Thousands of teens join Greta Thunberg’s climate fight in Berlin

Thousands of teens join Greta Thunberg's climate fight in Berlin
Thunberg gathers with students at a ‘Fridays for Future’ demonstration in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Thousands of German youths went on strike from school on Friday, joining Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg who has taken her protest against climate change to Berlin.
Armed with homemade posters bearing slogans like “It’s getting hot in here” or “Our house is on fire” or “You’re never too small to make a difference”, the teenagers packed into a park in central Berlin to sound the alarm about global warming.
From the park in front of the economy ministry, they were to marchto Brandenburg Gate, where Thunberg is due to address the crowd. Police said they have dispatched 300 officers to the protest which is expected to draw around 15,000 people.

Students gathering at a demo with Greta Thunberg in Berlin. Photo: DPA

“We’re going to continue skipping classes every Friday because we can’t keep going like that with the climate. We have to pull the emergency brakes,” vowed Franziska Wessel, one of the organizers of the protests in Berlin. MORE


Greta Thunberg wins German Golden Camera award
Climate change: Greta Thunberg comes to Rome


Why ‘Green New Deal’ Has Washington in Such a Lather

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal created a sprawling range of public-works programs to address the Great Depression. Eighty years later, some present-day members of his party say a program no less grand in scope is needed to address a new crisis — the existential threat of global warming. A band of self-described progressiveDemocrats energized by the party’s successes in last year’s midterm elections have unveiled a wish list of government actions they’ve packaged as the “Green New Deal.” It’s long on ambition but short on details.

1. What is meant by ‘Green New Deal’?

The term has kicked around for more than a decade among advocates of a concerted government effort to turn environmentalism into an economic engine. Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, in a 2007 column, called for “a Green New Deal — one in which government’s role is not funding projects, as in the original New Deal, but seeding basic research, providing loan guarantees where needed and setting standards, taxes and incentives that will spawn 1,000 G.E. Transportations for all kinds of clean power.” In its most recent incarnation, Green New Deal is the name adopted by Democrats led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts in a bid to dramatically shift the U.S. away from fossil fuels and other sources of the emissions that cause global warming.

2. What would it do?

The group’s manifesto, in the form of a non-binding resolution offered in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, calls for a “10-year national mobilization” to shift the nation to 100 percent “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” — a highly ambitious goal, given that fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas and coal) accounted for 80 percent of U.S. energy consumption in 2017. Weaving together what had been a hodgepodge of progressive proposals and aspirations, the plan calls for upgrading “all existing buildings” for maximum energy efficiency and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions “as much as is technologically feasible” from manufacturing, agriculture and transportation. For good measure, the program calls for steps to expand educational opportunities, increase “high-quality union jobs” and provide health care and housing for all Americans — a progressive wish list not directly connected to renewable energy.

Image result for U.S. Energy Information Administration; graphic by Bloomberg QuickTake

3. How would the plan accomplish all that?

Answers to that question, and how much it would cost, are largely absent for now. Green New Deal proponents say their immediate goal is to change the debate about the climate, to inject a greater sense of urgency and ambition. What’s been put down on paper is akin to a “request for proposals,” Ocasio-Cortez explained on Twitter. “We’ve defined the scope and where we want to go. Now let’s assess + collab on projects,” she wrote. MORE


The Green New Deal Can Work – Here’s How


Karsten Würth (@inf1783)/wikimedia commons

People who actually live near operating wind farms see them as better neighbours than fossil, nuclear, or solar plants, even if they’re located in U.S. coal country, according to a new study in the journal Nature.

Researchers Jeremy Firestone and Hannah Kirk based that assessment on publicly-available data from a 2016 survey of 1,705 people living within five miles of at least one commercial-scale wind turbine, conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

“Research on people’s acceptance of wind power, they write, usually frames the question as being a choice between wind power or no wind power,” ArsTechnica reports. “But that’s unrealistic: society needs to generate electricity somehow, so they argue that the real question should be ‘whether society should generate electricity by wind or from some other source.’”

And that question yielded a very different result.

“Around 90% of the respondents said they would prefer their local wind farm to a hypothetical nuclear, coal, or natural gas plant at the same distance from their homes,” ArsTechnica notes. “There was even a preference for wind over solar power, although that was less stark—around a third of respondents had no real preference, 15% said they would prefer solar power, and 45% said they were happier with wind power.” MORE


What’s the Difference Between a Low-Carbon and Zero-Carbon Future? Survival

Governments, media and industry use ‘low-carbon economy’ frame to continue business as usual.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan celebrating LNG Canada’s investment decision as an investment in the low-carbon economy. They’re missing a critical point: we need a zero-emissions economy. Photo: BC Government Flickr

In a recent Vancouver Sun column describing the introduction of enabling legislation for the Shell LNG Canada project in the B.C. legislature, Vaughn Palmer ends with these words:

“The finance ministry reckons that even with the estimated $6 billion in relief over 40 years, the province would still reap $22 billion in revenues over the same period. Without the project, returns would, of course, be zero.”

It’s a compelling comparison. With the project we can pay for schools, hospitals and poverty reduction. Without it, we have nothing.

Yet it is fallacious, a comparison promoted by Big Oil and adopted by most governments. It takes our minds off alternatives.

The correct comparison is between revenues generated from $40 billion invested in fracking and fossil fuel production versus revenues generated from $40 billion invested in renewable energy, such as solar, wind and thermal.

Two similar-sounding phrases lie at the heart of this issue. One has gained predominance, the other relegated to the margins of climate change discourse. The first is “low-carbon economy,” an economy in which even fracking and liquefied natural gas have a role. The second is “zero-carbon economy,” an economy in which no more greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. In this second framing, the goal must be an economy fuelled entirely by renewable, non-carbon-emitting sources. MORE

How claims are submitted, negotiated

Two types of claims fall under Ottawa’s jurisdiction

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, right, and Indian Affairs Minister Jean Chretien, second from right, meet with Nisga’a First Nation leader Frank Calder, centre, on Feb. 7, 1973. The Trudeau government introduced a new land claim policy after a Supreme Court decision ruled the Nisga’a had pre-existing title to their lands based on occupancy and use.(Canadian Press)

In 1969, the government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau tabled the White Paper on Indian Policy, which proposed eliminating the Indian Act and native status. This raised an outcry among First Nations, who declared they were sovereign nations and denounced the government’s attempt to extinguish their treaty rights.

In 1973, Trudeau reversed course and his government implemented a new policy to settle aboriginal claims. This was shortly after the Calder judgment, handed down by the Supreme Court, had recognized the Nisga’a First Nation’s pre-existing title to the land based on occupancy and use since time immemorial.

The new policy defined two types of claims:

  • Comprehensive claims, concerning aboriginal peoples who had never signed a treaty, and
  • Specific claims, aimed at redressing historical wrongs related to treaties or instances where the government had breached its lawful obligation to a native group.


Consultant says First Nation will pay him $1.28-million for obtaining federal housing dollars

Gerald Paulin’s report found mould in almost every house on the reserve, as well as safety issues such as bad electrical work and improperly installed wood stoves, prompted outrage, national news stories and a $12.8-million commitment from the federal Indigenous Services department to replace and repair homes at Cat Lake. DAVID JACKSON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

A Thunder Bay consultant whose exposure of the mouldy and unsafe housing in a remote Ontario First Nation persuaded the federal government to pay to replace homes on the reserve says he will receive $1.28-million for that work under a deal he negotiated with the chief and council.

The expected payout to Gerald Paulin and his company, Windsun Energy Corp., is raising eyebrows of federal officials and First Nations leaders, as well as shining a light on the lucrative deals being negotiated by some consultants. At the same time, Mr. Paulin’s efforts have brought attention to the housing crisis in many First Nations where families live in conditions that would not be tolerated elsewhere in Canada.

Mr. Paulin has already received $20,000 for a report on a $200,000 investigation he helped to arrange in December, 2018, of the homes in the Cat Lake First Nation, which recommended the demolition and replacement of 87 of 124 units.

That report, which found mould in almost every house on the reserve, as well as safety issues such as bad electrical work and improperly installed wood stoves, prompted outrage, national news stories and a $12.8-million commitment from the federal Indigenous Services department to replace and repair homes at Cat Lake. MORE

8 major gaps in B.C.’s knowledge about fracking

Scientific panel outlines just how much we know — about what we don’t know — when it comes to regulatory oversight, water usage, earthquakes and radioactive waste

Image result for 8 major gaps in B.C.’s knowledge about fracking
Oil and gas development near Farmingtion, B.C. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

Although a government-commissioned scientific review of fracking in British Columbia released earlier this month occupies some 232 pages, the word “concerns,” as in “concerns regarding environmental impact,” pops up more than 130 times.

That’s a lot of scientific apprehension about a technology that serves as the foundation for the province’s growing liquefied natural gas industry.

More than 90 per cent of all oil and gas wells in B.C. require extensive fracking, which pulverizes hydrocarbon-bearing rock with highly pressurized streams of water, sand and chemicals.

In its final report, the three-member scientific panel tasked with the review expressed “concerns” about every part of its limited investigation, particularly around water, seismic hazards and gas migration.

(It’s worth noting the review did not look at public health issues, cumulative land impacts, social costs, or the industry’s poor economic health or worker safety.)

The paucity of the data the researchers drew upon, perhaps, explains the proliferation of so many “concerns” in the review.

The word insufficient, as in “insufficient information,” peppers the report 27 times, while “unknown” appears 17 times.

Uncertain or uncertainty, as in “uncertain water quality,” appears nearly 50 times, while gaps, as in “important knowledge gaps,” litters the document 27 times.

Here’s a brief snapshot of eight “insufficient” and “unknown” data gaps the government of B.C., a proponent of LNG terminals, still faces regarding the impacts of the fracking industry on water, earthquakes and gas migration. MORE


Canada considers ’emergency’ warning from scientists that could complicate Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Coldwater Indian Band Chief Lee Spahan speaks at a news conference with other First Nations leaders in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 2018. File photo by Alex Tétreault

The Trudeau government has been weighing scientists’ “emergency” warning about an endangered species for more than a year in a case that could have serious implications for the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The species in question, steelhead trout, is of great importance to Coldwater Indian Band, a First Nation in southern interior British Columbia that is directly affected by the proposed pipeline expansion.

Local salmon and steelhead populations are “integral to Coldwater’s way of life and have been for generations,” the First Nation has said in a formal submission to the federal pipeline regulator, the National Energy Board.

The Thompson River population of steelhead trout spawn in the Coldwater River, which runs through Coldwater’s reserve and traditional territory along the proposed path of the pipeline expansion. MORE


Ontario child advocate wonders whether Doug Ford just made your children ‘invisible again’

Irwin Elman, Ontario’s first, only and last independent child advocate, speaks to National Observer in an interview at his Toronto office on March 26, 2018. Photo by Tijana Martin

The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth fielded over 21,000 calls last year seeking help for children in the welfare system. Over the years, Elman and his team have shed light on horrifying situations in foster and group homes ranging from lack of proper diet to physical abuse.

His work has attracted global attention for the way it has brought youth voices to the forefront. In April, a contingent of Japan’s youth public service was set to visit the office to learn how to replicate their operations and their model for youth support across the world.

The group is proceeding with their trip, but Elman will no longer be there when they arrive.

Friday, March 29, marked Elman’s last day as Ontario’s first and only independent child advocate.

Ontario Child Advocate@OntarioAdvocate

On this ( ) , we take a moment to thank the dedicated staff from our Toronto and Thunder Bay offices who worked tirelessly with children and youth across the province to advocate for issues of importance to them. ^AP

The office is scheduled to shut down on May 1, one of three independent watchdogs eliminated with the stroke of a pen by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli’s 2018 fall economic statement. MORE


Canada says global carbon pollution must be reduced to ‘near zero’ to limit harsh impacts

Water levels rise dangerously high below the Chaudière Bridge over the Ottawa River, between Gatineau and Ottawa, following spring flooding on May 8, 2017. File photo by Alex Tétreault

Canada is heating up at double the average rate of the planet, according to a stunning peer-reviewed scientific report involving dozens of government and academic authors, and it is likely that the majority of this warming was caused by human activities like burning fossil fuels.

Canada’s Changing Climate Report, released April 1, 2019, shows how climate change has already altered Canada and is expected to lead to heightened risks of heat waves, wildfires, floods and declining freshwater availability.

The report uses careful language to express varying levels of confidence in scientific research, showing how climate change has already altered Canada & is expected to lead to heightened risks of heat waves, wildfires, floods and declining freshwater

It found that Canada’s annual temperature over land has warmed on average 1.7 degrees Celsius between 1948 and 2016, while the average winter temperature has increased by 3.3 C. Although not uniform, that’s much more dramatic than the average warming around the world of between 0.8 C and 1.2 C as assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

For Northern Canada, the number is even starker: the region has warmed by 2.3 C, about three times global warming.

It also found more than half of the warming in Canada is “likely” due to human factors like burning fossil fuels such as gasoline that come from oil, gas and coal, which create heat-trapping carbon pollution.

The report is an overview and synthesis of published literature, similar to how the IPCC functions. As a result, it uses careful language to express varying levels of confidence in scientific research.

Overall, the scientists found the effects of climate change evident across the country, and that further warming over the next decades is already baked in due to pollution that has already been released into the atmosphere. MORE