Liberal Government Accepts Pro-Oil Amendments to Bill C-69

Liberal Government Accepts Pro-Oil Amendments to Bill C-69


K’jipuktuk/Halifax: The federal government has rejected a number of amendments from the Senate, but not all. Life cycle regulator appointees can now chair review panels. The four life cycle regulators mentioned in the Bill C-69 are the Newfoundland and Nova Scotia Petroleum Boards, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the new Canadian Energy Regulator.

“These regulators are biased, “ says Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director with Sierra Club Foundation of Canada. “In Atlantic Canada, petroleum boards are widely viewed as too close to the oil industry and we have been adamantly opposed to their appointees sitting on panels, let alone chairing.”

This story began when the federal government as a result of pressure from Newfoundland MPs allowed panel members appointed by the petroleum boards–2 appointees on a 5 person panel—to chair review panels. This change provoked widespread opposition from fishing and tourism organizations, Indigenous leaders, and environmental groups in Atlantic Canada.

In response, Senator Jane Cordy introduced an amendment to prevent petroleum board appointees from chairing panels. This amendment was defeated. Instead, the amendment allowing appointees from all four life cycle regulators to chair, was approved by Senators. The federal government has chosen to accept this amendment thereby weakening the integrity and independence of the environmental assessment process in Canada.

“Although we were encouraged by government’s decision to reject many of the Senate amendments, the appointment of petroleum board members to review panels threatens the integrity of the process by undermining its independence.  Allowing those members to chair these panels enables a level of influence that is unacceptable,” says Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director of East Coast Environmental Law.

Unlike BC and the Arctic, most of Atlantic Canadian waters are open to oil and gas drilling. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has set a goal of doubling its offshore oil production and drilling a hundred new exploratory wells by 2030.

“The federal government pledged to restore credibility to the environmental assessment process. In Atlantic Canada they have done the opposite when it comes to offshore drilling”, says Mark Butler, Policy Director, Ecology Action Centre. MORE

5G Resistance: Concern grows over European rollout

Resistance to 5G is rapidly increasing, especially in Europe where many are unwilling to roll over for a 5G rollout. Fifth generation wireless threatens to massively increase electromagnetic radiation, affecting people and the planet.

@ University of Liverpool

Resistance to 5G is rapidly increasing, especially in Europe where many are unwilling to roll over for a 5G rollout. Fifth generation wireless threatens to massively increase electromagnetic radiation, affecting people and the planet.

On March 31, Brussels (Belgium) became the first major city to stop a 5G pilot project because of health concerns. Refusing to increase allowable radiation limits, Celine Fremault, Environment Minister for the Brussels-Capital Region, told the press: “I cannot welcome such technology if the radiation standards, which must protect the citizen[s], are not respected, 5G or not. The people of Brussels are not guinea pigs whose health I can sell at a profit.”

A scientific NGO called the Planetary Association for Clean Energy (PACE) – which has “special consultative status” at the United Nations Economic and Social Council – submitted a statement to the UN in February, revealing that allowable international “radiation limits will have to be increased by 30 to 40%” in order to make 5G deployment technologically feasible.

This move by Brussels was one of a number of steps taken in Europe to stop 5G during a recent three-week period.

Other actions include:

• Florence, Italy applies the precautionary principle, refusing permissions for 5G
• A district in Rome votes against 5G trials
• The Russian Ministry of Defence refuses to transfer spectrum frequencies for 5G use
• The Belgian Environment Minister announces that Brussels is halting its 5G rollout plans.
• Germans sign a petition en masse to force the Bundestag to debate 5G.
• Dutch Members of Parliament insist that radiation research must be carried out before approval of 5G
• Four Swiss cantons adopt resolutions calling for a pause on 5G, pending an environmental report

These events may have been influenced by major petitions that have received attention in Europe since 2015.

But in an extraordinary move, telecom giant Swisscom defied local Swiss ordinances and on April 17 began activating 5G antennas in 102 locations. PACE’s Main UN Representative in Geneva, Olivier Vuillemin, told me by email that Swisscom’s action has caused “a huge backlash against 5G” across the country.

Guinea pigs?

In February 2019, US Senator Richard Blumenthal grilled wireless industry representatives during a Senate hearing. Industry spokesmen admitted that the industry “has done no health and safety studies on 5G.” Senator Blumenthal memorably concluded: “We’re kind of flying blind here, as far as health and safety is concerned.”

In January the FCC removed the public notice requirement – 5G would be installed “without public notice, hearings or appeals”

PACE considers this “an experiment on humanity that constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” in violation of more than 15 international treaties and agreements.

In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken extraordinary steps to ram through 5G over the past year. First, its unelected officials amended FCC rules in March 2018 so that deployment decisions regarding 5G infrastructure would no longer require public participation and environmental review. MORE

Green New Deal tour seeks hope and reconciliation in Canada

David Suzuki and Naomi Klein discussed a Green New Deal for Canada at the Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Katsarov

The Canadian version [of the Green New Deal] is adding more emphasis on the inclusion of Indigenous practices.

The Green New Deal “must be based on Indigenous knowledge and science and cut Canada’s emissions in half in 11 years,” according to the Council of Canadians, one of many partnering groups.

Pam Palmater, Maria Menezes, and supporters of the Our Time organization listen during the Green New Deal town hall at Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Pam Palmater, Maria Menezes, and supporters of the Our Time organization listen during the Green New Deal town hall at Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Katsarov

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report last October saying global warming requires “rapid and far-reaching” infrastructure transitions. The UN report, completed by leading climate scientists, warns that without serious action to lower CO2 emissions within 11 years, there will be more catastrophes to come, including floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) has not been implemented in Canada, which defines Indigenous rights and grants free prior informed consent to the policies that affect them, such as climate change and natural resource development.

On June 11, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples passed Bill C-262 to implement UNDRIP in Canada. It is not yet federal law. Conservative senators objected over fears about its potential impact on resource development and have been accused of stalling. If the bill is not made federal law by the end of the month, new legislation will have to be tabled.

The Green New Deal attempts to align the principles of UNDRIP and traditional Indigenous knowledge with scientific inquiry.

Wanda Whitebird, an elder of the Mi’kmaq Nation from Afton, N.S., welcomed the crowd of a few hundred to the inaugural town hall in Toronto.

Large banners calling for 100 per cent renewable energy and the recognition of Indigenous rights were draped from the second floor of the church. From the front pews to the back, attendees chanted for “climate justice.” MORE


Senate committee passes UNDRIP bill, but not without push-back


How this Ontario cemetery is going green

In the green-burial section of Glenwood Cemetery, in Picton, there’s no steel, no concrete, and no formaldehyde — just bodies, sometimes blankets, and earth

A person crouching down in a green space
Helma Oonk, general manager of Glenwood Cemetery, examines a young wildflower in the new green-burial section. (David Rockne Corrigan)

PICTON — Most of Glenwood Cemetery’s 25 hectares are manicured and marked with gravestones, but not those in its southern end. They’ve been left in their natural state: sunlight pokes through towering maples; deer graze on flowers on the forest floor. But sticking out through the underbrush are 35 orange flags, each one marking a future burial lot — and signalling that, at Glenwood, interment is going green.

On this day in early June, Helma Oonk, the cemetery’s general manager, and Sandra Latchford, its board chair, are surveying the section and explaining why it represents the next chapter in the cemetery’s 136-year history.

“Number one and two are gone,” says Oonk. “And, last week, I sold grave number seven. And number 17, in the corner, is on hold for someone from Kingston.”

In May, Glenwood became the second Ontario cemetery to receive certification from the Green Burial Society of Canada, a national non-profit organization that sets standards for green burials, and announced that it would be adding more environmentally friendly burial options.

“People realize, ‘Oh, I don’t need a vault’ or ‘Oh, I don’t need embalming,’ and it’s actually not allowed [in this section]. No concrete, no steel casket. If you just want to be rolled in your blanket, that’s fine, too,” says Oonk. MORE

6 Glimmers of Climate Optimism for the End of a Dark Year

It was a year of frightening reports on the future of our planet. But sustainability experts are still feeling optimistic about some of the strides we’ve made this year.

Photo: Victor Rodriguez/Unsplash

In 2018, we learned from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we have around 30 years to fully decarbonize or risk widespread global devastation from warming and sea-level rise. We also learned that current emissions patterns are nowhere near in line with that goal. Even though the Trump administration tried to bury the U.S.’s own findings on climate, the 1,656-page National Climate Assessment backed up the IPCC report, and called for a doubling down on climate protection policies to prevent damage (which is already underway) to the environment and the country’s infrastructure.

The consensus among scientists, researchers, and sustainability experts following this years’ reports is that while stopping climate change will require an undoubtedly Herculean effort, the biggest hurdle is political, not technical. In other words, if all the innovations in sustainable technology and science were harnessed and directed at reducing emissions and environmental collapse, we might stand a chance at meeting the goals laid out in the reports.

Don’t get us wrong: It will take a heroic, global effort if we’re even going to come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius–the point after which, according to the reports, large swaths of the planet will become uninhabitable, and issues like mass starvation will become widespread. And the lack of leadership from the United States, under climate change denier Donald Trump, is making cohesive political action difficult.

But underneath all this, activists, scientists, and business leaders are working to advance progressive climate action, and despite everything, have hung onto a sense of optimism as we move into 2019. Here are some reasons why:

1. We Have the Potential to Radically Shift the Way We Eat

Image result for burger

On the heels of the IPCC report, the World Resources Institute released research tracking global meat consumption, and found that food production, especially animal agriculture, accounts for around a quarter of all emissions. It’s the single-largest driver of climate change. This makes a pretty compelling case for wide-scale adoption of vegetarianism and veganism, but far more importantly, should clue in food distributors, like restaurants and grocery stores, that they need to change their offerings. That’s already happening. This year, the plant-based Impossible Burger started appearing everywhere from airline menus to fast-food restaurants, and is preparing to launch in grocery storesJust, another startup, is growing real meat in bioreactors, which dramatically reduces emissions and the environmental footprint of meat production. It’s possible, now, to imagine a future where factory-farm-produced meat is replaced by plant-based versions, or meat grown in labs.

2. We Can Grow More Food Without Damaging the Environment

“Over the last century, we’ve relied heavily on fertilizer to meet the food demands of a growing population,” says Karsten Temme, CEO of the startup Pivot Bio. Fertilizer is most commonly made from synthetic nitrogen, which is easy to produce and distribute, but releases a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Synthetic nitrogen alone is responsible for around 5% of global warming. Next year, Temme’s startup will begin delivering a new, natural alternative to synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to farmers. Pivot Bio’s product consists of natural, nitrogen-producing microbes that adhere to plants’ roots, supporting plant growth while eradicating the need for environment-damaging synthetic versions. Especially as populations grow and land constricts due to climate change, well-fertilized crops will be necessary to meet food demands. MORE

Killing Gaia

“The Seventh Fire prophecy presents a prophesy for the vision that is before us. It tells that all the people of the earth will see that the path ahead is divided. They must make a choice in their path for the future. One of the roads is soft and green with new grass. You could walk barefooted there. The other path is scorched black, hard, the cinders would cut your feet. If the people choose the grassy path, then life will be sustained.  But if they choose the cinder path, the damage they have wrought upon the earth will turn against them and bring suffering and death to earth’s people.” — Braiding Sweetgrass.

Carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has just reached 415 parts per million, the highest in human recorded history.

Forest Fire. Photo credit:

Individual measurements of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, at Mauna Loa in Hawaii, started to pass the 410 parts per million (ppm) line back in 2017. By May 2019 we have had a full five months where the monthly average has been well above 410 ppm. This week we started to see reports that the 415 ppm mark had already been breached. Before we started to burn fossil fuels, CO2 in the atmosphere was about 280 ppm. We passed the 400 ppm mark in 2013, and the graph is rising as steeply now as it ever has.

The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high, sea levels were 20 metres (65 feet) higher than they are now, and trees were growing in Antarctica. That was three million years ago.

I used to work as a control system design engineer, and temperature control was our biggest market area. With any oven or kiln, when you switch on full heat and look at the temperature graph, the first thing you see is… absolutely nothing happening. This is what makes controlling a kiln interesting. With a car on the road, you put down the accelerator or the brake, and immediately see a change in speed. Temperature time delays are due to heat ‘hiding’ in places like the heating elements and the oven walls.

The other interesting feature is that, after you have been heating an oven at full power for a while and you switch off the heater, the next thing you see on the graph, again, is that absolutely nothing changes: the temperature continues to rise just as steeply as before. In a large, powerful oven, this can continue for quite a while before eventually levelling off and beginning to fall. These large overshoots are normal for any complex system.

The Earth is far bigger and more complex than any industrial furnace. There are many more places for heat to ‘hide,’ such as the oceans, the poles and so on. There are also complex feedback mechanisms including changes in surface colour as ice melts, and gases being released by seawater, soil and permafrost.

Due to subtle interactions between forests, sea-life, ocean currents and weather patterns, there are also tipping points beyond which temperatures may never recover.

Our global carbon dioxide ‘blanket’ is certainly trapping heat in, warming the Earth, but as yet we have seen only a fraction of the full effects that our disturbances have caused.  MORE

Every single piece of these sneakers is made from plants

Instead of tossing these in the trash when you wear them through, drop them in your compost bin, where they’ll naturally decompose (yes, the soles too).

Look down at your feet. Your shoes might seem an innocuous, but they contain lots of forms of plastic, and often leather, giving them their own sizeable carbon footprint. As all companies try to limit their plastic use, shoe manufacturers are trying to design new shoes with lower embedded emissions. Canadian shoe company Native Shoes is doing it by making a shoe that’s entirely biodegradable, because every component is made from plant material.

Their new, appropriately named Plant Shoe is made entirely from durable and natural fibers, including pineapple husk for the toe and tread made from the fibrous vegetable jute, soaked in olive oil. “That was the puzzle–how could we get an entire shoe to be biodegradable?” says Mike Belgue, Native’s creative director.

With this new development, Native wants to push the conversation around what’s possible in creating sustainable footwear. Numerous other brands, like Allbirds and Everlane, have pioneered sneaker-manufacturing tactics that are more sustainable than the traditional leather and rubber combination that’s known to be environmentally intensive. Everlane, for instance, sources recycled plastic bottles to make its sneakers, and Allbirds uses innovative eucalyptus fibers and sugarcane to form its classic runners. A new Adidas concept shoe can be shredded and fully recycled into a whole new shoe.

Native, which is based in Vancouver, has used focused, unique shoe manufacturing techniques since its founding in 2009. It crafts sneakers from ethylene vinyl acetate (or EVA, the same material used in crocs) that can formed into a mold, and last year, the brand launched an initiative to recycle those shoes by grinding them up and creating a fresh stream of material that can be repurposed as flooring or insulation. So far, they’ve recycled around 40,000 pairs, and will start to use the ground-up material to make new shoes in the near future. MORE

Cities can be climate champions

The C 40 Cities are taking bold climate action, leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future. Prince Edward Council should adopt their best practices.

(Kazuhiro Nogi/Getty Images)

When it comes to spewing carbon into the air, urban areas are among the biggest offenders.

But cities also lead the way when it comes to taking significant action to get those emissions down, according to David Miller, director of international diplomacy for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

“With a few exceptions, it’s been the leadership of the cities that’s really been pushing the envelope and moving towards what’s necessary, not just what’s easy,” said Miller, a former mayor of Toronto.

Research by C40, a network of 94 global cities committed to addressing climate change, shows about 70 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from urban areas.

It’s predominantly from four sources:

    • How we generate electricity.
    • Transportation.
    • How we heat and cool buildings.
    • How we manage our waste.

In a recent interview, Miller laid out which cities he believes are leading the way with innovative ideas — and results.

Oslo, for example, has a climate budget, which is managed by the city’s finance department and runs alongside the normal budgeting process. According to C40, Oslo city council can only approve spending plans that have a realistic chance of hitting their emission-reduction targets.

So if you want to build, say, a new curling rink, Miller said, you have to consider how much carbon that rink will use. “And if there isn’t a carbon budget, the same way if there isn’t a financial budget, you can’t do it.”

In 2010, Tokyo (above photo) became the first city in the world to implement an urbancap-and-trade system for its large buildings. That required industrial and commercial facilities to achieve an absolute reduction of emissions from 2009 levels. The goal was six to eight per cent in the first four years of the program. But research by Cornell University and the Tokyo government found that in the first five years, the program resulted in a 20 per cent reduction in emissions.

And they barely even needed the “trade” part to do it. City records showed only a handful of facilities bought credits to hit their target. MORE

More Than 100 Cities Worldwide Now Powered Primarily by Renewable Energy


These cities get more than 70 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewables. That’s up since the Paris climate agreement.

Burlington, Vermont, gets 100 percent of its power from renewable energy, including from solar farms like this one, built on locally made systems that track the sun. Credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
Burlington, Vermont, gets 100 percent of its power from renewable energy, including from solar farms like this one, built on locally made systems that track the sun. Credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

As the price of renewable energy drops, more cities are cutting the cord with fossil fuel-based electricity.

A new report released Tuesday by the environmental group CDP finds that more than 100 cities worldwide now get the majority of their power—70 percent or more—from renewables. That’s up from 42 in 2015, when countries pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the Paris climate agreement.

CDP notes that more than 40 of those cities are now powered entirely by renewables, including Burlington, Vermont, which gets its electricity from a combination of wind, solar, hydro and biomass. Burlington will have more company within the next 20 years—58 U.S. cities, including Atlanta and San Diego, having announced plans to do the same.

London-based CDP, which tracks climate-related commitments by corporations and governments, looked at 570 cities across the globe for the report. The group defines renewables as solar, wind, hydro, wave power, biomass, geothermal—or all non-nuclear and non-fossil fuel sources—and includes cities where electricity from clean energy sources is citywide, not just in municipal buildings.

Four U.S. cities made the list of those getting at least 70 percent of their electricity from renewable sources: Seattle; Eugene, Oregon; and Aspen, Colorado, along with Burlington. Five Canadian cities are also on the list: Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, North Vancouver and Prince George, British Columbia. MORE

The County’s Missing Climate Action Plan

Image result for 1.5 degrees c
The central aim of the Paris Agreement is to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change  and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The recently released UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says there are urgent and unprecedented actions required by the world’s governments to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C. This is the point where humanity would have the best chance of avoiding extreme, unpredictable climate variations. Scientists say we have just 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe–extreme heat,drought, floods, and poverty. At present, the Canadian government’s climate policy is not nearly robust enough to meet the 1.5 C emissions target. In fact, the current ‘rate of emissions’ suggest we are headed for 3 degree C.

Canadians’ emissions per capita are greater than any other country, including the United States.Emissions from the tar sands are the elephant in the room. The proposed tar sands expansion–a policy actually being considered at the moment–if approved, will increase our emissions substantially.

As politicians dither, Canada’s energy policy needs to quickly make a 180 degree turn. In Canada the federal and provincial governments are squabbling over how best to respond. Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking.

80% of Canadians live in cities. Cities are the linchpins in driving down global emissions. Some cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto have taken serious steps to build greener, healthier cities. These cities realize that reducing green emissions has huge benefits for city life.

But it all starts with a serious detailed action plan. At the moment, in contrast with Peterborough’s detailed action plan, the City of Prince Edward County, although declaring a climate emergency, doesn’t have anything resembling a coordinated action plan.

If Council is searching for ‘best practices’, the Peterborough Sustainable plan could serve as a template on how to proceed to develop one.The Sustainable Peterborough plan states:

“The overall objective is to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduce the use of fossil fuels, lower our energy consumption, and adapt to our changing climate. The plan has identified goals, actions, and emissions reduction targets.” Eight Community task forces were created focusing on Agriculture and Food, Community Energy, Community Waste, Economic and Business, Land Use Planning, People and Health, and Transportation.

Peterborough started by developing a greenhouse gas inventory that: “provides community and municipal sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) for the 2011 baseline year. The associated forecast projects future emissions based on assumptions about population, economic growth and fuel mix.” They issue detailed annual report cards that demonstrate their progress, year over year []

Part of the reason Prince Edward hasn’t produced anything remotely resembling Peterborough’s plan, is because there hasn’t been anyone specifically designated to take charge of developing one. An appropriate action plan would identify opportunities, regulations, promotion of climate initiatives,
encouraging community engagement, with measurement, reports, and issuing annual recommendations to Council, complete with timelines.

That is why the County Sustainability Group has repeatedly suggested the appointment of an Environmental Commissioner or, at the very least, a special Committee of Council and Citizens’ Committee to identify opportunities to reduce our climate footprint. Time is of the essence. There are so
many opportunities that are being missed. There are many citizens in the County, many with special expertise, who would be willing to serve on a community task force.

Ron Hart is a member of the County Sustainability Group