Sunday, October 29, 2006

National Policy Conference in Halifax

[duplicated from GPC National website]

A cross-country series of Green Party national policy conferences begins in Halifax November 4 with the National Policy Conference on Ecological Tax Shifting and Environmental Economics. The conference will be chaired by Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, and features four nationally known experts as speakers and panellists:

- Dr. Ronald Colman, Executive Director of GPI (Genuine Progress Index) Atlantic and Research Director for the Canadian Well-Being Index.
- Dr. Peter Victor, Professor of Environmental Economics at York University in Toronto.
- Amy Taylor, Executive Director of Ecological Fiscal Reform for the Pembina Institute.
- Andrew van Iterson, Program Manager of the Green Budget Coalition.
- Paul Lansbergen, Director of Taxation and Business Issues, Forest Products Association of Canada.
You can read all about it on the new GreenPlus website (http://www.greenplus.ca).

So, join us in Halifax on November 4, 2006, for the beginning of a stimulating and inclusive national discussion of policy alternatives that will help shape Canada's policy discourse for the foreseeable future.

Admission is free. To register now please go to http://greenplus.ca/register.html

If you can't make it to Halifax, visit our new GreenPlus website (http://www.greenplus.ca), read the discussion papers prepared by our panel of experts, have your say in the online forum, and watch for news about web coverage of the conference sessions.


For more information, please contact
Chris Alders
calders@greenparty.ns.ca
902-678-0326

Friday, October 27, 2006

Whither climate change now?

The year 2006 has been quite remarkable for the unrelenting crescendo of interest and advocacy in matters environmental:
- The energy debate in Ontario,
- The hounding of Minister Ambrose at COP in Germany,
- The release of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth",
- Brian Mulroney's Corporate Knights award,
- The success of the Green Party National Convention,
- The election of Elizabeth May as GPC Leader and the quantum leap in media profile and GPC membership,
- Governor Schwarzenegger's signature of California emissions legislation and a deal to trade emissions credits with the RGGI and with Tony Blair,
- The testimony of Green Party Senior Deputy Leader David Chernushenko before the House Standing Committee considering Bill C-16 (fixed election dates), among many other notable events.

And now finally the Harper government has poked a long pointy stick into Minister Ambrose and hoisted her up and waved her and her Clean Air Act around over the trenches, and everyone has scrabbled around for all the ammo they could find and duly loosed it off in her general direction. So now they'll reel her back in, dust her off, and find her another plank to walk.

So I'm sensing that after such a protracted dialogue on a single topic, there could now be a collapse in general public interest around climate change. The only remaining events to stoke the fires this year are the by-election in London-North-Centre, Canadian municipal elections, the midterm elections south of the border, and the Liberal convention in December. The Christmas break is a hurdle that brings down a lot of political issues.

How do we keep the dialogue alive? I anticipate there will be a period of respite, and we all take a breather, and then we must marshall the arguments for the next passage.

We must not be distracted by the details of the Harper Clean Air Act. It seems clear now that it will fail, and was designed to fail as far the immediate bill before the House is concerned. So, looking beyond the immediate garish parade of C-30, what were the Conservatives' real intentions? Let's try a few guesses. One motive might be to re-establish the Conservatives back in the political centre as The Friend Of Business, further displacing the Liberals who had been doing a pretty good job as TFOB what with debt reduction, inflation control, the Clarity Act, income trusts, trade missions, and so on. Another motive might be to dispel lingering memories of the Preston Manning days, of grassroots politics, the David Orchard deal, wild men on jetskis, etc. and re-establish credentials for party discipline, viz. Rona's badly frayed flak jacket and Garth's ouster. Yet another objective might be to manage expectations downward, which will make it harder for the next government to accelerate emissions reductions. And obviously it's good optics south of the border and across the Pacific, and may buy wiggle room on other international files.

One of the cleverer aspects of the last few weeks is that the Harper government has kept the media talking about controls and regulation and innovation and targets, and has not allowed any airtime for popular conservation. Business likes this because it doesn't erode the mindset that we are all perfectly entitled to all the cheap energy we can devour, and everything that goes with that mentality, and maybe all we have to do is clean it up a little bit. If Canadians were to suddenly decide to buy the climate change argument and begin to conserve in a big way, the energy patch would be in a much worse pickle than they are now with C-30 regulations.

So popular attention is soon going to tire of this year's slogans - climate change, emissions, Kyoto, targets. In order to keep the dialogue alive perhaps now is a time to go beyond the climate change argument, and ask what other social ills attend voracious energy consumption?
- The obesity issue seems like a natural; we drive everywhere and don't exercise, because we have cars handy and we can't afford the time to walk. This goes hand-in-hand with type II diabetes and other chronic conditions.
- The neighbourhood argument seems like another: as Elizabeth May said, "Let's have neighbourhoods designed for our children, not our cars". I recently spent some time in the 905 belt of Toronto and saw nothing but chain hotels, chain restaurants, chain stores, six-lane arterial roads, and low-rise light industrial buildings out to the horizon. Residential areas were completely segregated, with only freeway linkages. A pedestrian or bicycle lifestyle will never stand a chance in that region.
- We iconize detached homes as the ideal urban dwelling model, which leads to cancerous urban sprawl, because people want privacy and space for their stuff. But why do we want to cocoon? Well, because despite sharing the same DNA, sometimes people aren't actually all that nice to each other, and stuff is more fun than people and we can get it cheap from China, and the guy who dies with the most stuff wins. And so we overlook many wonderful people in our cities because we stay at home with our stuff - and instead of enjoying the variety of all our local actors, musicians, comedians, writers and artists, which is what humanity evolved toward originally, we hop hundreds of channels of predictable content fabricated in centralized cloning factories. But if you were to ask Canadians to live in cities with the density of Manhattan or London or Tokyo, they would look at you funny.
- The true cost of private vehicle ownership is not clear, because it is dispersed across different account books, but what would we see if we were to draw together all the externalities into one ledger and count up not just the vehicle cost, but the insurance, the fuel, the maintenance, the deaths and injuries, the hospitalizations and quadriplegics, the rise in asthma among children living close to major arterials, the cultural activities foregone because the journey is not safe and travel is nevertheless still damned inconvenient despite the universal roads and cars because of parking and narrow sidewalks impassable with snow and ice, to say nothing of all those working lives shackled to road construction and maintenance? If you handed every Canadian a winning lottery ticket for say $5,000 each, year after year, they would say great! If you told them they could get them by climbing out of their cars, they would give you another funny look.

So perhaps this is the evil twin of cheap energy - the loss of social cohesion, poor health, the wasteful tyranny of fashionable stuff, and the withering of our local culture and industry? And these ills are in some ways more tangible than emissions, but in some ways less because because most of us have enjoyed electricity, cars, homes, nice stuff, and a spacious lifestyle throughout living memory.

Another more radical thought occurred to me recently. The last time an entire nation had to be disconnected from a form of cheap energy was the American civil war, which brought an end to slavery in the South. Six hundred thousand men under arms died in that conflict, the majority due to disease, not wounds, and thanks to the assassination of President Lincoln the rehabilitation of African-American peoples suffered a setback that has still not ended. What is the chance that in our present situation we can make an even greater transition peaceably?

Is now the time to starting thinking about the arguments and questions to fuel debate in 2007, very possibly the next national election year? Certainly those emissions will cause some warming...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

MAYhem in almonte!


The event last night was awesome! The Ironworks pub were great hosts and provided an excellent setting. The room we booked could hold 50 or so as close personal friends, but double that number made an appearance.

I was in the hall around the corner leading in to the room with 20 other people listening to Elizabeth and the other speakers. The room was packed beyond standing room.

I know it will be the same tonight in London!

We signed up several new members and secured some donations for Elizabeth's campaign. A great night all around.

Here is the only photo I currently have. It is of me (on the left), Elizabeth, and Rick (on the right) the CFO for the CMM FGPA.

Cell phones make you reachable 24/7 if...

... you leave them on ;)

Politique Vert (PV) has an item about a new study that indicates cell phones could be harmful, you can find it here.

PV goes on to say that she doesn't own herself because she doesn't want to be reachable 24/7. I can understand that. I solve that problem myself by turning the phone off when I don't want to be reachable. It's a simple solution really.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Elizabeth May in Almonte Tonight!

Elizabeth May will be at the ironworks pub in Almonte tonight. If you live in Carleton Mississippi-Mills this is your chance to come out and hear Elizabeth speak and have a chance to meet her.

Rumour also has it that two people will announce they are running for the nomination for the Green Party in CMM! Come out and meet them.

Food and drink (non-alcoholic) will be available.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Thanks to Devon for creating an image to help show our support for Elizabeth May's run in London North-Centre.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

Elizabeth May on CTV Question Period & Cross Country Checkup this Sunday

Tune in to CTV's Question Period on Sunday at noon to see Elizabeth May participate in a panel with environment critics from the Liberals and NDP.

Also, Elizabeth will be on CBC Radio's Cross Country Checkup with Rex Murphy on Sunday at 4:50 pm. The show this week will focus entirely on the Clean Air Act, so if you want to call in to make your views known, please do so - 1-888-416-8333. Their website is www.cbc.ca/checkup.

-forwarded message from Camille Labchuk

Thursday, October 19, 2006

CP — Highlights of the Conservatives' proposed Clean Air Act

Canadian Press is carrying the following selection:

• By 2011, develop new regulations for vehicle fuel consumption.
• By 2025, set national targets for smog and ozone levels.
• By 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 45 and 65 per cent from 2003 levels.
• No mention of the Kyoto Protocol and the emissions targets the government of Canada comitted to in 2002.
• Harmonize vehicle emissions standards with those of the United States over the next 12 months.
• Harmonize regulations with those of the U.S. for volatile organic compound emissions in consumer and commercial products over the next year.
• Over the next three years, discuss and set “intensity based” targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, rather than total emissions targets, for major emitters.
• Negotiate with provinces to create harmonized system for mandatory reporting of air emissions, reduction of regulatory overlap.
• Create environmental damages fund from non-compliance fines to be applied directly to cleanup.

Reality Check: Ambrose versus the facts

See attached for a detailed review of the "Clean Air Act". Eight mistakes by Minister Ambrose in less than an hour. It's important that people are not misled by the speech, and actually understand the content of the act. Read the discrepancies identified in the annoucement here:
http://greenparty.ca/mediarelease190.html

Over 3 more years before regulations in place?
Over 13 more years until targets for cutting pollutants are set?
Over 43 more years to get to ~50% reduction in emissions, from 2003 levels.
(ref.http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061018/environment_act_061019/20061019?hub=TopStories)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

MPtv - Interview with Green Party of Canada Leader, Elizabeth May - October 17, 2006

This is an interview of Elizabeth May conducted by Garth Turner, Conservative MP for Halton.

It is interesting to note that Garth was suspended from the Tory caucus the day after this interview was posted to his blog. Coincidence?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rick Mercer Report / This Hour has 22 Minutes

Elizabeth is set to appear on both RMR and 22 minutes tonight on CBC (check your local listings).

She is also scheduled to appear on Question Period on Sunday morning.

Lots of television coverage, and the best part is that it is coverage I actually watch ;).

Update: The 22 minutes segment got bumped until, likely, next week. Oh, and the tree Elizabeth cut down on RMR was already dead.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

CMM Greens Blog

The Human Cost of the War in Iraq
This tragic report uses epidemiological techniques to estimate war deaths instead of passive reports (like media), and is peer-reviewed.

The CNN link below has a link to the document:
http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/10/11/iraq.deaths/index.html

It also has a clip of Mr. Bush sputtering and stumbling over what to say about it, other than "it has beed discredited...".

Bush's conclusions are not peer reviewed by any respectible source, as far as I can tell....

CMM Greens Blog: Harper has head in the tar sands

Breast cancer more common in farm workers: study
Report published in Thursday's issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (author author James Brophy, executive director of the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers in Windsor).

Study says women are 2.8 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those not in farming. No specific cause reported, however Brophy speculated pesticides and diesel fumes.

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2006/10/12/breastcancer-farm.html

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Elizabeth May on TV!

CBC will be airing a 15 minute profile of Elizabeth May on the National tonight.

Also look for Elizabeth on the Rick Mercer Report. Possibly next Tuesday.

Update: If you missed the newscast you can watch it online today until 11:30PM ET here, it is about 40 minutes into the program.

Harper has head in the tar sands

Will the new Conservative government keep its head buried in the tar sands, or will it come up for air?

Elizabeth May, October 11, 2006

You can read the entire piece, published in the Globe and Mail, here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Green Party’s first appearance before House committe

From greenparty.ca:
The Green Party of Canada recorded a historic first Tuesday when Senior Deputy Leader David Chernushenko testified to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Witnesses from all major parties testified on Bill C-16, designed to introduce fixed election dates in Canada. It was the first time that the Green Party has been invited, along with other parties with sitting MPs, to appear before a House committee.

A committee official said the Green Party will continue to be invited to hearings because it now receives federal funding. Parties receiving over 2% of the total vote get $1.79 per vote every year in federal funds. The Green Party qualified by garnering 4.3% of the vote in 2004 and following that with 4.5% in the 2006 election.

''House committees recognize that the Green Party should be part of major national discussions,'' said Mr. Chernushenko. “It is time for broadcasters to follow suit and include us in the televised leader debates.”


You can read the historic statement here: http://www.greenparty.ca/page292.html

Climate Change: From Inconvenient Truth to Political Action

Last Monday, I went to the public forum listed here. It featured Elizabeth, Ralph Torrie, Jose Etcheverry, and Patti Edwards. Here are the notes on how it went.

The hall was, I think, full. Somebody estimated it at 400 people, maybe more.
The discussions were interesting and knowledgeable (of course, who am i to judge), the audience was enthusiastic, - I think it went really well. All the panelists were good, but Elizabeth was getting more applause than anybody else!!

First, each participant gave an 8 minute speech.

Patti Edwards
- from Environment Canada, Atmospheric and Climate Science
- talked about what climate changes are currently seen, models used to predict them
- there is no doubt about the anthropogenic origin of the changes
- the rate of temperature change is increasing

Ralph Torrie
- (see http://www.icfi.com/Newsroom/torrie-hire.asp for bio)
- studied climate change for the past 30 years
- went through a dozen slides that he prepared (with graphs, models...)
(It was given as a handout; let me know if you want to see it.)
- in the past 10 years, all previous predictions came true
- We're in for 100 years of climate change (that is certain and can't be stopped). Any actions we take will be prevent further damage

Elizabeth May
- continued with the more political part of the issue
- At a conference 18 years ago (missed the name), they said that climate change will be an "experiment second only to nuclear war"
- Conservative party does not believe the "hockey stick" graph
- ironic to see RonaA as chair of international climate change program
- Canada is the only Kyoto nation to not try to follow Kyoto
- goverment with "head stuck in the tar sands" [a LOT of applause followed]

Jose Etcheverry
- Research and Policy Analyst, David Suzuki Foundation
- went on to the solutions part
- there are some bad carbon offsets, e.g. Brazilian Eucalyptus plantations
- Kyoto is not only about emission reductions, but also sustainable development
- What we need: 1. National carbon trade system, 2. carbon taxes
- mentioned some efforts by European nations
- Nov 1 in Toronto: announcement of the plan for Ontario (I think)
(he mentioned Nov 1 emphatically a few times, but I missed what was about - does anybody know?)

Then the microphone was turned to audience questions. Some of the answers:

EM:
- difference between "alarmist" and "alarming"
- 80% of Canadians support Kyoto
- The fact that there are so many SUVs is not contradictory: the gov't effectively encourages SUVs by keeping gas prices artificially low.
RT:
- Gov't was planning for the SUV's - the demand for SUVs is manufactured.
- There is a disconnect between national strategies and local initiatives that
actually work.

EM:
- carbon released by airplanes (at the altitude) has 7 times the effect that it would if it were released at ground level.
JE:
- airline industry is unregulated (in terms of emissions)

EM:
- James Lovelock is wrong to say (in his new book) that nothing can be done any more

EM:
- example: Pine beatle destroying forests in BC because there are no more cold snaps

JE:
- Hydro Quebec - Quebec has enormous wind capacity
- Calgary's "Ride the wind" public transit program
- It is possible to have our electricity generated entirely by renewable sources!

RT:
- Even if we consider nuclear power, it actually has only a very small potential for contribution to the solution.
- Now Ontario is predicting a power gap. However, similar gaps predicted in the 70's and 80's never happened.

An audience member noted that some jobs have ownership of a car as a requirement, even though driving has nothing to do with the job's needs (social work).
EM:
- As of this moment, it is now in the Green platform: Car ownership should not be a barrier to employment.

By the door, a few groups were handing out fliers, collecting signatures.
Something I found interesting: car rental a la Amsterdam (or is it Denmark that does that?)

Monday, October 02, 2006

On Nuclear power

It saddens me that we in the greens continue to be so adamantly against nuclear power generation. The arguments against it on the basis of the links between its technologies and nuclear warfare are clouding us from seeing nuclear power as the greenest electricity generation technology of all.

Without a question, no ifs and or buts, nuclear warfare would be disastrous for all of Gaia. Any global conflict involving atom or hydrogen bombs will destroy not only our civilisation, but the capacity of the earth to maintain current life. Nuclear winter would deny all photosynthesis for a long enough time that most plant forms would die; without plants most animal and insect forms including microbial would be unable to survive. Nuclear fallout would finish off those that did manage to survive, through radiation sickness and biological mutations.

However we proceed we desperately need to curtail the proliferation of nuclear weapons in a world increasingly filled with sociopaths in political positions, the west far from excluded.

But this is not what nuclear power is about. Nuclear power is the cleanest and greenest of power sources of all. Quite apart from being the only source of the energy of all that is on the earth, deriving from the sun, and from being the source of the heat internally in the earth, nuclear energy, pound for pound is millions of times more effective than any other known form of fuel -- E = mc^2 after all.

We would be idiots to ignore it.

And indeed we havent. 41% of Ontario's power comes from nuclear. Somewhere around 80% of France's electricity comes from nuclear, and the UK is around 25%.

If we were to lose our nuclear generation facilities we would be in the dark. The cost to our current way of life would be inestimable. A disaster.

I call for a healthy debate and reassessment of our policies on this issue.

Carbon Sequestration Projects

Under the heading of "Having our cake and eating it too" comes carbon sequestration. The idea is in two parts: one, that you can continue to use fuels which emit greenhouse gases IF you capture the emitted gases and keep them out of the atmosphere, and two, more generally, if you have a way of removing as much GHG from the atmosphere as you are adding, you can maintain a healthy balance.

The World Resources Institute has posted a list of carbon sequestration projects worldwide. Click here.

Seems pretty thin, for an activity which is supposed to save the planet. All Canada has is one project in Saskatchewan. Curiously, Latin America has lots, and so does Africa. Curiouser, Europe has very few.