Save Our Climate Act Introduced in U.S. Congress

It’s been an interesting few weeks on the climate front in North America. With the backdrop of the “Occupy” movement, there were some small changes introduced that hopefully signal the start of an all-out campaign by our elected officials to tackle this issue head-on. First we had the formation of an all-party Climate Caucus in Ottawa, closely followed by the introduction of a bill in the U.S Congress that would place a fee on carbon. Here’s the response of Citizens Climate Lobby, a group dedicated to creating the political will for a sustainable climate, to the latest news out of Washington:

Citizens Climate Lobby Welcomes The Introduction of U.S. Save Our Climate Act

CORONADO, CALIF. – As the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions grows more evident each week, Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) welcomed the introduction of Rep. Pete Stark’s (D-CA) Save Our Climate Act as a critical step in efforts to stop the worst effects of climate change.

“We’re running out of time to wean our nation off the fossil fuels that are heating up the planet,” said CCL’s Executive Director Mark Reynolds. “We need to put a price on carbon that shifts energy usage to clean sources, and that’s what Congressman Stark’s bill does.”

The Save Our Climate Act, H.R. 3242, would tax coal, oil and gas based on the amount of carbon dioxide these fuels would emit when burned. Starting at $10 per ton of CO2, the tax would increase by $10 each year until CO2 emissions fall to 20 percent of 1990 levels. Most of the revenue from the Save Our Climate Act – an estimated $2.6 trillion in the first 10 years – would be returned to U.S. citizens as an annual rebate to offset higher energy costs. A portion of that revenue — $490 billion – would go toward deficit reduction.

“This is a revenue-neutral approach that Republicans should be able to embrace, as it will not increase the size of government,” said Reynolds. “What it WILL do is move massive amounts of investment money toward clean energy, expanding a sector of the economy that shows the most promise for producing the jobs Americans need.”

News of Stark’s legislation was warmly received in Canada. “We applaud Congressman Stark’s leadership on putting a price on carbon to transition the U.S. to a clean energy economy,” says Cathy Orlando, Project Manager for Citizens Climate Lobby Canada. “If successful they will join Australia and British Columbia on taking effective action on climate change and economic development. It’s time that Canada’s federal government also take similar action.”

The controversy surrounding the bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra has eroded U.S. support for government programs that subsidize clean energy. The Citizens Climate Lobby believes that a clear, predictable price signal on carbon will send private investors to wind, solar and other alternative technologies, reducing the need for government funding for emerging companies.

“When it comes to clean energy, we don’t want to kill the goose that’s laying the golden eggs in our economy. But perhaps somebody besides the federal government can feed the goose, and that’s what we’ll accomplish with a price on carbon,” said Reynolds.

More links:

BUILDING A GREEN ECONOMY: The Economics of Carbon Pricing Carbon & the Transition to Clean, Renewable Fuels

Citizens Climate Lobby, U.S.

Citizens Climate Lobby, Canada

Finally, Some Good News Out Of Ottawa: All-Party Climate Caucus Formed

Thanks in large part to the hard work of Dr. Kirsty Duncan, Liberal MP for Etobicoke North and IPCC scientist, a new House of Commons “climate change” caucus has been formed. Duncan, who championed this initiative, said

“I am delighted that my colleagues have joined me to build this caucus over the last four months. I absolutely believe that climate change is our most pressing environmental issue, perhaps the defining issue of our generation, and it requires both moral responsibility and intergenerational responsibility.”

From October 20th press release:

As governments prepare for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Durban (28 November to 09 December 2011), Members of Parliament from all political parties have joined forces to create the first-ever, climate change caucus on Parliament Hill.  The all party caucus consists of Michael Chong, Conservative MP, Denise Savoie, New Democratic Party MP, Kirsty Duncan Liberal MP, Maria Mourani Bloc Quebecois MP, and Elizabeth May, Green Party MP.

 Denise Savoie, MP, Victoria, and Deputy Speaker, reported,  “The climate change all-party caucus provides a space for meaningful discussion on the defining issue of our generation- in a forum without talking points or media!”

 Maria Mourani, MP for Ahuntsic, Bloc Québécois Environment Critic, said “Climate change will have serious consequences for our health, environment, economy and infrastructure over the short, medium and long terms. It is essential to deal with this problem now in order to limit its impact on future generations. Setting greenhouse gas reduction targets and creating a carbon exchange are just some of the steps we must take. That is why I am pleased to join with my colleagues from the all-party climate change caucus to promote innovative and effective solutions to fight climate change. For the sake of our children, we must be more responsible!”

 The climate change caucus is planning a number of events to bring more information to Members of Parliament regarding the climate crisis: some of these events include, climate change and faith; the lead-up to Durban; extreme events and disaster preparedness; and the economic impacts of climate change and clean technology.

More links:

Tory Chong joins all-party “climate” caucus

Kirsty Duncan, MP

Take Time To Renew Your Spirit

Former U.N. Ambassador Stephen Lewis ended his moving eulogy for Jack Layton yesterday with this inspiring quote:

Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

~Arundhati Roy


To read the full text of Mr. Lewis’s eulogy, click here.

We’ll Miss You, Jack

Today is the state funeral for the Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, and the Leader of the Official Opposition in the Canadian Parliament, Mr. Jack Layton. Like many other Canadians, I was surprised by the depth of the sadness I felt on hearing that Mr. Layton had passed away on Monday, only months after scoring a huge election victory for his party. And his last letter to Canadians was inspirational and moving, a reminder to us that we have been, and can be again, better than we are now.  In Now Magazine this week, Jian Ghomeshi wrote these words of tribute to “Jack”, as Canadians have come to call Mr. Layton:

Jack developed as a politician and a statesman over the years. He grew into himself. There were elections he did not win early on and times when I debated friends who accused him of being too slick or inconsistent or radical, or not radical enough.

But he found his footing, becoming Canada’s most beloved and admired political figure. He learned to play to his genuine nature. He learned that the general public tends to appreciate it when our leaders are real. And no matter what their views on his politics, by the big election in 2011, very few in this country doubted Jack’s honesty or commitment to his beliefs.

So, today I’m wearing orange, the NDP colour, in tribute to Mr. Layton and his accomplishments, and as a reminder to myself that, as he wrote only last Saturday:

Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Jack Layton: Let Us Be Loving, Hopeful, and Optimistic. And We’ll Change The World

A letter to Canadians from Jack Layton, leader of the NDP and the leader of the Official Opposition in the Canadian Parliament. It is dated August 20, two days before his death today from cancer. Former Governor-General Michaëlle Jean said in a posting on Twitter: “Canada has lost a man of courage and great integrity who embodied the values dearest to Canadians… And we remember the Tommy Douglas quote Jack included in every email he sent:“Courage my friends,’tis not too late to build a better World.”:

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one — a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best, Jack Layton

Jack Layton with my daughter Kate, Red Lake, Ontario. 2009

RIP, John Gilbert “Jack” Layton,  July 18, 1950 – August 22, 2011