Editorial: It’s decision time for Weaver and the Greens

VKA-greens-1760.jpgGreen Party MLAs Adam Olsen, left, and Sonia Furstenau, with party leader Andrew Weaver shortly after they were elected. Photograph By DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Now that the B.C. government has offered financial inducements to ensure the construction of a liquefied-natural-gas plant in Kitimat, the question must be asked: How should Andrew Weaver respond?

The B.C. Green Party leader has already expressed disbelief that his NDP partners would usher in what he called the biggest single source of greenhouse-gas emissions in Canadian history.

This is not the first time a promise to protect the environment has been broken by the current government. Shortly after the NDP was elected, Premier John Horgan announced that B.C. Hydro’s Site C dam would go ahead. This reversed his party’s pre-election stance and infuriated Green supporters.

Weaver declined to bring down the government on that occasion, a choice that can be understood. The referendum on electoral reform lay ahead, and had it carried, his party would have been the major beneficiary.

But now that hope is gone, what other reason is there to preserve the marriage? It has become clear that on controversial environmental issues, the NDP will stick with middle-of-the road voters. MORE


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Canada Supreme Court rejects Ecuador damages appeal against Chevron

Indigenous villagers from Ecuador want a Canadian subsidiary of US energy giant Chevron to pay for pollution of native lands in the Amazon between 1964 and 1992

Canada’s Supreme Court on Thursday declined to hear an appeal from a group of Ecuadoran villagers seeking compensation from the Canadian subsidiary of US energy giant Chevron over oil pollution in the Amazon jungle.

The indigenous villagers from central Ecuador want the company to pay for pollution of native lands between 1964 and 1992 by Texaco, a US oil subsidiary the firm bought in 2001.

The decision, for which the court did not offer a reason, puts an end to the group’s attempt to sue Chevron Canada Limited for $9.5 billion in compensation.

The original ruling dates back to 2011 and was twice upheld on appeal in Ecuador. But, as the company has no assets in Ecuador, the plaintiffs turned to courts in several other countries — including the US, Canada, Brazil and Argentina — to try and enforce the ruling.

An Ontario appeals court had previously ruled in 2017 that the firm’s Canadian subsidiary was a legally distinct from its US parent company and its assets could not be seized.

The Supreme Court’s decision also comes after an appeals court in The Hague cancelled a September ruling in Ecuador that Chevron pay $9.5 billion in damages. MORE



A Green New Deal for Food and Farming

Agroecology field farming

To address climate change, we’ve got to end chemical-intensive agriculture. Why?

Because globally, today’s food and agriculture systems are responsible for more climate-change contributing emissions than the world’s cars, trucks, planes, and trains combined. At the same time, we’re confronted with evidence that climate change is unravelling the systems of the natural world that have evolved over millennia to create a habitable planet.

The Green New Deal, a non-binding resolution that calls for a shift in energy production and public resources to carbon-neutralize the U.S. by 2030, highlights “working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector.” This is a good idea.

Agriculture & the Climate Crisis

Here at PAN, we support a just transition to food and agriculture systems that put power back in the hands of the farmers, workers, and communities growing food—and the Green New Deal is one way to help us accomplish this.

Much of agriculture’s contribution to climate change is from chemical intensive farming’s reliance on fossil fuel-based inputs. Deforestation and conversion of grassland to commodity crop production reduces acres of diverse, carbon-sequestering ecosystems globally, and reliance on petrochemical inputs for monocrop production is on the rise. This includes synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides derived from petroleum-based hydrocarbons.  MORE

When it comes to environmental laws, oil companies shouldn’t make the rules

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

The good news: Canada is in the final stages of developing a new federal law that will modernize our environmental assessment laws. The bad news: this practical and relatively modest goal has been the subject of an extensive misinformation campaign by the oil and gas industry.

The latest step in the campaign to Kill the Bill is a tour by Canadian Senators that kicks off the second week of April, duplicating over two years of consultations and a 20-stop tour already undertaken for this legislation.

The oil & gas industry (CAPP) has been lobbying non-stop against environmental assessment bill C-69, at one point averaging a meeting per workday just on this legislation,” writes @CanadaGray

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that Canada’s oil and gas industry does not want climate to be a major consideration when energy projects are reviewed. As a result, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is demanding that the Senate include regressive amendments to Bill C-69. Although Bill C-69 — which will fulfill the government’s platform commitment to take steps to fix Canada’s broken impact assessment process — is not perfect, it is a major improvement in how we will assess the health and environmental impacts of major projects. For the first time, a project’s impact on Canada’s climate change goals will be an important consideration.

CAPP is essentially demanding that Canada stick its head in the sand. The world is up against a hard deadline and we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fast. In fact, the bill should go further than it currently does to consider the cumulative impact of projects on reaching our national climate targets. Of course, no individual project will single-handedly blow through our climate goals — but taken together, they can. If the federal review process doesn’t take into account industry’s overall impact on the climate, when exactly is that supposed to happen?

Federal impact reviews are supposed to be Canada’s opportunity to see both the forest and the trees. The point of this bill is not, as some have asserted, to find a new way to get pipelines approved. Rather it is to consider the complex impacts and tradeoffs that many types of industrial projects present for the lives of Canadians and our natural environment. Climate is the most urgent of these factors.

Think about it another way: the Trans Mountain pipeline has been in the ground for more than 60 years. Shouldn’t industrial projects that will still be impacting the landscape, the neighbourhoods and the atmosphere more than half a century from now be rigorously considered from all angles before shovels go in the ground?

Yet, it appears that there is no level of oversight or public accountability that CAPP and its members will view as acceptable. Under the current federal climate plan, emissions from oil and gas are actually expected to rise, even while transportation, buildings and other sectors will have to cut emissions drastically.  MORE

New AG Lametti says he will resist any attempts to pressure him on SNC case

Justice Minister David Lametti arrives for a cabinet meeting in West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. File photo by The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld

Attorney General David Lametti says he will resist any attempt to pressure him on the SNC-Lavalin criminal prosecution.

Lametti is now in the hot seat on the court case that has rocked the Liberal government, resulting in the resignations of two cabinet ministers, the prime minister’s most trusted adviser and the country’s top civil servant.

The director of public prosecutions decided last fall not to negotiate a deferred-prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin, which is facing charges of bribery over its work in Libya between 2001 and 2011. Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould says she was inappropriately pressured by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his senior staff to overrule that decision.

She believes she was shuffled out as justice minister and attorney general in January because she would not intervene, though the prime minister denies that had anything to do with her move. MORE


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One Thing You Can Do: Keep Your Old Gadgets Out of the Trash

Credit: Tyler Varsell

Technology moves fast. The coolest gadgets today will be obsolete in a few years and we’ll discard them to make room for new ones. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t see flat screens, printers and speakers languishing on the sidewalks of New York City.

About half of American states, including New York, have e-waste recycling laws, and around 20 states ban certain types of electronics from landfills. These laws were adopted because many gadgets contain toxic metals — like lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium — that can leak into groundwater and soil, poisoning the ecosystem.

The good news is that there are many environmentally friendly options for parting ways with your electronic devices.

First, you could consider trying to give those devices a second life. That applies especially to laptops, tablets and cellphones, which we often discard simply because we want to upgrade. MORE


Quinte Waste Solutions: Hazardous and Electronic Waste Recycling

Planner makes valuable donation to city tree policy

Ruth Ferguson Aulthouse of RFA Planning Ltd. contributed a study on the state of Belleville’s urban forest to the city. INQUINTE.CA FILE PHOTO

A passion for a local businesswoman has become a valuable tool for the city of Belleville in developing a policy to protect and enhance its trees and natural vegetation. As noted in the report, a “healthy urban forest improves the quality of life of City of Belleville residents,” including the environment, the economy and the community.

The findings showed a six per cent reduction in cover which cost the city more than $100,000 in estimated environmental benefits. Aulthouse said the report shows the significant benefits to the community of having a progressive tree canopy program in place.

“It can make a big difference for a small cost,” she said of the program, which could require trees as part of new developments and ensure the city replants trees for those it removes. He said a key part of the community engagement and education portion is to show people the benefits of maintaining and adding to the city’s tree canopy.

Those benefits include environmental benefits such as improving air quality, economic benefits such as increasing property values and conserving energy, and community benefits such as improving walkability and making neighbourhoods more attractive.

She noted that part of the new focus of the city’s green efforts includes planting of edible trees, such as the three apple and two pear trees that have been recently planted at the Bayview Heights Community Garden. MORE