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Vol. 13, No. 4, May 12, 2008

Honoured Reader's Edition


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Around Earth Day the commercial world, including the media, goes crazy with green issues, green products, and green reports. Once Earth Day is out of the way for another year the green stuff is often put away for another year, providing at least some support for those who have been less than enthusiastic about the Earth Day concept, claiming instead that “every day should be Earth Day”.

The 2008 Earth Day brought something of an advance with the popular media spending less time and space on pop ideas like washing windows with vinegar. In place of the simplistic, GL found more in depth reporting of important issues and challenging, though necessary, solutions. Maybe the 38th Earth Day will turn out to have been the one that changed from simple suggestions to concepts for real societal change. In this issue we review some of the 2008 Earth Day messages from North American magazines. Our range of topics goes from plastic in the kitchen to car insurance as an environmental tool and some sensible ideas about spruce budworm from the Canadian Forest Service.

We merge from magazine content to a discussion of the lifecycle of paper books or e-books. Guest columnist Prof. Dan Golomb presents his views on Emission Quotas or Mandated Control Technologies for greenhouse gas emissions. In the US disputes between the federal and state governments over jurisdiction are known as preemption. Preemption can be an important issue for environmental jurisdiction - an upcoming court case over CAFÉ standards may set new rules. There are indications that preemption could become an issue in Canada as the federal government attempts to restrict the role of provinces in environmental regulation of industry and as provinces such as Ontario attempt to restrict the environmental regulatory role of municipalities - see our article in this issue on Ontario’s proposed cosmetic pesticide law. While the US jurisdictional framework is quite different we know that Canadian regulators will be watching the US litigation very closely.

This issue of GL also focusses attention on birds. A new Ontario atlas of breeding birds should be in the library of every gardener and landowner. Migratory birds are facing increasing threats, not only from Alberta’s tar ponds, but federal officials who have responsibility for tracking, monitoring and protecting migratory birds are no longer allowed to go to a conference to discuss the status of migratory birds. It seems ironic on two fronts: first, the birds can travel but the officials cannot, and second, just as we finally get around to cleaning up the Sydney Tar Ponds we allow the oil industry to start up a new set of tar ponds in Northern Alberta. Ironic, or just plain stupid?

Other articles in this issue include a book review, a review of the new Statistics Canada Human Activity and the Environment tome, the UNEP/ILO Green Jobs Initiative, a couple of upcoming events, and our Thirty Second Summary of lesser noticed but still important environmental news. All in all a jam-packed issue. Next issue we will conclude our two part overview on asbestos and continue to bring you all the environmental commentary that is fit to print!


That was one of the many compliments extended by the Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien at last week’s celebration of the life of Charles Caccia. Mr. Caccia, a forestry economist who became MP for the Toronto riding of Davenport, died on May 4th.

Charles Caccia was one of Canada’s most stalwart proponents of Sustainable Development. Though environment minister for only a year and a month at the end of the Trudeau government and through the John Turner government in 1983 and 1984, Charles used his 36 years of service as an MP to hammer away at everyone who would listen, and at many of those who wouldn’t, on the need for a more environmentally and socially responsible society. He was for more than 10 years (1994 - 2004) the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and he set up and ran from his office the Parliamentary Centre for Environmentally Sustainable Development.

The celebration of his life attracted the former Prime Minister, the current Leader of the Liberal Party, and more past and present Liberal MPs and Senators that have gathered together at anything other than a Liberal caucus meeting in a long time. Reflecting his outreach and effective consensus building style the event was attended by representatives of many of Canada’s environmental ngos, as well as by his friends and colleagues from the Institute of the Environment at the University of Ottawa which had become his home following his somewhat forced retirement, by Prime Minister Paul Martin, from the House of Commons in 2004.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada., delivered one of the many tributes to this outstanding man. Among the approximately 300 people who crammed into the small chapel of an Ottawa funeral home for the entirely secular celebration the only apparent absence was from the government side of the House of Commons, but then perhaps Charles, a dedicated Liberal, would not have wanted participation from a government for which he had little time.


A recent trip to Ottawa served as a reminder of the carbon-emitting waste that is inherent in our current competitive system. The two airlines that offer scheduled service between Toronto and Ottawa each had a flight leaving Toronto at around 8.00 am. The flight I was on was substantially less than half full. Observing the arrival of the other flight made it obvious that it too was much less than half full. If the two flights could have been combined into one, the emissions of one whole plane flying this route would have been eliminated.

Every day courier vans from Fedex, Purolator, DHL, UPS and more ply our roads carrying parcels and business mail. In GL's part of the world both newspapers and mail are delivered with vehicles. If one van delivered the mail, the newspapers, and all the courier packages the savings in greenhouse gas emissions would be quite significant.

Our competitive system has no effective mechanisms for reduction of waste caused by over-provision of goods and services. When we go to the store we expect that store to have the shirt we want in our size. To meet that expectation, manufacturers produce far more of most sized goods than are actually required and many will go to waste when sale of that particular range is discontinued.

The ideas stimulated by these observations are not just the idle musings of a potentially slightly eccentric editor. A recent conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics looked at Economic De-growth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity. The conference received more than 90 abstracts and 140 participants from almost 30 countries addressing the questions of:
GL will be reporting on some of the issues raised and solutions provided in a future issue.

One of the themes that arises in a discussion of de-growth, and GL would caution on use of that term and suggest instead less hard hitting terms such as alternative growth (cf. alternative energy) or sustainable growth, is the role of government. Many of those considering alternative economic models seem to consider that they are going to be brought to us by government. GL would suggest that the transitions needed to get us to a low carbon economy are more likely to come from the private sector rather than from government. The role of government might well be to remove obstacles, such as those in Canada's Competition Act that actually prohibit competing companies from discussing cooperation to reduce waste, but the actual strategies to reduce unnecessary carbon emitting activities are most likely to be designed and implemented by the private sector than by government. After all, it is the private sector that is causing a large part of our carbon emissions and therefore the private sector that is going to have to deal with reducing them.

Some years ago Levi Strauss tried a system of custom manufacturing in which the customer's measurements were sent to a North American factory at which the pants were assembled by machine to fit the customer. Delivery was promised within three weeks. Today at least one movie rental company burns the DVDs as they are requested, eliminating the waste of millions of disks that are burned and never rented. Book publishers are seriously considering instore on-demand printing of books, eliminating the huge numbers of unsold books that end up going to landfill or recycling because in a competitive system, it is otherwise virtually impossible to properly match supply and demand.

When flying within North America does it really matter to you whether you fly on a WestJet plane or an Air Canada plane? Would it really matter if, when you arrived at the airport, the agent advised you that there is a less than 50% load on this flight today and therefore the WJ and the AC flights are being combined into one? The private sector will move to alternative growth, or de-growth, strategies, and government will facilitate them, when society demands them. Think about de-growth next time you buy something. There's got to be a better way and, if we are to stop potentially catastrophic climate change, now is when we need to start implementing it.

Colin Isaacs, Editor



A wonderful Earth Week cover on The Phoenix New Times, an alternative conservative leaning news weekly from Arizona, featured a green hand giving a green finger. The caption reads Green Fatigue: Is anyone else sick and tired of eco-chic? and inside the article leads with "Welcome to Phoenix New Times first Green Issue! Not.

The issue actually includes a number of green articles and a whole list of "ecofacts". Among the observations are:
GL doesn’t agree with all the points of view but pointing a finger at inconsistencies and hypocrisy can be a very useful even though the inconsistencies do not negate the benefits of the overall direction. Once GL’s editor asked a professor of philosophy who was very attentive to eating vegetarian, even avoiding cheeses made with a small amount of animal-based rennet, why he wore leather shoes. He responded that inconsistency was part of the human condition. He grinned and refused to say more.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


The April edition of the German magazine OekoTest featured jeans on its cover. The green consumer magazine tests for key environmental impacts as well as good looks and performance. The text involved washing 18 pairs of jeans such as Levi's and Lee, even one which cost 199 Euros. Four of the jeans were judged to be very good, eleven good and three satisfactory. Two of the just satisfactory were organic cotton jeans downgraded not because of the organic cotton but because of the thread and other components.

The test found that none of the jeans contained detectable heavy metals, three contained haloorganics, optical brighteners and so on. Sometimes it was just the thread that had the contaminant. Various other features of the jeans such as fit, whether the dye bled on washing, shrinkage, style such as low-rise or straight leg are discussed.

Product of Where?

The article illustrates the issue of country of origin, a topic of interest here in Canada where the label Product of Canada is seen by some to mislead consumers. It is allowed as long as over 50% of the total value of processing and content is Canadian, leading to a situation where all of the ingredients or goods could be produced elsewhere. There is also the controversy of the clothing for the Canadian Olympic team to be produced for the Hudson’s Bay Company, clothing designed in Canada but made in China. A consortium of Canadian clothing manufacturers say HBC’s claim that Canada hasn’t the capacity to make the clothes is full of holes.

Many of the jeans in the ecotest are labelled as "Made in Turkey" while some are said to be from Italy and China. OekoTest says that tells the consumer nothing about where the jeans are sewn, where the material was woven, where the threads were dyed, or where the cotton was grown. For example, the cotton may be grown in India and sent to China where the spinning is done with Swiss machines. The Philippines may dye the material with chemical indigo from Germany and so on. The miles for clothing can be very long indeed with one estimate being 19,000 km travelled from raw material to finished jeans. And then after its use, the old jeans often take another world trip.

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Canadian Facility Management & Design magazine usually contains green topics as green building is among the fastest growing of environmental sectors. The April edition has a number such articles including the following.

Fluorescent Light Bulbs Recycling

While self-promotional, the article shows that something can be done with fluorescent lightbulbs. The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority operates a complex of facilities with an annual budget of $284 million. Recycling the thousands of fluorescent light bulbs had serious downsides: the cardboard boxes full of them used space for storage and occasionally would fall and break bulbs releasing mercury and presenting additional hazard with broken glass. The hauler refused to take broken bulbs. The trucking service was expensive. LVCVA now uses Air Cycle's Bulb Eater ® machines which are said to be compliant with the US Environmental Protection Agency regulation on disposal of fluorescent light bulbs. The system, fully enclosed and filtered so very little vapour is released, crushes the lamps and packs them into 55-gallon drums, which are sent by Air Cycle for recycling. The cost is about .30 cents per bulb.

GL spoke to Wally Kiczma of Hotz Environmental (Hamilton, Ontario) about CFLs in the fall of 2007. Hotz provides industrial and household hazardous waste services in Ontario, transporting to their permitted transfer facility. He was optimistic that the province would pass HHW regulations which would require hazardous waste handling of compact fluorescent bulbs. At the time Hotz was ready to set up a mobile unit to collect CFLs, pending permit approval. Ontario’s Environment Minister approved the Waste Diversion Ontario plan February 19, 2008 but fluorescent light bulbs and tubes are in Phase 2 for which no specific time frame is set.


Deana Ford has the Last Word in an article about a video she made as her major project in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto. Called What's all the "FLAP" about, the sale of the video supports Fatal Light Awareness Program FLAP. The video explores options for preventing the death of millions of migrating birds which often fly into the lighted windows of high rise buildings. As well as turning off the lights at night and moving plants away from windows during migrating seasons, other options include designing new buildings with less risk to birds.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Editor-in-Chief Anne Stockwell of US-based The Advocate wrote in the May issue, the first green issue, that finding green heros who are also gay wasn't as easy as she expected but those she found were finding solutions to the earth's problems in style.

Musician Rufus Wainwright wants to expand, at least in New York on the June 21st summer solstice, the idea of Earth Hour to twelve hours, noon to midnight, with the theme of doing nothing for a good cause. Danny Seo started his green advocacy group Earth 2000 when he was 12. Now he gives eco-advice to Hollywood celebrities, has written several guides, one on green parties, one on green giving, and is currently taping a new version of Red, Hot and Green, an environmental design show for HGTV. Like Martha Stewart, he is branding himself but as an eco-version household guru. Simmons mattresses are branded as Natural Care by Danny Seo and J C Penney which sells his Simply Green brand of organic cotton and bamboo blankets. He says he hasn't sold out, "I've always felt strongly about sustainability but, unlike a lot of activists, I also want to eat great food, wear cool clothes and be surrounded by beautiful things." When asked if green is the new pink, Seo replied, "I honestly don't think it is a gay-straight thing. What we're seeing is a total cultural shift. If you don't like it, you're still going to have to adapt to it. Eventually it becomes second nature to everybody.”

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The cover story of U.S. News April 25 edition suggested ways to cut power bills. A chart shows that in the US each person uses 340.5 million BTUs a year (Canadians use 436.2 and people in China use 51.4). Although any one electronic gadget may not use much energy, when multiplied by the number in each household, the energy use adds up. For example, the digital photo frame costs only $9 per year but according to the Electric Power Research Institute, if every household in the US had just one, it would require five medium-sized power plants to run them. The always-on converter for receiving satellite or cable uses about half the electricity of a new Energy Star refrigerator.

For business, the first goal should be to stop energy wastage. In the US, about 400 coal plants or 20% of the US electricity capacity could be supplied by electricity from the heat currently wasted in industrial and other processes. Recycled Energy Development (Westmont, Illinois) is working with West Virginia Alloys which produces silicon for solar photovoltaic systems to convert heat from the furnaces. Motors consume 65% of energy used by companies but are often inefficient running at top speed even when the job doesn't require it. ABB is manufacturing variable drive motors.

Although commercial buildings used one third of the US electricity, landlords often focus on front-view design such as aesthetics and lobbies rather than the energy efficiencies of the heating and air conditioning and ventilation systems which they charge back to the tenants who have no control over the infrastructure of the building. Some companies are entering into agreements with landlords to improve energy efficiency of buildings getting paid from the savings.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


In its 2008 Investment Issue, Corporate Knights, the well-known Canadian magazine featuring corporate social responsibility and sustainability, includes a list of the Carbon 50, the top 50 of the 315 large industrial facilities reporting greenhouse gas emissions. The top five 2006 GHG emitters by company (with number of facilities and totals rounded to nearest million tonnes ) is reported as:
1. Transalta Corporation (10) 27 million tonnes
2. Ontario Power Generation Inc. (6) 25
3. Imperial Oil Limited (11) 14
4. Saskatchewan Power Corporation (4) 13
5. CU Inc (4) 12

In previous issues, CK has also ranked on more positive features such as annual The best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada.

Under the intriguing title of How to replace coal, CK surveyed the leaders of eight large energy companies with three questions, including What green energy has the best prospect to displace dirty coal by supplying a significant portion of baseload power? The answers are fascinating, with one saying gasification of coal, two saying wind, three saying nuclear, three saying hydro, one saying deep geothermal, and one saying “we don’t know”. (Multiple answers were allowed.) CK does not draw any conclusions from this but GL wonders whether this very wide competition of ideas is a good thing or a bad thing for the Canadian economy and environment (see our Eliminating Waste in a Low Carbon Economy editorial in this issue!).

Back issues of CK are available on the CK web site.

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National Geographic launched a new quarterly called the Green Guide in March 2008. The magazine reaches well beyond NG’s normal nature and travel world and seems to be headed towards the genre of green consumer magazines, a genre that has been relatively poorly represented on North American store shelves since GREEN magazine died in the early 1990's. (GREEN magazine is not to be confused with The Green Magazine, which is a golfing magazine, or Green Magazine, which is for John Deere tractor enthusiasts, so named because John Deere tractors come in any colour the farmer might want as long as it is green.)

One of the articles in the NG Green Guide is about picking the best plastic for storing your food and drink. The Guide suggests two plastics to avoid, PVC and polystyrene, and lists polycarbonate as questionable due to potentially hormone-disrupting bisphenol A.

NG Green Guide urges consumers to avoid PVC, sometimes known as vinyl, SPI code 3, because some products leach hormone-disrupting chemicals into food and because it is not generally recyclable in post-consumer programs. Polystyrene, SPI code 6, is said to possibly leach styrene. PET, SPI code 1, is listed as safe but single use bottles should not be reused. Brand name items considered safe including baby bottles are listed but the buying guide warns, "Watch out for micro-safe containers: this only means that the plastic shouldn't melt in the microwave. They may emit contaminants while cooking."

While some other advisors have told consumers to avoid SPI Code 7, the Green Guide correctly reports that SPI code 7 is for “other and miscellaneous resins” and in addition to polycarbonate and other resins it is also used to identify PLA, a bioplastic generally considered safe but not recyclable as it must be composted.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


In an article titled "Oh, Buoy! Speak up for the Environment, Cottage Magazine invites the tens of thousands of recreational boaters who access British Columbia's 27,000 kilometre coastline to collect data on their observations of changes and condition of the marine ecosystem. Report forms have been posted for the Recreational Boater's Environmental Report Card.

To a certain extent, the project is a reaction against environmental complaints about coastal development and recreational boating. As the editors say, " Although numerous organizations already exist and are doing excellent work to help protect the environment, many are agenda-driven and, as such, are mandated to focus their efforts on specific areas of interest. With our efforts, on the other hand, the only goal is to provide real, verifiable and unbiased data from boaters who have a genuine interest in ensuring our relatively pristine marine waters remains that way for ourselves, our children and for future generations."

There are two forms. One is the general Comment which asks questions such as:
The Boater's report card includes questions on
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New York Times magazine produced a green issue for the first time this year. One of the articles highlighted how car insurance can be a mechanism to provide incentives for car owners to drive less. Under Pay As You Drive insurance, drivers would pay for insurance based on every mile driven. Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt are authors of Freakonomics and provide more detail in their online blog. One insurance company Progressive is experimenting with MyRate which includes a device installed in the car which measures not only how many miles driven but braking and acceleration to assess risk. It could mean low mileage drivers could receive lower cost insurance (although some in the insurance industry say that risks aren't directly related to higher number of miles driven). The risks for the insurance company are that the high mileage drivers will switch insurance companies. From an environmental point of view the idea is that if drivers understand that extra miles cost money, they will drive less reducing the environmental impact.

Whether or not that particular concept would succeed or have the desired effect is an interesting discussion but the idea links to how often seemingly non-environmental policy can affect the environment in either a positive or a negative way.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Maclean's April 28 issue includes an article on ten ideas that work (although quite a few are only in demo mode). Among them are:
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Publisher of ReNew Canada, Todd Latham writes in the Closing Shot of the March-April issue, "Toll and concession roads are the future." He predicts that municipalities face many pressures to move to private-public partnerships, both fiscal and environmental. "Sooner or later, something will have to be done to pay for new roads, alleviate congestion and incentivize people to move in less carbon-intensive ways. Building more and better transit systems is the way to start, but charging drivers for the use of roads (or at least major highways) should be part of the plan." He mentions a poll of the Canadian Automobile Association in which 2/3 of people oppose toll roads so politicians are reluctant but Latham says bring on true cost accounting and fee for service. He also thinks gas should be $2.00 a litre, a wish that may be filled sooner than expected.

Todd Latham has a more in-depth view of environment and sustainability than a regular journalist. Prior to founding ReNew Canada "The Infrastructure Renewal Magazine" in 2005 he was co-founder and editor of HazMat Management magazine and co-founder of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine. He is very active in the environment industry having, for example, served for many years on the Board of the Ontario Environment Industry Association and the Canadian Environmental Auditing Association.

GL always finds it somewhat amusing whenever this magazine arrives because its large format (9 ½" x13") doesn’t fit our “infrastructure” (filing box); we usually have to take it out of sequence to store flat on top after the box is filled but it’s well worth storing. The March-April issue had the theme Sustainability and the Environment: Taking the Long View. Particularly interesting articles included Green Cities and How Green Taxes and Market Instruments Can Cut Greenhouse Gases.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


The Spring 2008 issue of Forest Health & Diversity from the Canadian Forest Service discusses various studies on biodiversity of forests. When insect outbreaks such as spruce budworm (SBW) occur, researchers have tended to study the insect in isolation from its community, the ecosystem. SBW is indigenous to North America so adaptation has taken place. There is a whole living dynamic system that changes over time and geography in response to many factors including high and low abundance of SBW. Much as stocking a bird feeder attracts more birds, natural enemies such as parasitic wasps and flies, and predators as well as other plant-eating insects respond to the contribution that SBW makes to the food web. Some won't be present at all if it isn't worth their while, ie there aren't enough SBW while other species with more omnivorous tastes will stick around to feed lower down on the food chain until the number of SBW increases again.

Researchers at the Atlantic Forestry Centre have concluded that:
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Environmental Science and Technology writer Erika Engelhaupt bought an electronic book (e-book) reader for reading books, magazines and newspapers, said she felt "very eco-hip" but then was told that her reader would end up as a piece of toxic plastic junk in a developing country someday soon. Her article considers the different impact of choices of paper or e-book including landfill space, tree saving, and pollution from manufacturing/transport. She referenced a number of studies including a life cycle assessment done by Greg Kozak, now based in Chicago, four years ago for his master's thesis. Kozak concluded e-books won for environmentally friendliness despite their electricity use. A paper textbook created 4 times the greenhouse gas emissions, more ozone-depleting substances and chemicals causing acid rain, 3 times more raw materials and 78 times more water. The Amazon Kindler uses electronic ink display rather than LCD and is even lower in electricity use.

A Swedish study concluded that for toxicity, a web-based newspaper read for 30 minutes or more had the highest toxicity for humans and marine life, followed by a print newspaper and the least toxic was an e-book. For freshwater and land-based ecosystems, print newspapers were the most toxic.

In the end, Engelhaupt mused that she found it difficult to make a decision which trades off toxics vs trees; one needs a Ph.D to deal with complications and in the end, it may be a matter of ethics, "We decide whether inhaling the smell of a book is worth losing a tree and whether having a smaller carbon footprint is worth the risk of adding toxic waste to a far-flung land. No purchase is without consequence, although I'm feeling pretty good about having done my homework on this purchase, even if it was after the fact."

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Our guest columnist is Dan Golomb, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. For a number of years now, he and fellow researchers have proposed a method for mixing liquefied CO2 with pulverized limestone in water creating an emulsion which would be released into the ocean in order to sequester carbon. Environment groups such as Greenpeace oppose the idea because they feel that the only way to tackle climate change is to reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions at source. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change referenced Golomb's research in its IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage. Golomb’s method is one of a number of alternate methods of sequestering in the marine environment, some of which are even more controversial (see GL V12 N9, September 17, 2007 Effectiveness and Environmental Side Effects of Offsets: Iron Dump).

Golomb’s suggestion to apply performance standards for technology is not entirely new in the area of international agreements, e.g. specifications for double-hulled ships in maritime agreements or phase-out of CFCs in refrigerators once alternatives become available.

However, some in the developing world see proposals to apply industry standards as a way to get around the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change commitment to have “the polluter pay” as the excess greenhouse gases were emitted primarily by the industrial world from 1850-2000. When Shri Shyam Saran, Special Envoy of the Indian Prime Minister addressed the Confederation of India Industry CII on climate in April, he spoke of the proposals for a sectoral approach suggested by Japan, which along with the US and Australia is a member of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. This “Partnership” is commonly seen by Kyoto supporter as a cover for US President Bush to claim he is supportive of action on climate change despite his climate scepticism and withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol. The sectoral approach identifies high energy industrial sectors such as cement, construction and transport. Worldwide standards would be set to achieve lower carbon emissions for each sector. Saran said he didn't have any problems with the industrial countries setting such standards nor with these countries helping India with improving efficiency standards and exchanging best practices for technological upgrades to India's industries.

Saran dismisses the argument that companies will just move to India from the industrial world as irrelevant to the international agreement because he said the UN climate convention sets no such extraneous competitiveness conditions, "The UNFCCC was itself designed to address a grossly unlevel playing field, already stacked heavily against the developing countries. Now there is a barely disguised attempt to overturn this very basic equity principle through so-called sectoral approaches. ... There is a very real danger that in adopting sectoral standards among themselves, the developed countries would use the competitiveness argument to put up protectionist tariffs against products from developing countries. This must be resisted at all costs."

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.

by Dan Golomb

This essay is an expansion of a letter that was published in Environmental Science and Technology (Golomb, 2007). In the ES&T letter I proposed that instead of meeting some internationally agreed quotas on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reductions, alá Kyoto, there should be an international agreement stipulating that each country's government impose performance standards on GHG emitting source categories. In other words, major emitting source categories must implement internationally prescribed control technologies that each source category has to employ in order to minimize GHG emissions. By implementing these performance standards, each country will achieve GHG emission reductions to the maximum achievable level by the currently best available control technology, called BACT. There is a precedent in the USA for implementing BACT. New coal fired power plants were mandated in 1977 to implement BACT in order to prevent significant air quality deterioration in Federal national parks (USA Clean Air Act and its Amendments, Section 111). In practice, what this meant is that new power plants that are likely to impact the air quality in national parks had to install the best available control technology for reducing emissions of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. The selection of a particular BACT had to consider emission reduction efficacy as well as the cost of the technology. BACT can change from time to time as new technologies become available that are superior to the prevailing BACT. When enacted, BACT for SOx emission reduction was flue gas desulfurization (the "scrubber"); for NOx, the low-NOx-burner; for particulate matter, the electrostatic precipitator.

Unfortunately, for emission reduction of CO2, the principal anthropogenic GHG that causes global warming, there is no relatively simple add-on technology to new sources, let alone retrofit technology for existing sources, which can reduce the emissions of CO2. Take the example of coal fired power plants. At present, there are only three technologies that are thought to reduce CO2 emissions efficiently, but at a significant cost and energy penalty. They are as follows: (a) Integrated Coal Gasification Combined Cycle cum Carbon Capture and Sequestration, called IGCC-CCS. In such a power plant coal is gasified into CO and H2; the CO is further processed in a water gas shift reaction to yield CO2 and H2. The CO2 is separated, usually by physical absorption, and the H2 is used for power generation either in a gas turbine or in a fuel cell. The separated CO2 is liquefied under high pressure, and piped to a sequestration site such as a semi-depleted oil or gas reservoir, or a deep underground sedimentary saline formation. (b) Oxyfuel combustion. Here coal is combusted in almost pure oxygen (95+%) in a boiler. The flue gas consists almost entirely of CO2 and H2O; the water vapor is condensed, and the CO2 is liquefied and disposed as in (a). This method requires an air separation unit that separates oxygen from nitrogen. Because of the enormous quantities of oxygen required (a 1000 MW power plant would need approximately 20 000 tons per day of oxygen), this method is deemed to be even more expensive and energy intensive than IGCC-CCS. c) Chemical absorption. The flue gas of a conventional boiler passes through an absorption tower where a chemical absorbent, usually monoethanolamine (MEA) absorbs CO2 but not the rest of the flue gas. The absorbed CO2 is boiled off in a separate tower, liquefied and disposed as in (a).

The second largest source category for CO2 emissions is transportation: automobiles, trucks, locomotives, ships and airplanes. For transportation vehicles, no technology exists that can capture CO2 from the exhaust gases in any efficient and economic way. The only solution is to increase the fuel economy, that is, liters of fuel consumed per kilometer travel. There are several ways to achieve increased fuel mileage. For example, the internal combustion engine/electric motor hybrid, plug-in electric car, and foremostly, reduction in vehicle mass. Fuel consumption is directly proportional to vehicle mass. Propelling a vehicle from rest to cruising speed, and maintaining cruising speed is, primarily, dependent on the weight of the vehicle (Fay and Golomb, 2002). There are perfectly acceptable passenger vehicles that do not exceed 1000 kg in weight. They can achieve a fuel economy of 10-12 km/litre (62-74 mi/ga) with conventional engines, and even better with hybrid propulsion. Governments must simply mandate that no passenger vehicle be produced that weighs more than 1000 kg. Period. No fleet averaged gas mileage, so that some people can buy gas guzzlers, as long as there are others who buy gas sippers. No large SUVs, vans, pickup trucks, unless certified that they are for commercial use, not personal transportation.

The disadvantage of BACT is that it pertains only to new sources. Grandfathering of existing emitting sources must be strictly limited. Again, a government diktat is necessary. Existing sources must be phased out on an internationally agreed time scale. For example, if it is agreed that a reasonable life time of an existing coal fired power plant is 35 years, it must be scrapped on its 35th birthday, and a new power plant built with carbon capture and sequestration. Or, a utility can decide it is cheaper to replace the retired coal-fired plant with a nuclear-fueled power plant, wind farm, solar thermal, solar photoelectric, tidal, geothermal, wave, or any other plant that does not emit CO2. Old gas guzzling vehicles must be phased out over an agreed period (10 years?). Also, here a government intervention is necessary. Owners of the old vehicles receive a government financed voucher toward the purchase of a new gas saving vehicle.
Massive emission reduction of CO2 (and other GHGs) presents a paradigm shift in our urban-industrial civilization. It will require enormous expenses, technology development, economic and social dislocations, lifestyle and habit changes. Some economists believe that economic incentives, such as cap-and-trade, fee-to-pollute, carbon tax, gasoline tax, etc, will minimize the monetary and social costs of GHG emission reduction. Since we are paying for emission reduction anyway as tax payers, rate payers, or commodity buyers, I doubt that as individuals we shall save if emission reduction is accomplished through government fiat or through economic incentives. However, it appears to me that internationally agreed upon technology standards promulgated by each country's government are easier to implement, and are more efficient and equitable than, for example, putting an arbitrary tax on a ton of carbon emitted. With implementation of technology standards, including automobile fuel standards, it is easier to achieve a certain leveling-off of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere than by imposing arbitrary emission reduction quotas on individual countries that evidently not every country wants to accept. Uniform, world-wide technology standards are less likely to pit one country against the other, e.g. developed vs. under-developed. A new coal-fired power plant has to have carbon capture cum sequestration, no matter in what country it is built. A new personal automobile can weigh no more than 1000 kg, no matter where it is manufactured.

Dan Golomb. Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854, USA dan_golomb[] [replace brackets with at symbol]

Golomb D. New Source Performance Standards for Greenhouse Gases, Environmental Science and Technology, 15 October 2007.

Fay J., Golomb D. Energy and the Environment, Oxford U. Press, 2002.

            Forest Strategy Consultation

The Canadian Council of Forest Ministers are seeking public input about the draft Vision for Canada's Forests: 2008 and beyond. Input from stakeholders to May 16 2008. or

Canadian Forest Service. Forest Ministers release draft of Canada's next forest strategy.
            Andrew Benedek: Water Award

Congratulations to Andrew Benedek, founder of the Canadian company Zenon Environmental in 1980 making membrane drinking water technology. Zenon was eventually sold to GE (see GL V11 No. 7 June 6, 2006 GE Acquires Zenon). Both he and his company have received recognition and honours. Benedek was awarded the first Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize valued at $300,000 recognizing outstanding contributions in water management. In remote areas with no access to clean water, the low-pressure membrane technology can be used to produce drinking water from almost any source. The award will be given during the Singapore International Water Week in June.

Majid, Hasnit. Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Awarded to Dr. Andrew Benedek. March 18, 2008.

            New CESD

Auditor General Sheila Fraser has appointed Scott Vaughan as Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Vaughan is most recently from the Organization of the American States (OAS) and previously from the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Montreal. He has also held posts at the World Trade Organization and United Nations Environment Program.

Office of the Auditor General of Canada. Auditor General of Canada Names Scott Vaughan
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Ottawa, Ontario: May 7, 2008.


On April 24, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger along with 11 other governors sent a letter to President Bush expressing disappointment that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was proposing rules on Corporate Average Fuel Economy that would preempt states that are working on controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

Among other definitions, preemption is the authority of a higher level of government to enact (or to refuse to enact) legislation thereby restricting the ability of lower governments to legislate. Under the US Constitution, Congress has the power to enact statutes which replace those of local or state governments or prohibit those governments from making different statutes on the same issue. The power of Congress to preempt is limited and is sometimes but not always expressed directly in a federal statute. Some state authorities such as interstate agreements and taxes are not usually subject to preemption. The federal law may be a partial preemption in that the state law may be valid if it does not conflict with the federal one or if the state law applies to special conditions or need. The federal law may set a minimum standard only and the state may be free to set higher standards or the federal level may transfer responsibility to the state to enforce a law consistent with the federal one. Preemption has been in the US Courts a lot as states try to keep their power in areas traditionally regulated at the state level. It is a toss-up from corporate point of view whether federal preemption is good or bad but often it is seen to be weaker than some states such as California would enact and has the advantage that the same law applies across the country. It is also a toss-up whether preemption is good for the environment as sometimes the higher government sets a higher standard, sometimes a lower.

A US Senate Committee on the Judiciary heard testimony last fall on the preemption issue. Donna Stone, state representative from the state of Delaware and current President of the National Conference of State Legislatures spoke on what she called, "preemption crisis facing states." NCSL maintains a Preemption Monitor which concludes that "a large part of the policy jurisdiction of state legislatures and of city and county officials has been lost. States and localities cannot legislate in response to their citizens' needs when the federal government has preempted the policy field." Stone suggested that states can "try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." States are seen to be more sensitive to the needs of their citizens and more able to address problems identified by constituents. The chief objection to federal preemption is that often the rules are formulated by bureaucrats.

US Chamber of Commerce Favours Preemption

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce identified the benefits of federal preemption for the business community at the US Senate Committee. For example, recent preemptions have invalided laws which have previously allowed consumers to sue under state tort and product liability laws. Fewer lawsuits are good for business.

For business, the proliferation of jurisdictions (50 state governments, 87,500 local government units including 3,000 counties, 19,000 municipalities and 16,000 towns and townships means "complicated, overlapping and sometimes even conflicting legal regimes...with the potential to impose undue burdens on interstate commerce". A single set of uniform rules streamlines legal issues, reduces regulatory burden and creates a national marketplace with the potential to reduce costs for consumers. Federal level laws are made with better access to experts including scientific and technical advisors. Between 1789 and 1992, Congress enacted 439 significant preemption statutes with 53% of theses between 1969 and 1992. Preemption is especially important for products crossing jurisdictional boundaries where additional product labelling and design at the state level adds burdens. Examples of federal preemption statutes are on "recreational boats, automobiles, pesticides, cigarettes, medical devices, flammable fabrics, hazardous substances, and many other consumer products." GL notes that the presentation didn't say that the current US Administration tends to favour business at the expense of the environment so preemption trends that way too.

California Greenhouse-Gas Waiver Request

In 2005, the California Air Resources Board requested a waiver of federal preemption under the Clean Air Act for enforcement of motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards in the state. Eleven other states have adopted the same rules.

The US EPA gave notice that it would deny the waiver in December 2007. California had been granted previous waivers but the EPA commented that these were for air pollutants affecting local and regional air quality. Greenhouse gases are a national and global issue. The President signed into law a standard of 35 miles per gallon for all 50 states rather than the 33.8 miles per gallon set as a standard in California and "a patchwork of other states." This federal law is seen as delivering energy security benefits and a national approach to global climate change. A waiver would require California to "have a need to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions." While denying the waiver, EPA chief Stephen L. Johnson concludes by giving California credit, "I agree that increased vehicle standards can be a win-win for the environment and the economy. I have no doubt that the national standards Congress adopted and the President signed into law this week were enacted, in part, because of your efforts." The official notice of the denial of the waiver was published in the Federal Register March 6 with petitions for review filing deadline of May 5.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


On Earth Day, April 22, the Ontario Minister of Environment John Gerretsen proposed legislation that would , "if passed, ban the sale and use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes across Ontario. This is the first step in Ontario's new toxics reduction strategy which we announced last November." The draft act which is only three pages long exempts agriculture and forests. Golf courses are exempted provided they apply integrated pest management programs. Pesticides used for health protection purposes such as to reduce the risk of West Nile are exempted. In addition, the Minister may add other exemptions. The bill contains very little detail but while some people think pesticides apply to bugs not weeds, this proposed amendment to the Pesticide Act aims to control active ingredients which act as herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, miticides, snail and slug bait and others. Products covered will also include fertilizer-pesticide combos. The Environmental Bill of Rights posting includes two lists: one of potential active ingredients which MAY be prohibited, including 2,4-D, captan, copper, rotenone, pyrethrins and diazonon. The potential list of brand products now sold for cosmetic uses also includes products not only for lawns but also for roses, fruit trees, potatoes, and other vegetables and such products as bug foggers. Some contain ingredients which are sometimes used as alternatives to more toxic ingredients. These lists are very useful but may confuse as they are not the lists that will be banned but rather serve as a basis of discussion.

In Ontario, all federally registered pesticides must be reclassified before they are legal for sale and use. The power to ban the sale rather than just the use of these pesticides makes the proposed legislation different from the bylaws of municipalities in Ontario which deal only with the use.

The government is obviously anxious to demonstrate that it is keeping a promise made during the fall election, leading to release of some contradictory information. For example, announcements indicate that the regulations which flesh out the legislation should be ready "by next spring" but the Ministry of Environment E.R. posting is more cautious saying the timing is unknown and depends when the act is passed in the Legislature.

To Preempt or Not to Preempt

According to a Toronto Star article, Premier Dalton McGinty said that municipalities could go further than the provincial standard, "If you're asking if municipalities can exceed the provincial standard we put in place, yes they can when it comes to use." However, Bill 64 removes the right of municipalities to enact their own bylaws:
"By-laws inoperative
(5) A municipal by-law is inoperative if it addresses the use, sale, offer for sale or transfer of a pesticide that may be used for a cosmetic purpose."

Environmental activists such as the Canadian Environmental Law Association have lauded the legislation partially because of the announcement that municipalities could continue to pass bylaws with stricter provisions but when eventually the legislation is passed, the support may change. It will also depend on the enforcement as Ontario already has environmental laws on the books which have no positive benefit because they are never or seldom enforced.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Many readers of GL will know or know of Don Chant as the key stimulator in the founding of the environmental group Pollution Probe. Others will remember him as a very effective environmentalist in his own right, as a Professor of Zoology at the University of Toronto, or as Chair and President of the Ontario Waste Management Corporation that sought to site a Crown-owned hazardous waste management facility in South Cayuga, just across the river from where GL is published today. In 1988 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his environmental work.

However you remember Don Chant, the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto is holding a reception to celebrate his life on Tuesday May 20 in the Massey College Quadrangle. RSVP is requested by May 13 to or (416) 946-5937, from whom further information can presumably be obtained.

A fellowship has been created in Don Chant's name. The Donald A. Chant Fellowship will provide support to graduate students pursuing studies in Conservation, Ecology and Evolution. Personal donations to the endowment fund will be matched on a 50-50 basis by the Government of Ontario. Don passed away last December 23.


The annual Canadian Pollution Prevention Roundtable (CPPR) provides a unique opportunity in Canada for pollution prevention (P2) leaders, decision-makers, and practitioners to exchange ideas, share expertise, and coordinate P2 efforts. The CPPR brings together corporate, government, academic and non-profit representatives and is an important event for networking and finding out about exciting P2 initiatives in Canada. Come join us! On-line registration has been activated and the agenda has been posted at

Themes for this year’s Roundtable include: Green Building and Sustainable Design, P2 as a Strategy to Combat Climate Change, Sustainable Packaging, P2 Approaches in the Private Sector, Sustainable Consumption, Supply Chain Management and more. Presentations will be given by representatives from Environment Canada, Alberta Environment, City of Edmonton, Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Alberta Research Council, One Earth Initiative, Environmental Law Centre and many others.

The Honourable Rob Renner, Alberta Minister of the Environment, will be starting off the event as a keynote speaker and Severn Cullis-Suzuki will be giving the closing keynote address.

The CPPR also features the 2008 Pollution Prevention Awards, presented by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, which recognize innovative businesses and organizations from across Canada showing leadership in pollution prevention.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Visit and click on ‘Become a Sponsor’ for details.

For additional information, please email or phone 416-979-3534 ext.1.
This space sponsored by the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention.
GL posts this and other events on


The Green Jobs Initiative is a program of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) which seeks "to assess, analyze and promote the creation of decent jobs as a consequence of the needed environmental policies. It supports a concerted effort by governments, employers and trade unions to promote environmentally sustainable jobs and development in a climate-challenged world." Among the goals are to provide both employment and poverty reduction under climate adaptation and mitigation programs.

UNEP commissioned a report from Worldwatch Institute with assistance from the Cornell University Global Labour Institute. The Green Jobs Report is being presented at events and conferences to promote ideas which address fairness for workers and communities affected negatively by changing climate, production/consumption patterns, and trade policies. One of these events was a UNEP/ILO research conference held in Niigata, Japan in April.

One of the speakers was one of the lead authors of the Green Jobs report, Michael Renner, Worldwatch Institute There are various ways of enhancing green jobs including:
Renner presented a matrix which has Environment (green) on one axis and Decent Work (decent) on the other. Examples of jobs which are neither green nor decent include coal mining with inadequate safety. Decent but not green include airline pilots. Green but not decent are low-wage installers of solar panels and green and decent are well-paid public transit workers. He also discusses some of the drivers and obstacles to creating decent green jobs such as rising oil prices as a driver and insufficient green investment as an obstacle.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


The Ministers of Environment and of Health gave notice in the Canada Gazette April 19 of intent to put bisphenol A on Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. There is a 60 day public comment period ending June 18. All comments must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of the notice and be sent to the Executive Director, Existing Substances Division, Environment Canada, Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3, 1-800-410-4314 or 819-953-4936 (fax), (email).

The risk management recommends the government make stringent targets for migration of bisphenol A in both new and existing food packaging for infants and children such as in infant formula and canned foods as well as polycarbonate plastic baby bottles. The children most vulnerable are defined as those 18 months and under. Regulations should address industrial processes which release bisphenol A into wastewater and sludge as well as management of products and materials containing bisphenol A headed for disposal or recycling.

The government intends only to prohibit the import, sale and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles but proposes no other regulations. Government agencies such as Health Canada are going to be working with industry to reduce bisphenol A in canned food.

GL thinks that if these are the only actions the government is going to take when they are designating Bisphenol A as a dangerous chemical, Canadian ought to be very worried about the chemical regulatory agenda, not only the other uses of BPA but also all the other potentially endocrine disrupting substances.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


The second Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario (2001-2005) assesses how bird distribution in Ontario has changed since the first atlas (1981-1985). Detailed maps document the distribution of breeding species based on 1.2 million individual breeding bird records. Each species is introduced with a photo and sometimes with a photo of its habitat, eggs, or young. Detailed maps show the confirmed, possible or probable breeding evidence and differences between the first and second atlas. Participants from all over the province are listed including those from the three banding stations in Haldimand where GL is located.

The map for the red-winged blackbird covers a large part of the province in maroon for "confirmed." The species account shows how human influences affect birds. Use of avicides in the US to control "pest" birds have led to a decline from a population peak in 1976. On the positive side, some of the densities of this species are found around sewage lagoons which supply the man-made equivalent of wetlands with high insect availability. Some data may underestimate the density of birds such as the white-crowned sparrow which nests in remote inaccessible northern areas.

Kathy Renwald, Master gardener, author, and head of creative development for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario, recommends the bird atlas for gardeners. Besides the ornamental value of trees in hiding a view or creating privacy, providing flower, fruit, colour and so on, trees and shrubs also attract birds. Manitoba maple is less than appreciated by gardeners but provides habitat for black-crowned night herons. While the larger birds such as geese, eagles and wild turkeys are increasing, some of the smaller birds are struggling. She suggests that the Atlas, "joins the best garden design books in providing solid information on plants we can use for beauty and for the benefit of birds."

GL thinks that this is one of those books that could not be produced for less than $100 without thousands of hours of volunteer time, a community-based science research project resulting in a book which should be owned and consulted by every business in Ontario to help protect our wildlife by knowing where birds are located, how threatened they are and what the threats are.

The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario. Online. Cost: $92.50 + GST, includes shipping in Canada.

Renwald, Kathy. Small trees best bet for creating privacy. The Hamilton Spectator. April 19, 2008 .


The Haldimand Bird Observatory Board of Directors approved $400 for a director to attend the Canadian Migration Monitoring Conference, an event of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network which meets every two years, the latest meeting held October 2007 in Alberta. Director Jim Smith who oversees banding at Rock Point wrote in The Harrier, the local charitable group's newsletter, "I had mixed feeling, thinking that Haldimand should have a presence at this conference but not wanting to close down my station in order to go." The Conference was held at the Boreal Centre, a modern and eco-friendly building in Slave Lake Provincial Park, Alberta. There were 20 people from 13 of the 25 stations in the network. Also attending were three representatives from Bird Studies Canada including Audrey Heagy, who is BSC's Bird Conservation Planning Biologist and wearing a new hat as CMMN Development Coordinator. She moderated most of the four day conference. BSC is a non-government organization dedicated to wild bird conservation and research There were no representatives from Canadian Wildlife Service because of an imposed travel freeze on their employees. Smith notes that "Outside of the information I learned that it was evident we were more than just a few stations located in Haldimand County. We are an integral part of something which encompasses all of Canada. A network where the work we are doing contributes to a total whole."

GL can only wonder at the difficulties of a travel freeze on a department with responsibility for species on the move.

Bird Studies Canada. Canadian Migration Monitoring Network.

Haldimand Bird Observatory.
and Harrier. Fall 2007.


The Statistics Canada report Human Activity and the Environment 2007 2008 was released on Earth Day April 22. A number of media outlets wrote about the greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 as if this were new information. The emissions were 747 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent 25.3% above 1990 and 32.7 above the target agreed to by Canada for meeting its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and were reported almost a year ago. Environment Canada's press release was on May 25, 2007. GL notes that as of May 11 this year Canada had not filed its annual report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of which the Kyoto Protocol is one part. Parties in Annex I (or the industrial countries) are required by April 15 of each year to provide annual national GHG inventories covering emissions and removals of direct greenhouse gases from six sectors (Energy, industrial processes, solvents, agriculture, lulucf (land use, land use change and forestry), waste) and from all years from the base year and period to the most recent year. Judging from the other reports such as the US, the most recent data seems to be 2006.

The annual report is in two parts: 1. Common reporting format CRF or standardized data tables and 2. National Inventory Report, a comprehensive description of the methodology for the data sources, control and quality assurance. The US and the European Union as well as many of the European countries have submitted their reports by the deadline. Australia, Canada, Japan and Russia as well as some former Eastern European countries such as Croatia and smaller European countries such as Luxembourg have not had their reports posted yet. Canada's 2006 inventory is particularly significant because the Minister of the Environment John Baird readjusted greenhouse gas emission targets based on 2006 with different timelines rather than the 1990 baseline and the timelines Canada agreed to internationally under the Kyoto Protocol.

Imports and Exports: Allocating Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The issue of how to allocate greenhouse gas emissions due to exports may raised as an issue post-Kyoto. Statistics Canada provides data on energy exports. In 2005, 7,764 petajoules of energy in the form of oil, gas and electricity were exported by Canada. Production of this energy resulted in 72.8 Mt of GHGs, almost 10% of all GHG emissions.

The Statistics Canada report states if looked at from the demand side that 76% of the increase in domestic industrial emissions from 1990 to 2003 was due to production of goods and services for export mostly fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas for export. If we are going to allocate greenhouse gas emissions to the end-user, than Canada will have to add to its inventory all the CO2 generated to produce the goods and services we import.

It becomes difficult, however, to make policy decisions today when statistics are based on 5 year old data. Various statistics are provided to 2007 including gross domestic product and employment by industry and exports or fuel-efficient cars produced by the automotive sector, etc. Water and truck transport is to 2004, rail and air to 2006, motor vehicle registration to 2007, usual mode of transportation to work 2001 and so on. Research investment and some 2004 data on the environmental industry such as expenditures is provided although 2004 data was previously published by Statistics Canada for this sector. As always, GL observes that since Canada gave up State of the Environment reporting, the data collected is not specific enough nor consistently up-to-date enough to serve to support good environmental policy decision-making.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Now that the global phenomenon that is the Dummies series of books has included in its list of titles one on green living, one has got to think that the concept of green living has reached the mainstream. The even better news is that this is one of the better books in a genre of what you can do to help the environment books that GL usually finds to be less than environmentally effective or scientifically accurate. Perhaps that is because the three authors have experience in a number of developed countries and at least one of them focusses his professional career on sustainable lifestyles.

This book is good value for money and potential readers who already know something about green living should not be put off by the title which to make matters worse, includes the subtitle “The fun and easy way to go green”. In more than 350 pages of fairly small but well laid out print the Dummies guide covers most of the key elements of greener living: understanding the impact of greener choices, renewable energy, greener building and remodelling, making your home healthy and efficient, minimizing trash and decluttering your life, a greener yard, growing your own food and greening your diet, raising green kids, dressing green, travelling green, greening your community, and doing more.

Unlike many green living books, this one is realistic and thought-provoking. For example, in the chapter on greening your diet it does not say that to be green you must be a vegetarian. Instead it explains the issues, quotes sources, and concludes that it is helpful to a green lifestyle to reduce the amount of meat you eat and choosing green meat (local and organic or sustainably produced) whenever possible.

The section on green cleaners does not condemn all commercial cleaning products, as many green guides do, but instead gives tips on how to reduce the environmental impact of keeping a clean home. Unlike books from more environmentally zealous authors, this one explains that there is a lack of scientific evidence about the linkages between some ingredients of household cleaning products and human health problems, that governments are unlikely to act until there is such evidence, but that people who wish to play it safe, and green, can get information from various sources, including governments, to help them make their own decisions. The book suggests greener approaches to cleaning and other household activities while appropriately, in GL’s view, staying away from recommending the home chemistry and household mixing of vinegars, baking powder, bleaches and soaps that sometimes could get a person into making their own toxic concoctions.

Although we recommend this book as one of the best in its category, we still recommend that readers approach some of the suggestions with a sense of scepticism. For example, Green Living for Dummies presents conversion of your diesel car to used cooking oil in an uncritical way, despite some evidence that use of used cooking oil in a converted diesel engine may increase emissions and may not be great for engine systems. Clay or terra cotta pots are recommended as being greener for container gardening than other types of pots, presumably plastic, even though it is likely that more energy is used to make the terra cotta pot than the plastic pot, especially if the plastic pot is made of recycled material. Readers who apply the recommended approach to thinking about the environment will most likely spot these inconsistencies themselves.

Green Living for Dummies. Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay and Michael Grosvenor. Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, NJ. 2008. 368 pages. Cover price $21.99 CDN


On the day that Canada’s Health Minister Tony Clement made his announcement that he would be putting bisphenol A on the CEPA toxics list, Gallon Letter was relieved to find that our friends at World Wildlife Fund Canada had indeed ceased their marketing of WWF logo-encrusted polycarbonate water bottles. But not so their friends to the south. The panda people in the US are still flogging polycarbonate water bottles at the bargoon price of $11.25 with 80% of proceeds going to bisphenol A and 20% to the panda people.

GL finds it very strange that WWF in Europe has been campaigning against endocrine disruptors since the beginning of the century, that WWF Canada withdrew its BPA bottles after we drew the irony of selling something that you are campaigning against to their attention, but WWF USA still thinks the stuff is perfectly safe to use. Whatever can it mean?

Get your BPA here:
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