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Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline: former ICBC CEO weighs projects' risks

Carrie SaxifrageAlexis Stoymenoff
Feb 2nd, 2013

When economist Robyn Allan’s son visited her in the autumn of 2011, he was preoccupied by the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Allan was generally aware of the issues but his concern spurred her to look more closely. She found that Enbirdge’s application misrepresented the impact of the project.

She applied for intervenor status so that she could raise these issues before the JRP in a more substantive manner than public comment provides for.

Her reports belie Enbridge’s rosy assertions about the benefits of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

“The economic issues were presented purely as a benefit to Canada as if there were no economic costs,” Allan told the Vancouver Observer. “And that clearly wasn’t the case.”

Pensions heading off climate cliff

Carrie Saxifrage
Feb 1st, 2013

Institutional investors are changing their methods of determining investment risks and benefits due to climate change

Many of the world’s biggest economic institutions are sounding the alarm on the accelerating climate threat barrelling down on the global economy. The systematic failure to put an effective price on climate pollution has created, in the words of Sir Nicolas Stern “the greatest market failure the world has seen.”

Institutional investors representing trillions of dollars in managed assets are joining the call of world institutions, asking for the market certainty that a global price on carbon would create.

Banks are starting to take note. Last week, the financial sector was warned by one of its own about the carbon bubble.

HSBC, the world’s second largest bank, issued a report last week stating that oil and gas multinationals could lose up to 60 percent of their market value if the world cuts its carbon emissions to limit climate change.

What would Enbridge pipeline hearings be like if we heard the truth?

Dr. Keith Stewart
Jan 31st, 2013

The tar sands may be visible from space but they have been rendered invisible to the environmental review panel assessing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.  That’s an impressive feat, as it ensures that the review panel won’t consider the climate or water impacts of expanding the tar sands, leaving many concerned citizens baffled and disillusioned.

Of course a good magician never reveals his trick. But now, thanks to documents obtained by Greenpeace under Freedom of Information legislation, we have a glimpse of what was going on behind the curtain that led to the head of oil sands policy for the Alberta Ministry of Energy to write: “I think CERI has a death wish to get in the middle of this.  They certainly aren’t doing us any favours!!”

Heartwood: Forest Guardians of Cortes Island

Daniel J. Pierce
Jan 28th, 2013

Watch the trailer for Heartwood: Forest Guardians of Cortes Island, then please make a contribution to our crowdfunding campaign—and receive great "perks" in return.

There is a special feeling that you get when walk through an ancient forest. You feel surrounded by something more ancient and mysterious than the oldest tree in the forest. There is something much deeper going on there—a hidden power simmering just beneath the surface. And in some weird way, you can’t help but feel that the forest is very much aware of your presence.

I remember my first time on Cortes Island, producing a series of videos for the Vancouver Observer back in January 2012. I was taken into the woods by a knowledgeable group of Cortesians and Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) campaigners Ken Wu and TJ Watt. We were going to see the Basil Creek Watershed, a section of forestland owned by Island Timberlands.

Climate change bringing bacteria infections to Baltic

Amy Huva
Jan 25th, 2013

Imagine that it’s a hot summer’s day in Northern Europe. The heat wave has lasted for more than three weeks now and you’re just dying to get into the ocean for a swim to cool off, except that you can’t, because there’s been a bacteria outbreak in the water and going swimming will make you sick.

It doesn’t sound like fun does it? But it’s happening increasingly in the Baltic Sea, and it looks like climate change is providing the exact conditions these bacteria love.

Vibrio is a type of bacteria that grows really well in warm (>15oC) low-salinity (<25 parts per trillion salt) water. The most common type in estuaries and other shallow water is Vibrio vulnificus, which is related to the same bacteria that causes cholera (Vibrio cholerae). Not a nice family, really.

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BC Provincial Government meets with industry to form "world-leading" oil spill plan

Staff Reporter
Jan 22nd, 2013

The future of British Columbia's environment is on the table, with the British Columbia Provincial government and thirteen key stakeholder organizations, including representatives from the BC Oil and Gas Commission, Transport Canada, Railway Association of Canada) looking at it. The government said in a press release this morning that they brought stakeholders together to build  a BC-made, "world-leading" spill response plan. Not everyone's convinced.

Federal policy, access to capital major barriers to Canadian clean energy industry: Pembina Institute

Staff Reporter
Jan 22nd, 2013

Canada's got the power, but the "clock is ticking". The country's clean technology sector is a "major driver" of job growth and innovation, and could be worth $60 billion by 2020, according to a report by the Pembina Institute. But, while the development of Canada’s fossil fuel commodities (from oilsands to shale gas and coal) sets to accelerate, Canada is currently capturing just one per cent of the booming clean energy market.

Competing in Clean Energy: Capitalizing on Canadian innovation in a $3 trillion economy details the opportunities and challenges that face Canada in the global transition to clean energy — a market set to grow to $3 trillion by 2020.

"Runaway catastrophic climate change" and the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal

Carrie Saxifrage
Jan 18th, 2013

My name is Carrie Saxifrage. I am a reporter for the Vancouver Observer which has extensively covered the pipeline proposal on its news website and recently produced the book Extract, Volume 1, Enbridge. The facts I rely on come mostly from this reporting, but I am testifying in my individual capacity.

My objection to the Northern Gateway pipeline is that it externalizes the risks and costs of the project. Enbridge and the corporations it contracts with would receive huge profit from the project. The BC public and future generations would pay the unbearable costs of the project.

Democracy and the free market tell us that we should not be forced to pay the costs of private corporations. Fairness dictates that those who profit pay the costs. Those costs should be included in it the price of the product.

In the technical hearings under questioning by the Province of BC, Enbridgestated that it would not consider a commitment to guarantee 100% of cost of an oil spill clean up. It will insure $280 million for a 20,000 barrel spill. That’s the size of the spill in Kalamazoo which has already cost close to three times that amount.

Hot Enough Yet? Warming in Western North America

Amy Huva
Jan 17th, 2013

As we all know, climate change is a global problem with regionally specific impacts. How the climate changes will depend on what your local climate was originally like. So how much has the western end of North America changed from 1950 to 2005? That’s what these researchers in Alberta set out to discover.

They noted that while climate change will definitely increase the intensity of the hydrological cycle, the future trends of rain (where it will be, how much there will be) are much more difficult to predict. However, the overall trend was for rain increasing in the Pacific Northwest (sorry Vancouverites!) more than other areas.

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Idle No More protest in UK to target Canadian tar sands

Jenny Uechi
Jan 16th, 2013

Photo of activists in Oxford from the UK Tar Sands Network

The Idle No More movement is going international: today, it staged a blockade of the busiest border crossing in North America. Tomorrow, it will pair up with activists and a prominent business to protest and presenting a petition to the Canadian High Commission in London, across the pond. 

Below, a press release from the UK Tar Sands Network:

Tomorrow,  Clayton Thomas-Muller - a prominent figure in the indigenous-led ‘Idle No More’ movement currently sweeping Canada - will present a petition to the Canadian government at its High Commission in London. Clayton, from the Mathais Colomb Cree First Nation in Manitoba, will be joined by British and Canadian supporters in a protest organised by the UK Tar Sands Network and Lush Cosmetics.

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