1. 5 mins Pipeline Decisions (Nov. 29, 2016)
The waiting is over, the announcement on pipelines have been made. After weeks of setting the stage with announcements on getting off coal by 2030 and beefing up spill response on the BC coast, Ottawa announced the approval of the Kinder Morgan and the Line 3 pipelines, and the rejection of the Northern Gateway pipeline. The Conservatives are complaining from the right, the NDP are complaining from the left, leaving the Liberals to govern from the centre. This is a very complex issue that is far from over. Indigenous governments are not happy. To date the Federal government not made much progress on their political commitment for a new nation-to-nation collaborative, consent-based relationship, like the one that exists in Canadian federalism, with the provinces and territories. This recent announcement has increased that unhappiness, adding further strength to mounting Indigenous alliances – Canada and U.S. wide – forming to protect their interests being harmed by Canada’s oil sands industry. The Federal government needs to avoid engaging with Indigenous governments in ways they have already acknowledged don’t work.
2. 2 mins Water Investments (Nov. 28, 2016)
This short Forbes article its it almost right but not quite. The author is correct…water is already scarce and will get scarcer. And investing in water companies might get you rich as clean water becomes harder and harder to get (I mean…Dr. Michael Burry from The Big Short is focussing his investments on water, what else needs to be said…?). And yes, the conventional wisdom is that if investors care about something, meaning, if companies care and if shareholder money flows towards something, then it will be protected…if for no other reason than it is valuable as an asset and investors don’t like their assets to be devalued. That much is clear. However. Profiting because you accept destructive planetary change seems wrong. I know it happens, and as an investor it’s hard to exactly what your every cent is invested in, but…to knowingly seek to profit from a destruction at a global scale (which is what climate change is) that threatens the completely non-substitutable substance that is absolutely fundamental for life that water is, is wrong. Damage to the earth and water must be prevented through decisions that protect water. Damage should not be seen as an investment opportunity. Invest in solutions (some of which the author rightly identifies)…but don’t accept destruction as inevitable, especially as a way to make money.
3. 10 mins Oil Spills in BC (Nov. 28,2016)
According to this CBC article, the typical containment of of an oil spill is 5-15% (or 50% in an absolute best case scenario with perfect conditions). This is a dismal, chilling rate of recovery. Combine that with increasing of tanker traffic from one tanker / week to one tanker / day, along with the significant increase of extreme weather events, and you have all the ingredients for increased environmental degradation off the BC coast. There will be spills (it’s more a case of when, not whether) and at least 50% of what is spilled will be left to pollute and destroy the environment. Those odds maybe be acceptable sitting in Edmonton, Ottawa or Vancouver, but they appear to be unacceptable for Indigenous governments and local BC residents, of this week’s reactions to the Federal government decisions on the Kinder Morgan pipeline are any indication. No matter how much money is spent on additional spill response, a typical oil spill will leave 85%-95% of the spill to pollute the marine environment. With this decision, the chance of a spill along the coast just went up 700%.
4. 10 mins A2F (Air to Fuel) On Track at Industrial Scale (Dec. 1, 2016)
I live in the NWT (14 hours by road at 120 kph to Edmonton, AB – this is not unique, it is the story of Canada). There is nothing imminent that will be replacing the internal combustion engine that gets me to Edmonton, though electric vehicles are evolving fast. The focus right now is on fuel efficiency and low carbon fuels. “Carbon Engineering Ltd. (CE) and Greyrock Energy Inc. recently announced that they are joining forces to produce ultralow carbon liquid transportation fuels using only water, CO2 captured from air and renewable power as inputs.” The transportation sector, accounting for about one third of all emissions, faces unique challenges in cutting emissions and responding to climate change. The latest developments by CE and Greyrock Energy Inc. show the strides science and technology are making in this area. “Synthetic fuels produced with A2F have several intrinsic advantages to offer in decarbonizing the transportation sector, namely that they have an energy density 30-fold greater than today’s best batteries, can be produced with a land footprint 100-fold less than today’s biofuels and are “drop in” compatible with today’s engines and refueling stations. This drop-in compatibility allows progressive emissions reductions by gradual fuel switching without infrastructure turnover. There has been a surge of recent interest in air to fuels, and internal estimates suggest that fuel production costs will allow market entry into LCFS style systems at current prices.”
5. 2 mins Words are Not Enough on N2N (Nov. 25, 2016)
This clear and concise editorial from the Toronto Star looks at the challenges and pressures facing the Trudeau commitment in fulfilling the most important political commitment it made to Indigenous peoples: support for UNDRIP and implementation of the nation-to-nation (N2N) relationship. We think that, yes, it is not easy to implement these commitments, but it must and can be done. We thing a few things are critical: first, N2N is situation-specific in most cases, as is the implementation of UNDRIP. Defined by each nation, in a situation such as…health care reform, or water management, or energy plan development, or language protection. These things are about N2N discussions about how to achieve mutually acceptable goals, as governments. It’s about building MUTUAL CONSENT within each government for a plan forward on the matter being discussed. This form of government dialogue has a long history in Canada, its called cooperative federalism, and the federal and provincial/territorial governments have been doing it since the Constitution was signed. Indigenous governments, despite their role as one of the three founding nations of Canada, were just never invited to the table of confederation. Now, all eyes are on Trudeau. This commitment can still be met…we just need to take the time to think out of the box. Solutions are there.