Picton: Building Effective Movements to Win, Picton Town Hall, Aug 8, 7PM

Picton Town Hall, 2 Ross St. at King, Picton
When Thu Aug 8, 2019 7pm – 9pm (EDT)
Where Picton Town Hall, 2 Ross St. at King, Picton
Who Christine Renaud*


Image result for middelgrunden wind farm

“Middelgrunden” Offshore Wind Farm:  Offshore wind farm in the strait between Denmark and Sweden. The towers are over 60m high, and the rotors are almost 80m in diameter. Each turbine can produce 2MW. Notice the second kayaker (for scale). PHOTO: Mads Prahm

Green municipalism offers solutions to the escalating climate catastrophe, pathways that both complement and could extend the Green New Deal being proposed by progressives in the UK Labour and US Democratic parties. A decentralised wind power revolution is already happening in Denmark and Scotland, where community ownership is delivering power to the people.


As the 21st century rolled in, Denmark created the world’s largest offshore wind farm: Middelgrunden. It consisted of 20 turbines, located four kilometers from Copenhagen, with a capacity of over 40 Megawatts. Since 2001, Middelgrunden has supplied approximately 4 percent of the Danish capital’s energy needs.

More impressively, Danish people co-created this wind farm. Ten of the 20 turbines are owned by a cooperative, while Ørsted, Denmark’s largest energy company, owns the other 10. “If you own shares in a project, when you look over at that turbine, with each turn of the blades, that’s cash to you,” local resident and energy expert Justin Gerdes told the Green Economy Coalition.

More than 50,000 people participated in the project, giving input into the sea wind farm’s location and design. Another 8,500 Danes invested directly and are now making a 7 percent return on their investments. Under consideration are plans to upgrade Middelgrunden with larger turbines that will help it generate even more power in the years to come.

Broad public involvement overcomes the negative spin about wind energy happening elsewhere across the world. I heard similar positive sentiments visiting other wind farms in Denmark, a country that harnesses the most wind power for electricity anywhere in the world. In 2017, it re-broke its own previous world record, taking 43 pecent of its electrical needs from the wind.


Denmark’s success is built on a number of factors. National policy has supported green municipalism. Since the 1970s oil shock, the country realised it needed to reduce its dependency on fossil fuel imports. Nuclear was originally mooted, but activists and engineers innovated to show how communally-owned wind meant they did not need dangerous nuclear fusion.

The government supported green innovation with tax breaks that incentivised households to buy into wind cooperatives. By 2001, 86 percent of wind energy came from cooperatives, which only dropped as multinationals like Ørsted realised the powerful potential and jumped into the market.

Three other ways that Denmark created communal wind was giving wind developments the right to connect and sell energy to the grid – both requiring that the electricity be bought, and guaranteeing a good price. In 2011, it established a law that all new wind must include 20 percent community ownership.

With support like that, no wonder wind power is so popular in Denmark.


Across the North Sea, Scotland also showcases how communities can harness wind power to great effect.  MORE

From cleaner air to lower costs, people are discovering the benefits of climate action

(Juan Medina/Reuters)

Last week, Madrid reinstated a low-emissions zone in its city centre after protests from residents who got a taste of the benefits — lower air pollution and increased retail sales — and didn’t want to go back to smog and heavy traffic.

It was another sign that fighting climate change can have lots of positive side-effects, from green jobs to cleaner air to more livable cities. (It’s highlighted in an iconic cartoon by Joel Pett.)

It turns out those side-effects, known as co-benefits, can make reducing emissions a really great deal for the economy. By investing in fighting climate change, countries can potentially get benefits worth more to the economy and society than what they spend on reducing emissions.

One example is reduced deaths from pollution. When fossil fuels are burned, pollutants such as particulates and ozone are produced along with carbon dioxide. Halving greenhouse gas emissions between 2005 and 2050 would reduce premature deaths caused by air pollution by 20 to 40 per cent, the United Nations estimates.

While the payoff for reducing emissions is long-term and spread over the entire world, you can start enjoying some of the benefits now, right in your own community. And often, action to reduce emissions can help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change and vice versa.

Here’s a look at some examples of climate action and their co-benefits:

  • Renewable energy and energy efficiency. Tapping greener power sources, and just using less energy overall, leads to reduced pollution as well as cost savings.
  • Green fleets and transit. Cities such as Vancouver and Guelph, Ont., are switching their municipal vehicles to renewable fuels, hybrid-electric and electric vehicles, while other municipalities are looking at zero-emissions buses. Co-benefits include improved air quality and less noise.
  • Planting trees. A recent study found planting a trillion trees might be the single-most effective way to fight climate change. According to the World Bank, the co-benefits of reforestation can include job creation, soil conservation, reduction of erosion and conserving biodiversity. Urban tree planting can also improve air quality and reduce local air temperatures.
  • Emissions regulations. Caps on emissions, carbon taxes and other climate-related regulations can encourage technological innovation, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings, as well as jobs and spinoff effects as the technology is adopted by other sectors.

You can read more about the co-benefits of fighting climate change here.


It’s next to impossible to pay the rent working full time for minimum wage, new report calculates

As neoliberalism continues down its destructive path of greed, small signs appear that the system is starting to turn in on itself and staring to  self-destruct. In Prince Edward County some businesses have closed,unable to attract employees because they couldn’t afford to live here.

Report tabulates how possible it is to rent a 2-bedroom apartment across Canada

Minimum-wage workers in Vancouver and Toronto would need to clock about a 100-hour workweek just to pay the rent on a two-bedroom apartment, the CCPA has calculated. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

The odds of a minimum wage worker being able to afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment in just about every city in Canada are next to nil, a new report from an Ottawa-based think-tank says.

Looking at Statistics Canada data on wages from last October, and rental information from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) that same month, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) crunched the numbers on the almost 800 neighbourhoods across Canada’s three dozen largest cities to see how easy it is to find a place to live on the minimum wage.

The results were bleak.

By the CCPA’s math, a minimum wage earner could afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment in just 24 neighbourhoods across the country, out of 795 analyzed. If the standard drops to a one-bedroom, the picture looks marginally better, as the report found 70 neighbourhoods affordable for minimum wage workers , but that’s still less than one out of every 10 — and most are far from downtown cores where jobs are more plentiful and generally higher paying.

Concern over Canada’s housing market tends to focus on homeowners, CCPA economist David MacDonald said, but almost five million Canadians  — about a third of all households — are renters, and they face affordability issues that are just as pressing.

“Many of these renters, particularly those working at or near minimum wage, on fixed incomes or single-income households, are at risk of being priced out of modest apartments no matter where they look,” he said.

In its analysis, the CCPA calculated the income that a minimum-wage worker would earn over a standard 40-hour workweek, and then cross-referenced it against rental data from the CMHC. The report also assumes the rule of thumb that a person should spend no more than 30 per cent of income on housing to avoid having other financial issues. Theoretically, a minimum-wage worker could simply work more hours, or drastically cut back on other expenses somehow, but that isn’t quite the same thing as making an apartment affordable.



Unaccommodating: Housing rental wage in Canada

Do we really need hope to push climate action forward?

Students march to the offices of Environment and Climate Change Canada in Vancouver on March 15, 2018, demanding climate policies. Photo by Brenna Owen

“What is it that gives you hope?”

That’s the question I’ve heard several times during my recent sampling of climate-action events, from a Burnaby town hall meeting on the Green New Deal to a workshop on climate-change communication at the Hollyhock learning centre in B.C.’s beautiful, tanker-threatened Gulf Islands.

These are all welcome initiatives, bringing together many remarkable and energetic people.

But I’m not so sure about the priority given to that question. Does one need to feel hope in order to take effective action?

…how do you/we maintain political stamina in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds?

And let’s be realistic. Genuine climate action would include not only carbon pricing, but hard caps on emissions and leaving not just coal, but vast swaths of gas and oil in the ground. The petrobloc is fighting tooth and nail to prevent such “stranding” of its assets.

As defined by Simon Fraser University researcher Bob Neubauer, the petrobloc is “an informal alliance between actors — oil companies, banks which finance them, particular political parties, industry-backed think tanks and advocacy groups, etc. — which disproportionately benefit from the industry’s highly inequitable structure.”

The petrobloc also includes industry-captured regulatory agencies, such as the National Energy Board, and significant chunks of Canada’s media. Most notorious is Canada’s largest newspaper chain, Postmedia, apparently controlled by U.S. hedge funds. It hopes to slurp up some of the gravy from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s “war-room” fund to fight environmentalists and other pesky impediments to his extractivist agenda.

Why aren’t the world’s most powerful countries taking climate crisis more seriously? The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights surely hit the nail on the head in a BBC World interview on June 25. Philip Alston identified the self-interests vested in the current high-carbon economy and the fossil-fuel industry’s furious lobbying to maintain its $5 trillion in annual global subsidies while publics fail to pay attention or still see climate change as far-off.

So, in terms of social psychology and political economy, the deck seems to be stacked…Even the inspiring wartime leader Winston Churchill had his moments of severe doubt and depression, which he called the “Black Dog.” Yet he stayed true to one of his maxims: KBO, Keep Buggering On.

So what, then, are possible motivations for action other than optimism about future success?

“When we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then the hope will come.” — Gret Thunberg

The pleasure and sense of efficacy that comes through working with like-minded people. Love of your family, community and planet. Ethical obligation to future generations. Self-esteem and a feeling of empowerment — better to die on your feet than live on your knees, as the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata proclaimed a century ago. Curiosity about seeing how the future unfolds, and becoming an active agent in helping to shape it, rather than just an object being acted upon.

And less nobly, perhaps, anger and a desire for revenge.

…Moreover, climate-justice activism offers ordinary people a sense of purpose, a way to live meaningfully. In his classic memoir of surviving the horrors of Auschwitz, Viktor Frankl argued “man’s search for meaning” may be the most important human motivator of all.  MORE

Extinction Rebellion boat named in memory of Stroud eco-warrior Polly Higgins

A BLUE boat named after Stroud eco-warrior Polly Higgins was used to block traffic in this week’s Extinction Rebellion protests.

The ‘Polly Higgins’, named after the Stroud based lawyer who campaigned for an international crime of ecocide, had been parked outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London since Monday as part of a week-long protest.

But as of 7.40am this morning, Extinction Rebellion boats have been banned from London, after the Metropolitan Police imposed a new condition on the climate change protests.

A force spokesman said: “The information and intelligence available at this time means that the Met feels this action is necessary in order to prevent disruption.”

Met commander Jane Connors said: “The condition imposed today is limited and absolutely allows lawful protests to continue.

“My officers continue to engage with those exercising their right to protest however, we need to balance this with the rights of those wishing to go about their daily lives and action will be taken against those who choose to ignore this condition and/or break the law.”

The Polly Higgins was one of five boats used by protesters to stop traffic in Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, and London as part of a five-day ‘summer uprising’.

Jojo Mehta, Polly’s friend and colleague, said: “I know that whatever dimension she’s in, she’s smiling at the fact that this boat has been named after her by Extinction Rebellion.

“It’s absolutely resonant that this is in front of the Royal Courts because Polly was of course a lawyer.”

In a statement Extinction Rebellion said that they were protesting outside the Royal Courts of Justice ‘to demand the legal system take responsibility in this crisis, and ensure the safety of future generations’ environment, especially when deliberate.

They said they are there with ‘a clear and simple demand: make ecocide law’.

“In making ecocide law, the role the UK legal system can play in averting catastrophe is clear.”  SOURCE