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7 October 2014



News

Environment Commissioner Audits Canada - Issues Failing Grade 7 October 14

In her first report as Environment Commissioner of Canada, through the Auditor General of Canada offices, Julie Gelfand brings focus to the failure of Canada with respect to climate change initiatives, green house gas regulation, and all targets set for reduction of emissions.

"Environment Canada lacks...an effective planning process for how the federal government will contribute to achieving the Copenhagen target."

"Two years later (after the 2012 audit), the evidence is stronger that the growth in emissions will not be reversed in time and that the target will be missed."

"Given its commitment to be a world-class regulator, Environment Canada should publish its plans for future regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as the oil and gas regulations, with sufficient detail and lead time, so that consultations with interested and affected parties can be transparent and broadly based, and the parties can plan effectively."

Sierra Club executive director John Bennett commented on the report: "Canada is treading water on climate change, Tar Sands pollution and arctic shipping. We need legislation, regulation and enforcement."

Clean Energy Canada posted a blog upon release of the report and indicated: "The overall conclusion of the report can only be seen as a failing grade. Auditors know what it means to make a plan and put systems in place to meet it. The federal government still isn’t taking those basic steps when it comes to tackling climate disruption."

View October 7, 2014 CBC News article
View October 7, 2014 thestar.com article
View October 7, 2014 CBC News article
View October 7, 2014 Clearn Energy Canada article
View 2014 Fall Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Canada Initiatives page

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David Suzuki Blue Dot Tour On The Road! 7 October 14

The Blue Dot Tour is the celebration of a simple yet powerful idea: that all Canadians should have the right to drink clean water, breathe fresh air and eat healthy food.

Canada's most famous environmentalist is travelling across Canada as part of a national campaign to enshrine environmental rights into the Constitution. David Suzuki says he believes most Canadians support the idea and the tour is designed to ignite grassroots support. Suzuki, now 78-years-old, says this is his last national tour.

The Blue Dot Tour includes 20 stops from St. John's to Vancouver. David Suzuki is joined by guests like Margaret Atwood, Neil Young and wildlife artist Robert Bateman. Suzuki said he's seen a lot of social progress over the years.

"In 1969, it was illegal to be gay in Canada," Suzuki said speaking to a crowd in New Brunswick on September 30, 2014, "Now's the time to enshrine basic rights to clean air, soil and water, into Canada's constitution."

The Blue Dot Tour started in St. John's, New Brunswick, September 24. The tour stops in Winnipeg, Manitoba on October, 24th and wraps up in Vancouver on November 9th.

View October 6, 2014 NOW Magazine article
View October 1, 2014 Huffington Post article
View September 30, 2014 CBC News article
View September 29, 2014 The Guardian article
Watch September 24, 2014 David Suzuki Foundation video video
View September 22, 2014 CTV News article
View September 16, 2014 The Province article
View The Blue Dot Plan

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Solar Next Big Thing 7 October 14

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released two reports saying solar could be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) president and CEO Rhone Resch, indicated solar is already the fastest growing renewable energy source in the U.S. and accounted for more than 50 percent of new generation capacity in the first half of 2014.

"As these reports show, the future of solar is strong," Resch said. "Today, the solar industry employs 143,000 Americans and pumps nearly $15 billion a year into the nation’s economy."

Since early 2010, the average price for solar panels has dropped 64% in the United States, one of the largest solar energy markets, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association in Washington, D.C. Over 150 megawatts of solar panels had been installed by early 2014.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels constitute the fastest-growing renewable energy technology in the world since 2000, although solar is still less than 1% of energy capacity worldwide.

View October 3, 2014 Computer World article
View September 29, 2014 Solar Energy Industries Association article
View September 29, 2014 International Energy Agency article
View September 29, 2014 Forbes article
View September 29, 2014 The Guardian article
Visit Solar Energy Industries Association website
Visit America Supports Solar website

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Loss of Wildlife Catastrophic 7 October 14

The 2014 Living Planet Report gives an index that tracks the numbers of animals in selected populations of vertebrates—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish—across the globe.

This "Living Planet Index" declined by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010, "a much bigger decrease than has been reported previously," according to the report. The 52 percent figure refers to a general trend of vertebrate species populations shrinking, on average, to about half the size that they were 40 years ago, according to WWF spokesperson Molly Edmonds. The report attributes the declines primarily to habitat loss and degradation, hunting and fishing, and climate change.

The previous WWF report analyzing animal populations, published in 2012, suggested a decline of 28% over a similar period. The latest report uses 15% more data than the previous one, is more representative of tropical species and applies an improved methodology.

"We were surprised by the extent of the decline. It means we are not effectively reducing biodiversity loss," said Robin Freeman, a researcher at the Zoological Society of London, which compiled the population database on which the study was based.

View October 1, 2014 RT article
View September 30, 2014 World Wildlife Fund article
View September 30, 2014 The Wall Street Journal article
View September 30, 2014 National Geographic article
View September 29, 2014 The Guardian article

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Hydro to Build Conawapa Dam - CEO Says So 26 September 14

Manitoba's Public Utility Board(PUB) held hearings over four months in 2014 to review Manitoba Hydro's development plan. The PUB grudgingly agreed to the Keeyask dam being built, largely based on the significant amount already spent on the project. The Clean Environment Commission report regarding its Keeyask hearings came out after the PUB was finished its review, and Keeyask received its environmental licence during summer 2014.

The Manitoba government, according to CEO Thompson, accepted 14 of the extensive recommendations in the PUB report. including the recommendation to not build Conawapa.

During the annual Crown Corporation Committee meetings of the Manitoba Legislature Wednesday September 24, Hydro CEO Scott Thompson referred repeatedly to the future Conawapa project during his answers to questions from Opposition MLAs.

"The construction power station at Keewatinoow, the northern converter station, was put in service in July, and as I'd mentioned, site preparation is well under way"

The northern converter station, inside the Bipole III licence is for Conawapa, not for the Keeyask project, which will utilize an upgraded existing converter station. Continuing to build the northern converter station is essentially building for the Conawap generation station. This is occurring regardless of the PUB review and recommendation to government.

The additional $ 1 Billion cost for Bipole III, for a total of $ 4.6 Billion, which Manitoba Hydro announced recently, would be significantly less if the Conawapa converter station was not built.

View more information on Manitoba Wildlands Manitoba Hydro Projectspage
View September 24, 2014 The Standing Committee on Crown Corporations transcript
View Jon Gerrard's Blog
View Manitoba Government Public Utilities Board NFAT documents
View Manitoba Government Public Utilities NFAT Report

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People's Climate Action: Canadian Scientists Act 26 September 14

A group of prominent Canadian academics has signed a letter that says the nation is "running a sustainability deficit" when it comes to climate change. "Unlike budgetary deficits, it does not seem to preoccupy our politicians," said the letter, penned by at least 53 frustrated scientists and academics in advance of the People's Climate March held in New York City and many other centres around the world on Sunday.

"On Sept. 21, more than 1,000 events around the world were planned to demand stronger action on climate change, echoing New York's People's Climate March. As Canadian researchers who study climate change and sustainability, we strongly support this global mobilization.

Canada is running a sustainability deficit. Unlike budgetary deficits, this does not seem to preoccupy our politicians. Canada has repeatedly missed its own climate change emission reduction targets. Last January, Environment Canada acknowledged that Canada won't meet its least ambitious target to date, proposed in 2009 as part of international climate negotiations coined the Copenhagen Accord."

View September 23, 2014 United Nations Environment Programme article
View September 20, 2014 DeSmog Canada article
View September 16, 2014 The Gazette article
View May 8, 2013 Daily Kos article
View May 8, 2013 CBC News article

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Burnaby Defiant In Face of Kinder Morgan Pipeline 26 September 14

In a huge win for the City of Burnaby's legal battle to stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the National Energy Board (NEB) struck down the company's application to forbid Burnaby city staff from blocking the pipeline company's test drilling on Burnaby Mountain.

The NEB's federal decision made public September 25th means Kinder Morgan will not proceed with its pipeline test drilling work in a protected forest area of Burnaby Mountain, until the company returns with a much larger legal offensive, with thorny constitutional implications. This legal battle could have a huge ripple effect for pipeline projects across Canada. Deciding if local city governments, and not just the federal Harper government, can have a say in oil pipeline approvals.

Protesters flocked to Burnaby Mountain on Saturday, September 13 to oppose Kinder Morgan’s survey, which was investigating how to triple their pipeline operation in Burnaby. Kinder Morgan was conducting the survey despite the city’s opposition to the project.

View September 25, 2014 Vancouver Observer article
View September 25, 2014 National Energy Board Ruling
View September 19, 2014 CBC News article
View September 17, 2014 CTV News article
View September 4, 2014 Vancouver Observer article
Visit Burnaby Pipeline Watch website

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UN Climate Summit 2014 26 September 14

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the Climate Summit to engage leaders and advance climate action and ambition. The Summit will serve as a public platform for leaders at the highest level – UN Member States, as well as finance, business, civil society and local leaders from public and private sectors. The Summit’s aim is to catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015. The new climate agreement must limit the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.

The UN Climate Summit was be about action and solutions focused on accelerating progress in areas that can significantly contribute to reducing emissions and strengthening resilience – such as agriculture, cities, energy, financing, forests, pollutants, resilience and transportation.

The Summit is not part of the UNFCCC negotiating process. By promoting climate action, it aimed to show that leaders across sectors and at all levels are taking action, thus expanding the reach of what is possible today, in 2015, and beyond.

Visit UN Climate Summit 2014 website
View September 23, 2014 CBC News article
View September 23, 2014 United Nations article, Mayors at UN climate summit announce pledges towards major carbon cuts in cities
View September 23, 2014 United Nations article, Leaders at UN summit take steps to ensure food security for 9 billion people by 2050
View September 23, 2014 United Nations article, Investors commit to decarbonize $100 billion in investments
View September 21, 2014 People's Climate March press release

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Bipole III Now $1 Billion More Expensive 19 September 14

Manitoba Hydro says its new estimate for the BiPole Three project is $4.6 billion, up from $3.3 billion in 2011 and its original figure of $2.2 billion in 2007. Public hearings were held in 2012 and 2013, with environmental licence issued in 2013. Appeals of that licence, including to Cabinet, ended recently, with all appeals rejected.

The Crown corporation says converter station technology is the main reason for the price jump -- businesses that submitted bids are not planning to use new types of converters that are normally used for shorter routes. Hydro CEO Scott Thompson says the extra cost will be paid over many years and will only mean an extra $4 a year for the average residential customer.

The Conawapa converter station is in the Bipole III licence. Based on Public Utility Board recommendations, it is no longer needed. The Riel converter station, being built on the east side of Winnipeg, is also in the Bipole III licence.

“Manitoba Hydro always tells us about higher capital costs after the environmental licence is in place. The same thing happened with Wuskwatim generation and transmission capital costs,” said Gaile Whelan Enns, Manitoba Wildlands director.

View September 18, 2014 CTV News article
View September 18, 2014 CBC News article
View September 18, 2014 Winnipeg Sun article

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Beekeepers Sue Chemical Companies Over Pesticides 19 September 14

Saturation point. Too many chemicals covering too much of the arable lands we used for growing food. This is what is going on and why bees are dying. Too many chemicals being used over too long a period have saturated the environment and the overuse of pesticides has created a convergence of chemical factors in bee habitat.

Canadian beekeepers are taking chemical companies Bayer and Syngenta to court alleging their pesticides – neonicotinids in particular – are responsible for the massive outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder in the last few years.

Think of it like the way alcohol works in the human body. Too much alcohol over too long a period of time and the human body begins to shutdown. This is essentially the same thing that is happening to the bees, except the pesticides in the environment have built up and are causing havoc with bee colonies.

The lawsuit alleges that Bayer Cropscience Inc. and Syngenta Canada Inc. and their parent companies were negligent in their design, manufacture, sale and distribution of neonicotinoid pesticides, specifically those containing imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiomethoxam.

A survey conducted by the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists found that of 100,000 Ontario honeybee colonies wintered in fall 2013, over 58,000 were dead or unproductive in spring 2014. Even taking a conservative estimate of 20,000 bees per hive, this means that over a billion bees died in Ontario this past winter.

Visit Ontario Beekeepers Association website
View Amended Statement of Claim
View September 11, 2014 Norfolk News article
View September 5, 2014 CBC News article
View September 3, 2014 CTV News article
View September 3, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View May 27, 2014 CBC News article

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North America Birds Now In Danger 19 September 14

Two recent studies explain in great detail that the bird population of North America is at dire risk of being substantially impacted by the creeping inevitability of climate change. Released Monday, September 8th by the National Audubon Society, the Birds and Climate Report uses seven years of research to examine the effects of climate change on 588 bird species. The second, "State of the Birds 2014," is a wider overview of America's avian health released Tuesday, September 9th by a 23-member coalition of federal agencies, universities and conservation groups.

Climate Change. We have heard a lot of talk about it. The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) defines climate change as any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which defines ‘climate change’ as: ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods’.

Volcanoes are a very good example of sudden and dramatic climate change catalysts. Humans have been recognized by the scientific community as perhaps the largest ever climate change catalyst the Earth has ever seen.

What does it all mean? Perhaps we should ask the birds that inhabit North America and that are dependent on insects for food. Insects require certain type of habitat to survive with regards to their own food needs. Habitats without an abundance of pesticide and chemical saturation. Birds need water. What happens when water sources change? When food sources are no longer in normal locations?

View September 10, 2014 Mother Nature Network article
View The Audubon Birds & Climate Change Report
View Nature Canada report: State Of The World's Birds
View World Meteorological Organization press release

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Lake Winnipeg Regulation - Hearings 2015 19 September 14

The Clean Environment Commission (CEC) has been tasked with holding public hearings about the regulation of Lake Winnipeg water levels, and the issuing of a permanent licence to Manitoba Hydro to regulation water levels in the lake.

Last week the CEC announced that CEC hearings are moved back into 2015. This commitment for hearings is from Premier Sellinger. He made the commitment in January 2011, and then confirmed it again in a press release in July 2011. Terms of reference for the hearings have been in place since 2012.

Except these will be hearings without cross examination, without funding for participants legal counsel, without funding for independent experts who are part of participant teams, and without review of what Manitoba Hydro is providing as technical information. Early in 2015 the CEC will visit affected communities. And then there will be short hearings in Winnipeg. Then the CEC reports to Cabinet in 120 days after end of the hearings.

One has to ask - why the exclusion of outside information? No cross examination? No funding of participants in a supposedly 'public' process? No review of the information Manitoba Hydro is providing? We are talking about the same public utility right? The one owned by the people of Manitoba? What this boils down to is Manitoba Hydro not wanting any criticism of its use of Lake Winnipeg as a reservoir - and Hydro wanting a permanent licence so it can carry on believing it's assumption that artificially controlling the levels of such a large body of water could not possibly affect the health of Lake Winnipeg or cause the flooding of communities around the lake.

View more information on Manitoba Wildlands Lake Winnipeg page
View Manitoba Wildlands Lake Regulation Brief
View September 9, 2014 Yahoo! Canada News article
View February 5, 2013 CTV News article
View Living Lakes Canada information page
View Manitoba Government Lake Winnipeg Action Plan
View State of Lake Winnipeg: 1999 to 2007 Highlights

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