From “Green Jesus” to “Radical Pragmatism”: Canada’s Climate Minister is Evolving

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From “Green Jesus” to “Radical Pragmatist”: Inside the Evolution of Canada’s Environment Minister

When the main environment ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized countries met in Berlin in May, Steven Guilbeault was among them.

But for the first time in his long career, he was meeting ministers inside the summit, rather than protesting in the streets outside.

“Someone asked me, ‘Is this your first G-7 meeting?’ Guilbeault recalled in an interview with The Climate 202. “I said, ‘Well, that depends on how you look at it. I protested several of them, but this is my first inside. So it’s a fit for sure.

Guilbeault, 52, has been Canada’s environment and climate change minister since October. Before entering the Prime Minister’s government Justin Trudeauhe has spent more than two decades as an environmental activist with eyebrow-raising tactics.

In 2001, while working for green peaceGuilbeault climbed the one in Toronto CN tower and unfurled a banner calling on Canada and President George W. Bush “climate killers”. The act of civil disobedience was intended to pressure Canada and America to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. This earned him the nickname “Green Jesus” among fans and critics in the country’s oil-rich west.

In April, however, Guilbeault made a decision that might have horrified his younger self: he endorsed the controversial North Bay offshore oil project, which involves drilling up to 1 billion barrels off the east coast of Canada. The decision came two days after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report warning that the world must quickly phase out fossil fuels to avoid climate catastrophe.

“I obviously did not come into politics to approve oil projects,” Guilbeault told The Climate 202. “If I was on my own, making the decision for myself, it’s not the decision I would have made. … But I am now the environment and climate change minister for 38 million people.

Le Climat 202 met Guilbeault on Monday at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, where he is meeting with American officials, including White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy and interior secretary Deb Haaland. Here are the highlights of the conversation:

The case for climate pragmatism

Guilbeault describes himself as a “radical pragmatist”. For him, the phrase reflects his pursuit of “radical” policies to green the Canadian economy, but also his recognition of the harsh realities that complicate his lofty climate ambitions.

“The ideas I stand for are quite radical,” he said. “I propose that we review our energy systems, the way we move, the way we build things and the way we operate our factories and industries. But there’s a part of me that understands it can’t happen overnight.

In giving the green light to the Bay du Nord project, Guilbeault set out 137 legally binding conditions that the energy giant Equine must adhere to throughout the life of the project. For the first time, the conditions include an obligation to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“I never said Bay du Nord was ‘green oil’ or ‘sustainable oil’,” Guilbeault said. “But in fact, to our knowledge, it will be the least emitting project of its type in the world.”

Guilbeault, who is an avid reader of the scientific reports of the IPCC and the International Energy Agencysaid the two organizations recognize that continued oil production is in line with the more ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement: to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

“In a 1.5-scenario world in 2050, we’re producing about 25-35 million barrels a day, up from 100 million, where we are now,” he said. “So this is a significant drop in production. But there will still be oil consumed in 2050. And so it should be the least emitting oil possible.

Meanwhile, Guilbeault said he will likely lobby U.S. lawmakers this week over Democrats’ plans to offer a $12,500 tax credit to people who buy American-made electric vehicles.

Ottawa has argued that the proposal, which appeared in the Democrats’ stalled budget reconciliation bill, could force General Engines and Ford to move major manufacturing facilities from Canada to the United States. Guilbeault warned it could also undermine cross-border collaboration on securing critical minerals used in electric vehicle batteries, including nickel and cobalt.

“American policymakers will have to decide,” he said, “whether they prefer their nascent electric vehicle sector to depend on critical minerals from Canada or China.”

Guilbeault says the subject will likely come back when he meets Meaning. Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) this week. However, he does not meet Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.), the most important player in the spending bill talks — and a man who might particularly appreciate his “radically pragmatic” approach.

Manchin targets September 30 deadline for reconciliation

After a virtual meeting with the Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) Monday, Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) said he sees Sept. 30 — not the August vacation — as the real deadline for reaching an agreement on President Bidenthe long-standing fiscal reconciliation program, Erik Wasson reporting for Bloomberg News.

Schumer pushed for a deal before the senators left for their August vacation. However, September 30 is the date on which the fiscal year 2022 budget resolution that underpins the bill expires.

Manchin added that his top priorities are to ensure the bill does not worsen inflation, close some tax loopholes and reduce energy costs. He also reiterated his support for increasing domestic fossil fuel production.

“From an energy perspective, you can’t do it unless you produce more. If there are people who don’t want to produce more fossils, then you have a problem,” Manchin said after the discussion, Manu Raju reports for CNN.

Europe braces for gas ‘nightmare’ as pipeline from Russia shuts down

North stream 1The main gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany, was temporarily closed on Monday for scheduled maintenance, raising concerns about the resumption of supplies as Moscow continues to use energy as leverage in the war against the Ukraine, The Washington Post Loveday Morris, Reis Thebault and Amanda Coletta report.

The key pipeline delivers around 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to countries in Europe, although much of the European Union has agreed to wean itself off Russian gas as soon as possible. But some members of the bloc, including Germany, are still heavily dependent on Moscow for energy – a growing concern for the country as it tries to build gas reserves ahead of winter, when demand is at its peak. high.

German Minister of Economy, Robert Habecksaid that if the Kremlin does not reopen the taps after the planned 10 days of work, the country will face a “nightmare scenario” this winter.

“Anything is possible, anything can happen,” said Habeck Deutschlandfunk radio on Sunday. “We have to prepare for the worst.

Extreme heat poses test for Texas power grid

The Texas Electrical Reliability Board (ERCOT) urged customers on Monday to save energy during the hottest hours of the day amid a statewide heat wave, raising concerns about whether the grid beleaguered Texas Electric could handle record demand, Matthew Capucci reports for La Poste.

ERCOT predicted that between 2 and 3 p.m. Monday, the state grid would be capable of generating 80,168 megawatts. During the same window, demand was expected to reach 79,671 MW, leaving very little room for manoeuvre. The Lone Star State has avoided blackouts due to residents’ voluntary cutbacks, but calls to save energy could become common practice this summer if the ongoing heat wave continues.

When local demand exceeds capacity, most states and municipalities can borrow power from a neighbor. But Texas has been energy independent since the turn of the 20th century, leaving the state dependent on its own grid, even in high-demand scenarios.

The threat of severe weather power outages is not new to the Texas grid. In February 2021, 3.5 million people were left without power when temperatures dropped to dangerously low levels.

Some of the oldest trees in the world are threatened by the Yosemite wildfires

A forest fire rages inside Yosemite National Park threatens Mariposa Grove, home to some of the tallest and oldest trees on the planet, The Post’s Dino Grandoni reports.

The blaze, fueled in part by a climate change-induced drought, covered about 2,720 acres Monday night after doubling in size over the weekend. This poses a risk to the more than 500 mature giant sequoias that have inspired generations of hikers and attracted tourists from around the world.

So far, none of the grove’s named trees — including the 209-foot Grizzly Giant, as well as the Bachelor and the Three Graces — have been damaged by the flames, according to Yosemite firefighters. Iconic trees can live for thousands of years and grow in just six dozen groves along the Sierra Nevada.

Although they generally survive low to medium intensity fires, recent fire seasons have become longer and more intense, testing the tenacity of the trees. Already, three fires in the past three years have killed up to 19% of all redwood species.

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