Wednesday, 27 April 2016



"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
Albert Einstein
The text presented here offers an in-depth portrait of the Liberal greenwashing record on addressing climate change, from past Liberal governments, to the 2015 election campaign and to the period up to, and including, the Budget for the fiscal year 2016-17.  The links with past Liberal governments reflect my experiences as a former Government of Canada employee who has worked for several Ministries on sustainable development during previous Liberal reigns. 

Beginning with previous Liberal climate change action plans, emissions rose despite generous clean tech innovation programs, plus ongoing consultations with all stakeholders, because of the following weak links in the Liberal chains, 1) the absence of a backbone to stand firm with the lobbies of power and money, 2) feebleness with regard to taking action via new legislation; and 3) highly selective listening skills with stakeholders. -- Not all that different than Hillary Clinton!

These weak chain links remain very much alive today.
All of these weaknesses are evident with the decision of the Justin Trudeau government to accommodate Air Canada's request to undertake a legislative change - while imposing closure in the form of two days of Parliamentary debate -- for the purposes of removing the Air Canada obligation to provide 2600 middle class aircraft maintenance jobs in Canada.  This is an important signal as it raises questions on how on earth could one expect the Trudeau government to be firm with the Suncor, TransCanada, the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel sector at-large?  How can one expect Trudeau to keep his promise on eliminating fossil fuel subsidies in Canada, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to be $46B USD for the year 2015

Diversification of the Fossil Fuel Sector is Possible
Not only could an incremental shifting of the fossil fuel subsidies be exploited to establish a better economic development paradigm by way of Canada joining the high growth, high job creation global green economy that is advancing rapidly in China Europe and the US, but also some of that $46B/year USD in Canadian fossil fuel subsidies could be used to significantly diversify the petroleum sector.
Such diversification of the sector is possible, as per Norway's Statoil 1) for which the new CEO is formerly from the Statoil renewable energy division  2) which has become a major global investor in clean technologies, including avant garde clean tech innovation;  and 3) has set up a venture capital entity to invest in clean tech start-ups.

In effect such a re-allocation of subsidies was promised by the Liberal 2015 election campaign but has since become a broken promise.  More important fossil fuel subsidy re-allocations are critical to close the green economy gap between Canada's and its competitors regarding the expeditiously emerging new economic paradigm.

Canada Needs to Diversify to the Green Economy Fast to be Competitive: Fossil Era Drawing to a Close
Like a dog hanging on to it's bone, the Liberal's seem to be oblivious to the clear signs of the demise of the fossil fuel era being imminent with 1) 90% of all new electricity generation capacity in 2015 being represented by renwables 2) global emissions production remaining flat since 2013 3) China's coal consumption having declined in both 2014 and 2015 4) US coal producers representing 45% of US coal output having gone into bankruptcy 3) most important in terms of the market for petroleum products, the tipping point favouring electric vehicles projected to occur as early as 2020 and the end of the monopoly of internal combustion engines, potentially happening as soon as 2025. and 4) the Chief Financial Officer of Suncor, Alister Cowan in April 2015 having candidly said that "The years of large, multi-billion projects are probably gone" and 5) The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers indicating negative financial results for 2016 for the Canadian oil and gas industry to the tune of $30B in spending plans couple with $17B in revenues, making it clear that these sectors will be cutting costs and avoiding big projects for several years to come.

Further on item #3 above regarding the the tipping point electric vehicles materializing around 2020, in December 2015, Ford announced it will be investing $4.5B in electric vehicles and that 40% of their nameplates will be electric by the end of the decade.  The Hyundai-Kia group also aims to lead the charge on next generation vehicles, with plans to introduce 26 hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles by 2020.  On a similar theme, Volkwagen's CEO Matthias Müller has stated that the company plans to  "make electric cars one of Volkswagen's new hallmarks" with 20 new models that plug in by 2020.

But the Trudeau government continues to do everything possible to promote Energy East and Kinder Morgan for which the signs suggest that these pipelines may be economically redundant.  Incredibly much new information has been identified since the Pipelines to Nowhere article was first published in The Common Sense Canadian on March 7, 2016 with the result that a new Blog version of Pipelines to Nowhere was required to assure all the additional rapid advancements of the green economy are captured.

More detailed descriptions of the aforementioned phenomenons can be found in the second last section of this document entitled, "LOW CREDIBILITY, THE CONTRADICTIONS AND MANIPULATION."

BUDGET 2016-17

Getting deeper into Budget 2016-17, turning attention to what counts, as per the Einstein quote provided at the beginning of this text, some have suggested that the 2016-17 Budget text reference to a $2B Low Carbon Economy Fund for the fiscal years 2017-18 to 2018-19 is a strong indication of a commitment.  But the other side of the Budget coins tell a very different story. 

Low Carbon Economy Fund: A Spineless, Inept and Costly Formula to Make  Fossil Fuel Companies Look Righteous -There are Better Options for Western and All of Canada 
First, the Budget 2016-17 two-sentence description of the Low Carbon Economy Fund has a resemblance to the $1B Climate Fund, a fund announced by Stéphane Dion just prior to the defeat of the previous Liberal government by the Conservatives.  Under the still-born Climate Fund, the greater an entity's emissions, the more money one could get from the government to reduce one's emissions.  Put another way, that means that the largest emitters, such as the petroleum and other fossil fuel sectors, would be the largest beneficiaries of a "pay the biggest polluters the most dollars fund" -- a sharp and perverse contrast with "the biggest polluters pay more model".  While this may make the fossil fuel companies appear to be righteous, it entails the most spineless, inefficient and costly way to reduce emissions.

Examples of far more effective and less expensive ways to reduce greenhouse gases comprise 1) a legislative agenda with meaningful penalties for non-compliance; 2) expenditure-neutral shifting of some of the $46B/year USD in fossil fuel subsidies to investments in a) the clean tech sectors and b) the diversification of the fossil fuel sectors, including the training of fossil fuel workers for green jobs and the creation of a more diversified and less vulnerable Western Canada economy; 3) engaging the Business Development Bank of Canada and other financing arms of the federal government to establish clean technology portfolios/programs regarding the development of green sectors coupled with a meaningful green bond programs, comparable to European models (as opposed to the paltry/token green bonds fund of Budget 2016-17); 4) revamping government supported clean technology innovation activities to include networks of research centres on clean technologies that cultivate public-private partnerships plus a national clean technology integration centre that links clean energy, low carbon buildings and clean transportation -- the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory is one model among many models on clean tech integration nodes; 5) measures to support for clean technology product development and manufacturing including meaningful support for Quebec's electric vehicle sector to reap the opportunities associated with vehicle manufacturers increasingly turning to outside suppliers for these technologies; 6)  initiatives comparable to that of China and California for encouraging a rapid migration to low and zero emission vehicles including a) vehicle fuel consumption legislation more stringent than that of the US federal government, with examples including California and 7 other US states; and b) policies to influence consumers on their respective choices of vehicles and 7) government procurement policies -- to name just a few!

But this would run contrary to the aforementioned Liberal weaknesses (as per Clinton's Canadian subsidiary) with respect to dealing with powerful lobbies of power and money and a well-entrenched longstanding Liberal hesitation to enact legislation to get the job done.

The main point here is that the current Liberal government has chosen the most costly and least effective option for a significant reduction of emissions by way of its $2B Low Carbon Economy Fund, the option for maintaining corporate rule intact.  It is thus not surprising that Trudeau's co-campaign chair lobbied for Energy East.

Clean Technology Funds
The amounts of funding for clean technologies in 2016-17 are lower when compared with the funding that was available during past Liberal governments -- a period when emissions went up.  

One example is that of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) which had an average allocation of $40M/year during past Liberal governments while Budget 2016-17 only provides for $50M over 5 years. 

Another former Liberal government sustainable development program was Technology Early Action Measures, a program complementary to that of SDTC, which had an allocation of $56M for the period 1999-2001. 

As well, past Liberal governments offered substantial funding for clean transportation innovation but Budget 2016-17 only calls for $56.9M over two years which is to be divided up to cover the development of regulations and standards, including international emission standards for the air, rail and marine sectors.  Thus this money will only cover a handful of clean transportation projects.

This has all the appearances of a money shell game.

Pipelines and the Broken Promise on Credible Environmental Impact Analyses
Perhaps most disconcerting, is the Liberal broken election promise on the creation of bonafide environment impact analyses for pipelines. 

First, the "interim plan" for National Energy Board (NEB) hearings on Energy East involving a mere 3 month prolongation and an expanded NEB mandate to take into account emissions, constitutes insufficient time to put into place research contracts on scientific studies on GHG impacts.

More disturbing, is that Budget 2016-17 calls for the "too close" to the industry NEB to be the permanent authority for environment impact analyses concerning pipelines. Unfortunately, the much dismantled and formerly internationally respected Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, as per the latest Budget, is relegated to that of an advisory body on environmental impact analyses.

A bonafide review would entail starting the Energy East and Kinder Morgan review processes over, with the right parameters from the outset, and overseen by a competent team. -- at least comparable to that of the former Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Suffice to say that there are many options for engendering cumulative impacts for transformative change of the order of magnitude of green economy actions planned, and already adopted, by China, the EU and the US. 

Infrastructure Funds
The "all of the above", positives and negatives, cancelling one another out, modus operendi that is the Liberal trademark, is very prominent in the Liberal plan for infrastructure.  While Budget 2016-17 funding to support public transit is a strong positive, Trudeau has let it be known that the provinces and municipalities will define the projects for federal support.  In other words, urban sprawl related road and services infrastructures will also be eligible for this Santa Claus fund, thereby undermining gains made on reducing GHGs attributable to public transit projects.


Further on the recent/current weak links in the Liberal's climate change chains, note that: 
2.     Trudeau had praised Alison Redford for her boasting of Canada's environmental record as a means to warm up the Obama administration on approving Keystone XL;
3.     the Energy East and Kinder Morgan pipelines, should they get approved, could cancel out any advances in the reductions of emissions attributable to the Liberal new funding for clean technologies;
4.     the Budget's heading "Cleaner Transportation" rather than "Clean Transportation" with a mere $56.9M over 2 years is ridiculous when compared to a) China having sold 331,000 electric vehicles in 2015; b) China's BYD projection to triple that company's electric vehicle sales in 2016;  c) the Chinese government vehicle procurement policy of 30% to be electric vehicles as of this year; d) China's target to manufacture 2M eco-vehicles/year by 2020; and e) a projection that a $30000 electric vehicle in the US in 2020 will represent major savings on fuel/energy and maintenance by 2020, the year Tony Seba - a guru on the green economy -- suggests will be the tipping point favouring electric vehicles, with the end of the gasoline car era occurring as early as 2025 -- All this, with some of those Chinese vehicles to be equipped with the Canadian TM4 electric motor wheel technology manufactured under license in China. -- All this with California also having an aggressive agenda to both support zero emission vehicle-related research, manufacturing and consumer choices;
5.     Trudeau's steadfast support for tar sands exports represents being in denial on global supply and demand economics in light of a) the factors highlighted in the section "Canada Needs to Diversify to be Competitive: Fossil Fuel Era Drawing to a Close" plus the recent revelation that  b)  30% of Energy East capacity is slated to transport North Dakota shale oil across Canada for re-exportation to the US East Coast ---  which, if taken together -- may suggest that the Energy East and Kinder Morgan pipelines are not economically viable; (for more on the leveling off of demand for fossil fuels refer to attached accompanying document Section #7 and the article, Pipelines to Nowhere)
6.     despite all of the cumulative factors mentioned in #5 of this list, Trudeau is taking every opportunity for exchanging -- a) federal infrastructure support for municipalities and b) a price on carbon in collaboration with the provinces -- items "a" and "b," in exchange for gaining social acceptability for the Energy East and Kinder Morgan pipelines; 
7.      UBS, the world's largest bank, the BP Chief Economist and the Governor of the Bank of England are on the same page on the demise of the fossil fuel sectors; and
8.     the Investor State Dispute Settlement provision of the Trans Pacific Partnership would allow corporations to sue a national government in the event domestic environmental laws impedes the maximization of profits.  On this latter point,cross country Liberal consultations on the TPP have been primarily with highly restricted audiences, little advance notice and no answering of tough questions.


Thus, Conservative governments aside, the cumulative results of past and current Liberal governments will be such that the green economy gap between 1) Canada on one hand;  and 2) China, the European Union and the US on the other, will continue to grow ... to grow larger than it is now as the pace accelerates for advancements of green economics in these other countries. 

The factors contributing to changing global economic/energy paradigm have been outlined in this text, from the global plateau in emissions production for the last 3 years  to the tipping point coming as soon as 2020 in favour of electric vehicles   and there is no turning back of the clock. Yet the current Liberal government like past Liberal governments have given priority to yesterday's model for corporate rule.  The result it that it remains questionable if Canada can meet the very modest Conservative target should the Energy East and Kinder Morgan pipelines get approved

More detailed analyses on the weak links in the Liberal chains can be found in the accompanying document regarding 1) the 2015-16 actions of Justin Trudeau; 2) the Liberal machine, past and current and 3) Budget 2016-17.  As such the accompanying document underlines the sharp contradictions between 1) Trudeau's charm giving rise to uncritical journalism projecting Trudeau as a Messiah on the environment and 2) the Trudeau and Liberal record including Budget 2016-17.

Finally, those who are interested enough to read through the accompanying document's more detailed review on the Liberal record, past and present, may also be interested in a 55 page Roadmap on options for a Canadian migration to a green economy based on: 
1.       models from around the globe, adapted and improved upon for a Canadian context; and
2.       my own Government of Canada experiences on sustainable development policies, legislation, programs, projects and other related initiatives.

Limited distribution of the Roadmap in a pdf version can be requested via

In closing, it would be nice if some of the future mainstream media articles on the environment would contain more balanced and critical analyses.  

Will Dubitsky: Updated 01/05/16

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