COP21: A Ghost Story

In the month since COP21, there has been no shortage of commentary dissecting the talks. You can read about how COP21 was historic, the world’s greatest diplomatic success, and the end of the fossil fuel era.

You can also read about how it’s a frayed life-line for the world’s poorest people, a sham, and the disappointing but inevitable result of a corporate circus.

You can read about how it’s not enough from the perspective of a young Canadian who attended the conference. And you can read about what it was like to be a young feminist activist speaking out on the conference.

From where I stand, the gist of it (in brief) is that the pledges that countries have submitted still set us firmly on the path to a devastating 3 to 3.7 degrees Celsius in temperature rise. The much-hailed 1.5C degree promise is vague (the parties agreed to “pursue efforts” in line with it), and the window mentioned as the timeline for reaching zero net emissions is far later than what science says we need. Over the course of the 2 weeks of negotiations, we watched the draft text shrink as reference to Indigenous rights, the rights of occupied peoples, meek suggestions that rich countries might ever have to pay compensation for countries most affected by climate change, specific goals for climate finance, and any references to fossil fuels all disappeared.

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Province Can't Pass the Buck on Oil Pipelines: BC Supreme Court

West Coast Environmental Law has previously suggested that, in spite of the Province of British Columbia’s “tough talk” on oil pipelines, it has been trying to pass the decision-making buck to the federal government’s National Energy Board (NEB). A year ago, the Gitga’at First Nation and Coastal First Nations (CFN) sought a court declaration that the provincial government was required to make its own decision about whether to issue a provincial Environmental Assessment (EA) Certificate for the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, and to consult with First Nations before doing so. We thought they had a good argument.

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Canada Needs ‘Political Leadership’ on Climate: Natural Resources Minister Carr

It’s important to have people in elected office who see issues like climate change as a priority for action.

It’s even better when a GreenPAC endorsee finds him or herself in a position to do something about the values we share.

Which is why this video testimonial should give us reason for hope—and a focus for the next couple of months of advocacy—as the Trudeau government begins the sprint to finalize its national climate strategy within 90 days of the United Nations climate summit in Paris.

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First Enlightenment, then the Laundry: What the Paris Climate Agreement Means for Canada

If you’ve been watching headlines about the historic signing of the Paris Agreement this past weekend, you may be understandably confused.

Does the world’s first climate treaty represent the beginning of the end for fossil fuels or a mere free-market cop out?

Both arguments hold some truth. That’s because the agreement is more form, less substance. That’s what it was intended to be. The real meat of the deal remains entirely undetermined because it has yet to grow on the bones of the treaty.

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A Small Boy's Real Log Cabin

One archetype of this century is the white American urban male, with career and house, who throws it all over to move to the wilderness of Alaska or Canada.  I don’t know how well I fit the mould, but it may be of interest to some to hear one perspective of how the Boreal forests of northern Ontario match Yankee urban fantasies of the Canadian wilds.

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From Indigenous rights at home to Indigenous rights in Paris

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Trudeau gave an articulate, game-changing speech to the Assembly of First Nations in Gatineau, Quebec. He spoke of his plan to reset Canada’s relationship with First Nations, emphasizing words like respect, partnership, and sacred responsibility. With his reassuring tone came a series of much-needed commitments: the long-awaited national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women was officially launched, Indigenous education was made a top priority, and the 2% cap on First Nations funding was lifted, among other commitments.

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Two days until touchdown: COP21 from a Canadian perspective

With just two days remaining, the world is holding its breath as delegates from over 190 countries stride towards a “make or break” agreement on climate change. The flurry of happenings in Paris have swept international headlines, with competing ambitions from conference delegates and consistent pressure by thousands of civil society actors. To make sense of the fast-paced conference proceedings, we spoke with Laurie Simmonds, GreenPAC Board member and CEO of Green Living Enterprises, who has been on the ground in Paris since Day 1. Here are her responses to the questions we asked.

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When wind blows dissent on green energy development

Canada’s premiers travel to Paris this week, many with the climate change plans they released earlier this month. Notably, the change climate plan that Alberta released on November 22 introduces carbon pricing and a cap on oil sands emissions, as well as a roadmap for phasing out its coal-fired power plants and increasing investment in wind power. Does this sound very familiar? Well, if you follow Ontario energy developments, you may be having déjà vu. Ontario has permanently banned coal-fired power and has quickly become Canada’s leader in wind energy development (WED).

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Our Horizon: Climate Change Labels on Gas Pumps

Talk of climate change inundates us on a daily basis and is, as Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon describes it, our “only one truly existential threat.” For the most part, we know this information already, so why is nothing changing? We lay blame at a distance for this fossil fuels debacle that we’ve backed ourselves into, pointing to the tar sands and to pipeline plans, and we have little luck in changing things when we do so. Our Horizon, a climate change not-for-profit based in Toronto, believes that we can’t distance ourselves from the lack of progress, and seeks to bring some of that responsibility back to us as individuals. Our goal is to jolt consumers into action through a simple, low-cost initiative: placing climate change labels on gas pump nozzles, and making this a legislated requirement for gasoline retailers nationwide.

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What should be the top environmental priorities for Newfoundland and Labrador's next provincial government?

Close on the heels of Canada’s federal election, Newfoundland and Labrador is headed to the polls again for their provincial election on Monday, November 30.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s dynamic environmental community has been hard at work to make sure that environmental issues are being given the attention they deserve. You can follow along on Twitter by keeping an eye on the hashtags #NLpoli, #NLvotes and #NLenviro.

We reached out to a number of groups to ask: what do you think should be the top environmental priorities for Newfoundland and Labrador’s next provincial government?

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