The Green New Deal In Canada: Challenges For Indigenous Participation

This postingis heavily edited for brevity. You are encouraged to read the full posting HERE

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AS WE MOVE THROUGH another colonial election year at the federal level, there is one arena that challenges most politicians: climate change and what we do about it.

Those paying attention to political debates know that taking action on climate appears to be at odds with the economic paradigm created and practiced over the last century and a half.

Rooted in a philosophy of extractivism, Canada’s economy relies on the theft and plundering of Indigenous lands and territories and peoples.

Most of the goods and services created from these extractive industries are the very drivers of climate change itself. Think tar sands, fracked gas, coal, forestry (and as such deforestation), water diversion to support it all, etc.

Considering this extractive economy, it will require a major overhaul for Canada itself to take meaningful action on climate and address the legacy of ongoing colonization, through a transformative economic, social and political shift. It is becoming increasingly impossible to ignore this truth. Droughts, floods, forest fires, super storms, erratic weather patterns, melting sea ice, decline in plant and animal species, and on and on, are increasingly top stories in the daily news (though the media often fails to connect these events to climate change).

While Indigenous peoples have been raising alarms about the state and health of Mother Earth for decades, if not centuries, decrying the abuses heaped upon her, Western science is now catching up, too.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asserts that we have less than 11 years to cut global GHG emissions in half – while protecting our remaining cultural and biological diversity – or face catastrophic climate crisis.

It is also becoming increasingly understood that current plans and strategies, including the Paris Agreement, are failing to include or address the legacy of social injustices created by colonization, capitalism, and militarism; forces that destroy the cultural diversity which is key to mitigating climate change. Correspondingly, high level international and state policies and proposals also fail to include the full participation of Indigenous peoples despite the recognition of the important roles we play in addressing the climate crisis.

This includes the much heralded Green New Deal.

So what is this Green New Deal thing I keep hearing about?

As I write, environmental groups and centre-left political parties in both Canada and the U.S. are advocating for something called the Green New Deal (GND). Both versions of the GND are predicated on stabilizing current economic systems while simultaneously taking action on climate change, along with challenging current systems of injustice. The narrative of GND is an intentional throwback to the New Deal, an economic stimulus package created after the great depression in the U.S. by President Roosevelt.

As Julian Brave Noisecat writes in his Guardian piece No, climate action can’t be separated from social justice, The “Green” New Deal discussions happening in contemporary America “envisions a society where people have universal access to energy, jobs, healthcare and housing [and] is a call for renewed commitment to the equal distribution of opportunity and justice.”

To achieve these ends, the GND calls for major economic shifts toward a green energy economy.

Meanwhile in Canada, the discussions are more preliminary and revolve around conceptualizing a Northern version of a GND. It includes 150 organizations and prominent Canadians, including CUPE Ontario, the Canadian Health Coalition, the Canadian Unitarian Council, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Indigenous Climate Action (that’s us!), Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) and the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

The campaign’s current tagline is ripped straight from the IPCC report mentioned above and calls for “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

…The fact is that the GND is still being created in silos of elitism and is aimed primarily at influencing, and putting pressure on, colonial and corporate power to lead change.While it’s true that governments should be stepping up, history has indicated a stubborn attachment to the status quo, absent the will and commitment of the people. Indigenous Climate Action and other Indigenous organizations and communities are striving to ensure there are measures of accountability and true transformation embedded in moving things forward on the GND to avoid repeating history..

But they are advocating for systems change, aren’t they?

Yes, but they are also advocating for the same forces that drove us into a climate crisis to please pave the way out for us. Asking oppressors for liberation has not proven an effective strategy.

Currently, the GND proposals are focused on changing the energy infrastructure while redistributing wealth but ultimately failing to center the destructive intertwined roles of capitalism, consumerism, militarism and colonialism as foundations to the current crisis.

In other words, the GND in its current iteration is not a structural solution.

Without an acknowledgment of the severed spiritual and mental connection to the natural world we will continue to make the same mistakes.

It is Indigenous communities, locally, nationally and internationally, that continue to push for an actualization of instilling deeper spiritual connections the Mother Earth to help us relearn what systems of colonization, capitalism, and extractivism have severed.
Without these as tenets to a call for systems change it is merely a regurgitation of the same broken structures that perpetuate disconnection and individualism.

The current proposals for the GND, if ever taken up by those politicians, could have lasting impacts for generations to come, paving the way for new social, political and economic systems providing a new baseline.

We cannot afford for history to repeat itself.

4 Times Brian Pallister Attacked Workers’ Rights and Left Manitobans With Less Money In Their Pockets

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Brian Pallister’s Manitoba government teamed up with ‘high-priced consultants’ to weaken workers’ rights

Wage freezes, deteriorating working conditions and attacks on workers’ rights. Workers in Manitoba have taken a beating under Premier Brian Pallister’s austerity government, labour groups say.

With an  election set for September 10, labour leaders warn more damage will be done under a second Pallister government.

Here are a few highlights:

1. The Minimum wage freeze

Despite calling poverty the last election’s top issue, Pallister actually froze the minimum wage, upon forming government.

Manitoba’s minimum wage currently sits below the poverty line, at $11.35 per hour, the second lowest in the country.

“For 16 years, the minimum wage was increasing beyond inflation. We calculated a living wage is about $15 an hour. The first thing this government did was freeze it and then index it to poverty levels,” Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour told PressProgress.

“It begs the question who is this government listening to? When Manitobans give advice and come to a consensus, and they don’t listen, It begs the question who are they serving?”

Molly McCracken, Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives told PressProgress the current minimum wage is “not based on the cost of living at all. If you measure it by the poverty line, a living wage is closer to $16. They’re not connecting the dots between minimum wage and poverty.”

2. Public sector wage cuts

In 2017, Pallister froze wages for Manitoba’s public servants, without any consultation with workers or relevant unions. That sparked an on ongoing legal challenge.

“They froze the wages of 120,000 manitoban workers without even setting foot at a bargaining table,” Rebeck said. “How that grows and builds an economy is a mystery.”

3. Pallister’s “efficiencies” caused a health care crisis

Nurses are burning out, working overtime and dealing with deteriorating work conditions as Manitobans await the third ER closure since the PCs took power.

Pallister’s government began merging Manitoba’s health services to find “efficiencies” soon after forming government. That’s increased workloads and caused  ongoing problems for health care workers.

Health care workers are now being forced into a stressful, unsafe situations, according to the Manitoba Federation of Labour.

The final ER closure is scheduled for later this summer.

4. Card check certification

Manitoba’s unions note the right to organize in the workplace also came under attack under Bill 7. The legislation eliminated card-check certification, making it easier for employers to interfere with union organizing drives. MORE

 

 

Government of Canada enacts changes to environmental assessment processes

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May, 2018: A new report shows that there is a demand in Canada to strengthen science-based research in environmental assessments. Photo by Matt Jacques

On June 21, 2019, the federal government of Canada (Canada) passed Bill C-69, new legislation that will materially reform the federal environmental assessment regime in Canada. The reforms will see the National Energy Board (NEB) replaced by the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) replaced by a new Impact Assessment Act (IAA). See our initial reviewof the proposed reforms.

Bill C-69 was subject to a review by the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. On June 5, 2019, after hearing from interested parties across the country, including members of Osler’s Regulatory, Environment, Aboriginal and Land Group, the full Senate passed a suite of close to 190 amendments to Bill C-69. Canada agreed to accept roughly half of these, but largely rejected the proposed amendments put forward by Conservative senators as well as several amendments proposed by independent (formerly Liberal) senators that would have improved the Bill. Although the final amended version of Bill C-69 can be considered an improvement over the original draft, the new legislation introduces considerable uncertainty into the federal environmental assessment processes, and key issues that plagued Bill C-69 from the outset remain.

Bill C-69, as amended, introduces considerable uncertainty into the review process

Bill C-69 will exacerbate the ongoing issues of regulatory uncertainty and protracted timelines that currently exist under CEAA 2012, which are seriously impairing Canada’s ability to attract investment. Environmental assessments under the IAA will continue to take longer than necessary and will provide Canada with the opportunity to repeatedly “stop the clock,” thereby raising the spectre of indefinite delays. In addition, Bill C-69 allows for a degree of public participation that will not serve to provide the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (Agency) or CER with the best available, relevant evidence. Rather, all interested persons, many of whom may have no connection to the project being reviewed, will be allowed to opine on and object to the project on unrelated grounds that may be completely outside the proponent’s control. Overall, the process has become increasingly politicized and represents a shift away from decision-making by expert quasi-judicial bodies. Further, while Bill C-69 attempts to address perceived public concerns with the current regulatory regime, in our view it will likely serve to make the process less efficient and will not improve the environmental outcomes of the regulatory process.

Summary of noteworthy amendments proposed by the Senate and passed by the House

The following summarizes some of the noteworthy amendments to the original version of Bill C-69 that were included in the final version of the Bill that was passed into law, including some of the few amendments that improve the Bill relative to its earlier version: MORE

Climate change: The Trillion Tree Solution

Photo by Jim Bradbury

I’ve got a confession. Like a lot of people, I suffer from a mild version of what botanists call “tree blindness.” Sure, I can tell an oak from a gingko, but most of the hundreds of varieties of trees that grow here in Northern California remain, to me, just trees.

I couldn’t help but think about how we take trees for granted when I read about new research that found that planting a lot more of them could reduce climate pollution. Scientists examined areas around the globe where we could reforest and figured out that, even after you exclude agricultural and urban lands, we have room for another 1 trillion trees. For reference, the planet currently has about 3 trillion — which is only about half of what existed before human civilization. What’s more, adding back 1 trillion trees, it’s calculated, could capture up to 25% of global annual carbon emissions.

That’s important because in addition to slashing carbon emissions, we must find ways to remove and store the excess carbon that’s already in our atmosphere. Plenty of smart people are trying to develop economically feasible, scalable technologies to do just that, and we should all be (pardon the expression) rooting for them. Meanwhile, though, behold the tree, which has been efficiently accomplishing this task for millennia. All we have to do is stop destroying the ones we already have (which should be priority number one) and get seriously ambitious about planting new ones.

To be clear, reforestation alone won’t be enough to solve the climate crisis. It can, though, be one of our single most effective strategies, provided we do it responsibly (by avoiding monoculture forests, for example, and by scrupulously respecting the rights of indigenous people). In fact, whenever possible, reforestation should be part of a broader effort to restore whole ecosystems.

Like the trees themselves, reforestation is a solution that has been hiding in plain sight. There’s nothing technologically difficult about planting trees, but to be effective as part of a climate strategy it will require massive and multinational ambition. Unfortunately, although many countries around the world have begun reforestation efforts, even the most ambitious ones have a long, long way to go. According to the Trillion Tree Campaign, China is currently in the lead, with about 2.4 billion planted, and India’s not far behind, with 2.1 billion. The US? Currently in 10th place, with around 300 million trees planted. That’s progress, but the reality is that we have room for 1,000 billion trees, and we need them as soon as possible. Instead, we’re still losing billions of trees each year, including in some of the places where we need them most, such as the Amazon rainforest.

Once again, the real challenge of the climate crisis isn’t a lack of solutions. Whether it’s 1 trillion trees or 100% clean, renewable energy, the solutions are right in front of us. The question facing humanity is whether we are prepared to recognize and implement those solutions intelligently, equitably, and rapidly. What do I see when I look at a tree now? A marvel of nature, a reason for hope, and a call to action. SOURCE

RELATED:

These countries are planting millions of trees to combat climate change and stop deforestation.

10 technologies that could combat climate change as food demand soars

A new study from the World Bank and UN finds we’ll need ways to boost yields faster than ever before to prevent agricultural emissions from soaring.

A rice field in Indonesia.

With the global population projected to increase by nearly 3 billion people by midcentury, demand for food—as well as the land and energy required to produce it—is to set to soar.

If the world doesn’t figure out ways to cultivate far more food on less land, we’ll need to covert nearly two Indias’ worth of forests, grasslands, and other ecosystems to agricultural fields, according to a new study led by World Resources Institute researchers. That, in turn, would increase annual emissions by 15 billion tons of carbon dioxide and equivalent gases—far exceeding the 4 billion tons permissible under models that hold global warming below 2 ˚C.

The report, issued by the World Bank and United Nations, found that global food needs will expand 50% overall by 2050, while demand for animal-based products like meat, milk, and eggs will swell by nearly 70%. Producing those 7,400 trillion additional calories without achieving yield gains at a faster rate than we’ve pulled off in the past would require converting nearly 600 million hectares (almost 1.5 billion acres) of additional land to agricultural use.

The researchers highlighted a list of 22 objectives and 10 specific technologies that could help boost food production while keeping the lid on climate pollution.

Some of the broad goals include reducing food loss and waste; planting more frequently on existing cropland; conserving peatlands, which release huge amounts of carbon dioxide when converted to farmland; reducing methane emissions from livestock, which occur mainly in the form of cow burps; and decreasing climate pollution from fertilizers, which account for nearly 20% of agricultural emissions.

The innovations that could help achieve these aims include:

  1. Using genome editing tools like CRISPR to unlock traits that boost yields.
  2. Shifting to plant-based meat replacements like products from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.
  3. Applying nontoxic spray-on films and other technologies that can extend the shelf life of foods, such as those created by Apeel Sciences. (See “Reinventing rice for a world transformed by climate change.”)
  4. Switching to types of rice that reduce the level of methane production in paddies.
  5. Using compounds that prevent fertilizer from converting soil microbes into highly potent nitrous oxide.
  6. Feeding supplements to livestock that can cut their methane emissions, such as a product developed by Dutch conglomerate DSM (see “Seaweed could make cows burp less methane and cut their carbon hoofprint”).
  7. Developing varieties of crops that absorb more nitrogen.
  8. Employing algae-based fish feeds that could ease pressure to use wild fish as feed for farmed fish.
  9. Using solar power to produce the hydrogen in nitrogen-based fertilizers.
  10. Relying more on high-yield varieties of oil palm trees, which produce a widely used oil that has helped drive deforestation.

MORE

 

Youth Taking Action: Rallies across Canada Seek CBC Leaders’ Debate on Climate

Voters need to hear specifics on climate strategies and Green New Deal, say campaigners.

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Rally at CBC Vancouver Wednesday told the broadcaster has a duty to ensure leaders debate critical issues for our future like climate change. Photo by Braela Kwan.

Hundreds of young people rallied across Canada Wednesday as part of a campaign to make climate change and a Green New Deal key issues in this fall’s federal election.

The rallies in more than 20 cities were aimed at pushing the CBC to broadcast a leaders’ debate focused on the two issues. They were organized by Our Time, a national campaign of young people and many — including the Vancouver rally — were held outside CBC offices.

Rajdeep Dhaliwal, a 24-year-old Vancouver-based organizer with Our Time, said voters need to understand each party’s positions on climate change.

“With an election this fall, I think people need to know who has the plan to deal with climate change at the scale that science and justice demand,” she said. “I’m talking about a Green New Deal for Canada.”

The idea of a Green New Deal first emerged in the United States and is gaining traction in Canada. It’s a proposal to address climate change by reducing emissions while addressing inequality and ensuring sustainable jobs to replace any that are lost during the transition.

Dhaliwal says a televised climate change debate is needed to push political leaders to engage in conversations around detailed climate policy plans.

“Millions of people watch our election debates, I believe this is the best way to make that happen,” she said. “Showing up to CBC will send a clear message to the producers of what is important to us.”

CBC did not say whether it would hold a debate focused on the issues.

In a statement, it said it recognized climate change was an important issue to Canadians and emphasized its continuing extensive coverage.

But it noted decisions on debates are made by the Leaders’ Debate Commission set up by the federal government. MORE

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