Natasha Lennard: Ecocide Should Be Recognized as a Crime Against Humanity, but We Can’t Wait for The Hague to Judge

The image of Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon Mobil, loomed over the climate strike in New York last Friday afternoon. Rendered in cardboard, 15 feet tall and clutching a bag of fake, bloodied money, the puppet of Woods wore the label “Climate Villain.” It bobbed among the 250,000-strong crowd, joined by cutout versions of BP CEO Bob Dudley and Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden. By the time the puppets were set down in Battery Park, the terminus of the New York protest, the faces of the fossil fuel executives had been daubed with marker-pen devil horns.

As millions of workers and students filled city streets around the world last week, there was no shortage of bold and inventive protest signs. While many expressed broad concerns about the burning planet and an imperiled future, a number, like the CEO puppets, were unambiguous in their antagonism towards the fossil fuel industry and its political enablers. With the stakes of global heating intolerable, and the fanglessness of international climate agreements undeniable, it is little wonder that activists are calling for the major perpetrators of environmental decimation to be seen as guilty parties in mass atrocity, on a par with war crimes and genocide. The demand that ecocide — the decimation of ecosystems, humanity and non-human life — be prosecutable by The International Criminal Court has found renewed force in a climate movement increasingly unafraid to name its enemies.

The push to establish ecocide as an international crime aims to create criminal liability for chief executives and government ministers, while creating a legal duty of care for life on earth. Its strength, however, lies not in the practical or likely ability of The Hague — a profoundly flawed judicial body — to deliver climate justice. The demand that ecocide be recognized as a crime against humanity and non-human life is most powerful as a heuristic: a framework for insisting that environmental destruction has nameable guilty parties, perpetrators of mass atrocity, against whom climate struggle must be waged on numerous fronts.

WHEN IT COMES to narratives about environmental degradation, the greatest lie of all is that people are not responsible. The second greatest lie is that people are equally responsible. Last year, the New York Times Magazine published an entire issue dedicated to one extended essay by novelist Nathaniel Rich. It was framed as a devastating and overdue exposure of how we could have prevented climate catastrophe in the 1980s, given available scientific understanding, but “we” did not. “All the facts were known, and nothing stood in our way,” wrote Rich. “Nothing, that is, except ourselves.” Rich’s story conveniently ignores the ferocious capitalist hierarchies, which decimate natural resources for profit, while state militaries and police forces help quash environmentalist and indigenous resistance — just think of the militarized police assaults and swathes of criminal charges faced by the Water Protectors who took a stand at Standing Rock.

No climate justice will be possible without bringing down the powerful actors standing in the way of cutting emissions and production.

Legal norms and rights can and do take on political life through direct action, community consultation and protest. Even if the court’s signatories resist adopting ecocide as a crime, or as is likely, the court fails to prosecute, let alone convict, the world’s worst climate criminals, we can and must take justice into our own hands. Collective action — like last week’s mass climate strike, like voting for leaders pushing a Green New Deal, like fighting for our lives against capitalism — must be pursued with vigor. This is how we take the fight against ecocide to its perpetrators.

MORE

 

Official opening of Canada’s first all-electric mine: Northern Ontario


Dave Drake at the controls of the MacLean 975 electric scaler-bolter. (photo: MacLean Engineering)

There was a festive atmosphere at the inauguration of Newmont Goldcorp’s new Borden Gold Mine site near Chapleau, west of Timmins on Monday.

It’s Canada’s first all-electric mine, eliminating the use of diesel, which the company says will be good for the environment and for the health of employees.

The ribbon cutting marks the official beginning to a project that’s been years in the making.

Newmont Goldcorp has been collaborating with local, provincial, and federal governments along with local First Nations to bring the world’s first ‘green’ gold mine to northern Ontario.

Mine official Marc Lauzier, the general manager at Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines, says the industry is watching.

“I know other companies are looking at what we’re doing and are already speaking to us about some of this. I think everybody’s watching closely and everybody just wanted somebody to execute on something like this. Other companies have tried too. We’re not the first try, but I think we’re going to be the first to succeed,” said Lauzier.

The general manager says making the mine ‘green’ involves replacing diesel equipment with electric, as well new blasting and ventilation technologies.

He says the federal and provincial governments also contributed $5-million to help with to changeover to electric.

Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Northern Development, Greg Rickford, says this just adds to northern Ontario’s world-leading industries.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled at the prospect of setting a new standard for the mining sector that’s right here in Ontario. We lead the financial marketplace for the mining sector, now we lead in various technologies and lead Canada in terms of our mineral production,” said Rickford.

The new mine promises to create at least 200 jobs, and it’s hoped commercial production can begin later this year, with at least an 8-year lifespan.

Meanwhile, officials say the Borden Mine has set a standard of how the industry should operate and expect more mines to be built this way in the future. SOURCE

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Lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court seeks class action, damages against e-cigarette giant Juul

Claim says Juul targets minors and misleads with advertising that suggests its products are safer than smoking


A statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court claims Juul targets minors and misleads with advertising that suggests e-cigarettes and vaping are safer and healthier than smoking. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

A notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court claims e-cigarette giant Juul targets minors with misleading advertising by claiming its products are safer and healthier than smoking.

In documents filed today naming Juul Labs Canada and Juul Labs Inc., plaintiffs Jaycen Stephens and Owen Mann-Campbell say they were 18 years old when they started using Juul e-cigarettes in 2018.

Both say they developed shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, increased addiction to nicotine, anxiety and other harms, which their doctors connected to vaping.

The men claim they would not have bought or used Juul e-cigarettes had they “been provided with accurate information and/or warnings with respect to the possible health complications from vaping.”


A man exhales vapour from an electronic cigarette. (Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images)

The plaintiffs are seeking to have the lawsuit classified as a class action. None of the allegations has been tested in court.

In an emailed statement, Juul Labs Canada told CBC News, “We are currently reviewing the statement of claim and at this time are not able to provide any further comment.”

Juul products account for about three-quarters of all sales in the multibillion-dollar industry. MORE

530 organizations in 76 countries sign Lofoten Declaration calling for phase out of oil, gas as pathway to climate security, strong economy

Oil and gas production is fueling the climate emergency, and government leaders must stop expanding and financing the problem

Image result for  Tzeporah BermanTzeporah Berman is Big Oil’s number one enemy

Traditional lands of the Lenape people (New York, NY) — As government and industry leaders gather in New York to discuss climate change, a growing movement of civic organizations are calling on them to address the biggest threat to climate security — the production of oil and gas.

Emissions from developed oil and gas reserves will result in more than 1.5 degrees celsius of warming [1]. Yet, the oil and gas industry plans to spend $1.4 trillion USD over the next five years to expand production. This will add 92 gigatonnes of carbon pollution, taking the world well beyond 2 degrees, even if the production and use of coal is completely phased out.

“If a house is on fire, you don’t add fuel. True leadership in response to the climate emergency means having the courage to commit to ending the expansion of oil and gas production and make a plan to transition communities and workers to better opportunities,” said Catherine Abreu of Climate Action Network.

In light of this reality, The Lofoten Declaration – Phasing Out Oil and Gas Production for a Safe Climate and Strong Economy has been signed by over 530 organizations spanning 76 countries. Signatories are demanding government and industry commit to phase out fossil fuel production and accelerate the transition to clean energy and other low-carbon solutions. The declaration calls on high-income economies that benefitted from fossil fuel extraction and are historically responsible for significant emissions to lead.

“Everyone knows the world must dramatically reduce production and emissions of fossil fuels if we are going to have a safe climate. Yet everyone continues to argue that their oil and gas expansion fits within a global plan. The math doesn’t work,” said Tzeporah Berman of Stand.earth. “Expansion of oil and gas threatens us all and we need to stop pretending the solution is a technological fix and stop expansion by regulating production globally.”  

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent over the next decade will require removing finance and subsidies and banning license, contract and permits for new oil and gas development, developing plans to phase out existing production at a pace aligned with the Paris Agreement, and supporting communities and workers in oil and gas regions in consultation with trade unions and local leaders.

Governments and businesses are taking steps to reduce the climate and economic risks related to oil and gas. Costa Rica, France, New Zealand and Belize banned new oil and gas projects in some or all of their territories, and there are ongoing debates about doing the same in countries such as Sweden, Spain and Ireland. More than 1,000 institutions including the World Bank and other financial organizations have removed more than $11 trillion in financing from fossil fuels [2].

“With the transition to clean energy well underway, a growing number of investors see oil and gas projects as a bad investment,” said Alex Doukas of Oil Change International. “We’re in the midst of a climate emergency, and massive surge in climate activism makes it increasingly untenable for financiers to continue wasting money on an oil and gas industry that ultimately needs to disappear if we’re serious about climate action.”

SOURCE

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The Race to Zero Emissions: compressed air, future of aviation, fossil-fuel lobbying

Quartz

Here’s what happened over the past week that helped or harmed the world’s chances of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions to zero.

🔽 Decreases emissions

1️⃣ What did UN’s climate summit in New York achieve? A long list of countries committed to work toward hitting net-zero emissions by 2050. It’s mostly composed of places that don’t contribute much to climate change and are also likely to be most affected by it.
2️⃣ Hydrostor, a Canadian startup, wants to scale up its technology to store energy in compressed air. It recently raised $17 million in an equity round, which saw participation from oil-services company Baker Hughes. The startup also got $20 million in development funds to bid for projects as big as 300 MW / 2.4 GWh.
3️⃣ Greece and Hungary have agreed to phase out the use of coal by 2028 and 2030, respectively. They join 20 European countries that have made similar commitments. Related: The UK produced less than 1% of its power from coal in the second quarter—that’s a first since the country built coal power plants.
4️⃣ More coal: The African Development Bank will stop funding coal power plants, and instead use the money to fund renewable energy projects. Significantly, this indicates that coal is no longer seen as necessary to accomplish ADB’s primary goal of improving energy access.
5️⃣ The scale of negative emissions in the coming decades requires infrastructure that will pump more carbon into the ground than it currently extracts, according to a new analysis from the Energy Futures Initiative. Related: Carbon Engineering, another Canadian startup, is doubling its direct-air-capture machine capacity even before it’s built. By 2022, it will capture 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air.

FUTURE OF AIR TRAVEL ✈️
 The excellent chart below comes from Quartz’s field guide on the future of air travel, written by my colleague Natasha Frost. You can read the state of play of the industry, an interview with American Airlines’ CFO, what technologies will change the industry, and more to come later this week, including a conference call for Quartz members.

Net-zero (for now)

1️⃣ The number of climate strikers between Sept. 20 and Sept. 27 may cross 6 million globally, according to organizers of the protest. In New Zealand, early estimates suggest as many as 170,000 turned up to protest. That’s reaching the magic threshold of 3.5% of a population—a share that social scientists believe can bring about big political changes.

2️⃣ The California Institute of Technology received $750 million from billionaires Stewart and Lydia Resnick toward climate-change research. It’s the second largest donation made to a US university… would it have been better spent if split between universities?

3️⃣ A new IPCC report says oceans and the cryosphere are in worse health than previously thought. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five things that can help restore ocean health and fight climate change.

4️⃣ What is the true cost of carbon emissions? Nobody really knows. What we do know is that there are a number of carbon markets around the world, which IHS Markit has used to create a global weighted carbon price—updated daily. On Sept. 27, the price was $23.34 for each metric ton of carbon dioxide.

5️⃣ “The market’s failure to integrate climate science with investment analysis has created a mispricing phenomenon that is possibly larger than the mortgage credit bubble of the mid-2000s,” says David Burt, who bet against the mortgage market and won big during the 2008 financial crisis.

LISTEN 🎧

One of my regular listens is the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast run by Bill Loveless and Jason Bordoff—both at Columbia University’s Center for Global Energy Policy. A recent episode featured Jonathan Pershing, program director of environment at the Hewlett Foundation and formerly a key US official on climate change under Barack Obama. The wide-ranging conversation covers the many impacts of the Paris climate agreement, how to think about energy technologies, and what policies send the right market signals. 🔼 Increases emissions

1️⃣ The US Energy Information Administration has come out with new forecasts. By 2050, it estimates the world will see energy coming from renewables increase by 166%, from natural gas by 44%, nuclear 36%, oil 22%, and coal 12%. “Long-term, multi-decade projections are notoriously error-prone,” says John Kemp of Reuters. “But producing them is a good intellectual discipline.”

2️⃣ The EU was set to issue guidance on what counts as “green” finance, but bickering over nuclear power has forced a delay until 2022. “This is a disaster,” a green lawmaker said. The delay could slow down the growth of the $200 billion market for green bonds, which are in need of stricter classification norms. For example, some green bonds have been used to finance coal power plants.

3️⃣ Poland opened its first new coal mine in 25 years. Its coking coal will be supplied to steel plants.

4️⃣ Khosla Ventures has pulled the funding from a promising battery startup. Pellion Technologies was developing lithium-metal batteries, which can pack in almost double the amount of energy per unit volume compared to current lithium-ion batteries, and supplying small batches for use in drones.

5️⃣ Fossil-fuel industry lobby groups in the US are gaining millions to help re-elect Donald Trump in 2020. When these groups combine their power with automobile industry lobby groups, they become highly effective at blocking climate action.

STATS TO REMEMBER As of Sep. 29, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 408.22 ppm. A year ago, the level was 405.35 ppm.

SOURCE

Can we really trust Andrew Scheer?

Image result for leadnow: Can we really trust Andrew Scheer?

1. Scheer doesn’t have a climate plan
Scheer’s “climate plan” has been described as “devoid of detail” and “seriously unserious”. It mirrors the demands of the oil and gas lobby, and experts say it would actually increase emissions. In the midst of a climate emergency, Canada needs to elect a climate leader who will take climate change seriously and work hard to mitigate the impacts of climate change in Canada, and globally. If his woeful climate plan is anything to go by, Andrew Scheer’s not the leader we need. [1]

2. Scheer’s got his eye on healthcare
Earlier this year, senior members of Scheer’s team planned a ritzy $250 per head cocktail reception to discuss “the business of healthcare”. The closed door event invited health-care professionals to pay to shape policy and rub shoulders with Conservatives MPs Pierre Poilievre and Marilyn Gladu — both pegged for key positions in a future Scheer cabinet. The event was described as an opportunity to “reimagine” healthcare — a common code name for privatization.  [2]

3. Scheer’s election platform is being determined by corporate interests
Andrew Scheer — along with top Conservative strategists — held secret meetings with wealthy oil execs to help shape his election platform. He also attended a $50,000 dinner with Imperial Oil — owned by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil and together, where they plotted ho to gut environmental protections, shut down environmentalists and secure a Conservative victory. Shortly after these lobby meetings, Scheer released his “climate plan” which was widely reported to mirror the demands of the oil and gas lobby. [3-4]

4. He’s working towards the same goals as Doug Ford
During a meeting with Ford at Ontario’s legislature, Scheer told reporters that both he and Ford are working toward the same goals. Ford made a lot of big promises to get elected — but once in office he started slashing good jobs and cutting vital services like education, childcare, healthcare, and housing. We should take it as a warning sign around what Scheer would do if elected in October. [5]

5. He’s flip-flopped on a number of policies, including funding for private schools
Scheer previously pledged billions of dollars for parents who send their kids to private schools — a policy which was seen by many as a move towards privatizing education. His proposal would provide a $4,000 tax credit to parents who send their kids to private school — essentially meaning that those who can afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars to send their kids to private school would be subsidized by taxpayers. He quietly removed this policy from his platform recently — but it remains to be seen whether he’ll flip-flop again if elected.  SOURCE

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How Would Our Wartime Conservative Leaders Have Acted on the Climate Crisis?

Real emergencies call for real plans.

WartimeWorker.jpg
The scale of Canada’s wartime production was nothing short of stunning, and it completely retooled our economy. We could do it again, this time to address the huge challenges of climate change. Photo of worker Veronica Foster inspecting a lathe at an Ontario gun plant, May 1941, via the National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque. Library and Archives Canada, PA-129380.

…Yet today’s Conservative “leaders” say we can’t transition our economy to meet the greatest existential threat of our time. Where is the courage and imagination of their predecessors?

While the threat today may move in slower motion than war, the climate crisis we face isn’t really all that different. Only now, we need governments that can lead us not into battle against other nations, but rather, into the fight for our collective future.

Today’s extreme weather events — the floods, fires, forest epidemics and hurricanes — are attacks on our soil, and they will only get worse. It’s time we adopted a wartime-scale response to confront this emergency.

In the economic and societal transition that is now urgently needed to shift our country off fossil fuels, the Conservative Party of Canada has, sadly, taken itself out of the game. This despite a recent Abacus poll indicating that a majority of conservative voters believe climate change to be a serious problem that represents “a major threat to the future of our children and grandchildren.”

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when the former Progressive Conservative party could legitimately claim to have climate leaders among its top ranks. No more. Today’s Conservatives have chosen to opportunistically campaign against genuine climate policies, and to conspire with those who would block real action. They are scoundrels who would put your children at risk for electoral gain.

Upon the release of the Conservatives so-called “climate plan” in advance of this federal election, the National Post’s Andrew Coyne described it as “a prop” rather than a plan — “a work, essentially, of mischief — an intentionally pointless bit of misdirection.” The Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason described the plan as “a sad joke.”

As many noted, the Conservatives offered no estimates of how much greenhouse gases would actually be reduced as a result of any of the policies promised (few as they were). Perhaps with good reason. Leading environmental economist and emissions modeller Marc Jaccard predicted the Conservative plan would actually result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

When crises, such as a war, call for real plans, we see clear actions and timelines and expected outcomes. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s climate document contains no such thing.

Your grandparents’ Conservative leaders, in the face of an ominous existential threat, rallied us and declared, “We can do this!”

In the face of today’s clear and present emergency, these man-baby Conservative leaders whine, “Don’t make me do it!”

You’re better than them. MORE

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