Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 18, No. 9, March 17, 2014
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In this issue we review some of the recent developments in climate change that arise out of the December Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Lima, Peru. The volume of UNFCCC-related literature is becoming so great, as the world's nations gear up (or down, in a few cases) for the Paris Conference at the end of this year, that we can only bring GallonLetter readers a brief overview. Nevertheless we hope you find it interesting and useful. We will update our perspective on the prospects for the Paris conference later this Spring.

Before we get to the climate change feature we have an editorial commentary on the Economist Party of Canada. According to Statistics Canada's 2011 National Household Survey there are about 15,000 economists and economic policy researchers and analysts in Canada, so perhaps this group could become a core constituency for the federal Green Party!

On the Paris meeting we draw on a report from the Wuppertal Institute which presents a succinct state of negotiations. Not too encouraging. Since December another meeting, seen by some as more positive, has been held in Geneva. We present a brief summary.

GallonLetter believes that business could provide economically sound leadership in climate action. So does a professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. We link you to his book.

Three Canadian provinces may be playing a role in bringing subnational (provincial and state) governments to the Paris negotiations. We alert you to this possibly interesting initiative. Environmental groups are urging action, small business less so. Our summary gives readers an idea of what is being said. Well-known environmental policy consultant Ken Ogilvie wrote to us with an opinion on the Ontario climate change discussion paper, currently out for consultation, so we pass on his comments, with which we entirely agree. We publish relevant letters whether we agree or not, as long as they add something useful to the debate, so please send your comments about anything you read in Gallon Environment Letter, or that is relevant to business, the environment, and sustainable development to

And then of course there is the position of the Government of Canada. Much has been said, much less done, but Gallon Environment Letter recaps the numbers and the words.

Biofuels have been presented as one major contributor to climate change mitigation but not so fast, says the well-respected World Resources Institute. Their position is interesting but may not be complete.

Something the Economist Party seems to have omitted from its platform is the ending of subsidies to fossil fuels. But IISD has filled the breach with a new report on removing such subsidies. A high level federal working group, on which GallonLetter's editor served, recommended removal of subsidies to the fossil energy industry back in 1994. Twenty-one years later, governments continue to subsidize fossil fuels. 

GallonLetter readers probably already know that economy and environment are not mutually exclusive but instead go hand in hand but it is still heartwarming when as prestigious a body as the OECD states the same thing. We review their latest paper on this topic.

It is not often that GallonLetter gets to write about Dragons' Den, as a result of a green product being pitched, so we are disappointed that this one may not be as green as presented. We hope the developers can fix it up so that it meets federal requirements for green product claims. Finally, everyone else is talking about the impact on environmental groups of Bill C-51 so we give our take as well. It is tough not to worry.

Our next issue will be a catch-up of some of the most interesting environment and business issues from the last few months that we have not yet covered, either in Gallon Environment Letter or in our relatively new GallonDaily.


If it had not been March 15th we might have thought it was April 1st when Mike Moffat, an Assistant Professor in the Business, Economics and Public Policy group at Ivey School of Business at Western University was interviewed about the Economist Party concept on CBC Radio One's The 180.

According to Moffat, and a number of web pages directed particularly to economists, a group of Canadian economists has been tossing around the concept of a new federal party to be called the Economist Party. Not that they intend to form a new federal party, but they have found the discussion interesting. Gallon Environment Letter also finds their proposed platform interesting because of the number of environmental and sustainability initiatives it contains.

Among the points that Moffat made during the interview:
Stephen Tapp, research director of the Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Growth research program at the Institute for Research on Public Policy in Montreal has laid out a proposed platform for the Economist Party. Gallon Environment Letter has indicated with a * those proposals which would also seem to enhance Canada's environmental and sustainable development performance:

1)* attach a price to carbon emissions
2)* use toll roads to reduce traffic congestion and encourage the use of public transit;
3) promote freer trade by lowering tariffs and removing internal trade barriers to better integrate domestic markets [potentially also a significant contributor to sustainable development of developing countries];
4) end supply management;
5)* raise the GST rate back to 7% and more generally increase our reliance on taxes that hit consumption rather than investment;
6) reduce corporate income tax rates;
7) simplify the personal income tax system and reduce boutique tax preferences (e.g. fitness tax credits and the like);
8) legalize and tax marijuana, treating it more like alcohol and tobacco sales;
9) index fees — such as licenses, taxes and fines — to inflation so their real value doesn’t fall over time;
10)* have a modest guaranteed annual income (negative income tax at the very bottom end) to ensure a basic standard of living for society’s poorest;
11)* invest in beneficial public infrastructure projects — particularly now when long-term borrowing costs are negative in real terms;
12)* subject new social policy programs to randomized controlled experiments and rigorously evaluate their effectiveness before scaling them up;
13) provide individualized, electronic health care « bills » to illustrate to users the costs of services received;
14) create a market for organ donation (or failing that, change the default to opting-in for organ donation);
15) make student loans contingent on income earned after graduation;
16) promote more competition in education by allowing freer choice for the public schools to which parents can send their kids;
…lastly, and perhaps most universally supported by Canadian economists…
17)* restore the mandatory long-form census. Spend less to collect better quality data — it’s a no-brainer. Economists would even go further and grow Statistics Canada’s microdata collection and allow researchers easier and free data access, while ensuring respondents’ confidentiality.

GallonLetter thinks that 7 and a half out of 17 policy proposals contributing positively to sustainable development makes a pretty good set of proposals, certainly far better than we saw from any of the three major parties in the last federal election.

It's a pity that the Economist Party is not much more than a cruel joke. Maybe a merger between the Economist Party and the Green Party would be a good way to go!

Colin Isaacs

A podcast of the segment can be found at

The Economist Party's platform can be found at

The 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which took place in Lima, Peru from December 1 to 12, 2014, was intended to prepare the world's nations for a groundbreaking meeting of the parties in Paris in 2015. The Paris conference goal is to develop (based on the 2011 Durban Platform for Enhanced Action ) "a protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties.” When (or if) agreed to in Paris in 2015, the new agreement is expected to begin implementation in 2020.


Despite some good signs that Lima was going to make some real progress, a paper from the highly respected Germany-based Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy paper concluded that "After the first week in Lima it became clear that COP20 would not enter the history of climate diplomacy as one of the more constructive meetings." and "the conference failed almost completely to resolve the tasks it was supposed to do in order to prepare the last round of negotiations before COP21 in Paris 2015."

Among some of the other observations of the paper were:
Among some of the options which were supposed to be agreed to in Lima were
 -which countries would be part of the new 2015 agreement
 -differentiation between countries
 -reporting and transparency e.g. how countries would submit their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) e.g. what information would be provided along with the INDCs, how the international community would review these and evaluate which countries have contributed their fair share.
Ott, Hermann, Christof Arens, Lukas Hermwille, Florian Mersmann, Wolfgang Obergassel, Hanna Wang-Helmreich and Timon Wehnert. Lima Climate Report – COP20 Moves at Snails’ Pace on the Road to Paris: A First Assessment of the Climate Conference in Lima (COP20 / CMP 10). Wuppertal, Germany: Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, 17 December 2014.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


For a discussion of innovation (e.g. technology, emissions trading, monitoring and enforcement, risk assessment) and experiments in climate action implementation as well as extensive lists of organizations and their web sites, see Matthew Hoffman’s book on climate governance. The author suggests that many of these "experiments" use market orientation making the case that while climate change is a critical environment issue it is also a business issue, "Climate governance experiments, are for the most part, advocating climate action by making the case that such action is or will be economically beneficial."

Matthew Hoffman is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto.

Hoffman, Matthew J. Climate Governance at the Crossroads: Experimenting with a Global Response after Kyoto. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011. and his blog
Matthew J. Hoffmann. global governance norms, climate change, and treaty-making


The negotiating text from the Lima climate talks was negotiated again in Geneva in February in relation to what is called the Durban Platform, at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. The UNFCCC identifies the Durban Conference held in 2011 as a turning point because governments committed to develop a comprehensive universal legal agreement to deal with climate change beyond 2020 to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions to a two-degree level above the pre-industrial level. Even if emissions are stabilized, many vulnerable and poor countries will need help to adapt to what is already happening in the global climate. National and international action has not yet been on the necessary scale to reduce emissions enough to meet the two degree scenario. Higher emissions carry a risk of very serious climate impacts. The Durban Conference also highlighted the opportunities presented by the response to climate for profit by business and technology sectors in environmentally sustainable and resilient societies globally. Informed citizens, smart government policy and smart business investment were seen as working in self-interest for a common goal.

In Geneva, even more options and alternate wording were added to the negotiating text which optimists see as giving a chance to all countries to have their say on content such as mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, building capacity and transparency. The negotiating text will be the basis of negotiation on the Paris agreement although there are other meetings before the Paris conference such as a meeting in Bonn in June.

Calling the release of the negotiating text a milestone to kickstart an intense period of negotiations for a durable response to the challenge of climate change, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres also highlighted that climate change affects many aspects of society:"I welcome the broad-based engagement of Heads of State and Ministers ranging from finance to health to energy. The new agreement will not only be of relevance to Ministers of environment, but will be of key relevance across all government ministries and departments committed to the triple intertwined agendas of 2015: namely climate action, the realization of a suite of Sustainable Development Goals and progressing on disaster risk reduction,"

WRI: Positive View of ADP Talks

Likening the UN climate negotiations in Geneva to starting the early stages of the Tour de France, David Waskow of the World Resources Institute wrote in the WRI blog, "It was a positive start, with a constructive tone to it. Yet much of the road including some likely mountain passes still lies ahead." Among his views are:
Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.

Announced in September 2014, at the UN Climate Summit, the Compact of States and Region members of sub-national governments commit to:
Participating governments were to begin reporting in January 2015 and in December 2015 at the Conference of the Parties COP21, an inaugural assessment is to be presented.

Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia signed the Compact of States and Regions at COP20 in Lima and agreed to collaborate with each other and California for a green economy with green jobs. Ontario's target is for GHG emissions at 6% below 1990 levels by 2014. The effort to phase out coal-fired electricity generation is identified as the single biggest greenhouse gas emission reduction in North America. Quebec's target is a 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 as listed in the 2013-2020 Climate Action Plan. Quebec and California have a cap-and-trade system which held a first joint auction. British Columbia set a target of 6% below 2007 levels by 2012 and continues to make progress on targets for 2020. BC's carbon tax implemented in 2008 is seen as supporting a shift to cleaner energy and making those who produce emissions pay for them.

These provincial efforts are seen as setting examples for innovation for governments preparing plans for Paris in 2015 and promoting similar actions at the national level.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


They've put the mannequin in the window, and most of the body parts are there. It's just that it has no clothes. And we're not sure what gender it is. But it did serve as a mechanism for telling everyone what a great job Ontario's doing.

What we need now are detailed policy options and stakeholder reactions to them. If a carbon tax, then how much and how will it be applied, and so on.

Ken Ogilvie
Environmental Policy Consultant

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


In January, the Premiers of Canada including the territorial leaders met calling for a better partnership with the federal government. According to the backgrounder of that meeting, "Premiers discussed action on climate change and agreed to share best practices at the climate change summit in Quebec City that can be the basis for discussion at the COP21 meeting in Paris in December 2015."

Environmental groups, grassroot organizations, native groups and others are planning to be there on April 11 for a family-friendly march to encourage the Premiers to "Act on Climate". Among the take-away messages are a focus on the exclusion of "extreme energy projects like the tar sands and the pipelines that enable them" to choose instead renewable energy.

Among supporters are
Faith-based NGO: Climate Change and Caring for Creation

Before the January Premiers' meeting, Joe Gunn Executive Director of the charity and faith-based Citizens for Public Justice based on Ottawa wrote a letter beginning with,

"On behalf of Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) and its members, we urge you, and all premiers, to make climate protection a priority for your January and April meetings as the Council of the Federation.

Climate change is considered by many as the central issue of the twenty-first century. As a national organization inspired by faith, CPJ believes that caring for creation is an intrinsic and constitutive element of economic and social justice.

Any discussion of a Canadian energy strategy must be informed by the implications for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the potential for accelerating the transition to a clean energy system."

Noting that the Federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Julie Gelfand, indicates that the federal government lacks the measures to have an effect on emissions by 2020, he writes that the effort should be national but failing that the provincial and territorial government are critical to advancing national action. A key role is to press the federal government to adopt an ambitious and credible action plan to meet the targets the government has committed to and submit its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to the UNFCCC by March 2015 deadline. Recommendations on what should be in the content of the national climate action plan are:
The Premiers are asked to develop their own similar provincial and territorial plans to "advance effective climate protection efforts across Canada. We trust that you will join us in supporting policies and practices that allow the flourishing of all God's creation."

GallonLetter isn't entering the minefield of religion and science but thought the letter from this faith-based organization was surprisingly forceful and detailed.
Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.

The local Seedy Saturday in Wellandport, Ontario, a small scale event repeated across Canada featuring local seed growers many of heritage and open-pollinated seeds, seed exchanges among attendees, and workshops on gardening and food growing doesn't seem much like a political event but even a name of an organization seems to be political. One of the exhibitor at this Seedy Saturday was Greening Niagara, a grass roots non-profit which provides eco-education, and works towards developing capacity to deal with climate change. Executive Director, Jane Hanlon, was there to explain the various programs including community gardens, seed library, school greening projects, and other programs such as the Eco Fest Niagara. Originally founded in 2006 as Climate Action Niagara, Ms Hanlon said that local businesses were reluctant to provide support because they expected that a group with that name might be picketing them. So the group changed the name even though they haven't changed their focus.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


A decade or so now Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a member of the Canadian Alliance was more willing to say what we speculate he probably still thinks about climate change. He doesn’t seem so willing to reveal himself now as a denialist, that is, that he believes carbon dioxide isn't a pollutant and that he isn't concerned about the effect carbon dioxide has on the atmosphere. For him, the only real concern in the atmosphere was about air pollution which also affected his asthma. He didn't approve of an international treaty on greenhouse gases because it didn’t deal with air pollution. GallonLetter notes that the argument against a climate change treaty because it doesn't deal with smog ignores the thirty years of United Nations treaties and protocols on encouraging countries to reduce air pollution such as the long range transport of air pollutants and pollution in general. Treaties on hazardous waste, emissions from ship and toxic substances also reduce air pollution even if the treaty is not specifically about air pollution. And of course, Canada could certainly work to strengthen those treaties as well as take action on climate change.

As Prime Minister, lack of implementing the processes necessary may be both a combination of being weak in implementing procedure and an antithesis to climate change science. Among the reasons, he told Parliament for withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding agreement ever on climate change, was that the Liberals didn't meet the targets. And then from that self-described high ground slipped even further in the commitments made during international climate negotiations. Harper reneged on the targets Canada had set reducing emissions below 1990 levels and made his own promise of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 by 2020 as agreed to in Copenhagen. Under the most recent assessment, Environment Canada is projecting 727 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020 under business as usual a big gap from the target. On the chart in the environmental indicators website, Environment Canada says "The line graph shows Canada’s national greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 with the 2020 Copenhagen target of 607 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Canada’s emissions in 2012 were 699 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or 18% (108 megatonnes) above the 1990 emissions of 591 megatonnes. Steady increases in annual emissions characterized the first 15 years of this period, followed by fluctuating emission levels between 2005 and 2008, and a steep decline in 2009 mostly due to the economic down-turn. Despite the economic recovery, emissions have generally stabilized in the past three years."

Environment Canada. National Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Environmental Indicators.
Extract from Parliamentary Record:

"Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):
 Mr. Speaker, I do not pretend to be a scientist on these issues and I hope neither does the leader of the Liberal Party.
 What made absolutely no sense for this country was a Liberal government that signed the Kyoto protocol, signed what I quite frankly think were stupid targets, and then had no plan after 10 years in office to even implement those. That was irresponsible.

 This government is ensuring we have a responsible position for this country."

Canada. Hansard. Official Report * Table of Contents * Number 066 (Official Version).December 13, 2011
Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB

Kyoto simply does not target air quality. It is designed instead to address the so-called greenhouse gas phenomenon. The hypothesis is that the increase of certain gases, not necessarily pollutants, contribute to a long term global warming trend.

I will not comment at any length about the science of this other than to say the science remains in flux and is controversial. This is not just about issues of global warming or how these gases contribute to global warming, but the very reality that there has been constant climate change in the earth's history. We know this and quite frankly science knows very little about why over the epochs and the centuries those temperature changes have taken place in the first place.

Second, it does not matter what view we have of the science in any case since Kyoto has little to do with that anyway. The accord focuses on only one greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is a naturally occurring gas essential to the life cycles of the planet.

Debates of Dec. 9th, 2002
House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.
Canadian Alliance
Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, first, I would dispute the assertion in the hon. member's question that industrialized countries are responsible for the current problem that has been created. We do not know that there is a current problem. Quite frankly, the purpose of the Kyoto agreement as we all understand it is to deal with a problem that may occur in the future.

In that regard, we look at the developing countries that are exempt from the provisions, countries like Brazil, China and India and we see that they are already major producers. China is already the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. It is already there. It is going to be more so in the future and it is completely exempt from the provisions.

I should also point out something which should be a concern to the hon. member and to others who have a different philosophy than I do. We believe that the really critical problem is not carbon dioxide, or certainly not the primary problem, but it is pollution and the creation of smog in the Asian cloud. I would suggest that is the problem we should be dealing with first. That calls even more strongly for the inclusion of those countries in an international protocol than does this situation.

Open Parliament. Extract from House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) October 24, 2002.


Bioenergy is an inefficient use of land to generate energy compared to other energy sources such as solar, according to a paper from the World Resources Institute. On the same amount of land on three quarters of the world land, solar photovoltaic systems can produce 100 times the amount of energy compared to bioenergy.

Current and future targets to use crops specifically for bioenergy and/or the land needed to grow plants for bioenergy will increase the food gap, the differences between the calories needed and the calories provided. If countries pursue the biofuel targets, they could increase the gap between crop calories available in 2006 and those needed in 2050 from 70% to 90%.

Photosynthesis in plants is surprisingly inefficient at converting solar energy. The example is given of sugarcane grown on very fertile land which is said to convert only 0.5 percent of solar radiation into sugar and then only 0.2 percent into ethanol. Corn is even less efficient. This means that large areas of productive land are required to produce biofuels.

Claiming that biofuels have a carbon neutral impact because they absorb the same amount of carbon when they grow as they release when burned gives too much credit: the same land would otherwise be used to grow other plants or to produce food crops which would also absorb the carbon. The idea of using "degraded" land is also criticized for the same reason: the land would eventually regenerate to plants, forests acting as carbon storage. Some biofuels may have carbon advantages including "growing winter cover crops for energy, timber processing wastes, urban waste wood, landfill methane, wood from agroforestry systems that boost productivity, and crop residues that are not otherwise used. However, their potential to meet a sizeable share of human energy needs is modest." Algae as a biofuel (for example, in saline ponds) may turn out to be feasible but is expensive and should be considered only after less costly options are applied.

WRI's recommendations regarding policy changes on bioenergy are:
GallonLetter notes that another mark against crop-based biofuels is the amount of fossil fuels used in the chemicals and fuel for machinery needed to grow, harvest and process them although different methodologies in farming and biofuel manufacturing can lead to varying impacts. The technology for improving the environmental benefits do not seem to have developed as rapidly as one might hope. In response to the US Environmental Protection Agency consideration of cutting blending volumes of such biofuels as corn ethanol in gasoline, a coalition of American companies and industry organizations have launched an ad campaign on March 5, 2015 on “protecting America’s Renewable Fuel Standard and promoting the benefits of all types of renewable fuel.” ( )

The land use issue in the food vs fuel debate is made even more complicated by what some researchers call the carbon debt: if more land previously not cropped is converted to cropland, it may take many years longer to recover any carbon benefit created by the biofuel. For example, a 2008 paper estimated that it took 48 years to recover the carbon stored and lost to grow corn on land which had been fallowed for just 15 years under the U.S. Conservation Reserve Program. Still one has to be careful in that even if biofuels weren't grown and food is grown, that food may never fill the calorie gap ie supply food to the hungry and starving people who can't afford to pay for it. And of course, here in Haldimand County, that solar and wind power has many naysayers for the visual impact and also use of land for installations and service roads. One big sign covering the whole side of a barn near a many-acre solar array reads something like "Thanks, Samsung. Your solar field has made our lives hell."

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


"The evidence is clear - subsidizing the consumption of fossil fuels is hugely detrimental to the climate," said Scott Vaughan, president and CEO of International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in regard to a February IISD report. "And they come at a large opportunity cost. The billions of dollars spent on these subsidies means less money is available for clean energy, health, education and infrastructure."

According to the IISD press release on the report which was supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers, subsidies to fossil-fuels cost US$543 billion in 2014, according to the International Energy Agency IEA. The IEA estimates that fossil-fuel subsidies are more than four times the subsidies allocated for renewable energy and also more than four times the subsidies given to improving energy efficiency. Estimates are that removing fossil-fuel subsidies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 6 and 13 percent by 2050.

In the 2014 World Energy Outlook 2014 released in November 2014, the IEA highlighted the importance of the Paris talks, "Without clear direction from Paris in 2015, the world is set for warming well beyond the 2 deg C goal. ...Far-sighted government policies are essential to steer the global energy system on to a safer course." The entire global CO2 budget to 2100 was about 2300 Gt to keep the temperature rise to 2 deg C., a target agreed to at previous UN climate negotiations. A 50% share of that budget was used from 1900 to 2012 and unless low carbon investment is increased by four times, the other 50% of this CO2 budget will be used from 2012 to 2040. The IEA Energy Business Council provides some interaction between the activities of the IEA and business.

When Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations (publisher of the Foreign Affairs journal) in November 2014, he identified the energy sector as "the main responsible sector when we're talking about climate change." Fixing the problems in the energy sector requires making big changes but "we are completely going in the wrong direction, completely." While Canada's government attacks its critics on climate change and the Prime Minister tells Canadians it would be "crazy" to regulate the oil and gas industry, here is one highly unradical economist who knows a lot more about the interaction between energy and economics saying, "And we are very soon, I believe, if you're not able to get a meaningful result from Paris, we may well be very soon saying goodbye to the lifestyle we had since several centuries here. This is because we are looking in our future. Therefore, Paris is extremely important, extremely important to get an agreement, to get a signal from there." Birol will become the Executive Director of the IEA in September 2015.

International Institute for Sustainable Development IISD. Removing fossil-fuel subsidies results in huge benefits for the climate—new report. February 11, 2015.

World Energy Outlook 2014. Slides. London, UK: November 2014.

Fatih Birol on Africa and Its Energy Production. World Energy Outlook 2014. Speaker: Fatih Birol, Chief Economist, International Energy Agency. Presider: Michelle Patron, Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change, National Security Council. Washington, DC and New York, NY: Council on Foreign Relations, November 25, 2014.


Even stringent environment policies don't reduce the overall economic productivity of individual OECD countries, according to an OECD paper. While sometimes when a new policy is anticipated, there is a temporary slow down in productivity rates, this is followed by a rebound causing no harm to productivity levels at the economy level, industry or firm levels.

Less depends on the stringency of the policies than on their flexibility with market-based instruments resulting in more positive effects on productivity. Some countries such as the Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland have competition-friendly environmental policies which are stringent but with relatively low administrative burdens and few barriers to new entrants while Greece, Italy, Hungary and Israel have policies which aren't very stringent but distort entry and competition.

Environmental policies do have effects on the economy and also spur short-term adjustments. Examples include:
Among aspects of policies discusses are:
GallonLetter notes that the paper provides a valuable insight challenging the idea that a country's choice is either the economy or protecting the environment.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Entrepreneurs Morgan and Jackson Wyatt pitched their container as an innovation in composting to the Dragons' Den on the CBC on February 4 2015. Dragons Arlene Dickenson and David Chilton (author of the Wealthy Barber) both of whom are leaving the show, offered and were accepted for their partnership and investment of $85,000 with a 20 percent share. The container called The Greenlid looks like a pressed pulp fibre plant pot with the name associated with the plastic green lid. The pot is kept in the kitchen with the permanent green lid and is then said to be compostable either by taking it out to the home compost pile without any lid or by putting it into a municipal organics collection bin with a glossy coloured paperboard lid which is provided for each pot. The consumer buys a pack of several pots at a time, replacing the pots and paper lids but reusing the heavier plastic green lid.

The investors were surprisingly enthusiastic about the product and interested in the potential to reduce smelliness in order to encourage composting especially in apartments. The container has no handle nor did either of the two lids (reusable and paper) fit well enough to seal, apparently an intentional design feature to prevent anaerobic (without oxygen) composting. From a personal point of view, we prefer to use a lidless container (an old juice pitcher) only on the counter. This pitcher is emptied after every meal into the under sink bin. We a prefer a handle and tight sealable lid on our under-the-kitchen-sink compost bin (a reused old detergent pail) because some of the food debris is already smelly when it goes in there and also we don't want to attract pests before taking it outside.

Although the television audience may not be aware of it, the deals struck may change when the Dragons do their due diligence after the show. In our experience of other investors, we have found that investors sometimes neglect to fully address environmental issues. GallonLetter's editor in his role as a professional chemist has been working with several clients with compostable products and it is not an simple process. Sometimes there is such a focus on "greenwashing", that innovations in greener products which can help reduce environmental problems may not get the same chances as other products to correct errors instead of getting busted. In Canada, claims must be substantiated according to the Plus ISO 14021 guidance, CAN/CSA-ISO 14021. The latest Competition Bureau annual report which appears to be 2012-2013 doesn't detail much action related to the environmental claims issue but that doesn't mean the agency might not slap the occasional wrist sometime. The Wyatts suggested that they might branch out into the US and there the Federal Trade Commission FTC is still active in pursuing what it considers misleading green claims. Even if the product is certified compostable or otherwise proven to be compostable within a specified time frame, municipalities may not collect it in organics, for example because it can be confused with non-compostable items.

We have no way of knowing whether the Wyatts have a good set of data to support their claims but evidence is required on a number of factors. Testing for home composting is usually done separately because conditions are different than large scale municipal composting so both lab tests and real life condition testing are likely to be necessary for each. Just because a product is made of similar material is not sufficient evidence of compostability as in the comparison the entrepreneurs make between egg containers and the Greenlid. In the US, the FTC settled with a company for $450,000 in 2013 for a number of claims including that its paper plates were compostable but the company couldn't provide any evidence.

We put water into a fibre egg carton; the egg carton soaked up the water, leaked it out within a few minutes and came apart in our hands. We put water into the Greenlid container February 6, the container was still firm into March and could be lifted without any leakage or breaking apart leading us to surmise that egg cartons and Greenlid do not have the same characteristics as claimed. Testing may also be required to demonstrate that the use of materials which make the egg cartons and the Greenlid different are in compliance as composting claims cannot be made if there is a negative effect on the use of the compost as a soil amendment, if toxic substances are released or if the use of the product significantly reduces the rate of composting.

In both countries it is not only about the compostability but availability of facilities accepting the product. CAN/CSA-ISO 14021 uses a figure of 50% of the population served. The Greenlid web site says since municipalities collect egg cartons and soiled paper products, then their product being like an egg carton is collected so we expect they would at least have data on how much of the population is served by acceptance of egg cartons in the organic bin. Some municipalities collect egg cartons for paper recycling not for organics. Even if organics collection of egg cartons does meet the population served target, municipalities have lists of what is acceptable in their organics and if this product isn't on the list, comparing it to egg cartons or soiled paper isn't going to help. For example, the City of Vancouver accepts Food-soiled paper products in its organics:
It could be important to the future of the product for the innovators and investors to review the web site, the design and labelling and the range of claims such as the carbon footprint and the environmental benefit we haven't discussed in this article in order to avoid making misleading claims. It was great to see the potential for investment in innovation in environmental products featured on the Dragons' Den. GallonLetter isn't convinced that this container is better than compostable plastic bags, a product which more municipalities are starting to accept, at reducing the smelliness and yuck that puts people off from collecting kitchen compost but the interest by the titans with money was surprisingly encouraging.

Note 1.One among a number of environmental claims: "The Greenlid container is made of end of life recycled cardboard and newsprint. It is the same material that egg cartons are made from. The cardboard is made into our greenlid container shape through a process that shreds used cardboard boxes and newspaper that can't be recycled any more times. This allows the containers to effectively break down in compost facilities and active home compost piles just like those egg cartons."

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Environmental groups and environmentalists could be subject to attack by the new and radical powers given to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) under the proposed anti-terrorism bill C-51, according to two law professors, Kent Roach (University of Toronto) and Craig Forcese (University of Ottawa).

The authors say that the bill is constructing a regime that allows CSIS to get a court warrant in order to contravene Charter rights despite the Supreme Court of Canada's jurisprudence on Section 1 of the Charter which says the rights are "subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." The use of warrants under the bill is nothing like the traditional search warrant process and will result in proceedings in which the person accused will not be present and may never even "know who visited the misfortune on them. They cannot defend their rights. No civil rights group will be able to weigh in." Even the Federal Court may not know what CSIS practices were implemented as a result of the warrant. The authors conclude that "In sum, the government proposes radically restructuring CSIS and turning it in a “kinetic” service — one competent to act beyond the law. This is rupture from the entire philosophy that animated the CSIS Act when it was introduced 30 years ago. We personally have not been persuaded that it is truly warranted – it seems to us that such a radical change should be supported by cogent and persuasive evidence. No one has provided a clear explanation as to why the current process in which CSIS must call the police in if they wish to break the law is inadequate." Even under the current powers for CSIS, review bodies are chronically underfunded, never mind the expansion of the proposed new powers

Examples of measures that the professors identify that might be enabled by the proposed legislation but which would violate statute law or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms include
environmental issues including:
GallonLetter understands public apprehension especially in the case of the shooting of reservist Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial and the entry of the shooter into Parliament Hill in October 2014. "Who guards the guards" usually has the meaning of beware of giving government agencies with power, too much power as in Bill C-51, but why leave an honour guard unprotected at the Memorial and why is security unable to contain a man with a gun running over a considerable distance within the barrier blocks. Until there is the kind of in-depth analysis similar to a plane crash identifying the points of failure despite all those police cars, security staff and blockades enclosing the Parliament buildings, it seems to us premature to know that the fault lies in the existing laws. Of course, the cynical might also see the Bill C-51 as a strategem, a bag of tricks, to distract attention not only on this failure of security but also from the slide in the performance on the economy. However, for the purpose of this GallonLetter, curtailing civil liberties to the extent of limiting criticisms by established environmental groups is anathema. This government seems to believe that it is sufficient reason to curtail free speech about environmental protection including climate change because such criticism is mistakenly seen to undermine the economy. When government fails to tell Canadians about important environmental issues of our time, environmental groups can play a key role in informing the public.

Forcese, Craig and Kent Roach. Bill C-51 Backgrounder #2: The Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s Proposed Power to “Reduce” Security Threats through Conduct that May Violate the Law and Charter. Feb 12, 2015.

Parliament of Canada. 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. C-51An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts. Short Title: Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. -status, links


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