Canada’s Oil Economy Through the “Staples” Lens

In 1963, economist Mel Watkins achieved international recognition with the publication of “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth” in the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science. To mark the 50th anniversary, the Canadian Centre for Policy Analysis published a collection of essays written by members of Canada’s Progressive Economics Forum, placing Watkins’ ideas in historical and global context. The section “Staple Theory and the Bitumen Boom” is essential reading, as authors Thomas Gunton, Gordon Laxer, Daniel Drache and Jim Stanford use staples theory to discuss the fossil fuel addiction of our economy, its dangerous impact on the broader economy, on cultures, especially Aboriginal culture, and on the environment.

Part 4: “Modern Applications”, includes “The Staple Theory and the Carbon Trap”, by Brendan Haley; “LNG: BC’s Quest for a New Staple Industry” by Marc Lee, and “Staples Theory: Its Gendered Nature” by Marjorie Griffin Cohen, among others. In the final essay in the collection, Mel Watkins writes: “My 1963 article has perhaps encouraged some readers to think too much about linkages and how to enhance them, to focus on incremental change when it is transformative change that is necessary…Fifty years on I have grandchildren, and know that the world must move ASAP from dependence on fossil fuels to reliance on green technologies. This will involve a wrenching change for Canada because bitumen is now the superstaple driving our economy and our polity…These may not be the best of times, and they may well get worse, but there is room for hope if we will but face up to our situation. In Canada, that means escaping both the staple trap and the carbon trap by weaning ourĀ­selves from the export of bitumen”.

LINK

The Staple Theory @ 50: Reflections on the Lasting Significance of Mel Watkins’ “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth” is available at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2014/03/Staple_Theory_at_50.pdf

Canada’s Oil Economy Through the IMF Lens

The International Monetary Fund has weighed in on the economic benefits of oil sands development in Canada, in a background report written in January 2014 but only released in April. Using Input-Output analysis based on 2009 data, the IMF report notes that overall the unconventional oil and gas industry make a small, positive contribution to Canada’s economy: for every $1 invested in the oilsands, Canada’s GDP rises 90 cents – of which 82 cents goes to Alberta. The report states “employment in the energy sector increased by less than 13,000 over 2007-12, against a total 752,000 jobs created over the same period in Canada”. To measure broader spilloever effects across Canada and across industries, the report uses a General Equilibrium Model which takes into account the “infrastructure constraints” – i.e. pipeline and transportation capacity. The report concludes “that the potential output gain for Canada’s energy products would reach only about 2 percent of GDP” over a ten year horizon, and that is conditional on construction of infrastructure (pipelines) for export to non-U.S. markets and for interprovincial energy integration, and if inter-industry linkages are encouraged across Canada to more widely distribute economic benefit.

LINKS

IMF Country Report 14/28: Canada: The Unconventional Energy Boom in North America; Macroeconomic Implications and Challenges for Canada is at: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2014/cr1428.pdf

Summary and commentary are at the DeSmog Blog at: http://desmog.ca/2014/04/09/benefits-canadas-energy-boom-remain-energy-sector-alberta-reports-imf, or in an article by Andrew Jackson at the Broadbent Institute at: http://www.pressprogress.ca/en/blog/imf-oil-exports-aren%E2%80%99t-so-key-canada%E2%80%99s-economic-future-after-all

British Columbia Tripartite Working Group Makes Workforce Recommendations for LNG Development in the Face of Environmental Controversy and Public Opinion

Since September 2013, the Premier’s Liquefied Natural Gas Working Group has met to discuss workforce planning, skills training, and the use of temporary workers in LNG projects. Described by the government as “unprecedented”, the working group included representatives from government, industry, the Haisla Nation, and organized labour, specifically: United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 170; B.C. Federation of Labour; B.C. and Yukon Building and Construction Trades Council; B.C. Government and Service Employees Union; Construction and Specialized Workers Union Local 1611; and Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 280. The Working Group released their final report on March 31st and all fifteen recommendations were accepted by the Premier on April 3rd. Next step: a 10-year skills-training plan. The Terms of Reference did not include the environmental impact of the proposed LNG development and the contention that the LNG production will make it impossible for B.C. to meet its legislated carbon emissions targets.

The Final Report provides an inventory of existing and proposed LNG development in B.C. as of March 2014, as well as analysis of the workforce data and issues as identified by the B.C. Natural Gas Workforce Strategy and Action Plan, released in July 2013 and since updated by the government. Fifteen recommendations include the use of best practices relating to apprenticeship, mobility of labour within B.C. and Canada, and most contentiously, the use of temporary foreign workers. The report calls for the formation no later than July 2014, of an ongoing body which would include government, labour unions, industry and contractors, and First Nations, to participate in workforce planning, skills training, and to develop a protocol for the use of temporary foreign workers, “to limit their use, but also to plan accordingly for their use if and when needed”.

Many First Nations groups oppose LNG development, and a new public opinion survey released on April 24 shows that 78% of British Columbians agree that “B.C. should transition away from using fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy to prevent climate change from getting worse. More than two thirds (67%) agree the province should decrease its reliance on fossil fuel exports to avoid future boom and bust economic cycles”. The survey was commissioned by the Pembina Institute, Clean Energy Canada and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, and conducted by Strategic Communications Inc. in April of 2014.

LINKS

Premier’s Liquefied Natural Gas Working Group: Final Report is available at: http://www.labour.gov.bc.ca/pubs/pdf/lng_final_report.pdf, with a press release and backgrounder from B.C. Premier’s Office at: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/04/premiers-lng-working-group-recommendation-road-map.html

“Key Native Group in Northern B.C. threatens to Stop Talks on Pipelines” in the Globe and Mail (April 21) at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/native-group-threatens-to-stop-talks-on-pipelines/article18088799/, but also see “B.C. and First Nations sign first LNG revenue-sharing Agreement, and Backgrounder” at: https://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/04/bc-and-first-nations-sign-first-lng-revenue-sharing-agreements.html

Public Opinion Survey is available from the Pembina Institute website at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2539

See also the BC LNG Info website, maintained by the Northwest Institute, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, and Headwaters Initiative, with the stated goal of providing impartial, up to date information about the LNG industry in B.C. for the benefit of the community. See http://bclnginfo.com/newsroom for news and updates.

New Brunswick’s Controversial New Forestry Plan Allows for Expanded Cutting on Crown Lands

The New Brunswick government released a new forestry plan in March 2014, following heavy lobbying by the forest industry, led by J.D Irving Ltd. The industry argued that they needed a long-term commitment to access the wood supply from Crown Lands to justify the large capital investment necessary to make New Brunswick mills efficient. The 2014 Strategy for Crown Lands Forest Management increases the amount of softwood (chiefly spruce and fir) that can be harvested from Crown Lands by 20%, and reduces the areas that are off-limits to industrial cutting (including watercourse buffers, deer wintering areas, and old growth forest) from 28% to 23% over a 10-15 year period. The result, according to the government, will be “500 new, well-paid private sector jobs” and “more than $22 million in additional annual wages”. Direct forest sector employment in New Brunswick had fallen 24% and the number of mills had fallen 47% since 2004, according to the government. Since the release, J.D. Irving Ltd. has committed to $513 million in capital investments in its mills, mostly at Irving Pulp & Paper in Saint John.

In response to the March Strategy document, Rino Ouellet, Atlantic area Director for Unifor, issued a press release which echos the government’s economic arguments and endorses the Forestry Plan. In a February press release, he had stated, “…in order for the plan to work, it must include in the process First Nations people, wood lot owners, labour, and crown land rights…and must continue to allow for environmentally-protected areas”.

On another side of this triangular debate, opposition includes: the provincial leader of the Green Party, who calls it “a plan for plunder”; the executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness, who calls it “regressive”; Graham Forbes, a professor from University of New Brunswick, who says it is unsustainable; and Rod Cumberland, a retired government biologist, who says many provincial government scientists are alarmed, but are too afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

The political storm continues on this issue. On April 24th, the government tabled in the legislature the terms of an agreement with J.D. Irving which increases the company’s annual allocations of softwood, for an initial term of 25 years, beginning on July 1, 2014. The contract calls for the company’s performance to be reviewed every five years, with five-year renewals contingent upon satisfactory performance.

LINKS

Putting Our Resources To Work: A Strategy For Crown Lands Forest Management on the New Brunswick government website at: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/nr-rn/pdf/en/ForestsCrownLands/AStrategyForCrownLandsForestManagement.pdf

J.D. Irving press release is at: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1335353/new-crown-forest-policy-drives-16-8-million-investments-in-the-forests-mills-and-suppliers-74-jobs-created

Unifor’s March press release: “Atlantic’s Largest Forestry Union applauds Long term plan for Sector” at:

http://www.unifor.org/en/whats-new/press-room/atlantics-largest-forestry-union-applauds-long-term-plan-sector; February press release at: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1298929/forestry-plan-much-needed-for-new-brunswick

For Reactions: The Crown Lands Debate, a Feature on the CBC website at: http://www.cbc.ca/nb/features/crownforestrydebate/ including, “Irving clout with Government challenged in wake of Forest Deal” at:http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/irving-clout-with-government-challenged-in-wake-of-forest-deal-1.2572410; and “New Crown Forest Plan slammed by retired Provincial Biologist” at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/new-crown-forest-plan-slammed-by-retired-provincial-biologist-1.2580430; “New Crown Forestry Plan greeted with Shock, Dismay” at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/new-crown-forestry-plan-greeted-with-shock-dismay-1.2570803

“J.D. Irving’s Crown Forest Contract Made Public” is at the CBC at:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/j-d-irving-s-crown-forest-contract-made-public-1.2620780

U.K. Union Makes Green Progress on Three Fronts

A new report by the Public and Commercial Services Union of the U.K. outlines how that union is pursuing its green goals on three fronts: greening the union administration and operations through policies regarding energy use, waste reduction, green procurement and staff travel policies; at the workplace, supporting the green representatives through networks and online training; and in the community, through national and local campaigns, for example, against fracking, the Energy Bill Revolution and energy poverty, and through fair trade and trade justice campaigns. The report also summarizes the union’s Green Forum in November 2013, and its new participation in the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) network, based at Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute in New York. It will relaunch its One Million Climate Jobs campaign in 2014.

LINKS

Becoming a Greener Union is available from a link at the Public and Commercial Services Union website at:http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/resources/green_workplaces/index.cfm, which also gives a link to the full report and a video from the 2013 Green Forum

Eco-Industries Can Thrive with Supportive Government Policies and a Culture of Innovation

A new report from EU think-tank the Ecologic Institute, prepared for the Greens in the European Parliament, asserts that eco-industries outperformed the broader economy during difficult times, including the 2008 financial crisis. The report examines five European countries since 2008, and compares them to the U.S., China, and Mexico. It states that, while European manufacturers in general fell behind on the global market, manufacturers of environmental goods and services managed to remain competitive. In addition, even when European eco-manufacturing lost out to global competitors like China’s growing solar PV manufacturing sector, European jobs were retained in planning, installation, and maintenance. The resilience of the European eco-industries is attributed partly to rapid innovation, as measured by patent applications. Ecologic also noted that government policy that preserved investor confidence was crucial to maintaining resilient eco-industries.

LINKS

How Crisis-resistant and Competitive are Europe’s Eco-Industries? Is available at: http://www.ecologic.eu/10477

Links to IPCC 5th Assessment Reports, and Reactions

If somehow you missed the release of the two reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment, you will find Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaption, and Vulnerability (released March 31st) at:
http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/. The second report, Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change (released on April 13th) is available at: http://mitigation2014.org/. The final Synthesis Report is scheduled for release in October 2014. What follows is a series of links to summaries and reaction, especially with a Canadian viewpoint. “UN report highlights urgency of near-term carbon cutting” (April 13) in the Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/world-losing-ground-in-climate-battle-says-un-body/article17949953/; “Only with Political Will can we Avoid the Worst” from David Suzuki at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2014/04/only-with-political-will-can-we-avoid-the-worst-of-climate-change/; “Dear Fossil Fuel Industry, It’s Over” at the Greenpeace Canada website at: http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/Blog/dear-fossil-fuel-industry-its-over/blog/48924/. There was no response from Environment Canada or the Prime Minister’s office.

From the U.S., several items from the New York Times are at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/01/opinion/climate-signals-growing-louder.html?emc=edit_th_20140401&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=67440933&_r=0, and http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/14/science/earth/un-climate-panel-warns-speedier-action-is-needed-to-avert-disaster.html?emc=edit_th_20140414&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=67440933&_r=0, with a widely cited OpEd on April 17th by Paul Krugman, “Salvation gets Cheap”, at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/opinion/krugman-salvation-gets-cheap.html?_r=0. From the U.K., The Guardian summary of U.K. reaction is at: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/2014/apr/14/climate-change-report-reactions-to-the-final-instalment-of-the-ipcc-analysis, and a portal to all Guardian coverage of the IPCC reports is at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ipcc.

Oil and Gas Sector Contributed Almost One Quarter of Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On April 11th, a Friday afternoon, Environment Canada quietly released its annual national greenhouse gas emissions inventory, as required by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). National emissions decreased by 0.3% between 2010 and 2012, but overall trends confirm that Canada is on track to significantly miss its commitment to a 17% decrease by 2020. Most provinces have cut their overall emissions, although Alberta’s have increased by 7% between 2005 and 2012, mainly because the oil sands experienced an 80% emissions increase. The oil sands alone now account for 9% of total Canadian emissions, while the oil and gas sector overall contributes about one quarter.

Signs of progress are emerging in the manufacturing and transportation sectors, and electricity emissions intensity is decreasing, largely attributable to efficiency improvements and the Ontario coal phase-out, which reduced the province’s electricity emissions by 56%.

Reaction from P.J. Partington, an analyst at the Pembina Institute, calls for Canada to make good on its promise to introduce national oil and gas regulations. See National Inventory Report 1990-2012: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada at the Environment Canada website at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg/default.asp?lang=En&n=3808457C-1&offset=6&toc=show (English version), and http://www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg/default.asp?lang=Fr&n=3808457C-1 (French version).

For P.J. Partington’s blogs, go to “Big shiny trends: Canada’s new emissions numbers” at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/789; “Oil Sands Talking Point collides with Reality” at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/787; and “Getting Back in Gear: Oilsands Climate Performance” at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/788. The U.S. released its UNFCC National Inventory documents in the same week, showing that U.S. emissions are now 10% below 2005 levels, the lowest they have been in 20 years. Go to: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html.

Canadian Cities Rank High in Climate Change Adaptation – and Some Examples

A newly released survey conducted by the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology investigates the progress in climate adaptation planning in 468 cities worldwide – 298 of which were in the U.S., 26 were in Canada. Results show that 92% of Canadian cities are pursuing adaptation planning, compared to 68% worldwide, and 59% in the U.S.. The top ranked impacts identified by cities that conducted assessments were: increased stormwater runoff (72%), changes in electricity demand (42%), loss of natural systems (39%), and coastal erosion (36%). Other important issues were loss of economic revenue, drought, and solid waste management. The report, Progress and Challenges in Urban Adaptation Planning: Results of a Global Survey is available at: http://www.icleiusa.org/action-center/learn-from-others/progress-and-challenges-in-urban-climate-adaptation-planning-results-of-a-global-survey, and summarized at: http://www.icleiusa.org/blog/survey_us_cities_report_increase_in_climate_impacts_lag_in_adaptation_planningworldwide-progress-on-urban-climate-adaptation-planning. For a policy perspective, read the David Suzuki blog “Canada’s Success depends on Municipal Infrastructure Investments” (March 13) at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2014/03/canadas-success-depends-on-municipal-infrastructure-investments/. For a more anecdotal report which names and describes some innovative Canadian municipalities, see “Five Canadian Communities Fighting Climate Change That You’ve Probably Never Heard of Before” from the DeSmog Blog at: http://www.desmog.ca/2014/04/03/five-canadian-communities-fighting-climate-change-you-ve-probably-never-heard-of-before. It describes Dawson Creek, B.C.; Guelph, Ontario; Varennes, Quebec; T’Sou-ke First Nation, B.C.; and Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. An overview of the Upwind-Downwind Conference of municipalities in Hamilton in March, and a summary of Hamilton’s climate action initiatives, appears in “Ontario Municipalities take Action on Air Quality and Climate Change” at: http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/community/blogs/current-events/ontario-municipalities-take-action-air-quality-and-climate-change.

The Future of Canada’s Electrical System

On March 25, the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) released Vision 2050: The Future of Canada’s Electricity System, a report which offers recommendations and calls for urgent decisions and action. The report concludes with “Principles for Prudent Investment” which include: reliability, equity (calling for social policies to support ratepayers and protect low income consumers from energy poverty), integration of intermittent sources of electricity (i.e. solar and wind), innovation and modernization of infrastructure, energy efficiency improvements, and the electrification of transportation. See http://www.electricity.ca/resources/publications/vision-2050-the-future-of-canadas-electricity-system.php; See also the Sustainable Electricity Annual Report 2013 at: http://www.sustainableelectricity.ca/media/AnnualReport2013/2013SustainableElectricityAnnualReport.pdf (published August 2013), and Power for the Future: Electricity’s Role in a Canadian Energy Strategy (July 2013) at: http://www.electricity.ca/media/ReportsPublications/PowerForTheFutureElectricityRoleCanadianEnergyStrategyE.pdf.

Investment in Canadian Clean Energy Mirrors Global Trend to Solar Pre-Eminence

Two new reports on investment in clean energy were released in March/April, both showing a global decline in investment levels, and that investment in solar now exceeds wind investment. A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows a 14% decrease in global investment in renewables in 2013, but even so, renewables attracted $192 billion for new capacity and comprised 43.6% of newly installed generation capacity in 2013. The U.S. continues to rank first among developed economies for investment in renewable energy with $33.9 billion in 2013 – although this represents a 10% decrease, largely attributable to the uncertainty over the continuation of the Wind Tax Credit. Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom were the only G-20 countries in which investment increased. Canada ranked 6th amongst the G-20 countries with $6.4 billion investment, largely in wind energy ($3.6 billion) and solar energy ($2.5 billion) in 2013. See “Six Canadian companies shaping the future of clean energy” (March 27) in Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/six-canadian-clean-energy-companies/article17685931/?page=4. To read the Global survey, see Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014, produced jointly by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) at: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2787&ArticleID=10824&l=en.

A related report was issued by the Pew Charitable Trusts, also utilizing Bloomberg data. Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2013 Edition contrasts a 16% decline in renewables investment in developed markets of G-20 countries (led by the U.S. and EU) with a growth of 15% in non G-20 countries, led by such countries as Chile and Uruguay. Pew ranks China as the top destination for investors; solar capacity in China increased fourfold in 2013. See Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? At: http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/pew-report-finds-that-global-clean-energy-investment-declined-in-2013-85899543052. See also the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s April 2014 Electricity Monthly Update which shows that U.S. solar capactiy also increased by 418% between 2010 and 2014, as described at: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/24/us-solar-energy-capacity-grew-an-astounding-418-from-2010-2014/.

Low-Carbon Solutions to the GTA Gridlock – What Do They Mean for Workers?

A new report from the Pembina Institute and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund presents policy options, innovative ideas, and examples from other countries of strategies that would reduce emissions, chiefly by greening delivery fleets and optimizing trip planning through sophisticated information sharing. Directed at government and business, this report also has implications for workers, particularly those in the transportation and delivery sectors, as well as the warehousing, manufacturing, retail and food services industries.

See Greening the Goods: Opportunities for Low-Carbon Goods Movement in Toronto at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2536.

Divestment Still a Necessary Strategy as ExxonMobil Reports on Stranded Assets

The largest oil and gas company in the world, ExxonMobil, agreed under pressure from activist shareholders to publish a “Carbon Asset Risk” report on their website, to provide information to shareholders on the risks that stranded assets pose to the company’s business model, and how the company is planning for a low-carbon world. Stranded assets for Exxon are the carbon reserves which would need to remain in the ground if the world were to follow a carbon budget to keep below 2 degrees of global warming.

Some environmentalists are claiming this transparency as a victory – GreenBiz described it as “a pivotal milestone on the road to a low-carbon economy”. Bill McKibben, noting that the Exxon report was released on the same day as the IPCC Report, said it is “probably at least as important in the ongoing battle over the future of the atmosphere”. But McKibben sees “consummate arrogance” in Exxon’s statement that “we are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become stranded”. For McKibben, the solution remains a divestment campaign – a strategy that Archbishop Desmond Tutu also urged in an April essay in The Guardian.

See “Exxon, Stranded Assets and the New Math” at GreenBiz: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/03/24/exxon-stranded-assets-and-new-math, and an article in the Wall Street Journal Market Watch at: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/landmark-agreement-with-shareholders-exxonmobil-agrees-to-report-on-climate-change-carbon-asset-risk-2014-03-20. But see also Bill McKibben’s article in The Guardian on April 3rd, “Exxon Mobil’s Response to Climate Change is Consummate Arrogance” at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/03/exxon-mobil-climate-change-oil-gas-fossil-fuels?CMP=twt_fd&utm_content=bufferfc5c8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer, and Desmond Tutu, “We Need an Apartheid-style Boycott to Save the Planet” at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/10/divest-fossil-fuels-climate-change-keystone-xl.

For an overview of Stranded Assets, see Unburnable Carbon: Wasted Capital and Stranded Assets at:
http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publications/Policy/docs/PB-unburnable-carbon-2013-wasted-capital-stranded-assets.pdf.

Pipeline News: Kitimat, First Nations Reject Northern Gateway; the Government Downgrades Protection for Humpback Whales

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline has encountered new road blocks as communities voice renewed opposition to the project. In Kitimat, residents voted against the pipeline by 60% in a non-binding plebiscite on April 19th. Kitimat might stand to gain the most if the project proceeds, with a promise from Enbridge to bring 180 permanent jobs to the community in addition to indirect opportunities for local contractors and suppliers. The day before the vote, four First Nations from the Yinka Dene, just west of Kitimat, expressed their official opposition to Northern Gateway in a meeting with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Yinka Dene have already gathered 160 B.C. First Nations behind a petition against the project. Other communities that have previously stated their opposition include Terrace, Prince Rupert, and Smithers.

See “Kitimat Residents Vote ‘No’ in Pipeline Plebiscite” from The Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/kitimat-residents-vote-in-northern-gateway-oil-pipeline-plebiscite/article17949815/, “Does Kitimat’s Vote Matter?” In The Tyee at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2014/04/12/Kitimat-Northern-Gateway-Vote/, and “Four Dene clans officially reject Northern Gateway pipeline” from The Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/four-dene-clans-officially-reject-northern-gateway-pipeline/article17948468/.

See https://workandclimatechangereport.org/2014/01/28/northern-gateway-headed-to-court-as-neb-approval-provokes-criticism-of-review-process/ for background on the current lawsuits against the Northern Gateway project by First Nations and environmental groups.

Meanwhile, on April 22nd, Environment Canada has recommended that the humpback whale be reclassified, from “threatened” to “species of special concern” under the Species At Risk Act. This would remove legal protection for humpback habitat (which happens to include the British Columbia coast where oil tanker traffic would increase if Northern Gateway is approved, and is part of the basis of a lawsuit launched by EcoJustice and others). See the CBC report at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/humpback-whale-losing-threatened-status-amid-northern-gateway-concerns-1.2617633.

National Energy Board Rejects B.C. Academics’ Participation in Transmountain Pipeline Hearings

A public letter sent to the National Post states: “This week, the National Energy Board (NEB) announced plans for its upcoming hearings on the proposal to triple the capacity of Kinder Morgan’s Transmountain Pipeline, which transports oil from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver. The new pipeline alone is expected to lead to 50% more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year than all of British Columbia currently produces. That fact prompted 26 university professors who study climate change to apply to lend our expertise to the NEB’s assessment of whether this project is in the public interest. Every one of us was rejected, because we proposed to talk about climate change…” See the letter at: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/04/10/donner-harrison-hoberg-lets-talk-about-climate-change/; see the NEB website for the Transmountain project at: http://www.neb.gc.ca/clf-nsi/rthnb/pplctnsbfrthnb/trnsmntnxpnsn/trnsmntnxpnsn-eng.html.

Keystone Decision Delayed Again

U.S. President Obama announced on April 18th that he will extend the government comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline until at least the end of May, frustrating Canadian boosters of the project. Read the CBC report at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/u-s-to-delay-keystone-xl-decision-1.2615062. Protests against KXL continue in the U.S., the latest including U.S. First Nations – see “Keystone Protesters mark Final Roundup – For Now” in Politico at: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/keystone-protesters-mark-final-roundup-for-now-106053.html?ml=la.

U.S. Announces Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions

On March 28th, the White House released a Strategy to Cut Methane Emissions as part of the overall Climate Action Plan. It includes plans and timetables for research and consultation for agriculture, landfill, coal mining and oil and gas. Re oil and gas, the press release states: “in the fall of 2014, EPA will determine how best to pursue further methane reductions from these sources. If EPA decides to develop additional regulations, it will complete those regulations by the end of 2016”. See the press release and overview at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/03/28/strategy-cut-methane-emissions; see the full Strategy Document at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/strategy_to_reduce_methane_emissions_2014-03-28_final.pdf.

Mandatory Emissions Trading Scheme for China

China’s Ministry of Finance has announced a plan to launch a mandatory national emissions trading scheme sometime between 2017 and 2020. The country has chosen seven regions where carbon market pilots will begin in the meantime. Eleven regions across China have been conducting pollution trading pilots since 2007, partly modelled after the EU emissions trading scheme. While pilots to date have focussed on carbon dioxide (CO2), the national scheme is expected to include sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrous oxide (NOx) as well. One billion metric tonnes of CO2 will be covered under the pilot programs, smaller only than the EU emissions trading scheme.

See “China aims to launch pollution permit market within 3 years” from Reuters at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/03/24/china-pollution-idINL4N0ML1OU20140324. By 2020, China has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels.