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12.28.2011

Les poules débarquent en ville

Source: Le Monde, 28 décembre 2011

Claire est une Parisienne qui a bien de la chance. Non contente d'habiter un rez-de-chaussée avec cour privative et jardin derrière la butte Montmartre, la jeune femme a le privilège, chaque matin, de pouvoir récolter un oeuf frais au saut du lit. Car depuis six mois, elle est l'heureuse propriétaire d'une poule naine. "J'avais envie d'un retour à la nature, explique-t-elle. Et puis cela me rappelle mon enfance." Ses voisins n'ont pas tiqué. Au contraire. "Leurs enfants sont ravis de nous rendre visite !", se réjouit-elle.

Avec sa poule en plein Paris, Claire passe encore pour une originale. Mais pour combien de temps ? L'élevage de gallinacés en ville gagne du terrain. Les jardineries Truffaut ont vendu plus de 20 000 poussins et poules pondeuses ou d'ornement à des particuliers en 2011. "L'activité basse-cour a augmenté de plus de 50 % cette année", précise Pierre-Alain Oudart, chef de produit. "Elle connaît un grand succès dans tous nos magasins en zone périurbaine." Cela se confirme à Toulouse, Aubagne et Amiens, mais également autour de la capitale, d'Herblay (95) aux abords du Stade de France, à Saint-Denis (93).

En deux ans d'existence, l'entreprise alsacienne Eco-poules a écoulé suffisamment de poulaillers en kit pour abriter 30 000 gallinacés : "Nous nous attendions à toucher des milieux plus ruraux", observe Stanislas de Beaumont, son fondateur. "Mais c'est en ceinture parisienne que nous avons le plus de clients. Et 80 % de nos ventes se réalisent sur Internet."

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12.11.2011

Behind the Durban Blame Game

By Richard Heinburg, Post Carbon Institute

Why did the Durban climate talks fail? Ultimately, the culprit is the near-universal pursuit of economic growth. All the major players want growth: the US, because it’s still pulling out of a recession; China, because it knows 10 percent annual growth can’t go on forever, but is trying to avoid a hard landing; Europe, which is trying to pull out of its sovereign debt spiral. The US and China, in particular, know that fossil fuels have given them growth in the past, and are especially reluctant to give them up now.

The Chinese pulled a PR coup during the talks by announcing that they were willing to consider emissions cuts if the US signs onto a global binding agreement. Perhaps Beijing felt safe saying this because there is a general understanding that binding climate action is currently unthinkable in the US for domestic political reasons. If China were indeed seriously concerned about climate, then as the world’s foremost greenhouse gas emitter it could simply unilaterally cut back on emissions and then challenge the US and other countries to follow suit. But of course that’s not what we’re seeing; instead, China is leading not only in total national emissions but in rates of emissions increase, due to its phenomenal coal consumption.

Can the world decouple GDP growth from carbon emissions? To a certain extent, yes. During the 90s there was some decoupling, especially in the US, but it was mostly due to globalization and financialization. Industrialized countries outsourced much of their production, mainly to China, which burned its coal to make America’s consumer goods; meanwhile, the financial industry blossomed as debt grew faster than GDP and banks leveraged that debt through securitization and derivatives. But, as we’ve seen since 2008, growing the size of the financial industry relative to the size of the rest of the economy can have some nasty long-term side effects.

Over the past decade, most of the decoupling effect has disappeared globally, and energy use and GDP growth have moved in tandem. In 2010, greenhouse gas emissions actually grew faster than GDP. So we’re moving in the wrong direction, and accelerating.

Could we still have economic growth while transitioning to renewable energy? Perhaps, but renewables typically have high up-front investment requirements. Once one has a solar panel up and running, one gets very low-cost energy, but buying and installing the panel is quite expensive—and for the world that’s problematic at a time when investment capital and credit are scarce. So, as regular oil and coal grow more costly, countries are often motivated to solve their energy supply problems simply by digging deeper into their resource base for lower-grade fossil fuels, such as tar sands, which just make the climate problem worse.

This dynamic is only likely to change when we finally get to the point where we are concerned less about short-term economic growth than about our longer-term survival prospects. But by then it may be too late to avert catastrophic and irreversible climate change.

Here’s the bitter irony: we are postponing serious climate action for the sake of immediate economic growth. But with a flood here, a drought there; with a famine here, a mass migration there, we soon arrive at a place where economic growth is unachievable in any case.

Nobody expected much from the Durban talks. Thanks to the US and China, the negotiations fully lived down to their expectations. It’s past time for these nations to wake up and realize that even their short-term growth strategy is doomed to failure. It may be too late by now to avert serious climate impacts, but the world can still benefit by abandoning its pointless and counterproductive quest for growth at any cost.

11.14.2011

Regulator unmoved by study showing trucks can be made safer for cyclists

Source: Globe & Mail, November 14, 2011

It’s a debate that’s gone on for years: Should truck drivers be forced to install side guards to help prevent pedestrians and cyclists from being crushed under their rear wheels? To families and friends of the victims, it’s a life-saving measure, a position reinforced after the tragic death of a cyclist in Toronto last week. But the trucking industry and the federal transportation regulator argue the evidence of the side-guard’s effectiveness isn’t clear. The debate moves to Ottawa on Monday when opposition MP Olivia Chow will press the government to make the protection mandatory on trucks across the country. A report from 2010, commissioned by Transport Canada and made available to The Globe and Mail, shows that since the introduction of guards on the side of most trucks in Europe in the late 1980s, the number of cyclists and pedestrians killed or seriously wounded in crashes with large vehicles has dropped. More

11.01.2011

More hens, please

Source: Daily Gleaner, Nov 1, 2011

The sky has not fallen, Chicken Little. It was last March when chickens were the topic of conversation in Fredericton - specifically the keeping of chickens in urban coops in the backyards of residents. Residents Hazel Richardson and Philias Cyr had each applied for a one-year temporary use variance to keep three egg-laying hens in their backyards, and it was up to the Planning Advisory Committee to make the decision. The PAC seemed cautious, but curious and willing to entertain the request. Some neighbours were OK with the whole venture, while others wrote letters of protest and attended the PAC meeting to voice their concerns. One neighbour was so concerned she put her house up for sale and subsequently sold it. In the end, the PAC approved the requests, the hens moved in, and more than six months later, a lot of eggs have been cracked, but the sky has not fallen. In fact, PAC members, during their yearly tour of approved projects, visited Ms. Richardson's coop last week and found that everything was in order - no complaints, no odour, no noise. Happy hens, happy neighbours, happy family, lots of delicious, fresh eggs, and happy gardeners who collect the droppings for their plants. This is a success story, and we want to say thank you to the PAC for giving this venture a chance, and to Ms. Richardson and Mr. Cyr for the courage to take on this experiment and make it work. More

10.23.2011

Are we reaching ‘peak car’?

Source: Globe & Mail, Oct 22, 2011

Anyone who has been stuck in big-city gridlock lately may find this hard to believe, but millions of Westerners are giving up their cars.

Experts say our love affair with the automobile is ending, and that could change much more than how we get around – it presents both an opportunity and an imperative to rethink how we build cities, how governments budget and even the contours of the political landscape.

The most detailed picture of the trend comes from the United States, where the distance driven by Americans per capita each year flatlined at the turn of the century and has been dropping for six years. By last spring, Americans were driving the same distance as they had in 1998.

The data are similar in Europe, Australia and Japan. And, although Canada doesn't keep national statistics on individual driving habits, Australian researcher Jeff Kenworthy has found that driving in the nation's five largest cities, combined, declined by 1.7 per cent per capita from 1995 to 2006.

If developed countries are reaching “peak car,” as some transportation experts are calling it, it's not just a product of high unemployment or skyrocketing fuel prices, as the pattern began to show up years before the 2008 financial crisis.

Nor is it primarily a matter of people feeling guilted into reducing their car use for the sake of the climate and the environment – the threat of separating people from their wheels (or taxing their fuel use) has long been one of the green movement's biggest stumbling blocks.

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10.19.2011

IEA Predicts 'Dire Future'

Source: WSJ, Oct 19, 2011

By JAMES HERRON

PARIS—The world is headed for a "dire future" where high energy prices drag on economic growth and global average temperatures rise by more than 3.5 Celsius unless there are significant innovations to lower the cost of clean energy and carbon-capture technology, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

Speaking at the conclusion of a two-day meeting with international energy ministers and business leaders in Paris, senior officials from the agency painted a gloomy picture of the world's current trajectory.

The meeting concluded that growth in energy demand will be powered largely by coal and the only hope of restraining the rise in global temperatures to safe levels is to hope that the creation of cheaper technologies to capture carbon dioxide "might eventually allow it to be used in a more environmentally benign manner."

The meeting, which was attended for the first time by ministers from a large number of emerging economies, was a clear acknowledgment of how economic realities conflict with the goal of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions.

"Twenty percent of the world's population does not have access to reliable energy," said Martin Ferguson, Australia's Minister of Resources and Energy who was chairing the IEA meeting. These developing countries "are going to continue to grow their economy and hence their demand for energy."

This means that "coal will continue to be the world's fastest growing energy source for some time," with its consumption rising by two-thirds under the current trajectory, he said. "It's not for us to deny them, but to invent clean technology at the lowest possible cost," and share it with them, he said, adding that investment in carbon capture and storage and renewable energy is important.

Current clean energy technologies are insufficient to meet carbon-reduction targets, so in the nearer term improving energy efficiency is the most important action to take, the IEA said in a statement concluding the meeting.

"The scale and breadth of the energy challenge is enormous," the IEA said. "Unless much stronger action is taken ... energy related CO2 emissions would rise to a level consistent with a long-term global temperature increase of more than 3.5 Celsius, with dangerous consequences for the global environment and human welfare."

The door may already be closing on the opportunity to prevent average global temperatures from rising by more than two degrees Celsius, said the IEA's Chief Economist, Fatih Birol, on Tuesday.

Growing dependence on fossil fuels will also be economically damaging, the IEA said. "Persistently high levels of spending on energy imports would impose a drag on economic growth in many countries," it said. "The risk of serious energy-supply disruptions would continue to mount."

High oil prices this year have contributed to the economic slowdown many countries are currently experiencing, said the head of the IEA's oil markets division, David Fyfe.

10.17.2011

The worsening oil crisis and views of a German military think tank

Source: todayszaman.com

DURHAM-- The global economic crisis shows no sign of significantly abating, with extremely sluggish growth and sometimes economic contraction occurring across Europe and the US in particular.


While the problem of credit remains the main focus of economists, there is also another factor to consider that many seem to have overlooked. The world is running out of affordable oil. The International Energy Agency stated in its 2010 report that the world saw an “all-time peak” in the production of conventional crude oil in 2006. While it delivered an optimistic scenario with respect to the discovery and utilisation of unconventional oil sources, such as tar sands and deep-ocean oil, there are still some problems when it comes to the ability to supply the global economy with these sorts of fuels.

Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, has stated several times that “the age of cheap oil is over.” Our global economy has depended on cheap oil in order to function well and in order for long-distance supply chains to remain viable. However, the dynamics of supply and demand could result in a situation where oil prices are highly volatile, swinging from very high prices to very cheap prices in short periods of time. Such dynamics have been described by Dr Colin J. Campbell, a retired petroleum geologist and analyst, as the “bumpy plateau.” When the physical limits of oil production have been reached, any increase in oil demand as a result of investment in economic growth causes rapid price increases until these prices start to make global trade expensive. As a result, demand for oil falls because of the inability of companies to afford energy expenses and this drives down the price -- sometimes very dramatically. Can the world survive such a volatile future?

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10.11.2011

Jeremy Rifkin: The Third Industrial Revolution

Source: www.climate-one.org

The world is doomed to repeat four-year cycles of booms followed by crashes if we don’t get off oil, Jeremy Rifkin warned a Climate One audience in San Francisco on October 3. The solution, what he calls the Third Industrial Revolution, is the “Energy Internet,” a nervous system linking millions of small renewable energy producers.

For Rifkin, author of the new The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy and Changing the World, a seminal event occurred in July 2008, when the price of oil hit $147 a barrel. “Prices for everything on the supply chain went through the roof, from food to petrochemicals. Purchasing power plummeted all over the world that month. An entire economic engine of the Industrial Revolution shut down,” he said.

“That was the great economic earthquake,” he went on. “The collapse of the financial markets 60 days later was the aftershock. Our world leaders are still dealing with the aftershock, and have not gone to the nub of the crisis."

The reason this is happening now, Rifkin said, is that the “world is made out of and moved by fossil fuels.” We have reached peak oil per capita and global peak oil production, he said, citing the International Energy Agency’s finding that peak oil production probably occurred in 2006, at 70 million barrels per day.

"Every time we try to re-grow the economy at the same growth rate we were growing before July 2008, the price of oil goes up, all of the other prices goes up, purchasing power goes down, and it collapses.” This is a wall we can’t go beyond under the current energy regime, he said. “We’re in this wild gyration of four-year cycles, where we’re going to try to re-grow, collapse, re-grow, collapse.”

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10.07.2011

Oil’s physical strength defies slowdown woes

Source: Globe & Mail, Oct 7, 2011

The physical oil market continues to show a remarkable strength even if futures prices are lagging amid worries about the impact of an economic slowdown on demand.

The latest signal of supply and demand tightness comes from Asia and the Middle East. On the one hand, the cost of Oman-Dubai crude, the regional benchmark, in the spot market has surged significantly above their price for delivery later on the year and into early 2012. The downward slope of the curve, known as backwardation, is an indication of immediate tightness. On the other, the premium that Saudi Arabia charges to Asian refiners for its main crude stream has jumped to an all-time high.

As Edward Morse, the veteran oil watcher at Citigroup in New York, put it earlier this week, “the dire macro outlook continues to weight on the oil complex … but there remains very little in the way of weakness visible in the oil market itself”.

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10.04.2011

Mobilisation pour l'agriculture urbaine

Source: La Presse, 4 octobre 2011

Vous aimeriez cultiver des légumes avec les voisins, dans le petit lopin de terre inutilisé au coin de la rue? Installer des plants d'aubergine en sacs sur une placette bétonnée? Planter des choux sur le terre-plein d'une avenue? Aménager des fossés dignes de Carrot City (l'exposition)? Estimez-vous que la Ville devrait subventionner de tels projets?

Désireux de provoquer une réflexion collective et une vision cohérente de l'agriculture en ville, le Groupe de travail en agriculture urbaine (GTAU) et l'un de ses membres, le Centre d'écologie urbaine de Montréal, ont lancé, mercredi, une semaine de mobilisation intensive en faveur d'une consultation publique. Jusqu'au 4 octobre, les citoyens seront invités à signer une pétition dans certains marchés publics et certaines stations de métro.

Les organisateurs ont déjà recueilli 8000 signatures en sept semaines, et visent un total de 15 000 d'ici le 8 novembre. «Si 15 000 citoyens signent avant cette date, la Ville de Montréal sera dans l'obligation de tenir une consultation, en vertu du droit d'initiative», explique Pierre Chevalier, de la Ville de Montréal, faisant référence à ce nouvel outil à la portée des citoyens de Montréal depuis janvier 2010.

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10.01.2011

The rise and gall of e-bikers


Source: Globe & Mail, Oct 1, 2011

In the old days, there were cars, motorcycles and bicycles but commuting has become a more varied experience and there are new hybrid forms of transportation.

One of the more prevalent is the e-bike. It’s a mysterious entity and, in an effort to spread understanding, Road Sage answers a few of the more pressing questions.

What exactly is an e-bike?

E-bikes are alternative forms of transportation that provide all the benefits of bicycling – zero emissions and freedom from gridlock – without the troubling exercise. The “e” in e-bike stands for “electric.” Instead of pedalling, riders are carried along by a small electric motor that’s been slapped on the body of a real bicycle. Imagine biking around your town and city without the actual biking. Thanks to e-bikes this dream is now a reality.

Note: the experience is totally different than riding a moped or scooter. Those are powered by gasoline. E-bikes are powered by electricity.

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9.29.2011

Huit Nobel exhortent Harper d'arrêter d'exploiter les sables bitumineux

Source: Presse canadienne, 28 septembre 2011

Bob Weber
La Presse Canadienne
Edmonton

L'archevêque Desmond Tutu et sept autres lauréats du prix Nobel de la paix ont signé une lettre demandant au premier ministre Stephen Harper de faire ce qu'il peut pour stopper la croissance de l'industrie des sables bitumineux de l'Alberta.

La lettre au premier ministre canadien a été écrite trois semaines après que plusieurs lauréats du prestigieux prix eurent écrit une lettre au président américain Barack Obama lui demandant de bloquer le projet d'oléoduc Keystone XL, qui ferait augmenter les exportations vers les États-Unis de pétrole issu des sables bitumineux albertains.

«De la même manière que nous avons demandé au président Obama de rejeter l'oléoduc, nous vous demandons d'utiliser votre pouvoir pour faire cesser l'expansion des sables bitumineux, et vous assurer que le Canada se dirige vers un futur énergétique propre», lit-on dans la lettre, obtenue via l'organisme Nobel Women's Initiative.

La lettre adressée à M. Harper a été paraphée par tous les signataires de la missive destinée au président Obama, à l'exception du dalaï-lama. Ce dernier, explique Jody Williams, également lauréate du Nobel de la paix, n'a pu être joint à temps.

Les lauréats du prix Nobel soulignent que M. Harper a déjà soutenu que le changement climatique est peut-être la plus grande menace pour l'avenir de l'humanité. Ils lui demandent de passer de la parole aux actes en utilisant les pouvoirs fédéraux pour freiner la croissance de l'industrie des sables bitumineux.

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9.25.2011

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

Source: NYTimes, Sept 24, 2011

THE “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli ...” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.”

This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four — for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas — costs, at the McDonald’s a hundred steps from where I write, about $28. (Judicious ordering of “Happy Meals” can reduce that to about $23 — and you get a few apple slices in addition to the fries!)

In general, despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home. You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people. If that’s too much money, substitute a meal of rice and canned beans with bacon, green peppers and onions; it’s easily enough for four people and costs about $9. (Omitting the bacon, using dried beans, which are also lower in sodium, or substituting carrots for the peppers reduces the price further, of course.)

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9.14.2011

IEA says fundamental tightness explains sustained high oil prices

Source: Platts.com

Oil prices have remained stubbornly high this year, with Dated Brent currently averaging more than $110/barrel, seemingly at odds with the worsening economic outlook in many key oil-consuming countries.

But despite all the attention being given to the parlous state of many western economies, fundamental market tightness lies behind the apparently paradoxical sustained high crude prices we have seen, according to the International Energy Agency.

In its September oil market report, the IEA said demand had been outpacing supply since the middle of 2010, leading to a depletion of stocks. In the second half of last year the supply shortfall was around 1.4 million b/d, while in the first six months of this year the deficit was closer to 500,000 b/d.

At the end of this period, OECD oil stocks in July 2011 dipped below the average level over the last five years for the first time since June 2008, the IEA said. This situation continued in August, when an estimated stock build of 600,000 barrels fell well short of the normal increase for the month of 14 million barrels, despite the release onto the market of oil from emergency stockpiles of IEA member countries. This tightness now looks set to ease, the IEA said.

With demand forecasts being revised down as a result of the increasingly gloomy economic outlook, the IEA expects the call on OPEC crude--which broadly measures the amount of oil the cartel's members would have to pump in order to balance supply and demand--to fall too.

Demand for OPEC crude in the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2012 is now estimated at around 30.5 million b/d, not much higher than the group's current production.

Adding in more hypothetical factors, such as the partial return of Libyan oil to the market or any further downgrade to oil demand estimates, would point even more strongly to an easing of market tightness in the coming months.

8.30.2011

Vegetables cheer up Amsterdam’s waste ground

Source: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

The economic crisis has caused gaps to appear around Amsterdam. Ambitious new housing projects have suddenly been dropped because of continuing poor house sales. The result: loads of empty lots in the city. Local people are giving the bits of waste ground a new lease of life as parks, playing fields, training circuits or vegetable gardens.

In West Amsterdam, Thamar Zijlstra and some friends are growing greens in pots on what is set to become a building site:
“I saw a message about it by chance on Facebook. I thought it would be nice to join in with a few friends and signed up immediately. My friends were enthusiastic right away. A group of us have now got some troughs of plants which we look after together.”

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7.25.2011

Les pistes cyclables font grimper le prix des maisons

Source: Protegez-vous.ca

Cent mille dollars de plus. C’est ce qu’a réussi à obtenir Don Watson­, un entrepreneur général qui a vendu une résidence de luxe sur la rue Bourke, à Sydney, en Australie. La raison prin­ci­pale ? La rue fait partie du nouveau réseau de pistes cyclables de la métropole australienne.

Ça ne semble pas un cas isolé. Une étude réalisée en 2006 à l’Université du Delaware a montré que, dans cet État américain, les maisons situées près des pistes cyclables valaient en moyenne 8 800 $US de plus que les autres. Selon le conglomérat australien Fairfax Media, qui signalait les résultats de cette étude en avril 2011, des courtiers immobiliers ont rapporté un phénomène si­mi­laire en Caroline du Nord, où une quarantaine de maisons situées en bordure de la piste cyclable de Shepherd’s Vineyard se sont vendues 5 000 $US de plus grâce à cet argument de vente.

Pédaler ne serait donc pas juste bon pour les mollets, mais aussi pour le porte-monnaie!

7.13.2011

NB Motor Vehicle Act – Bicycle section

BICYCLES:

176 Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Act, except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.
1955, c.13, s.158.
177 (1) A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto.
177 (2) No person shall use a bicycle to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it was designed or equipped.
177 (3) No person shall ride on or operate a bicycle on a highway unless the person is wearing a bicycle helmet in accordance with the regulations and the chin strap of the helmet is securely fastened under the person’s chin.
177 (4) No parent or guardian of a person who is under sixteen years of age shall authorize or knowingly permit that person to ride on or operate a bicycle on a highway unless the person is wearing a helmet in accordance with subsection (3).
177 (4.1) A person sixteen years of age or older who violates or fails to comply with subsection (3) or (4) commits an offence.
177 (4.2) The minimum and the maximum fine that may be imposed on a person convicted of an offence under subsection (3) or (4) shall be twenty-one dollars.

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Bicycle lanes for the rest of us


Source: Ottawa Citizen, July 11, 2011

OTTAWA — Late Saturday night, city workers swept Laurier Avenue, peeled temporary paper covers off road signs, and removed dozens of construction barrels that have been doing only a so-so job of keeping eager cyclists off the segregated bike lane running east and west through downtown.

“We’re well behind. It’s time for Ontario to catch up,” says Mona Abouhenidy, a strategic transportation planner for the city. She and Alex Culley, another transportation planner, took the Citizen on a tour of the lane’s seven-block length between Bronson Avenue and Elgin Street this week.

The city’s mission is to make commuter cycling appeal to recreational cyclists — people who are happy to bike for fun and maybe for errands in their own neighbourhoods, but who balk at risking their necks downtown.

“They say, ‘I’m not going in traffic,’ ” Abouhenidy says. So the goal of the lane is to “provide a similar experience to being on a pathway while being on a road.” They’ll be happy to have anyone use it, but it’s not designed for the spandexed warriors comfortable winding their way around buses and taxis and delivery trucks.

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7.05.2011

11 most bicycle friendly cities in the world

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
2. Portland, Oregon
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
4. Boulder, Colorado
5. Davis, California
6. Sandnes, Norway
7. Trondheim, Norway
8. San Francisco, California
9. Berlin, Germany
10. Barcelona, Spain
11. Basel, Switzerland
.
.
? Greater Moncton, Canada

More here

7.02.2011

Local food movement goes national

Source: Globe & Mail, Sat July 2, 2011

Local food is going national in Canada.

Driving the movement is Lori Stahlbrand, a journalist-turned-food-advocate who has spent the last six years and several million donor dollars animating her dream of creating an alternative food system that stars environmentally- and animal-friendly Canadian farmers.

Ms. Stahlbrand’s first building block was creating Local Food Plus, a non-profit that issues its private certification to progressive farmers who conform to the tough set of sustainability and production standards written for the agency by a crack team of agricultural and environmental experts. The agency then helps link certified farmers with local buyers who would not have made the connections alone, providing critical strength to the local and regional supply chain.

“We were losing our ability to feed ourselves,” Ms. Stahlbrand said. “What we’re trying to do is build a different kind of food system. We’ve built the flywheel. Now it’s starting to turn.”

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7.01.2011

How to build community

Text by Syracuse Cultural Workers (SCW Community)

Turn off your TV
Leave your house
Know your neighbors
Greet people
Sit on your stoop
Plant flowers
Use your library
Play together
Buy from local merchants
Share what you have
Help a lost dog
Take children to the park
Honor elders
Support neighborhood schools
Fix it even if you didn't break it
Have pot lucks
Garden together
Pick up litter
Read stories aloud
Dance in the street
Talk to the mail carrier
Listen to the birds
Put up a swing
Help carry something heavy
Barter for your goods
Start a tradition
Ask a question
Hire young people for odd jobs
Organize a block party
Bake extra and share
As for help when you need it
Open your shades
Sing together
Share your skills
Take back the night
Turn up the music...turn down the music
Listen before you react to anger
Mediate a conflict
Seek to understand
Learn from new and concomfortable angles
Know that no one is silent though many are not heard
Work to change this
Bike to work (PCGM's modest contribution to this list)

6.28.2011

Les poules sont de retour!

Source: La Presse, 28 juin 2011


Après 44 ans d'exil, les poules sont de retour à Montréal.

Pas tout à fait par la grande porte, et pas en très grand nombre: elles seront cinq, en fait, hébergées par un organisme communautaire de l'arrondissement Rosemont-La Petite Patrie dans le cadre d'un projet-pilote.

Ces cinq poules, de la race patrimoniale Chantecler, devraient pondre leurs premiers oeufs urbains vers le 11 juillet, a annoncé ce matin la directrice générale de la Maisonnette des parents, Lison Hovington. Cet organisme, qui dessert les familles défavorisées du secteur en proposant notamment des cuisines communautaires et des dîners chauds aux enfants, a ouvert la voie au retour des poules en ville en déposant ce projet à l'arrondissement.

Le 4 juillet prochain, les élus voteront un règlement autorisant l'élevage de ces volailles dans des conditions très strictes: un maximum de cinq, gardées dans un espace fermé, uniquement dans le cadre d'un projet communautaire à des fins éducatives.

Le règlement a été conçu après des consultations juridiques et constitue une première brèche dans l'interdiction des animaux d'élevage dans le territoire de Montréal, instituée en 1967.

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6.27.2011

Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Alternatives

Source: NY Times, June 27, 2011


ZURICH — While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

Cities including Vienna to Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by popular bike-sharing programs. Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of “environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon dioxide emissions may enter.

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6.23.2011

Moncton Bike Parade - Défilé de bicyclettes de Moncton

Where: McBuns Bakery, 122 Shediac Rd
When: Friday, June 24th at 5:00 pm
Route: McBuns Bakery to Stirling Apple and back

Wear head gear. Buy stuff at McBuns and Stirling

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Lieu de rencontre: Boulangerie McBuns, 122 ch Shediac
Date: le vendredi 24 juin à 17 h
Trajet: Boulangerie McBuns jusqu'à Stirling Apple et retour

Portez vos casques. Achetez chez McBuns et Stirling Apple

6.21.2011

It's about more than bike lanes

Moncton to remove busy street lanes

Source: Times & Transcript, June 21, 2011 (Page A1)

The City of Moncton announced plans yesterday to remove traffic lanes from busy Shediac Road and Salisbury Road this summer to accommodate new bicycle lanes.

The plans, which also include the addition of bike lanes on Vaughan Harvey Boulevard, were presented last night to city council by Rod Higgins, general manager of parks and leisure services, as part of the city's active transportation plan.

The changes will reduce Salisbury Road and Shediac Road to two lanes from four, with a common centre passing lane.

Higgins explained that axing the lanes on both roads is feasible because they don't reach the benchmark daily number of 20,000 vehicles, which would necessitate four lanes. He confirmed with Stephane Thibodeau, the city's transportation and parking co-ordinator, that the roads only get in the vicinity of 6,000 to 10,000 per day.

The city will also be putting up universal signage to indicate that motor vehicles and bicycles share the road. They are green with a white image of a bicycle. The signs are meant to ensure that cyclists and motorists look out for one another.

Higgins said the goal of implementing the lanes and the plan itself is to make Moncton more cyclist- and pedestrian-friendly.

More

6.20.2011

Monctonians learn to grow urban gardens

Source: Times & Transcript, June 20, 2011



Botsford Station was full of seeds, soil and green thumbs Saturday afternoon as the local food education series, hosted by Post Carbon Greater Moncton, kicked-off.

About 12 Monctonians showed up to get their hands dirty and learn how to grow plants, vegetables and fruit organically, from the comfort of their front porch or backyard.

It was the first of five upcoming workshops, and next one, concerning food conservation, will be held in the fall.

Michel Desjardins, spokesman for the group, says a food forum, held in March, was the catalyst in the creation of the workshop series.

"First off, we are group of about 150 people focused on reducing our carbon footprint and so we hosted the forum, where about 100 locals agreed that there needed to be more educational activities in the city about local food."

More

6.16.2011

Show of Support for Bicycle Lanes - Montrez votre appui aux voies cyclables

English follows

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Lundi prochain, le 20 juin, à 16 h, le conseil municipal de la ville de Moncton discutera du plan pour réduire la largeur des voies du Ch. Shediac et du Ch. Salisbury dans le but d’accommoder les vélos.

Sachez que la décision de réduire la largeur des voies passantes des Ch. Shédiac et Salisbury a déjà été prise. Le but de la présentation sera de mettre le Conseil à jour sur la mise en œuvre de cette décision.

Cela étant dit, si vous connaissez l’histoire de ce dossier, mieux vaut ne rien tenir pour acquis. Il est important de montrer au conseil municipal qu’il y a un appui important en faveur du transport actif sur les chemins Shédiac et Salisbury.

Je vous invite donc à venir montrer votre appui le 20 juin à 16 h à l’Hôtel de ville.



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Next Monday, June 20th, at 4:00 pm, Moncton City Council will discuss the plan to reduce traffic lanes on Shediac Rd and Salisbury Road and introduce bicycle lanes.

Council has already approved the modifications to Shediac Rd and Salisbury Rd. The presentation will put Council members up-to-date on the implementation of that decision.

This being said, if you know the history of this file, it is best to take nothing for granted. It is important to show City Council that there is a great deal of support for active transportation on Shediac and Salisbury Road.

Come and show your support on June 20 at 4:00 pm at City Hall.

6.15.2011

UK ministers ignored 'peak oil' warnings, report shows

Source: The Guardian (UK) June 15, 2011

The government was warned by its own civil servants two years ago that there could be "significant negative economic consequences" to the UK posed by near-term "peak oil" energy shortages.

Ministers were told it was impossible to know exactly when production might fail to meet supply but when it did there could be global consequences, including "civil unrest."

Yet ministers consistently played down the threat with the contemporaneous Wicks Review into energy security (pdf) effectively dismissing peak oil as alarmist and irrelevant.

The report on the risks and impacts of a potential future decline in oil production has just been published – but only after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) was repeatedly threatened under the Freedom of Information Act with forced disclosure.

The information is revealed at a critical time when oil prices have soared to historic highs of around $115 (£71) a barrel hitting motorists through higher petrol costs and helping to drive up household gas bills. The price of oil and gas tend to be linked due under the terms of many wholesale gas contracts.

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6.10.2011

OPEC Warns of Supply Gap

LONDON (Reuters June 10, 2011) - OPEC followed this week's failure to reach an output deal with a forecast world oil supplies would begin to fall short later this year, draining inventories just when demand is expected to hit a seasonal peak.

In its monthly report published Friday, OPEC said world demand for its oil would average 30.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in the second half of the year, much higher than the 28.97 million bpd the 12-member group produced in May.

The figures suggest the world will be undersupplied by 1.73 million bpd -- enough to meet demand in an economy the size of France -- if the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries does not increase supplies.

"Looking to the remainder of this year, the expected supply/demand balance indicates a tightening market," OPEC's report said. "As a result, global inventories could continue to decline as the market enters a period of high seasonal demand."

OPEC, source of more than a third of the world's oil, met in Vienna for the first time this year on Wednesday and for the first time in around a decade failed to make a decision on output policy.

The group's Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri said after the meeting members had different numbers and were unable to agree on any need for more oil. Analysts said political tension also played a part in the split.

Oil prices fell on Friday as top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia began offering more oil to customers, easing worries about supply. Brent crude was down more than 50 cents and trading below $119 a barrel.

IEA SEES SMALLER SUPPLY GAP

The supply gap seen by OPEC's report is even larger than that of the International Energy Agency, which advises consuming countries and had lobbied OPEC to raise its oil output before its meeting.

According to the IEA, demand for OPEC crude will average 29.95 million bpd in the second half of the year, or 1.2 million bpd more than April production of 28.75 million bpd.

Analysts said OPEC's report mattered little for oil prices and a bigger focus would be the IEA's latest forecasts scheduled for release on Thursday.

"It's absolutely market neutral," said Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix. "What's going to matter more is the IEA report next week when we will be able to see if there are any more changes."

OPEC said its oil output in May rose by about 171,000 bpd to 28.97 million bpd as extra supplies from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Iraq offset a further decline from Libya. The report pegged Saudi output at 8.86 million bpd in May.

Saudi newspaper al-Hayat reported on Friday Riyadh would boost supplies to 10 million bpd in July and oil traders said the kingdom was offering more to customers in Asia, which is driving the increase in global demand.

The world is expected to use 1.38 million bpd of oil more this year than in 2010, OPEC's report said, a forecast little changed from last month.

6.02.2011

Codiac Transit

Veuillez noter que le service autobus de Codiac Transit sera gratuit le mercredi 8 juin 2011 dans la région de Moncton. Profitez-en!

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Please note that the Codiac Transit bus service will be free of charge in the Moncton area on Wednesday June 8, 2011. Hop on if you can !

5.30.2011

IEA - Prospect of limiting the global increase in temperature to 2ºC is getting bleaker

Source: iea.com May 30, 2011

Energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2010 were the highest in history, according to the latest estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

After a dip in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis, emissions are estimated to have climbed to a record 30.6 Gigatonnes (Gt), a 5% jump from the previous record year in 2008, when levels reached 29.3 Gt.

In addition, the IEA has estimated that 80% of projected emissions from the power sector in 2020 are already locked in, as they will come from power plants that are currently in place or under construction today.

“This significant increase in CO2 emissions and the locking in of future emissions due to infrastructure investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2ºC,” said Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the IEA who oversees the annual World Energy Outlook, the Agency’s flagship publication.

Global leaders agreed a target of limiting temperature increase to 2°C at the UN climate change talks in Cancun in 2010. For this goal to be achieved, the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere must be limited to around 450 parts per million of CO2-equivalent, only a 5% increase compared to an estimated 430 parts per million in 2000.

The IEA’s 2010 World Energy Outlook set out the 450 Scenario, an energy pathway consistent with achieving this goal, based on the emissions targets countries have agreed to reach by 2020. For this pathway to be achieved, global energy-related emissions in 2020 must not be greater than 32 Gt.This means that over the next ten years, emissions must rise less in total than they did between 2009 and 2010.

“Our latest estimates are another wake-up call,” said Dr Birol. “The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020 if the 2ºC target is to be attained. Given the shrinking room for manœuvre in 2020, unless bold and decisive decisions are made very soon, it will be extremely challenging to succeed in achieving this global goal agreed in Cancun.”

In terms of fuels, 44% of the estimated CO2 emissions in 2010 came from coal, 36% from oil, and 20% from natural gas.

The challenge of improving and maintaining quality of life for people in all countries while limiting CO2 emissions has never been greater. While the IEA estimates that 40% of global emissions came from OECD countries in 2010, these countries only accounted for 25% of emissions growth compared to 2009. Non-OECD countries – led by China and India – saw much stronger increases in emissions as their economic growth accelerated.

However, on a per capita basis, OECD countries collectively emitted 10 tonnes, compared with 5.8 tonnes for China, and 1.5 tonnes in India.

5.24.2011

Oil's Blame Game

By Michel Desjardins, Post Carbon Greater Moncton
Published in Times & Transcript on Friday May 20, 2011

As gas prices swirl upward, the oil blame game has shifted into high gear.

Our own Industry Minister Tony Clement blames the petroleum industry – refiners, distributors and retailers – for not clearly explaining how gas prices are set. He himself is under fire for not adequately regulating the industry.

In the US, President Obama blames speculators. But Obama too is being blamed for not declaring and implementing a “drill here, drill now” strategy.

Motorists all over the world are scorching mad and shooting in all directions. They accuse everyone but their dog of gouging.

All this noise sounds to me like a lot of posturing to avoid the real issue.

The real issue is that oil is a finite substance. We are dependant on it for our way of life. And it is depleting.

Make no mistake, oil prices will continue to creep up. The reason is that we have to go to greater lengths to extract the stuff, basically deep into the ocean or tar sand muck. Also, more people, namely the Chinese and the Indians, are competing for the little that’s left.

The crude reality is that in the long run governments can do precious little about depleting oil fields. No one can. What they can do however is create a policy environment that helps us break our addiction.

Let’s not waste time on blame games. Let’s all learn to live with less oil, a lot less oil.

The End of Easy Oil

5.19.2011

IEA: More Oil Needed Urgently

Source: IEA.ORG May 19, 2011

The IEA Governing Board, at its regular quarterly meeting on 18-19 May, examined oil market developments and their impact on the global economy. Despite a near-10% correction since 5 May, oil prices remain at elevated levels driven by market fundamentals, geopolitical uncertainty and future expectations. The IEA Governing Board expressed serious concern that there are growing signs that the rise in oil prices since September is affecting the economic recovery by widening global imbalances, reducing household and business income, and placing upward pressure on inflation and interest rates. As global demand for oil increases seasonally from May to August, there is a clear, urgent need for additional supplies on a more competitive basis to be made available to refiners to prevent a further tightening of the market.

Additional increases in prices at this stage of the economic cycle risk derailing the global economic recovery and are neither in the interest of producing nor of consuming countries. Oil importing developing countries are most likely to be seriously affected by high oil prices, undermining their economic and social well-being. In these circumstances, enhancing consumer-producer dialogue is urgently important to reach both short- and long-term solutions. The Governing Board urges action from producers that will help avoid the negative global economic consequences which a further sharp market tightening could cause, and welcomes commitments to increase supply. We stand ready to work with producers as well as non-member consumers; in this constructive spirit, we are prepared to consider using all tools that are at the disposal of IEA member countries.

5.16.2011

Winnipeg rethinks suburban sprawl with downtown reinvention

Source: Globe and Mail, May 16, 2011

It’s 5 p.m. on Portage Avenue and a parade of cars, buses and pedestrians is making its way out of the downtown as quickly as possible, speeding past shuttered storefronts and lonely side streets. But for the first time in years, the daily commuter rush is passing something new: construction.

An unprecedented level of development is under way in the Manitoba capital, as Winnipeg attempts to reverse decades of movement out to the suburbs.

“We want to have a situation where you don’t have a massive population downtown between nine and five and then all of a sudden it’s six o’clock and it’s empty,” says Mayor Sam Katz. “But what people don’t realize is that you can’t correct the mistakes of the past in just a year or two.”

Around the world there is a growing understanding that suburban sprawl is unsustainable, and that, for cities to survive, they must shrink back in on themselves, tightening up, promoting density and pushing their growing population into space already served by existing infrastructure and social services.

More

5.06.2011

Quatre idées pour économiser 60% du pétrole au Québec

Source : La Presse 5 mai 2011


Le Québec doit entreprendre un virage radical dans sa façon de construire ses villes et banlieues, sans quoi, il n'a aucune chance d'atteindre ses objectifs de réduction de gaz à effet de serre (GES).

C'est ce qu'affirment Équiterre et Vivre en Ville dans un rapport étoffé sur l'aménagement et le transport de personnes dévoilé aujourd'hui.

Les organismes proposent d'agir sur quatre variables afin de réduire de 60% la consommation de pétrole au Québec. Et la solution n'est pas l'auto électrique. C'est de réduire le nombre de kilomètres parcourus par toutes les automobiles.

« Il faut avoir accès plus rapidement à l'autobus qu'à la bretelle d'autoroute, a résumé Christian Savard, directeur général de Vivre en Ville. Il faut un virage majeur en aménagement du territoire. Désormais, on ne doit plus toucher à la zone agricole. »

Pour cela, il faudra limiter les dépenses routières aux travaux d'entretien et investir le reste en transport collectif. « Le réseau autoroutier du Québec est à maturité », dit M. Savard.

Selon Alexandre Turgeon, président de Vivre en Ville, il y a largement assez de terrains déjà zonés pour la construction résidentielle dans la région de Montréal pour accommoder toute la demande de nouveaux logements.

« Il reste 20 000 hectares en zone blanche dans la région, dit-il. C'est assez pour 1 millions d'unités alors que les besoins sont de 300 000. »

Il cite des projets comme celui des terrains de l'ancien hippodrome Blue Bonnets comme un exemple des projets denses et bien desservis par les transports en commun qu'il faut multiplier à toutes les échelles.

Selon M. Turgeon, le projet de Plan métropolitain d'aménagement et de développement, dévoilé la semaine dernière par la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal et mal accueilli par les villes de la couronne Nord, ne va pas assez loin. « La CMM veut que 40% du développement soit desservi par le transport en commun, dit-il. Ça veut dire qu'on accepte que 60% sera dépendant de l'automobile? Et c'est comme ça qu'on va atteindre notre objectif de réduire de 20% nos émissions de gaz à effet de serre d'ici 2020? »

L'autre mesure la plus efficace est d'imposer aux automobiles des normes de consommation plus sévères, semblables à celles en vigueur en Europe et en Chine. Avec 5% d'automobiles électriques et une rééquilibrer à 25%/75% le ratio autos/camions légers.

Les propositions d'Équiterre et de Vivre en Ville arrivent à une semaine d'une consultation parlementaire sur la réforme de la Loi sur l'aménagement et l'urbanisme.

Act now on peak oil or curtail mobility, says Commission

Source: Euractiv.com published May 4, 2011

The European Commission's director-general for transport and mobility policy has warned at a conference on peak oil that it would be a "fatal mistake" for the EU to postpone measures to reduce oil dependency.

"If action is delayed, in the not-too-distant future we may be forced to drastically reduce all our mobility and import technological solutions from other part of the world," Marjeta Jager told a Green Party conference in the European Parliament.

The European Commission's Transport White Paper famously said that "curbing social mobility is not an option".

Peak oil is the point at which half of the world's original oil reserves have been used up and production enters a period of terminal decline, characterised by soaring prices and supply disruptions.

More

5.04.2011

Documentary - Australia Broadcasting Corp

Pic pétrolier - risque de guerres admis par l'AIE

Source: lemonde.fr

Pour le chef économiste de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie (AIE), Fatih Birol, les difficultés à venir pour faire face à la croissance de la demande mondiale de pétrole recèlent un risque de guerres (risque déjà pointé par les prospectivistes de l’armée américaine et de l’armée allemande).

Depuis ma première rencontre avec Fatih Birol en 2005, j’ai vu cet économiste turc, ancien haut cadre du cartel de l’Opep, désormais chargé de conseiller les pays riches de l’OCDE, lancer des mises en garde de plus en plus lourdes, et de plus en plus iconoclastes de la part d’un membre d’une organisation internationale aussi policée que l’AIE.

Voici la traduction d’extraits d’une interview du Dr Birol diffusée la semaine dernière par la radio nationale australienne ABC, à la veille de l’ouverture de la conférence internationale annuelle de l’ASPO, l’Association for the Study of Peak Oil, dont les membres fondateurs ont les premiers tenté d’alerter l’AIE au sujet du ‘pic pétrolier’, il y a treize ans déjà… :

Fatih Birol - D’un côté, nous pensons que la demande globale de pétrole va croître de façon substantielle, principalement tirée par le secteur du transport, les voitures, et aussi par la Chine en tant que pays. Aujourd’hui en Chine, il y a 30 voitures pour 1000 habitants, alors qu’aux Etats-Unis, c’est 700 voitures pour 1000 habitants. Les Chinois, avec l’augmentation de leurs revenus, vont acheter des voitures, ce qui est fondé.

Suite

4.21.2011

Customers turn to cheaper grocery options

Source: Globe and Mail, April 20, 2011

Consumers are finding ways to keep their grocery bills in check as food costs climb, trading down and changing how they feed their families.

This shift is showing signs of altering the competitive landscape for Canadian supermarkets.

Grocers have started to pass on to shoppers price hikes from suppliers whose own costs are surging. But they’re finding they can’t raise prices too much because consumers simply stop buying higher-priced goods and switch to cheaper alternatives. At the same time, discounter Wal-Mart Canada Corp. is pressuring its competitors with expanded food offerings, meaning their rivals must in turn bolster their own discount operations and promotions.

Statistics Canada reported earlier this week that food prices, measured by the consumer price index, are on the rise, but that inflation is only starting to help grocers, and only in limited ways.

Typically, a little inflation is a grocer's friend, since stores can pass on higher prices without much consumer resistance. But the rapid expansion of discount stores is moderating that. Supermarkets no longer have the luxury of just jacking up prices when their own costs rise, because discounters have trained consumers to hunt for deals. The retailers are racing to focus more on their own discount arms, straining their margins and forcing them to find savings elsewhere.

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4.12.2011

Le prix de l'essence siphonne les portefeuilles

Source: La Presse, 12 avril 2011

(Toronto) La hausse de plus de 30 % du prix de l'essence depuis le début de 2011 représente une facture annuelle supplémentaire de 950 $ par ménage. «Cela équivaut à une augmentation de 7 % de l'impôt sur le revenu du Canadien moyen», estime Benjamin Tal, économiste à la CIBC.

La difficulté avec l'essence, c'est que sa demande est inélastique. La flambée des prix de l'été 2008 n'a pas réduit sa consommation. Entre juillet 2007 et juillet 2008, le prix du litre à la pompe est passé de 1,00 $ à 1,40 $. Pourtant, rappelle-t-il, la consommation canadienne n'a pas bronché : 3,5 milliards de litres par mois.

L'argent versé en plus aux stations-service ou au livreur de mazout de chauffage est puisé ailleurs dans le budget familial. Cela s'avère un exercice pénible pour les ménages près ou en deçà du revenu disponible médian canadien.

Pour les uns, ce sera le report d'achat d'un électroménager ou d'un appareil électronique, mais, pour la plupart, ce sera l'augmentation du temps de lecture des circulaires. La chasse aux aubaines dans les supermarchés aura pour effet de réduire les marges des marchands et de vider les restaurants, surtout ceux qui ciblent la famille ou les budgets moyens.

Suite

4.11.2011

For the first time, food becomes a political priority

Source: Globe & Mail, April 11, 2011

For the first time in Canadian electoral history, the edible is political.

Each of the country’s federal parties have included strategies in their electoral platforms that, to varying degrees, highlight food as a distinct priority separate from agriculture.

The Conservative policy, announced Sunday, most closely resembles a traditional agriculture policy, with its focus on efforts to sustain the family farm and boost exports, while the Liberals and New Democrats aim to foster unprecedented co-operation between government departments dealing with the production, distribution, sale and consumption of food.

Building on a growing middle-class awareness of the pressures on the global food system, all parties acknowledge the need for some sort of long-term national strategy. What separates them are their degrees of willingness to expand their focus beyond the farm.

The fact that food is mentioned across all five electoral platforms is being hailed as a victory for the global food movement, which has already nudged a handful of European nations to implement long-term policies.

More

Weekend forum encourages people to buy local food

Source: Times & Transcript, April 11, 2011

The need for more people to buy locally and the growth of organic farming were among the major issues discussed yesterday at a Local Food Forum.

Sponsored by Post Carbon Moncton, it took place at the Delta Beauséjour Hotel.

Andrew Spring of Moncton, executive director for the Fundy Biosphere and emcee for the forum, said there are a lot of issues preventing area residents from getting food produced in the area.

For one thing, a lot of local food is exported to Europe and Japan, said Spring. It is the small New Brunswick farmer, the one who cannot afford to do this, that concerns him, he said.

"These farmers work 16-hour days and do not have the time to go out and meet people and promote their products."

Right now, Spring said gas prices are "going through the roof" and this will further hike the cost of food items from outside the area. The extra cost of transporting them here will go on the price you pay at the supermarket, he said.

So, buying locally makes sense strictly from an economic point of view, he said.

More

4.07.2011

Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears


Source: NY Times, April 7, 2011

The starchy cassava root has long been an important ingredient in everything from tapioca pudding and ice cream to paper and animal feed.

But last year, 98 percent of cassava chips exported from Thailand, the world’s largest cassava exporter, went to just one place and almost all for one purpose: to China to make biofuel. Driven by new demand, Thai exports of cassava chips have increased nearly fourfold since 2008, and the price of cassava has roughly doubled.

Each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running. Cassava is a relatively new entrant in the biofuel stream.

But with food prices rising sharply in recent months, many experts are calling on countries to scale back their headlong rush into green fuel development, arguing that the combination of ambitious biofuel targets and mediocre harvests of some crucial crops is contributing to high prices, hunger and political instability.

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4.06.2011

Only recessions can deliver Obama's energy targets

By Jeff Rubin
Published in Globe & Mail, April 6, 2011

Like many in the White House before him, President Barack Obama charted out a plan last week to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. And like his predecessors, his road map to cut U.S. oil imports by one-third over the next decade comes against the backdrop of sharply rising oil prices and supply disruptions from an increasingly volatile Middle East.

Unfortunately, we have heard this song many times before. In 1973, President Richard Nixon unveiled “Project Independence” in response to the OPEC oil embargo that was triggered by the Arab–Israeli war. President Jimmy Carter called the need to lessen U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil the moral equivalent of war in response to the supply disruptions that followed the Iranian Revolution. President George Bush Jr. referred to America’s dependence on foreign oil as nothing short of an addiction.

Over the past four decades U.S. presidents have waxed and waned eloquently about the need to reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil. Yet the U.S. economy still relies on imports for more than 50% of the 19 million barrels of oil burned every day. As a result, the U.S. remains as vulnerable to soaring oil prices as it was during the OPEC shocks in the 1970s.

In many ways, Obama’s plan is reminiscent of his predecessors by supporting more government subsidies for energy alternatives such as nuclear and bio fuels. Higher fuel efficiency standards will be mandated for cars and trucks. And, of course, there will be increased reliance on offshore drilling for deep water oil and on hydraulic fracturing in pursuit of America’s new wonder fuel: shale gas.

Unfortunately, these initiatives have in one way or another been tried before by previous administrations. And many look less credible than they have in the past.

As the Fukushima nuclear disaster threatens Japan with a Chernobyl-like legacy,

President Obama is unlikely to find much support for more nuclear power in a country that already has more nuclear plants (and more radioactive spent fuel lying around) than any other in the world.

And so far the diversion of food production to energy generation, like the 12 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol that America pumps out every year, has had a far greater impact on raising food and fertilizer prices than on lowering energy prices.

While greater fuel efficiency is a laudable goal, past improvements in fuel efficiency have only encouraged Americans to drive more each year,- about 30% more than at the time of the OPEC oil shocks. And they haven’t been filling up their tanks with shale gas either, which has only a quarter of the energy density of either gasoline or diesel.

So far, recessions have been the only sure fire way America has cut back on its fuel consumption and the need for oil imports. But, of course, that is not an option any U.S. president can pursue.

4.05.2011

Energy-saving incentives improved

Source: Times & Transcript, April 5, 2011

Home and apartment owners can now receive even more help on the road to making buildings more energy efficient.

Efficiency NB has revised its residential energy efficiency programs, setting higher energy-saving targets and increasing incentives for those willing to invest in their home or apartment complex.

"We feel very strongly that this is going to assist New Brunswick homeowners and property owners to secure even deeper energy savings through the work that they do through our programs," says Elizabeth Weir, president and chief executive officer with Efficiency NB.

The more energy-saving potential that upgrades to a home or apartment complex offer, the higher the incentives its owner can receive.

Those willing to make some of the biggest investments can receive up to an additional 20 per cent in funding when upgrading three of four major areas, including central heating, attic insulation, basement insulation and wall insulation.

Efficiency NB says owners who carry out comprehensive whole home upgrades can realize up to a 50 per cent reduction in energy use and may be eligible for the maximum incentive of $6,000, up from $2,000. Homeowners who carry out whole home upgrades and actually achieve a net zero energy rating may be eligible for an additional $4,000 in incentives.

A net zero home or building is connected to the electric power grid but combines a "super energy-efficient building with renewable energy systems that produce most, or all of its energy needs on an annual basis," a press release for the program reads.

More

4.04.2011

What Japan's disaster tells us about peak oil

Source: The Guardian, april 4, 2011

For large parts of eastern Japan that were not directly hit by the tsunami on 11 March 2011, including the nation's capital, the current state of affairs feels very much like a dry-run for peak oil. This is not to belittle the tragic loss of life and the dire situation facing many survivors left without homes and livelihoods. Rather, the aim here is to reflect upon the post-disaster events and compare them with those normally associated with the worst-case scenarios for peak oil.

The earthquake and tsunami affected six of the 28 oil refineries in Japan and immediately petrol rationing was introduced with a maximum of 20 litres per car (in some instances as low as 5 litres). On 14 March, the government allowed the oil industry to release 3 days' worth of oil from stockpiles and on 22 March an additional 22 days' worth of oil was released.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which serves a population of 44.5 million, lost one quarter of its supply capacity as a result of the quake, through the closedown of its two Fukushima nuclear power plants (Dai-ichi and Dai-ni), as well as eight fossil fuel based thermal power stations. Subsequently, from 14 March 2011 onwards, TEPCO was forced to implement a series of scheduled outages across the Kanto region (the prefectures of Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa).

While the thermal power stations may restart operations soon, the overall shortfall will become even more difficult to manage over the summer period when air conditioning is utilized. The reality is that these power cuts could continue for years, especially since the one of the two Fukushima nuclear plants has effectively become a pile of radioactive scrap.

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Rising food costs strain families

Source: Times & Transcript, April 4, 2011

Food is no longer limited in our conversations to simply, "What's for dinner?"

Across the region, the country and indeed the world, people are talking more about food - directly and indirectly. We hear about rising food costs, concerns about food security and the need to buy local and support your local farmer. There are now discussions about potentially using some of New Brunswick's agricultural land for biofuel production as governments look to wean us of our dependency on crude oil.

Meanwhile, particularly in this province, we're told that we are overweight or obese and need to eat more healthful food. But quick, cheap meals often take precedence in a world where we can't put our smart phones down long enough to turn the oven on or we simply can't afford to choose healthful food.

The idea of taxing less nutritious food to push people into choosing more healthful options has also been floated, but that idea is criticized because it might only do more damage to those who already struggle to pay the grocery bill.

Clare Archibald, executive director of Moncton Headstart, says the non-profit organization had to make a change recently to its food-purchasing program in light of rising food costs.

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3.30.2011

Obama Sets Goal of One-Third Cut in Oil Imports

Source: NY Times, March 30, 2011

WASHINGTON — President Obama called on Wednesday for a one-third reduction in oil imports over the next decade, and said the effort had to begin immediately. In a speech at Georgetown University, the president said that the United States could not go on consuming one-quarter of the world’s oil production while possessing only 2 percent of global reserves. He said that the country had to begin a long-term plan to reduce its reliance on imported oil, and that the political bickering that had stalled progress toward that goal for decades had to end.

With oil supplies from the Middle East now pinched by political upheaval, and with calls growing in Congress for expanded domestic oil and gas production, the president referred in his speech to a similar run-up in energy prices in 2008.

“Now here’s the thing — we’ve been down this road before,” Mr. Obama said. “Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 a gallon. I remember because I was in the middle of a presidential campaign.”

He continued: “Because it was also the height of political season, so you had a lot of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians, they were waving their three-point-plans for two-dollar-a-gallon gas. You remember that: ‘Drill, baby, drill’ and all of that. And none of it would really do anything to solve the problem.”

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3.28.2011

Restrictions on world oil production

By: Robert Hirsch
Source: Energybulletin.net

Restrictions on world oil production can be divided into four categories:
1. Geology
2. Legitimate National Interests
3. Mismanagement
4. Political Upheaval

Consider each in reverse order:

Political upheaval is currently rampant across the Middle East, resulting in a major spike in world oil prices. No one knows how far the impacts will go or how long it will take to reach some kind of stability and what that stability will mean to oil production in the Middle Eastern countries that produce oil. We are thus relegated to best guesses, which span weeks, months, or years before there are clear resolutions. One pre-Middle East chaos country limited by political upheaval is Iraq, which is believed to have the oil reserves to produce at a much higher level, but Iraqi government chaos has severely limited oil production expansion. In another long-standing case, Nigeria has been plagued by internal political strife, which has negatively impacted its oil production.

Mismanagement of oil production within a country can be due to a variety of factors, all of which mean lower oil production than would otherwise be the case. Venezuela is the poster child of national mismanagement. The country has huge resources of heavy oil that could be produced at much higher rates. Underproduction is due to the government syphoning off so much cash flow that oil production operations are starved for needed funds. In addition, Venezuela has made it extremely difficult, if not impossible for foreign oil companies to operate in the country. Another example of mismanagement is Mexico, where government confiscation of oil revenues, substandard technology, and restrictions on foreign investment has led to significant Mexican oil production decline.

Legitimate national interests include decisions by governments to husband their oil reserves for the long-term benefit of their people. This occurs in various ways, some of them subtle. Not so subtle is the Saudi King's decree that any new oil fields discovered in the near future will not be developed in order that new discoveries can benefit Saudis in future years.

Then there is geology, which is the ultimate restriction. Oil is a finite resource. We will never produce more oil than nature provided over millions of years. All that's there is called the oil resource, but we can only produce what is called the "reserves," which is a fraction of the resource. Why? Because the geology associated with each oil deposit sets a practical limit on ultimate production. In a few cases, reserves can total up to half of a local resource. In others, reserves can amount to no more than a few percent of the resource. Typically, reserves are around 30% of the resource. If you think we should be able to do better than 30% on average, take some time to look at some oil reservoirs rock cores.

The complexity is often mind boggling.

What's this all boil down to? Based on geology, many analysts have forecast the onset of the decline of world oil production in the next 2-5 years. Legitimate national interests, mismanagement, and political upheaval can only hasten that onset. To explain these and other energy issues we wrote the book entitled "The Impending World Energy Mess." Oil production is a very complicated activity. What happens in oil will impact all of us, so it's worth some study.

3.17.2011

Leadership in action

Maine Town Declares Food Sovereignty

Source: www.foodrenegade.com

Sedgwick, Maine has done what no other town in the United States has done. The town unanimously passed an ordinance giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.” This includes raw milk, locally slaughtered meats, and just about anything else you can imagine. It’s also a decided bucking of state and federal laws.

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Copy of Local Food Ordinance

3.15.2011

Report: Agroecology and the right to food

[8 March 2011] GENEVA- Today, the Special Rapporteur presented his new report “Agro-ecology and the right to food” before the UN Human Rights Council. Based on an extensive review of recent scientific literature, the report demonstrates that agroecology, if sufficiently supported, can double food production in entire regions within 10 years while mitigating climate change and alleviating rural poverty.

The report therefore calls States for a fundamental shift towards agro-ecology as a way for countries to feed themselves while addressing climate- and poverty challenges.

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Rapport: agroécologie et droit à l'alimentation

[8 mars 2011] GENEVE - Ce mardi 8 mars, le Rapporteur spécial a présenté son rapport "Agroecologie et droit à l'alimentation" devant le Conseil des droits de l'homme de l'ONU. Fondé sur l'examen approfondi des plus récentes recherches scientifiques, ce rapport démontre que l'agroécologie peut doubler la production alimentaire de régions entières en 10 ans tout en réduisant la pauvreté rurale et en apportant des solutions au changement climatique.

Le rapport appelle donc les Etats à entamer un virage fondamental en faveur de l'agroécologie comme moyen de répondre aux défis alimentaires, climatiques et de pauvreté dans le monde.

Détails

3.03.2011

UK Energy Minister "It is crazy not to prepare for a low carbon future".....HELLO!

Climate and energy secretary says an oil price of $100 a barrel transforms the economics of climate change

Source: The Guardian March 3, 2011


Britain is facing a 1970s-style oil price shock that could cost the UK economy £45bn over two years, the climate and energy secretary, Chris Huhne, is expected to warn in his first intervention on the issue since the start of Middle East political crisis.

In Thursday's keynote speech on the impact of the oil crisis, Huhne will argue that an $100 (£61) a barrel price for oil transforms the economics of climate change in Britain.

He will disclose the Department of Energy and Climate Change's (Decc) economists have warned that if the oil price rise turns into a 1970s-style shock the cumulative loss to the UK economy would be worth £45bn over two years. Decc's economists made the calculation on the basis of oil prices rising from $80 a barrel last year to $160, according to Huhne.

At $102 a barrel, oil is at a two-and-a-half year high and there have been predictions that if the political turmoil spreads across the Gulf, the price will rise considerably more.

Huhne will say: "If the oil price doubled, as from $80 last year to $160 this year, it could lead to a cumulative loss of GDP of around £45bn over two years. This is not just far-off speculation: it is a threat here and now."

The speech is an attempt to galvanise public support for tough measures to create a green economy, after recent setbacks including attacks on the science of climate change and stalled international negotiations.

Drawing on research conducted for the previous government by Lord Stern, Huhne will argue that a $100 a barrel price is the exact point at which the economics of climate change pivot so that it becomes cheaper for British consumers and businesses to invest in green technology than remain with the status quo.

He will say that if oil only reaches $108 a barrel by 2020 as predicted by the US Department of Energy, which would also lead to higher gas prices, then "the UK consumer will win hands down". He will say the UK consumer would be "paying less through low-carbon policies than they would pay for fossil fuel policies".

This is the moment to invest in green infrastructure, homes and transport, according to Huhne. Fossil fuels are now the costly, high-risk option for energy: it is "crazy" not to prepare for a low-carbon future.

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2.28.2011

Say Yes to Chickens

Times & Transcript Editorial February 28, 2011

It's rare that politicians have a chance to do a deed most fowl and be praised, but Moncton City Council is being asked to create a bylaw allowing the raising of up to four egg-laying hens in what would be backyard mini-farms. And it is a great idea, good for the environment, good for sustainability in an uncertain future and good for people's food budgets. Moreover, a year-long test run of just such a backyard chicken coop has proven highly successful, producing no complaints and no problems. It's an idea whose time has come. And while naysayers can undoubtedly paint all kinds of potential scenarios to scare not-in-my-backyard types, the reality elsewhere and with our experiment is innocuous. Of course, council must ensure that such 'urban farms' do not include pigs, cows and elephants. Even in the bird world, peacocks screech, emus can escape to chase kids and turkey vultures would probably eat the chickens. Common sense must be applied, but Post Carbon Greater Moncton backing the idea knows that, proposing a ban on roosters.

2.25.2011

Cities urged to get cracking on chicken bylaw

Source: Times & Transcript, February 25, 2011

A report on the province's first-ever urban farm urges cities to get cracking on a bylaw to allow chickens in suburban backyards.

Post Carbon Greater Moncton has released a glowing report on the egg-producing hens roosting in the Hub City's core one year after Moncton's planning commission granted the request for a temporary permit to run an experimental urban farm.

The community group's pilot project now hopes to hatch a bylaw allowing chickens in city neighbourhoods, producing fresh and chemical-free eggs.

"We're making a number of quite detailed recommendations in terms of what would need to happen," said Michel Desjardins, a member of Post Carbon Greater Moncton. "We are by no means recommending a free-for-all.

"This activity must be regulated."

The project converted an urban residential property into a small-scale farm, including four egg-laying hens that produced roughly two dozen eggs per week.

The report concludes that urban agriculture is an effective way to increase food security and enhance self-sufficiency in the province's cities.

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2.24.2011

Urban Farming: a seed is planted in Moncton

(Moncton, February 24, 2011) – Urban agriculture is an effective way to increase food security and enhance self-sufficiency in the Greater Moncton. That is the central conclusion of a pilot project conducted over a one year period by Post Carbon Greater Moncton, a local group that aims to help the community reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. The project involved converting an urban residential property into a small-scale farm, including the keeping of 4 egg-laying hens.

According to Michel Desjardins, spokesperson for Post Carbon Greater Moncton, the pilot project is one more step towards more self-sufficiency and food security in the region. “We think food security and self-sufficiency will be huge issues in the future. This pilot project is one of a broad range of public policy initiatives that cities can adopt to enhance our food sovereignty” he said.

In its report, the group says there are many reasons why city dwellers want to consider urban farming. An increasing number of people want to know where their food comes from and want to produce their own. Others want to mitigate risks associated with higher food prices in the future, a direct consequence of higher energy prices. Finally, some worry about the impact of the modern agri-food industry on the environment.

While citizens in the region have long been involved in small-scale gardening or even community gardening, what has gained a lot of attention recently throughout North America are urban chickens. Today, urban chickens are allowed in unexpected places like New York City, Oakland, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Seattle and Portland, Ore. In Canada, Niagara Falls, Brampton, Guelph, Vancouver, Victoria and Surrey allow backyard chickens in one form or another.

The urban farm was run by Anne-Marie Laroche and Isabelle Pineault in one of Moncton’s residential neighborhoods. “From our point of view, the project has been extremely positive. On average, the four hens produced 3.3 eggs per day, which represents almost 2 dozens eggs per week,” said Anne-Marie Laroche.

The group says the neighbors, who all gave their consent at the beginning of the project and were consulted through an independent survey at the end, also considered the project very successful.

The survey has revealed that the neighbors have noticed no unusual noises or odors that could be attributable to the pilot project.

The group goes on to recommend a new bylaw to regulate urban chickens, including a limit of 4 chickens and a ban on roosters. “Keeping any kind of animal is an important responsibility and the activity should be carefully regulated. In our report, we are putting forward many recommendations in this regard,” said
Michel Desjardins.

2.15.2011

Exxon Struggles to Find Oil

Source: Wall Street Journal, Feb 1, 2011

HOUSTON—Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, is struggling to find oil.

Instead, it is stocking up on natural gas, mostly through its acquisition of XTO Energy Inc. last year, according to an annual financial report by Exxon on Tuesday. This shift toward gas is troubling some investors, since gas sells for less than the equivalent amount of oil and companies are finding a lot of gas, putting downward pressure on prices.

Also, Exxon's sheer size has become an issue with investors. It pumps out of the earth the oil and gas equivalent of 1.6 billion barrels of oil each year. And finding a new barrel in the earth for every one it produces—a 100% reserve replacement rate—has become extraordinarily tough. Exxon boasted this was the 17th consecutive year of hitting this mark, but analysts agree that without the XTO deal, Exxon would have fallen far short this year.

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Rising food prices push 44 million into poverty: World Bank

Source: Reuters

Rising global food prices has pushed an estimated 44 million more people into extreme poverty in developing countries over the past eight months, the World Bank said Tuesday.

The poverty-fighting institution said its food price index increased by 15 per cent between October, 2010, and January, 2011, and is just 3 per cent below its 2008 peak during the last food price crisis.

But unlike during the 2007-2008 food crisis, higher prices have not yet affected all regions of the world.

Across Asia and in some parts of Latin America and Eastern Europe countries, costlier food is pushing up inflation pressures, while good harvests of staple foods in Sub-Saharan Africa has so far spared that region from rising prices.

“Higher maize, sugar, and oil prices have contributed to increase the costs of various types of food, though local maize prices have largely been stable in sub-Saharan Africa,” the World Bank said in an updated Food Price Watch report.

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2.08.2011

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices

US diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world's biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%

Source: www.guardian.co.uk

The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.

The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%.

The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and tensions in the Middle East. Many analysts expect that the Saudis and their Opec cartel partners would pump more oil if rising prices threatened to choke off demand.

However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco's 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached.

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