February 14, 2009

The G7 finance ministers are meeting in Rome today. The G7 is comprised of the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Britain, Japan and Canada.

Eric Reguly writes in today's Globe and Mail that, "A draft declaration circulating last night said the G7 countries will commit to avoid protectionist measures...The final declaration is to be released this afternoon in Rome, at the end of the two-day conference."

But despite the G7 opposition to protectionism, "President Nicolas Sarkozy last week agreed to give Renault SA and PSA Peugeot Citroën, France's two biggest auto makers, €3-billion ($4.76-billion) each in preferential loans on the condition they don't close French car plants or fire their workers. The offer came shortly after he urged Peugeot Citroën to close factories in Slovakia and the Czech Republic to spare jobs at home, infuriating the leaders of the two small, struggling countries."

"Italy has also linked aid to certain industries to domestic job retention."

February 13, 2009

IPS reports today that, "Rarely a week goes by without a problem of water scarcity hitting the headlines. The acute droughts in Kenya, Argentina and the U.S. state of California are among the latest phenomena to illustrate that the global environment has been dangerously degraded."

"Participants in the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, heard that the planet could be destined towards 'water bankruptcy'."

"It might surprise many to learn, then, that water issues are not directly included in the Kyoto protocol, the main international agreement on tackling climate change. Ensuring that this omission is not replicated in a follow-up accord scheduled to be finalised at talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, near the end of 2009, was one of the main topics addressed at a conference in Brussels Feb. 12 and 13."

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'."