Environmental Protection

Ottawa betting big on EVs

The federal government plans to invest a total of $13 billion in what Volkswagen says has the potential to be the largest electric vehicle battery factory in the world. The German automaker is investing $7 billion in the project in southern Ontario where it is expected to employ up to 3,000 persons directly and create thousands of subsidiary jobs. Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre says the federal subsidies are excessive but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says “it will be worth $200 billion to the Canadian economy over the coming decade” as VW transitions to mostly electric models. [node:read-more:link]

New G7 wind and solar goals

Canada and the other G7 countries have pledged to add a combined 150 gigawatts of offshore windpower generation capacity by 2030 as well as installing a collective one terawatt of solar power capacity. “Initially, people thought that climate action and action on energy security potentially were in conflict,” Canadian Minister of Environment & Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson said April 16 after their two-day summit in Japan. “But […] they actually work together.” [node:read-more:link]

Greenhouse gases rose in 2021

Canada’s latest greenhouse gas emissions report shows that they were up in 2021 from the previous year but remained below pre-pandemic levels, according to its latest annual report to the UN. Environment & Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault says the 1.8 per cent rise to 670 million tonnes was expected but that “Canada's economy, in the face of a strong post-pandemic rebound, continues to show signs of becoming more efficient and less polluting as our journey to net-zero emissions continues.” [node:read-more:link]

Coal “net zero” goal elusive

Environment and energy ministers from Canada and the other G7 have been unable to set a timeline for phasing out coal-fired power plants. In a statement after two days of talks in Japan, they restated a commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Canada’s Steven Guilbeault reiterated his call for “strong language”, adding that “phasing out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 has never been so urgent” in Canada. [node:read-more:link]

Nuclear energy divisive in Germany

Germany’s decision to shut down the country’s three remaining nuclear power stations after decades of debate remains divisive. One side says keeping the reactors online would mean huge investment which could be used for renewables. The other argues that it illogical when reduced dependence on imported energy is boosting costs and potentially increasing reliance on fossil fuels. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian banks back fossil fuels

Oil Change International, an international coalition of environmental groups coordinated in Washington, reported April 13 says that Royal Bank of Canada was the biggest fossil fuel financier in the world in 2022, providing more than US$42 billion in funding of nearly $140 billion in lending by the five major Canadian banks. Scotiabank and TD ranked ninth and 10th globally at $29.5 billion and some $29 billion, respectively, while Bank of Montreal and CIBC were 15th and 16th at $19.3 billion and $17.9 billion, also respectively. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. accelerates EV agenda

Some two-thirds of all new automobiles sold in the U.S. could be electric by 2032 under a new emissions standards announced by the Environmental Protection Agency announced April 12. They would take effect in 2027. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. proposes water restrictions

Months of unproductive talks between the states that depend on the Colorado River prompted the U.S. Administration today to propose unprecedented reductions in water deliveries to California, Arizona and Nevada. Over-consumption and a 23-year drought threaten to provoke widespread water and hydroelectric generation shortages affecting 40 million Americans as well as two Mexican states. [node:read-more:link]

Federal minister defends carbon levy

Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault has acknowledged that average households may eventually pay more for energy because of the government’s incremental increases in its carbon levy than they get in rebates but he insists that other programs to help to reduce overall costs. The levy increased this weekend to $64 a tonne from $50 and the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said that when it reaches $170 by 2030, most households can expect a net loss. [node:read-more:link]

Mining runoff a cross-border headache

Indigenous leaders from the U.S. Pacific Northwest aren’t giving up trying to convince the Canadian government to agree to a bilateral investigation of toxic mining runoff from the B.C. interior. Tribal leaders took their case to Washington last week, saying their cause is the same as it was 11 years ago when they first invoked the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have promised a tentative deal by this summer. [node:read-more:link]

“Radiation blackmail” in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the safety at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station cannot be guaranteed while it is occupied by Russian troops. “Holding a nuclear power station hostage […] is surely the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of European or worldwide nuclear power,” he said March 27. The station’s six reactors are currently shutdown but power to prevent a meltdown evidently is unreliable. [node:read-more:link]

Zaporizhzhia safety deal near?

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano said today that while a deal deal to protect Europe's largest nuclear power plant from a catastrophic accident due to fighting in Ukraine could be “close”, he warned that intensified combat in the area has increased risks to the facility. “It is a zone of extreme volatility so the negotiations are, of course, affected,” he said. “I would not characterize the process for the last few months as one that has not led to any progress.” [node:read-more:link]

Alberta losing two key ministers

Two key members of Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s cabinet, Finance Minister Travis Toews and Environment & Protected Areas Minister Sonya Savage, announced March 24 that they will not contest the province’s next general election, expected on May 29. Both cited family reasons for their decision but said they would serve out their mandate. [node:read-more:link]

Canada-U.S. interests “interwoven”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden used a day of talks in Ottawa March 24 to tackle a range of shared issues, including defence and security, third-country refugees, Haiti, clean energy and trade in what Trudeau said was a demonstration of how their countries’ interests are “interwoven.” Biden, on his first visit to Canada as President, agreed, saying, “I can't think of a challenge we haven’t met together.” [node:read-more:link]

Putting the brakes on EU plan

A proposed European Parliament ban on the sale of new internal combustion engined cars by 2035 is being challenged by Germany, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic, all of which have large automotive industries. They have put the brakes on the plan by calling for the deadline to be extended for ICE-powered vehicles which run on “green” fuels. [node:read-more:link]


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