World Bank accuses SNC-Lavalin of “criminal conspiracy”

The Globe and Mail has the story: A World Bank letter offers “the first detailed glimpse of the allegations against SNC in Bangladesh, one of four countries where the blue-chip Montreal company is being investigated on suspicion of using bribery to win contracts.”

Last month, Business in Vancouver obtained heavily redacted minutes of a high-level meeting about what impact corruption allegations against SNC-Lavalin might have on the Evergreen Line rapid transit project, for which SNC is the primary contractor.

The BC government blacked out all but one paragraph of the 16 pages of minutes. Obviously nothing to see there.


BC’s budget is immoral and dangerous, neglecting our most urgent crisis

The 2013 budget for British Columbia shows the Liberal government does not comprehend the urgent environmental, economic and social crises that beset the province and planet.

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“Economics as well as our ethics tell us that we shouldn’t be developing coal”

David A. Green and Kevin Washbrook sum up BC’s coal problem:

Coal is the “dirtiest” fossil fuel – it produces the most global warming pollution of all fossil fuels when burned to make electricity, and virtually the same amount of pollution when used to make steel. BC is the biggest exporter of coal in Canada. When the emissions from all the coal exported from BC are added up, they are equal to the emissions we produce here at home.
Right now, more than 10 new coal mines are currently in some stage of planning in the province. The import and re-export of US coal has already grown considerably in recent years, and the provincial government has indicated that it would like to see a doubling of coal exports out of BC…

Our current status as Canada’s largest coal exporter is bad enough. These expansion plans cannot be reconciled with our moral obligations.

They offer five steps for BC and Canada should take to get off coal:

  1. Immediately ban the import and re-export of US coal.
  2. Halt new coal mines in BC.
  3. Phase out existing coal mines.
  4. Correctly price carbon; re-schedule price increases.
  5. Re-skill coal workers and transition mining communities.

Seems straightforward. Let’s get to work.

“Use carbon tax revenues to support complementary climate actions”

Marc Lee urges increases and reforms for BC’s carbon tax:

Saying no to new fossil fuel infrastructure like the Enbridge pipeline is an essential first step towards a shift to a clean energy economy. But to pass the political test, climate action must also speak to a positive vision of a zero carbon B.C. It must be fair, build alternatives like public transit and district energy, and create good jobs in areas that lower our greenhouse gas emissions.

Hear, hear. For more details, read Marc’s Submission to the BC Carbon Tax Review.

$9.5 billion to defend Metro Vancouver from rising sea level, finds report

Global warming-induced sea level rise means major upgrades are needed to Metro Vancouver’s flood defence network over the next several decades. A new report from the BC government, Cost of Adaptation — Sea Dikes and Alternative Strategies, estimes the costs could total $9.5 billion dollars.

“Managed retreat” — where properties are returned to a “natural” or low-value state and allowed to flood — is included as an option. In almost all cases, staff rejected this possibility.

So, let’s figure out who should pay for this.

You can read the full report here.

(h/t Duncan)

James Hansen says climate change is worse than we thought, calls for carbon tax

Esteemed NASA climatologist James Hansen has a must-read op-ed in the Washington Post. Hansen summarizes his latest peer-reviewed research – which finds a direct link between extreme weather events and climate change – and calls for a gradually rising carbon fee like the BC carbon tax.

The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.

These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills. []

This is the world we have changed, and now we have to live in it — the world that caused the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed more than 50,000 people and the 2011 drought in Texas that caused more than $5 billion in damage. Such events, our data show, will become even more frequent and more severe.

There is still time to act and avoid a worsening climate, but we are wasting precious time. We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs. It is a simple, honest and effective solution.

His research, as well as the deadly heat and extreme weather across the planet this summer, prove the clear need to retain and increase BC’s carbon tax. It must not be stalled or weakened by the BC government for political purposes.

Canada Day and BC’s carbon tax

What better way to celebrate Canada Day than by raising British Columbia’s carbon tax as scheduled? It affirms British Columbians’ commitment to a safe and resilient future for people, a concern for the physical integrity of Canada, and a belief (perhaps naive) that pricing carbon pollution will encourage private businesses, the public sector, and individuals to reduce their emissions.

Yet, despite the urgent need to reduce our emissions, BC’s carbon tax is maligned by carbon-dependent businesses and threatened by nervous politicians.

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