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Canada’s Only Climate Legislation Killed in the Senate
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Canada’s Only Climate Legislation Killed in the Senate

Canada's only federal climate change legislation, the Climate Change Accountability Act, was defeated in the Senate 43 to 32 last night. After being stalled for months, there was a surprise vote on Bill C-311 before any debate or consideration could be held in the Senate. This unprecedented action means that a Bill passed by a majority of elected MPs, representing two-thirds of Canadians, is dead. What now? Canada will be heading to the UN climate change negotiations in Cancun this December without a single law on the books or Bill in Parliament tackling greenhouse gas pollution. We have been assured that new climate legislation will be brought forward, but a delay of even a year or two could be devastating for species and wildlife habitats in Canada. Nature Canada supporters have consistently raised their voices in support of strong, swift action from the government to address climate change. Our call has been heard - climate legislation has been passed in the House of Commons twice in the past two years. And although those Bills have failed to become law, any federal party opposing action on climate change must resort to parliamentary tricks to do so.

Report says it’s time to end subsidies to fossil fuel companies
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Report says it’s time to end subsidies to fossil fuel companies

An oil pipeline stretches across the landscape
Last week the Climate Action Network released a report on the billions of dollars in tax breaks that the Government of Canada hands out to oil, coal and gas companies each year -- and the problems this poses for attempts to address our changing climate and transition to a greener economy. From the report, Fuelling the Problem:
By subsidizing fossil fuel producing companies the government is encouraging faster production and facilitating the rapid expansion of large fossil fuel projects such as the Alberta tar sands, Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution.
Globally, artificially low costs of fossil fuels have been shown to encourage wasteful consumption, distort energy markets, and allow for increased greenhouse gas pollution, thereby fueling the climate crisis. Subsidizing oil extraction also makes investments in oil more attractive compared to lower carbon, lower risk alternatives, thereby increasing the lock‐in of economies into fossil fuels. In a time of fiscal constraint, the federal government could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in extra revenue by ending unfair tax breaks to some of the richest companies in the world. Eliminating handouts to oil and gas corporations operating in Canada would also help the country take a step towards a cleaner energy economy. So why no action? Using leaked government memos, the report outlines a months-long strategy to downplay its responsibility to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, something all G20 countries agreed to do in 2009. According to the report, the Green Budget Coalition (in which Nature Canada is a member) has identified over $900 million in tax breaks to the fossil fuels industry that could be eliminated in the March 2011 federal budget.

Climate Change Bill Continues to Collect Dust
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Climate Change Bill Continues to Collect Dust

As reported by 350.org, on Sunday, 10/10/10, citizens in 188 countries engaged in more than 7,000 organized “work parties” to cut carbon and asked their politicians a simple question, "We're getting to work, what about you?" Well on Friday September 8, Stephen Harper and his Conservative government answered them by instructing his appointed senators to delay the country’s only federal climate bill and ordering them not to speak on the subject, even though senators had five solid months to review the legislation, and to prevent the legislation from moving forward. The legislation in question is Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, which was passed in the House of Commons last May by elected MPs and subsequently stalled in the Senate during the summer months. Harper’s instructions came after the prescribed five months to consider the bill. Richard Neufeld, an oil and gas sector veteran is responsible for leading the debate, however the senator has refused to acknowledged the bill, and according to Senate rules, only government can conclude debate on a bill or schedule votes. This scenario is all too familiar, as a similar bill touching on clean energy was blocked in the US last July by the Senate and to this day there has been no vote and no change. Support Bill C-311 by writing to your local MP and letting them know that you feel strongly about this issue.

Ozone Success Shows Emissions Can Be Reduced
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Ozone Success Shows Emissions Can Be Reduced

When I was growing up, before going to play outside we were always told, "Put on lots of sunscreen!" The hole in the ozone layer was a fairly recent discovery, and cholorfluorocarbons (CFCs) were still found in everything from refrigerator coolants to hair spray aerosol pumps. While today's findings by UN scientists that the ozone layer has stopped thinning don't mean I can leave the tube of sunblock at home, they do show us that a concerted global effort can reduce emissions and have a positive effect on the environment. From the AFP story:

"The Montreal Protocol signed in 1987 to control ozone depleting substances is working, it has protected us from further ozone depletion over the past decades," said World Meteorological Organisation head of research Len Barrie. "Global ozone, including ozone in the polar region, is no longer decreasing but not yet increasing," he told journalists. The 300 scientists who compiled the four yearly ozone assessment now expect that the ozone layer in the stratosphere will be restored to 1980 levels in 2045 to 2060, according to the report, "slightly earlier" than expected.
This success in reducing CFCs, also a contributor to climate change, shows us that a concerted effort could reduce other greenhouse gas emissions. The world was able to recognize its danger once before and we hope that global leaders will come together again this winter to agree on steps to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere by human activity.

Climate Change Accountability Stalled in Senate, Faces Opposition from Chamber of Commerce
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Climate Change Accountability Stalled in Senate, Faces Opposition from Chamber of Commerce

What could be more iconic than a summer road trip? Time for sun, sightseeing and… smog? That's right - we're deep into the hazy days of summer, and climate change is still on our minds. Bill C-311, the only piece of climate change legislation currently under consideration in Canada, may be stalled in the Senate for the rest of the summer. As reported in The Globe and Mail, the Bill has been adjourned in the name of Conservative Senator Richard Neufeld and cannot move forward until he speaks to it. The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons by NDP MP Bruce Hyer and is being supported in the Senate by Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell. This Bill has been passed in the House of Commons not once, but twice. It was originally introduced as Bill C-377 by the NDP in 2008; the Bill died when an election was called in the Fall of 2008. In its most recent form, Bill C-311 passed third reading in the House by a majority of MPs representing almost 2/3 of the Canadian population. In addition to the legislative delays that Bill C-311 has faced, another challenge is looming after the National Post reported that the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is calling on its members to lobby the Senate to kill the Bill. Their argument: requiring a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change is a threat to Canada's economic competitiveness. Supporters of the Bill point out that there are many lucrative opportunities in a new green economy that can only be achieved if we take action now to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The Bill also contains provisions to modify the ambitious targets of a 25% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050. Concerned Canadians have constantly raised their voices demanding strong action from our government on climate change. We recognize that if we continue down the road we're on, it's leading to a dead end. Nature Canada hopes the Senate will pass the bill and allow Canada to start catching up! Photo by confidence, comely/Flickr

Adoption of Bill C-311 in the House
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Adoption of Bill C-311 in the House

Yesterday, May 5th 2010, the House of Commons voted for the passage of the only federal climate change bill, C-311 (Climate Change Accountability Act), which was introduced in 2009 by MP Bruce Hyer from Thunder Bay – Superior North. The bill urges the government to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels, by 2050. A National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, which the bill mandates, shall be responsible for reviewing and reporting on the 5-year plans to be published by the Environment Minister to meet the 2050 target. "The Climate Change Accountability Act sets firm but achievable targets to reduce greenhouse gas pollution over the next 40 years" said Hyer. This is a great victory for all Canadians who have been concerned about climate change and a great example of how opposition parties can come together to land on common ground. However, C-311 is yet to pass a Senate vote in order for it to become fully incorporated as a law in Canada and we are asking everyone to continue applying the pressure! As National Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton puts it: "It’s a great day for Canada as we finally have a blueprint for greening our future. But we wouldn’t have this victory today without the thousands of Canadians who called and wrote to their Members of Parliament, pushing them to finally adopt meaningful climate-change legislation." Thank you all!

Climate Change Bill Getting Closer!
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Climate Change Bill Getting Closer!

There's a bit of good news for action on climate change in Canada.

Yesterday, the House passed Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act. Last week we asked you to help us raise awareness about yesterday's vote and your support worked!
In addition to the Bill passing to third reading, the Liberals tabled a motion for climate change action. Listen to Bruce Hyer as he introduced the bill last year or read the reaction of Climate Action Network Canada's Graham Saul for more details on what this means for climate change action in Canada.
The Bill still needs to make it through one more debate and one more vote, so we can't let our guard down, but we are a bit closer to changing course.

Canada ranked low on Environmental Performance Index
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Canada ranked low on Environmental Performance Index

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI), a tool that was developed to measure the environmental performance of a country's policies, has ranked Canada 46th out of the 163 countries measured. The major environmental factor that pushed Canada further down the list was its ranking for greenhouse gas emissions per capita: 151st, beaten by all industrialized nations except Australia. This GHG ranking was based on data that was collected for the years 2007 and 2008 without even accounting for 2009! A few other disappointing rankings revealed by the EPI were: - 125th (out 127 countries) on fisheries conservation; beaten by Australia, New Zealand and Iceland. The US also scored better than Canada - mainly due to its federal regulations for sustainable fisheries. - 80th on preserving biodiversity and habitat; - 140th in preserving the vitality of ecosystems; - 146th in sulphur dioxide emissions; - 147th in nitrous oxide emissions. It seems Canada will have to saddle up to start revitalizing its reputation as an environmental leader!

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