Canada and global warming: a state of denial 2

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epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..more on my #95 post.

Against offshore drilling? Your American neighbours are with you

We write as your southern neighbours, but neighbours nonetheless. Our homes on the U.S. Atlantic coast are much like Nova Scotia’s many coastal communities. The ocean is who we are. We fish. We are bound to our beaches, and we show them off to our visitors. We love our coasts and oceans; we rely on them for industry, community, and identity.

Beyond our common connection to the ocean, when it comes to local governance matters, our political realities are not far from your own. Local governments in the U.S. are routinely overburdened with responsibilities without having access to the resources to meet needs, and new risks are downloaded to us every day.

One risk we share is that of offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration. As our federal government puts our oceans at risk by attempting (so far unsuccessfully) to open Atlantic waters to offshore oil activity, our local governments are left to deal with all the associated threats and costs. The risks of offshore drilling in Nova Scotia are not much different. Seismic testing used to locate oil deposits put our fisheries at risk by introducing serious stressors to marine life of all kinds. The risk of oil and chemical spills is almost unimaginable, with the potential to leave affected areas with lasting poverty and ecological destruction like that which followed the BP spill on the Gulf Coast in 2010. Continued fossil fuel extraction exacerbates climate change, severe weather, and sea level rise, for which municipalities are already bearing huge costs.

Perhaps the most important similarity is that amid these real challenges, local communities on both sides of the border are not giving up. In Nova Scotia, about 25 per cent of municipal governments have asked for a public inquiry into offshore drilling, as have more than 65,000 Canadians.

Local communities and governments have played an instrumental role in keeping offshore drilling and its many risks off U.S. shores. We’ve worked hard to have our communities, neighbours and state governments understand that offshore drilling poses unreasonable risks to our ways of life.

The offer of jobs and royalties is often flaunted as a silver bullet solution to our problems, but the reality is we have communities, jobs, and economies here and now that rely on clean, beautiful oceans.

It’s clear that on both sides of the border, the existing decision-making processes around offshore drilling, and many forms of resource extraction, do not take seriously the questions and concerns of local communities.....

NDPP

Hunziker: Ignoring Climate Catastrophes

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/11/08/ignoring-climate-catastrophes/

"The planet is coming apart at the seams right before the eyes of scientists at work in remote fringe areas of the North where permafrost crumbles and collapses. It's abrupt climate change at work in real time, but the governing leaders of the world either don't care or don't know..."

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Canada gets poor marks on latest climate report card

Countries across the world need to make their 2030 emission targets much more ambitious if the world is to stand a chance of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a major research report says.

And Canada is one of the biggest laggards, far from reaching its own targets which are themselves far from enough to keep warming to that level.

The annual "Brown to Green" report from the Climate Transparency partnership said Canada is far from contributing its fair share toward the 1.5 C goal, with the third most energy-intensive economy in the G20. And that’s despite having one of the cleanest electricity grids.....

jerrym

epaulo13 wrote:

Countries across the world need to make their 2030 emission targets much more ambitious if the world is to stand a chance of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a major research report says.

The annual "Brown to Green" report from the Climate Transparency partnership said Canada is far from contributing its fair share toward the 1.5 C goal, with the third most energy-intensive economy in the G20. 

The failure to deal with global warming is a continuation of failures of multiple Liberal and Conservative Canadian governments to live up to promised reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that has been going on since 1992. This "Brown to Green" report from the Climate Transparency itself notes that: 

The climate report card on Canada is pretty grim. Canada’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions are much higher than the G20 average, at 18.9 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per person. Much of Canada’s failure to limit overall emissions is due to energy-inefficient buildings and rising pollution from two provinces: Alberta and Saskatchewan. ...

On the campaign trail, Trudeau pledged to exceed Canada’s 2030 targets and achieve net zero emissions by 2050 with legally binding five-year targets, but with few details about how to do that. ...

... you have an entire population, or part of society, that was built on that production and you are actually telling them that actually has to be gone very soon.”

Canada will need to have a plan to help oil and gas workers, the report said, similar to what is being set up for dislocated coal workers as that energy source is targeted for a full phase-out by 2030.

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/11/11/news/canada-gets-poor-marks-...

 

However, this is just a continuation of the same pattern carried out by this and previous Liberal and Conservative governments. In other words, a set of campaign promises that shows every sign of being broken as global warming approaches a catastrophic climax. The March 2018  Perspectives on Climate Change Action in Canada—A Collaborative Report from Auditors General, noted that: 

“Canada has missed two separate emission reduction targets (the 1992 Rio target and the 2005 Kyoto target) and is likely to miss the 2020 Copenhagen target as well. In fact, emissions in 2020 are expected to be nearly 20 per cent above the target.” ...

The annual UN Emissions Gap Report states that Canada is well above its pledged target and that gap is expected to widen even further by 2030."

The Liberals were deeply involved in negotiating the 1997 Kyoto Accord agreeing that "Canada's Kyoto target was a 6% total reduction by 2012 compared to 1990 levels of 461 Megatonnes (Mt)". Instead the 1997 emissions of 671 Mt during the year of the signing of the Kyoto Accord had risen to 747 Mt in 2005, the last full year of a Liberal government before the Conservatives took over. This was 33% above the 1997 Liberal Kyoto target. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_and_the_Kyoto_Protocol)

The Liberals declared a climate emergency in June and then announced today the tripling of the Trans Mountain pipeline to carry bitumen to the coast bringing about a massive expansion of the fossil fuel production. 

In April 2019 Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand concluded "Canada is not on track to hit its 2030 target,". These targets were actually those of the Conservative Harper government. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/environment-commissioner-julie-gelfand-...)

Eugene Kung, lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law, and lead on the First Nations case against the pipeline commented on Trudeau's announcement that profits from the pipeline would be used to promote green energy: "That’s like saying we need to keep selling cigarettes to have money to fight cancer". Former Liberal Environment minister David Anderson points out "There is no credible evidence to suggest that Asia is likely to be a reliable or a significant market for Alberta bitumen". (https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/wjvkqq/canada-justin-trudeau-declares...) But the Trudeau government pushes ahead with its pipeline agenda despite all the evidence piling up against it. 

jerrym

Image result for australian bushfire photos

Australian firefighters battle more than 80 bushfires

In September, while I was travelling in Australia, the New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian came on TV to warn that these never-before seen wildfires at the start of spring meant that people had to now expect the wildfire season to not only get worse under these extreme conditions but to last an previously unheard of six to nine months. Similar concerns were expressed by the Premier of Queensland state. These predictions are coming true as there are a growing number of catastrophic wildfires despite the fact that summer hasn't even arrived in Australia. 

However,  Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to answer a question about climate change, offering thoughts and prayers for the families who have lost relatives in the fires, about as useful in dealing with the problem of global warming as similar thoughts and prayers in dealing with mass shootings in the US.

Sounds like something Kenney would say if he had been Premier during the Fort McMurray fire that destroyed one quarter of the city and something that is likely to occur again somewhere in Canada in the not too distant future. 

"We find it very difficult in general to attribute climate change impacts to a specific event, particularly while the event is running," said Dr Richard Thornton, chief executive of the Bushfires & Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre.

"But what we do know is that the average temperature in Australia now is running about 1C above the long-term average." He added fire seasons were starting earlier and "the cumulative fire danger" in many areas was growing. ...

Prof Glenda Wardle, an ecologist from the University of Sydney, agreed: "It's not every weather event that is the direct result of climate change. But when you see trends... it becomes undeniably linked to global climate change." She said there was a "collective shift" in the timing and intensity of weather events. 

Australian National University climate scientist Dr Imran Ahmed called it a direct link: "Because what climate change does is exacerbate the conditions in which the bushfires happen. We will start to see the extreme end of the fire behaviour scale occur more frequently because of the increase of temperatures", said Dr Thornton.  "Everything we normally see as variability between a good fire season and a bad season is sitting on top of that extra 1C - and that means that the severe events will occur more frequently." ...

But Prof Wardle said the government was "passing the buck" on climate change and not doing enough to help stem the rise in global temperatures.  "It hasn't just been fires, there's been flood, there's the drought," she said. "Every time [the government] has had the chance to take on the big issue of climate change and do something, they choose not to and blame other things like land management."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-50341210

 

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This is not normal: what's different about the NSW mega fires

quote:

"Unprecedented" is a word that we are hearing a lot: from fire chiefs, politicians, and the weather bureau. I have just returned from California where I spoke to fire chiefs still battling unseasonal fires. The same word, "unprecedented", came up.

Unprecedented dryness; reductions in long-term rainfall; low humidity; high temperatures; wind velocities; fire danger indices; fire spread and ferocity; instances of pyro-convective fires (fire storms – making their own weather); early starts and late finishes to bushfire seasons. An established long-term trend driven by a warming, drying climate. The numbers don’t lie, and the science is clear.

Unprecedented dryness; reductions in long-term rainfall; low humidity; high temperatures; wind velocities; fire danger indices; fire spread and ferocity; instances of pyro-convective fires (fire storms – making their own weather); early starts and late finishes to bushfire seasons. An established long-term trend driven by a warming, drying climate. The numbers don’t lie, and the science is clear.

If anyone tells you, "This is part of a normal cycle" or "We’ve had fires like this before", smile politely and walk away, because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

quote:

This year, by the beginning of November, we had already lost about as many homes as during the disastrous 2001-2002 bushfire season. We’ve now eclipsed 1994 fire losses.

Fires are burning in places and at intensities never before experienced – rainforests in northern NSW, tropical Queensland, and the formerly wet old-growth forests in Tasmania.

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..a 3:39 long thunberg & monbiot video

#naturenow

Nature is a tool we can use to fix our broken climate, but we are ignoring it. The risk of climate breakdown is real, but it can be reduced if we protect, restore and fund natural climate solutions.

jerrym

The series of articles below describe how the Atlantic fishery in Canada and the US is declining: 

 

Canada's fisheries minister says the impacts of climate change are a fact of life that will have to be factored in the management of Canada's multi-billion dollar seafood industry. ... The State of the Atlantic Ocean report, released [April 12], summarizes the overall health and trends in the Atlantic Ocean based on scientific research and monitoring from DFO and Environment and Climate Change Canada. ... The DFO report says all three Atlantic zones — Newfoundland and Labrador, the Scotian Shelf and the Gulf of St Lawrence — are undergoing environmental changes.

For example, it says warming sea temperatures off Nova Scotia have led to declines in northern shrimp and snow crab, which prefer cooler waters, but have helped drive a big increase in the lobster population.

Species are also shifting. Silver hake has moved into Newfoundland, a possible indicator of changes that will be seen with climate change.

The number of exotic warm-water species, such as John Dory, armored sea robin and deep-bodied boarfish moving into the region has increased. They are being caught more often. ...

Some of the most important trends are taking place at the bottom of the food chain. Take the tiny animals drifting through the water column known as zooplankton. The most abundant, energy-rich species — a copepod called Calanus finmarchicus — is declining, while a smaller, less nutritious and warm-water copepod called Pseudocalanus is increasing and is now at record levels throughout the region.

The change will make the ocean less productive with the potential to ripple throughout the food web.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/climate-change-atlantic-ocean...

 

Warming waters around Nova Scotia have created a sweet spot for the crustacean over the past decade. ... The Nova Scotian catch makes up the majority of Canada’s lobster industry, bringing more than $750 million in 2018 — about double the $382 million brought in for 2012. ...

The waters are warming above the global average both at the surface and in deep waters, according to this year’s first-ever State of the Atlantic Ocean report, which cites as reasons rising air temperatures driven by climate change (1 degree per century since the 1870s) and changes in currents. ...

Acidification is also increasing as more man-made carbon dioxide emissions enter the ocean. The carbon dioxide dissolves in surface water to form carbonic acid, which is corrosive to calcium carbonate — the compound lobster and other crustaceans need to produce their protective shells. At the same time, the waters are becoming less oxygenated as deeper waters mix less with surface waters. When oxygen levels are too low, called hypoxia, species may flee an area before they suffocate.

Many fishermen and scientists feel an urgency to understand what changes are still to come, warning that it’s easy for complacency to set in as the good times roll. “There’s an unease,” says fisher Lucien LeBlanc, who has outfitted the John Harold to double as a tourist vessel and rely less on the fishery. “Financially, I treat it like it’s my last year ... I try to.”

https://projects.thestar.com/climate-change-canada/nova-scotia/

 

 

jerrym

Here are more articles on the risks the Atlantic fishery faces from climate change:

A marine biologist is taking notice of stunning images of tropical fish photographed by an amateur diver in the warming waters off Nova Scotia’s southern shore. ...

“There’s a sense these fish are becoming more numerous, and they are staying for longer,” the biologist [Boris Worm of Dalhousie University] said in an interview. As the weather gets warmer, the tropical species are remaining in the region for longer periods of time, though most are likely dying off in late fall as waters grow cold, he added. ...

He says while the presence of the fish themselves isn’t likely to disrupt ecosystems, there’s the possibility that invasive predatory species and warm water diseases won’t be far behind. “What has a larger impact is the warming water itself, which changes the composition of the phytoplankton and ... it really re-organizes the food web,” he explained.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-scientist-says-tropical-f...

 

Stretching from Nova Scotia to Cape Cod, the Gulf of Maine sits at the intersection of two major ocean currents. From the north comes the Labrador Current pulsing cold water from Greenland down North America’s eastern coast. From the south comes the mighty Gulf Stream carrying warm water from the Gulf of Mexico. The interaction of the currents causes what University of Washington oceanographer Hillary Scannell described to the science magazine Eos as the “heartbeat of the Atlantic Ocean.” ...

Historically, the Labrador Current easily flowed into the Gulf of Maine, providing the cool temperatures in which shrimp and other fish thrive. But melting Arctic ice is adding fresh water to the northern seas. This weakens the Labrador Current, and warm Gulf Stream water cooks the Gulf of Maine. The effects are stunning. 

The Gulf of Maine has warmed faster than 99% of global oceans, increasing by an average of 0.11 degrees Fahrenheit per year over the last three decades. ...

The number of younger shrimp surviving to breeding age has remained “low to extremely poor” for the past seven years, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s report read. In 2018, when yet another marine heatwave sent temperatures soaring, numbers hit “an all-time low.” “The Northern shrimp stock is currently depleted,” the report added.

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/11/11/features/disappearing-shrimp...

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Wildfires, disease, food scarcity: scientists predict a grim century for Canada

A major academic review of the impact climate change has on human health has found that more than half of the nearly 450,000 Canadians evacuated from their homes due to wildfires since 1980 were displaced in the past decade, and says that more than 1,000 Canadians were killed by air pollution related to the transportation industry in 2015.

Researchers also found that Canada's health-care sector is responsible for four per cent of the country's greenhouse gas emissions and that Canada produces the third-highest per capita emissions from health care in the world.

The findings come from the third Lancet Countdown report, an annual review of the scientific evidence of the impact climate change has on human health. Released Wednesday, it was produced by U.K.-based medical journal The Lancet and 35 partner institutions including the World Health Organization, several UN agencies, the World Bank and Yale University.....

Protesters, joined by faith leaders and members of Extinction Rebellion Toronto, take over the intersection of Yonge and Dundas streets in downtown Toronto as part of a demonstration declaring a climate crisis on June 10, 2019. Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

jerrym

On Tuesday night 85% of Venice was flooded not by a storm but by an extreme high tide, setting a new record for flooding that saw parts of the city six feet under water. One of the major factors in bringing this about is climate change, which as ice melts, causes sea levels to rise. With by far the longest coastline in the world, this climate change induced sea level rise portends for Canada, the country with by far the longest coastline in the world, as will be described in more detail in the following post. 

 

“Venice is on its knees,” Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted on Wednesday. “We need everyone’s help to overcome these days that are putting us to the test.” ...

Climate change is adding to the overflow of water. As ice melts and raises sea levels, high tides put Venice at greater risk. “These are the effects of climate change,” Brugnaro said in one of his tweets. “The costs will be high.” 

“I would argue that the number one danger is sea level rise,” Rafael Bras, provost at Georgia Tech and a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences tells The Verge.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/14/20963878/venice-high-tide-climate-ch...

jerrym

As mentioned in the previous post, Canada, with  202,080 km of coastline compared to 58,133 km for second place Norway, has by far the longest coastline in the world (https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/countries-with-the-most-coastline.html), making it extremely susceptible to climate change induced sea level rise, as has just happened in Venice. With their high concentrations of people, coastal cities around the world, including Canadian ones, are threatened by this sea level rise. 

A driver pulls his broken down vehicle in knee deep water caused by heavy rainfall in Dhaka, 2010.

Sea-level rises are inevitable – and cities must prepare.

While all coastal cities will be affected by sea-level rises, some will be hit much harder than others. Asian cities will be particularly badly affected. About four out of every five people impacted by sea-level rise by 2050 will live in East or South East Asia. US cities, especially those on the East and Gulf coasts, are similarly vulnerable. More than 90 US coastal cities are already experiencing chronic flooding – a number that is expected to double by 2030. Meanwhile, about three-quarters of all European cities will be affected by rising sea levels, especially in the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. Africa is also highly threatened, due to rapid urbanization in coastal cities and the crowding of poor populations in informal settlements along the coast. The coming decades will be marked by the rise of ex-cities and climate migrants. 

So-called “delta cities” are already bearing the brunt of rising seas. More than 340 million people live in deltas like Dhaka, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Manila, Melbourne, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Rotterdam, Tokyo and Venice. What a difference a few centuries makes. Over the past few thousand years, the 48 major coastal deltas in the Americas, Europe and Asia formed ideal sites for cities to thrive, owing to their access to the sea and fertile farmland. This explains why the Nile, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and Yangtze served as cradles of major civilizations. But coastal living is becoming a liability: the costs of sea-level rise could rise to trillions of dollars a year in damages by 2100.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/the-world-s-coastal-cities-are-go...

 

On the world’s present course, the cost by 2100 of tackling coastal flooding could be beyond the reach of the poorest countries – and ruinously expensive for richer ones.

If global warming continues on its present ominous path, and if no significant adaptation measures are launched, then coastal flooding could be costing the planet’s economies $100,000 billion a year by 2100.

And perhaps 5% of the people on the planet – up to 600 million people – could be hit by coastal flooding by the end of the century, according to new research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jochen Hinkel from the Global Climate Forum in Berlin and colleagues have compiled, for the first time, global simulation results on future flood damage to buildings and infrastructure on the world’s coastal flood plains.

They expect drastic increases in economic damage because, as sea levels rise with the decades, so will population and investment: there will be more people with more to lose.

Right now, coastal floods and storm surge damage cost the world between $10 billion a year and $40 billion. But as the megacities grow – think of Lagos, or Shanghai, or Manila – more people will be at risk, and, among them, greater than ever numbers of the poorest.

“If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic,” says Hinkel. “Countries need to take action and invest in coastal protection measures, such as building or raising dykes, amongst other options.”

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/coastal-flooding-may-cost-100000-bn-a-yea...

jerrym

Despite the growing effects of climate change induced sea level rise on coastal communities, all levels of Canadian governments are ill-prepared to deal with this problem. 

The impacts of climate change on Canada’s coasts, which extend far beyond changes in sea level, present both challenges and potential opportunities for coastal communities, ecosystems and economic activities. How we adapt to the coming changes will be critical to the sustainability and continued prosperity of Canada and its coastal regions. The following points represent high-level conclusions from Canada’s Marine Coasts in a Changing Climate, and are discussed further in this synthesis:

  • ƒ  Changing climate is increasingly affecting the rate and nature of change along Canada’s highly dynamic coasts, with widespread impacts on natural and human systems.

  • ƒ  Recent extreme weather events demonstrate the vulnerability of coastal infrastructure.

  • ƒ  Changes in the extent, thickness and duration of sea ice, both in the North and in some areas of the East Coast region, are already impacting coasts, ecosystems, coastal communities and transportation.

  • ƒ  Sea-level changes will vary significantly across Canada during this century and beyond. Where relative sea level is rising, the frequency and magnitude of storm-surge flooding will increase in the future.

  • ƒ  Knowledge of climate risks and the need for adaptation in coastal areas is increasing, with many examples of local and regional governments in Canada taking action on adaptation.

  • ƒ  A range of adaptation measures will be needed in most settings to address the complex array of changes. Alternatives to hard coastal-protection structures can be effective in addressing coastal erosion and flooding in many areas.

  • ƒ  It is imperative that future development be undertaken with an understanding of the dynamic nature of the coast and changing coastal risks. Monitoring and assessment of the effectiveness of actions taken to date, as well as research to fill data and knowledge gaps, would help inform sustainable planning and development. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/climate-change-report-bc...

jerrym

British Columbia is especially concerned about sea level rise caused by climate change producing widespread economic, environmental and social damage.

Driving on a flooded road

Surrey’s lower elevation areas are influenced by ocean and river tides. In fact, Surrey's coastal floodplain area alone spans 20% of Surrey’s land.

Canada's sea levels are rising at a dramatic rate, according to new climate change report leaked this week, and that has B.C.'s coastal cities worried.

The report, commissioned by the Environment and Climate Change Department, warns that the country's oceans are going up between one millimetre and 4.5 millimetres each year. ...

On B.C.'s North Coast, for example, without a reduction in global warming, the water is predicted to rise by 50 centimetres over the next eight decades.

"[A few millimetres per year] may not seem like a lot to many people," said John Clague, an earth sciences professor at Simon Fraser University. "But if it's accompanied by strong storms, you really have an exacerbated effect." ...

As glaciers melt and the temperature of the ocean heats up, the water occupies more space and that's why sea levels rise.

That leads to damage along the coast, as low-lying areas previously out of harm's way are flooded. While some municipalities like Delta and Richmond have been preparing for rising water levels, Clague argues much more action needs to be taken across all levels of government. "We don't really see resources being made available to deal with the problem," he said. ...

Des Nobels, a retired fisherman and director with the North Coast Regional District, lives in Dodge Cove across the harbour from Prince Rupert. He's worried that coastal cities across the province are unprepared to deal with the impacts of climate change in the coming decades. "To be frank, we are not equipped at all," Nobels said. "Communities and local governments are beginning to have to grapple with how do we plan into the future for these events."

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/climate-change-report-bc...

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    Volkswagen and Audi can't shirk case on faked pollution results: Supreme Court

    The Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by Volkswagen and Audi to dismiss a class action in Quebec seeking compensation for air pollution from cars that gave false results in emissions tests.

    The judges made the decision in a rare ruling from the bench just after hearing arguments, saying the case can go ahead.

    The auto manufacturers, part of the same corporate family, are facing a suit seeking $35 for each Quebecer after revelations in 2015 that certain models of cars were equipped with software that could detect when their emissions were being tested.

    The company admitted that during tests, some of its cars would change the way their engines functioned to produce much less pollution than they would normally.

    The class action covers every Quebecer, on the grounds that everyone breathed air contaminated by the cars.

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    22 Mayors Want PG&E to Become a Customer-Owned Co-Op

    A coalition of public officials representing 5 million Californians — including 22 mayors — wants to see PG&E emerge from bankruptcy as a customer-owned cooperative. And they're asking state regulators to help.

    In a letter sent Tuesday to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Gov. Gavin Newsom, the group of mayors and county supervisors argues that the two factions currently vying for control of the bankrupt utility are made up of "Wall Street titans" concerned only with "a short-term desire to maximize financial gain," and that a co-op structure would go further toward making PG&E a financially stable company capable of addressing its operational challenges while also regaining the public trust.

    The group, led by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, wrote that Californians would be served better by a customer-owned utility that would not have to pay dividends to shareholders or federal taxes.

    They noted the recent wildfires and power shutoffs that have plagued communities in PG&E's massive service area.

    "A cooperative financial structure will save ratepayers many billions of dollars in financing costs over this next decade," the letter states. "A customer-owned PG&E will better focus its scarce dollars on long-neglected maintenance, repairs and capital upgrade, and mitigating some part of the substantial upward pressure on rates."....

     

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    Italian council is flooded immediately after rejecting measures on climate change

    Veneto regional council, which is located on Venice's Grand Canal, was flooded for the first time in its history on Tuesday night -- just after it rejected measures to combat climate change.

    The historic Italian city has been brought to its knees this week by the worst flooding there in more than 50 years.

    And the council chamber in Ferro Fini Palace started to take in water around 10 p.m. local time, as councilors were debating the 2020 regional budget, Democratic Party councilor Andrea Zanoni said in a long Facebook post.

    "Ironically, the chamber was flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy, and Forza Italia parties rejected our amendments to tackle climate change," Zanoni, who is deputy chairman of the environment committee, said in the post, which also has photographs of the room under water.

    Among the rejected amendments were measures to fund renewable sources, to replace diesel buses with "more efficient and less polluting ones," to scrap polluting stoves and reduce the impact of plastics, he said.....

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    WORLD’S BIGGEST PUBLIC LENDER ANNOUNCES END TO FOSSIL PROJECT FUNDING

    Sweden’s central bank has sold its Alberta Government bonds and declared it will no longer invest in assets with high carbon footprints, even if they offer solid financial yields.

    Sveriges Riksbank, the world’s oldest central bank, also announced it had dropped some of its bonds from two states in coal-intensive Australia.

    “Australia and Canada are countries that are not known for good climate work. Greenhouse gas emissions per capita are among the highest in the world,” said Deputy Governor Martin Floden. “As a result of the new investment policy, we sold our holdings of bonds issued by Alberta in the spring. For the same reason, we have recently sold our holdings in bonds issued by the Australian states of Queensland and Western Australia.”

    He said various Canadian and Australian bonds previously represented about 8% of the bank’s foreign exchange reserves.

    A spokesperson for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney responded with the province’s standard claim that it “has the highest environmental standards in the world”, with a fossil industry striving to reduce its environmental footprint. “If the Swedish central bank is really concerned with making a difference on climate change, they need to be investing more in ethical producers such as Alberta which have shown dramatic gains in reducing emissions,” Christine Myatt said.

    “Central bankers aren’t your typical tree huggers, so Canadian politicians should take note when they start blacklisting government bonds over climate concerns,” replied Greenpeace Canada Senior Energy Strategist Keith Stewart.

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    Borders and the climate emergency

    It is extremely welcome that climate change has moved so far up the agenda and is now being discussed outside of the circles traditionally concerned with it. However, climate change and its crises need to be seen in connection with other elements of capitalist crisis, such as imperialism, austerity and the border regime, to name just a few.

    Capitalism is crisis

    In order to bring these other aspects into focus it is useful to begin by examining on a general level certain aspects of capitalist production. The capitalist mode of production is dependent on continuously escalating the extraction of natural resources, thereby necessitating the non-stop rise of greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and environmental degradation.

    Realistically, without ending capitalism, we have no chance of halting or reversing the complete breakdown of the world’s ecosystems. Within our current economic order major petroleum companies are able to manipulate and to a large extent control state policies and act as stakeholders in international agreements, avoiding liability for damage done to people living near pipelines and other oil facilities.

    All the big petroleum companies have entire departments dedicated to lobbying states. In addition, states in capitalism are locked in to the pursuit of the maximisation of national economic growth. And so, within this one example, we can see how the reciprocal dependence between fossil capital and the state locks in a logic of climate breakdown.

    As Brian Parkin has put it in an article previously published on this site:

    It is both an irony and a paradox that [within capitalism] we have developed the scientific means of understanding both the causes and possible means of reducing climate change, whilst being locked into a mode of production for which the appetite for petroleum remains insatiable.

    Meanwhile, the numbers of people displaced across the world over continues to grow. The UN is predicting 200 million climate refugees by 2050, or as they call it ‘persons displaced in the context of disasters and climate change’.

    However, when we talk about climate refugees we should not think just about people having to relocate due to floods, droughts or other extreme climate phenomena. We must go further and include among climate refugees people moving due to conflict over resources, food insecurity, imperialist wars and economic migration in the wake of whole areas of the world being rapidly made uninhabitable.

    It is becoming increasingly evident that more and more people will be forced to flee circumstances which make life unsustainable, whilst there exists a relationship between capital and the state system which guarantees the increasingly intense exploitation of human labour power and degradation of the world’s resources.

    Extractivism and border regimes

    In this context – the role of the state as a ‘container’ of the crisis facing us starts to become clear. While the pressure builds and breakdown looms, Western states including Britain are fortifying their borders, as border controls creep ever deeper into all strata of our societies.

    Borders perform a crucial function: border regimes ensure that the crisis appears ‘contained’ through the regimentation and control of citizenship and the movement of people.

    At the same time, borders represent an attempt to maintain the global division of labour through creating areas of the world where social reproduction is significantly cheaper, that is, where the wages and the maintenance costs of the labour force are lower, and where workers are unable to travel between areas of the world to seek better pay and conditions.

    This division of labour structures the world in such a way that entire sections of the economy are particularly specialised. Extractive industries, such as oil drilling or coal mining, destroy the capacity to produce in any other way, by polluting the soil, destroying the conditions of production, or simply driving out competing forms of capital. These same regions are also dependent on certain markets, which make up the ‘other side’ of this division of labour.

    For example, highly intensive mineral mining in Africa depends on and supports global supply chains for phones made in China and then sold in Europe. This means that entire areas of the world have become less and less able to provide for the varied needs of populations who live there......

    epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

    ..more from this excellent piece.

    quote:

    Internal borders

    The border also creates and reinforces a division of labour within Britain. The border regime determines which people have the ‘right’ to work, or to claim benefits, or even to reside in the country. In reality, under capitalism, no-one can live without a wage, and so many migrants are forced to accept illegal contracts paying less than minimum wage, or are frightened into not demanding better pay and conditions by the threat of deportation and criminalisation.

    However, even sections of the left still fail to show the basic political solidarity needed against the border and against these racist divisions. The border is, in many ways, a microcosm of the global division of labour, which structures the capitalist mode of production that is destroying the planet. The border regime even mirrors many of the practices of colonial control, previously tested on colonised peoples, such as surveillance methods, violent repression, detention without trial and accusations of subversion.

    The solidification of the border regimes in the UK, Europe and the US cannot be analysed without recognising that the borders imposed on the world through colonialism and imperialism are arbitrary and unstable, and that the global ravages of capitalism – in the form of imperialism – is creating conditions from which people will necessarily need to move.

    Fighting the state on the territory of our borders, calling for an end to borders altogether, has long been seen as an extremely radical demand – maybe more polemical than real. But with the climate breakdown this is no longer so.

    ‘Overpopulation’

    Often, however – conversations about climate change centre not on the ravages of capital, but instead the supposed ravages of people. This can be demonstrated with reference to two different, but related, examples. The first is ‘overpopulation’ – a bogeyman for the climate crisis which is shared across the political spectrum, from mass-murdering fascists to David Attenborough.

    This idea that it is ‘people’ exhausting the world’s resources, and that these resources can never grow at the same rate as the human population, is not a new argument. Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) called for population control for poor people, whose ‘overpopulation’, he claimed, led to a host of societal ills.

    The same arguments are used today, primarily against ‘populations’ in the Global South: climate change is caused by ‘too many people’ and in particular, the ‘too many people’ who live outside the West. Marx himself addressed this argument several times – particularly as it relates to Ireland. In volume one of Capital (1867) he wrote:

    As appetite grows with eating, English rentiers and capitalists will continue to discover that Ireland with three and a half million people, still continues to be miserable, miserable because she is overpopulated. Therefore Ireland’s depopulation must go still further, in order that she may fulfil her true destiny: to be a sheep walk and cattle pasture for English capitalists!

    Ireland was not overpopulated – neither is the global south overpopulated today. Capital is, however, over-extracting and overproducing. In the same way that English capitalists restructured the Irish economy to gear it towards the wool trade and meat production, large parts of the world are made uninhabitable through organising local economies for the production of commodities for export on the world market rather than for the reproduction of the population.

    Put more specifically, areas of the world are only overpopulated insofar as their whole ecosystems become organised to produce certain commodities for international markets.

    These global markets are what cause people to have to move. When capital is ‘booming’ there is huge demand for labour, when it is bust those populations are no longer required. This explains, in part, the change in attitude in Western Europe towards migration in the last 50 years. In the post-war period European markets demanded more labourers. European states were happy to bring labourers in from the colonies, at worse pay and in poorer conditions than the native population.

    Of course, now, in the context of climate breakdown and imperialist warfare, the situation is different. In the same way the Malthusians argued that it is people draining the natural resources of the world, people in the West are describing those who migrate here as draining the resources of our nation states or national economies. The broader point here is that we cannot talk in abstract terms about overpopulation: economic conditions always underpin state responses to migration.

    jerrym

    There is growing evidence of the impact of climate change both on people's lives and on politics as old line parties fail to deal with the problem. The Greens are now leading the polls in Germany.

    Public opinion polls indicate that Germany's Green Party is currently the strongest political force in the country.  With a lack of policy experts, money and even sufficient office space, though, the party isn't quite ready for prime time. Only time will tell if the Greens are up to the challenge. ...

     

    The perception of the Green Party has changed dramatically. As the party has risen in the polls, more and more people -- from all different walks of life - are paying closer attention. The week before last, support for the party reached 27 percent in the latest public opinion polls, higher even than Merkel's conservatives. It was just the latest high point in a slow-but-steady rise in recent months. Even last fall, a survey found that half of all voters could imagine casting their ballot for the Greens. 

    The biggest challenge now for the party is that of dealing with its newfound status as Germany's leading political force despite having entered this legislative period as the smallest group in parliament, with just 8.9 percent of the votes in the 2017 general election. As the Greens climb toward 30 percent in the polls, they must deal with a flood of new members despite limited personnel and a lack of space at party headquarters and in its chapter offices around the country. It's not unlike a child after a big growth spurt: All its clothes are suddenly too small.

    But there are also policy questions for which the party must now find convincing answers. It is solid when it comes to climate change and the environment, but what about those issues that haven't generally been considered classic Green Party concerns? Things like foreign and defense policy and social questions, for example, along with domestic security.

    https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-green-party-leads-in...

    jerrym

    Another country where climate change as an issue is having a major impact is the United Kingdom. Meanwhile in Canada we elect a government and loyal opposition dedicated to more pipelines. 

    Cars stuck ion floodwater.

    Matt Cardy/Getty Images

    A majority of people in the UK say the climate crisis will influence how they vote in the looming general election, according to an opinion poll, with younger voters feeling particularly strongly about the issue.

    Almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind, with 7% disagreeing. The poll also asked if “fossil fuel companies, whose products contribute directly to climate change, should help pay for the tens of billions in damages from extreme weather events?” Two-thirds of people agreed, with 12% opposed.

    In terms of action to tackle the climate emergency, 81% of people backed planting more trees, 63% supported a Green New Deal – a large-scale, long-term investment in green infrastructure and jobs – and more than half said it was important to ban fracking.

    Jonathan Church at the environmental law firm ClientEarth, which commissioned the poll conducted by Opinium, said: “From the student strikes to Extinction Rebellion, people across the UK are demanding greater action to address the climate crisis. ...

    The poll of 2,000 UK adults aged 18 and over was conducted in September, before the most recent Extinction Rebellion protests but after a global climate strike that brought millions of people on to the streets. ...

    More than half of those polled (54%) said climate change would affect how they would vote, with the proportion rising to 74% for under-25s. The poll also showed support for fossil fuel divestment, with 60% of people thinking banks and financial institutions should ditch investments in coal, oil and gas.

    In June, the polling company YouGov found public concern about the environment rose to record levels in the UK after the visit of the school climate striker Greta Thunberg to parliament and the first major Extinction Rebellion protests in April. The environment was ranked as the third most pressing issue facing the nation, after Brexit and health but ahead of the economy, crime and immigration. ...

    In June, the UK committed to ending net carbon emissions by 2050, when Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, accepted the advice of the government’s official advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change.

    But CCC leaders said they were shocked the UK had no proper plans for protecting people from heatwaves, flash flooding and other effects of the climate crisis. The Opinium poll found 58% of people believed the government has done too little to prepare for such impacts.

    The CCC’s annual report also found only one of the 25 emissions-cutting policies the body said were vital in 2018 had been delivered in full.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/30/climate-crisis-affec...

    jerrym

    More evidence that climate change is becoming a major issue in the British election while Jason Kenney pushes for more and more pipelines here.

    The polling company YouGov has tracked views on the environment for nearly a decade and for most of that time the subject ranked pretty low.

    There was a spike in interest following the violent storms of the winter of 2013-14 in which many areas were hit by devastating floods but that was an exception, and things slipped back to "normal" soon afterwards.

    But this year something has shifted dramatically, according to YouGov. 

    Chris Curtis, one of its researchers, says that in the most recent poll 27% of voters cited the environment as one of three top issues - behind Brexit and health. That puts it on par with crime and the economy. 

    And he says this is particularly striking among younger voters - 45% of 18-24 year olds put it as their second biggest concern after Brexit. 

    His conclusion? "I think over this election campaign politicians are going to have to start discussing the issue of the environment if they want to win over the support of those younger voters." ...

    Last Saturday the Conservatives announced a halt to fracking, the controversial process of extracting gas from shale rock. Labour derided the timing as opportunistic and more of a pause than a total ban. 

    The very next day, Labour came out with a 'Warm Homes' plan to insulate the country's households - nearly 27m of them - and help with solar panels and heat pumps. The Tories dismissed the scheme's £250bn bill as unaffordable and unrealistic. 

    And now, along with the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Green Party, Labour are calling for a live TV debate on climate change, clearly hoping to highlight what they see as government failings.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/17/how-do-the-parties-prop...

    jerrym

    In the United Kingdom in response to the growing public concern over climate change the Labour Party has put forward a strong Green New Deal. 

    Labour’s “green new deal” – or “green industrial revolution” – puts a radical environmental plan at the heart of the party’s election offer. It proposes a massive programme of state investment to rapidly decarbonise the economy, which it says would create hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

    The party says the programme would also transform the way people live – from upgrading the UK’s entire housing stock and revitalising public transport to boosting renewable wind and solar industries and decarbonising the country’s energy supply.

    Although the initial investment would be large, advocates say that would be dwarfed by the cost of not tackling the escalating climate crisis and point to wide-ranging economic benefits, which experts say would total at least £800bn by 2030. 

    he green new deal aims to tie far-reaching environmental action to a worker-led “just transition”, where the rapid move from a carbon-based economy to a sustainable system is led by – and benefits – ordinary people.

    The party, which at its conference backed plans to hit zero emissions by 2030, has also said it would ban fracking and boost electric car infrastructure.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/17/how-do-the-parties-prop...

    jerrym

    While the politicians argue, including in Canada, concern is growing about the impacts of climate change on world. In just the last week devastating problems have occurred in several nations.

    CFA member works on controlled back burns along Putty Road earlier this week near Colo Heights. . (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

    Wildfire near Sydney Australia

    Extreme floods in Venice, fires in Australia and even an outbreak of plague in China have been attributed to climate change this week, while researchers have warned that global warming could saddle future generations with life-long illness.

    Venice declared a state of emergency on Wednesday after "apocalyptic" floods swept through the lagoon city, flooding its historic basilica and inundating squares and centuries-old buildings.

    "This is the result of climate change," city mayor Luigi Brugnaro said on Twitter. ...

    "Venice is on its knees," said Brugnaro. "The damage will run into hundreds of millions of euros."

    On the other side of the world, parts of Australia have been ravaged by wild bush fires this week, with four people killed and communities forced to flee the flames.

    Since 2016, parts of northern and inland New South Wales, along with southern Queensland, have been in drought that the Bureau of Meteorology says is being driven, in part, by warmer sea-surface temperatures affecting rainfall patterns. ...

    Air temperatures have also warmed over the past century, increasing the ferocity of droughts and fires.

    But links between climate change and extreme weather events have become a political football in Australia.

    The coal-industry supporting government accepts the need to cut emissions while arguing that stronger environmental action would cripple its economy.

    That pits the country against its Pacific island neighbors which are particularly susceptible to warmer temperatures and rising seas. ...

    In China, health officials have reported a rare outbreak of pneumonic plague after two cases were confirmed this week in Beijing. ...

    The two were infected in the province of Inner Mongolia, where rodent populations have expanded dramatically after persistent droughts, worsened by climate change, state media said.

    An area the size of the Netherlands was hit by a "rat plague" last summer.

    The wider implications for health are sobering.

    The Lancet medical journal published a study this week saying climate change was already harming people's health by increasing the number of extreme weather events and exacerbating air pollution.

    A warmer world brings risks of food shortages, infectious diseases, floods and extreme heat.

    If nothing is done, the impacts could burden an entire generation with disease and illness throughout their lives, researchers said.

    "Children are particularly vulnerable to the health risks of a changing climate. Their bodies and immune systems are still developing, leaving them more susceptible to disease and environmental pollutants," said Nick Watts, one of those who led the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change study.

    Health damage in early childhood is "persistent and pervasive," he warned, bringing lifelong consequences.

    "Without immediate action from all countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, gains in wellbeing and life expectancy will be compromised, and climate change will come to define the health of an entire generation," he told a London briefing.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/flood-fire-plague-climate-change-blam...

     

    jerrym

    The failure of politicians to deal with climate change is symbolized by the flooding of Venice's regional council two minutes after it rejected a motion to declare a climate emergency. 

     

    Veneto regional council, which is located on Venice's Grand Canal, was flooded for the first time in its history on Tuesday night -- just after it rejected measures to combat climate change

    The historic Italian city has been brought to its knees this week by the worst flooding there in more than 50 years. ...

    "Ironically, the chamber was flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy, and Forza Italia parties rejected our amendments to tackle climate change," Zanoni, who is deputy chairman of the environment committee, said in the post, which also has photographs of the room under water. ...

    Among the rejected amendments were measures to fund renewable sources, to replace diesel buses with "more efficient and less polluting ones," to scrap polluting stoves and reduce the impact of plastics, he said. 

    Zanoni went on to accuse Veneto regional president Luca Zaia, who is a member of Matteo Salvini's far-right League Party, of presenting a budget "with no concrete actions to combat climate change." 

    The regional council's spokesman Alessandro Ovizach confirmed to CNN that the council was flooded after discussing amendments to the 2020 budget -- without specifying which ones.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/14/europe/veneto-council-climate-change-floo...

    A city worker helps a woman cross a gangway in Venice, Italy, on Sunday, November 17.

    epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

    ..like bc under horgan, like alta under notley..it's the concessions to oil and gas that prove to be the downfall. 

    Cap and Trade Is Supposed to Solve Climate Change, but Oil and Gas Company Emissions Are Up

    Gov. Jerry Brown took the podium at a July 2017 press conference to lingering applause after a steady stream of politicians praised him for helping to extend California’s signature climate policy for another decade. Brown, flanked by the U.S. and California flags, with a backdrop of the gleaming San Francisco Bay, credited the hard work of the VIPs seated in the crowd. “It’s people in industry, and they’re here!” he said. “Shall we mention them? People representing oil, agriculture, business, Chamber of Commerce, food processing. … Plus, we have environmentalists. ...”

    Diverse, bipartisan interests working together to pass climate legislation — it was the polar opposite of Washington, where the Trump administration was rolling back environmental protections established under President Barack Obama.

    Brown called California’s cap-and-trade program an answer to the “existential” crisis of climate change, the most reasonable way to manage the state’s massive output of greenhouse gasses while preserving its economy, which is powered by fossil fuels. “You can’t just say overnight, ‘OK, we’re not going to have oil anymore,’” he said.

    But there are growing concerns with California’s much-admired, much-imitated program, with implications that stretch far beyond the state.

    California’s cap-and-trade program was one of the first in the world, and it is among the largest. It is premised on the idea that instead of using regulations to force companies to curb their emissions, polluters can be made to pay for every ton of CO₂ they emit, providing them with an incentive to lower emissions on their own. This market-based approach has gained such traction that the Paris climate agreement emphasizes it as the primary way countries can meet their goals to lower worldwide emissions. More than 50 programs have been developed across the world, many inspired by California.

    But while the state’s program has helped it meet some initial, easily attained benchmarks, experts are increasingly worried that it is allowing California’s biggest polluters to conduct business as usual and even increase their emissions.

    ProPublica analyzed state data in a way the state doesn’t often report to the public, isolating how emissions have grown within the oil and gas industry. The analysis shows that carbon emissions from California’s oil and gas industry actually rose 3.5% since cap and trade began. Refineries, including one owned by Marathon Petroleum and two owned by Chevron, are consistently the largest polluters in the state. Emissions from vehicles, which burn the fuels processed in refineries, are also rising.

    Critics attribute these increases, in part, to a bevy of concessions the state has made to the oil and gas industry to keep the program going. They say these compromises have blocked steps that would have mandated real emissions reductions and threaten the state’s ability to meet its ambitious goal of slashing its emissions 40% by 2030.

    “There’s no question a well-designed regulation on oil and gas can have an effect,” said Danny Cullenward, a Stanford researcher and policy director at Near Zero, a climate policy think tank. “And that was traded away for a weak cap-and-trade program.”

    Experts say cap and trade is rarely stringent enough when used alone; direct regulations on refineries and cars are crucial to reining in emissions. But oil representatives are engaged in a worldwide effort to make market-based solutions the primary or only way their emissions are regulated......

    jerrym

    epaulo13 wrote:

    ..like bc under horgan, like alta under notley..it's the concessions to oil and gas that prove to be the downfall. 

    Cap and Trade Is Supposed to Solve Climate Change, but Oil and Gas Company Emissions Are Up

    or the Trudeau Liberals declaring a climate emergency and the next day approving the Trans Mountain pipeline. The blindness doesn't sound much different from Venice's  regional council offices being flooded two minutes after it rejected measures to combat climate change. (https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/14/europe/veneto-council-climate-change-floo...)

    Only one day after declaring a climate emergency, Canada has approved the expansion of a massive pipeline that will increase oil production in Alberta and release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    On Monday night, Canada’s parliament passed a motion brought forward by Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna calling climate change a “real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity,” and requiring the government to make deep emissions reductions to meet its Paris commitments.

    On Tuesday, in a move condemned by environmentalists, Justin Trudeau’s cabinet approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX).

    Trudeau said he was elected on a plan to grow the middle class and fight climate change, two goals he said were not at odds. “We need to create wealth today so we can invest in the future,” he said.

    https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/wjvkqq/canada-justin-trudeau-declares...

    epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

    From Canada’s Election to Public Action

    Beyond the Alberta Tar-Sands

    For months, during and after Canada’s 2019 federal election campaign, corporate media provided daily frontpage news space for Alberta’s non-stop demands for more tar-sands-export infrastructure through British Columbia, as well as space for discrediting stories on the Trudeau government for his attempt at questionable legal protection of a Quebec big business and for his playing blackface in a youthful costume.

    No-one joined the dots or mentioned the words ‘Big Oil’.

    Throughout this time, provincial Alberta’s fury was reported daily, coinciding with federal environmental reviews, court proceedings and limits on planned massive transportation of Alberta’s US-dominated tar-sand crude through Canada and First Nations’ territories.

    Media Scrubbed

    The critical spotlight on Justin Trudeau was never associated with the powerful oil lobby across borders or the Koch brothers and the US Republican far right.

    Although all the signs were there, they were media-scrubbed into November after the federal election to cater to ‘Western alienation’. What ruling-party politics and media see instead is a fabled Canadian resource going under instead of more expansion and exports for needy Alberta.

    At the front of the dominant narrative is the Conservative Party. No longer ‘Progressive Conservative’ as in the historic centrist days, this century’s Conservative rulers are essentially US Republicans North with the same hate of central government. They are equally blind to the role of Big-Oil as a cause of the climate crisis even as the wild-fires rage from Alberta to California.

    The facts that they all especially blinker out are that tar-sand crude is the dirtiest and most toxic fossil-fuel on the planet, that it multiplies carbon pollution against international commitment, and that it is increasingly unacceptable to the public and investors.

    In the face of the growing climate and pollution crisis of industrial civilization, Canada’s right long ago attached themselves to an unnamed backroom plan for a right-wing tsunami over Canada’s then governing Liberals.

    A Strategic Vote for Public Action against Conservative Retrenchment

    With falling provincial governments, media scandals and the Trudeau government’s inability to keep public-action promises, the planned Conservative regime change across America to Canada seemed a sure thing.

    But it was defeated in the federal election by a cross-country campaign and a voter shift to a non-establishment mass movement for the common good, which, beneath notice, distinguishes multicultural Canada.

    Programs for progressive public action from all other parties – the NDP (New Democratic Party), the Green Party and the Bloc Québécois – combined with the Liberals against the publicly-recognized Conservative policy wrecking balls in relation to the public sector, health and social security programs, as well as environmental regulations.

    Yet the corporate media continued to run the campaign of ‘Alberta fury’, ‘Western alienation’, and even a Conservative-rump Senate ‘Wexit’ to force Trudeau to appease them after their defeat and blanket-Conservative Alberta-Saskatchewan votes.

    Alberta’s Big-Oil Premier Jason Kenney continued to add fuel to the fire with calls for an immediate pipeline through BC, a provincial referendum for separation from Canada, and an end to the historic federal equalization program, presenting them as his ‘very reasonable’ positions.

    That Liberal carbon-pricing and regulations are backed by two-thirds of Canadians in polls and electoral seats, and that all other parties and programs oppose the TMX (trans-mountain BC) pipeline, while the Liberals have in fact over-supported it throughout, but within the rule of law, are facts which do not compute to those touting ‘Western alienation’.

    ‘Canada has never been so divided,’ mourn Conservatives across the land.

    Yet the tar-sand crude fount of free money for Alberta and US Big-Oil refinement-management-export coffers is on the ropes for reasons their value system cannot comprehend: public action on all fronts to maintain life on Earth against pervasive fossil-fuel pollution, corporate deregulation, and collective life capital destruction.....

    epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

    ..more

    quote:

    The Long-Kept Secret: The Koch Driver of the Tar-Sands Juggernaut

    What has been above all whited out of Canada’s corporate culture is the long Koch-brother domination of the US-driven tar-sand juggernaut siphoning and mass-polluting the once pristine Athabaska River valley in order to export the most toxic fossil-fuel raw crude in existence.

    The Koch brothers have, in repressed public fact, made most of their Big Oil fortune from refining tar-sands crude in the US, which has, in turn, produced the tides of hidden ‘dark money’ to finance right wing-extremism in the US (and Canada, without any media investigating it).

    At the same time, with silent Alberta support, they have bought licenses for up to two million hectares of the tar-sands upstream to control the gargantuan carbon-polluting cycle. Yet as far as the Canadian public and commentators are concerned, these monstrous facts do not exist, and are even now never mentioned in the media or public discourse, as the Kochs have sold off their licenses once they were exposed.

    Instead, the virulent realities of Alberta’s wealth are buried behind a pervasive promotion of the ‘necessity of Alberta to get its oil to market’.

    Stampeded by the multi-media campaign of ‘Western alienation’ and the absurd claim that the demise of the Alberta tar-sands “is a deliberate policy of the Trudeau government,” the Trudeau Liberals have been rushing to find political accommodation and representation.

    No-one publicly translates ‘Alberta’s oil seeking outlet to market’ into what it is, in fact, for Canada – massive pipe-line of treated crude sludge through the unspoiled Rocky Mountains of BC to the world’s most beautiful inland-ocean waterways and onto monster tankers ploughing the majestic habitats of the non-Albertan West coast to unnamed buyers – now across the Pacific Ocean – of a toxic, globally carbon-flooding crude that has slid toward cost-profit obsolescence.

    In fact, months before the much publicized Decana head-office move to the US, the Big Oil players have already sold off their Alberta licenses for the extraction of the vast tar-sands in a race to escape the financial, as well as ecological, black hole that is Alberta’s tar-sand crude.

    As for the tar-sand crude still wanted to feed the Beast, Big Oil may soon be able to go back to Venezuela if US-led ‘regime change’ succeeds with the internationally lawless support of Canada Foreign Affairs – the Ottawa end of the mindless branch-plant avarice around natural resources for the global corporate empire.

    Alberta’s Cover Story Still Not Exposed

    Alberta’s favorite cover story of anger against Ottawa still holds the political commentators of official culture in thrall – with every resistance or review of Alberta’s long Koch-led ecocidal project denounced as ‘an attack on Alberta’.

    Throughout, the covert Koch master-control and rich processing profits have been so kept out of sight that not even the ever-rising opposition to the Trans-Mountain Pipeline have named it.

    Just recently, the Keystone Pipeline carrying Alberta’s toxic crude is found to have leaked 383,000 gallons in North Dakota on the very day Trump’s state department’s one-day hearing took place despite prolonged fierce resistance from indigenous people (the Squamish, Tsleil Waututh, Colwater and Secwemepec nations,) as well as multiple environmental groups.

    The Trans-Mountain Pipeline across BC is solely to transport by super-tankers far more tar-sands crude not even to the US but to unnamed buyers and refineries across the Pacific Ocean with all the further tides of carbon pollution entailed by planned multiplied extraction, global transportation, end-use emissions, and inevitable heavy-weight tar-oil leaks and spills that are impossible to clean up in deep water.

    The Liberals and Trudeau have more or less complied with the whole ecocidal project except at the legal margins. In truth, the only thing stopping ever more of this ecocidal tar-sand cycle widening across the world against Canada’s public commitment to the Paris Agreement is that the previously expected super-profits have been reversed by cheaper competition.

    Alberta-raw crude is now close to costing more to extract than it can sell for in a fallen market while at the same time being forced out by the shale-oil revolution, Saudi-to-Iran underselling of far higher quality oil and a public increasingly waking up to the climate crisis, not to mention non-carbon energy exponentially rising in scale volume and lower unit pricing.

    Yet the cover story of ‘Western alienation’ is still featured by the mainstream media with interminable public-relations commentators lazing past the physical and economic facts of global oil production.

    lagatta4

    Those electric buses (with seats configurated to accommodate adults, and reserved seating for disabled people and parents with strollers) could also be used in areas where there is not enough traffic to justify the use of larger buses.

    epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

    ..absolutely lagatta. also in outer areas between smaller towns with runs into the city. 

    The Canada Pension Plan’s Failure to Respect the 1.5-Degree Celsius Limit

    The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) manages one of the country’s largest pools of investment capital at over $400 billion. How pension funds choose to invest has significant bearing on how we collectively address the climate emergency and the needed energy transition away from fossil fuels. This report asks if the CPPIB is investing with the 1.5-degree Celsius limit on global average temperature rise as outlined in the Paris Agreement and finds it is not. 

    The authors of this report say this is a moral and ecological failure and also a financial risk. As energy generation shifts away from fossil fuels, investors who do not respond may find themselves left with “stranded assets”—investments that are no longer profitable—and Canada Pension Plan recipients would be collectively affected. Worse still, is that their pension investments would continue to contribute to climate change rather than supporting measures committed to finding solutions. 

    This is part of the Corporate Mapping Project, which is jointly led by the University of Victoria, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC & Saskatchewan offices) and the Parkland Institute. This research was supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). 

    Report

    epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

    Capitalism versus Life on Earth

    These sentences are from a recent report on the consequences of climate change:

    “Sea level rise, changes in water and food security, and more frequent extreme weather events are likely to result in the migration of large segments of the population. Rising seas will displace tens (if not hundreds) of millions of people, creating massive, enduring instability.… Salt water intrusion into coastal areas and changing weather patterns will also compromise or eliminate fresh water supplies in many parts of the world…. A warming trend will also increase the range of insects that are vectors of infectious tropical diseases. This, coupled with large scale human migration from tropical nations, will increase the spread of infectious disease.”

    Many reports have made such points. What makes this one significant is that it was commissioned by the Pentagon, by the General who is now chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The authors are senior officials of the US Army, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and NASA, and it was published by the United States Army War College.

    Their report recommends strengthening the US military, already the biggest war machine on Earth, to protect the US empire from the consequences of the environmental chaos. They call for a “campaign-plan-like approach to proactively prepare for likely conflict and mitigate the impacts.” As we know, when the US military embarks on a campaign, the result is always devastation and destruction for the poor and oppressed.

    As this report shows, the US Army, unlike the US president, knows that climate change is real, and that the consequences may be catastrophic. The generals recognize that something has gone terribly wrong in the relationship between human society and the Earth.

    Planetary Boundaries

    Climate change is the most extreme example of the crisis, but it is not the only one. Earth System scientists have identified nine planetary boundaries — global environmental conditions that define “a safe operating space for humanity.” Crossing any one of those thresholds could have deleterious or even disastrous consequences for civilization. Seven of the nine critical planetary boundaries are close to or already in the danger zone.

    Such research leads irresistibly to the conclusion that modest reforms and policy shifts are not enough. We confront not individual problems that can be tackled separately, but an interlocked set of disruptions of Earth’s life support systems. Fundamental natural processes that have evolved over millions of years are being shattered in just a few decades.

    Radical remedies are obviously required, but we won’t find a cure unless we identify the underlying cause, the systemic disease that is attacking our planet......

    epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

    ..more from the above post

    quote:

    Uncontrolled growth is clearly a central issue, but that raises a further question — why does it continue? Why, in the face of massive evidence that expanded production and resource extraction is killing us, do governments and corporations keep shoveling coal for the runaway growth train?

    In most environmental writing, one of two explanations is offered — it’s human nature, or it’s a mistake.

    The human nature argument is central to mainstream economics, which assumes that human beings always want more, so economic growth is just capitalism’s way of meeting human desires. For our species, enough is never enough. That view often leads its proponents to conclude that the only way to slow or reverse the pillaging of Mother Earth is to slow or reverse population growth. More people equals more stuff; so fewer people would equal less stuff.

    That claim is fatally undermined by fact that the countries with the highest birth rates have the lowest standard of living, own the least stuff, and produce the least pollution. If the poorest 3 billion people on the planet somehow disappeared tomorrow, there would be virtually no reduction in ongoing environmental destruction.

    The other common explanation for the constant promotion of growth is that we have been seduced by a false ideology. The drive for growth has been described as a fetish, an obsession, an addiction, or even a spell. Greens often use the term growthmania.

    Such accounts present the drive for growth as a choice that politicians and investors make, under the influence of a bizarre obsession. As British Marxist Fawzi Ibrahim says, this “must be the first time in history that a necessity has been described as a fetish. You might as well describe fish having a fetish for water as capitalism having a fetish for growth. Growth is as essential to capitalism as is water to fish. As fish would die without water, so would capitalism drown without growth.”

    Growth ideology doesn’t cause perpetual accumulation — it justifies it. Uncontrolled growth is not the root cause of the global crisis — it is the inevitable result of the profit system, of capitalism’s inherent drive to accumulate ever more capital.

    Personifications of capital

    As individuals, the people who run the giant polluters undoubtedly want their children and grandchildren to live in a clean, environmentally sustainable world. But as major shareholders and executives and top managers they act, in Marx’s wonderful phrase, as “personifications of capital.” Regardless of how they behave at home or with their children, at work they are capital in human form, and the imperatives of capital take precedence over all other needs and values. When it comes to a choice between protecting humanity’s future and maximizing profit, they choose profit.

    epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

    jerrym

    Even the Bank of Canada now admits that climate change will produce major economic shocks in the economy. 

    The Bank of Canada says it wants to develop ways to stress-test how the country’s financial system will hold up against the possibility of punishing future scenarios borne by the climate emergency.

    The initiative is part of a broader research agenda on climate change, announced this week by Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn A. Wilkins during a speech in Montreal. 

    “The Bank is devoting analytical firepower to understanding how climate risks are shaping the macroeconomy and financial system,” Wilkins said.

    The Crown corporation, which sets the key interest rate, promotes economic and financial welfare and manages the government’s foreign exchange reserves and public debt programs, first committed in March 2019 to publishing such a research plan. ...

    An “ultimate goal” of the Bank’s research would be to “develop climate stress-testing frameworks to assess the resilience of the financial system to hypothetical extreme but plausible scenarios,” Miguel Molico, senior research director of the Bank’s financial stability department, wrote in the document.

    As a first step, Molico wrote, the Bank will evaluate the exposure of Canadian financial institutions to climate-related risks, based on what data is already available.

    Last week, Scotiabank announced it was training its staff to assess the climate risks of commercial and corporate clients. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board said in a sustainability report this week it was focused on understanding the risks climate change presents.

    Wilkins said the Bank of Canada’s work will focus on two main areas: the impact on the economy of more frequent and severe weather — such as the spring flooding that ravaged Central Canada — climate change is fostering, and the consequences of this more extreme weather for financial stability, such as mounting insurance claims for property damage. ...

    As part of this, the Bank of Canada is looking at how the natural resources sector, and the jobs connected with it, will change during a transition to a low-carbon economy, and how this might affect economic output and the central bank’s assessments surrounding the key interest rate. ...

    The central bank is also examining the risk that the low-carbon transition “doesn’t happen smoothly,” Wilkins said, as investors “reduce their exposures to climate-related risks” and high-carbon assets, like those connected with coal, oil or gas, start to become repriced.

    That is one area where the central bank has already raised red flags, when it warned in May 2019 "rapid repricing” of high-carbon assets like oil “might cause fire sales and interact with other vulnerabilities — like excessive leverage — destabilizing the financial system."

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/11/21/news/bank-canada-announces-p...

    jerrym

     

    Ecojustice is taking the Kenney Alberta government to court over its public inquiry into alleged "anti-Alberta energy campaigns".

    The Alberta government's public inquiry into "anti-Alberta energy campaigns" is facing a legal challenge by B.C.-based not-for-profit Ecojustice. 

    This summer the government tasked the inquiry with digging into the role of foreign organizations and funds in creating roadblocks for the energy industry and "disseminating misleading or false information" to that end. 

    Ecojustice responded to the inquiry by filing court documents in Calgary on Nov. 15. The documents outline allegations that the inquiry "has been called not to address a matter of pressing public interest, but to justify a predetermined intent to harm the reputations, economic viability and freedom of expression of certain organizations who have opposed the Government of Alberta's position with respect to oil and gas development." ...

    In an interview with National Observer, Ecojustice executive director Devon Page said that the lawsuit is necessary because the inquiry is meant to target dissent and create a fear around climate action advocacy. 

    "When they announced to the public inquiry this summer, it had the desired effect," Page said. "We received calls from Canadians across the country who were alarmed and were worried about being targeted and victimized by the inquiry. So in its first instance, we believe there's evidence the inquiry had the intended effect and that again, was to intimidate environmental charities and Canadians who were concerned about climate change."

    Page says this is a case where the judicial process is being abused to pursue political gains.

    No legal response has been filed in court at this time. However, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy Kavi Bal responded to the challenge by email saying, "Ecojustice accepted US$815,000 from the US Tides Foundation for its participation in the Tar Sands Campaign to land lock Canada's natural resources. A foreign-funded activist group opposing the inquiry on foreign-funded attacks on Alberta's oil and gas workers is not surprising and speaks for itself."

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/11/21/news/ecojustice-takes-kenney...

    The application for judicial review argues the inquiry should be stopped because it is improper use of the Public Inquiries Act, it impinges on federal jurisdiction, and because the commissioner of the inquiry is biased towards support for the United Conservative Government.

    jerrym

    We need to make the impacts of climate change on people's health a key government priority. Unfortunately, Trudeau's true attitude to our global warming crisis was revealed in his recent comment “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there.”, which runs contrary to his campaign words about the centrality of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

    Prior to and during the recent election, the Government of Canada repeatedly emphasized that climate change is a serious public health issue. Thousands of hospital visits and deaths each year are linked to climate-change-driven phenomena like air pollution and heat waves. Scientists estimate that over half of global temperature rise can be attributed to fossil-fuel use. Indeed, if oil were a prescription drug it would be taken off the market immediately. And yet, our Prime Minister recently said, “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there.” Now we may be more dependent on fossil fuels than we were on troglitazone, but this does not justify our lackluster response to the climate emergency. ...

    Global warming, a disaster occurring in slow motion, is occurring on a timescale that confounds our ability to perceive and prepare for it. Our atmosphere is a shared resource that we are polluting out of individual and corporate self-interest. Unpredictable environmental effects, like the increased frequency of powerful hurricanes, record-breaking wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, as well as downstream effects of increased carbon emissions like ocean acidification, are devastating terrestrial and marine life. Climate change is already resulting in environmental challenges that our current system of slow change is not equipped to handle. ...

    Healthcare and climate change were consistently noted as top priorities for all political parties in Canada during the election. Yet human-made climate change, a habit-formed drug, is already causing more deaths than we would accept in our regulated healthcare system. Even if at current emissions trajectories climate disaster were ten times less likely to occur than experts project, this would still translate to an unacceptable level of risk. Treating the climate like our health thus means taking every step possible towards a carbon-neutral economy, even if fossil-fuel industry profits suffer.

     

    Public health policy has long shown that one of the most cost-effective paths to better health starts with preventative measures at home. If we want to minimize societal harm, it is imperative that all parties in our new minority government work together to maintain the health of our planet, our collective home. It’s time that we recognize climate change as the greatest threat to human health of the twenty-first century and prioritize it accordingly—because our health, and our very survival, depend on it.

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/11/21/opinion/our-opinion-its-time...

     

     

    jerrym

    A report from 100 of Canada's top freshwater scientists warns that climate change is placing our freshwater at great risk and little is being done about it. 

     

    blue-green algae

    "We've enjoyed the luxury of the myth of limitless abundance of fresh water in Canada," said Bob Sandford, a co-author of a report by the Global Water Futures project, which involves 22 universities. The report was released Tuesday in Hamilton where 100 of Canada's leading water scientists were meeting. ...

    Climate change is rapidly outpacing water use policies that haven't changed in decades and the patchwork of rival jurisdictions that create them aren't moving quickly enough to adapt, said co-author Corinne Schuster-Wallace.

    "Climate change impacts are accelerating far faster than we ever thought they would. Our water governance policies are fragmented."

    As an example, the authors point to eutrophication, a poisoning of lake water by toxic algae that often affects lakes such as Lake Erie and Lake Winnipeg.

    The algae have always been around, but the impacts are increasing from growing amounts of agricultural run-off and the gradual warming of lake water from climate change.

    "Lakes in Canada are warming at twice the global rate," Sandford said. "Warmer water reduces the threshold it takes ... to produce algal blooms.  ...

    Changing weather patterns also threaten farms. More precipitation is falling as rain instead of snow, which runs off instead of staying on the land.

    "Prairie agriculture depends on that snowpack," Schuster-Wallace said. ...

    Cities are threatened too, as glaciers — the water tanks of the Prairies — melt away.

    "When you think of our glaciers as our savings account and not our checking account, that's a real problem," said Schuster-Wallace. "Our checking account's looking really flush at the moment. But in 10, 20, 30 years time, our savings account will be gone."

    Some watersheds are already overdrawn. Sandford said the South Saskatchewan River, which waters a large stretch of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, is now over-allocated.

    Overall, water quality is slowly degrading. ...

    And climate change continues to increase the number of precipitation-based extreme weather events such as floods, damaging homes and other infrastructure. ...

    "We've had three one-in-a-hundred-year events in five years," Schuster-Wallace said.

    The Parliamentary Budget Officer says natural disaster relief costs have increased by 660 per cent between 1970 and 2014. The cost from extreme events between 2000 and 2017 exceeds $28 billion.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/fresh-water-policy-1.5366040

    jerrym

    In cancelling solar and wind projects, the Ford government isn't saving money, its paying hundreds of millions because of lost transfer payments for such greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.  

    The Doug Ford government spent more than $230 million to axe more than 750 renewable-energy projects, despite promising taxpayers the move wouldn't cost them a cent.

    The spending was revealed in question period Monday by NDP environment critic Peter Tabuns, who said the cost was hidden in the province’s 2018-19 public accounts as a “strange little entry” labelled “other transactions.” 

    “How can the premier claim he’s saving taxpayers and ratepayers money when he’s throwing away $231 million to not build renewable energy?” Tabuns said.

    Ontario’s associate energy minister, Bill Walker, didn’t deny the number: “We thought maybe (this question) would be coming at some point,” he said.  ...

    The government cancelled the 758 wind and solar projects — including the contentious White Pines Wind Project in Milford, Ont. — soon after Ford took office in June 2018. At the time, the government said scrapping the projects would result in energy-bill savings for Ontarians. 

    Walker said the green-energy projects weren’t necessary and were, in some cases, unwanted. He pointed in particular to White Pines, which had been partially constructed when Ford cancelled it — one of the premier’s first acts after taking office in June 2018. 

    “This municipality was an unwilling host from Day 1,” Walker said on Tuesday. “They did not want the turbines, and we did the right thing.”

    White Pines in particular had been a decade in the making, receiving final approval during the election that swept Ford to power. Axing the project was a Progressive Conservative campaign promise (the demolition process started in October). ...

    The company behind White Pines, wpd Canada, previously warned that the cancellation could leave taxpayers out $100 million, but Ford’s government said it was crafting legislation to avoid that cost.

    Tabuns compared the Ford governments’ actions to those of the previous Liberal government, whose cancellation of gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville cost the province more than $1 billion.

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/07/13/news/ontario-cancelling-758-...

     

    jerrym

    If Alberta were a country, which is what some Albertans want, it would be the world's worst greenhouse gas emitter by far on a per capita basis. Investors are now starting to punish companies that are not starting to move towards lower carbon emissions, so Alberta and Canada are going to pay a heavy price for being laggards in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

    Alberta would overtake Saudi Arabia as the worst climate-polluter on the planet per-person if the province secedes from Canada.

    Saudi Arabia currently holds the title for world’s most dangerous nation, regularly ranking dead lastin analyses of climate performance. ...

    On a per-capita basis, Alberta is already three times as bad as Saudi Arabia.

    This gap is likely to keep getting more extreme because the province is aggressively expanding its oil and gas industry.

    The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is campaigning for expansions that would increase GHG emissions from fossil energy by 60 per cent. Alberta is currently planning to open the biggest oilsands mine in history, Teck Resources’ Frontier project.
     

    Climate pollution per capita for Alberta (without oil & gas) and Saudi Arabia (total)

    But it turns out that governments and industry have built an economy so dirty that it makes each Albertan almost twice as polluting as Saudis, even if you ignore emissions from Alberta's oil and gas sector entirely.

    To be more precise, as you can see on the chart, Albertans — without oil and gas industry pollution — are currently 1.7 times as polluting as Saudis (and note that the Saudi bar includes the kingdom's oil and gas emissions). So, Alberta’s problem runs much deeper than the carbon emissions caused by clearcutting the boreal forest, removing wetlands, and extracting bitumen from the soil and muskeg below. We’ll be unpacking this more in future articles. But, in the meantime, it’s well worth following Alberta economists like Blake Shaffer (If you do, you’ll get a fascinating crash course on the economic folly of Daylight Savings Time to boot). ...

    Sweden’s central bank dumped Australian and Alberta bonds just last week because of excessive carbon dioxide emissions. Reporting on the bank's decision, BNN Bloomberg said that "central banks, pension funds and other global investors are increasingly factoring climate change into their portfolio calculations."

    Canada’s Mark Carney, now head of the Bank of England, warned last month that investors are now "punishing" laggard companies that aren’t moving quickly to zero carbon. Carney predicts that “companies that don’t adapt will go bankrupt without question.” ...

     

    Canada's climate pollution changes from 2005 to 2017

    [As this chart shows] Alberta’s carbon pollution and excessively dirty economy are already overwhelming the progress Canadians make against climate change.

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/11/21/analysis/independent-alberta...

    jerrym

    An early test of where the Trudeau Liberals intend to go after the election comes with  Teck Resource Ltd’s Frontier major open-pit oil sands mine proposal in Alberta. It is located on indigenous pristine Treaty 8 land and has a goal of producing 260,000 barrels of bitumen per day. This project would ensure Canada could never meet its Paris Agreement targets, which are already very unlikely to be met according to Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand, who stated "Canada is not on track to hit its 2030 target" in her April 2019 report (https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/environment-commissioner-julie-gelfand-...

     

    Indigenous, environmental and public interest groups wasted no time challenging the new cabinet to live up to those promises (and another to build nation-to-nation relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples) by rejecting Teck Resource Ltd’s Frontier mine proposal.

    The Alberta government of Premier Jason Kenney gave its approval to the project in late October, moving the regulatory process to Ottawa where it is now pending federal cabinet approval.

    The decision will be a key early indicator of how this cabinet configuration will direct itself when it comes to the thorny nexus between environment and energy.

    Public submissions on the project are being accepted by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada — the watchdog that earlier this year replaced the National Energy Board (NEB), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency — until Nov. 24.

    The Frontier site is located about 110 kilometres northwest of Fort McMurray, and is expected to produce about 260,000 barrels per day of bitumen once operational, according to Teck.

    The major open-pit oil sands mine proposal is also located on Treaty 8 territory in a pristine area home to the last wild, disease-free herds of Wood Bison, and on the migratory path of the endangered Whooping Crane, a coalition of northern Alberta students, Indigenous community members, scientists and workers said in a statement.

    The mine would cause “irreversible harm” to the Peace-Athabasca Delta and “directly compromise” Canada’s ability to reach its Paris Agreement targets, said the group, which includes Indigenous Climate Action, Climate Justice Edmonton, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Keepers of the Water and Oil Change International.

    Keith Stewart, Greenpeace’s senior energy strategist, said efforts to appease Alberta and other provinces reliant on oil and gas production could easily derail meaningful climate action.

    “We shouldn't try to fool ourselves,” he said. “Getting to net-zero emissions means phasing out the production and consumption of fossil fuels.

    “That’s going to be incredibly hard to do in a way that deals fairly with the workers and regions currently dependent on oil, but the only thing harder would be to suffer the consequences of failing to make this transition."

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/11/21/analysis/will-trudeaus-new-c...

     

    epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

    Nurses’ Unions, Climate Change and Health

    quote:

    Nurses in the Struggle Against the Climate and Health Emergency

    Nurses’ unions are already playing an important role in the fight for climate justice. Nurses have been at the forefront of struggles against the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, and thousands of nurses have provided relief for the victims of extreme weather events in various parts of the world. There are many ways in which nurses can continue and step up these struggles. The following list is not exhaustive, but aims to identify six key areas where nurses and their unions can make use of their expertise and political strength in the fight against the climate and health emergency, and for climate and health justice.

    1. Resist New Fossil Fuel Projects

    Nurses will continue to support and participate in campaigns to stop the expansion of fossil fuel use.

    Despite the officially recognized need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels, new fossil fuel infrastructure projects are either under construction or at the planning stage in many countries around the world. New drilling operations, pipelines, export terminals, and coal- and gas-fired power stations risk creating “carbon lock in” for decades to come, effectively destroying any chance of limiting the danger of global warming and climate change. Reaching “net zero emissions” will require a dramatic phase-down of fossil fuel use. Any new projects will make that task far more difficult.

    2. Make Emergency Response and Recovery Services “Climate Ready”

    Nurses will demand that vital services are fully staffed and capable of responding to climate instability.

    Even if the world stopped burning fossil fuels immediately, global warming will continue for many years to come. This means that extreme weather events are likely to increase in both frequency and severity, and medical services risk becoming besieged by unanticipated outbreaks of diseases like dengue, zika, etc. The experience of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of tropical storm Maria tragically demonstrated the need for emergency services to be able to provide medical care to those suffering chronic health problems. Nurses can play a vital role in strengthening the ability of emergency and health systems to prepare for this challenge.

    3. Work with Allies at the Global Level on Preparedness

    Nurses can use their voice in helping to ensure that countries and regions plan for the future in ways that can best protect vulnerable populations.

    Until mid-century, climate change is expected to primarily exacerbate existing health challenges. This means that investing in health and social safety nets must be a top priority. This includes the need to provide access to safe water and improved sanitation, and enhancing access to essential services such as vaccination. In many vulnerable regions, agriculture-related adaptation will be particularly important. By coordinating at the global level and sharing ideas, experience and expertise, nurses and their unions can ensure essential services are effective and appropriate.

    4. Fight Poverty and Racism. Defend Worker Rights and Protections

    Nurses will continue to draw attention to the roles that poverty, racism, and the lack of workers’ rights play in exposing oppressed people to the worst impacts of climate change.

    Whether in factories or fields, on construction sites or roadsides, rising temperatures pose a threat to economically vulnerable workers and the poor. These workers are often members of racial minorities or ethnic groups that find themselves on the receiving end of various forms of exclusion, discrimination and oppression. A more equal society – including one where everyone has access to heath care as a human right – is therefore crucial to the protection of hundreds of millions and perhaps billions of people against the worst effects of climate change. Addressing these injustices adds to the capacity of communities to adapt to warming temperatures and climate instability.

    5. Articulate and Advocate for a Pro-Public Shift in Policy

    Nurses will continue to push for a shift toward a “public goods” approach to climate and health policy, anchored in adequately funded public services.

    Current policies, committed to an investor-focused and profit-based approach to decarbonization, have failed to alter the rise of energy demand and emissions. We can prepare for a warming world, but the levels of warming that current policies will produce are likely to create a world that, by 2100, will bear little resemblance to the world of today. The problem is not lack of “ambition” or “political will”; the problem is deeply rooted in a capitalist economy that is programmed to pursue ever higher levels of extraction and exploitation of our ecosystems, including our labor. Nurses can play a crucial role in emphasizing that emissions reductions and effective adaptation measures should be seen as “public goods,” rather than as a frontier for speculation and money-making.

    6. Energy Democracy: Extend Public Control Over Energy Generation and Use

    Nurses understand that a successful struggle for control over energy is crucial, which is why nurses’ unions advocate for ‘energy democracy’ at all levels.

    The decarbonization of energy supply and the reduction of energy demand are both essential to reducing emissions over the longer term. This can only be achieved by extending public ownership over energy generation and management. The struggle for new public energy systems anchored in a public goods approach is gaining momentum in many parts of the world. Control over energy will allow us to plan the phase out of fossil fuel use; bring socially owned renewable energy to scale, develop fully electric public transport systems, and reduce energy use in buildings. •

    jerrym

    A new United Nations report states that carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide greenhouse gases reached record levels in 2018. 

     

     

    A stacked line graph in which the contributions of each major greenhouse gas appears as a different colored band--like a layer cake

    The concentration of climate-heating greenhouse gases has hit a record high, according to a report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.

    The jumps in the key gases measured in 2018 were all above the average for the last decade, showing action on the climate emergency to date is having no effect in the atmosphere. The WMO said the gap between targets and reality were both “glaring and growing”.

    The rise in concentration of greenhouses gases follows inevitably from the continued surge in global emissions, which was described as “brutal news” for 2018. The world’s scientists calculate that emissions must fall by half by 2030 to give a good chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C, beyond which hundreds of millions of people will suffer more heatwaves, droughts, floods and poverty. ...

    Petteri Taalas, the WMO secretary-general, said: “There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, despite all the commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change. We need to increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind. ...

    “The [CO2 concentration] number is the closest thing to a real-world Doomsday Clock, and it’s pushing us ever closer to midnight,” said John Sauven, head of Greenpeace UK. “Our ability to preserve civilisation as we know it, avert the mass extinction of species, and leave a healthy planet to our children depend on us urgently stopping the clock.”

    The WMO report, published on Monday, found the global average concentration of CO2 reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5ppm in 2017. It is now 50% higher than in 1750, before the industrial revolution sparked the widespread burning of coal, oil and gas. ...

    Since 1990, the increase in greenhouse gas levels has made the heating effect of the atmosphere 43% stronger. Most of that – four-fifths – is caused by CO2. But the concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide, the two other key greenhouse gases, also surged in 2018 by a higher amount than the annual average over the past decade.

    Methane, which is produced by cattle, rice paddies and fossil fuel exploitation, is responsible for 17% of the heating effect. Its concentration is now more than double pre-industrial levels.

    Nitrous oxide, which comes from heavy fertiliser use and forest burning, is now 23% higher than in 1750. The observations are made by the Global Atmosphere Watch network, which includes stations in the Arctic, high mountains and tropical islands.

    “The record rise in greenhouse gas concentrations is a cruel reminder that for all the real progress in clean technology, we have yet to even stop global emissions increases,” said Nick Mabey, chief executive of think tank E3G. “The climate system cannot be negotiated with. Until we stop new investment in fossil fuels and massively scale up green power the risks from catastrophic climate change will continue to rise.”

    When the world’s nations agreed the Paris deal in 2015, they pledged to ramp up their promised emissions cuts by the annual UN climate summit in 2020, which will be hosted by the UK in Glasgow. This year’s summit needs to do vital preparatory work and begins on 2 December in Madrid, Spain. Chile had been due to host but cancelled because of civil unrest.

    Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit in the UK, said: “This record level of greenhouse gases should act as a sobering reminder to governments that so far they are collectively reneging on the pledge they made at the Paris summit, of attempting to keep global warming to 1.5C. That window is closing, and Chile, Italy and the UK [must] use all the diplomatic tools they have to put emissions on a trajectory closer to what science recommends and the public want.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/25/climate-heating-gree...

     

    jerrym

    The United States Snow and Ice Data Center released a report this month that the Arctic sea ice cover reached the lowest level ever recorded in October. 

    October daily sea ice extent went from third lowest in the satellite record at the beginning of the month to lowest on record starting on October 13 through October 30. Daily extent finished second lowest, just above 2016, at month’s end. Average sea ice extent for the month was the lowest on record.

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

     

     

    jerrym

    The lowest level ever in Arctic sea ice reported in the previous post is already putting Inuit lives at risk as they fall through the thin ice. 

     

    Ice floats in Slidre Fjord outside the Eureka Weather Station, on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut.

    For Keith Morrison, the consequences of this fall's extraordinarily warm weather across the North all came down to an urgent call for help. The fire chief for the Arctic community of Cambridge Bay in Nunavut was at home the evening of Oct. 6 when he got word that a couple had fallen through the ice near a river mouth.

    "What differentiated this year was we saw a widespread warmer temperature anomaly across the board in the Arctic," said Environment Canada meteorologist Eric Dykes.  "Temperature anomalies that are five degrees above normal are happening a little bit more readily than they have in years past."

    Data from around the Arctic bear him out. In Inuvik, N.W.T., temperatures on every single day between Sept. 1 and Nov. 11 were above normal. In Nunavut, Pond Inlet had only one day of below normal, while above-normal days occurred about 80 per cent of the time in the communities of Cambridge Bay and Pangnirtung.

    Not only were temperatures warm, the amount of warming was noteworthy. The Canadian Forces Station at Alert, on the top of Ellesmere Island, broke a record for Sept. 6 this year by six degrees. Pond Inlet experienced one day that was 11 degrees warmer than average.

    And not only did Resolute, Nunavut, record 68 days of above-normal warmth, nearly half of those days were outside the normal temperature variation. Kugluktuk, Nunavut, was similar — 58 warmer-than-average days, 34 of them outside the normal range.

    The U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that sea ice in October was at its lowest extent since records began in 1979. That's 32 per cent below the 1981-2010 average.

    "This fall we saw a much more widespread warming," said Dykes. "Not only that, the stations that did warm were warmer than they had been the previous two falls."

    Andrew Arreak, who works in Pond Inlet for a group that helps people make safety judgments about sea ice, said there was still open water near his community this past week. "People are usually on it the beginning of November. Yesterday, I was finally able to go on it."

    It's not the only change. "There have been more sightings of killer whales, increasing every year," Arreak said. "Insects are being reported that aren't usually around the area. We don't even know what they're called."

    Things have changed, said Morrison, who no longer goes out on his Thanksgiving weekend ice-fishing trip. "A lot of people are noticing the ice is not what it used to be."

    Two days after he helped haul the elderly couple out of the freezing river, two young men went through the ice in shallow water.

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/11/24/news/it-was-pitch-black-they...

     

    jerrym

    The First Nations Power Authority (FNPA) in Alberta and Saskatchewan is using indigenous groups to help create renewable energy projects instead of these provinces traditional focus on the fossil fuels that feed climate change. 

    FNPA-Cowessess First Nation launch their solar expansion of their current wind battery site. Photograph courtesy of FNPA - Cowessess

    Armed with the backing of dozens of First Nation members and corporate partnerships, an initiative to create renewable energy projects led by Indigenous groups is aiming to make millions of dollars in Alberta and Saskatchewan. With the growing demand for cleaner energy and power, Indigenous groups are open for business and ready to bring it to market. 

    “For too long, we’ve had major corporations and entities bring First Nation and Indigenous Peoples along for the ride... that’s not what’s happening now,” First Nations Power Authority (FNPA) CEO Guy Lonechild told an audience of stakeholders at Enoch Cree Nation on Wednesday. 

    Playing on the sidelines is not on the agenda, he continued — this is a game changer, a win-win that reinforces treaty relationships and helps pave the way for Indigenous self-determination. ...

    First Nations Power Authority is the only North American non-profit Indigenous owned and controlled organization developing power projects. One of its main goals is advancing Indigenous equity ownership and control on renewable energy projects, from start to finish. ...

    Turning to the prospects of new, greener technology, the FNPA hopes to provide alternative solutions to consumer energy needs. Lonechild says it’s time Indigenous Peoples have the opportunity to benefit through harnessing the resources of their traditional territories.

    Partnering with industry and governments is key to launching forward, he said.  “Indigenous engagement (in the energy sector) has to be more than just a handshake. We want to create transformational relationships.” 

    And that includes owning a majority stake in energy projects, he continued, which will help First Nations get out of the cycle of poverty and take part in the mainstream economy. 

    “Indigenous engagement (in the energy sector) has to be more than just a handshake. We want to create transformational relationships.”  And that includes owning a majority stake in energy projects, he continued, which will help First Nations get out of the cycle of poverty and take part in the mainstream economy.

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/11/24/news/can-first-nations-power...

    jerrym

    One place where greater flooding  linked to climate change is occurring is the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Riveer, both in Canada and the United States. 

    High water levels inundate a waterfront home on the St. Lawrence River in May 2017

    Climate change is causing significant and far-reaching impacts on the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes region. In recent years, our planet has experienced some of the warmest temperatures ever recorded, record-breaking weather extremes, powerful storms, increasing tragic flooding from rising sea levels and associated storm surge, huge wildfires, and continued melting of glaciers and polar sea ice. The accelerating pattern of changes in the Earth’s climate is affecting the Great Lakes.  ...

    The Great Lakes have an enormous impact, seen and unseen, on the 34+ million people who live within its Basin. These millions of people rely on the freshwater lakes for drinking water, fisheries, recreation, and commerce and industry.   ... 

    Climate change presents challenges to the Great Lakes, with complicated effects and inter-relationships.

    Air Temperature Increases

    The Great Lakes region has tracked global increases in temperature and outpaced trends in some parts of the contiguous United States. Between 1901-1960 and 1985- 2016, the Great Lakes basin has warmed 1.6°F in annual mean temperature, exceeding average changes of 1.2°F for the rest of the contiguous United States. By the end of the 21st century, global average temperatures are expected to rise an additional 2.7°F to 7.2°F, depending on future greenhouse gas emissions, with corresponding changes in the Great Lakes region.

    Heavy Precipitation and Flooding

    A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, increasing the frequency and intensity of heavy rain and snow events. Overall U.S. annual precipitation increased 4% between 1901 and 2015, but the Great Lakes region saw an almost 10% increase over this interval with more of this precipitation coming as unusually large events. In the future, precipitation will likely redistribute across the seasons. We expect wetter winters and springs, while summer precipitation should decrease by 5-15% for most of Great Lake states by 2100.

    These increases in precipitation will likely increase flooding across the Great Lakes region. In cities with abundant roofs, concrete, and other impermeable surfaces, this will likelydamage homes, roadways, and other infrastructure. In rural areas, intense rains and melting snows will increase runoff and erode soils. In rural areas, increased flooding will also cause soil erosion. In combination with more unpredictable precipitation and warmer temperatures, these effects could seriously curtail Midwestern agricultural production.

    Extreme Weather

    Climate change is causing more extreme weather across the United States. Heat waves have become more common since the 1960s while extreme cold temperatures have generally decreased. Intense summer storms occur more often as temperatures rise.

    Extreme weather events have already taken their toll on the Midwest. The 2012 Midwestern heat wave and drought caused more than $30 billion in economic damage, 123 deaths, and harmful long-term health impacts across most of the central and western United States. 

    http://elpc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Great-Lakes-Climate-Change-Re...

    jerrym

    Water levels in the Great Lakes have always fluctuated. But climate change is throwing past patterns out of whack. Almost every Great Lake reached record levels in 2019. And the latest studies predict that levels might reach even higher in 2020. 

    But instead of engineered solutions, we should be concentrating on getting out of the way. ...

    Now, pushed by a changing climate, the swings in levels that used to take several decades are occurring in half a decade. Instead of a gradual rise and fall, the lakes are going from extreme to extreme. ...

    For example, Lakes Michigan and Huron hit record lows in 2013, and docks on Georgian Bay didn’t reach the water. To compensate, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed putting riffles, basically water speed bumps, on the bottom of Lake Huron’s outflow at the St. Clair River. 

    Now Lake Huron is close to record high levels and docks are under water. If those St. Clair riffles had been installed, the water levels on Lakes Huron and Michigan would be even higher today. This is the type of short-sighted thinking we need to avoid.

    Moving back

    Water needs breathing space. We need to move out of the way, rather than try to move water out of our way.

    Humans have removed, impaired or destroyed many of the lakes’ natural buffers, which accommodate fluctuating water. We’ve eradicated shoreline wetlands and beaches and covered them with concrete. ...

    If a property along the Great Lakes is getting wet now, it will almost certainly be wetter in the future. While there is some scientific uncertainty about exactly what climate change will do to water levels, the extreme highs and lows will get worse. Volatility is the new normal.

    Like climate change, when it comes to addressing Great Lakes levels, the biggest hurdles aren’t scientific — they are political, economic and social. ...

    We need to remove structures entirely and avoid building anything near the water’s edge. ...

    We should use the opportunity to restore natural shorelines and wetlands. These provide many benefits for both water quality and water quantity. In terms of the latter, they can serve as water retention areas, while wetland plants provide erosion control. 

    This is all going to be very hard for many people to hear — there will be major resistance. But not moving is going to cost more in the long run. We think we can control water levels, but we need to think differently.

    http://theconversation.com/great-lakes-flooding-the-warning-signs-that-h...

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