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Federal government emissions dropping but reporting incomplete, audit concludes

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OTTAWA — Direct greenhouse gas emissions from federal departments are down almost 41 per cent in the last 17 years, hitting a target for 2025 well ahead of schedule.

But in an audit of Ottawa’s “greening government” strategy, environment commissioner Jerry DeMarco said Canada still isn’t reporting on its indirect emissions, nor does it include Crown corporations in its reporting or planning.

“Five years into the strategy, efforts to reduce emissions are not as complete as they could be,” he said Tuesday.

The strategy unveiled five years ago aims to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 across federal operations. The plan includes energy-efficient upgrades to buildings, buying electric vehicles and encouraging suppliers to report on and cut their own carbon footprint.

The first target is to get emissions from federal departments with substantial building or fleet operations down by 40 per cent compared to 2005 levels by the end of 2025. There are now 27 departments included in that list.

The Treasury Board Secretariat, which is overseeing the plan, reported in mid-March that emissions in that bucket fell to almost 1.1 million tonnes in 2020-21, down 40.6 per cent from more than 1.8 million in 2005-06.

That means federal emissions are already below the first target, though the numbers may rebound this year because pandemic-related lockdowns and slowdowns are largely over.

Emissions from natural security and safety operations within the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Coast Guard and the RCMP are included in a different bucket. Those emissions were 844,000 tonnes in 2020-21, down slightly from 849,000 in 2005-06.

Together, direct emissions of 1.9 million tonnes put the federal government among the top 30 single-biggest greenhouse gas emitters in Canada, representing about 0.3 per cent of the country’s total emissions.

Indirect emissions, including business travel, those produced by companies doing work for the government and commuting by employees, are in a third category. They do form part of the government’s plan, with policies to encourage workers to use transit or work remotely, for example. But within that bucket, the government has only reported on government business air travel.

The pandemic took a walloping bite out of that, dropping to 23,000 tonnes in 2020-21 from 252,000 tonnes the year before the pandemic started.

DeMarco said cutting direct departmental emissions 40 per cent is great, but that’s just a “small portion of the pie.”

“There’s two big things missing, and this constitutes the majority of the federal government’s emissions,” he said. “The two things that are missing are indirect emissions from those departments as well as Crown corporations.”

Crown corporations are only asked to voluntarily report their emissions. DeMarco’s audit found Canada Post, Trans Mountain and Via all did so, and collectively emitted 397,000 tonnes.

It also said an estimate of indirect emissions from the federal government found nearly, 4.7 million tonnes from the 27 departments. Canada Post and Trans Mountain estimated their indirect emissions to be about 1.3 million tonnes.

DeMarco is also concerned about a lack of clear reporting on exactly how the government is achieving its reductions and at what cost.

Only eight of the 27 departments involved in the strategy had created an emissions reduction plan. Those departments cover 81 per cent of departmental emissions, including Defence, which accounts for more than half of the government’s direct emissions.

“We looked at National Defence, the largest emitter in government, and found that there was no clear information about how the department’s efforts were contributing to the overall reduction target,” DeMarco said.

He said the lack of detail makes it hard for Canadians and members of Parliament to track progress “and whether Canada is actually being the global leader in greening government that it has set out to be.”

The government takes issue with DeMarco’s assertion that it doesn’t track costs and savings. In its reply to the audit, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat said departments report capital expenses in the government’s estimates and public accounts reports, and it analyzes the costs before a project begins.

“Greening costs and savings are integrated into, and a minor part of, overall capital expenditures on real property and fleet,” the department wrote. “Separating the greening components from the capital investment components for all capital expenditures would be extremely resource-intensive and after the fact.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2022.

 

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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British Virgin Islands’ new Premier vows to secure the country’s ports

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BVI’s new Premier, Dr. Natalio Wheatley, has vowed to ensure the country’s ports are secure and free of corrupt officials.

The remarks by the Premier follow the resignation of the BVI Ports Authority Board chairperson, Kelvin Hodge.

Hodge’s departure, and the rest of the board’s replacement, comes two weeks after the BVI Ports Authority’s executive head, Oleanvine Maynard was arrested alongside former Premier Andrew Fahie, and her son Kadeem Maynard, on drug smuggling and money laundering charges in Miami, United States following a sting operation that began in October.

“I want to reassure you that the ports will continue to operate. The soon-to-be appointed board will be tasked with the appointment of an interim managing director while the recruitment of a substantive managing director is underway. I want to remind everyone what I said before. The change will be hard. It will be painful. People we know and care about will be affected. However, in the end, it will be for the better.

The National Unity Government is fully committed to good governance and will be making reforms accordingly. Let us stay hopeful. We are at the beginning of our march to renew our democracy and build the Virgin Islands into the society that we all want. Together we can achieve whatever we put our minds to,” said the Premier.

In addition, Dr. Wheatley also promised situations that lead to having one person sit on multiple boards will be avoided in the future, as necessary changes are being made in accordance with good practice.

“In several cases, change is urgently needed in terms of their current composition and how we deal with appointments more generally. It is not good practice to have the same person sitting on multiple statutory boards and we will make the necessary changes in accordance with best practice,” said Dr. Wheatley.

Last week, Governor, John Rankin, appointed Dr. Wheatley to serve as the BVI’s fourth Premier following a no-confidence vote by the House of Assembly against then Premier Andrew Fahie.

 

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UK PM calls for the release of 90 000 civil servants

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Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK has told his Cabinet that to ease the cost of living in the country, Minister has to cut off some of their staff resulting in the loss of around 90 000 jobs.

Johnson is understood to have tasked the Cabinet with cutting staff by a fifth, ordering it to return civil servant numbers to those of 2016 in the coming years, with staffing having increased by almost 25 percent to 475 000 full-time equivalent jobs, telling them every bit of cash saved on government spending could be better used elsewhere.

He also hinted at future tax cuts, suggesting the billions saved from reducing civil servant numbers could help fund such measures.

According to the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the government is trying to get the civil service back to normal after taking on extra people for specific tasks including COVID-19 and Brexit.

“The only bit that is ideological is that we should spend taxpayers’ money properly and not wastefully.

It’s about doing things properly. It’s about governing effectively and recognizing that every penny we take in tax has to come off the backs of people working hard.

Moreso, there will be efficiencies that you can get in some departments through increased automation, increased use of technology, which is something that all sensible businesses will be doing perfectly reasonable,” said the Minister.

However, Mike Clancy, the General Secretary of the Prospect Union said the PM’s proposal was outrageous and damaging.

“Through Brexit and then the pandemic we have never been more reliant in peacetime on our civil service. Our members are highly skilled and there is a real risk to government delivery from losing their vital expertise.

They are vital to what the government wants to do, whether that is levelling up or pandemic recovery. For them, these cuts to jobs come on the back of significant real-term cuts in pay. The big cuts to public services since 2010 have often proved an expensive error these proposals risk doubling down on the mistake,” said Clancy.

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Trinidad and Tobago to launch the 2022 Pan African Festival

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On the 25th of May 2022, the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago (ESCTT) will launch the 2022 Pan African Festival Trinidad Tobago (PAFTTCE).

In an official statement released yesterday, ESCTT said it has planned a unique Festival for 2022, which will utilize the experiences of the last two years of online activities.

“Come Home for Emancipation campaign. It will bring together the collaboration of our regional and international networks of artists, cultural activists and scholars, nurtured over the last 30 years, to construct an event which will satisfy the hunger for the festival that many have expressed.

If all health indicators continue improving, we expect a solid contingent of the Trinidad and Tobago and Caribbean Diaspora Community to take up our invitation to Come Home for Emancipation.

It is celebratory and positively inspiring. It is also sacred. It is a tribute to African ancestors who built mankind’s earliest major civilizations in the Valley of the Nile, leaving behind the Great Pyramid among other structures that still invoke wonder. It is a tribute to those who produced the first written scripts, which included concepts of deity. It is a tribute to ancestors who spread their knowledge and unique building techniques to South and Central America in times before recorded history. It is a tribute to ancestors whose civilizations eventually fell to conquerors from societies that were far less developed but ruthless in their pursuits of wealth and power,” read a statement from the ESCT.

Senator Randall Mitchell, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, is expected to formally launch the PAFTTCE with the guest speaker being Dr. Natalia Kanem, the United Nations Under Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Population Fund.

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