Greta’s in B.C. How does our climate pollution compare to Sweden’s?

Flags of British Columbia and Sweden (credit Wikipedia) and file photo of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg by Josie Desmarais

“My name is Greta Thunberg. I am sixteen years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.” – speech to U.K. House of Parliament, London, April 23, 2019

Swedish climate striker Greta Thunberg has travelled a long, slow, low-carbon way to bring her message of climate urgency to British Columbia.

In the spirit of cultural exchange, I decided to learn what I could about Sweden’s own climate emissions and efforts. So if you, too, are interested in how our two northern jurisdictions compare on climate pollution, you’re in luck. I waded through a fat pile of reports and spreadsheets to put together five comparison charts and the stories behind them.

Pollution Down. Pollution Up.

Let’s start with annual emissions. My first chart shows the big picture.

Climate pollution from 1990 to 2017 for Sweden and BC

Back in 1990, Sweden dumped a lot more climate pollution than B.C. did. Fifteen million tonnes (15 MtCO2) more.

But, since then, the Swedes have slashed their emissions by a quarter.

B.C. has pumped it up.

As a result, we’ve traded places. B.C. now emits a lot more climate pollution than Sweden.

I’ve also included B.C.’s 2020 climate target on the chart as a dotted circle. (It sits at 23 per cent below our 1990 emissions level.)

Sweden has already cut even deeper than that, reducing emissions 26 per cent below their 1990 level.

It is clearly possible for wealthy northerners to achieve the pollution we promised. Heck, the U.K. has managed to pull off a 41 per cent reduction since 1990.

Greta: “A lot of people say that Sweden is a small country, that it doesn’t matter what we do. But I think that if a few girls can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could do together if we wanted to. Every single person counts. Just like every single emission counts. Every single kilo. Everything counts. So please, treat the climate crisis like the acute crisis it is and give us a future. Our lives are in your hands.” – speech to Stockholm Climate March, Sept. 8, 2018

Person by person

Greta: “The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty.”  speech to the World Economic Forum, Davos, Jan. 25, 2019

Next, let’s look at the amount of climate pollution emitted per person.

Climate pollution per capita in 2017 for Sweden and BC

Sweden is home to more than twice as many people as British Columbia. And as my second chart shows, the average Swede emits a little over five tonnes of climate pollution (tCO2) each year.

That’s one tonne less than the global average.

British Columbians, in contrast, emit more than double the global average.

Why are Swedes polluting so much less? To look for clues I dug deeper to find the emissions that each sector of the economy causes.

Two things jump out for me.

First, you can see that transportation is by far British Columbia’s biggest source of climate pollution. So big, in fact, that our per capita transportation emissions exceed the Swedes footprint for everything. We’ll take a look two of the biggest transportation problems — driving and flying — below.

The second thing that jumps out at me is the pollution from B.C.’s oil and gas industry, shown at the top of the bar. The industry alone emits 2.6 tCO2 per British Columbian. That’s half Sweden’s total.

And now the oil and gas industry is poised to double its climate pollution in B.C. if they build just two of their currently planned LNG projects: LNG Canada and Kitimat LNG.

Those two examples just scratch the surface of what we could learn from studying the emissions of Sweden and most other European nations. If you want to explore more, the official greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory for Sweden, and for most other major nations, are here. And like Greta’s speeches, Sweden’s report is, very helpfully, in English. MORE

Letter: Deconstruction of White Pines Wind Project makes no sense

SOURCE: The Times

Do you want your children and grandchildren to live on an overheated and dying planet? The recent decision of the Ontario government to demolish the four wind turbines, already erected, and 5 partly erected ones, near Milford, is taking us in that direction.

A 26-year study cited in the Guardian newspaper reports that carbon emissions from over-heated soils and oceans could trigger disastrous feedback loops leading to a potentially unstoppable increase in temperatures.

What this means is that unless we soon stop burning fossil fuels in our homes, vehicles, factories and elsewhere, the planet we live on may becomeuninhabitable.If the Earth becomes uninhabitable, it won’t matter if birds or bats are killed, or habitat damaged by wind turbines as the anti-wind people claim. There will be no animals or humans to enjoy them.

I do appreciate the need for conservation and preservation of species, but Iwould like my children and grandson to be alive to enjoy a world that is not a burned-outcinder.

To avoid the disastrous consequences of burning gas, oil and other fossil fuels we need toimmediately switch to clean sources of power such as wind turbines, solar panels etc. Destroying the windmills sends the wrong message, is wasteful and costly, short-sighted anddenies the right of future generations to inherit a world with a stable ecosystem andenvironment.

The present generation will not escape the consequences of the Ontario government’s decision to dismantle the Milford turbines. The Toronto Star reported in July of2018 that the cancellation of the White Pines project would be a “Blow to Ontario’s Business Reputation.” In the same article, WDP AG, the German parent to White Pines, estimated itspotential loss at $ 100 million. The government has stated that the direct losses of the company will be reimbursed. The taxpayers will have to pay this amount, or more, as a resultof the present Ontario government’s decision.

How is this good for business or for the residents of the County and Ontario? The bottom line is that it makes no sense at all, environmentally, economically or in the long-term, to deconstruct the wind turbines. There will be massive disruption and carbon emissions involved in taking them down and huge financial costs. We have an immediate need for clean energy since the IESO predicts an electricity shortage in 2023.

These factors all point to thegovernment’s decision to decommission the Milford wind turbines to be a huge mistake. This bad decision will have serious and lasting consequences for the residents of the County and everyone in our province.

Rod Holloway,
July 12, 2019


Question of the Century: Do We Have a Right to a Livable Climate?

The climate is changing, the changes are human-caused, and most of them will be detrimental to people and ecosystems. But while public sentiment and plausible policy measures on these threats have been maturing in recent years, the law has not kept up.

Today climate change as a legal matter remains blurry and disconnected from the principles our system of government aspires to follow. The question remains unanswered: Do we — including future generations — have a legal right to a climate in which we can pursue our rights to life, liberty, property and happiness?

This is the question that a case called Juliana, et al. v. United States has thrown like a crowbar into the American legal system. If strong enough leverage is applied by the case and any resulting ruling, the whole edifice of environmental law and its position in constitutional law will undergo a deep shift.

Juliana — better known as Youth v. Gov — was filed in 2015 in the U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon, on behalf of 21 young plaintiffs and climate scientist James Hansen, serving in this case as a guardian for future generations. Our Children’s Trust is the Eugene-based nonprofit sponsoring the case. Since it was filed, the defendant (the U.S. government) has made five appeals to higher courts — three to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and two to the U.S. Supreme Court — to throw the case out on various procedural and summary motions. Currently its third appeal to the Ninth Circuit hangs in the balance, with oral argument before a three-judge panel set for June 4 in Portland.

Youth v Go
A 2017 Youth v Gov rally, photo by Christian O’Rourke (CC BY 2.0)

The plaintiffs have astonished legal experts by persisting through these attempts to prevent the case from coming to trial under District Court Judge Ann Aiken.

“We’re confident we’re right,” says Andrea Rodgers, an Our Children’s Trust staff attorney. “Our hope is that the Ninth Circuit will issue a very narrow decision that will bring us back to trial as soon as humanly possible.”

Aiken has already stated in a November 2016 ruling related to this case that in her “reasoned judgment…a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society” — but she also dismissed one of plaintiffs’ claims, that the Ninth Amendment assures just such a right even though it is unenumerated in the Constitution, unlike the guarantees of due process and equal protection made explicit in the Fifth and 14th Amendments.

This has not stopped the plaintiffs, however, because they have also made arguments under those amendments, based mainly on the public trust doctrine. This is the principle that certain resources — those necessary to everyone, such as air and water — must be protected and managed so as to remain available to future generations. It is considered a property right. MORE

What you should know about vaping and e-cigarettes

The Merchants of Death will always be ready to sell addiction and death until we have an ecocide law. This is a TED talk you should take the time to watch!

E-cigarettes, or “vapes,” as they are commonly called, are flying off the shelves like candy. This year, the e-cigarette market is expected to drive 26 billion dollars in sales worldwide.

Over the next six years, that volume is expected to double. We have a lot of serious concerns about the health impact of vaping, and unfortunately, not nearly enough answers.

This becomes even more concerning when you think of who uses e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use, at least in the US, has grown rapidly among youth and young adults — our kids, our most vulnerable population.

There was a 900 percent growth in the use of e-cigarettes by youth between 2012 and 2015. The most recent estimates suggest that approximately 3.6 million high school and middle school students have used e-cigarettes in the US.

…So nicotine addiction through e-cigarettes could be leading them down the path of other addictions and other mental health problems.

Now, in adolescent animals, nicotine also produces epigenetic changes, or heritable changes in gene expression, for example, in the genes involved in asthma. So teens who use nicotine may not only be harming themselves but they could be harming their future generations. MORE

Young people are talking, let’s listen!

Last Friday, Greta Thunberg, Greta Thunberg, United States of America.Protests were organized in Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver, among others. 

Speaking to delegates from the 195 countries represented at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), Greta spoke for youth from across the world when she said:“You say you love your children above all else , and yet you are stealing their future in front of their eyes “, prompting them to take action. 

The message is clear, the future of young people is in danger. 

The NDP heard you and we will fight with you! SOURCE

We Have A Climate Crisis On This Planet

We Have A Climate Crisis On This Planet, Below2C

A Yale University survey shows more than 70 percent of Americans agree we must limit global warming. The climate emergency is real, but the chaos is larger than the climate disruption. New research shows the frequency and severity of heat waves will get worse. Sea level rise, extreme weather events, drought, crop failure, and water scarcity are driving countries to stop the flow of climate refugees. Poor islands and developing nations are seen as collateral damage.

Inaction is a criminal response

There are two main forces driving inaction. Air, water, and soil are sacred gifts of nature. But frackers, miners, loggers, and land developers see the sacred as inconvenient externalities. The GOP mindset is all about money. Our priceless sacred gifts of nature are seen as worthless because no money is involved.

The goal is clear, but people are easily distracted by daily events and short-term rewards. The 24/7 media and twitter-man keep Americans glued to the TV and silent, with no time to think, read, or act.

Fear, greed, and hate are unspoken reasons for inaction. We are facing an ethical crisis where future generations are helpless victims. [a recent post explores fear as a motivator] MORE

Monique Keiran: First Nations deserve a role in species-at-risk strategies


VICTORIA, B.C.: OCTOBER 3, 2012-A pod of orcas swim near Pender Island in Victoria, B.C. October 3, 2012. (DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST). For City story by Judith Lavoie. Photograph By DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Half of the plans developed in Canada over the past 13 years for the recovery of threatened and endangered species might lack constitutionally required Indigenous consultation, according to a recent study by Carleton University researchers.

The researchers examined recovery strategies and management plans developed from 2006 to 2017 for species considered endangered, threatened and of special concern under the federal Species at Risk Act. Fifty-two per cent of the documents showed no evidence of Indigenous involvement, despite a legal requirement that governments consult with Indigenous Peoples.

Last year’s ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal is one example. The court reversed approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and ordered the federal government to re-do parts of its consultation with Indigenous Peoples, as well as have the National Energy Board consider the environmental impacts of increased tanker traffic off the coast resulting from the expanded pipeline. Before the ruling, it became clear that the government had green-lighted the project before its consultations with B.C.’s First Nations were complete.

Learning from that mistake, the B.C. government’s proposed environmental-assessment rules include, for the first time, specific requirements for consultation with First Nations. The proposed legislation refocuses the assessment process on Indigenous consent, early engagement, clear timelines and consideration of other issues related to climate change, pollution targets and the effects of projects on future generations. MORE



Canada obliged to protect future generations from climate change, test case on carbon tax hears

Young people ‘will live their entire lives under the mounting environmental, economic, and health stresses’ caused by growing greenhouse gas emissions, coalition argues

Image result for Canada obliged to protect future generations from climate change, test case on carbon tax hears

When the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan publicly squared off in court in Regina this month over the constitutionality of a federally imposed carbon tax, a lesser organization was quietly advancing its own case, on behalf of young Canadians and future generations.

The Intergenerational Climate Coalition, an intervenor in the case, argued that the Canadian government has a constitutional obligation to protect minorities, including future generations of children who stand to be negatively impacted by climate change.

“No jurisdiction, federal or provincial, should be able to use the constitutional division of powers to defeat other constitutional commitments to younger Canadians and future generations,” says Paul Kershaw, founder of Generation Squeeze, the lead of six organizations that form the coalition.

The Canadian government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act of 2018 imposes a federal price on greenhouse gas emissions for any province or territory that does not adopt the federal program or implement its own carbon tax. The initial tax is $10 per tonne annually of carbon-dioxide equivalent, rising to $50 per tonne in 2022.

The preamble of the act states: “Parliament recognizes it is the responsibility of the present generation to minimize impacts of climate change on future generations.” MORE


Children’s Climate Crusade Litigation: Trump Administration Files Opening Brief in 9th Circuit


Image result for Children’s Climate CrusadeA new approach to Environmental Law

The Juliana v. U.S. climate change litigation (better known as part of the Children’s Climate Crusade) is back in the spotlight. The case was filed in Oregon U.S. District Court in 2015 on behalf of future generations to force governmental action on climate change.

Last Friday’s brief tees up four primary issues that will determine whether the case eventually goes to trial:

  1. Are the plaintiffs’ climate grievances sufficiently specific to constitute a “case or controversy”?

First, the government argues that the plaintiffs lack standing because their allegations do not constitute a “case or controversy” under Article III of the Constitution. According to the government, plaintiffs “have only a generalized grievance and not the required particularized injury because global climate change affects everyone in the world.” As a result, the government argues that the plaintiffs “cannot plausibly connect their narrow asserted injuries — like flooding or drought in their neighborhoods — to any particular conduct by the government.” The government also argues that the court cannot remedy the claimed injuries, another requirement of standing.

This is a high hurdle for the plaintiffs. The government argues that a single federal judge should not be allowed to “seize control of national energy production, energy consumption, and transportation” in ways that would address the alleged harms. MORE