Big Oil-Funded Meeting of Canadian Energy Ministers Ends: Did They Get What They Paid For?


Canada’s energy ministers ended two days of annual talks Tuesday in the Kananaskis resort in the Alberta Rockies announcing they have agreed to work together on opening up new markets to Canadian crude oil.

They also agreed to work on streamlining the process for approving energy projects.

In a communiqué, the ministers said they also aim to improve energy efficiency, energy information and electricity reliability.

In an admirable show of independence, Ontario’s energy minister refused to support the final communiqué issued, because it referred to the Alberta tar sands as “sustainable and responsible”. It appears that Big Oil money talks but not everybody listened this weekend.  The McGuinty government is responsible for the visionary Green Energy Act that focuses on jumpstarting renewable energy production in this province.  Ontario plans to keep up the focus on energy policy, particularly renewables, at the upcoming Premier’s meeting in B.C:

“For years, if not decades, governments in Ottawa of all political stripes have sought to find ways to transfer Ontario tax dollars into Western Canada to support the oil and gas industry,” said Mr. McGuinty, when asked in Oakville, Ont., about his views on the meeting.

“Well, how about using Canadian tax dollars to support clean energy industry that is taking place, that is developing – we’re at the forefront in North America, we’re creating thousands of jobs, we’re reducing our contribution to climate change. We’re shutting down coal-fired plants.”

Mr. McGuinty said these are “difficult things” to do. “What we’re saying to the feds is, ‘Hey, you want to help support energy superpowers, you’ve got to take a look at the entire country. Take a look at the contribution that each province is making, and I think we’re making a powerful contribution.’ ” Read more at the Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile, First Nations and environmental groups are dismayed at the official support of the energy ministers for the Alberta tar sands, the dirtiest project on earth. Ed Whittingham of the Alberta-based Pembina Institute wrote:

“While the ministers expressed interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy production, their decision to call Canada’s oilsands a ‘sustainable’ source of energy for the world raises serious questions about that goal.

“Non-renewable, high-carbon sources of energy are by their very nature unsustainable. Canada needs to plan for a transition away from depending on exports of such sources, like the oilsands.

“A national energy framework needs to seize the economic opportunities offered by clean energy and achieve Canada’s climate targets. Unfortunately, the documents released today failed to make either addressing climate change or supporting renewable energy a priority.

“Before their next meeting, Canada’s energy ministers need to outline a national energy framework built on meaningful dialogue with citizens. An effective framework must also include a price on greenhouse gas pollution as a central feature.”

Meanwhile, while Canadian policy formally ignores the reality of climate change, the worst drought in half a century continues to kill Somalis by the tens of thousands,  the UN Security Council considers a proposal to form a climate change peacekeeping force, and the ongoing heat wave across much of North America kills at least 13 people in the American heartland.

More links:

Ontario Refuses To Call Alberta’s Oil Sands “Sustainable and Responsible”

Les écologistes pas convaincus

Pembina Reacts To the Outcome of Energy Ministers’ Meeting in Kananaskis

Ontario Tax Dollars Supporting Energy in the West, McGuinty Says

Energy Ministers to Seek New Oil Markets

The Problem We’ve Created

The world needs to reduce carbon emissions. While oil and gas were cheap, there were few incentives to seek newer, cleaner and renewable resources. But time is now the biggest factor. We’re running out of cheap energy and continuing to contribute to the current climate change problem. What, if anything, have we learned in the interim?

All week on TVO, The Agenda with Steve Paikin is broadcasting live from the University of Waterloo where the Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 is taking place.  Yesterday’s panel discussion on “Energy: the problem we’ve created” was lively and informative.  Panel members included Marlo Raynolds from the University of Calgary and the Pembina Institute, Robin Batterham, the president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and Zoe Caron, co-author of “Global Warming For Dummies”.  Also on the panel was Vaclav Smil from the University of Manitoba and author of “Energy Myths and Realities” who seemed extremely knowledgeable about the current state of our fossil fuel consumption but was completely without a vision that this could ever be different.  At one point Steve Paikin challenged him on his assertions that globally we are completely and totally addicted to oil and will never be able to change .  Paikin said something like  “Then we just carry with business as usual and kill ourselves and the planet?” and Smil responded with “well, everything has to die sometime, even the earth.” This honest, though depressing, response from Smil that reflects what many people secretly feel, though many won’t admit it. That is, we are up to our necks in the “Big Muddy” now, and there is no way out.  We (and our children and their children) are doomed.   This kind of despair breeds apathy and people who hold this view do little to work for change, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  And this suits those with vested interests in fiercely resisting change just fine!

But throughout history there have been social movements that have arisen when a small group of people stood up and said “No. Enough is enough.” We have the examples of civil rights movement in the 20th century, as well as the anti-slavery movement the century before.  Most recently, just this year,  there was Egypt and the explosion of the “Arab spring”. All of these examples show what happens when a minority of people take a firm, public stand which inspires others who felt too dis-empowered and hopeless to do work for change on their own.  This is the point we are at with the climate crisis right now, embedded as it is with indigenous rights, women’s empowerment, and all that falls into the broad “environmental” category (clean air, clean water, protection from health-endangering toxins). It’s time for those of us who understand the danger to our children and grandchildren’s future to take a strong stand against the threat.

Shift happens. Are you ready to make history?

More links: 

The Agenda continues to broadcast from the Equinox Summit every night this week at 8 p.m. EST (live). It is rebroadcast at 11 p.m. and is also available for viewing online.  I know what I’ll be doing this evening, as tonight they are talking about our transportation system in “The Way We Move.”

To listen to last night’s program, click here:  Energy: The Problem We’ve Created

To go this week’s Agenda info, click here:  Equinox Summit: The Problem We’ve Created

To get a sense of the movement that is afoot, here is Paul Hawken speaking about it at the 2007 Bioneers conference:


Dr. Mann Exonerated, and Other Climate Science News

From DeSmogBlog is an article about Penn State University’s investigation into allegations of cover-up and impropriety on the part of climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann.  As their report states, the university was prompted to investigate Dr. Mann after it:

began to receive numerous communications (emails, phone calls and letters) accusing Dr. Michael E. Mann of having engaged in acts that included manipulating data, destroying records and colluding to hamper the progress of scientific discourse around the issue of anthropogenic global warming from approximately 1998. These accusations were based on perceptions of the content of the widely reported theft of emails from a server at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Great Britain.

Dr. Mann was cleared of any wrong doing in 3 of the 4 allegations outright – as the university’s report states, there is no “credible evidence” to substantiate any of the accusations brought against him.  As for the 4th allegation, that Dr. Mann seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities, a separate panel of faculty members will pursue a follow-up investigation to satisfy the critics, so the verdict is still pending on that one.

It seems, though, that credible evidence is something that climate change denialists aren’t that familiar with.  According to DeSmogBlog, the denialists are trying to spin the university’s exoneration as a “whitewash”.  Click here to read the full article on, or click here to read the full university report.

Meanwhile, Matthew Bramley of the Alberta-based Pembina Institute discusses the Harper government’s failure to address the looming climate crisis and  formulate its own climate change plan in “Hitched to the U.S., Canada is going nowhere fast”.

Kate at Climate Sight just posted “A Good Batch Of News” where she discusses an article by Phil Duffy that discusses the fact that medical errors occur all the time (I spent 20 years working as a nurse, I know how true that is!) yet nobody is calling for a massive inquiry into the science underpinning modern medicine, or the engineering foundations of the car industry because Toyota has just issued a massive recall.

But pseudoskeptics argue that the IPCC is systematically fraudulent simply because a couple of statements among thousands of pages of heavily edited and re-editing (and re-re-edited) documents cite gray literature instead of the peer-reviewed literature that supplied the science in the first place.

This posting also discusses the censorship of comments on blogs, where she makes the astute comment that:

that the vast majority of Internet discussions regarding climate change turn into such a food fight that reasonable and insightful discussion falls through the cracks. Well-meaning and fact-checking people are so busy responding to the same old objections, or are so intimidated by trolling commentators (quick poll – who here has been called a Nazi for explaining basic atmospheric science?), that they do not post the wonderfully thought-provoking things that they have to say.

Click here to read the full article.