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What’s the Difference Between a Low-Carbon and Zero-Carbon Future? Survival

What’s the Difference Between a Low-Carbon and Zero-Carbon Future? Survival

Governments, media and industry use ‘low-carbon economy’ frame to continue business as usual.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan celebrating LNG Canada’s investment decision as an investment in the low-carbon economy. They’re missing a critical point: we need a zero-emissions economy. Photo: BC Government Flickr.

“The finance ministry reckons that even with the estimated $6 billion in relief over 40 years, the province would still reap $22 billion in revenues over the same period. Without the project, returns would, of course, be zero.”

It’s a compelling comparison. With the project we can pay for schools, hospitals and poverty reduction. Without it, we have nothing. 

Yet it is fallacious, a comparison promoted by Big Oil and adopted by most governments. It takes our minds off alternatives. 

The correct comparison is between revenues generated from $40 billion invested in fracking and fossil fuel production versus revenues generated from $40 billion invested in renewable energy, such as solar, wind and thermal.

Two similar-sounding phrases lie at the heart of this issue. One has gained predominance, the other relegated to the margins of climate change discourse. The first is “low-carbon economy,” an economy in which even fracking and liquefied natural gas have a role. The second is “zero-carbon economy,” an economy in which no more greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. In this second framing, the goal must be an economy fuelled entirely by renewable, non-carbon-emitting sources.

As the Palmer column illustrates, renewable energy has been largely written out of the script in the climate change narrative being constructed in B.C. and across Canada. For one thing, a renewable energy future would likely mean the end of Royal Dutch Shell and the other fossil fuel supermajors.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada’s Petro Paralysis, Diagnosed

Canada’s Petro Paralysis, Diagnosed

Three books show how bitumen blocks democratic solutions to our climate crisis.

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Protester at rally against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion project on Sept. 9, 2017 in Vancouver. Photo by William Chen, Creative Commons licensed.
  • Costly Fix: Power, Politics and Nature in the Tar Sands
  • Ian Urquhart
  • University of Toronto Press (2018)
  • Oil’s Deep State: How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Stops Action on Global Warming
  • Kevin Taft
  • Lorimer (2017)
  • The Big Stall: How Big Oil and Think Tanks are Blocking Action on Climate Change in Canada
  • Donald Gutstein
  • Lorimer (2018)

Among the most vocal critics of this environmental assessment process, ironically, was Justin Trudeau himself, when he was on the 2015 campaign trail. He had promised to fix the federal environmental process to restore the trust of Canadians in resource decision-making. After the election, his new government struck a blue-ribbon panel to advise them on how to do just that. 

Instead, 2018 saw the Trudeau government ignore most of the panel’s sensible recommendations, introducing instead Bill C-69, a legislative mash-up that, from a sustainability, transparency and accountability perspective, is likely to be worse than the Harper environmental assessment law that Trudeau railed against in 2015. Passed by the House, Bill C-69 is now hung up in the Senate, the target of a noisy misinformation campaign being led by a right-wing, astroturf group calling itself (I’m not kidding) “Suits and Boots.”

Meanwhile, under unrelenting pressure from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to get shovels in the ground, the Trudeau government remitted the job of fixing the defective TMX review back to the National Energy Board, under the old Harper rules. To this end, it ordered a new board panel to do a high-speed reconsideration of the deficiencies the court had identified the first-time around. The deadline for intervenors to file their final written arguments to this new panel was last Tuesday.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The clean green pipeline machine – a free-market fairy tale

The clean green pipeline machine – a free-market fairy tale

A review of Donald Gutstein’s The Big Stall

In late 2016 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was ready to spell out his government’s “Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change”. His pitch to Canadians went along these lines:

We recognize that climate change is a serious challenge and that we must transition to a new economy which dramatically cuts carbon emissions. To make this transition we need a strong economy and a united country. To have a strong economy we must allow our fossil fuel sector to continue to grow. And to keep our country united while we impose a modest price on carbon, we must also build new pipelines so that oil sands extraction can grow. That is why my government is proud to lead the way in reducing carbon emissions, by ensuring that the oil sands sector emits more carbon.

If you think that sounds absurd, then you’re likely not part of Canada’s financial, industrial, political or media elite, who for the most part applauded both the minimal carbon tax and the substantial oil sands expansions being pushed by Trudeau and by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

How did we get to a point where oil companies and governments are accepted as partners in devising climate action plans? And why did these climate action plans, decade after decade, permit fossil fuel companies to continue with business as usual, while carbon emissions grew steadily?

This is the subject of Donald Gutstein’s new book The Big Stall: How Big Oil and Think Tanks are Blocking Action on Climate Change in Canada. (James Lorimer & Co., Toronto, October 2018)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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