February 13, 2009

EurActiv reports today that Mikhail Gorbachev, "the former Soviet leader launched a high-profile water initiative in the European Parliament yesterday, calling for water issues to be included in UN negotiations over a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December."

EU PRICING POLICIES, WATER AS A HUMAN RIGHT "With water supplies under growing strain due to intensive use and climate change, the EU has introduced pricing policies to persuade users – farmers, industries and households – to save the precious resource. Meanwhile, pressure is growing to recognise access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a basic human right."

"A Peace with Water international conference organised by the World Political Forum took place in the European Parliament on 12-13 February. It aimed to contribute to ongoing international negotiations on a post-Kyoto agreement on climate change for 2013 by proposing a Memorandum for a World Water Protocol."

February 13, 2009

The Globe and Mail has reported that, "Stephen Harper's Conservative government has called for a joint Canada-U.S. pact on greenhouse-gas emissions and energy security, in part to ensure that the oil sands are not hit by punishing U.S. regulations under Mr. Obama's environment-conscious administration."

Yesterday Environment Minister Jim Prentice spoke of this plan to the House of Commons environment committee.

CBC reports that, "That plan would impose regulations — caps — on industries in selected sectors, forcing them to reduce their emissions intensity. If their emissions were over the target, they could buy domestic offsets or credits from other companies whose emissions were below target."

The Globe has reported that, "Mr. Prentice insisted that he's not trying to carve out an exemption for the oil sands. But he said he wants Canada's oil industry to get the same kind of credit for efforts to make the transition to less-polluting production that the U.S. will have to give to its coal-burning power plants."

February 12, 2009

The Canadian Press reports today that, "Alberta has released a 20-year plan intended to give its oilsands developments a cleaner environmental image around the world, but the strategy is light on specifics."

The article notes, "A government report Thursday calls for action to reduce emissions, curb fresh water use and cut tailings produced by oilsands projects. But the 50-page document offers no details on how measures to achieve these goals would be enforced."

"There are several points in the report dealing with curbing the huge volumes of fresh water used during the processing of tar-like bitumen, but the report has no clear goals or targets. 'Maximize water conservation, efficiency and productivity in the mineable oilsands sector to the lowest water use achievable,' it says. 'Identify the amount of fresh water and saline groundwater available in the oilsands regions to ensure water supplies are managed sustainably.'"

"The report says Alberta should require 'reclamation of tailings to occur at the same rate or faster than production of new tailings on a regional basis'."

February 12, 2009

Maude Barlow has just finished her plenary session speech on 'the vision and expectations of peoples' at the 'Peace with Water' conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

This international conference was organized by the World Political Forum, in collaboration with European Parliamentary Groups and the European Research Institute on Water Policy.

Maude endorsed their proposed Memorandum for a World Water Protocol, which they want included in the international negotiations of the treaty that is to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change in 2013.

European Water News reports that, "The protocol will focus on conflict prevention, the promotion of the right to water for all, and the safeguard of the global water heritage for future generations."

Maude told the hundreds of parliamentarians, locally elected officials, administrators, academics, and government, union, and civil society representatives there that:

- water is a human right and that she is working with the President of the United Nations to create a protocol on the right to water;

February 11, 2009

CBC reports today that, "A sharp fall in exports in December pushed Canada to its first monthly trade deficit since March 1976, Statistics Canada said Wednesday. The overall trade deficit for December was $458 million. In November, the trade surplus was $1.2 billion...The move into a deficit position was a big shock to economists, who had been forecasting a trade surplus for December of about $500 million."

"A trade deficit occurs when a country imports more goods than it exports."

"Canada's trade surplus with the economically battered United States, the country's top trading partner, fell to its lowest level since December 1998. The surplus with the U.S. retreated to $3.8 billion in December from $4.6 billion in November. Exports to the United States dropped 10 per cent in December to $25.9 billion, while imports from the U.S. fell by 8.4 per cent."

"One economist suggested Canadians may have to get used to trade deficits for a while."