Canada Doing The Worst Among G7 In Fight Against Climate Change: Report

The neoliberal Trudeau government and the neoliberal Conservatives have had years to develop a credible climate policy. Instead they continue to promote massive fossil fuel subsidies and absolutely refuse to stop  the tar sands ecocide and expansion or any thought of leaving the carbon in the ground. Our children and future generations will suffer the consequences.

The country’s climate plan isn’t enough, and the entire G7 needs to do more.

Smoke from the Imperial Oil refinery in Edmonton fills the sky in December
JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS Smoke from the Imperial Oil refinery in Edmonton fills the sky in December 2018.

OTTAWA — The wealthiest countries in the world — including Canada — are lagging instead of leading in the fight against global warming, a new report says.

The Climate Action Network, a global association of more than 1,300 climate groups, issued a report card on the climate plans of the G7 nations ahead of the leaders’ summit in France this weekend. The groups hope to pressure the world’s wealthiest nations to step up their climate game, noting none of them is doing enough.

There is also a hope expressed in the report that the upcoming federal election in Canada might stimulate more ambitious action. Canada, the report says, is among the worst of the already bad G7 bunch. SOURCE

In this new solar-powered apartment complex, all 600 units have batteries that form a virtual power plant

With a battery in every apartment, the whole complex can store extra power when the sun shines, and then move it around where it’s needed at night.

Image result for fast company: With a battery in every apartment, the whole complex can store extra power when the sun shines, and then move it around where it’s needed at night.
Image: courtesy The Wasatch Group

If you walk inside this new one-bedroom apartment outside Salt Lake City, you might not recognize the large object around the corner from the fridge. Roughly the size of a refrigerator itself, it’s a battery. The apartment complex, which will include 22 buildings and 600 units when complete, is the first to put batteries inside every apartment, connected to solar power on the roof—so the local utility can use it as a virtual power plant.

Image result for fast company: With a battery in every apartment, the whole complex can store extra power when the sun shines, and then move it around where it’s needed at night.

“This is the kind of community that’s truly a community of the future, where solar and solar batteries are literally built into your life,” says Blake Richetta, chairman and CEO of Sonnen, Inc., the company that makes the batteries used in the project, called Soleil Lofts, built by the developer Wasatch Group. Sonnen has previously installed batteries to store solar power in groups of single-family homes in the U.S., but this will be the first time that those batteries will be controlled by a utility. That means that the utility can manage the system to avoid using a fossil fuel-powered “peaker plant” when energy demand is highest.

[Image: courtesy The Wasatch Group]

“When there’s excess solar-generated energy produced, instead of just pushing it into the grid right away, it’s going to be shifted and harnessed in the batteries,” Richetta says. “Rocky Mountain Power will look at that in real time, and every day will constantly be able to say, okay, when can we use this solar?” Right now, in areas with a lot of solar power, there’s often so much energy produced when the sun is out that it can’t be used; without battery storage, when power is needed at night, utilities have to turn to more polluting sources.

The developer, the Wasatch Group, saw investing in solar power and batteries as the right thing to do for the region, which is already experiencing climate impacts including worsening wildfires and droughts. “We looked at how are we going to be responsible stewards,” says Jarom Johnson, chief operating officer for Wasatch Premier Communities. “This was probably the best option that we could identify that allowed us to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to push the envelope.’ It’s going to challenge our standard mantra for development. But we have specific outcomes we’re trying to pursue, which are we want to limit our footprint, and we want to allow a large portion of individuals to be housed without throwing a bunch of carbon in the air.” The company took advantage of federal and state tax credits to offset the cost of the project, and will be paid by the utility for access to the virtual power plant. MORE

Oklahoma opioid ruling ‘gives us a successful road map’ for Canadian lawsuits, lawyer says

On Monday, judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay Oklahoma state $572M

On Monday, an Oklahoma judge found Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the state’s opioid crisis, ordering the company to pay $572 million US. (Zeba Siddiqui/Reuters) 

For a former Barrie, Ont., emergency room doctor who became addicted to opioids and is now the lead plaintiff in a billion dollar class-action lawsuit, a $572 million US Oklahoma court ruling against Johnson & Johnson is a great start.

“It’s clearly a landmark case making it easier for people who are suffering with substance abuse disorder and perhaps some bad consequences to get treatment,” said Darryl Gebien, who lost his job, custody of his children and was ultimately charged and jailed after becoming addicted to fentanyl to deal with pain.

“It’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money it’s going to take to help conquer the opioid crisis,” said Gebien, who at one point was writing fraudulent prescriptions for himself.

“And it’s also a drop in the bucket compared to how much money the pharmaceutical industry made over the years.”

In the first state opioid case to make it to trial, an Oklahoma judge found Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the state’s opioid crisis, ordering the company to pay $572 million.

Johnson & Johnson says it will appeal. Meanwhile, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma Inc. and its owners, the Sackler family, are offering to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits against the company for $10 billion to $12 billion, NBC News reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

But similar class-action lawsuits against opioid manufacturers have been launched in Canada, raising questions whether the landmark ruling in Oklahoma will have any impact on those cases currently before Canadian courts.

‘Not get too excited’

“We have to be careful as to not get too excited about one court case in one state where one judge found one company liable,” said lawyer Adam Tanel.

On Tuesday, B.C. Attorney General David Eby noted that the Oklahoma ruling is based on very similar facts argued in the provincial government’s litigation against dozens of pharmaceutical companies.  (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Tanel’s Toronto-based law firm is representing Gebien in the Ontario-based  $1.1 billion class-action lawsuit against some of the biggest pharmaceutical names in the country, including Johnson & Johnson, Apotex, Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Jean Coutu Group. MORE

Purdue Pharma offers $10-12 billion to settle opioid claims
The lawsuits allege the company and the Sackler family are responsible for starting and sustaining the opioid crisis.

Ford Government Will Claw Back Even More Money From Struggling Ontarians and Low-Income Parents: Report

New calculations show the average recipient of social assistance will end up poorer thanks to recent changes by the Ford Government


Many struggling Ontarians who rely on social assistance will have less money in their pockets once the Ford government’s Ontario Works changes come into effect, a new update by the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario says.

According to HACLO, social assistance recipients that have net earnings above just $500 per month “will have less total income” starting on November 1.

Last fall, social assistance recipients were supposed to see the rules changed that would allow them to keep up to $400 per month without triggering clawbacks in their assistance — but the Ford government decided to cut that to $300 and raised the clawback from 50% to 75% of every additional dollar earned.

For example, those living well below the poverty line with a monthly income of $1,000 will now see $525 deducted from their monthly assistance.

While it’s unknown exactly how many social assistance recipients earn above $500 per month, the ministry’s own data shows that as of March 2017,the average OW recipient brought in $758 in monthly employment earnings.

And, while the average single adult recipient reported $574 in monthly net earnings, the average couple without children reported income of $873 per month.

Couples with children, the largest group making up one-quarter of all recipients in Ontario, reported $1,053 in monthly net earnings while single parents reported $852 in monthly earnings.

According to HALCO’s calculations, the average person in each of these groups will be left worse-off.

The office of Children, Community and Social Services Minister Todd Smith did not respond to multiple requests for comment from PressProgress.

The changes also expand the pool of recipients affected. Instead of only impacting recipients who have been in the system for three months, now all recipients will see the change after only one month.

…It is not yet known how childcare and disability-related expenses will change. But, according to 2019-20 budget estimates, the government is expecting to massively reduce both OW and ODSP financial support in the coming year. MORE


G7 can’t turn a blind eye to ecocide in the Amazon

Leaders must ask themselves if Jair Bolsonaro’s destructive attitude to the forest and its peoples should be considered a crime

When G7 leaders sit in judgment on Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro this weekend, the question they should ask themselves is whether the rape of the natural world should finally be treated as a crime. The language of sexual violence will be familiar to the former army captain, who publicly admires the sadistic torturers of the dictatorship era and once said to a congresswoman, “I would never rape you because you are not worth it.” Last month, after Pope Francis and European leaders expressed concern about the Amazon, Bolsonaro lashed back by claiming: “Brazil is a virgin that every foreign pervert desires.”

As a nationalist, the president sees the Amazon in terms of ownership and sovereignty. As a chauvinist, he sees the region as a possession to be exploited and opened up, rather than cherished and nurtured.

Since taking power eight months ago, Bolsonaro has, layer by layer, stripped the rainforest of protections. First, he weakened the environment ministry and put it in the hands of a minister convicted of environmental fraud. Second, he undermined the agency responsible for monitoring the forest, Ibama. Third, he alienated Norway and Germany, the main donors to forest-protection causes. Fourth, he tried to hide what was happening by sacking the head of the space agency responsible for satellite data on destruction. Fifth, he accused environmental charities of starting fires and working for foreign interests. And sixth, he verbally attacked Amazon dwellers – the indigenous and Quilombola communities who depend on a healthy forest.

With these defences down, the president has encouraged outsiders from the mining, logging and farming industries to take advantage of economic opportunities. The results have been brutal. Last month, deforestation surged by 278%. This month is almost certain to be a record for August under the current monitoring system. The wounds are impossible to cover up. The Amazon’s fires are now burning on front pages, news broadcasts and social networks across the world.

This has had a powerful emotional impact. People across the globe now realise the violence is against them because the rainforest is one of the world’s biggest carbon sinks and most important refuge of human, plant and animal diversity.

Bolsonaro is now in the dock of global public opinion and, like a wife-battering husband, he is declaring his devotion and promising to change. In a televised address to the nation on Friday night, the president said he felt “profound love and respect for the Amazon” and promised to send in the army to tackle the fires (though he continues to insist they are overblown).

Turning a blind eye to ecocide is no longer an option. The fires in the Amazon remind us this is not just a crime against nature but a crime against humanity.


A forest fire extends over farms and forest in Cujubim, Rondônia state, in August 2016. The latest fires are dramatically worse than in previous years. Photo credit: Greenpeace
A forest fire extends over farms and forest in Cujubim, Rondônia state, in August 2016. The latest fires are dramatically worse than in previous years. Photo credit: Greenpeace

An unprecedented number of manmade blazes are raging across the rainforest, blanketing the region in acrid smoke and prompting a state of emergency. Indeed, it’s not only the Amazon, but our entire planet that is in crisis as the devastation of this life-giving biome poses a real, existential threat for all of humanity.

We are witnessing a government that denies its responsibility for this tragedy while it dismantles Brazil’s environmental protections and rejects its duty to uphold human rights. A president so desperate to deflect culpability that he concocts pathetic theories that the very organizations dedicated to defending the rainforest are themselves responsible for this disaster. We are witnessing a perfect storm, with no end in sight.

Amazon Watch is working around the clock to ensure that the world understands both the causes and the solutions to this crisis. These fires were set deliberately and those who are resisting need our urgent support. A global solidarity movement must rise to directly oppose Bolsonaro, and as a solidarity organization Amazon Watch aims to spearhead these critical efforts.

Our recent Complicity in Destruction II report exposes the global corporate financiers of Amazon destruction, but the power to force them to change their actions comes from organizing and raising our collective voice. Today’s massive outcry over the Amazon fires and the outpouring of support toward solutions is magnifying our ability to shift these actors and ultimately the Bolsonaro regime. We will channel this support to our allies on the ground to amplify their messages and their struggles, empowering acts of resistance from all quarters. MORE

The world has the power to make Brazil’s Bolsonaro pay for his destruction of the Amazon
Bolsonaro’s Misogynistic Attack on Brigitte Macron Offers Glimpse Into Psyche of ‘Idiotic Baby Men’
If Carbon Offsets Require Forests to Stay Standing, What Happens When the Amazon Is on Fire?


Stop Ecocide co-founder Jojo Mehta comments on the UK government’s problem of perception


The UK government just responded to our petition calling for ecocide to be recognised as a criminal offence in the UK – and the response was sadly inadequate to the ecological crisis we face: “The Government neither recognises the term ‘ecocide’ nor does it intend the suggested concept a criminal offence. There are already strong regulations in place…”

Such regulations are inadequately enforced and the enforcement agencies woefully underfunded, but the problem actually runs far deeper than lack of enforcement of existing environmental regulations. It’s about the inability to understand how intimately not only our health but our survival is linked with a thriving natural world. If environmental regulation was enough we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.

Stopping the harm is not about enforcing the rules, it’s about changing the rules, at such a fundamental level that it is about morals and survival. This is the arena of CRIMINAL law. Murder is a crime because we recognise that killing another human being is unacceptable on a moral level and because it protects human life. Ecocide should likewise be a crime because large-scale destruction of nature is not only morally unacceptable but unless we protect ALL life, we cannot protect human life for very much longer, as climate and ecological science are telling us very clearly.

As a very simple example, you wouldn’t sit down with a business idea and try to work out how not to kill or seriously harm anybody doing it. There is already an underlying assumption that those are things that have to be avoided and so you don’t even contemplate a business based on them. With environmental harm, we go to the government and get permits for it. Can you imagine saying to a government minister “may I have a permit for my new business? it may well involve beating people up on a regular basis and we may kill a number of people in the course of business but it will be great for job creation…”

And yet you can get a permit for fracking. You can get a permit to rig up a 5G communications system which includes chopping down trees wherever you like. You can get a permit to burn any old waste in one big incinerator and create load of brand new dangerous toxins in the process. I’m not even sure you need a permit to put pesticides on your land that destroy whole complex soil ecosystems.

This is how deeply the disconnect is embedded. That is why people are talking climate negotiations and green new deals and ambition and mitigation and litigation. It’s all mopping the floor with the tap still running – but perhaps more graphically, it’s like arguing over where and how often you can hit a woman without the damage actually preventing her from feeding her children… and how much you have to pay her children if you do. It’s BONKERS. “Let’s try a bit harder not to suffocate this woman…” Really?!?!? How are we even having this discussion?

That’s the level at which we need to be talking. If we get 100,000 signatures on our petition, perhaps we can begin that conversation in parliament. SOURCE

Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal Is the Hail Mary Our Planet Needs

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ breathtaking Green New Deal, with an advertised price tag of $16.3 trillion, is aimed at nothing less than saving the planet from the worst consequences of global heating.

Bernie Sanders' Green New Deal Is the Hail Mary Our Planet Needs
Charlie Neibergall / AP

The plan aims to create 20 million new, well-paying jobs. It should be noted that one possible outcome of big Federal R&D monies and a rapid shift to renewables would be to revivify the US industrial sector, which has fallen to only 12 percent or so of the US GDP. Although the price tag seems formidable, Sen. Sanders points out that climate inaction will cost $34 trillion (I would add, at the very least) by 2100.

Yuval Rosenberg at the Fiscal Times quotes the response of the centrist Third Way think tank, which appears to represent mainly investment bankers, as criticizing Sanders’ plan on a number of points. They lament that he sidelines nuclear energy and carbon capture, and that his goal of getting rid of gasoline vehicles by 2030 is not realistic. If you reason back from these positions, what is being said is that moving quickly off coal, oil and gas is undesirable. Who would say that? Big coal, big oil and big gas, the profits of which are beloved of investment bankers. Likewise, big nuclear.

So let me explain why the critique from Third Way is pernicious. First, there is no such thing as affordable, safe, carbon capture. It is a unicorn. Even if CO2 could be captured, storing carbon dioxide gas would be extremely dangerous. When CO2 leaked from under a lake in the Cameroons, it killed thousands of people living on its shores.

Second, nuclear energy is useless in our new energy regime. Wind and solar will be the backbone, and they are intermittent. The sun doesn’t shine at night, wind often calms during the day. Until we get Big Battery capacity (which is coming rapidly), you need a baseline source of power that can be easily phased in and out. That is either hydro where it exists, or natural gas. It takes way too long to power down a nuclear plant and then power it back up. It is useless. Not to mention that the nuclear waste cannot be safely disposed of and poses very long term contamination problems. Not to mention that the plants can melt down and damage riparian ecosystems. Worst of all, nuclear-generated electricity costs 11 cents a kilowatt hour. New solar and wind bids are being let for less than 3 cents a kilowatt hour, even cheaper than coal.

As for taking transportation electric quickly, of course that can be accomplished. Maybe it won’t happen in a US dominated by Big Oil, but Sanders intends to push those corporations aside and institute a Federal industrial policy that can make things happen. The analogy is what Franklin Delano Roosevelt accomplished during World War II, when US industrial capacity vastly expanded and 16 million men were mobilized and Social Security was implemented.

These things aren’t as hard as they look, though admittedly it is a massive undertaking. In the US, 17.2 million light vehicles are sold annually, so in ten years that is 172 million. There are 272 mn. light vehicles on the road. So I conclude that the market replaces 64% of the vehicle stock every decade (helped by planned obsolescence). Therefore, if you require that all new vehicles be electric, you’d switch out 64% of the gasoline cars in a decade. (Chine already today makes an $8000 EV; so can Detroit if they’re incentivized). Putting in more public transportation and incentives for using it would make many of the other vehicles redundant. Trade-in incentives could mothball those that are left. The Obama administration already did a small version of this sort of buy-back, taking older polluting gas guzzlers off people’s hands for a rebate on a new vehicle. Trump’s tax cut on billionaires cost trillions, and over a decade his increase in the war budget will also cost trillions. The US spends more on war than the next 14 countries combined, and is expected to spend $7 trillion on “defense” over the next decade, even though we have no peer powers. Nobody thought those things impossible or fantastic.

Britain spends $45 bn. a year on defense and it has 1/4 the population of the US, so that is as though the US spent less than $200 billion a year on the Pentagon. We could go down to that and save a trillion dollars every two years for useful and productive things instead of for bombs to sell the Saudis to drop on Yemeni children. The US military is among the biggest carbon-emitting organizations in the world, so maybe we could cut those emissions, too. Bernie’s plan would be paid for in this way alone in about 32 years.

The plan is set to pay for itself over 15 years in these ways:

Making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.

Generating revenue from the wholesale of energy produced by the regional Power Marketing Authorities. Revenues will be collected from 2023-2035, and after 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.

Scaling back military spending on maintaining global oil dependence.

Collecting new income tax revenue from the 20 million new jobs created by the plan.

Reduced need for federal and state safety net spending due to the creation of millions of good-paying, unionized jobs.

Making the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.

The selfish and greedy elites of the US Establishment will attempt to kill this plan just in the same way that they are killing the planet. It will only succeed if the public rallies to it, urgently seeking to limit the damage to their children’s and grandchildren’s lives done by carbon dioxide, methane, and the rest. SOURCE


Majority of Canadians have a positive view of socialism, poll says

Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont and self-described “democratic socialist,” addresses a rally in Warren, Michigan.

A majority of Canadians hold a positive view of socialism, according to a new Forum Research poll — in stark comparison to the United States, where most Americans have a negative opinion on the ideology.

In a poll of 1,733 Canadian voters, Forum says 58 per cent of respondents said they have a positive view of socialism, whereas four in 10 said they hold negative opinions about it. In contrast, according to a Pew Research study, 55 per cent of people in the United States have an unfavourable perspective.

Forum said those most likely to respond positively about socialism include people aged 18 to 44, women, the most educated, workers earning $40,000 to $80,000, and those living in the Atlantic Provinces. Those most likely to respond negatively include people aged 45 and older, men, the least educated, the lowest earners, people earning $80,000 to $100,000, and Alberta residents.

When it comes to political affiliation, NDP and Liberal Party supporters are more likely to have a favourable view of socialism, whereas Conservative Party supporters are more likely to have a negative one.

On the other side of the political spectrum, 58 per cent of Canadians polled also said they have a positive view of capitalism, with four in 10 saying they hold negative opinions about it. In the Pew Research study, 65 per cent of Americans said they have a positive view of capitalism, with 33 per cent saying they hold a negative opinion.

Dr. Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, said that overall, Canadian voters hold a positive view of both socialism and capitalism, but see the former in a much better light than Americans do.

“Both Canadians and Americans alike see capitalism favourably,” he said. “While Canadian support for socialism and capitalism are divided along party lines, it is not nearly as drastic as shown in the United States.”

The topic of socialism versus capitalism has caught fire in the United States recently after several candidates for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, including former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and former Maryland congressman John Delaney, criticized the ideology. That was seen as a swipe at another candidate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who describes himself as a “democratic socialist.”

The poll was conducted by Forum Research by an interactive voice response telephone survey of 1,733 randomly selected Canadians between July 26 and 28. The results are considered accurate within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20. SOURCE