Doug Ford is shoveling public money out the window

Image result for doug ford white cowboy hat calgaryJust like some class D cowboy movie western (where the corrupt mayor  walks up to the bar underneath the whorehouse and orders a free round for his base — (in Doug’s case his knuckle-dragging, mouth breathing-climate risks-denying  Neanderthals — Doug holds his first summer scrum  IN CALGARY.

Now you see it; now you don’t!

It’s quite extraordinary how quickly Doug Ford is shoveling public funds out the window at Queen’s Park.

His very first order of business was to cancel Ontario’s successful cap and trade program. That one act alone, results in the $3 billion loss to Ontario taxpayers —money previuusly used to offset personal taxes or reduce carbon emissions.

But that was just the start.

In a stroke of the pen,  he retrocatively cancelled the White Pines Wind Project. Although Ford trumpeted that Ontario was “open for business”, that apparently did not include international investments in clean renewable energy. All in all, cancellation of White Pines will leave taxpayers on the hook for litigation requesting $100 million  compensation from the Greman proponent, WPD.

Actually, that amount is probably a lowball . The detailed, onerous provisions of removal and restoration of the White Pines Project could see the demand for compensation from WPD, the proponent, escalate dramatically.

Then, of course, there is Ford’s interference in the Beer Store franchise.  The cost?  Who knows? A letter from Molsoms and Labatts lawyers noted, “The Bill will destroy …benefits, legislate 7,000 Ontario-based The Beer Store employees out of work and cause billions of dollars in damages … and result in higher costs and prices for consumers.” Yikes!

We shouldn’t forget the squandering of tax dollars in Ford’s fight against the Federal carbon tax. Doug isn’t deterred by repeated court decisions. He’ll take it to the Supreme Court, fighting all the time for ‘the little guy’ by gosh. “Every tool in the toolbox.”

Let’s save time and bundle all the litigation that will inevitably result from his government’s cancellation of 227 clean energy projects. (Ford doesn’t buy all that climate change stuff.)

How big is this bundle?

Who knows? But when that bill arrives we can be absolutely certain that one of two things will happen: either taxes will rise to pay for Doug’s folly or services that support our way of life will be cut.

Image result for ford gas pump stickersHis government’s shameless self-promotion using taxpayets’ dollars goes will beyond  compulsory gas pump stickers. Ford’s ham-fisted attempt to muzzle the media by producing Ontario News Now, is funded through  PC Caucus Services, which is a separate, taxpayer-funded arm of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly. Bottom line: despite the magic, that’s still your money, folks!

But Doug, always working for the little guy, is making his government actions immune from civil suits by retrocative legislation (apparently a Dougie favourite).

“What it means is that the people who exercise power over you can exercise that power negligently and cause you damage and no one will have to pay.” — Toronto human rights and refugee lawyer, Kevin Wiener

Apparently Dougie hasn’t heard of Charter Rights. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it will challenge the legislation and remind him.

So after a year, Ford meets reality

Image result for doug ford buck a beer
Ex high school dropout offers buck a beer.

In spite of offering incentives such as exclusive promotions and advertising advantages (your money again), Ford’s Big Idea  proved unsustainable. City News reports, “Between the buck-a-beer plan, legislation to legalize tailgate parties, and the declaration to scrap the Beer Store agreement — seemingly without regard to cost — has led to a “beer obsessed” label,” and at 29% his approval rating. Among the lowest of Canadian premiers. Hmm…

And that, my friends, is probably good news.

 

 

As Systems Collapse, People Rise: Seven Faces of an Emerging Global Movement


clockwise, from top left: Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg, Fridays for Future, Sunrise movement

There is a new global movement awakening across the planet. The Fridays For Future (FFF) movement inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has brought millions of high school students to the streets this year. The grassroots Extinction Rebellion (XR) founded in the UK last year aims to mobilize non-violent climate action worldwide. And in the United States, Sunrise, a youth-led movement that advocates political action on climate change, teamed up with U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) and effectively changed the conversation by proposing the Green New Deal. With the partial exception of Sunrise, most of these movements and their events have largely been ignored by the U.S. media. More important, hardly any of the reporting explicitly acknowledges these movements as expressions of a larger shift in consciousness globally, in particular among young people.

The emerging wave of youth movements in 2019 differs from the 1968 student movement in a variety of ways. One, the key figures are young women, not young men. Two, they are arguing for a change in consciousness, not just for a change in ideology. Three, they are intentionally collaborating with earlier generations, not just fighting against them. And four, they are using technology in intentional and new ways. In this column, I describe seven “faces” or aspects of this shift in global awareness and the youth-led movement that is taking shape now.

1. The Decline of the Far Right

The recent election of the EU parliament, which is the only directly elected supranational body in the world, was remarkable in a number of ways. In comparison with the 2014 election, voter turnout was up by a significant margin (following a steady drop over the previous two decades), and the widely anticipated success of the far-right parties in Europe was a no-show. All the far-right parties could muster was a 5% increase, from 20% to 25% of the votes. To be sure, 25% is still a lot. But it’s much less than projected in almost every country, including Hungary (where Viktor Orban failed to reach his declared objective of a two-thirds majority), and France (where Marine Le Pen won, but did not exceed a percentage in the low 20s). In Germany the AfD didn’t even manage to surpass 10%, remaining in the single digits in western Germany, though up significantly in the former East Germany — a region that has seen almost 60 years of totalitarian regimes since 1933.

2. The Rise of the Greens in Europe

However, the main story of the EU election revolves around something different: the rise of the Green Party. In Germany, the Greens took almost 21% overall. Among young voters in Germany, the Greens — the only party that clearly positions itself pro climate action, pro immigration, pro social justice, pro EU— are now by far the most popular party. Even among voters under age 60, the Green Party ranks first (but with a smaller margin than among the under-30 voters). Even though the Greens remain weak in Eastern and Southern Europe, they gained strength across the board in Western and Northern Europe (e.g., in France to 13.5%) and in Europe overall. MORE

Oshawa can be leader in “clean” economy: Schreiner


Mike Schreiner, leader of the Ontario Green Party, speaks with Ken Bright from Ontario Tech University during a recent visit.

The leader of the Ontario Green Party believes Oshawa is “perfectly positioned” to be a leader in a “clean” economy.

Mike Schreiner was recently in the city to launch his “Clean and Caring Economy” tour, which will see the Guelph MPP touring southern and eastern Ontario.

During his time in Oshawa, Schreiner took a tour of Ontario Tech University, and later, Windfields Farm on Britannia Avenue.

Schreiner said the Ford government is currently pushing an “economy that is not working for people and the planet.”

But he says there are plenty of examples of industries that are focusing on “low-carbon solutions.”

Ontario Tech, through a number of programs and initiatives, is “delivering the solutions of tomorrow, today,” Schreiner states.

The province is facing a “climate emergency,” and the government must be “prepared to mobilize” in response, and “stop doggedly clinging to rhetoric,” he adds.

Oshawa MPP Jennifer French joined Schreiner during his tour of Windfields Farm. She agreed a lot of MPPs are “speaking the same language” as him.

French notes when GM announced the closure of its Oshawa plant last year, the company conveyed a focus on electric and autonomous vehicles.

But she believes the current government is “not listening to job creators,” and refuses to transition to a “green economy we know is already there.”

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently struck down a challenge by the Ford government against the federal Liberal’s carbon tax.

Premier Doug Ford says the province will appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We know, as do the people of this province, that the federal government’s carbon tax is making life more expensive for Ontarians and is putting jobs and businesses at risk,” Ford said in a released statement. “We promised to use every tool at our disposal to challenge the carbon tax and we will continue to fight to keep this promise.”

French says Canadians “have a sense of environmental responsibility,” and if Ford wants to be an “outlier” in terms of climate change, Ontario must do better to create an effective plan. MORE

RELATED:

Forensic science program at Ontario Tech earns big endorsement

CAPP seeks to limit public involvement in Alberta energy projects: lobbying records

Documents obtained by The Narwhal reveal numerous recommendations from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to ‘streamline’ the process that allows Albertans to file concerns about proposed energy projects — a move experts say would come ‘at the expense of everyday Albertans’

Orphan well
Daryl Bennett, who was born and raised in Taber, Alta., is frustrated with orphan oil and gas infrastructure in his community. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is seeking to limit or eliminate the ability for people to voice objections to energy projects that may affect them and their land. Photo: Theresa Tayler / The Narwhal

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the self-described voice of the oil and gas industry, has laid out its vision for a “streamlined” public-involvement process in extensive lobbying records obtained by The Narwhal in a freedom of information request.

The lobbying records — obtained after readers of The Narwhal bellied up $643.95 to access them — span more than a year, and show CAPP’s input into key decisions made by the Alberta Energy Regulator.

The documents reveal that CAPP’s vision is one that would “expedite” aspects of public consultation — potentially reducing the opportunities for Albertans to voice objections to energy projects that affect them — and reduce the scope of projects that companies need to seek public input on.

Landowners and affected Albertans receive notice of new oil and gas developments that may directly and adversely affect them — whether it’s an oil or gas well, a pipeline, an oilsands development or another energy project. They can then file what’s known as a statement of concern if they are worried that the project will affect them or the local environment.

The lobbying records make it clear that industry is seeking to speed up or eliminate that process for some projects.

In one document, CAPP and other industry representatives denounced the statement of concern process as the “Achilles heel” of energy project approvals.

In another, CAPP laments that, when it comes to brownfield oilsands projects, “several [regulator] procedures that involve giving notice to the public regarding industry activities are leading to delays, as well as criticism of the industry.” (“Brownfield” refers to land where other industrial activities have previously taken place.)

And so CAPP is lobbying the regulator to “streamline” the process and reduce or eliminate the opportunity for the public to be involved in some cases — that could include shortening the 30-day period that stakeholders can file a statement of concern for some types of projects, or increasing the regulator’s use of discretion in posting public notice at all. MORE

David Suzuki: Fracking is neither a climate solution nor an economic blessing

Getty

The rush to exploit and sell fossil fuels as quickly as possible before the reality of climate disruption becomes too great to deny or ignore has generated some Orwellian rationalizations. Somehow a bitumen pipeline has become part of Canada’s plan to tackle the climate crisis. Another fossil fuel, fracked gas, is being touted as a climate solution.

It’s twisted logic that exposes a lack of honesty, imagination, and courage from many of those we elect to serve us. Pipeline proponents say we need the money to fund the transition to green energy. That’s like saying we have to sell cigarettes to fund lung cancer research. It’s also premised on the idea that “we can’t get off fossil fuels overnight”—something I’ve been hearing since I started talking about climate change decades ago, during which we’ve done little to get off them at all.

Natural gas, which now almost always means liquefied fracked gas, is being vaunted as a climate remedy because it burns cleaner than coal. In Canada and the U.S., governments are so intoxicated by the dollars that they’re helping industry build as quickly and massively as possible. As research in Canada and the U.S. shows, it’s not a climate solution; it’s another way to keep fossil fuels burning.

Natural gas is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas about 85 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. It’s responsible for about a quarter of atmospheric warming, and emissions are rising. Scientists estimate about 40 percent is from natural sources, while 60 percent is human-caused—from agriculture, landfills, coal seams, and oil-and-gas-industry leakage. Even some natural emissions are indirectly caused by human activity. For example, human-caused global heating is causing permafrost to melt, which releases methane.

Research by the David Suzuki Foundation and St. Francis Xavier University revealed methane pollutionfrom B.C.’s oil-and-gas industry is at least 2.5 times higher than reported by industry and government. Studies in Alberta and the U.S. reached similar conclusions.

New research from Global Energy Monitor, a U.S. nongovernmental organization that tracks fossil-fuel development, found even greater problems with the recent fracking frenzy. Its report, The New Gas Boom, found that the 202 LNG terminal projects being developed worldwide—including 116 export terminals and 86 import terminals—represent warming impacts “as large or greater than the expansion of coal-fired power plants, posing a direct challenge to Paris climate goals”. Canada and the U.S. account for 74 percent of these developments.

The report also questions the long-term viability of this gas rush, cautioning that many developments could become “stranded assets”, given rapidly falling renewable-energy costs. It points out that because only eight percent of terminal capacity under development has reached the construction stage, “there is still time to avoid overbuilding”.

Beyond its climate impacts, fracking comes with a range of environmental and health problems, including earthquakes, contaminated water, excessive water use, and health issues. A recent review of more than 1,500 scientific studies, government assessments, and media reports by the Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility concluded that fracking contaminates air and water with chemicals that can cause serious health problems—especially in children, pregnant women and other vulnerable people, as well as industry workers—including cancer, asthma, and birth defects.

MORE

RELATED:

B.C. government quietly posts response to expert fracking report

Province avoids investigation of human health impacts of fracking, despite independent scientific review warning of unknown risks to air and water

The Not-So-Hidden Role of Racism in Canadian Politics

Indigenous people, racialized minorities struggle with the idea of participating in a process that has excluded them.

RCMPInvadingWetsuwetenTerritoriesProtest.jpg
For many people, it can be tough to participate in a political system that has systematically oppressed them. Photo via Shutterstock.

Tanya Clarmont’s relationship with voting is complicated.

Clarmont is Teme-Augama Anishnabai on her father’s side. For many years she wanted nothing to do with federal elections, feeling that they were irrelevant in terms of the issues she and her Northern Ontario community faced.

At 41, the only federal election she has voted in was the last one.

Now she sees the value, and thinks everyone should participate.

Clarmont, who has lived in B.C. for 14 years, is a director at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. In June she took part in a panel discussion on strategies for calling out racism in the coming election campaign and increasing the participation of voters who have been marginalized. Planning is under way for a second event in August.

It’s a discussion with implications for individual Canadians, but also candidates and parties. In some cases, what’s needed is a commitment to keep the conversation inclusive. But deep structural changes are also needed.

Race-based legislation

For Indigenous people in particular, distrust of the federal government runs deep for good reasons.

“It can be really challenging to step into a space and participate in a governance structure that literally has legislation that’s based on you because of your race,” Clarmont said.

The Indian Act, first passed in 1876 and amended many times since, governs the relationship between Indigenous individuals, bands and the federal government. It defines who gets status as “Indian” and sets up the reserve system.

“When you live in a country that has race-based legislation, it’s hard to feel there’s a space for you to step into and influence that structure,” said Clarmont. “It feels overwhelming even.”

She sees the role the federal government plays and the importance of political structures that allow people’s voices to be heard as decisions are made.

But the idea of participating and supporting a party was “really challenging,” she said. MORE

Scheer promises to scrap clean-fuel standard


Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, attends a Stampede breakfast in Calgary, Saturday, July 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he would scrap new standards that will force cleaner-burning fuels in addition to eliminating the federal price on carbon if his Conservatives win the fall federal election.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning, Scheer surmises the new standards, due to take effect on liquid fuels like gasoline in 2022, could increase the cost of gas by at least four cents a litre in addition to the national price on carbon.

Scheer’s letter brands these new fuel standards as a “secret fuel tax” and calls for Trudeau to scrap them.

The clean-fuel standard is meant to reduce overall greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 million tonnes a year, a portion of the nearly 200 million tonnes Canada has to cut to meet its commitment under the Paris climate-change accord.

Scheer says he would get rid of the fuel standard as well as the carbon tax if he is elected prime minister.

The fuel standard was first promised three years ago but final a draft of the regulations isn’t expected until 2020. SOURCE

 

One climate crisis disaster happening every week, UN warns

Developing countries must prepare now for profound impact, disaster representative says


 Aftermath of the damage left by Cyclone Kenneth in a village north of Pemba, Mozambique in May. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Climate crisis disasters are happening at the rate of one a week, though most draw little international attention and work is urgently needed to prepare developing countries for the profound impacts, the UN has warned.

Catastrophes such as cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique and the drought afflicting India make headlines around the world. But large numbers of “lower impact events” that are causing death, displacement and suffering are occurring much faster than predicted, said Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary-general’s special representative on disaster risk reduction. “This is not about the future, this is about today.”

This means that adapting to the climate crisis could no longer be seen as a long-term problem, but one that needed investment now, she said. “People need to talk more about adaptation and resilience.”

Estimates put the cost of climate-related disasters at $520bn a year, while the additional cost of building infrastructure that is resistant to the effects of global heating is only about 3%, or $2.7tn in total over the next 20 years.

Mizutori said: “This is not a lot of money [in the context of infrastructure spending], but investors have not been doing enough. Resilience needs to become a commodity that people will pay for.” That would mean normalising the standards for new infrastructure, such as housing, road and rail networks, factories, power and water supply networks, so that they were less vulnerable to the effects of floods, droughts, storms and extreme weather. MORE

James Hansen: Oh! Canada

Image result for James Hansen senate
Dr. James Hansen educates Tea Party Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) on the facts of climate change during a Senate Committee hearing on whether the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved in 2014

North of the border, there is bad news and good news.

Canada’s fossil fuel CO2 emissions remain stubbornly high, despite decreased coal use.  Emissions in 2018 were 7% greater than in 1997, the year of the Kyoto Protocol.  I don’t even want to look up what Canada promised – surely it was not increasing emissions!

The “cap” approach of the Kyoto and Paris agreements is doomed to failure.  We cannot successfully beg each of 200 nations to reduce their emissions.  Until we get the fossil fuel price to begin to reflect its costs to society, we are unlikely to solve the problem.

Canada is the #6 nation in the world in energy consumption!  Because of its large hydro and nuclear power it is ‘only’ #10 in fossil fuel CO2 emissions.  (That ranking was true in 2017; we have not yet completed emission calculations for all nations in 2018).  In per capita emissions Canada is closing in on its gross neighbor to the south and Australia.  The numbers do not include (growing) fossil fuel exports.

The good news up north, modest as it may be, is that last year the Canadian Parliament enacted the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.[1] The Act assesses fees on carbon-based fuels and on industrial facilities that exceed prescribed CO2 emission limits.  The fees apply in provinces that do not already have sufficient carbon pricing, which includes Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan (and Alberta, commencing in 2020).

Approximately 90 percent of the fee will be distributed uniformly to residents – you can thank the hard-working Canadian Citizens Climate Lobby for that!

The story is not finished, of course.  The Attorneys General of Saskatchewan and Ontario then sought to invalidate the Pricing Act.  They appealed to their respective Courts of Appeal last year, alleging, inter alia, that the Act violates the Canadian Constitution’s commitment to federalism and the requirement that any national tax originate in the House of Commons.

Thankfully, a number of Canadians sought to defend the national plan.  One of them, Glenn Wright of Vanscoy, Saskatchewan — a career engineer and farmer turned law student — reached out soon after reading my Dec. 18, 2018 Climate Change in a Nutshell: The Gathering Storm.  Glenn was preparing an affidavit for the National Farmer’s Union in support of a “Factum” filed by intervening citizens with the Saskatchewan court.  The NFU affidavit insisted that although the Saskatchewan  Attorney General raised technical issues of constitutional law, at bottom the “case is about the risks posed to the country by Climate Change and the duty of the Federal government to implement policy and a regulatory framework to control the specific pollutants, namely GHGs, that cause Climate Change.”[2]

Happily, I can report that, first in early May and then in late June the Canadian courts of appeals rejected the provincial challenges and instead determined that the Pricing Act is constitutional.[3]

As Dan Galpern, my advisor on climate legal and policy matters these last five years, puts it:

” Both of the provincial courts determined that the principle of federalism cannot prevent the Canadian Parliament from imposing a rational national floor for climate action – particularly where Canada’s Supreme Court earlier had determined that the matter of the environment constitutes “a diffuse subject that cuts across many different areas of constitutional responsibility, some federal, some provincial.”

Similarly, both courts determined that the Pricing Act’s conditional imposition of fees and charges amounts to a regulatory program and not a scheme of taxation aimed at raising revenue for general governmental programs. Importantly, the courts also determined that even if the Act’s fees and charges amounted to taxes, the Act’s investiture of authority in the executive branch to determine whether those should be applied to any particular recalcitrant province does not at all render them invalid.

The appellate decisions turned on fundamental questions of constitutional law, but both provincial courts demonstrated a keen comprehension of the climate crisis.  This understanding may have been aided by our Nutshell report, which was referenced in the oral arguments and submitted affidavits.

Saskatchewan Province has already appealed the matter to Canada’s Supreme Court, and Ontario may soon follow suit. The Supreme Court at present intends to hear at least the Saskatchewan matter in December. We stand ready, in whatever way makes sense, to assist that Court in comprehending the situation that Parliament attempted to confront. We will keep you apprised.

This Canadian case is but one of several that Dan and I are involved in.  I believe the legal actions are crucial for putting pressure on governments and on the fossil fuel industry.  We need support to continue our work.  You can contribute to CSAS  at https://ei.givenow.columbia.edu/#.

Be sure to enter “Gift for Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions” in the Special Instructions box when you get to the payment page.  Alternatively, you can send a check or wire. Full donation instructions can be found at http://csas.ei.columbia.edu/support.  Eunbi (ej2347@columbia.edu) also can provide assistance.


[1] Parliament recognized that emissions “present an unprecedented risk to the environment, including its biological diversity, to human health and safety and to economic prosperity” and that “it is the responsibility of the present generation to minimize impacts of climate change on future generations”.

 

SOURCE