Jessica Wilson: Stephen Harper should show leadership or stay home from climate talks

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      Oh, Canada. For shame.

      While the rest of the world puts carbon cuts high on the political agenda in the lead up to the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, Canada is once again emerging as the worst house on a bad block. Our dinosaur of a prime minister is clinging blindly to the tar sands and risks being left in the dust of climate leaders with real vision.

      China’s stepping up to the plate. Japan is making headway. And just this week, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg announced emission targets that are music to the ears of environmentalists ’round the world: 40 percent cuts by 2020 (at 1990 levels)—conditional on a strong outcome in Copenhagen—and 30 percent unconditional.

      Some are speculating that this will mean that Statoil, Norway’s state-owned oil company, will have to withdraw its controversial investments from the dirtiest of oil projects, the Alberta tar sands.

      And the timing couldn’t be better.

      With only 60 days left until the most important climate negotiations of our time, Greenpeace has been amping up its campaign to stop the tar sands by shining an international spotlight on one of the worst climate crimes of this generation.

      A series of dramatic direct actions in open-pit mines, at upgraders, and on bitumen conveyer belts has succeeded in interrupting tar-sands production and exposing Canada’s dirty secret to international eyes who expect real climate vision from us Canucks.

      The message from these actions is clear: that a strong, binding global climate pact at Copenhagen means shutting down the tar sands, Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse-gas emissions.

      The tar sands are the largest industrial project on the planet. The most capital-intensive. The most destructive. And it’s not just Canada’s problem anymore. Oh, it’s still Canada’s shame. But the jig is up. Our dirty, oily laundry is out there for the world to see.

      For too long, the tar sands have been quietly killing our home on Native land. Poisoning entire communities downstream from the toxic operations. Polluting our air. Destroying the boreal forest and releasing massive quantities of carbon in the process. Contaminating the Athabasca River, one of the most important water systems in North America, to the tune of 11 million litres of noxious waste every day.

      These horrific numbers have been downplayed by provincial and federal governments more concerned with being mouthpieces for industry than with protecting their citizens.

      But the silence is being lifted.

      Over the past three weeks, Greenpeace activists from Germany, France, the U.K., Australia, Brazil, Sweden, the U.S., and Belgium have joined Canadians to take serious action in Fort McMurray and Fort Saskatchewan, the heart of the worst climate crimes in Canada and some of the most devastating in the world.

      These activists came great distances to stand up to Big Oil in this country, even when—and especially because—our own leaders won’t. Because they know what Stephen “what climate crisis?” Harper refuses to admit: that the tar sands can never fit into the sustainable energy future that our planet so desperately needs.

      Solutions to the climate crisis exist now. Greenpeace has been saying this for years, and with leading engineers, has produced an Energy (R)evolution report that outlines a number of viable scenarios that would see the world wean itself off of dirty oil and transition seamlessly to clean energy. What we’re lacking is the political will, the vision, and the leadership that will catapult us out of dirty, destructive, and dangerous projects like the tar sands, and toward the clean-energy economy of the future.

      Sustainable energy and a world in which we can all live and breathe is the direction we’re heading in. The question remains, will Canada march proudly toward that future as a leader? Or will we be dragged, kicking and screaming, by other governments who have the courage to lead?

      This December, we’ll find out. Greenpeace is calling on world leaders to stand up and fight for the planet. Harper, if you can’t be that leader, then we implore you, stay home.

      Or, better yet, go to Tim Hortons for a donut.

      Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

      Jessica Wilson is a media and public relations officer for Greenpeace Canada.



      Greenpeace is worse than Harpo

      Oct 9, 2009 at 9:48pm

      While for various reasons, Harpo actually likes global warming and does his best to make sure it continues, these fools in "Green" parties and Greenpeace with their pathological fixation on so called "renewables" will make sure nothing is done about Global warming or peak oil until billions are dead and civilization is shattered.

      The report claims a path to fossil fuel independance by 2050. Current research shows, we may only have ten years to the civilization destroying climate peak oil crisis. We need to move much faster.

      Hydro is out at $13000 and $45000 a gigawatt baseload equiv for BCHydro's Site C and river run and wind power in a Hydro rich province that needs 15 gigawatts to eliminate its GHG's.

      Canadian Hydro has a Lake Ontario wind build costing an astounding $30000 a kw baseload equiv. Ontario also must build a $1 billion dollar low efficiency GHG spewing gas plant to balance wind loads. Wind uses 60 times the concrete and steel of a nuclear plant, 400 sq miles of land instead of a few acres, and kills millions of bats and birds.

      Mass large scale gigawatt level geothermal energy requires drilling deep into the earth injecting water and pumping supercritical steam to the surface driving generators but also causing fracturing and earthquakes. BCHydro has a list of only only 8 sites that may eventually produce some geothermal power, this in an area with lots of volcanoes. They tried one of them and the costs were enormous.

      First Solar has a two gigawatt facility destroying forever 26 sq miles of Chinese desert costing $14000 a kilowatt with minimal storage.

      The figures for nuclear in the Greenpeace document comes from studies on old one at a time builds of generation 2 reactors and have been superceded by modern factory produced reactors. China bought 4 nukes from Westinghouse now under construction at $1100 a kilowatt - without armies of attorneys and years of regulatory hurdles while Areva's quoted Ontario $2400 a kilowatt not mass produced, and including armies of attorneys and regulatory officialdom.

      Once again these are onesey and twosey builds. Westinghouse on its web site claims $1000 a kilowatt for mass produced, one time nationwide NRC and environmental approval.

      The Nuclear waste and fuel issue problem is blown well out of proportion by propaganda from Big Oil/Coal and now Greenpeace. All of it can be reused as reprocessed fuel in Gen 3.5 nukes,or as fuel in generation four nukes. With modern efficient generation 3.5 reactors able to use reprocessed and thorium fuels, a huge eighty year current supply of natural uranium, thorium fuel five times as abundant as uranium. and orders of magnitude more efficient fast breeder reactors like Sandia and Toshiba new designs there is sufficient nuclear fission fuel to last hundreds of years.

      India has already committed to 450 gigawatts and China to120 of nukes. The US Senate GOP is holding out for a miniscule 100 gigawatts in the climate bill, but its a start.

      Canada could "green" up the Tar Sands quite a bit by using 12 gigawatts of nuclear steam instead of natural gas. Would be a great start to the 150 gigawatts needed for GHG free Canadian nuclear energy market.

      The freed up natural gas would be used to fuel Canadian vehicles inexpensively following Utah's example. The entire cost of a nuclear conversion would be covered by ending Canada's use of crude oil as transportation fuel

      Canada and Greenpeace need to stop being a millstone dragging down China and India's leadership in global warming efforts. A mass conversion to mass produced nuclear will save our asses. Nothing else will. Unfortunately for Big Oil, the nukes will put them out of business - and they make ten's of trillions of dollars annually. They fight back dumping millions of dollars into astroturf organizations like Greenpeace. Big Oil loves wind and solar - they know none of it will make a dint in their profits.

      Eric Chris

      Oct 10, 2009 at 3:07pm

      Dear “Greenpeace is worse than Harpo”, the only fool is you. I’m a chemical engineer who has worked on nuclear facilities, and if anything the problem of nuclear waste is underestimated. The cheapness of nuclear energy is an illusion because the cost of disposing of the nuclear waste for millions of years is never factored into any economics used to justify nuclear energy.

      We are over-populating the world and are having an unsustainable impact on it. India and China by building more nuclear reactors are just exasperating the already bad situation because even uranium is a finite element and these counties are allowing their populations to grow further by building more nuclear reactors. We are like bacteria doubling in a test tube.

      When the test tube reaches half full, it still looks like everything is alright and then suddenly the test tube overfills. When the test tube overfills, million or billions of us will die unless we live within our means now and start to reduce our energy demand which is correlated to population.


      Oct 10, 2009 at 5:28pm

      Well Eric apparently you disagree with my statements on the Generation 4 fast reactors using several orders of magnitude less fuel than previous generations and that these reactors burn old gen nuclear waste as fuel leaving small amounts of short half life materials. Surely a self proclaimed "chemical" engineer could come up with better arguments than you have so far.

      Green types really need to get away from the sunbeams and warm fuzzy bunny stuff at Greenpeace and read the latest tomes from two of the world's most renowned environmentalist's Steward "Whole Earth Catalog" Brand's new book Whole Earth Discipline or James "Gaia" Lovelock' s The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning. Both believe nuclear power is the only answer to global waming.


      Oct 10, 2009 at 11:53pm

      Encyclopedias like you are a dime a dozen seth:

      "Generation IV reactors (Gen IV) are a set of "theoretical" nuclear reactor designs currently being researched. Most of these designs are generally not expected to be available for commercial construction before 2030 ... "


      Oct 11, 2009 at 7:59am

      Thank you Judy for showing more about how little information it takes to convince a greenie. Anybody who uses wikipedia as a sole info source is excellent material for a used car salesman - a good analogy to Greenpeace.

      Google Galena AK and Westinghouse and find a firm proposal for a small Sodium moderated fast breeder which could use thorium fuel for 2012 or Sandia and "right sized" for a Gen IV reactor designed and ready to be built.

      Check out the Shippingport fast breeder which worked for 5 years without a hitch on thorium fuel in the the 1980's. It was shut down by corrupt politicians bought out by BigOil/ Big Coal interests.

      Google fast breeder reactors and you'll find Russian, China and India have operating reactors and are in the process of building more for operation within the two to 5 years.

      In fact India's 450 gigawatt nuke program, the one that makes them the only country in the world doing anything substantial about global warming, uses the Indian generation 4 reactor as part if its reactor mix.

      Because of the influence of Greenpeace type astroturfer's financed by Big Oil, there has been very little money available for nuclear power research even though workable Gen IV reactor designs exist. One ten year old ready to go design sits on the shelf at Idaho National Laboratories put there by Bill "No Nukes" Clinton himself.

      Now that Germany has given the Greenies the boot, nuclear is staying in place there. Their wind/solar program is in shambles because it just doesn't work and a bunch of new Greenie sponsored dirty coal projects are ready to be fired up. This despite paying feed in tariffs at 20 times the cost of new mass produced nuclear for wind power and 60 times for solar.


      Oct 29, 2009 at 11:27am

      Think you got 'er with that one seth. Stay down Judy. Thanks for the link visigoth, interesting who is the mouthpiece for the slicks in Greenpeace.

      Just Sign It!

      Nov 18, 2009 at 5:37pm

      I am no expert on alternate energy...sounds to me like Canada has been quiet on this Copenhagen Treaty...It would be nice to see our minority government to actually promote a position that they could take to the conference and showcase us as a responsible nation to the world, is a shame...thanks to Ms. Wilson for her informative article, some things are more valuable then profits gain from hurting our enviroment.

      IS IT JUST ME ...

      Nov 25, 2009 at 10:48pm

      or is this writer likely responsible for some of the global warming...?


      Dec 5, 2009 at 4:52pm

      There is no doubt that it would be a more productive conference if Harper was not present.