Net Zero: Feds to redesign methane-reduction fund

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Welcome to Net Zero, your daily industry brief on clean energy and Canadian-resource politics.

The Lead

Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced that the federal government will overhaul the Emissions Reduction Fund, a $675 million methane-reduction program, after the environment commissioner called the program a waste of money.

The third round of applications for the fund was initially set to close last Friday, but it was put on hold to give Natural Resources Canada some time to address the concerns brought forth by environment commissioner Jerry DeMarco.

Demarco raised a number of red flags about the program in an audit released in November, including whether claimed emissions cuts can be believed. He also said the program did not ensure companies weren’t just using the new funds to pay for projects they were already planning to do and said the fund needed “a vast improvement.”

The program’s relaunch is tentatively scheduled for the third week of January with applications due by March. Wilkinson said that several changes will be made to make the program more transparent. The Canadian Press has more details.

Internationally

U.S. President Joe Biden said the recent wildfires in Colorado, which were the most destructive in the state’s history, marked the latest “code red” reminder of an ominously changing climate he hopes to confront with his renewable energy agenda.

“We can’t ignore the reality that these fires are being supercharged” by global warming, Biden said over the weekend. Reuters has that story.

Kazakhstan’s Health Ministry announced that 164 people had been killed in the protests that have made international headlines over the past week. The violent protests originally erupted because of rising fuel prices in the area. The Associated Press has more.

Meanwhile, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has ordered experts to extinguish a massive decades-old fire in a giant natural gas crater, known internationally as the “gateway to hell.”

“We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the wellbeing of our people,” he said. AFP has the details.

On Monday morning at 8:08 a.m., West Texas Intermediate was trading at US$78.38 and Brent Crude was going for US$81.29.

In Canada

A new survey from Alberta Environment and Parks found that the the Oilsands Monitoring Program, which is intended to discern the overall environmental impacts of the oilsands, has been ineffective in the decade since it has been implemented.

“We still have significant concerns with the … program’s ability to develop a robust, world-class monitoring program as intended,” said a response from the Alberta Environmental Network, which has delegates on several of the program’s technical committees. The Canadian Press has the full story.

Experts in B.C. are claiming storm damage to parts of Vancouver and West Vancouver’s waterfront is a sign of things to come amid climate change and rising sea levels.

“What we’re going to have to do is take a look at all of the old seawalls … and rebuild a lot of that over time,” said architect and urban planner Michael Geller. “These days we are too often dealing with trying to cure a problem that should have been prevented 20, 30, 40 years ago when we first started to talk about the potential impacts of climate change.” Global News has more from B.C.

Two top executives at Black Tusk Resources, a Canadian gold mining company, have been fined for undisclosed insider trading spanning a three-year period. CTV News has the details.

Finally, among the most recent appointees to the Order of Canada included Barry Smit, a retired geography professor from the University of Guelph recognized for his mentorship of the next generation of climate change scientists. CBC News sat down for a one-on-one interview with Smit, which you can find here.

Canadian Crude Index was trading at US$65.29 and Western Canadian Select was going for US$66.50 this morning at 8:08 a.m.

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