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Creating a Low Carbon Future

Canada will continue to produce and use oil for some time, but building an economy based on tar sands oil means missing the boat on the enormous employment and economic opportunities created by the inexorable global transition towards renewable energy. In fact, investment in renewable energy now outpaces investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, and employment opportunities in the renewable energy sector is set to grow substantially in the years ahead. A low carbon future is on the horizon, and Canada needs to abandon the tar sands so it won't be left behind.

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Over the past eight years, and despite a global economic collapse and subsequent challenges in the world’s major economies, the renewable energy sector experienced solid growth. According to recent estimates, the renewable energy sector employs five million people worldwide, and is predicted to grow rapidly as the world transitions to clean sources of energy.

At the same time, the warning signs that we need to get serious about tackling global warming have never been clearer. Thousands of heat records were broken across the continent this year, and Arctic sea ice was almost 700,000 square kilometres smaller than ever before, a loss equivalent to the size of Texas.

The oil industry’s plan to dramatically increase oil production will lead Canada in the wrong direction if we want to reduce climate-changing pollution, ensure a healthy planet for our children, and take advantage of the financial benefits of the renewable energy sector that will inevitably replace the oil industry as the economic engine of our society. Indeed, investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy and public transit not only reduces pollution, it creates six to eight times more jobs than comparable investments in fossil fuels.

We know that Canadians care deeply about both the environment and the economy. The oil industry’s plans to ramp up tar sands production to over five million barrels per day are not in the best interest of Canadians, economically or environmentally. It's time to invest in a clean energy economy and a low carbon future.

Creating a Low Carbon Future Updates & Resources

VIDEO: We’ve reached our boiling point

Feature

Editors | Tar Sands Solutions - April 14th 2015

Blog Post: Thousands of people swarmed the Fontaine de Tourny in front of the Quebec parliament on Saturday to create a giant human thermometer to show that we’ve reached our boiling point and so has the planet. It’s time to act on climate. But that was only part of the enormous crowd in Quebec City this afternoon. Police estimated it at over 25,000, making it the largest protest in Quebec City in fifteen years, and one of the largest climate marches in Canadian history.

Fossil fuels just lost the race against renewables

Feature

Tom Randall | Bloomberg - April 17th 2015

Press Clipping: The race for renewable energy has passed a turning point. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And there's no going back. The shift occurred in 2013, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels, according to an analysis presented Tuesday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual summit in New York. The shift will continue to accelerate, and by 2030 more than four times as much renewable capacity will be added.

Albertans have plenty of reason to Norwail

Mitchell Anderson | The Tyee - April 14th 2015

Press Clipping: Back in 2012, The Tyee sent me to Norway to write a 10-part series on what Canada could learn from a country that has saved $1 trillion in oil wealth. To understand the root of the Alberta resource problem, look no further than this helpful infographic recently released by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, which itemizes oil production and resource revenues in Alberta, Alaska and Norway in 2013. Which place is doing a better job of capturing public value from a public resource? Norway realized revenues of $87.69 per barrel in 2013. Alaska managed $38.54. And Alberta? Just $4.38 -- one-twentieth what our Norwegian cousins managed to rake in.

Editorial: On the hot seat

Editorial Board | Calgary Herald - April 14th 2015

Press Clipping: This from the editorial board of the Calgary Herald: "With climate change the most important environmental issue facing Canada, Premier Jim Prentice should have taken a couple of days off from campaigning, or at least sent a cabinet minister, to attend the premiers’ climate-change summit in Quebec, which opens Tuesday. Instead, Prentice will send “senior government officials” to the summit and their job will be to observe what goes on. The optics of this are terrible. The rest of the provinces have long harboured a suspicion that Alberta cares the least about greenhouse gas emissions because of its dependence on the oilsands.

Activists rally in Quebec City, calling for climate action ahead of premiers’ meeting

Feature

Ameya Charnalia and Sidhartha Bannerjee | Globe and Mail - April 13th 2015

Press Clipping: Thousands of climate change activists snaked through the streets of Quebec City on Saturday to demand action from Canadian premiers who are in town to discuss environmental issues next week. The crowd at the Act on Climate Change march included representatives from First Nations, environmental activists and political groups, said journalist Yasmine Hassan, who was there covering the event for Ricochet. “It was very festive. There were children, there were adults, there were older people, there was every possible person you could think of, from all walks of life.”

The fossil fuel path is immoral and financially imprudent

Valerie Rockefeller Wayne | Rockefeller Brothers Fund - March 31st 2015

Press Clipping: I am proud of the legacy of John D Rockefeller, who built the greatest fossil fuel enterprise in history. In his day, fossil fuel was a liberating force – it literally changed the face of the earth, freeing many people from toil. The family business is now philanthropy; at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which I chair, we use the money made from Standard Oil to advance social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. But the key phrase in the encomium above is “in his day”. Consider the words of my great-great grandfather’s rough contemporary, the poet James Russell Lowell, which he wrote about slavery and would later become a resounding hymn: “New occasions teach new duties; time makes ancient good uncouth; they must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.”

Vancouver City Council votes unanimously to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2050

Janel Johnson | Vancouver Observer - March 26th 2015

Press Clipping: Vancouver City Council made history in Canada by voting to support a shift to 100 per cent renewable energy sources. In the motion, which passed unanimously, councillors directed staff to work on a package of policies that would effectively convert the entire city to run on clean and renewable energy. In his introduction, Mayor Gregor Robertson called climate change "the most daunting and important challenge of our time." He called the consequences of not addressing it "catastrophic" and said we can no longer wait for federal governments to act. "Cities," he said, "as the most direct level of government, need to take action."

Complete shift to renewable energy within Canada’s reach, academics say

Feature

Ivan Semeniuk and Shawn McCarthy | Globe and Mail - March 23rd 2015

Press Clipping: In a 56-page policy document, more than 70 scientists, engineers and economists say Canada is in a more favourable position than most countries for a switch to renewable power. The most significant barrier is not technical or economic, but a lack of political will, they said. Canada could shift entirely to renewable sources of electricity by 2035 and eliminate 80 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. To get there, they recommend a national carbon-pricing plan, and greater effort to move electricity produced from low-carbon sources such as hydro dams across provincial borders.