October 6 News from Up North: Conservatives in Canada Fall Short on Climate Targets; Canadian Wind Outlook Murky

Conservatives in Canada falling short on climate change targets

The Conservatives are falling short on climate change targets, despite committing to spend $9-billion on efforts to meet them in 2010, according to a new report out of the Office of the Auditor General.

The report was filed as part of the 2007 Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, which requires the Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to assess the government’s progress towards meeting the goals outlined in Kyoto.

Predictably, the Conservatives, who do not support the international accord, got a failing grade.

“Canada is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, the government has lowered the bar in what it hopes to achieve,” commissioner Scott Vaughan says.

The report shows that Canada’s emissions totaled 734 million tonnes in 2008, 31 per cent higher than the Kyoto target. Similarly, emissions reduction targets have dropped 90 per cent from 282 million tonnes to 28 million tonnes in 2010.

Canada wind energy outlook unclear beyond 2016

Long-term prospects for wind energy in Canada are uncertain despite a banner year in 2011, an industry body said on Wednesday, blaming provincial governments for failing to set renewable-energy goals beyond 2016.

Only two provinces, Ontario and Nova Scotia, have laid out a vision for wind energy development after 2016, said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

That is a problem as developers need to start work on projects several years in advance. In addition, targets in Ontario, the biggest wind energy market in Canada, could be scrapped if the ruling Liberal Party loses a provincial election on Thursday.

“Any discussion about wind energy being a niche technology is now behind us,” Hornung said in a presentation at the association’s annual conference in Vancouver.

“The challenge is how do we create a long-term, stable wind-energy market in Canada,” he said.

Court Adviser Backs E.U. Plan to Compel Airlines to Pay for Carbon Emissions

The European Union should be allowed to force all airlines to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions whenever they land or take off from European airports, a top adviser to the bloc’s highest court said Thursday.

The advocate general’s opinion — which judges at the European Court of Justice usually follow — represents a major victory for European regulators, who have sought to lead the world in efforts to curb climate change. The push to include global airlines in its Emissions Trading System, which already covers other heavy industries, is Europe’s boldest move yet in that direction.

The opinion also deals a significant blow to the global airline industry’s effort to avoid being forced, starting Jan. 1, into a system that it argues will be ineffective in cutting carbon emissions and only lead to higher ticket prices.

Carriers in the United States have been joined by those in China and the Middle East in opposing the European system, and governments of other countries, including Russia and India, have hinted at retaliation if the E.U. plan goes into force. The critics also have suggested that some of the money the airlines must spend on carbon permits will end up subsidizing cash-strapped European governments, rather than on climate protection.

Climate talks eye revenue from shipping

With nations facing gaping shortfalls meeting pledges on climate change, several governments and activist groups are pushing to put a price on shipping emissions to fund aid to poor countries.

Commercial ships virtually always run on fossil fuels and produce nearly three percent of the world’s carbon emissions blamed for climate change — twice as much as Australia — but are unregulated under the Kyoto Protocol.

Shipping has come under renewed focus in UN-led talks on a post-Kyoto framework which are coincidentally being held in Panama, whose flag flies on 20 percent of the world’s merchant vessels and is home to the vital canal.

Germany has spearheaded the idea of setting a price on shipping emissions and devoting proceeds to the new Green Climate Fund, which aims to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in aid to low-lying islands and other poor nations seen as most vulnerable to climate change.

The money has been in question with top donors Japan, the European Union and the United States all facing internal challenges. Experts say the world is also far off from the UN-enshrined target of limiting warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to prevent climate change’s worst consequences.

Salazar Defends Obama on Environment, Energy: We’ve Moved Out of ‘Hummer Age’

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today defended President Obama’s record on the environment amid deepening criticism from green allies over a 2008 campaign promise to “end the tyranny of oil.”

“It’s like moving the Titanic,” Salazar said of the administration’s effort to work with Congress to build a “new energy framework.”

“Notwithstanding that, we have made a lot of progress,” he said. “As a U.S. senator, I remember using the statistic of our imports of 70 percent of oil from other countries. Today, our imports are down to less than 50 percent, the last figure I saw.”

Salazar said Obama has moved the U.S. out of the “Hummer Age” — referring to the gas-guzzing General Motors-made SUV — by imposing sweeping new fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and promoting new technologies that allow some cars and trucks to run solely on renewable energy.

“I think that when the environmental community looks at what it is we’ve done to transform the energy reality, the energy future of the United States, I think they ought to say we’ve done a pretty good job,” he said.

The comments came as the administration tangles with environmental activists over the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that would run from Canada to the Texas gulf coast.

Gulf oil spill revealed old, deep problems

Five coastal states are determined to clean up the damaged Gulf of Mexico ecosystem after last year’s oil spill highlighted how decades of contamination and deterioration had placed a backbone of the U.S. economy at risk of ruin, according to a federal report released Wednesday.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force’s preliminary report pinpointed challenges, priorities and strategies for the five states — Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama — working with the backing of several federal agencies to restore and preserve the Gulf Coast. The task force was established by President Barack Obama after BP’s catastrophic oil spill last year.

“One of the results of all the meetings is a real sense of urgency,” EPA chief Lisa Jackson told The AP. “Person after person came in and said `we’re losing the Gulf.’ None of it is irreversible, but the longer we wait, the harder it will be.”

The task force provided The Associated Press a copy of its executive summary before the preliminary report’s official release Wednesday. A public comment period will last until late October and a final report will be presented to Obama in December.

14 Responses to October 6 News from Up North: Conservatives in Canada Fall Short on Climate Targets; Canadian Wind Outlook Murky

  1. Raul M. says:

    Knowing that it has become the gulf of pollution is a step toward knowing that it doesn’t get better just because people may look another way. It was that people could wear white sneakers on those beaches and the sneakers being white stayed cooler. Haven’t heard of the best way to get tar ball stains out of white sneekers yet …well the sand also has a certain color transfer ability and …good luck with taking credit for cleanup, but well prevention is still the best cure. It’s been years ago that I first saw a tar ball on the beach and I still don’t care, how could you just lay on it.

  2. Joan Savage says:

    The recent Solar Decathlon for innovative one-family housing included an entry from students in Calgary, Alberta, a two-bedroom house that relied entirely on passive solar and rooftop solar panels.
    I don’t know if the student engineers got it right, but if they did, it is stunning to think that year round solar is possible at a latitude of 51 N.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    The Canadians are polite and everything, but they actually have a crappy long term record on all environmental issues. They continue to relentlessly log old growth, muck up Alberta, and live with weak factory pollution standards. Whatever they say about global warming is going to be just talk, since “Environment Canada” is an extension of their extractive industries.

    Canadian enviros fight hard, though- you won’t read about it here, but many have been beat up by Mounties and others while protesting logging and other disasters. The middle, “liberal” electorate up there is the real disappointment, by being indifferent and passive aggressive- Canadian faults, they say.

    We certainly can’t preach too hard, due to our own record with Kyoto on, but somebody needs to.

  4. Joan Savage says:

    Net zero energy – though the model didn’t show a grid link.

  5. RelayeR says:

    I guess it shows that if you’re not stuck in the polar night, solar is an alternative.

    Btw, I’d like to point out that Canadian politics isn’t bipartite. 62% of Canadians didn’t vote for conservatives.

    Now excuse me, I will go hide in shame.

  6. Darryl Williams says:

    Joan – thanks for the link. Interesting to see Cenovus Energy (major oil sands player) as a main sponsor.

  7. Calgary is actually a very sunny place. But cold. So solar works well in combo with well insulated buildings.

    Western Canada has almost no solar panels despite the fact the fact that it has better solar exposure than places like Ontario and Germany that have gone big. Calgary doesn’t have a lot, but for western Canada it is a bit of a hot bed of solar

  8. Maybe they are hoping it will help them stay out of international prison.

    The Guardian is reporting on a prestigious mock trial in UK to test how a proposal for “ecoside” to be added to the fundamental UN crimes against humanity would play out in the real world. At the trial the jury convicted a fictional oil sands company of “ecoside”.

    Looking like it might take more than a few banners at solar homes to escape the dock.

  9. Joan Savage says:

    Ahah. I didn’t know the Cenovus context, but another sponsor is Enbridge, who are planning an all-Canadian version of the Keystone XL, an east-west pipeline from the tar sands to a port on the Pacific.

  10. Joan Savage says:

    Climate Change Creates Ambidextrous Animals

    And clown fish that swim towards their predators.

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    MR –
    You forgot their bang-up job of managing their cod stocks.

  12. prokaryotes says:

    The Truth is, that on current lookout huge part of the US are destined to become uninhabitable, that’s raises the question if the US plans to occupy Canada in the future.

    Nations which fail on climate change action are a threat.

    “If We Stay on With Business as Usual, the Southern U.S. Will Become Almost Uninhabitable.”

  13. Paul Magnus says:

    What an odd experiment to have done in the first place!
    I wonder if there are similar effects on us and higher animals.