Anger erupts at UN climate summit as major economies resist bold action

TAKE ACTION! Motion for a Green New Deal

Image result for MP Peter Julian

NDP MP Peter Julian, just announced he’s submitted a motion for a Green New Deal. This motion, M-1, is the first motion filed by any MP elected into the 43rd parliament.

Today we are celebrating yet another victory for our movement. One of the Green New Deal champions we helped elect in October, MP Peter Julian, just announced he’s submitted a motion for a Green New Deal. This motion, M-1, is the first motion filed by any MP elected into the 43rd parliament. This is all thanks to the incredible organizing efforts of young people, who made sure the climate crisis and Green New Deal were top issues in the election.

Motion M-1 lays the foundation for the 43rd Parliament to begin building the bold, ambitious Green New Deal that we’ve been fighting for. But we need to act quickly to make sure that it receives the attention it deserves.

MPs can speak directly to this motion everytime they table petitions in support of it. That’s why we need people across Canada to gather petition signatures in support of M-1 and deliver them to MP offices across the country. We’ve prepared a toolkit that makes it easy to go through all the steps. Click here to download it.

If this year has shown us anything, it is that people across the country are ready for Canada to take bold and transformative action to dramatically reduce emissions and tackle rising inequality.

That means our elected leaders need to reject dirty fossil fuel projects, like the TransMountain pipeline and the Teck Frontier Mine, and begin building a made-in-Canada Green New Deal that upholds Indigenous rights, centers racial and migrant justice, and creates millions of decent jobs for all. Help keep up the momentum for a Green New Deal in the House of Commons and gather petition signatures to deliver to your Member of Parliament.

Young people, like myself, made sure this was the climate election. We worked tirelessly to elect Green New Deal Champions like MP Peter Julian. And we’re not going anywhere. In the new year, we have big plans to ensure that the House of Commons adopts this motion and goes even further to pass Green New Deal legislation.


Mari, organizer with Our Time Vancouver

PS – Each Member of Parliament only needs to receive 25 petition signatures in support of a Green New Deal in order to speak to M-1 in Parliament. That means you could take action as easily as circulating a petition at your office holiday party or a family dinner. Download the toolkit here to get started!

Whiplash for Canada at COP25

Protests against Canada in Madrid, Spain. Dec. 11, 2019. Photo by Indigenous Climate Action / Allan Lissner

Pity the poor staffers assigned to Canada’s negotiating team at COP25, they must be suffering whiplash.

Walk the halls of this sputtering summit and you’ll find UN delegates gratefully heralding Canada as a bulwark against the global tide of authoritarians and extraction populists ignoring climate calamity. You’ll run into climate advocates praising Canada’s pledge to go zero carbon. But step into a side conference and you’ll find a panel of carbon experts PowerPointing the pollution impacts of Canada’s rapidly expanding oil and gas industry. They’ve ranked Canada 55th out of the 61 biggest countries in the world, rating our performance “very low.”

Need some fresh air? Outside, activists from every corner of the world are protesting Teck Resources’ proposed mega-mine in the Alberta oilsands which the feds need to nix or approve in the next couple months. Canada’s delegates would probably rather stick near the negotiating rooms where observers praise them for pushing stronger international climate rules. Or maybe head over to the finance panel where the United Nations rep is showcasing Canada’s Just Transition strategy for coal workers as a model for the world to follow.

After a miserable day mired in the inanities of United Nations procedures, you might want to head over to the Canadian embassy for a quiet drink. But it might not be so quiet because there you will find Indigenous youth who have occupied the reception area in protest, calling out the government for authorizing pipelines despite First Nations opposition, and approving mega projects which threaten their homes and future.

Indigenous youth occupy the Canadian embassy in Madrid, Spain. Dec. 11, 2019. Photo National Observer


Canada’s experience at the Madrid COP is a bit of a microcosm of the country’s predicament. Canadians overwhelmingly want more ambitious action against climate change. Two-thirds of voters made that clear in the last election.

The federal government has brought in a package of climate legislation better than most in the world. Our electricity is among the greenest anywhere and is moving towards zero carbon. Provinces with good EV programs are selling electric cars as fast as dealers can get them on the lots.

In fact, 85% of the country is pretty much on track to meet the climate targets Canada pledged to the international community.

And yet, despite our tiny percentage of the world population, Canada is the ninth largest climate polluter in the world. The main reason is that we’re a top-five producer of oil and gas. Back when most of us hadn’t realized the climatic dangers of burning fossil fuels, we built an industry that is a true wonder of engineering and technology.

We should have recognized, even then, that the foundation of this engineering marvel was crushing human rights while poisoning, fragmenting and, in many cases, obliterating the land and territories of Indigenous people.

But most Canadians benefited greatly from the wealth generated by the fossil fuel boom. What’s different today is that we are belatedly reckoning with the brutalities of colonialism. And now we do know — we know the climate impacts of burning oil, gas and coal. But we are only just beginning to reckon with these fossil fuel impacts. We are phasing out coal use domestically. But with oil and gas, we are doing exactly the opposite — we are doubling down, massively expanding the industry year after year. Fossil fuel production has levelled off in most countries, but it is still growing globally. About 85 per cent of that global expansion of new oil and gas projects is happening in the U.S. and Canada.  MORE

Exxon Mobil prevails in New York climate change lawsuit

In this Oct. 22, 2019, file photo, Ted Wells, Jr., the lead attorney for Exxon, leaves New York Supreme Court in New York, after opening arguments in a lawsuit against Exxon. Exxon Mobil prevailed Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in a lawsuit accusing the energy giant of downplaying the toll that climate change regulations could take on its business, with a judge saying the state attorney general’s case didn’t prove the company deceived investors — but also didn’t excuse it of any accountability for global warming (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)The Associated Press

NEW YORK — A New York judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of Exxon Mobil Corp in a lawsuit brought by the state’s attorney general accusing the oil company of hiding from investors the true cost of addressing climate change.

Justice Barry Ostrager in Manhattan Supreme Court ruled that the attorney general failed to produce any evidence that investors were misled. The case, filed in October 2018 in Manhattan state court, was the first of several climate-related lawsuits against major oil companies to go to trial. SOURCE


On November 25, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) released a shocking report on how fossil fuel subsidies are undermining B.C.’s efforts on climate change.

The report, called Locked In and Losing Out, showed that BC’s fossil fuel subsidies reached $830 million in 2017–2018. New subsidies continue to be created, including significant support for the fracked gas industry.

Sierra Club BC has applauded the B.C. government for introducing the CleanBC plan and the Climate Change Accountability Act as crucial, much-needed steps to address the climate crisis.

But these provincial fossil fuel subsidies undermine the CleanBC plan and hold the province back from meeting its targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

And without ensuring the legislation includes regular reviews to bring B.C.’s climate targets in line with the science, and without shifting subsidies away from fossil fuels, B.C.’s actions will lock families into facing even worse climate risks. For those of us who are working hard to reduce our carbon footprints, it’s dangerous and unfair of our government to be giving massive handouts to fracking and LNG companies that expand fossil fuels and add fuel to the fire of climate change.

These subsidies undermine B.C.’s ability to meet climate targets, put B.C. communities at risk of worsening climate impacts, and must end.

The risks are real. In July, the B.C. government’s preliminary climate risk assessment report showed that we’re at high risk of severe wildfire seasons, seasonal water shortages, heat waves, ocean acidification, glacier loss and long term water shortage. It spoke of ‘catastrophic’ economic consequences, loss of life and loss of social cohesion.

We can and must expect our government to shift subsidies away from fossil fuel production and instead invest in a just transition to a clean, renewable energy economy so we can have a safe and healthy future for all.

Sierra Club BC supports the recommendations of IISD to review and make available all data related to subsidies, create an action plan to phase out subsidies, coordinate with the Government of Canada as it reviews federal fossil fuel subsidies, and ensure no new fossil fuel subsidies are created.

In B.C., we need to see strong climate targets based on science, not more fossil fuel subsidies, fracking and LNG development.

Please tell Premier Horgan you want real climate leadership – not LNG!



Is shale development worth the costs? A CMU study says no.




BP CEO Bob Dudley, left, and chief economist Spencer Dale speak during a session at the One Young World Summit in London on Oct. 23, 2019. Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

THE SAME DAY that 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg gave a stirring speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September, in which she criticized delegates for “stealing my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” the architects of the climate crisis welcomed select youth participants from the summit to dine.

CEOs from fossil fuel corporations including BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Norway’s Equinor were attending the annual gathering of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative in New York, which includes industry leaders who claim to be committed to taking “practical” action on climate change. On the agenda for lunch was to “explore options for long-term engagement” with young people the industry could trust. Student Energy, a nonprofit based in Alberta, near Canada’s tar sands region, helped organize the event, which included time for students to grill the CEOs about their inaction on climate change.

Tension in the room was high, Student Energy’s executive director, 30-year-old Meredith Adler, told The Intercept. “The whole discussion started off with one of our participants talking about why youth don’t trust oil and gas companies,” she said. But by the end of the meeting, Adler tweeted that she was “very impressed” with OGCI. “I don’t feel they had all the answers or strong enough answers but they are really listening,” she wrote.

The students’ questions may have been tough, but the event was great PR for the fossil fuel industry. Gone are the days when CEOs openly questioned the existence of climate change. Today, industry leaders are feigning a sense of climate urgency while pushing forward proposals for climate action that will allow companies to keep harvesting carbon-emitting products well into the future. Subjecting themselves to a cohort of skeptical students was an opportunity for oil and gas executives to boost their credibility in an era when many young activists will only engage with them with picket signs.

Young activists say they’re seeing more of this “youth-washing” as the global youth climate movement gains momentum, including at the U.N. annual climate conference, known as COP 25, which is wrapping up in Madrid this week. With “youth” becoming synonymous with climate action, corporations and politicians are increasingly using young people to portray themselves as climate serious.

“There’s a real dangerous tokenism of youth for the benefit of public image.”

“The use of youth in campaigning is becoming more and more overt,” said 24-year-old Eilidh Robb, a member of the U.K. Youth Climate Coalition, who has been involved in pushing the U.N. to adopt a conflict of interest policy that would prevent fossil fuel industry representatives from exercising influence at COP. “There’s a real dangerous tokenism of youth for the benefit of public image.”

The OGCI gathering was a particularly egregious example of youth-washing. OGCI has provided funding to Student Energy, and OGCI ventures director Rhea Hamilton is on the group’s board of directors. Among the “partners” listed in Student Energy’s 2018 annual report are Royal Dutch Shell and Suncor, one of Canada’s biggest tar sands producers. Fossil fuel companies consistently fund the organization’s annual conference.

Although Student Energy’s leaders often echo the talking points of activists like Thunberg, the group’s membership — a network it claims includes 40,000 young people — is largely made up of people who want to work in the energy industry.

Student Energy is among the youth groups granted observer status at COP 25, meaning that its members can gain access to negotiation spaces, speak with the negotiating parties, and participate in events. Its presence at the U.N.’s international climate talks is only expected to grow. Student Energy’s 2018 report noted that the group had seen a 73 percent increase in active chapters. Next year, the oil and gas major BP has pledged to send 50 Student Energy delegates to COP26. The funding would double the size of the group’s usual delegation, according to a BP press release. In a conference space that serves as a battleground of ideas about how to address the climate crisis, BP apparently sees Student Energy’s presence as beneficial to the corporation. MORE

World losing climate race, warns UN chief Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid. ReutersUnited Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid. Reuters

The world is losing the race against climate change, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned here on Thursday, demanding bolder action from the governments and a shift to a low-carbon economy which he said represented a whopping USD 26 trillion growth opportunity.

Speaking at the annual UN climate meeting in Madrid, Guterres cautioned the 197 nations attending the event that by the end of the century, temperature may rise by 3 to 4 degrees celsius.

He cited a study showing that shifting to a low-carbon economy could create 65 million new jobs worldwide by 2030 and boost growth by USD 26 trillion dollars.

“We are losing the climate race. On our current trajectory, we are looking at a 3 to 4-degree temperature rise by the end of the century. But we can choose another path. This path is about people’s jobs, health, education, opportunities, and their future,” the UN Secretary-General said in his address at the 25th conference of parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“The New Climate Economy tells us that shifting to a low-carbon economy represents a USD 26 trillion growth opportunity that could create 65 million new jobs by 2030. Today, the fastest-growing job creators in several economies are those related to solar, wind and geothermal energy and related businesses,” he said. MORE

CLEARCUT CARBON: A Sierra Club BC Report On The Future Of Forests In British Columbia

Carbon sequestration dead zone map

In our latest report, we’ve found that ending clearcutting of forests is as important for B.C. climate action as phasing out fossil fuels.

Areas clearcut across B.C. between 2005 and 2017 total 3.6 million hectares, a combined area larger than Vancouver Island. These areas are “sequestration dead zones”: clearcut lands that release more carbon than they absorb (see map).

For thirteen years after clearcutting, the carbon released into the atmosphere from decomposing organic matter and exposed soils is more than the carbon captured by the growth of young trees. In other words, it takes thirteen years for young trees to have a net effect of capturing carbon. In the meantime, clearcut areas remain “sequestration dead zones.”

This report includes a number of recommendations for forest conservation and reform of the provincial forestry sector to support a stable climate and healthy communities.

Read the executive summary


In the wake of Indigenous rights declaration, B.C.’s lawyers make ‘distasteful’ arguments in First Nations title case

The province is arguing the Nuchatlaht, who have never ceded control of their traditional territory in Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island, abandoned their land — while the nation reminds the court their land was stolen.

Nuchatlaht Traditional Territory Nuchatlitz Inner Basin Nootka Island Troy Moth
The Nuchatlitz Inner Basin on Nootka Island in the Nuchatlaht First Nation’s traditional territory. The nation is currently engaged in legal proceedings to claim title to their land. Photo: Troy Moth

On the same day the B.C. government passed legislation embracing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in late November, lawyer Jack Woodward was in court representing the Nuchatlaht First Nation in a historic land title case.

“I was on my feet the day it came into force, so I could present it to the court,” Woodward told The Narwhal.

“It had its first test before the ink was dry.”

But Woodward — renowned for his role in drafting Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, which enshrined Indigenous rights in the 1980s — said the newly minted law has meant very little to the Nuchatlaht case and arguments being used by B.C.’s lawyers in courts.

The province claims the Nuchatlaht do not have legal claim to their lands because the nation abandoned its territory, Woodward said.

“The province is completely wrong on the facts … They did not abandon Nootka. The lands were stolen and they were forcibly ejected,” Woodward said.

“I said to the judge that not only are these pleadings disgraceful, objectionable and distasteful, they are now illegal.”

Jack Woodward, lawyer for the Nuchatlaht

Jack Woodward, lawyer for the Nuchatlaht. Photo: Daniel Pierce

New rules reinforce inherent Indigenous right to land

B.C.’s new law acknowledges that UNDRIP’s principles are specifically written with concern that “Indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of … their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources.”

The declaration also recognizes the “urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples … especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources.”

Article eight of UNDRIP says governments must use “effective mechanisms” to prevent the dispossession of Indigenous lands and resources.

The Nuchatlaht’s traditional territory lies on the west coast of Vancouver Island, encompassing  a large part of Nootka Island, Nuchatlitz Inlet and part of Esperanza Inlet. While the nation argues it maintained strong ownership over its traditional territory once European settlers arrived, in more recent history the land was parceled out under B.C. laws, giving industry — and in particular, logging companies — access to the land. MORE