Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 15, No. 10, January 19, 2011
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New readers may be surprised to see our guest editorial on climate change from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives but regulars will know that we are enthusiastic promoters of views on sustainability with which we agree. In this case, CCCE wrote almost exactly the same opinion on the Cancun climate conference that we had been intending to share. We think that, at least on this occasion, CCCE is more in tune with public and scientific opinion on climate change than the Harper government. The report of Canada's Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development seems to agree. Maybe Canada's new Environment Minister, the fifth in five years (John Baird was Minister twice) will fix things. It seems unlikely: after almost five years of saying that Canada must follow the US lead on climate change, Environment Minister Peter Kent now seems to have changed Canada's direction and has said that we must not follow the US lead on climate change. Whatever can it all mean?

The New York Times has drawn the world's attention to a respected climate change scientist who helped identify the scope of the problem and who was a prominent Republican. We summarize the story. The article also provides a useful overview of the scientific method. However, not everyone agrees: we summarize a letter we received recently from a Florida-based scientist and laboratory owner who has been an honoured reader of Gallon Environment Letter for years. We find it strange that companies and governments continue to purchase environmental services from people who purport to be scientists, have scientific qualifications, but who apparently think that a rant is an appropriate response to a science-based conclusions with which they disagree.

As if the debate over climate change has not been sufficiently loud, an Australian software developer has put on line a 'bot' - an automated responder - that will engage climate sceptics in dialogue. Maybe it will keep some of our federal politicians so busy that they will forget to show up for votes in the House of Commons!

Who noticed that 2010 was the United Nations Year of Biodiversity? At least Ontario Power Generation's Senior Advisor on Sustainable Development noticed and used a television interview in December to highlight the risks of declining biodiversity. He gave advice on steps companies should be taking to help preserve biodiversity and he outlined what OPG is doing. The Canadian Business and Biodiversity Council is one of the organizations that can help and has published some interesting case studies.

You may have heard that Target is coming to Canada but who knew that Target, with only a few exceptions, is doing more for the environment than many Canadian retailers? Maybe Target will help set the environmental pace in Canada. A recent BC court decision highlighted the costs and risks of not taking due diligence when handling hazardous materials. In this case the problem involved PCBs but as more and more hazardous product rules come into force one can imagine that in future similar cases might spring from plastics or metal recycling or many other business activities. Far too many businesses fail to obtain adequate environmental science expertise or to apply sufficient due diligence when handling materials that may have a negative environmental or public health impact. Such shortcuts can prove to be very expensive, both in terms of fines and damage to reputation. A US television advertisement for a different product shows that some companies are just plain careless, or perhaps even negligent, when making claims for their products. GL's experience is that quite a large number of marketers and advertising agencies are very poorly informed when it comes to the requirements for environmental labelling and advertising. New tougher rules, which we summarize in part in this issue and which we will comment again in a future issue, are the result of the failure of business to get it right the first time.

Environmental statistics are scarce in Canada but Statistics Canada has at least updated its survey of waste management in Canada. The amount of waste has scarcely increased in the two years since 2006 but costs are up sharply. Our review of the StatsCan report provides more of the details.

In our next issue we will be presenting a general review of environment and sustainable development issues that have crossed our desk in the last few months and that may be relevant to the year ahead. We will also be reviewing a brand new British book Climate Change for Football Fans. While your curiosity about that book may be killing you, we hope you find lots of interest in this issue. Keep those Letters to the Editor coming - we always welcome what you have to say about Gallon Environment Letter, even when you disagree with our analysis! Send letters to and do not reply to the address from which you received this issue.


By Linda Hasenfratz and Hal Kvisle

Despite clear signs of progress in building an international consensus, the outcome of the latest round of UN climate change negotiations in Cancun appears to have fallen short of the target: a clear and comprehensive plan to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Many of the most contentious issues remain unresolved, including whether to incorporate the negotiators’ goals in a legally binding agreement and how to distribute responsibility for the $100-billion in annual aid that wealthy nations have promised to give poor countries to enable them to adjust to climate impacts.

Still, the fact that a global agreement has proven so elusive does not absolve Canadians of the responsibility to strengthen our own efforts to limit the growth of GHG emissions and contribute to the search for more environmentally sustainable forms of development.

What specifically should Canada be doing? In our view, five priorities deserve attention.

First, we need to get our act together as a country when it comes to climate policy. In particular, governments at all levels should commit to a national approach to GHG reductions and carbon pricing. The alternative—conflicting federal and provincial targets, plans and policies—is a recipe for confusion and inertia.

Second, we need a national vision as to the role that energy should play in our economy, and an informed discussion about the policies that will be needed to ensure that Canada's diverse array of energy resources continues to be source of competitive advantage. Tough choices will need to be made, but there is no question that development of, and access to, reliable, affordable and cleaner sources of energy can be a significant contributor to jobs, government revenue and economic prosperity.

Third, the business community and the public sector should work together on a framework that can stimulate future generations of energy and environmental technology. Around the world, the race is on to find new, more sustainable ways to power our homes, factories, and transportation systems. Smart policy can help to ensure that Canadian companies win a larger share of the burgeoning market for innovative energy technologies.

Fourth, the federal government should seek to negotiate a broad energy and environmental accord with Canada's closest trading partner and biggest energy customer, the United States. To be sure, Congress and the Obama Administration are focussed on other issues at the moment. But that gives Canadians time to develop a more coherent view of our national interests, agree on our key demands and make the case to Americans for why greater cooperation on energy policy, regulatory standards and technology development will benefit both countries.

Fifth, governments, industry and other interested groups should strengthen their efforts to build a national ethic of energy conservation and a clearer public understanding of the costs and benefits of various energy choices. The goal must be to encourage employers of all sizes, as well as individual Canadians, to make smarter choices about day-to-day energy use.

Linda Hasenfratz is chief executive officer of Linamar Corporation. Hal Kvisle is former chief executive officer of TransCanada Corporation. Together, they chair the Canadian
Council of Chief Executives' Task Force on Energy, the Environment and Climate Change.

Canadian Council of Chief Executives. Creating a Healthy Environment. Original Published in the Hill Times - December 13, 2010. Reprinted with permission


Scott Vaughan, Canada's Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development CESD released his annual report in December. After the report was tabled in the House of Commons on December 7 it was sent to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development which discussed it on December 8. There, Christian Ouellet (Brome—Missisquoi, BQ) said "Mr. Vaughan, last year, you told us, on the subject of climate change, that the government had no plan, no strategy. You repeat that this year. Has there been no change since last year? Are you reporting the same observation as last year?" Vaughan replied, "Last year, we submitted a report to Parliament on the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. We said the government had an annual plan. However, we said there were gaps in that plan, and the Act requires that the government present a plan each year. So we have an obligation to do that. This time, the situation is different, we are talking about climate change in terms of adaptation to the impacts. We said there was no federal strategy, no federal plan. In addition, Mr. Keenan said that in 2007, the government was supposed to prepare a federal strategy to deal with the impacts of climate change, but as of today we still have no plan." Michael Keenan, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy Branch, Department of the Environment was at the committee meeting.

One of the chapters in the CESD was entitled Adapting to Climate Impacts and audited five key federal departments with mandates affected by climate change: Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Health Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Adaptation is adjusting decisions, activities and thinking processes to reduce the severity of adverse effects and take advantage of opportunities. (1) The CESD said that some of the impacts of changing climate are already affecting Canada's environment, communities and economy especially in the North. Example including thawing of permafrost affecting roads, pipelines and other infrastructure, forest diseases and pests, human diseases such as Lyme Disease and West Nile, water shortages (e.g. in Ontario where the levels of the Great Lakes are expected to drop, in the Prairies due to reduced precipitation and BC due to shrinking glaciers), storm surges, drought and worse to come.

The audit looked at whether the departments:
The audit also examined four climate change adaptation programs in the departments to see how they collected and shared information with those who needed the information such as other federal departments, provinces, municipalities, industry, non-governmental organizations ngos and academics. Scott Vaughan gave some examples for good work being done but these were inadequate for the magnitude of the risks affecting Canada from climate change:
These aren't a complete set of government initiatives that address climate impacts and adaptation.

The conclusions included:
Information Sharing with Canadian Very Poor

Two key reports informed the CESD's concern about the seriousness of the risks facing Canada and Canadians. The Natural Resources Canada-led From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007 and Health Canada-led report The Human Health in a Changing Climate: A Canadian Assessment of Vulnerabilities and Adaptive Capacity 2008. Vaughan was quite scathing in his polite way about the low profile these important reports were given by the government. Although both has been planned to be released with a reasonable amount of publicity, they were presented in a very muted way. Given how important it is that Canadians know what the risks are, Vaughan spent some time criticizing this poorly communicated situation, including the failure of Health Canada to make the report on human health vulnerability assessment available on the Health Canada website. Natural Resources Canada's assessment has had very limited public communication. No new release was issued to tell Canadians what risks were assessed although Natural Resources Canada did make its assessment available on its web sites.

Although these assessments indicate that the risks are severe, the report states that the government "failed to take simple steps that would raise Canadians’ awareness and understanding of the risks. The dissemination of these vulnerability assessments was inconsistent with the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada to facilitate Canadians’ access to these publications."

(1) A more formal definition of adapting to climate impacts is "Adaptation—The adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects. Adaptation moderates harm or exploits beneficial
opportunities. "

Canada. Parliament. House of Commons Committees. Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. ENVI (40-3) Number 041 (Official Version) EVIDENCE Wednesday, December 8, 2010 [Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Canada. Office of the Auditor General of Canada. Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the House of Commons. Chapter 3: Adapting to Climate Impacts. Fall 2010.


Canada's new Environment Minister was elected in 2008 in what was historically a Liberal riding, Thornhill, Ontario. Peter Kent was appointed Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) shortly after his election and became Environment Minister after Jim Prentice resigned in late 2010. [John Baird provided a brief interregnum, serving as Environment Minister for a second time but for long enough to ensure Canada's representation at the annual UN Climate Change conference in Cancun]. GL wonders whether Prentice was avoiding being the fall guy at the Cancun meetings where Canada once again received  a relatively large share of Fossil awards.

Kent is well-known to many Canadians for his work for the CBC in the 1960s and 70s covering the Expo '67, the Quebec kidnap crisis, and the Yom Kippur War. He co-hosted News Magazine with Lloyd Robertson and was host of The National for two years. At the time he was unhappy with the idea that the CBC was too compliant with the Prime Minister's office in issuing news. [GL notes this could be ironic since some are suggesting he was given the job of Environment Minister more for his communication skills to sell the status quo than for skills to protect the environment e.g more to polish the reputation of the oil sands which he has called "ethical" than to reduce the environmental impact of oil sands production.] By 1981, Kent was working on The Journal with Barbara Frum and Mary Lou Finlay. When he was assigned abroad, he moved to Global television as a Deputy Editor.

When he decided to run politically, he said, "My colleagues were surprised I wasn't running as a bleeding-heart Liberal." GL hopes this was said in a slip of the tongue in the euphoria of an election win: GL knows that politics is often about word and image spinning, a scoring of political points which unfortunately seems to work, but the term "bleeding heart" doesn't convey much to us except as some gratuitous and unsubstantiated insult, not on the scale of the new attack ads the Conservatives have developed, the puffin shit animation used by the Conservatives to attack opposition leader Stéphane Dion in the last Canadian election, or the gun sights on Congresswoman Gifford's district by Sarah Palin's campaign in the US election though all trend in the same direction. GL hopes that the pendulum will swing soon from attacking politicians of a different political party as the enemy to debating different views of issues as an inherent and essential part of a democratic system.

Canada and US Must Be in Step for Climate Action: December 2009

After the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009, Canada's government lowered Canada's target for greenhouse gas emissions yet again, this time to match the percentage reduction committed to by the US. Then Environment Minister Jim Prentice reported from Copenhagen with the news that Canada would align with the US. Prentice wrote "Canada is working to align our clean energy and climate change policies with those of the Obama Administration" When Jim Prentice was interviewed on CBC's The House on January 16 ((see GL Vol. 14, No. 11, January 26, 2010) Prentice himself pointed out the difficulty of that. He said that the circumstances in the US and Canada were completely different. While Canada has hydro and nuclear for electricity in the US, he said over 60% of electricity is generated by coal. He also said the way the government works in the US is different to Canada yet throughout that interview he stressed the constraints on the Canadian government by the US. While he said. "Our level of prosperity depends on our trading relationship with the US" GL noted "he doesn't really explain how that requires that our environment and energy laws to be the same or nearly the same (if that is what harmonize means) as the US or why we have to wait for the Americans to act." Prime Minister Stephen Harper said at the time that Canada couldn't act alone because it is limited by its economic ties to the US. If the US didn't act to reduce emissions, neither could Canada and "Likewise, if the Americans are prepared to act, it’s essential that we act.”

Canada and US Must Not Be in Step for Climate Action: December 2010

After the 2010 Climate Summit in Cancun, the Climate Action Network’s 500 member organisations gave Canada the Colossal Fossil for the year award for giving "110% in the battle for fossil supremacy." calling it Can'"t"nada. This was the fourth time in four years that Canada has been so negatively named. The United States and Russia also got Fossil awards.

Now the US Environmental Protection Agency has developed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. Whether that push will result in permanent regulations may depend on what happens in a Republican dominated House in Congress, However, Canada's claim to align its greenhouse gas initiative to the US seems to have been found to be false as soon as there was any sign of action. The Canadian government was quick to distance itself from taking any such action. New Environment Minister Kent said on CBC's Power and Politics hosted by Evan Solomon said that ""We will not follow their course." Sometimes GL feels that the climate action plan the government called Turning the Corner should be called Turning Around in Circles. Observers suggest that Kent's appointment as Environment Minister may not be doing him any favour as Environment is not highly regarded in the Conservative government.

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Taking a step back, New York Times writer Justin Gillis wrote a great piece in December about American scientist Charles David Keeling's work over 40 years beginning in 1958 to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide. Gillis' article is unlike so many stories in the media which are artificially and erroneously "balanced" by contrary views which aren't usually supported by much evidence. After reading it, GL found also that Keeling himself wrote an essay in 1998 on his life's work which is even better reading as he explains how scientists work - there may be the odd Eureka moment but mostly it is a constant attention to detail, improving the instruments, collecting evidence, using the evidence to correct errors, collecting more evidence, and struggling to explain why this project is important enough to be funded. Keeling also demonstrated that a political conservative can accept climate change as he was a life-long Republican.

In 1953, Keeling obtained a PhD in chemistry but couldn't find a job except crushing rock for another student who was working for the US Atomic Energy Commission to find uranium in granite for nuclear power. He wrote, ""I was very proud of my new PhD. I didn't think two weeks were needed to master the science of rock crushing." He audited geology courses and eventually his advisor at CalTech suggested he combine his chemistry with geology. He began to find ways to measure carbon dioxide first too near urban areas, then in a state park on the Big Sur, where he didn't mind sleeping outdoors to be available to take the measurements through the day and night and later in other areas. At the time, scientific literature said that CO2 concentrations varied widely but he developed a method and measuring tools for measuring carbon dioxide in air or carbonate in water with high precision outdoors under real conditions. He found consistent diurnal patterns from the rain forests on the Olympic peninsula near Canada to mountain in Arizona. The air in the afternoon had nearly the same CO2 about 310 parts per million ppm of air after correcting for water vapour. The concentrations were very variable at night and always higher in the afternoon.

1956 was the International Geophysical Year. The Weather Bureau's priority was on measuring the geophysical impacts of the solar cycle which was at its maximum but it had been planning to measure CO2 at remote locations during IGY. The Bureau had already built a new meteorological observatory on the Island of Hawaii on a 13,000 foot high volcano called Mauna Loa. Keeling had taken the gamble of recommending continuous measurements of atmospheric CO2 even though continuous gas analyzers were just beginning to be marketed. The members of the US IGY steering committee weren't keen on spending lots of money on equipment to achieve accuracy in atmospheric CO2 measurement but it was agreed to conduct measurement in Hawaii and the South Pole.

By then, scientific data had already indicated the CO2 in the air was increasing; the rate could be accounted for by burning coal, natural gas and petroleum. Some distrusted this data as it was thought that the oceans would absorb at least half of the CO2 released by fossil fuel. Keeling's sampling would provide a reliable estimate of uptake by the oceans of the CO2. He found as well as daily fluctuations there were seasonal effects e.g. CO2 concentrations rose in the winter more strongly in the northern hemisphere and weakly in the southern hemisphere. The highest CO2 concentration was in the spring just before plants put on leaves . Nature was withdrawing CO2 from the air for plant growth during the summer and returning it in the winter. There were also 10 year or so fluctuations. These didn't seem to be related to sunspots which has a slightly longer cycle. In 1969 the rate of increase had slowed down even though emissions from fossil fuels were increasing and then in 1971 the rate was speeding up again. Keeling said they couldn't understand what was going on. These fluctuations were accounted for when the "southern oscillation" (El Nino) was discovered in equatorial Pacific Ocean. This matched the puzzling feature in the CO2 records. There were also irregularities in patterns over number of years but in 1976, the set of 14 years of data showed "the unmistakable rise in CO2 concentrations and its irregular pattern." Many of the mechanisms of fluctuations could only be puzzled out with the advent of computers, atmospheric circulation models and more CO2 data collected over decades. Other puzzles and data gaps remain.

As the data accumulated, Keeling found despite the fluctuations overall a steady long term increase in concentration of atmospheric CO2 at every location where measurements were made. The scientific literature indicated that the rise in CO2 levels was linked to the rise in use of natural gas, petroleum and coal. Temperature records have been recorded since 1855 much longer than CO2 data. He found that the data from the British Meteorologic Office of the global time series of sea-surface temperatures closely matched the trends in CO2 with both influenced by El Nino events.

He wrote that he listened to another scientist's concern about returning a half a billion years’ accumulation of carbon to the air in the form of natural gas, coal and petroleum and noted his own personal experience in watching CO2 rise. He wrotethat he thought about what would happen in 30 years or so, "“If present trends are any sign, mankind’s world, I judge, will be in greater immediate danger than it is today.”

He was constantly faced with budget crisis and in 1964, there is a gap in the data because the measurement ceased everywhere until more funding came through. He wrote, "I learned a lesson that environmental time-series programs have no particular priority in the funding world, even if their main value lies in maintaining long-term continuity of measurements." He was very committed to ensuring the quality fo the data and opposed to the government's program to remove safeguards which he said he adopted to ensure valid data. Newcomers often thought that measuring CO2 wasn't difficult but he had spent years solving problems to ensure valid data over very long periods.

By 1998, when he wrote the essay, there was 40 years of data. He wrote about the confusions created by the media which spent so much effort in calling a myth something which was "the unfolding of scientific evidence of man-made global change and its possible significance to future human welfare." He mused what proof of global warming would be convincing and suggested, "Perhaps convincing proof will be acknowledged to have arrived when a substantial number of US Congressman are discovered to have secretly purchased real estate in northern Canada." When the first data came from Mauna Loa in 1959, the CO2 readings were nearly 316 ppm. When Keeling died in 2005, the CO2 readings in Hawaii were 380 ppm. The latest three readings (rounded) were:
The latest years' numbers are subject to further quality control. In fact, all numbers are subject to quality control but the changes tend to be minor.

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GL received this letter partially extracted as follows: "Please remove me from your mailing list. I did not realize your publication was a left-wing, socialist propaganda machine. Call it climate change, global warming, or whatever, it's still a load of crap completely made up - and this "UCS" seems to be the little marching band who doesn't get that they are being lied to and used. Your intro stated that the UCS is not a left wing radical group, but they sure do read like one. I am a scientist by education and trade, and do not buy into the horse squeeze that so called scientists have concocted for purely "global" political reasons.

The US EPA needs to be striped of powers, not given more uncapped 'authority' to ruin the USA. Bet you guys up there believe in this cap and trade nonsense as well, eh?"

GL finds that there are so many comments like this on the internet that we have given up in many cases even reading the comment section on such web sites as the CBC, major newspapers and blogs discussing climate change. Sometimes the rages are even in favour of climate change evidence but are still too volatile and offensive. GL thinks that the heyday of those who say climate change is a hoax is just about over: there is just too much independent evidence. There will always be room for sceptics who provide peer-reviewed evidence that there are errors in the current data and correction needed in statements in the climate science publications.

However, our point here is not the rant about climate change evidence itself but about the charge that somehow we have hidden evidence about our position in supporting the need for action. We can only conjecture that the writer hasn't read what we have written (for shame!). The evidence is that we have clearly and often stated our view on the reality of climate change, the need to take action and yes, we need to use all available tools which would include cap and trade properly constructed to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions. Cap and trade isn't a silver bullet and can't replace direct emission reductions.


Australian software developer Nigel Leck built a bot on Twitter which seeks out what he considers to be words typical of climate sceptics. Instead of engaging in argument with someone who probably wouldn't listen anyway, he provides a automatic response linking the "sceptic's" perceived misstatement automatically with a scientific-based explanation. A link on the auto reply provides more detail.

GL thinks one observer's comments that we will end up having one bot talk to another with no human getting any the wiser is probably the most accurate. We are not sure how sending a tweet to somebody who doesn't want to be persuaded is helpful.
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Katie Boothroyd-Roberts from Montreal wrote "Hi Gallon, I really liked your ideas for sustainable holiday gifts. I just had a comment about tins of cookies, which showed up on your list of presents to avoid. Tins may be bad if they are only used once, but in my circle we re-use those tins year after year. Many of us bake our own holiday treats and put them in old cookie tins, so the tins get passed around and the home-made treats make a delicious and low-cost present (both in terms of money and environmental impact)."

GL's editor commends those who reuse stuff such as cookie tins and other containers. We also try to reuse or repurpose as much as we can e.g. glass jars for bulk food or hardware storage. But the warm fuzzy feelings we get for doing good only apply to the very few number of containers which we can reuse, which is very few despite the numerous tomato sauces sold in jars labelled "Mason" In a way, most of the "ables" such as reusable, biodegradable, recyclable, and compostable share this problem: they are only as good for the environment as the extent of their conversion to done: reused, biodegraded, recycled and composted. While Frito-Lay said it took those biodegradable packages for sunchips off the market because they made excessive noise, the real problem is that it is doubtful that most chip bags get put in a place where they could get biodegraded.

Toronto Region Sustainability Program: Cleaner and Greener Manufacturers
Frank Granek from OCETA wrote to GL highlighting three new resources which provides information on pollution prevention and toxics use reduction in the program called Toronto Region Sustainability Program TRSP. Many other sources are provided but the highlighted resources are:
Fred Granek is the Vice President Sustainability, Ontario Centre for Environmental Technology Advancement (OCETA), and Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention (C2P2)

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Steve Hounsell , Senior Advisor, Sustainable Development at Ontario Power Generation, was interviewed on Green Majority in December. Green Majority says it is "Canada's first and only environmental news hour" and is broadcast on university campuses. Hounsell is trained as a biologist and discussed biodiversity (1). 2010 was the United Nations Year of Biodiversity.

Hounsell said that "We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate, faster than at any time of human activity. Humanity can be called the giant meteorite of our time." When asked why humans need to worry about that since massive extinctions have happened in the geological past, he replied that while there have been five major extinction events in the past, this time, the huge number of species disappearing are our responsibility and "by the way" we would be part of the collapse this time, "It is enlightened self interest to preserve the capital base on which we rely." We live on the services nature provides. He asked listeners to consider the huge endowment humanity has been given, enabling humans to prosper for a very long time, "The natural earth is our living bank account. We should be living off the interest but instead have been living by means of deficit spending since the 1980s, drawing down from the savings at the rate of 1.5 planets every year" Climate services are affected by excessive carbon releases, draw down on fresh water is related to food availability. Ontarians have the 4th highest ecological footprint on earth resulting in waste, loss of species and habitat and declining air and water quality.

Climate change and biodiversity are interconnected. For example, climate change threatens species dependent on ice such as polar bears. Both climate change and biodiversity require individuals and businesses to reduce pressures, to become more efficient to gain more profit per unit of resource. Investing in restoration and recovery of ecosystem reduces carbon emissions while also creating economic value: jobs associated with well-qualified university degrees such as ecological degrees applied to the recovery of species.

Biodiversity at OPG

Hounsell says he developed the 4Rs of Biodiversity at OPG:
The company policy is integrated into policy at various levels OPG's actions towards its biodiversity goal is outlined in a corporate brochure. The biodiversity goal is stated as:
"To demonstrate that OPG can co-exist with nature without causing or contributing to the long-term decline of species, or the habitats upon which they depend, on a regional basis."

Between the springs of 2000 and 2009, the flyer says that the company and its partners have planted 3.8 million native trees and shrubs on more than 1,850 hectares of land in Southern Ontario. Cumulatively this could store 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the trees. By working with conservation partners, the company seeks to reconnect the fragmented landscape and to improve the resiliency of the woodlands to withstand future climate change. OPG has donated about $150,000 to Ontario Nature to help preserve reserves of vulnerable wildlife habitats.

OPG is also a member of the Canadian Business and Biodiversity Council (see separate article below).

While companies often fight against regulations, Hounsell said it is time for regulations to protect the ecosystem services including biodiversity. The market economy cannot achieve the goal alone nor can non-governmental groups ngos on their own. What is needed is ngos working with the market place, providing consumer with needed resources. Hounsell said, "If the market recognizes it can be sustainable, with a closed loop industrial complex, we have a chance of surviving."

(1) When asked by host Peter Stock, "What is biodiversity?", Hounsell said, "The ecosystem; all the species, genetic variability within the species and the ecological processes; the entire diversity of life."

The Green Majority: Host: Peter Stock TGM #220 – Biodiversity 101. December 17, 2010.

Ontario Power Generation. Biodiversity Brochure. Toronto, Ontario.


The Canadian Business and Biodiversity Council was established following a Montreal Business and Biodiversity Conference held in 2008. One of the purposes of the Council is to demonstrate the business case for biodiversity conservation through case study illustrations to be used as learning tools for business and to showcase business leadership.

The first volume of case studies was issued in 2010. It has an introduction by Johanne Gélinas who is Partner with Deloitte and is Chair, Canadian Business and Biodiversity Program Steering Committees. Gélinas was Canada's Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development until fired by the Auditor General for what was mostly described as Gélinas' outspoken calls for action to be taken on climate change. For the federal minority government elected in 2006 led by Stephen Harper which has been opposed to any such action, it was one of a series of firings and resignations of high profile critics.

Each case outlines what the company did, why it undertook those actions, and benefits for the company and biodiversity. Seventeen companies including Ontario Power Generation (see above) present cases. Cases include:

Canadian Business and Biodiversity Program. Case Studies Compendium. Vol. 1. 2010.


Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) announced on January 13, 2011 that it was paying C$1.825 billion to buy Zellers Inc., a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) taking over up to 220 sites. Target expects to open 100 to 150 Target stores throughout Canada in 2013. Target Corporation's strategy is to provide value for money under the theme Expect More, Pay Less. The company's Corporate Social Responsibility Report says it has since 1946 given 5 percent of pretax earnings to community organizations in bad times and good, a commitment it has promised to keep also in Canada. Its corporate social responsibility program is called Here for Good.

In a press release in December 2010, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel announced commitments to environmental stewardship. Among the commitments are:
Specific targets for Target by 2016 include:
CSR Report

The achievement is the 2010 report overview include:
The 2010 overview is only 12 pages and isn't really a report. Previous full reports are available from 2007 to 2009. The full 2009 report provides more detail but contains no environmental targets or indicators for the retailer. A graph compares last year to this year on a limited number of issues.

The 2009 report discusses the company's global compliance program for vendors. For Target-own-brands, some of the requirements are
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A BC Supreme Court case highlighted the need for all those involved in generating, consigning, transporting, storing, and disposing of hazardous materials to meet a standard of care which includes communicating "complete and accurate information about the nature and risks related to the proposed waste." In the case before the court, one of the subcontractors along the vendor chain, Enviro West sent a truck to pick up oil from an industrial transformer from Copper Mountain Mining Corporation expecting that the oil contained PCBs below 50 ppm, above which amount the Enviro West has no license. After transporting, the company mixed its oil with 91,000 other litres and then found out that the transformer oil was almost pure PCBs The truck and the storage tanks, pipes and all equipment were cleaned up and then Enviro West sued the waste generator and all the subcontractors in the chain for damages. The court awarded Enviro West nearly $800,000. The case is a warning to all in the web of handlers, transporters, waste brokers, inspectors, storage facilities and disposers of hazardous waste.

Wainwright Alberta Case

The judge quoted from a previous case called Wainwright (Town of) v. G-M Pearson Environmental Management Ltd. In that case, furniture waste caused a fire in the town's waste facility because the material was flammable. The waste generator Vaughn-Bassett, furniture company based in the US, had provided clear instructions that the furniture waste was hazardous and must only be incinerated at the Bovar facility in Swan Hills, Alberta, the sole waste disposal facility approved to incinerate hazardous waste at that time. The broker was provided with detailed instructions about the composition and the risks of the furniture waste. This information was sufficient to enable the broker to handle the waste safely and in accordance will all regulatory requirements. Others along the chain failed to pass this information along but the waste generator was found innocent of fault because it had done its due diligence and hence was not responsible to failures by subsequent handlers.

Factors in Assessing Negligence

Some of the court's comments were:
The decision outlines the steps that led to the mixup. An electrician distracted by other requirements as the mine was reopening and the transformer was just one of a number of electrical jobs. Willingness of the company management to delegate to the electrician and his recommendation for contractors without finding out whether those handlers were qualified to do the work. Assumptions made by the subcontractors along the chain that the oil contained less than 50 ppm of PCBs, assumptions that were wrong. The plaintiff Enviro West who won the suit also made that assumption but the judge ruled that although Enviro West could have prevented the contamination,"clear last chance" in BC is extinct: the persons who were negligent or careless are still liable even if Enviro West could have done something to prevent it. Although when Enviro West sold oil, it would be required to test it, there wasn't any requirement to test it when it arrived in the facility nor is there an industry standard for such testing. The judge said that Newalta, to which company Enviro West shipped some of the contaminated oil, conducts such testing but "it must be recalled that Newalta operates a recycling facility and regularly receives and recycles many different grades of waste oil. Testing would be central to conducting business at such a facility."

GL found it somewhat amusing (something that is easy if one isn't the one being sued) that the judge found the company's mine manager to be very credible. Unfortunately, the manager seemed to have explained all too well how much he and the company failed to take adequate care ending up in a state of chaos: "the blind leading the blind."

The Honourable Madam Justice Boyd ruled that damages totalling $776,033.75 were to be assessed, "The waste generator, Copper Mountain must bear the lion’s share of the responsibility for this loss. For the reasons reviewed earlier, I find that Copper Mountain had all of the necessary information at its disposal to fully understand the highly hazardous nature of this waste and to take proper steps to arrange for its disposal. It failed miserably to do so. In the end result, I allocate 60% of the responsibility for the loss to Similco/Copper Mountain, 20% to Canyon Electric and 20% to Boundary Electric."

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One of GL's associates was watching television when an ad featured a flash of the US EPA logo for Design for the Environment and the statement that the cleaning product is "safe" for the environment. A reasonable person would assume that the DfE certification supported the claim. The US Environmental Protection Agency web site for Design for the Environment, however, says, it is labelling for "safer" products; "DfE label means a product is safer for people and the environment." The Design for Environment logo is based on currently available information and scientific understanding based on information on composition, ingredients and attributes of the products as provided by the company to the EPA and verified by a third party qualified under the Program. The EPA does not do independent assessment itself such as chemical analysis but uses currently available information and scientific knowledge to determine that the chemical formula has better health and environmental features compared to conventional products. Hence the "safer" rather than "safe."

The Program was initiated to reduce the amount of pollutants from industry as much as provide greener products to consumers. The approach is reviewing the chemicals based on their function such as surfactants, solvents, and chelating agents. In order to ensure performance, some of these functions might require chemicals with more hazard than others filling other functions. The safer chemistry is based on "informed substitution" by substituting safer chemicals for each of the functions compared to those chemicals for those functions used in conventional cleaners and other products.

Companies ought to do a better job of vetting their advertising and their web sites as some would categorize this slip of the R as greenwashing. Despite these slips in the marketplace what is even more important is to see companies investing in initiatives to improve the environmental performance of their products. As the EPA web site says, "Product formulators who become DfE partners, and earn the right to display the DfE label on recognized products, have invested heavily in research, development, and reformulation to ensure that their ingredients and finished product align at the green end of the health and environmental spectrum, while maintaining or improving product performance."

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The US EPA's Design for the Environment is reviewing its program. Consultations on specific changes closed January 14, 2011 but are accepted any time. Proposed changes include:
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Statistics Canada has published a new survey of waste management in Canada. It is a snapshot of types of waste and recycling as well as financial and employment summary within business and local governments providing waste management services.

Waste Quantity and Disposal

Among the observations for 2008 were:
Waste Diversion

The amount of waste diversion rose by about 10% to 8.5 million tonnes from 2006 to 2008, almost half from residential sources. While the increase involved most materials, the largest increase was in electronics, up 115% from 2006. Plastics diversion was the second highest increase up 40% since 2006. Paper makes up the largest single component of the diverted material accounting for 41%.

Financial and Employment
Local governments received revenues of $1.8 million from municipal waste management levies. They spent $2.6 billion in 2008, in current expenditures and $494 million in capital expenditures in 2008, both figures up from 2006. The average per person spent on waste management was $79. The highest cost area for local governments was the collecting and transporting of waste ($1.1 billion in 2008)

Revenues for waste management businesses increased by 13% from 2006 to 2008 totally $5.8 billion. Operating costs rose from 19% to $5.1 billion. The number of full-time workers employed in the waste management industry in 2008 totalled 31,344 for the government and business sectors combined, an increase of 11% from 2006. Over three-quarters of those employed in the waste management industry work in the business sector.

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Anne Tennier
Vice president, Environmental Affairs and since 2009 VP, Food Safety Regulatory Affairs, Maple Leaf Foods, Anne is running for nomination as the Liberal candidate in the Ontario riding of Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale riding in the next federal election. Her website lists her education, community involvement, political involvement and her comments on her ability to do the job of Member of Parliament. She describes herself, "A chemist and professional engineer for more than 25 years, I have succeeded in traditionally male-dominated positions. I am tough but respectful." Tennier headed the riding association until her decision to run.

Others contesting the nomination are Dave Braden who was a Hamilton councillor and withdrew from running as Mayor in 2006. His company builds green houses. The other candidate for the nomination is Bryan Kerman a retired environmental scientist and former Ancaster councillor.

Whoever wins will be contesting the riding seat held by incumbent MP Conservative David Sweet who represented the riding since 2006.

Meet Anne Tennier.
Alex Bielak
Alex Bielak is now Senior Advisor to the Chair - UN-Water and Senior Research Fellow and Knowledge Broker at the Freshwater Ecosystems Programme United Nations University - Institute for Water, Environment & Health (UNUINWEH) based in Hamilton, Ontario. He was formerly the Director Science & Technology Liaison, Environment Canada (till Sept 2010).

He masterminded and facilitated a special workshop at the Canadian Science Policy Conference held in Montreal in October 2010 on knowledge brokering and translation. Knowledge brokers mediate between sources of information such as science and research and users of knowledge such as government policy makers. Keynote speaker was Andrew Campbell from Triple Helix Consulting in Australia. Campbell said that Australia is an example of "Converging insecurities" with impacts due to climate change, decline in fresh water availability, the end of cheap oil and need to increase food production. These are immense technical challenges. Decision makers want answers to the key question "What should we do?". Science and scientists often can't speak to policymakers who these days haven't been in their job very long, aren't staying long and have no any deep knowledge. Scientists often aren't able to communicate at the brevity (one page briefing for the Minister) and at the level (practical, short-term, political and adversarial). Campbell called the needed knowledge brokering similar to what has already been developed in agriculture (it's called extension).

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Errick "Skip" Willis
Skip Willis died January 4, 2011 of complications after surgery for a tumour on his spine. GL's editor has long known and respected Skip who played a very active role in helping to build the Ontario Environmental Industry Association. He was another example of a Conservative committed not only to the business of the environment but also to the protection of the environment. After many years as a political consultant, he took on the challenge of helping government and industry meet challenges of climate change and formed his own consultancy specializing in carbon reductions. In addition to his work as a consultant in Canada and elsewhere, he spent much time, unfortunately not always successfully, trying to persuade his federal government friends to implement climate change solutions. He was named as a Fellow of the International Emissions Trading Association.

Errick Willis. Deaths. Globe and Mail. January 6, 2011. 


Cost cutting in Milton Keynes in England led the regional municipal council to announce closure of the largest library in the town of Stony Stratford. Protests called "Wot, No Books" led to the community deciding to check out every book in the library. At its peak the library was checking out 378 books per hour to a total 16,000 books until the shelves were virtually empty. The library has a limit of 15 books at a time so quite a large number of people must have expressed their displeasure and joined the mass checkout. The budget meeting of Council is to be held February 22.

GL notes that some consider libraries inherently green because they foster multiple use and sharing of common materials, information, and spaces.

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The increasing global temperature trend is sometimes referred to as 'global warming'. However, the increasing amounts of greenhouse gases will have an impact on the Earth's climate that far exceeds just a change in temperature. We have learned that a change in one part of the climate system can lead to a series of reactions that can disrupt normal weather patterns around the world. The term 'global climate change' more clearly describes the situation the world is facing.

From Environment Canada's Climate Change: Tampering with the Earth's Thermostat
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