CLIMATE CHANGE ROUND UP FOR THE WEEK ENDING Nov 2 2019

News Items

Greta Thunberg rejects Nordic Council environmental award

How Alberta will keep its $30-per-tonne carbon tax but make it easier for some big emitters to avoid paying

Another Rising Cost of Climate Change: PG&E’s Blackouts, Now Needed to Prevent Wildfires

Polling Experts Bash Koch-Funded Electric Car Survey as ‘Highly Biased’ and ‘Highly Misleading’

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Greta Thunberg rejects Nordic Council environmental award

Greta Thunberg has turned down an environmental award and prize money because “the climate movement does not need any more awards”.

She said the offer was a “great honour” and thanked the Nordic Council, which said it respected her decision.

But, she said, “politicians and the people in power” need to listen to the “current, best-available science”.

Ms Thunberg was this year’s favourite to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but the award went to Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed.

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How Alberta will keep its $30-per-tonne carbon tax but make it easier for some big emitters to avoid paying

Plan loosens the rules so heaviest-emitting facilities could be on the hook for $330 million less per year

Alberta’s new UCP government will continue to apply a $30-per-tonne carbon price that covers the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the province, but will loosen the rules so that some of the largest emitters could be on the hook for $330 million less in charges next year.

New legislation introduced Tuesday will replace the previous NDP government’s regulations on most large emitters in the province, including oilsands operations, natural gas producers, chemical manufacturers and fertilizer plants. The rules for electricity generators, however, will be left largely unchanged.

All told, the province estimates these types of heavy-emitting facilities account for 55 to 60 per cent of Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment Minister Jason Nixon believes the new policy will satisfy the federal government’s requirements for carbon pricing on large emitters, meaning Ottawa won’t impose its own pricing system on Alberta’s industry. This system runs in parallel to the federal fuel charge — commonly known as the carbon tax — that applies to individuals and lesser-emitting companies.

Who stands to gain the most?

“The ones that stand to save the most are the worst performers, from a carbon perspective,” said Sara Hastings-Simon, a research fellow at the University of Calgary who studies carbon-pricing policy.

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Another Rising Cost of Climate Change: PG&E’s Blackouts, Now Needed to Prevent Wildfires

With wildfires forcing evacuations in the Los Angeles hills and Sonoma County, and parts of California under an “extreme red flag warning” from the winds, the state’s largest electric utility triggered another preemptive blackout on Tuesday that left half a million customers in the dark.

Shutting down the power has become PG&E’s primary defense to keep its troubled power lines from sparking wildfires in the dry landscape, as happened in 2017 and 2018 to deadly effect.

It also vividly illustrates how the costs of failing to address climate change reach far wider than just property lost to the flames. The blackouts, while likely saving homes and lives, mean many businesses and industries can’t operate, schools can’t open, and gas stations remain shuttered. For small businesses, several days without power or customers could be devastating. Just the blackouts alone could cost the state billions.

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Polling Experts Bash Koch-Funded Electric Car Survey as ‘Highly Biased’ and ‘Highly Misleading’

Fossil fuel interests appear intent on swaying public opinion about the electric vehicle tax credit, based on recent polling on the policy. A deeper look at these efforts reveals oil and gas funding behind the groups conducting the polls and blatant bias in the polling methodology, according to experts. 

Survey results commissioned and publicized by the American Energy Alliance (AEA) seem on their surface to indicate that a majority of respondents are not thrilled about subsidizing EVs purchased by other consumers, particularly wealthy Americans. However, according to polling experts who reviewed the survey for DeSmog, the questions were designed to solicit a certain response and produce results to serve a predetermined narrative that supports the oil industry’s interests. According to polling expert Ed Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, the surveys relied on “highly biased questions designed to elicit highly misleading answers.” 

Who Is Behind the ‘Highly-Biased’ Anti-Electric Vehicle Poll? 

The organization that commissioned the surveys, AEA, is funded by oil interests including the Koch network and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the nation’s leading trade group of oil refiners. The group is touting these findings from recent polls in Maine, Michigan, and South Dakota, saying the results are consistent with those from surveys they commissioned in nine other states. 

“This is further evidence that efforts to compel taxpayers, ratepayers, workers, and consumers to pay for the choices of others, and the preferences of government bureaucrats, are doomed and will lead directly to voter resistance,” said Thomas Pyle, president of AEA. “The citizens of Maine, Michigan, and South Dakota see an expansion of the electric vehicle tax credit exactly for what it is: a giveaway to rich Californians and large, already prosperous corporations.”

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