Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

June 13 2011

19:43

Canada Hiding Its Carbon Emissions Growth Amidst Rapid Tar Sands Boom

Each year, in advance of United Nations (U.N.) climate discussions, governments around the world submit an inventory of their carbon emissions. This year, Canada is taking a unique approach to lower its reported emissions in preparing the annual carbon inventory – it has purposefully excluded information in order to give the false impression that when it comes to climate-altering tar sands pollution, “everything is fine.”

In reality, Canada’s carbon emissions have tripled since 1990, and Canada is making only minor progress to lower its carbon production 17% by 2020, according to Environment Canada’s own figures.

Last week, however, it was revealed that in the 567-page report detailing the country’s emissions, the Canadian government decided not to include 2009 data. Why? Perhaps because it documents a 20% increase in pollution from Alberta’s tar sands industry. The elusive data was only gradually released through emails in response to an investigation by Postmedia News. <!--break-->
Canada’s effort to hide tar sands pollution is frightening, greenwashing aside, for several reasons:

•    Tar sands makes up about 6.5% of the country’s total emissions, and is arguably the most important contributor to the country’s overall emissions (up 11% in 2009);
•    Canada is the world's sixth largest oil producer and tar sands production is expected to increase to 3.5 billion barrels of oil per day by 2015, to 4.2 billion barrels by 2020 and  rising to 4.7 billion barrels by 2025 – an increase of 68% by 2025;
•    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that carbon emissions from tar sands oil is approximately 82% higher than average oil.

The government’s most recent data reveals that the rules in place to control tar sands pollution are not effective, since the industry has failed to lower emissions intensity per barrel of oil, as required. Mark Johnson, spokesman for Environment Canada said the newly released 2009 figures showed that there is “very little change in the total emissions intensity in oilsands.” In fact, industry claims that emissions per barrel had improved 39% since 1990, have been revised to around 29%.

Previously, the tar sands industry responded to challenges on its environmental practices by cultivating an image that the tar sands represent “ethical oil” as compared to importing oil from countries like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela or Nigeria. Oil producers even commissioned Cambridge Energy Research Associates to prepare a report [pdf] suggesting that emissions from tar sands oil is merely 5-15% higher than traditional oil.

Now the dirty oil industry is not even trying to defend spiraling emissions growth. According to Travis Davies, spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the industry believes it can still clean its operations through “incremental improvements” over the next five years.

Unfortunately, incremental steps will do little to help Canada achieve progress towards its lagging pollution-reduction goals, which are not aggressive enough to match the scientific evidence of anticipated climate change impacts.

In January, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy called [pdf] on Canada to stop waiting for the U.S. to take action on climate change. More recently, the Conference Board of Canada predicts continued failure on climate action in a highly critical report describing the lack of coordinated efforts between the Canadian federal and provincial governments.

At this month’s ongoing U.N. climate discussions in Bonn, Germany, Canada is being challenged by officials from Australia, China, Lebanon, the United Kingdom and the Philippines who are questioning government fossil fuel subsidies, tar sands emissions disclosure, the lack of low-carbon investments and the basis for the country’s weak emissions reduction target.

Peter Betts, the lead European Union negotiator and a director at the United Kingdom's Department of Energy and Climate Change, says he was “struck that the colleague from Canada didn't refer to the tarsands issue, or at least only once in passing…"

Canadian negotiators seem unfazed by the criticism, content to remain laggards on climate action. They not only admit but boast that the Harper-led government will not meet the emissions reduction commitments Canada agreed to under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Judith Gelbman, a member of Canada's delegation, sums up Canada’s politically-motivated position:

"Now that we've finished our election we can say now that Canada will not be taking a target under a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol."

February 04 2011

19:53

Andrew Weaver Sues Tim Ball for Libel

University of Victoria Professor Andrew Weaver, the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis, has filed suit for libel against freelance climate change denier Tim Ball.

The suit (attached below) arises from an article that Ball penned for the right-wingy Canada Free Press website, which has since apologized to Weaver for its numerous inaccuracies and stripped from its publicly available pages pretty much everything that Ball has ever written.

In the article, Ball, a former geography professor at the University of Winnipeg with an indifferent academic record and a lifetime peer-reviewed literature output of just four articles (none of them in atmospheric physics), assailed Weaver as uninformed about climate, unqualified to teach and compromised by his lavish funding, accusations for which he offered no proof whatever.

Weaver, a member of the Royal Society of Canada who has authored more than 190 papers, was also a lead author on three of the four reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climage Change (IPCC), and is lined up as a lead author on the fifth. He's also won pretty much all the academic and teaching awards that are available to a Canadian professor who has not yet had his 50th birthday. Ball, famously slow to notice the obvious, apparently didn't realize that he was overmatched.<!--break-->

Of course, it's not the first time. Ball sued University of Lethbridge Professor Dan Johnson in October 2006 over imagined slights in a letter to the editor that Johnson had written to the Calgary Herald. When both Johnson and the Herald filed a devastating Statements of Defence, Ball turned tail and ran.

But regardless that the suit had exposed the numerous falsehoods that once coloured Balls resume - and regardless that a University of Calgary audit confirmed that Ball had been accepting money that had been sluiced through a university slush fund that had been set up to conceal the money's oil industry origins, Ball has continued to write and speak, claiming some higher knowledge of the workings of climate change - actually, of the lack of climate change.

Suddenly, however, he appears to have gone quiet.

AttachmentSize Weaver-Ball lawsuit.pdf820.57 KB

October 14 2010

18:17

Calgary Herald Uses Royal Society Report as Soapbox to Preach Climate Change Denial

An editorial in the Calgary Herald praises the latest report from Britain's Royal Society entitled "Climate Change: A Summary of the Science". Though the Royal Society's report is anything but skeptical of the science of climate change and the tangible impacts it will have on populations, the Calgary Herald inappropriately cites the reputable organization's report in an effort to deny climate change and attack climate legislation that would hurt their bottom line. 

In response to the misperceptions held by some media and members of the public about climate change (despite the overwhelming scientific consensus), the Royal Society produced a definitive guide to the science of climate change that summarizes the current scientific evidence on climate change. It highlights the areas where the science is well established, where there is still some room for further investigation to improve confidence, and where substantial uncertainties remain. Far from claiming that there is any lack of consensus that climate change is happening, the report demonstrates, in layman's terms, where the science is established, and where more scientific work is still needed. <!--break-->The report states that : 

1. There is strong evidence that changes in greenhouse gas concentrations due to human activity are the dominant cause of the global warming that has taken place over the last half century. This warming trend is expected to continue, as are changes in precipitation over the long term in many regions. Further and more rapid increases in sea level are likely which will have profound implications for coastal communities and ecosystems.

2. It is not possible to determine exactly how much the Earth will warm or exactly how the climate will change in the future, but careful estimates of potential changes and associated uncertainties have been made. Scientists continue to work to narrow these areas of uncertainty. Uncertainty can work both ways, since the changes and their impacts may be either smaller or larger than those projected.

3. Like many important decisions, policy choices about climate change have to be made in the absence of perfect knowledge. Even if the remaining uncertainties were substantially resolved, the wide variety of interests, cultures and beliefs in society would make consensus about such choices difficult to achieve. However, the potential impacts of climate change are sufficiently serious that important decisions will need to be made. Climate science – including the substantial body of knowledge that is already well established, and the results of future research – is the essential basis for future climate projections and planning, and must be a vital component of public reasoning in this complex and challenging area.

In short, the Royal Society does not dispute that climate change is happening and is real. Despite not knowing how and how much the climate will change, the report makes a clear call to action that we respond to climate change.

The Calgary Herald editors do not seem to have read the same report as us, because they praise the report's author for a "refreshing departure from the strident, doom-and-gloom message that has characterized most scientific statements on global warming, which have been parroted by the Al Gores of the world thusly: humans are to blame, sea levels will rise and the end of the world is fast approaching." The op-ed suggests that the Royal Society is itself being skeptical in its report. In fact, it is anything but. 

The Calgary Herald editorial chalks up a victory for climate change deniers, and takes quotations out of context in the Royal Society’s summary to suggest that the Royal Society has a skeptical view of climate change. 

With that, they suggest that the Alberta government's $2 billion investment in carbon capture needs to be rethought, and that investments in climate change policy without “proof” should be thrown out. They also suggest that climate change is nothing but alarmism.

The Calgary Herald editors need to read the report more closely. 

The fact remains that the climate is changing in real ways, and we must respond to it based on scientific evidence, not spin and political gamesmanship. Any delay could be devastating for the planet, for Canadians and all people around the world. 

By sowing phrases like “insufficient understanding” and a lack of clarity together, the Calgary Herald is attempting to fool their readers into thinking there is not an overwhelming consensus about climate change, and that its nothing but alarmism. And that’s a problem. 

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl