Ecoholic roundup: the best and worst in enviro news this week


Its music to climate activists ears. A report published last month by the Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) suggests that notorious climate science denier ExxonMobil may be facing potentially irreversible decline.

Revenues have plunged 45 per cent over the last five years, hitting a 17-year low, and the debt-saddled oil giants been downgraded by two credit agencies this year, losing its AAA credit rating for the first time in 67 years. Low oil prices are a major factor, but IEEFA notes that low-carbon initiatives are fostering a realignment of global energy priorities and a capital-allocation shift away from fossil fuels.

Right on cue, Exxons said its likely going to cut what it pumps out of the ground by 19 per cent, or some 4.6 billion barrels, if low oil prices persist. The Union of Concerned Scientists response: Its becoming increasingly clear that business as usual the unabated extraction and burning of planet-warming fossil fuels is a risky and dangerous path, not only for the planet, but for ExxonMobils own financial future.

Last week, dozens of oil, gas, mining, forestry, banking and insurance companies (representing $300 billion of Canadas GDP) wrote PM Justin Trudeau encouraging him to stay the course on his new national carbon pricing scheme even if the U.S. president-elect aint likely to follow suit.

But while the feds may still be planning to charge polluters $10 to $50 for every ton of greenhouse gases they emit (via a carbon tax or cap and trade), a coalition of environmental groups says were essentially paying polluters through the $3.3 billion in oil and gas subsidies shelled out by the provincial and federal governments every year.

Its like taxing consumers who buy cigarettes while giving breaks to tobacco companies to produce more cigarettes, says Oil Change International’s Alex Doukas. It doesnt make sense, Doukas says. Which is why the group, along with Climate Action Network, Equiterre and Environmental Defence, is calling on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to announce a phase-out of all remaining preferential tax treatment to the oil and gas sector starting in budget 2017. The feds have said theyll phase them out by 2025.

After four years of foot-dragging, youd think government action on antibacterial triclosan would be worthy of prime-time boasting. Alas, it was one of those late Friday afternoon government notices designed to get buried in weekend distractions that finally announced that the feds are designating antibacterial triclosan a toxin. Maybe they didnt want anyone to read the fine print.

Despite being labelled a danger to the environment, triclosan will still be allowed in personal care products like hand soap, toothpaste and deodorant. The move looks particularly toothless compared to the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations announcement of a full-on ban on triclosan and 18 other antibacterial chemicals in soaps earlier this fall.

Health Canada still maintains that the suspected endocrine disruptor isnt harmful to humans and that while it may cause immediate or long-term harmful effects on the environment downstream from our drains, the feds will just be politely asking manufacturers to try to limit levels entering our waterways.

Health Canada has completed its re-evaluation of a controversial neonicotinoid pesticide, Bayer-made imidacloprid, and has given farmers three to five years to phase it out.

The David Suzuki Foundation and Equiterre called the timeline unacceptable, particularly since the popular pesticide has been found lacing Canadian waterways and the aquatic insects that are important food sources for fish, birds and other animals. Still, considering the heavy lobbying by agri-biz, the move is being heralded as a step in the right direction. | @ecoholicnation



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