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Things Are Good: Costa Rica Only Powered by Renewables

Costa Rica has been 100% powered by renewable energy for the first quarter of the year and this may continue. This is fantastic for the central american country as it has been making huge strides as a an eco-friendly tourist destination. You can see the beginnings of the country’s environmental focus when we looked at it back in 2006.

Costa Rica continues to impress!

This year has been a pretty special one for Costa Rica — for the first quarter, the country’s grid has required absolutely no fossil fuels to run, the state-run power supplier the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: The Interview We Wish We Had With Premier Prentice on Budget 2015

“I believe we show who we are, and how much we care, by what we do.”—Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister

In his March 24 “State of the Province Address” Mr Prentice urged Albertans to receive his new budget in a spirit of openness. He said if we all act responsibly we can dig the government out of the $7 billion financial hole it created for itself.

Budget 2015 is Fiscal Fairyland. So its promoter, Mr Prentice, should have no problem giving Ms Soapbox an imaginary interview to discuss its imaginary benefits.

Mr Premier you say the current fiscal structure (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Homelessness in Canada’s North

Over at the blog of Northern Public Affairs, I’ve written a post titled “Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada’s North.”

Topics covered in the post include the high cost of construction in many parts of the North, the relatively high costs of operating housing in the North, and declining federal funding for social housing in the North.

The full post can be found here.

Things Are Good: In France New Buildings Need Green Roofs

Green roofs or solar panels are now required on all new commercial buildings in the country of France. This is great because now buildings can have either a zero energy impact or contribute to their local environment.

Rooftops on new buildings built in commercial zones in France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels, under a law approved on Thursday.

Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer

Read more.

Susan on the Soapbox: Laurie Blakeman Takes a Symbolic Step…in the Wrong Direction

Crikey!

On Friday Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman announced that she’ll be running as a candidate for the Liberals, the Alberta Party and the Greens in the upcoming election…

…and on Sunday Ms Soapbox announced to her dad that she’d joined the NDP. He swears he’ll never speak to her again.

While I applaud the efforts of progressive MLAs and party leaders to cooperate I fail to understand how Ms Blakeman’s decision gets the progressives anywhere.

As journalist Graham Thomson points out this isn’t a merger of the Liberals, the Alberta Party and the Greens and it’s not a (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Thinking Through the Fall-Out of Lower Oil Prices

Canada’s economic and fiscal debates in recent months have been dominated by the possible impacts of the sudden fall in oil prices since last autumn on growth, employment, and fiscal balances. Finance Minister Joe Oliver delayed the budget, the Bank of Canada shocked markets with a rate cut, and Alberta Premier Jim Prentice is now promising a shock-and-awe austerity budget unlike any that province has experienced. And these are just the first-round policy responses. More drama surely lies ahead.

I have prepared for Unifor a summary economic bulletin that reviews the many and varied impacts of the (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Looking for Heroes?

I’ve been watching The Book of Negroes this week. I have no words. I only recognize justice, integrity, brutality, acknowledgement, witnessing, story telling and a myriad of other foggy responses.

It’s easy to also ponder qualities of heroes.

Then I read this from earlier this week, and nodded. Do you get it?

Anishinabe Women Protest Energy East Pipeline on Family Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 16, 2015

‘Protect the Water, For Future Generations’: Message being shared today with local families, starting at Market Square at noon.

Kenora—Dozens of Anishinabe Women, their families, and supporters converge today on Market Square at (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Adding to the pile: Another legal challenge regarding Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal argues BC is required to make its own decision

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The pile of lawsuits sitting on top of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines and Tankers Project keeps getting bigger, and this time the Province of British Columbia has been dragged into the mix.

In January 2015 a new legal challenge was launched by First Nations in relation to the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal, this time in the British Columbia Supreme Court against the Province of BC. The parties commencing the legal challenge, Gitga’at First Nation and Coastal First Nations, argue in the case that the Province of BC has a legal duty to make its (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Low-carbon urban infrastructure: a view from Vancouver

I have a new case study (full pdf; summary article from the publishers) out as part of the Economists for Equity and Environment‘s Future Economy Initiative. I look at the City of Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Energy Utility (NEU), a low-carbon district energy system that hits a sweet spot of clean energy, local control, and stable prices at competitive rates.

The NEU arose as part of a vision for redevelopment of former industrial land into a mixed-use community in the Southeast False Creek area of Vancouver. The first phase included construction of the False Creek Energy Centre and service to (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Burlington Vermont Now 100% Powered by Renewable

The community of Burlington, Vermont have gotten their power grid to be fully renewable – they are so good at it that they can sell surplus energy to other places. Burlington is known for being a progressive place and they are clearly leading the renewable energy path in the USA. It’s the first city to be 100% powered by renewable energy in the country.

Burlington, Vermont, the state’s largest city, recently became the first in the country to use 100 percent renewable energy for its residents’ electricity needs. In a state known for socially conscious policies, the feat represents a (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: The So-Called Transit Referendum: Don’t Be Duped!

By Emily Griffiths

The Transit referendum “Yes” campaign has been asserting itself all over Facebook, Twitter, neighbourhood news boxes, and I can’t help but ask myself, Since when is increasing a flat tax a leftist thing to do?

Oh! The word “transit” has been attached to the newest proposed consumer flat tax increase, therefore rendering it “left” and “sustainable”. Have we forgotten that the poorest members of our community are already shelling out $91-$170/ month just to be able to ride a crowded bus to work and back without risk of being detained by over zealous transit police (the only (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: The So-Called Transit Referendum: Don’t Be Duped!

The Progressive Economics Forum: Don’t Play Tories’ Game on “Risk” of Deficit

Acres of newsprint have been devoted in recent weeks to the possibility that lower oil prices might push the federal budget back into a deficit position. As I argue in my column in today’s Globe and Mail, this drama is mostly political theatre — and progressives should be cautious about accidentally accepting the Conservative frame for this debate.

Provincial governments in the oil-producing provinces face a huge fiscal risk from lower oil prices (since they rely, to varying degrees, on petroleum royalties to directly fund current public services — not exactly a wise fiscal strategy). Ottawa, in (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Energy From Drinking Water

Drinkable water right from a tap in your home is a relatively new and amazing thing. Just when you thought water delivery systems couldn’t get any better a company has converted pipes into energy generators. Their new pipes can capture energy from water as it flows to its destination to provide a small amount of energy for communities.

“We have a project in Riverside, California, where they’re using it to power streetlights at night,” Semler says. “During the day, when electricity prices are high, they can use it to offset some of their operating costs.”

In Portland, one of (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Trudeau, Carbon Pricing, Regional Politics, and Technology Policy

Yesterday, Justin Trudeau appeared to be backing away from a national carbon price. He says some of the provinces have already implemented carbon pricing, so the federal government will be left to “oversee”. What Trudeau is actually saying isn’t quite clear, but it certainly seems like he is giving up on creating a national carbon price and leaving it to the provinces.

In the subsequent discussions on twitter, some pointed towards the difficult politics of carbon pricing in Canada’s regionally diverse federation. Below I will argue that the ideal policy response to Canada’s regional diversity involves implementing geographically specific clean (Read more…)

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Tsleil-Waututh Nation: “Yes” to solar; “No” to Kinder Morgan

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I was honoured to attend the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s (TWN) launch and celebration of its new solar tracker. With the installation of TWN’s solar tracker, TWN signaled that the green energy future is now. Far more than just opposing a pipeline that threatens their culture and spirituality while facilitating the expansion of the tar sands leading to runaway climate change, TWN is demonstrating leadership by investing in alternatives and looking to the future.

Solar is Intergenerational: TWN Sacred Trust member Carleen Thomas with her parents Ernest and Lily George and granddaughters Dee, Miya and Jasmine.

“We have (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Tsleil-Waututh Nation: “Yes” to solar; “No” to Kinder Morgan

Things Are Good: Why Fossil Fuel Divestment Makes Sense

Rolling Stone has a great article looking into the logic of divestment, that is the growing trend to remove investments in fossil fuel companies and investing in renewable companies instead. On campuses around the world students have been pushing their schools to put their money where their mouth is by divesting.

It makes sense to do this as a society too. It’s not just because the current economic system is unsustainable but because it also makes economic sense.

For RBF, the logic of divestment was twofold. “There was a very clear moral impetus to do this,” Wayne says. RBF makes (Read more…)

Left Over: Should the CBC Walk the Proverbial Plank?

http://montrealsimon.blogspot.ca/2015/01/what-needs-to-be-said-about-cbc-scandals.html

 

The only valid argument for saving the CBC is that it has a MANDATE, coast to coast to coast, to be there for all the people of this country, to disseminate information (however flawed that process might be these days..) and news for the entire country, especially those less well-served by the media as it exists today.. Let’s be honest here, if all CBC did was make such turgid dramcoms as Republic of Doyle, King of Kensington, etc etc I would say toss it, too… But the fact that anyone anywhere in this country (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Science World Ignores Climate Science

Well, why would you support something called Science World when it participates in a program to brainwash students into supporting the liquid natural gas industry, despite the science indicating how harmful it is to the world.

Climate change deniers deny science.

The BC government pretends to care about climate change but is roaring ahead with oil, gas, coal, pipelines and tankers. Pure hypocrisy. They think we’re stupid.

Science World, by joining in with the BC government pimping LNG to kids, has joined the wrong team.

Why would you go to a Science World that rejects the sociopolitical implications of (Read more…)

Carbon49 - Sustainability for Canadian businesses: WWF Offer Free Tools for Corporate Sustainability Initiatives

Need some help driving your office’s green initiatives? WWF Canada offers free downloadable tools including getting-started guides, spreadsheets, benchmarks, campaign poster templates for green initiatives on energy reduction, paper reduction, waste reduction, travel, procurement, and green team building. I find some of the tools very useful.

As mentioned in an earlier article Employee Engagement Drives Sustainability Strategy, World Wide Fund for Nature’s Living Planet @ Work program aims to make it easier for businesses to make greener choices. The program helps businesses large and small with strategic guidance on green business ideas and best practices and offers tools to (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: David Suzuki: Energy shift requires shift in conversation

The infrastructure already developed to accommodate cheap fossil fuels creates a psychological barrier to rational discourse on energy issues, says David Suzuki.

The post David Suzuki: Energy shift requires shift in conversation appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Politics, Re-Spun: Capitalists Working on Climate Change?

As you know, I’m not one to tout the marvels of capitalism, however there is this. Out of the 6 of the most hopeful climate stories of this year at the Climate Reality Project, is this one about businesses doing [if only slightly] more than greenwashing or PR sexied up as climate action.

My hashtag obsession for 2015 is #ClimateHope!

Business Trends Favor Climate Action

The US-China climate deal is also a giant boost for clean-energy markets. Having the world’s two largest economies competing to accelerate the adoption of no-carbon and low-carbon technologies will send one of the most powerful (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Shhh, The Bold Revolution Has Started

We live in tumultuous times:

Ferguson and other non-indictments of white police who murdered people of colour ISIL and other extremism Stephen Harper’s continued assault on democracy and embrace of soft fascism [has he had CRA audit YOUR favourite progressive group yet?] Accusations against Jian Ghomeshi Accusations against Bill Cosby The epidemic of campus rape, and necessary reflection about why it has taken this long to take this seriously Victoria’s Times-Colonist newspaper’s racist editorial cartoons, and necessary reflection about why it has taken this long to take this seriously Pipelines, fracking, dirty energy, tankers The destructive Site-C dam (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Stakes are high and LNG bet is not safe

Some years ago, Premier Gordon Campbell announced the Gateway Program for improvement of roads and bridges throughout Greater Vancouver. It included a new Fraser River crossing and reconstruction of Highway 1 from Vancouver to Langley. Also in the plan was the South Fraser Perimeter Road for port, industrial and regional users along the south side of the Fraser River.

The budgeted cost for the Port Mann / Highway 1 Corridor was $1.5 billion and for the South Fraser Perimeter Road, $800 million. Actual costs were $3.32 billion and $1.24 billion respectively. Despite each of the projects opening (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: New York State Bans Fracking

After years of delays and debate, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally decided that the risks of fracking outweigh the rewards, bans the practice.

The post New York State Bans Fracking appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Buy high, sell low – make up losses with volume?

Is B.C.’s Site C dam a gateway to dirty energy?, Calyn Shaw, CBC News Network, December 22, 2014 The provincial government has made it clear that Site C is about meeting future electricity demands. But the province is currently energy self-sufficient; we are a significant net exporter of power.

According to BC Hydro’s own growth forecasts, by 2024, the annual energy demand, after the current conservation plan, will almost equal the projected annual energy supply — without Site C.

This would seem to indicate that when Site C comes online, almost all of the 5,100 gigawatt hours (Read more…)