Environmental Protection

Canadian GHG emissions fell in 2020

Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 declined by 8.9 per cent to 672 megatonnes from 738Mt in 2019, according to the latest annual federal government report to the UN. The current government goal is to reduce emissions by 40-45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 with a view to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. [node:read-more:link]

PM says nuclear power “on the table”

The 2022 federal budget includes plans to expand the use of electric vehicles across the country, including extensive support for charging infrastructure but there are concerns about the fundamental supply of power. “We’re going to need more electricity and I know there are a lot of brilliant innovators ... across the country who are leaning in on that,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said April 11. “Absolutely,” he replied when asked whether power from nuclear reactors is an option. [node:read-more:link]

Offshore oil project approved

A Newfoundland offshore oil project with the potential to produce at least 300 million barrels of crude over its operating life, starting later this decade, has been approved by Environment & Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbault. The former activist said April 6 that while “it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make”, the Bay Nord venture is subject to strict conditions and a net-zero emissions target by 2050. [node:read-more:link]

Federal carbon levy staying put

A call by premiers of the Prairie provinces to suspend the latest scheduled increase in the federal carbon levy has been rebuffed by Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. The increase took effect last week atop surging retail fuel prices and while the premiers argued for relief, Wilkinson says “94 per cent of the price of gas has nothing to do with the price on pollution” and is due largely to global price increases resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. [node:read-more:link]

Aggressive emissions cuts proposed

Environment & Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault today released a federal government' plan to dramatically curb greenhouse gas emissions over the next eight years. It relies heavily on large reductions by the petroleum, transportation and power-generation sectors as the government hopes for at least a 40 per cent reduction in GHGs from 2005 levels by 2030. The plan also includes some $9.1 billion in new investments to incent zero-emission vehicles and tax relief to encourage carbon capture, utilization and storage technology. [node:read-more:link]

Four provinces plan small nuclear reactors

The Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick governments have confirmed plans to develop small nuclear reactors, modular designs they say will provide safe clean power to local users while helping to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The first would be built in Ontario with four to follow in Saskatchewan between 2034 and 2042. [node:read-more:link]

Feds delay offshore lease auction

A federal auction of oil exploration permits off Newfoundland and Labrador has been delayed for at least 90 days at the request of Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. The second such delay this month, announced March 23, it was in response to a request by Environment & Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault. [node:read-more:link]

Submarine cable an issue in Nova Scotia

With work on installation of a transatlantic submarine telecommunications cable for Facebook set to begin as soon as this week off southern Nova Scotia. However, the Atlantic Groundfish Council says “consultation here was largely non-existent” even though the area is being considered for “protected” designation and the fishing industry had proposed an alternate route. [node:read-more:link]

EU “green” technology plan challenged

A proposed European Commission plan to designate nuclear and natural gas power plants as “green energy” sources if they meet “sustainable investment” targets is proving politically divisive. “I cannot understand the decision,” says Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, supporting a proposed challenge in the European Court of Justice. Luxembourg has said it would join the lawsuit. [node:read-more:link]

Nuclear waste debate reignites

A Nuclear Waste Management Organization plan to ship thousands of spent reactor fuel rods in interim storage in four provinces to a proposed permanent storage site in Ontario has rekindled a decades-long debate about safety. With a decision on the location of the $23-billion project expected next year, scientists continue to study bedrock in the region where the deep geologic facility is likely to be located. [node:read-more:link]

Belgium shutting down reactors

The Belgian government announced Dec. 23 that it has an agreement in principle with a power utility to permanently shut down seven nuclear reactors at two sites by 2025. There have been regional concerns due to a series of temporary shutdowns in recent years at the reactors, some of which date to the 1970s, and the plan now is to start closing them down in 2022 with decommissioning and demolition by 2045. [node:read-more:link]

Coal remains a key climate threat

The International Energy Agency said rising thermal coal consumption by power plants in China, India and the U.S. could mean record global demand once final figures for 2021 are available. The UN agency says coal-fired generation is projected at 10,350 terawatt-hours, up nine per cent from 2020 due to economic recovery which has “pushed up electricity demand much faster than low-carbon supplies can keep up.” [node:read-more:link]

Emissions-free technology still feared

Nuclear reactors are seen as a key factor in the global effort to combat global warming by curbing greenhouse gas emissions but memories of reactor accidents in Japan, Ukraine and he U.S. continue to fuel skepticism and fear. Coupled with upfront capital costs and the advent of wind and solar power sources, which also have critics, are deterring potential investment. [node:read-more:link]

Arctic shipping urged to curb emissions

A UN resolution urging maritime operators to use clear fuels in the Arctic is being widely hailed for its potential to reduce carbon black emissions in the region. The fine particulates from incomplete fossil fuel combustion land on snow and ice, increasing melt rates by reducing the surface’s albedo or reflectivity. [node:read-more:link]

Suzuki stirs up pipeline debate

Noted environmentalist David Suzuki is standing by his weekend speculation that frustration with governments’ handling of climate change could lead to protesters “blowing up” pipelines. After he broached the possibility, there was a flurry of accusations that he was inciting violence, but he countered Nov. 22 that “we’ve come to a time where civil disobedience is what we have to do now — to put our bodies on the line.” [node:read-more:link]


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