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Wet’suwet’en: The canary in the Canadian fossil fuel cage

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Ad nauseum, mainstream media have focused on the economic consequences of the blockades in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Equal media attention has been dedicated to the complexities of Indigenous ancestral rights in unceded territories and who has the right to speak for the Wet’suwet’en. Rare are those who characterize the impasse as a clash of two economies, the resource-based economy and the green economy.

Jason Kenney got it half right in saying that the standoff is a “dress rehearsal” for future major fossil fuel projects.

Batteries not included: Canada unprepared for demise of fossil fuel era

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The federal election results suggest that the first priority of the NDP must be electoral reform to bring to an end the politics of fear and the strategic vote, which favours the Liberals and Conservatives alike.

The second priority must be to engage Canada, for the first time, in an urgent migration to a green economy. The Liberal record on shifting to clean technologies is nothing short of insignificant, one of the worst records among developed countries. Meanwhile, China, and to a lesser extent, the European Union and California, are changing global economic, energy, and transportation paradigms.

EXCLUSIVE: STALLED U.S. TAILPIPE STANDARDS COULD TRIGGER THE NEXT AUTO INDUSTRY BAILOUT

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The green transition in China, the world’s largest energy consumer and vehicle market, is unfolding at a faster rate, and with greater intensity, than the Industrial Revolution. And China’s shift to clean transportation is the piece of the puzzle that could have the most dramatic implications for North American automakers, and for the global fossil industry.

Transportation accounts for 60% of the world’s petroleum consumption. So you would think the industries and governments that are banking on that business would have taken notice last year, when China’s plug-in vehicle sales exceeded 600,000. Or again, over the last few months, when the country’s year-over-year plug-in hybrid electric vehicle volumes were up 127% in May and 130% in June.

Newfoundland offshore drilling: a case of bending environmental impact rules

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Covid-19 has fixated world attention. And what attention is focused on fossil fuels is mostly tuned to Trans Mountain and Keystone XL oil sands pipelines that have made it back into headlines. But there is another Big Oil story in Canada that has fallen through the cracks. This other story is about a shocking bending of all the rules regarding an environmental assessment for fossil fuel offshore exploration on the Newfoundland coast.

On March 4, 2020, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson authorized a derogation of the Impact Assessment Act (IAA) to allow exploratory, offshore oil-and-gas drilling on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, pending an online consultation process. Originally, this was to be a 30-day consultation process terminating April 3, 2020, but has been extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has been estimated that the area to be explored has a potential to produce 650,000 barrels per day.

Yet public information about the online consultation, in particular the derogation of the IAA, has been well-hidden from the radar screen of those likely to be concerned about the Grand Banks project. The only portrait I found on the political machinations is in a Le Devoir article from March 23.

Canada falling short in fossil fuel divestment

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Environmental liabilities are the most prominent global investment risks, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) 2020 report.

This report’s short-term risks classified four of the top five hazards as being environmental — extreme heat waves, destruction of ecosystems, pollution’s impact on health and uncontrolled fires.

The five most significant long-term perils are also environmental, the WEF reports, with the latter list comprising extreme weather, biodiversity loss, climate-action failure, natural disasters and human-made environmental disasters.

The global investment community is increasingly internalizing these concerns such that in 2019 investors representing US$11 trillion in the assets from 1,100 financial institutions have committed to divest from fossil fuels.