BC Signs Western Government Agreement to Work on Adaptation

“British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California have signed two agreements aimed at boosting the West Coast economy and protecting the environment,” reports The Canadian Press.

The meeting between B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, has underscored the need for smart adaptation, as well as emissions reduction strategies.

Read the full article here.


“Dry ski slopes will be least of B.C.’s troubles,” reports Mark Hume

A quick glance at the news will tell you how much the unusually mild weather is affecting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Only 3 days into the competition, events have been postponed due to the dreaded rainfall organizers were hoping would be snow by the time February rolled around. Just recently, local venue Cypress Mountain received 13 mm of rain over the course of 48 hours. Not so great for athletes depending on snow for their sports.

“Climate-impact specialists have long warned that British Columbia is facing reduced snowpacks in southern mountains because of global warming,” report Mark Hume, for the Globe and Mail.

“A glance at Cypress Mountain, where the Vancouver Organizing Committee is now forced to truck in snow to keep Olympic venues viable, will tell you what the future looks like,” he says.

To read the full article that features the need for swift adaptation, click here.


$1M grant awarded to engage Alberta citizens in climate change dialogue

How can collective deliberation by citizens lead to wise and timely action on climate change, including by municipal and provincial governments? Alberta will be a testing ground for this question over the next five years. An international team of scholars, NGOs, businesses, and governments will be addressing it, supported by $1 million in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and over $3 million in contributions from other sources. Dr. David Kahane, professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta, is the Principal Investigator.

The research team includes leading researchers and practitioners of deliberative democracy, environmental organizations, energy companies, municipal governments, and Provincial ministries. The project, called Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD), will help to convene groups of citizens within Albertan municipalities to shape policies on greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change, and also build province-wide deliberation and dialogue on climate issues.

Learning alongside citizens, the team will investigate how the design of citizen deliberations — how participants are selected, who participates, how the agenda is set, how often the citizens meet and for how long, whether policy makers are involved, and so on — shapes their social and political influence. The team will also explore the sorts of influence that citizen deliberations can have on climate issues, including informing and directing policy makers and processes, as well as shaping citizens’ knowledge, their sense of environmental citizenship, and their political capacities and networks. Through this work, we will seek to show how citizens can lead effective responses to climate change, and how political leaders and institutions can skillfully engage with citizens to develop policy.

The project website is at www.albertaclimatedialogue.ca and email can be sent to albertaclimatedialogue@gmail.com.


PICS Seminar Series – February 17, 2010

Co-hosted by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) and the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC), the Pacific Climate Seminar Series was launched in September 2009. Seminars take place every third Wednesday of the month from 2 – 3 pm. The February 2010 seminar will be presented by members of the BC Climate Action Secretariat on Wednesday, February 17 from 2 – 3 pm in the Engineering & Computer Science Bldg. (ECS) Room 660. A live web stream of the seminar will be available at /broadcast.php.

For more information and future events in this series, please visit the PCIC website.


Water Shortages Could Trigger Conflict

Reuters journalist Alister Doyle reports that world-wide water shortages caused by climate change could become a strong catalyst for conflict, especially in developing countries.

“The main manifestations of rising temperatures … are about water,” said Zafar Adeel, chair of UN-Water, which coordinates work on water among 26 UN agencies.

Read the full report on here.


IPCC Newsletter – Issue 1 Released

The first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) newsletter of 2010 has been released.

Download the pdf here.


BC Regional Adaptation Collaborative Announced

The BC Regional Adaptation Collaborative (BC RAC) has been announced. You can read the full press release below, or find it here on NRCAN’s website.

In order to prepare effectively for climate change and its impacts, decision-makers need regionally relevant tools and knowledge to work closely with local stakeholders and resource managers. The British Columbia Regional Adaptation Collaborative (BC RAC), entitled Preparing for BC’s Water Future, will advance adaptation decision-making in such a manner.

The $6.9-million BC RAC aims to improve the ability of British Columbians to prepare for climate change and its impacts on water through four interrelated initiatives.

The water allocation and use initiative will help agricultural producers reduce water use, and guide water management planning in regions where climate change will result in reduced water supply and potential conflicts over water use.

The forest and watershed management initiative will develop tools and improve existing regulations to help developers and resource managers maintain aquatic values of fisheries sensitive watersheds and streams in forested and urban watersheds affected by climate change.

The flood protection and floodplain management initiative will take climate change into account in updating provincial guidelines and in developing tools and standards that engineering, planning and other professionals use to inform decisions in flood-prone areas.

The community adaptation initiative will generate knowledge and tools to help municipalities, regional districts and First Nations respond to climate change by incorporating adaptation into community planning processes and decision making.

The BC RAC will integrate climate change adaptation into a variety of existing planning and decision-making processes. Its activities will include consultation, risk assessment and knowledge transfer.

The BC RAC program involves extensive collaboration and $3.3 million over three years from Natural Resources Canada, as well as matching or in-kind funding from 18 regional partners including the Fraser Basin Council, the Okanagan Basin Water Board, the Government of British Columbia, the BC Conservation Foundation, the Columbia Basin Trust, the World Wildlife Fund and the University of British Columbia, as well as many other organizations that will contribute to the RAC projects.

The Fraser Basin Council and the B.C. Ministry of Environment co-lead the BC RAC, which builds on the findings of the British Columbia Chapter of From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate, the scientific assessment produced by Natural Resources Canada in 2008. The BC RAC is one of six regional adaptation collaborative projects planned under Natural Resources Canada’s Regional Adaptation Collaborative funding program.

Media may contact:

Margaux Stastny
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Natural Resources Canada


Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada

NRCan‘s news releases and backgrounders are available at www.nrcan.gc.ca/media.


SFU’s Graduate Public Policy Program Presents “Forests for a Cooler Planet”

SFU’s Graduate Public Policy Program Brown Bag Lunch Seminar Series proudly presents:

“Forests for a Cooler Planet” with Ben Parfitt, Forestry Expert and Author, and George Heyman, Executive Director, Sierra Club BC.

Thursday February 4th 2010 at 12:00 – 1:00pm at SFU’s Vancouver Campus at Harbour Centre, room 3000.

Overview of Topic:
BC has had long standing conflicts between various interests about forest policy and a vision for our forests.

Many efforts have been made to develop a stakeholder consensus on forestry policy between stakeholders. Until now this has proved elusive. Now, forest industry unions and leading environmental groups have united behind a plan that calls on the BC government to conserve more forest, halt rampant wood waste and promote wise use of forest products – all as part of a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Managing BC’s Forests for a Cooler Planet: Carbon Storage, Sustainable Jobs and Conservation, was released jointly today by the CCPA; BC Government and Service Employees’ Union; Communications, Energy and Paperworkers of Canada; David Suzuki Foundation; Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada; Sierra Club BC; United Steelworkers District 3 – Western Canada (previously the IWA); and Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

The speakers will report on this ground breaking new agreement, and answer questions from attendees.


‘Climate Emails Hacked by Spies’ reports The Independent

“A highly sophisticated hacking operation that led to the leaking of hundreds of emails from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia was probably carried out by a foreign intelligence agency, according to the Government’s former chief scientist,” reports Steve Connor, Science Editor for the The Independent.

In an article published by today, Connor speaks with Sir David King, who previously worked as chief scientific adviser 2000 to 2007, for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Sir King states that “the hacking and selective leaking of the unit’s emails, going back 13 years, bore all the hallmarks of a coordinated intelligence operation – especially given their release just before the Copenhagen climate conference in December”.

To read the full article, click here.

(Thanks to the folks at ECOLIBRIO for passing on the breaking news story!)


International Research Institute for Climate and Society hosts 2-week Climate Information for Public Health workshop

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society is hosting a 2-week Climate Information for Public Health workshop, May 17 – 28, 2010.

The two-week training course “offers public health decision makers and their partners the opportunity to learn practical methods for integrating climate knowledge into decision making processes through expert lectures, special seminars, focused discussions and practical exercises”. The workshop is being held in partnership with Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) and the Mailman School of Public Health.

For more information on the workshop, registration, and more, visit the International Research Institute for Climate Security’s website here.


ACT board member Dr. Stewart Cohen launches new book: Climate Change in the 21st Century

ACT advisory board member Dr. Stewart Cohen will be launching his new book Climate Change in the 21st Century, at the UBC Point Grey Campus at 12:25pm, Friday January 22nd.

Authored by Dr. Cohen, with Melissa W. Waddell, this recent work brings together the scientific and the social to offer a comprehensive introduction to one of the world’s biggest challenges. The authors will highlight their writing and researching experiences and answer questions. A Book signing session will follow.

Stewart Cohen is a Senior Researcher in climate change for Environment Canada and Adjunct Professor, Department of Forest Resources Management, UBC. Melissa Waddell is a science and technical communicator specializing in translating complex environmental and health issues for non-specialized audiences.

For more information on the event, click here.

To order Dr. Cohen’s book from McGill-Queen’s University Press, click here.


London’s Mayor Boris Johnson on Banks and Saving the Planet

London’s Major, Boris Johnson, wrote an interesting article in his weekly Telegraph column on the role banks could play in saving the planet, and make a profit to boot. Take a break and check out the article here.

It’s another example of how industry sectors could be leading the way in making the shift to a greener and more sustainable economy, capitalizing on the opportunities that challenges like climate change present. An opportunity, despite the doom-and-gloom feeling the threat of climate change often evokes when one considers the consequences we’re currently, and will continue to deal with in the future.


Happy New Year! What ACT has in store for 2010…

Happy New Year everybody! The team at ACT is looking forward an exciting year of events and activities.

We kicked off our Energy session in November with a clean energy seminar held in partnership with the Swiss Consulate General and The GLOBE Foundation, and are looking forward to hosting two more workshops coming up in the next few months.

Following our water session, ACT will be working with eminent Canadian water expert Bob Sandford who is our policy author for the Water Security session. Scheduled for May to October 2010, the Water Security session will look at the strains Canadian water supply and infrastructure will experience due to climate change, and explore possible policy and adaptation solutions that can be implemented to cope with the effects.

Wishing everybody health, happiness, and all the best for 2010!

~ The Team at ACT


Op-Ed: Copenhagen Was Just a Sideshow

Dr. Mark Jacquard from Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management has underscored the urgent need for adaptation to the impacts of climate change. In his op-ed published in the Ottawa Citizen December 23, Dr. Jacquard addresses the events at the recent talks in Copenhagen, and comments on difficulties agreeing on emissions-reductions targets between industrialized and developing countries.

Read Dr. Jacquard’s Op-ed below:

The Copenhagen climate summit had great entertainment value and Canada received an impressive share of the limelight. Our government was the focus of various activist antics (fossil awards, fake press releases), and our politicians provided a global audience with a small sampling of our inter-regional and federal-provincial squabbling. But, aside from international fun at Canada’s expense, was anything else accomplished at Copenhagen?

In terms of the international community, the outcome was predictable. In fact, it has been predictable since the Kyoto climate agreement of 1997. Specifically, Copenhagen demonstrated yet again the impossibility of addressing the global risk of climate change with a consensus-based, voluntary process that involves all countries in collective negotiation of a global emissions limit and allocating it among themselves in a mutually agreed manner. This is impossible because national interests and perspectives are just too divergent for people to voluntarily agree on what each should do.

Just one of the many divergences is between industrialized and developing countries. The latter argue that elevated and rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are primarily the fault of fossil fuel combustion in industrialized countries over the last two centuries. Thus, the developing countries claim that their emissions should be allowed to grow substantially and that any reductions in their emissions should be paid for by industrialized countries. This is tantamount to asking industrialized countries to pay for a substantial share of the future energy systems of the entire developing world. They are and will remain unwilling to pay this enormous cost, although they will recognize the need to make a contribution that will eventually be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

If there ever is to be an international agreement, it is likely to result from hardball negotiations between a small group of countries who between them represent most emissions on the planet and most of the political power. This includes the U.S., China, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil, some European countries (or a single European representative) and a few others.

The outcome of these negotiations will reflect the relative strength of each side. Industrialized countries will threaten China and India with import tariffs on goods produced in countries with lax emission standards. But to reach an agreement, the industrialized countries will also need to provide some level of financial and technical support to help developing countries with the technological transition.

Eventually, the rest of the world will be brought onside. While a Copenhagen-style, UN-sponsored conference might eventually provide the stage for such an agreement, the real negotiations will have occurred elsewhere. Such negotiations are likely to start in earnest once the U.S. has passed its own legislation to price emissions sometime in 2010. An example of future negotiations occurred at the last minute at Copenhagen, but without producing anything of substance, when the U.S. pulled aside China and a few other countries to produce an imaginary deal in order to save face for the politicians.

Each country agreed to set its own emission targets while also agreeing that global temperature increases above 2 C should be prevented. But anyone working in this field knows that the targets each country is proposing for itself will cumulatively far exceed the levels that scientists say are implied by the two-degree limit. For example, China had set its target just prior to Copenhagen, a target that could lead to a doubling of its emissions by 2020 if its economy grows at historical rates.

What does Copenhagen mean for Canada? Not much.

Environmentalists keep arguing the Harper government should adopt a much more aggressive target than its current commitment to reduce Canadian emissions to 20 per cent below their 2006 levels by 2020. The more aggressive target would basically have us cut our emissions in half from where they otherwise would have reached by 2020. This target is virtually impossible to achieve, although we could look like we had achieved it by sending money to other countries for imaginary emissions reductions instead of doing it ourselves, which is also what environmentalists are suggesting.

If Harper agreed to the environmentalists’ target, as Jean Chrétien did at Kyoto, this might boost his popularity just enough to win a majority government. But he would not be able to achieve the target. So, again, just as with Kyoto, an aggressive target would be self-defeating. Why implement the painful policies that are necessary to reduce emissions if you will still miss your target? You might as well do nothing instead, following the politically successful Chrétien strategy … with environmentalists applauding all the way.

What is really needed in Canada is for environmentalists, government and industry to recognize we need to price emissions immediately (via cap and trade or carbon tax), and combine this with regulations on new vehicles, buildings and a few elusive emissions sources like pipeline leaks, landfills and animal wastes, in order to start the gradual process of shifting our economy onto a trajectory that reduces emissions in line with what other leading countries are doing. These policies should be set to ensure realization of the Harper government’s emissions target for 2020. Implementing such policies — as British Columbia has already done — would be a great advance for the long struggle to address the climate change risk.

As this policy effort teaches us more about the true costs of emissions abatement we will be in a much better position to respond to new policy initiatives in other countries and to adjust our goals and policies to new information from the scientific community. At the same time, we will be motivating innovative thinking and investment in our own economy about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at minimal cost.

Mark Jaccard, a professor at Simon Fraser University, is lead author for sustainable energy policy with the Global Energy Assessment and a guest blogger with zerocarboncanada.ca.


Canada – the “Colossal Fossil”

Oh, Canada. What’s going on? We’ve been bestowed with the ‘honour’ of environmental groups’ most dubious award – the “Colossal Fossil” at Copenhagen 2009.

The groups say Canada’s target for reducing its greenhouse gases is “among the worst in the industrialized world” and its plan to reach its goal is “so weak that it would put even that target out of reach,” reports the Canadian Press.

Ouch. That stings a bit, since Canada is supposed to have a reputation that loves and cares for the big, green, great outdoors. Somewhere, something’s gone a bit wrong….

Check out the article by Paul Sullivan in Metro last week. It sums things up pretty nicely:

When Stephen Harper arrives at the Copenhagen climate conference next week, here’s hoping security is better than it was Monday when Greenpeace managed to crawl all over the Parliament Buildings unmolested.

Good thing Greenpeace is not a terrorist organization.

The real bad boy, say environmentalists, is Canada itself. Traditionally boring at worst, we have somehow acquired the status of rogue nation, like Iran. And if you think I exaggerate, here’s Guardian columnist and climate crusader George Monbiot:

“The immediate threat to the global effort to sustain a peaceful and stable world comes not from Saudi Arabia or Iran or China. It comes from Canada.”


Monbiot is shocked and appalled by Alberta’s oil sands and it makes him say inflammatory things: “So here I am, watching the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petrostate.”

“Corrupt petrostate” may be a bit harsh, but we are the only signatory to the Kyoto accord to abandon our commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, says Monbiot, we’ve actually increased by 26 per cent. The climate change performance index ranks Canada 59 out of 60, just ahead of last-placed Saudi Arabia, that green paragon.

Until recently, Mr. Harper was blithely indifferent to all this climate change nonsense, and wasn’t planning to show up at Copenhagen. Maybe he’s tired of being treated like the Kim Il Jong of climate change, and doesn’t want Canada declared Fossil of the Year for the third year in a row by the international environmental movement. Three-peat!

I suspect it’s about what it’s always about, the polls: 64 per cent of Canadians say rich nations have a responsibility to commit to tougher targets than developing countries. And Harper’s plan to march lockstep with the Americans on climate has fallen flat as 81 per cent say Canada should act independently of the US.

So Harper’s commitment to stay the corrupt petrostate course is causing him grief wherever humans breathe the air. He’ll have to watch out for flying shoes and cream pies in Copenhagen. But that’s all he’s likely to do, as being a corrupt petrostate has its advantages, especially when the economic outlook is frostier than the weather forecast.

Meanwhile, the UN says this decade will likely be the warmest on record and as the ice melts, the oceans are rising 80 per cent higher than its 2001 forecast.

Good time to tread water, eh?


Pope Calls for Action on Climate Change

In the midst of the ongoing debates at Copenhagen, representatives from the Vatican are also making their voices heard. Pope Benedict XVI called for urgent action to protect the environment, saying Tuesday that climate change and natural catastrophes threaten the rights to life, food, health – and ultimately peace – reports the Globe and Mail.

The address came during the annual Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace. To read the article from the Globe and Mail online, click here.

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