Thursday, May 25, 2006

The PM's New Alternative Energy Souce - Hot Air from Ottawa

In a bold move today, Prime Minister Harper announced that he would personally restore the "hot air imbalance" in the country, thus providing the provinces with a new source of renewable energy.

To achieve this ambitious goal, the PM has banned Parliament Hill press conferences and will himself travel around the country taking questions from local reporters.

The PM said that this is only the beginning of his "made-in-Canada" plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. "Actions speak lounder than words, unless those words come from the federal government", he said. While admitting that the provinces will probably be upset over the recently announced cuts in funding for their Kyoto programs, he said that the new "hot air transfers" will more than make up the difference.

"Charest may have his hydro-electric power, but I have the full force of the Conservative caucus and the Bloc Quebequois behind me."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

They call it 'balance'; I call it 'gross misrepresentation of the truth'!

Perhaps Harper's problem is watching too much US television. Recent ads put out by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) - an industry-funded lobby group - use the tag line "They call it pollution; we call it Life", in reference to CO2 being labelled a pollutant.

You have got to see these ads to believe them! They would be hilarious if they weren't so creepy!

The second one shows the titles of two papers they claim show that global warming is not causing the glaciers to melt. However, the conclusions of the actual papers mentioned make the opposite point. See here and here for an analysis.

An appalling betrayal - of everyone!

Elizabeth May has it right. She is quoted at the end of this CNews story as saying the Harper government's actions are "an appalling betrayal of Canadians". Canadians did not elect Harper and Ambrose to gut the Kyoto accord!

Unfortunately, they seem to be trying to do just that. From the CTV news story:
According to documents obtained by the Globe and Mail, the Conservative government will oppose a plan to set tougher greenhouse gas emissions targets for developed nations in the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, and wants to see the climate change agreement phased out.

The Tories only received 36% of the vote in the last election, and are running a minority government. The Tories certainly did not receive a mandate to pull us out of this important international agreement!

According to a recent poll, 50% of Canadians are worried about global warming. We need to be doing more than trying to derail the little progress that has already been made.

In fact, with these latest tactics Harper and Ambrose are betraying everyone in the world! The Kyoto accord is far from perfect, but it's the best hope that we have so far for global action to slow down climate change. If the Tories don't like it, they should get out of the way and let the negotiations progress.

Ambrose needs to resign - and Harper needs to start listening to someone other than George Bush and John Howard!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gardeners take note...

The US National Arbor Day Foundation has published an updated "hardiness zones" map, taking into account changes due to climate change. On their web site they've compared the old map (1990) and the new one (2004). Although the map doesn't include Canada, it's quite interesting to see this visual representation of how the North American climate has already changed!

According to their press release "once the Foundation analyzed the new data, hardiness zones were revised, generally reflecting warmer recent temperatures in many parts of the country".

Apparently, the USDA is also working on a new map. However they say that the new map will reflect "weather" changes rather than "climate" changes. Sounds like semantics to me. There is a very interesting article about the planned new USDA map at

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tories Scrap EnerGuide for Homes Program

Here is the notice on the Natural Resources Canada web site:

The EnerGuide for Houses Retrofit Incentive program has been discontinued as of midnight May 12, 2006.

It seems that they didn't like the fact that the Energy Advisors (who performed the home audits) were talking to people about climate change. According to this letter to the editor by a former Energy Advisor:
"The first thing the new Conservative government did when they were elected was to tell us to stop talking to homeowners about climate change through the One Tonne Challenge. Our focus was to be on energy savings."

This was a great program. We had an audit done a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, because of the incentive structure we didn't qualify for much of a rebate. But it did give us a list of things we could do, and how much energy and money we'd save for each item (which we're hoping to get started on this year).

The program could certainly have been improved, but that doesn't warrant scrapping it! Unfortunately, it seems that anybody who mentions climate change as a serious issue is not popular with the Harper government.

NOTE: The NRCan site also says "Property owners who have had a pre-retrofit evaluation performed prior to this date can have a post-retrofit evaluation and still qualify for a grant until March 31, 2007." So, if you've had the audit and are planning renovations, get them done soon!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Quebec's energy plan

Having received some feedback that a previous post could be taken as being anti-Quebec (which I'm not!) I've decided to post this instead.

I think that the recently announced Hydro-Quebec plan could be great for Quebec, Ontario, and the climate. Having more energy available from Quebec will surely help Ontario with it's plan to get rid of the coal-fired generating stations.

I especially like the energy efficiency targets:
"Between now and 2015, Quebec's government plans to increase the province's overall energy efficiency target by a factor of eight from the current levels. That is expected to save consumers about $2.5-billion a year, and avoid putting about 9.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas in the air annually."

For comparison, our yearly emissions from all of Canada is close to 750 million tonnes. But it's a great start. Imagine if all the provinces had similar projects - we'd be a lot closer to our Kyoto targets.

Quebec may be getting some federal funding to help with climate change projects soon (see the end of the article) - we should be expanding this type of funding to all of the provinces.

The wind power projects could also be good, provided they are constructed in locations that have minimal impact on migratory birds.

Some of the hydroelectric projects, however, are more controversial in what the resulting environmental impacts will be.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Al Gore urges Canadian action on climate change

Al Gore was in Toronto to promote his movie An Inconvenient Truth. This was covered by a CP story, and by the Toronto Sun (of all papers)! I was unable to find a story the Star (just a movie summary), but the Globe is carrying the CP story.

From the CP story:
"When read the "made-in-Canada" quotes from Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, Gore rolled his eyes and made a flag-waving gesture with his hand."

In other news, apparently our "made-in-Canada" solution includes cutting yet more funding for programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

Program to help low-income homes cut energy use axed

Ottawa pulls pollution funds for Ontario

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Debunking the 'skeptics'

For a great overview of the Canadian global warming denial lobby, read this piece by Donald Gutstein (in The Tyee).

Here's a quote, talking about Jim Hoggan's deSmogBlog:

In a recent post, Hoggan discusses a column by Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson, who complains that here's a letter from 90 scientists urging action; there's a letter from 60 scientists urging Harper to ignore calls to action. "What's a layman to do?" Ibbitson whines.

His solution? Forget about global warming and instead work with the US to improve air quality. "After all," he writes, "a continental agreement on air quality would do far more to improve the lives of both Americans and Canadians than any actions specifically targeted at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions."

It's called bait and switch. We're alarmed about the health of the planet our grandchildren will inherit. But (thanks to the lies and deceptions of the deniers) nobody can agree on what's happening, let alone what should be done. So let's do something that we can all agree on instead.

Ibbitson's column makes clear the political purpose of the deniers' letter -- to help Harper out of a tight corner. His goal of capturing a majority government depends on winning seats in Ontario and Quebec, the provinces where support for Kyoto is strongest. He could court their support by giving them Kyoto, but this would infuriate his oil industry masters.

Tory budget ignores climate change

Well, no big surprise really - the Tory budget cuts the Kyoto programs and replaces them with a small tax credit to transit users, and promises of funding for a 'made in Canada' solution.

As Dale Marshall of the David Suzuki Foundation said:

“Ninety per cent of Canadians have said global warming is a serious problem and they want the government to take action,” said Mr. Marshall. “By gutting the climate plan and abandoning the Kyoto Protocol, Prime Minister Harper is effectively thumbing his nose at their concerns.”