Two-thirds of Indigenous people don’t feel respected in Canada, according to pre-election survey

It’s one of the many findings from a recent poll commissioned by CBC News ahead of the federal election


A woman is embraced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during ceremonies marking the release of the final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Gatineau, Que., on June 3. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Two-thirds of Indigenous people feel that the federal government does not respect their community and identity, according to a recent poll.

It’s one of the many findings from the poll commissioned by CBC News as the October federal election approaches.

Conducted by Public Square Research and Maru/Blue, the poll ran between May 31 and June 10, and included 500 Indigenous people from across the country who responded online.

When asked “Do you feel that the federal government respects your community and identity?” 67 per cent of Indigenous respondents said no, and 66 per cent said they don’t feel like a respected part of Canada.

The poll also found that fewer than two in 10 Indigenous people believe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be re-elected this fall.

Hayden King, executive director at Yellowhead Institute, a First Nations-led research centre based at Ryerson University, said the lack of confidence in the current Liberal government is not surprising.
“We have a government that has campaigned on nation-to-nation relations and reconciliation, and over the course of the four years, we have just seen promise after promise being broken,” he said.

He said the promises that have been kept have sparked “much contention and disappointment.” MORE

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Apple, Amazon, and the rest of Big Tech all have a lot to learn from the Green New Deal

It’s vital to cut carbon emissions. But tech companies have a responsibility to go a lot further than that—and the ability to do so.


[Source Images: yucelyilmaz/iStock, Djahan/iStock, Jezperklauzen/iStock]

For many years, the biggest technology companies have made pioneering commitments to reducing their energy footprint. Google and Apple claim to be completely carbon neutral: Apple says all its facilities are powered entirely by renewable energy, while Google has become the world’s largest buyer of renewable energy to offset its energy costs. In 2018, Apple said it had reduced carbon emissions by 58% since 2011. Microsoft is on track to reach 60% renewable energy across its data centers by the end of 2019, while Facebook’s goal is to reach 100% renewable energy by 2020. In 2019, Amazon announced that it is aiming to make half of its shipments carbon neutral by 2030, and the company says it has eliminated 244,000 tons of packaging materials, avoided 500 million shipping boxes, and continues to invest in electric vehicles, aviation bio fuels, and renewable energy.

Given that many corporations aren’t as focused on sustainability, the tech companies’ efforts to reduce emissions appear at first to be a good track record. But as the fight against climate change heats up, the big tech companies’ claims and commitments still are not enough to make an impact on a widening emissions gap—in 2018, global emissions levels rose 2.7% after years of not growing at all. The UN says that these levels must drop 55% by 2030 to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

And while much of that growth in emissions can be attributed to a range of corporate bad actors, some leaders in the climate community think tech companies are not doing enough to use their clout and tech prowess to make real change.

“Let’s get over this notion that [tech companies] are some kind of heroes. They’re not,” says Richard Wiles, the director of the Center for Climate Integrity. “They’re doing the least they can do to get the most greenwashing benefit out of it,” he says, referring to the practice of promoting an organization’s environmental record when its products and practices actually aren’t good for the climate.

In February 2019, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey introduced the Green New Deal resolution, designed to tackle the principal challenges facing the country right now. While this framework’s main goal is for the United States to become net carbon zero by 2030, it also advances a larger, more revolutionary agenda. Because slashing carbon emissions will require overhauling the entire economy, it also demands fixes for other underlying issues: income inequality, housing and healthcare affordability, and race and gender injustice.

As the United States begins the transition to a carbon neutral economy, it’s vital that the biggest technology companies—Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft—lead the way. The “big five” of tech command a significant portion of the economy. The International Monetary Fund estimates their collective worth at $3.5 trillion, more than the GDP of the United Kingdom. What’s more: Their products, hardware, cloud networks, and internet infrastructure touch nearly every industry and every individual. Of all the industries in the U.S., tech’s reach is perhaps the more difficult to conceptualize, but also the broadest.

What happens in the technology industry today radiates out into nearly every corner of the economy. Which is why, for the Green New Deal to take root in the U.S., Big Tech needs to be involved. These major companies have both the capacity for innovation, the economic resources, and the political clout to precipitate the shifts laid out in the Green New Deal framework. Will they decide to take the lead? MORE

CSG Presents Student Environmental Bursary in Memory of Fred Holtz


Janet Curran awarding Riley with our CSG bursary

Submitted for County Sustainability Group by Don Ross

Congratulations and best of luck in the future to the 2019 recipient of our $1000 bursary, Riley Cameron-Rogers, who has vital messages for us all in his application letter here:

“Our planet has reached a state of climate emergency: atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have reached a critical point of over 410 ppm; the average global temperature is 0.84°C higher than the projected temperature and increasing faster than ever before recorded, and glaciers are disappearing globally at a nearly exponential rate. This emergency requires action, and as Margaret Mead said – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. The solution to this climate emergency starts in communities, with small groups of people working together to solve these problems, and then expanding local solutions to a national – and hopefully – a global scale.

Personally, my mission of combatting this climate emergency started within my school community when I joined the social and environmental Justice League. However, this journey is far from over. In fact it is just beginning, and action is no longer a recommendation; it has become a requirement if we are to save the planet.

The County Sustainability Group was founded upon the principles of developing the community’s respect for the earth’s finite amount of resources as well as it’s natural systems, caring for the earth, and assuring a vibrant life for the future generations. I share this respect and demonstrate it in numerous ways. For instance, in the summer I work as a naturalist at Sandbanks Provincial Park, surveying wildlife populations, managing invasive species, and educating guests about the importance and impact that human usage of the Park has on the environment. I teach younger people to care for our planet and appreciate things usually taken for granted, hoping that they will be more mindful of their actions and initiate changes for the benefit of the planet.

Respect for the earth is the first step. Next, as 350 affirms, comes action, and finding solutions to problems we face. As climate change becomes a climate emergency, action is no longer an option, it is a necessity for the future to be prosperous.

As pivotal as action is in fighting the climate emergency humanity faces, the actions necessary are too large for one individual to handle, and that’s why the 350 and the County Sustainability Group’s focus on community is essential. This emphasis is very important to me as the majority of my activism comes from inspiring those around me. Growing this community of people that are passionate about solving our climate emergency is the most important step in providing flourishing life for the future, because as said by Jane Goodall – “You cannot go a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Being so involved in my school has lead me to pursue a career in aerospace engineering, where I can be on the forefront of change: designing new technology with the health of the environment in mind; and create with environmental ethics in mind. I feel strongly that we need to change as a society, and all future technology needs to be green technology. I can make a difference in an industry that has neglected consideration of the planet in the past.

The solution to climate change is much more than individual actions. In order to overcome the climate emergency we face, we must work as a community, spread our passion to others, and bring forth opportunities for everyone to make a difference, because if we don’t change now, we will never have another chance.


Costs of Ontario climate plan would be double Liberal carbon tax, raise household costs: report

A growing pile of research argues economy-wide carbon taxes are cheaper to administer than regulations targeting specific sources of emissions


Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks at an anti-carbon tax rally in Calgary on Oct. 5, 2018.Leah Hennel/Postmedia

OTTAWA — Ontario’s climate plan would cost taxpayers twice as much as the federal Liberal carbon tax, a new report says, casting doubt on policies proposed by a handful of provinces as they mount a legal objection to Ottawa’s environmental ambitions.

A report set to be released Tuesday by Canadians for Clean Prosperity, an environmental think-tank, found that Ontario’s climate change policies would be 59 per cent more costly for businesses and households in 2022 compared with Ottawa’s carbon tax. That figure would fall to 50 per cent more expensive by 2030.

The findings align with a growing pile of research that argues economy-wide carbon taxes are cheaper to administer than regulations targeting specific sources of emissions, which ultimately trickle down and raise costs for consumers.

The federal carbon tax, which came into force at the beginning of 2019, has become a source of intense political discord in Canada. Provincial leaders in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick have all opposed Justin Trudeau’s environmental policies. Ontario and Saskatchewan are involved in legal appeals as part of an effort to overturn the carbon tax, and the battle is widely expected to reach the Supreme Court.

The Clean Prosperity report found that the cost of the Ontario plan would be more expensive largely because it would “cherry pick” certain sources of emissions to cut and would cost $334 million in 2022, or $62 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions removed. The federal plan would cost $214 million in 2022, or $40 per tonne, according to the report. SOURCE

You Can Have Capitalism, Or You Can Have a Planet — But You Probably Can’t Have Both

Climate Change Isn’t Just “Man-Made” — It’s Made by Capitalism

It’s looking pretty apocalyptic out there. We’re not just losing the fight against climate change — we’re losing it badly. Carbon emissions aren’t just not falling — they’re accelerating: 2018’s going to be the highest year ever.

What’s going wrong here? I think that we need to change the story that we tell about climate change, if we want to change our world. So far, it goes like this.

Climate change is “anthropogenic”, man-made, an inevitable outcome of a crowded, industrializing world. This story is vague, imprecise. It says that we are all responsible. It assigns us all some measure of guilt and shame, and therefore, some measure of responsibility and grief, too. The problem is that this story is true only in the most limited way — and for that reason, it limits our power to ever really fight climate change, too.

If we look a little deeper, I think we see a truer truth. Climate change isn’t just “man-made”, as in caused by all of us, “humankind”, a sad but inescapable outcome of more people using more stuff. This story — which is a Malthusian one — dooms us to impotence, through fatalism, resignation, and sheer powerlessness. But climate change isn’t some kind of hopeless tragedy — whose lines were written by sociobiological destiny.

Climate change isn’t just “anthropogenic.” It’s caused by capitalism. If we’re wise, we’d start calling it CCCC, capitalist caused climate change, or corporate caused climate change if you prefer.

Mom!! Umair’s being mean to me again!! Calm down, Tucker. Before you accuse me of being a college leftist, I invite you to consider two stark empirical realities, which lead me to that conclusion. When I put these two facts together, there is simply no other conclusion that I think any reasonable person can really come to, except that the story of climate change as merely “anthropogenic” is inadequate, a half-truth, a polite evasion — but I’ll return to all that. First, the two realities.

The vast majority of carbon emissions come not from just 100 companies — a full 71% of them. That’s a stunning figure, isn’t it? But what does it tell us? Well, nearly all of them are oil and gas suppliers — and most of them are corporations. It’s a truism to say something like “those companies supply your energy!” Of course they do. The point is that as corporations, they have no incentive to do so on what we might call genuinely economical terms. Their sole purpose is to profit, and sweep their “externalities”, their hidden and unwanted costs, under the rug, or shift them right back to you and me. Hence, you and I pay a far larger chunk of our incomes in taxes than the corporations responsible for 71% of carbon emissions do — and we go on hoping that one day maybe the hugely disproportionate tax dollars we pay will rein these giants in.

That, my friends, is a recipe for disaster — because while government can tax you and me, doing so won’t really alter how energy is supplied in the first place. Under capitalist terms, the supply of energy will always be as dirty, brutal, and costly to society and the planet as a corporation can possibly get away with. Hence, stark evidence emerging that these very same corporations have tried to brush the facts of climate change under the rug, turning what should be a fact into a “controversy”, funding propaganda and pseudoscience and so forth, just like with tobacco.

(That isn’t to say something like “every oil and gas supplier is bad!” Or “India and China are bad!” I want you to really understand the point. The rules of global capitalism still simply don’t count environmental costs as “real”, even while cities are beginning to drown (LOL), and therefore, the way that energy is extracted and supplied has little incentive to ever really change. The cheapest, dirtiest forms, kinds, and methods will always be used until they simply run out. Capitalism needs fundamental, systemic transformation at the level that global GDP is counted, measured, and conceptualized.) MORE

Canada’s first electric bus assembly plant to open in Newmarket

The 45,000-square-foot facility here is the first new electric bus plant to open in Ontario in a generation.

2019 06 25 BYD buses - Edited
Newmarket will be the first Canadian assemby site for BYD (Build Your Dreams), which manufactures zero emission buses. Supplied photo

BYD (Build Your Dreams) has expanded its North American operations with the opening of its first bus assembly plant in Canada. The 45,000-square-foot facility in Newmarket is the first new electric bus plant to open in Ontario in a generation.

“We are dedicated to partnering with municipalities across Canada, and we are passionate about our mission to create a cleaner environment here in North America and across the globe,” said BYD President Stella Li.

While the Newmarket facility is BYD’s first Canadian assembly plant, the company is already active in the Canadian market with buses on order (or in operation) in Toronto, Victoria, Longeuil, St. Albert and Grand Prairie. The new plant will first focus on assembling buses for the Toronto Transit Commission, the country’s largest transit operator. The agency will receive 10 pure electric buses with an option for 30 more.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, each zero-emission bus like those manufactured by BYD, eliminates approximately 10 tons of nitrogen oxides, 350 pounds of diesel particulate matter, and approximately 1,690 tons of CO2 over the 12-year lifecycle of the vehicle.

“We’re proud to establish a home in Canada; it re-affirms our commitment as a company to be rooted in this country and in this province,” said Ted Dowling, Vice-President, BYD Canada. “We look forward to creating new partnerships across the nation.”

We’ve already built too many power plants and cars to prevent 1.5 ˚C of warming

Unless we begin shutting down coal and natural-gas facilities, and stop building new ones, we’re doomed to miss the targets of the Paris treaty.

A coal-fired power plant in Huai'an city, east China's Jiangsu province.

In 2010, scientists warned we’d already built enough carbon-dioxide-spewing infrastructure to push global temperatures up 1.3 ˚C, and stressed that the fossil-fuel system would only continue to expand unless “extraordinary efforts are undertaken to develop alternatives.”

Spoiler: They weren’t.

In a sequel to that paper published in Nature today, researchers found we’re now likely to sail well past 1.5 ˚C of warming, the aspirational limit set by the Paris climate accords, even if we don’t build a single additional power plant, factory, vehicle, or home appliance. Moreover, if these components of the existing energy system operate for as long as they have historically, and we build all the new power facilities already planned, they’ll emit about two thirds of the carbon dioxide necessary to crank up global temperatures by 2 ˚C.

If fractions of a degree don’t sound that dramatic, consider that 1.5 ˚C of warming could already be enough to expose 14% of the global population to bouts of severe heat, melt nearly 2 million square miles (5 million square kilometers) of Arctic permafrost, and destroy more than 70% of the world’s coral reefs. The hop from there to 2 ˚C may subject nearly three times as many people to heat waves, thaw nearly 40% more permafrost, and all but wipe out coral reefs, among other devastating effects, research finds.

The basic conclusion here is, in some ways, striking. We’ve already built a system that will propel the planet into the dangerous terrain that scientists have warned for decades we must avoid. This means that building lots of renewables and adding lots of green jobs, the focus of much of the policy debate over climate, isn’t going to get the job done. 

We now have to ask a much harder societal question: How do we begin forcing major and expensive portions of existing energy infrastructure to shut down years, if not decades, before the end of its useful economic life? MORE

 

We Can’t Get Beyond Carbon With Gas

In B.C., Andrew Weaver, the leader of the Green Party, has said he will never support natural gas. This leaves John Horgan and the NDP with its support of a massive gas development with a dilema, especially when the federal NDP does not support natural gas development.


Photo by iStockphoto.com/Yerbolat Shadrakhov

Everyone knows the telltale smell of a gas leak. Except, because fossil gas is almost odorless, the smell that alerts us to danger actually comes from an added compound (tert-Butylthiol).

Unfortunately, there’s no malodorous chemical to warn us about the dangers of relying on fossil gas as an energy source. Yet, as The New York Times reported last week, utilities have a decision to make as they replace polluting coal plants: adopt clean, renewable energy or build plants that burn fossil gas.

It’s crucial that they make the right choice. That’s why the second goal (after finishing the job of eliminating coal-fired power) that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg listed when he announced his $500 million Beyond Carbon initiative last month was this: “We will work to stop the construction of new gas plants.”

What makes it so important that we stop the so-called gas rush? After all, an unfortunate number of people (including some who know better), still claim that fossil gas “burns cleaner” than coal, as if that somehow makes it palatable. I’m sorry, but even if fossil gas were less polluting than coal (which it isn’t), saying that it “burns cleaner” is like insisting that a switchblade “kills quieter” than a machine gun. Either way, you’re still pumping daisies. Exactly how you ended up there is kind of beside the point.

Here’s where the stubborn reality of math kicks in: In order to prevent a worst-case-scenario climate disaster, we can’t afford to even use all of the fossil gas reserves that we already know about — much less find and extract new ones. What’s more, even if the entire world were to swear off coal right now, burning gas in its place would still leave us in a very bad place. Again, exactly how we got there will be beside the point.

Yet instead of backing away from disaster, fossil fuel companies (with shameful assistance from the Trump administration) actually want to frack more shale gas — and build the pipelines, power plants, and export terminals that go with it.

That’s far Beyond Foolish. But the kicker is that it’s not even necessary. It’s already more economical to use wind, solar, and storage instead of gas for large-scale power generation in many places, and that will soon be true everywhere. Already, cities like Los Angeles are stopping new gas plant construction in favor of renewable energy. So instead of investing in gas infrastructure that will be obsolete economically and technologically before the paint is dry, we need to be doing the opposite: developing a plan for replacing fossil gas everywhere in a way that’s both fast and fair — and by “fair” I mean it shouldn’t put any unjust economic burden on low-income and frontline communities.

Done right, the transition to an energy economy based on electricity from clean, renewable power will not only avoid a climate catastrophe but also bring about a healthier, more prosperous future. That’s the ultimate overarching goal of moving beyond carbon, and it’s why the Sierra Club and our allies are working hard every day to stop fracked gas. And when the valve on that last gas pipeline finally is closed? The only odor left will be the sweet smell of success. SOURCE

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2019 federal election platform guide: Where the parties stand on everything

As you get ready to vote, stay up-to-date on what the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens have promised Canadians

Image result for macleans: POLITICS 2019 federal election platform guide: Where the parties stand on everything
Elizabeth May, Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh, Justin Trudeau. (Chad Hipolito/CP, James West/CP, Phillip Chin/Getty Images, Adrian Wyld/CP)

The next federal election is getting closer by the second. Canadians are scheduled to vote on Oct. 21 (unless the election comes early, which is always possible). Everything you need to know about where and how to vote, and just how that early trip to the polls might happen, is right here.

As it stands, the first polls open in 110 days, 22 hours, 47 minutes, and 29 seconds.

Canadians can expect a heated campaign that pits Justin Trudeau’s Liberals against Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives and Jagmeet Singh’s and New Democrats, as well as Elizabeth May’s Greens. This is Trudeau’s second time on the hustings as a leader, and both Scheer and Singh’s first. May has led her party through three campaigns.

Most parties will release their full election platforms during the campaign itself. But they do release some of their plans in advance; we’ll publish any proposal that can reasonably be considered an election promise. We’ll stick to the four main national parties to start, but reserve the right to add other parties’ proposals. Did we miss something? Let us know by emailing letters@macleans.ca.

Originally published: April 30, 2019 Latest update: June 20, 2019

Here’s what each party has promised so far on every major issue.

Taxes  MORE