Hooray for protecting wild nature: it’s not enough
December 13, 2022
With the big biodiversity Convention meeting in Montreal the federal and provincial governments have given us some great news about the Canada and BC plan to protect 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030, and 25 percent in just the next three years. Large parts of this new conservation effort will be done in collaboration with First Nations, through Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas.
Candace Batycki from Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (YtoY) is celebrating. She says “It comes at a critical time and represents a forward-thinking and large landscape scale approach to addressing some of the toughest environmental, social and economic concerns of our lives.”
The Valhalla Wilderness Society’s Craig Pettit was on the show last week talking about their proposals to protect vital connectivity corridors here in the interior. Although the province has cold-shouldered their proposals for over a decade, they may now get another look.
New Premier David Eby has given a significant mandate letter to the new Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship Nathan Cullen. It says in part:
“…ensure our province enjoys the best of economic development while conserving wild spaces. Indigenous partners in this critical work can bring their expertise, knowledge, and priorities to the table to ensure this effort lasts for generations.”
I join in applauding this progress, but I have to add a grain of sour salt. Sorry for sounding greedy, but I think we need more. This commitment is NOT enough in our present crisis. The biodiversity AND climate crises, cumulative as they are, demand even greater action and change.
My cynical side notes that the BC NDP desperately needs a big win on the environment after dashing the hopes of thousands of members by kicking Anjali Appadurai out of the leadership campaign.
They are counting on this announcement but BC’s key problems remain, and they remain right there in Eby’s mandate: “the best of economic development” which I read as business-as-usual.
This government is continuing the Site C Dam debacle, continuing to promote and subsidize our gas fracking carbon bomb and still failing to protect crucial ancient forests. These all have devastating environmental impacts with consequences for BC and the entire planet.
The hard truth is that protecting parts of beautiful nature is candy coating on a poisonous business-as-usual pill.
The hard truth is that BC needs to envision and build a dramatic new plan for our economy and our relationship with the natural world.
The hard truth is we have to demand far less from the planet, from our ecosystems. We do actually have to move into a sustainable balance with nature. Urgently.
We have glimmers of people making it happen everywhere. It’s in farmers markets, in local regenerative agriculture, it’s in electric bikes and cars, in forestry co-ops and local wood manufacture. Saving wild salmon and sustainable fish harvesting. Our local organic dairy. People are eager to adopt life-sustaining economies. We deeply understand we have to take far less and give far more back.
We can celebrate this step forward protecting so much more of our natural world around us. And at the same time, we know its not enough and we are eager to change more.
Keith Wiley, Nelson BC.
Not one tree saved yet, BC’s talk and log continues
By Keith Wiley, Nov. 9 2021
You may have heard on the news in the past week that the BC government has DEFERRED logging on a lot of old growth trees in the province. The truth is that in the near future, maybe even for years, they haven’t stopped the logging of one single tree.
The talk and log scheme the BC government has announced on forestry and old growth is added proof they are ready to preside over the annihilation of the last of BC’s primary and ancient forests.
The government has responded to the crisis of the war in the woods with new forestry legislation and another old growth forests negotiation announcement. But no immediate stop in logging.
It’s a great public relations play to quiet down the crisis and suggest the forests are being taken care of.
It even got the headlines the government was aiming for, the Globe and Mail for example put in big type: “B.C. makes big commitment to save old-growth trees from further logging”
But the truth is the big commitment really was to more talking, to Talk And Log.
Back in 2020, a year and a half ago, the original Old Growth Strategic Review Panel called for the opposite of that: Stop Logging and then talk. They recommended an IMMEDIATE deferral of all old growth logging.
Instead, here is the very first line of the government’s November 2 announcement:
“The Province has announced its intention to work in partnership with First Nations to defer harvest of ancient, rare and priority large stands of old growth within 2.6 million hectares of B.C.’s most at-risk old-growth forests.”
In other words it’s a plan to talk, and later defer old growth logging WITHIN 2.6 million hectares, not stop logging of 2.6 million hectares. The weasel words are important, it’s not even a promise to protect the entire 2.6 million hectares, although that’s what reports say it is.
And in the meantime, there’s lots of talking. Forest Minister Katrine Conroy said:
“We have to make sure we do this right not only for the forests.. but we have to do this for the indigenous nations to make sure they are partners in this… for the communities that could be losing jobs… The last thing I want to do is do this quickly and not have it done properly.”
In the meantime, logging continues.
In an interesting twist, while the government says it is going to take time to ‘do things right’ it is giving First Nations just 30 days to decide if they support the plan or how they want to engage in consultations on it.
The First Nations Leadership Council was highly critical of being tossed what they call “the hot potato” of forest planning.
In their release, Robert Phillips, of the First Nations Summit Political Executive said: “The 30-day window identified by the Province for Nations to come forward with their response on deferrals is inadequate, and places extreme pressure on Nations already struggling with capacity issues and competing priorities.” He added: ‘Although the Province announced it is addressing old growth ‘in partnership with Indigenous Nations’ it does not feel that way right now.
Minister Katrine Conroy has promised to immediately stop new BC Timber Sales in ‘the affected areas’ which biologist Rachel Holt points out is a good thing.
In a recent CBC interview she said: “The BC Timber Sales piece is important and insufficient… it would be better if they were not moving ahead [with logging] in areas that are already sold…. We need to move the whole package forward in order to have any substantive impact.”
In other words logging of old growth continues. And as Rachel Holt points out: “You can only log a tree once, the idea is to stop important areas from being harvested in the short term… you can always harvest a tree, but you can’t put it back up when it’s been harvested.”
The announcement on old-growth logging was the second shoe to drop in the BC government’s logging ‘issues management’. The first came back in October with the introduction of amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act. The government is planning an eight to ten-year period of talk and consultations before those changes come into effect.
In the meantime logging continues.
The government received its crucial Old Growth logging report in early 2020, didn’t release it until just before the election in the fall of 2020. Now, over a year and half later they are announcing not the immediate action the report called for but more consultations.
This past June the government put Rachel Holt on a new technical panel on old growth. Rachel Holt and colleagues had earlier given the government detailed maps and data on vulnerable old growth. This new technical group, now with Rachel Holt’s work in the mix, showed another 2.6 million hectares needing protection.
Stand.Earth’s Tegan Hansen said in a statement: “We applaud the work of the technical panel that has provided the public and government with a clear roadmap for old growth protection. But, the expected and needed response from the government is not another plan to implement deferrals in the future – it’s action right now.”
Rachel Holt welcomed the new announcement, but was also critical of the time lines. In the CBC interview she said:
“It would certainly would have been nice today if there had actually been areas that were in fact deferred from harvest. The whole point of deferrals is to prevent talk and log from happening and we’re still in that mode as of today.”
In Fairy Creek, and many other forests around the province, the ancient trees continue to be mowed down. Our forests and forest industry are in a circling-the-drain crisis of rapidly diminishing resources and habitat. The real problems of sustainability and healthy ecosystems have been pushed on to the future for too long, and people in BC recognize it cannot continue.
But the BC NDP government is playing a balancing act of protecting forestry profits, and jobs, and compromise and keeping everyone as happy as possible. It is continuing the old pattern of business-as-usual, tinkering around the edges, and let the future, now the very near future, suffer the consequences.
I will put links to much more information on the forestry crisis, including a link to the full CBC interview with Rachel Holt, on our website: TheEcoCentricRadioShow.ca
Climate emergency strikes hard with heat dome records and disaster
By Keith Wiley. July 6, 2021.
Well, that’s just great. Lytton BC, by getting incinerated, made the global climate headlines.
And it wasn’t just the fire, it was truly the record temperatures far higher than ever before.
We know how temperature records are broken, by a degree or less usually. But not Lytton.
Lytton holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada with a record high of 49.6 °C on June 29th 2021, which was set during the 2021 western North America heat wave, after having already broken records twice during the previous days of that heat wave. This is the world’s highest temperature ever recorded north of 45°N latitude, the highest temperature ever in the U.S. or Canada recorded outside four US states of the desert southwest, and higher than the record high temperatures ever recorded for Europe or South America.
Before the 2021 heat wave occurred, Lytton, along with Lillooet, already had the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada. On July 16 and 17, 1941, the temperature reached a then-record 44.4 °C. But 49.6 °C is more than 5 degrees higher.
In old-fashioned fahrenheit the record jumped from 111.9 °F to nearly 10 degrees higher 121.3 °F.
There can be no doubt that Lytton has become an historic marker of the climate crisis. In fact the whole heat dome phenomenon is marked by scientists world-wide as the most extreme climate crisis warning signal.
Meteorologist Bob Henson and former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hurricane scientist Jeff Masters wrote in Yale Climate Connections:
“Never in the century-plus history of world weather observation have so many all-time heat records fallen by such a large margin than in the past week’s historic heatwave in western North America”.
Henson and Masters called Lytton the “poster community” of the “horrific” heatwave.
Weather historian Christopher Burt said “this is the most anomalous regional extreme heat event to occur anywhere on Earth since temperature records began.”
“Nothing can compare,” he said.
55 U.S. weather stations had the highest temperatures in their history in the week ending June 28,” More than 400 daily record highs were set.
Weather is highly variable and we all have seen records fall before, but when so many records are swept away, it is clear, even our oh-so cautious climate scientists are saying: this is a climate crisis.
And all this is tragic in its impact.
The BC Coroners Service reported 719 sudden deaths in the past week, triple the number that would normally occur in the province. Some 500 people, most of them vulnerable elders living without air conditioning could have died from the heat.
Chris Harley, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia, now estimates that last week’s record-breaking heat wave in B.C. may have killed more than one billion seashore animals, mussels, sea stars and more, living along the Salish Sea coastline.
Local Kootenay scientist Greg Uitzig says without a lot of rain fast, many trees will be killed by drought and the extreme drying effect of the oven-like heat. Not just trees, but many plants and animals will be affected and hurt by this.
We are living in a movie-like disaster… happening around us as we watch.
I can only hope that this is a final wake up… Houston…. we have a problem… a giant global catastrophic problem. And we are going to have to move fast to prevent it getting far worse.
Last week’s election in the US was a pretty scary thing for Canadians and for the world.
by Keith Wiley, Nov 20 2020
The prospect of a majority of American white people re-electing a racist, sexist, lying megalomanic was pretty disturbing. And they nearly did. Some of the best commentary on this points out the deep white supremacy that underpins that vote. The other factor is that years of neoliberal government had impoverished and bankrupted middle class Americans and gave the corporate rich everything. Desperation in America.
No one thinks a Biden presidency is really going to change any of that much.
But one hopeful change is Biden’s commitment to actually agree there is a climate crisis and take steps to reduce emissions… and rejoin the Paris Climate accord.
In an historical quirk, the US formally ended its commitment to the Paris deal on November 4th, the day AFTER the election… as the former president gave notice a year earlier. With any luck, US absence from the deal will be fixed early next year.
Former Liberal environment Minister Catherine McKenna says “It will make a big difference to have the US back in the #ParisAgreement, joining Canada and like minded countries pushing hard for ambitious climate action.”
We can hope.
Another factor is Biden’s commitment to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, which he can do with executive order and without the need for Senate approval. It seems likely he will stop that pipeline.
Canada and Alberta will fight hard against it of course, because we believe we can increase production of the dirty bitumen from the tar sands AND fight climate change.
That Liberal logic still baffles. By increasing emissions we can reduce emissions. That’s how we explain we are building pipelines.
This baffling petrostate thinking is pretty rock solid in our governments’ plans.
A new policy group based at the University of Ottawa outlines this pretty clearly in a report on its research on Canadians’ malleable attitudes on oil and climate. The group is called Positive Energy and its advisors come from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, other oil patch executives and – interestingly – the head of the BC Oil and Gas Commission.
The conclusion of their peek into the opinions of Canadians is this: “Canadians are generally optimistic that Canada can align climate action with oil and gas development.”
Decrease and increase emissions. But as we shall hear on today’s show, it can’t be done. Senior geologist J.DAvid Hughes has publicshed a new study that makes it clear expanding the tar sands makes it impossible for Canada to meet its Paris Targets.
And we know that in BC, building the LNG plant makes it impossible for BC to meet our emission reduction targets.
But as long as they can convince Canadians we can have our cake and eat it too, as gritty as that damn bitumen is, they are going to give it a go.
That’s what the great minds at Positive Energy think. They are on the project, as they say: “ building a multi-generational, pan-Canadian coalition” that supports growing emissions and magic fighting of the climate crisis.
How did we end up here? We started with the good news of the Biden victory and ended up, again, at Canada’s petrostate conundrum. This one is really NOT Biden’s fault.
Difficult decisions seem to be pretty much impossible in Canadian politics.
It’s fascinating how CBC Radio and News are doing a great job of covering the revolt against police fascist racism.
The best insight on how it affects Canada was one I heard on Michael Enright’s Sunday Edition. McGill University History Prof, Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey commented on how Canadians love to watch violent racism in the U.S. and feel so much better about ourselves. He explained it really works for the Canadian elites to show off “the Canadian dream”.
And the historian says it is a dream… an illusion created in part as he says “By pointing to the plank in your neighbour’s eye…”
He talked about the devastating riots in Detroit in 1967 and how Canadians in Windsor would stroll the banks of the river to ogle the burning of the city across the way. He compared it to white southerners having a picnic at a lynching.
We even have provincial premiers saying… no problems here…. that’s the dream alright.
Canadian governments really play this game… and the CBC collaborates, with all kinds of coverage of the American uprising… and police violence… and clips of Canadian police officers “taking a knee” and even the Prime Minister kneeling for nine minutes.
But still, CBC radio coverage has been quite good. Eleanor Wachtel, on her popular high brow literary show, had on poet Jericho Brown, winner of the Pulitizer Prize for poetry. He was extremely powerful, speaking from his experience as a gay, black American poet.
Even the CBC Vancouver Saturday afternoon jazz show, Hot Air, featured one of The Sojourners… Kharie Wendel McLelland…. about how black artists respond to injustice through music. They played some amazing music including Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddam, extremely potent and sadly relevant.
The power of the American police state, as the poet Jericho Brown explained, is immense. It imposes a widespread fear and compliance in Afro Americans. It is not policing official policy or rules… it is police culture. A culture of force and fear. It works very well at maintaining a desperate black underclass. It is supported by the “war on drugs” which has clearly been shown to be a war of suppression of black resistance.
Police culture does not stop at the border, and we have many examples in the last week of brutal police force used against black Canadians and aboriginal people. The rates of imprisonment of black Canadians are higher than white Canadians, and its far worse yet for indigenous people.
One of the most interesting aspects of some of the civil disobedience training I have been involved with is the need to always pay attention to violent police tactics with racialized protestors, particularly indigenous protestors. A white lady might be politely escorted away, a First Nations woman… slammed to the ground.
And police culture is stubbornly resistant to change. The RCMP has been severely criticized by watchdogs and the public for many years. But change is glacial. The civilian complaints commission can’t even get responses from the RCMP leadership on complaints about RCMP violence and excess.
It’s a hopeful sign that the massive uprising is now demanding a “dismantling” of police forces. Far more concrete and specific than “equal treatment for all,” this demand gives a sense of potential for real change.
Imagine eliminating the police as the weapon of the state against its own people.
Minneapolis city councillors say they’ll do it. And the demand is coming up in Canadian cities, like Montreal, too.
So now, dismantling policing as we know it is a real discussion. We are asking if Canadian police can handle peaceful protest, should it be with tear gas and pepper spray? Maybe that’s not acceptable. Snipers in the woods with rifles trained on aboriginal activists peacefully protesting fossil fuel infrastructure? That for sure is beyond the pale.
But that is what’s done.
Canada is NOT so different from America… much as we love to believe we’re completely better, we’re not.
Hurrying up to fight the
climate emergency, uh, really?
EcoCentric Editorial by Keith Wiley, Dec. 3, 2019
You may have noticed that, overall, I’m getting impatient with zero action on climate change…at least zero action with the immediate effect that’s called for.
You might be getting a little antsy about this too.
It actually IS a climate emergency. It’s not just a slogan…. The world is in emergency…
I happen to think that every kilo of carbon dioxide that we keep out of the atmosphere, makes the future of the world better.
And because I read about the science, I realize that every day sooner that we cut that kilo of emissions, the better.
A kilo of CO2 today is worth 50 kilos in 50 years.
That’s right every kilo more, every day sooner… improves the world tomorrow.
Clearly, I get why each kilo saved is some kind of heat unit saved. But why sooner?
Well, for one reason, I’ve been in BC long enough to know that ‘talk and log’ is a thing.
The longer you negotiate, while logging, the more hectares you can massacre.
It’s sort of the same with cutting emissions, the longer you put it off, the more you profit.
Talk and log. And the worse our future looks.
You see it today… in the amazing prevalence of making a plan to reduce emissions. But the first step of course is to make a plan on how you’re going to make a plan.
And then if that gets sidetracked… somehow… I don’t know how… it IS an emergency… if somehow that plan isn’t ready to be implemented before long a new cycle starts, from scratch, on a new plan.
We are collectively procrastinating on saving our planet! Can you believe it?
That’s why there are good reasons for more action and more political action now. That’s why things like a full Citizens Assembly are a good idea.
We we are making a start with an Action Event on the idea of the GREEN NEW DEAL. We’re getting together this Thursday, December 5th and voting on planks in a Green New Deal ACT NOW statement.
We have 18 action items to choose from. It runs across many areas, like: Eliminate huge economic inequality. Higher taxes on the wealthy. Tax large Inheritances. Universal basic income. And of course there are others on Keep it in the Ground, the theme of eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and reducing production.
Once the meeting selects the top priorities for the ACT NOW Statement we will be using it to lobby governments to actually get started and stop the planning to plan procrastination cycle.
Here’s what people decided on December 5, 2019
Green New Deal
December 5, 2019
1. Uphold Indigenous Rights
Fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, recognition of Indigenous title and rights. Implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
2. Keep it in the Ground
Freeze construction and/or approval of all new fossil fuel extraction and transportation projects. Stop ALL fossil fuel subsidies from federal or provincial governments.
3. Protect Biodiversity and Nature
Enact laws that grant personhood protections to our forests and bodies of water, and create an environmental bill of rights, stop the dumping of waste into bodies of water, enshrine the right of all people to clean air, clean water, healthy food, and a safe environment, protect at least 30 percent of land and waters by 2030.
4. Massive investment in green energy, transit and housing.
Ensure sustainable, financially and physically accessible public transportation for everyone. Make massive investments in infrastructure to build a 100% renewable economy including food justice, public transportation and public housing. Use free public education to make change, teach simple living and outdoor enjoyment. Retrain workers in unsustainable industries including oil and gas.
5. Real emissions reduction targets that will keep warming below 1.5 Cº
Legally binding GHG reduction targets with specific actions, time lines and metrics used to monitor progress.
6. Carbon Tax and Cut military spending
Substantially increase the carbon tax/carbon price using a fee and dividend model, much like the Federal plan, with 10% going to green infrastructure upgrades. Cut military spending and waste. Warfare is extremely energy intensive and polluting, and cannot be exempt from climate change treaties.
7. Wealth Redistribution and Limit corporate power
Eliminate huge economic inequality. Higher taxes on the wealthy. Tax large Inheritances. Universal basic income. Curb corporate power, expand democratic power with proportional representation. Use taxation to check corporate wealth and power, close tax loopholes, limit and regulate lobbying.
Don’t politicians get it?
Unpacking the political paralysis in our country
EcoCentric Editorial by Keith Wiley Feb. 5, 2019
Monday, February 4th, I was in front of our MLA Michelle Mungall’s office with a bunch of people determined to stop the LNG and RCMP attack on Wet’suwet’en territory.
One young woman inside the office, bike-locked herself to the MLA office front door.
They are putting on lots of pressure.
Many other folks, particularly young folks, ask me why the government is doing these things. Why aren’t they moving faster to deal with the climate crisis and begin respectful relationships with First Nations.
Don’t they get it? they ask.
What part of climate crisis don’t they understand? What’s wrong with our prime minister and all our leaders? They talk about reconciliation but now when things get serious…. they arrest First Nations land defenders.
Are they stupid or just selfish?
How can they continue to push multi-billion dollar projects that increase fossil fuel emissions when all the evidence says it’s the wrong way to go?
I admit it’s baffling that our governments, the sunny-ways Trudeau government… and the NDP governments in Alberta and BC… push pipelines, LNG and bitumen, and over the objections of First Nations.
But I can explain the political dynamic that creates these contradictions.
It begins with the giant popularity contest that comes up every four years or so… you know the one, we call it a democratic election.
But it’s not really so democractic.. democracy would mean choosing the people who clearly tell you about the plan they want for your country or province and then implement it if they get elected.
But that doesn’t seem to be the way it works here. Governments who face issues like climate change or environmental collapse or even the mining of our forests, need to make hard decisions to do the right thing. But hard decisions often mean painful changes for voters. For example, raising carbon taxes effectively high, would cost most households. Eliminating fossil-fueled vehicles would make transportation slower and more difficult… at least in the short run.
Makng forestry sustainable… and ending the carnage and raw log exports… would reduce jobs in forestry. In the medium and longer term, it assures an ongoing resource… but between now and the next election, it likely would mean fewer jobs in forestry.
That’s not popular with voters. That’s why NDP strategists say…. if we get too environmental, people will have to face real changes… and they’ll hate us and vote us out. If the liberals or conservatives get in, things will get much worse not better. So let’s go easy, we can’t go faster than the people can take.
It’s hard to disagree with that.
The wing of the NDP that wins the elections is the pragmatic politics group who put together the careful, focus-grouped campaigns to win the big popularity contest. They don’t want to move fast, and make their voters uncomfortable.
Be realistic, they say.
(This by the way is the reason many veterans in the NDP hate movements like The Leap Manifesto, it’s unrealistic and, they say, will result in right-wing governments.)
And they know at election time most of us will be bullied into voting for them anyway, or else the much worse guys will get in. Activists are the ones who distrust the big business parties the most… and we are easily convinced we have to vote NDP to avoid worse.
But more and more of us say it is completely unrealistic to fail to tackle the big problems that are already causing huge economic disruption and misery.
Being realistic to me means making major changes to avoid catastrophe.
I don’t think our politicians are stupid or incompetent. I don’t think they are evil or even really corrupt for personal gain. They are well-meaning people locked in a flawed political system.
Politically we are structurally screwed. Paralyzed by the way the system works.
Keeping up the real pressure with protest and brave and determined actions does make politicians nervous… but really only because it will – after much effort – hurt their chances in the big contest.
As politicians often say, there is only one poll that counts… and it only happens every four years or so.
I don’t like to demonize politicians like Michelle Mungall. At the same time she must be held to account when she repeats the careful messages of her party and her government and refuses to change a disastrous course.
The only real argument that will really move a politician – like Michelle Mungall – is a refusal to vote for them again.
January 15, 2019
In the environmental movement we often say that the world has to change and we cannot go on with business-as-usual.
This past week up on Wet’suwet’en Territory – where land defenders were on the planned route of the Coastal GasLink pipeline – it actually turned out to be colonization-as-usual. On Monday, January 7th the RCMP tactical squad arrived, complete with military-mode machine gun soldiers, and threatened to rip defenders off their barricade and break their arms. They then wrestled to the ground and pinned several people, arrested 14 and carted them away from their Territory to jail in Prince George.
Many great videos with testimonies of what actually happened in the attack have circulated on social media.
Last Tuesday, January 8th, there were rallies protesting the RCMP attack and supporting Wet’suwet’en sovereignty right across Canada, in over 50 communities.
In Vancouver activists blocked the road to the Port of Vancouver. In Toronto they held a round dance and blockaded a major freeway. Mohawk activists blocked one Ontario highway and went in a caravan to massively disrupt traffic on Canada’s biggest freeway, the 401.
This widespread and loud protest all across the country was NOT reported well in the national news media.
The Nelson Star, to their credit, put a picture on the front page. The rally started in front of the office Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, our MLA, MIchelle Mungall. They marched the full length of Baker St. Winding up in front of Nelson City Hall, they sang: What are you going to tell your grandchildren? When they ask you… what have you done?
A second protest took place the following day when nearly 50 more people met in front of the MLA Office and also rallied up and down Baker St. And a drum circle followed up on Saturday at Hume School.
In Seattle Extinction Rebellion protestors blocked an important intersection and several were arrested and at least one seriously injured by Seattle police. They also were supporting the Wet’suwet’en.
If you do just a bit of research you discover that the hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs – who actually have authority over the land that the pipline crosses – have NEVER agreed. Although government sanctioned band chiefs did sign deals… the Wet’suwet’en nation never approved any deal. The Wet’suwet’en have always maintained their traditional, and representative, governance system. They have had an unbroken government for many, many generations before Canada was ever conceived of. They have no treaty. The Supreme Court has acknowledged it is completely unceded territory. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples applies: no pipeline can be legally built without their previous, free and informed consent.
But police with machine guns… continued with colonization as usual in BC last week.
As you likely know, the Wet’suwet’en chiefs compromised to protect the safety of their valiant activists from police violence. They have allowed gas company surveryors in. But they have stridently been clear: there still is no agreement for a gas pipeline.
What does colonization-as-usual look like in BC these days? Premier John Horgan says it’s up to the courts and police… Prime Minster Trudeau says he’s still strongly working for reconciliation and even NDP Leader Jagmeet Sing said: “I’ve already mentioned my support for this project, given they’ve done consultation in a very meaningful way, broadly speaking.”
That’s the same Jagmeet Singh who was on this program just back in December talking about how reducing fossil fuel emissions is a planetary necessity. Just like Horgan and Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh put himself on the wrong side of history.
Elizabeth May in contrast, did not play politics with the issue, but stood clearly and strongly with the Wet’suwet’en.
When BC buys into LNG, it’s NOT really serious about climate change
Keith Wiley, Nelson, BC
November 20, 2018
In about two weeks, the BC government is going to release it’s new climate change plan… the plan for meeting greenhouse gas emission targets.
Most environmentalists are wondering what kind of window dressing the NDP government is going to come up with. How are they going to cosmetically cover the fact that the development and export of LNG, liquid natural gas, will increase emissions dramatically in the province?
The NDP has never really questioned the development of the LNG export plan. During the last election when I asked candidate Michelle Mungall about LNG she said, correctly, that LNG wasn’t feasible, the market prices couldn’t support it. Don’t worry, she said, it’s not happening.
But just over a year into their mandate the government proudly announced the plan to construct a $40 billion project in Kitimat, one of the largest capital projects in Canada.
Last weekend in Nelson Mungall, who is now our Energy, Mining and Petroleum Resources minister said Canada has to help China reduce it’s dependence on coal burning power plants. She was using the same argument for exporting LNG, that it is a greener replacement for coal in China, that former Premier Christie Clarke used all the time.
Natural gas power plants ARE cleaner than coal plants. But the lower emissions are less when the gas comes from fracking operations, and is pumped thousands of kilometres in pipelines, and then liquified in huge plants that use tremendous amounts of energy, then freighted across the Pacific. Then when you add in the fugitive methane emissions all along that half-the world supply chain, the advantage of gas is just about completely burned up.
Because natural gas, methane, has a greenhouse effect something like 80 times worse than carbon dioxide in the short term of 20 years, the advantage it has over coal is really overstated.
Vancouver researcher and journalist Barry Saxifrage recently published an analysis of how LNG emissions would fit into a BC climate plan. Writing at the NationalObserver.com Saxifrage says: “Often the scale of emissions is put into context by tallying the number of cars that would need to be taken off the road to offset a project’s climate pollution. In the case of LNG Canada, [the approved Kitimat plant] the number would be … all of them. To offset the projected 9 MtCO2 from LNG Canada, British Columbians would need to stop driving every single fossil fuelled passenger car, SUV and truck in the province and replace them with new electric vehicles. ….Even so, that effort would only prevent provincial emissions from rising. The required 40 per cent cut in B.C. emissions in the next decade would need to come from other huge cuts.”
That might be the promise the BC government comes out with in its new climate plan… an electric vehicle for everyone… but it’s a pretty rich promise. And given that they have already reduced the royalty rates for natural gas so much that we’re practically giving the resource away, it really wouldn’t pay for itself.
Saxifrage produces great charts to illustrate the numbers…. one shows that if two LNG plants get built and continue to run until 2050 they would blow away BC’s emissions target all by themselves.
The fact is no amount of smoke and mirrors will work to disguise the fact that BC will NOT be meeting climate targets if it allows LNG projects to go ahead.
The BC NDP, just like the Alberta NDP, and the federal Liberals are all pretending that they can fight climate change and expand fossil fuel production.
The science says that is impossible. Common sense says it is wrongheaded. When you are in a deep hole, don’t keep on digging.
Prominent authors Andrew Nikiforuk and Kevin Taft would both say it is a powerful example of how completely Canada is a petrostate, a captive of the fossil fuel industry.
After this editorial was produced two news stories came to my attention:
This one from the Globe and Mail also points out that LNG violates any emissions targets… AND the possibility that the government will use electric liquification to reduce emissions.
Hopes for B.C. LNG industry dimmed by climate plan
And the BC government IS promising ELECTRIC cars… but not until 2040… far too little too late.
Every new car sold in 2040 will be zero-emission, B.C. government says
Kinder Morgan pipeline round up
Lots of activity on all fronts this week.
May 1 2018
The conflict over the Kinder Morgan bitumen pipeline project continued to dominate headlines this week. At the blockade protest site on Burnaby Mountain something like one hundred faith leaders arrived on Saturday to show support and several presented themselves and were arrested. The protecttheinlet.ca campaign on the Mountain has been going steadily since the recent mobilization began March 10th. Over 200 have been arrested so far and there are new arrests regularly.
The BC government filed a case with the Federal Court of Appeal to rule whether BC has constitutional jurisdiction over the transport of bitumen in the province. The case does NOT include tanker traffic apparently.
Kinder Morgan said it was pausing on its pipeline preparations until there is more certainly on the legal questions and public turmoil over the pipeline. They demanded certainty by the end of the month of May. But the BC case, and the many legal challenges from First Nations and others will never be settled by the end of the month, as BC Justice Minister David Eby has pointed out.
In fact, the Tsleil Waututh legal challenge of the pipeline approval held its court hearings months ago and is waiting on a decision.
But in the past week, the National Observer, a progressive online news site, produced statements from civil servants that even as the federal government was doing its last round of ‘consultations’ with First Nations on the pipeline, it was telling senior officials to prepare the rational for approving it. This suggested the consultations by the federal government were never in good faith. The Tsleil Waututh lawyer has approached the ruling judges with this new evidence and another round of legal talks on it has already started.
The federal environment minister Catherine McKenna is proposing another research panel on protecting and cleaning up spills. And the government in Ottawa is apparently preparing legislation to overrule any BC regulations on pipelines.
Polling came out showing citizens in BC evenly split on the pipeline question, but several commentators questioned the validity of the polling. It’s also uncertain if the polling tested how strongly people hold their views, while many may say, oh go ahead and build it, many others are vehemently opposed.
In Nelson we held a workshop preparing plans for participation in the pipeline protest. More on that here on the EcoCentric as the plans come into effect.
There is NO doubt that we are witnessing an historic moment in BC and in Canada. Are we going to remain a petro state or are we going to turn instead to building the new energy economy. Are the fossil fuel corporations going to continue to have their way, or is the growing environmental and climate change movement going to stop them.
At the same time the weather in BC has already started breaking old heat records, and an extreme weather spring is going to have a wide ranging impact.
Stay tuned for we live in interesting times.