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

RELATED:

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

 

Global Climate Change Emergency Leads to First World Forum on Climate Justice

landscape photo of seashore at golden hour

OXFORD, England: Elsevier and the Glasgow Caledonian University Centre for Climate Justice are pleased to announce a partnership that will provide the platform to discuss the impacts of climate change on weather forecasting, people trafficking and growing spread of mosquito-borne malaria, among other topics, at the first World Forum on Climate Justice, June 19-21, 2019 at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

This inaugural conference brings together an outstanding line-up of international speakers, led by Mary Robinson, Kerry Kennedy and Professor Tahseen Jafry. Difficult conversations around the current and future impact of climate change on the world’s societies and economies will be explored, to aid further promotion and collaboration about the latest science and thinking as to how these issues can be tackled.

Around one hundred short talks will cover the diverse challenges posed by climate change from the impact on fair access to food and water to the spread of diseases like malaria; the growing vulnerability of communities to extreme weather events; and the resulting challenges on migration and population displacement. This Forum brings a diverse range of expertise in the emerging field of Climate Justice together for the first time to consider the impact climate change is already having on people and their communities across the world. MORE

Have your say at the Green New Deal set up

The Sunrise Movement is promoting the Green New Deal via posters like this one - Photo courtesy of Nancye Belding

The House of Commons saw two separate motions calling on Canada to declare a climate change emergency. This is a big deal, since it means many of our politicians are finally waking up to see climate change as what it is — a global crisis that demands urgent action.

But, actions speak louder than words. If, and likely when, it passes next week, this emergency declaration will still be backed up by a climate plan that misses the Paris targets and puts us on track to exceed 4ºC of global temperature rise.

That’s why a Green New Deal for Canada is so important, because a climate emergency demands an emergency level response. This weekend kicks off more than 150 town halls across the country where people from all walks of life will get together to craft the ambitious climate solutions that we need response.

This energy to declare a climate emergency didn’t come of out of nowhere. For the past few months student strikes have poured out of classes and into our communities calling for bold action. The Our Time campaign has launched across the country, bringing in thousands of young people committed to winning a Green New Deal for Canada by building a once in a generation voting alliance for climate justice. And, earlier this month, the Pact for a Green New Deal launched, collecting tens of thousand of signatures from people who believe we can, and we must, do more to tackle climate change and inequality.

All of this has pushed our politicians to respond with platforms, pledges to show us their vision of a Green New Deal for Canada and now, climate emergency declarations.

This energy to declare a climate emergency didn’t come of out of nowhere. For the past few months student strikes have poured out of classes and into our communities calling for bold action. The Our Time campaign has launched across the country, bringing in thousands of young people committed to winning a Green New Deal for Canada by building a once in a generation voting alliance for climate justice. And, earlier this month, the Pact for a Green New Deal launched, collecting tens of thousand of signatures from people who believe we can, and we must, do more to tackle climate change and inequality.

All of this has pushed our politicians to respond with platforms, pledges to show us their vision of a Green New Deal for Canada and now, climate emergency declarations.

With over 150 town halls confirmed in cities, towns and First Nations, we’re just getting started. If you’ve been waiting for it, this is the moment to get involved. MORE

SEE ALSO:

Pact for the Green New Deal: “Now is the time to build power behind the solutions we need.”

How Could Citizens’ Assemblies be Used to Tackle Climate Change?

From May 20 to 26, 2019, you can join the national conversation to define what a Green New Deal for Canada will look like. Stay tuned for dates and locations where you can join workers, Indigenous peoples, students, trade unions, migrants, community organizations and people across the country to gather, define and design a plan for a safe future and more prosperous present. Citizens’ assemblies are invaluable for getting the public on board and securing more consensus. Building consensus among peers –someone like a single mother, a neighbor, a farmer–is far more powerful that government’s exhortations to act. 

Extinction Rebellion Tell the Truth Protest, London February 22 2019. | David Holt via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0.

On one mad sunny week over the Easter weekend, Extinction Rebellion brought public attention to the problem of climate change in a way that had rarely been achieved before. The group’s most ambitious demand – to cut greenhouse gas emissions completely by 2025 – is unlikely to be met. But another – for governments to be led by the decisions of citizens’ assemblies on climate and ecological justice – has a successful history in many parts of the world.

Not to be confused with people’s assemblies (a more informal gathering, often of existing activists) citizens’ assemblies are a way of exploring public views on a particular topic and coming up with concrete solutions. They sit under the umbrella term ‘mini-publics’ as an example of deliberative democracy, alongside citizens’ juries, planning cells and consensus conferences.

Sarah Allen, engagement lead at public participation charity Involve, is a big advocate of citizens’ assemblies as a tool for resolving complicated policy problems.

Citizens’ assemblies are a bit like focus groups, but usually larger and longer; they can take up a single weekend or up to a year in some cases. Allen explains on the phone that participants are chosen at random to represent the broader population and are paid for their time so that everyone can afford to take part.

Citizen’s Assemblies were first pioneered in British Columbia, Canada, in 2004 to consider the thorny issue of electoral reform.

All citizens’ assemblies have three stages. The first involves learning about the problem, when everyone is given a primer in the subject and hears from people advocating different solutions. Then there is a period of consideration and discussion, often in small groups. The assembly as a whole then has to decide about what it would do to solve the problem at hand.  MORE

RELATED:

How Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly helped Climate Action

Protecting water in a post-capitalist economy

This posting is part 3 of a series on the role of water justice movements in a post-capitalist economy. (Read blogs one and two.) Emma Lui writes, “We can learn from communities in JacksonvilleNew York, South America, and globally that have begun the inspiring work of transitioning to the next economy.”

"Capitalism Isn't Working" Photo: Jonny White/Flickr
Emma Lui is an activist, a writer and a contributor to the book, Corporatizing Canada: Making Business out of Public Service.Photo: Jonny White/Flickr

If we think about where power is manufactured and deployed, it is helpful to think about actual sites of struggles.

Some examples include:

  • Creation of legislation: House of Commons, Standing Committees or Senate Committees, public consultations.
  • Government departments: National Energy Board, Ontario’s Ministry of Environment
  • Courts and legal challenges
  • The physical location of projects: Nestle’s bottled water plants, along a pipeline route
  • Government or corporate spaces: shareholders meetings, LNG event at Canada 2020
  • Educational institutions: classrooms (Big Oil influencing what students learn at school), museums, university campuses
  • “Public debate” in traditional media, social media

Examples of communities contesting power include Climate Strike rallies on Parliament Hill, legal challenges against the Trans Mountain pipeline, the Tiny House Warriors with their mission to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline from crossing unceded Secwepemc Territory, as well as creative actions at the Canada 2020 LNG event and at Catherine McKenna’s recent town hall.

It is also helpful to think about other areas where neoliberalism and capitalism, broadly, are strengthened, reinforced, and advanced:

  • Collective consciousness and how a society understands and talks about an issue, e.g. the federal government frames pipelines as a matter of national security rather than a threat to clean water.
  • Within ourselves (our goals, the work we do, the beliefs we have), within our relationships and families (the roles we play, what work is paid and unpaid) and within our communities (how we relate to one another).
  • Consumer and business relationships: where we shop, what is considered a good for sale, what we buy and if we buy.

It is important to think about and contest power structures at these sites and areas in order to advance water justice, climate justice, social justice, Indigenous rights, and human rights more generally.

At the same time, we need to be working to create the next economic system.

Writer and activist Rev. angel Kyodo williams points out, “…why has our imagination been stolen by capitalism in such a way that we can’t even imagine a different possibility for different economies and different ways of trading and being in relationship to one another?”

Activist and PBI-Canada’s Executive Director Brent Patterson notes that anti-capitalism is entering the mainstream — see recent comments by George Monbiot on BBCNaomi Klein on Twitter and Phil McDuff’s article “Ending climate change requires the end of capitalism” in the Guardian.

This creates opportunities to imagine and explore ideas — some that have long been discussed and debated as well as new ones — for the next economic system. MORE

Canada’s New Green Deal Can Learn Much From Climáximo’s Climate Jobs Campaign

Climáximo: Climate Jobs Campaign

 

...We [Kevin Buckland  and  Joao Comargo] talked about the role of labor and unions in ecological transitions, how movements can engage with them, and what such collaborations could mean for making deep emissions cuts a reality.

Kevin: Hello Joao, first of all. Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about Climáximo’s Climate Jobs Campaign, how it started and why you think it’s strategic?

Joao: No problem. We started this climate jobs campaign about 3 years ago. At that time we had some people coming over from the UK, where they were running a campaign there, they were based more on unions but we approached them not from a unions standpoint but as a Climate Justice Movement. We thought this could be strategically and politically very relevant because it opened up a series of new possibilities for strategic alliances around a very clear political program in which climate change can be framed not only as potential catastrophe apocalypse, but as a huge opportunity. This is partially how capitalism is framing climate change anyway, as a huge new opportunity to make profits on the collapse, anywhere from the lowering of standards on oil extraction or agricultural production, lowering the value of land for land grabs, and so on. But we want to use [this narrative] the other way around, saying: “This is the greatest challenge civilization has ever faced.” So when they say “If you want to save the climate it will destroy millions or billions of jobs!” we call bullshit and say “It means more jobs than ever!”.

Kevin: What do you see as the main difference to the approach Climáximo is taking with this narrative, in contrast to the climate narrative of capitalism?

Joao:  The main difference is the objective. The goal of these jobs will not be [just] the jobs in themselves – or the wages, but rather what these jobs produce. So we decided to put up the idea of jobs where the main objective is to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The main focus at the moment is mitigation, especially in the global north. In Portugal, we think the issue of mitigation is very important because there is already a more diversified energy mix than other EU countries. Although, it’s all private – the fossil fuels and the renewables and the hydropower. And then eventually we plan to work on adaptation as well, we need to imagine that whole cities will need to be moved 10 or 20 kilometers inland – that’s a lot of work!

Kevin: So in the context of looking beyond just the vague promise of ’jobs’ and towards what those jobs are producing. How do you differentiate between climate jobs and other ‘jobs’?

Joao: We define the main axis of how we define climate jobs – and this is a purely political decision – we would want them to be public or socially owned. (Though being run by the state does not automatically mean that it’s good). They would need to be new jobs, so it isn’t talking about putting a label on jobs that already exist. It has to effectively cut greenhouse gas emissions and would be dignified jobs, with a work contract – not precarious work or temp-agencies or any of these. The objective would be to effectively cut emissions and to prepare workers in the highest polluting emissions sectors to be in the frontline for new jobs. MORE

Crowds of Edmonton students march for climate change action

“It’s 2019. Can we all now please stop saying “climate change” and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?” – Greta Thunberg

 

 WATCH the Video Hundreds of Edmonton students and supporters marched through downtown and rallied at the Alberta legislature Friday as part of Climate Justice Edmonton.

On Friday afternoon, students from schools across Edmonton swarmed downtown streets and marched for government action on climate change.

At 12:30 p.m., students walked out of class and took to the streets, making their way from Churchill Square to the Alberta legislature building.

The movement is part of Climate Justice Edmonton, and protests could be heard from surrounding buildings.

READ MORE: ‘No jobs on a dead planet’: Students around the world strike for more action on climate change

“We were planning this demonstration before Jason Kenney was elected but now it feels even more urgent,” student organizer Abram Ilcisin said. “We know his policies will make a bad situation worse.

“He is promising to double down on a dying fossil fuel industry and roll back much needed public investment in renewables; this makes me worry whether I’ll be able to find good work in my future” he continued.

“We want to remind every voter and politician of what the IPCC report said — the action we take in the next few years could literally determine our whole future. For our government to not take real action is frankly negligent and cruel to future generations.”

RELATED:

Vancouver climate strike organizer Rebecca Hamilton says students are coming together to fight for their lives

Environmental justice and the Green New Deal

Hundreds gather in San Francisco with the youth led Sunrise Movement. Photo: Peg Hunter/Flickr
There are a number of ecosocialist responses to the Green New Deal, converging for the most part around the recognition that though it is not the Green New Deal most of us would prefer, it is the opportunity to move the paralysis of the climate change movement very far in the right — left — direction that our times so desperately need.

This is a series of essays in six voices, from longtime activists who participate in the North American ecosocialist network System Change Not Climate Change. Each was challenged to make their point in 500 words or less. It was intended as a constructive contribution to the wonderful storm of discussion that the Green New Deal has opened up. Read the full series here.

The Green New Deal, like some sort of eco-superhero, has arrived at the eleventh hour. Naomi Klein writes hopefully of it as a plan to address global warming that at long last matches the scale of the crisis. Klein (co-author of the Green New Deal-esque “Leap Manifesto“) has reason for optimism — a Green New Deal is not a single policy intervention, but a systemic approach to transform our economy and energy system and build sustainable, democratically-empowered communities.

The point of the concept is in its name — “green” and “New Deal.” It marries the need for decarbonization to a reimagining of a just and fair society embodied in slogans like “climate justice” and “just transition.” The Green New Deal concept has arisen from many quarters, including decades of work by environmental justice groups, the Green Party (which insists on defunding the military in order to fund life), and, more recently, the Sunrise Movement as well as rebellious politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who have brought visibility to the concept.

Both decarbonization and justice are crucial. Since climate change is engendered by a ruling class that exists via a class that is ruled, decarbonization won’t happen without creation of a just and equitable economics and society. MORE

 

Youth-led climate protests sweep across Europe

Thousands of youth strikers gather in Parliament Square in central London to protest the government's lack of action on climate change.
Thousands of youth strikers gather in Parliament Square in central London to protest the government’s lack of action on climate change. Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Thousands of young people in the U.K. are up in arms — not about Brexit, or the latest royal family gossip, but about climate change.

Students walked out of schools today in cities across the U.K., and other parts of Europe — the latest demonstration in what has become a global youth climate strike. This movement started six months ago when Swedish teen Greta Thunberg began leaving school every Friday to protest on the steps of her country’s parliament. Thunberg’s environmental activism is still going strong, and she has delivered powerful speeches to both the U.N.and the World Economic Forum on the urgency of climate change.

They want leaders in government to:

  • Declare a climate emergency and take “active steps to achieve climate justice”
  • Adjust curriculum to make the ecological crisis a priority in public education
  • Do more to communicate the severity of the problem to the general public
  • Lower the voting age to 16, so that young people can have a voice in determining their future

Political climate is heating up

Road sign saying "End climate injustice"

As we head into an election year in Canada, we must ensure that climate and the environment are priorities for all parties.(Photo: Jon Tyson via Unsplash)

In 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen reported to Congress that evidence for human-caused global warming was near undeniable, conservative politicians including the U.K.’s Margaret Thatcher, U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Canada’s Brian Mulroney agreed that action was needed. In my home province of B.C., a right-leaning government, the B.C. Liberal Party, introduced a carbon tax in 2008.

Now, as the evidence compels us to increasingly urgent action — the latest IPCC report says we have about 12 years to get emissions under control or face catastrophe — politicians from parties that once cared about the future are lining up to downplay or deny human-caused climate disruption and are hindering plans to address it.

There’s little evidence that governments are treating the climate emergency as seriously as is warranted, preferring to focus on short-term economic gains and election cycles instead.

Here in Canada, politicians claim to take climate change seriously but reject plans to mitigate it without offering better alternatives. Some provincial and federal leaders are governing or building campaigns around rejection of carbon pricing, a proven tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s interesting, because carbon pricing is a market-based strategy, whereas the kind of government regulation that would be required in its absence is something conservative thinkers usually reject. MORE