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RBS oil sands investments ‘not sound’, say greens

Damian Carrington, Guardian
Should a state-owned bank be involved in investments that damage the environment, in contradiction to the aims of that state? Clearly not, but that is the charge made against the Royal Bank of Scotland by campaigners opposed to its work in funding the oil sands industry in Alberta.

Their protests move to RBS’s annual general meeting today in Edinburgh, with the arrival of First Nation representatives from Canada, who say their ancestral lands are being devastated. Extracting oil from tar sands also leads to more emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide than conventional oil.
(19 April 2011)

Fossil fuel firms use ‘biased’ study in massive lobbying push

Fiona Harvey, Guardian
Senior executives in the fossil fuel industry have launched an all-out assault on renewable energy, lobbying governments and business groups to reject wind and solar power in favour of gas, in a move that could choke the fledgling green energy industry.

Multinational companies including Shell, GDF Suez and Statoil are promoting gas as an alternative “green” fuel. These companies are among dozens around the world investing in new technologies to exploit shale gas, a controversial form of the fuel that has rejuvenated the gas industry because it is plentiful in supply and newly accessible due to technical advances in gas extraction known as “fracking”.

The expansion of shale gas holds out the promise of a glut in gas that is driving down prices and creating a bonanza for the fossil fuel industry. Burning gas in power stations releases about half the carbon emissions of coal, allowing gas companies to claim it is a “green” source of fuel.

Central to the lobbying effort is a report claiming that the EU could meet its 2050 carbon targets €900bn more cheaply by using gas than by investing in renewables. But the Guardian has established that the analysis is based on a previous report that came to the opposite conclusion – that renewables should play a much larger role. The report being pushed by the fossil fuel industry has been disowned by its original authors who referred to it as “biased” in favour of gas.
(20 April 2011)

Really Unpopular Complicated Expensive Technological Solutions For A Nonexistent Problem

Donald Black (“Atrios”), Eschaton
I continue to be amazed at these idiocies.

Falling gas tax revenue from more fuel-efficient vehicles has driven the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to look for volunteers to experiment with technology that could lead to new ways of paying for highways.

About 500 urban and rural motorists will begin testing gear in July that contains GPS links to track distances traveled.

The experiment underscores Minnesota’s need for new sources of revenue to pay for highway construction and maintenance.

Or you could, you, just increase the damn gas tax. Is there some possible future where gas mileage in cars has increased so much, or electric cars are a significant portion of the fleet, when it ceases to be a viable funding mechanism? Sure, but we’re nowhere near that. What we are in is in situation where politicians think that they can’t raise the gas tax but think that they can add on an entirely new, expensive, and invasive systems for collecting more money that voters will just love.

Also, too, if you really are desperate to institute a mileage tax for no good reason that I can see, you can just have someone check the odometer at an annual inspection.

Aside from revenue collection, the gas tax has the additional benefit of encouraging people to drive cars with better mileage, along with charging more for heavier vehicles which do more damage to the roads. It’s a pretty good tax!
(20 April 2011)

The Big Grab: 9-part series on the economic threats to Canadians posed by the Alberta oil sands

Barry Saxifrage, Vancouver Observer
THE BIG GRAB Part 1: Knock, knock. The low-carbon future is here

As ordinary Canadians dig deep to ease their footprint, Alberta’s oil sands pollution negates their sacrifice

Ready or not, the low-carbon future is at Canada’s doorstep. And most Canadians have begun to embrace it.

Recent polling shows that solid majorities of Canadians, across all provinces and across all political parties, want their federal government to act on “very serious” climate change.

Majorities also support paying up to $50 a month in carbon taxes or cap-and-trade — many times more than B.C. residents have been paying since 2008, when that province’s pioneering carbon tax kicked in. And three-quarters of all Canadians have already joined a joint cap-and-trade effort with several American states, including California, whose economy alone is the size of Canada’s.

The Conservative government says “climate change is one of the most serious environmental issues facing the world today.” Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed the nation to matching U.S. climate-pollution cuts of 17 per cent from 2005 levels. As Harper and others have said many times, Canada’s economy can’t afford to be out of step with the U.S. on climate action.

”The integration of our economy with the United States means that Canada will be forced to limit industrial emissions to keep pace with U.S. action on the issue.”
– “Divided We Fail” report

The good news, according to Canada’s latest greenhouse-gas (GHG) inventory, is that from 2005 to 2008, the combined emissions of all the provinces — except Alberta — fell by 10 million tonnes a year. Most Canadians now see the threats and opportunities posed by climate pollution. Most are already taking action. And most want more action now.

Americans are doing even better

Unbeknownst to most Canadians, America under presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama has been quietly but steadily removing climate pollution from their economy much faster than Canada.

In 1990, Canadians made the same amount of money per tonne of carbon dioxide (tCO2) as Americans. Not anymore.

Now, Americans make hundreds of dollars more per tonne, and the average American now takes home a $5,000-a-year bonus as a result. More than a third of the world’s clean-tech venture capital reportedly flows into California alone. …

Barry Saxifrage researches, charts and writes about the latest climate change information for the Vancouver Observer and other publications. Much of his work can be found on his website, Visual Carbon.
(19 April 2011)
EB contributor Bill Henderson writes: “Barry is one of our best climate researcher/educators.”

Journalist Barry Saxifrage writes:
“For those interested the economic threats to Canadians posed by the Alberta oil sands, my 9-part “Big Grab” series on this topic starts today. Two months ago I started researching government and industry data for one article on the oil sands and kept uncovering so much interesting info that it expanded into nine articles with about a dozen new charts.”