Ontario Announces Next Steps in Plan to Shift Costs of Plastic Recycling to Producers

Ontario has announced the next steps in its Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to reduce plastic pollution and litter by transitioning recycling costs…

Image result for prince edward county trash bash
In spite of rain and black flies, the Picton Kiwanis troop cleaned up the “Kiwanis road to Cherry Valley” as part of Trash Bash events, May 2011. “There seemed to be less trash than last year,” noted Kiwanis President John Langschmidt. “Maybe we are having an impact. Thanks to all for their community effort.”

Ontario has announced the next steps in its Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to reduce plastic pollution and litter by transitioning recycling costs in the familiar Blue Box Program away from municipal taxpayers to producers of products and packaging. The Province’s end goal is to make producers responsible for the end-of-life management of their products. Additional benefits of this plan include promoting innovation in recycling technologies and increasing Ontario’s overall recycling rates.

The next year will be spent developing and consulting on new regulations to support the producer responsibility framework, which will occur in phases over a three-year period starting on January 1, 2023 with producers becoming fully responsible by the end of 2025.

This phased approach is intended to allow time for proper consultation with municipal and industry stakeholders, Indigenous communities and the general public. It also provides time for manufacturers to plan ahead and begin investing in new recycling technologies for their operations.

While the Blue Box Program will remain at least consistent, if not improved, for consumers throughout the transition period, this is a wake up call for producers to start planning ahead as the cost of manufacturing and using plastics is on the rise in Ontario. SOURCE

Action Alert: Take Action to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change

Climate change is harming the mental and physical health of Canadians.
  • ast summer, millions in central Canada sweltered through a high number of days where the temperature exceeded 30C; these temperatures can be dangerous for populations such as seniors and those with chronic diseases, sending people to emergency rooms and sometimes to early deaths. To access our petition, click here.
  • Thousands in western and northern Canada have been evacuated from their homes in response to wildfires. Millions of others were exposed to high levels of air pollution as wildfire smoke blanketed communities hundreds of miles away.
  • For the last two summers, tens of thousands of people in New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario were exposed to floods. Many were cut off from safe water, food supplies, electricity and emergency services and suffered significant financial losses.
Globally, climate change is having a devastating impact on people around the world.

Extreme heat is making it hard for people to farm their land. Prolonged droughts are robbing regions of their drinking water and food supplies. Hurricanes, rising sea levels, and storm surges are threatening island states and coastal areas. In one year alone, the world was hit with 712 extreme weather events that produced US$326 billion in economic losses.

We need to act fast to stop catastrophic climate change.
The International Panel on Climate Change found that 2C of global warming would be devastating for ecological systems and human health, forcing hundreds of millions of people into poverty in the next few decades. To keep global warming from exceeding 1.5C we must cut global emissions by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030. We are not on track. Every fraction of a degree of warming matters. We must act now!

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  1. Sign on to our Call to Action for Climate Change and Health. Developed by CAPE with other national health organizations, this is a call to action from health professionals across Canada to reduce our climate emissions by at least 45% by 2030. Click here to sign on.
  2. Send an email to your Member of Parliament. Let them know that you are worried about climate change; that we need urgent action to significantly reduce climate emissions across Canada. For email contact info, click here.
  3. Write a brief letter to the editor for your local paper. Express your fears about climate change; talk about how it is affecting the health and well-being of your family.
  4. Participate in one of the 100 Debates on the Environment being organized in communities across the country for the upcoming federal election. For info, click here.
  5. Participate in climate strikes being organized by Fridays for Future Canada. If you are a health professional, join the CAPE members who plan to support the student strikes on September 27th. For event info, click here.
  6. Sign on to the One Earth, One Vote Petition. To access the petition, click here.
  7. If you want to get more involved, check out CAPE’s Climate Change Toolkit for Health Professionals. It includes modules and factsheets with evidence-based information on climate change that you can use for submissions, workshops, action in your health care facilities, and action in your community. To access the toolkit, click here

Nordic PMs sign climate declaration at Iceland meeting

A meeting of Nordic Prime Ministers ended in Reykjavik, Iceland on Tuesday with the signing of a joint declaration on climate action.


Nordic Prime Ministers: From left Antti Rinne (Finland), Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Iceland), Erne Solberg (Norway), Mette Frederiksen (Denmark) and Stefan Löfven (Sweden). Photo: Sigurjón Ragnar

The declaration, “Draft Joint Statement of the Nordic Prime Ministers and the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future,” was signed by Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Finland’s Prime Minister Antti Rinne, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven; along with Greenland’s Premier Kim Kielsen, Aksel V. Johannesen, the prime minster of the Faroe Islands, a self-governing region part of the Kingdom of Denmark, and by Katrin Sjögren, the premier of Åland, an autonomous region of Finland.

“The Nordic countries have the opportunity to take the lead in global climate efforts,” said Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who chaired the meeting, in a news release on the Nordic Council of Ministers website. “We’re ready to take on this role.

“We know that it’s difficult to prioritise, but we must accept our responsibility. We have to show people, and not least the younger generations, that we mean what we say, and that we practice what we preach.”

Better public-private cooperation needed

The document was also signed by Nordic CEO’s for a Sustainable Future, a group of 14 companies working to incorporate the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) in their respective business strategies.

The document reaffirms the Nordic countries’ commitment to implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement by 2030.

The document also stressed the importance of closer cooperation between government and business in order to meet environmental targets and  “getting more done, faster, in light of the importance of making progress towards 2030.” MORE

Draft Joint Statement of the Nordic Prime Ministers and the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future

 

The seed libraries sprouting up across the US

Could the Prince Edward County Libraries replicate this initiative?

San Diego’s Ocean Beach library is one of hundreds in the US where members can take home seeds as well as books. Could the community project help protect local plant diversity?

Librarian and horticulturalist Destiny Rivera with her seed library at the San Diego Ocean Beach Public Library

At first sight San Diego’s Ocean Beach branch is much like any other public library: people browse the shelves, sit at tables reading newspapers and use free computers. But perched on top of the reference desk are packets of seeds ready, just like books, to be checked out.

Stored in a salvaged card catalogue, dozens of seed varieties are alphabetically indexed according to their common name, along with details about their source. Since spring 2019, library visitors have been encouraged to take packets of seeds home with them to plant.

The hope is that at least some of the 150 seed library members will come back in the fall with harvested seed samples and tales to tell. Much like public libraries, the seed library is about sharing and building community.

That’s why the two seemed like a natural fit to the project creator Destiny Rivera, a soft-spoken library assistant and hobby horticulturist, who inherited her green thumb from her father when growing up in Hawaii.

Rivera’s project is one of the latest of over 500 seed libraries that have opened in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, since a group of Californian social justice and food advocates launched the Seed Library Network in 2011. Volunteers of the project posted online guidelines and resources to help others set up their own seed libraries.

Ocean Beach Seed Library The seed library aims to educate the public on plants unique to the area

“People are coming forward to tell us that they’ve been saving seeds in their garage for years,” said Rivera, referring to the contributions made by library users to the seed collection. The Ocean Beach library also received seed donations from community members to launch the endeavor.

Promoting food diversity

The Seed Library Network aims to educate the public about the unique plants and soil types in their region – be it mountainous, coastal, desert, rural or urban. In order to meet the needs of the communities they serve, each library is a little different.

In Ocean Beach, Rivera saw the seed project as a way to add yet another facet to the seaside town’s thriving and open-ended food scene, which includes a farmers’ market, community gardens, and a food co-operative.

The library has also partnered with experienced gardeners in San Diego County to lead a series of workshops on seed saving and gardening techniques designed for people of all skill levels and abilities. MORE

For residents of ‘Canada’s Texas,’ a sense of ‘western alienation’

Divisions in Canadian society, once primarily about linguistic identity, are starting to resemble those in the U.S. – a geographic split between energy-industry conservatives in the west and eastern environmentalist liberals.


Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

Alberta, often called the Texas of Canada, is a frustrated place these days. Albertans are frustrated at Liberal policies under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at other provinces protesting the pipelines they want to build, and more recently at activists who have made the oil sands of Alberta one of the flashpoints of global environmental protest.

This frustration is not particularly new. Alienation is part of the identity of western Canada, says author Mary Janigan, and traces back over a century when the western provinces were created and control of their resources was given to Ottawa. “There’s a lingering resentment about any central interference in resources,” says Ms. Janigan. “Alberta’s hackles remain up.”

Yet today the consequences might be greater, as environmental concerns become more pressing. Paul Lemieux, who worked for 25 years in the oil business, says the rest of Canada can sometimes make Albertans feel like “a bunch of money-grubbing polluters.”

He says that diminishes the common ground that exists. He calls Canadian standards on resource extraction some of the best in the world. “I’m not saying we couldn’t do things better, for sure,” he says. But they all have children and grandchildren whose futures they want to preserve too. “I don’t think any of us wants to be environmentally unfriendly.” SOURCE

Grieving for the environment, without saying ‘climate change’

When environments change, people can feel they’ve lost something familiar and dear – even if they can’t agree why. In an era of climate change, there’s new thinking about how to cope.


Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff Susan Heather, a farmer and agronomist,  stands on a hill overlooking her family farm and the Little Bow River, which flooded in 2013, on July, 2019 in Vulcan, Alberta. Ms. Heather helps other farmers deal with the stress caused by the vagaries of Mother Nature.

Agnieszka Wolska, a therapist in Calgary, joined an “Eco-Grief Support Circle” that meets twice a month after losing faith, she says, that nature could rebalance itself. She compares the circles to being at a wake, but it’s also where she finds hope. “Together we have less individual despair. We can just have connection instead of fear or just sadness,” she says.

Academics have begun to attach neologisms to feelings like Ms. Wolska’s: “solastalgia,” coined by an Australian philosopher in 2005, describes a form of distress caused by environmental change, or “ecological grief.” Those feelings of loss surrounding a place are becoming increasingly common, as wilder weather patterns and natural disasters are, many scientists say, becoming more commonplace.

In the capital of Canada’s oil industry, where everyone knows someone employed by it, that can lead to mixed feelings. Just 52% of Albertans believe they’ve seen conclusive or solid evidence of climate change, the lowest percentage in Canada. But people here describe a feeling akin to mourning over the loss of natural landscapes.

“When you lose your special place, it’s a deep feeling,” says Albertan agronomist Susan Heather. SOURCE

 

 

Climate change: Should we sue politicians for crimes against humanity?

Amid mass die-ins, no-fly movements and Greta Thunberg sailing the climate emergency message across the Atlantic, there’s one route for tackling climate change we haven’t pursued, writes Jane Fae: through the courts

An iceberg floats by in Greenland, where the rate of glacier retreat has accelerated over the past several decades
An iceberg floats by in Greenland, where the rate of glacier retreat has accelerated over the past several decades ( Getty )

When we think about climate change, the headlines are all about the damage hurtling down the track towards us: the consequences and, sometimes, the difficulties of putting a solution in place. Technical difficulties. Financial difficulties. Political difficulties.

We treat these last as though they are as much a fact of nature as the damage wrought by a warming climate. Increasingly, though, serious jurists and campaigners are beginning to ask whether those who stand in the way of reform, of repairing our climate, should be considered culpable for their actions – and criminally culpable at that.

In short, is the time coming for coordinated international action against those who, for all sorts of reasons, do not just stand in the way of measures to mitigate damage, but actively promote damaging policies? How should we treat those who benefit the climate apathy of their leaders while simultaneously decrying the systems that keep returning them to power?

“Not OUR fault!” proclaim some of the nicest of nice people – ourselves included. But, as Extinction Rebellion and David Attenborough tell us, this is an emergency, so aren’t legal repercussions inevitable?

Is it so eccentric or extreme? From where we stand today, perhaps. From banning smoking in public to exiting the EU without a deal, how quickly yesterday’s outlandish becomes the commonplace of today.

Extinction Rebellion’s ‘die-ins’ have brought the climate emergency to the top of the news agenda (Getty)

In fact, the idea of taking action against climate change deniers is not new. One of the first to do so was climate scientist James Hansen, who argued powerfully in 2008 for fossil fuel CEOs to be tried for “high crimes against humanity”.

Meanwhile, the Association of Small Island States pluckily stood firm against global incompetence. They highlighted that those who refused to adhere to calls for action benefited the most from climate degradation, while many small island states face near-certain destruction.

Still, this can feel a bit detached from everyday reality: a theoretical future most of us won’t be around for, discussed in technocratic terms by academics and experts. A mere decade ago, concerns fell on deaf ears. (Now, Extinction Rebellion could not be more loud and clear.)

Climate activists staging a ‘die-in’ under the Natural History Museum’s blue whale in April, as part of a mass protest that brought parts of London to a standstill (AFP/Getty)

Back then the issues were too big, too frightening. The detail just too much for ordinary people – and many politicians – to grasp. Sure, the forecasts were clear enough. If we continue to pump greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere, humanity faces a series of disasters of ever-more-biblical proportions, from fire, floods and droughts to the ultimate rendering uninhabitable of large portions of the planet. We needed mitigation to address the causes of climate change (reduce emissions and remove them from the atmosphere) as well as adaptation to address the impacts of change.

...One significant intervention in this area comes from Netherlands-based Stop Ecocide, a law-based group working to make ecocide a crime under international law.

In the end, though, the letter of the law may count for less than the mood of the people. If Britain – or any other nation or organisation – were to invade another country and evict the local population, that would be an act of war, whether it was treated as one by international courts or not.

Last week a huge fire blazed through central Evia in Greece (AFP/Getty)
We are in the process of doing just that to millions of people across the world and, once those people join up the dots, from Trump walking out of the Paris agreement to Bolsonaro pushing ahead with the destruction of the Amazon rainforest to oil companies continuing business as usual, the resulting anger will be a wonder to behold.

How culpable are they? Does it matter whether this is ignorance or greed? Perhaps we do need to start being beastly to those being beastly to the planet. Americans, Brazilians… and maybe, before we get too smug, some Brits as well. MORE

Bernie Sanders Unveils $16 Trillion ‘Green New Deal’ Plan

Senator Bernie Sanders’s “Green New Deal” climate policy plan calls for the United States to eliminate fossil fuel use by 2050.

Credit: Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday will release a $16.3 trillion blueprint to fight climate change, the latest and most expensive proposal from the field of Democratic presidential candidates aimed at reining in planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Mr. Sanders’s proposal comes one day after Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who made climate change the central focus of his campaign, announced he was dropping out of the 2020 race. Mr. Inslee’s absence could create an opening for another presidential aspirant to seize the mantle of “climate candidate.”

Mr. Sanders was an early supporter of the Green New Deal, an ambitious but nonbinding congressional plan for tackling global warming and economic inequality. He is bestowing that same name upon his new plan, which calls for the United States to eliminate fossil fuel use by 2050.

It declares climate change a national emergency; envisions building new solar, wind and geothermal power sources across the country; and commits $200 billion to help poor nations cope with climate change.

Mr. Sanders said in an interview Wednesday night that his proposal would “pay for itself” over 15 years and create 20 million jobs in the process.

There is no broadly agreed-upon figure of how much needs to be spent to decarbonize the United States economy, but one study estimated that as much as $4.5 trillion could be needed just to modernize the nation’s power grid.

Still, the Sanders plan’s eye-popping price tag is several times bigger than those of his leading opponents. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has called for spending $1.7 trillion over 10 years. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has a $2 trillion green manufacturing plan. Other candidates, including former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, have also put forth ambitious proposals. MORE