Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
Canada: Energy, environment & climate change 2023-
Lithium, coined ‘the new oil,’ is shifting global markets. Here’s what you need to know about it
While production in Canada has been limited, the tide may be turning
(CBC) As electric vehicles become more common, the resources helping to power the new generation of transportation are becoming increasingly prized.
Lithium — a metal that’s a key element in the batteries commonly used in today’s EVs — has become an incredibly hot commodity in recent years. According to the United States Geological Survey, global consumption increased by 41 per cent from 2021 to 2022.
Lithium isn’t found as a standalone metal in nature, but quantities of the resource can typically be sourced from underground hard-rock and brine deposits.
Hard-rock mining can have long-term impacts on the landscape and brine extraction is immensely water intensive, while the long-term impacts on ecosystems, wildlife, and nearby communities are not well-understood, said [Craig Johnson, a professor of political science at the University of Guelph who leads a research team looking at lithium mining in five countries.]
How 2 developers got the Greenbelt land they wanted
2 wealthy land development firms had long been eyeing Greenbelt, ethics watchdog found
Ontario’s new housing minister won’t end pillaging of Greenbelt
Despite the scandal, and a report saying the land is not needed for reaching affordable housing targets, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government will still not keep its previous promise to protect the Greenbelt.
(rabble) Ontario’s new housing minister Paul Calandra refused to back off on development of Ontario’s Greenbelt, despite the Greenbelt development scandal that led to his predecessor’s resignation over the weekend.
“There might be some lands that will be added to the Greenbelt. There might be some that will be removed, but it will be a fair and open process,” Calandra said in a news conference on Wednesday.
This was Calandra’s first press conference since Premier Doug Ford named him new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing after his predecessor Steve Clark resigned in the wake of a critical Auditor General’s report.
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found that wealthy developers directly influenced the office of the minister when certain parcels of land were removed from the Greenbelt so that they could be made available for housing construction.
Lysyk found that of the 7,400 acres removed from the Greenbelt, 6,800 acres were removed on the recommendation of three developers who owned that land.
Reprimand housing minister over Greenbelt land swap: Ontario integrity watchdog
Commissioner says Steve Clark ‘did not question or properly oversee’ staffer’s selection process
In a report issued Wednesday afternoon, J. David Wake said Clark failed to properly oversee the process that led to protected Greenbelt lands being selected for housing development, leading to the private interests of certain developers to seep into the project.
“Minister Clark’s lack of oversight led to some developers being alerted to a potential change in the government’s position on the Greenbelt, resulting in their private interests being furthered improperly.”
Earlier this month, the province’s auditor general released a scathing report that showed property developers with close ties to the government influenced the decision to open up the Greenbelt to their benefit. The fallout has triggered the resignation of the housing minister’s chief of staff, Ryan Amato, and the RCMP is considering launching an investigation into the matter.
Ontario government’s Greenbelt land swap influenced by well-connected developers, AG finds
Developers could see an $8B increase to value of land now open for housing development, report finds
How indigenous conservation protects Canada’s environment
In Canada, centring conservation with the country’s indigenous peoples is allowing its original stewards to reconnect to their land and culture – and proving remarkably effective.
Successfully managing forests must include stewarding the hidden life belowground
Cindy Prescott, Professor of Forest Ecology, and Sue Grayston, Professor of Soil Microbial Ecology, University of British Columbia
(The Conversation) Half of the biodiversity in forests is unseen because it lives belowground. These organisms are miniscule in size, but their importance to the ecosystem is enormous.
In a single teaspoon of forest soil there are thousands of species and billions of individual organisms. These include microorganisms such as bacteria and archaea, soil animals like the microscopic protozoa, nematodes, tardigrades, collembolan and mites, and larger fauna such as millipedes, centipedes and worms.
A cubic centimetre of forest soil can also harbour more than a kilometre of fungal hyphae, the mass of thread-like cords running through the soil and forming mycelia.
This astonishing diversity of belowground life is arranged into complex food webs, with many of the larger animals feeding on smaller animals and microorganisms. This complex network has been largely ignored in forest management, but could be a key ally in making our forests resilient to stresses imposed by global climate change.
Harvesting trees severs the critical flow of resources belowground, directly reducing the abundance and diversity of soil life. However, harvesting practices that retain living trees within 15 metres of each other, can maintain soil life throughout the harvested area.
Forest harvesting practices that retain a portion of the living trees, such as continuous cover forestry and retention forestry can help keep the soil alive in harvested forests.
After years of delays, Canada announces plan to adapt to climate change
Is Parliament (finally) feeling the heat?
(Rabble) National politics reporter Scott Martin reports that Canada now has a National Adaptation Strategy to tackle the effects of climate change.
Canada has been struggling with forest fires burning the most hectares of land in its history. The smoke from the wildfires blanketed much of southern and eastern Ontario in early June, owing to over a hundred fires in Quebec, 79 of which are still burning.
Now, forest fires in the interior of British Columbia have contributed to deteriorating air quality and have also led to the evacuation near communities like Pemberton and Gold Bridge.
Michael Brauer, a professor at the School of Population and Public Health at UBC, told rabble that Canada needed not only to adapt to climate change but to make a concerted effort to mitigate it as well.
Plan, prepare, act: Government of Canada launches first National Adaptation Strategy
( Environment and Climate Change Canada) Climate change is affecting the safety, health, and quality of life of people across Canada. Every year, the country faces increasing record-breaking climate events, including wildfires, extreme heatwaves, and floods, on top of slow onset climate impacts, such as thawing permafrost and rising sea levels. Working together to reduce risk from the changing climate will keep Canadian communities safer and healthier. It will also shield the economy from shocks and help avoid some of the rising costs of extreme weather. Simply put, the choices we made today will help decide the future of our communities, our livelihoods, our environment, and our economy.
To that end, today the Government of Canada launched the National Adaptation Strategy in Vancouver alongside provincial, and Indigenous government representatives. The Strategy is the product of two years of engagement with provinces and territories, Indigenous partners, key experts, stakeholders and partners across Canada. It presents a whole-of-society approach to reducing risk and building climate-resilient communities.
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, was joined by the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, and the Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, as well as the Honourable George Heyman, British Columbia’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Mike Klassen, Vancouver’s Acting Deputy Mayor. Representatives from the Chief Wayne Sparrow of the Musqueam Indian Band, Chief Jen Thomas of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and a representative of the Squamish Nation were also in attendance.
Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy: Building Resilient Communities and a Strong Economy
Climate change and extreme weather are affecting lives in Canada. We are already facing record-breaking climate events. Wildfires, extreme heat waves and floods are becoming more frequent. The thawing of permafrost and rise in sea-levels are speeding up the erosion of our coasts. In short, climate-related disasters are impacting the very foundations of our communities.
Adaptation means creating safe and secure communities in this time of change. Building strong resilient communities means managing the risks to our health, well-being, and livelihoods.
Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy is a shared vision of what we want our future to look like.
Building strong and resilient communities requires:
reducing the impacts of climate-related disasters
improving health and well-being
protecting and restoring nature and biodiversity
building and maintaining resilient infrastructure
supporting the economy and workers
Ontario plans more nuclear reactors to meet rising electricity demand
(Reuters) – Ontario plans to build three new small modular reactors (SMRs) to help meet rising electricity demand, the provincial government said on Friday, increasing its bet on the new nuclear technology Canada is counting on to help reduce emissions.
The Ontario government is working with utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to start planning and licensing the reactors at the Darlington nuclear site, where Canada’s first grid-scale SMR is already under construction.
Are billions of dollars in subsidies the new normal for EV production in Canada?
(The Hub) Ottawa is committed to bringing EV battery producers to Canada. The federal government demonstrated it will spend billions per project to make that happen when it was revealed Volkswagen will receive a $13 billion subsidy from the federal government to set up an electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in St. Thomas, Ontario.
Stellantis, another EV producer setting up operations in Canada, has threatened to leave the country if it does not receive a similar subsidy. Many economists have slammed the decision as an ineffective waste of taxpayer money, while industry advocates and researchers have praised it.
However, amidst a rapidly electrifying automotive industry in North America, subsidies for EV producers may have already become the norm in Canada.
Champagne says Ontario needs to ‘pay fair share’ to end ‘stalemate’ with Stellantis
Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne is calling on Premier Doug Ford’s Ontario government to pay its “fair share” of subsidies to break the “stalemate” that saw Stellantis halt construction of its electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor, Ont., this week.
Stellantis said it stopped construction on a portion of the plant because the federal government had not delivered what it promised. The company said it would move to “contingency plans” if Ottawa does not fulfil its commitments.
Champagne, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are in South Korea ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 19 and 21.
Trudeau is meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to discuss economic security, but It remains unclear whether the prime minister will also talk to executives of South Korean-owned LG and its partner Stellantis about the NextStar Energy investment in Windsor, Ont.
Stellantis stops construction on portion of Windsor, Ont., EV battery plant amid Ottawa dispute
As Alberta’s oilsands continue leaking toxic wastewater, aquatic wildlife face new risks
By Diane Orihel, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology & School of Environmental Studies, and Chloe Robinson, Junior Research Associate, Experimental Ecology and Ecotoxicology Research Team, Queen’s University; and Chris K. Elvidge, Postdoctoral Researcher in Freshwater Ecology, Carleton University
(The Conversation) Three months ago, 5.3 million litres of industrial wastewater was reported to have overflowed from an Imperial Oil storage pond into a muskeg and forested area. This industrial wastewater could have filled more than two Olympic-sized swimming pools, and is now one of the largest known spills of its kind in Alberta’s history.
Then came news of a separate incident where an unknown amount of industrial wastewater has been leaking from an Imperial Oil tailings pond for the last 12 months. The leakage flows underground and then resurfaces to contaminate surface waters outside the Kearl Oil Sands Processing Plant and Mine.
These waters flow into the Athabasca River, which is part of an important waterway that supports communities in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. In addition to its significance to the Indigenous communities here, this waterway also provides crucial habitats for endangered wildlife species.
Energy productivity first. Then focus on production
Ottawa seems to be investing in high-risk options in its climate strategy. More rigour is needed to define clean energy and what projects to support.
by Mark Winfield, Johanne Whitmore
(IRPP Policy Options) The federal government’s 2023 budget has drawn praise for its $80 billion in investments in a “clean” industrial strategy to meet Canada’s climate change goals and to enhance its competitiveness.
In some ways, the budget represents a culmination of the federal climate change strategy set out in the December 2020 statement A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy. Some key elements – including a cap on oil-and-gas sector emissions and a clean electricity standard – remain incomplete, but the Trudeau government has shown a remarkable degree of follow-through on its core directions.
… In Canada’s case, the 2023 budget provides generous funding to “clean” technologies. But what seems to have been avoided are the difficult questions about what should be considered “clean” or whether some investments will deliver significant greenhouse gas-emission reductions within the required timeframes.
Ottawa’s $13-billion (and counting) ribbon-cutting won’t reverse Canada’s economic decline
(Globe & Mail editorial board) It will surely go down as the most expensive ribbon in Canadian ribbon-cutting history. Ottawa has finally fessed up to how big a bribe – sorry, industry-building anchor investment – it will pay to Volkswagen to build an electric-vehicle battery plant in Southwestern Ontario.
Federal government giving Volkswagen up to $13B in subsidies to secure St. Thomas EV battery plant
St. Thomas plant expected to be the size of 391 football fields
The contract follows promises by Ottawa to remain competitive with the U.S. and convince electric vehicle battery producers to set up their plants in Canada. But the price tag is raising eyebrows.
“This is game-changer for our nation,” said Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne while fielding questions from reporters Thursday.
The federal government will provide annual production subsidies to the German automaker and kick in funds for the massive factory in St. Thomas, which is estimated to be the size of 391 football fields, making it the largest factory in Canada.
Canada pledged to plant 2 billion trees by 2030 — it’s not going so well
An audit of the program so far says that unless things drastically change, it won’t even get one-tenth of those trees in the ground in time.
The audit was one of five reports issued Thursday by Environment Commissioner Jerry DeMarco, who said he cannot stress enough how important it is for the government to live up to its commitment on trees.
“There is no solution to climate change and terrestrial biodiversity loss that does not include forests,” DeMarco’s report said.
Canada’s C$80B response to U.S. clean energy push: ‘We will not be left behind’
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland sells energy transition as an economic imperative.
The Canadian government has unveiled its answer to the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act with a federal budget that offers billions of dollars for investment in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is announcing C$80 billion in tax credits for clean technology over the next decade, including C$25 billion for investments in clean electricity
“Our friends and partners around the world — chief among them, the United States — are investing heavily to build clean economies and the net-zero industries of tomorrow,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said Tuesday, as she presented the budget in the Canadian Parliament. … Canadian business leaders have long pushed the federal government to mount a competitive response to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which pledged up to $369 billion in clean growth incentives.
Joint Statement by President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau
… Strengthen Resilience of Critical Mineral and Semiconductor Supply Chains: The United States and Canada will work together to create a strong, environmentally responsible, and resilient North American critical minerals supply chain. We are committed to identifying, securing, and developing critical minerals extraction, processing, manufacturing, and recycling opportunities in both countries to diversify supply chains essential to clean energy, electric vehicles, semiconductors, aerospace, and defense, among other sectors, that meet strong environmental, sustainability, worker, health and safety, Indigenous and Tribal consultation and partnership, and community engagement standards.
Canada and the United States are taking a significant step toward the creation of reliable and sustainable critical mineral supply chains that are vital to our economic and national security and demonstrate the commitment of the United States to support Canadian companies in the energy economy.
Crypto at a crossroads: Some provinces are wary of the technology’s vast appetite for electricity
B.C. energy minister says province must put its power to the best use
Proponents of cryptocurrency mining say the industry’s future in Canada is hanging in the balance after several provinces moved to restrict new projects earlier this year in response to concerns about their electricity usage.
Crypto entrepreneurs — most of them focused on Bitcoin — have been drawn to Canada because of the abundant supply of clean, inexpensive electricity in provinces like British Columbia and Quebec. Most crypto operations need unfettered access to cheap power to operate the rows of high-powered computers required for cryptomining.
“Why Canada? So, first of all, we said, ‘What are the key ingredients you need to run this computing service?'” … “Cool temperatures — really important. Stability of law, good regulatory jurisdiction. But most importantly, renewable energy.”
Roberts said he sees a new wave of economic prosperity growing out of cryptocurrency mining in provinces like B.C., which currently enjoys an electricity surplus.
“We can build a whole industry around this. We can go into those regional towns where they’ve been decimated by the end of the pulp-and-paper mill … rehire local workers, retrain them, and deliver all these benefits back into the community,” [Dan Roberts, an Australian cryptocurrency entrepreneur] said. But some provinces have slammed the brakes on new projects, saying the mining sites — where computers churn through complex equations to verify cryptocurrency transactions on the blockchain ledger (earning digital assets as a reward) — consume a staggering amount of electrical power.
Robert Libman: Getting to win-win on Churchill Falls
Quebec has benefited enormously from outdated 1969 contract, while Newfoundlanders have fumed. In advance of its 2041 expiry, both sides are in positions of strength and weakness.
Hydro-Québec’s energy surplus is projected to dry up by 2026. Legault needs Churchill Falls, which powers about 15 per cent of Quebec’s electricity needs. In his inaugural speech, he mentioned the urgency of negotiating an arrangement. Also, Legault has expressed an interest in the power from eventual generating stations in Labrador at Gull Island and Muskrat Falls, also on the Churchill River. With the Churchill Falls deal expiring in 18 years, Quebec needs to know whether it will have to start planning to build more dams, something that takes decades. Newfoundland therefore has some leverage to negotiate a better overall deal.
But Quebec is also in the driver’s seat, because Churchill Falls power must still pass through Quebec to reach export markets. Other ways of transmitting the power, for example, via underwater cables toward the Maritimes and New England, would be very costly. But Newfoundland politicians will face strong public pressure to correct the historical inequity.
In the Churchill Falls negotiations as well, showing respect and empathy toward our neighbour’s historical grievance stands to go a long way toward making it possible to strike a deal — and even help foster some national unity.
Transport minister didn’t speak to Via Rail during holiday travel chaos
Railway’s executives face tough questions about passengers left stranded for hours over the holidays
(CBC) Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra was not personally in contact with officials at Via Rail during the Christmas winter storm that left hundreds of passengers stranded for hours on a disabled train, the railway’s executives told a House of Commons committee Thursday. …
While contrite, Via Rail’s executives, including interim CEO Martin Landry, said CN is partly to blame for what transpired over the Christmas period.
Via Rail passenger trains operate almost exclusively on tracks owned by freight railways like CN and CP, which means Via Rail has little control over some operational issues, Landry said.
Alstom propose à nouveau un TGV entre Québec et Toronto
Le géant français soutient que c’est une option, au final, beaucoup plus rentable
(Testing the New Alstom: The Bombardier acquisition one year on – June 2022)
Ottawa approves new Quebec lithium mine, as Canada doubles down on efforts to challenge Chinese dominance
The federal government has given the go-ahead for Galaxy Lithium (Canada) Inc. to build a new lithium mine in Quebec as Canada attempts to establish a footing in a critical mineral industry dominated by China.
Alongside cobalt, copper and graphite, lithium is a vital component in electric-car batteries, and one of several critical minerals the government has prioritized as part of its critical minerals strategy.
While Canada is making inroads into domestic electric-vehicle production, thanks to the presence of automakers like General Motors, the country is far behind globally in the mining and refining of key battery minerals like lithium.