Environment & Energy Bulletin
Each issue of the Bulletin features an in-depth look at a current topic affecting the energy industry or environmental policy and regulation.
Understanding the Implications of the Contaminated Sites Regulation Updates
In November 2017, the BC Ministry of Environment is set to update the Contaminated Sites Regulation. This is the most significant change to the CSR since its inception in April 1997.
The Expanding Role of Renewables in the Global Electricity Market
This edition of the Environment & Energy Bulletin examines the current global and national state of renewables in electricity markets and highlights BC's advantage, and opportunities, stemming from our 98% renewable electricity grid.
The Risks of Needing and Wanting 'Stuff'
People are afraid of the unknown but today’s risks are no more severe than those in the past.
Book Review: Power Density, A Key To Understanding Energy Sources and Uses
Power density—expressed in a form that accounts for the spatial requirements of energy extraction, conversion, and use—is critical to understanding paths forward for energy transitions
An Updated Look at British Columbia's Parks, Protected Areas and Conservation Efforts
Conservation of land and marine areas is an important part of recognizing natural, ecological, and/or cultural values of biodiversity. British Columbia is a world leader in this regard.
Air Quality - Where Are We Now? Where Are We Going?
Canada and British Columbia air quality has improved remarkably since the 1970s and has continued to improve from 2000 to today. There has been a steep decline in the quantities of pollutants including particulate matter, ground level ozone, nitrogen oxides, and sulphur dioxides. As a result, we compare favourably with the United States and most other OECD countries.
A New Marine Regulatory Regime on BC’s North and Central Coast?
This issue of the Environment and Energy Bulletin reviews recent and prospective developments on the north and central coast, and considers some implications for the flow of goods and resources that underpin the regional and provincial economy. It also sets out a few key principles that we believe should underpin a stable coastal regulatory regime that supports sustainable economic growth.
An Overview of Canada’s Environmental Assessment Regime
As the Liberal government takes up the reins in Ottawa, it has signalled a shift in its approach to energy, environment and natural resource development, particularly in the context of resetting relations with Aboriginal peoples. As it sets out to review Canada’s EA processes, several key principles should be top of mind:
- The integrity of the regulatory process and institutions are best maintained when they are at arms-length from the political realm.
- A core purpose of a regulatory body is to evaluate technical matters in an impartial way, free from undue political or stakeholder influence.
- Regulatory reviews that set (and adhere to) timelines promote certainty for proponents and contribute to a favourable setting for investors.
Carbon Pricing, Fusion Style – Policy Issues to Consider When Carbon Taxes Meet Cap-and-Trade
While there appears to be a growing consensus on the need to price carbon, there is no consensus on the most effective means of doing so – either via taxes or trading schemes.
Some Reflections on the Global Energy Transition
Is the world in the midst of a rapidly accelerating migration away from fossil fuels, toward a much greater reliance on carbon-free sources of energy? If one takes seriously the speeches of Environment Ministers or the content found on the web sites of many well-known environmental advocacy organizations, the temptation is to answer “yes.” The reality, however, is more complex.
In this edition of Environment and Energy Bulletin, Jock Finlayson analyzes the recent projections of three well-respected sources - the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) and British Petroleum (BP). He concludes that for the world as a whole, there is certainly evidence of an incremental move away from fossil fuels as a primary energy source, in favour of low/no-carbon forms of energy. However, looking out over the next two decades, the trend-lines point to a real, but far from revolutionary, energy transition, one that is unlikely to entail an absolute reduction in the quantity of fossil fuels produced and consumed globally by 2035 or 2040.
Rethinking Social Licence to Operate -- A Concept in Search of Definition and Boundaries
This edition of Environment and Energy Bulletin, guest authored by David Bursey, a partner with Bennett Jones LLP, examines the evolution of Social Licence to Operate (SLO) in the approval of resource development projects and its recent rise in popular use. It then considers how the concept relates to political governance and law. Finally, it assesses the implications of how SLO is being applied – for good and for bad, but most often without a proper context..
Risk: Perception, Reality and the Policy Process
Risk is a socially constructed, complex concept that humans have developed to deal with the fear of unknown events that may happen in their lives.
Getting a Handle on the Environmental Goods and Services Industry
Previous editions of the Environment and Energy Bulletin were concerned with the criteria and tools that can shed light on how green jobs and other environment-related activities contribute to the economy. This paper is another piece in the exploration of that topic. Here, we adopt a somewhat narrower focus by looking at “the environmental goods and services producing sector” of the economy.
Compliance and Enforcement
What exactly is compliance and enforcement (C&E)? One might think there is an easy answer. But despite the myriad of organizations with C&E policies and staff dedicated to this type of work in a broad range of areas such as taxation, crime, workplace health and safety, and the environment, it is challenging to identify an accessible literature on the theory, evolution and practice of C&E.
The LNG Opportunity in BC: Separating Rhetoric from Reality -- Part II
In Part I of this two-part series, we reviewed the main economic critiques of LNG development in British Columbia, concluding that while there are risks and economic uncertainties with respect to LNG in the province, the critics are largely off base with their professed economic concerns. Here in Part II, we address the more analytically challenging environmental issues that have been identified by various commentators who doubt the benefits of LNG.
The LNG Opportunity in BC: Separating Rhetoric from Reality -- Part I
At the same time as China and Russia signed a massive 30 year, $400 billion natural gas trade agreement, the BC government continued its push to establish an LNG industry with a (successful) global LNG conference in Vancouver. The May event came on the heels of Premier Clark’s fifth trip to Asia promoting, in part or full, LNG opportunities in the province.
The China-Russia agreement is emblematic of the changing energy supply landscape; it also speaks to the size of the potential opportunity for jurisdictions like BC considering the contract constitutes only 29% of China’s future import requirement.
Closer to home, critics continue to question whether BC can develop the LNG sector in a responsible and economically sensible manner that will deliver the benefit set expected by government.
In this two part Energy and Environment Bulletin, we assess the validity of arguments suggesting BC is making a mistake in seeking to advance LNG and that the province would be wiser to halt, slow down or significantly change its approach to LNG development.
Should We "Green" Gross Domestic Product?
What exactly is GDP, or gross domestic product? Where did it come from? Why is it important? Does it measure what we want it to? How might it be improved to provide a more comprehensive measure of human well-being?
A Look at Some Environmental Indicators
Environmental indicators can do several things, including informing us about the state and extent of changes in environmental conditions as a result of the effects of both human activity and natural events. Indicators can also show how effective the actions taken by society have been in avoiding/mitigating environmental impacts, and shed light on what’s been done to restore the capacity of the natural environment to provide the services and materials essential for life and well-being.
On the Road to Emissions Reductions:
Environment and Energy Bulletin on BC's Low Carbon Fuel Standard
This edition of our Environment and Energy Bulletin was written by guest author Selina Lee-Andersen, Counsel, Environmental and Aboriginal Law, McCarthy Tétrault LLP.
As a major contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the transportation sector has been identified by policy makers as a sector in which significant emission reductions can be achieved. One of the policy instruments designed to reduce GHG emissions is the low carbon fuel standard (LCFS), which is intended to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels measured on a life-cycle basis.
Transportation - The Way We Move Part II
This is part two of a two part Environment and Energy Bulletin that explores the topic of transportation. Part one focused on the context, statistics and some key issues that set the stage for part two, a high level discussion of policy options for managing transportation and related infrastructure issues going forward.