COP16

Mon, 2011-01-17 13:58Emma Pullman
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Why We Need to Stop Calling Tar Sands Oil "Ethical Oil"

There are few terms in the Canadian vernacular that irk me more than “ethical oil”.  Since Ezra Levant’s 2010 book “Ethical Oil” hit the scene, it’s become the favourite language for government newspeak, and the media.  Worst of all, its given tar sands proponents and the Conservative Government fodder for their debunked argument that tarsands oil is good for us

Levant’s book looks at the ethical cost of our addiction to oil, and argues that Alberta tar sands oil is more ethically responsible than oil imported from despotic regimes in the Sudan, Russia, and Mexico, where human rights issues are of concern. 

Though neither Harper nor our new Minister of Environmental Destruction have read the book, the term was exactly what the Conservatives needed to bolster the much-maligned tar sands.  Prior to the echochamber that ensued after the publication of Levant’s book,  tar sands oil was often characterized as “dirty” and “controversial” - much to the ire of the government.

 Levant may well have learned the art of spin early in his career while spending the summer in an internship arranged by the libertarian and clean energy/climate change enemy Charles G. Koch Foundation, or through his work with the Fraser Institute.  Levant himself coined the term “ethical oil” in 2009 after being involved in a panel on tar sands oil.  The spin doctor finished the 90-minute debate having not managed to convince his audience of the merits of the toxic oil.  Without admitting defeat, Levant quickly realized that he was going to have to find a different way to spin the dirty oil apart from economic arguments which just weren’t resonating with people. 

Tue, 2010-12-07 12:18Brendan DeMelle
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Dirty Energy Is Playing Full Contact So Is Cleantech Ready To Do The Same?

This is a guest post by Mike Casey, president of TigerComm, cross-posted from ScalingGreen.com.

Cancun - When I started working on solar energy issues several years ago, I heard it repeatedly: “Everyone loves solar.” Back then, many people in solar and other cleantech sectors saw long-term meritocracy in the energy business. Public demand, technological advances and aninevitable price on carbon were going to drive cleantech to dominance over time. “Renewable energy,” it was often said, “will soon become just plain ‘energy’.”

From the gridlocked global warming treaty negotiations here in Cancun, however, the picture seems starkly different. The Congressional climate bill fight ended in disaster, the recession tightened credit markets, and the coal and oil industries bought themselves a new Congress last month. And that global carbon market many were counting on? The most optimistic note Thursday night from a top U.S. treaty negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, was “maybe next year.”

Wed, 2010-12-01 09:47Richard Littlemore
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COP16: Canada's blackened reputation

A member of the Lesotho delegation at the climate talks in Cancun sports an anti-Canadian shirt (yes, the photo is in color; and yes the little Canadian flags are all black). It’s another illustration that Canada will ultimately pay a price for the irresponsible position that it continues to promote on climate change: do only what has already been done in the United States (nothing, really), but try to do it more slowly.

(Thanks to Eloise Savoie from the Climate Action Network [CAN] for the photo.)

And if you doubt whether Canada deserves this reputation, read on to see an early draft of a CAN fact sheet on Canadian climate performance and policy:

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? 

Tue, 2010-11-30 14:40Emma Pullman
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Cancun Showdown: Results at the UN Climate Talks More Important Than Ever

The United Nations Climate Change talks kicked off yesterday in Cancun.  For many, the mood began much more sombrely than last year.  Copenhagen attracted celebrity clout, world leader buzz, and a sense of optimism for a binding agreement.  For all Copenhagen promised, however, those who hoped for a fair and binding global deal left empty handed.  

Along with analysts, pundits and the blogosphere, the U.S., UK and EU are already downplaying the chances of a deal being reached in the next fortnight.  And as Desmogblog reported today, those fears may not be in vain with threats that the U.S. may pull out of the talks early

The talks during the next two weeks are going to focus largely on forests and finance, but also on questions about the legal status of a future agreement and emissions targets, which are expected to be tackled beginning next week when ministers arrive.

The sense of general pessimism around the talks has led some to question the viability of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to deliver, and has led others to manufacture doubt over the scientific basis for action.  A new report released by Oxfam argues that despite the disconsolate atmosphere, a year of extreme weather conditions demonstrate more than ever that a binding climate agreement under the UN auspices is imperative.  The report, More than ever: climate talks that work for those that need them most, presents the weather events that have devastated much of the planet in the last year, and the even more harrowing costs of climate inaction.  

According to the report, at least 21,000 people died due to weather-related disasters in the first nine months of this year – more than twice the number for the whole of 2009.  “This year is on course to experience more extreme-weather events than the 10-year average of 770. It is one of the hottest years ever recorded,” wrote Tim Gore, Oxfam’s EU climate change policy adviser and report’s author.

Wed, 2010-11-24 11:35Brendan DeMelle
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Have We Found the Real “Climategate” Scandal?

This is a guest post by Mike Casey, cross-posted from ScalingGreen.com.
Despite overwhelming evidence that anthropogenic climate change is real, potentially catastrophic, and accelerating, the theft of the East Anglia emails a year ago was turned into “Climategate” by the dirty energy lobby.  This non-scandal was nothing but a bunch of hot air, perpetrated by “deniers,” and to a large extend funded by the leading dirty energy (coal and oil) industries. (For more on this subject, see the superb book, “The Climate War,” by Eric Pooley.)

Congressman Joe “Apologize to BP” Barton of Texas was among those honking on the “Climategate” horn the loudest. The problem is that Barton lacks intellectual integrity of his own. As Salon reports:

 

A couple of years ago, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, asked a statistician named Edward Wegman to produce a report that would cast doubt on climate change science, because Barton – then the chairman of the House energy committee – is less a citizen legislator than the whims of the oil and gas industries made animate and elected to Congress.

 

The report criticized some statistics used to prove that the last century was the warmest one in centuries, which means it proved that global warming is pretend, in the eyes of most Republicans…

 

The only problem, other than the fact that the report is overwhelmingly without merit, is that it was largely plagiarized.

Wed, 2010-11-10 15:22Emma Pullman
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Policy Experts Propose Expansion to Montreal Protocol to Fight Global Warming

The widespread use of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) throughout a fifty-year stretch in the middle of the 20th century was one of the biggest environmental mistakes ever. As we came to learn the hard way, CFCs wreak environmental havoc by weakening the ozone layer, and some can persist in the atmosphere for over a century, making their legacy a long-lived mistake too. 

The Montreal Protocol of 1987 was instrumental in phasing out CFC use, and is considered one of the most successful multilateral environmental agreements ever.  The Protocol has phased out nearly 97% of 100 ozone-depleting chemicals, many of which contribute to global warming. The Protocol also prevented over 200 billion metric tonnes of global warming gases from entering the atmosphere – an astonishing five years’ worth of total global emissions. Nothing to sneeze at. The Montreal Protocol’s pollution reduction targets are mandatory, universally accepted and readily measurable.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) scientists recently confirmed that the Montreal Protocol was a highly-successful solution - the ozone layer has recovered from CFC-induced damage, and the Protocol “provided substantial co-benefits by reducing climate change.”

With energy legislation shelved in the U.S. and little hope for a global climate change agreement this year, some policy experts are arguing that, rather than reinventing the wheel, perhaps a solution is right in front of us. 

Tue, 2010-05-25 17:56Brendan DeMelle
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UN Chief Urges Industrialized Nations to Release Promised Funds To Poor Nations For Climate Change Aid

Outgoing United Nations climate chief Yvo de Boer sent an urgent message to wealthy industrialized nations on Tuesday reminding them about previous promises to help the world’s poorer nations to adapt to a changing world due to global warming.  Without a firm show of funds, he said the pursuit of a global climate agreement would remain a question mark for many as the December COP-16 talks in Cancun grow closer.

de Boer urged the industrialized nations to quickly present the $30 billion in aid they have pledged to deliver over the 2010-2012 period to help poor nations fight climate change impacts such as increasingly severe droughts and floods.

“Times are harsh, especially in Europe, but $10 billion a year for three years from all industrialized countries is not an impossible call,” he said.

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