On an official state visit to the U.S. on September 25, China’s president, Xi Jinping, announced that China would establish a national cap and trade program in 2017 covering power generation, iron and steel, chemicals and building materials industries. He also committed $3.1 billion in climate financing to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change, capping off a series of recent announcements. The Rocky Mountain Institute summarizes the full slate of pledges made by the U.S. and China on September 25, “Today’s U.S.-China Announcement is the Most Significant Milestone to Date for Battling Global Climate Change”. Inside Climate News summarizes the Chinese announcement. In the New Yorker (September 25) “What can China achieve with Cap-and-Trade?” cites the irony of a market-based system from a communist country, in contrast to the U.S. approach of regulation from a centralized bureaucracy.
FOLLOWING IN URGENDA’S FOOTSTEPS – ANOTHER LANDMARK CLIMATE CHANGE DECISION BY PAKISTANI COURT
According to the Climate Law Blog of the Columbia Law School, “Leghari v. Federation of Pakistan now joins the Urgenda decision in the Netherlands as an important judicial decision directing a national government to take action on climate change based on fundamental legal principles”. When a farmer in Pakistan sued his government for failing to carry out the country’s National Climate Policy and Framework, the High Court of Lahore ruled in September that “Climate Change is a defining challenge of our time...On a legal and constitutional plane this is clarion call for the protection of fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan, in particular, the vulnerable and weak segments of the society who are unable to approach this Court”. Citing the life-threatening dangers of drought and flooding in the country, the judge directed several government ministries to ensure the implementation of the Framework, with a deadline of December 31, 2015 for action plans. The court also created a Climate Change Commission with representatives from government, NGOs, and technical experts. An article in the Toronto Star (Oct. 3) quotes Canadian legal experts on the decision. See the text of the decision at the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide website.
In September, 2015 Pembina Institute released an opinion poll of Albertans, conducted by EKOS Research. Of the 1,885 respondents, 50% would support an economy-wide carbon tax, rising to 72% if the proceeds were invested in low-carbon projects; 70% want stricter enforcement of the existing environmental rules and safeguards in the oilsands; 70% support investing in renewables to reduce coal use, and 86% want the province to increase support for clean energy and clean technology.
Other opinions were expressed at the 2015 Alberta Climate Summit, convened on September 9 by Pembina Institute. Discussions centred on the economy and jobs, carbon pricing, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
The Climate Change Advisory Panel of the Alberta government invited submissions from Albertans in August and September. Views of individuals, companies, academics, advocacy groups and associations, and three labour unions are available: A list by name helps to locate items of interest amongst over 400 documents. The union submissions are: #94, by the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 110 (Alberta); #387, by the Alberta Federation of Labour and #494, a 1-page statement by the Business Agent of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 955.
Environics Institute, partnered with the David Suzuki Foundation, released Canadian Public Opinion about Climate Change, showing that support for the B.C. carbon tax is at an all time high in that province, and has increased to 60% in other provinces – notably Atlantic Canada, and amongst women. 74% of Canadians say they believe it is possible for their province to shift most of its energy requirements from fossil fuels to clean renewable forms of energy.
According to a brief Enbridge press release on September 30, 2015 , the National Energy Board (NEB) has approved the results of required hydro-static tests on Line 9, removing the last safety test required before the pipeline can begin transporting crude oil from Sarnia to Montreal. The Globe and Mail reported the decision, “Canadian Regulators give Enbridge’s Line 9 the Green Light” (Sept. 30), yet the official NEB website for Line 9 did not post a press release . As reported by the Globe and Mail, “Approval of Enbridge’s Line 9 applauded by Quebec Refineries” (Oct. 1), but CBC reports that “Montreal protesters denounce Energy East, Enbridge Line 9 pipelines”.
Eighteen lawsuits were consolidated and heard in a Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver, from October 1 to 8, as eight First Nations, four environmental groups and Unifor challenged the decision of the Federal Joint Review Panel on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline. Lawyers representing Unifor argued that the Joint Review Panel erred by focusing on the economic benefits of oil sands development and refusing to consider greenhouse gas emissions produced by upstream development (see Unifor’s detailed Memorandum of Fact and Law here). West Coast Environmental Law provides a Legal Backgrounder with official documents, a day by day summary of proceedings and will cover the decision when it is announced in the coming months. “How Harper triggered a First Nations legal war over Northern Gateway” in the National Observer (Oct. 1) provides background.