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California’s gas leak should spur Canadian action on methane emissions

The leaking Aliso Canyon well pad in Los Angeles County on December 17, 2015. Source: Pembina Institute; Earthworks.

The leaking Aliso Canyon well pad in Los Angeles County on December 17, 2015. Source: Pembina Institute; Earthworks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new blog from the Pembina Institute makes an important point about the ongoing Aliso Canyon methane gas leak in California.

While the situation in California is definitely an important crisis, here in Canada we also emit huge amounts of methane every year:

“While the Aliso Canyon disaster has rightly been grabbing headlines, it’s a timely reminder of the much larger volumes of methane that are regularly released from all oil-and-gas operations — including those in Canada. Based on an analysis by the consulting firm ICF International, oil-and-gas methane emissions in Canada totalled 81.9 million tonnes in 2013 — that’s equivalent to almost seven Aliso Canyons. Those 81.9 million tonnes are spread across thousands of sources in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan’s oil-and-gas sectors.

“If what’s happening in California warrants a state of emergency, why aren’t Canada’s methane emissions considered a disaster? And why are we not acting faster to deal with the problem?”

Continue reading the blog post here. 

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Webinar: BC’s New Water Law

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Check out this upcoming free webinar, offered by the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the University of Victoria:

WHAT: Awash with Opportunity: Sustainability in BC’s New Water Law
DATE: Thursday, January 28th, 2016
TIME: 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. PT ( 3 p.m. to  4:30 p.m. ET)
 

In May 2014, the Province of British Columbia enacted the Water Sustainability Act, which provides an unprecedented opportunity to fully modernize the province’s water laws. In this webinar, speakers Oliver M. Brandes (Co-Director, POLIS Project on Ecological Governance and Lead, POLIS Water Sustainability Project) and Rosie Simms (Water Law & Policy Researcher, POLIS Water Sustainability Project) will share insights from the recent POLIS research report “Awash with Opportunity: Ensuring the Sustainability of BC’s New Water Law.” The research provides an analysis of the Water Sustainability Act and the core regulations required to bring the Act’s sustainable aspects into full effect. The speakers will highlight recommendations for effective regulation development in five core areas, based on best practices from around the world:

1) Groundwater licensing;

2) Environmental flows;

3) Monitoring and reporting;

4) Water objectives; and

5) Planning and governance.

The speakers will also offer specific insights on the need for a fundamental shift to a partnership-based approach to water governance and management in British Columbia, with shared roles and responsibilities to protect the province’s freshwater resources—now and into the future.

For more information and to register, click here.

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Food Waste: Tips to Save Money, Food, and the Environment

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Even with the best intentions, wasting food is a problem for many of us. We buy too much at once, we go out to eat with friends, or we forget about that fresh produce until it goes bad. This article points out that the problem of food waste is growing, and has important consequences.

“Over the past decade, food waste has reached epidemic proportions. According to a recent report from the World Resources Institute, about one third of all the food produced worldwide never makes it from production to plate. …An estimated two billion people could be fed from the food the U.S. throws away each year.

“The results of abundant global food waste run deeper than just the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots. This ever-increasing waste takes a toll on local environments, too. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps are the number one material sent to U.S. landfills. This organic waste is responsible for almost 25 percent of methane emissions and $1.3 billion in landfill and transportation costs. Our careless food production system also costs the U.S. nearly 35 percent of its freshwater supply and 300 million gallons of oil each year.”

The article also has lots of great ideas for smarter purchasing and storage to make sure we reduce our food waste. With tips on bulk buying, understanding expiration dates, and knowing where to store each item, this is a handy resource for smart shoppers.

See more from the article here. 

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Financing Adaptation: Addressing the Gap

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A girl walks along the shore as strong waves from Typhoon Hagupit hit Atimonan in the eastern Philippines on December 6, 2014. Source: Centre for American Progress; AP/Aaron Favila

An interesting new piece from the Center for American Progress discusses the challenges in financing adaptation.

While traditionally nations have focused more funding on mitigation than on adaptation, COP21 in Paris did recognize the importance of adaptation. But how will these effects be financed?

“In December 2015, world leaders convened in Paris to adopt a historic agreement to limit carbon pollution and adapt to the effects of climate change. The promise of the agreement lies in the fact that it establishes a framework to drive progress, requiring successive national goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prescribing ongoing national submissions on climate resilience. It defines a new era of multilateral climate action.

“Successive national goals, however, are insufficient for the success of the agreement, even if they are increasingly ambitious. Success requires implementation, and implementation requires investment. A fundamental shift in finance flows will be necessary to achieve climate resilience and carbon neutrality on a global scale….

“This brief examines the gap in adaptation finance that must be bridged in order to fulfill the values of the Paris agreement, with a focus on regions such as Southeast Asia that are at particular risk from the effects of climate change. It also discusses new adaptation finance commitments from governments and the private sector; the landscape of existing adaptation finance channels and initiatives onto which these commitments build; and the undiminished role of developed countries—such as the United States, Japan, EU countries, and others—to facilitate an increase in adaptation finance as the Paris era begins.”

Read more from the article here. 

 

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PIEVC Engineering Protocol Workshop for Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

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If you are a professional planner, check out this upcoming training opportunity:

Thurs, Feb. 25th | Vancouver

The PIEVC workshop will provide registered professional planners the opportunity, in collaboration with participating engineers, to learn about and apply this internationally recognized risk assessment tool to assist in the adaptation process to improve climate resilience of infrastructure in addition to providing the insight to enhance current and future planning processes that must take into account climate change.

Click here for more information and registration.

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Workshops: Green Shores Training

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This month, check out an opportunity to learn more about the green shores approach to adaptation:

The Stewardship Centre for BC and the University of Victoria Continuing Studies will be delivering new training workshops in January – February 2016 in Metro Vancouver, Victoria, Vancouver Island, and Powell River.

Two levels of training will be offered: Level 1- an introduction to Green Shores and Level 2- which provides participants with in-depth knowledge about the Green Shores credit and rating systems.

Level 1:

  • Victoria: Jan 18th 
  • Lantzville: Jan 26th

Level 2:

  • Powell River: Jan 28th-29th
  • West Vancouver: Feb 10th-11th

Click here for more information and registration. 

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Webinar: Tools for Climate Change Adaptation in the Real Estate Sector

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Check out this upcoming webinar offered by the Fraser Basin Council:

Webinar: Tools for Climate Change Adaptation in the Real Estate Sector

Wed. Feb 17th | 11:00am to 12:00pm PST

Climate change impacts each stage of the real estate life-cycle. This webinar focuses on three stages in the real estate development process (land packaging, occupancy and renovations, and redevelopment), and for each explores barriers to efficient adaptation decisions and the possible economic instruments that governments in BC could use to overcome them.

Click here to register.

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Webinar: Voodoo Hydrology— Pitfalls of Urban Hydrology Methods & What You Need to Know

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Read on for information about this interesting webinar offered on January 21st with Andy Reese:

As a stormwater community, we have for years relied upon common urban stormwater hydrologic design methodologies and trusted their results. But, should we? Join returning speaker Andy Reese as he exposes the black box of urban hydrology. In this webinar, Andy will (with his normal humor) “lay bare” the popular urban stormwater methodologies, as well as their key elements, assumptions, most common misuses, and proper application.

Urban hydrology, including newer Green Infrastructure sizing approaches, as commonly practiced, is an inexact science at best. If we were omniscient, we could do an exact job of urban hydrology. Instead, we rely on engineering judgment and guesswork, ultimately striking a compromise between accuracy and data availability, and resulting in an answer that is close to correct. As such, understanding the inner workings of the black boxes and unstated assumptions inherent in urban stormwater hydrology that we commonly use (e.g., computer packages) is essential to ensure proper application.

Join Andy in exploring the inner workings of some of the most popular urban stormwater methodologies, as well as their common misuse and misapplications. Through discussion of the associated elements and pitfalls, you will gain comprehensive understanding of urban stormwater hydrologic methods and their proper application to employ in your urban stormwater hydrologic design.

If you are a stormwater plans reviewer, compliance officer, design engineer, consultant manager, professor, or attorney, this course is for you!

The webinar will be on Thursday January 21st at 11 am PST. Click here for more information and registration. 

 

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Call for Presentations: 44th BCWWA Annual Conference & Trade Show

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The BC Water & Waste Association is looking for presentations and panels for their upcoming conference:

“The theme of this year’s conference is Resilient, Resourceful and Ready, and we encourage presenters from all areas of the water community to submit a presentation or panel abstract. The majority of previous conference attendees are water professionals with 5 to 35 years of experience who work in an operations or design & engineering role. If you have a presentation or panel that would interest our audience, we want to hear from you!

“The topics covered in our education program are intended to encourage discussion and knowledge sharing on current issues faced by BCWWA members and the water industry.”

The conference and trade show will be held Sunday May 1st- Wednesday May 4th in Whistler. Abstracts of proposed presentations and panels should be 250 words or less, and submitted online (link below) by January 22nd. 

To learn more and submit an abstract, click here.

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Free public lecture: The Human Face of Water Security

The Pacific Water Research Centre in the Faculty of Environment at SFU is pleased to invite you to a free public lecture and discussion on Monday, January 18th at 7:00 pm:

The Human Face of Water Security: A focus on vulnerable individuals and communities

Presented by Dr. Zafar Adeel, Director, Institute of Water, Environment and Health, United Nations University, Hamilton, Ontario

Monday, January 18, 2016, 7:00 pm, SFU Harbour Ctr, Rm 1900, 515 W. Hastings, Vancouver

There is growing interest in water security by politicians, policymakers, community-based organizations, and the international development community. Multiple descriptions and definitions of water security have simultaneously emerged as well, signifying a growing interest in the topic and some convergence in approaches. The perspectives on water security in many cases are driven by domain – for example, as a primarily human security issue, or as an environmental concern, or as a geopolitical and military security issue. Some recent work has also attempted to connect it to more traditional security issues including armed conflict and terrorism. Analyzed at its most basic level, however, it can be argued that water security pertains directly to the individual experience of assured access to clean, safe water. This experience, in turn, relates to sustainability of livelihoods, human wellbeing and health, environmental security, and resilience against hazards and extreme climate events. In most cases, the greatest level of water insecurity persists with individuals and communities that are disadvantaged and socially marginalized. Keeping the recent international developments in sight, most notably the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, Dr. Adeel will explore how the global community can foster universal water security; this includes some innovations in public policy and mobilization of resources.

This event is free, but registration is recommended. Click here to register. 

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Gender equity crucial in aftermath of disasters

Celia Soc'a house was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Source: Briarpatch Magazine/ Trina Moyles

Celia Soc’a house was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Source: Briarpatch Magazine/ Trina Moyles

In the chaos of natural disasters, many social systems break down. Ensuring that access to services, supports, and education in these circumstances is gender-equal is crucial for building community resilience and quick recovery.

An article in Briarpatch Magazine explores these concepts, focusing on Cuba’s response to Hurricane Sandy.

From Briarpatch

“According to the UNDP’s report on Gender and Disasters, women’s participation in different stages of disaster management – prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery – is critical to helping countries overcome disaster events.

“However, a gender-equitable response isn’t always applied in countries of the Global South, where the UN reports that women are 14 times more likely than men to die in a disaster. In the aftermath of catastrophic weather events, girls and women face risks related to sexual assault, rape, and abuse as a result of civil chaos and lawlessness. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, women living in displaced-person camps were 20 times more likely to report a sexual assault than women living in their homes.”

Since climate change will bring more frequent and intense disasters, it’s important for countries to properly plan for disaster response. Education, quick response, and access to services are all important- and equally important is the need to apply a gender lens.

Read more from the article here. 

For more on ACT’s work on extreme weather, click here.

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Webinar: Financial Tools to Support Adaptation

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Check out the following upcoming webinar:

Financial Tools to Support Adaptation: The Development and Implementation of Stormwater Charges and Fees 

Tuesday, January 26th 

1-2 pm ET

Municipalities are struggling to pay for their stormwater infrastructure needs, particularly in light of a changing climate. As a result, many municipalities are examining different financing mechanisms in order to better maintain, upgrade, and adapt their stormwater infrastructure to the extreme weather they are currently experiencing and expect to face. Such mechanisms increasingly include a stormwater charge. To date, the City of Mississauga is the largest city in Canada to introduce a stormwater charge. This presentation will outline the process of how Mississauga determined the most appropriate and fair type of stormwater charge for its residents and businesses, challenges in developing and implementing the charge, common themes in the public response, and how the City has responded to make the charge both accepted and effective. The presentation will also examine how the stormwater charge has provided a good opportunity to engage the public in conversations about climate change adaptation, and how the charge has enabled adaptation work within the municipality.

Click here to register. 

 

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Will Trudeau’s Infrastructure Plan Exacerbate Climate Change?

Source: Rabble.ca

Source: Rabble.ca

When most people think of taking action on climate change, infrastructure isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

But infrastructure plays a big role in adapting to a changing climate. Our infrastructure planning can worsen the climate crisis, or it can prepare us to live more sustainable and less carbon-intensive lives.

During the recent federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised a new infrastructure plan. He’s also promised serious climate action. However, some are now concerned that the new infrastructure won’t align with our climate needs.

From Rabble:

“The federal Liberals ‘historic infrastructure plan‘ acknowledges that infrastructure will need to be beefed up to deal with climate impacts such as flooding from more intense storms and rising sea levels. But when it comes to reducing the carbon pollution that threatens everything humans value, the plan is silent. And that leaves open a big door to provincial, municipal and regional governments getting billions in federal funds for projects that make the climate crisis worse. There is money in Trudeau’s budget allocated to a public transit fund which can reduce carbon pollution, but even ‘green infrastructure’ is mainly focused on replacing sewer pipes and the like rather than reducing carbon pollution….

“The cliché ‘you can’t build your way out of congestion’ is well supported by studies and experience, and has important implications for climate policy. In a 2007 study Clark Williams-Derry, Research Director of the SightLine Institute, found that ‘considering the increased emissions from highway construction and additional vehicle travel, adding one mile of new highway lane will increase CO2 emissions by more than 100,000 tons over 50 years.’…

“Trudeau has urged us to ‘take an active part in’ ensuring the success of the Paris climate agreement. Every dollar of public money spent on roadway expansion is a dollar spent to sabotage the Paris Climate agreement, and to push humanity towards truly catastrophic global warming. Let’s help Justin succeed in this tough work, by demanding that not one dollar of public infrastructure money go to increase carbon pollution.”

Read more from the article here. 

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Extreme warm temperatures in North Pole this week

Arctic sea ice in the spring. Source: The Atlantic; Wasif Malik, Flickr

Arctic sea ice in the spring. Source: The Atlantic; Wasif Malik, Flickr

According to The Atlantic, this week the North Pole has seen a storm which will brought its temperature up to 2 degrees Celsius.

That’s as warm as it is today in Vancouver!

“…later this week, something extraordinary will happen: Air temperatures at the Earth’s most northernly region, in the middle of winter, will rise above freezing for only the second time on record.

“On Wednesday, the same storm system that last week spun up deadly tornadoes in the American southeast will burst into the far north, centering over Iceland. It will bring strong winds and pressure as low as is typically seen during hurricanes.

“That low pressure will suck air out of the planet’s middle latitudes and send it rushing to the Arctic. And so on Wednesday, the North Pole will likely see temperatures of about 35 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius. That’s 50 degrees hotter than average: It’s usually 20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero there at this time of year.

“Winter temperatures have only snuck above freezing at the North Pole once before. Eric Holthaus, Slate’s meterologist, could not find an Arctic expert who had witnessed above-freezing temperatures at the pole between December and early April.” 

This is not good news for Arctic ice, which has already been melting at abnormally fast rates. (Not to mention, it’s not a very nice Christmas-time phenomenon: where will Santa Claus live if his home melts away?)

Read more from the article here. 

 

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“The Climate Nexus” Featured in Georgia Straight

Book co-author Jon O’Riordan

Book co-author Jon O’Riordan

The Georgia Straight featured our new book “The Climate Nexus” in a recent article.

“Former senior civil servant Jon O’Riordan says human beings can no longer count on natural processes to absorb the impact of people on the Earth.

 “In a new book he coauthored with Canadian water expert Robert Sandford, O’Riordan argues that the “nexus” of the challenge is where water, food energy, and climate all come together. Human beings are consuming resources in such a way that they’re pushing the Earth’s systems to the brink—and there’s no predicting the degree to which people will have to adapt to the planet’s response.

“‘This nexus lies at the very heart of current civilization; it is ground zero in the fight on climate and hydrological change,’ they write in The Climate Nexus: Water, Food, Energy and Biodiversity in a Changing World.”

The article focuses on the book’s assessment of soil in a changing climate:

The Climate Nexus includes some ominous information about the effect of higher temperatures and droughts on the capacity of soil to store carbon dioxide. That’s because research has suggested that when alpine soil becomes 2° C warmer over a period of time, it can release a quarter of its stored carbon. In fact, the book states that humanity has “just a half metre of soil standing between prosperity and desolation”.

Read more from the article here.

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Solar power lighting up Nigeria

Photo: Reuters/ Rogan Ward

Photo: Reuters/ Rogan Ward

In Nigeria many people still live without power. However, a new plan aims to bring solar power to one million households.

From Quartz Africa:

“With about 90 million Nigerians living without power, citizens are forced to live on expensively maintained generator sets. The effect of the lack of electricity is significant as it continues to hamper economic growth and hurts investor confidence. However a partnership between the World Bank, International Financial Corporation as well as local banks and energy firms in Nigeria could help assuage the pressing issue.

“The Lighting Africa Project, as it has been tagged, will focus on helping to develop a private sector that will provide electricity, using solar power, to up to a million households in Nigeria. The project will target households without access to the national grid in rural communities over the next five years.

“To make this happen, the World Bank will play a key role as it will provide low-interest financing for investors and energy firms involved in the partnership. One of the major goals of the project is to reduce the heavy dependence on kerosene lamps and gasoline-powered generators which pose various health and environmental risks.”

Read more from the article here. 

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