Business Marketing & News From Canada

Business and marketing news.

Tag: Canadas

Canada's window to defend the Arctic is closing, MP warns

Canada’s window to defend the Arctic is closing, MP warns


An MP who has been looking into the militarization of the North warns that if Canada doesn’t act now, it could slowly lose its grip on the Arctic.

Liberal John McKaythe Canadian co-chair of the Permanent Joint Board on Defence with the U.S., says he fears Canada isn’t ready to defend its territory as the threat from Russia slowly expands.

“We are not very well prepared,” he said.

Russia already has missile launchers and air defence systems dotted along ice roads at various military outposts in remote areas along its northern coast.

In the last five years, the Kremlin has poured vast resources into revamping Soviet-era bases in the Arctic.

“There is a very dramatic buildup of Russian military capability right across the top end of Russia, starting with Norway, working right across, right through to Alaska,” McKay said Friday in an interview with Chris Hall airing today on CBC Radio’s The House.

Russia isn’t the only country expanding its command of the north as climate change opens access to resources and shipping lanes. The U.S., Canada, Denmark and Norway are all nudging their way into the polar region as well. 

This map shows the locations of Russian military outposts in the far North. (John McKay/Supplied)

However, Russia seems to be moving in quickly. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made no secret of his goal to lay claim to a large portion of the Arctic, citing the estimated value of minerals in the north at $30 trillion.

The speed of Russia’s expansion is making other nations nervous.

Last month, the American commander of NORAD called on U.S. and Canadian policy makers to think about whether they’re doing enough to counter Russian threats in the far North.

“We haven’t seen this sort of systematic and methodical increase in threats since the height of the Cold War,” Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy told the group.

Missiles, ships, troops

McKay shares those concerns. “It’s not just simply the presence of significant numbers of troops but it’s also missiles, and ships, and ballistic missiles, and low altitude cruise missiles,” he said.

McKay recently attended a meeting of the joint board where participants discussed the rapid expansion of Russia’s military presence in the region.

McKay said he’s still not convinced the White House understands what’s at stake.

A Russian military Pansyr-S1 air defence system leaves a garage during a military drill. (Vladimir Isachenkov/Associated Press)

“Clearly there is a certain indifference on the part of President (Donald) Trump.”

But McKay said he also wants to see Canada ramp up Arctic defence.

“I would like to see more resources applied to what has become a security issue for us, primarily driven by the fact that climate change has opened up the sea lanes.”

He also cautioned that the government needs to act quickly and decisively, before things get worse.

“I think the window of opportunity is closing quickly. And I’m not sure that many Canadians are actually aware how quickly it is closing.”



Source link

Canada's failure to fight climate change 'disturbing,' environment watchdog says

Canada’s failure to fight climate change ‘disturbing,’ environment watchdog says


Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand says Canada is not doing enough to combat climate change.

Gelfand delivered her final audits Tuesday before her five-year term expires, looking at fossil-fuel subsidies, invasive aquatic species and mining pollution.

But her final conclusions as the country’s environmental watchdog say it is Canada’s slow action to deal with the warming planet that is most “disturbing” to her.

“For decades, successive federal governments have failed to reach their targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and the government is not ready to adapt to a changing climate,” she said in a statement Tuesday morning. “This must change.”

Gelfand’s rebuke came a day after Environment Canada scientists sounded an alarm that Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world, causing irreversible changes to our climate.

Gelfand said neither Liberal nor Conservative governments have hit their own targets to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Canada is not on track to hit its 2030 target, despite policies like the national price on carbon that took effect this week.

‘Inefficient’ fossil-fuel subsidies

Gelfand’s audit says the Liberals are not keeping a promise to get rid of “inefficient” fossil-fuel subsidies, which are undermining efforts to combat climate change, encouraging wasteful consumption of fossil fuels and discouraging investments in cleaner energy sources.

Canada has pledged to eliminate inefficient subsidies by 2025 as part of both the G20 and G7 economic groups of nations, and the Liberals also campaigned on a promise to get rid of them.

Gelfand concludes that both Finance Canada and Environment Canada have defined “inefficient” so broadly they can’t decide what subsidies fall into that category.

Finance Canada’s work on the subsidies focused exclusively on fiscal and economic considerations without giving any attention to the social and environmental issues at play. For its part, Environment and Climate Change Canada only looked at 23 out of more than 200 federal organizations when it compiled an inventory of potential subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry, Gelfand found.

Last year Canada began a peer review with Argentina that sees each investigate and report on the other’s fossil-fuel subsidies. Last week Environment Minister Catherine McKenna started a public consultation on the subsidies to aid that peer review.

The draft regulations she released last week say her department has concluded that none of the federal non-tax subsidies for fossil fuels actually is “inefficient.”

The regulations identified just four subsidies at all, including support to help Indigenous communities keep electricity prices down; funding for electric and alternative-fuel vehicle infrastructure, such as charging stations; and funding for research on clean technologies for the oil-and-gas sector.

Philip Gass, a senior energy researcher for the International Institute for Sustainable Development, said Tuesday using the World Trade Organization definition of subsidies, his organization found several that could or should be phased out.

The IISD list shows more than $1.2 billion in fossil-fuel subsidies from the federal government, and an even greater amount from provincial governments. Gelfand’s audit looked only at federal subsidies.

Gass said the government’s report on fossil-fuel subsidies is a good step toward transparency but that the reasoning behind the conclusion there are no inefficient subsidies is still confusing.

“We need a more ambitious approach and (to) have a better plan,” he said.

Gelfand’s audit is the second attempt to audit Finance Canada’s fossil-fuel subsidy programs. In 2017, the auditor general made an attempt but was blocked when the department refused to cough up the needed documents. Eventually the department gave in, resulting in the audits released Tuesday.

Gelfand also looked at the current impact of invasive aquatic species, most of which are accidentally introduced to Canadian waters on the hulls of ships coming from international waters and many of which harm native marine life after arrival.

She found that although Canada has made commitments to prevent invasive species from taking hold in Canadian waters, neither Fisheries and Oceans Canada nor the Canada Border Services Agency did what they promised to do. She says a lack of understanding of whether provincial or federal authorities are responsible is interfering with efforts to prevent invasive species from getting established.



Source link

How B.C. brought in Canada's 1st carbon tax and avoided economic disaster

How B.C. brought in Canada’s 1st carbon tax and avoided economic disaster


Eleven years ago, Jock Finlayson and his colleagues at the Business Council of B.C. were mildly alarmed by how quickly Gordon Campbell’s provincial government implemented North America’s first carbon tax.

“We were concerned, to be candid, about what the implications of this would be for our members and for the business community generally,” Finlayson, the council’s chief policy officer told CBC.

Today, after watching the tax in action for more than a decade, he still doesn’t love it, but he’s also seen the advantages of putting a price on pollution.

“I’d say in macro [economic] terms, because of the way the policy was designed, it’s probably been a wash. In other words, I don’t think it’s either helped or hurt overall growth in the provincial economy,” he said.

As the last four provinces to resist carbon pricing are dragged into a new federal tax scheme, the country’s oldest carbon tax might serve as a good example of what to expect.

‘Good for the environment and the economy’

To be clear, not everyone is happy with the tax. The right-leaning Fraser Institute argues it makes B.C. less attractive for investors.

“The end result is less investment, lower rates of job-creation, and fewer opportunities for British Columbians to prosper,” the institute’s Niels Veldhuis and Charles Lammam wrote in a 2017 op-ed opposing increases to the tax.

And Finlayson said he’s still concerned that businesses in industries like pulp and paper, mining and food processing can’t compete with rivals in other provinces because of the high price of energy in B.C.

But the economists who spoke to CBC for this story suggest B.C.’s tax is working as it should. By making pollution more expensive to reflect the environmental costs, the tax appears to have changed the behaviour of British Columbians and led to a drop in greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, while sectors of B.C. economy that consume a lot of energy have suffered from the higher cost of fuel, others, apparently spurred by corporate tax cuts, are thriving.

“This carbon tax is a model for the world that well-designed carbon pricing can be good for the environment and the economy. In the 11 years since B.C. brought in its carbon tax, it’s outpaced the rest of Canada both on emission reduction and GDP growth,” said Stewart Elgie, a professor of law and economics at the University of Ottawa.

In 2007, B.C.’s premier at the time, Gordon Campbell (left), signed an agreement with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, pledging to fight global warming. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

Looking back, the origin story for B.C.’s carbon tax sounds counterintuitive.

The tax, first set at $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, was brought in by a B.C. Liberal government — the equivalent of a conservative administration in most parts of the country.

But that was July 2008, before the true onset of the global financial crisis. Al Gore’s climate change documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, was still fuelling a wave of concern about greenhouse gas emissions.

“It was a very popular tax. I think it caught both the NDP and the Greens provincially off guard,” said pollster Mario Canseco, president of Vancouver’s Research Co.

The NDP launched an “axe the tax” campaign, arguing it would kill jobs, and leader Carole James promised she’d dump it if she were elected premier in the 2008 election.

She wasn’t, and the Liberals helped ease British Columbians into the idea of a carbon tax by making it revenue neutral. Taxpayers received rebates, and the province lowered corporate and personal income taxes.

NDP embrace the tax

Since then, the provincial NDP has come around on the tax. When the party came into power two years ago, James was named finance minister, and she’s overseen a thaw of the carbon tax rate, which had been frozen since 2012.

As of April 1, B.C.’s rate is $40 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, which translates to 8.89 cents per litre of gasoline. It’s set to top out at $50 a tonne in 2021.

In the meantime, numerous researchers have tried to determine the impact of the tax. According to a 2015 paper, B.C.’s emissions had dropped by between five and 15 per cent since the tax was implemented, and it had a “negligible impact” on the overall economy.

Elgie, of the University of Ottawa, was part of a wide-ranging 2013 study that showed a 19 per cent drop in B.C.’s per capita fuel consumption in the first four years of the tax, while the province’s economy slightly outperformed the rest of the country.

“The other side of the carbon price is that it creates an incentive for innovation,” Elgie said. “B.C. has now become a leader in clean technology.”

He pointed to Squamish’s Carbon Engineering, which has developed technology that it says can suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into fuel.

Sumeet Gulati, a professor in food and resource economics at the University of British Columbia, has studied the impact of the carbon tax on consumer choices — particularly, the choices of drivers.

B.C.’s carbon tax currently amounts to 8.89 cents per litre of gas. (Dave Will/CBC)

A 2016 research paper he co-wrote suggests the carbon tax has pushed B.C. drivers to choose cars that are more fuel efficient.

“If we didn’t have it … we’d be at least emitting on average seven per cent more per person in B.C. in terms of carbon emissions while driving, and cars would be about four per cent less fuel efficient,” Gulati told CBC.

Room for improvement

In recent years, the province has abandoned the idea of keeping the tax revenue neutral, and is now using some of the proceeds to encourage development of green technologies.

The folks at the Fraser Institute say that’s a mistake.

“Firms in British Columbia now not only face the highest carbon tax in North America, but they no longer enjoy any of the offsetting benefits that briefly existed as a result of lower [corporate income tax] rates,” the authors of a January report wrote.

Gulati also believes a return to revenue neutrality is essential.

“It’s important to make it politically resilient, despite who comes into power,” he said.

On the other hand, he’d like to see the rate keep rising, up to $75 or even $100 per tonne of emissions.

As for Finlayson at the Business Council of B.C., he’d like to see more support for businesses that have been hurt by the tax, including exporters, manufacturers and pulp and paper mills.

He’d also like to see a true Canada-wide carbon pricing scheme that would put businesses on an even playing field while tackling emissions.

“It’s unfortunate that the whole national climate change policy framework is in disarray at the moment because of all the opposition that we’re seeing from some provinces and some political parties,” he said.

“If we’re going to deal with this climate change issue and do so through a sensible carbon pricing regime, the logic is very powerful to try and do that in a coordinated, pan-Canadian way.”



Source link

What Venezuelan turmoil could mean for Canada's oilpatch

What Venezuelan turmoil could mean for Canada’s oilpatch


More turbulence in Venezuela — including the threat of United States sanctions on its crude oil exports — has Canada’s oilpatch watching carefully for how the impact will ripple across the industry. 

Analysts say sanctions, or a further drop in Venezuelan oil output, could leave American refiners on the hunt for heavy crude from elsewhere, providing a potential price lift for Canadian producers.

But with limited ability to get more oil to the Gulf Coast, some believe the Canadian sector won’t be able to seize the additional market share it otherwise might.

Longer term, if Venezuela changes political regimes, the upheaval could see the South American country’s oil production soar once again — and change the outlook for global prices.

“Any more reduction in Venezuela crude could have an impact on the price of heavy crude for Canadian producers,” said Kevin Birn, an oilsands analyst with IHS Markit in Calgary. 

“In terms of our ability to maximize the benefit, we are constrained by our own infrastructure.”

Venezuela’s political and economic outlook is unclear as opposition leader Juan Guaido and interim president Nicolas Maduro struggle for control of the country.

Traditionally, Canada and Venezuela produce heavy oil that compete for space in the U.S. market. However, Venezuela crude production has fallen dramatically in recent years amid economic and political strife.

“There’s been a developing opportunity for Canadian crude, in particular going into the U.S. Gulf Coast refineries,” said Allan Fogwill, president of the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

“They were getting most of their heavy crude from Venezuela and Mexico — and a little bit from Canada. Now, with the concerns in Venezuela, that means those refineries are looking north to Canadian producers.”

Fogwill said limited pipeline capacity and rising demand for Canadian crude at those refineries is one reason why rail shipments of oil to the United States have been on the rise.

Maduro attends a rally in support of his government and to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in Caracas on Thursday. (Miraflores Palace/Handout/Reuters)

Last fall, Canadian shipping constraints to the U.S. led to a backlog of oil and steep discounts on Alberta crude. Prices increased significantly when the province imposed mandatory crude production cuts for 2019.

The heavy blend of oil from Alberta’s oilsands known as Western Canada Select was trading at $43.47 US a barrel on Thursday, up $1.36 US on anticipation that any decline in Venezuelan crude would result in more demand for WCS.

Rory Johnston, a commodity economist at Scotiabank, said the Canadian heavy crude price could further improve depending on whether the U.S. moves forward with sanctions and what happens with Venezuelan production.

“But I think at this stage it’s fairly unambiguously bullish for oil prices in the short term,” he said.

Robert Fitzmartyn, head of energy institutional research at GMP FirstEnergy, said he’ll be watching to see how any related improvement in crude prices filters into the market and Canadian energy stocks.

“The stock market probably responds mildly,” Fitzmartyn said.

Longer term, however, there are even more questions.

If there is regime change in Venezuela, oil production could ramp up to more traditional levels and that might come to weigh on oil prices, Johnston said.

“What that likely would mean is actually a slightly more bearish outlook longer term,” he said.

“Production has been declining so rapidly there [in Venezuela] that really, at this stage, virtually any alternative governance is likely to be better at managing that production.” 

Fogwill said that if Venezuelan production returns to traditional levels, it will have an impact on world prices, too.

“If Venezuela came roaring back … that could undermine the high price for oil.” 



Source link

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén