With aikido, not boxing, we can stop a blue wave

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at Queen’s Park in Toronto on May 3, 2019. Photo by Tijana Martin

 The narrative Jason Kenney offers Albertans about all-powerful foreigners turning Canadians against the oilsands is weak and factually false.

It survives only because it’s more compelling than the subtext Albertans probably hear in our climate campaigning: “We’re good, you’re bad. You need to be stopped for the good of other people’s families, even if it hurts your own.”

…The consensus among international energy analysts is that, after an era in which coal gives way to liquefied natural gas (LNG), LNG will give way to zero-emission hydrogen for long-distance energy trade, with the hydrogen used in industry, power generation and transportation, primarily in larger vehicles (long-distance trucks, trains, boats, planes) where batteries remain an unsolved engineering problem.

Yes, in the near term, fossil fuels will remain the cheapest means of producing clean hydrogen, even after factoring in the cost of carbon capture and storage. But the falling cost of renewable electricity suggests that within a few decades, and then forever after, hydrocarbons won’t be a factor in the hydrogen calculus.

…Hydrogen is how climate advocates can pursue emissions reductions while keeping Alberta on-side and while embracing Albertan resources. Not only is Alberta building its “Carbon Trunk” pipeline for sequestering carbon dioxide — which could eventually sequester 14.6 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas per year, almost one-quarter of British Columbia’s annual emissions — but recent auctions have also established Alberta as the cheapest place in Canada to build new renewables.

In the short term, Alberta’s energy sector can win with hydrogen from hydrocarbons; in the medium term, with hydrogen from both renewables and hydrocarbons (with carbon capture); and in the long term, with hydrogen from renewables. The Alberta research institute CESAR has already calculated that the province could generate at least twice the economic activity, on a dollar-per-unit-of-energy basis, by producing more hydrogen than it currently generates with its oil.

“This will not only mean jobs, but the earnings from the production, wholesale and retail sale of hydrogen will contribute to the province’s gross domestic product, royalty and tax revenue,” the report says.

Not boxing, But aikido

How might clean hydrogen change how we view fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines and export terminals, and our fellow Canadians’ expertise in building and operating them?

Instead of seeing it as a permanently polluting monolith to be toppled, we can approach our fossil-energy expertise as a temporary apprenticeship en route to mastering the craft of clean-energy exports.

The former is a boxing worldview, premised on overpowering the other party: shutting infrastructure requires advocates to out-endure industry, its employees and their communities at every turn. If our cousins feel an imminent threat to their livelihoods, they will fight us as ferociously as coastal First Nations have opposed the Trans Mountain expansion, and probably flock to Kenney’s deceitful embrace. As we might, if we were in their shoes.

The latter is an aikido perspective, turning the other party’s momentum into an advantage. While some specifics such as preferred pipeline materials may differ, most of the talents our energy sector have mastered will still apply tomorrow with hydrogen. With a combination of policy and public pressure, we can channel Canada’s energy expertise toward an Alberta-inclusive climate-positive goal. MORE

There Is No Planet B: Women have always been at the forefront of climate justice

Climate change demonstrators protest in central Stockholm, Sweden.

Young women like Greta Thunberg and Isra Hirsi are making headlines for leading the most recent global protests against climate change. But it’s important to remember that women have always been at the forefront of climate justice, because they are disproportionately affected by environmental issues.

Eighty percent of the people (pdf) affected by climate change are women, for several reasons. Natural disasters disproportionately affect poor communities, and women make up 70% (pdf) of people living in poverty. Social norms demand that mothers act as the primary providers of food for their families, which can be harder to do under conditions like flooding and droughts. Additionally, violence against women increases (pdf) after a natural disaster because of increased traumatic stress, scarcity of basic supplies, and destruction of authoritative systems. American women are more likely than men to believe in climate science, possibly because women feel they are the most affected by it.

Since 2014, women have been the public face of the climate movement. They led the first People’s Climate March, which attracted over 400,000 people worldwide, most of them women (pdf). Participation in climate protests has increased over the past five years as more young people get involved. Sept. 20 marked the largest worldwide climate strike yet, with most cities counting more than 100,000 protestors. Vastly dominated by women, especially women of coloryoung people, and indigenous groups, the climate movement is gaining momentum.

Activism is an important part of bringing awareness to the effects of climate change, but women would be able to do more to combat them if they were more often included in decision-making. Women only made up 22% of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) national climate delegation heads in 2018, suggesting that gender parity in the negotiations will not be reached until 2042.

On the national scale, one 2005 study found (pdf) that countries with a high proportion of women in parliament are more likely to endorse global environmental initiatives, suggesting that women’s participation in decision-making is important for strides in climate change. Furthermore, when women are involved in disaster planning and response, their different perspective and distinct experiences can offer solutions and plans (pdf) that men do not always come up with on their own.

To Emilie Slotine, a frontline activist at Greenpeace USA, we wouldn’t have climate change without capitalism, a model that assumes perpetual economic growth from the planet’s finite resources. It’s a patriarchal economic model that has historically been perpetuated by men and has always overlooked people of color, women, and marginalized groups,” Slotine tells Quartz.

Women are already making contributions to how the world is combatting climate change, but they could do more if more of them were elected into office or appointed to lead climate-related international committees. As the OGs and consistent faces battling environmental issues, the largest contributors to sustainable efforts (pdf), and the group most willing to make sacrifices (pdf) to reduce emissions, women are trying to save the planet and we should all do more to support them. SOURCE

Protesters Dump Fake Blood On Charging Bull; Dozens Arrested

Cops cuffed 27 people Monday as environmental activists covered the iconic statue with fake blood and blocked traffic on Broadway.

Activists splashed fake blood on the "Charging Bull" statute on Wall Street during a Monday protest demanding action to address climate change.Activists spashed fake blood on the “Charging Bull” statue during a Monday protest demaning action to address climate change. Photo courtesy of @Postcards4USA/twitter

FINANCIAL DISTRICT, NY — Dozens of protesters were arrested after activists splashed fake blood on the Financial District’s “Charging Bull” sculpture during a Monday morning protest demanding action to combat climate change.

Cops cuffed 27 people during the demonstration in front of the Wall Street icon, which started about 11 a.m., the NYPD said. They will likely be charged with disorderly conduct, a police spokesperson said.

Dozens of protesters — some of them also covered with red paint — also blocked traffic farther up Broadway near Pine Street after splattering the statue in their bold effort to draw attention to the climate crisis.

“Denying it is — I’m not religious — but it’s sinful,” said Ben Watts, a protester from Brooklyn. “It’s totally immoral. I have a kid. The way it’s going, she may have no real future.”
The activist group Extinction Rebellion took credit for the protest, which drew more than 100 people to the Financial District. A video posted to Twitter shows an activist holding a flag emblazoned with the organization’s logo standing atop the bloodied bull.

Extinction Rebellion NYC 🌎@XR_NYC

Financial sectors profit from ecocide, so we must rebel

Embedded video

“Financial sectors profit from ecocide, so we must rebel,” the group said on Twitter.


Report aims to put poverty on the agenda in federal election campaign

Arafa Ahmada and her three children, Manaal, 13, Malik, 11 and Mahbeer, 9, among the 39 per cent of families living in poverty in Toronto Centre, the urban riding with the second-highest rate of child poverty in the country.

Child and family poverty has dropped significantly across Canada since 2015, but a new report shows the problem persists in all 338 federal ridings, with First Nations and recent immigrant children impacted the most.

“The latest data continue to paint a stark portrait of inequality with high- and low-income families living in close proximity while divided by wide social and economic gaps that leave too many children hungry, sick and stressed,” says the report by Campaign 2000, a national, non-partisan coalition committed to ending child poverty.

“Every community, every candidate and all political parties have a stake in the eradication of poverty,” says the report being released Monday.

Between 2015 and 2017, almost 134,000 Canadian children were lifted out of poverty, a decline of nine per cent, according to the report.

But nearly 1.4 million — or 18.7 per cent — continue to live in families struggling to survive on low incomes, says the report based on 2017 income tax data, the latest available.

The report considers children to be poor if their families are living below the Low Income Measure, after taxes, or 50 per cent of the median Canadian family income. That was about $33,000 for a single parent and $47,000 for a family of four, in 2017.

The numbers vary dramatically across the country with the highest levels of child poverty found in federal ridings with the largest proportions of Indigenous, racialized, immigrant and lone parent families. MORE


New National Report on Child Poverty Shows Modest Decreases, Some Troubling Increases

In Stockton, Early Clues Emerge About Impact of Guaranteed Income

A universal basic income experiment in Stockton, California, is nearly halfway over. How has $500 a month affected the lives of 125 residents?

Susie Garza, who is participating in Stockton’s UBI pilot. Rich Pedroncelli/AP

A totaled car. A mother with cancer. Two kids at home, with field trips and Quinceañera outfits and football gear to pay for. Rent bills of $1,250 due each month. Two jobs—one part-time—both paying around $15 an hour, supplemented by unpredictable child support payments. Lorrine Paradela used to lie awake at night, thinking through all her expenses and income streams, struggling to breathe from the stress of it all.

Now, Paradela says, she’s started sleeping again. She’s one of 125 Stockton, California, residents who have been receiving an unconditional $500-a-month payment since February, as part of the first mayor-led guaranteed income initiative piloted in the United States. Called Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED), it’s the passion project of Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and funded by the Economic Security Project, a nonprofit that sponsors other guaranteed income experiments. Eight months into the 18-month project, researchers have released preliminary data about who’s participating, what they’re spending the money on, and how raising the income floor can change the entire structure of a life.

All adult Stockton residents living in neighborhoods where the annual median income was at or below the city’s average of $46,033 were sent postcards last year, inviting them to participate in the project. A smaller group was randomly chosen to receive money from the eligible pool who responded; and a control group, which isn’t receiving money, agreed to share financial information about themselves, too. In Stockton—a diverse, high-poverty city a few hours away from the tech epicenters of Silicon Valley and San Francisco—many residents are in need of such a boost, making it an ideal testing ground for SEED. Unemployment rates in the county reach about 7.5 percent, higher than the state average of 4.3 percent. Stockton is ranked 18th for child poverty out all U.S. cities.

But the Universal Basic Income concept, which has roots dating back to the Civil Rights Era, has recently gained more national traction: Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is campaigning on the idea that, to prepare for a future when automation makes most jobs obsolete, all Americans should be paid a “freedom dividend” of $1,000 a month—a sentiment shared by tech founders like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Other Democratic candidates—Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker—are proposing guaranteed tax refunds for low-income families, and interest-accruing “baby bonds” accounts for all American children, respectively.

Detractors of guaranteed income say they’re concerned that free funds will discourage people from working—or encourage spending on what they’d consider the “wrong” things. Countering these narratives is one of Tubbs’ goals with SEED; the project has been described as “a hand up, not a hand out.”
“In Stockton, like much of America, there’s this Puritan ethos of, ‘I work hard. If you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat,’” said Tubbs. “And [we’re] really illustrating to people, no, just like you there are people who are working hard who are struggling—not because they’re lazy, but because wages haven’t kept up with inflation, wages haven’t kept up with costs.”

Public hearing announced on Picton Terminal’s application for rezoning

UNDER WRAPS- Piles of road salt for winter driving applications are tarped in this November 29, 2017 ariel photo of Picton Terminals. The local deep port operation has pled guilty and was subsequently fined $27,500 for contravening the Environmental Protection Act in Picton’s provincial offences court  in July, 2018 (Picton Terminals photo)

A public hearing of Picton Terminal’s application for rezoning is scheduled for Oct. 24.

The link below takes you to all the many documents that have been filed with the County with this application.


The essentials of the proposal are:

Rezone the entire property to a site-specific Extractive Industrial zone which would allow:

    • Transhipment of road salt into their new covered structure
    • Transhipment of other bulk materials include dry bulk cargo such as aggregates, farming products, steel products, biomass, recycled scrap steel, wine barrels and other various bulk products. Transshipment may also include shipping containers containing – we don’t know what.
    • Uncovered open storage of bulk products (except salt which will soon be covered in a new structure)
    • Cruise ship and tour boat docking

Many of us have had concerns with Picton Terminals’ environmental record. They have a history of not handling the road salt in a satisfactory manner with the result that significant quantities end up in the bay including dangerous chemicals in the salt such as cyanide.

Stormwater management has never been completely resolved and Picton Terminals has been the subject of a number of officer’s and Director’s orders from Ministry of the Environment as recently as this summer.

The most recent is at the back of the document entitled Phase 2 Interim Action Plan. Picton Terminals always appeals these orders, promises remediation, and then seeks extensions. The salt pit is not yet covered, so this winter’s supply of salt will be on the surface, possibly tarped.

With respect to the cruise ship operation, there is almost no information about how this would work. Apparently passengers would get off the ship, be bused into Picton or elsewhere for day trips, then back on the ship – but numbers are unknown. The traffic study which is included in these documents does not take account of the cruise ship operation.

In my opinion, there are many unanswered questions and the lack of limits regarding what kind of products can be transshipped and stored in open uncovered storage raises environmental concerns given Picton Termials poor track record to date.

The meeting on October 24 is the first of 3 opportunities to hear about and comment on this proposal.

I encourage everyone who has an interest to study this material and come to the meeting to learn and ask questions and express concerns.

John Hirsch, Councillor, PEC