First — any expectation that ‘business as usual’ in the sense of rapid growth in production will return is ill-founded. Most importantly, this is because an effective global transition to low-carbon energy requires countries like Canada to stop investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure as well as to develop serious plans to phase out fossil fuel production that already exists. Combined with volatile fossil fuel prices, the very high per-barrel cost of production in the bitumen sands, and the heavy environmental impact there is no reason to expect a return to the rapid growth projections which were once do dominant in Canada.

Second — the fact that any political jurisdiction happens to own coal, oil, and gas doesn’t grant a right to exploit these resources regardless of the impact on others. Based on what we have learned about the harm caused by climate change, it’s ethically and politically imperative that the arbitrary use of the atmosphere as a dumping ground for carbon pollution comes to an end.

By all means we should be providing support to individuals and communities that want to transition away from the fossil fuel industry. What we need to collectively reject is the idea that any jurisdiction has the right to impose climate change on the rest of the world and future generations. People deserve support in transitioning away from fossil fuel dependence, but there is every reason for Canada as a whole to reject new fossil fuel export infrastructure, particularly bitumen sands pipelines and coal ports.

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Campaigns at universities especially can benefit from this document, prepared for the University of Toronto:

The Fossil Fuel Industry and the Case for Divestment: Update, by Toronto350.org

Contributors to original brief: Milan Ilnyckyj, Emily Barrette, Stuart Basden, Tim Berk, Tamara Brown- stone, Mie Inouye, Neal Lantela, Amy Luo, Monica Resendes, Jessica Vogt, Miriam Wilson, Cameron Woloshyn, and Jon Yazer

Contributors to update: Milan Ilnyckyj, Anne Ahrens-Embleton, Jacqueline Allain, Lila Asher, Jody Chan, Ben Donato-Woodger, Joanna Dowdell, Rosemary Frei, Graham Henry, Katie Krelove, Amanda Lewis, Ariel Martz-Oberlander, and Monica Resendes

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Disheartening news:

America’s gas boom has prompted its coal miners to seek new export markets, sending prices plunging on world markets. So long as consumers do not pay for coal’s horrible side-effects, that makes it irresistibly cheap. In Germany power from coal now costs half the price of watts from a gas-fired power station. It is a paradox that coal is booming in a country that in other respects is the greenest in Europe. Its production of power from cheap, dirty brown coal (lignite) is now at 162 billion kilowatt hours, the highest since the days of the decrepit East Germany.

Japan, too, is turning to coal in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. On April 11th the government approved a new energy plan entrenching its role as a long-term electricity source.

The article also notes how costly coal with carbon capture and storage is, with a $5.2 billion power plant in Mississippi costing nearly seven times as much as a gas plant with equivalent output.

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Working Group I of the IPCC has released a nine-minute video summarizing the science in the first part of the latest assessment report:

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Democracy Now! “Will 350.org Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign Be Key Tactic in 2013 Battle over Climate Change?”

January 3, 2013

Today, the radio program Democracy Now! featured Bill McKibben, talking about the 350.org divestment campaign. There is information about it on their website.

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Bad news on coal

November 25, 2012

BBC: Coal resurgence calls undermine clean energy commitments Related: The World Falls Back In Love With Coal

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Mark Jacobson’s bold plan for renewables

November 5, 2012

This is a talk given by Mark Jacobson from Stanford, entitled: “A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables” His slides are also available.

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Dauvergne on consumption

September 18, 2012

“On many measures, policies, actions, and technologies to shape consumption appear to be “improving” environmental management. But too often the measures are close-up snapshots that cut out a much bigger, more complex, global picture of crisis. One common set of measures zooms in on consumer use of a product. Here, it is easy to and […]

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Upcoming climate change fast

September 17, 2012

Possibly of interest: 2012 climate change fast

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Gardiner on our interests and obligations

September 5, 2012

“The dominant reason for acting on climate change is not that it would make us better off. It is that not acting involves taking advantage of the poor, the future, and nature. We can hope that refraining from such exploitation is good (or at least not too bad) for us, especially in terms of current […]

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