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Market abandoning fossil fuels, says Adnan Amin

Adnan Amin, the director of the International Renewable Energy Agency, chats with National Observer on May 18 at a renewable cities conference in Vancouver.

National Observer b May 19th 2017

Global financial markets are abandoning major fossil fuel projects because they are afraid of stranding multibillion-dollar investments, says the head of an intergovernmental renewable energy partnership.

In a wide-ranging interview with National Observer, Adnan Amin, the director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), said that development of major fossil fuel projects such as pipelines will ultimately harm the operators since renewable power is becoming more attractive to consumers and businesses.

And he said that any government that wants to approve or support such a project must “think carefully” about the consequences if it becomes obsolete before the end of its useful life.

“The question the government needs to ask itself is if you are using taxpayer resources to subsidize fossil fuel infrastructure for the future, is that a wise investment given the fact that this may end up as a stranded asset?” he asked.

“I think if we go with the logic of economics, (building a new pipeline) it will harm the (operators of) pipelines in the longer term, because when you invest in a pipeline, it’s a 30 year investment — amortization takes place over decades… So, any decision maker who’s making a decision today on fossil fuel infrastructure which is going to be amortized over two or three decades, needs to think very carefully about whether that’s going to end up as a stranded asset.”

IRENA is an intergovernmental organization founded in 2009. It’s based in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates — an oil-producing nation — and has more than 170 member countries dedicated to promoting and supporting the world’s transition to clean energy. The United States is an active member of IRENA, but Amin said he was still waiting for Canada to make a decision about joining the agency after a few conversations with federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.

Amin, who has been described as the planet’s ambassador for renewable energy, was interviewed Thursday at a downtown Vancouver hotel where he was attending a ‘Renewable Cities’ conference hosted by Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue.

While Amin questioned the logic in building new pipelines, he said he understood that there were other factors at play in Canada.

“I know that there’s been a lot of discussion around the fact that certain pipeline projects have been approved, which people were expecting that with the new (Trudeau) administration wouldn’t happen,” he said. “But governments have to deal with real things like jobs, investment and economic growth. So having said that, I still think that the messaging coming out of the (Trudeau) government is positive for low carbon energy.”

The Bull Creek Wind Project began operating in December 2015 in the Alberta municipal district of Provost. Photo courtesy of BluEarth Renewables Inc.

Amin also praised Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and other municipal leaders who are implementing aggressive policies to reduce or eliminate carbon pollution from transportation and buildings.

“I think those are (delivering) the messages to the market, that, once they accumulate, become real drivers of investment and the direction of the energy transition,” he said. “… And we need to support foresighted cities like Vancouver who are taking these measures which are still at the leading edge of what’s happening.”

Members of the Trudeau government have notably said that Canada is “back” on the international stage in efforts to fight climate change, through policies that create jobs and protect the environment at the same time. Earlier this week, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna also introduced details of the government’s proposal to make polluters pay for carbon emissions.

While noting the Trudeau government is promoting clean energy, Amin underlined findings in a recent IRENA report that Canada lags behind many other countries when it comes to action encouraging renewable energy.

“In Canada, we feel that there is a lot of potential of doing more, but the policy construct of how we’re going to get there is not yet very clear,” Amin said.

Carr’s office referred questions to his department which told National Observer in an emailed statement that Canada was still reviewing “potential” membership in IRENA to advance its strategy to fight climate change while promoting clean growth and jobs.

In the interview, Amin also said that the U.S. has a vibrant market for renewables, and that he believed U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration would support the industry because of the strong business case for clean energy.

“I think the current administration is led by someone who is very much oriented toward business,” Amin said. “And if the business case is strong, I see no reason why it shouldn’t continue to be strong in the U.S.”

Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada — a research group housed out of Simon Fraser University — said that Amin’s message highlights what has been missing in Canadian debates about the transition to renewable energy.

“The narrative in Canada is pretty stuck on the oil and gas economy and that the transition to renewable energy and to electricity to power cars and industry is going to be a slow transition,” Smith said in a separate interview. “Whereas, Mr. Amin and the facts are showing that this transition is happening far faster than people expected.”

Smith, who also spoke with Amin on stage at the “Renewable Cities” conference, noted that Canada has many companies that could benefit from growth in renewable energy, including in the mining sector.

“So Canadians need to understand that clean energy is the energy of the future and we actually have great opportunities to benefit from that with jobs and business development,” she said. “Canada needs to focus on the opportunities.”

 

Here’s is an edited transcript of National Observer’s interview with Adnan Amin:

 

What did IRENA mean when it said in a report last March that Canada and U.S. had rather conservative policy ambitions?

AA: When you look around the world, you see a number of countries that have more ambitious renewable energy targets in place (and they) have policy frameworks that are much more enabling and have clear energy policy type of structures that are incentivizing different types of approaches to renewables. And in the U.S. and in Canada, it’s still very unclear. Under the Obama administration, they had an energy policy which was technology neutral, but which was open to everything. So there was no real sense of direction about whether they were incentivizing a low carbon energy future and how they were going to do it.

There was legislation around it, but there was no clear policy framework.

And I think it’s somewhat similar to the situation in Canada…

But the upside of this is that you have a very vibrant ecosystem of innovation and investment that’s happening in North America. In the U.S., that’s one of the fastest moving markets for renewable, last year. Some of the more iconic investments in wind and solar generation were in the United States.

In Canada, we feel that there is a lot of potential of doing more, but the policy construct of how we’re going to get there is not yet very clear.

IRENA, Vancouver, Adnan Amin, renewables, International Renewable Energy AgencyAdnan Amin, the director of the International Renewable Energy Agency, gestures as he speaks to National Observer about clean energy on May 18 in Vancouver. Photo by Zack Embree, courtesy of SFU Centre for Dialogue

Some people in Canada have criticized the current government here for saying the right things about renewable energy without backing it up with concrete policies. Do you think that’s fair criticism?

AA: I think you have to understand that in a country that has achieved a level of prosperity from hydrocarbons, the transition to a low carbon future has some important economic repercussions. But (we’re) beginning to have good messaging from the (Trudeau) government, so I think that’s a very positive thing. How that is executed is really the issue and how you make a transition from a set of inherited decisions concerning investment in infrastructure in hydrocarbons to a more clean energy focus is going to be a very difficult transition.

And I know that there’s been a lot of discussion around the fact that certain pipeline projects have been approved, which people were expecting that with the new administration wouldn’t happen. But governments have to deal with real things like jobs, investment and economic growth. So having said that, I still think that the messaging coming out of the government is positive for low carbon energy. I think what we really need to understand much more are what are the concrete pathways through which that can be achieved. We believe that the renewable energy part of the energy mix is not highlighted as much as it should be. Canada is very fortunate to have very low cost, very efficient hydro(electric) system. Hydro can be the backbone of the clean energy system for the future. Your electricity is already very clean. But the challenge in the future is what’s going to happen with energy in the end-use sectors and (whether) Canada has a very comprehensive approach to what the future of electricity is going to be. Because moving to a renewable energy future means moving to a future where electricity becomes the dominant form of energy and that we are innovative in what the modes of transmission and utilization of that clean energy is going to be.

One of recommendations from the federal government’s National Energy Board modernization panel last week was to improve federal expertise on the transmission of electricity as pipelines become less important. Do you think this would be a step in the right direction?

AA: Absolutely. I think that’s a very positive message because when you look around the world, we’re finding that in more and more countries, the economic case for renewable energy is very compelling. I met recently the minister of energy of India, Piyush Goyal, with whom we’ve had a long discussion about coal and powering India. He always had the position that his primary responsibility was to provide power to poor people in India and to Indian consumers and industry and that he needed to find the cheapest alternative to do that. And if coal was cheap, he was going to use it.

What we were telling him at the time was that the trajectory of cost reduction for renewables is what we’re seeing around the world and that he really should be thinking about the future in renewable terms.

So, when I last met him, it was just a few days after the last auction of utility scale solar PV (photovoltaic) in India, which came in at US$0.04/kwh. That puts solar PV competitive with coal. So I said to him, ‘is this going to make a difference?’. And he said ‘yes.’ So, they’re very excited about it and you’re seeing that in more and more countries. The latest, lowest cost project was in Abu Dhabi recently which was below US$0.03/kWh. And we’re seeing this in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, these are the costs that are coming in. And I think that’s going to make it a renewable future but we have to come to terms with what system we’re going to use for transmission of that energy and for the utilization of that energy. And that’s where regulation, financing and investment really has to come.

A Solar farm and wind turbine produces energy in the Saerbeck Bioenergy Park in Germany on July 4, 2016. Photos by Audrea Lim

Can the approval of a pipeline project, whether it’s Donald Trump approving Keystone XL, or the pipelines that were approved here in Canada (Kinder Morgan and Enbridge), does it harm development or the emergence of renewables, when the government decides to approve a project like that?

AA: I think if we go with the logic of economics, it will harm the pipelines in the longer term, because when you invest in a pipeline, it’s a 30 year investment — amortization takes place over decades. What we had been discussing in the decarbonization report, which we prepared in the G20 framework, is the fact that we’re seeing the prospect for more and more stranded assets in coal power generation, but also in fixed infrastructure like pipelines. So any decision maker who’s making a decision today on fossil fuel infrastructure which is going to be amortized over two or three decades, needs to think very carefully about whether that’s going to end up as a stranded asset.

Do you think this is why pipeline companies are calling out for financing and haven’t been able to make final investment decisions on major projects? Is this the market speaking about the risks or the prospects for success?

AA: Absolutely. We’re seeing more and more big investors, institutional capital becoming very risk averse on fossil fuel infrastructure. So I think that in terms of private capital that will come into this, it’s becoming more constrained space for fossil fuel infrastructure. The question the government needs to ask itself is if you are using taxpayer resources to subsidize fossil fuel infrastructure for the future, is that a wise investment given the fact that this may end up as a stranded asset?

Can you talk about how the Trump administration’s new policies might affect the emergence of renewables?

AA: What we’ve seen so far is that the renewables market in the U.S. was very vibrant last year. That was driven by the fact that the tax credits for renewables were extended for five years by the previous administration. So that’s the main impetus. You’re finding that renewables are cost-competitive in the grid in several states, including major Republican-dominated states. Somebody was telling me recently that they were listening to (Trump administration Energy Secretary) Rick Perry talking about energy and he kept talking about what great things they had done with wind energy in Texas. So I think that the U.S. at the base is very rational in economic terms, when they make investments. So I think that given the cost equation we’re seeing for renewables today, the business case for renewables is still strong in the U.S. I think the current administration is led by someone who is very much oriented toward business. And if the business case is strong, I see no reason why it shouldn’t continue to be strong in the U.S.

What’s your message at this conference?

AA: The first message is, being in Vancouver, which has taken such a leadership role under Mayor (Gregory) Robertson on the clean energy transition is that urban and regional actors are becoming more and more important in determining the direction of the energy transition. So when cities like Vancouver or much bigger cities than Vancouver, start to incentivize investments in clean energy, start to demand the procurement of renewable energy in their operations, start to create regulated frameworks for mobility that becomes cleaner for electric transportation, for energy efficiency in buildings, that starts to send messages to the market. And I think those are delivering messages to the market, that, once they accumulate, become real drivers of investment and the direction of the energy transition… And we need to support foresighted cities like Vancouver who are taking these measures which are still at the leading edge of what’s happening.

And Canada is not that different from others. Although Canada has not been so active in the international space in the last years, the fact is the issues that you are dealing with are very similar to issues that many other countries are dealing with. But I sense enthusiasm and energy for sustainability in Canada which is very encouraging. So I’m very happy to be here for that reason.

Are you meeting with anyone from the federal government in Canada during this trip?

AA: No. We’re still waiting for Canada to join the agency. I’ve met Jim Carr a few times. I’ve had wonderful conversations with him. I think he’s an important leader in this space. He gave me some encouraging signals. I’m hoping that he’ll come through on those.

See article here…….

 

 


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Auditor general questions Canada’s plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies

Michael Ferguson wins battle against Liberal government to obtain information crucial to his reviews

By Kathleen Harris, CBC News Posted: May 16, 2017 

'We found that Finance Canada still had not defined what an inefficient fossil fuel subsidy was, nor could the department tell us how many inefficient fossil fuel subsidies there could be,' said Auditor General Michael Ferguson, who tabled his annual spring report Tuesday.

‘We found that Finance Canada still had not defined what an inefficient fossil fuel subsidy was, nor could the department tell us how many inefficient fossil fuel subsidies there could be,’ said Auditor General Michael Ferguson, who tabled his annual spring report Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)

Canada’s federal spending watchdog has won a battle with the Liberal government to gain access to information he deemed critical to evaluating whether the country is on course to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

Releasing a series of spring audits Tuesday, Auditor General Michael Ferguson expressed frustration that he wasn’t able to gain key documents, including budget analyses, from Finance Canada to determine what progress has been made to meet Canada’s 2009 G20 commitment.

He aired his grievance in a special message to members of the House of Commons detailing his fight.

“Our right to freely access information is fundamental to our work, and a cornerstone that protects our independence,” Ferguson wrote.

During a news conference after tabling his report, Ferguson called any situation where the government is hampering the ability of his office to do its work “extremely concerning.”

He noted that while battles over the disclosure of information go back several decades, this current tug-of-war unfolded over the last 18 months since the Liberals took office.

In a sudden about-face just minutes after that news conference concluded, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the government would change the rules and provide requested information of a similar nature in future.

“I believe it will help the auditor general to do his work, and will show that Finance took a broad approach in defining the scope of potential fossil fuel subsidies by identifying and rigorously analyzing all tax expenditures that support fossil fuel exploration or production,” he said.

The Auditor General’s office confirmed to CBC News that the information relevant for this report will not be supplied as the audits have already been completed.

“The same request could be captured in the scope of a future audit, however at this point, no such audit is planned,” read the reply to a query from Ferguson’s office.

But Ontario NDP MP David Christopherson called the government’s resistance a “major red flag.”

‘No plan’

“The department seems to have no plan with regard to this commitment, which is a problem for a government that has made big commitments to climate change,” Christopherson said. “The Liberals’ refusal to provide information to the auditor general strikes at the very heart of accountability and makes a farce out of the Liberals’ promise of openness and transparency.”

Conservative finance critic Gérard Deltell accused the government of hypocrisy for presenting itself as an open government, then hiding critical information.

“Sometimes it’s not good for the government, but it’s good for the Canadian people,” he told CBC. “We must keep in mind that we’re here for the Canadian public, not for political purposes.”

Ferguson’s audit found that while Canada has recognized that inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels undercut efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, the government has not yet implemented its plan to end subsidies by 2025.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced today the government would turn over records related to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies to the Auditor General of Canada. His department had previously refused to provide the information. (CBC)

Finance Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada have not defined what that commitment means in the Canadian context, or demonstrated whether tax reforms are actually working, his audit concludes.

“We found that Finance Canada still had not defined what an inefficient fossil fuel subsidy was, nor could the department tell us how many inefficient fossil fuel subsidies there could be,” Ferguson said.

“We asked Finance Canada to provide us with its analyses of the social, economic and environmental aspects of these subsidies. The department did not give us that information.”

Central Liberal promise

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said she was “shocked” the government attempted to seal access to information related to a “central” Liberal promise on the climate change file. She said federal subsidies still amount to about $1 billion, which could be better spent on health care and infrastructure.

A statement from Environmental Defence said Canadians should be “alarmed” that the federal government tried to withhold important information from the auditor, which leaves the public in the dark about the degree to which the government is subsidizing oil and gas companies.

The organization said other G20 countries are being more transparent about subsidies.

“The U.S. and China have even opened their books to each other,” the statement read. “The secrecy of Canada’s Finance Department is extremely concerning, and undermines our democracy.”

Ferguson’s audits drilled down on a number of programs, gauging the government’s efforts to reduce the risks of fraud and corruption and measuring mental health supports for Mounties. He said a “clear theme” that emerged is that the government is not putting its plans into action.

“Government departments must make sure that they implement their programs in the way that they were designed and communicated to Canadians,” he said. “Programs will not produce their intended results if departments do not put into practice what they said they were going to deliver.”

Fix for better results

While issues raised in the audits are “concerning,” Ferguson said they can be fixed to achieve better results.

Other highlights of the audits:

  • The RCMP is not providing adequate mental health supports for its members. After announcing a mental health strategy, the national police force did not implement key programs, make services a priority or commit the necessary resources to support them.
  • Some supply-managed goods are entering Canada without proper duties being paid. The audit estimated that in 2015, the Canada Border Services Agency should have assessed $168 million in customs duties on imports of quota-controlled goods that exceeded volume limits, including dairy products, chicken, turkey and eggs.
  • The government is not doing enough to limit risks of corruption involving border immigration officials.
  • Transport Canada is not “actively engaged” in addressing infrastructure needs at remote northern airports that impact efficiency and safety, including runway lighting and navigational aids.
  • Changes to the temporary foreign workers program have not done enough to ensure Canadians aren’t being squeezed out of jobs by international labourers, especially in the fish processing sector.
  • The government may be spending more to collect customs fees on parcels valued at less than $200 than it actually retrieves in revenues. Right now, the threshold for customs duties is set at $20 for parcels imported into Canada by mail or courier.

Corrections

  • This story has been updated to make it clear the auditor general’s report looked at the government’s plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. An earlier version dropped the word “subsidies” from the headline and lead.
    May 16, 2017 11:55 AM ET


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Seven oil multinationals that are pulling out of Canada’s tar sand

Environmental Defence by Patrick DeRochie  March 14, 2917

Last week brought big news that Royal Dutch Shell, one of the world’s largest multinational oil companies, would sell off its Canadian tar sands assets.

Shell’s withdrawal from the tar sands is the latest move in a growing trend in Canada’s oil industry: the world’s largest oil companies are retreating from the tar sands, as low oil prices, stronger policies to fight climate change, and the accelerating global shift to renewable energy make the tar sands uneconomical.

Rather than trumpeting the tar sands to global oil and gas executives, as Prime Minister Trudeau did last week, it’s time for Canada to plan for a managed decline of the industry and a just transition for workers and communities affected by the shift to a clean economy.

 

Here are seven examples in the last three months of multinational oil companies scaling back or eliminating their holdings in the tar sands:

  1. Statoil. In December 2016, Norway’s Statoil sold all of its tar sands assets at a loss and exited Western Canada altogether, due to low oil prices, domestic pressure from Norwegians, and an “energy market (that) has changed since (2007) quite considerably.”
  2. Koch Industries. Just days after Statoil left the tar sands, Koch Industries, owned by the infamous climate-denial-funding Koch brothers, ended plans to build its proposed Muskwa tar sands project west of Fort McMurray.
  3. Imperial Oil. In January 2017, Imperial Oil, the Canadian subsidiary of ExxonMobil, announced it would “write down” 2.8 billion barrels of its bitumen reserves in Alberta. This was the company acknowledging that the tar sands oil could not be economically produced under prevailing low energy prices.
  4. ConocoPhillips. In February 2017, American oil giant ConocoPhillips was forced to admit that 2 billion barrels of its previously “proven” tar sands reserves might have to stay in the ground. ConocoPhillips also suggested low global oil prices made the reserves uneconomical to produce.
  5. ExxonMobil. Also in Febraury 2017, the United States’ largest oil company, ExxonMobil, announced that it can no longer profitably develop up to 3.6 billion barrels of its tar sands reserves unless oil prices rise. That’s 3.6 billion barrels of oil that could be left in the ground.
  6. Marathon Oil. On the same day as Shell’s tar sands divestment, Houston-based Marathon Oil signed a deal to sell its Canadian tar sands operations in an effort to cut the highest-cost assets from its portfolio.
  7. Royal Dutch Shell. The Marathon divestment was drowned out by the bigger news of Shell selling off all of its tar sands assets for $7.25 billion. The oil giant’s CEO said that the tar sands “are no longer a strategic fit for Shell.”

Shell’s huge sell-off of its tar sands assets was complemented by a commitment to invest $1 billion per year in renewable energy by 2020. It was also accompanied by a warning from Shell’s CEO, Ben van Beurden, that public faith in the oil industry was “just disappearing”. He went on to say that government regulations could render oil and gas reserves “economically infeasible” to exploit. Meanwhile, the CEO of Statoil, which divested its tar sands assets in December 2016, said on the same day that “the low-carbon future will reshape the energy space.”

The world’s largest oil companies are finally starting to see the writing on the wall. The world is flooded with cheap oil that can’t be burned as we ramp up global climate action. The oil industry’s business model is becoming obsolete and the first casualties will be high-cost, high-carbon sources like tar sands oil that can’t compete in a world of low prices and declining demand.

It’s time for Canada to get serious about a managed decline of the tar sands and a just transition for workers and communities. The first thing we can do is stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure that is no longer needed. Tell the federal government to reject the risky Energy East pipeline.

 

See article here……..


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Environment minister defends Alberta’s oil sands ‘gas’ cap VIDEO

BBC – Hardtalk  UK – Interview with Albert’s Environmental Minister Shannon Phillips after making an agreement regarding EXPANSION of the tarsands!!!

World News BBC Hardtalk – 22 August 2016

Please watch this VERY IMPORTANT VIDEO (only 3 min)!  I feel so impelled to share this, as it shows that some groups, people who say they want to stop the expansion of the tarsands, then why are they agreeing to increasing greenhouse gas emissons from 70 megatons to 100 MEGATONS?????????????

tarsands pic National Oberserver WLTC article

   Alberta Tar Sands                                      Photo Credit: NATIONAL OBSERVER

WATCH INTERVIEW HERE:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0452tq5

Alberta’s Environment Minister Shannon Phillips has defended plans to allow the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the province’s oil sands operations to be increased.

Oil sands operations produce about 70 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year but the cap will be set at 100 megatonnes.

“We are the first place to put a cap on emissions,” she told BBC HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur.

“In this short to medium term, 20% of Canadian GDP relies on Alberta’s oil and gas industry, that’s not small,” she added.

The decision has been criticised by some environmental groups.

See website here ……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Indigenous rights in the face of climate change | Eriel Tchekwie Deranger- VIDEO

PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO! It is so informative about the tarsands and the huge impact it is having on the planet’s climate emergency!

Self-described ‘professional rabble rouser’ Eriel discusses raising awareness about the negative impacts of the extractive industries on climate, human and indigenous rights.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO!!!

http://player.lush.com/tv/summit-indigenous-rights-face-climate-change-eriel-tchekwie-deranger

 

 


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It’s time to confront the exploitation of B.C.’s environment

hume

A tanker is anchored in Burrard Inlet just outside of Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

It’s time to confront the exploitation of B.C.’s environment

It’s time to confront the exploitation of B.C.’s environment

The environment in British Columbia has taken a beating since the arrival of Captain James Cook at Nootka Sound in 1784, when his crew traded small items for rich sea-otter furs.

The pelts were later sold in China for up to $300 apiece, which would be equivalent to roughly $5,000 today. So the fur trade stirred its own kind of gold fever, and in no time Pacific Coast sea otters were on the verge of extinction.

In 1857, the Fraser Canyon gold rush pushed resource extraction to a whole new level, as 30,000 gold seekers sluiced gravel on every bar and at every stream mouth from Hope to Lillooet. Nobody ever recorded what environmental damage was done in that frenzy, but that’s where a lot of the Fraser’s salmon spawned. At any rate, it set a pattern that has been repeated since, with resource extraction taking precedence over habitat protection and aboriginal rights.

Gold. Fur. Forests. Coal. Hydro power. LNG. Oil.

B.C. always has a hot resource that has to be exploited because of economic imperative – with little thought of long-term environmental costs. Because of this feverish pursuit of wealth, each generation inherits a diminished natural world.

Fifty years ago, British Columbians could hike through extensive old-growth forests. Now, there are only isolated pockets left of the ancient trees that were standing when Capt. Cook sailed up the coast, and logging continues.

Nobody alive today has ever seen a run of 50 million salmon in the Fraser. It once had that. Now, the average is about 4 million.

Sea otters are coming back, but after 200 years, they still haven’t fully recovered. Across B.C., 754 species are listed as being extirpated, endangered or threatened. And the pace of development is increasing.

What’s to be done?

Maybe we can’t stop exploiting resources, but we can do a better job of managing the natural world and we must.

After 40 years of environmental reporting in the West, I find myself stepping away from daily journalism at a time when such issues are becoming more important than ever. Climate change is the overarching concern but there are many provincial issues in need of scrutiny.

Do we really need a bitumen pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific, a massive dam on the Peace River, or to log the last old-growth trees?

Should a shipping port in the Fraser delta be expanded if it puts at risk mudflats depended on by nearly one million shorebirds?

Is it okay that the Fraser River’s salmon run is a faint reflection of what it once was? Or that mountain caribou are going extinct in B.C. because of habitat loss?

These are vital questions and how they are answered over the next year will determine the nature of B.C. for decades to come.

If we don’t break the pattern of exploitation that’s been followed for two centuries, the damage will be immense.

“Trend data for B.C. show that declines in biodiversity are occurring at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels,” reports Biodiversity BC. “Without immediate and effective action, British Columbia’s remarkable biological richness may be lost.”

It’s not gone yet. But it’s going.

See article here…..

After 14 years this is Mark Hume’s last environmental column for The Globe and Mail. His writing can be followed at themarkhume.wordpress.com


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The sky’s the limit: Why the Paris climate goals require a managed decline of fossil fuel production

 

Oil Change International

skys-the-limit

Oil Change International, in collaboration with 350.org, Amazon Watch, APMDD, AYCC, Bold Alliance, Christian Aid, Earthworks, Équiterre, Global Catholic Climate Movement, HOMEF, Indigenous Environmental Network, IndyAct and Rainforest Action Network.

September 2016

DOWNLOAD REPORT

A new study released by Oil Change International, in partnership with 14 organizations from around the world, scientifically grounds the growing movement to keep carbon in the ground by revealing the need to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure and industry expansion. It focuses on the potential carbon emissions from developed reserves – where the wells are already drilled, the pits dug, and the pipelines, processing facilities, railways, and export terminals constructed.

Key Findings:

  • The potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming.
  • The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone, even with no coal, would take the world beyond 1.5°C.
  • With the necessary decline in production over the coming decades to meet climate goals, clean energy can be scaled up at a corresponding pace, expanding the total number of energy jobs.

Key Recommendations:

  • No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built, and governments should grant no new permits for them.
  • Some fields and mines – primarily in rich countries – should be closed before fully exploiting their resources, and financial support should be provided for non-carbon development in poorer countries.
  • This does not mean stopping using all fossil fuels overnight. Governments and companies should conduct a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and ensure a just transition for the workers and communities that depend on it.

Click here to download the report.

Read article here……