Archive | Climate Change, Carbon Taxes and ENGOs

OPINION: I’m skeptical about climate alarmism, but I take coronavirus fears seriously – by Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe – March 14, 2020)

A friend asked me the other day if I didn’t think the agitated media coverage of Covid-19, the coronavirus disease, was getting out of control. She knows that I have long been skeptical of the shrill alarmism that has become inseparable from public discussions of climate change. Isn’t this pretty much the same?

It isn’t, I said, and explained briefly why the two cases strike me as very different. But I’ve been reflecting on her question. Perhaps a longer explanation might be useful.

The first and most obvious difference between climate panic and the mounting anxiety over coronavirus is that there is a long history of viral epidemics, plagues, and pandemics. There is nothing speculative or theoretical about the murderous efficiency with which new diseases can burn through societies encountering them for the first time. Continue Reading →

OPINION: To lead on climate, Canada should invest in the next generation of nuclear reactors – by Robert Bryce (Globe and Mail – March 14, 2020)

Robert Bryce’s latest book is A Question of Power: Electricity and The Wealth of Nations, from which this essay is adapted.

Coal use in Canada continues to decline. In 2018, the amount of electricity produced from coal was about 59 terawatt-hours, or roughly half as much as the country’s utilities were producing in 2000.

Canada was able to slash its coal use thanks to its reliable nuclear plants, an increase in natural-gas-fired generation and growth in renewables. But if you think the rest of the world is going to quit using coal, think again. A total of nearly 200 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity is now under construction around the world in places such as China, India, Turkey, Vietnam, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Furthermore, and perhaps most surprisingly, Japan, the birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions, is also building new coal plants, up to 22 of them. Continue Reading →

Good news, say climate activists: We have a pandemic! – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – March 13, 2020)

There may be a few million dead along with massive disruption to the global economic system, but think of the benefits!

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” said U.S. economist Paul Romer way back in 2004, the point being that crises create opportunities for solving problems. While moving aggressively to control the spread of a deadly virus seems like a worthy objective of public policy, for some manipulators of public opinion the COVID-19 crisis has become too terrible to waste on merely controlling an infectious disease.

Even before the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration, the world’s climate activists had already decided to capitalize on the emerging global policy panic. What an opportunity! Air travel curtailed, world trade slowed, fossil fuel use in decline, growth falling, people staying home and not using their carbon emitting vehicles — a textbook demonstration of the benefits of carbon control policy.

Leading the high-level march of triumph was Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change and one of the architects of the 2015 Paris Agreement that Canada has committed to. Continue Reading →

Ex-boxer mayor seeks EU green funds to get Polish coal town off the ropes – by Agnieszka Barteczko (Reuters U.S. – March 3, 2020)

BYTOM, Poland (Reuters) – As a teenager, Mariusz Wolosz was a promising boxer in Bytom in southern Poland, where his club was funded by one of the city’s many coal mines.

When the mines began closing in the 1990s, however, so did the club, halting Wolosz’s boxing career and condemning his once-bustling hometown to decades of poverty and decline.

Today, as Bytom’s mayor, Wolosz is fighting again, this time for a share of a new European Union fund designed to shift coal-dependent regions towards a greener economy. Continue Reading →

Trudeau tells mining conference that battling climate change is good for investment – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – March 2, 2020)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a surprise appearance at an annual mining conference in downtown Toronto on Monday to pitch the idea that having a national policy framework to reduce the country’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 is good for the economy.

It marked his second consecutive appearance at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference.

This year, however, Trudeau appeared one week after Teck Resources Ltd. cancelled its application for a permit to build a $20.6 billion mine in Alberta’s oilsands, with its chief executive Don Lindsay citing a lack of clear policy in Canada about carbon taxes and other climate change legislation. Continue Reading →

‘Affordable, safe’ nuclear power is key to reaching Canada’s climate goals: federal minister – by Ryan Tumilty (National Post – February 28, 2020)

‘I have not seen a credible plan for net zero without nuclear as part of the mix,’ Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told a nuclear conference

OTTAWA – Canada must expand its nuclear power capacity if it is to reach its climate targets, the Minister of Natural Resources said Thursday. Speaking to the Canadian Nuclear Association’s annual conference, Seamus O’Regan said the industry has to grow.

“As the world tackles a changing climate, nuclear power is poised to provide the next wave of clean, affordable, safe and reliable power,” he told a packed room.

The Ottawa conference was the largest the industry has run with dozens of companies and more than 900 people in attendance. Provincial cabinet ministers from Saskatchewan and Ontario were also there. Those two provinces, along with New Brunswick, signed a memorandum in December to work together on small modular reactor technology. Continue Reading →

Kenney says Alberta will not cede ‘an inch’ of jurisdiction to Ottawa on climate change – by Gary Mason (Globe and Mail – February 26, 2020)

Jason Kenney says Alberta will not cede “an inch” of jurisdiction to the federal government in the fight against climate change, setting the stage for a pitched battle that could have generational consequences for the country.

It’s a clash that could claim the country’s climate strategy, creating uncharted challenges for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he struggles to balance the fight against global warming with the pocket-book realities of a resource-based economy.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, the Alberta Premier said an offer to regulate a cap on heavy emitters in the province is still on the table despite it being tied to federal approval of the Frontier oil sands project, which was shelved by Teck Resources this week. However, Mr. Kenney is linking any new cap-regulation deal to a long list of demands. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Coal-fired power is losing ‘unfair fight’ in India to renewables – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – February 20, 2020)

BAMBOLIN, Goa, India, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Coal-fired power in India is being increasingly priced out of the market by cheaper renewables such as solar, with the dirtier fuel abandoned by private capital, and only projects with government support being viable.

If there was one major theme at this week’s annual industry gathering, Coaltrans India, held in the resort state of Goa, it was that the domestic coal sector is under siege, and probably faces a future of limited growth and eventual disbandment.

Rather than politics, the reason is largely economic, with power purchase agreements (PPAs) for renewables now coming in at levels at which even existing coal-fired plants cannot compete. Continue Reading →

Japan, Germany’s anti-nuke, pro-coal power policies defy reason – by Gwynne Dyer (London Free Press – February 18, 2020)

Germany and Japan are finally winning a war together. Unfortunately, it is the War on Rationality. Coal, as everybody knows, is by far the most damaging source of energy we use, both in terms of the harm to humans and the impact on the climate.

It’s twice as bad as natural gas, and dozens of times worse than solar or nuclear or wind power. Yet both Germany and Japan have been building lots of new coal-fired power stations. Why?

Would it upset you if I said it’s because they are, despite their apparent sophistication, superstitious peasants at heart? Well, go ahead and get upset. Continue Reading →

Energy Emissions Stall as Rich Nations Kick Their Coal Habit – by Dan Murtaugh and Jeremy Hodges (Bloomberg News – February 11, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — Global emissions from energy held steady in 2019 for the first time in three years. But the restraint all came from the U.S. and Europe as developing countries boosted use of the most polluting fossil fuels.

The findings from the International Energy Agency show energy-related carbon dioxide emissions remained at a record 33.3 billion tons. While industrial countries cut pollution levels to the lowest since 1993, the developing world led by India and China offset those declines.

The result leave a glimmer of hope that policy makers can contain the greenhouse gases damaging the atmosphere. That would require China, which is the biggest polluter, and India, whose emissions are growing rapidly, to embrace the economy-wide limits that European countries are adopting. Scientists say increasing heat waves and more violent storms are likely without rapid cuts in greenhouse gases. Continue Reading →

Canada wants to phase out fossil fuels. First, it needs to learn from phasing out coal – by Heather Scoffield (Toronto Star – February 8, 2020)

Wendy Berry says people will drive a couple of hours from Red Deer, Alta., for the made-from-scratch pizza that she serves up at her restaurant in the hamlet of Tomahawk, but that’s not enough to keep her going these days.

She is worried sick about paying the mortgage and having enough left over to feed her family now that the shuttering of Canada’s coal industry put an end to the catering side of her business.

It was supposed to be a “just transition” — that buzzy phrase that was on the tips of everyone’s tongues at the global climate talks in Madrid this winter, and that made it into the federal Liberal election platform as a commitment to help fossil-fuel workers who are regulated out of a job as the government pushes us towards a low-carbon economy. Continue Reading →

Teck joins the push toward net-zero emissions, but it’s unclear how it will get there – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – February 6, 2020)

Pledge comes as it proposes an oilsands project that, if approved, would add an estimated four million tonnes of carbon per year to the atmosphere

Teck Resources Ltd. has joined a growing throng of companies that have formally pledged to cut their carbon emissions to net-zero as it awaits a federal decision on whether it can build a massive new project in the Alberta oilsands.

For Vancouver-based Teck, the promise made earlier this week to be carbon neutral — by reducing, eliminating and avoiding greenhouse gas emissions — came with a strong caveat: it’s giving itself until 2050, or 30 years, to reach net-zero carbon emissions. The date is so far out it simultaneously raises questions about the impact and makes the pledge look realistic.

“These announcements are quite positive because we know that’s where we need to go,” said Nikki Way, a senior analyst at the Pembina Institute, a Calgary-based clean energy think tank. “The remaining step is how do we get there?” Continue Reading →

Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants, Despite the Climate Risks – by Hiroki Tabuchi (New York Times – Feburary 3, 2020)

Just beyond the windows of Satsuki Kanno’s apartment overlooking Tokyo Bay, a behemoth from a bygone era will soon rise: a coal-burning power plant, part of a buildup of coal power that is unheard-of for an advanced economy.

It is one unintended consequence of the Fukushima nuclear disaster almost a decade ago, which forced Japan to all but close its nuclear power program. Japan now plans to build as many as 22 new coal-burning power plants — one of the dirtiest sources of electricity — at 17 different sites in the next five years, just at a time when the world needs to slash carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming.

“Why coal, why now?” said Ms. Kanno, a homemaker in Yokosuka, the site for two of the coal-burning units that will be built just several hundred feet from her home. “It’s the worst possible thing they could build.” Continue Reading →

Miners face funding squeeze as green investing surges – by Helen Reid and Tanisha Heiberg (Reuters Canada – February 3, 2020)

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – As global investors shift away from heavy industry in favor of cleaner sectors, mining companies are losing billions in financing, raising the cost of capital and jeopardizing projects.

Making the mining industry more sustainable by running mines on renewable energy, for example, will be a key focus at the annual Investing in African Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town this week, as companies hunt for new sources of capital including private equity, debt, offtake finance and royalty finance.

Environmental, social & governance (ESG) concerns have driven money into specialized ESG funds which often exclude mining stocks among other ‘dirty’ assets. “You talk to anyone at the moment, they say there’s no money,” said Boris Kamstra, executive director of Alphamin Resources, which manages the Bisie tin project in Democratic Republic of Congo. Continue Reading →

The PM has changed his look. But it’s a policy change that’s needed – by Rex Murphy (National Post – January 29, 2020)

The No. 1 priority now is not global warming. It is national cohesion. To repair the rift within Confederation, the Liberals must nullify what has been the central component of their public policy to date

The weight of external events, some pathetically trivial, some potentially or already quite grave — Harry and Meghan, the coronavirus, the impeachment tap dance, the Iranian crisis — has pushed many of our own Canadian concerns to the back page for a while.

The October election gave us a divided result and especially demonstrated that there is a huge fracture between the sentiments and politics of West and East. Alberta and Saskatchewan almost set up a blockade against the Liberals. The rest of the country — I’m being very general here — gave Justin Trudeau’s shaken leadership a tepid second chance.

He’s still there as PM, but not with the élan that greeted his first term by any means. I am determined not to offer observations of any kind on the new beard, but I will note that there has been a change in his presence and manner since the election. Continue Reading →