The Possibilities of Photosynthetic Energy

A new article by University of Toronto Professor Jeffrey MacIntosh details how advances in photosynthetic, methane-creating technology may usher in an energy status quo that is less dependent on fossil fuels.

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This new technology may also allow each household to generate the majority of power it needs for its own uses.

Read the full article here.


New article “Advance on the Arctic” considers risks and opportunities of development in the Arctic

Karen Gross’ article in the Spring/Summer edition of Nexus considers a number of the risks posed by increasing development in light of receding polar ice. CCLN co-chair Travis Allan is quoted explaining that, in many cases, the lives of Arctic peoples are already being disrupted by climate change.


Newfoundland’s Municipal Government Carbon Calculator

Canadian Environmental Regulation and Compliance News recently posted about this new initiative in Newfoundland and Labrador:

Newfoundland and Labrador launches municipal government carbon calculator –

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister responsible for the Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Emissions Trading, Tom Hedderson, announced May 13, 2013, the launch of its Municipal Government Carbon Calculator – an interactive tool to help municipalities understand the carbon footprint of their operations.

According to the government, the calculator is easy to use and increases engagement of employees, councillors, and other community leaders in recycling to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.

The calculator is available on NL’s Turn Back The Tide website – a one-stop-shop for climate change and energy efficiency resources.

Access the calculator
Also see the municipal government carbon footprint challenge: chance to win $5,000:


Ontario Proposes Legislation to Protect Great Lakes and Address the Effects of Climate Change

The provincial government has put forward the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, 2013, an Act to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin; and to create opportunities for individuals and communities to become involved in the protection and restoration of the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. Purposes of the Act also include “to advance science relating to existing and emerging stressors, such as climate change, that improves understanding and management of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.”

The comment period for this proposed Act is now over, but the advancement of the Act may be of interest.

The proposal for the Act can be seen here.


New Articles Explore the Viability of a Canadian Carbon Tax

There has been a raft of new articles exploring the viability, and desirability, of a carbon tax in Canada.  The issue of a carbon tax has been at the forefront of the national debate on climate change for some time, and these new pieces shed further light on the debate.

Please see this Maclean’s article examining whether Canadians would support a carbon tax; this Huffington Post article discussing the oil industry’s growing support for a carbon tax; and, this report from the Brookings Institution arguing that carbon taxes could actually help to solve economic woes.


New Ceres Report Examines Climate Change and the Insurance Industry

Ceres, an organization whose goal is to mobilize investor and business leadership in order to build sustainable global economy, has recently released a report entitled “Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey – 2012 Findings and Recommendations.”

The report (accessible here) examines climate risk surveys completed by insurance providers representing a significant portion of the American market.

Ceres’ analysis of the surveys attempts to “provide regulators with substantive information about the risks to insurers posed by climate change, as well as steps insurers are taking in response to their understanding of climate change risks.”

For those not involved in the insurance industry, the report gives a broad description of the challenges posed by climate change and the seriousness with which the industry is approaching those challenges.



MPP Tabuns and Former Deputy Premier Smitherman Discuss Ontario Energy Policy and the Way to a Renewable Future

George Smitherman and Peter Tabuns presented provocative views on energy policy in Ontario at a panel discussion hosted by the Climate Change Lawyers Network on Monday evening at WeirFoulds LLP.



They discussed a host of issues, from investment in nuclear power, to the cancellation of gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, to public versus private ownership of Ontario’s energy infrastructure.

Mr. Smitherman prefaced his views with a qualification:  as a former MPP and Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, he did not speak for the Liberal Party.  The self-described pundit offered his own, private opinions, and at one point, he requested the same of Mr. Tabuns.  With a laugh, Mr. Tabuns firmly rejected the offer to go off-the-record.

The two professed admiration for one another’s work, while Mr. Smitherman took the opportunity to criticize the pro-nuclear views of MPP Vic Fidelli, who had previously cancelled his appearance at the event due to a scheduling conflict.  Twice during the evening, Smitherman said he had one tough question for the Conservative MPP:  What price would you put on nuclear power?  In other words, would nuclear power cost consumers more than wind?  Smitherman implied the high price required to recoup investment in new nuclear projects would reveal them as less attractive investments than wind power projects.

Mr. Tabuns was also cynical about nuclear power.  He stated there was no business case for refurbishing the Darlington nuclear facility and it was irresponsible to have invested $600 million already when we do not know the final cost of the project or its cost effectiveness.  Per dollar, conservation and efficiency would yield better results, along with investment in renewable energy sources.

The two speakers’ views diverged on models of public versus private ownership.  Mr. Tabuns promoted public ownership of energy infrastructure.  Citing the Bruce Power nuclear facility and gas-fired plants, he stated privatization costs Ontario $1 billion per year.  He said public ownership mobilizes political support needed to promote investment in green energy.

Mr. Smitherman was skeptical about models of public ownership.  “I’m not responsible to employ the Power Workers Union,” he said.  He applauded Ontario’s Feed In Tariff (“FIT”) program for allowing anybody to be an electricity generator.  As in Denmark, he said, Ontario should promote community involvement, so that not only “big players” get all the funding.  Further, he argued under FIT, participants bear the responsibility to bring their projects in on time and on budget, so that overruns are not “piled up” as long-term-debt for the people of Ontario.

Both speakers shared provocative observations about business-as-usual.

Mr. Tabuns stated the nuclear question is a “fight over interests.”  He stated the facts are known.  The direction Ontario takes with new energy infrastructure does not turn on technical or economic issues being resolved.  He stated the people making money from business-as-usual are not going to give that money up easily and it will take political will to make Ontario’s energy supply renewable.

Mr. Smitherman added “I’m not normally a conspiracy theorist”, but some planners might be afraid when urbanites go off the grid.  Our current system is based on the premise that everyone must share in the costs of energy generation, but that model “falls apart” when fewer people share in the benefits.

Both gentlemen observed changing the direction of Ontario’s energy future in favour of renewable sources will not come easy.

This piece was written by CCLN Exec. member Saba Ahmad and originally posted at:






**CCLN’s Media Advisory – Energy Event with Tabuns & Smitherman ** #Toronto #TOPoli #CdnLaw

**Media Advisory**

MPP Tabuns (NDP) and George Smitherman (former Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Energy & Infrastructure) Discuss Energy and Climate Change in Ontario

Date:         January 28, 2013

Time:         6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Place:       WeirFoulds LLP, Suite 4100, 66 Wellington Street     

West, Toronto


The Climate Change Lawyers Network and WeirFoulds LLP invite you to attend what promises to be a lively and intimate discussion on energy and climate change on January 28, 2013. 

Peter Tabuns (Ontario NDP Critic, Energy), and George Smitherman (former Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Energy & Infrastructure), will discuss Ontario’s ideal energy supply mix, energy use and the environment.  CCLN’s Co-Chairs Julia Croome and Travis Allan will moderate a discussion about opportunities to increase the generation and use of clean energy, including through the Feed In Tariff (FIT) program – established in 2009 to encourage renewable energy producers to “feed” into the grid.   FIT established a guaranteed pricing structure for provincial contracts with renewable electricity generators.  FIT was recently amended to increase municipal engagement. 

 There is a suggested $10 minimum donation for attendance; 

$25 for lawyers seeking CLE credit.


Updated: Join MPP Peter Tabuns and former Deputy Premier George Smitherman

In addition to reminding you of the details of the event we’d like to let you know of a speaker substitution. Our event will still feature NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns and will now include George Smitherman, former Deputy Premier of Ontario, who shepherded the passage of Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 as Minister of Energy and Infrastructure.

Again, we regret that Mr. Fidelli and Mr. Couteau will have to miss the event due to scheduling conflicts and have sent their regrets.

As a reminder:
  • Event time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Location: 66 Wellington Street West, Suite #4100, TD Bank Tower, Toronto
  • Cost:
    • Students: Free
    • Lawyers seeking CLE credits: $25 (please bring cash or cheque made out to Climate Change Lawyers Network to the event)
    • All other guests: suggested minimum donation $10 (please bring cash or cheque made out to Climate Change Lawyers Network to the event

Please RSVP to: and indicate whether you will be seeking the CLE credit