Major UN Report Shows Why the Coronavirus Recovery Has to be Green

Photo: AP

On Wednesday, a new report United Nations report urged governments to pour money into renewable energy to pull us out of economic depression driven by the coronavirus and jumpstart the transition away from fossil fuels.

The analysis was undertaken by the United Nations Environment Program, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Center, and BloombergNEF, which looked at investment pledges for renewable energy for the next decade as well as investment trends in the renewable sector in 2019. Their findings show that countries need to do more to transition to renewables, but that doing so now is a better investment than ever. The analysis follows in the footsteps of activists, scholars, policy wonks, and industry groups, all of which have implored governments to use recovery from the coronavirus to also address the climate crisis.

“The chorus of voices calling on governments to use their covid-19 recovery packages to create sustainable economies is growing,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, in a statement. “This research shows that renewable energy is one of the smartest, most cost-effective investments they can make in these packages.”

The 80-page paper compares companies’ and countries’ clean energy commitments and uncovers some disappointing figures. Globally, there’s been commitments to build 826 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030—enough to power some 600 million homes—which would cost about $1 trillion. That’s $1.7 trillion less than the world spent on renewables in the 2010s. And unfortunately, that planned investment isn’t nearly enough to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and keep the Earth’s warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Doing so would require an additional 3,000 gigawatts of renewable power by the end of the decade. The world needs to commit to spending trillions more dollars by the end of the decade just to avoid crossing 2 degrees Celsius–and it would be far preferable to stay below 1.5 degrees, which requires even more investment.

The good news is that thanks to improvements in efficiency and various market forces, the cost of installing sustainable energy is decreasing. The report estimates that two-thirds of the world’s population now live in countries where either solar or wind is the cheapest electricity option and prices are likely to keep falling.

The world added 184 gigawatts of clean energy capacity—the largest annual addition ever—in 2019. That’s 12 percent more sustainable energy than the world added in 2018, but the researchers estimate it cost just 1 percent more. That makes current investments in clean energy can get more bang for the buck than ever.

“Due to the continuous cost reduction of the renewable energy, more energy capacity can be delivered with the same amount of investment,” Françoise d’Estais, head of the finance unit of the Energy, Climate and Technology Branch of the UNEP, told Earther in an email.

The cost of clean energy had been on the decline long before 2019, but the report shows that it’s recently been falling more steeply. In the past 10 years, the cost of onshore wind energy decreased by 49 percent—10 percent of which happened between 2018 and 2019 alone. Even more notably, onshore wind prices dropped by 51 percent from 2009 to 2019, and 32 percent of that dip has occurred since 2018. Solar has fallen even further, with installation costs falling 83 percent in the past decade.

Meanwhile amid the coronavirus pandemic, the fossil fuel sector has reached a crisis point. Demand for coal- and gas-fired electricity has dropped dramatically, and the price of oil hit an almost absurd all-time low. Though it’s recovered a bit, it’s still in a slump. But these industries weren’t doing well even before the crisis began, so even from a purely economic standpoint, throwing them a lifeline makes no sense. And if we’re going to avert catastrophic climate breakdown and long-term economic peril, we have no choice but to make the transition away from dirty fuels. With economies hurting and the need for a transition clear, now is the time to make that transition happen.

“The stakes are high,” the report says. “If this chance is missed, it may be even more difficult to find the funding to decarbonize the energy system in a post-covid-19 global economy characterized by elevated government debt and squeezed private sector finances.”

SOURCE

Calls to defund the police gain traction with some Canadian policymakers. But what does it mean?

Proposals range from police budget cuts to a complete dismantling of police forces

Two Toronto city councillors are proposing a motion that calls for a 10 per cent across-the-board cut to the police budget. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

The increasing calls to defund the police in the wake of the death of George Floyd have been seized upon by some Canadian lawmakers and social activists hoping for significant reforms.

The hashtag #defundthepolice has become a rallying cry since video emerged more than two weeks ago of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into the neck of Floyd as he pleaded he couldn’t breathe moments before his death.

The killing of Floyd has sparked protests across the U.S. against anti-Black racism and police brutality. In some cases, police violence against protesters — recorded by smartphone cameras and shared online — has resulted in charges against officers and seemingly added fuel to the calls for defunding.

But not everyone agrees on the exact definition of the concept. It has become a catch-all phrase for proposals ranging from police budget cuts to a complete dismantling of police forces.

“The term defunding, I think, is a bit of a misnomer,” said Jim Hart, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board. “Generally speaking, the conversations I’ve heard out there are more about where should we put our money.

However, in Minneapolis, political action has already begun. This week, a majority of city councillors said they support disbanding the city’s police department and replacing it with a new public safety model that has yet to be developed.

WATCH | Why there are increasing calls to defund the police: 
As anti-black racism and anti-police brutality protests continue after the death of George Floyd in police custody — calls are reignited to defund, or even abolish the police. For more, CBC’s Carole MacNeil speaks with Black Lives Matter co-founder Sandy Hudson. 10:28

Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Sandy Hudson said the police in Canada’s largest city could be pared down to a tactical unit to respond to ongoing violent crime — a service that certainly wouldn’t require the current policing budget of more than $1 billion a year.

Create front-line emergency service

Instead, most of the funds could go to creating a new front-line emergency service where health experts, social workers and those trained to deal with mental-health crises would be called upon, she said.

“The people who would show up wouldn’t show up with lethal weapons and very little training to deal with people who are having some sort of health crisis,” she recently told CBC News.

“I don’t know why we haven’t considered creating something new where the police have failed so often.”

So far, in some of Canada’s biggest cities, some politicians are taking a different approach to the concept of defunding the police.

Toronto city councillors Josh Matlow and Kristyn Wong-Tam are proposing a motion that calls for a 10 per cent across-the-board cut to the police budget. The money saved would be invested in community programs.

“It’s time to defund the police budget and re-balance our use of public funds toward ensuring that our communities are supported in ways that avoid having to have the police show up to the door in the first place,” Matlow said.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says she has been talking with other mayors in the province about how public funds are distributed to law enforcement.

“This is a big, big conversation,” Plante said Monday, when asked about the possibility of reforming Montreal’s police department.

“I think at this point there are a lot of good ideas coming.”

Interested in conversation

In Vancouver, Coun. Christine Boyle said she isn’t clear exactly how defunding would work, or what the best approach to it is, but she wants to have that conversation.

“I’m very interested in how we better support communities and front-line efforts to develop community safety themselves. And for that to mean a decreased need for policing and being able to shift that policing funding.”

Defund the police has become a rallying cry against policy brutality since video emerged of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd as he pleaded he couldn’t breathe moments before his death. (Ragan Clark/The Associated Press)

 

Considering the police budget is more than 20 per cent of the total city budget, it’s reasonable and responsible to be asking whether this is the best use of public safety funds, she said.

But implementing any kind of defunding policy could be challenging. The Vancouver Police Board already rejected a one per cent budget cut that was approved by city council last month.

Still, Boyle said she’s hearing very clearly from residents across Vancouver that they are open to the conversation, particularly from Black and Indigenous communities, “who believe the current approach to policing and safety actually doesn’t make them feel more safe in their home, in their community.”

But not all politicians are sold on the idea. Ontario Premier Doug Ford dismissed it during a news conference Tuesday.

“I don’t believe in that for a second,” he told reporters.

“I think we need strong police within the communities. What we do need to do is have a higher standard. We need for focus on more training.”

Meanwhile, the demand for police services remains high, said Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, an advocacy organization representing 60,000 police personnel across the country.

“What we are seeing across this country is demand on the police is actually increasing year over year, and of course that drives costs and the need for funding and resources,” he said.

‘I think it’s unrealistic’

Stamatakis said police are responding to those calls with fewer sworn officers than ever before and relying more on civilian personnel, including psychologists and counsellors, to assist them.

However, Stamatakis questioned the idea of a non-police specialist responding on their own to a potentially dangerous situation in an uncontrolled environment where someone is in crisis.

“I think it’s unrealistic,” he said. “You’re typically in an environment where you really don’t know a lot about the person you’re dealing with. When the police are called to deal with the mental-health crises, it’s because it’s a crisis.”

WATCH | What could defunding the police look like?

Calls to defund the police have become louder since the death of George Floyd. The National’s Adrienne Arsenault hears from people who want to see changes in how police services are funded to find out what it could look like. 3:59

Hart, the Toronto Police Services Board chair, said it’s always good to have conversations about budgets. But the proposal for a police budget cut of 10 per cent? Absolutely not, he said.

“I don’t support saying cut any budget, I don’t care what the budget is, by any percentage amount without a full discussion of what the implications are,” he said.

“If you said to me, ‘By cutting a budget by 10 per cent, we have to stop doing A, B, C, D.’ And I agreed with you on A, B, C, D. That’s a different conversation. But saying cut by 10 per cent without any ramifications. Then I can’t agree with that blanket statement.”

Hart said between 2015 and 2019, dispatch calls for service in Toronto went up 7.6 per centBut the number of deployed uniformed officers went down by 10 per cent, meaning the workload for officers during that period went up, he said.

If the decision is to have a conversation about defunding, then a decision will have to be made about what it is police are not going to do anymore,” Hart said.

“There would have to be an impact on officers. And when you look at the number of calls for service, that would almost have to mean that some calls are going to go unanswered.”

SOURCE

Mark Gollom, Reporter  Mark Gollom is a Toronto-based reporter with CBC News. He covers Canadian and U.S. politics and current affairs.

RCMP violence against Inuit happening because few are stopping systemic racism, Indigenous leaders say

Some say over-criminalization continues when judges, prosecutors don’t try to understand personal experiences

Police attend a disturbance that unfolded in Apex, Nunavut, on April 11, 2020. Policing in the territory has come under increased scrutiny, including a call for a review to be done by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. (Patrick Nagle/CBC )

To address the systemic racism against Indigenous people shown by police forces such as the RCMP, Canadian leaders need to look at how different government agencies contribute to that racism, say some Indigenous leaders.

Those leaders spoke to CBC News in response to more than 30 cases of alleged mistreatment of Inuit women by the RCMP. The cases were compiled by the Legal Services Board of Nunavut, which alleges widespread racism and abuse of Inuit, especially women, across the territory.

The board has called on the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (CRCC) for a territory-wide review of policing.

Aluki Kotierk, the elected leader of Nunavut Inuit, is one of the people calling for a review. This issue hits close to home, she said. The recent death of a man in Clyde River during an encounter with an officer who discharged their firearm reminded Kotierk of her late uncle, Solomon Uyarasuk, who died in police custody in 2012.

Aluki Kotierk, the elected leader of Nunavut Inuit, is calling for a systematic review of policing in Nunavut. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

 

Kotierk said the coroner’s inquest into her uncle’s death left her with doubts and anger, in part because the Ottawa police investigated the death on behalf of the RCMP. Such investigations of police investigating police lack independence and therefore credibility, she said.

“It probably will always exist in my life, in terms of my own distrust of the system. But I also know that I’m not alone in those feelings of anger and distrust,” Kotierk said.

Building people up rather than criminalizing them

Kotierk said an examination of the bigger picture beyond the RCMP is needed to understand the high rates of violence and officer-involved deaths in the territory.

“There needs to be a more holistic discussion about all of the different ways in which public agencies are able to work together to build up Inuit so that we can actually achieve what we set out to achieve in the creation of Nunavut.”

The legacy of colonization of the Inuit has left many feeling devalued, voiceless and overwhelmed to the point where some turn to violence, Kotierk said.

To address that violence, leaders and government agencies need to look at an individual’s life and experiences before the violence itself, she said.

“That [way], we’re building people up again, rather than criminalizing people. It starts feeling as though by being born an Inuk, your life is worth less than others.”

‘Entire system works against Native people’

Protesters take part in an anti-racism demonstration outside RCMP headquarters in Iqaluit on June 5. (David Gunn/CBC)

 

The over-criminalization of Indigenous people in Canada has been a direct result of racism for generations, Pam Palmater, a lawyer and professor of Mi’kmaq descent who lives in Toronto, told CBC News.

Indigenous people are overcharged by police and are grossly overrepresented in jails, but the police can’t be responsible for that on their own, she said.

Palmater said multiple public inquiries and commissions over the years have shown that prosecutors request longer sentences for Indigenous defendants, and once in the corrections system, Indigenous prisoners have less access to parole and rehabilitation programs than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

“The entire system works against Native people,” she said.

The Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Gladue decision was meant, in part, to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous offenders in jails, but it hasn’t had that effect, Palmater said.

Judges are part of that bias against Indigenous people, she said.

While they are not allowed to interfere politically or make public comments on cases they’ve ruled on, they can comment when they are adjudicating cases and could use that opportunity to alert governments to systemic injustices, Palmater said, especially at the Supreme Court level.

“Without justices making those kinds of comments or condemning it more forcefully, then governments will think that they can continue to allow it to happen. And then, of course, police unions will continue to back up this bad behaviour.”

Lawyer Pam Palmater says police alone are not to blame for the over representation of Indigenous people in jails and prisons. (Submitted by Pam Palmater)

Gendered, racialized violence also within RCMP

The CRCC released a report in 2017 detailing abuse and sexual harassment experienced by its own female members.

“If they would treat their own members … in an intimidating, bullying, harassing way … imagine what they would do to people without that power, who are oppressed, dispossessed, marginalized and living literally at the edge of society,” Palmater said.

The Department of National Defence has had its own issues around sexual harassment and gender discrimination, Palmater said. Last year, the Federal Court approved a $900-million settlement for members of the military and employees of the department who were victims of sexual assault and misconduct.

“When you don’t address the problems of toxic male sexualized and racialized violence against females … this is going to be allowed to continue,” Palmater said.

Read the other stories in this series:

The inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls concluded that a racialized and gendered genocide is happening against Indigenous women across Canada.

That genocide, Palmater said, requires the implicit co-operation of institutions across government agencies and their collective inability to address gendered racism.

Two children walk hom from school in Iqaluit. The justice system works against Indigenous people, says Palmater. (Andre Forget/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Palmater said she has heard reports from across the country of Indigenous people who have been arrested and charged but were then abused by police and had their charges dropped by Crown prosecutors before the police abuse is aired in open court.

But the Public Prosecution Service of Canada does not collect data that would confirm these experiences, she said.

“If we had data, we could argue just how prevalent it is,” she said. “And we could also hold the Crown to account because if they are aware of police excessive use of force … then you would think they would have a legal obligation to … actually go after the police officers that are involved and make sure they are properly dealt with.”

Data needed so leaders can’t deny problem exists: Palmater

Collecting meaningful data is one of the two biggest barriers to addressing systemic racism against Indigenous people, Palmater said.

The other big obstacle, she said, is political will and leadership.

Human rights organizations and international watchdogs have told the Canadian government for years that it needs to collect racialized and gendered data in order to address the systemic violence against Indigenous women, Palmater said.

Most recently, the United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women issued a report that highlighted this lack of data in Canada and called for action, she said.

“If governments don’t collect data, they can deny that a problem exists.”

Political will and leadership could make it mandatory for government agencies —such as the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and the RCMP — to collect meaningful data, Palmater said.

But so far, that leadership and will have been lacking, she said.

“We know Indigenous women are going missing and murdered,” she said. “They’re exploited sexually; they’re victims of domestic violence. And If you fail to act, you’re just as guilty.”

Palmater said she and other advocates have been bringing this to the attention of governments for years — and before them, others tried.

“We know the whole system is infected with racism, and we are not tackling it — and it’s Indigenous women and girls that suffer, as well as Indigenous men and boys.”

SOURCE

Thomas Rohner, Reporter. Thomas Rohner is a reporter based in Iqaluit, where he’s lived for nearly six years. His special interests as a journalist include the criminal justice system and investigative reporting.

COVID-19: Majority of region’s long-term care deaths occurred in for-profit homes

83 per cent of long-term care deaths in eastern Ontario were in privately run facilities, data reveals

People show support for staff and residents at Ottawa’s Carlingview Manor long-term care home, a for-profit facility owned by Revera that has experienced 61 deaths due to COVID-19. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

The risk of dying from COVID-19 has been significantly higher for residents of for-profit long-term care homes in eastern Ontario than for those in non-profit and municipally run facilities, a CBC analysis of provincial data has found.

Since the coronavirus outbreaks first struck dozens of long-term care homes across the region this spring, the vast majority of deaths — 82.5 per cent — have occurred in for-profit facilities.

That’s despite the fact that there are about the same number of beds in each sector — 5,669 beds are operated by for-profit companies in this part of Ontario, while there are 5,733 beds in non-profit and municipal facilities. There have been roughly the same number of outbreaks at for-profit and non-profit facilities.

The hardest-hit for-profit homes in eastern Ontario are in Ottawa, but the home that saw the highest mortality rate per number of beds is Almonte Country Haven, where close to 37 per cent of the residents died from COVID-19.

Rick Spencer’s daughter lives at Almonte Country Haven. Eryn Dixon, 45, has multiple sclerosis and is profoundly disabled. She contracted the virus in March.

“She was unconscious and unresponsive for a while, and they had her on high-flow oxygen,” Spencer said. “They called us in for the final goodbye.”

His daughter pulled through and has now fully recovered, but according to a database kept by Ontario’s ministry of long-term care, 30 of 82 residents at Almonte Country Haven eventually succumbed to the respiratory illness.

Rick Spencer’s daughter Erin is a resident at Almonte Country Haven, owned by OMNI. Thirty of the 82 residents there have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak began, according to the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

4 beds to a room

There are no clear conclusions as to why there have been more deaths in for-profit nursing homes in eastern Ontario.

A CBC Marketplace analysis of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in Ontario points to older buildings with shared accommodations as one possible cause.

Carlingview Manor, Extendicare Laurier Manor and Almonte Country Haven are all housed in older buildings with four-bed wards that may have made it difficult to isolate patients and control infection.

However, new facilities haven’t guaranteed positive outcomes when it comes to COVID. Some of the region’s more modern nursing homes have been hit hard, including Ottawa’s Madonna Care Community, where there have been 46 deaths, and the Montfort Long Term Care Centre, where 30 residents have died.

There are plans for renovations and an addition at Almonte Country Haven to bring it up to current standards, but that has yet to begin. Its owner, OMNI, says it’s waiting for government and financial approvals.

“We hope to commence construction this fall on renovations that would eliminate 4 bed wards in our home altogether,” said OMNI CEO Patrick McCarthy in an email to CBC.

“It is unfortunate that it has taken so long to move this forward. We have been advocating for over a decade as members of the Ontario Long Term Care Association to have older homes updated to modern design standards that are more suitable for today’s seniors.”

The Ministry of Long-Term Care told CBC in a statement it has invested $1.75 billion “specifically to bring aging long-term care homes up to modern standards and build badly needed new capacity…. We are putting our money behind this.”

Testing is key

Dr. Amy Hsu, an investigator at the Bruyère Research Institute in Ottawa, said there are other variables at play, including the amount of proactive COVID-19 testing that’s being done, as well as staffing levels and the frailty of residents before the outbreak.

Hsu noted most of the outbreaks occurred in urban areas in Ontario.

Dr. Amy Hsu, an investigator with the Bruyèr Research Institute in Ottawa, is researching the impact of COVID-19 on long-term care homes in Ontario. (Submitted)

 

The quick spread of the virus at Almonte Country Haven and at the Pinecrest home in Plantagenet, Ont., which saw 11 deaths, are rural outliers.

“We generally see that facilities with a greater number of cases do tend to report a greater number of deaths, and that’s because of the more underlying morbidity of this population and their frailty,” Hsu said.

Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton announced in May that an independent commission will provide guidance on how to improve the long-term care system and better protect residents and staff from any future outbreaks.

Almonte Country Haven has been chronically understaffed, according to the union that represents workers there. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

 

Hsu said in the meantime, continuing testing of residents and staff will be vital.

“With adequate testing we can actually equip the homes to address and to actually prevent the spread once they have identified a positive case,” Hsu said.

Ongoing testing of staff and residents is now the norm at Almonte Country Haven, according to its owner.

“We rely heavily on the up-to-date information that ongoing testing provides as it is crucial for our care team and their ability to act quickly and respond accordingly to COVID-19,” McCarthy said.


Methodology note:

The data on deaths in eastern Ontario long-term care homes came from the province’s COVID-19 website on Tuesday, June 9, and was analyzed using the profit status for each home available on Ontario’s long-term care reports website.

SOURCE

Julie Ireton, Senior Reporter. Julie Ireton is a senior reporter who works on investigations and enterprise news features at CBC Ottawa. She’s also the host of the new CBC investigative podcast, The Band Played On. You can reach her at julie.ireton@cbc.ca
RELATED:

Unionization at Deadly Care Home Signals Change, Says Expert

Pandemic, NDP’s legal changes opening door to more unions in the sector.

LynnValleyCareCentre-3.jpg

Majority of 120 workers support a return to unionization, says HEU. Photo by Joshua Berson

Care aides at the Lynn Valley Care Centre are looking to unionize in the wake of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the North Vancouver facility, signalling workers’ appetites for better working conditions and compensation in the beleaguered sector.

The Hospital Employees’ Union, which represents more than 15,000 care aides, submitted an application to represent workers at the facility to the Labour Relations Board early this week.

A majority of staff had signed union cards, the HEU said in a news release, and a mail-in vote among 120 staff members will be administered by the board this week.

“In the face of this unfolding tragedy, and despite the risks they faced, these workers showed courage, and a deep commitment to the care of their elderly residents at Lynn Valley,” HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside said in the release.

“Now they are uniting together with HEU to advocate for safer working and caring conditions, and fair treatment from their employer.”

The HEU represents staff at nine other facilities in B.C. operated by Pro Vita, the contractor that provides staff to privately-owned Lynn Valley. It represented workers at Lynn Valley until 2007.

BC Liberal government changes in 2003 ending protection for employees when care home owners changed contractors led to contract-flipping and decreased unionization in the sector.

In 2001, the BC Liberal government introduced legislation allowing a number of long-term care operators to opt out of the existing master collective agreement.

The result today is contract “fragmentation,” said Whiteside, and disparate provisions across more than 80 separate agreements negotiated by HEU since 2001.

The move towards unionization comes on the heels of a pandemic that has revealed serious problems in the province’s long-term care system and left staff and residents vulnerable to the virus.

Bethany Hastie, a labour expert and assistant professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, said the pandemic could bring a new wave of union organizing.

“It’s really shone a light on the kinds of essential work that we maybe didn’t think of as essential,” Hastie said.

“In that particular industry, that privatization seemed to be followed by a depression in wages and in benefits… and these people are taking care of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

The vast majority of B.C.’s 164 virus-related deaths have been residents of long-term care, as have around 80 per cent of deaths across Canada.

These deaths include one care aide in his 40s, who worked in two facilities to support his family and died after contracting the virus at work.

Early in the pandemic, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry took over staffing at long-term care facilities across the province, offering some workers wage boosts and ensuring that each staff member only worked at one facility to limit potential transmission.

Changes to the provincial labour code in 2019 now prohibit contract-flipping and the province has promised a comprehensive review and reform of the sector after the pandemic subsides.

Hastie says these changes mean Lynn Valley could be the beginning of a wave of unionization among B.C. care workers.

The memory of the benefits of unionization is strong among staff, Hastie said, as is knowledge of how to organize.

“This is perhaps an important moment for workers to seek to make gains to allow them to have decent working conditions and wages because of unionization,” she said. “We’re seeing a revitalization in labour organizing.”  [Tyee]

SOURCE

Greta Thunberg pushes Canada, Norway on climate before UN Security Council vote

Canada is going up against Norway and Ireland for 2 seats available in next week’s election

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Swedish climate change teen activist Greta Thunberg before a climate strike march in Montreal on Sept. 27, 2019. (Andrej Ivanov/Reuters)

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is urging developing island countries to use the upcoming United Nations Security Council election as leverage to push Canada and Norway to step up their games on climate change.

The 17-year-old from Sweden has become one of the most recognized climate activists in the world with her climate strike movement growing into a global phenomenon last year.

She is the headline signatory on a letter to UN ambassadors of small island developing states, which says that Canada and Norway both give lip service to climate action but remain steadfast in their commitment to expand fossil fuel production and subsidizing oil companies.

“For the young generation who will inherit the consequences of these decisions, it is critical that those who claim to be leading on climate action are held to account for decisions they are making back at home,” the letter reads.

Three other youth climate activists and 22 global climate scientists also signed the letter, including Eddy Carmack, a recently retired Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientist who was awarded the Order of Canada this year for his work on climate change.

‘Unite behind the science’

The letter asks the ambassadors to raise the issue with Canada and Norway “and demand that they unite behind the science” of climate change, commit to no new oil and gas exploration or production and phase out their existing production.

Canada is going up against Norway and Ireland for the two seats available in next week’s election to the UN body. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has devoted a lot of political capital to trying to win the spot.

With most European countries expected to side with their continental neighbours, Canada has put its effort into wooing countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, including most of the more than three-dozen island countries targeted by Wednesday’s letter. Trudeau has spoken or met directly with the leaders of nearly one-third of those countries since February.

Norway and Canada both have economies heavily based on oil and gas. Ireland has very little fossil fuel production and last year committed to ending oil and gas exploration altogether.

Thunberg urges Canada to cancel pipeline project

Thunberg first expressed her discontent with Canada’s climate policies directly to Trudeau last September, when the two met in Montreal on the same day hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets as part of a global climate strike.

In their letter, Thunberg and the others say that Canada is nowhere close to hitting its Paris climate agreement targets. They also say Canada is the second-biggest supplier of fossil fuel subsidies among the world’s wealthiest 20 countries and has opened up billions of dollars in loans to fossil fuel companies as part of its COVID-19 economic aid.

Oil companies have been particularly hard hit from a combination of plummeting demand for oil products, and a production war between Saudi Arabia and Russia that flooded the world with more oil at a time it was already using less.

For major oil companies, and other big corporations, to qualify for the loans, Canada does require them to show a climate plan and how their business is helping Canada meet its emissions targets.

The letter writers said if Canada was serious about implementing the Paris agreement it would make permanent its temporary ban on extracting oil and gas in the Arctic, cancel both the Trans Mountain and Keystone XL pipeline projects and end all subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

They give Canada credit for promising to make climate change a regular part of the Security Council’s discussions, and push for it to create a new special representative for climate security.

The letter writers are also critical of Norway for continuing to increase oil and gas exports, saying Norway now exports 10 times as many emissions as it produces domestically. They point out there is a vote on June 12 in the Norwegian parliament that could increase tax benefits for oil companies as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter says Norway should eliminate, rather than expand, those tax benefits.

SOURCE

First Nations chiefs in N.B. seek review of justice system after shooting death of Chantel Moore

Police have said Indigenous woman was shot as officers responded to a ‘wellness’ call

The chiefs of a coalition of Maliseet First Nations in New Brunswick issued a joint statement on Friday calling for a review of the province’s justice system in the wake of Chantel Moore’s death. CBC has permission from Chantel Moore’s family to use the photos included in this story. (Chantel Moore/Facebook)

The chiefs of a coalition of Maliseet First Nations are calling for an independent probe of the New Brunswick justice system after a fatal police shooting of a 26-year-old Indigenous woman from British Columbia.

The chiefs of the Wolastoqey First Nation in New Brunswick issued a joint statement on Friday in response to the death of Chantel Moore, expressing their condolences to Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in B.C. to which Moore belonged.

Police have said Moore was shot as Edmundston, N.B., officers responded to a “wellness” call in the northwestern New Brunswick community. They have alleged she was making threats and holding a knife.

The chiefs’ letter says they plan to formally request that Premier Blaine Higgs’s Conservative minority government create a committee to review the justice system in New Brunswick in light of the death.

WATCH | Chantel Moore’s family wants answers after her killing:

Chantel Moore’s great aunt, Nora Martin, says she doesn’t believe the 26-year-old would act violently toward a police officer and her family wants to know why she was shot. 1:23

They’re seeking recommendations on how the province can create change “to allow for a system free of systemic discrimination and that no longer fails to serve the Indigenous people of this province.”

It is signed by the chiefs of communities along the Saint John River Valley, including Tobique, St. Mary’s, Madawaska, Oromocto, Kingsclear and Woodstock First Nations.

SOURCE

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by police during a wellness check in New Brunswick on Thursday, June 6, 2020. (Facebook)

One of Chantel Moore’s grandmothers says her granddaughter’s shooting death in New Brunswick isn’t the first time she has lost a family member to police violence.

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift to the way authorities interact with racialized communities amidst a broad history of brutality.

“We really need to work together to change this whole system,” she said in an interview from Tofino. “We’ve been dealing with racism all our lives.”

Martin said her family has endured generations of racism and trauma at the hands of authorities and is calling for lasting change to end the pattern.

Moore, 26, died Thursday when police arrived at her home in response to a request to check on her well-being. Edmundston police say their officer encountered a woman with a knife making threats. She was shot and died at the scene.

READ MORE: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

The story makes no sense to Martin, who said Moore didn’t have a mean bone in her body and was too petite to have posed any real danger to an armed officer.

Martin is the sister of Moore’s biological grandmother but says she is considered a grandmother in their Tla-o-qui-aht culture.

“What struck me right away when I heard that was that it has a lot to do with what’s happening in the United States with the black people getting killed,” Martin said.

“We’ve had that happen here in our own country for years now and that was my first thought, that this is racially motivated.”

More than 50 years ago, Martin’s grandfather suffered a broken neck while in police custody, she said.

Another relative died 10 to 12 years ago in police custody, too. There was an investigation and recommendations made, she said, but nothing changed.

The violence isn’t limited to police action. Martin said she and her relatives went to residential school, day school and foster care.

“We all went through the system where we were horribly abused physically, emotionally and sexually,” she said.

She’s also been called a “dumb, lazy Indian,” she said, even though she has held a job since age 14 and pays her taxes every year.

Rather than revenge, Martin said she wants justice and peace.

“I don’t go around hating people, I’ve never attacked a white person because of how they treated me,” she said.

Martin said Moore had a huge family that loved her.

Moore was set to begin classes at a community college when she was killed, Martin said.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs warned against assuming a family is criminal just because it has been victimized by police multiple times. To assume so would be “very racist” and lies at the heart of police brutality against people of colour and the poor, he said.

“Poverty is not a crime, colour is not a crime. Yet the racist attitudes that permeate and are deeply entrenched in the attitudes and values of Canadian society suggest that all people of colour or people who are poor are criminal and should automatically expect to be harassed by police,” Phillip said.

Phillip says what happened to Moore is “absolutely outrageous and horrific.”

Officers who pull the trigger should be immediately pulled off the force, but they rarely face adequate consequences, he said.

“I’ve been in enough court rooms in my life to know that the legal defence is ‘I feared for my life,’ and they get away with it. In some cases, they get suspended for a day or two or a week.

“There needs to be severe consequences for the use of deadly force to the point where it will never happen.”

Martin’s experience was echoed by the family of an Indigenous man who died three years ago in police custody in Prince George.

Dale Culver of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Nations was 35 when he died in July 2017.

A police release at the time says officers responded to a report of a man casing cars and they chased a man on a bicycle who fled from the scene. A struggle ensued, more officers were called, and pepper spray was used. Medical support was called when officers noticed Culver was having trouble breathing, he died soon after.

The BC Prosecution Service is considering charges against five officers involved in the incident, after receiving a report last week from police watchdog the Independent Investigations Office, or the IIO.

The RCMP say in a statement they will continue to support the officers, who remain on duty, and its thoughts are with the family.

In April, the IIO announced a new investigation into the death in custody of Everett Patrick, whom the family has identified as Culver’s cousin.

The office says in a release that RCMP reported that on April 12, officers responded to an alarm at a sports store. After hours of negotiating, Patrick was apprehended, medically cleared at the hospital and taken to the Prince George detachment cells. Hours later, he went into medical distress and was taken back to hospital, where he was found to be suffering serious injury. On April 20, the watchdog was notified that Patrick died in hospital.

“There’s not a lot of faith in the RCMP in Prince George right now, at least from us and our family,” said Tracy Speed, the mother of Culver’s daughter Lily Speed-Namox.

Speed-Namox said she wants to see police forces earn the trust of racialized communities.

“There’s been some kind of trust between the people and the RCMP that has been broken and we need to be able to find a way to mend that trust so that there is no issue between any kind of race and the RCMP.”

SOURCE

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

 

Now Is the Time – Revolution, Inner and Outer

Teaser photo credit: By BlaueBlüte – Own work, CC BY 4.0

Part I : An Evolutionary Turning-Point: Revolution From Domination to Unity

George Floyd’s death was a flashpoint, erupting into the flame of truth, spreading over the world like wildfire. What is that truth, too long hidden, that needed to break through into the light of day, to break open our hearts?

It may seem like everything is coming at us now at once, shock after shock after shock — the pandemic, ecological and economic collapses, racial violence, martial control and attack — almost too quickly to absorb, everything coming together. But if, in the midst of these breath-taking events, we stop to take a breath, we can see some things clearly. It is not an accident that they are all coming together, because they all go together. Our exploding crises, fragmented as they may seem, all have the same root.

All are caused by the same roots – a divisive consciousness, of separation, domination/submission, that underlies our culture, values and systems – and all are crying out to be uprooted today, by getting to those roots. We have to radically shift today from a society based on domination and division — that echoes at all levels – to one based on interconnectedness, caring, cooperation and love. These too can echo at every level of our consciousness and society, but it is up to us to go to the roots of the crises, to make that evolutionary leap.

The Pattern of Domination that Echoes at All Levels

Right now we exist in a chain of domination, from the top down to the very roots of our consciousness and society. We are at a vital turning point in our evolution – the time to reverse this perverse upside-down hierarchy that has dominated and pervaded every level and domain of our lives.

The same patterns of domination and submission exist in our present society at all levels and scales. The way humanity as a whole dominates and exploits nature, the way whites dominate and exploit people of color; the way men dominate and exploit women; is the same way the most aggressive, rapacious strong-men at the top, nationally and globally, dominate and exploit everyone else and the planet. It is one pyramid, one pecking order, of power-over relationships that is now destroying us all, collapsing from the unsustainability of its own top-heaviness, teetering and toppling from its own egregious imbalances.

But there is in fact another power far stronger than even the top-men in this scale of domination; and that is the power erupting now, that is causing it all to collapse. What is happening has clearly spun out of the control of even those who would create a new order of their total control – nature herself, and the sacred itself speaking though her, rising up through indigenous people, people of color, youth, women, people of good will around the world, demanding radical change.

It is a true changing of the guard we are seeing today, from those profiting off their domination and destruction of the Earth and peoples, to the Earth and those people themselves rising up in defense of the sacred. There can be no doubt on whose side the highest power lies, in this incredible play of creation – though it has long been hidden, the game is up now and all is exposed — it is surging up now full-force.

From Apathy and Complacency to Love and Solidarity

We are energized by crisis, especially when it hits home. And home is getting closer and closer, as we realize none of us will escape the damage, the death and destruction, we are inflicting on each other and our planet, the one home that sustains us all. It is hitting home now, that our real home is the whole.

The worse things get, the greater the temptation to withdraw into numbness, complacency, a kind of stupefaction, complicity, carrying on business-as-usual – and many have been doing this. But those who can afford to do this – who still have business-as-usual to carry on with — are not the most impacted, the greatest victims, of the atrocities happening; and, in many ways, by withdrawing into numbness, apathy, they add to their complicity. Like frogs in boiling water, they pretend not to see, as long as they still have skin in the game.

But something new is happening now – we have finally reached the rupture point, a radical tipping point, the game is up. With the pandemic, climate collapses, and martial racist violence, those who are most impacted — black people, people of color, like the Earth herself — are no longer taking it lying down; they are at the breaking point, with nothing more to lose. And so they are erupting now, with the painful truth, bringing it into the light of day for all to plainly see. They are rising up from the knee in the neck that killed George Floyd — and will soon kill all of us if we do not join them.

We all need to rise up together, from domination to unity – or we, the human race as whole, simply will not survive. We are all one race – human – we need to realize that, down to our bones, and we need to act that way. This is the naked truth, that is seeing the light of day now. In the intense heat of this evolutionary moment, something big is being cooked – bigger than saving our own skin, the understanding that we all have to take this leap together – the evolutionary leap from divisiveness to connectedness, from separation to co-creation.

And this is finally shattering the complacency of our more privileged brothers and sisters. We are seeing that no one is immune from the wide-spread destruction happening now, the collapses closing in on all of us – if we don’t rise up and act now, we will all go down together. We are seeing more and more that it is not just a cliché – in many ways, more than we can count, we are all in this together.

The long-standing historical pattern of domination/submission is coming to a head, breaking down. We will no longer submit to it – and that “we” is becoming bigger and bigger, as those who are impacted grow, and those who would exempt themselves become smaller and smaller. As the world burns, an awakening is being ignited, and it is spreading like wild-fire. The flame of truth, goodness, justice, beauty and love, is being awakened in our hearts, as they break wide open.

A tremendous, long pent-up power of people and planet is breaking through, being released now, to come together, to heal the damage done, to light the way to a new future. We are being called to jump into this evolutionary leap, this revolution of the heart – it is either now or never.

Let us make it now. Let this be the day that love and truth awaken, finally, in the human heart, that have been so long dormant.  Let us not all go down together – let us rise up together.

Which torch do we want to carry, which torch do we want to pass on – of separation or co-creation, hate or love?… it is up to us to decide. An evolutionary leap is upon us, a revolution of the heart…None of us can do it alone, but together we can make it.

Revolution, Inner and Outer – Now Is the Time

We need a revolution, inner and outer. We need a revolution in our consciousness and we need a revolution in our systems – a whole-scale, whole-systems shift – now is the time, while the iron is hot and while we still can do it. The world is on the boil, we have reached fever-pitch, and it’s time to break through our sickness.

A “crisis”, in medical terms, literally means the peak of the illness, the turning-point from which the patient either goes on to die or revive, where all the anti-bodies kick in and we come out stronger. This is what is happening today. We are called to rise up, in inner and outer revolution, to renew ourselves and our planet, to turn the tide on the damage we’ve done and the damage we’ve suffered, to bring in a new world of caring and love, of strength in cooperation, communion.

The problem isn’t a “them” versus an “us” – the problem is “us” and “them” thinking — the divisive thinking that pervades our consciousness and our systems. The revolution we need is radical, total, global – it is not “against” anyone or anything, but to see how all are interconnected and all need to work in unity. It is an overturning not of the opposition – that has been done, again and again, endlessly throughout history – but an overturning of opposition itself, a true realization on the outer plane of our oneness on the inner.

We need a revolution — and now is the time, or never — which one do we choose?

SOURCE

As Uprising Spreads Across US, Scholars Argue Economic Transformation and Solidarity Key to Achieving Racial Justice

“Our only hope for our collective liberation,” writes Michelle Alexander, “is a politics of deep solidarity rooted in love.”

Protesters march on Hiawatha Avenue while decrying the killing of George Floyd on May 26, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired after a video taken by a bystander was posted on social media showing Floyd's neck being pinned to the ground by an officer as he repeatedly said, "I can’t breathe." (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Protesters march on Hiawatha Avenue while decrying the killing of George Floyd on May 26, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired after a video taken by a bystander was posted on social media showing Floyd’s neck being pinned to the ground by an officer as he repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

In separate in-depth columns published Monday, two leading black female scholars argue that the while the United States stands on the edge of a precipice of either transformational change or tattered ruin, there is renewed hope for fundamental change—including both racial and economic justice—to be found in the nationwide uprisings sparked by last month’s murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

“We cannot achieve racial justice and create a secure and thriving democracy without also transforming our economic systems.”
—Michelle Alexander

Civil rights attorney and legal scholar Michelle Alexander warns in a column for the New York Times titled “America, This Is Your Chance” that American “democracy hangs in the balance”—before adding: “This is not an overstatement.”

Writing for The New Yorker, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University, referenced the two weeks of protests since Floyd’s killing as a “rebellion” of “relentless fury and pace” whose “sheer scale has been surprising” even through the long historic lens of community protests and uprisings fueled by racial injustice, police brutality, and social neglect.

Taylor’s piece is explicitly titled “How Do We Change America?” Both her and Alexander seek to address that outstanding and elusive question. For Taylor’s part, it’s clear the “quest to transform this country cannot be limited to challenging its brutal police.” Alexander makes it central to her critique that while President Donald Trump has been “disastrous” as a leader during this crisis, “it would be a mistake to place the blame on him alone” for the nation’s woes.

“In part,” writes Alexander, “we find ourselves here for the same reasons a civil war tore our nation apart more than 100 years ago: Too many citizens prefer to cling to brutal and unjust systems than to give up political power, the perceived benefits of white supremacy and an exploitative economic system. If we do not learn the lessons of history and choose a radically different path forward, we may lose our last chance at creating a truly inclusive, egalitarian democracy.”

Similarly, Taylor argues that for a nation whose history is steeped in white supremacy and pervasive economic inequality, very little of what’s transpired recently—least of all the killing of an unarmed black man by a police officer—is anything new.

“We have the resources to remake the United States, but it will have to come at the expense of the plutocrats and the plunderers.”
—Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

“It should be clear,” she writes, “what the demands of young black people are: an end to racism, police abuse, and violence; and the right to be free of the economic coercion of poverty and inequality.” But the very “refusal or inability of this society to engage” the question of how to meet those demands, Taylor continues, is a big part of why protesters now “swell the streets with clenched fists and expressive eyes” nationwide.

Securing the future that the protesters demand requires conquering “the logic that finances police and jails at the expense of public schools and hospitals,” according to Taylor. “Police should not be armed with expensive artillery intended to maim and murder civilians while nurses tie garbage sacks around their bodies and reuse masks in a futile effort to keep the coronavirus at bay.”

“We have the resources to remake the United States, but it will have to come at the expense of the plutocrats and the plunderers,” she adds, “and therein lies the 300-year-old conundrum: America’s professed values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, continually undone by the reality of debt, despair, and the human degradation of racism and inequality.”

In a post on social media commenting on Alexander’s piece, Taylor said the two of them were “in unexpected synchronicity” with their respective essays.

In her column, Taylor insists “we cannot insist on ‘real change’ in the United States by continuing to use the same methods, arguments, and failed political strategies that have brought us to this moment,” while Alexander declares “we cannot achieve racial justice and create a secure and thriving democracy without also transforming our economic systems.”

Alexander points to historical figures—from James Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr., and WEB Du Bois to Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, and Paul Robeson—who have shared the belief that “we must move toward some form of socialism.” She then turns to a more recent champion of social democratic reform: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who suspended his second campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in April.

“We all owe him and countless organizers a debt of gratitude for pushing universal healthcare, paid family leave, free college education, a $15 minimum wage and many other economic rights into the mainstream,” Alexander says of Sanders’ diverse movement. Citing Taylor, who endorsed Sanders, she writes that “the coronavirus crisis proved that Mr. Sanders was right all along—that healthcare and other economic rights should be considered part of our social contract, not special benefits for those who are lucky enough to be employed by companies that grant discretionary benefits.”

“Nobody would have benefited more from Mr. Sanders’ political revolution than black people,” Alexander adds, “and yet the generational divide among black voters affected his campaign.” As she explains:

Younger black people seem to understand that the neoliberal Democratic politics of the past will not take us where we need to go, and they supported Mr. Sanders by significant margins in polls. We must work to create an economic system that benefits us all, not just the wealthy. If our nation was not so deeply divided along racial lines—and if so many white people were not revolted by the idea of their tax dollars helping poor people of color obtain education, housing and social benefits—we would most likely have a social democracy like Norway or Canada. Achieving economic justice requires we work for racial justice, and vice versa. There is no way around it.

If we fail to take these obvious steps, our democracy will remain in peril even if Mr. Trump is defeated in November. Police killings, uprisings, and riots will remain a recurring feature of American life. The black-white economic divide is as wide today as it was more than 50 years ago. And the same divide-and-conquer tactics that were used to prevent multiracial alliances for economic justice in the 1800s and 1900s were employed yet again in 2016 with spectacular results, as white Americans fearful of losing political power because of profound demographic changes elected a former reality show billionaire to the presidency, a man who unleashed racist tirades against immigrants on the campaign trail and vowed to “make America great again” by taking us back to a time we supposedly left behind—perhaps the time of civil war. Unless we choose a radically different path now, our persistent racial divisions and oppressive political and economic systems may unravel our democracy sooner rather than later.

Alexander’s piece won praise from Taylor and other Sanders supporters and former 2020 campaign staffers:

“Our only hope for our collective liberation is a politics of deep solidarity rooted in love,” according to Alexander. “In recent days, we’ve seen what it looks like when people of all races, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds rise up together, standing in solidarity for justice, protesting, marching and singing together, even as SWAT teams and tanks roll in.”

“We’ve seen our faces in another American mirror—a reflection of the best of who we are and what we can become,” she concludes. “These images may not have dominated the media coverage, but I’ve glimpsed in a foggy mirror scenes of a beautiful, courageous nation struggling to be born.”

SOURCE
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