Obama’s climate change envoy: fossil fuels will have to stay in the ground | Environment | The Guardian

The world’s fossil fuels will “obviously” have to stay in the ground in order to solve global warming, Barack Obama’s climate change envoy said on Monday.In the clearest sign to date the administration sees no long-range future for fossil fuel, the state department climate change envoy, Todd Stern, said the world would have no choice but to forgo developing reserves of oil, coal and gas.The assertion, a week ahead of United Nations climate negotiations in Lima, will be seen as a further indication of Obama’s commitment to climate action, following an historic US-Chinese deal to curb emissions earlier this month.A global deal to fight climate change would necessarily require countries to abandon known reserves of oil, coal and gas, Stern told a forum at the Center for American Progress in Washington.“It is going to have to be a solution that leaves a lot of fossil fuel assets in the ground,” he said. “We are not going to get rid of fossil fuel overnight but we are not going to solve climate change on the basis of all the fossil fuels that are in the ground are going to have to come out. That’s pretty obvious.”

via Obama’s climate change envoy: fossil fuels will have to stay in the ground | Environment | The Guardian.

APPEA: Hydraulic fracturing inquiry risks damaging SA’s investment reputation

The South Australian Liberal Party risks damaging investor and public confidence in the natural gas industry by moving to establish a Parliamentary inquiry into hydraulic fracturing – an industry practice that has been used safely in the State for many decades.APPEA’s Chief Operating Officer Western Region, Stedman Ellis, said the inquiry proposed by the Member for Mt Gambier had little basis in science.Mr Ellis said the South Australian Parliament needed to be wary that it did not provide a megaphone for people who want to undermine the industry and the investment and jobs it provided.“South Australia has consistently been ranked in international surveys as the most attractive Australian state for oil and gas investment,” Mr Ellis said.“But this hard-earned reputation will be at risk if groups ideologically opposed to the industry are given a platform to spread fear and misinformation.

via APPEA: Hydraulic fracturing inquiry risks damaging SA’s investment reputation.

NC officials host closed meeting on offshore development

RALEIGH, N.C. AP — Officials from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia met privately Thursday with federal regulators and groups funded by oil and gas companies to discuss plans for drilling off the Atlantic coast.A coalition of environmental groups sought to be allowed inside the Mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Five-Year Program meeting, which was held at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.Reporters were allowed to attend the end of the session only to hear closing remarks by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, but only after a police officer posted at the door checked their credentials. By then, many of the 60 people on the list of invited attendees had left, leaving behind empty chairs.McCrory, a Republican, has been outspoken in his support for launching oil and gas exploration off of the East Coast as soon as possible. On Thursday, he said the drilling would create jobs and bring needed revenue to the state.

via NC officials host closed meeting on offshore development.

Exxon: Destroying Planet Necessary to Relieve Global Poverty » EcoWatch

The fossil-fuel divestment movement has been on a roll lately to the tune of $50 billion, but one of its biggest successes happened last month: The world’s most profitable oil company squirmed. ExxonMobil’s vice president of public and government affairs published a critique of divestment that concluded by saying that destroying our planet’s climate by recklessly extracting and burning fossil fuel reserves is necessary to relieve global poverty.

via Exxon: Destroying Planet Necessary to Relieve Global Poverty » EcoWatch.

RCMP tracked movements of Indigenous activist from ‘extremist’ group: documents » APTN National News

“When you read the document closely it shows an intimate surveillance,” said Monaghan. “The documents show the breadth of and the normalization of the regular systematic surveillance of protest groups, of people who criticize government policy and critics of energy policy. You have national security bureaucracies, agencies, focused on domestic protest groups and it has nothing to do with terror, but with the energy economy.”

via RCMP tracked movements of Indigenous activist from ‘extremist’ group: documents » APTN National News.

Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada’s resource agenda, documents reveal | Environment | theguardian.com

The Canadian government is increasingly worried that the growing clout of aboriginal peoples’ rights could obstruct its aggressive resource development plans, documents reveal.

Since 2008, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has run a risk management program to evaluate and respond to “significant risks” to its agenda, including assertions of treaty rights, the rising expectations of aboriginal peoples, and new legal precedents at odds with the government’s policies.

Yearly government reports obtained by the Guardian predict that the failure to manage the risks could result in more “adversarial relations” with aboriginal peoples, “public outcry and negative international attention,” and “economic development projects [being] delayed.”

“There is a risk that the legal landscape can undermine the ability of the department to move forward in its policy agenda,” one Aboriginal Affairs’ report says. “There is a tension between the rights-based agenda of Aboriginal groups and the non-rights based policy approaches” of the federal government.

The Conservative government is planning in the next ten years to attract $650 billion of investment to mining, forestry, gas and oil projects, much of it on or near traditional aboriginal lands.

Critics say the government is determined to evade Supreme Court rulings that recognize aboriginal peoples’ rights to a decision-making role in, even in some cases jurisdiction over, resource development in large areas of the country.

“The Harper government is committed to a policy of extinguishing indigenous peoples’ land rights, instead of a policy of recognition and co-existence,” said Arthur Manuel, chair of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, which has lead an effort to have the economic implications of aboriginal rights identified as a financial risk.

“They are trying to contain the threat that our rights pose to business-as-usual and the expansion of dirty energy projects. But our legal challenges and direct actions are creating economic uncertainty and risk, raising the heat on the government to change its current policies.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs declined to answer the Guardian’s questions, but sent a response saying the risk reports are compiled from internal reviews and “targeted interviews with senior management in those areas experiencing significant change.”

“The [corporate risk profile] is designed as an analytical tool for planning and not a public document. A good deal of [its] content would only be understandable to those working for the department as it speaks to the details of the operations of specific programs.”

Last year Canada was swept by the aboriginal-led Idle No More protest movement, building on years of aboriginal struggles against resource projects, the most high-profile of which has targeted Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry Alberta tar sands to the western coast of British Columbia.

“Native land claims scare the hell out of investors,” an analyst with global risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group has noted, concluding that First Nations opposition and legal standing has dramatically decreased the chances the Enbridge pipeline will be built.

In British Columbia and across the country, aboriginal peoples’ new assertiveness has been backed by successive victories in the courts.

According to a report released in November by Virginia-based First Peoples Worldwide, the risk associated with not respecting aboriginal peoples’ rights over lands and resources is emerging as a new financial bubble for extractive industries.

The report anticipates that as aboriginal peoples become better connected through digital media, win broader public support, and mount campaigns that more effectively impact business profits, failures to uphold aboriginal rights will carry an even higher risk.

The Aboriginal Affairs’ documents describe how a special legal branch helps the Ministry monitor and “mitigate” the risks posed by aboriginal court cases.

The federal government has spent far more fighting aboriginal litigation than any other legal issue – including $106 million in 2013, a sum that has grown over the last several years.

A special envoy appointed in 2013 by the Harper government to address First Nations opposition to energy projects in western Canada recently recommended that the federal government move rapidly to improve consultation and dialogue.

To boost support for its agenda, the government has considered offering bonds to allow First Nations to take equity stakes in resource projects. This is part of a rising trend of provincial governments and companies signing “benefit-sharing” agreements with First Nations to gain access to their lands, while falling short of any kind of recognition of aboriginal rights or jurisdiction.

Since 2007, the government has also turned to increased spying, creating a surveillance program aimed at aboriginal communities deemed “hot spots” because of their involvement in protest and civil disobedience against unwanted extraction on their lands.

Over the last year, the Harper government has cut funding to national, regional and tribal aboriginal organizations that provide legal services and advocate politically on behalf of First Nations, raising cries that it is trying to silence growing dissent.

via Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada’s resource agenda, documents reveal | Environment | theguardian.com.

Naomi Klein: “we are not who we were told we were” | ROAR Magazine

On the eve of the publication of her new book, Naomi Klein talks about the things that give her hope in a world that can sometimes feel very bleak.Naomi Klein rose to international acclaim in 1999 by explaining how big corporations were exploiting our insecurities to convince us to spend money we didn’t have, on stuff we didn’t need No Logo. In 2007 she masterfully dissected the ways those steering the global economy use moments of social and environmental crisis to justify transferring public wealth into the hands of the ultra-rich The Shock Doctrine. Less-known though are the alternatives Klein spends much of her time witnessing, documenting, and digging into, from the spread of fossil fuel divestment, to community-owned energy projects and resistance to tar sands pipelines.On the eve of the publication of her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, Klein sat down with Liam Barrington-Bush at the Peoples Social Forum in Ottawa, to talk about where she finds hope in a world that can sometimes feel very bleak. She reminds us that in a culture that treats people as consumers and relationships as transactions, ‘we’re not who we were told we were.’::::::::::::::::::::::LBB: In a recent piece in the Nation, you wrote: “Because of the way our daily lives have been altered by both market and technological triumphalism, we lack many of the observational tools necessary to convince ourselves that climate change is real — let alone the confidence to believe that a different way of living is possible.” What has helped you to believe that a different way of living is possible?NK: I think part of it is just having been lucky enough to have seen other ways of living and to have lived differently myself. To know that not only is living differently not the end of the world, but in many cases, it has enabled some of the happiest times of my life.I think the truth is that we spend a lot of time being afraid of what we would lose if we ever took this crisis seriously. I had this experience when I had been living in Argentina for a couple of years; I came back to the US because I had agreed to do this speech at an American university. It was in Colorado and I went directly from Buenos Aires, which was just on fire at that moment; the culture was so rich, the sense of community was so strong. It was the most transformative experience of my life to be able to be part of that.So I end up staying at a Holiday Inn, looking out at a parking lot, and it’s just so incredibly grim. I go to this class and I do my spiel. I was talking about Argentina and the economic crisis. At this point the US economy’s booming and nobody thinks anything like this could ever happen to them. And this young woman says, “I hear what you’re saying, but why should I care?”

via Naomi Klein: “we are not who we were told we were” | ROAR Magazine.

Freshwater Politics and the Gateway Project University of Toronto Press Blog University of Toronto Press Blog

To mark the recent publication of Freshwater Politics in Canada, author Peter Clancy provides a brief overview of the freshwater dimensions of the controversial Northern Gateway project, as well as its many political dimensions. For more on this, or on related issues such as fracking, salmon conservation, Aboriginal water interests, freshwater governance, etc., grab a copy of his brand new book!

The Northern Gateway project is one of the most significant energy ventures in Canada today. It proposes a 36 inch oil pipeline to convey diluted bitumen (heavy synthetic oil) from the Fort McMurray region to Kitimat BC. There it will be loaded onto tankers for Asian markets. A parallel 20 inch line will carry imported natural gas condensates, required in the manufacturing process, in the opposite direction. About 45 percent of the 1,177 km corridor is in Alberta with the balance in British Columbia.

Freshwater politics is only part of the controversy here but it is a big part. More than one thousand rivers and streams must be crossed. While all watercourses are sensitive, the proposed Gateway route crosses five major Canadian watersheds. The Skeena and the Fraser drain to the Pacific, the Peace and the Athabasca flow northerly to the Arctic Ocean and the North Saskatchewan River flows easterly to Hudson’s Bay. These watersheds and sub-watersheds enclose a plethora of biological and social communities and each generates a variety of political concerns.

via Freshwater Politics and the Gateway Project University of Toronto Press Blog University of Toronto Press Blog.