Fighting for Climate Credibility

Now is the time to encourage political leaders to move beyond recognition of our climate emergency and commit to reducing emissions to at least 1.5 degree C as quickly as possible

Canada’s political parties are competing for climate credibility

With five months to go before the next federal election, Canada’s political parties are competing for climate credibility, seemingly engaged in a battle to show they care more about the environment, reports The National Observer.

This is a climate activist’s dream. Not only will climate be the top issue in the October election, but having politicians compete for climate action supremacy is dizzying. I frankly did not see this coming.

Climate Credibility

Fighting for Climate Credibility, Below2CImage credit: Bernd Hildebrandt, Pixabay

Liberals are poised to declare a climate emergency

The Liberals have filed a motion which asks Members of Parliament “to recommit to the Paris climate-change accord by meeting the existing targets for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and toughening them as is required to meet the accord’s stated objective of keeping global warming as close to 1.5 C as possible,” writes Mia Rabson of The National Observer.

The Liberal motion …brings Canada closer to a declaration of climate emergency following the U.K., Ireland and Switzerland. This is precisely the kind of climate leadership activists and environmentalists have been calling for since the Liberals came to power in 2015.

NDP goes much further than Paris targets

The NDP motion (full text found below) also seeks to reach the Paris targets but goes much further by calling for the cancellation of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and an end to fossil-fuel subsidies. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says “pipelines and fossil-fuel subsidies are not congruent with climate-change action.” However, he will not go so far as to oppose the LNG project in his NDP-led home province of British Columbia.

Greens would double the emission-reduction targets

Meanwhile, the Green Party is calling for a 60% cut in greenhouse gases based on 2005 levels, in effect doubling Canada’s 30% reduction promised in the Paris Accord. Elizabeth May is very emphatic that Canadians need to heed the warnings of the IPCC 1.5°C report and Canada’s own Canada’s Changing Climate report that shows we are warming twice faster than the global average.

Somewhere below two degrees is the tipping point to where we run into something (that) scientists call runaway global warming—a self-accelerating irreversible global warming that could lead to temperatures that call into question the survival of this biosphere.

In order to ensure that action follows rhetoric, the Greens would create a non-partisan ‘war cabinet’ modeled after Winston Churchill’s during WWII to tackle the existential threat of climate change.

Click here for the transcript of a recent E. May interview on The Current, CBC Radio. “And an increase of two degrees would be catastrophic,” says May. MORE

Ontario NDP wants to declare a climate emergency but Doug Ford won’t let them

Since coming to power, [the Ford government has] cancelled climate change mitigation programs including Ontario’s participation in a billion-dollar cap and trade market that funded green energy programs, as well as energy conservation programs, green vehicle rebates, electric vehicle charging stations, and a program to plant 50 million trees.


NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Ontario Premier Doug Ford seen in the provincial legislature on October 3, 2018. Photo by Carlos Osorio

The NDP wants Ontario to declare a climate change emergency but Premier Doug Ford’s response was another attack on the federal carbon tax as “one of the biggest climate crises right now.”

Ford made the remarks in the legislature Thursday after the New Democratic Party tabled a motion to declare a climate emergency in the province. If the Official Opposition motion was adopted, Ontario would be the first Canadian province or territory to declare a climate emergency, following a trend of such declarations by municipal councils in Ottawa, Vancouver, Halifax, Hamilton and Kingston.

“Declaring a climate emergency is an opportunity for Queen’s Park to change direction, and take on the biggest challenge humankind has ever faced,” NDP leader Andrea Horwath said in a statement. MORE

RELATED:

Auditor general pans Doug Ford’s anti-carbon-pricing ad

‘We Don’t Know a Planet Like This’: CO2 Levels Hit 415 PPM for First Time in 3 Million+ Years

It’s time the Prince Edward County Council declared a climate emergency. Not to do so is inexcusable. It’s time to put pressure on our councillors. Write today!

“How is this not breaking news on all channels all over the world?”


It’s a “climate emergency.” Environmental campaigners stand on top of a DLR train at Canary Wharf Underground Station during the third day of a coordinated protest by the Extinction Rebellion group on April 17, 2019 in London, England. More than 100 arrests have been made, with demonstrations blocking a number of locations across the capital. (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Atmospheric levels of carbon registered 415 parts per million over the weekend at one of the world’s key measuring stations, a concentration level researchers say has not existed in more than 3 million years – before the dawn of human history.

Taken at the Mauno Loa Observatory in Hawaii by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the measure continues the upward trend of atmospheric carbon concentration that lies at the heart of the global warming and climate crisis:

Meteorologist Eric Holthaus, a journalist who covers the climate crisis for Grist, contextualized the latest readings in a tweet that was shared widely on Sunday:

This is the first time in human history our planet’s atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2. Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago. We don’t know a planet like this.

One person responded to the Holthaus tweet by asking, “How is this not breaking news on all channels all over the world?” MORE

RELATED:

Climate crisis: CO2 levels rise to highest point since evolution of humans
Life As We Know It: Plant and animal species are disappearing faster than at any time in recorded history. We know who is to blame.

 

 

Young People and Climate Change: Why it’s our Time to Take the Reins

“If the environment is being degraded so that with passing time it produces and supports less, then that impoverishes future generations. It means that the current generation is essentially stealing from the next.” Just as we have issues of justice (or more likely lack thereof) between classes, genders, races, countries – we also have justice between generations–intergenerational justice.


We live at a crossroads in history.

Decades have passed, and people are still saying the same thing. In the 70’s, environmentalists in the baby boomer generation wanted to protect the planet for their grandchildren.

Almost five decades later, and those grandchildren they were talking about had time to be born and grow up, and they’re us.

Carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas responsible for causing climate change via the greenhouse effect, can hang around in the atmosphere for 100 years or more once it gets up there.

This fact of chemistry is what drives the entire issue of intergenerational justice when it comes to climate change.

The last few months of 2018 and early 2019 have seen historic levels of climate activism and public attention. Something seems to have finally shifted.

One of the most inspiring things in the climate space right now is the explosion of youth-led climate activism. From Extinction Rebellion that was recently holding mass protests in London to the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal to the School Strikes for Climate movement – it’s in the air.

School Strike for Climate Young people and climate change
School Strike for Climate march, Melbourne, 30th November 2018. By julian meehan on Flickr, Creative Commons license.

And it’s having an effect. The UK Parliament recently became the first in the world to declare a climate emergency.

Across the pond in the US, it’s also the young people that are pushing the climate movement forward.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to be elected to Congress, is making waves by pushing the Green New Deal – an ambitious policy package for transitioning the US to a net-zero economy through a ‘just transition’, investing in infrastructure, jobs and marginalised communities.

This bold proposal – which would have been totally unthinkable just a couple of years ago – is now being pushed right into the mainstream at an astonishing rate. MORE

Ontario NDP tables motion to declare climate emergency in Ontario

Responding effectively to the climate emergency requires coordinated actions from all three levels of government: federal, provincial, and municipal. It also requires citizen engagement to demand that governments respond quickly with targeted action plans. There are so many ways we can help build a New Green Deal!

Image result for andrea horwath climate emergency

The Ontario NDP has introduced a motion to declare a climate emergency in Ontario.

“Climate change is no longer only about our climate future. It is an imminent emergency. It is happening now,” said Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath.

“Ontarians are already witnessing the devastating consequences of climate change first hand. We have seen this in Bracebridge, Ottawa, and in the southwest where there has been significant flooding. We have seen this in tornadoes in eastern Ontario. We have seen this in wild fires in recent years. We need to take immediate and decisive action to tackle climate change.”

Research shows that the window for staving off the worst of effects of climate change is rapidly closing, and projections show that the cost of doing nothing is much greater than the cost of taking action. Passing the climate emergency motion is an opportunity for Doug Ford to reverse course and join the millions of Ontarians committed to fighting climate change.

“Declaring a climate emergency is an opportunity for Queen’s Park to change direction, and take on the biggest challenge humankind has ever faced,” said Horwath.

Since taking office, Ford has cancelled climate change mitigation programs including Ontario’s participation in the cap and trade market, cancelled conservation programs, scrapped green vehicle rebates, removed electric vehicle charging stations, and eliminated a program to plant 50 million trees – but it’s not too late to change course, and prioritize the fight against climate change, said Horwath.

Ontario would be the first Canadian province or territory to declare a climate emergency if the NDP motion passes. Several cities in Ontario and throughout the province have declared a climate emergency.  MORE

George Monbiot on U.K. Climate Emergency & the Need for Rebellion to Prevent Ecological Apocalypse

 

SEE the VIDEO

AMY GOODMAN, DEMOCRACY NOW!: On Wednesday, the House of Commons became the first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency. The resolution came on the heels of the recent Extinction Rebellion mass uprising that shut down Central London last month in a series of direct actions.

Activists closed bridges, occupied public landmarks and even superglued themselves to buildings, sidewalks and trains to demand urgent action to combat climate change. Police arrested more than 1,000 protesters.

Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn told Parliament, “We are witnessing an unprecedented upsurge of climate activism, with groups like Extinction Rebellion forcing the politicians in this building to listen. For all the dismissive and defensive column inches the processes have provoked, they are a massive and, I believe, very necessary wake-up call. Today we have the opportunity to say, ‘We hear you.’”

We speak with George Monbiot, British journalist, author and columnist with The Guardian. His recent piece for The Guardian is headlined “Only rebellion will prevent an ecological apocalypse.” Monbiot says capitalism “is like a gun pointed at the heart of the planet. … It will essentially, necessarily destroy our life support systems. Among those characteristics is the drive for perpetual economic growth on a finite planet.”

Transcript of program:

MORE

US Fracked Gas Imports to EU Could ‘Take World Far Beyond Safe Climate Limits’, Campaigners Warn

 

To reduce emissions we have to electrify everything. National policies will help, of course, but you can act on an individual level, as this piece in the New York Times explains –options you can take to protect your family’s health.

Port of Rotterdam

Environmental activists representing more than 200 organisations have called on the EU and the US to put an end to a booming transatlantic trade in fracked gas or face “taking the world far beyond safe climate limits”.

In an open letter to the EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, campaigners warn that the continued use and import of fracked gas “torpedoes critical climate targets and violates basic human rights”.

The statement comes after the US Department of Energy announced that Perry would be attending the first EU-US Energy Council High-Level Forum in Brussels on Thursday.

Critics are concerned the high-level energy meeting, titled “Towards large-scale US Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) exports to the EU’s gas market”, will pave the way for fracked gas to become a key part of a new transatlantic trade agreement between the EU and the US.

European Commission data shows that EU imports of LNG from the US increased 181 percent between July 2018, when President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to strengthen cooperation in the energy sector, and March this year.

The rapidly growing US natural gas export market has benefitted from a push in large-scale fracking projects which led to an increase in LNG production. US gas now represents around 12 percent of the EU’s total LNG imports. MORE

Ottawa takes first step with climate emergency declaration, bold action must follow

Prince Edward Council has not declared a climate emergency. Why not? Do they really expect citizens to avoid climate change? Climate leadership is conspicuously missing.

How does this motion measure up to Extinction Rebellion’s core demands?

Photo: Dennis Jarvis/Twitter
On April 24, Ottawa City Council voted in favour of an eight-point motion to declare a climate emergency.

Extinction Rebellion, an international grassroots climate justice group, argues that governments must declare climate and ecological emergencies, and work with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change. The Ottawa motion lacks language about communicating the urgency for change to the federal and provincial governments, as well as to city residents.

The group also demands that governments act immediately to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. Ottawa’s motion only calls for the city to adopt a target of a 45 per cent reduction in 2010 levels by 2030.

Extinction Rebellion’s third core demand is the creation of a Citizens’ Assembly to lead decision-making and inform the government on climate and ecological justice. While the Ottawa motion calls for the establishment of a Council Sponsors Group, there is no clear indication of how the broader public would be able to meaningfully participate in this process.

What should the Council Sponsors Group, as created by the Ottawa motion, demand?

  1. The City of Ottawa should commit to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, a key demand made by Extinction Rebellion.
  2. The City of Ottawa should commit (as the City of Vancouver is considering) to a target of two-thirds of trips in the city to be taken by walking, cycling, and public transit by 2030.
  3. Given that transportation accounts for more than 30 per cent of Ontario’s carbon footprint, the City of Ottawa should commit to improving public transportation across the city and piloting free public transit (as has been considered in other international cities, including Bonn, Essen, Herrenberg, Reutlingen, and Mannheim).
  4. Given Ontario Premier Doug Ford has just cancelled the 50 Million tree planting program, the City of Ottawa should commit to an ambitious tree planting program. Paris committed to planting 20,000 trees between 2014 and 2020.
  5. The City of Ottawa should endorse (as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and numerous other cities have already done) the international Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration that pledges to enact regulations and/or planning policy to ensure new buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030 and all buildings by 2050.
  6. The City of Ottawa should explore innovative ideas being pursued by other cities including: green streets and pocket parks to catch and absorb excess rainwater (Copenhagen), initiatives to support energy-efficient retrofits (Melbourne), and the promotion of local food production (Quito has set a goal of producing 30-40 per cent of its food locally).
  7. To pay for some of this, the City of Ottawa should send a climate accountability letter to Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and other fossil fuel corporations to demand they pay their fair share of the costs that cities are incurring because of climate change. The City of Victoria’s motion on this (passed in October 2017) called on other municipalities across Canada to pass similar resolutions.

It is also vital that the City of Ottawa find its voice on the issue of the approval and construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure. MORE

Corbyn launches bid to declare a national climate emergency

“It is a great first step because it sends a clear signal that we are in a crisis and that the ongoing climate and ecological crises must be our first priority. We can not solve an emergency without treating it like an emergency. I hope the other UK political parties join in and together pass this motion in parliament – and that political parties in other countries will follow their example.” -Greta Thunberg

Labour will attempt to force Commons vote as it is revealed that the government has failed to spend anti-pollution cash


Jeremy Corbyn campaigning with Labour activists for the local elections in Peterborough on 27 April. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Labour will this week force a vote in parliament to declare a national environmental and climate change emergency as confidential documents show the government has spent only a fraction of a £100m fund allocated in 2015 to support clean air projects.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party will demand on Wednesday that the country wakes up to the threat and acts with urgency to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming, which will require global emissions to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching “net zero” before 2050.

The move will place Conservative MPs under pressure to back the plan, or explain why they refuse to do so, now fears over the combined problems of air pollution and climate change have risen to the top of the political agenda.

On Saturday night Corbyn said the recent wave of protests were “a massive and necessary wake-up call” that demanded “rapid and dramatic action, which only concerted government action and a green industrial revolution can deliver.” He said that if parliament backed the move and became the first national legislature to declare a climate emergency it would “trigger a wave of action from governments around the world”.

The motion was welcomed by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who has criticised the inaction of the world’s politicians. “It is a great first step because it sends a clear signal that we are in a crisis and that the ongoing climate and ecological crises must be our first priority,” she said. “We can not solve an emergency without treating it like an emergency. “I hope the other UK political parties join in and together pass this motion in parliament – and that political parties in other countries will follow their example.” MORE

 

Ottawa declares climate emergency

Declaring a climate emergency is an important way to inform citizens of the scope of the problem, to setting goals, and to determining actions. Tell Prince Edward County councillors that they need to act! To send an email to all Members of Council as a group, please email council@pecounty.on.ca.

City to spend $250K to speed up studies on renewable energy, emissions


Protesters rallied outside Ottawa City Hall on Apr. 24, 2019, urging city council to declare climate change an emergency. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Ottawa city council has declared climate change an emergency, joining other Canadian municipalities in making the declaration.

Council members who voted for the declaration, including the mayor, say it’s no empty gesture. Wednesday’s vote dedicates $250,000 from the city’s annual Hydro Ottawa dividend to speed up studies aimed at moving the city to renewable energy and meeting greenhouse gas emission targets.

It’s the young people who are inheriting the problems that we’re all responsible for creating.– Coun . Jenna Sudds

Coun. Shawn Menard, who tabled the motion and won support for it at committee last week, said he’s received petitions from schools and has even had children come to his door to air their concerns.

“It’s the young people in the city who are actually leading this effort,” Menard said Wednesday.

Coun. Shawn Menard told the rally that municipalities have control over half of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and can no longer rely on upper levels of government to fight climate change on their behalf. (Kate Porter/CBC)

That resonated with many other councillors including Kanata North’s Jenna Sudds.

“I think it’s important that we give thought to that because it’s the young people who are inheriting the problems that we’re all responsible for creating,” Sudds said.

MORE