This story was originally published by The Guardian and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, along with dozens of co-sponsors, have introduced a vision for the Green New Deal. One Republican called it a “socialist manifesto”. Many environmental advocacy groups have hailed it, but some say it doesn’t go far enough. Others warn that its broad scope and the long list of progressive social programs it endorses could hinder its climate efforts.
So what is the Green New Deal?
The proposal outlines the broad principles of a plan simultaneously to fight inequity and tackle climate change. It does not contain policy details or advocate for specific ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But with a broad brush it aims to make the US carbon-neutral – net zero carbon emissions – in 10 years.
The Green New Deal recognizes that transition would require massive change. It endorses ways of ensuring that vulnerable populations – including the poor, people of color, indigenous populations and communities already facing environmental degradation – take part in the planning process and benefit from the green economy.
Would it end the use of coal, oil and natural gas?
No. But it would aim to offset any remaining greenhouse gas pollution with forests that absorb carbon dioxide, for example. It does not specifically address what role nuclear power or fossil fuels with carbon capture technologies would play. Nuclear power represents half of the carbon-free energy in the US, but it runs on mined uranium. Fossil fuels with carbon capture would still require drilling and cause pollution.
How ambitious is the Green New Deal?
Incredibly ambitious, both on climate change and with its reimagining of society.
Fossil fuels are deeply embedded in the US economy. Of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2016, 28% were from electricity, 28% were from transportation, 22% were from industry, 11% were commercial and residential and 9% were from agriculture. MORE
Former UN climate chief says it is time to ‘heed voice of youth’ as thousands join protest
Thousands of schoolchildren and young people in the UK have taken part in climate strikes with the support of a former UN climate chief, who said it was “time to heed the deeply moving voice of youth”.
Christiana Figueres, who led the historic 2015 Paris agreement, said the fact that children were so worried about their future they were prepared to strike should make adults take urgent action.
“It is a sign that we are failing in our responsibility to protect them from the worsening impacts of climate change,” she said.
Initial reports suggested several thousand children walked out of lessons on Friday in protest at the mounting ecological crisis. Organisers said 3,000 had gathered in London, 2,000 in Oxford, 1,000 in Leeds and Exeter and 600 in Brighton.
Students from Graveney School in Tooting, south London, join the protest in Westminster. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA
Students in the UK are calling on the government to declare a climate emergency, communicate the severity of the ecological crisis and change the curriculum to make the state of the environment an educational priority. They also want recognition that since young people have the biggest stake in the future they should be involved in policymaking, and are demanding that the voting age be lowered to 16. MORE
Algal Blooms Continue to Threaten Lake Erie Ecosystem
In two weeks the citizens of Toledo, Ohio, will go to the polls and decide whether to pass a legally dubious “Lake Erie Bill of Rights” to give residents the ability to sue farmers on behalf of algal-bloom-threatened Lake Erie.
Environmentalists say the novel city charter amendment will give citizens the power to do what Ohio politicians are afraid to do: take polluters to court and fight back against algal blooms that poisoned Toledo drinking water in 2013 and 2014.
The Feb. 26 vote from America’s industrial center, which largely went for President Donald Trump (R) in 2016, comes at a time when Democrat coalitions are coalescing around a Green New Deal in Congress.
But the move to endow natural resources with special “community rights” to sue has sunk everywhere else such laws were passed in the United States, and the activists behind Toledo’s move know they have precarious legal footing. MORE
he 2019 polar vortex has passed, leaving behind many harrowing stories in its wake. The new Cold Climates Addendum of Rocky Mountain Institute’s Economics of Zero Energy Homes report illuminates how our homes can be better prepared for weather extremes cost-effectively, even in some of the coldest climates in the United States.
The average US home leaks so much cold air that at roughly 20 mile-per-hour winds, all of the air inside a home will be replaced every 6 to 10 minutes. This can lead to dangerous indoor conditions when outside air is coming in at -20 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Some cities still utilize older energy codes that don’t require significantly better performance (or have no energy codes at all), meaning that many homes built today will continue to be challenged by extreme weather events like the polar vortex over their lifetime.
The good news is that our recent research shows that highly efficient homes capable of surviving extreme weather conditions can be built cost-effectively for only a small amount more than standard construction, even in cold climates.
The first step in having a home that can deal with extreme temperature is to eliminate drafts and improve insulation. These measures are especially cost-effective for new homes. Lloyd Alter’s article “Lessons from the Polar Vortex” provides some examples of the benefits just from an improved envelope to provide extreme weather resilience.
Homes can be made even more resilient with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, which, with the right equipment, can provide enough power to meet emergency electrical needs through extreme weather events even when electric grid power is temporarily lost. The more energy efficient the home is, the smaller the PV system required to keep it operating. Finally, for a truly resilient home, battery systems can be used to store solar power and keep those systems working even when the sun stops shining. MORE
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, speaks as Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, right, listens during a news conference announcing Green New Deal legislation in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. A sweeping package of climate-change measures unveiled Thursday by Ocasio-Cortez drew a tepid response from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who didn’t explicitly throw her support behind the measure. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg© 2019 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP
The rollout of the Green New Deal will hit some roadblocks. But its overarching theme is that the nation should go totally green by 2030 to avert the irreversible effects of climate change. It’s the latest volley in the war of energy ideas — one that must ultimately address jobs, the economy and cost.
The Green New Deal is not an “abstract” idea. Globally economies are trending toward cleaner energies — efforts initiated by public demands, improved technologies and forward-thinking policies: The sponsors are compelled to accelerate the pace — to not just help impoverished communities but to also prevent environmental catastrophe.
Think this wild-eyed? Think again. Wind costs have fallen by 67% since 2009 while utility-scale solar has dropped by 86% since that time, according to the financial adviser, Lazard. Prudence has been a virtue. But what green energy skeptics have learned is that the public incentives and the overall economics are adding up — progress that will only go forward, given that prices continue to fall while the quality continues to improve.
Getting to 100% renewable energy levels is a hard task under the best of circumstances. Step one, though, is to bring down the cost of energy storage. Once advanced batteries can be produced in sufficient quantities, the cost of manufacturing them will fall. Prices, in fact, are dropping because companies like Tesla Inc. have been investing billions into production facilities.
“Zero waste” has become a buzz phrase for the environmentally minded, but even those who are on board with the concept have trouble putting it into practice at home.
The easiest way to start is to become “more aware of the waste that you generate,” said Barb Hetherington, a board member at Zero Waste Canada, a non-profit consultancy.
“We’re used to living with bounty,” Hetherington said. “We tend to overshop, and then we dispose of everything.” But she contends that “a lot of it is avoidable.”
A fair bit has been written on the problem of food waste, but Hetherington said the single biggest source of waste in the household, by volume, is packaging. A lot of food packaging is not only excessive but also not recyclable — take black plastic, for example. Discarded clothing and electronic waste are two other categories of junk that pile up in many households.
The Way to Zero Waste
photo: Filip Mroz/unsplash
In our fifth year of tracking child care fees across Canada, the CCPA’s latest report offers hope for families who are struggling with sky-high fees. Developmental milestones: Child care fees in Canada’s big cities 2018, released last week, provides a snapshot of the median fees for child care across the country. The research shows the impact that policy interventions have had, with fees decreasing in regions where changes have been implemented.
The beneficial effects set fees child care on families can’t be understated. With child care representing the second largest cost for many families, the introduction of set fee care has monumental effects. The Star Vancouver interviewed families in British Columbia who are benefiting from $10/day care. This story highlights the immediate difference set fee care makes in the lives and futures of families and reminds us of the importance of our work on this issue.
What is the situation in Ontario?
For another year, Ontario maintains the unenviable position as home to the most expensive child care in Canada. Toronto once again topped the list with the median monthly cost for infant at $1685. Cities in the Greater Toronto Area and Golden Horseshoe were close behind. MORE
PressProgress have obtained a bombshell letter from a former UCP MLA to the RCMP alleging Kenney’s leadership team cast fake votes using “fraudulent e-mail addresses” hosted on an “offshore” server.
Our exclusive story has already been followed by the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal and Alberta’s StarMetro newspapers – one of CBC News’ top investigative journalists described our story as a “potential blockbuster.”
Prab Gill’s letter to the RCMP
For over 14,000 years, the Haíɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) Nation has thrived on the abundance of the lands and waters in what is now known as the central coast of British Columbia. More than half of Haíɫzaqv territory is ocean – they are an ocean people, and for generations they have lived in a reciprocal relationship with the ocean, air, land and other beings in their territory.
Despite ongoing colonialism and the imposition of the Canadian legal system over Haíɫzaqv peoples and territories, Haíɫzaqv laws have not disappeared. The spirit of denial of the Canadian state has never deterred the Haíɫzaqv people from exercising their laws through the potlatch system and other various mechanisms. Haíɫzaqv have fought hard to nurture their laws and reconstitute their legal system since this spirit of denial has been in their territory.
In 2017, the Haíɫzaqv began working on a RELAW (Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air and Water) project to create legislation that will be enacted under the forthcoming Haíɫzaqv Constitution. Given the importance of the ocean in Haíɫzaqv society, leadership identified the need to have an Oceans Act rooted in their own ğvi̓las (laws).