Canada Among Very Worst White Supremacist Countries: Report

“We were really struck by the high level of engagement by Canadians,” says an author of a new report on right-wing extremism online

RIAN RUHE GIVES A NAZI SALUTE AT A FAR-RIGHT RALLY IN VANCOUVER, B.C., IN AUGUST 2017. PHOTO BY DARRYL DYCK/CP

Over 11 million online users globally have been reached by more than 6,600 right-wing extremist social media pages, groups, and accounts in Canada, according to a new report by a U.K.-based think tank that studies hate and extremism.

And researchers suspect that these users have been more active during the COVID-19 lockdown and anti-Black racism protests.

“We were really struck by the high level of engagement by Canadians,” said Jacob Davey, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) senior research manager and co-author of the report. “It’s clear that Canada has a well established system of right-wing extremists very much comparable to that of the U.S. and U.K., and it’s part of a global pattern.”

Davey said the current anti-Black racism movements have likely led to more activity by these voices as they try to discredit the idea that racism is a problem in Canada.

The ISD was contracted by a team of researchers led by Barbara Perry, a professor at Ontario Tech University (OTU), to do the report. “An Online Environmental Scan of Right-wing Extremism in Canada” gives a detailed overview of Canada’s online far-right universe based on data from 2017 to 2019.

Perry noted that beside the more general concern of right-wing extremism becoming more online-based, the current economic downturn may result in more radicalization.

“Under the lockdown, more people, especially youth, are spending more time online,” said Perry, who runs OTU’s Centre on Hate, Bias, and Extremism. “We know that mass killings in recent years were done by lone actors mobilized by online engagement, and it’s a concern that more exposure to these narratives during COVID-19, when so many have lost work, might engender similar violence.”

Perry said that part of the appeal of these platforms is that they often have ready-made explanations to address people’s social and economic anxieties.

Perry’s team defines right-wing extremism as “a loose movement, characterized by a racially, ethnically, and sexually defined nationalism. This nationalism is often framed in terms of white power, and is grounded in xenophobic and exclusionary understandings of the perceived threats posed by such groups as non-whites, Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, and feminists.”

The ISD analyzed 6,352 Twitter accounts, 130 public Facebook pages and groups, 32 YouTube channels, 42 Gab accounts, 88 accounts on the neo-Nazi Iron March forum, and 31 accounts on the white supremacist forum Fascist Forge (the latter two forums are now defunct).

It found that Canadians are particularly active “representing the third largest nationality using 4chan’s politically incorrect board,” and were the third largest community on Iron March behind the U.S. and U.K.

The researchers also found that anti-Muslim and anti-Trudeau chatter is more prevalent among the far-right actors. For instance, on Twitter, extremist voices were more likely to be engaged in anti-Muslim conversation and boards tended to light up when anti-Muslim topics were being discussed.

According to the report, on Facebook, “Muslims were the most widely discussed minority community, and the most common target of posts containing explicit hate speech (23 percent), with anti-Semitism being the second largest grouping of hate speech (16 percent).” Trudeau was a particularly popular target on YouTube, the report said.

A sharp rise in the number of Facebook posts, YouTube videos, tweets, and 4chan threads can clearly be seen after larger events both inside and outside of Canada. Canada’s federal election in October 2019 and the Islamophobic mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand March 2019 both triggered spikes in activity across the right-wing extremism network.. Otherwise, in 2019, activity has gradually dipped across Facebook and YouTube, gone up on Twitter, and stayed even on 4chan.

According to the report, acts of far-right terrorism has increased by 320 percent over the past five years.

OTU researchers, led by Perry, are also putting together a report that maps out what right-wing extremism looks like offline in Canada.

“Those findings will provide more insight into the strategic capacity of these groups and ways in which people are drawn in,” Perry said. “We’re still early in the process, but so far our observations offline are very much in line with what we are seeing online.”

SOURCE

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Researchers detail huge hack-for-hire campaigns against environmentalists

‘Dark Basin’ is said to have targeted nonprofit groups battling Exxon Mobil

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Hackers for hire have targeted thousands of individuals as part of campaigns against environmental advocacy groups, journalists, and others, according to a report produced by Citizen Lab, the University of Toronto’s cybersecurity watchdog group. Citizen Lab dubbed the group behind the campaigns “Dark Basin,” noting that it specifically targeted climate-change organizations who were campaigning against Exxon Mobil.

The report concludes that the campaigns represent “a clear danger to democracy” and could allow powerful organizations to target their opponents. “The extensive targeting of American nonprofits exercising their first amendment rights is exceptionally troubling,” Citizen Lab’s report says. The group has provided its information to federal prosecutors who are investigating the hackers and who hired them, The New York Times reports.

Environmental groups campaigning against Exxon Mobil appear to have been a frequent target of the hackers, with individuals associated with these groups receiving numerous phishing emails attempting to steal their credentials. These include the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Climate Investigations Center, and Greenpeace. The timing of phishing emails coincided with key events in the campaign, and their contents appear to reference Exxon Mobil. One screenshot shared by Citizen Lab shows a phishing message alleging to be a Dropbox link to a file called “ExxonMobile(confidential).docx,” and in other cases campaigners received fake Google News updates about Exxon Mobil.

Exxon Mobil has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and Citizen Lab does not attribute the campaign to any specific sponsor. In a statement, Exxon Mobil told The Verge that the company “has no knowledge of, or involvement in, the hacking activities outlined in Citizen Lab’s report.” It said that any suggestion of wrongdoing by Exxon Mobil in the report is not supported by any evidence.

Citizen Lab began investigating the hackers for hire after a journalist was hit by phishing attempts in 2017. Investigating the specific URL shortener, which the researchers say is “rarely seen,” revealed a huge phishing network that appeared to be targeting individuals and organizations around the globe. As well as nonprofits and journalists, targets also included lawyers, government officials, and energy sector executives, the report says.

Citizen Lab believes that the campaign has been carried out by an Indian-based company which previously advertised “ethical hacking” services via its website. It notes that similar operations have previously been hired via intermediaries like law firms and private investigators, which distances their work from their clients.

The New York Times reports that one individual, who ran an Israeli-based, private investigations company, has already been arrested as a result of the federal investigation. He has pleaded not guilty and plans to fight the charges.

SOURCE

RELATED:

Canadians among most active in online right-wing extremism, research finds

 

Coronavirus crisis could cause $25tn fossil fuel industry collapse

Value of reserves could fall by two-thirds as Covid-19 hastens peak in demand, study shows

 The looming fossil fuel crash could pose a significant threat to global financial stability, say experts. Photograph: Matthew Brown/AP

The coronavirus outbreak could trigger a $25tn (£20tn) collapse in the fossil fuel industry by accelerating a terminal decline for the world’s most polluting companies.

A study has found that the value of the world’s fossil fuel reserves could fall by two-thirds, sooner than the industry expects, because the Covid-19 crisis has hastened the peak for oil, gas and coal demand.

The looming fossil fuel collapse could pose “a significant threat to global financial stability” by wiping out the market value of fossil fuel companies, according to financial thinktank Carbon Tracker.

The report predicts a 2% decline in demand for fossil fuels every year could cause the future profits of oil, gas and coal companies to collapse from an estimated $39tn to just $14tn.

It warns that a blow to fossil fuel companies could send shockwaves through the global economy because their market value makes up a quarter of the world’s equity markets and they owe trillions of dollars to the world’s banks.

Kingsmill Bond, the author of the report, said: “Now is the time to plan an orderly wind-down of fossil fuel assets and manage the impact on the global economy rather than try to sustain the unsustainable.”

The report says the world is “witnessing the decline and fall of the fossil fuel system” owing to the quicker-than-expected growth of clean energy alternatives coupled with the collapse in demand for fossil fuels amid the pandemic.

It follows findings from the International Energy Agency, which forecast the Covid-19 fallout would lead to the most severe plunge in energy demand since the second world war and trigger multidecade lows for the world’s consumption of oil, gas and coal, while renewable energy continued to grow.

The world’s demand for fossil fuels has plunged by almost 10% amid the coronavirus lockdown, and many energy economists believe it may fail to recover from the crisis.

Bond said fossil fuel companies and their investors had failed to realise the current decline of the fossil fuel industry may prove terminal.

“The bizarre thing is that the fossil fuel incumbents have been so resistant to the idea of change for so long, and put out so much bogus PR, that they risk falling victim to their own rhetoric,” he said.

“There is far more risk inherent in the fossil fuel system than is conventionally priced into financial markets. Investors need to increase discount rates, reduce expected prices, curtail terminal values and account for the clean-up costs.”

SOURCE

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Industrial Age of Energy and Transportation Over by 2030

B.C.’s new legislation on benefit companies

 

Trevor R. Scott
Andrew MacDougall
Sagar Memon
Canada June 17 2020

Introduction

As of June 30, 2020, for-profit businesses that are committed to conducting business in a responsible and sustainable way will be able to demonstrate their commitment by becoming a benefit company under the British Columbia Business Corporations Act (the Act). British Columbia is the first Canadian jurisdiction to implement legislation to establish benefit companies. Introduced in the State of Maryland in 2010, and now adopted in 36 U.S. states,[1] benefit company legislation is intended to enable a company to promote social goals while being protected from claims that doing so would breach director fiduciary responsibilities.

What is a benefit company?

A benefit company is a for-profit company that commits, by a “benefit statement” and “benefit provision,” to conduct its business in a responsible and sustainable way and promote one or more “public benefits”:

      • benefit statement – the notice of articles will state that “this company is a benefit company and, as such, is committed to conducting its business in a responsible and sustainable manner and promoting one or more public benefits”
      • benefit provision – the articles will specify the “public benefits” chosen to be promoted by the benefit company, and set out commitments to
        • conduct its business in a “responsible and sustainable manner,” and
        • promote the chosen “public benefits”

A “public benefit” refers to a “positive effect” that benefits a class of persons (other than shareholders in their capacity as shareholders), a class of communities or organizations, or the environment.[2] A potential “positive effect” includes an effect of an artistic, charitable, cultural, economic, educational, environmental, literary, medical, religious, scientific or technological nature.

The Act provides that a benefit company conducts its business in a “responsible and sustainable manner” if it

      • takes into account the well-being of persons affected by the operations of the benefit company, and
      • endeavours to use a fair and proportionate share of available environmental, social and economic resources and capacities.

Why become a benefit company?

There is an increasing focus on whether companies, in addition to maximizing their value to shareholders, should have a broader social purpose. This is reflected in the growing trend towards adoption of benefit company legislation in the United States and now in Canada. It is also reflected in the August 2019 Business Roundtable statement in which 181 U.S. CEOs redefined the purpose of the corporation to reflect a collective commitment to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.[3] Since 1978, Business Roundtable has issued principles of corporate governance, which have now shifted from shareholder primacy to recognizing other stakeholders.[4] And annual letters from Larry Fink, the Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, have emphasized that a company cannot achieve long-term profits without embracing purpose and considering the needs of a broad range of stakeholders.[5] In 2006, B Lab, a non-profit organization, created the B Corporation certification program in which companies may designate themselves as “B Corps” if B Lab has assessed the overall positive impact of the company; assures itself the company meets a minimum verified score based on the company’s impact on its workers, customers, community and environment; and the company amends its constating documents to include certain provisions required by B Lab.[6] B Corporation certification has gained in popularity, with an increase of 25% in the number of companies becoming B Corporations in 2019.[7] There are currently more than 2,500 certified B Corporations, including 1,269 American B Corporations and 275 Canadian B Corporations. A few B Corporations are publicly traded.

Becoming a benefit company may help a company gain social capital and brand recognition with its stakeholders and differentiate itself from its competitors. As investors increasingly focus on environmental and social issues and look to invest in companies that are recognized as leaders in such areas, becoming a benefit company may open a door to additional funding sources from investors looking to invest in companies that have both an economic mandate and a social mandate.

How are director and officer duties different for a benefit company?

For all companies, including benefit companies, directors and officers have a fiduciary duty to act honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the company.[8]

Directors and officers of benefit companies have two additional responsibilities (the “benefit company responsibilities”):

      • to act honestly and in good faith with a view to conducting the business in a responsible and sustainable manner and promoting the public benefits specified in the company’s articles,[9] and
      • to balance the above duty with the fiduciary duty.

The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that, in exercising their fiduciary duty and considering the best interests of the company, the directors may, but are not required to, give consideration to the interests of various stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, creditors, consumers, governments and the environment.[10] However, in the case of a benefit company, the interests of certain non-shareholder stakeholders, whose well-being may be affected by the public benefits specified in the articles, must, in effect, be considered and the directors and officers must balance those stakeholder interests with the interests of the company generally.

The Act affords some protection to directors and officers in discharging their benefit company responsibilities. A director or officer complying with the benefit company responsibilities does not thereby breach the director’s fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the company. Some commentators have suggested that the ability to define public benefits broadly within a company’s articles could substantially weaken accountability for management and board decision-making. However, this does not mean that a director or officer pursuing the public benefits specified in the articles can disregard his or her fiduciary duty to the company, because the director must still balance such responsibility with the director’s fiduciary responsibility. As the Act does not provide guidance on how directors and officers are to discharge benefit company responsibilities, it will be up to the courts to determine whether a director or officer has done so.

The Act also provides that directors and officers have no duty to, and no proceedings may be commenced against directors and officers by, any person whose well-being may be affected by the company’s conduct or who has an interest in a public benefit specified in the company’s articles. Rather, proceedings for breach of the benefit company responsibilities may only be commenced by “shareholders holding, in the aggregate, at least 2% of the issued shares of the company or, in the case of a public company, the lesser of 2% of the issued shares of the company and issued shares of the company with a fair market value of at least $2,000,000.”[11] As a result of these thresholds, not all public benefits specified in the articles will receive equal attention. The focus is likely to be only on those public benefits that are of interest to a significant portion of the shareholders from time to time.

A court is prohibited from ordering monetary damages in respect of a breach of the benefit company responsibilities. However, a court may still order non-monetary remedies, including an order to comply.

How can a company become a benefit company?

Any new or existing company can become a benefit company by including the benefit statement in its notice of articles and a public benefit provision in its articles with the approval of shareholders by special resolution. A benefit company can cease being a benefit company by deleting the benefit statement in its notice of articles and the public benefit provision in its articles with the approval of shareholders by special resolution.

Shareholders opposed to the addition or removal of such provisions can exercise a right of dissent with respect to any such special resolution and, if the special resolution is approved, are entitled to be paid the fair value of their shares.

What are the ongoing responsibilities of a benefit company?

In order to maintain its status as a benefit company, a company must produce an annual benefit report that provides an assessment of the company’s performance of its public benefits against a third-party standard.[12] Examples of potential third-party standards include the B Corp certification, the Global Reporting Initiative and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. Benefit companies must keep their benefit reports at their registered office and post them to the company’s website (if they have one). Failure to publish an annual benefit report or to publish or post a report that complies with the Act and any applicable regulations is an offence under the Act, which could subject the company to a fine of up to $5,000. There is no government oversight of the assessment of the company’s performance of its public benefits.[13]

Conclusion

There is an increasing focus by entrepreneurs, customers, investors and other stakeholders on whether companies, in addition to maximizing their value to shareholders, should have a broader social purpose. B.C.’s new benefit company legislation explicitly enables a benefit company to pursue both an economic mandate and a social mandate. Becoming a benefit company creates an opportunity for a company to signal to customers, investors and other stakeholders the company’s commitment to a social purpose and to differentiate itself from its competitors, using a model that is widely recognized in the United States.

To view all formatting for this article (eg, tables, footnotes), please access the o

Stephen Lewis says Trudeau ran superficial Security Council campaign for Canada

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government’s superficial foreign policy hamstrung its diplomats and caused Canada’s defeat in the first round of voting for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, says the former Canadian ambassador who helped battle South African apartheid at the UN.

Stephen Lewis also dismissed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s day-after assessment on Thursday that Canada’s late start in campaigning for the temporary council seat was pivotal in its loss to Norway and Ireland on Wednesday.

Norway and Ireland declared their candidacies for the council several years before the Liberals were elected in 2015, after which Trudeau announced Canada’s intention to run.

The defeat of the Liberal government led by Trudeau followed a failed bid for a Security Council seat by the former Conservative government under Stephen Harper in 2010. Trudeau was highly critical of Harper’s foreign policy throughout the 2015 federal election campaign and declared “Canada is back” the day after he won.

“It shows that through the Trudeau years Canada’s superficiality and insouciance in foreign affairs got through to the rest of the world, and the world decided we were too flimsy, unfocused, ad hoc and chaotic to merit support,” said Lewis, a lifelong New Democrat who was appointed by then Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney to be his UN ambassador in the 1980s.

Lewis and Mulroney worked together to lead Canada’s participation in the broader fight at the UN to eventually bring down the racist anti-Black Apartheid regime in South Africa.

On Thursday, Trudeau’s office marked the 30th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s visit to Ottawa and his address to the joint session of Parliament. Mandela, who became South Africa’s first post-Apartheid president, was the first foreign leader to be granted honorary Canadian citizenship and the Order of Canada.

At a media briefing on Thursday, Trudeau was asked about Canada’s foreign-policy failure of the previous day.

“Obviously, we would have hoped for a different result yesterday,” Trudeau said.

“But the reality was, coming in five years later than (Norway and Ireland) gave us a delay that we unfortunately weren’t able to overcome. I was hoping we would, and we certainly worked hard to do it.”

Lewis, who was also a fierce critic of Harper’s foreign policy, dismissed Trudeau’s assessment as “nonsense.”

“Four years should be more than enough to secure the seat. If commitments to Norway and Ireland were earlier made, they would readily have been changed if we had something to offer,” said Lewis, adding that the government’s campaign platform hamstrung the current ambassador Marc-Andre Blanchard.

“Blanchard was excellent, but he had nothing to work with,” said Lewis.

“The prime minister is just fine with rhetorical flourishes. But when it comes to concrete policy, there just isn’t any,” he added.

Michael Bociurkiw, a Canadian-born analyst who has worked abroad for the Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations Children’s Fund, said Wednesday’s loss was “humiliating” for Canada and for Trudeau personally.

“I think this also indicates the decline of influence of the Trudeau brand, possibly impacted by previous incidents such as the India state visit and the blackface revelations,” he said.

In recent months, Canada’s campaign focused heavily on what it has been doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That has included convening countries to bolster food security in developing countries, keeping vital supply chains open across the globe, and working on new financing models to help struggling countries whose economies have been badly damaged by the pandemic.

“I think there is a gap between what we say and what we do — on peacekeeping, on climate change, on the provision of official development assistance,” said Bociurkiw.

Lewis said foreign embassies in Ottawa regularly report Canada’s deficiencies in foreign policy back to their capitals. That includes low levels of international development spending and contributions to UN peacekeeping, and arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

“They know that we talk a good game on climate change but it’s all negated by our reverence for pipelines, not to mention that our per-capita discharge of carbon is twice that of Norway and Ireland,” said Lewis.

“They know that we have nothing of consequence to say about Syria or Afghanistan.”

Lewis said it was shocking that Canada under Trudeau received fewer votes — 108 — than the 114 Canada won in 2010 on the first ballot, under Harper. Canada needed 128 votes, or two-thirds of the voting members of the assembly. Norway won 130 and Ireland garnered 128.

Trudeau said he has called the leaders of Norway and Ireland “to congratulate them for a well-run campaign and commit to them that we were going to continue to work with them on all our shared values on the world stage.”

Canada’s first-ballot defeat wasn’t as resounding as it appeared, given that Norway and Ireland barely reached the 128-vote threshold, said Adam Chapnick, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and author of a recent book on the Security Council.

If either had fallen short, Canada could have proceeded to a second round of voting.

“This is, I believe, the closest we’ve ever seen two countries clear the two-thirds threshold on a first ballot,” he said. “I don’t think there’s been another election where four votes made the difference between no one coming out of the first round successfully, and two countries doing so.”

SOURCE

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2020.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

World has six months to avert climate crisis, says energy expert

International Energy Agency chief warns of need to prevent post-lockdown surge in emissions

The cooling tower of a coal-fired power plant in Datteln, Germany. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

The world has only six months in which to change the course of the climate crisis and prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe, one of the world’s foremost energy experts has warned.

“This year is the last time we have, if we are not to see a carbon rebound,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.

Governments are planning to spend $9tn (£7.2tn) globally in the next few months on rescuing their economies from the coronavirus crisis, the IEA has calculated. The stimulus packages created this year will determine the shape of the global economy for the next three years, according to Birol, and within that time emissions must start to fall sharply and permanently, or climate targets will be out of reach.

“The next three years will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond,” Birol told the Guardian. “If we do not [take action] we will surely see a rebound in emissions. If emissions rebound, it is very difficult to see how they will be brought down in future. This is why we are urging governments to have sustainable recovery packages.”

Carbon dioxide emissions plunged by a global average of 17% in April, compared with last year, but have since surged again to within about 5% of last year’s levels.

In a report published on Thursday, the IEA – the world’s gold standard for energy analysis – set out the first global blueprint for a green recovery, focusing on reforms to energy generation and consumption. Wind and solar power should be a top focus, the report advised, alongside energy efficiency improvements to buildings and industries, and the modernisation of electricity grids.

Creating jobs must be the priority for countries where millions have been thrown into unemployment by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns. The IEA’s analysis shows that targeting green jobs – such as retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient, putting up solar panels and constructing wind farms – is more effective than pouring money into the high-carbon economy.

SEE CHART: The sustainable recovery plan could create nearly 9m new green jobs each year

Sam Fankhauser, executive director of the Grantham Research Institute on climate change at the London School of Economics, who was not involved in the report, said: “Building efficiency ticks all the recovery boxes – shovel-ready, employment intensive, a high economic multiplier, and is absolutely key for zero carbon [as it is] a hard-to-treat sector, and has big social benefits, in the form of lower fuel bills.”

Calls for a green recovery globally have now come from expertseconomistshealth professionals, educators, climate campaigners and politicians. While some governments are poised to take action – for instance, the EU has pledged to make its European green deal the centrepiece of its recovery – the money spent so far has tended to prop up the high-carbon economy.

At least $33bn has been directed towards airlines, with few or no green strings attached, according to the campaigning group Transport and Environment. According to analyst company Bloomberg New Energy Finance, more than half a trillion dollars worldwide – $509bn – is to be poured into high-carbon industries, with no conditions to ensure they reduce their carbon output.

Only about $12.3bn of the spending announced by late last month was set to go towards low-carbon industries, and a further $18.5bn into high-carbon industries provided they achieve climate targets.

In the first tranches of spending, governments “had an excuse” for failing to funnel money to carbon-cutting industries, said Birol, because they were reacting to a sudden and unexpected crisis. “The first recovery plans were more aimed at creating firewalls round the economy,” he explained.

But governments were still targeting high-carbon investment, Birol warned. He pointed to IEA research showing that by the end of May the amount invested in coal-fired power plants in Asia had accelerated compared with last year. “There are already signs of a rebound [in emissions],” he said.

Climate campaigners called on ministers to heed the IEA report and set out green recovery plans. Jamie Peters, campaigns director at Friends of the Earth, said: “A post-Covid world must be a fair one. It will only be equitable if the government prioritises health, wellbeing and opportunity for all parts of society. As if the case was not compelling enough in a dangerously heating planet, it is even more urgent post-Covid.”

Putting the IEA’s recommendations into action would boost the economy, added Rosie Rogers, head of green recovery at Greenpeace UK. “Government putting money behind sustainable solutions really is an economic no-brainer. It can see us build a recovery that both tackles the climate emergency and improves people’s lives through cleaner air and lower bills.”

Investors were also keen to put private sector money into a green recovery, alongside government stimulus spending, said Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive of the Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change, representing funds and asset managers with $26tn in assets. “The IEA has shown [a green recovery] is not only desirable, but economically astute. Investors are fully committed to playing their part in this process.”

SOURCE

Out of Time: The case for nationalizing the fossil fuel industry

For decades, scientists have been predicting catastrophic levels of global heating if society does not change course. The relatively simple models that were in play when Dr. James Hansen first testified to the U.S. Congress in 1988, warning members that global heating posed a serious threat, have proven to be remarkably accurate.1 More than 30 years later, the stock of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere continues to skyrocket.2 American companies show no signs of limiting CO2 emissions anytime soon; in fact, they are currently planning to extract record levels of reserves buried underground.3

What is to be done in the limited time we have left? How does society put itself on a different path that will stabilize temperatures for generations to come? Groups like the Sunrise Movement have moved mountains in the past two years by increasing public awareness about the climate emergency and helping develop and popularize bold ideas like the Green New Deal.4 Building the green economy is going to require monumental action, including investments to create unionized living-wage jobs and better people’s lives through improved public services, air quality, and a thriving economy.

But in this paper we want to think about the other side of the equation: the dirty side.

The dirty side of the climate equation refers to the fossil fuels industry that is polluting our waterways, our air, our planet, and our bodies. Given the stage of the crisis we are in, one thing is clear: the fossil fuel economy must be rapidly phased out. Scientists have repeatedly pointed this out, noting that decades of inaction have made the challenge that much harder. Due to inaction, we have four times the work to do to decarbonize the planet and dwindling time to do it in.5 Despite the enormous stakes, viable pathways to quickly wind down the fossil fuel industry are less clear. Moreover, the idea of a managed decline of the industry has received little to no media or policy attention, though this is beginning to change with the collapse of oil prices. As much as some would like to believe that the fossil fuel industry can lead the energy transition, their actions—past and present—prove this is a dangerous pipedream. Fossil fuel executives have known about global warming and the role their firms play in the impending catastrophe for close to half a century.6 Rather than diversifying their businesses and investing in the green energy of the future, they have decided to double down, extract more, and intentionally lie to the public in order to sow seeds of doubt in what they themselves knew, and continue to know, to be the truth; all with the end goal of maximizing power and short-term profits through a continued harmful business as usual model.7 In part, they are constrained by their own carbon lock-in: even if fossil fuel companies wanted to pivot their operations, their heavy investments in fossil fuel reserves, extraction, and transport means that they need to keep extracting and selling to the market for decades to come to recoup the costs of the capital-intensive infrastructure.8  Even now, with growing climate impacts across the world and a groundswell of climate activism, Shell’s chief economist summarizes their current thinking as follows: “we’re going to get as much out of [oil and gas] for as long as we can.”.9

This brings us back to our earlier question: what is to be done? Specifically, how can fossil fuel industries be rapidly wound down given the scale of the climate problem, the extremely short timeline we have to decarbonize, and the fossil fuel companies’ carbon lock-in? Importantly, this is not just a debate unfolding amongst climate activists. Financial elites including Mark Carney, Jim Cramer, and Larry Fink are sounding the alarm too.10

Any dismantling of industry has to consider how to support its workers. Looking at direct and indirect jobs across the coal, oil, and gas industries indicates how challenging a large-scale decline of fossil fuels will likely be. By the end of 2018, the gas, coal and oil industries account for over 1.6 million U.S. workers (See Figure 1). The fossil fuel industry has shown no signs that it is willing to put in place proactive measures for transition, putting at risk employees and the communities they live in. In fact, the decline of the coal industry has shown that companies are willing to shed their responsibility to workers.

A federal takeover can start to meaningfully address the climate emergency and remove fossil fuel interests from the political equation.

Many economists argue that we just need a carbon price and the wonders of the market will work it all out.11 We will address this misplaced overconfidence in the market in this report. Others offer that renewables will rapidly be able to push fossil fuels out of the market as cheaper sources of power. Some activists, on the other hand, have been fighting to #KeepItInTheGround by pushing for supply-side policy interventions that would halt the extraction of fossil fuel resources.12 Presidential candidates for the 2020 Democratic primary have focused on executive orders to limit extraction on public lands, fracking bans, and reinstating the U.S. crude export ban—a measure that in itself could reduce global emissions by the equivalent of closing between 19 and 42 coal plants.13 But eliminating the dirty industries will require much more than that; it demands that the U.S. halt existing and already producing fields and transition the economy beyond fossil fuels in a controlled fashion. There is no single silver bullet to ensure this happens. Instead, we will need a large swath of policy changes to transition the economy. Markets, for their part, are incapable of managing such a sizable transition, particularly since they’ve been manipulated in the industry’s favor through things like subsidies and bailouts. A transition will be fought tooth and nail by existing fossil capital. And importantly, phasing out fossil fuels requires a plan, which the country sorely lacks at this time.

The time has come for the U.S. government to nationalize the fossil fuel industry. With oil prices collapsing, and even going negative, and firms’ market values plunging, the government can once again use a policy weapon that has in the past been successful in overcoming social and economic unrest: nationalization. A federal takeover can start to meaningfully address the climate emergency and remove fossil fuel interests from the political equation—for a cheap price, too. While a few years ago taking over just the top 25 oil, gas, and coal companies would have required over $1.15 trillion, today a takeover could cost just $550–$700 billion (or half of that if the Fed were to acquire only majority control—51 percent—of companies). That’s a small price to pay to neutralize fossil fuel industry power once and for all.

Nationalization alone will not solve the crisis, but it’s a crucial tool to consider as we engage in a program of crash decarbonization, particularly in ways that protect workers and communities dependent on extraction. This is especially true given current macroeconomic conditions (specifically the economic collapse due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the collapse of international oil prices), where fossil capital has been rapidly devalued and government debt is as cheap as it has ever been. With a habitable planet at stake, nationalization is an eminently reasonable policy to undertake.


Out of Time [PDF]
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Carla SkandierCarla Skandier

Senior Research Associate with The Next System Project more

 

Rory RenzyRory Renzy

Undergraduate student, New College of Florida more

Surrey-based report shines light on daily acts of racism urban-Indigenous people face

Many urban-Indigenous people in Surrey told a panel they feel invisible and face racism often
Report finds racism is ‘part of the lived experience of urban Indigenous peoples in Surrey’
Anti-Indigenous racism is woven into fabric of Canadian society, report finds, adding we all must look at systems

Various Indigenous and non-Indigenous people gathered in Surrey in February to talk about lived experiences with racism, how it impacts the Indigenous community, and how to solve it. (Courtesy Skookum Lab)

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – A new report out of Surrey is revealing just how often urban Indigenous people face acts of discrimination.

In February, 43 Indigenous and non-Indigenous people met to talk about lived experiences with racism, how it impacts the Indigenous community, and how to solve it.

Many of the participants in the two-day event in Surrey said they feel invisible, sharing words and attitudes they face on a daily basis like “knowing nothing”, “on welfare”, “lazy”, “violent”, and “not good mothers.”

“Participants shared these painful and common experiences,” the report reads. “They conveyed how anti-Indigenous racism is rooted in societal beliefs that Indigenous peoples are inferior, impoverished, and inadequate.”

The report by Skookum Lab — an innovation initiative by the Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee to tackle the issue of Indigenous child and youth poverty, which exist at very high levels in Surrey — was made public this week. It reveals how acts of racism are “part of the lived experience of urban Indigenous peoples in Surrey.”

Read the full report: 

Ginger Gosnell-Myers (@Skusgluums) | Twitter

 

“Some participants, with perspectives on Indigenous health and wellness, were concerned about the ’embodied forms of racism’ revealed in the addiction, intergenerational trauma, homelessness, mental health concerns and diabetes that Indigenous people disproportionately suffer from in Surrey,” the report notes. “A lack of appreciation for Indigenous knowledge and cultural wisdom (epistemic racism) was also mentioned numerous times.”

It adds the anti-racism discussions were “a chance to acknowledge that racism exists in multiple forms, happens everyday, and has profound and painful consequences.”

The report concludes anti-Indigenous racism is woven into the fabric of Canadian society, and that we all have to take a critical and uncomfortable look at the systems that allow it to exist.

“Importantly, racism is part of the problem that keeps Indigenous children and youth at a socio-economic disadvantage compared to non-Indigenous peers.”

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Government called to task for failure to implement MMIWG inquiry recommendations

One year after report was released Indigenous communities see little action

Angela Cadieux of Orillia advocates for justice for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls, painting a handprint on her face to symbolize being silenced and a lack of consent. – Angela Cadieux photo

PARRY SOUND – Governments need to act on the 231 recommendations for action in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry report, according to Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald.

Chief Archibald reminded the federal and provincial governments of their failure to implement the recommendations in the report titled Reclaiming Power and Place, Toronto on June 3, one year after the report was released.

The report, introduced June 3, 2019, was created to ensure all forms of government, industry, and public services have a guide to follow for best practices to insure the overall safety of Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

Chief Archibald asked all levels of government to accelerate their fiscal investments to address this ongoing national tragedy. The advancement of action put in place by the national Inquiry are to be guided by the family members and survivors to ensure the calls for justice are practical, solutions-oriented and geared to the realities of Indigenous girls’ and women’s lives.

Furthermore, Chief Archibald suggests Indigenous governments and Indigenous women’s organizations be supported with the implementation of an annual “calls for justice” report card.

“The time for action is NOW. Move forward with community-based and trauma informed responses and protocols. These Missing Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and their families deserve full attention and full implementation to ensure the violence against the Indigenous women and girls stops,” said Chief Archibald in a press release.

“The Canadian government is part of the problem,” said Suzanne Smoke of Alder Ville First Nation Mississaugas of Rice Lake, who is the outreach co-ordinator for Muskoka Parry Sound Sexual Assault Services. “The colonial damage has been happening for over 528 years. It can’t be fixed with short-term funding and Band-Aid solutions. We need full investment to our ways and our structures to succeed in healing our people, our way.”

She also said it is time for Indigenous leaders to “slide a chair up to the table and tell them (Canadian politicians) to move over.”

She said Indigenous leaders need to assert themselves as equals to the Canadian government.

“This is the time of reckoning,” she said, adding that Indigenous leaders will take their place and fully participate in the best interest of “our Indigenous people … this way MMIWG2ST can stop and the healing can truly begin.”

The Six Nations Elected council also sounded off in a statement released on June 3. It is “joining the call for governments to invest in resources for new innovative healing programs and services that will ensure equality for our women so they can live safe and secure lives.”

Anishinabek Grand Council Chief Glen Hare commented on the lack of action a year after the national inquiry report was released, according to a press release.

“We demand the federal government fully support and implement the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Failure to do so perpetuates the targeted genocide of our people. This must stop,” he said.

The report states only transformative legal and social changes, such as to structural systems that only prolong the violence, can resolve the crisis devastating Indigenous communities across this country.

“Our women and girls are held in highest esteem,” said Chief Hare, speaking of Indigenous values. “They are the life givers and caregivers to our communities.”

Indigenous communities and allies are awaiting response from the Canadian government.

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Strength Of Two Buffalo is Kanien’kehá (Mohawk) Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River Ohsweken. For the past 37 years, Strength Of Two Buffalo has been actively decolonizing his life apprenticing with and learning from a diverse community of elders such as the Haudenosaunee, Anishinabek, Nehiyawok (Cree), Lakota, Metis and Inuit peoples from across both Canada and the United States. He has worked on the front lines for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People, environmental issues, Indigenous sovereignty, water and child protection.

Greta Thunberg: Climate change ‘as urgent’ as coronavirus

Greta Thunberg says the world needs to learn the lessons of coronavirus and treat climate change with similar urgency.

That means the world acting “with necessary force”, the Swedish climate activist says in an exclusive interview with BBC News.

She doesn’t think any “green recovery plan” will solve the crisis alone.

And she says the world is now passing a “social tipping point” on climate and issues such as Black Lives Matter.

“People are starting to realise that we cannot keep looking away from these things”, says Ms Thunberg, “we cannot keep sweeping these injustices under the carpet”.

She says lockdown has given her time to relax and reflect away from the public gaze.

Ms Thunberg has shared with the BBC the text of a deeply personal programme she has made for Swedish Radio.

In the radio programme, which goes online this morning, Greta looks back on the year in which she became one of the world’s most high-profile celebrities.

The then 16-year-old took a sabbatical from school to spend a tumultuous year campaigning on the climate.

She sailed across the Atlantic on a racing yacht to address a special UN Climate Action summit in New York in September.

She describes world leaders queuing to get pictures with her, with Angela Merkel asking whether it was okay to post her photo on social media.

Greta Thunberg
Image captionThe climate activist is sceptical of some world leaders’ motives 

The climate campaigner is sceptical of their motives. “Perhaps it makes them forget the shame of their generation letting all future generations down”, she says. “I guess maybe it helps them to sleep at night.”

It was in the UN that she delivered her famous “how dare you” speech. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words”, she told the world leaders gathered in the UN Assembly.

She appeared on the verge of tears as she continued. “People are dying,” she said, “and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?”

She knew it was a “lifetime moment” and decided not to hold anything back, she says now.

“I am going to let my emotions take control and to really make something big out of this because I won’t be able to do this again”.

She describes travelling back from the UN to her hotel on the subway and seeing people watching the speech on their phones, but says she felt no urge to celebrate.

“All that is left are empty words”, she says.

The phrase reflects her deep cynicism about the motives of most world leaders.

“The level of knowledge and understanding even among people in power is very, very low, much lower than you would think,” she told the BBC.

Greta sailed to New York on a zero-emissions yacht in 2019

She says the only way to reduce emissions on the scale that is necessary is to make fundamental changes to our lifestyles, starting in developed countries. But she doesn’t believe any leaders have the nerve to do that.

Instead, she says, they “simply refrain from reporting the emissions, or move them somewhere else”.

She claims the UK, Sweden and other countries do this by failing to account for the emissions from ships and aircraft and by choosing not to count the emissions from goods produced in factories abroad.

As a result, she says in her radio programme, the whole language of debate has been degraded.

“Words like green, sustainable, ‘net-zero’, ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘organic’, ‘climate-neutral’ and ‘fossil-free’ are today so misused and watered down that they have pretty much lost all their meaning. They can imply everything from deforestation to aviation, meat and car industries,” she said.

Ms Thunberg says the only positive that could come out of the coronavirus pandemic would be if it changes how we deal with global crises: “It shows that in a crisis, you act, and you act with necessary force.”

She says she is encouraged that politicians are now stressing the importance of listening to scientists and experts.

“Suddenly people in power are saying they will do whatever it takes since you cannot put a price on human life.”

She hopes that will open up a discussion about the urgency of taking action to help the people who die from illnesses related to climate change and environmental degradation right now as well as in the future.

But she remains deeply pessimistic about our ability to keep any temperature increases within safe boundaries.

She says that, even if countries actually deliver the carbon reductions they’ve promised, we’ll still be heading for a “catastrophic” global temperature rise of 3-4 degrees.

Great ThunbergImage copyrightEPA

 

The teenager believes the only way to avoid a climate crisis is to tear up contracts and abandon existing deals and agreements that companies and countries have signed up to.

“The climate and ecological crisis cannot be solved within today’s political and economic systems”, the Swedish climate activist argues. “That isn’t an opinion. That’s a fact.”

Thunberg talks movingly of a road-trip she and her father took through North America in an electric car borrowed from Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood actor turned politician and climate campaigner.

She visited the charred remains of Paradise, the Californian town destroyed by a wildfire in November 2018.

She is shocked by the carbon-intensive lifestyles she saw in the US. “Apart from a few wind power plants and solar panels,” she says, “there are no signs whatsoever of any sustainable transition, despite this being the richest country in the world.”

But the social inequities struck her just as forcefully.

She describes meeting poor black, Hispanic and indigenous communities.

“It was very shocking to hear people talk about that they can’t afford to put food on the table”, she explained.

Yet Greta Thunberg says she has been inspired by the way people have been responding to these injustices, particularly the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in May.

She believes society has “passed a social tipping point, we can no longer look away from what our society has been ignoring for so long whether it is equality, justice or sustainability”.

She describes signs of what she calls an “awakening” in which “people are starting to find their voice, to sort of understand that they can actually have an impact”.

That is why Greta Thunberg says she still has hope.

“Humanity has not yet failed”, she argues.

She concludes her radio documentary in powerful form.

“Nature does not bargain and you cannot compromise with the laws of physics,” the teenager asserts.

“Doing our best is no longer good enough. We must now do the seemingly impossible. And that is up to you and me. Because no one else will do it for us.”

A longer version of Justin Rowlatt’s interview with Greta Thunberg will be available next week. You can listen to the English language version of Greta Thunberg’s programme for Swedish Radio here.

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