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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

while 'crisis' envelops ottawa, canadians have landed in poznan.

As the ongoing political drama in Ottawa continues to unfold with Stéphane Dion's second (and near third) resignation, and Michael Ignatieff’s coup d’parti of the Liberal Party of Canada over Dominic LeBlanc and Bob Rae, there isn't much media attention being paid to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP14) being held in Poznan, Poland.

Representing the Government of Alberta is a delegation led by Environment Minister Rob Renner, who is expected to be joined by Calgary MP and Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice later this week. Also from Alberta, as part of the 26-member Canadian Youth Delegation (CYD), are Pembina Institute Policy Advisor Alex Doukas of Calgary and Christel Hyshka of Edmonton. You can follow CYD updates from Poznan over twitter at @CYDPoznan.

(UPDATE: Edmonton-Strathcona MP and NDP Environment critic Linda Duncan is also part of the Canadian delegation at the Poznan Conference)

Rumour had it that Premier Ed Stelmach might be attending, as it appeared the Government of Alberta had sent a point person to the City of Poznan a full two weeks ahead of the conference to "arrange things for the delegation" (which seems like a lot of effort for Renner).

The debate over CO2 storage and Carbon Capture (CCS) is being reported as a hot topic at the conference. Though the debate surrounds its use in Coal plants and transportation, I wonder if Minister Renner is feeling any heat over the recently released government report concluding that CCS would not be effective in Alberta’s oil sands. Research in CCS technology has focused on coal and transportation emission, contradicting speeches made by Stelmach during his trips across Canada, the United States, and Europe that the $2 billion tax-payer investment in CCS would green the oil sands.

Alberta's oil sands continue to be the fastest-growing source of CO2 in Canada and are set to increase from 5% to 16% of total emissions by 2020 under current expansion plans.

Closer to home, the Oil Sands Tailings Conference 2008 is being held from October 7-10 in Edmonton. For those of you who forgot about northern Alberta's toxic lakes after 500 ducks took a swim earlier this year, the Pembina Institute projects that by 2020, the oil sands will 'create enough tailings ponds to fill 400,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools—that’s a surface area five times that of Sylvan Lake.'

Albertans should also take note of a meeting today between former United States Vice President Al Gore, President-elect Barack Obama, and Vice President-elect Joe Biden to discuss the new administration's environmental agenda. With a new administration in Washington D.C. taking over in January 2009, Albertans should be prepared to embrace the kinds of change in our environmental policy and oil sands extraction practices that may need to happen to adapt to the market realities of new energy and environmental policies south of the border.


Anonymous said...

"...Michael Ignatieff’s coup d’parti of the Liberal Party of Canada..."

Great comment. So true.

Where does Ignatieff stand on Parliamentary reform or climate change?

Steven Dollansky said...

As an interesting side note, Minister Prentice invited members of the opposition to attend the conference with him shortly after being named Minister of the Environment. As of last week he had received no response.... things like this frustrate me.

Anonymous said...

The opposition MPs would likely be embarrassed to sit with a Prentice-led Canadian delegation that doesn't want to meet Kyoto targets for another 6230 days.

Not like anything is actually going to be accomplished at this conference.

Ian said...

I think Ms. Duncan was wanting to go on that trip but the turmoil in Ottawa confused everything and I'm not sure if the government offered to pay the flights of the environment critics.

Anonymous said...

Dave, you are still using projections for oilsands growth that pre-date the current global economic crisis. Most of the projections you use seem to be those we saw during the economic joyride of 2006 & 2007.

Isn't it safe to say that with all of the major projects now being shuttered or cancelled that the overall % of Canada's CO2 coming from the oilsands will likely stay the same, or grow far slower than projected?

Keep fighting to kill the Golden Goose thou. Surely if $40/barrel oil prices can't quite keep Alberta down, you enviro nutjobs will.

daveberta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
daveberta said...

Anonymous 5:45pm: Thanks for the comment. Do you have stats for updates projections? I will happily post them if you can point me to a source.

I'm not against extracting our resources, but I believe that we should be much smarter (both economically and environmentally) about how we do it. Responsible stewardship of Alberta's natural resources is what I would like to see.

Anonymous said...

Harper reaches out to Ignatieff:

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper is banking on a change in Liberal leadership to save his Conservative minority from defeat at the hands of a proposed alternative government.

With Michael Ignatieff poised to take the helm of the Liberals, replacing lame-duck leader Stephane Dion, Harper took to the airwaves Tuesday in a rare interview with the CBC.

``I'm optimistic that the next leader of the Opposition may want to look at different kinds of arrangements in the best interest of the country,'' said Harper.

In a time of global turmoil, said the prime minister, the ``two major parties'' should seek consensus ``in the short term'' on policies to protect jobs and ``keep from sliding deeper into the morass we're seeing around the world.''

Harper is clearly hoping to get out of Canada's current parliamentary morass as well.

The Conservatives narrowly avoided a vote of non-confidence this week only by convincing the Governor General to suspend Parliament until the end of January.

Harper plans to return to the House of Commons with an early federal budget on Jan. 27, at which point his government will again be vulnerable to a Liberal-NDP coalition backed by the Bloc Quebecois.

A formal coalition arrangement was negotiated after the Conservatives delivered a provocative fall economic update that was sprinkled with partisan land mines but short on the sort of aggressive economic stimulus measures the opposition parties had demanded.

Dion was to lead that alternative governing coalition. But in the face of Harper's delaying tactics, Dion's wobbly support within Liberal ranks collapsed and Ignatieff is now set to be installed by next Wednesday.

``I hope the next Liberal leader, the first thing he'll do will be willing to sit down with me and have that kind of (economic) discussion,'' said Harper.

Ignatieff has expressed ambivalence about the coalition concept, and the prime minister's olive branch puts the pressure squarely on the incoming Liberal leader.

Anonymous said...

Steve, was it that Prentice received no response, or did not receive a firm answer on whether the opposition planned on sending representatives?
What I heard from Linda Duncan the weekend before last was that Prentice had agreed to allow the opposition to attend, and that she was hoping to, but that all travel had been put on hold(I'm assuming she was referring to Layton putting travel for NDP MPs on hold) because of the potential upcoming confidence vote.
Perhaps by the time Parliament was prorogued on Thursday it was too late to make the arrangements needed to accommodate the opposition members there. Or perhaps they did in fact end up going.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Re immediately previous anon: Linda Duncan is there for certain, as is the Liberal environment critic.

daveberta said...

Thanks for clarifying, IP. I've updated the post.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm not sure where the "from 5% to 16%" of emissions comes from. I know the CBC article mentioned it, but did not source it. The 5% number came from CAPP.

I suspect somebody merely took the projected increase in production (when that forecast was first made), which entailed about a tripling of then current production, and simply multipled through [see CAPP presentation:

Even back then, the number used by CBC and others was likely inaccurate, since the method of extraction will not be homogenous. In-situ extraction will be more prevalent (versus mostly mining today), and I do not believe it is as GHG intensive, with or without carbon capture.

But the 16% figure is certainly inaccurate now. A multitude of projects have been cancelled or deferred - the earliest due to continue cost pressures, and the later ones because of the drop in oil prices. The Fort Hills project by PetroCanada/UTS/Teck Cominco is one such.

Don't worry, we the industrialized first world will collectively be buying oil from those nice tolerant environmentally friendly folks in the middle east, Russia, Venezuala, and elsewhere for a long time to come.

Anonymous said...

Dave, are you sure that you're in favour of the development of the tar sands? Will you not lose street cred over this? Or have the Hudemites moved fully away from the "end Alberta's addiction to oil" to "no new expansion" which would then allow the ones there to go gangbusters?

Is a country like Norway good or evil since they support strongly CCS?

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with $40 barrel oil?

Gauntlet said...

Two things: On the person who asked about Ignatieff's views on environmental issues and democratic reform, I can't answer on democratic reform, but I seem to remember him getting into trouble in 2006 for bringing up a carbon tax. May not matter, though, as the Green Shift may have poisoned the idea.

As for the tailings ponds, I learned something interesting in a paper I wrote for an environmental law class this year. The government is collecting reclamation security in the amount of about $11,000 per hectare for oil sands sites, including those tailings ponds. The estimated cost of actually reclaiming the land? Probably way over $100,000.

So get used to them. They're not going anywhere unless either the government or the oil companies decide to take responsibility and donate the cost. I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

Ignatieff's views on climate change won't matter much if he makes good on the signals he's sending that he's about to rip up the coalition agreement. If he does that, Harper will continue to be the one deciding Canada's energy policy.

Anonymous said...

You have yet to post the additional article that Dr. Keith posted in the papers that indicated CCS should be used in the oilsands.