-reviewed research and other relevant documents to explore the challenges and opportunities in achieving a low-carbon energy transition that will form the foundation of a sustainable future.
After reviewing hundreds of articles and reports, and analysing much data, we are convinced more than ever that Canada has an opportunity to drive innovation and deliver benefits now and into the future by tapping our vast renewable energy potential and know-how to make the transition away from fossil-fuel-based energy.
Summary

11 May
‘Rebuild better:’ Justin Trudeau says Canada must brace for more storm devastation from climate change
Prime Minister takes aerial tour of flood zones in Gatineau, Que.
(CBC) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says officials at all levels of government must develop a plan to “rebuild better” as Canada braces for more frequent floods and fires related to climate change.
Going forward, officials must also develop a rebuilding strategy that makes communities more resistant and resilient to extreme weather events.

2016

11 December

Quebec Paves Way for Oil, Gas Exploration With New Energy Plan

(Bloomberg) Quebec’s legislature passed a bill that will pave the way for more oil and gas exploration, providing a boost to drillers such as Junex Inc. while drawing criticism from environmental, aboriginal and citizen groups.
Bill 106 passed Quebec’s National Assembly in a 62-38 vote early Saturday after an overnight debate ahead of the holiday break. The legislation is meant to implement Quebec’s clean energy plan but also contains provisions allowing for energy exploration, potentially including fracking.
Bill 106 creates a new agency to promote Quebec’s transition to cleaner energy yet also lays out a framework for oil and gas development in the Canadian province. Environmental, aboriginal and citizen groups argued that the bill’s mandate is contradictory, that debate was rushed and that it should have included a moratorium on fracking as well as greater protection for landowners.
9 December

Trudeau reaches historic deal on national climate plan

(Globe & Mail) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau achieved a historic climate-change accord Friday but could not win support for his national carbon pricing plan from key Western provinces.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister would not sign the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, while British Columbia Premier Christy Clark postponed any commitment to increase her province’s carbon tax in line with the federal schedule.
Ms. Clark created some drama late in the afternoon when she emerged from the meeting to say she would not sign a deal unless the Prime Minister agreed on a mechanism to ensure carbon pricing was being done fairly across the country. B.C. already has a $30 carbon tax and the Premier demanded assurances that all the provinces will meet an equivalent price before she commits her province to hiking it to $50 a tonne by 2022, in line with the target set by Ottawa.
At issue are the two types of carbon pricing that exist in Canada: B.C. and Alberta imposes a tax, while Ontario and Quebec employ a cap-and-trade approach that requires companies to buy permits, including GHG allowances from California. The Ontario and Quebec approach results in lower compliance costs – or prices – but is criticized because companies are expected to invest millions of dollars outside of Canada to reduce emissions.
Ms. Clark said that, under the federal plan, consumers and companies would be paying a $50 carbon tax in 2022 in B.C. and Alberta, while prices in Ontario and Quebec are forecast to be about $27 that year.
“There was an issue of fundamental fairness that we needed to see resolved,” said the Premier, who faces an election next spring. “We wanted to make sure everybody else has caught up before we agreed that our carbon tax would go up. So that changed.”
She also said that the agreement allows B.C. to resort to other climate-change measures by 2022 to avoid paying the $50 tax.
While her neighbouring premiers in British Columbia and Saskatchewan expressed reservations about Mr. Trudeau’s carbon pricing plan, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley endorsed it, saying it is in line with what her government has determined is best for that province.
1 February
The agreement is one of the most complex multi-stakeholder conservation deals ever reached in the world.

Great_Bear_RainforestPremier Clark announces landmark Great Bear Rainforest agreement
Deal marries interests of First Nations, environmentalists and logging industry, who will see 15% of Great Bear forest available under ‘most stringent’ standards
British Columbia is set to announce a historic agreement to protect a vast swath of rainforest along its coastline, having reached a deal that marries the interests of First Nations, the logging industry and environmentalists after a decade of often-tense negotiations.
The agreement to be announced on Monday will see roughly 85% of forest within the Great Bear rainforest protected, with the other 15% available for logging under the “most stringent” standards in North America, environmental groups involved in the talks said.
The Great Bear rainforest is one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests and the habitat of the spirit bear, a rare subspecies of the black bear with white fur and claws. It is also home to 26 Aboriginal groups, known as First Nations.
“Under this landmark agreement, more old and second-growth forest will be protected, while still ensuring opportunities for economic development and jobs for local First Nations,” said Premier Christy Clark in a statement. …  logging is being transformed through a process called ecosystem-based management (EBM). Timber harvesting takes place with a much lighter touch and is restricted to just 15 per cent of the forested area with additional restrictions on tree species such as red cedar and western yew.
Bear dens, rivers, swamps, and estuaries are also off limits, and a complex system of new land use management zones addresses biodiversity, mining and tourism areas (BMTA). A conservancy has also been added to safeguard King Island, the seventh largest island in B.C. in the heart of Nuxalk territory, roughly 20 kilometres east of Bella Bella.
Great Bear Rainforest agreement creates ‘a gift to the world’
An area bigger than Vancouver Island is now under complete protection from industrial logging
‘Solutions Are Possible’: Great Bear Rainforest Land-Use Deal Reached
(The Tyee) Not everyone ‘warm and fuzzy’ about pact, which protects 85 per cent of forest from logging.
28 January
Environment Canada officers failed to uphold the law: report
The federal department that enforces Canada’s environmental laws is in such disarray that some officers say they have been ignoring infractions in order to keep in line with Ottawa’s “priorities,” according to an internal government report.
The report by Gordon Owen, who is retiring at the end of January as head of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s enforcement branch, says a public service employee survey revealed serious problems that require immediate action.
The report’s findings suggest Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to “restore Canada’s reputation for environmental stewardship,” will require more than just policy pronouncements. The new government is going to have to repair a weakened public service as well.
“The overarching comments on this issue related to staff’s frustration with the lack of strategic direction provided by senior management on what our organization is and where we are going,” Mr. Owen wrote in summarizing the staff survey.
27 January
Pipeline projects to face new environmental regulations
New rules will affect projects like Energy East and Trans Mountain, which are before National Energy Board
Pipeline projects will face a new environmental assessment process, a move the federal government says will restore the confidence of Canadians in the regulatory regime for major energy projects.
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced Wednesday that the government is launching an interim review process that will impose more steps on projects such as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain and TransCanada’s Energy East pipelines before they can be built.
“We believe it is important and, in fact, essential to rebuild Canadians’ trust in our environmental assessment processes,” McKenna told a news conference Wednesday.
13 January
Calls Increase For Trudeau To Scrap Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Review
The federal government insists it still plans on overhauling the NEB to ensure “robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments,” but pipeline projects like Trans Mountain and Energy East will continue to proceed under the ‘old rules’ established by the Harper government.

2015

13 November
Three scientists on the research they couldn’t discuss with media under Harper
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has followed through on its platform promise to “unmuzzle” federal scientists, announcing last week that they are now able to speak freely about their work with the media and public.
Catherine McKenna, Ottawa Centre MP, named minister of environment and climate change
4 November
New environment minister to face uphill battle, says finance study
Conservative inaction, obstruction on climate change could challenge Liberal efforts from the start
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Mandate Letter
As Minister of Environment and Climate Change, your overarching goal will be to take the lead in implementing the government’s plan for a clean environment and a sustainable economy.  Your key priority will be to ensure that our government provides national leadership to reduce emissions, combat climate change and price carbon.  I expect you to help restore Canada’s reputation for environmental stewardship.

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