Climate-Concerned Canadians Travel to Ottawa To Talk Solutions

Author and her husband, Dr Mark Polle, meet with Senator Marie-P Charette-Poulin of northern Ontario (on right)
Author and her husband, Dr Mark Polle, meet with Senator Marie-P Charette-Poulin of northern Ontario

Keep calm and price carbon.

Is it possible to solve the climate crisis without hurting the economy? That is the question that five members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) Red Lake were in Ottawa recently to address. They joined Canadians from Vancouver Island to Quebec who traveled to our nation’s capitol last week to learn more about the economic benefits of a carbon dividend that places a price on carbon pollution and returns the money to Canadian households.

Attendees at CCL’s Carbon Fee Prosperity conference November 22 and 23 heard a blue-ribbon economic panel dispel the idea that a healthy environment and a prosperous economy can’t co-exist. Success for one doesn’t have to mean failure for the other, agreed the five members of the panel, which included Professor Christopher Ragan from McGill University. Ragan is a CD Howe Institute Research Fellow and Chair of the newly launched cross-party Eco-Fiscal Commission. Ragan underscored how our current tax system taxes (thereby discouraging) good things that Canadians want more of – income, employment, innovation and better jobs – and doesn’t tax bad things that we all want less of, such as pollution.

“I’ve never met a Canadian who likes pollution and wants more of it, yet we make it free. We have a tax system that by not taxing pollution effectively encourages it,” Ragan told the attentive audience, “We can do better in this country.”

Based on the experience of the B.C. carbon tax, panelist Dr. Stewart Elgie from the University of Ottawa explained that a $30 fee per tonne of carbon (the same as B.C.’s) would generate $20 billion annually. That would mean, assuming there are about 20 million adults in our country, that every Canadian over the age of 18 would get a $1,000 carbon bonus cheque annually in the mail if the federal government adopted a revenue-neutral carbon dividend policy.

After learning more about the benefits of carbon fee and dividend at the weekend conference, 65 CCL volunteers from all walks of life spent Monday and Tuesday on Parliament Hill. They met with MPs and Senators from every political party to encourage them to put a price on carbon pollution and return the money to Canadian households.

Dr. Mark Polle, who met with 12 MPs and Senators while he was in Ottawa, found that the politicians he encountered were pleased to hear from climate-concerned Canadians.

“With a few exceptions, the politicians I spoke with understood the seriousness of climate change and welcomed a conversation about solutions,” Polle said.

Cathy Orlando, CCL Canada’s National Manager, underscored the nonpartisan nature of the organization, stating “Canadians deserve carbon fee prosperity. Carbon fee and dividend is the best carbon-pricing model for Canadians. It has something for everyone. It is a market solution that will not grow government size and not burden the poor or middleclass.”

While not all Canadians understand the urgency of the climate crisis, all Canadians agree on the value of economic growth that doesn’t sacrifice our clean water, clean air, or our stable climate. What the five CCLers from northwestern Ontario discovered in Ottawa last week is that pricing pollution is the right solution for both Canada’s economic prosperity in the 21st century and the threat of climate change.

MP Murray Rankin from Victoria (second from right) met with a constituent and two other Citizens' Climate Lobbyists
MP Murray Rankin from Victoria met with a constituent and two other Citizens’ Climate Lobbyists

Other links:

CBC Thunder Bay interviews Christine Penner Polle, climate activist, about climate solutions

Keep calm and price carbon, Canada

Climate conference lobbies for fee and dividend

Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Canada 2014 Conference: Flickr photos

Check out Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada’s YouTube channel for video from the Ottawa conference, including Dr Katherine Hayhoe

CCL Toronto leader Cheryl McNamara models the T-shirt with CCL’s message
CCL Toronto leader Cheryl McNamara models the T-shirt with CCL’s message

Oh Canada!

As a Canadian, I am more than embarrassed by my country’s environmental record over the last decade, I’m appalled and angry at the lack of leadership that has lead to this kind of international condemnation. Canada was ranked dead last twice over in two new independent rankings of our environmental policy.

Oh Canada*


1. Center for Global Development, Canada 27th on the environment out of the world’s wealthiest 27 countries.

2. Canada at the bottom of the industrialized world in terms of emissions per capita, development of renewable energy and international climate policy. Canada 55th of 58 countries in terms of tackling greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of only Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia. Click here for article.

Canadian First Nations Leader Takes Tar Sands Fight To Europe Ahead Of Key Council Vote


via Friends of the Earth Europe & Bill Erasmus, Dene National Chief

A leader of Canada’s Indigenous peoples gave a dramatic eyewitness account of the environmental and social devastation associated with mining tar sands at the world’s biggest tourism fair on Friday March 8,  ahead of key vote by the European Council later this year that could deter tar sands from being exported to Europe.  The European Commission said recently it was sticking to its guns in labeling tar sands as one of the world’s dirtiest crudes under the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) despite strong protests from Ottawa and a major lobbying effort by the oil industry to water down the EU law. The Directive is a pillar of the bloc’s climate legislation that aims to reduce emissions from transport fuels.

Representatives from Canada’s First Nations and the environmental group Friends of the Earth Europe are at the Berlin International Travel Fair (ITB) expo to protest about the destruction of Canada’s natural environment and publicize the dangers of tar sands expansion.

Canada sits on the world’s third-largest oil reserves but the vast majority is unconventional crude, including tar sands – clay-like deposits that are some of the oil industry’s most polluting fuels. European Commission studies show that mining just one barrel of oil from tar sands generates 23% more emissions than from conventional crudes.

NASA scientist James Hansen has warned in an opinion piece for the New York Times that if Canada continued to exploit oil sands production it will mean “game over” for the planet. “If we were to fully exploit this new oil source … concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now,” Hansen wrote.

Canada’s tar sands operations are concentrated in the second most western province of Alberta, spanning roughly 700 square kilometers an area so large they can be seen from space.

Ottawa’s shame: the untold story

Chief Bill Erasmus, head of the Dene Nation in the Northwest Territories, said Canada has gone from being known as the “Great White North” and a country of outstanding natural beauty to a “petro-state” with one of the highest per-capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The Dene Nation covers a large geographical area — from Alaska to the southern-most tip of North America.

“The tar sands industry is destroying the way of life of First Nations peoples. On the one hand Ottawa is seeking to sell Canada as a top tourist destination for nature lovers at the ITB while simultaneously destroying kilometers of wilderness,” said Erasmus, from Denendeh, who is also a regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Northwest Territories.

Alberta is home to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, one of the country’s main attractions, that draws millions of tourists every year – 2.1 million Europeans in 2012 alone. According to Canadian government statistics, Europe is the source of most of its overseas visitors annually with the United Kingdom (622,754), France (432,987) and Germany (308,825) sending the most.

Erasmus said the extraction process was making his ancestral homeland uninhabitable in contravention of existing treaties. And he revealed how mining squandered vast amounts of fresh water and natural gas, left lakes of sludgy toxic pollution and released carcinogens into the environment (Please see attachment 1).

There is evidence the oil’s environmental impact is having a detrimental effect on Canada’s image abroad, according to documents obtained by Friends of the Earth Europe under access-to-information laws. In one heavily redacted email detailing a high-level meeting between British and Canadian diplomats, Gordon Campbell, the Canadian High Commissioner to the UK, described tar sands as “a totemic issue, hitting directly on Brand Canada”.

Europe next if Canada has its way

Canadian tar sands could soon hit European shores despite the European Commission’s effort to label fuels from tar sands deposits as highly polluting under the FQD (See report Keeping Their Head In Tar Sands). Canada is urgently seeking new markets for its energy-intensive tar sand oil to compensate for dwindling U.S. buying and has European refiners in its sights.

“If Canada, which recently withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol, is successful in watering down EU laws on emissions allowed from fuels it will open the door to oil sands-derived fuels in Europe and seriously undermine Europe’s fight against climate change,” said Darek Urbaniak of Friends of the Earth Europe.

“Canada through intense lobbying efforts has been trying to scupper EU legislation since it was first mooted. EU law makers know tar sands are the most climate hostile energy source in commercial production today and they should not give in to Canadian pressure,” he said.

An inconclusive EU vote on the introduction of the FQD last year forced the European Commission to carry out an Impact Assessment on the Directive, the results of which are due out in the next couple of months ahead of another European Council vote later in the year. Just last month, in a major lobbying effort, two ministers from Alberta visited 11 EU countries between them to argue that the proposed EU law discriminates unfairly against Canadian oil.

fish with a tumour


Click here to read the text of the letter to the Canadian tourism representatives at Berlin ITB from Bill Erasmus, Dene National Chief, AFN Regional Chief (NWT)

More Links:

Indigenous Environmental Network: Tar Sands

The Drumbeat Continues

harper please meet with chief spence

The story of the Idle No More is far from over. Over the holiday season, when people are generally too busy celebrating with friends and family to pay attention to political or social movements (there’s a reason why Stephen Harper shut down Parliament not once but twice in December). However, Canada’s indigenous people have shown that they are not going to allow their treaty rights to be ignored, no matter what the season, and have kept up the momentum that started on December 10. The Idle No More movement calls for a new relationship based on mutual respect between Canada and its First People, and for the protection of the waters and the land. There have been round dances in shopping malls, marches blocking highways, and blockades of roads and railways across the country. Chief Theresa Spence is in her third week of fasting within sight of our House of Parliament, and has been joined by a handful of  elders across the country. All of these events have been peaceful but they show a steadfast determination on the part of First Nations to stop the deterioration of the treaties that Canada was founded on and to ensure there is clean water, clean air, and a stable climate for future generations.

I don’t think Stephen Harper, wily politician though he is, has any idea of the fire he has ignited. Although the embers of discontent with his dictatorial, non-parliamentary ways have been glowing for years, and his particularly abrasive brand of neoconservative, pro-corporate, anti-science and anti-consensus politics has been fanning them even more strongly since he was elected to a majority government in May 2011. One would think that any politician with the smarts to get himself elected Prime Minister of Canada would be savvy enough to realize that ignoring the request of a First Nations leader who feels strongly enough about the plight of her people to go without food, and settle in a tipi away from home and family over the Christmas season, makes him look churlish and uncaring. It would have been easy for Mr. Harper to stop by to see Chief Spence on Christmas Day, and offer her what she was asking for – the opportunity to have a conversation about the plight of her people with the leader of Canada. But Mr Harper chose not to do this. In fact on December 21st when tens of thousands of Canadians, Aboriginal and Nonaboriginal, were marching and drumming and dancing in protest of his government’s legislation, and Chief Spence was in her second week of fasting, our prime minister tweeted Mmm… bacon along with a link to a Simpsons video. Really, Mr. Harper? That tweet, while appropriate for an adolescent, is not fitting to one who is in the position of leading the nation. Mr. Harper has been very successful at the politics of divisiveness and confrontation, but has no tools to respond to a humble Aboriginal woman who is willing to suffer greatly, even unto death, to improve the lot of her people and protect the land. Harper’s dilemma is almost Biblical, during this season when Christians the world over celebrate the birth of a child born into the humblest of circumstances.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)

  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

The mainstream media has even started to take notice. An opinion piece in Macleans magazine written by Brigette De Pape, the Parliamentary Page who became Canada’s most famous protestor when she held up a “Stop Harper” sign in the House of Commons , wrote that Idle No More is a Christmas gift to all Canadians:

In the face of a Harper majority government, which was elected with a mere 39 per cent of the vote in 2011, we’ve been asking for an end to unjust policies, and a transformation of a broken system.

In the face of climate change that threatens the survival of humanity, coming to the public consciousness in the 1960s with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and then by the UN Commission in the 1970s, we’ve been searching for a solution to a path towards a clean future.

Since the beginning of consumer culture, we have been searching for some kind of meaning amid all the stuff.

Since the 15th century and the beginnings of colonization, we’ve been searching for a way to face our history, and to transform relations between settlers (non-Aboriginal people) and First Nations.

All the things we have been asking for have arrived at a shopping malls near us – in the form of the Idle No More movement.

Sylvia McAdam, one of the four Saskatchewan women who called for a National Day of Action on Bill C-45 that inspired the Idle No More movement, put it this way:

Bill C 45 is not just about a budget, it is a direct attack on First Nations lands and on the bodies of water w all share from across this country.”

First Nations from coast to coast are standing together and declaring “We are the land. We are the water. We will protect ourselves.” They are offering the descendants of settlers the opportunity to recognize our part in the colonization of this country and its indigenous people, and to build a new relationship of mutual respect for each other and the land. Perhaps the much-heralded end of the Mayan Calendar on December 21st 2012 wasn’t about the end of the world, but rather about the end of the world as we know it. The Idle No More movement offers all of us the incredible opportunity to be part of creating a brave and bright future for everyone.

while all canadians should support Idle No More*

More links:

The Anishinabe Legacy

Idle No More: A Drumbeat Is Heard Across The Nation

Image: Aaron Paquette
Image: Aaron Paquette

There are a lot of things I could write about on this crisp winter morning; NOAA’s updated 2012 Arctic Report Card, for example (hint: it ain’t lookin’ good) or the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut on Friday, or the (related) fact that American drones have killed nearly 200 innocent Pakistani children in the last few years. But I’m going to focus on a Canadian story that has been mainly overlooked in the mainstream media here at home – although Al Jazeera covered it last week, and some local media did a good job of reporting on it. On December 10, International Human Rights Day, the First Nations people of Canada took to the streets, to their MPs offices, and to Ottawa, to send a message to the government of Stephen Harper that they were “idle no more”.  The federal government’s sweeping omnibus budget bill C-45 bill, passed last week with little discussion in the House of Commons, is an insult to all Canadians who value clean air, clean water, and a stable climate but it is particularly insulting to First Nations people. As Dustin Hollings wrote at, addressing non-aboriginal Canadians:

“…the Harper Government is out to do a few really nasty things to all of us right now. There are a bunch of bills on the table but the basic timeline is shaping up like this… 1) Remove Environmental water protections acts. 2) Strip Aboriginal First Nations of Treaty rights (the final assimilation). “

18 year-old Ocean Morin, who organized the Idle No More rally in LaRonge, Saskatchewan that brought out hundreds of people, put it this way:

“As a child our parents, grandparents, elders and our leaders all said our children are the future, but I have a strong belief that if this bill is passed, there will not be much of a future for future generations to come.”

The Idle No More Manifesto is available on their website. I’ve reposted it in full here because it deserves to be read and shared widely. The First Nations are standing up for a sustainable future for ALL of our children.


We contend that:
The Treaties are nation to nation agreements between Canada and
First Nations who are sovereign nations. The Treaties are agreements that cannot be altered or broken by one side of the two Nations. The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreements meant that First Nations peoples would share the land, but retain their inherent rights to lands and resources. Instead, First Nations have experienced a history of colonization which has resulted in outstanding land claims, lack of resources and unequal funding for services such as education and housing.
We contend that:
Canada has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by using the land and resources. Canadian mining, logging, oil and fishing companies are the most powerful in the world due to land and resources. Some of the poorest First Nations communities (such as Attawapiskat) have mines or other developments on their land but do not get a share of the profit. The taking of resources has left many lands and waters poisoned – the animals and plants are dying in many areas in Canada. We cannot live without the land and water. We have laws older than this colonial government about how to live with the land.

We contend that:
Currently, this government is trying to pass many laws so that reserve lands can also be bought and sold by big companies to get profit from resources. They are promising to share this time…Why would these promises be different from past promises? We will be left with nothing but poisoned water, land and air. This is an attempt to take away sovereignty and the inherent right to land and resources from First Nations peoples.
We contend that:
There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well. We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them.
Please join us in creating this vision.

Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation is on her sixth day of a hunger strike to get Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives and Queen Elizabeth to meet with First Nations leaders, include First Nations in decision, and to observe and honor treaty rights.   Chief Spence has stated she is willing to die for her people and this cause.

Graphic: Nora Loreto
Graphic: Nora Loreto

We can all get involved in this awakening:

Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damage to the land and water. We must repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship, work towards justice in action, and protect Mother Earth.

Write letters to PM Harper, to your MP, to your local newspaper, talk to people, share this story on social media. Suggestions for supporting Chief Spence are listed above. You may not be able to do everything, but I know you can do something. If you want to attend the next IdleNoMore event, circle December 21st at noon (MST). Idle No More has put out a call to all singers and drummers from across Turtle Island (North America) to come together for a Global Synchronized Awakening. Everyone can join in (make sure you synchronize your time with noon MST); visit for details:

The heartbeat of the drum, the heartbeat of Mother Earth, is the heartbeat of the people.
Drums are the oldest living instruments on earth, and their vibration helps us tune into the natural frequency of the earth, connecting us to all that is through a shared heartbeat.
The drum combines animal and plant life to make an instrument that rings not only through the air, but across time. All the elements of Nature are used in the creation of the drum, representing the circle of life in all its aspects.
Our songs hold the stories of our past and the visions for our future.


Graphic: Dwayne Bird,
Graphic: Dwayne Bird,

Doha Climate Talks End With Canada Leading Race To The Bottom

Graphic: Sustainability The Musical
Graphic: Sustainability The Musical

So, COP18 in Doha has ended with a whimper not a bang – quelle surprise! Seems like greed is still trumping common sense, as well as compassion for both our children and the global poor. While Doha did win recognition for poorer nations for the “loss and damage from climate change” that they are suffering, and a promise of financial compensation from richer polluter countries, its “big” accomplishment was the extension of the Kyoto protocol. This is the same Kyoto protocol which has done nothing to keep the world from careening ever closer to the edge of climate disaster since it was signed in 1997.

Climate Action Network Canada members responded to the DOHA COP18 outcome as follows:

“I would like to know how leaders from countries like ours can be so indifferent to the looming reality of a world 4 degrees warmer than today. The science is clear, the solutions exist, the economy is thirsty for it, and the impacts of inaction are increasingly devastating – so where is the political will and leadership? Leaders let the world down again this year by coming to the table largely empty-handed on meaningful ways to close the growing gap between where they are and where they have promised to be to avoid 2 degrees of global warming. The Canadian Government was determined to lead the race to the bottom on the central issue of finance, insisting on holding out for at least 3 more years until they contribute to the Green Climate Fund. In Doha the critical path we need to be on is still alive in this process, but it needs leadership and political will to move forward and that is clearly missing here.”

– Hannah McKinnon, Campaigns Director, Climate Action Network Canada

“Bopha, Sandy, floods in Pakistan, droughts in China… How many reports from the likes of the World Bank, NASA and the International Energy Agency will it take? How many preventable catastrophes until our leaders realize that climate change will not be solved by nice speeches and empty promises? Countries like Canada and the U.S. have promised to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution and provide adequate financial support for developing countries, they have so far failed on both counts.”

– Steven Guilbeault, Deputy Director, Equiterre

“The package we got today in Doha won’t keep us on a secure pathway to prevent warming of more than two degrees. We have a very vague process that might lead to increased ambition but only if political will shifts. In recent years we have seen a serious lack of political will from countries like the US and Canada who have continually blocked the process. This crisis was created by wealthy big polluters like Canada and the U.S., and they need to step up and show leadership in solving it. Governments must stop working for the polluters, and start working for the people. In order to do this, Canada must stop reckless tar sands expansion and pipelines projects.”

– Patrick Bonin, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada

“World leaders have failed in their commitments at COP18, Canada most of all. Canada’s lack of ambition and commitment with these negotiations is rooted in the unsustainable expansion of the tar sands and the influence of dirty energy, dirty money and dirty politics. In spite of the cries of youth from around the world we are far behind keeping temperatures within the 2 °C limit. This will have serious implications in the most vulnerable parts of the world, where the people who are the least responsible for creating this crisis are experiencing, and will continue to experience, this devastating climate legacy.In terms of finance, Hurricane Sandy alone is set to cost $60 billion, the same amount being asked for in climate finance in Doha. If one storm costs that, its clearly nowhere near enough for the whole world.”

-Perla Hernandez, Canadian Youth Delegation, COP18

Despite demands from civil society both within and outside of the country for responsible action, the federal government had outraged us again both nationally and internationally by continuing to defend business as usual, and by blocking ambitious achievements at the global scale. We demand that the Canadian government put an end to this inaction and join provincial and local governments in taking a strong stand against locking us into infrastructure that fuels our dangerous addiction to tar sands and shale gas.”

– Aida Ahmadi, Climate and Energy Campaigner, AQLPA

“As the conference ends, I am very concerned about rules of conduct tightening for civil society participation. With more and more restrictions, the contribution to the process by environmental groups, and especially the youth, is seriously compromised.”

– Catherine Gauthier, ENvironnement JEUnesse Ambassador

100,000 km arctic ice melting

Fossils In Harper Government Recognized In Doha

Fossil-of-the-Day-405x332Yes, it’s the annual UN Climate negotiations, which means that it’s time for Canada to start receiving its Fossil awards.  This comes as no surprise to any Canadians who pay attention to what our current federal government is up to in Ottawa these days. It’s clear that they are dinosaurs in every sense of the word except DNA, and are intent on dragging our once proud and progressive nation back into the 20th Century.

Climate Action Network reports that Canada was singled out on climate finance in Doha with a first place Fossil Of The Day:

Canada was awarded the first place fossil of the day today in Qatar for Environment Minister Peter Kent’s dismissive approach to supporting climate action in poorer countries.

In media interviews yesterday, Minister Kent confirmed Canada’s intention not to contribute new funding in Doha to help poorer countries tackle climate change, saying that Doha “isn’t a pledging conference.”

In a letter to civil society groups, Minister Kent said that Canada does not support providing funding for emission reductions through the new Green Climate Fund – a fund that has been a major accomplishment of recent UN climate talks – until “a new agreement applicable to all…can be adopted by all parties.” Read full press release here.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, put it this way yesterday:

When it comes to progress on climate change negotiations, the best thing for Canada to do is to stay home and stop sabotaging the process, says the leader of the Green Party.

“Canada continues to be a country that pushes other countries to do less. Our role is not just an embarrassment, it’s reckless and brings our once good national reputation into disrepute,” argued Elizabeth May at a news conference in Ottawa today.”

Read the full Huff Po article: Greens Leader Accuses Tories of Sabotaging Climate Talks.


explain to future generations it was good for the economy

Health Warning Attached To Rio+20 Text: If You Care For The Future Of This Planet, This Document Will Make You Sick

Here in Canada, it’s hard to tell that there is even an Earth Summit happening in Rio De Janeiro at all. A quick scan of the major papers, from one coast to the other, and there is hardly a mention that most world leaders, minus our own prime minister and some other heavy hitters, are meeting in a historic conference.I guess Canadians, led by our current federal government, have decided to give a sustainable planet a miss this time round. Maybe in another twenty years, when global climate destabilization has made our lives (and our children’s lives) a whole lot more uncomfortable, and clean water and clean air are a rare commodity, we’ll pay more attention.

In the meantime, the text from Rio+20 has been released. And it ain’t pretty. Here’s some coverage of it from other parts of the world:

George Monbiot, in The Guardian, writes that “Rio+20 draft text is 283 paragraphs of fluff”:

The declaration is remarkable for its absence of figures, dates and targets. It is as stuffed with meaningless platitudes as an advertisement for payday loans, but without the necessary menace. There is nothing to work with here, no programme, no sense of urgency or call for concrete action beyond the inadequate measures already agreed in previous flaccid declarations. Its tone and contents would be better suited to a retirement homily than a response to a complex of escalating global crises.The draft and probably final declaration is 283 paragraphs of fluff. It suggests that the 190 governments due to approve it have, in effect, given up on multilateralism, given up on the world and given up on us. So what do we do now? That is the topic I intend to address in my column next week.

The Rio+20 conference is remarkably listless; the energy of 1992 has bled into a formulaic bureaucracy-fest. The text negotiators have agreed to punts on virtually every major issue (one analysis showed that governments agreed to “encourage” and “support” actions 148 times, but only on three issues summoned the courage to say “we will” actually do something).

But it came spontaneously alive for a few hours this afternoon, when a youth-led demonstration turned into an Occupy-style sit-down that in turn agreed to a mass walkout. We’ve just marched out the front doors of this sprawling complex, 130 strong, surrounded by as many cameras and tape recorders.

The youth-led demonstration violated all the U.N. rules — security squads surrounded us at the first sound of controversy, announcing that our gathering was “unsanctioned” and if we didn’t stop immediately we’d lose our accreditation. People discussed the threat through the human mic for a few minutes, and then decided it wasn’t a threat at all — in fact, we were eager to surrender our badges, because then we wouldn’t be part of what had turned into a sham.

Adam Vaughn is blogging for The Guardian from Rio, and does a good summary of reactions to the text: check out his Rio+20 Final Day Live Blog

Canada’s Environment Minister Doesn’t Know What Ozone Is, But Approves Cuts To Ozone Monitoring

Unfortunately, this is the fellow in charge of preserving Canada’s water, air, and climate for future generations. The video below shows Environment Minister Peter Kent can’t respond to Justin Trudeau’s straightforward question about what ozone is, and the difference between ozone at high and low levels of the atmosphere. This is the same Environment Minister who just cut funding to Canada’s important ozone monitoring network, as Graham Saunders just explained (see Solving The Big Environmental Calamities Requires Measuring, Research, Monitoring). Shameful.


More links:

Kent Sidesteps Science Question on Ozone

Senior Bureaucrat Cast Doubt About Ozone Monitoring Cuts

Canada Cuts Environment Spending: Stephen Harper’s Government Is Cutting Budgets For Climate, Conservation, and Ozone Monitoring Projects

Climate News: Carbon Pricing in Australia And Oil Orgies In Britain

Yesterday Australia took a huge step toward a clean energy economy and tackling climate change. The Australian House of Representatives passed the Government’s package of 19 bills setting up a carbon pricing scheme from July 1, 2012 by a vote of 74 to 72. Now that’s cause for celebration!


Meanwhile, some governments, including our own, haven’t connected the dots between acting on climate change and economic prosperity. Across the pond, UK Climate activists crashed a love-in between the UK & Canadian governments and the fossil fuel industry:

Protesters interrupted the Canada-Europe Energy Round table in London yesterday, to expose the UK government’s opposition to the European legislation that would label tar sands oil as highly polluting. The campaigners stripped down to Union Jack boxers and maple leaf underwear and covered each other with oil while kissing and groping in a provocative ‘oil orgy’.

We interrupted the Energy Round table today because the UK and Canadian governments’ flirtations are developing into friends with benefits. This seedy relationship puts profits for the oil industry and banks ahead of much needed legislation which will curb emissions from transport fuel in Europe,” said UK Tar Sands Network campaigner Emily Coats.


Since PM Cameron’s visit to Canada last month, the UK government has been echoing the position of the Canadian government that the EU is ‘unfairly discriminating’ against the Canadian tar sands. Contrary to Canada’s claims that the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) will discriminate against the tar sands, the current FQD proposal also includes values for other unconventional oil feed stocks, such as shale oil .

 “The UK government is supporting sleazy Canadian lobbying efforts and today’s  Energy summit shows just how intimate they have become to promote the tar  sands industry,” said climate campaigner Peter Templeton.

Despite extensive lobbying by the Canadian government over the last year, last  Tuesday the European Commission announced its recommendation that tar  sands fuel should be assigned an accurate value in order to account for the  higher emissions caused by tar sands extraction.

A Canadian government body proved that tar sands extraction is very filthy, yet  the Harper government is increasing extraction of bitumen without full scientific  knowledge of the impacts on the local environment and the global climate,” said  Coats.

In the upcoming weeks the UK will continue to receive Canadian officials as Canada attempts to secure the UK as an ally to stall the FQD directive, which has already received extensive support from the EU commission. The controversial UK government support for the Canadian tar sands industry has received disapproval and outrage from UK climate activists, which shall escalate as the relationship deepens.

For more, go to Act For Climate Justice