This site has a bunch of information regarding issues surrounding the environment, political energy news, and so on. Click on the posts below to find out more…
Canadian Environmental Issues
As the Communications Director for the US- based environmental group, Earth Now, my superiors urged me to head up to Northern Ontario to meet with my counterpart in a Canadian environmental advocacy agency.
The rationale behind the trip being to check out the Canadian government‘s efforts to help the environment because supposedly, Canadian groups were enjoying more success in getting their government to act than us US slackers.
Someone forgot to tell me that as a native Floridian, December in Northern Ontario makes your face somehow disappear, because from the time I set foot off the plane in Ontario until getting back home, my face was completely numb from the bitter, biting cold. A week back in the warm Florida sun, my hands were thawed enough to sit and write the report of what I found.
Many Canadian environmentalists believe that Canada will play an enormous role in supplying the US, and many other countries around the world with fresh drinking water, oil, and minerals as these natural resources dry up around the globe. Their big fear is that the Harper administration will squander these resources so badly that there will be little left for Canadians themselves, let alone the world.
Case in point, Harper’s ongoing negotiations to build a pipeline through Northern Alberta through British Columbia to transport oil to China could spell disaster for rivers and freshwater systems.
Conversely, a handy little pipeline to export oil to the world’s fastest growing economy could provide such an economic boon to Canada that the government could afford to buy every Canadian citizen their very own electric car.
Air pollution in metro areas.
Canadian cities are not immune to the air pollution that plagues large metropolitan areas around the world. Josh Wingrove, of The Ottawa Globe and Mail, details how an audit by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development shows an alarming failure of the Harper administration to be on pace to meet the 17% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels as pledged to the international community in the Copenhagen Accord.
Even though these target numbers were set by the Harper administration, Canada is on pace to fall drastically short. Furthermore, there is no plan in place to address the shortfalls, and that most of the progress made at this point has been because of provincial efforts and had nothing to do with any measures from Ottawa.
The Green Energy Act
One of the measures that attempts to address the excessive carbon emissions is The Green Energy Act. Depending on who you ask, the act is either a smashing success or a colossal failure. The Ontario Ministry of Energy touts the measure as “sparking growth in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectricity and bioenergy.” Clearly, an indisputable benefit of the measure is saving Ontarians more than 1,900 megawatts of peak demand electricity in the last ten years, or the equivalent of taking 600,000 homes off the grid.
However, as reported in the Financial Post by Ross McKitrick and Tom Adams, the end of 2014 brought with it another increase in electricity rates, bumping the province to having some of the highest rates of any province with no relief in sight. Price is an issue, and with the actual benefit to the environment extremely arguable, the question becomes are the alternative energy sources being pursued and mandated worth the costs.
Typical of government types, the officials that support the GEA enjoy pretending that the astronomical rate of electricity has nothing to do with the closing of the coal-fired plants and investment renewable energy sector to provide power. Opponents, however, insist that the wind, solar, and biomass energy companies charge the Ontario Power Authority a much higher than market charge for electricity, which in turn, is slapped onto the consumer bills.
My time in the frozen tundra taught me one thing. If I ask 100 people if the Canadian government is successfully protecting the environment, I will get 100 different answers.
Many accuse Harper of worrying too much about the economy and not protecting the environment with the constant additions of new pipeline posing a significant risk to the water supply. Alternately, ask a business person, and Harper is enacting so many environmental regulations that it is hampering business and inflating operating costs. Ask an Ontarian, and they will say, heck with the environment, just lower my electric bill!
As with anything, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle of the opinions. The government tries, but does not do enough. The environmental groups lobby and the oil industry pushes back. All in all, it sounds a lot like America.
Ho, J.C. (n.d.). What is the most serious environmental problem facing Canadians today?. Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-most-serious-environmental-problem-facing-Canadians-today
McKitrick, R., Adams, T. (2014). How green energy is fleecing Ontario electricity consumers. Retrieved from http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/how-green-energy-is-fleecing-ontario-electricity-consumers
Ontario Ministry of Energy. (2015). The Green Energy Act. Retrieved from http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/en/green-energy-act/
Wingrove, J. (2014). Scathing report details Canada’s environmental shortfalls. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-lagging-on-emissions-goals-environment-watchdog-warns/article20959840/?page=all