Documentation:Open Case Studies/Political Science/Industry1

From UBC Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

BC Hydro seeks to be a leading sustainable energy company by delivering electricity in environmentally and socially responsible ways. Having said that, energy systems cause both positive and negative impacts on the environment. Thus, a comprehensive action plan is a necessity for a company like BC Hydro. This action plan forms the basis for the company's processes and decisions. The action plan is as follows:

  • BC Hydro meets all the environmental requirements defined by legislation, regulation, government directives, and other environmental standards that apply to BC Hydro.
  • To develop and foster an electrical energy conservation culture in British Columbia that leads to customers choosing to make a dramatic and permanent reduction in electricity consumption. It also includes a "Sustainable Communities Program". Its in-house Resource Smart program is used to identify and implement efficiency gains at existing BC Hydro facilities.
  • It seeks to purchase products, services, and new supplies of energy that take into account environmental responsibility. Thus, it ensures that the production of hydro power is clean.
  • Publicly reports on its own environmental performance so as to maintain transparency.

In addition to this action plan, BC Hydro is committed to the BC government's Energy Plan to achieve electric power self-sufficiency in the province by 2016, with all new generation plants having zero net greenhouse gas emissions by the same year.[1]

BC Hydro has also entered into energy purchase contracts with a new category of company created by special legislation, Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to buy electricity generated from intermittent renewable sources, mainly from small capacity run of river hydro and more recently, wind power, wood residue energy, and energy from organic municipal waste.[2]

Introduction

Production of energy is the largest contributor to global warming (approximately 35% according to IPCC from 2014). Regardless of whether energy is produced via the burning of fossil fuels—including coal, oil, and natural gas—or produced via alternatives—such as nuclear, wind, solar, and hydroelectric—all sources contribute to climate change, though at vastly varying scales. In the case of fossil fuels, the impact is both obvious and found throughout the entire cycle: from extraction to the burning of the fuel. Alternative sources, however, may not have such an obvious impact on climate change. For example, the production of solar panels requires significant amount of energy and rare earth minerals, therefore, these costs must be included in how we calculate the use of solar energy on climate change.

As a region with vast hydroelectric potential one of the most significant contributions we can make is to prioritize energy production through the development of hydroelectric plants. Hydroelectricity is generally thought of as clean energy and provides a number of ancillary benefits including: the storage of energy, inexpensive once developed, and reliable. Despite such benefits, there are a number of drawbacks that are important to consider. More research is needed into the potential consquence that the dam reservoirs have on global warming as well as with their degradation of natural forest space. Further, it is important to consider the rights of indigenous peoples as suitable land for hydroelectric development may be located on their land. This is especially problematic in BC as there are few treaties that identify indigenous lands.

In spite of these challenges, we advocate that as a region, British Columbia can use it's natural resources responsibly and with consideration of the environmental effects of hydroelectricity while working within the rights of indigenous peoples and their land. Such a goal will only be accomplished should there be a thorough dialogue between those of the indigenous peoples and the representatives pertinent to the issue in government. Further, this matter would be additionally improved should there be an increased amount of indigenous representatives in government to advocate for their rights for all future considerations of the environmental effects of various industries.

Implications

(Erase this text: In this section, consider how your action plan can be framed to address the concerns of political, economic, and social groups. Your answers in these sections should consider the guiding questions on the student handout page. Why could you anticipate your plan as having a chance of success in gaining appropriate support? What will be its impacts? Consider both negative and positive impacts.)

Political

Political implications for Hydroelectric energy in British Columbia include Aboriginal Land Rights issues, protests, and transparency issues as a crown corporation. Most large-scale hydroelectric projects require large areas of land to be re-developed and often these developments occur on traditional indigenous lands in British Columbia. Additionally, there is the consideration of the massive land usage that is often required for the implementation of hydroelectric facilities that can prove to be destructive of scenic areas, disruptive to wildlife ecosystems, and the fact that the natural patterns of the water system will be altered, thus, altering the life pattern of certain species.

this needs to be finished

Environmental advocacy groups and political parties have protested the proposed Site C Dam on the Peace River near Fort St. John. Protesters including Peace Valley farmers and First Nations representatives argue that the dam would result in large scale ecological consequences and affect their traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering sites. The dam is in its early stages and has taken a forefront in local news headlines, especially following the 2016 provincial elections. As of summer 2017, the NDP party in power sent the Site C dam to undergo independent review before any final decisions are made regarding such an expansive establishment estimated to be worth $8.8 billion dollars <https://globalnews.ca/news/3643648/bc-ndp-refers-8-8b-site-c-dam-project-to-bc-utilities-commission/>

Crown Corporations - needs to be finished

Keep-the-Peace-Emma-Gilchrist-DeSmog-Canada.jpg

Economic

In terms of the economy, investing and furthering hydroelectricity efforts in British Columbia would have multiple beneficial and negative effects on the economy. Firstly, building hydroelectric dams is a costly process. It involves a lengthy construction process that costs a fair amount of money due to the use of many resources such as concrete, and land development. During this building process, the surrounding environment may be damaged in numerous ways, which may be particularly harmful to those who live a lifestyle where their resources come from the land. Particularly, Indigenous peoples economic activities may be effected as there may be reduced fish and animal populations from hydroelectric dam construction[3]. Building dams are economically stimulating, as they require lots of special knowledge to build, incorporating engineers, architects, geologists, conservationists, and others alike. Hydroelectric production has many economic benefits, once a hydroelectric dam has been built, energy production relies on the natural movement of water, where mechanical energy is turned into energy and thereby turned into usable electricity by a hydroelectric generator. [4] Hydroelectric dams provide water for irrigation channels, and fresh water for towns and cities. Moreover, they are a reliable year-round source of electricity in British Columbia, as British Columbia has an enormous amount or rives, lakes, and streams that flow year round. Access to clean, fresh water is essential to supporting communities, and without access to clean water, the local economy cannot grow.

Hydrodam.gif

Social

(Erase this text: Write your answers here)


Challenges

There are two activities associated with dams that can produce significant amounts of GHGs. The first is a set of activities pertaining to the construction of the dam, as well as the production of material used for constructing the dam.[5] The second is the production of GHCs through the decay of biomass in the dam reservoir after flooding.[6]

In the former case, a study on cement and steel production, as well as the construction of the dam itself calculated that the total amount of GHCs produced would be 10% of the fossil fuel equivalent.[7] Despite the notable difference, less emitting practices are advisable for the production and construction stages.

In the latter case, there is significant potential for GHG emissions, especially methane, which is 24 times as potent as CO2 in climate change.[8] This potential is due to the fact that after flooding of the region behind the land, the biomass of former plant and fungi life decay under water.[9] The more oxygenated the water is, the more CO2 relative to methane is produced.[10] Since BC is a colder region, the water is going to be highly oxygenated. Nonetheless, significant amounts of GHGs can be released for many years.[11] Clearing out a would-be reservoir of as much plant and fungi life as possible before flooding could help decrease the damage.[12]

References

  1. http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/electricity-alternative-energy/energy-efficiency-conservation/policy-regulations
  2. http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/10022_01#part1
  3. https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/none/hidden-costs-hydroelectric-dams
  4. http://water.usgs.gov/edu/hyhowworks.html
  5. Climate Change and Dams: An Analysis of the Linkages Between the UNFCCC Legal Regime and Dams
  6. Climate Change and Dams: An Analysis of the Linkages Between the UNFCCC Legal Regime and Dams
  7. Climate Change and Dams: An Analysis of the Linkages Between the UNFCCC Legal Regime and Dams
  8. Climate Change and Dams: An Analysis of the Linkages Between the UNFCCC Legal Regime and Dams
  9. Climate Change and Dams: An Analysis of the Linkages Between the UNFCCC Legal Regime and Dams
  10. Climate Change and Dams: An Analysis of the Linkages Between the UNFCCC Legal Regime and Dams
  11. Climate Change and Dams: An Analysis of the Linkages Between the UNFCCC Legal Regime and Dams
  12. Climate Change and Dams: An Analysis of the Linkages Between the UNFCCC Legal Regime and Dams