Stormy skies, some sun in eco forecast for 2015

From Aboriginal land rights to pipeline politics, Environmental Defence offers its predictions on the top 10 Canadian environment stories to watch in 2015


1. Death knell for Keystone Proposed pipeline projects such as Energy East, Kinder Morgan, and Northern Gateway will face growing public opposition. But the big news will be that Keystone XL will not go ahead in the U.S. Also, expect to see growing public support for carbon pricing as the eyes of the world turn to Paris later in the year for the UN Climate Change Conference, which is considered to be the last chance for the world to negotiate a legally binding treaty on climate change.

2. Aboriginal treaty rights The Supreme Court has handed down several decisions recently related to the protection of Aboriginal rights to hunting, fishing and trapping. Governments and companies that continue to ignore these rights will have their projects blocked by the courts.

3. A tax on sprawl In Ontario, Halifax, B.C.’s Lower Mainland and Calgary, sprawl is eating alive prime farmland and natural areas. The public will be looking for action to arrest sprawl and encourage better public transit. See B.C.’s transit funding referendum (a 0.5 per cent increase in provincial sales tax to fund transit) and Ontario’s review of its Greenbelt and Places to Grow legislation.

4. Endangered species bad act A judicial review of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s decision to provide sweeping exemptions to industry under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act will finally be heard.

5. Toxic chemicals warning The federal government will be forced to make a decision on what to do about triclosan, the ingredient in anti-bacterials which was declared toxic in 2012. Ontario has said it will consider providing more information to consumers about toxics in products and environment groups will be looking for product labeling laws similar to California’s.

6. Pesticide phase-out Ontario will consider new regulations to phase out by 2017 key neonics, pesticides known to kill valuable insects like bees while doing little to increase crop yields.

7. Parks protection Governments and fossil fuel pushers face a public backlash over development encroaching on national parks as changes to the B.C. Parks Act allow oil and gas exploration in nature preserves.

8. Water quality jump Ontarians are hoping to see some positive action to address nutrient runoff and pollution in the Great Lakes when the provincial government introduces its long-awaited Great Lakes Protection Act.

9. Unrest in the forests Woodland Caribou are at risk across the boreal forest and the establishment of conservation plans has been lagging, increasing the legal risks for companies that do not move to protect this species.

10. Marine conservation Canada will face global pressure to improve its abysmal record on marine areas. Only 1.3 per cent of the oceans that are under Canada’s control are protected, despite the Canadian government’s commitment to safeguard 10 per cent by 2020.

This list was condensed and edited.

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