There is no climate justice without Indigenous sovereignty

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A note: Over the coming weeks and months, Stand.earth will continue to push for climate action and climate justice, because the climate crisis can’t wait. We’ll also be supporting efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus while advocating for measures that keep people around the world healthy and safe during these unprecedented times. You can read our full statement on COVID-19 here. 

While the rest of us are social distancing to keep each other safe, Coastal GasLink is still bringing in workers from all over Canada to build its fracked gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory – putting entire northern communities at grave risk.

The Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline is a threat to the land, air, water, climate, and to the Indigenous women living near the fracked gas pipeline route. The Wet’suwet’en have rights and title to their land, and have not consented to the pipeline.

With mass gatherings being paused to keep people safe amidst the spread of COVID-19, the Wet’suwet’en are adjusting their tactics, but calling on allies to keep standing with them. What can you do? Call out the largest funders of the CGL pipeline: JPMorgan Chase and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR). These companies’ plans to invest in the pipeline aren’t final and there’s still time to stop them.

Sign this petition to KKR and JP Morgan Chase, and demand they stop funding Coastal GasLink.

SIGN NOW

Last month, militarized police conducted a raid of the resistance camps on Wet’suwet’en land and illegally evicted hereditary chiefs, land defenders, and matriarchs. The police came with assault rifles, snipers, dogs, sound cannons, and helicopters to arrest unarmed Indigenous elders and youth.

Demand Chase and KKR stop financing the Coastal GasLink pipeline

A powerful solidarity movement quickly sprang up across the globe and got the world’s attention. Indigenous people and allies have led railway blockades, port shutdowns, sit-ins at government buildings, and huge rallies that brought parts of Canada to an economic standstill. Meanwhile, global allies shut-down Canadian consulates and banks that are funding the pipeline. Now that we can’t gather in person, digital tactics are more important than ever.

So we’re taking the fight to the largest bankers and investors of the CGL pipeline — JPMorgan Chase and KKR.

JPMorgan Chase, the world’s biggest banker of fossil fuels, is helping funnel more than $5 billion in loans to the company behind Coastal GasLink. And, KKR — a New York City based investment firm with a grotesque reputation for putting profits over employees, people, and the environment — is involved too. It has plans to purchase 65% of the pipeline with Alberta Investment Management Corp (AIMCo). Companies like Chase and KKR actively perpetuate the destruction of stolen Indigenous lands to fuel the climate crisis.

Fortunately, KKR’s plans to invest in the pipeline aren’t final. We must hold the company accountable before it’s too late.

Sign the petition and rise up with the Wet’suwet’en people: Demand Chase and KKR stop financing the CGL pipeline!

The Stand.earth community is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and other First Nations resisting destructive fossil fuel projects on their territories. Over the past decade, Stand has joined forces with frontline communities and allied organizations again and again to stop dozens of fossil fuel projects, including the Teck Frontier mine. We continue to support Coast Salish nations fighting against the Trans Mountain pipeline too.

The current resistance to the CGL pipeline is as much of a fight for Indigenous rights as it is for the future of the planet. The Wet’suwet’en First Nation have the right to live on their unceded land. Pipeline funders must be held accountable for their role in steamrolling Indigenous rights, destroying Indigenous lands, and fueling the climate crisis.

There is no climate justice without Indigenous sovereignty.

Climate adaptation estimated to cost municipalities $5.3 billion annually

TORONTO , Feb. 27, 2020 /CNW/ – The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released a report entitled Investing in Canada’s Future: The Cost of Climate Adaptation at the Local Level. The comprehensive report offers striking new data demonstrating the urgent need for new investments in local climate adaptation and the areas where that investment is needed most. This report is the first of its kind to quantify the cost for municipalities.

Insurance Bureau of Canada (CNW Group/Insurance Bureau of Canada)

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Insurance Bureau of Canada (CNW Group/Insurance Bureau of Canada)
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As the risk of more frequent severe weather events increases due to climate change, many areas across the country are becoming riskier to insure. Municipalities are on the front lines of climate change and require significant investment to protect the public, property and businesses from the devastating effects of climate change.

According to the report’s findings, avoiding the worst impacts of climate change at the municipal level will cost an estimated $5.3 billion per year, or equivalent to 0.26% of Canada’s GDP. Studies have shown that investments in resilient infrastructure have a return on investment of $6 in future averted losses for every $1 spent proactively. Those investments are critical to helping local communities adapt to the changing climate and to reduce risks to Canadians from extreme weather.

Given the scale and size of the long-term cost of adapting to climate change, the report suggests that future research and analysis by all levels of government must consider innovative ways in which private sector capital can be utilized to support enhanced community resilience.

The report also found that Canada’s eastern and northern regions are generally most in need of adaptation investments — with flooding, erosion and melting permafrost posing the greatest risk. Among infrastructure priorities, local buildings, dikes and roads require the most urgent upgrades.

Quotes

“When homes, businesses, farmland, and public infrastructure are hurt by extreme weather events, Canadians feel it in their communities first. Municipal leaders are prioritizing resiliency in their towns and cities, but there’s more we can and must do. FCM is proud to partner on the development of this crucial new data that underscores the importance of greater investment in municipal adaptation and prevention amidst the effects of a changing environment. All orders of government can work together to protect the public infrastructure that Canadians rely on in their neighbourhoods.”
–  Bill Karsten , FCM President

“Across the country, Canadians are feeling the devastating impacts of climate change as the financial and emotional costs continue to rise. Governments need to collaborate in funding the resilient infrastructure needed to protect Canadians from flooding, wind and wildfires. Given the size of the estimated investment needed at the local level, government should consider how the private sector and how private finance can help make our communities more resilient.”
–  Don Forgeron , IBC President and CEO

Links:

Oil investments are the new tobacco

The climate crisis and peak oil demand are making expensive projects like Alberta’s Teck Frontier look like bad investments.

Teck mine

Everybody in Canada is pointing fingers about Teck Resources cancelling its giant $20 billion open pit tar sands mine. Alberta’s Premier Kenney blames “urban-green-left zealots” and says it will “further weaken national unity.” Temporary leader of the opposition Andrew Scheer blames the Prime Minister, saying, “Justin Trudeau’s inaction has emboldened radical activists” and “Make no mistake: Justin Trudeau killed Teck Frontier.”

But the fact is that it made no economic sense in a world awash in cheap oil; Teck needed $95 a barrel to break even and Canadian oil is selling for $38. Permian Basin oil sells for $50. And who was going to lend Teck $20 billion, when the people who fund these projects are pulling out of the market?

Many have joined Climate Action 100+, “an investor initiative launched in 2017 to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change.”

Larry Fink of Black Rock, controlling $7 trillion, recently wrote that “climate change will upend global finance sooner than they might think.” According to Bloomberg, “Mark Carney and Christine Lagarde are once again pushing investors to take the climate crisis seriously and ensure they’re considering the risks from emissions and higher temperatures.”

And now, JPMorgan Chase is warning that climate change is a threat to “human life as we know it.” According to Bloomberg,

“The response to climate change should be motivated not only by central estimates of outcomes but also by the likelihood of extreme events,” bank economists David Mackie and Jessica Murray wrote in a Jan. 14 report to clients. “We cannot rule out catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened.”

This is from a company that has invested $75 billion in fracking and Arctic oil, and right now is demolishing a perfectly good, recently renovated building, with an upfront carbon load in replacing the square footage of about 63,971 tonnes of CO2. Even they are now talking climate crisis.

According to the JP Morgan report leaked to the Guardian, “The climate crisis will impact the world economy, human health, water stress, migration and the survival of other species on Earth.”

Drawing on extensive academic literature and forecasts by the International Monetary Fund and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the paper notes that global heating is on course to hit 3.5C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century… The authors say policymakers need to change direction because a business-as-usual climate policy “would likely push the earth to a place that we haven’t seen for many millions of years”, with outcomes that might be impossible to reverse.

“Although precise predictions are not possible, it is clear that the Earth is on an unsustainable trajectory. Something will have to change at some point if the human race is going to survive.”

JP Morgan is backtracking a bit, telling the BBC that the report was “wholly independent from the company as a whole, and not a commentary on it,” but it is all part of a trend.

“Fossil fuels are done!”

Take that Mad Money guy, Jim Cramer, who is saying “fossil fuels are done.”

He doesn’t mention climate change, but blames investor attitudes. Quoted by Nick Cunningham in Oilprice.com:

“We’re starting to see divestment all over the world. We’re starting to see big pension funds say, ‘listen, we’re not going to own them anymore,’” Cramer said on CNBC. “The world’s changed. There’s new managers. They don’t want to hear whether these are good or bad.”

Cunningham notes that companies are not suddenly getting concerned about sustainability, but see peak oil demand coming with the rise of electric vehicles. “It has become both a moral issue and a financial one.”

“We’re in the death knell phase. I know that’s very controversial. But we’re in the death knell phase,” Cramer warned. “The world has turned on them. It’s actually happening kind of quickly. You’re seeing divestiture by a lot of different funds. It’s going to be a parade that says, ‘Look, these are tobacco. And we’re not going to own them’… “[Oil is now] tobacco. I think they’re tobacco. We’re in a new world.”

I am sorry, but you cannot blame Justin Trudeau for that.

The Next Stage Of The Solar Boom Is Already Underway

solar boom

“Every five days, the sun provides the Earth with as much energy as all proven supplies of oil, coal, and natural gas,” reports Singularity Hub in a powerful summation of the potential power of solar energy. “If humanity could capture just one 6,000th of Earth’s available solar energy, we’d be able to meet 100 percent of our energy needs.”

The attempt to harness one of the most abundant clean energy resources–sunlight–has been a long and historied endeavor, starting all the way back in the Industrial Revolution when French scientist Alexandre Edmond Becquerellar first discovered that a solar cell had the ability to convert sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic effect in 1839. While it took a long time before we had the technology to make a commercial solar cell, in the United States, solar power has received government support for nearly 50 years. So why hasn’t solar power–clean, renewable, and overabundant–taken over our energy landscape?

For a long time, solar power was simply too expensive–it just couldn’t compete with the cheap cost and relative ease of fossil fuels, around which the entire energy industry was already built, with negligible exceptions. But now, solar power is cheaper than ever, with this year’s average price per watt of solar energy clocking in at just $3. In fact, solar (and wind power) are now cheaper than coal in most countries in the world. And the really great news is that they’re going to keep getting even cheaper.

This is in large part thanks to the fact that we are in the midst of a solar tech revolution. “Today,” reports Singularity Hub, “we are riding a tremendous wave of advancements in both solar panel efficiency and novel methods of expanding surface area coverage.”

At the forefront of this movement is a startup called Heliogen, which is backed by clean energy enthusiast, technocrat, and – as luck would have it – billionaire Bill Gates that is pushing solar power efficiency to new heights with the implementation of Artificial Intelligence. “Heliogen has created a system that will concentrate solar energy at temperatures as high as 1832 degrees Fahrenheit (1000 degrees Celsius) and replace the use of fossil fuels in industrial tasks such as producing cement and steel,” reports the International Business Times. This is achieved with the use of an AI-based computer system which is able to “align a set of large mirrors that will reflect solar energy on a single target. The accuracy of this system is what makes it possible to generate not just huge amounts of solar energy, but even control the output to make it comparable with the immediate power boost that happens with burning fossil fuels.”

This incredible concentration and efficiency falls in line with the current trend in solar energy, which is how to address one of the sector’s biggest obstacles: land area use. “Traditionally, solar energy-generating plants have been deployed on swathes of out-of-eyesight farmland, or on the roofs of self-powered homes and commercial properties. Yet critics point to land area use as the single greatest barrier to widespread solar adoption,” writes Singularity Hub. “Over the next decade, however, solar panels will be installed almost ubiquitously across urban and semi-urban areas, embedded in our infrastructure, transparent surfaces, and potentially even transit vessels.”

The Bill Gates-backed Heliogen model is still in its early stages of development and the groundbreaking AI technology still has a long way to go before it comes to market, but it is not the only revolution in solar energy currently underway. In fact, the sector is absolutely bursting with innovation as scientists and investors respond to the urgent need to cut carbon emissions and offset our dependence on fossil fuels with alternative energy like solar.

Just this month, a team of scientists at MIT unveiled that they have developed a new protective coating for advanced solar cells with huge possible implications. While a protective covering might not be the sexiest tech innovation, it is a hugely important one, making our existing solar technology more efficient and more resilient. As reported by Phys.org, “MIT researchers have improved on a transparent, conductive coating material, producing a tenfold gain in its electrical conductivity. When incorporated into a type of high-efficiency solar cell, the material increased the cell’s efficiency and stability.”

This is an especially important breakthrough due to the fact that the material currently used in the solar sector to coat the solar cells has a lot of shortcomings. “The material most widely used today for such purposes is known as ITO, for indium titanium oxide, but that material is quite brittle and can crack after a period of use.” The new and improved coating developed by MIT is a high-performing, flexible organic polymer known as PEDOT, which is “deposited in an ultrathin layer just a few nanometers thick, using a process called oxidative chemical vapor deposition (oCVD). This process results in a layer where the structure of the tiny crystals that form the polymer are all perfectly aligned horizontally, giving the material its high conductivity.”

Even with the incredible advances currently being made in the solar energy sector, there is still much more room for improvement. As Singularity Hub reports, “while the efficiency of current run-of-the-mill solar panels still hovers around 16-18 percent, traditional silicon solar panels have only reached half of their theoretical efficiency potential. And new materials science breakthroughs are now on track to double this theoretical constraint, promising cheap, efficient, and abundant solar energy.”

Every advance in the efficiency and ease of solar power production carries major real-world implications, getting us closer to being able to meet the emission cutting goals set by the Paris climate accord. In order to avoid the climate tipping point towards catastrophic climate change, most of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves will have to remain in the ground. This means that the need to develop a clean energy sector that is able to compete economically and logistically with oil and gas is imperative and urgent. However, as OilPrice reported earlier this year,  and investment is “The No.1 Bottleneck For Clean Energy Tech.” The only thing standing between us and a solar-powered world is a few more Bill Gates or a whole lot more civil, political, and private sector support. SOURCE

‘Job intensive:’ Study says clean energy fast track to employment growth


Some of the 30,000 solar panels that make up the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s new 2-megawatt photovoltaic array in Albuquerque, N.M. on April 20, 2011. File photo by The Associated Press/Susan Montoya Bryan

New research says job growth from clean energy will dramatically outpace that from fossil fuels over the next decade — as long as future Canadian governments maintain or increase attempts to fight climate change.

“The clean-energy sector is a good-news story that no one’s talking about,” said Merran Smith of Clean Energy Canada, a think tank based at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. “There is nothing to fear about moving forward on climate action.”

Earlier this year, the group released research that found Canada’s clean-energy sector — which encompasses renewable energy and energy conservation — had already produced 300,000 jobs by 2017.

Further study made public Wednesday projects job growth in the sector to significantly outperform most other parts of the economy.

Using recognized economic modelling tools, it suggests that direct jobs from clean energy will grow at a rate of 3.4 per cent a year between 2020 and 2030. That’s nearly four times the Canadian average.

The same models suggest fossil fuel industries will slowly lose jobs over that time.

Smith said the data shows clean energy employment could reach nearly 560,000 by the end of the next decade. That’s 160,000 new jobs, more than enough to make up for the 50,000 jobs which fossil fuels are expected to shed.

The study also forecasts money flowing into clean energy will grow 2.9 per cent a year. Fossil fuel investment is expected to shrink.

Fossil fuels will be bigger than clean energy for years to come. But what the research shows, Smith said, is that new jobs and growth will come from the latter.

“The fast lane is clean energy,” she said. “This is where we’re seeing job growth.”

Her conclusions are in broad agreement with others in the field.

“Deep decarbonization will be job intensive,” said Mark Jaccard, an energy economist at Simon Fraser University.

Fossil fuel alternatives require more labour, he said.

Kent Fellows of the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy agreed. He said studies in British Columbia, which has had a carbon tax for more than a decade, suggest climate measures didn’t cost jobs and may have added some.

“They show that either you’re pretty stable or maybe you’ve got a little bit of an increase in employment,” he said. “The fears of losing jobs everywhere are probably misguided.”

The British group Carbon Tracker has found that while solar and wind provide only three per cent of global energy, they account for one-quarter of all new generation. And few of the world’s cars are electric, but they make up 22 per cent of sales growth.

Automation is removing jobs from the oilpatch. Between 2014 and 2016, Alberta’s production grew by nearly 10 per cent but 39,000 fewer people were employed.

Smith points out the modelling assumes that Canadian climate measures either stay in place or are increased — an assumption which the current federal election campaign has thrown in doubt.

“We’ve got three parties that are not only committing to keep these policies but build on them,” Smith said. MORE

Canada becomes first country to sign pledge for zero emission commercial vehicles

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the transportation sector is Canada’s second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions at 24 per cent in 2017.


Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Equiterre co-founder Steven Guilbeault attend an announcement at global Clean Energy Ministerial meetings in Vancouver on May 29, 2019. Photo by Jennifer Gauthier

Canada has become the first country to sign on to the Drive to Zero Pledge, an international initiative aimed at increasing the number of zero and low emission vehicles in the medium- and heavy-duty transportation sector.

By signing the pledge, Canada is joining other partners, including municipal governments, in committing to eliminate barriers and implement mechanisms that accelerate the viability and growth of zero emission technology for these commercial vehicles.

“It’s so important that we look at our medium- and heavy-duty vehicles … our buses and trucks. We can be doing a lot better,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, who announced Canada’s commitment in Vancouver on Tuesday during a global clean energy summit hosted by Natural Resources Canada.

The Clean Energy Ministerial event brought government officials, clean energy experts and private sector stakeholders from more than 25 countries together to exchange ideas for advancing the global transition to a low-carbon economy.

“This is a huge opportunity,” McKenna added. “It’s the excitement about seeing [Canadian] companies … that are really moving the dial.”

The Drive to Zero Pledge is spearheaded by CALSTART, a California-based non-profit and broker for the clean transportation technology industry. The goal of the campaign is to make zero emission technology commercially viable in “beachhead” or smaller markets by 2025, building up to the domination of zero emission technology in commercial vehicle sales globally by 2040. These medium- and heavy-duty vehicles range from box trucks to school buses to eighteen wheelers.

Drive to Zero partners include cities, manufacturers, fleets, fuel suppliers, and now, Canada. The B.C. government and the City of Vancouver have also signed on. MORE

Canada’s amazing—and invisible—green energy sector

“While fighting climate change is frequently presented as a zero-sum game of environment vs. economy, the truth is that green technology innovation and the economy can get along like a zero carbon house no longer threatened by an increase in the severity and frequency of forest fires.”

Clean energy attracts billions in investment every year, employs many thousands of Canadians, and grows more than the rest of the economy. Why doesn’t Canada care?


Jason Andriulaitis checks a connection under a new solar panel installation in Scugog, Ont. on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Installing solar panels already makes sense for most homeowners in Saskatchewan and Ontario but the abundance of cheap hydroelectricity in Quebec and Manitoba means solar power may never make much economic sense in those provinces. (Frank Gunn/CP)

This week, a barn burner of a report was released into an increasingly flammable world by Clean Energy Canada, a non-profit think tank based out of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University. The report revealed that Canada’s clean energy sector is growing faster than the rest of the country’s economy. It turns out that the clean energy sector—arguably the unsexy sector that we don’t even notice—grew a full third, percentage-wise, more than the wider economy between 2010 and 2017.

On top of that, the clean energy sector is attracting tens of billions of dollars in investment every year, with investment rising by 70 per cent between 2010 and 2017, and $35 billion pouring in in 2017.

As of 2017, 298,000 Canadians (more than 26,000 in Alberta alone) were employed in Canada’s clean energy sector, which currently represents 3 per cent of Canada’s GDP,  or around $57 billion in 2017. For context, the direct contribution of agriculture, fishing, hunting and forestry to our nation’s economy was 2.1 per cent, and of the hotel and restaurant industry, 2.3 per cent.

In the words of Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, “Put simply,” the green sector is “made up of companies and jobs that help to reduce carbon pollution—whether by creating clean energy, helping move it, reducing energy consumption, or making low-carbon technologies.”

That criteria suggests a novel way of thinking. We’re basically learning a whole new classification system here because the green sector bands together a wide range of companies. Clean transport was the largest green employer, providing 58 per cent of those jobs in 2017. Renewable energy supply currently provides 40 per cent of the green sector’s GDP contribution, and while we might sort these businesses into the “transport sector” and the “energy sector” respectively and not invite them to the same parties, they are nevertheless both in the business of ensuring that Waterworld never becomes culturally relevant. MORE

RELATED:

At Vancouver’s Clean Energy Summit, Nuclear Is Making a Play

Note to ministers from 25 nations: Prepare to be dangerously greenwashed.

Canada’s clean energy sector is big, growing fast—and largely unknown

 

Here’s What a Green New Deal Looks Like in Practice


JARED RODRIGUEZ / TRUTHOUT, TOKARCHUK ANDRII / SHUTTERSTOCK

With the climate change challenge growing more acute with every passing year, the need for the adoption of a new political economy that would tackle effectively both the environmental and the egalitarian concerns of progressive people worldwide grows exponentially. Yet, there is still a lot of disagreement on the left as to the nature of the corresponding political economy model. One segment of the left calls for the complete overthrow of capitalism as a means of dealing with climate change and the growing levels of economic inequality in the era of global neoliberalism, while another one argues against growth in general.

In the interview below, Robert Pollin, distinguished professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, explains some issues raised by each of these positions, and how to move toward solutions grounded in a fuller understanding of economic development. MORE

EXACTLY WHAT IS “THE GREEN NEW DEAL?”

A closer look at the Democrats’ latest scheme to advance socialism.

In an October 2018 campaign appearance, Democratic darling Ocasio-Cortez – on the premise that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are responsible for potentially catastrophic “climate change” – made reference to a “Green New Deal” which aims to make the U.S. 100 percent reliant on renewable energy sources (wind, water, solar) by 2035. “There’s no debate as to whether we should continue producing fossil fuels,” she said. “There’s no debate. We should not. Every single scientific consensus points to that.”

“So we talk about existential threats, the last time we had a really major existential threat to this country was around World War II…. We had a direct existential threat with another nation, this time it was Nazi Germany, and the Axis, who explicitly made the United States as an enemy, as an enemy. And what we did was that we chose to mobilize our entire economy and industrialized our entire economy and we put hundreds if not millions of people to work in defending our shores and defending this country. We have to do the same thing in order to get us to 100 percent renewable energy, and that’s just the truth of it.”

“The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan,” Ocasio-Cortez said on yet another occasion. “It will require the investment of trillions of dollars and the creation of millions of high-wage jobs. We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy but this time green energy.” MORE