- Written by Gordon Prentice
Gordon Prentice writes: Tomorrow (20 January 2021) the newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden will cancel the Keystone XL pipeline as one of his first Executive Orders. Here, guest contributor Walter Bauer (photo right) critiques Canada's 2020 Climate Plan. Walter has discussed his review of the 79 page document with local MP Tony Van Bynen who has promised to pass it on to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson.
Walter Bauer writes:
Since 2016, our government has voiced concern about Climate Change. Canada’s 2020 climate plan, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy”  is framed as an extension of Canada’s 2016 “Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change” (published December 9/2016).
Compliance with the Paris Agreement means that Canada needs to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 30% below 2005 levels (to 511 Mt CO2 eq/year) by 2030. Every year, Environment Canada publishes 2-year old statistics, by sector, of our annual GHG emissions. Its 2020 report shows that our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have barely changed since 2005 (see purple square.)
The 2020 climate plan is a 79-page document with 13 Annexes (Appendices). Canadians have one of the highest carbon footprints in the world. It is good we finally have a climate plan but while this plan ticks off most of the environmental boxes, we will not meet the 2030 Paris target. From the plan, a graph, entitled “Exceeding Canada’s 2030 Target”, which appears on page 62, depicts our “starting point” (see page 63) and our targets. Starting in 2016, the Pan-Canadian Framework was to do the heavy lifting, bringing our yearly GHG emission down to 588 Mt/year by 2030. The 2020 climate plan is to do the rest, supposedly exceeding the Paris target, by reducing emissions to 503 Mt/year. The starting point is fiction. Contrary to the climate plan, the starting point is not 815 Mt/year but actually 720 Mt/year (see above), down from 730 in 2005.
The next bit of fiction is our path to 2030. Four years after what the government would have us believe was its transformational 2016 plan, according to Environment Canada’s 2020 report, our emissions have gone up since 2016 from 706 Mt/year to 729 Mt/year in 2018. But the fiction does not end with our false start.
The climate plan’s next graphic (page 63) is entitled “Progress to Canada’s 2030 Emissions Target” implying there have already been reductions in greenhouse gases. The graphic provides a breakdown by sector of projected reductions in GHG emissions. Most notably, the Oil and Gas sector is shown with the largest reduction of <104 Mt/year> (over twice that of any other sector). This projection flies in the face of the three additional pipelines that are currently under construction in Canada: Trans Mountain, Keystone XL, and Line 3 Refurbishment (began in 2016 and is near complete). If these three pipelines come online as the government intends, Canada’s GHG emissions will increase by 113 Mt/year over 2018 levels. The 113 Mt is a calculation of GHG emissions simply to extract the oil and fill the pipeline, not to burn the oil. Unless the government is relying on the collapse of oil prices and empty pipelines, this continued misguided support of pipelines is based on a “the-more-you-spend-the-more-you-save” mentality, i.e. more fiction.
The government is ignoring added GHG emissions from the augmented oil production needed to fill the pipelines. Continuing with projections beyond the Environment Canada data, by 2023 our GHG emissions will be 8% higher than 2005. Since 2016, we’ve wasted seven years. Only seven years remain to meet the Paris target. Its actions show that our government is not committed to meeting the 2030 target. "Any time a government talks about fossil fuels being some kind of a bridge to a future sustainable world or a stepping stone to dealing with climate change, essentially what that means is we're going to delay the phasing out of fossil fuels."
The pipeline contradiction aside, assuming the reductions touted in the government’s plans have an immediate effect starting in 2021, we will be relying on the following sample highlights, one from each of the “five pillars” in the climate plan, which are all good initiatives but too little, too late:
1. “The Government is proposing to increase the carbon price by $15 per year, starting in 2023, rising to $170 per tonne of carbon pollution in 2030.” This initiative may be the strongest. Revenue neutral, each $15 increase adds approximately $0.03 to the price of a litre of fuel. Over 7 years the price of a litre will increase by $0.21. In Ontario, the current price of gas is approximately $1.10 per litre. By 2030, therefore, it will be $1.31. In 2012, the price was $1.32. Sweden’s carbon tax is now $126 per tonne, it is not revenue neutral and gas is $2.30/litre. According to Environment Canada, in 2015, transportation accounted for 201 Mt/year of GHG emissions (28% of all emissions.) By 2018, it had risen to 218 Mt/year. According to the climate plan, our objective is to reduce transportation emissions by only 12 Mt/year (6% below 2015 levels). Clearly, the government itself does not believe in the effectiveness of its plan;
2. “Invest up to $3.16 billion over 10 years, to partner with provinces, territories, non-government organizations, Indigenous communities, municipalities, private landowners, and others to plant two billion trees.” Newly planted trees have little effect for the first ten years. We already plant 600 million trees per year in Canada, which often provides the excuse for cutting down mature trees. And Canada's forests, because of monoculture, poor management, insect infestation, and mega-fires, are proving to be a net carbon source rather than a carbon sink (documented by Environment Canada);
3. “Provide $2.6 billion over seven years, starting in 2020-21, to help homeowners improve their home energy efficiency by providing up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 to help homeowners make energy-efficient improvements to their homes, up to one million free EnerGuide energy assessments . . .” The number of grants is insufficient to accomplish the climate plan’s unlikely 64% reduction. According to Environment Canada, residential GHG emissions in 2015 were 43 Mt/year. According to Statistics Canada, “of the 12.4 million households in Canada, more than 8.5 million owned their home”. Because this program only addresses “up to 700,000” or 8% of owned households, it will only affect 8% of 43 Mt/year residential emissions, which is approximately 3.5 Mt/year. Based on 421,000 energy audits completed since 2003, largely because of older home retrofits, the average GHG emission reduction per retrofit is 29%. For newer homes the average is lower and in range of 5-15%. A 29% reduction of the 3.5 Mt/year only amounts to 1 Mt/year;
4. “Invest an additional $287 million over two years, starting in 2020-21, to continue the Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) program until March 2022 [bold added for emphasis]. The program provides a rebate of up to $5,000 on a light-duty zero-emission vehicle”. Prior to Premier Doug Ford’s 2018 cancellation of Ontario’s $14,000 rebate, EVs were among the best-selling vehicles on the car lot. Sales have now collapsed. A federal $5,000 rebate is insufficient to spur the needed conversion to EVs, which are generally more expensive to buy; and
5. “Building Canada’s Clean Industrial Advantage: To make sure that Canadians have good-paying, long-lasting jobs, there is a need to make certain that Canadian businesses are making and providing the low-carbon products, services and technologies.” Given the ongoing research and development in energy storage, concrete, bioplastics, carbon sequestration and agriculture to name a few, the government investment of $5 billion over five years between a Net-Zero challenge, a Low-carbon and Zero-emissions Fuels Fund, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada is inadequate.
In conclusion, since the government’s election in 2015, Canada’s GHG emissions have increased and the climate plan’s investment in reducing GHG emissions is woefully inadequate. This author has no confidence that we will meet our 2030 target let alone Net-zero by 2050. Please prove me wrong.
Walter Bauer, P. Eng.
 National Inventory Report 1990 –2018: Greenhouse Gas Sources And Sinks In Canada
 Based on 174 kg CO2 / barrel for Alberta oil sands: https://www.pembina.org/blog/real-ghg-trend-oilsands
 Dale Marshall, national program manager with the organization Environmental Defence.
- Written by Gordon Prentice
Perhaps it was an error of judgement on my part to post a comment on Conrad Black’s latest opinion piece in today’s National Post in which he tells us Donald Trump’s presidency was “incomparable”. Black gushes praise for the President who pardoned him.
But he also has a go at critics such as the Toronto Star's "plagiarist" Bob Hepburn
"who for 40 years has been intermittently snorting out of the undergrowth foaming biliously about some alleged turpitude of mine. This week I am the “Rudy Giuliani of Canada.”"
As it happens, in 2019 I was astonished to receive, completely out of the blue, an email from his Lordship threatening to sue me for defamation for referring to him in one of my blogs as a “convicted fraudster”.
Bile and animus
In today’s hagiography of Trump he spends a full paragraph regurgitating the bile and animus he has for the US legal system. He tells his readers:
“The White House legal office, after extensive research, concluded that none of the defendants in our case should ever have been charged.”
This is a complete red herring. The White House legal office is not a Court of Law. Far from it.
At the end of the day and after endless appeals Black was convicted and sent to prison. Since his release he has spent every waking moment trying to re-write history, telling us he was innocent all along. So I pick up my pen and post this comment:
Conrad Black threatened to sue me for defamation for referring to him as a “convicted fraudster” – which he is. The pardon he received from President Trump did not expunge his conviction. The details are in my blog: https://www.shrinkslessorsquare.ca/876-conrad-black-threatens-to-sue-mefor-defamation
Only two readers responded. Det Doowlle tells me, preposterously, Black wasn’t convicted of fraud and suggests I apologise.
Frauds and swindles
“It was for those crimes that he received a pardon from President Trump.”
And then the National Post moderators step in to tell me my post has been disabled:
“Your comment appears to violate our community guidelines and has been disabled.”
I’ve written to the National Post asking them to point me to the guideline I may have unwittingly contravened. I am waiting to hear from them but, in the meantime, I learn there is one stipulation saying comments with hyper-links may not be posted. So, if that’s the reason, I’ve no complaint. Fair cop.
Black is a convicted fraudster
But the substance of my comment is another matter entirely. It is a fact beyond dispute that Black was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice.
President Trump gave a “full and unconditional pardon” to Conrad Moffat Black:
“For his conviction in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on a superseding information (Docket No. 05 CR 727-1) charging violation of Sections 1341 and 1512(c)(1)and (2), Title 18, United States Code, for which he was sentenced on December 10, 2007 to a total of 42 months’ imprisonment (as amended June 24, 2011), two years’ supervised release, and a fine of $125,000.”
The Ontario Securities Commission helpfully (and briefly) lays out the history of the criminal prosecutions. As was acknowledged in the Presidential Pardon, on June 24, 2011, Black appeared before the U.S. District Court and was resentenced to 42 months of incarceration for his fraud and obstruction of justice convictions.
Black continues to protest his innocence but the facts say otherwise.
And, while I’m at it, why is Conrad Black still in Canada?
Updated on 18 January 2021:
- Written by Gordon Prentice
Todd Kyle, the Chief Executive of Newmarket Public Library, leaves 438 Park Avenue today for the last time. On Monday he starts his big new job running Brampton library, an empire with eight branches.
Todd says his years at Newmarket were among the best of his career but he is looking for new challenges. (Photo right)
The Library Board Chair, Darcy McNeill says Todd was responsible for expanding the Library’s digital collection, boosting borrowing by 25% and bringing in the (famously temperamental) 3D printer. But I suspect Todd’s biggest disappointment will be leaving Newmarket after ten years much as he found it – an undersized building with no satellite branches.
No longer fit-for-purpose
Way back in October 2014 Todd told an IdeaMarket programme about the future of libraries that Newmarket’s was no longer fit for purpose. He was talking to a panel of people from the Library world and was unusually candid. Whenever I heard him talking to councillors he was always measured and nuanced, offering “potential road maps going forward” and suchlike with decisions pushed back to another day.
However, I noticed that by 2016 he was getting more assertive, telling councillors the library was too small and in the wrong location. And the roof leaked.
The result of all the vacillations was, inevitably, another study - on Library future facilities options.
Things looked as if they might be about to change when veteran Newmarket councillor Tom Vegh decided to run for York Regional Council campaigning on a platform whose centrepiece was a new library and seniors’ centre on the site of the old Hollingsworth Arena. This was an eye-catching promise to voters.
Emboldened, Todd tells the press:
“The last two terms of council haven’t put the library on the priority list. It would be nice to just have a space where people aren’t tripping over other people constantly.”
“The current location has restrictions on the land so we would have to build up to expand, which isn’t ideal. Our two options seem to be building a new facility or constructing satellite branches to increase our services to the public.”
After the Municipal election in November 2018 Newmarket Councillors sat through a series of workshops to decide their strategic priorities. Unfortunately, they decide the Library isn’t one.
New library not a priority
At the very least I expected a stirring speech from Tom Vegh, pressing the case for the library. Reminding his colleagues that, in these days of fake news and disinformation, libraries, wired-up and digital, are needed now more than ever. But what we heard was painfully limp and half hearted.
“...the library must go through its own process that will evaluate and rank all the possible site locations in Town for a new building if that is the route that they choose to go. So there is no guarantee that going through that process the library will land on the Hollingsworth site and there is no guarantee that we are looking at a library.”
It's not quite as snappy as his promise to the voters:
“The debate over the need for a new public library is long over. The only question now is where and when.”
The new Mayor, John Taylor, isn't giving much away. In a statement of the obvious he tells the press:
“Ultimately, the decision to build a library, or a satellite or nothing is a decision of council, and that will be our decision when that time comes.”
Can't argue with that. It's the Councillors who have the last say. But, in the meantime, here's a question to think about for anyone who wants the job of Library Chief Executive:
Does Newmarket need a new Library? And, if so, where should it go and when can we expect to see it?
- Written by Gordon Prentice
Earlier today (Monday 11 January 2021) Articles of Impeachment against President Donald J. Trump are tabled in Congress. Alongside is a resolution calling on the Vice President, Mike Pence, and his Cabinet colleagues to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. It is to be debated tomorrow.
Unquestionably, Trump will go down in history as the worst American President ever, unleashing a howling mob on Congress which led directly to the murder of police officer Brian Sicknich. Others died or were seriously injured in the storming of the US Capitol which Trump orchestrated. Inciting violence is a criminal offence and, in my humble opinion M’Lud, Trump should be behind bars.
The US Capitol is, of course, more than just a work-a-day place where laws are made. It is a symbol of American democracy.
The last time the Capitol saw anything remotely similar was in the War of 1812 when the British torched the building (then under construction) in retaliation for the burning of York (now Toronto) by the Americans.
"They could have killed us"
The long-time Trump apologist, South Carolina’s Senator Lindsey Graham, now accepts the result of the Federal Election. He says
“the mob could have blown the building up. They could have killed us all.”
Indeed. I remember being in the UK House of Commons on 4 May 2004 when a condom full of powder was lobbed from the public gallery, hitting the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on the shoulder before exploding in a purple puff.
Blair appeared unconcerned and for a couple of seconds everyone seemed to find it mildly amusing. And then the realisation dawned that the powder could be deadly anthrax or ricin and we were ordered out of the Chamber.
Afterwards, I recall one of Blair’s Cabinet colleagues telling me of a conversation he had with the then head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller. He was worrying about the safety of MPs. She seemed more concerned about the impact of a successful attack on the physical fabric of Parliament, an institution symbolising the British State. Hmmmm. Which would have the greatest long-term impact? The loss of a few MPs or images of Big Ben, reduced to a stump of smouldering rubble by a terrorist’s bomb?
Our memories of the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 will remain vivid long after Trump’s Tweets have faded away.
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