Thursday, 28 July 2016

TRUDEAU'S ABANDONMENT OF MIDDLE AND LOWER INCOME CANADIANS: PUBLIC FAITH IN TRUDEAU AND HIS ACTIONS AT ODDS, by Will Dubitsky, July 28, 2016

Part I: Macro-economics, Trudeau, the Proposed Free Trade Deals and Disempowering Canadians

Disempowerment of the Majority and "Father Knows Best"
Canadians aren't totally duped on free trade, but Trudeau counts on Canadians to trust him on this. -- Trudeau can get away with this because of his success in projecting a "Father Knows Best" almost Messiah-like image, framed with his acting skills.


No wonder Lawrence Summers, former US Treasury Secretary, and former chief economist at the World Bank, has gone full circle to conclude that international agreements should be judged on whether they empower citizens.  
  
The Transpacific Partnership (TPP), the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and NAFTA represent quite the opposite of empowerment!

At the generic level, these agreements place national corporate tax systems in a perpetual race to the bottom, leaving governments without the necessary finances to address inequality.  Rather they contribute to greater inequality.  The Trudeau administration is most comfortable with this unfairness for the majority of Canadians. 

As for the supposed benefits for the population at-large stemming from NAFTA, they have not materialized.  The economic plight of the majority have not improved in the last 30 years or more.

Turning to the specifics of the proposed new agreements, according to leaked versions of the TPP, the agreement among other things, would extend patents for pharmaceutical companies on drugs -- in some cases indefinitely -- and "block" bio-similar competitors from introducing new medicines in subsequent years.  If there was ever a great formula for raising drug costs for the middle and low income Canadians, this is it!

One has only to look to the US where similar patent rules apply.  There, high drug prices and monopolistic protections have resulted in treatment rationing, prescriptions going unfilled and severe impacts on family/individual budgets.

Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Clauses
Like NAFTA , the TPP and CETA contain clauses on Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) systems, which effectively allow a foreign corporation to sue a national government in the event that the nation's environmental; First Nations; labour and economic stability initiatives; or other government actions impede the company in question from maximizing its profits -- In this way profits trumps sovereignty, specifically, profits taking precedence over the best interests of the nation regarding the common good, or as we say in Canada, "peace, order and good government."

In this context, Lone Pine Resources is suing the Government of Canada for $119M under the NAFTA ISDS clause over Quebec's ban on fracking.  Similarly, TransCanada is suing the US Government for $15B under this same NAFTA ISDS clause concerning the Obama rejection of the Keystone XL project aimed at bringing tar sands oil to US for refining, prior to being exported outside the US.

Foreign Companies Get to Have a Say on our Legislation and Regulations
Not to be outdone, CETA takes foreign rule in Canada to new heights.  As proposed, CETA would allow foreign companies to not only receive national treatment equivalent to domestic companies with respect to government procurement, but would also offer foreign companies the right to participate in public consultations on proposals for new government regulations.

While we would consider it unthinkable that a foreign citizen could influence the development of Canadian laws and regulations, CETA offers foreign corporations such rights.  In other words, a foreign company would have the privileged opportunity have a say on laws drawn up to serve the best interests of Canadians,  Canadian companies, and, more generally , Canadian economic and sustainable development initiatives.  As a case in point, this provision would re-open the doors for the export of Canadian water.

Bulldozer Communications Techniques
Notwithstanding the known concerns of progressive Canadians on these agreements, Chrystia Freeland would like Canadians to believe that 1) her signing of the TPP in New Zealand in Feb 2016 does not make the TPP a  done deal for Canada, 2) Parliament would need to ratify the deal and 3) consultations would be held with Canadians on the agreement before any such ratification.
 
On item 1 above, in fact, ratification of the deal is Cabinet's  task, not that of the Parliament.

As for the promised consultations, the aforementioned item 3, they would best be described as secret talks with industry representatives and university professors for which attendance is by invitation only, and there is little public advance notice. 

Questions are allowed at these hearings, but on the basis of one of these meetings, one in Montreal where the Council of Canadians managed to be present, the Council learned that none of the questions raised actually get answered.  Regarding the maximum of one day's public notice for these consultations, the rationale offered was that MPs have busy schedules!

True, the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade will be holding hearings in various cities in Canada.  But the press release on the purpose of these hearings reads as follows: “The Committee’s primary objective is to assess the extent to which the agreement, once implemented, would be in the best interests of Canadians.” 

Evidently, the issue for the Trudeau government is not whether the agreement should be ratified or not, but rather how to manage the message to Canadians to the effect that TPP is good for them and "Father knows best."



Part II: Micro-economics, Air Canada Middle Class Maintenance Jobs, a Case History

Absolving of Air Canada of Obligations on 2600 Middle Class Aircraft Maintenance Jobs in Canada
On the more day-to-day governing level, the mindset favouring corporate rule by the Trudeau Liberals is well-reflected in Bill C-10.

Bill C-10 is not a familiar legislative initiative for most Canadians. That's because the Liberals did everything possible to sweep this initiative under the rug.  The Bill was passed, with closure imposed, Harper style, with little time for debate in the House of Commons.  And a tie vote in the House was broken in favour of the Liberals, by the Speaker, who cast the deciding vote.

Why all this fuss to shove this Liberal legislative change under the carpet?  The answer is that this law was about the abandonment of 2500 middle class aircraft maintenance jobs to accommodate Air Canada's request to modify the legislation that applied to Air Canada dating back to its privatization in 1988.  With the changes put into law,  Air Canada would no longer be obligated to undertake its aircraft maintenance in Montreal , Mississauga and Winnipeg. 

The story behind all this is that following Air Canada's privatization, Air Canada sold off its  aircraft maintenance division to Aveos, a company primarily made up of former Air Canada employees. However, prior to the Trudeau government legislation, Air Canada had already transferred half of 5000 Canadian maintenance jobs to locations outside Canada.   The end result was that Aveos went into  bankruptcy.

All of this was followed up with the January 2016 agreement with the CEO of Air Canada,  Calin Rovinescu, to reward him for his great work in transferring jobs outside of Canada with a minimum of $3M/year in annual income.  Prior to that, in 2015, Air Canada approved an increase in his retirement  guaranteed income by 90%, to reach $800,000/year.

Maintaining the Flippant Legacy of Liberals on Middle Class Jobs
This current Liberal frivolity on middle class jobs has its roots in the 1988 Air Canada privatization itself.  Consider the fact that 60% of all international aircraft companies are state-owned

The legislation governing the privatized Air Canada was supposed to have assured that the disadvantages of privatization, with respect to the preservation of middle class jobs in Canada, would not come into play.  Justin Trudeau merely completed the task of abandoning middle class Canadian jobs and interests that the privatization legislation was supposed to prevent.

Through all this, the public had been led to believe that this was all part of a trade off to encourage Air Canada to purchase 45 Bombardier C Series aircraft that would ultimately be serviced in Montreal.  Unfortunately, all the indications are such that this was just a rumour.  In reality, it was soon discovered that once more Air Canada has a free reign to do as it feels, to transfer jobs outside of the country.


In July 2016 at the Farnborough air show in England, Air Canada signed a contract with Pratt & Whitney for the maintenance of the Pratt & Whitney engines of the C-Series.  Not so coincidentally, in June 2016 Pratt & Whitney announced an investment of $65M to do the maintenance of the C Series engines in Columbus, Georgia.
 
With the cat now out of the bag, Air Canada corrected the originally intended false impressions by explaining that the maintenance of the C Series in Canada would be for the structure of the aircraft only, the engines to be excluded from maintenance work in Canada.

Part III: Epilogue

Now one has to wonder how much else is being kept from public scrutiny in keeping with the principles of "Father knows best" and corporate rule, the Trudeau government trade mark. 

TRUDEAU'S ABANDONMENT OF MIDDLE AND LOWER INCOME CANADIANS: PUBLIC FAITH IN TRUDEAU AND HIS ACTIONS AT ODDS, by Will Dubitsky, July 28, 2016

Part I: Macro-economics, Trudeau, the Proposed Free Trade Deals and Disempowering Canadians

Disempowerment of the Majority and "Father Knows Best"
Canadians aren't totally duped on free trade, but Trudeau counts on Canadians to trust him on this. -- Trudeau can get away with this because of his success in projecting a "Father Knows Best" almost Messiah-like image, framed with his acting skills.


No wonder Lawrence Summers, former US Treasury Secretary, and former chief economist at the World Bank, has gone full circle to conclude that international agreements should be judged on whether they empower citizens.  
  
The Transpacific Partnership (TPP), the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and NAFTA represent quite the opposite of empowerment!

At the generic level, these agreements place national corporate tax systems in a perpetual race to the bottom, leaving governments without the necessary finances to address inequality.  Rather they contribute to greater inequality.  The Trudeau administration is most comfortable with this unfairness for the majority of Canadians. 

As for the supposed benefits for the population at-large stemming from NAFTA, they have not materialized.  The economic plight of the majority have not improved in the last 30 years or more.

Turning to the specifics of the proposed new agreements, according to leaked versions of the TPP, the agreement among other things, would extend patents for pharmaceutical companies on drugs -- in some cases indefinitely -- and "block" bio-similar competitors from introducing new medicines in subsequent years.  If there was ever a great formula for raising drug costs for the middle and low income Canadians, this is it!

One has only to look to the US where similar patent rules apply.  There, high drug prices and monopolistic protections have resulted in treatment rationing, prescriptions going unfilled and severe impacts on family/individual budgets.

Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Clauses
Like NAFTA , the TPP and CETA contain clauses on Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) systems, which effectively allow a foreign corporation to sue a national government in the event that the nation's environmental; First Nations; labour and economic stability initiatives; or other government actions impede the company in question from maximizing its profits -- In this way profits trumps sovereignty, specifically, profits taking precedence over the best interests of the nation regarding the common good, or as we say in Canada, "peace, order and good government."

In this context, Lone Pine Resources is suing the Government of Canada for $119M under the NAFTA ISDS clause over Quebec's ban on fracking.  Similarly, TransCanada is suing the US Government for $15B under this same NAFTA ISDS clause concerning the Obama rejection of the Keystone XL project aimed at bringing tar sands oil to US for refining, prior to being exported outside the US.

Foreign Companies Get to Have a Say on our Legislation and Regulations
Not to be outdone, CETA takes foreign rule in Canada to new heights.  As proposed, CETA would allow foreign companies to not only receive national treatment equivalent to domestic companies with respect to government procurement, but would also offer foreign companies the right to participate in public consultations on proposals for new government regulations.

While we would consider it unthinkable that a foreign citizen could influence the development of Canadian laws and regulations, CETA offers foreign corporations such rights.  In other words, a foreign company would have the privileged opportunity have a say on laws drawn up to serve the best interests of Canadians,  Canadian companies, and, more generally , Canadian economic and sustainable development initiatives.  As a case in point, this provision would re-open the doors for the export of Canadian water.

Bulldozer Communications Techniques
Notwithstanding the known concerns of progressive Canadians on these agreements, Chrystia Freeland would like Canadians to believe that 1) her signing of the TPP in New Zealand in Feb 2016 does not make the TPP a  done deal for Canada, 2) Parliament would need to ratify the deal and 3) consultations would be held with Canadians on the agreement before any such ratification.
 
On item 1 above, in fact, ratification of the deal is Cabinet's  task, not that of the Parliament.

As for the promised consultations, the aforementioned item 3, they would best be described as secret talks with industry representatives and university professors for which attendance is by invitation only, and there is little public advance notice. 

Questions are allowed at these hearings, but on the basis of one of these meetings, one in Montreal where the Council of Canadians managed to be present, the Council learned that none of the questions raised actually get answered.  Regarding the maximum of one day's public notice for these consultations, the rationale offered was that MPs have busy schedules!

True, the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade will be holding hearings in various cities in Canada.  But the press release on the purpose of these hearings reads as follows: “The Committee’s primary objective is to assess the extent to which the agreement, once implemented, would be in the best interests of Canadians.” 

Evidently, the issue for the Trudeau government is not whether the agreement should be ratified or not, but rather how to manage the message to Canadians to the effect that TPP is good for them and "Father knows best."



Part II: Micro-economics, Air Canada Middle Class Maintenance Jobs, a Case History

Absolving of Air Canada of Obligations on 2600 Middle Class Aircraft Maintenance Jobs in Canada
On the more day-to-day governing level, the mindset favouring corporate rule by the Trudeau Liberals is well-reflected in Bill C-10.

Bill C-10 is not a familiar legislative initiative for most Canadians. That's because the Liberals did everything possible to sweep this initiative under the rug.  The Bill was passed, with closure imposed, Harper style, with little time for debate in the House of Commons.  And a tie vote in the House was broken in favour of the Liberals, by the Speaker, who cast the deciding vote.

Why all this fuss to shove this Liberal legislative change under the carpet?  The answer is that this law was about the abandonment of 2500 middle class aircraft maintenance jobs to accommodate Air Canada's request to modify the legislation that applied to Air Canada dating back to its privatization in 1988.  With the changes put into law,  Air Canada would no longer be obligated to undertake its aircraft maintenance in Montreal , Mississauga and Winnipeg. 

The story behind all this is that following Air Canada's privatization, Air Canada sold off its  aircraft maintenance division to Aveos, a company primarily made up of former Air Canada employees. However, prior to the Trudeau government legislation, Air Canada had already transferred half of 5000 Canadian maintenance jobs to locations outside Canada.   The end result was that Aveos went into  bankruptcy.

All of this was followed up with the January 2016 agreement with the CEO of Air Canada,  Calin Rovinescu, to reward him for his great work in transferring jobs outside of Canada with a minimum of $3M/year in annual income.  Prior to that, in 2015, Air Canada approved an increase in his retirement  guaranteed income by 90%, to reach $800,000/year.

Maintaining the Flippant Legacy of Liberals on Middle Class Jobs
This current Liberal frivolity on middle class jobs has its roots in the 1988 Air Canada privatization itself.  Consider the fact that 60% of all international aircraft companies are state-owned

The legislation governing the privatized Air Canada was supposed to have assured that the disadvantages of privatization, with respect to the preservation of middle class jobs in Canada, would not come into play.  Justin Trudeau merely completed the task of abandoning middle class Canadian jobs and interests that the privatization legislation was supposed to prevent.

Through all this, the public had been led to believe that this was all part of a trade off to encourage Air Canada to purchase 45 Bombardier C Series aircraft that would ultimately be serviced in Montreal.  Unfortunately, all the indications are such that this was just a rumour.  In reality, it was soon discovered that once more Air Canada has a free reign to do as it feels, to transfer jobs outside of the country.


In July 2016 at the Farnborough air show in England, Air Canada signed a contract with Pratt & Whitney for the maintenance of the Pratt & Whitney engines of the C-Series.  Not so coincidentally, in June 2016 Pratt & Whitney announced an investment of $65M to do the maintenance of the C Series engines in Columbus, Georgia.
 
With the cat now out of the bag, Air Canada corrected the originally intended false impressions by explaining that the maintenance of the C Series in Canada would be for the structure of the aircraft only, the engines to be excluded from maintenance work in Canada.

Part III: Epilogue

Now one has to wonder how much else is being kept from public scrutiny in keeping with the principles of "Father knows best" and corporate rule, the Trudeau government trade mark. 

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Enel's Italian revolutionary: Decisively away from Fossil Fuels By Christopher Hopson Recharge News, January 14 2016

ONES TO WATCH: Enel's Italian revolutionary

Francesco Starace: 'Big is bad. Our strategy is much more flexible and modular then it was before, and more adaptable to the world we live in'
Francesco Starace: 'Big is bad. Our strategy is much more flexible and modular then it was before, and more adaptable to the world we live in'



The 60-year-old chief executive is putting renewable energy at the heart of the state-owned company’s growth plans. In early 2016, it plans to take 100% control of renewables subsidiary Enel Green Power (EGP), clawing back the 31% of shares it doesn’t currently own, before adding 7.7GW to EGP’s existing 10.6GW of capacity by 2019. Latin America and hybrid facilities — in which two different renewables sources are utilised to create cost-saving synergies — will be key focuses.
Enel has also pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2050, close down 23 coal power stations in Italy, and to never build another coal-fired plant — scrapping plans for two new facilities in Italy and Chile. Starace recently went so far as describing coal power as “technologically obsolete”. It is a major departure for a company that supplied 19% of its energy from coal in 2014.
Starace — who was chief executive of EGP from its launch in 2008 until he waspromoted to the Enel top job in May 2014 — is one of the most green-minded utility bosses in the world.
Unlike other utility chief executives, he does not believe that nuclear and natural gas are the answer to the world’s problems. The new generation of nuclear plants, such as the planned Hinkley Point C in the UK, he says, are “typically nightmares of engineering and construction” that are “incredibly complex and very, very difficult to complete”. He believes that building gas plants will only make sense until about 2025, while carbon capture and storage schemes “simply don’t work”.
And unlike the shift towards renewables by other major European utilities, Enel’s move is not born out of urgent necessity. The likes of E.ON and RWE in Germany have needed to embrace green energy because their business models have become unprofitable — their over-reliance on fossil-fuel plants that are increasingly being switched off to allow low-cost renewable power onto the grid has resulted in significant financial losses.
As the Italian grid is not so heavily saturated with wind and solar, Enel does not need to take such a leap now. But Starace has realised that the rise of renewables is inevitable, so he is future-proofing his company today. It is a move that is likely to be hugely influential among utilities globally.
“We have to acknowledge that the climate clock is ticking and time is of the essence,” Starace told a conference in October. Conventional fossil-fuel and nuclear plants are “a trap”, he explained. “A trap for companies to die.”
He does acknowledge, however, that Enel’s transition away from coal and nuclear will not be without some pain.
“You need to be willing to say, ‘Even if it’s my own arm, I’ll cut it off if it’s not needed’,” Starace said. “Big is bad. Our strategy is much more flexible and modular then it was before, and more adaptable to the world we live in.”
Other utilities — many of which are unsure of their role in the future energy landscape — will be watching keenly to see how Enel’s energy transition plays out.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Le Pari de Paris (Paris Gamble) and Liberal Green-Washing

The article Le Pari de Paris by François Cardinal in the November 15, 2015 edition of La Presse is at the very best misleading, based on half truths and wishful thinking, and exemplifies a weak understanding of environmental and related economic challenges.


Global Momentum: No Excuse for the Liberals not Having a Plan in their Platform and/or Post Election Ideas/Proposals for Discussion
To begin, there is an incredible momentum among Canada's competitors to the effect that they are light years ahead of Canada on the migration to a green economy.  Therefore there is no excuse for the Liberals not having an outline of proposals to achieve significant greenhouse gas targets by way of applying foreign models to Canadian contexts.

For the first time since the post World War II period, thanks to the climate policies of China, the world's largest energy consumer, Europe, the US and other countries, demand for fossil fuels is flattening, as the world moves away from a resource-based economy.   

Concurrently, nations around the globe are intensifying their actions on climate change and the costs of clean technologies are declining rapidly.

Together these trends are jeopardizing the prospects for increasing global oil supplies, particularly supplies derived from expensive to extract reserves, such as those of the tar sands.  This implies the demise of the business model of the oil industry that is based on 1) strong growth and 2) high oil prices to reflect favourable supply-demand economics.

In keeping with these trends,  China's emissions and coal consumption declined in 2014.  More specifically, these results pertain to China being the world's largest investor in clean technologies, having installed 34 gigawatts of new solar and wind capacity in 2014 and invested $89.5B in clean energy investments in that year.  In effect, China's new clean electrical generation capacity added in 2014 represents 70% of current total Hydro-Quebec electrical production capacity, but China installed this order of magnitude of clean energy new capacity in a single year!

And then there is the acceleration of the momentum towards zero and low emission vehicles.  The Government of China has a target of 30% of vehicle purchases to be electric beginning 2016 and the production of 2M eco-vehicles/per year by 2020. 

California's zero and low emission vehicles initiatives are equally aggressive. 

Recognizing the writing is on the wall, UBS, the world's largest private bank, and the Chief Economist of BP, Spencer Dale, have both concluded that the fossil fuel era is over, with UBS saying that the green economy will be the emerging new economic paradigm by 2020 and BP's chief economist concluding that the majority of world's oil reserves are unlikely to ever be exploited. 

The former Governor of the Bank of Canada, and now the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has more or less said the same thing referring to the majority of oil reserves as unburnable assets -- more commonly known as "stranded assets."

The reality is that China, Europe and the US have already demonstrated that a migration for a green economy offers a better economic paradigm that contributes more to job creation and growth than the traditional resource-based economy.  Indeed the green sectors offer 6 to 8 times more jobs per government investment unit than the traditional resource-based economy.

And the job numbers are staggering making the green sectors the highest job creation and growth sectors of our times, and this will only increase as countries around the globe become more aggressive on climate change.  There are now 3.5M jobs in the green sectors in Europe and there are 1.6M people working in China's solar energy sector and another 356000 in China's windpower sector.  Have a look at the clean energy job figures on page 63 of the report of The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century.


Trudeau and Global Green Economy Development
That Trudeau's model for economic stimulus is infrastructure funding is troubling, a post World War II economic development model entailing spending money on increasing dependencies on personal vehicles as well as public transit.

If Trudeau was in tune with the emerging new economy, the lion's share of stimulus spending would go towards tomorrow's jobs or green economics.



Trudeau and Improving Canada's Environmental Image to Export More Tar Sands Oil
As for Justin Trudeau's current mindset on climate, he met with Obama in Manila to instrumentialize a positive pitch on the environment to convince Obama to import Canada's energy, tar sands supplies in particular.  This green-washing is nothing new for Trudeau because he had criticized Harper for not boasting of Canada's environmental record to get the Obama administration on side for Keystone.  In this vein, Trudeau had also congratulated the former Premier of Alberta, Alison Redford, for promoting Canada's environmental record as a means to get Washington to support Keystone.

"Coincidentally," Peter Kent, the former Conservative Minister of the Environment also considered his main job to be that of enhancing Canada's environmental image in order to export more oil.

Add to the cocktail that Justin Trudeau 1) has stated that opposition to Keystone and Energy East is not based on science and 2) told David Suzuki regarding David Suzuki's remarks that 80% of tar sand reserves must remain in the ground, that the Suzuki remarks in question are"sanctimonious crap."

All of the above comments concerning recent Trudeau's statements on instrumentalizing the environment to win the support of the Obama administration on pipelines are consistent with Dion's recent contributions to Liberal green-washing.  Stéphane Dion, as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, and in reaction to Obama's rejection of Keystone, said we are going to need oil anyway.


The Liberal Failure Legacy on Climate Change: Due to a Lack of Commitment not an Absence of Ideas on How to Achieve Kyoto Protocol Objectives
Turning to your assumption to the effect that the Liberals can be excused for not knowing how to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gases (GHG) when they were previously in power, it must be pointed out that the economic revolution towards the migration to a green economy began while the Liberals were in power.  This contrasts with the indications of your article of November 15, 2015 implying that the Liberal government can be excused for not knowing how to significantly achieve Kyoto GHG reduction targets.
   
By 2005, the EU had already achieved a 15% reduction in GHGs towards its 2020 target of the 20% reduction in GHG's by 2020.  Well on their way for achieving the 2020 EU GHG reduction targets, the European Wind Energy Association  predicts that 25 of the 28 member states would meet or exceed their 2020 targets of a 20% reduction of GHG be 2020. In other words, contrary to the Liberal nonsense, Canada was not suffering from a lack of good information on what needs to be done to achieve its Kyoto targets.

The European Union has since set a 2030 target of the 40% reduction in GHGs.

More important as a former Government of Canada employee 1) who's experience includes sustainable development policies, legislation, programs and projects and 2) having lived through several Liberal climate change action plans, I can attest that Stéphane Dion never had a serious strategy to achieve the Kyoto target. 

All of the former Liberal government's climate change action plans were pretty much the same, generous funding for clean tech innovation, but nothing else.  Eddy Goldenberg, Jean Chrétien's right hand manduring the previous Liberal reign, admitted much the same to the effect that the Liberals never had a plan to achieve Kyoto. 

Indeed, among the most amazing elements of the Dion plans for previous Liberal governments, was his attempt to convince the UN that, since trees absorb carbon, Canada should earn carbon credits toward Canada's Kyoto objectives for the existence of Canada's trees -- achieving the Kyoto target for doing nothing.  For this green-washing plan, Dion referred to Canada's trees as "carbon sinks." Fortunately, the UN rejected the Dion cheating plan.

As his last act before the previous Liberal government was defeated over the sponsorship scandal, Dion created a billion dollar Climate Fund to purchase emission reductions from the largest emitters.  This was designed as a pay the biggest polluters policy, rather than a polluter payer policy.

So it is no wonder that during the former Liberal reign emissions went up to 18.5% above 1990 levels by 2012. Indeed, Liberals were so lax that they allowed for a voluntary policy for vehicle manufacturers on automobile fuel consumption compliance.  This voluntary program allowed for the Canadian fuel consumption data, that were supplied by vehicle manufacturers without third party verification, to be way better than the fuel consumption for the same vehicles in the US.  This skewed the Canadian numbers on manufacturer-specific corporate average fuel consumption for vehicles sold in a given year.

The aforementioned lax approach on automobile fuel consumption was consistent with my Government of Canada employee experience associated with my sustainable development initiatives while the Liberals were in power, up until the arrival of the Harper administration. Put bluntly,  100% of the time, not 99%, when public interests and private interests were at odds, the Liberals always chose private interests.  Accordingly, it came as no surprise when it was revealed that Justin Trudeau co-campaign chair up until the last days of the election campaign, was Daniel Gagner, a TransCanada pipelines lobbyist.

Unfortunately, Louis-Gilles Francouer, formerly the environmental journalist of Le Devoir and now a member of BAPE,  was the only journalist during the era of the former Liberal government that wrote an article deflating the Stéphane Dion green balloon.  My own article on this and found above, pertaining to my perspective as a former Government of Canada employee during that era, goes into greater depth than the Francouer article.


Conclusions
Bringing us back to the present, our competitors are so much more advanced than Canada on the green economy that Canada, if it so chooses, can have the advantage of looking at global models to-date, for inspiration for a fast-forward plan to catch up. 

Thus it is pathetic that the Liberals went into the 2015 election indicating, and Christina McKenna subsequent to the election claimed, that the Liberals have no plan but would talk to the provinces and quickly come up with one by February 2016.

I say pathetic because acquiring inspiration from examples around the globe need not be daunting. On my own, I have produced a 45 page document on guidelines for a Canadian migration to a green economy that 1) constitutes a very comprehensive and synergistic action plan based on green economy models from around the globe which have been transformed into applications for a Canadian context, while incorporating analyses on how best to learn from the strengths and weaknesses of foreign models; and 2) integrates my Government of Canada experience, up until my retirement in June 2012, a) regarding sustainable development policies, legislation, programs, projects and other related initiatives and b) pertaining to the workings of the federal government and federal-provincial relations; what has been tried; what works; what doesn't; what needs to be changed to achieve effectiveness; and what gaps need to be filled.

To wrap up, comparisons of the Liberals' past record and current/recent statements indicate a continuation of green-washing rather than structured effective strategies.  As such, the Liberal lack of substance on climate policies is not, as you suggested in your article, comforting. 

That Trudeau's new improved theme to the effect that a better environmental record will make it easier to market tar sands exports is not comforting. 

That the Trudeau government is not up to speed that global demand for oil is flattening because of the successful advances of global green economy strategies among our competitors is not comforting

That Trudeau infrastructure/economic stimulus offers little to prepare Canada for the new economy, green economics, is not comforting.

Accordingly the jovial Emmanuelle Latraverse report on the Téléjournal of November 23, 2015 on the federal-provincial meeting to the effect that a better Canadian environmental record will help Canada in marketing its oil, represents just one more journalist falling into the trap of Liberal green-washing and Trudeaumania.

Indeed, there isn't any good excuse for promising to develop a climate plan in crisis mode based on fast-forward consultations with the provinces, a non-leadership plan that appears to be more like a continuation of the Liberal green-washing legacy.

Consequently your insinuation that the Liberals will pull an amazing rabbit out-of-a-hat for February 2016 is in itself amazing and primarily based on packaging/appearances rather than on content.  The Liberals are deficient on tackling climate change.

Monday, 5 October 2015

IN DEPTH: Cleaning up Canada’s dirtiest province, Recharge News, By Karl-Erik Stromsta in Calgary Updated: Monday, October 05 2015

Fort McMurray, in the heart of Alberta's tar sands country

Fort McMurray, in the heart of Alberta's tar sands country





Here, after all, is a province with enormous wind and solar resources, cheap land, an enterprising spirit, growing demand for power courtesy of Alberta’s controversial tar sands, and a large and clever energy industry keen to invest in renewables (while also greening its image).
Yet in reality Alberta’s renewables market is in pitiful shape. The 300MW Blackspring Ridge is something of an anomaly, a result of now-defunct support mechanisms. Just a handful of mostly small wind farms are being built in the province and the queue of development-stage projects awaiting interconnection is dwindling as frustrated developers walk away. And with just 5MW of PV capacity, Alberta’s solar market never got started in the first place.
Thankfully, a possible saviour has appeared in the form of newly elected premier Rachel Notley, whose left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) won a shock victory in this spring’s provincial election on a pledge to clean up and diversify Alberta’s hydrocarbon-dependent economy. Notley’s win ended 44 consecutive years of provincial rule by the centre-right, oil-mad Conservatives, the party of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Although the NDP ran on unambiguous pledges to phase out coal while encouraging renewables, Notley has been short on specifics since taking office. Her government is readying a series of major climate and energy announcements set to coincide with the high-stakes UN climate talks this year in Paris.
Predictably, Notley has been met with a wail of warnings about undermining Alberta’s oil sector, the province’s long-time paymaster.
No-one knows exactly how the chips will fall. But it’s clear that big changes are afoot in Alberta, politically and perhaps culturally too, and in almost any scenario renewable energy stands to be a beneficiary.
There are many reasons why Alberta is a hostile place for renewables developers today, starting with the province’s deregulated power market — which is unique in Canada.
Unlike the other large provinces, whose power markets all have state-run procurement bodies at their centre, Alberta runs a purely competitive wholesale electricity market. It has no feed-in tariff, no renewable portfolio standard (RPS), and a carbon price that is laughably low.
It is difficult for renewables developers to secure off-take agreements in Alberta, which in turn makes it difficult to finance projects, industry sources say. Unsurprisingly, then, coal and natural gas supply about 90% of Alberta’s electricity.
Enbridge, the Calgary-based pipeline giant, owns Blackspring Ridge with EDF EN Canada, and would like to build more renewables in Alberta. But it doesn’t make sense to do so in the current market, says Lino Luison, vice-president for green power, transmission and emerging technology.
“Texas is a deregulated market, too, but there are plenty of off-takers there who will sign long-term contracts for renewable projects,” Luison tells Recharge. “That’s what’s missing here in Alberta.”
Alberta has a respectable 1.5GW of wind in place today, the third-highest among Canada’s provinces, and more than neighbouring British Columbia, which has a larger and more green-minded population.
Yet nearly all of Alberta’s wind was built on the back of support mechanisms that no longer exist — including a lapsed federal wind incentive — and, as in the cases of Blackspring Ridge and the 150MW Halkirk, Alberta’s two largest wind farms, the ability to generate renewable-energy credits and sell them in California.
Compounding the challenges of Alberta’s spot market is the fact that most of the province’s 950 or so wind turbines were built across the same windy region in the south. That means they come on line and generate power simultaneously — flooding the wholesale market and further depressing prices.
rachel_notley.jpgUntil the election, Alberta’s government was largely indifferent to the plight of renewables. The Conservatives paid lip service to the sector, but much of their plan to “green the grid” centred on fantasies of carbon capture and storage (CCS).
“It’s fair to say that you couldn’t have done less for renewables than what was done in the past by the provincial government,” says Grant Arnold, chief executive of Calgary-based developer BluEarth Renewables.
A new threat has emerged recently in the form of depressed oil prices, which have hit Alberta’s economy hard and clouded the picture for future power demand.
Taken together, such factors paint a bleak picture for renewables in Canada’s “energy province”.
There used to be more than 5GW of development-stage wind waiting for a grid connection in Alberta, says Robert Hornung, chief executive of the Canadian Wind Energy Association. Today the figure is down to about 1.5GW.
The shrinking pipeline is “a reflection of investors either feeling like they have better opportunities elsewhere or just lacking confidence that they’ll be able to find a way to finance and build projects in Alberta”, he says.
“As a destination for wind investment, Alberta has become less attractive over time.”
Turning things around will not be easy, but many of the necessary pieces seem to be falling into place.
To spark a vibrant large-scale renewables market, developers need some way to secure bankable power-purchase agreements. Many in the industry believe an RPS would be the simplest way of making that happen; others talk of a stiff carbon tax.
In normal times, one would laugh at such suggestions, but these are not normal times in Alberta.
The provincial election has been described as one of the worst electoral defeats in Canadian history. After more than four decades in charge, the Conservatives’ share of seats in the legislature fell from 70% to 10%. The NDP held four seats in the provincial legislature beforehand; now they hold 54 seats — or 62% of the total.
Climate and energy may not have been Notley’s top priorities during the election, but the NDP did not hide its feelings on the matters. Among its explicit campaign promises were reducing Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions, reviewing the amount of tax paid by oil companies, accelerating the phase-out of coal, and boosting renewables. They also promised to stop spending public money on lobbying for controversial pipeline projects such as Keystone XL and Northern Gateway, and to end the Conservatives’ “costly and ineffective CCS experiment” — diverting the money instead towards public transport.
Almost immediately after taking power, the NDP announced that Alberta’s carbon price will double by 2017, a symbolically important gesture even if the price will still be too low to result in meaningful emissions reductions.
Most importantly, Notley convened a panel of stakeholders and experts to undertake a wholesale rethink of Alberta’s carbon strategy. The results will be revealed in time for the UN climate talks in Paris in December, with new policies likely to be in place by early 2016. Canada’s wind and solar sectors are working furiously behind the scenes to press their case for a central role in Alberta’s energy future.
Vestas, the dominant supplier of wind turbines in Alberta, has had recent meetings in the province, says David Hardy, the company’s senior vice-president for sales, based in Portland, Oregon. “There’s a lot of optimism,” he says.
For all the excitement over Alberta’s new leadership, it’s important to keep realistic expectations. Notley is not going to disembowel the oil sands: the economic opportunity they represent is simply too large, and issues she cares deeply about, such as healthcare and childcare, benefit from a thriving oil sector.
Even accounting for recent low oil prices, market researcher IHS predicts production from the oil sands will rise 30% by 2020, reaching 2.9 million barrels per day — nearly twice as much as Norway produces today.
Yet bringing major changes to Alberta’s energy sector may not be as difficult as it would first appear.
For starters, low oil prices actually give the NDP some political cover. Albertans are tired of their boom-and-bust oil economy, and crave economic diversification. The 20 permanent jobs created by the Blackspring Ridge wind farm may not sound like much, but they count for enough in nearby Carmangay (population 367) that a turbine blade sits in the middle of the village like a war-hero statue.
Albertans are also sick of being cast as climate villains. The province’s climate infamy is not undeserved: its per-capita emissions are five times higher than Ontario’s, and by 2020 its emissions may equal those from Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia combined.
Alberta has two options for making a meaningful dent in its emissions in the medium term, says Ben Thibault, programme director for electricity at the Pembina Institute, a Calgary-based clean-energy think-tank. It can scrap its money-spinning oil sands, or it can clean up its own electricity mix.
Put like that, replacing Alberta’s coal-fired plants with renewables seems an obvious choice. “Even the previous government may have been starting to recognise that, but they just took forever to do anything about it,” Thibault says.
In pivoting towards renewables, Notley will not face the kind of uniform corporate opposition that might be expected in Alberta. One distinctive feature of Canada’s renewables industry is that many of its largest players are also major fossil-fuel companies — including TransCanada, Suncor, TransAlta and Enbridge.
Companies that own large coal plants in Alberta — such as TransAlta and Capital Power — may not be happy to see the province quit coal, even if they’re investing heavily in renewables elsewhere in Canada. But other large Alberta-based energy companies, including those knee-deep in the oil sands, may quietly welcome the change.
In addition to seeing an opportunity for new investment, such companies may have an ulterior motive: Some energy experts believe that a greening of Alberta’s grid could help the province open up export markets for its fossil fuels.
With the NDP in power, “no-one will accuse Alberta of having a tight partnership between government and industry”, Bob Page, former vice-president for sustainability at TransAlta, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “I think that will help speed regulatory approvals for projects like [TransCanada’s] East Energy pipeline.”
Even Notley, speaking on election night, said her aim was not to dismantle Alberta’s energy sector but to re-angle it so “we build bridges and we open markets, instead of having a black eye”.
With the right policy signals finally in place, Alberta’s renewables market — both wind and solar — could take off quickly.
“There’s a lot of megawatts out there that are partially developed, if you will,” says Arnold. “The cost of wind power is competitive with virtually any newbuild in the market. And solar has moved radically in price. We think it will be competitive in Alberta in the near term.”
John Gorman, chief executive of the Canadian Solar Industries Association, says that Alberta is “without doubt the next big solar market in Canada”.
Oil prices will rebound at some point, and with them Alberta’s growing demand for power. The oil sands — the world’s third-largest proven reserve of crude — are “very much a tailwind” for renewables, says Luison.
Many of the problems plaguing Alberta’s wind sector will soften over time. The challenge of geographic concentration, for example, is waning as specialist low-wind turbines come to market, allowing developers to conquer new regions.
Even Alberta’s spot market may eventually be a boon for renewables, allowing developers to build projects whenever they’re deemed competitive, without having to wait for bid-in rounds like those now favoured by Ontario.
Meanwhile, the uncertainty hanging over other Canadian provincial wind markets will steer developers towards Alberta, says Hornung. “If Alberta emerges as a market with a well-defined opportunity, people will gravitate towards that.”
For now, all eyes are on Notley and Alberta’s upcoming climate strategy. “We’re hopeful,” says Arnold, a born and bred Albertan who once worked for Suncor.
“There’s tremendous opportunity in Alberta,” he says. “We’ll be here when the market’s ready.”