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Newfoundland preps for more offshore oil as climate crisis deepens

September 18, 2019 Leave a comment

An advance leak from the forthcoming United Nations (U.N.) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Oceans and Cryosphere confirms that the climate crisis is deepening. According to the leak, the U.N. report concludes that changes to global oceans, glaciers, and melting permafrost will unleash disaster upon the world including drought, floods, hunger and destruction unless dramatic action is taken to reduce global carbon emissions immediately.

It is against this backdrop that the province of Newfoundland and Labrador has announced plans to drill 100 new offshore exploration wells and dramatically increase its oil production by 2030, thereby roughly tripling the oil and gas sector’s carbon emissions. The province is currently carrying out a Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment (RSEA) of its offshore exploration drilling plans, which included a climate change session.

As a participant in this process, I made the simple mathematical point during one of the sessions that the province cannot possibly meet its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target if it proceeds with its drilling plans in the offshore. What’s more, carbon emissions from the full production of currently operating oil and gas fields and coal mines across the world will already lead to a global temperature rise above the 2 degrees Celsius limit set in Paris in 2017 by the U.N., much less the aspirational 1.5C target.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s emissions target for 2030 is 6.9 million tonnes (megatonnes) of carbon dioxide. If the province triples oil production as it intends to do, this would mean that emissions from this sector alone in 2030 would account for an estimated 4.9 Mt of this target, or 71%, making it virtually impossible for the province to reach its emissions reduction goals.

Representatives of oil companies attending the RSEA session responded by saying that, while this analysis is true, Newfoundland and Labrador’s contribution to Canada’s and the planet’s carbon emissions is small and therefore inconsequential. Moreover, the world will need oil for the foreseeable future so if oil and gas is not produced in the province, it will simply be produced elsewhere. This response is commonly heard in defense of the oil and gas industry in Canada in an effort to stymie efforts to reign in emissions and question the long-term viability of the industry.

Here’s the thing. Either we are serious about our Paris commitments or we are not. We cannot pretend we will meet our global emissions reduction targets while continuing to expand fossil fuel production at the same time. This is what is commonly known as cognitive dissonance, the act of holding two contradictory ideas in one’s head at the same time and believing them both to be true.

It is simply not true that that the world will continue to use oil and gas long at increasing rates into the future *IF* we are serious about our carbon reduction commitments. Asserting the future inevitability of oil and gas is a bet against Canada and the world meeting its Paris targets. If on the other hand, we are serious about meeting the Paris targets, then the demise of oil and gas becomes a mathematical inevitability. We cannot both expand fossil fuel production AND reduce emissions at the same time.

While it is true that some energy projections assert that the world will continue to need fossil fuels for decades to come, this is not the case if the world is to stay within 2C of warming, let alone 1.5 degrees. The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook in 2012 stated that “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be burned, leaving up to 80% of assets technically unburnable.” In 2015, the Bank of England warned that policies designed to limit carbon emissions could mean some fossil fuels become “stranded assets”, with the Bank’s governor adding that “the vast majority of reserves are unburnable if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2 degrees C.” Even the oil giant Shell conceded in 2013 “in a world where the 2C limit is imposed and achieved, most of the future value generation of the companies involved will never be realized.”

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well of the rest of Canada, has come to a moment of reckoning. Why even bother setting targets in the first place if we are not serious about meeting them?

EG Radio Interview with Chris Turner

October 18, 2018 Leave a comment
Image result for chris turner
“If Canadians really want to see climate action, we need to hand politicians the political will. If we are willing to punish politicians who don’t put a price on carbon and invest in renewable energy, it might make it a lot easier for them. Right now there is no cost to dumping carbon pricing and very little political gain in supporting it.”

Chris Turner

 

It was great to have Chris Turner on the show this week. Chris is an expert on sustainability, climate change, cleantech and the global energy transition. He is one of Canada’s leading voices on climate change solutions, and is the author of several books including ‘The Patch: The People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oil Sands’, ‘The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy’ and ‘The Geography of Hope: A Tour of the World We Need’, (both of which were National Business Book Award finalists). His reporting on energy, climate and sustainability issues has appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Globe & Mail, The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, and many other publications.

In the interview, we discuss Chris’ recently published article in the Globe and Mail called ‘Clear and Present Danger: The Urgency of Good Climate Policy‘, as well as the politics of carbon pricing and pipelines in Canada.

 

Interview with journalist Paul McKay about pipeline economics in Canada

May 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Time and time again, we hear from politicians that we need more pipelines to get Alberta’s oil to new markets. But Paul Mckay, an award-winning journalist who has looked at this issue closely, says this is all a shell game, smoke and mirrors designed to distract us from what’s really going on. McKay says the economics of new oil sands pipelines simply don’t make sense in today’s world, particularly if we have any hope of reducing our carbon emissions. 

Paul McKay is an award-winning investigative reporter and author. His reports have been published by the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and Vancouver Sun. He recently wrote a series of articles for The Energy Mix about the faulty economic logic of Canadian oil sands exports called ‘Out of the Loop’. 

Interview with Dr. Renee Lertzman

May 2, 2018 Leave a comment

Part 1:

Part 2:

I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with Dr. Renee Lertzman this week. Her work has bridged psychological research and sustainability, and she translates complex psychological and social science research insights into clear tools for change. Renee is the author of Environmental Melancholia: Psychological dimensions of engagement and she says that understanding human behaviour at the deepest level is an absolute imperative if we are to address climate change.

Renee is an internationally recognized thought leader and adviser, and works with organizations and individuals from government, business, and non-governmental sectors. She has a PhD from the Cardiff School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University and is currently a full-time applied researcher and advisor.

Earthgauge News – Dec. 4, 2017

December 5, 2017 Leave a comment

Edition #7 of the Earthgauge News podcast for the week of Dec. 4, 2017.

A weekly Canadian environmental news podcast featuring stories from across Canada and around the world.

Join me here every week or subscribe in iTunes or your favourite podcast catcher.

On the show this week:

  • Global carbon emissions on the rise again
  • Oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge
  • Ice apocalypse in Antarctica
  • Fossil fuel divestment
  • Canada signs high Arctic commercial fishing ban
  • Canada and the U.S. failing to protect the Great Lakes

Earthgauge News – Nov. 12, 2017

November 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Edition #6 of the Earthgauge News podcast for the week of Nov. 12, 2017.

A weekly Canadian environmental news podcast featuring stories from across Canada and around the world.

Join me here every Monday or subscribe in iTunes or your favourite podcast catcher.

On the show this week:

  • The COP23 Climate Summit is underway in Bonn, Germany just as 2017 is likely to be the 3rd hottest year on record.
  • More than 15,000 scientists have issued a new, dire warning to humanity.
  • A new study says that the world can be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2050.
  • The City of Ottawa’s latest draft Budget is out and the news is not all good for climate action.
  • Recent state elections in the US could be good news for the climate, but it comes at a time when the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve could be opened for oil and gas drilling.

 

 

Earthgauge News – Nov. 5, 2017

November 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Edition #5 of the Earthgauge News podcast for the week of Nov. 5, 2017.

A weekly Canadian environmental news podcast featuring stories from across Canada and around the world.

Join me here every Monday or subscribe in iTunes or your favourite podcast catcher.

On the show this week:

  • Parts of the historic Rideau Canal in Ottawa has been declared a contaminated site
  • Woodland caribou in Canada continue to decline
  • Nova Scotia watersheds are bouncing  back from decades of acid rain damage
  • BC coastal killer whales will be given additional federal protections
  • Hundreds of sea turtles have been found dead off the coast of El Salvador.
  • 25,000 people marched in the streets of Bonn ahead of the COP23 climate talks
  • Eco-friendly furniture is becoming the way of the future
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