Connect with us

News

Canada’s clean energy lobby groups call for changes to draft Clean Fuel Standard

Published

 on

One of Canada‘s flagship pieces of climate regulation has run into criticism from clean fuel lobby groups as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares to start his third term in office , with industry advocates arguing it is out of step with Canada‘s goals to achieve net-zero emissions.

The Clean Fuel Standard is set to come into force in December 2022, and was envisaged as a pillar of Canada‘s carbon emissions reduction plan. But a coalition of 26 clean fuel trade associations, producers and climate think tanks are now warning that the regulation in its current form will delay rather than incentivize the adoption of low-carbon fuels.

“The CFS as the draft is now proposed shouldn’t go ahead,” said Ian Thomson, president of Advanced Biofuels Canada, one of the organisations calling for a change.

“It has the potential to be a great regulation … but the messaging right now is essentially going to defer by a decade the adoption of fuels that are critical to net-zero future.”

Advanced Biofuels Canada and other industry groups have been lobbying the government privately for months to toughen up the regulation. They said so far the government has shown little inclination to do so, and risks missing an opportunity to boost Canada‘s clean fuel industry.

Criticism of the CFS from some key stakeholders underlines how Trudeau’s Liberal government is being pushed to take tougher action to deliver on climate promises ahead of the COP 26 international climate summit https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/eu-countries-struggle-agree-approach-cop26-climate-talks-2021-09-23 in the United Kingdom in November.

Major Liberal environmental policies include the CFS, a carbon tax and a pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. But Canadian emissions have grown in the six years Trudeau has been in power, and research coalition Climate Action Tracker this month rated Canada‘s polices and actions as “highly insufficient” in tackling the climate crisis.

Canada‘s Environment ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UPSTREAM VS DOWNSTREAM CREDITS

The CFS is modelled on similar regulations in the European Union and California and was first proposed in 2016.

It requires producers and importers of gasoline and diesel to reduce the amount of carbon in their product, and was meant to cut Canadian emissions by 20 megatons annually by 2030, although critics say the cut will be more like 15.5 megatons.

The clean fuel lobby says the regulation puts too much emphasis on giving credits for emissions cut during the “upstream” oil production and refining process, and does not incentivize fuel suppliers to switch to lower-carbon sources of energy like biofuels, hydrogen and electricity.

It wants the government to introduce a limit to how much fuel suppliers can rely on upstream credits to meet their CFS obligations, similar to EU regulations.

Around three-quarters of the full life-cycle emissions of a barrel of oil come from being burned in a combustion engine, known as downstream emissions. The transportation sector accounts for 25% of Canada‘s greenhouse gas output.

“Downstream emissions are the elephant in the room and the CFS is not tackling that,” Thomson said.

A recent slew of carbon capture and storage announcements from Canada‘s oil patch, which would allow producers to meet emissions targets by burying carbon underground rather than reducing oil output, increases the likelihood that upstream CFS credits will dominate the market, critics say.

If fuel suppliers can buy or generate cheap credits to meet their obligations, they may not switch to using lower-carbon fuels. That could in turn dent investment in Canada‘s clean fuel industry, said Bora Plumptre, senior analyst at the Pembina Institute clean energy think-tank.

“It’s really fair for clean fuel organisations to question whether there will be a market signal for their products. That’s the misalignment I’m worried about, and the government does not appear to appreciate that concern,” he added.

A 2021 Advanced Biofuels Canada report estimates the clean fuel industry could add 21,000 new jobs and grow to a C$15.2 billion ($12.01 billion) industry by 2030, from C$5.2 billion in 2020.

($1 = 1.2652 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Nia Williams in CalgaryEditing by Denny Thomas and Matthew Lewis)

Continue Reading

News

Overcoming scandal and PTSD, Japan’s Princess Mako finally marries college sweetheart

Published

 on

Japan‘s Princess Mako, the emperor’s niece, has married her commoner college sweetheart on Tuesday and left the royal family after a years-long engagement beset by scrutiny that has left the princess with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mako and fiance Kei Komuro, both 30, announced their engagement four years ago, a move initially cheered by the country. But things soon turned sour as tabloids reported on a money scandal involving Komuro’s mother, prompting the press to turn on him. The marriage was postponed, and he left Japan for law studies in New York in 2018 only to return in September.

Their marriage consisted of an official from the Imperial Household Agency (IHA), which runs the family’s lives, submitting paperwork to a local office in the morning, foregoing the numerous rituals and ceremonies usual to royal weddings, including a reception.

Mako also refused to receive a one-off payment of about $1.3 million typically made to royal women who marry commoners and become ordinary citizens, in line with Japanese law.

Television footage showed Mako, wearing a pastel dress and pearls, saying goodbye to her parents and 26-year-old sister, Kako, at the entrance to their home. Though all wore masks in line with Japan’s coronavirus protocol, her mother could be seen blinking rapidly, as if to fight off tears.

Though Mako bowed formally to her parents, her sister grabbed her shoulders and the two shared a long embrace.

In the afternoon, Mako and her new husband will hold a news conference, which will also depart from custom. While royals typically answer pre-submitted questions at such events, the couple will make a brief statement and hand out written replies to the questions instead.

“Some of the questions took mistaken information as fact and upset the princess,” said officials at the IHA, according to NHK public television.

Komuro, dressed in a crisp dark suit and tie, bowed briefly to camera crews gathered outside his home as he left in the morning but said nothing. His casual demeanour on returning to Japan, including long hair tied back in a ponytail, had sent tabloids into a frenzy.

MONEY SCANDAL

Just months after the two announced their engagement at a news conference where their smiles won the hearts of the nation, tabloids reported a financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiance, with the man claiming mother and son had not repaid a debt of about $35,000.

The scandal spread to mainstream media after the IHA failed to provide a clear explanation. In 2021, Komuro issued a 24-page statement on the matter and also said he would pay a settlement.

Public opinion polls show the Japanese are divided about the marriage, and there has been at least one protest.

Analysts say the problem is that the imperial family is so idealised that not the slightest hint of trouble with things such as money or politics should touch them.

The fact that Mako’s father and younger brother, Hisahito, are both in the line of succession after Emperor Naruhito, whose daughter is ineligible to inherit, makes the scandal particularly damaging, said Hideya Kawanishi, an associate professor of history at Nagoya University.

“Though it’s true they’ll both be private citizens, Mako’s younger brother will one day become emperor, so some people thought anybody with the problems he (Komuro) had shouldn’t be marrying her,” Kawanishi added.

The two will live in New York, though Mako will remain on her own in Tokyo for some time after the wedding to prepare for the move, including applying for the first passport of her life.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

Continue Reading

News

EU countries splinter ahead of crisis talks on energy price spike

Published

 on

Divisions have deepened among European Union countries ahead of an emergency meeting of ministers on Tuesday on their response to a spike in energy prices, with some countries seeking a regulatory overhaul and others firmly opposed.

European gas prices have hit record highs in autumn and remained at lofty levels, prompting most EU countries to respond with emergency measures like price caps and subsidies to help trim consumer energy bills.

Countries are struggling to agree, however, on a longer term plan to cushion against fossil-fuel price swings, which Spain, France, the Czech Republic and Greece say warrant a bigger shake-up of the way EU energy markets work.

Ministers from those countries will make the case on Tuesday for proposals that include decoupling European electricity and gas prices, joint gas buying among countries to create emergency reserves, and, in the case of a few countries including Poland, delaying planned policies to address climate change.

In an indication of differences likely to emerge at the meeting, nine countries including Germany – Europe’s biggest economy and market for electricity – on Monday said they would not support EU electricity market reforms.

“This will not be a remedy to mitigate the current rising energy prices linked to fossil fuels markets,” the countries said in a joint statement.

The European Commission has asked regulators to analyse the design of Europe’s electricity market, but said there was no evidence that a different market structure would have fared better during the recent price jump.

“Any interventions on the market and the decoupling of [gas and power] pricing are off the table,” one EU diplomat said, adding there was “no appetite” among most countries for those measures.

Other proposals – such as countries forming joint gas reserves – would also not offer a quick fix and could take months to negotiate. A European Commission proposal to upgrade EU gas market regulation to make it greener, due in December, is seen as the earliest that such proposals would arrive.

With less than a week until the international COP26 climate change summit, the energy price spike has also stoked tensions between countries over the EU’s green policies, setting up a clash as they prepare to negotiate new proposals including higher tax rates for polluting fuels.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has dismissed such plans as “utopian fantasy”, a stance at odds with other EU countries who say the price jump should trigger a faster switch to low-emission, locally produced renewable energy, to help reduce exposure to imported fossil fuel prices.

 

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Continue Reading

News

Bad weather off Canadian coast preventing efforts to board container ship after fire

Published

 on

Bad weather off Canada‘s Pacific Coast on Monday prevented a salvage crew from boarding a cargo ship where several containers of chemicals burned over the weekend, the coast guard said.

Sixteen crew members were evacuated from the MV Zim Kingston on Saturday. Five remained onboard to fight the fire, which was largely under control by late Sunday.

The company has appointed a salvage crew “but due to the current weather, (they) have been unable to board the container ship”, the coast guard said on Twitter.

“The containers continue to smolder and boundary cooling – spraying water on the hull and on containers near the fire – continues,” it added.

The ship is anchored several kilometers (miles) off the southern coast of Vancouver Island, in the province of British Columbia. There is no impact to human health, the coast guard said.

Danaos Shipping Co, the company that manages the ship, said on Sunday that no injuries had been reported on board.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Continue Reading

Trending