The Guardian view on a Green New Deal: we need it now

” Ms Ocasio-Cortez rightly sees parallels with the response to the 1930s crisis where President Roosevelt dispensed with economic orthodoxy and tamed Big Finance. He created a New Deal jobs programme that employed millions, oversaw a massive expansion of government and remade the US industrial base.” – Guardian editorial

Policymakers ought not wait for economic theory to catch up with the environmental crisis

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has spelled out what a Green New Deal involves in a House resolution: rejecting economic orthodoxy to confront climate change.’ Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

The Green New Deal is probably the most fashionable policy in the English-speaking world. In Britain it is advocated by both Tory MPs and Jeremy Corbyn; while a non-partisan Canadian coalition of nearly 70 groups are backing such a scheme. However, it has been made flesh by US Democrats, in particular the political phenomenon in the US House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ms Ocasio-Cortez has spelled out what a Green New Deal involves in a House resolution: rejecting economic orthodoxy to confront climate change. She ought to be congratulated twice over.

At present the thinking is for governments to tackle global warming by including the social cost of carbon in the prices people pay, either through a carbon tax or a system of tradable carbon-emission permits. Such ideas have a role to play in changing the way societies consume and produce energy, but they are only moving us incrementally – if at all – towards sustainability. Global emissions of carbon dioxide are higher than they have ever been, almost three decades after the first global conference aimed at reducing them. The situation is becoming dangerous for human life. The latest figures show there is little more than a decade to save ourselves and the other creatures with whom we share the planet. To do so we must decouple economic activity from carbon emissions and ecological destruction.

The results of the next federal election—if electoral reform had happened

A Green-NDP merger? It could be a big hit.  A new 338Canada analysis shows the ‘Green Democrats’ would hold the balance of power in a minority government after the next election

Philippe J. Fournier: A new 338 Canada projection shows that under a proportional representation system the Greens and NDP would take a combined 90 seats

Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May introduces newly elected Green MP, Paul Manly, on Parliament Hill on Friday, May 10, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Proponents of electoral reform couldn’t help but reiterate their displeasure with the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system when commenting on last week’s 338-seat projection, and the numbers certainly suggested they may have a point.

The Conservative Party of Canada, then with an average support of 36.6 per cent of Canadian voters according to the latest poll aggregate, was projected to win an average of 174 seats—just above the 170 seat threshold for a majority at the House of Commons.

“A majority government with less than 37 per cent of the vote?” many of them rhetorically asked, not without disdain.

National seat projection under PR

Under the regional proportional representation system described above, the Conservative Party of Canada would be projected at an average of 125 seats—the highest amongst parties, but a total that would be far from the 170 seat threshold for a majority at the House of Commons. The Liberals would win an average of 108 seats.

Here are the PR seat projections with 95-per-cent confidence intervals:

As in the case of our hypothetical NDP-Green merger simulation, this regional PR projection is an exercise of pure politics-fiction. Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have shown any interest whatsoever in promoting such reform [PR]  and, from these numbers above, we can understand why. SOURCE

Canada: climate change threat could herald ‘dawn of new era’ for Green party

“A poll last week found 35 per cent of Canadians “are planning to vote for a party because they dislike another party even more and want to prevent that party from winning.” That was true for 40 per cent of supporters for both the Liberals and Conservatives. All because Trudeau broke a firm promise to have proportional representation in place for the fall election.”


Elizabeth May and her party believe voters are ready to ‘vote for real change’ in the upcoming federal election in October

 Elizabeth May, the leader of Canada’s Green party. Photograph: Darryl Dyck/AP

Elections have rarely been kind to Canada’s long-suffering Green party. Though many voters view it as the environmental conscience of the country, they often abandon it when it comes time to cast their ballot and the party’s leader Elizabeth May has sometimes been forced to fight for a place in debates between party leaders.

But as Canada confronts the effects of climate change, May and her party firmly believe the upcoming federal election in October will be different.

The Green’s growing strength was highlighted this week, when Paul Manly won a closely-watched regional election in British Columbia, taking the Nainamo seat from the leftwing New Democratic party, and forcing Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party into fourth place. He will become the federal Green party’s second MP.

May hailed Monday’s the victory as “the dawn of a new era in federal politics” which proved voters were “brave to vote for real change”.

The recent successes come amid growing recognition of the impacts of climate change in Canada. A recent government report has found that the country is warming at a rate twice that of the global average.

Carbon taxes and environment have moved to the centre of the country’s national discourse, and May is well-positioned to capitalize on growing frustration among voters, said Lori Turnbull, a professor of political science at Dalhousie University.

“May can run circles around the [leaders] on the carbon tax. She’s really an excellent, speaker and debater and she’s got more experienced in any of them in terms of running the federal party and being on the campaign trail,” said Turnbull. MORE


Once an ‘orange diaper baby,’ Manly begins life as a Green MP
Historic Green Party win raises profile of climate change
NDP unveils parts of climate plan in motion as the Green Party edges closer
Greens’ Dramatic Byelection Win Reveals Much about October Vote


How soil carbon can help tackle climate change

“A combination of innovative economic programs, incentives and credits, supported by all stakeholders including consumers, are needed to support farmers in this key challenge of a generation.”

Image result for the conversation: How soil carbon can help tackle climate change
Soil carbon can play a role in tackling climate change. Shutterstock

Maintaining soil organic matter is critical to tackling climate change because soil organic matter is rich in carbon. Soil carbon is also the keystone element controlling soil health, which enables soils to be resilient as droughts and intense rainfall events increasingly occur.

Given this tremendous importance of soil carbon, are economic incentives and programs helping Canadian farmers maintain and enhance soil carbon on their farms?

On the Prairies, farm soil carbon levels have stabilized or increased over the past few decades, largely as a result of adoption of no-till cropping, which avoids disturbing the soil while growing a crop. In Eastern Canada, however, most estimates suggest that the intensity of crop production(especially reduced use of forage crops) is causing soil carbon levels to decline. This situation is made more challenging by the fact that in higher moisture regions such as Eastern Canada and British Columbia no-till cropping does not enhance soil carbon. This contrasting soil carbon performance of Eastern and Western Canadian farms could even be a politically sensitive issue.

My research examines how different farming systems and cropping practices influence soil carbon and soil health. But it is increasingly evident that economic incentives are as important as technical approaches in developing solutions to this issue. Which policy tools, taxes or credits are needed to assist farmers, including those in Eastern Canada, prevent further soil carbon losses and move to a more positive soil carbon status? MORE


 Carbon farming: a solution to global land degradation and poverty?

One million species at risk of extinction as Doug Ford is ‘sending in the bulldozers’

“They don’t understand how the loss of habitat and species is having a direct impact on our quality of life.” – Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks with a member of the public in a partially flooded area of Constance Bay northwest of Ottawa on April 26, 2019. Photo by Kamara Morozuk

Four days after Doug Ford’s government spelled out 20-pages of weakened protections for Ontario’s species at risk in an omnibus housing bill, an 18,000-page report by over 450 scientists — who spent over three years creating a first exhaustive portrait of humanity’s devastating impacts on nature as a result of rapid urban development — conveyed one shocking fact: over one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction.

We can stop this, the United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report says, but it will take “transformative change” in every aspect of how humans interact with nature.

This change is not coming from the Doug Ford government, critics say, who are “sprinting the other way” by bolstering a status quo the UN assessment says desperately needs to change.

The Ford government is “sending in the bulldozers,” says Greenpeace Canada’s Shane Moffat, by giving way for developers to actively avoid species-at-risk protections. “The report really makes clear if we’re going to prevent this crisis of biodiversity, that means an end to business as usual … We don’t see a sign of that in Ontario. In a way, what Doug Ford is doing is worse than business as usual.”

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the report — which was based on thousands of scientific studies, and is the most comprehensive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe — is “frightening news.” Among its long list of astonishing findings, the report found that three-quarters of the world’s land area has been significantly altered by humans and 85 percent of the world’s wetlands have vanished since the 18th century, leading to the largest mass extincting the world has seen since the age of the dinosaurs.

Schreiner says the fact that it is the Ford government’s housing bill that guts endangered species protection suggests that “they don’t understand how the loss of habitat and species is having a direct impact on our quality of life.” MORE


Doug Ford says carbon taxes will cost us. Here are six reasons not to believe him

Young people won’t accept anything less than a justice-centred Green New Deal

Catherine McKenna’s talk about ‘growing the economy while protecting the environment’ doesn’t pass the smell test.

Image result for Ricochet: Young people won’t accept anything less than a justice-centred Green New Deal

The rhetoric of Canada’s minister of environment and climate change doesn’t match the Liberal government’s record in office

This past Monday over 60 groups from across Canada — including Our Time, a youth-led campaign I’m organizing with — launched the Pact for a Green New Deal. It’s a call for politicians in Canada to present a climate plan in line with climate science and Indigenous teachings that creates millions of good jobs and addresses inequality.

Tens of thousands of people have already signed on in support, catching the attention of federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. The same day the Pact went live, she published an op-ed about her and her government’s climate record. Reading it, I was struck by inconsistencies between McKenna’s thoughts and my own experience as a young person who has been organizing for climate justice throughout McKenna’s term in office.

One of my first organizing experiences was with a campaign called the People’s Climate Plan in 2016. We were organizing around the federal climate change town halls, doing outreach and providing support for people in our communities to show up and speak up for ambitious climate policy.

McKenna ignored our voices. Instead, she approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, along with other pipeline projects.

One of my first organizing experiences was with a campaign called the People’s Climate Plan in 2016. We were organizing around the federal climate change town halls, doing outreach and providing support for people in our communities to show up and speak up for ambitious climate policy.

McKenna’s pride in her climate record rings hollow when so many, especially frontline communities, have been fighting tooth and nail against the disastrous fossil fuel projects she’s approved.

I spent countless hours that spring and summer talking to people in Halifax and, as a result, Halifax MP Andy Fillmore’s town hall was packed, with 250 people in attendance. The people at that town hall were clear: they wanted climate action in Canada to end fossil fuel expansion, support workers in the transition to a renewable economy, and fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — including the right to free, prior, and informed consent for natural resource projects. And all across the country, the same demands emerged in other towns halls — we even wrote a report about it for McKenna. MORE