OTTAWA — Environmental regulations for Canada’s oil-and-gas sector are in their final stages, the environment minister said Tuesday.The regulations would seek to curb the sector’s greenhouse-gas emissions to help Canada meet a 2020 target for a 17 per cent cut in overall emissions from 2005 levels.Rules are already in place for the transportation and coal-fired electricity industries, but estimates suggest they get Canada only halfway to that goal.Environment Minister Peter Kent told a House of Commons committee his objective is for the regulations on the oil and gas industries to help close the gap.“We’re in the final stages now of setting the stringency levels and I would hope that certainly by mid-year we would be in a position to share those,” Kent said.The regulations have been in the works since fall 2011, but they are taking longer than expected, Kent said.“They haven’t been delayed, it’s just been the capacity of the department,” he said after his testimony.“We spent more time than originally intended on the coal-fired electricity generation sector but we’re in the final stages now and that’s always the toughest area in terms of setting stringency.”It took more than two years to introduce regulations on coal-fired power plants, and opposition from industry and provincial governments helped delay them until last fall.Meanwhile, most of the benefits may have little impact on overall 2020 targets as they apply mainly to new operations.Kent said he was trying to avoid a repeat of the process that bogged down the coal regulations by consulting widely ahead of time.As home to the oil-and-gas industry, Alberta opened an office in Ottawa this year to ensure its voice is heard in the process, and the province has been central in the talks to create the new rules.It’s expected the regulations will contain a provision that will allow provincial governments to administer the regulations themselves, as long as they meet or exceed federal standards.The Conservatives have announced a flurry of climate-change-related initiatives in the last few weeks, partly seen as a response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s state of the union address, in which he promised to act on climate change.A senior Environment Canada official told MPs that what happens in the U.S. is taken into account in crafting policy north of the border.“The recent announcements, the president’s inaugural speech, and the increased intensity of climate change discussion in the U.S. is obviously important to us,” deputy minister Bob Hamilton said.He noted Canada has aligned its greenhouse-gas reduction targets with the U.S., and worked with Washington on regulations for the transportation sector.“What the U.S. does or thinks about climate change is obviously something important we have to consider within our policy structure and framework,” Hamilton said.Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was in the U.S. on Tuesday, urging Americans to think twice about rejecting TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline on environmental grounds.Last week, the U.S. State Department released a draft environmental assessment of the project and determined the pipeline wouldn’t contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions, nor would it spur further oilsands development.Meanwhile, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, began a four-day visit to the U.S. capital that includes meetings with several top officials, including Kerri-Ann Jones, an assistant secretary of state on international environmental affairs, and Eric Cantor, majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.
But he admitted Russian involvement was “possible” amid a “cascade” of Russian intelligence-related activities.He said: “After the heady days of post-Cold War and the belief that we were moving the Russians into a rules-based international system, we seem to be going very rapidly in the opposite direction.”Whether it’s cyber activities, their apparent general malevolence and disruption, what you’re hearing is alleged to have taken place in the United States – and there is no reason to suggest the United States has made this up – it’s a catalogue of activities.“Television outlets like Russia Today are running around all over the place. There is a lot of Russian activity. It is perfectly plain that the Russians are in a hyperactive mode and this seems to be on the face of it orchestrated by Mr Putin, and frankly I find it very worrying.”Cambridge University declined to comment. Sir Richard and Mr Martland have been approached for comment but have not replied.Gleb Cheglakov, who is believed to have set up Veruscript with his wife, said it would be editorially independent of the organisation. He did not comment on the alleged link with the Russian government. Sir Richard (pictured) has been joined by Stefan Halper, a former policy adviser at the White House, and historian Peter MartlandCredit: PA It has been more than 70 years since a ring of Cambridge spies infiltrated British intelligence so they could pass on crucial information to the Soviets.But it seems academics at the university are once again involved in whispers of espionage and double bluffs.This time, it is not a spy ring at the centre of intrigue but rather suggestions that Kremlin operatives may be targeting a seminar programme. The Cambridge Intelligence Seminar holds seminars on Fridays at one of the university’s collegesCredit:MARTIN POPE Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “It is possible [they have targeted CIS] but it is not very important,” he said. “Cambridge is just small pin point, the centre of the earth is London and there are at least 40 officers, including 25 KGB officers there.“They are always not very organised as they are very poorly paid and therefore they are not dangerous. They would use publishing or creative industries to infiltrate, it is very possible they might be doing this.”The warnings came as Government sources acknowledged for the first time that Russia is waging a “campaign” of propaganda and unconventional warfare, including fake espionage, misinformation, cyber attacks and fake news, against Britain. It is understood that intelligence officers and senior civil servants voiced their concerns during a meeting at the Cabinet Office two months ago, which discussed the growing scale of the Russian threat. Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, who chairs the House of Commons Intelligence and Security select committee, said he did not wish to speculate as to the precise reasons for Sir Richard’s departure. …unacceptable Russian influence on the groupStefan Halper The concerns emerged after a number of experts unexpectedly resigned from their positions at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), an academic forum on the Western spy world. The men – former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, Stefan Halper, a former policy adviser at the White House, and historian Peter Martland – are said to have left amid concerns that the Kremlin is behind a newly-established intelligence journal, which provides funding to the group.Mr Halper told earlier reports that his decision to step down was due to “unacceptable Russian influence” on the group. Last night, a former KGB spy chief said it is entirely possible the experts’ alleged fears are true.The CIS was set up by official MI5 historian Professor Christopher Andrew. Seminars, which take place on Fridays at the university’s Corpus Christi college, are advertised on the university website, with previous attendees including Mike Flynn, Donald Trump’s choice as new national security adviser for the US, and Dr Paul Martin, the ex-director of parliamentary security. Suspicions were allegedly raised after claims a new digital publishing house called Veruscript, which helps cover some of the CIS’s costs, may be acting as a front for the Russian intelligence services.The publishing house, which, according to its website, is based in London, is also publishing a new journal, the Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism Studies. Some of those involved are thought to be concerned that Russia may attempt to use the link to the seminars to influence sensitive debates on national defence and security, sources told the Financial Times.Last night, experts warned it was feasible for the Russians to be involved, despite no concrete evidence yet found to suggest the claims are true.Oleg Gordievsky, who ran the KGB’s London bureau and was a double agent for the British intelligence service from 1974, said Russians were targeting creative industries but in larger cities, such as London.