Councillor mobilizes civic politicians to fight climate change

Climate Leadership Caucus lobbying for federal, provincial funding for municipal projects


Rik Logtenberg’s Climate Leadership Caucus has so far enlisted 57 councillors and mayors from across Canada.(submitted by Rik Logtenberg)

A Nelson, B.C., city councillor is encouraging civic politicians to team up to combat climate change.

Rik Logtenberg’s Climate Leadership Caucus has already enlisted 57 councillors and mayors from across Canada, mostly from B.C., since January.

The caucus, which will serve as both a networking group and a lobby group, was assembled to push for provincial and federal funding for various municipal-level projects. Logtenberg says getting municipalities on board to help deal with climate change is key.

“I think arguably they play the biggest role. While they’re individually fairly small, put together, the impacts that they have are bigger than the province or the country of Canada,” Logtenberg told Gloria Macarenko, host of CBC’s On The Coast. MORE

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Emissions inequality: there is a gulf between global rich and poor

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jag_cz / shutterstock

American congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently shook up environmental politics by releasing a broad outline of a Green New Deal– a plan to make the US a carbon-neutral economy in the next ten years, while reducing both poverty and inequality. Lauded by many as a radical and necessary step, president Trump responded in typical style:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called “Carbon Footprint” to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military – even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!

The Green New Deal doesn’t directly call for people to consume less meat. But the argument that solving climate change means changing our diets is widespread, and Ocasio-Cortez herself has made the link.

From personal carbon footprint calculators to articles outlining how many Earths we need to sustain the consumption of the average citizen of the UK, Europe or the US, consumption is identified as the problem. Reduce consumption, runs the argument, and you solve climate change. But is “our” consumption really the problem? Who is “we” anyway?

Globally uneven consumption

This point has been made before, but bears repeating. Most of the world’s population produces very little in the way of either carbon emissions or broader environmental impacts. We can go further here by also looking at imported carbon emissions – that is, the emissions that come from the production of goods and services in countries such as China that are then consumed in the wealthy countries of the global north. If we include imported emissions, the UK’s overall emissions have only marginally decreased since 1990. MORE

UN chief calls for ending subsidies for fossil fuels

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UNITED NATIONS, March 28 (Xinhua) — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday urged the international community to end subsidies for fossil fuels.

“We must set radical change in motion. This means ending subsidies for fossil fuels and high-emitting, unsustainable agriculture and shifting towards renewable energy, electric vehicles and climate-smart practices,” the UN chief told the High-level Meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development for All, which was held at the UN headquarters in New York.

“It means accelerating the closure of coal plants, halting the construction of new ones and replacing those jobs with healthier alternatives for the people there employed, so the transformation is just, inclusive and profitable,” he added. MORE

Why ‘ecocide’ needs to become an international crime

And how one British lawyer is working to make that happen.

criminal law pyramidCC BY 4.0 Mission Life Force

In 1996, the Rome Statute was signed by 123 nations. It states that there are four ‘crimes against peace’, or atrocities, as we might call them in everyday speech. These are genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. These are the sorts of acts that no one disputes because they’re incontrovertibly viewed as wrong and will be tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.

Originally there was supposed to be a fifth item – ecocide. Ecocide is defined as “loss or damage to, or destruction of ecosystems of a given territory, such that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants has been or will be severely diminished.” It was removed at a late stage in drafting, due to pressure from the Netherlands, France, and the UK.

Rome Statute amendment

As the threat of climate change becomes more real, there is growing pressure to have the Rome Statute amended to include ecocide. In the words of British environmental writer George Monbiot, this would change everything.

“It would make the people who commission it – such as chief executives and government ministers – criminally liable for the harm they do to others, while creating a legal duty of care for life on Earth…

It would radically shift the balance of power, forcing anyone contemplating large-scale vandalism to ask themselves: ‘Will I end up in the international criminal court for this?’ It could make the difference between a habitable and an uninhabitable planet.”

Right now, there is little to no incentive for companies to change their environmentally-devastating ways. If citizens (with time and money) pursue civil suits against them, they might get fined a small amount (for which they’ve already budgeted); but their CEOs face no lasting punishment, despite the fact that their decisions affect the wellbeing of billions. MORE

Earth’s inhabitants stranded in a leaking neoliberal lifeboat

Early photograph of Hornsea Lifeboat. Photo: Bradford Timeline/Flickr
Photo: Bradford Timeline/Flickr

For the past 50 years, the world’s most renowned scientists — including more than a hundred Nobel Prize winners — have been imploring corporate and political leaders to curb climate change before it reaches catastrophic levels.

“Planet Earth is finite,” they warn. “Its ability to absorb wastes is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. And we are fast approaching many of Earth’s limits. Current economic practices cannot be continued without the risk that vital global ecosystems will be damaged beyond repair.”

These warnings, including the latest most urgent appeal by the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have been ignored. Not surprisingly, since the dominant global economic system — capitalism — depends for its very survival on the maintenance of unlimited economic growth, despite the inescapable catastrophic consequences.

Most governments have not only tolerated this corporate onslaught on the environment, but have actively subsidized and supported it. They have in effect become business-oriented minions, dedicated to putting corporate interests ahead of the public interest. They offer corporations the planet’s resources to plunder as they wish, with little or no constraints.

Given the dependence of all of Earth’s inhabitants on the planet’s basic life-support capacity, you would think that even the most eminent CEOs and billionaires would by now have started to have doubts about the infallibility of their “free-market” doctrine.

A few of them are indeed having such qualms, but serious dissent from the prevailing business-knows-best ideology is financially risky and thus rare. So the scale of corporate pillaging continues unabated. MORE

 

Justice system an ‘industry’ profiting off Indigenous offenders and victims

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InFocus
Less than five per cent of the population in Canada is Indigenous, yet Indigenous men make up 28 per cent of those behind bar, Indigenous women 43 per cent and Indigenous youth 46 per cent.

And while incarceration rates are on the decline for the general population, they’re trending upwards for Indigenous people.

Poverty and family and community breakdown are contributing factors to being both a perpetrator and a victim of crime.

But Treaty 3 Grand Chief Francis Kavanaugh says there are plenty of people profiting off this – jobs rely on it.

“We’re becoming commoditized,” Kavanaugh told InFocus Host Melissa Ridgen. “We’re providing job opportunities for others. That’s one of the problems. MORE

‘Fundamental Incoherence’ in Trudeau’s Climate Policies, Says Campaigner

Ottawa praises BC’s green leadership, while fighting provincial legal case on Trans Mountain expansion.

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Justin Trudeau’s government welcomes BC’s support on carbon tax, but is siding with Alberta’s Rachel Notley in fighting against BC’s right to regulate oil shipments. Photo from Alberta government.

The federal government’s treatment of British Columbia shows the Trudeau Liberals’ “incoherence” on climate change, says an environmental campaigner.

On one hand, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is calling B.C. an “exemplary climate leader” on Twitter, because the provincial government supports its carbon tax.

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At the same time, the Trudeau government is fighting to force the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion through B.C. over the provincial government’s objections and accusing B.C. of hurting the country’s economy. MORE

U.S. Senate rejects Green New Deal, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is ‘encouraged’

https://globalnews.ca/video/embed/5113318/
WATCH: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ‘encouraged’ despite Senate rejecting ‘Green New Deal’

U.S. Representative Alexandria OcasioCortez said on Friday she was “very encouraged” by the Senate vote this week on the “Green New Deal,” the sweeping climate policy resolution she introduced last month, even though the Senate defeated it.

The non-binding resolution, which proposes to eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions within a decade, lost 57-0 in the Senate, with 43 Democrats voting “present.”

“You had the Republicans voting ‘no’ and you had virtually the entire Democratic caucus voting ‘present,’ even those in tough states,” OcasioCortez said on Friday. “That is an extraordinary amount of unity within the Senate to actually vote in that cohesive of a bloc, so I’m very encouraged.”

OcasioCortez shrugged off Republicans’ insults on Friday at a town hall hosted by MSNBC in her district in The Bronx.

“I didn’t expect them to make total fools of themselves,” she said of her critics. MORE

 

The Hidden Air Pollution in Our Homes

Outdoor air has been regulated for decades, but emissions from daily domestic activities may be more dangerous than anyone imagined.

We spend most of our lives inside, where air quality has received little scrutiny. Illustration by Daniel Savage

ood magazines typically celebrate Thanksgiving in mid-July, bronzing turkeys and crimping piecrust four months in advance. By that time last year, Marina Vance, an environmental engineer at the University of Colorado Boulder, had already prepared two full Thanksgiving dinners for more than a dozen people. Vance studies air quality, and, last June, she was one of two scientists in charge of homechem, a four-week orgy of cooking, cleaning, and emissions measurement, which brought sixty scientists and four and a half million dollars’ worth of high-tech instrumentation to a ranch house on the engineering campus of the University of Texas at Austin. The two Thanksgiving dinners were the climax of the project and represented what Vance called a “worst-case scenario.” She suspected that the Pilgrims’ harvest celebration, as it is observed in twenty-first-century America, qualified as an airborne toxic event.

The morning of the second simulated Thanksgiving began simply enough, with the researchers making themselves breakfast. Vance and three helpers arrived at the house at half past eight. The kitchen was open plan and modest, with peeling laminate surfaces and flimsy cabinets, but its countertops were crammed with instruments for monitoring airborne particles: a condensation-nucleus counter, a differential-mobility analyzer, and so on. Wires threaded all around the room, and stainless-steel hoses led to four trailers outside, which contained equipment too big to fit in the kitchen.

Andrew Abeleira, a postdoctoral researcher, cracked eight eggs on the edge of the countertop and whisked them; Vance chopped tomatoes while heating oil to fry sausage patties. The banality of the activities was belied by the precision with which the team carried them out: a rigid protocol dictated when each gas burner could be lit, how hot the frying pan should be, and at what setting to toast the bread. The aim was to turn Thanksgiving into a reproducible, scientifically valid experiment.

Unlike outdoor air, the air inside our homes is largely unregulated and has been all but ignored by researchers. We know barely the first thing about the atmospheres in which we spend the vast majority of our time. homechem—House Observations of Microbial and Environmental Chemistry—was the world’s first large-scale collaborative investigation into the chemistry of indoor air. Thoroughly dissecting the data accumulated will take a couple of years, at least, and, even when the findings are published, no one will be able to state their public-health implications with certainty; homechem was designed to explore what the chemistry of indoor air is, not what it’s doing to us. But the experiment’s early results are just now emerging, and they seem to show that the combined emissions of humans and their daily activities—cooking, cleaning, metabolizing—are more interesting, and potentially more lethal, than anyone had imagined. MORE

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