Climate Change

Legal developments re the climate crisis

U.S. Pentagon: Climate Change an Immediate Security Threat

The U.S. Pentagon’s latest report, the 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, calls climate change an immediate threat to national security. The forward, by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, sets the tone: “Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will…

Fossil fuel divestment catching on?

Is the tide turning on fossil fuel divestment? Climate Week featured promises, by some big mainstream investors, to start divesting from fossil fuels. Notable announcements included the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which was built on the Standard Oil fortune. Europe has more than nine fossil fuel divestment campaigns underway. And now Bank of England governor, Mark…

Powerful reports by environmental commissioners

Congratulations to both the federal and provincial environmental commissioners, who continue to strenuously remind our governments how far they fall short on environmental stewardship, and who both issued powerful reports this week. Bees, Algonquin Park, “Chemical Alley”, urban sprawl, climate change, weak environmental assessment, inadequate commitment to environmental monitoring in the oil sands: there is no…

Ontario Targets for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Ontario government has released its Climate Change Update 2014 to coincide with Climate Week that was held in New York City from September 21-28. Climate Week involved mass gatherings to demonstrate the public demand for action on climate change, as well as roundtables highlighting the latest strategies to reduce our carbon footprint, all leading up…

Environment Minister Murray’s mandate letter

Every Cabinet minister gets his or her marching orders from the Premier or Prime Minister. These “mandates” used to be top secret, but Ontario now makes them public. Here is the mandate letter for the new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, with our emphasis added. On environmental legislation, note the commitment to reintroducing the…

Port Authority biased in approving coal port?

This month, Ecojustice filed an application for judicial review of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s decision to permit a coal transfer facility. They claim that the Port Authority failed to consider some environmental effects, including climate change, and that the decision of the Port and its officers and staff was affected by bias. Bias is a serious…

Innovative illustration of the climate change consensus

In its Fifth Assessment Report,  the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded: “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” Skeptical Science, a website dedicating to explaining “what peer reviewed science has to say about global warming”, has launched an innovative project to demonstrate this near total consensus among…

Minister receptive to Commissioner’s climate report

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner issued his annual Climate Change report last month, as usual scolding the provincial government for its inaction on both mitigation and adaptation. But this year, the report got an unusual reception: the new Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, attended the announcement, and seems to be receptive to its message.

New Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Premier Wynne announced on June 24, 2014 that Glenn Murray will be the new Minister of the Environment and Climate change. According to the announcement, this is “an expanded portfolio that will ensure Ontario can protect the gains it has made in fighting climate change, lead Ontario’s mitigation and adaptation efforts to extreme weather and strengthen its…

Toronto Trees: $7B in health and environment

Toronto trees are worth an estimated $7 Billion, or about $700 per tree, according to a June 9, 2014, report from TD Economics. Toronto trees provide residents with over $80 million, or about $8 per tree, of environmental benefits and savings a year, as they are a critical factor in environmental conditions, human health and the overall quality of urban health.…

Federal govt proposes new air pollution regulations

The federal government has proposed a major set of new air pollution regulations to reduce industrial-source air pollution, starting with performance standards for the cement sector and two equipment types: gaseous-fuel-fired non-utility boilers/ heaters and stationary spark-ignition gaseous-fuel-fired engines. The regulations would also achieve modest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama to slash emissions from power plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its long awaited proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards to slash carbon emissions from existing power plants, the largest industrial source of GHG emissions in the US. The rule, if upheld by the Supreme Court, will require existing power plants to reduce GHG emissions by an average of 30…

Environment Ministry to loosen law for waste-based “alternative fuels” that displace coal

Kudos to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for finally coming to grips, at least a little, with the adverse environmental and environmental effects of labelling too many productive activities as “waste disposal”. The ministry’s proposed regulatory changes will remove the “waste disposal” label from energy-intensive and trade-exposed heavy industry (such as the cement, lime, iron and steel…

First “climate refugee” case going to appeal in New Zealand

ON 1ST MAY 2014, the New Zealand Court of Appeal will hear Ioane Teitiota’s claim to become the world’s first climate refugee. Mr. Teitota is from a remote atoll in the Pacific nation of Kiribati, one of the lowest-lying nations on Earth. He is trying to convince New Zealand judges that he’s a refugee—suffering not from persecution, but…