Canada Caught in a “Staples Trap” and a “Carbon Trap” by Current Pace of Oil Development

The authors of a new report released jointly by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Polaris Institute reject the polarizing framework of “economic interests vs. environmental interests”, or “East vs. West”, and call for a public debate of the social, economic and environmental complexities of Canada’s current “bitumen path”. They argue that Canada’s current “gold rush” approach is creating a double threat to the country: a “staples trap,” which is making our economy less diversified, productive and resilient, and a “carbon trap,” which will make the inevitable day of reckoning for climate adaptation much more expensive and difficult. The report discusses employment impacts, income distribution, international trade, currency effects, and “Dutch Disease” and the Canadian manufacturing sector. An alternate policy approach is recommended, which uses tighter regulation to slow the pace of bitumen extraction and to boost Canadian content in the upstream and downstream supply chains. At the same time, Canada’s economy needs to encourage more balanced, innovative and low-carbon industries.

 

LINK

The Bitumen Cliff: Lessons and Challenges of Bitumen Mega-Developments for Canada’s Economy in an Age of Climate Change by Tony Clarke, Jim Stanford, Diana Gibson, and Brendan Haleyis available at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2013/02/Bitumen%20Cliff.pdf

 

U.S. State Department Releases New Jobs Estimates for Keystone XL Pipeline

The U.S. State Department released the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL on Friday March 1, making no recommendations for or against approval of the pipeline project. A 45-day period has commenced to allow for public comments, with a final supplemental environmental impact statement to be released before a government decision, expected no earlier than Summer 2013.

Although mainly assessing environmental impacts, the report includes a socioeconomic section which provides new data: a wider view of impacts (including housing, public services support, fiscal revenues and private property valuations), and more detailed estimates about job creation and earnings impacts. According to the new estimates, 42,100 indirect jobs and 3,900 direct jobs would be created during the one- to two-year construction period, but the ongoing operation of the pipeline would only support 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, mostly for inspections, maintenance and repairs.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver summed up the Canadian government position on the Keystone XL pipeline when he traveled to Houston Texas on March 6 to address the Huston oil workers. He stated: “The oil sands generate jobs and economic prosperity both in Canada and in the United States. Currently, oil sands production supports 63,000 American jobs per year. With expansion through Keystone and other projects, the oil sands will support tens of thousands more on both sides of the border.”

LINKS

Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL is available in a series of PDF files at: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/draftseis/index.htm

Detailed Socioeconomic estimates, including employment and earnings, are published in Section 3.10 at: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/205641.pdf and Section 4.10 at: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/205612.pdf

All documents related to the project are posted on a dedicated State Department website at: http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/

Reactions to the statement from:
TransCanada Pipeline http://www.transcanada.com/6209.html;

National Resources Defence Council (U.S.) at: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/sclefkowitz/keystone_xl_tar_sands_pipeline_7.html;

 

Liquified Natural Gas: B.C. Announces Royalty Credits and Grants to First Nations to Stimulate the Industry

The Government of British Columbia released a strategy for LNG development in February 2012, and has now released a one year update. The government now predicts that “LNG development is expected to create on average 39,000 new full time jobs during a nine-year construction period. There could be as many as 75,000 new, annual full-time jobs once all LNG plants are in full operation.”

On February 25 at a conference called Fuelling the Future: Global opportunities for LNG in BC, Premier Christy Clark announced that British Columbia will provide up to $120 million in royalty credits to the industry in 2013, through the existing Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program (IRCP). The program, established in 2004, allows resource companies to recover up to 50 % of the cost of roads and pipelines through credits that reduce royalties payable to government.

At the same conference, the Premier announced that the government will provide $32 million to the First Nations Limited Partnership (comprised of 15 northern First Nations) to facilitate their non-equity investment in the proposed Pacific Trails Pipeline project , a 463-kilometre pipeline planned to run from Summit Lake, north of Prince George, to the proposed Kitimat LNG facility on the coast.

LINKS

British Columbia’s Liquified Natural Gas Strategy: One Year Update is at:http://engage.gov.bc.ca/lnginbc/files/2013/02/LNGreport_update2013_web.pdf, with job forecasts summarized in a news release at:http://engage.gov.bc.ca/lnginbc/files/2013/02/News-Release-Major-progress-job-creation-evident-in-LNG-update.pdf

Liquified Natural Gas: A Strategy for British Columbia’s Newest Industry, published in Feb. 2012, is at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/ener/popt/down/liquefied_natural_gas_strategy.pdf

See the new B.C. government website at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/lnginbc/ for all LNG developments.

Models Predict the Effect of Heat Stress on Workers

A scientific article by researchers at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses historical climate data from 1860 and modeling to 2200 to forecast “wet-bulb temperatures” – a heat stress indicator that takes humidity into account. They estimate that if carbon dioxide levels keep rising over the next two centuries, labour capacity during the hottest months will fall from a current level of approximately 90% to 80% by 2050, 63% by 2100 and 39% by 2200, in the worst case scenario. Although the worst effects would be felt in tropical and mid-latitudes, the authors predict that “heat stress in Washington D.C. becomes higher than present-day New Orleans, and New Orleans exceeds present-day Bahrain.”

LINKS 

“Reductions in Labour Capacity From Heat Stress Under Climate Warming”, by John P. Dunne, Ronald J. Stouffer & Jasmin G. John in Nature Climate Change online, February 23, 2013 (abstract free; full article for a fee) at:http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1827.html

A layman’s summary appears in Surprising Science, published by the Smithsonian Institute, at:http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/02/climate-change-is-reducing-our-ability-to-get-work-done/

Overviews of Green Jobs, Skills, and Social Dialogue in Europe and South Africa

Two new reports were released by SustainLabour in February. The first, Green Jobs and Related Policy Frameworks: an Overview of the European Union provides detailed employment data by sector, subsectors, and countries across Europe -estimating that there are about 7,360,000 jobs in the 27 EU countries in green sectors (renewable energies, energy efficiency, retrofitting, organic agriculture, waste management and green transportation.) The report discusses the quality of green jobs, skills development, and gender differences in green job creation. It describes the social dialogue between employer associations and trade unions with European and national examples, and discusses the current major policy instruments, including the Lisbon Strategy, Europe 2020, the European Economic Recovery Plan and national Economic strategies, and Roadmaps 2050 for a Resource Efficient Europe. An extensive bibliography is included.

A South African overview report analysing national policies was posted to the Sustainlabour website but has been removed, and replaced by briefer presentations from February meetings in Johannesburg.  The meetings and report are part of the “Social Dialogue for Green and Decent Jobs. South Africa-European Dialogue on Just Transition”, a collaboration of Sustainlabour with COSATU (South African Trade Union Congress) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and funded by the European Union.  In South Africa, with an unemployment rate of 25%, the green economy is seen as a major source of job creation; the New Growth Path policy statement of 2011 included a Green Economy Accord, signed by government, business and trade unions and other civil society organizations.

LINKS

Green Jobs and Related Policy Frameworks: an Overview of the European Union is available at: http://www.sustainlabour.org/documentos/Green%20and%20decent%20jobs-%20An%20Overview%20from%20Europe.pdf

Sustainlabour European Union-South Africa Dialogue on Green Jobs and Just Dialogue on Green Jobs and Just Transition Presentation from 20 February 2013 (comparative summary) is available at: http://www.sustainlabour.org/documentos/Ana%20Sanchez-%20EU-SA%20green%20jobs%20Nairobi.pdf

Federal Environmental Policy Review and Funding for Clean Tech

On February 15, Canada’s Environment Minister released the 2012 Progress Report on the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS), along with the 2013-16 draft Strategy, which forms the basis of public consultation, open until June 14, 2013. Also on Feb. 15th, the government announced $61.8 million of funding to support 23 clean technology projects across Canada, in areas such as agriculture, biofuels, transportation, mining and electric power generation, with funding provided through Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech Fund™. Individual projects are described in the Backgrounder.

LINKS 

2012 Progress Report on the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) is available at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/Publications/default.asp?lang=En&xml=CC4A6872-E0BE-4C90-A4AA-DD11320F10BF 

The 2013-16 Draft Federal Sustainable Development Strategy is available at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/dd-sd/default.asp?lang=En&n=C2844D2D-1 or the Consulting with Canadians website; comments accepted by June 14, 2013.

Backgrounder (with details of individual projects) at: http://www.sdtc.ca/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=317&cntnt01origid=15&cntnt01detailtemplate=news-details&cntnt01returnid=143&hl=en_CA

Fragmentation the Defining Trend in Canada’s Carbon Policy

The International Institute for Sustainable Development has published a policy brief which analyses Canada’s carbon policy developments in 2012 and identifies key trends to watch for in 2013. The authors note that “accommodating the historical patchwork of provincial policy is pushing the country down a path of further fragmentation, increasing the risk of high-cost compliance and decreasing the likelihood of meeting Canada’s aspirational GHG targets.” And further, “In 2012 the federal government set an important precedent …. The Canada-Nova Scotia Equivalency Agreement has therefore established a pattern of federal policy deferral that is expected to become entrenched in 2013. The splitting of policy responsibility, with architecture provincially tailored but GHG performance standards nationally set, will underscore policy development in 2013.” Among the recommendations for 2013: “Mechanisms for coordination of policy, whether through linkage, equivalency agreements or even common LCDR markets, should be nurtured and supported. Quebec’s experiment with linking permit trade bi-laterally with California is an important precedent to watch”.

Canadian Carbon Policy Year in Review and Emerging Trends, 2012 is available at:
http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2012/regulating_carbon_canadian_policy.pdf

 

Ontario Consultation Period Re a Cap and Trade Policy

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment released Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions in Ontario: A Discussion Paper at the end of January, with a public comment period open till April 21, 2013. The discussion paper states that it is not considering a carbon tax, but rather a cap-and-trade system.   According to an article by lawyers at Osler Hoskin and Harcourt LLP, “Ontario intends to seek an equivalency arrangement with the Federal Government so as to render federal regulations inapplicable as long as equivalent Ontario regulations achieve identical (or better) outcomes.”

LINKS

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions in Ontario: A Discussion Paper

is available at:

http://www.downloads.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/er/documents/2013/011-7940.pdf

Ontario Ministry of Environment Climate Change website at: http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/environment/en/category/climate_change/STDPROD_078897.html

and also provides links to earlier policy documents, including the November 2012 Climate Change

Progress Report. “Change is in the Air: Ontario Closer to a Cap-and-Trade System” in Osler Updates, February 21, 2013 at: http://www.osler.com/NewsResources/Details.aspx?id=5497  

 

Carbon Pricing Compared: Alberta, B.C., California, Australia, and Other Jurisdictions

Released by the Pembina Institute on February 25, a useful comparison chart highlights carbon pricing approaches in Alberta, British Columbia, California, Australia, Norway and the European Union. Details about each jurisdiction include the 2013 carbon price, proportion of GHG’s covered by the carbon price; presence of a “hard cap” on emissions; percentage of allowance value collected by government; extent to which offsets may be purchased;anticipated public revenue in 2013; and where carbon revenues are allocated.

LINKS

Carbon Pricing Approaches in Oil and Gas Producing Jurisdictions is available at the Pembina Institute website at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2414 

CCPA Alternative Budget Proposes Environmental and Energy Policies

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives provides alternative budget proposals for 2013 which, they estimate, will create 200,000 to 300,000 full time jobs in any given year. Among a full-range of budget items, there are many environment- and energy-related proposals, including targeting research and development for “fostering innovation in energy stor­age, investment in Sustainable Development Technology Canada, supporting “Green Energy Bonds”, a National Green Homes Strategy for energy efficiency, and securing Arctic and remote communities’ local energy supplies.”

The Alternative Budget calls for a collaborative National Energy Plan which would “slow the pace of bitumen development and use it for domestic needs first; upgrade the resource in this country before it is exported, and develop linkages to upstream and down­stream energy related activities.” In the category of Sectoral Development, the report proposes to enhance value-added production and investment in key sectors, including manufacturing, automobiles, aerospace and forestry, with funding to come from cancelling biofuel crop subsidies and the Green Car Levy.

See the Alternative Budget in Brief (34 pages) at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2013/03/AFB2013_BudgetInBrief.pdf and the full document (172 pages) at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2013/03/AFB2013_MainDocument.pdf. For French language versions, go to: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/abgf2013.

Meaningful GHG Reductions in Toronto Possible with Retrofitting, Low Carbon Transit

A new article demonstrates the combination of strategies which might reduce Toronto’s per capita GHG emissions by over 70%. “With current policies, especially cleaning of the electricity grid, Toronto’s per-capita GHG emissions could be reduced by 30 per cent over the next 20 years. To go further, however, reducing emissions in the order of 70 per cent, would require significant retrofitting of the building stock, utilization of renewable heating and cooling systems, and the complete proliferation of electric, or other low carbon, automobiles.”

See “A Low Carbon Infrastructure Plan for Toronto, Canada”, by Christopher Kennedy ( Department of Engineering, University of Toronto) and Loraine Sugar, in Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering, volume 40 (1), January 2013 at: http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/pdf/10.1139/cjce-2011-0523

…And in Sudbury

A 5-year review of the Official Plan of the city of Sudbury in northern Ontario elicited public concerns about climate change. In response, the city planning department tabled a report on February 25 which highlights existing city policies to prepare for climate change, and proposes new initiatives in the areas of growth management, compact mixed use communities, and active transportation and transit policies. Read Climate Change and the Official Plan, at: http://www.greatersudbury.ca/agendas/index.cfm?pg=agenda&action=navigator&lang=en&id=594&itemid=6909. These are strategies based on the land use policy guidance released in 2012 by the government of Ontario in  Climate Ready: Ontario’s Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan for 2011-2014, and the proposed Provincial Policy Statement (PPS).

Canadian Physicians Urged to Fight Climate Change

An Editorial in the February 13, 2013 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal urges the Canadian medical establishment and individual physicians to advocate against climate change by signing the December 2012 Doha Declaration on Climate, Health and Wellbeing. It also points out that physicians can act on a professional level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their own health care workplaces. See “Physician’s Roles on the Front Line of Climate Change” in the CMAJ volume 185 #3 at: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/185/3/195.full.pdf+html?sid=ffff264c-ea63-4daa-9c5d-ae8cdf448787

Canada’s Fuel Efficiency Regulatons for Heavy Duty Vehicles Finalized

On February 25, Canada’s Environment Minister announced the final regulations to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with progressively more stringent standards for 2014 to 2018 model-year heavy-duty vehicles such as full-size pick-ups, semi-trucks, garbage trucks and buses. The regulations were first made public in April 2012, and follow the standards set in the U.S. See: http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=714D9AAE-1&news=3FC39747-ABF2-470A-A99E-48CA2B881E97   for the press release and links to a timeline, backgrounder, and Regulatory Impact Analysis statement.

U.S. Proposals to Encourage Large-scale Wind Power

The costs and benefits of developing a commercial-scale offshore wind industry in the United States are explored in a report released on February 28. Policy recommendations are: accelerate the existing “Smart from the Start” program, enact the proposed Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act; establish a carbon tax, and roll back fossil fuel subsidies. Making the Economic Case for Offshore Wind was commissioned by the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy States Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative, and conducted by the Brattle Group, a consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read it at:  http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/report/2013/02/28/54988/making-the-economic-case-for-offshore-wind/  

How Sustainable are the Supply Chains of Multinatonal Food Companies?

Oxfam America released Behind the Brands on February 25th, the most recent update to their GROW campaign, which seeks to increase the transparency and accountability of the “Big 10” food and beverage companies in the world. The report is a scorecard which examines company policies in seven topics critical to sustainable agricultural production: women, small-scale farmers, farm workers, water, land, climate change, and transparency. Nestlé and Unilever scored highest for their policies; Associated British Foods (ABF) and Kellogg ranked at the bottom. The other companies measured were: Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Mars, Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods), and PepsiCo. Read Behind the Brands at: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/files/behind-the-brands-briefing-paper-final.pdf

Global Assessment of the Impacts of Biofuels

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the U.N. released “a comprehensive study that attempted to integrate into a single report the major issues related to biofuel and related feedstock sustainability.” The report focuses on the environmental issues of first and second-generation biofuels, with a brief consideration of landowner rights and the labour/employment effects. It provides case studies of national sustainability initiatives from nine countries: Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, U.S., U.K., E.U and Germany, and The Netherlands. The final chapter is a critical evaluation of biofuel certification schemes and lessons for sustainability, including impacts on agriculture and forestry. See Biofuels And The Sustainability Challenge: A Global Assessment of Sustainability Issues, Trends and Policies for Biofuels and Related Feedstock at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i3126e/i3126e.pdf