How the World Should Stop Fossil Fuel Production

Photo: Getty

The world has to move away from fossil fuels. And a new study lays out a roadmap for how to do it in a fair and just way.

The study published in the journal Climate Policy on Monday shows that wealthy countries with diversified economies should be the first to halt fossil fuel extraction and pay for the costs of a global phase-out.

“We don’t want the transition to a more climate-friendly world to be one that leaves people by the wayside,” Sivan Kartha, a senior scientist at Stockholm Environment Institute and co-author of the study, told Earther. “And from a political perspective, if you want to get climate policy rolling, leaving people behind won’t… help you to make allies.”

The authors begin the study by reviewing how fossil fuel extraction impacts countries and communities around the world, creating jobs and economic stability but also pollution, corruption, and greenhouse gas emissions. They conclude that residents of poorer countries with bigger debt burdens will suffer worse impacts from a phase-out that is not explicitly planned to promote equity. For instance, in the developing countries of Timor Leste and Equatorial Guinea, oil and gas revenues provide 60 percent or more of public revenues. In comparison, they account for barely any of these revenues in the U.S. and UK.

“Ending extraction will be challenging everywhere it happens, but the higher the degree of economic dependency, the greater the challenges,” the study says.

With this lesson in mind, the authors suggest that it’s not just about developed countries taking the lead to addressing climate change. Those countries should also use up less of the remaining carbon budget, the finite amount of carbon the world can commit to the atmosphere in order to limit warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) outlined in the Paris Agreement.

At the same time, all countries need to immediately begin the transition to 100 percent renewable energy and protect fossil fuel workers from being left behind. But that doesn’t mean they all must do so at the same pace or put up the same amount of money to do so. Those kinds of programs take financial investment, though, which is harder for poorer countries to drum up. A more just phase-out, the authors say, would put more of the onus on wealthy oil-producing countries such as the U.S., Norway, Canada, and the UK.

Kartha knows that framework may seem idealistic because getting to that point will come with enormous political hurdles. But now is the time to put these principles forward, because as governments grapple with the fallout of the covid-19 pandemic, they have a massive opportunity to make big changes.

The recent collapse of the global oil market amid the covid-19 pandemic shows that upheaval in extractive industries, without protections for workers and communities, can have horrendous economic and social consequences. The U.S. oil patch has suffered, but the impacts are even worse in developing countries dependent on oil. Iraqis, for example, expect to see their salaries and social benefits—90 percent of which are funded by oil revenues—cut this year. If world leaders don’t actively prioritize equity in the phase out of fossil fuels, more suffering of this kind abounds.

“Choices about what kind of future we’re heading off to now…are very clearly in our own hands,” said Kartha. “Every society the world as a whole is going to be deciding right now what kind of an economic recovery it chooses for itself. And we very much have a choice of choosing between around recovery, based on sustaining industries in the technologies of the past, or green recovery.”

SOURCE

Dharna Noor, Staff writer, Earther

Here’s every environmental protection in Canada that has been suspended, delayed and cancelled during COVID-19

Industrial emissions in Fort McMurray, Alta. in 2012. Environmental protections in Alberta, and especially in the oilpatch, have been temporarily rolled back during COVID-19. Photo by Kris Krug/Flickr

Across Canada, governments have suspended, delayed and cancelled environmental protection measures as the country grapples with COVID-19.

The changes started in Alberta, with Ontario following soon afterwards. Now, the federal government and most provinces have made changes related to environmental protection that they say are temporary.

“Some of that stuff is understandable,” said Dale Marshall from green non-profit Environmental Defence. “But it’s clear from the very few examples that are happening in some provinces… that this isn’t just about COVID.”

Now, Canada’s National Observer has scoured legislative websites and local news to make a comprehensive list of all the environmental changes made by federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Many of the measures may have been deemed necessary due to COVID-19, and many more are temporary. Others weren’t explicitly linked to the pandemic.

This list shows two standouts, in terms of the level and scope of environmental rollbacks: Alberta and Ontario.

In Alberta, Energy Minister Sonya Savage has said the COVID-19 restrictions on gathering sizes mean it’s a “good time to build a pipeline.” And even as the government jostled to host NHL games, it suspended environmental monitoring requirements for the oil and gas sector, saying the pandemic was too severe for that work to continue — a change that aligned closely with some asks made by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

And in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford’s government suspended a large section of environmental oversight law, saying it could delay response to the pandemic. Under the temporary rules, the government does not need to notify or consult the public about any environment-related changes it makes or projects it approves.

“The bottom line for both Ontario and Alberta is that essentially the old adage about not letting a crisis go to waste,” Marshall said.

“We’re in COVID times and people are distracted with more fundamental things like their jobs and their salaries and their health. I think that’s when you see the true colours of some of these governments.”

A spokesperson for Savage, Kavi Bal, said the environmental monitoring suspensions in Alberta are short-term, and “work is already underway to determine when exemptions will be lifted.” Bal did not respond to a request for comment on criticism of the changes, and a spokesperson for Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Across Canada, governments have suspended, delayed and cancelled environmental protection measures as the country grapples with COVID-19. #onpoli

The office of Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek did not respond to a question about criticism of the province’s environmental rollbacks.

The list below is meant to be a full accounting of the changes, regardless of intent, whether or not they were linked to COVID-19 specifically or whether the move received any backlash. National Observer assembled it by scouring news articles, government announcements and legislative notices from across the country.

Wherever possible, National Observer has provided links to sources and context. If there’s an item you think we missed, please let us know at emma@nationalobserver.com.

Here’s a list of every rollback, suspension or delay of environmental protections in Canada since COVID-19 struck in mid-March

Federal

Proposed a new law that would allow companies who propose exploratory oil and gas drilling off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador to skip the typical impact assessment process. Instead, they would have to meet general environmental conditions, and wells would not be individually reviewed. The public consultation period for the new law ended on April 30, but there’s no news yet on whether it will go ahead. (source)

  • Cancelled underwater surveys of declining herring populations near Haida Gwaii, B.C. (source)

 

  • Extended the deadline for industry to report their greenhouse gas emissions (source)
  • Extended the deadline for industry to report pollution data (source)
  • Delayed implementation of the clean fuel standard from January 2022 until an unspecified date later that year. The clean fuel standard is a major piece of Canada’s climate strategy, aiming to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 30 million tonnes per year. The government has also delayed releasing the proposed regulation, which was supposed to be made public this spring, until the fall (source)
  • Delayed a planned plastics ban (source)

Alberta

  • Suspended requirements for industry to report most normally required environmental data to the government, except drinking water and wastewater. Oftentimes, this data is a condition of the company’s permission to operate ⁠— requirements to report emissions of harmful air pollutants, or water levels in rivers companies draw from, for example. (source)
  • Suspended the deadline for oil and gas companies to prove they had properly shut off wells that are no longer active. Wells that are not shut off properly can leak and cause risks to health and safety and the environment (source)
  • Suspended the requirement for companies operating coal mines to submit annual reports on their plans for the following year, the progress of work at the mine, progress on returning land to a natural state and work on finding new coal deposits (source)
  • Suspended requirements for companies operating oil and gas wells to report on the condition of wells, including checks on whether wells are functioning safely. The government says companies are “still required to report emergencies, including incidents, notifications, contraventions and releases that have or may have the potential to impact public safety or the environment” (source)
  • Suspended a broad section of requirements for oilsands companies to monitor environmental conditions. This includes reports on leaks or unusual releases of air emissions, the health of wetlands and wildlife and monitoring the deaths of birds on tailings ponds, where the toxic waste leftover from bitumen mining is stored. The government says these suspensions are “short-term” and “low-risk” (source)
  • Suspended requirements for all oil and gas companies to conduct a long list environmental monitoring activities, including checks on groundwater, soil, wildlife and tailings ponds. The government says these suspensions are “short-term” and “low-risk” (source)
  • Delayed collection of $65 million in oil and gas industry payments to cover the costs of cleaning up orphan wells (source)
  • Changed environmental protections that blocked coal mining from happening in the Foothills and Rockies. The government says similar protections will remain in place and environmentally sensitive and recreation areas will continue to be protected from coal development (source)
  • Invested C$1.5 billion in the Keystone XL pipeline, a project by TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada (source)
  • Extended the deadline for large, industrial greenhouse gas emitters to submit compliance reports and their plans for reducing emissions (source)
  • Suspended the requirement for companies to immediately notify the government when they exceed certain air quality guidelines. Companies must still report them on a monthly basis and companies must still report other types of air quality exceedances (source)

British Columbia

  • Delayed a planned increase in the province’s carbon tax indefinitely (source)
  • Deferred the deadline for companies to pay $11 million in fees for the cleanup of orphaned oil and gas wells (source)
  • Deferred oil and gas companies’ annual levy on pipelines (source)
  • Deferred $80 million in timber harvesting fees paid by logging companies (source)
  • Decreased the levy companies pay to produce natural gas, a move meant to compensate for an increase in the orphan well levy which is currently suspended (source)
  • Delayed the deadline for paying the provincial carbon tax (source)
  • If companies are not able to comply with normal environmental rules due to COVID-19, they must notify the government and explain how it’s related to the pandemic ⁠— if so, the government will “take into consideration” the circumstances when dealing with the non-compliance (source)

Manitoba

  • Suspended funding to environmental groups to free up funds for health care (source)

New Brunswick

  • None found as of June 2, 2020

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Delayed a plastic bag ban that was due to begin on July 1. It will now begin on Oct. 1 (source)

The Northwest Territories

  • None found as of June 2, 2020

Nova Scotia

  • Put consultation on hold for a new piece of climate legislation. The legislation cannot move forward until public consultation is complete (source)
  • Deferred fees paid by industry for air emissions (source)
  • Deferred fees for onshore petroleum drilling applications (source)

Nunavut

  • Placed all planned wildlife research projects on hold (source)

Ontario

  • Suspended part two of Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, which gives the public a say in actions that affect the environment. As long as it is suspended, the government does not need to notify or consult the public on environment-related projects, changes or regulations, so it’s not clear what changes may be made during this period. The government also doesn’t have to consider its own “statement of environmental values” (source)
  • Allowed mining exploration permits to go ahead remotely in Northern Ontario, even as local First Nations say they don’t have the resources to review the applications and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic at the same time (source)
  • Delayed the deadline for industry to report their air emissions to government (source)
  • Issued a series of special zoning orders to approve development plans, circumventing the planning process and any potential opposition (source)

Prince Edward Island

  • None found as of June 2, 2020

Quebec

  • Temporarily exempted companies from having to get an environmental approval to expand their production or provide a new product, if it’s related to a COVID-19 priority (source)
  • Pause on pursuing penalties for companies who breach their environmental obligations, as long as the breach does not cause “significant risks” to the environment or to human health and safety (source)
  • Limited field inspections, except in cases where there is a significant risk to the environment or human health and safety (source)

Saskatchewan

  • Agreed to be lenient with enforcement when companies do not comply with environmental laws, as long as the companies are acting in good faith and can provide documentation showing that the non-compliance happened because of COVID-19. “There may also be situations where operations are unable to meet provincial standards on air emissions or industrial waste discharges, experience a discharge/spill within the province, or are unable to meet certain requirements related to providing safe drinking water. These situations will be managed differently, depending on the risk associated with the activity.” (source)
  • Suspended enforcement of penalties for companies that do not report to the government on the condition and safety of oil and gas wells. Penalties for companies who do not immediately report incidents such as fires and leaks are also suspended (source)
  • Temporarily exempted well operators from carrying out surveys to detect and fix leaks, as long as those leaks aren’t an imminent risk to the environment and/or human health (source)
  • Deferred environmental monitoring programs and any requirements for industry to report data from those programs, as long as doing so wouldn’t pose an “imminent risk” of impacting the environment (source)
  • Suspended the requirement for companies to report greenhouse gas emissions data on time (source)
  • Suspended the requirement for mining and industrial operations to report “sampling and analysis” of environmental protection-related data, as long as the company can prove it was held back from doing so by COVID-19 and that the data is “not related to critical or immediate human health or environmental protection” (source)

Yukon

  • None found as of June 2, 2020
SOURCE

How Militarizing Police Sets up Protesters as ‘the Enemy’

A scholar and former officer traces the trend. It’s been building in Canada and the US for years.

The increasing militarization of police is happening in Canada, too. Photo of heavily armed RCMP in Wet’suwet’en territory, January 2019. Photo by Michael Toledano.

The unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd after being pinned to the ground by the knee of a Minneapolis police officer has left parts of U.S. cities looking like a battle zone.

Night after night, angry protesters have taken to the street. So too have police officers dressed in full riot gear and backed by an arsenal that any small military force would be proud of: armoured vehicles, military-grade aircraft, rubber and wooden bullets, stun grenades, sound cannons and tear gas canisters.

The militarization of police departments has been a feature of U.S. domestic law enforcement since the 9/11 attacks. What is clear from the latest round of protest and response, is that despite efforts to promote de-escalation as a policy, police culture appears to be stuck in an “us vs. them” mentality.

[Editor: Canada has seen a similar trend towards militarization of the police. See sidebar.]

image atomFrom the Archives: When Indigenous Assert Rights, Canada Sends Militarized Police
READ MORE 

As a former police officer of 27 years and a scholar who has written on the policing of marginalized communities, I have observed the militarization of the police firsthand, especially in times of confrontation.

I have seen, throughout my decades in law enforcement, that police culture tends to privilege the use of violent tactics and non-negotiable force over compromise, mediation and peaceful conflict resolution. It reinforces a general acceptance among officers of the use of any and all means of force available when confronted with real or perceived threats to officers.

We have seen this play out during the first week of protests following Floyd’s death in cities from Seattle to Flint to Washington, D.C.

The police have deployed a militarized response to what they accurately or inaccurately believe to be a threat to public order, private property and their own safety. It is in part due to a policing culture in which protesters are often perceived as “the enemy.”

Indeed, teaching cops to think like soldiers and learn how to kill has been part of a training program popular among some police officers.

Arming up

Police militarization, the process in which law enforcement agencies have increased their arsenal of weapons and equipment to be deployed in an array of situations, began in earnest in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

In the years that followed, domestic law enforcement in the U.S. began a strategic shift toward tactics and practices that employed militarized responses to even routine police activities.

Much of this was aided by the federal government, through the Defense Logistics Agency’s 1033 Program, which allows the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, and the Homeland Security Grant Program, which gives police departments funding to buy military-grade weapons and vehicles.

Critics of this process have suggested that the message sent to police through equipping them with military equipment is that they are in fact at war. This to me implies that there needs to be an “enemy.” In cities and, increasingly, suburban and rural areas, the enemy is often those “others” who are perceived to be criminally inclined.

The consequences of this militarized police mentality can be deadly, especially for Black Americans.

A study of police-involved deaths between 2012 and 2018 found that on average, police kill 2.8 men every day in the U.S. The risk of death at the hands of an officer was found to be between 3.2 and 3.5 times higher for Black men compared to white men.

And it isn’t just individuals who suffer. Behavioral scientist Denise Herd has studied the community effect of police violence. Writing in the Boston University Law Review earlier this year, she concluded that “violent encounters with police produce a strong ripple effect of diminishing the health and well-being of residents who simply live in areas where their neighbours are killed, hurt or psychologically traumatized.”

The need to address the escalation of police confrontations — both during protests and in individual encounters — was a focus of the last big push for police reform, after the killing of an unarmed Black man in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. As with the case of George Floyd, it led to violent scenes in which protesters confronted militarized officers.

Just months after the Ferguson unrest, president Barack Obama set up his Task Force on 21st Century Policing. It recommended the implementation of training and policies that “emphasize de-escalation.” It also called on police to employ tactics during protests “designed to minimize the appearance of a military operation and avoid using provocative tactics and equipment that undermine civilian trust.”

By the evidence of the last few days, a number of police departments have failed to heed the message.  [Tyee]

SOURCE

Delay in plan against violence targeting Indigenous women, girls draws criticism

Lead commissioner Marion Buller prepares to handover the final report during the closing ceremony of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau, Quebec, June 3, 2019.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised action when the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report in an emotional ceremony one year ago. There was plenty to act on.

The 1,200 pages of the report included 231 calls for justice and instructed all levels of government to provide a better, safer world for Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) people.

A national action plan developed with Indigenous organizations and provincial and territorial governments aimed at addressing the causes of the violence was supposed to be released this month.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said last week that the plan will be delayed because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Marion Buller, lead commissioner for the MMIWG inquiry, said she would like the government to put the same amount of energy into dealing with violence against women and girls as it is expending in response to COVID-19.

“We’ve seen how quickly governments, and not just federal, but provincial governments, can mobilize when there’s political will,” she said.

Ms. Buller, who is not part of the team developing the national action plan, wants it to embrace the inquiry’s final report.

“It should be a comprehensive national action plan that implements our calls for justice, period,” she said. “Anything less than that, I think … is cherry-picking, vote-buying, appeasement and lip-service.”

At the ceremony on June 3, 2019, Ms. Buller, a member of the Mistawasis First Nation in Saskatchewan who is a retired judge of British Columbia’s Provincial Court, asserted that the calls for justice are not recommendations, but legal imperatives.

In an e-mailed statement, the department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada wrote that it is committed to the action plan. The statement said the plan is being developed not only with provincial and territorial governments and Indigenous organizations but with the voices of families and survivors.

It is unknown exactly how many cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls Canada has.

The inquiry was unable to provide a number, but some advocates say it is in the thousands. In 2014, the RCMP released the results of a special project that concluded 1,181 Indigenous women in Canada were missing or murdered between 1980 and 2012. The RCMP has no plans to produce another report.

Although many family members and experts waited decades for a national inquiry, not everyone supported it or participated in the “truth gathering” process.

Joyce Carpenter is among them. Her 14-year-old daughter, Patricia Carpenter, also a mother, was found dead in September, 1992, on a Toronto construction site. Her death was deemed suspicious at a coroner’s inquest, but the jury concluded there was not enough evidence to classify it as a homicide.

“There’s been so many [missing and murdered women and girls] since,” Ms. Carpenter said. “I’ve lost all faith in the justice system.”

Still, she would like words turned into action, and for Indigenous people to be free of injustices and racism.

“All the promises Trudeau made … to Indigenous people, I believe it was Indigenous people who voted him in,” she said. “But now, he turned against us.”

Cindy Blackstock, an advocate for First Nations children, said the government has chosen not to act. Ms. Blackstock has spent more than 25 years fighting for equitable care for children on reserves, who receive as much as 38 per cent less funding than those off-reserve.

She pointed to Ottawa’s lack of action on a 2016 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that ordered the federal government to cease discriminatory practices and reform the First Nations child welfare system.

When nothing was done, the tribunal issued a ruling in September, 2019, ordering the government to pay $40,000 to children who were taken into care unnecessarily. Indigenous Services has appealed the order.

“The money’s been flowing with COVID, and then I contrast that with how Canada has fought so hard against the equality of First Nations children and compensating the families and children they’re discriminating against,” said Ms. Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.

Ms. Blackstock notes there have been many inquiries and inquests: the MMIWG inquiry, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There have also been calls for national action plans for suicide prevention and housing for Indigenous people.

“Until the government is made to reform itself by having an independent evaluation as to why it consistently chooses to resist and to fight against the basic human rights for Indigenous, Métis and Inuit peoples, nothing is going to change,” she said.

NDP MP Leah Gazan says Indigenous women are facing even greater risks of violence because of isolation measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

SOURCE

Ottawa’s lack of co-operation over residential school claim records ‘tragic,’ says Murray Sinclair

No one is asking the survivors or the families and that is a concern I have’

Sen. Murray Sinclair says the disappearance of Ottawa’s co-operation on records ‘is actually tragic because it means the information around the full and complete story of the residential school experiences… is not going to be told.’  (The Canadian Press)

Ongoing litigation over records from the residential schools compensation process undermines the federal government’s reconciliation agenda and commitments made to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, according to Sen. Murray Sinclair, who chaired the commission.

The federal government won an initial Ontario Superior Court victory in January blocking the creation of statistical reports on residential school abuse claims and the direct transfer of other records to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which holds the records gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

“It’s not indicative of any commitment to reconciliation when they start to shut down access to documents such as this,” said Sinclair, who was chair of the TRC.

“The litigators still seem to think that this is no longer relevant to anything that Canada is obligated to or committed to do and I think they are wrong.”

Sinclair said he would be bringing up the federal government’s position to control the fate of the records with Justice Minister David Lametti and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.

“This is one situation where the legal process has to follow the government policy and government policy is to move forward on reconciliation and this is necessary to do that,” said Sinclair.

The TRC examined the over century-long history of residential schools which saw 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children forced to attend the institutions and resulted in the deaths — from disease, malnourishment and abuse — of thousands of students.

Its findings and recommendations set the road map the federal Liberal government has said it intends to follow on its reconciliation agenda.

Lametti’s office referred questions on the issue to Bennett’s office, which it said was the client on the case and directed the position of federal lawyers.

Bennett’s office did not provide a comment.

The TRC was created by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement which also established the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) to determine compensation levels for survivors who experienced abuse at the institutions.

The claims process is scheduled to end in March 2021 and the body that oversaw the IAP, the Independent Residential School Adjudication Secretariat, was seeking to transfer its administrative records — excluding individuals’ compensation files — to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

A 2017 Supreme Court decision forbade the archiving of information on individuals’ compensation claims. Personal claim information is set to be destroyed in 2027 unless a survivor indicates they would like their file archived.

Voices of survivors excluded, says Sinclair

The federal government opposed the direct transfer of the secretariat’s records to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, arguing the records were its property and they should be transferred to the Crown-Indigenous Relations department which would then hand them over to Library and Archives Canada.

Federal lawyers also successfully argued that the creation of detailed statistical reports — called static reports — could violate the privacy of individual survivors who filed for compensation despite safeguards outlined by the secretariat.

The Crown-Indigenous Relations department has previously stated that it “is concerned the release of static documents could result in a breach” of the 2017 Supreme Court decision.

The secretariat’s database has nearly two decades of information from over 38,000 claims filed since the compensation process began.

The secretariat proposed to extract and organize information from its database into static reports that break down compensation claim statistics. Some proposed categories included which residential schools were linked to the most abuse claims.

“It would appear Canada has switched horses. Initially, while the settlement agreement was in place and we were going through the TRC process … we were meeting constant assurances that the government would be co-operative in making full disclosure of documents as needed,” said Sinclair.

“So that assurance of co-operation appears to have disappeared and that disappearance is actually tragic because it means the information around the full and complete story of the residential school experiences… is not going to be told.”

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett’s department says detailed statistical reports could contravene 2017 Supreme Court decision. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

 

Sinclair said the voices of survivors have been excluded from the ongoing legal fight.

“I think they have the obligation to go to the survivors or survivor representatives to say, ‘We would like to be able to disclose this information, do you have any concerns?’ said Sinclair.

“No one is asking the survivors or the families and that is a concern I have.”

Destroying data protects abusers, says researcher

Cindy Hanson, a professor and director in the University of Regina’s faculty of education, is in year three of a five-year research project examining the IAP through input from survivors, judges, adjudicators, lawyers and health support workers.

Hanson said records such as the static reports are key to understanding the history of residential schools and the workings of a pivotal mechanism of the settlement agreement, which was historic on an international level.

“We’ve created a mountain of data on how abuse happened, who perpetrated violence in institutions,” said Hanson.

“In essence, by destroying it we protect those people that were abusers. I am not saying we need to have names, I am saying we need to know patterns and data that would be reported in static reports.”

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is appealing the January ruling.

SOURCE

Jorge Barrera is a Caracas-born, award-winning journalist who has worked across the country and internationally. He works for CBC’s Indigenous unit based out of Ottawa. Follow him on Twitter @JorgeBarrera or email him jorge.barrera@cbc.ca.

Jane Goodall: humanity is finished if it fails to adapt after Covid-19

Primatologist calls for overhaul of food habits to prevent a future pandemic

Jane Goodall has blamed the Covid-19 pandemic on the exploitation of the natural world. Photograph: Alessandro della Valle/AP

 

People must move away from factory farming and stop destroying natural habitats as a matter of urgency, she said, because of the threat of diseases and of climate breakdown. Factory farming is linked to the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs, which threaten human health.

“If we do not do things differently, we are finished,” she said. “We can’t go on very much longer like this.”

She called for people to be lifted out of poverty, pointing to its strong impact on the natural world, as people with no alternatives and who are desperate to feed their families will cut down forests to survive, and in urban areas will choose the cheapest food whatever the harm caused by its production, because they have little other choice.

War and violence also fuelled the destruction of nature, she warned, and so did our overweening consumerism and urge for “stuff that we accumulate”, as well as our diets.

The wealthy should put pressure on leaders and take care over what they buy to avoid adding to the problem, she said. “We have got to stop buying their products,” she said, of companies that use factory farming and exploit nature.

“We have come to a turning point in our relationship with the natural world,” she warned, saying there was only a small window of opportunity to make drastic changes before facing disaster. “One of the lessons learnt from this crisis is that we must change our ways. Scientists warn that to avoid future crises, we must drastically change our diets and move to plant-rich foods. For the sake of the animals, planet and the health of our children.”

Stella Kyriakides, the EU’s commissioner for health and food safety, said the EU was responding to concerns through its newly unveiled agriculture and biodiversity strategies and the European Green Deal. These strategies would cut the use of pesticides and encourage biodiversity, she said.


“Highly intensive farming systems have created an abundance of food but in Europe, at least, there is also significant waste and at times animal suffering,” she told the conference. “These phenomena deeply worry me. The parts that don’t work are ethically questionable and socially and environmentally unacceptable. Our citizens expect more and we will deliver a better balance to ensure farming practices are sustainable and food is affordable.”

Janusz Wojciechowski, commissioner for agriculture, added: “We will constantly support sustainable farming and breeding practices as an alternative to intensive industrial farming.”

Concern about the links between coronavirus and the exploitation of the natural world is growing. Eighteen conservation groups have joined together in the Campaign to End Wildlife Trading, which is urging Boris Johnson to call for a global wildlife trade ban when the G20 leaders meet this November.

The groups say that such a ban is needed to end the exploitation of wildlife for traditional medicine, exotic pets, tourism and other purposes. Currently, the trade in some endangered species is banned but still rife. It is one of the biggest forms of illegal trafficking in the world, after people and drugs. The legal trade is estimated to be worth $7bn to $23bn a year, according to the campaign.

Intensive farming’s links to disease outbreaks were examined by the FAIRR global investor network in a new report, which found that more than 70% of the biggest meat, fish and dairy producers were in danger of fostering future zoonotic pandemics owing to lax safety standards, closely confined animals and the overuse of antibiotics.

Meat companies have been under pressure in the US, where the spread of Covid-19 has led to plant closures and disruption of the supply chain. In the longer term, according to FAIRR, the meat supply chain is likely to come under further pressure because of increased scrutiny and regulation needed to improve biosecurity.

Jeremy Coller, founder of FAIRR and CIO of Coller Capital, said: “Factory farming is both vulnerable to pandemics and guilty of creating them. It’s a self-sabotaging cycle that destroys value and risks lives. To avoid causing the next pandemic, the meat industry must tackle lax safety standards for food and workers alike, closely confined animals, and overused antibiotics. Covid could be the straw that breaks the meat industry’s back.”

SOURCE

Statement on systemic state violence and anti-Black racism

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is angered and outraged by ongoing police violence and brutality against Black citizens and protestors across the continent. And while much of the current media attention is focused on the United States, these same problems are painfully alive and present across Canada, including in every province where CCPA offices are located on Indigenous territories.

We recognize that this state violence is endemic, long-standing and a function of structural white supremacy.

As a research institute committed to social justice, we believe that public policy is an essential vehicle for dismantling systemic injustices — including in relation to the coercive power of the state and state violence, economic and gender inequalities, migration and citizenship, poverty, race-blind data collection, housing and food insecurity, and inequities in health and education. We know our work is far from done: we have a responsibility to document, challenge and propose solutions to racism and white supremacy, a responsibility we have yet to adequately meet.

Through our research and analysis, we will continue to document the systemic inequality, racism and injustice that dominates our society, limits access to public services, and infects our democratic institutions. As we move forward, we will listen to and work in partnership with Black researchers, leaders and organizations to press for root-cause, systemic change while holding the powerful to account.

It is our individual and collective responsibility to ensure that systemic state violence and anti-Black racism are eradicated.

~ CCPA British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, National and Nova Scotia Offices

Resources

If you are looking for resources to deepen your understanding of racial injustice, to share with others, or Black-led organizations whose voices or calls to action you can amplify, or that you can support with financial contributions, here are some places to start:

How Permaculture can Build Resilience and Meet Basic Needs During a Pandemic

Teaser photo credit: (Flickr/Local Food Initiative)

Despite their urgency, coronavirus outbreaks, health crises and failing institutions are just some of the problems our global society is facing today. Billions of people worldwide still lack access to healthy food, clean water and sanitation services — being unable to properly wash hands and stay safe in the midst of a pandemic. And we are still trapped in an economic system that fuels environmental damage, from biodiversity loss to climate change, which is threatening the quality and sustainability of life on Earth.

Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we rethink and redesign our modes of living and doing things in society. Permaculture, or “permanent culture” systems thinking, a set of ethical principles and DIY techniques, conceptualized by Australian scientist Bill Mollison, provides a way forward to address those issues. Mollison used to say that “although the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”

Permaculture — a fusion of indigenous knowledge with modern science and technology — offers ways for people to meet their essential needs for food, water, sanitation and other non-material needs, with autonomy and harmony with nature. Its core ethical principles are: Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. More importantly, it is a tool that anybody can make use of to be more resilient and to help overcome the critical challenges we are facing today.

Since its conception in the late 1970s, it has grown into a global grassroots movement. Permaculture is now practiced by hundreds of thousands of people, individually and in community, with projects being developed in more than 120 countries on all continents.

From powerlessness to positive change-making

“Permaculture offered me a positive way forward in a world where I’d wanted to change so many things,” said Aranya Austin, a trained permaculture practitioner and educator based in the United Kingdom. “When shown what we can do on a personal scale, our perspective changes from powerlessness to positivity.”

The most practical form to learn permaculture is by taking a Permaculture Design Course, or PDC. These courses aim to educate individuals and communities about how to grow their own food — using organic, biodiverse and low-cost methods. It also provides lessons on why and how to harvest rainwater, build waterless toilets, use renewable energies, develop composting and reusing skills, co-develop ethical communities and fair economies, and more.

Aranya has taught over 90 PDC courses throughout the U.K. since 2004. “Permaculture offers a grounding in many of the life skills we should have been taught at school,” he said. He also has a YouTube channel for those seeking to learn permaculture online, for free, and for those that currently must stay at home.

“One key skill we introduce is observation — something our fast-paced society tells us we don’t have time for,” Austin said. “Ironically, this is the very reason we’ve made such a mess of the world.”

In the United States, an educational organization called Permaculture Rising is on a mission to help people learn how to meet their needs for food, water, energy and other essentials in a resilient and environmentally sustainable manner. The educators, Andrew Millison and Marisha Auerbach, have taught over 100 PDCs across the Cascadia bioregion and abroad. Currently, they teach permaculture at Oregon State University and Portland Community College, including through online courses and free learning materials. (In this talk on SoundCloud, Millison and his guest discuss permaculture responses to the coronavirus pandemic.)

“We hope to offer ways that people can participate in lowering their carbon footprint, while engaging in their local environment and building community,” said Auerbach, co-founder of Permaculture Rising and a member of the Permaculture Institute of North America.

Auerbach explained that she also applies permaculture in her life and at home. Together with her partner, they grow about 80 percent of the food they eat, year-round, on an average-size urban backyard. They share surplus food and exchange seeds with neighbors and the local community. They also compost any organic waste they generate, storing carbon back into the soil and increasing its fertility.

The couple also collects rainwater for watering the garden and have a composting toilet to cut down on water use. They installed solar panels on their home, for a clean energy supply, and have a biodigester that allows them to cook with “biogas.” And while benefiting from a waste collection service at their doorstep, they almost never use it — as they rarely generate garbage, especially because packaged products and supermarket shopping is not a part of their routine.

When asked what motivated her to embrace this alternative lifestyle, Auerbach said that, given the critical problems people and the planet are facing nowadays, she consciously decided to be a part of the solution.

Turning problems into solutions

Permaculture encompasses a multitude of techniques that can be applied in small or large scale, in both rural and urban areas, and adapted to anywhere in the world. Yet it incorporates a universal mindset that problems can be turned into solutions — and ordinary people have the personal and collective power to do it.

In Malawi, in southeastern Africa, for example, a significant portion of the population has suffered from malnutrition, health problems and poverty. These conditions were mainly driven by agricultural policies that supported the production and consumption of maize, a crop native to Central America that has low nutritional value, while overlooking the local traditional and highly nutritious food crops. In an effort to overcome those issues, two permaculture designers together with community members created a project called Never Ending Food.

They have been cultivating over 200 traditional food crops, including medicinal plants, that now grow year-round, which is helping to boost nutrition, health and food resilience across the country. In parallel, smallholder farmers are able to diversify their sources of income and improve their livelihoods, because they do not need to expend money on imported seeds and industrial fertilizers anymore. Given the project’s success, Malawi’s national school curriculum has recently incorporated lessons on permaculture.

As risks of global food shortage have started to increase — driven by current coronavirus measures and climate change conditions — everybody in the world could benefit from learning permaculture, at least how to grow food at home or in their local area. But that’s easier said than done.

Robin Clayfield, who has been living for over 30 years in the Crystal Waters Permaculture Ecovillage in Australia, said there are two times of the year that are hard to grow food in the subtropics. One is during the wet season, because plants tend to rot with excessive humidity, and the other is in the dry season, when the water dries out. She explained that it has been very hard to keep plants growing in recent months due to the severe bushfires that spread across the country — a risk that’s increasing in Australia as the climate becomes drier and warmer.

Fortunately, the permaculture know-how that circulates in Crystal Waters is helping the community to adapt to climate change and obtain food and water resilience. Clayfield said most residents have raised beds in the garden, rainwater catchment tanks coming from their rooftops and use “swales” for land irrigation. These techniques are traditionally used by permaculture practitioners and can improve plant growing conditions, as well as better control water supply during flooding or drought seasons.

Clayfield mentioned that another challenge to her ability to be self-sufficient for food, is that it’s up to her to do most of the gardening on an acre of land, which is a lot of work for just one person. Yet living in a cooperative style of community can take some of the burden off individuals trying to do everything by themselves to meet their needs.

“In a permaculture village system we can look at how do we support each other,” Clayfield said. “And we can see who is doing what, so that we don’t have to do everything [individually].”

Monthly markets are organized in Crystal Waters, where residents of the village and nearby areas can buy and sell their local produce. There is also a bakery and coffee shop inside the village that are co-managed by residents, which support local access to food, income sources and social interaction (although they are currently closed due to the coronavirus quarantine in Australia).

Another strategy that the community uses is purchasing groups or bulk buying. Clayfield mentioned that they recently organized a bulk buying of solar-powered hot water systems, among 12 residents, getting it for a much more affordable price.

Besides doing things cooperatively, what seems to make the Crystal Waters community thrive is their approach to “sociocracy” and nature preservation — striving for a harmonious interaction between human beings, wildlife and the natural environment.

Pathway to a better future for all

Scientists who have studied the coronavirus disease have concluded that the virus originated in wildlife, probably in bats (that were sold in China’s live-animal markets), and then spread to humans. Studies have also shown that most epidemics that have emerged in recent decades — such as Malaria, Ebola, SARS, Lyme disease and hundreds more — were caused by the increasing human-wildlife conflicts and destruction of natural habitats. That means the best way to prevent the emergence of infectious diseases is by preserving nature and biodiversity.

But the preservation of nature requires profound changes to how humans produce and consume resources in the modern age. Fortunately, permaculture can guide people on co-creating those essential changes. This “indigenous science” can also empower individuals to get more resilient during and after the pandemic — with lessons on how to grow food at home to exploring alternatives to toilet paper use.

Permaculture is empowering people to transition from passive consumers — dependent on structurally unhealthy, unjust and unsustainable socioeconomic systems — to active citizens and problem-solvers. Its transformative potential has no boundaries, as long as people don’t lose inspiration and the willingness to try something different.

“One could lose inspiration, but I never do,” Clayfield said, while reflecting about the challenges of cultivating an alternative, permaculture lifestyle. “I do it for my own sanity and to offer positive solutions to our world.”

SOURCE

A New Food Economy Post-Covid: Building More Regional Supply Networks

Founder of Incredible Edible Bristol, Sara Venn, looks at how the city can keep the momentum going to upscale and increase urban production, buoyed by how the good food movement in Bristol has turned itself into a response movement to support citizens during the pandemic.

This is part of a series of blog posts looking at how we can emerge from the coronavirus pandemic with a more resilient food system, each blog introduced by Going for Gold Bristol Coordinator, Joy Carey.

Joy Carey, Bristol Going for Gold and Consultant in Sustainable Food Systems Planning:

In my previous blog I suggested that there are five core principles on which to start building a better and more resilient food system, to better see us through crises such as the one we’re now living through. The first of these principles was in building more regional and local supply networks. Unfortunately, Britain has led the way in Europe in dismantling its regional food supply networks in favour of centralised systems. For example, the South West used to grow a lot more fruit and vegetables in its small, hilly fields, but – over time – this has largely shifted to the East of England, where the flat, open, peat-rich fenlands are much better suited to large scale horticultural operations and machinery.

We’ve heard in the news in the last several weeks about the shortage of farm labour, and special planes chartered to bring in the highly skilled seasonal labourers from Eastern Europe. The government has called for a new land army, but even if a large group of people from Bristol wanted to offer their labour to farms in the region, there would probably be a lack of accommodation. So imagine if instead, as a city, we invested in productive market gardens located in and around Bristol?

High value, perishable fruit and veg are best grown close to their market places, and horticulture provides jobs. Such enterprises can also help connect those of us who live in the city with a way of buying food produced in the local region, as they often serve as market channels for other producers. The Who Feeds Bristol report estimates that 100% of well-used productive allotments in the city could produce around 5% of our fresh vegetable requirements, and that if we put our minds to using all feasible land in the city, we could produce as much as 15% of our annual needs for fruit and vegetables.

In this blog post, Sara Venn reflects in more detail on some critical ingredients required to increase urban food production (land, skills, business support, investment, understanding, committed and loyal customers) and reminds us that we all have a role to play.

Sara Venn, Founder of Incredible Edible Bristol, Chair of Bristol Food Producers and Trustee of Feeding Bristol:

There is no doubt that over the last three months our city has pulled together its creativity, resources, skills and organisations to support our vulnerable friends and neighbours with food provision throughout this global pandemic. The list is encouragingly endless: from FareShare South West ramping up their provision to those in socio-economic need, to restaurants partnering with Bristol Food Union to feed workers on the front line of the NHS, or Bristol Food Producers creating an online platform to help find new markets for local producers whose restaurant custom dried up overnight, and the #BristolFoodKind campaign inspiring people to take action at home during lockdown. Our Bristol response has been extraordinary. Small community groups and cafés such as the Greenhouse Café at Southmead Development Trust have come together to find economic models to enable them to do more. The work of the amazing FOOD (Food On Our Doorstep) Clubs – a great example of partnership working – have continued and expanded, including employing new staff and opening new clubs. Local groups have formed or evolved to support the community, as citizens have had to self-isolate or shield. These actions have brought the city together, while we were forced to be apart.

The COVID crisis is far from over, but as lockdown begins to be loosened and we all adapt to our new normal, it is vital that we harness the energy of the food movement in the city. We must look at how we can push forwards to strengthen our local food system, increasing resilience and ensuring sustainability while continuing to support those struggling, fighting for food justice, and prioritise our local farmers and producers.

Although the increased demand for fruit and veg boxes, the uptake at local bakeries and the interest in a more local food system across the UK has been a wonderful thing to see, we now need to harness this enthusiasm and new-found recognition of the food system outside of the supermarkets. Sadly, many small producers believe that at some point the interest in their produce will go back to a pre-COVID level, so how do we encourage and facilitate people to continue their support of local farms, producers and shops, and therefore their local economy?

For weeks, the supermarkets struggled to recover from the initial ‘panic buying’ and increased demand for food in the home, which stretched their huge distribution chains to breaking point, and we still see some products unavailable today. Meanwhile, our small and local producers, from millers, to bakeries and cafés, pivoted their business models to ensure the products we would usually chuck into our shopping baskets with little thought, were available to us through more direct means.

At the same time, we have seen the interest in growing food in gardens, allotments, on balconies and windowsills rise to a degree not seen since the ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign in 1940. Although self-sufficiency for most of us is an improbable dream, the increased interest in growing connects people with where their food comes from and generates an interest in how it is grown, distributed and sold.

If we are to increase the uptake of locally produced food, the first thing we need is more locally based farmers and food producers. In order to support more people to enter the farming world, we also need to provide opportunities to learn new skills and develop confidence and expertise. A Bristol ‘farmstart’ could be a space where people can learn about all the skills needed to be a successful small farmer, including business skills, understanding markets and different models. We know that there is an uptake in people interested in farming but everyone needs to learn these skills. Successful farm starts in Manchester, London and Devon have enabled local young people to find employment, learn more about food and start to contribute to a more vibrant local food economy.

For such an initiative to happen in Bristol, we need a new investment mechanism for local food system development that steps outside the ‘usual’ funding systems, allowing people and business to be forward thinking and brave. Imagine such a possibility: where we can all be a part of creating a local food supply network that will lead us into a truly sustainable future, whether as a customer, a producer or as an investor.

But – and here is the crux of it – while generous and visionary organisations help to create new innovative business and investment models, right now it is vital that we listen to each other and acknowledge the skills that already exist in our local communities. Many more of us already successfully grow food in our gardens, and together we can ask the City Council and the Allotment Committees to ensure allotments are productive and well used. No more empty allotment plots! As a city, let’s grow more food together, let’s learn from each other, share and celebrate the hidden skills that we know are there in communities, but that are rarely appreciated or acknowledged.

Another critical aspect of improving uptake of our local food supply comes from awareness. We all need to understand more about the connection between the food we buy and its contribution to climate change, and the loss of species and ecological habitats. Through our food buying habits, we can choose to support food production that supports nature as well as people. If that food is well-labelled or branded, it’s easier to choose. Bristol Food Producers would like to develop a ‘Bristol-produced’ brand, based on these principles of social and environmental care. Producers, shops, box schemes and restaurants can all sign up to a set of clear principles and promote branded products that are not just from within or close to the city, but are also grown without the need for harmful chemicals.

For this all to happen what we need is land, and an understanding of the importance of land in all of this future work. The city’s smallholdings, allotments and community gardens need to be dripping with productivity. We need to find a simple way for groups to use local land, whether that is in parks, around tower blocks, in new developments, or in those lost spaces we rarely even notice. Land within communities needs to be a real community asset that allows a community to have its own voice. Furthermore, we need to prioritise the search for land that could be good for food growing on a commercial level, and set it aside.

It’s important for these changes to happen under the context of ongoing social justice work, ensuring whole city engagement and continued engagement within communities. Empowering and resourcing communities to create their change, while supporting new food businesses across the city, must be the way to move us out of the reliance on the long food distribution chains that remove us from our food supply. Shortening those chains means that if there is a break in the chain, such as we’ve seen recently on an unprecedented scale, it’s easy to mend. rather than taking weeks to find the break before being able to mend it.

Without a doubt, more community food growing and eating will bring people together, strengthen our communities, add resilience and allow the city to recuperate from the communal trauma of COVID. Now we just need to put the mechanisms in place to help the changes we’ve begun to witness lately endure, and see that dream become reality.

SOURCE

 

Today, June 5th, Is World Environment Day!

EVERYTHING ON OUR PLANET IS INTERCONNECTED – AND WE ARE PART OF THE EQUATION.

Tomorrow (June 5th), people on every continent will be celebrating World Environment Day. While many people often think of the environment as something abstract, distant, and ‘out there’, this is certainly not the case in reality!

Everything is interconnected in nature – and whether you live in the city or the countryside, you are also part of the equation. Our actions directly affect nature, and we depend on nature for our survival – from the air we breathe to the water we drink. Nature is essential for our well-being in so many ways, and by protecting nature and the environment, we are in fact protecting ourselves! 💪

Unfortunately, things are out of balance right now – and human activities are leading to an ever deepening loss of nature. Now is the time to act. And as we start to emerge from this terrifying global pandemic, we need a recovery that benefits both people and nature..

If we help nature recover, nature can help us recover.

Learn more

Tomorrow (June 5th), people on every continent will be celebrating World Environment Day. While many people often think of the environment as something abstract, distant, and ‘out there’, this is certainly not the case in reality!

Everything is interconnected in nature – and whether you live in the city or the countryside, you are also part of the equation. Our actions directly affect nature, and we depend on nature for our survival – from the air we breathe to the water we drink. Nature is essential for our well-being in so many ways, and by protecting nature and the environment, we are in fact protecting ourselves! 💪

Unfortunately, things are out of balance right now – and human activities are leading to an ever deepening loss of nature. Now is the time to act. And as we start to emerge from this terrifying global pandemic, we need a recovery that benefits both people and nature..

If we help nature recover, nature can help us recover.

Learn more

PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT…IN ONLY 60 SECONDS

Let world leaders know you care about nature by adding your Voice.

Take a minute to urge governments, businesses and others to step up their efforts to put nature on the path to recovery within the next decade.

Add your Voice

 

 

A SCHOOL FOR SUPERHEROES

 

Take the first step to becoming a superhero for our planet this World Environment Day by checking out Earth School!

Launched by the UN Environment Programme and TED-Ed, Earth School gives you free access to videos and challenges to help you learn about the environment – and, more importantly, your role within it.

Check out Earth School

WWF BELIEVES IN PEOPLE AND NATURE THRIVING TOGETHER | VISIT PANDA.ORG TODAY

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