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COP 20 Presses for Climate Agreement 5 December 14

This December, 195 nations plus the European Union are meeting in Lima for two weeks for the crucial UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, known as COP 20. They aim to draft language for the next international climate agreement.

International political response to climate change began with the adoption of the United nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, which sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has 195 parties.

The importance of this Lima, Peru event lies not only in the progress of international agreements, but also in the public's interest and power to give a voice to key stakeholders including scientists and communities that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Behind each negotiation protocol signed once a year, there is an ongoing effort on the part of researchers, NGOs, the private sector, local governments and communities to integrate climate adaptation and mitigation in the fabric of people's everyday lives.

Technology transfer, balancing the need for international actions and locally appropriate interventions, and designing effective adaptation programmes are among the practical issues key to negotiating and enforcing international treaties.

Success in Lima will depend in part on Peru's Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal. As official president of COP 20, Pulgar-Vidal's determination and energy will be crucial, most observers believe.

Climate change is a major issue in Peru, since Lima and many other parts of the country are dependent on freshwater from the Andes glaciers. Studies show they have lost 30 to 50 per cent of their ice in 30 years and many will soon be gone.

View December 3, 2014 Huffington Post article
View December 1, 2014 Prevention Web article
View December 1, 2014 CBC News article
View November 28, 2014 Greenpeace article
View November 26, 2014 article
Visit UNFCCC Lima Climate Change Conference website
Visit Lima Climate Change Conference website
View Manitoba Wildlands Climate Change Meetings page

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Quebec And Ontario Energy East Standards 24 November 14

Ontario and Quebec are forging a common strategy on TransCanada’s $12-billion Energy East pipeline project to address its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, environmental assessments and to ensure their natural gas customers will not be disadvantaged. The two provincial leaders are allies in pushing the climate agenda to the forefront in provincial/territorial talks, arguing there needs to be a national energy strategy that focuses on both pipelines and emissions.

Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel laid out a series of conditions TransCanada must meet before the provincial government accepts the Quebec portion of the company’s massive Energy East pipeline project.

  • A full environmental assessment that looks at impacts of the project on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A thorough emergency plan which includes a compensation fund in case of a spill.
  • The company must consult nearby communities on potential social impacts of the project.
  • The pipeline project must respect the highest technical standards to assure public safety and protection of the environment
  • The project must satisfy issues dealing with First Nations and must involve them wherever needed
  • The project must generate economic benefits for all of Quebec, especially in job creation in areas where the pipeline will be located.
  • Make sure there is no impact to Quebec’s natural gas supply.

Ontario is expected soon to present its own list of criteria for approving the pipeline, says Keith Stewart, an Ontario climate campaigner with Greenpeace. “Ontario and Quebec in particular have been saying that any kind of a national energy strategy has to include climate change and that is something the federal government just doesn't want to hear,” he said.

View November 24, 2014 The Council of Canadians article
View November 23, 2014 Mondaq article
View November 21, 2014 Financial Post article
View November 21, 2014 CBC News article
View November 21, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View November 21, 2014 The Council of Canadians media release
View November 21, 2014 Greenpeace article
View November 21, 2014 Ontario Government news release
View November 21, 2014 Huffington Post article
View November 21, 2014 Montreal Gazette article
View November 20, 2014 The Globe and Mail article

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IEA: Fossil Fuel $550 Billion Subsidy Hampers Renewables 24 November 14

“The huge subsidies fossil fuels enjoy worldwide gives incentives to their consumption, which means that I’m paying you to pollute the world and use energy inefficiently,” Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The new IEA report; World Energy Outlook 2014, puts Fossil-fuel subsidies at $550 billion in 2013 – more than four-times those to renewable energy – and are holding back investment in efficiency and renewables. In the Middle East, nearly 2 million barrels a day of crude oil and oil products are used to generate electricity when, in the absence of subsidies, the main renewable energy technologies would be competitive with oil-fired power plants.

More than half of the world’s fossil-fuel subsidies go to oil, and many of the subsidies are concentrated in oil- and gas-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The subsidies that go to fossil fuels dwarf the subsidies for renewable energies, which the IEA put at $120 billion in 2013. The U.S. had about $27 billion in renewable subsidies in 2013, mostly going to solar PV, wind and biofuels.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), an autonomous agency, was established in November 1974. Its primary mandate was – and is – two-fold: to promote energy security amongst its member countries and provide authoritative research and analysis on ways to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond.

View November 17, 2014 Energy Matters blog post
View November 12, 2014 Bloomberg article
View November 12, 2014 Fusion article
View October 4, 2011 IEA presentation
View IEA Energy Subsidies page
View World Energy Outlook 2014

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New Tsilhqot'in Tribal Park 24 November 14

A remarkable event took place recently that might have historic importance in the future of Canada. The Tsilhqot'in National Government announced the creation of the Dasiqox Tribal Park, covering an area larger than half of Prince Edward Island. It follows a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in June recognizing Tsilhqot'in aboriginal title to their traditional territories.

A background technical report by biologist Wayne McCrory and traditional knowledge keepers Alice William and Linda Smith identified the largely-intact area as having such high ecological, cultural and heritage values that it warranted international recognition under the IUCN Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas and also ultimate protection by legislation in the same manner as our national and provincial parks, along the lines of the Stein Tribal Class “A” provincial park.

The Tsilhqot’in communities, Yunesit’in and Xeni Gwet’in, chose to organize the creation of Dasiqox Tribal Park as a means to design an alternative plan, based on years of political and legal struggles, years of research on the importance of our unique ecosystem, and the constant threat of industrial logging and mining activities. These struggles were highlighted by the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision on June 26, 2014 that unanimously awarded Title to the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

View November 3, 2014 The Tyee article
View October 13, 2014 The Castlegar Source article
View September 16, 2014 The Council of Canadians article
View September 11, 2014 The Vancouver Sun article
View September 11, 2014 CBC News article
Visit The Tsilhqot'in National Government website
Visit Dasiqox Tribal Park website

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Pipelines Blatantly Unsafe 24 November 14

The Energy Safety and Security Act, Bill C-22, if passed into Canadian law, would make $1 billion the limit of liability, "without proof of fault or negligence," to which certain offshore energy producers would be "subject in the event of a spill or damages caused by debris."

The Canadian government is reducing the responsibility of energy companies in Canada. The liability cap was raised for all energy industry sectors – oil and nuclear capped at $1 Billion. But is capped. This means that without due recourse in the event of a spill or a nuclear meltdown – the energy industry now knows that any liability for any clean up after an accident will end at the $1 Billion mark.

Where an oil spill or leak, or nuclear disaster is a multi years clean up process it means that provinces and municipalities will end up on the hook for clean up costs. Taxpayers will end up footing the bill and not the companies and the executives who are making the decisions and putting human life and whole ecosystems at risk. Bill C-22 is a further protection of the oil, gas and nuclear industries by the Harper government.

The number of pipeline spills occurring every month and week in Canada, the current level of problems facing the Northern Gateway pipeline and the lack of compliance with preventative measures by the oil and gas industries, we are left wondering who is writing these bills.

View Bill C22 - Energy Safety and Security Act
View November 18, 2014 The Wall Street Journal article
View November 17, 2014 They Tyee article
View June 3, 2014 Canadian Environmental Law Association comments
View May 25, 2014 Huffington Post article
View April 3, 2014 HazMat article

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Nuclear As Pollution Answer – Thorium Safer and Cleaner 24 November 14

Nuclear power is needed to help reduce global fossil-fuel emissions that are set to reach limits advocated by scientists by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.

The world will use up its budget to keep global warming below a level that averts the most severe climate change by 2040 as emissions from oil, natural gas and coal will rise about 20 percent, the Paris-based agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook report published today. Nuclear power has helped cut the equivalent of two years of emissions at current levels since 1971, it said.

One of the three elements widely considered useful in the generation of nuclear energy, thorium is three to four times more plentiful than uranium and is widely distributed in nature. To use it in a nuclear reactor, thorium must absorb neutrons, a process that eventually converts it to an artificial isotope of uranium, uranium-233. In a Liquid-Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR, pronounced “lifter”), the reactor vessel contains two types of liquid-fluoride salts. One, the fuel salt, holds the fissile fuel (U-233) that sustains the nuclear reaction. The other, a blanket salt, has enough thorium to absorb about half of the neutrons from fission and produce more U-233.

Thorium power generation benefits could be even greater if it is used in molten salt reactors (LFTRs), which can act as eco-cleaners to burn up old toxic waste. Radioactive fission products can also be re-added to the reactor for successive rounds of power generation, making energy generation cheaper. In the event of power-loss, a plug in the base of the reactor melts and the salts flow into a containment vessel to cool down, stopping the reaction and any radiation release.

View November 12, 2014 Bloomberg article
View August 21, 2013 The Telegraph article
View December 11, 2012 Singularity Hub article
View Winter 2012 Nuclear Energy Institute article
Visit World Energy Outlook 2014 website
Visit Enegy from Thorium website

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Canadian Environmental Bill Of Rights 14 November 14

Since the 1960s, when North Americans began to express concern about protection of the environment, one proposal for achieving this has been the formulation of a "right" to environmental quality. In Canada, environmentalists have been pressing for an environmental bill of rights since the early 1970s.

They reason that as fundamental as the right to food, shelter or freedom from discrimination is the right of all members of society to live in a safe physical environment in which the continued diversity of non-human life is also ensured. The most recent opinion polls in this country confirm the increasing commitment of Canadians to the well-being of their natural environment.

An environmental bill of rights would be a law seeking to remove obstacles that prevent individuals and public interest groups from participating in the environmental decision-making process and litigating issues of environmental degradation. It would also enshrine the right to a healthy environment.

Environmental rights legislation has been enacted in a number of North American jurisdictions, most recently the Northwest Territories. The Environmental Rights Act passed by the Territorial Assembly on 6 November 1990 gives individuals the right to clean air, water and soil, and the power to sue polluters if the government fails to act.

More than 130 countries across the world already recognize the right to a healthy environment in their constitutions.

The NDP have tabled a bill in the House of Commons while the Suzuki Foundation and Ecojustice campaign for this right.

View October 30, 2014 Eco Justice article
View July 24, 2014 David Suzuki Foundation article
View May 10, 2013 The Tyee article
View Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR)
View Backgrounder: Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights
View An Environmental Bill Of Rights For Canada

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Manitoba Resumes Polar Bear Park Review 14 November 14

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship (MCWS) has started another round of ‘consultations’ about establishing the proposed Polar Bear Park around the west and south sides of Hudson’s Bay. Their letter to stakeholders indicates the “park would protect a highly ecologically significant landscape as well as enhance the areas reputation as an international tourism destination.”

To date there is no specific information as to which lands in the three million hectare designation would be protected from development. Manitoba Hydro dams, a railway system, town sites, roads and various corridors already exist within the planning boundaries.

The October 28 letter refers to ‘legal protection for specific areas.’ Manitoba CWS’s own ecological methods verify that isolated protected areas are not sustainable and can actually put species and ecosystems at risk if ecological standards regarding representation and size are not upheld.

Currently Manitoba is far behind in its commitments to represent each natural region with sustainable and permanent protected areas, which can be designated under different laws or Acts. All protected areas include protection of the land under one Act, and removal of crown mineral rights under the Mines Act. Manitoba Parks still have resource management, recreation management and access zones, which are not protected lands. Recently Chitek Lake Park was made permanent, after being protected for 15 years. This kind of step does not actually increase the protected lands in Manitoba.

View Proposed Polar Bear Park
View Hudson Bay Lowlands Proposed Protected Areas
View Manitoba Geological Survey Map – Land Uses
View Manitoba Government Wildlife Management Areas – Northeast Region
View Manitoba's Green Plan Version 2
View Protecting Manitoba’s Outstanding Landscapes
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Protected Areas/Parks Reviews page

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New IPCC Report - Clear and Present Danger 14 November 14

Three comprehensive studies have been issued by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) over the past year. The Synthesis Report, released, November 2nd, at a meeting in Copenhagen, caps work on the fifth assessment of climate science and mitigation from the IPCC has completed since 1990.

The reports demonstrate that “we have the means to limit climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, in a statement. “The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change.”

The results offer up a stark choice. Unless we quickly curtail our fossil fuel dependence, we face "further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems."

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” the report concludes.

View Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability
View November 13, 2014 David Suzuki Foundation article
View November 11, 2014 Huffington Post article
View November 10, 2014 USA Today article
View November 8, 2014 The Telegraph article
View November 2, 2014 Grist article
View November 2, 2014 Climate Code Red article
View November 2, 2014 The Guardian article
View November 2, 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science article
View more on Manitoba Wildlands IPCC page

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Republicans Push Obama To Veto Keystone XL Pipeline 14 November 14

"Let's get one thing straight: this vote is nothing more than an empty act of political theater, because Keystone XL is President Obama's decision. We're confident that when everything's said and done, the President will recognize that a new pipeline spewing emissions and polluting our land is the last thing Americans need — and we'll keep pushing for rejection." said May Boeve, Executive Director of

"Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on US gas prices," Obama said recently, according to ABC News. "If my Republican friends really want to focus on what's good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what are we doing to produce even more home grown energy? I'm happy to have that conversation."

With Congress voting to approve the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, will the tarsands bitumen pipeline make as much a difference as lobbyists expect. Since June, crude oil selling prices have declined by 28 percent, pushing the price that oil from new wells in Canada may command below what the expected cost will be to produce it.

Tarsands bitumen extracted from Alberta, which the proposed pipeline would carry to Nebraska, en route to refineries on the Gulf Coast, will cost between $85 and $110 to produce. This depends on which drilling technology is used, according to a report in July 2014 by the Canadian Energy Research Institute, a nonprofit whose work is often cited by Keystone proponents. West Texas Intermediate crude oil currently trades at $76.67.

View Oil Change International A Vote for KXL = Climate Denial page
View November 14, 2014 press release
View November 14, 2014 USA Today article
View November 13, 2014 CNBC article
View November 12, 2014 Huffington Post article
View October 9, 2014 Huffington Post article
View November 2014 Sierra Club photo

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The Blue Dot Movement 31 October 14

A healthy environment should be a constitutional right for Canadians. There are over 100 countries around the world that have this enshrined in their constitution. With the Blue Dot Tour, David Suzuki wants to wake Canada up to how important it is for Canada to join other countries who have enshrined the right to a healthy environment as a constitutional right.

The ultimate goal of Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour is for Canadians to support the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms including the right to live in a healthy environment. According to Suzuki, Canada is falling behind the rest of the developed world as, unlike most other wealthy industrialized nations, it does not yet include the right to a healthy environment in its charter.

“To me, the concept of sustainability is the long-term commitment of society to ensure that no generation suffers a decrease in opportunity or fulfillment of basic needs. There can be no need greater for any of us than a healthy environment,” Suzuki said.

“Recognition in the charter is the final step in protecting the right to clean air, fresh water, and healthy food for all Canadians. This ensures that we all benefit from a healthy environment, world-class standards, and a say in the decisions that affect out health,”
- Blue Dot Tour website

View David Suzuki biography
View October 29, 2014 article
View October 28, 2014 The Manitoba article
View October 14, 2014 Ottawa Citizen article
View October 13, 2014 The Concordian article
View September 30, 2014 CBC News article
View July 24, 2014 Huffington Post article

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Ottawa Regulation: Kill Wild Fish Save Farms 31 October 14

Proposed regulations for the aquaculture industry do not deliver on the responsibilities of Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) to protect wild fish, fish habitat and Canadian fishery waters from the negative impacts of aquaculture, according to Friends of the Earth Canada (FOE Canada), the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and independent biologist, Alexandra Morton.

The proposed regulation would have re-assigned a DFO regulatory priority, the conservation and protection of the wild fishery to another agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, by allowing the President to decide to authorize deposit of deleterious substances outside aquaculture facilities. This will kill wild fish.

The open-pen net aquaculture salmon industry profits from use of a common resource, the ocean, without having to compensate for impacts, including disease and parasite outbreaks, pollution of ocean floor, displacement and killing of other creatures and loss of livelihoods dependent on healthy wild populations environment.

Farmed salmon are also fed wild fish, ground up and compressed into food pellets. However, these pellets are soaked with fish oil causing farmed salmon to be much fatter than wild salmon. You can recognize farmed salmon by the solid white bars of fat that streak through the flesh of farmed salmon. Many toxins bind to fat, so the more fat in a product the greater the potential for bioaccumulated toxins.

View October 22, 2014 Conservation Council of New Brunswick article
View October 22, 2014 Friends of the Earth article
View October 21, 2014 Joint Submission by Friends of the Earth and the Conservation Council of New Brunswick
View Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River - Final Report
View Report: Fish and seafood consumption in Norway – Benefits and risks
Visit Alexandra Morton website

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Manitoba Wildlands2002-2014