Young people could decide the outcome of the Canadian election this October.

This is our time to decide — our time for a Green New Deal.

Image result for green new deal canada

Are you a young person or a millennial?

Sign the pledge to vote for candidates who support a Green New Deal — a real action plan that tackles climate change and inequality.

For decades, fossil fuel billionaires and their political allies have put people and the planet in jeopardy. Last fall, scientists confirmed we only have 12 years to cut our emissions in half to avoid catastrophic climate change.

While the political establishment continues compromising our future, inequality keeps rising, injustice deepens, and the climate crisis gets worse and worse. Their time is over. The 2019 election is Our Time.

For this campaign, we’re focused on organizing young people and millennials under the age of 35. But to win, we will need everyone. If you’re young at heart or an ally in this fight, click here to join the movement.

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Meat and the environment: Do Canadians know what’s at stake?

CBC News produces a weekly newsletter, What On Earth,  on all things environmental. Every week, they highlight trends and solutions that are moving us to a more sustainable world. For example other articles included in the latest mailing are
The carbon footprint of protein, A primer on e-waste, and Nice day for a green wedding. 

You can sign up here to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

Our story last week on the five things that Canada could do to significantly reduce carbon emissions garnered a lot of reader feedback, and one recurring criticism: Why didn’t we mention eating less meat?

First off: Fair point. Meat production is indeed one of the biggest culprits for greenhouse gases. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock accounts for nearly 15 per cent of worldwide emissions. The emissions are produced through a variety of factors, including energy use (which often requires fossil fuels) and methane from the animals themselves.

Derek Gladwin, a fellow of the UBC Sustainability Initiative at the University of British Columbia, said the largest chunk of these emissions — 11 per cent — comes from “unsustainable forms of mass-scale factory farming.” Gladwin said as much as 70 per cent of the Amazon has been deforested for factory-farmed beef.

Mandating that Canadians eat less meat for the good of the planet would be a challenge for any government (likely even more so than getting countrywide buy-in for a carbon tax). Yet the latest version of the Canada Food Guide provided a nudge in that direction, suggesting consumers “choose protein foods that come from plants more often.”

Gladwin said there are “many” challenges when it comes to promoting a more plant-based diet. “The meat industry is one of the largest sectors of the Canadian economy and it retains strong social influence on politics, marketing, media and education more generally.”

He doesn’t think most Canadians grasp the connection between meat production and carbon emissions. That may be so, but there’s no denying that more people are, if not shunning meat outright, looking for alternatives. MORE

 

Ontario may let developers pay fee in lieu of ‘onerous’ Endangered Species Act protections

“So sad it’s heartbreaking. So to tally this up, hates endangered species, teachers, kids with autism, books, nurses, mental health patients, students, indigenous affairs, cyclists, climate action, green energy projects…I’m sure I’ve missed some. But wow.”  17 hours ago

Environment minister Rod Phillips (right) seen in the legislature on April 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Katsarov

Ontario’s government wants to allow developers to pay a fee to avoid complying with environmental regulations that protect endangered species, while also making it harder for animals to make it onto that growing list.

Environment Minister Rod Phillips announced the creation of Canada’s first independent Crown agency on Thursday to make “informed, unbiased and expert decisions” on how to use the funds to protect and recover populations of species at risk.

The agency will be called the “Species at Risk Conservation Trust” and it will collect regulatory charges that applicant can pay instead of completing “some of the more onerous and lengthy requirements of a permit” needed to build in or near an endangered species habitat, Phillips said.

“But let me be clear: applicants would still be required to take the necessary steps to minimize adverse effects,” he said. “This payment is not, by any means, an opportunity for businesses to walk away. It is an opportunity for an increased efficiency and a more strategic focus on how we preserve species and their habitats.”

It was not clear why a business would pay the charge if it still had to do everything it would otherwise have to do to be mindful of species at risk. MORE

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GREEN DEAL WITH IT: NYC Council passes sweeping building emission legislation

This is huge! Major climate victory as New York City Council passes world leading climate legislation that will dramatically reduce pollution from largest buildings, mandate solar and green roofs, study closure of all gas plants. Huge!

The New York City Council has approved a legislative package that would impose harsh limits on the city's dirtiest buildings. Pictured here: Midtown Manhattan at night. (Denys Nevozhai/Unsplash)
The New York City Council has approved a legislative package that would impose harsh limits on the city’s dirtiest buildings. Pictured here: Midtown Manhattan at night. (Denys Nevozhai/Unsplash)

Some of New York’s tallest towers are doing the most harm to the environment. Although buildings larger than 25,000 square feet only represent two percent of the city’s stock, according to the Urban Green Council that minority is responsible for up to half of all building emissions.

Now the New York City Council is finally cracking down on the worst offenders, and New York will soon become the first city in the world to constrain large building emissions through hard limits. Yesterday the council passed the eight-bill Climate Mobilization Act, a legislative package that some are comparing to a New Green Deal for New York.

The Climate Mobilization Act, which Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign, would set increasingly harsh limits on carbon emissions for buildings over 25,000 square feet beginning in 2024. According to the Urban Green Council, New York City produces 50 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, and buildings account for approximately 67 percent of that—meaning buildings over 25,000 square feet produce 35 percent, or about 13 million tons of carbon dioxide, a year.

The legislation covering the affected 50,000 buildings will roll out in phases. This year, an Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance and an advisory board will be created at the Department of Buildings to both regulate and enforce the new standards. When the law fully takes effect in 2024, emissions from qualifying buildings will need to be reduced 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The Climate Mobilization Act then takes things one step further and requires that these same buildings slash their emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Why are large buildings such energy hogs? Lighting, heating, cooling, and tech requirements, combined with inefficient equipment, all constrained within leaky envelopes, have combined to create a perfect storm of waste. MORE

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Majority of Canadians support a ‘Green New Deal,’ poll finds

A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Image result for alexandria ocasio-cortez: "call me a radical"What if we actually pulled off a Green New Deal? What would the future look like? The Intercept presents a film narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple.

Set a couple of decades from now, the film is a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?

We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.

This film flips the script. It’s about how, in the nick of time, a critical mass of humanity in the largest economy on earth came to believe that we were actually worth saving. Because, as Ocasio-Cortez says in the film, our future has not been written yet and “we can be whatever we have the courage to see.”

David Suzuki fires off from the ‘death zone’ at Trudeau, Weaver and a broken system

 

When David Suzuki,  Canada’s foremost environmentalist and one of the most respected people  in Canada, calls for political and economic revolution, shouldn’t you be writing to the media and political leaders and demanding , “1.5 to stay alive!“?


Environmentalist David Suzuki thinks the federal government isn’t doing enough to fulfill its climate promises. Photo by Jocelyn Michel

David Suzuki is calling for political and economic revolution.

The acclaimed scientist, broadcaster, and Great Canadian has seen it all. But he’s disillusioned with politics like never before. He says for B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, “politics comes before principle.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “would be a wonderful Governor-General,” in his view. The democratic system is “completely broke.”

David Suzuki is pissed: B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, “politics comes before principle,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “would be a wonderful Governor-General,” and that our entire political system is “completely broke.” #cdnpoli

At age 81, in his self-described “death zone,” Suzuki is forcefully advocating for a paradigm shift that is nothing short of revolutionary: political leaders drawn by lot, an empowered Senate of Canada, and a sustainable “doughnut economy.”

“You hear about the triple bottom line. The triple bottom line is the environment, society, and the economy. Usually, it is depicted by three circles of equal size. Usually they’re overlapping, so the areas where they’re overlapping is the sweet spot. That’s where you gotta work and benefit all three.

“The reality is you’ve got one big circle, the biosphere: the zone of air, water, and land, where all life exists. Within that there are 10 million little circles of different size. That’s each species. Within the human circle, the economy should be a tiny ring within that. But what we’ve got is one big circle, and one of the rings inside is 40 per cent of the circle. Humans have taken over 40 per cent of the net primary productivity of the planet. And of course when we take that over we drive all the other species to extinction. We’re trying to keep the economy growing so that it will be bigger than society and the environment. This is crazy.”

On the sidelines of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Charged Up program launch in Vancouver, National Observer caught up with the man himself for a wide-ranging, unfiltered conversation. Below is the uncensored transcript, edited for brevity and clarity. MORE

 

Extinction Rebellion: Police begin second wave of arrests in London climate protests

Extinction Rebellion is an international protest group that uses non-violent civil disobedience to campaign on environmental issues. Demonstration have included blocking bridges to traffic in London and a semi-naked protest inside the House of Commons. The group says climate breakdown threatens all life on Earth, and so it is rebelling against politicians who ‘have failed us’, to provoke radical change that will stave off a climate emergency.

Unlike many other Canadian cities, Prince Edward County Council has yet to announce a climate emergency.

Extinction Rebellion activists continue action after more than 100 arrested overnight


Police officers start arresting Extinction Rebellion activists occupying Waterloo Bridge. Photograph: Sean Smith/The Guardian

Police have moved in again to begin arresting climate activists blocking Waterloo Bridge in central London.

Hundreds of people had occupied the crossing and three other sites in the capital since Monday morning.

Over Monday night, officers tried to clear the bridge, arresting 113 people, but the blockade remained in place. Just after 12.30pm on Tuesday, officers moved in again and began to carry people away.

The protests are part of a global campaign organised by the British climate group Extinction Rebellion, with demonstrations planned in 80 cities across 33 countries in the coming days.

The group has called on the UK government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and establish a citizens’ assembly to devise an emergency plan of action to tackle climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. MORE

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Only rebellion will prevent an ecological apocalypse
What are Extinction Rebellion protesting about? The climate change group causing chaos in London

Group works toward a plastic-free PEC

“It’s not about making a thousand changes in your life; it’s about a thousand people making a single change. We understand that it’s not plastic free, but it’s heading towards that.” -Julie Miller, chair of Plastic Free PEC

 

Postmedia file photo A group in Prince Edward County is encouraging residents to stop using single-use plastic items such as water bottles. JPG, BI

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY  – A group of like-minded citizens have joined together to create a group called “Plastic Free PEC.”

According to their Vision Statement they are “changing attitudes, habits, and business practices in Prince Edward County that will result in the reduction of single-use plastics.” But it’s not an all-or-
nothing approach. The group believes that an impact can be made by encouraging everyone to make small incremental changes. They are starting by focusing on eliminating six items from everyday use: water bottles; straws; coffee cups; ziplock bags; plastic bags; and cutlery.
Image result for pec mayor steve fergusonWhile it is still a newly formed committee, Plastic Free PEC has sought a Proclamation from Mayor Steve Ferguson to proclaim April 22 as Plastic Free day in Prince Edward County, which also happens to be Earth Day. Other short-term goals of the committee are to purchase a mobile event water station – a kin to a Quench Buggy, but on a much smaller and more affordable scale; to provide education about moving away from a life full of single-use plastics; and to seek  commitments from other community groups to ban single-use plastics at meetings and events.
Plastic Free PEC is seeking more volunteers to join the group. Possible volunteer roles could involve staffing an educational booth at an event; fundraising to purchase a mobile event water station;
assisting with trash bashes; or advocating to PEC community groups and businesses to change their consumption of plastics.
More information on joining the group can be found on the Plastic Free PEC Facebook Page, or by emailing plasticfreepec@gmail.com
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Proclamation: Let’s free where we live from single use plastic
April 22 is Plastic Free Day!

Extinction Rebellion: The climate protesters who want to get arrested

 

In the absence of legal remedies against ecocide, the Extinction Rebellion advocates non-violent civil disobedience to gain media and political recognition [see below]. On the other hand, writing  a letter to local media or to our political ‘leaders’ doesn’t seem such a high risk activity now, wouldn’t you agree? 

Protest group Extinction Rebellion’s fight against climate change is making headlines – most recently when they stripped almost naked in the House of Commons. The Victoria Derbyshire programme went behind the scenes with the group, which urges people to break the law to save the world.

“Troublemakers change the world,” says Roger Hallam, one the group’s founders. “When they’re starting to call you troublemakers, you’re starting to get some traction, right?”

Controversially, the group is trying to get as many people arrested as possible.

Since its launch last year, members have shut bridges, poured buckets of fake blood outside Downing Street, blockaded the BBC and stripped semi-naked in Parliament.

Critics say they cause unnecessary disruption and waste police time when forces are already overstretched.

Mr Hallam is unrepentant: “If you’re a trade union, everyone knows that when you first go on strike everyone’s going, ‘Troublemakers.’ But then you have to state your case, which is, ‘If you don’t get this sorted, we’re going to die.'”

We filmed members as they blocked traffic in central London – playing cat and mouse with the police – and as young members glued themselves to the entrance of a fracking conference.

Civil disobedience
Roger Hallam
Image caption: Group founder Roger Hallam says he has spent years studying how to achieve social changeIt has three core demands: for the government to “tell the truth about climate change”, reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025, and create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress.

Mr Hallam has spent years researching how to achieve social change through radical movements.

“Mass participation and civil disobedience maximise the chance of social change in this context,” he explains.

“It doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed, it just means it’s massively more likely to be effective than sending emails and doing conventional campaigning. And it’s significantly more effective than using violence.” MORE

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Breaking the law is the future of climate protests

Polly Higgins — Meet the Lawyer Taking on Big Oil’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Scientists estimate that emissions from just 90 companies contributed for nearly 50% of the rise in global mean surface temperature since the end of the Industrial Revolution. We have to make the criminal actors destroying our planet accountable. Lawyer Polly Higgins argues that making Ecocide a crime and holding principal actors personally responsible for their actions, is the most effective way to save our planet. Find out more about Mission Life Force here

Polly Higgins

Polly Higgins is a woman on the hunt. And you get the sense that, after decades of working towards holding powerful polluters to account, her prey may finally be in sight.

When you’re looking at any crime, you’re looking at who are your suspects,” she tells me in a soft Scottish accent that belies the hard truths she regularly delivers. “Within a corporate context, you’re looking at CEOs and directors. Within a state context, it is ministers and Heads of State.”

They’re the ones where final responsibility rests for making the decisions that can adversely impact many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, and indeed — in the case of climate crime — billions of people.”

Climate activism is surging, with the school strikers chastising older generations for failing them, and Extinction Rebellion hitting headlines with its creative direct actions in the name of “climate justice”.

But Higgins has her own, more institutional approach to what she agrees is a looming climate crisis: making it illegal to deliberately destroy the environment. She is calling for the International Criminal Court in the Hague to recognise ‘ecocide’ as a crime against humanity, alongside genocide and war crimes. She explains:

There’s a growing recognition that a lot of campaigning is not getting us where we need to go, and just saying fossil fuel extraction should stop is not enough. It has to be criminalised.”

That’s why, in 2010, Higgins proposed an amendment to the Rome Statute — the treaty that established the International Criminal Court. It defined ecocide as “the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.”

MORE

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MISSION LIFE FORCE