Get to know the New Green Deal by the numbers

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Then-candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at a community event on May 28, 2018. Photo by Corey Torpie, via handout.

Not long after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was elected last November, she began gathering support for a “Green New Deal,” mobilizing young climate activists and pushing Democratic leaders to pursue the concept. The idea, which was first floated by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in 2007, is modeled on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s sweeping Depression-era New Deal and proposes tackling climate change as a massive job creator to boost the American economy. In its current form, it also marries climate action with a host of other progressive aims. On Feb. 7, Ocasio-Cortez introduced a nonbinding resolution articulating what a Green New Deal might include, from eliminating fossil fuels entirely to establishing universal health care and ensuring stronger rights for Indigenous people and nations. Here’s the proposal — and some context — by the numbers:

Number of co-sponsors of the nonbinding resolution as of Feb. 15: 68.

Number of Republicans who have signed on: Zero.

Percentage of co-sponsors who come from Western states, including California, Washington, Colorado and Arizona: 35.

Average hourly wage for a U.S. worker in January 1973: $4.03.

Equivalent hourly wage in today’s dollars, in terms of purchasing power: $23.68.

Average hourly wage of a U.S. worker as of July 2018: $22.65.

Estimated number of jobs in the wind and solar energy industries as of 2017: 457,169.

Estimated percentage of the energy Americans used in 2017 that came from wind, solar, hydropower and biomass: 11.3.

Estimated percentage of the energy Americans used in 2017 that came from fossil fuels: 80.

Percentage of the energy mix in the Green New Deal resolution that would come from fossil fuels: Zero.

Number of years the resolution proposes for achieving that goal: 10.

Number of centuries fossil fuels have dominated U.S. energy consumption: Just over one.

Percent by which natural gas production is expected to rise in 2019, projected to be the highest year on record: 8.

Projected annual cost of climate change to the U.S. economy by 2100, if temperatures increase by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or more: $500 billion.

Projected cost of climate change-related infrastructure and coastal real estate damage in the U.S., if temperatures increase by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or more: $1 trillion.


A Single Earthquake Can Move Millions of Tons of Carbon into Earth’s Deepest Trenches

A Google satellite map shows where the 2011 Tohoku earthquake struck off Japan. Credit: zodebala/Getty Images

In 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake rumbled to life off the coast of Tohoku, Japan, triggering a massive tsunami and killing more than 15,000 people.

The global effects of the Tohoku earthquake — now regarded as the fourth most powerful since recording began in 1900 — are still being studied. Scientists have since estimated that the quake shoved the main island of Japan 8 feet (2.4 meters) to the east, knocked the Earth as many as 10 inches (25 cm) off its axis and shortened the day by a few millionths of a second, NASA reported in 2011. But for Arata Kioka, a geologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, the most interesting and mysterious effects of the quake can’t be seen with a satellite; they can be measured only in the deepest chasms of Earth’s oceans.

In a new study published Feb. 7 in the journal Scientific Reports, Kioka and his colleagues visited the Japan Trench — a subduction zone (where one tectonic plate dives beneath another) in the Pacific ocean that plunges more than 26,000 feet (8,000 m) at its deepest point — to determine how much organic matter had been dumped there by the history-making quake. The answer: A lot. The team found that roughly one teragram — or 1 million tons — of carbon had been dumped into the trench following the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. MORE

SNC-Lavalin lawyers rushed to prosecutors before MPs knew of proposed law change

Representatives for SNC-Lavalin hustled to connect with federal prosecutors after the Liberal government quietly introduced a proposal last year to allow corporations to strike settlement deals and avoid criminal prosecution, court documents show.

The company’s lawyers acted so quickly to position their client for a so-called remediation agreement that they contacted prosecutors weeks before lawmakers, even Liberals, were even aware the Trudeau government had tucked the legislation into its 582-page omnibus budget bill.

The Montreal-based engineering and construction firm is at the centre of a controversy that has enveloped the Prime Minister’s Office. Since last week, the government has seen the high-profile resignations of one cabinet member — former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who became the minister of veterans affairs in January — and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts.

SNC-Lavalin worked hard to avoid criminal proceedings by proposing a remediation agreement, but in September the prosecutor’s office declined to invite the company to negotiate. A guilty verdict on bribery and corruption charges has been characterized as an existential threat for SNC-Lavalin and its employees because the company would be barred from bidding on government contracts in Canada for 10 years. Much of its work is in designing, building and operating public infrastructure. MORE

Baltimore files lawsuit demanding Monsanto pay to clean up PCB chemicals in city waterways

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Baltimore is asking a federal judge to force agriculture chemical company Monsanto to pay for cleanup of environmental toxins known as PCBs, following more than a dozen mostly West Coast cities and states that have filed similar lawsuits in recent years.

The lawsuit announced Tuesday doesn’t specify damages, but City Solicitor Andre Davis accused the company and two former divisions it sold off of causing tens of millions of dollars in damages.

The lawsuit says the contamination has caused monetary damages to be determined at trial.

Polychlorinated biphenyls, a type of man-made chemicals used widely in paints, inks, lubricants and electrical equipment until they were banned in 1979, have been linked to cancers and harm to immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems in humans and animals. MORE

Fossil Fuels (Not Wildfires) Biggest Source of a Key Arctic Climate Pollutant, Study Finds

Five years of testing at sites across the Arctic tracked seasonal fluctuations and sources of black carbon, which contributes to global warming and ice melt.

Scientists have been studying changes in melting on the Greenland Ice Sheet and the drivers. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
New remote data show fossil fuel combustion is the leading source of black carbon, a short-lived climate pollutant while airborne and a cause of darkening of ice in the Arctic. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

When soot from fossil fuel combustion and wildfires drifts onto the Arctic ice and snow, it helps feed a spiraling cycle of warming, melting ice and rising sea level.

New research carried out at remote locations across the Arctic shows that most of the soot—also known as black carbon—is coming from fossil fuel sources such as coal power plants, cars and trucks and factories. The findings could help countries begin to control this climate pollutant.

“Some people think it’s biofuels and wildfires, but our main takeaway is that fossil fuels are the main source of black carbon in the Arctic,” said Patrik Winiger of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the lead author of a study published today in the journal Science Advances.  SOURCE

Oregon And Washington Lawmakers Consider Statewide Plastic Bag Bans

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Plastic bags LUCILA CEJAS

Lawmakers in both Oregon and Washington are considering bills that would ban single-use plastic bags statewide to reduce plastic pollution.

Right now, bills in both states would prohibit retailers from giving out single-use plastic check-out bags and require them to charge a 10-cent fee on paper bags.

Washington lawmakers have already passed two versions of the bill out of the committee. Oregon’s House Committee on Energy and Environment took up the bill on Tuesday.

A statewide law could replace local ordinances that also ban plastic bags. MORE

Opinion: Fact-checking Alberta’s pipeline ads

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley unveils an ad they will be running in B.C. about the pipeline expansion in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday, May 10, 2018. JASON FRANSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS

As an Alberta-born-and-raised earth scientist who has made a career studying fossil fuels and energy issues, I am dismayed at the bombardment of ads from the Alberta government on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

One ad tells us:

“Canada’s economy loses out on an estimated $80 million dollars in economic benefits every day that the expansion is delayed. Trans Mountain changes that, providing an $80 million-a-day economic boost to our country, supporting thousands of jobs from coast to coast to coast.”

Every day? In fact, the earliest Trans Mountain could be completed is 2022. Two other pipelines under development, Enbridge’s Line 3 (due in late 2019) and Keystone XL (due in 2021) will provide twice the export capacity of Trans Mountain to higher-priced U.S. markets. Trans Mountain is intended to unlock new Asian markets.

The Trans Mountain delay is costing Canada nothing given that pipeline bottlenecks will be eliminated without it. Yet, a counter on the Alberta government’s Keep Canada Working website shows that (as of Feb. 15) the court-ordered shutdown has cost Canada $13.5 billion.

The differential between Alberta heavy oil (Western Canada Select/WCS) and the North American price (West Texas Intermediate/WTI) is normally about $15 per barrel. This is because WCS is priced at Hardisty and incurs a transportation cost of $7 via pipeline to Cushing, Okla., where WTI is priced. And because WCS is lower grade oil than WTI, it incurs a further quality discount of about $8 per barrel as it is costlier to refine. MORE


Nine things to know about BC Budget 2019

Image: Province of British Columbia / Flickr

With Budget 2019, BC continues to be ahead of other provinces on climate action, but behind compared to the actual scale of the climate change emergency. As the United Nations recently warned, time is running out and a massive transformation is needed by 2030 to reduce emissions and limit the damage.

The budget provides $679 million in funding for the CleanBC climate plan that was announced in December.

These include a combined $81 million for home retrofits and efficiency upgrades for public buildings. There is also $42 million for extending BC’s rebate and incentive program for the purchase of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) as well as $20 million to expand the network of electric vehicle charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure. MORE


B.C. provincial budget funds nearly $1 billion for climate action

Tell Our Politicians: Pollution Can’t be Free

Air pollution over London. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA

Climate change is the greatest risk to human health. For younger Canadians to thrive, we need to do everything we can to stop Earth from warming more than 1.5°C. The good news: one of the most important actions we can take is pretty common sense → don’t let pollution be free. It’s time to recognize that pricing pollution is a health intervention.

We call on our politicians to put a high price on carbon, to use the revenue to make other aspects of life healthier and more affordable, and to help Canadians make good money as we transition to a green economy. 😎

Our kids will thank us. SIGN THE PETITION

Canada obliged to protect future generations from climate change, test case on carbon tax hears

Young people ‘will live their entire lives under the mounting environmental, economic, and health stresses’ caused by growing greenhouse gas emissions, coalition argues

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When the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan publicly squared off in court in Regina this month over the constitutionality of a federally imposed carbon tax, a lesser organization was quietly advancing its own case, on behalf of young Canadians and future generations.

The Intergenerational Climate Coalition, an intervenor in the case, argued that the Canadian government has a constitutional obligation to protect minorities, including future generations of children who stand to be negatively impacted by climate change.

“No jurisdiction, federal or provincial, should be able to use the constitutional division of powers to defeat other constitutional commitments to younger Canadians and future generations,” says Paul Kershaw, founder of Generation Squeeze, the lead of six organizations that form the coalition.

The Canadian government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act of 2018 imposes a federal price on greenhouse gas emissions for any province or territory that does not adopt the federal program or implement its own carbon tax. The initial tax is $10 per tonne annually of carbon-dioxide equivalent, rising to $50 per tonne in 2022.

The preamble of the act states: “Parliament recognizes it is the responsibility of the present generation to minimize impacts of climate change on future generations.” MORE