Environmental Think Space

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing – Albert Einstein

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Plastic Soup

Here’s a humorous video on a very serious issue: plastic pollution.

And on a more serious note:

“If you could fast-forward 10,000 years and do an archaeological dig … you’d find a little line of plastic. What happened to those people? Well, they ate their own plastic and disrupted their genetic structure and weren’t able to reproduce. They didn’t last very long because they killed themselves … The ocean is warning us, and if we don’t listen it’s very easy for her to get rid of us.” — Oceanographer, Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Ph.D.


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WTO stifles Canadian Clean Energy Program

The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced a ruling against Ontario’s successful renewable energy incentives program that is designed to reduce carbon emissions and create clean energy jobs. The ruling stated that Ontario’s FIT (feed-in tariff) program violated the WTO rules which forbid treating local or domestic firms and products differently from foreign firms and products.

The EU and Japan filed complaints about Ontario’s Green Energy Act which declares a minimum percentage (25%) of renewable energy goods and services be provided by Ontario-based companies for the FIT program.

According to the program’s two year review:
— Ontario has become a leader in clean energy production and manufacturing and the FIT Program continues to be one of the best ways to attract investment, encourage participation and efficiently build clean energy projects.

— The FIT Program has also led to almost 2,000 small and large FIT contracts totalling approximately 4,600 MW – enough electricity to power 1.2 million homes.

— Ontario’s clean energy initiatives have created more than 20,000 jobs and are on track to create 50,000 jobs. There has been more than $27 billion in private-sector investment

Those speaking out have voiced:
“Although not perfect, the Green Energy Act at least has proposals to revitalize Ontario’s hard-hit manufacturing sector and set Canada on a path of greater local, and sustainable energy development ….
It’s blatantly undemocratic that an unelected body like the WTO can quash this initiative. Governments should have the power to implement policies that promote the economy and the environment simultaneously, without big business interests looking over their shoulder.” — Dave Coles

“As countries take steps to address the climate crisis, the last thing we need is the WTO interfering with innovative climate programs. Ontario’s solar and wind incentives program seeks to reduce dangerous carbon pollution and create clean energy jobs, and it should serve as a model for other countries, not a punching bag,” said Ilana Solomon, Sierra Club Trade Representative.

“Only an attack on this sort of job-creating, climate-chaos-combating policy could put the WTO in worse repute than last year’s string of WTO rulings ordering us to gut popular U.S. laws on country-of-origin meat labels, dolphin-safe tuna labels and limits on candy-flavored cigarettes marketed to kids,” said Lori Wallach, Public Citizen Global Trade Watch Director.


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Community Feed-In Tariffs

Nova Scotia’s Department of Energy produced its Renewable Electricity Plan in April 2010. Following the motives of many other provinces, states and countries the plan aims to move away from carbon based electricity (mainly coal production here in NS) toward greener energy production and energy independence and diversification.
The plan sets targets for 2015 (25% renewable energy) and 2020 (40% renewable energy). To achieve these targets there are a few different mechanisms that will be used:

1) Large projects will be split evenly between Nova Scotia Power (long standing monopoly on electricity) and independent power producers

2) Community-based feed-in tariffs (COMFIT) for community groups including municipalities, universities, cooperatives, non-profits,  First Nations, and community economic development investment funds.

3) Individuals and small businesses can participate in green energy projects through the enhancement of the net metering program 

Nova Scotia’s COMFIT program is the first of it’s kind in North America and thus far 52 COMFIT projects have be approved as of October 23, 2012; 46 are wind projects, 5 are approved for instream tidal, and 1 for biomass.

Relevant Articles:
Tim Bousquet from The Coast asked whether ‘the new regulations promote the growth of a green energy industry or does it only benefit established producers?’

Canadian Clean posts 60 second interview with Nova Scotia COMFIT administrator 

COMFIT gives Canadian tidal market competitive edge