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Top Five Climate and Environment Issues for Obama-Trudeau Bilateral Summit

The strained relationship between Canada and the U.S. over the last decade was in no small part due to disagreement over the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. 
 
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was a staunch supporter of what he called the “no-brainer” project. President Obama, on the other hand, felt like all sorts of brain should be involved when deciding on the future of such major fossil fuel infrastructure. And he rightfully rejected the border crossing pipeline project, which had clearly failed his climate test.
 
Now, with Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the helm of America’s Hat, the two most intimately tied economies in the developed world have a lot of catching up to do. Even with Keystone XL dead and buried (sort of), environment and energy issues are still top of mind for the two leaders.
 
In a recent Q and A with the Huffington Post, Trudeau acknowledged the timing is right for bold leadership on climate change and the environment: “There is a nice alignment between a Canadian Prime Minister who wants to get all sorts of things done right off the bat and an American President who is thinking about the legacy he is going to leave in his last year in office,” Mr. Trudeau said.
 
“The issues that are important to him and to me are climate change.”
 
Obama and Trudeau already had an informal ‘bromance’ meeting soon after the new Prime Minister took office in November 2015. But now, with the unprecedented Paris Agreement behind them, the two leaders have an incredible opportunity to break new ground on climate action and environmental protection at this formal summit.
 
Here are the top five energy and environment issues these self-proclaimed climate leaders should have on their agenda:

B.C.'s Failure to Consult First Nations Sets Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Back to Square One

The provincial government did not fulfill its legal obligation to consult with First Nations on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The case, brought forward by the Gitga’at and other coastal First Nations, argued the province erred when it handed over decision-making authority for the project to the federal government under a provincial-federal Joint Review Process managed by the federal National Energy Board.

B.C. granted Ottawa authority over the project’s environmental review in a 2010 equivalency agreement. That agreement, however, did not release the province from the legal duty to consult First Nations, the B.C. Supreme Court found.

It’s a very significant ruling,” Elin Sigurdson, lawyer with JFK Law, said. “The coastal First Nations and Gita’at were very successful in the application to quash the equivalency agreement which means the province now has to consult with First Nations that will be affected by matters in the provincial jurisdiction and has to conduct a new environmental assessment for the project.”

Exxon Under Pressure in Mock Trial in Paris

Blackmail. Deception. Public manipulation.

These are just some of the charges leveled against ExxonMobil at a mock trial that took place in Paris, Saturday to coincide with the ongoing international climate negotiations at COP21.

The trial, held in Paris, alleged Exxon’s work at funding climate science had put the planet, people’s health and communities from Texas to Nigeria at risk.

The trial was hosted by Canadian author Naomi Klein and climate change activist and author Bill McKibben and brought together key witnesses to discuss Exxon’s role in confusing the public about the dangers of human-caused climate change.

Two investigations by the LA Times and Inside Climate News revealed Exxon scientists warned the company about the impacts of burning fossil fuels in the 1970s.

But the trial heard how scientists were directed to keep that information secret from shareholders and the public.

Since the 70s Exxon was involved in trade organizations, think tanks and lobbying organizations that have misled the public about greenhouse gases, climate change and climate science.

The trial, titled Exxon vs. The People, was presided over by three judges including indigenous rights and 350.org campaigner Clayton Thomas-Muller, actor Peter Sarsgaard and Milañ Loeak, daughter of Christopher Loeak, president of the Marshall Islands.

Global Leaders Fight for New 1.5 Degrees Warming Target at COP21 Climate Talks

A coalition of vulnerable countries is pushing the global community to adopt a new 1.5 degree global warming target at the ongoing climate talks in Paris.

The group of countries, known as the Climate Vulnerability Forum, argues current efforts to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius is insufficient to protect many nations from the dangers of climate change. The group came to this conclusion, which was announced on the first day of the climate talks, after two years of expert review and diplomatic consultations.

The groups said lives, rights and the prosperity of billions are at stake in the globally agreed temperature limit.

Oil and Gas Industry Publicly Supports Climate Action While Secretly Subverting Process, New Analysis Shows

A new report recently released by InfluenceMap shows a number of oil and gas companies publicly throwing their support behind climate initiatives are simultaneously obstructing those same efforts through lobbying activities.

The report, Big Oil and the Obstruction of Climate Regulations, comes on the heels of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a list of climate measures released by the CEOs of 10 major oil and gas companies including BP, Shell, Statoil and Total.

According to InfluenceMap the initiative is an attempt by leading energy companies to “improve their image in the face of longstanding criticism of their business practices ahead of UN COP 21 climate talks in Paris.”

The big European companies behind the OGCI…will come under ever greater scrutiny, as the distance between the companies’ professed positions and the realities of the lobbying actions of their trade bodies grows ever starker,” InfluenceMap stated in a press release.

Is it the Beginning of the End for the Alberta Oilsands?

A new report from Oil Change International challenges industry’s common assumption that the continued production of oilsands crude is inevitable.

The report, Lockdown: The End of Growth in the Tar Sands, argues industry projections — to expand oilsands production from a current 2.1 million barrels per day to as much as 5.8 million barrels per day by 2035 — rely on high prices, public licence and a growing pipeline infrastructure, all of which are endangered in a carbon-constrained world.

As the report’s authors find, growing opposition to oil production — especially in the oilsands, which is among the most carbon intensive oil in the world — has significantly altered public perception of pipelines, a change amplified by the cross-continental battles against the Enbridge Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain, TransCanada Energy East and TransCanada Keystone XL pipelines.

According to the report’s authors, production growth in the oilsands hinges on the construction of these contentious pipelines because the existing pipeline system is currently at 89 per cent capacity.

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