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New Global Study Finds Canada Lagging Behind China on Climate Change Legislation

pollution from syncrude plant in the Alberta oilsands

A frequently used talking point from Prime Minister Stephen Harper is that Canada will only tackle the issue of climate change if countries like China agree to take action as well. 

Looks like that time has come.

A new study released this week that examines nearly 500 pieces of legislation in 66 countries finds Canada lags behind many countries, including China, when it comes to advancing a plan to reduce climate change pollution and fossil fuel usage. 

According to Globe International, the organization behind the study, Canada currently “has no comprehensive federal climate change legislation.”

In China on the other hand, “it was announced in 2010 at the GLOBE International legislators’ forum in Tianjin that China would begin work on [climate] legislation. A first formal draft of the law is expected to be produced in early 2014, after which a comprehensive formal consultation will begin with government ministries, industry and other stakeholders, with passage likely by 2015.”

Survey Lists the Best and Worst Financial Funds When it Comes to Climate Change Risk

Is your pension fund or insurance company a leader or laggard when it comes to avoiding risky bets on the future impacts of climate change?

A new survey released today finds that many major institutional investors, like retirement funds and insurance companies, are putting their investments (read: your money) at risk by not addressing the negative financial impacts posed by climate change and atmospheric disruption.

The survey, called the Global Climate Investment Risk, is based on data acquired from 460 funds who were invited to provide data, either from members of those funds or using publicly available information. Each fund is rated from AAA to X based on investment mix and recognition of the financial risks that climate change will have now and into the future.

Conducted by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP), the survey concludes that, of the 460 funds, only 5 received a AAA rating, while 173 funds are rated “X.”

Canadian Government at Warsaw Climate Talks a Waste of Taxpayers Dollars

All week people have been coming by the press center here at the COP-19 UN climate negotiations asking, “Hey Kevin, why are you just sitting there playing with that pencil?” I sigh and reply, “Just waiting for Canada to do something… anything.” 

Finally, Canada's Environment Minister showed up Wednesday to make a statement. But, not surprisingly, the Minister's words were a far cry from reality. 

It used to be easy to write about Canada from UN climate negotiations. There was always some outrageous story to cover about how Canada was blocking progress or making life miserable for countries trying to actually make headway. But it has become a lot harder here at the negotiations underway right now in Warsaw, Poland.

At this round of climate negotiations Canadian negotiators are doing nothing. Literally.

International Coal Summit's Glorious Pipe Dream of Carbon Capture and Storage

A new study released today at the UN climate conference underway in Warsaw, Poland finds that new coal plants cannot be built if we are to keep global warming below the 2° Celsius threshold.

That is, unless the coal industry can deploy commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS). 

The report, titled: New unabated coal is not compatible with keeping global warming below 2°C, finds that of all the fossil fuels, coal is the easiest to substitute with renewable technologies and that:

“The current global trend of coal use is consistent with an emissions pathway above the IEA's [International Energy Agency] 6°C scenario. That risks an outcome that can only be described as catastrophic, beyond anything that mankind has experienced during its entire existence on earth.”

In other words, CCS better work and work fast.

Down the road from the UN conference, the Polish government (of all people) is hosting the “International Coal and Climate Summit” which heavily features CCS experts and discussion panels. 

There will likely be little talk at the coal summit of just how ridiculous the idea of commercially deployed CCS is becoming.

CCS technology has been a “future” solution for many years now, with governments abandoning experimental projects due to cost overruns and lack of progress. Governments like the United States, at the behest of the coal lobby, have pumped billions into CCS technology experiments, yet it continues to fail as a commercially viable option. 

A recent study by the Global CCS Institute found that the number of large scale CCS projects has dropped to 65 from 75 over the last year. If this was the grand solution to the urgent issue of climate change, you would think we would be seeing more projects coming on line, not fewer.

Rallies Coast to Coast in Canada Today to Defend Our Climate

Today across Canada, thousands of everyday people are showing up at events to tell our government leaders that they must listen to the people who elected them and lead on the issue of climate change.

Defend Our Climate, Defend our Community rallies kicked off in Atlantic Canada and now a wave of rallies – more than 180 in all – are underway. 

A recent poll found that 59% of Canadians think climate change should be a top priority and a whopping 76% say that Canada should sign on to a new international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

People clearly want action and leadership on climate change, but there is a major gap between what the people want and what our government is doing, or not doing. 

Just yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government applauded the new right-wing Australian Prime Minister's move to scrap its carbon tax. 

Canadians are not happy and they are taking to the streets to demand action. Here's some of the early photos of some of the events already underway:

Will Canada Continue to Fail on Climate at International Talks in Poland?

oilsands pollution in Canada

With another round of international climate negotiations opening this week in Warsaw, Poland, and a new poll finding Canadians wanting leadership on the issue, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have an opportunity to turn the tides on what has been so far a policy trend in the wrong direction.

Since taking the helm, the majority Harper government has floundered at United Nations climate events, relegating Canada to perpetual fossil of the day and year awards.

As someone who has been working in and around these international climate talks and other such global negotiations for many years now, I have witnessed first hand Canada's fall from grace. Our small country (population-wise) has historically hit well above its weight in many international forums, with a reputation for neutrality and expert diplomacy. Now, we are called a “petrostate” and a “climate obstructionist” at such talks. 

Why the Media Is Right to Toss Climate Deniers' Opinions

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times officially confirmed the paper is no longer running letters to the editor that deny the scientific conclusion that climate change is a reality and is caused mainly by human activities. 

Prior to this, the magazine Popular Science went even further and completely turned off the comments section for its entire website, stating quite eloquently that, “Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to 'debate' on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.”

The L.A. Times editor stated the paper's reasoning as, “Letters that have an untrue basis (for example, ones that say there's no sign humans have caused climate change) do not get printed.”

The Sydney Morning Herald has subsequently announced it also won't allow climate deniers to “misrepresent facts” on climate science in letters - an especially powerful case given the terrifying fires ravaging Australia against a backdrop of continuing broken heat records.
As the former Editor of DeSmogBlog, most of the climate deniers and self-proclaimed skeptics I have encountered over the years have been paid by Exxon, the Koch brothers or other such industry interests, making a good living as fake experts for hire. They are manipulators of the truth.

Of course, not all are paid mouthpieces, and some of them just simply believe that climate change isn't happening or it isn't caused by burning fossil fuels. 

To those people not being paid by industry to sell doubt, to those who in their heart-of-hearts actually question the realities of climate change, I would say they have every right to submit their opinions as letters to a newspaper.

But just like the guy who sends in a letter each week to the paper insisting he was abducted by aliens, or that 9-11 was a hoax, it is up to the paper to decide what to print and what to throw in the waste basket.

Study: Koch Brothers Could Make $100 Billion if Keystone XL Pipeline Approved

A new study released today concludes that Koch Industries and its subsidiaries stand to make as much as $100 billion in profits if the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is granted a presidential permit from U.S. President Barack Obama. 
The report, titled Billionaires' Carbon Bomb, produced by the think tank International Forum on Globalization (IFG), finds that David and Charles Koch and their privately owned company, Koch Industries, own more than 2 million acres of land in Northern Alberta, the source of the tar sands bitumen that would be pumped to the United States via the Keystone XL pipeline. 
(Click to expand or see original source)
IFG also finds that more than 1,000 reports and statements in support of the Keystone XL pipeline project have been made by policy groups and think tanks that receive funding from the Koch brothers and their philanthropic foundations. 

Influence in America: A Report on TransCanada Corporation's Keystone XL Lobbying Activities

According to a new white paper by DeSmog Canada, TransCanada Corporation, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, has spent more than $4 million lobbying U.S. federal lawmakers and government department staff since 2010.  

The results can be found in a new white paper released today by DeSmog Canada that you can view here: Influence in America: A report on TransCanada Corporation's Keystone XL Lobbying Activities [PDF].

(or click on the image below to download the white paper)

Global Warming Hasn't Stopped - It's the Hottest Decade on Record

With the release of a major climate science report by the United Nations coming this week, the self-proclaimed climate “skeptics,” better referred to as the climate deniers or flat-earthers, are kicking it into high gear for their fossil fuel clients and right wing ringleaders. 

The likes of Tom Harris, better known for his lobbying work on behalf of the Canadian energy industry, and Fred Singer, formally a tobacco company expert-for-hire, are trying to make headlines again claiming that the warming of our planet has significantly slowed down. As Harris, a man with absolutely no scientific background in climate change, reassures us like a bunch of schoolchildren, “don't be scared.” 

I wish it were the case that the rate of global warming has significantly slowed and that we don't have to “be scared” of more extreme weather events, droughts and flooding. 

But according to the scientific community, the experts who have decades of training in the field of atmospheric and climactic study, our planet continues to warm. In fact, we just came through the hottest decade ever recorded. Not only was it the hottest decade recorded, it has occurred despite the presence of major cooling factors, like La Nina's and reduced solar activity. Such events should result in a significant dip in the earth's temperature, but they are only having a relatively slight cooling effect. 

Not good. And not at all what the flat earth society is trying to tell you.