Climate Action Muskoka

Zombie Fires and Smouldering Desire

February 25, 2024 – Chris Hatch – Zero Carbon Newsletter

The fire map for Western Canada is shocking — the orange dots are the hibernating zombies, only the fires coded in red are considered “out of control.” But I’m sure many of you will have the same reaction I did: “It’s only freaking February!”

This weird winter has other Canadians anxious as well. “As Ontario’s vast forests become more volatile, its wildfire program grows increasingly fragile due to a series of crises the government has been ignoring for years,” says Noah Freedman, a forest fire crew leader and vice-president of OPSEU Local 703.

The fires of public opinion might be smouldering like the zombie fires seething underground, according to some tantalizing new research. What if I told you that 89 per cent of people around the world think their government should do more to fight global warming? Skeptical? I certainly was. But…

Read the whole story

On Highway Emissions, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Feb 18, 2024 – Mitchell Beer – the Energy Mix

Canada’s environment minister stepped into an essential conversation on traffic, congestion, climate pollution, and highway funding. He got political theatre and sacrificial sound bites in return.

That’s the harsh reality that Environment and Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault slammed up against on Monday when he had the temerity to utter a set of basic, provable facts.

  • That electrifying car travel is one tool in the toolbox but not a one-stop solution to get transportation emissions under control.
  • That highway expansions only fuel more traffic, congestion, and climate pollution, ultimately producing demands for the next new road or extra lane.
  • And that local urban planning is “hyper important” to the national effort to get energy and emissions under control.

The reaction was as fast, furious, and fact-free as you would expect.

More here

No fuel? No worries! Remote Australian roadhouse runs out of gas but still charging EVs

EV charging in Australia

January 23, 2024 – Australia

“Fun fact: it is now easier to charge your electric car on some sections of the Eyre Highway than it is to put petrol in your ICE car 😁”  posted Jeff Wilson along with images showing the empty fuel pump and EV charging nearby.

Mundrabilla Roadhouse is smack bang in the middle of the two most isolated cities in Australia, located 1,333 km west of Adelaide and 1,362 km east of Perth.

The Kids Are Alright!


January, 2024 – EcoJustice

ONTARIO YOUTH CLIMATE LAWSUIT GOES TO COURT Monday, Jan. 15 and Tuesday, Jan. 16  

Meet the youth here. #GenClimateAction 

Follow their story so far

This gas utility will heat customers’ home without gas

Eversource is set to switch on decarbonized heating and cooling using underground pipes that exploit geothermal heat.

February 9, 2024 – CBC What On Earth

To meet net-zero emissions goals, many jurisdictions are starting to ban fossil fuel heating.

That’s a big challenge for gas utilities, which is why some have responded by fighting the bans, both in Canada and the U.S.

But a few are trying to evolve and transition into a new business that takes advantage of some of their existing skills and expertise — namely, geothermal (also known as geoexchange) heating and cooling networks, a form of district heating.

This spring, Massachusetts-based Eversource is set to switch on decarbonized heating and cooling for 140 customers in 37 buildings in Framingham, Mass., including a low-to-moderate income apartment complex, single-family homes, a fire station and a school building.

Read more here

Meanwhile in Ontario

Ontario sides with Enbridge Gas in fight to connect new homes to natural gas

January 25, 2024 – Fatima Syed – the Narwhal
Saying fossil fuel use will decline, the Ontario Energy Board told Enbridge Gas to charge developers, not homeowners, for new natural gas hookups. Energy Minister Todd Smith vowed to reverse the decision.

Climate Groups Decry Move to Override Climate Positive Ontario Energy Board Decision

January 25, 2024 – CAM
16 Climate groups, including Climate Action Muskoka, have responded to this threat to arbitrarily overturn a win-win-win situation for new homebuyers, for existing gas customers, and for reducing carbon pollution.

Enbridge Gas Caught Lying About its Home Heating Costs and Impacts

January 10, 2024 – Enviromental Defence –
In an attempt to expand its “natural” gas infrastructure across Ontario, Enbridge Gas is telling residents that gas is the cheapest way to heat their homes. It’s not. 
As of January 10, 2024, the Competition Bureau has seen merit in our complaint and launched an investigation into Enbridge Gas’ marketing campaign

Community Carbon Challenge

I will, repair my broken stuff.  Fact96% of independent repair shops surveyed turn customers away because of manufacturers’ repair restrictions. Access to parts, tools, and repair information should be fair and affordable.more

Canada needs right to repair legislation. It will keep stuff out of landfills, reduce the need for new raw materials, save consumers money, and create jobs. 

Greenwashing Big Oil and Gas: Report

Pinocchio with text The Fossil Fuel Deception Playbook.

Dec 7, 2023 – A new report by Greenpeace Canada and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment exposes widespread greenwashing practices fossil fuel companies use to maintain social license and avoid accountability for the harms they cause.

“Greenwashing big oil & gas: the fossil fuel deception playbook” breaks down the sophisticated greenwashing tactics that fossil fuel companies use to mislead the public into believing they are acting responsibly. The report also highlights global efforts to combat greenwashing, offering insights into what other jurisdictions are doing to stem misinformation. 

Read story | Full Report (PDF)

New Report: Clean Energy Cuts Costs — A lot!

Diagram with houses showing relative costs of fossil fuel vs clean energy.

Sept 27, 2023 – “A family living in a house in a Toronto suburb that adopts a few common clean energy solutions—including EVs and heat pumps—could knock $800 off their monthly energy bills compared to one that is largely reliant on fossil fuels, according to a new report, A Clean Bill. A condo owner who is able to make similar changes could save $450 a month.” Clean Energy Review. Learn more.

“Natural” gas or methane: which would you choose?
Actor Rick Roberts of Artists for Real Climate Action asked some passers by what type of stove they prefer to cook with: natural gas or methane? It’s a trick question – but the reason why may surprise you. – watch the video

FYIFossil gas, aka natural gas is primarily methane. In addition, various amounts of higher alkanes and low levels of trace gases like carbon dioxide,  nitrogenhydrogen sulfide, and helium are present.

Read more about Gas Expansion projects in Ontario

Warning: This is not the good news department

Good news can be found here

Ford’s Christmas gift to Enbridge Gas

Ford's gift to Enbridge

January 18, 2024

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has seen the future and that future does not include subsidizing the expansion of fossil gas service to new residential developments. The OEB ended that subsidy, finding that this would lower energy bills for new homebuyers and for existing gas customers.

But for a provincial government that still has its head buried in the sand when it comes to climate change, the OEB’s decision to end generous subsidies that generate big profits for Enbridge Gas was not acceptable. The Ford government quickly moved – just days before Christmas – to protect its fossil fuel industry friends by stating that it will pass legislation to reverse the board’s decision – an extraordinary step without precedent in Ontario.

Banking on Climate Chaos Report: RBC is #1

Illustration of stormy ocean with bank and oil rig, text reads; Banking on Climate Chaos Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2023.

The 14th annual Banking on Climate Chaos fossil fuel finance report is out, and unfortunately, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) ramped up its game to become the #1 funder of fossil fuels in the world.

Last year RBC showered fossil fuel projects to the tune of $41 billion dollars, including $4.8 billion for tar sands and $7.4 billion into fracking. Canadian banks are among the world’s largest investors in the growth of the oil and gas industry and are becoming the banks of last resort for fossil fuels, providing $862 billion to fossil fuel companies since the Paris Agreement.

Canada must regulate banks at home, stop fossil fuel investments, and mandate investment in local, green projects. RBCs is poisoning all of our futures. We need to be out on the streets delivering this message.

Banking on Climate Chaos: Rainforest Action Network

Planet Wreckers: How 20 Countries’ Oil and Gas Extraction Plans Risk Locking in Climate Chaos

SEPTEMBER 12, 2023 – Published by Oil Change International

Only 20 countries, led overwhelmingly by the United States, are responsible for nearly 90 percent of the carbon-dioxide (CO2) pollution threatened by new oil and gas fields and fracking wells planned between 2023 and 2050. If this oil and gas expansion is allowed to proceed, it would lock in climate chaos and an unlivable future.

Five global north countries with the greatest economic means to rapidly phase out production are responsible for a majority (51 percent) of planned expansion from new oil and gas fields through 2050: the United States, Canada, Australia, Norway, and the United Kingdom. 

Download the report
Download country specific factsheets: USCanadaAustraliaNorwayUK

Read the press release

Ontario town offered $4.8M to accept new gas plant
November 16th 2023 – Napanee is already home to Ontario’s largest gas-fired electricity plant and the province wants it expanded. A series of other municipalities have rejected new gas generation recently. Now the Crown corporation, Ontario Power Generation, is dangling a $4.8-million “community benefit agreement” to persuade Napanee’s council to break the trend.
“It is totally inappropriate for OPG to be offering this payment. Offering payment in exchange for a licence to pollute is unacceptable,” said Keith Brooks, programs director at Environmental Defence.

Gas Carries the Same Climate Clout as Coal, Study Shows, as Ontario Plans New Gas Plants – July 18, 2023 – Energy Mix – Even if a natural gas system leaks as little as 0.2% of the product into the atmosphere, “it’s as bad as coal,” Deborah Brown, lead author of the new study 

For the third time this week, Earth sets an unofficial heat record. – July 7, 2023 – AP.
– July 3:  17.01 Celsius Earth’s highest ever average global temperature.
– July 4:  17.18 Celsius,
– July 5:  17.18 Celsius, .
– July 6:  17.23 Celsius, Global temperatures reached a new high. Scientists say the daily drumbeat of records — official or not — is a symptom of a larger problem where the precise digits aren’t as important as what’s causing them.

Temperatures soared 10°C to 16°C above average in the Northwest Territories and the northern Prairies provinces. – May 15, 2023 – Western and northern Canada witnessed record-breaking temperatures over the weekend, as dozens of records were shattered. 

Governments Spent Record $1 Trillion Last Year Subsidizing Fossil Fuels
Feb 16, 2023 – Bloomberg –
Even as global governments raise their ambitions to cut fossil fuels in the future, they spent a record $1 trillion last year subsidizing energy

Exxon scientists in the 1970s accurately predicted climate change – Jan 12 2023 – NewScientist – Exxon scientists accurately predicted the pace and scale of climate change more than 40 years ago, according to a study that its authors say adds weight to claims the oil firm knew about and sought to downplay the risks posed by continued fossil fuel use.

This is the good news department

City of Regina buying up to 53 Nova Bus electric buses

Nova Bus 100% electric

Jan 31, 2024 – Electric Autonomy

“These will be the first battery-electric buses in Regina Transit’s fleet,” said Brad Bells, director of Transit and Fleet with the City of Regina, in a press statement. “The addition of these electric buses will support the City of Regina’s goal of becoming a 100 per cent renewable city by 2050.”

A gift from the sun: Métis Nation of Alberta solar farm could power 1,200 homes

Nov 27, 2023  – Stephanie Cram · CBC News 

The project will offset about 4,700 tonnes of CO2 from the environment

The Métis Nation of Alberta is setting the stage to become net zero with the launch of a solar farm north of Métis Crossing in Smoky Lake County.

It is one of a handful of solar projects on Indigenous lands in Alberta, including energy-harvesting developments at Lubicon Cree Nation, Fort McKay First Nation, Beaver Lake Cree Nation, and Louis Bull Tribe at Maskwacis.

Electrification is efficiency: The world will need less energy after the transition

Oct 23, 2023 – Hannah Ritchie
When we electrify our energy systems, a magical thing happens: large inefficiencies vanish. As the International Energy Agency puts it: “Electrification is efficiency”.

Lion Electric buses to power P.E.I. relief centres in emergencies

May 9, 2023

School buses in Prince Edward Island have an additional use beyond transporting students.

The government of P.E.I. is collaborating with Lion Electric on a pilot project to use the province’s 82 LionC electric school buses to provide electricity to emergency community disaster relief centres in the event of a power outage. – more

Halton Hills says no to a big new gas plant – Dec 12, 2023 – In a 9-2 decision, the Council acted in the best interests of residents and the planet rather than taking the $3.5 million in public money OPG had offered the Council to buy into its polluting plan.

More local councils move to ban new gas connections – Dec 11, 2023 – Sydney, Australia – Inner West and Lane Cove councils are the latest local governments to use planning powers to stop new buildings connecting to the gas network on health and economic grounds.

Portugal just ran on 100% renewables for six days in a row – Nov 16, 2023 – …As it turned out, those rainy, blustery days were just a warmup. Portugal produced more than enough renewable power to serve all its customers for six straight days, from October 31 to November 6.

It takes a village to build a nation’s energy efficiency and electrification program – Nov 15, 2023 – Switchedon -Ireland is developing one of the most sophisticated residential energy efficiency ecosystems in the world built on a foundation of pilots, trials, grants, mandatory efficiency standards, financing and one-stop-shops.

Powerful Example’: California Now Largest Economy to Back Fossil Fuel Nonproliferation Treaty – Sept 1, 2023 – Common Dreams – “We hope this move locks in real action on ending the era of fossil fuels in California, and spurs other regions, states, and countries to join forces in tackling the root cause of the climate crisis”

Hamilton Plant to Supply Recycled Steel for GM Cars – Aug 27, 2023 – the Energy Mix Through the agreement, steel produced for GM will include a minimum 70% recycled material

Amazon Deforestation Drops 34% in Lula’s First Six Months – July 18, 2023 – the Energy Mix
Full Story: The Associated Press – After four years of rising destruction in Brazil’s Amazon, deforestation dropped by 33.6% during the first six months of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s administration, according to government satellite data released earlier this month.

Young Climate Activists Take Montana to Court for Its Role in Global Warming – June 12, 2023 – Youth plaintiffs say warming temperatures are harming their health and threatening their futures as a closely-watched climate trial kicks in Montana.

Repsol Abandons Plan to Ship Canadian LNG to Europe
Mar 17, 2023 – Spanish oil and gas giant Repsol SA has dropped its plan to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe from a terminal in New Brunswick,

Purolator Pledges $1B to Electrify Last-Mile Delivery – Mar 14, 2023 – …with the purchase of more than 3,500 electric last-mile delivery vehicles and electrification of more than 60 terminals.

Forests flourish under community control, and NASA has the satellite imagery to show it.
Feb 10, 2023 – The Verge
NASA published a set of maps yesterday showing the incredible recovery Nepal’s forests