Safety for Pipeline Workers Raised as Part of the Pipeline Debate

The recent oil spills in Alberta and Lac Megantic have raised the public profile of rail transport of oil and gas products in Canada.  The Fraser Institute, apparently in response to the worsening prospects of U.S. approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, released a report on Intermodal Safety in the Transport of Oil on October 15. Although the paper cites summary data from the National Energy Board about oil spills and injuries in Canada, the conclusions are based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for the period 2005-2009. The paper compares injury statistics amongst workers in the pipeline, rail, and road modes of transport and finds that the rate of injury requiring hospitalization among oil pipeline workers was 30 times lower than that of rail workers, and 37 times lower than trucking workers. The paper concludes, “The evidence is clear: transporting oil by pipeline is safe and environmentally friendly. Furthermore, pipeline transportation is safer than transportation by road, rail, or barge, as measured by incidents, injuries, and fatalities- even though more road and rail incidents go unreported.”  The paper does NOT address the environmental damage caused by spills, or injury to citizens.

LINKS

Intermodal Safety in the Transport of Oil is available at the Fraser Institute at:http://www.fraserinstitute.org/uploadedFiles/fraser-ca/Content/research-news/research/publications/intermodal-safety-in-the-transport-of-oil.pdf

U.S. Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) website provides data and statistics at: http://phmsa.dot.gov/pipeline/library/data-stats

Canada’s National Energy Board Pipeline Spills information is available at:http://www.neb-one.gc.ca/clf-nsi/rsftyndthnvrnmnt/sfty/pplnncdntgrprtng/pplnncdntshydrcrbnsplls/pplnncdntshydrcrbnsplls-eng.html

Ontario’s Fit 3.0 Program Lowers Domestic Content Requirements for Renewable Energy, Discourages Wind Projects

The final version 3.0 of Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff Rules, posted on October 9th, includes reductions to the minimum domestic content requirement levels (MDCR) in order to move towards compliance with the World Trade Organization ruling of May 2013. The levels of domestic content have been lowered from 50% to 28 – 19%, depending on the solar (PV) technology used. For on-shore wind projects, the MDCR has been lowered from 60% to 20%. Furthermore, minimum domestic content levels will no longer be required throughout the entire project, but only during the development and construction phases. According to the Minister’s letter of direction, further changes will follow.

An article in North American Wind Power discusses the new FIT program and concludes that wind power projects will suffer. He notes, “As long as the Small FIT cap remains at 500 kW, the FIT program is no longer accessible to wind developers, except for those using small-scale turbines”, and “The greater latitude given to municipalities in the location and siting of wind farms may make permitting more difficult for developers and preclude the siting of wind farms in municipalities that have a strong anti-wind bias.”

LINKS

Ontario Power Authority FIT 3.0 documents are available at:http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/newsroom/october-9-2013-FIT-3-final-documents, with an August 16, 2013 background document about Domestic Content Regulations at:http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/newsroom/august-16-2013-program-update, and the Minister’s Letter of Direction at:http://powerauthority.on.ca/sites/default/files/page/DirectionAdministrativeMatters-renewables-Aug16-2013.pdf

“Political Football: Ontario Sacks Large-scale Wind” in North American Wind Power (October 2013) at: http://nawindpower.com/issues/NAW1310/FEAT_01_Political-Football-Ontario-Sacks-Large-Scale-Wind.html

How Green are Solar Jobs? Solar Scorecard Ranks Manufacturers on Working Conditions and Health and Safety

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Annual Scorecard measures and ranks how solar manufacturing companies around the world perform on sustainability and social justice benchmarks, including extended producer responsibility, emissions transparency, chemical reduction policies, use of prison labour and conflict minerals, water policies, and the presence of internal policies for worker health and safety. In 2013, despite low survey response levels, the Scorecard ranked 40 companies, representing over 80% of the market share in the photovoltaic industry.  Of those 40, only 7 have comprehensive internal policies that address worker rights and health and safety. These were: Astronergy (China), Sharp (Japan), SolarWorld (U.S.), SunPower (U.S.), Suntech (Japan), Trina (China), and Yingli (China). Solar Valley Toxics Coalition is a San Francisco-based advocacy group with the stated goals of reducing the use of toxic chemicals in the photovoltaic solar manufacturing industry, developing responsible recycling systems, and protecting workers throughout the global PV supply chain.     

Another source of information may soon be available. In May 2013, the U.S.-based Solar Energy Industry Association finalized a Solar Commitment – a voluntary agreement which sets out “solar-specific and general best practice provisions regarding the environment, labor, ethics, health and safety, and management practices of the company.” Labour guidelines include freedom of association, hours and wages, and protection from sexual harassment. Health and safety standards include machine protection, training, protection from toxic substances, and protection from discipline for raising safety concerns. Companies that sign on to the Solar Commitment must provide an annual report on key performance indicators – no reports have been released yet. Signatories to date are: Dow Solar, Gerhlicher Solar America, PV Recycling, SunEdison, SunPower, Suntech, Trina, and Yingli Solar. 

LINKS

Solar Valley Toxics Coalition Solar Scorecard is available athttp://www.solarscorecard.com/2013/2013-SVTC-Solar-Scorecard.pdf

 Background  discussion, and links to solar companies featured in  the SVTC Scorecard is at CleanTechnica at: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/13/silicon-valley-toxics-coalitions-2013-solar-scorecard-just-release/

SEIA Solar Commitment Factsheet is at:http://www.seia.org/sites/default/files/Solar%20Commitment%20factsheet_2013.pdf

TD Bank Report on Canada’s Green Economy: Reconcile the Economy and Environment

On October 2nd, one of Canada’s Big Five banks, the TD Bank, released a report on “green economics” in Canada. TD found that environmental considerations have already become entrenched in corporate decision-making in Canada, and that reducing environmental impact often reduces costs, drives innovation, and stimulates growth. TD’s preliminary analysis indicates a recent “decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation”, wherein the percentage of GHG emissions per 1% GDP increase has fallen, while improved air and water quality, recycling rates and protected lands have accompanied strong overall growth. The report suggests that in order to better understand and encourage these trends, Canada needs a holistic focus on the “greening of the economy” in all sectors, rather than dichotomizing “green” and “brown” economics. To this end, TD calls for the development of environmental, economic, and government policy, and corporate responsibility indicators to help measure gains across industries and at all levels.         

LINKS

 

York’s Schulich School Tops New Survey of Global Green MBA Programs

The Corporate Knights survey for 2013 was released on September 23, ranking business schools for their integration of sustainability into the academic experience. This year, the survey expanded beyond its Canada-only focus to include MBA programs from 17 countries.The Schulich School of Business at York University (Toronto) ranked first, followed by John Molson School of Business at Concordia University (Montreal). Third place went to the University of Exeter Business School in the U.K., followed by the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, and the Nottingham University Business School in the U.K. 30 schools were ranked in the main survey, with a further 10 small schools in a separate ranking. 

The Corporate Knights survey is based on the methodology of the pioneering Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey of the Aspen Institute (which ceased in 2012). The rankings follow three categories: faculty research, course content, and institutional support. Responses are from faculty and administrators, with the student perspective reflected in measures of student-led initiatives (e.g. student groups, consulting clubs, faculty groups, and student committees/task forces). Unlike many other surveys of MBA programs, the Corporate Knights survey does not include alumni salaries in their metrics, on the grounds that rankings could be skewed because students entering the non-profit sector typically earn less after graduating.

LINKS

Global Green MBA website is at: http://ggmba.corporateknights.com/   

Beyond Grey Pinstripes website is at: http://www.beyondgreypinstripes.org/

 

New Strategy and Blueprint for European Forest Industries Considers Aging Workforce

In late September, the European Union announced a new forest strategy which takes into account the effects of climate change on the forest ecosystem. Surprisingly, the EU press release states that “forests cover more than 42% of the EU’s land area and forest biomass…supplies half the EU’s total renewable energy. ” The new strategy calls for sustainable management of woodlands, and is accompanied by a “Blueprint” document to guide forest industries, (wood-processing, furniture, pulp and paper, and printing) to increase efficiency and create jobs. The Blueprint outlines the economic and technological state of the art for these four forest sub-industries, and discusses their challenges, including the aging demographic of the workforce, the need for training, and possible mechanisms for training delivery. 

LINKS

European Commission Forest Strategy press release is at:http://ec.europa.eu/news/agriculture/130924_en.htm
EU Forest-based Industries: A Blueprint to Unleash their Economic and Societal Potential is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/newsroom/cf/_getdocument.cfm?doc_id=8129

 

Energy Efficiency in the U.K.: Has the Green New Deal Worked?

Marking five years after the launch of Britain’s Green New Deal, two recent reports examine the experience: First, from the Green New Deal Group, a report which states that government support for renewable energy has melted away in the face of austerity programs and the lingering uncertainty in the global financial system. The authors propose a systematic programme of investment in green infrastructure of at least £50 billion a year, beginning with a nationwide effort to retrofit existing buildings and to build new, affordable, sustainably-sited, energy-efficient homes. The authors contend that thousands of jobs will be created by their proposals, and support that contention by citing numerous sectoral employment impact studies in Appendix 1 and in their bibliography.  

A second report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment was released on October 8, reflecting the hearings and submissions to the governmentinquiry into sustainable construction and the Green Deal. The report found that the Green Deal provisions are over-complicated and uncompetitive, with little financial incentive for participation. “Without regulation and financial incentives in place, households and businesses retain the status quo…Hand in hand with this, the integration of construction skills, knowledge and work practices are of concern in the construction industry.” One of the key stakeholders in the process, the UK Green Building Council, welcomed the report as a credible voice urging improvements to the existing program, and also commended its expansion to social housing.

LINKS

A National Plan for the UK: From Austerity to the Age of the Green New Deal by the Green New Deal Group, published by the New Weather Institute, is at:http://www.greennewdealgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Green-New-Deal-5th-Anniversary.pdf

Re-energizing the Green Agenda, Report of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment is at: http://www.cic.org.uk/admin/resources/sustainable-construction-and-the-green-deal-report.pdf

All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment website is at:http://www.appgebe.org.uk/; Information about their Inquiry into Sustainable Construction and the Green Deal is at: http://www.appgebe.org.uk/inquiry.shtml, with submissions at:http://www.appgebe.org.uk/submissions-into-Sustainable-Construction-and-the-Green-Deal.shtml

UK Green Building Council response is at:http://www.ukgbc.org/press-centre/press-releases/uk-gbc-welcomes-all-party-group-report-green-deal

Details of the U.K. Green Deal are at:https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/helping-households-to-cut-their-energy-bills/supporting-pages/green-deal

Will the IPCC 5th Assessment Report Inspire Change?

The 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released on September 27. Dealing with the physical sciences, the report projects future weather, ocean levels, global warming and carbon dioxide levels.  According to U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, the report provided the first “carbon budget” – how much carbon dioxide we can emit before global temperature increase exceeds 2ºC and the planet overheats. The bad news? We’d already used half of it by 2011, and could now be approaching two-thirds. Thomas Stocker, co-chair of the IPCC working group, points out that more fossil fuels exist than can be burned if we are to remain within the budget. In other words, some valuable reserves will need to remain untapped.

The Globe and Mail summarized early Canadian reactions to the IPCC report, and cited the absence of comment from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office. Provincial premiers have been similarly silent. The David Suzuki Foundation is one of the few Canadian organizations to have commented, highlighting provincial successes and calling for the federal government “to prioritize clean energy and eliminate the billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies.” The Climate Justice Project at the Canadian Centre for Policy Analysis analyzed the IPCC report in relation to British Columbia, and asks, “will LNG development blow B.C.’s carbon budget?”. The Pembina Institute released a brief statement. A call to arms can be found in the Opinion piece by Andrew Weaver in the Globe and Mail, which states, “While the U.S., the E.U. and even China are making a profound shift to address the root causes of climate change, the Canadian government continues to focus our economy predominantly around the extraction, transportation and combustion of fossil fuels. Even British Columbia, which used to be considered a leader in the development of climate policies, is now moving in the opposite direction with its focus on the development of a Liquefied Natural Gas industry. The IPCC report could and should inspire us to take a different approach.”

LINKS

IPCC 5th Assessment Report documentation is available at: http://www.ipcc.ch/

“IPCC: 30 Years to Climate Calamity If We Carry on Blowing the Carbon Budget” in

“Around the World: Strong Reactions To Climate Change Report” (Sept. 27) in the Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/around-the-world-strong-reactions-to-climate-change-report/article14566793/

David Suzuki Foundation media backgrounder on the IPCC 5th Report is at:http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/downloads/DSF_IPCC_WG1_Backgrounder.pdf

“Will LNG Development Blow BC’s Carbon Budget?” is at the Climate Justice Project at:http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/commentary/will-lng-development-blow-bcs-carbon-budget

Pembina Institute response is at: http://www.pembina.org/media-release/2483

“Now That Climate Change is Beyond Doubt, Focus on Fixing It” (September 28) at the Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/now-that-climate-change-is-beyond-doubt-lets-focus-on-solving-it/article14588647/

Quebec and California Link Carbon Markets

On October 1, the governments of Quebec and California announced an agreement outlining the steps and procedures to fully harmonize and integrate the cap-and-trade programs of their two jurisdictions, effective January 1, 2014. It is hoped that this will be a model for more such partnerships. “The sale of emission allowances will generate at least $ 2.5 billion in revenue by 2020 in Quebec. These funds will be fully reinvested in initiatives to fight climate change, including facilitating the conversion to renewable energy, promoting energy efficiency, improving industrial processes and preparing Quebec society to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The electrification of transportation is another major project on which our government will labour over the coming months”, said Minister Yves-François Blanchet. See the Quebec government press release at: http://communiques.gouv.qc.ca/gouvqc/communiques/GPQE/Octobre2013/01/c6398.html, and “Carbon Market: Quebec and California Link Their Respective Cap And Trade Programs” (Oct. 1) in GlobeAdvisor at:https://secure.globeadvisor.com/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CNW/20131001/C6398

 

Carbon Markets the Best Route to Low-Carbon Global Economies

In a new report, Climate and Carbon: Aligning Prices and Policies, the OECD condemns fossil fuel subsidies and tax exemptions, and posits carbon markets as most effective mechanism for transitioning to a low-carbon economy and tackling climate change. The report, drawing on evidence from 15 countries (but not including Canada), points out that “carbon markets are more than 16 times cheaper at cutting greenhouse gases than renewable subsidies paid to power producers”. However, carbon markets worldwide are being undermined by a lack of coherence in government approaches to carbon pricing and financial support for fossil fuels. According to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, limiting global temperature increase to 2ºC requires sending consistent carbon price signals to consumers, producers and investors alike.Climate and Carbon: Aligning Prices and Policies is available at:http://www.oecd.org/environment/climate-carbon.htm

 

Quebec Energy Review Aims to Encourage Renewables and Develop Hydrocarbons

A review of Quebec’s energy strategy is underway, with public consultations from September to October 11, and the final strategy document promised in 2014. The six strategic objectives to the energy review are: “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; promote the electrification of transportation and develop the industry; promote energy efficiency in all sectors ; rely on the production of renewable energies (hydroelectricity and wind energy) and develop alternative renewable energies (underwater generators, passive solar energy, geothermal energy, and so on) and foster development and innovation; responsibly explore and exploit Québec’s hydrocarbon reserves; and ensure the long-term security and diversity of Québec’s energy supplies.” The Public Consultation on Energy Issues in Quebec website is at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/english/ (English) and http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/ (French language). 

The Consultation paper From Greenhouse Gas Reduction to Québec’s Energy Self-Sufficiency – Consultation Paper, is at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/pdf/energy-issues-consultation-paper.pdf. An archive of all written briefs submitted to the Commission is available at the French language section of the website only, at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/documents/memoires.asp

Canadian Wind Energy Update

A special edition of British reNews was released on September 26, focussing on Canadian wind energy development. The report summarizes the policy environment for each province, with detailed tables showing the existing and planned wind energy installations for 2013 and 2014. Ontario remains the leader in wind energy in Canada. The president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association predicts “an average over the next three years of 1500MW of wind power installed per annum”, but with an uncertainty after 2016, given that Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta are reviewing and redrafting their energy policies. The “Canada Special Report 2013” by reNews is at: http://renews.biz/wp-content/assets/reNewsCanada2013.pdf 
Where are wind energy technicians being trained? In the Summer 2013 edition of Windsight, the Canadian Wind Energy Association magazine, there is a feature article about training at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario – see http://www.canwea.ca/media/windsight_e.php.CanWEA also maintains a list (last updated in 2012) of wind training courses at colleges and universities at: http://www.canwea.ca/pdf/Education-and-Training-Programs.pdf.

On September 19th, wind turbine manufacturer Siemens opened a 40,000-square-foot, $7 milliontraining centre for technicians in Orlando Florida. The facility is one of four in the world operated by Siemens (the others are in Brande, Denmark; Bremen, Germany; and Newcastle, U.K.), and is intended to serve North and South America, training more than 2,400 wind service technicians annually. See:  http://theenergycollective.com/timholt/277131/siemens-inaugurates-new-state-art-wind-service-training-center-us

 

Climate Change Initiatives of Canadian Companies

The 2013 Canadian report of the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), was released on October 1, ranking the Canadian companies doing the best job of investing to cut greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change. The report was prepared by Accenture on behalf of the non-profit CDP, and is based on questionnaires sent to the 200 largest Canadian companies by market capitalization (the “Canada 200”), as listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). Key results: 85% of respondents say that climate change is integrated into their business strategy (an increase from 77% in 2012); 64% of respondents offer incentives for “climate performance” (from 14% from 2012). The five top Climate Performance Leadership companies are: ARC Resources Ltd., Thomson Reuters, Bank of Montreal, Suncor Energy, and TD Bank. 

See the Canadian Report at: https://www.cdproject.net/CDPResults/CDP-Canada-200-Climate-Change-Report-2013.pdf. The U.S. version of this report is based on the 500 S & P-listed companies and is available at: https://www.cdproject.net/CDPResults/CDP-SP500-climate-report-2013.pdf

Global Aviation Industry Agrees to Develop Emissions Curbs

At the meetings of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal on October 4, the ICAO approved what they called an historic framework agreement, authorizing the development of global market-based measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions over the next three years, for implementation in 2020. The resolution encourages nations to develop new aircraft technology, adopt carbon-dioxide standards and use sustainable alternatives to jet fuels. By rejecting a European Union proposal to include aviation in the EU emissions trading system immediately, the ICAO drew criticism from green groups who criticize the slowness of the 2020 start date.

See the Bloomberg news summary at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-04/first-global-emissions-market-for-airlines-wins-support.html and http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-04/carbon-cuts-loom-for-airlines-as-icao-eyes-global-market.html.

Canada’s position is set out in Canada’s Action Plan on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aviation, at: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/policy/aviation-emissions-3005.htm 

 

Public Donations Save the Australian Climate Commission

On September 23, the former head of Australia’s Climate Commission announced that the axed organization would rise again as the Climate Council, a non-profit body funded by public donations. As of October 15th, the Council had raised $1 million Australian to continue its mission “to provide authoritative, expert advice to the Australian public on climate change”. See the Council website at: http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/ and read a report in The Guardian at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/23/climate-commission-resurrected-as-private-body

 

New Research Initiatives Underway

1) In the U.S., a new research initiative led by hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, former U.S. Treasury secretary Henry Paulson, and outgoing mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg aims to calculate the true financial cost of climate change. In a report expected in summer 2014, “Risky Business” will “combine existing data on the current and potential impacts of climate change with original research to reveal the most vulnerable sectors and assist with preparation”. According to Bloomberg Markets Magazine, the team also hopes to show that the eventual consequences of “business as usual” will outweigh its short-term benefits. See http://riskybusiness.org/about or http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-01/climate-change-rescue-in-u-s-makes-steyer-converge-with-paulson.html  

2) Launched on September 24, the new Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, co-chaired by Nicholas Stern, will conduct a “year-long, $9 million study to analyze the economic costs and benefits of acting against climate change”. The study will use macroeconomic modeling techniques to analyze possible outcomes, factoring in potential policy mechanisms, economic growth, investment, employment, poverty reduction, income distribution, and the need for improved health, energy, and food security. The commission hopes to uncover pathways to a resilient, resource-efficient, low-carbon economy. See http://newclimateeconomy.net/

3) Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario will launch a Centre for Sustainable Food Systems on November 14, to bring together researchers from the departments of Geography and Environmental Studies, Psychology, Biology, Global Studies, Religion and Culture as well as the School of Business and Economics. From their website at: https://www.wlu.ca/homepage.php?grp_id=13686: “Our vision is to conduct research that is both grounded in practice and theoretically informed, and to disseminate this co-generated knowledge through local, national and global networks to advance opportunities for and educate about more sustainable food systems.”

Professional Associations have a Role to Play in Climate Change

A report published by West Coast Environmental Law starts from the position that climate change is a cross-cutting issue that affects advice and decision-making in many different professions, including architects and engineers, professional foresters, biologists, insurance professionals, accountants, and city planners. The report calls for an enhanced role for professional associations using the existing tools, such as codes of conduct and ethics, standards of practice, requirements for continuing professional development, and policy statements. In one example, the author suggests a statement of ethical responsibility to “act in the public interest (including promoting sustainability); not speak beyond one’s expertise or competence; not make misleading statements or falsify data; and act with due diligence”. The report describes exemplary climate change initiatives underway by such groups as the Canadian Institute of Planners, Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC), and Greenhouse Gas Management Institute (GHGMI).

LINKS

Professionals and Climate Change: How professional associations can get serious about global warming, written by Andrew Gage and published by West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), a British Columbia “non-profit group of environmental law strategists and analysts dedicated to safeguarding the environment through law”. Available at:
http://wcel.org/sites/default/files/publications/Professionals%20and%20Climate%20Change_0.pdf