Sunday, November 29, 2009
"There cannot be any emission cuts," said Saran, adding that the developed world did not expect countries like India to adopt emission reduction targets but instead to accept "deviation from business as usual."
India is currently the fourth-leading country in terms of co2 emissions, at 1.5 billion tons of co2 equivalent emissions per year as of 2006, putting it just behind Russia. China and the U.S. were at 6.1 and 5.5 billion tons respectively.
In terms of per capita emissions, however, India's 1.29 tons per person puts it at the bottom of the list. China's per capita emissions in '06 were at 4.57 tons per person, just over the worldwide average and the U.S.'s per capita emissions were at 18.68 tons per person, the highest in the world, with the exceptions of Kuwait, Qater and the U.A.R.
The tactic is unique among the major greenhouse gas emitters, however it does represent some quantifiable target, which is something that no one has been sure the Chinese would agree to.
The specific target set is to reduce co2 emissions by 40-45% of 2005 levels by 2020, relative to each point of GDP.
According to the People's Daily, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said "That is a very important and ambitious target... The announcement injects a momentum in leading up to the Copenhagen summit".
Friday, November 27, 2009
Bhutan's breathtaking "Tiger's Nest"
As a report by Anjali Nayaer in the current edition of Nature News explains in detail, Bhutan is a nation on the brink of disaster, it's geographic landscape in the midst of literally earth-shaking transformation:
Glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating faster than in any other part of the world and they could disappear completely by 2035. This puts the mountainous nation of Bhutan at a special risk. In an area smaller than Switzerland, it has 983 glaciers and 2,794 glacial lakes, some of which have burst to produce deadly glacial lake floods.
A almost unbelievable transformation is underway across the planet, and nowhere is it more all-encompassing than in Bhutan, as the article goes on to explain:
The sounds of global warming are deafening at Thorthormi glacier. Every few minutes, a block of ice rips off the glacier and crashes into the lake in a trail of dust and ice. These are some of the tallest mountains in the world and form Bhutan's northern boundary with Tibet.
Some distance downstream - the setting for the new 1200 MW Punatsangchhu-I Hydroelectric Project, scheduled to be built in 66 months by Larsen & Toubro (L&T), India’s leading Engineering, Technology and Construction Company - that's if the whole valley isn't washed out by a massive flood caused by overflowing glacial lakes upstream...
The above photo shows the Canadian Ambassador to Bhutan, Joseph Caron, who yesterday presented Bhutan's Foreign Minister with a letter of credit in the amount of $50,000 for earthquake relief. Sometimes a little cash will go a long way to help people...
Once they're gone, no amount of money will bring back the glaciers in Bhutan.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
When we first started this blog in '07, the Eco Art out there in cyberspace was just beginning to proliferate. We did quite a bit of research into what there was - and one of the more interesting groups we discovered was the California-based greenmuseum.org.
Greenmuseum.org is a non-profit group run completely by volunteers.
The following is adapted from the organization's "about" page.
greenmuseum.org, is a 100% volunteer run online museum of environmental art founded in 2001.
"Our goal is to inform, inspire and connect people through environmental art and encourage the creation of new work that serves communities and ecosystems. If you like this site and feel moved to volunteer or contribute to the birth of a sustainable culture, please visit our membership section and join us to support the growth of this movement. We are currently planning a major redesign of the site and a new organizational model to run it with. Stay tuned!"
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This one is titled "Tailings Pond", from Tatiana's Industrial Waste series.
"...so that's how everything works... ...and then that big river o' water just washes all that gunk outa there and it just goes right inta that huge pond that ya seen when ya flew in... ...it'll sit in that pond maybe a hunnert years... ...then they'll do some tests..."
Tailings Pond is dedicated to the thousands of hectares of once-pristine wilderness that are now covered by standing lakes of chemical soup all over the world.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Carbon Footprint by Province
greenhouse gas emissions per capita by province 2006, in tons of co2 equivalent
Tons of co2 per capita
British Columbia 14
New Brunswick 24
Newfoundland & Labrador 18
Nova Scotia 21
Yukon, Nunavut & N.W.T. 16
Interestingly, most sources for these figures, as well as total ghg emissions by province give graphic images, without showing the data. What is that about?
Interesting to note that B.C. acknowledges 62.3 million tons of co2 emissions in 2006, plus an additional 4 million tons of emissions caused by logging industry deforestation.
What are the total ghg emissions by province?
here are some Stats Canada figures on that, picked up from the Energy Collective website
Again, the figures given are just eyeballed off a bar graph, since the bar graphs appear in umpteen sources on the internet and I am having a tough time finding the actual stats
The numbers show the Greenhouse gas emissions for Canada by province, with the 1990 number first and the 2006 number second.
Emissions are measured in millions of tons of co2 equivalent, and are net, incorporating such factors as deforestation, afforestation, etc.
GHG Emissions 1990 - 2006
Alberta 172 - 236
British Columbia 50 - 66
Manitoba 20 - 22
New Brunswick 19 - 21
Newfoundland & Labrador 12 - 12
Nova Scotia 21 - 22
Ontario 174 - 190
P.E.I. 2 - 2
Quebec 84 - 82
Saskatchewan 45 - 73
Yukon, Nunavut & N.W.T. n/a
Interestingly, some of the federal government sources of information have magically disappeared.
But here is another very interesting set of data - this is the percentage of the Canadian increase in ghg emissions since 1990, by province:
British Columbia 10.9%
New Brunswick <1%>
Newfoundland & Labrador <1%
Nova Scotia <1%
Quebec 0% (total decrease of 1%)
Yukon, Nunavut & N.W.T. 0% (total decrease of 17%)
The above figures also obtained from a chart on the Energy Collective.
A disturbing and divisive fact is beginning to emerge here.
This is that all provinces benefit from their natural resources according to their distribution among the provinces. However, as things are unfolding, it looks like all the citizens of a country are being held accountable for the emissions of the country as a whole.
I can't see this evolving in any way that will be palatable in a context of Canadian unity.
For one thing, we have two provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, that are blatantly exposed in terms of per capita and total ghg emissions, especially against 1990 levels.
Alberta residents enjoy zero provincial sales tax and low income tax - so it's not going to look very good if residents of other provinces end up paying Alberta's way...
On the other hand Quebec is at the other extreme, already reducing emissions per 1990 levels. So Quebecers are really going to be hard pressed to agree with propping up any kind of polluting economy in the rest of the country.
Quebec and Alberta. Two provinces with already strong independent tendencies, are only going to find divisive forces running deeper and wider as the continuing climate discussions reveal more facts and the consequences become apparent to the average person.
Quebec is one of four Canadian provinces, with Ontario, B.C. and Manitoba, representing 80% of the population, and seven U.S. states including California, that have joined the Western Climate Initiative, a group that supports a cap and trade program and is pushing for more ambitious position on greenhouse gas reduction targets. Currently Canada has indicated a target of a 3% emissions reduction on 1990 levels would be acceptable to adopt. Meanwhile, Beauchamp has indicated that Quebec may be setting its sights on a reduction target in the range of 25% or higher.
The lame Canadian target is accentuated by Quebec's strong position. If one considers the second largest province in Canada is targeting a 25% reduction - yet Canada's overall reduction is only 3%, we see that some parts of Canada are, in fact, planning rampant emission increases.
The entire world is basing the Copenhagen talks on 1990 emission levels and Canada's Conservative government is continuing to talk about using 2006 as a baseline.
On December 15 in Copenhagen, Quebec Premier Jean Charest and South Australia Premier Mike Rann will co-chair a leaders summit on climate change. Attendees at this meeting will include California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and French presidential runner up Segolene Royal.
The separatist Parti Quebecois is trying to make hay over Copenhagen, with PQ international relations critic Lise Beaudoin asking Beauchamp how Quebec can go into Copenhagen as a part of the Canadian delegation in good conscience, when Canadian Environment Minister, Jim Prentice, wants the talks to fail.
At this point, Beauchamp indicated that Quebec will likely bring the most ambitious emission target of any any jurisdiction in North America to Copenhagen.
In an interview with Europolitics, we see that the Euros are getting sensitive about the Alberta Tar Sands, as the reporter specifically asked Beauchamp about it:
"What is your position on Canada’s use of oil sands?"
Beauchamp's reply was diplomatic:
"No matter what type of industry we are talking about, if it is a strong GHG emitter, then under a ‘cap and trade’ it will have either to invest in reducing emissions or to buy trading allowances. There can be an oil sands industry, but this industry should not in any way hinder Canada from being ambitious in its fight against climate change. Rules should also be imposed on this industry so that it makes its contribution in terms of reducing GHG emissions."
Sunday, November 22, 2009
He says that the Chinese have dedicated 38% of their economic stimulus package to sustainable development, which would be approximately $1.5 trillion bucks. Trouble is, according to Wikipedia, China has only allocated just over 5% of its stimulus package to green initiatives. Could there be some grey area? Sure. But I don't think Kennedy is serving his causes well leaving so much room for doubt with unsubstantiated claims.
People who are concerned about the environment need to keep in mind the need to be very careful not to drift into hyperbole in any of their activities, so as not to distract from the message they are really attempting to get a cross.
Friday, November 20, 2009
The project, being built in the derelict Don Valley Brickworks, just off the Don Valley Parkway, near downtown Toronto, has been spearheaded by Evergreen, a non profit organization dedicated to "making cities more livable."
The Evergreen Brickworks project has included fundraising to the tune of $55 million, $44 million of which has already been obtained.
Since 2004 the site has been offering a variety of activities such as a farmers market, a chef's market, guided nature walks and workshops and picnics.
The project is envisioned as a "sustainability showcase", including carbon neutral heating and cooling, with a solar co-generation system, net neutral water consumption complemented by 4 million litres of water per year collected from rainfall on the building roofs, zero waste to landfill and extensive provisions for sustainable transportation.
Monday, November 16, 2009
It screened a couple of times last week at Concordia in Montreal.
On the website you can request a screening at a location near you.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Speaking in Edmonton Friday, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said that Canada would cause itself economic hardship by cutting emissions if the Americans didn't follow suit, with no benefit to the environment.
He failed to mention the obvious to the partisan Chamber of Commerce luncheon faithful - that if all countries took this approach there would have been no progress at all yet on climate change.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Another gorgeous day in the Maldives...
A couple of weeks ago, the Maldives Parliament held a session underwater to symbolize the island nation's struggle for survivial. I read it was officially a government cabinet meeting.
The Maldives consist of 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, about 200 of which are inhabited and have an average elevation of 4 feet 11 inches above sea level.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
It is organized by COAL, the "coalition for the arts and sustainable development" which was created in France in 2008 by professionals of contemporary art, sustainable development and research. COAL is a nongovernmental organization. Its members are Alice Audouin, Baudelot Alexandra, Alexis Botaya, Loic Fel, Lauranne Germond, Yann Queinnec, Guillaume-Olivier Robic, Agathe Utard Clement Willemin.
On the COAL website there is a much more complete description, in French, of what it's all about.
This is the website: www.projetcoal.fr
Most of the (somewhat garbled) translation below I have borrowed from the website: Arts for COP15 art & activism Copenhagen 09
PROJET COAL is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the National Center of Fine Arts
PROJET COAL is a cycle of calls over three-years that invites artists to work on major global environmental and societal challenges. Approaches to sustainable development range between creativity and accountability. Sustainable development is still too often democratizes through normative discourse or alarmists. But change also depends on the sensitivity and performances, giving artistic expression to all its necessities.
Supported by partners in art and sustainable development this call for project aims to:
- Encourage the involvement and commitment of arts on environmental and societal current issues.
- Enhance the role of the artist as a stakeholder, promote exchange and networking with other stakeholders engaged in the field of sustainable development (NGOs, international institutions, communities, firms, unions ...).
- Support the production and distribution of signifying pieces of art.
- Provide visibility into projects and creative proposals on major societal and environmental issues.
- Promote their implementation and dissemination to public and private actors.
Based on a detailed study of the issue, made under the supervision of a scientific committee, the artists are invited to submit their project proposals, realistic or utopian, to risk solutions, to put a new look.
This call for proposals will be:
- Publishing a reference book presenting 100 projects selected under this call. Designed as a catalog of suggestions, ideas, visions, the book COAL PROJECT 2009 will be widely disseminated to policy makers and stakeholders (media arts and sustainable development, communities, NGOs, companies ...).
- Organizing a series of seminars around the projects and a full day of multi-stakeholder metting around 10 projects selected in the presence of the jury and the Scientific Committee and key stakeholders in sustainable development.
- rewarding a recipient designated by the jury of experts with a grant of 5 000 euros. The winner also receives the accompaniment of COAL for networking necessary for the development of his project.
All details : scientific committee, thematic, jury, application on www.projetcoal.fr
For further information, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, November 8, 2009
As an appetizer, the news that the estimate for economic impact of the 2010 Olympics has gone from $10.7 B to $4 Bil...
I may be an apologist for the Olympics as a great - if flawed - institution, but give me a break. OK, it's still peanuts compared to the discrepancy in the Reform-Conservatives' budgeting over the past 15 months... but no one expects them to get anything right... just as long as they loosen up the gun laws...
Then there is the little-known case of B.C. Hydro buying into the Waneta Dam, owned by Teck Resources Ltd., in southern B.C. near Trail.
Campbell's government paid $825 million for a ONE-THIRD share of EXCESS power going forward.
OK these just look like numbers... that is until you stop to consider that Hydro Quebec just bought an entire utility, NB Power, lock, stock and barrel, for $4.75 B. That deal included 15 hydro, coal and diesel power generating stations, and a full-blown nuclear station currently getting a $1.5 billion refurbishing job from Atomic Energy of Canada. BTW - I have seen the cost of a new reactor pegged at $5-8 Bil.
So let's total it up - HQ gets 3,324 MW of installed generating capacity - in a deal widely described as a win - win, for $4.75 Bil. $1.43 million per MW
B.C. gets one-third of the excess power produced by a dam whose total capacity is 450 MW. Excess means that first the power to run the Cominco Smelter in Trail comes off the top... I dunno how much this smelter takes to run - let's just ignore it for the sake of argument. Let's just say B.C. gets 1/3 of the full capacity. OK 150 MW, for $825 Mil $5.5 million per MW - without allowing for whatever it takes to run the smelter.
The difference is that Teck has been selling its excess power for some ridiculous sums to the U.S., whereas Hydro Quebec is locked into providing power to NB residents with no rate hikes for 5 years. Anyway, by disregarding whatever power it's going to take to run the smelter, we should be able to safely assume we're erring on the side of making the deal look better for B.C. Hydro than it really is.
But B.C. Hydro isn't guaranteed anything. Who knows? there could be years with minimal excess power to sell if the water is low. The price in the U.S. could also fall. The U.S. prices are all artificially inflated a la Enron anyway - they could easily fall.
I don't know what has happened to the deal since the announcement. There is supposed to be a utilities commission looking into it. There is precious little about the deal on either B.C. Hydro's or Teck's website.
Oh yeah... so in and around the same time period that Teck made the deal to sell what maybe $200-400 million of power to B.C. Hydro for $825 million ...there is the little matter of the price of Teck's stock going up from $3.90 to $33 over a period of months! Hmm hmmm, sure would be cool if a person had a way to tell when these sweetheart deals were in the works! I would love to see what Jon Stewart would do with this one...
But despite how it looks, it would be only fair to mention that Teck is a large company with a market cap of $19 billion (ok, as little as $3 billion several months ago) and all types of things influence its stock price. Not the least of which - coal sales to China, the commodity crash and the credit squeeze.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
On the final day of the conference in Barcelona, Canada was awarded the Fossil of the Day and the Fossil of the Week awards by the Climate Action Network, a worldwide network of 450 non-governmental organizations based in Washington D.C., working to "limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels".
The main objective of all these talks, and the upcoming talks in Copenhagen, is to arrive at a binding number that all countries will agree to, to represent the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990 levels.
As of now, it appears that a worldwide aggregate number of 11-15% reduction by developed nations on 1990 might be achievable. Most poor countries and emerging economies are saying that this number is far too low and needs to be at 40.
Europe, meanwhile is pushing for targets in the range of 20-30%.
Canada is presently sticking to a laughable 3% reduction, saying even that will cause significant restructuring difficulty. On top of that, Canada is trying to use a loophole in previous wording that would allow us to peg our reductions based on estimates of future emissions.
Canada's negotiating position has always been to use the facts that we are a thinly populated, northern country of large distances to justify our "difficulty" in reducing levels of emissions.
In Barcelona we have been exposed BIG TIME by Norway, a country every bit as far north and thinly populated as Canada. At these talks, Norway has stepped up and raised its commitment from a 30% reduction to 40%. Norway, incidentally, is the top oil producer in Europe and one of the top 6 net oil exporters in the world as of 2008.
Stephen Harper has proven completely incapable of financial management. Blowing a $13 billion Liberal surplus almost overnight and plowing the country into (who knows?) a $50 billion deficit situation in a matter of months. Tossing out seemingly random economic projections and interim budgets along the way.
Now, Harper is on the way to destroying Canada's accumulated international good will capital that has been carefully nurtured over the past 90-100 years.
As his mentor, George W. Bush did in the U.S., Harper is doing everything he possibly can to bring the scorn of the world down on Canada. We cannot allow this to continue.
Friday, November 6, 2009
He goes on to say that Canada, already the worst per capita greenhouse gas producer, is expected to propose a miniscule 3% reduction in 1990 emission levels, is home to the dirtiest oil in the world and is sneakily tossing in a sleight of hand proposal to "exploit a loophole which would allow it to reduce emissions compared with what it might emit one day in the future!"
Prime Minister Harper is oblivious to reality...
Thursday, November 5, 2009
According to an article in the Economist the best reverse osmosis systems currently consume about 3.7 kWh of electricity to produce 1,000 litres of drinking water, whereas the Canadians' company, Saltworks, claims to be able to produce the same amount of drinking water using less than 1 kWh of electricity.
To develop such a technology in Vancouver, where it rains non-stop and you rarely see the sun. =)
More on this new technology can be found at Cleantech Blog.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The town seems to have at least stalled imminent ruin by its adoption of the green municipal plan and the enthusiasm generated could spill over into a thriving future.
At the turn of the millennium, Craik was badly depressed, suffering from the same syndrome experienced by hundreds of prairie towns... declining rural populations, centralized service centres, lack of opportunity for youth and so forth.
A joint effort of the Town of Craik and the Rural Municipality of Craik to seek a community project that could offer hope for the future was presented the concept of creating an eco village by Dr. Lynn Oliphant of the Prairie Institute for Human Ecology and formerly the University of Saskatchewan.
Craik is located roughly halfway between Regina and Saskatchewan and the town has a population of about 400.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The program for Rethink Contemporary Art & Climate Change, includes numerous exhibitions, events and shows.
The timing coincides neatly with the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, scheduled for December 7-18, also in Copenhagen.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Now, in a project named NOWHEREISLAND, Hartley plans to transport a part of the island to England. The island is about the size of a football field and is made up mostly of morain and rubble covering a small amount of bedrock. The island is named Nymark Island and is officially recognized by the Norwegian Arctic Survey.
Another part of the plan includes applying for "micronation" status while the island is enroute to England. There is already a "call" out for citizens and Hartley hopes his micronation will surpass several others in terms of population. This reminds me of the Principality of Sealand, a "country" that was set up in 1967 on a deserted concrete gun fixture that had been built during WW2 just outside of British territorial waters.