Local Residents Talk Climate Change Solutions at RNP Town Hall #CANClimateAction

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Photo: Heather Park-Wheeler

There was great energy and discussion at the Town Hall consultation on climate change for residents of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke on Tuesday evening August 16 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Eganville. The event, hosted by three community-based organizations: Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County, Bonnechere River Watershed Project and Ottawa River Institute, raised awareness of climate change issues and provided an opportunity for residents to get involved in proposing actions that can be taken by governments, businesses and individuals to address climate change.

Many ideas were brought forward as the 46 participants (including about a half dozen local elected municipal officials) engaged in round-table discussions on the following topics:

  • What are the solutions to reducing greenhouse gases that you would like to see governments, businesses, and communities implement?
  • What are your ideas to support the economy and create good jobs while reducing emissions?
  • What are some ideas to promote innovation and new technologies in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
  • What can Canada do to better adapt to impacts of climate change on the environment and support affected communities, including Indigenous communities?
  • Putting a Price on Carbon.
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Photo: Heather Park-Wheeler

Some of the proposed solutions included:

  • Addressing the unique needs of rural Canadians;
  • Providing incentives for clean technologies and removing subsidies for dirty technologies;
  • Keeping some fossil fuels in the ground and stop building long lived fossil fuel infrastructure;
  • Promoting local solutions (e.g., local food and energy production) with local control;
  • Promoting the use of wood for energy and materials; and
  • Retaining/enhancing natural cover as carbon sinks.

Local climate activist Duncan Noble said that “we need to react to climate change with the same urgency as we did to WWII” and that the organizers were “very pleased with the turn out and the energy and enthusiasm of participants for climate change solutions”. According to Noble, it will take “many more conversations like the ones we had tonight to build and maintain the political will necessary to respond to climate change effectively”. Bonnechere Valley councillor Meredith Jamieson chaired the meeting and remarked that she was “inspired to see so many people engaged in making a difference”.

All of the proposed ideas are being compiled by the host organizations into a detailed report that will be submitted to the federal government as a contribution from RNP to inform Canada’s strategy on climate change. It will also be publically available on-line at http://letstalkclimateaction.ca/ideas. Residents can also submit ideas on how to address climate change by visiting this interactive website.

Thanks to all of those who organized and participated in this event for RNP. Together, we can make a real difference.

More photos from the event can be seen here, courtesy of Heather Park-Wheeler.

Local media covered the event here.

Climate Consultation for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke

The federal government is asking for public input on Canada’s national climate change plan. We are co-hosting a climate change town hall consultation for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke on Tuesday, August 16 at the Eganville Legion. It’s up to us to show up and speak up in support of an ambitious national climate strategy.

Date and Time: Tuesday, August 16 at 7:00pm

Location: Royal Canadian Legion, 57 Veterans Way, Eganville, ON  K0J 1T0

This location is wheelchair accessible and refreshments will be provided.

Please RSVP so we know how many people are coming and can plan accordingly.

You can RSVP for the event on Facebook here.

If you are not on Facebook, you can RSVP for the event here.

More information about the federal government’s climate change consultation process is available here.

During the consultation, attendees will have the opportunity to address the following questions:

What are the solutions to reducing greenhouse gases that you would like to see governments, businesses, and communities implement?

What are your ideas to support the economy and create good jobs while reducing emissions?

What are some ideas to promote innovation and new technologies in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

What can Canada do to better adapt to impacts of climate change on the environment and support affected communities, including Indigenous communities?

Pushing Back Against Pipeline Proponents

The following open letter was sent to Prime Minister Trudeau and Cabinet today by dozens of Canadian organizations, including Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County.

27 April 2016

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Cabinet members,

The economies and workforces of Alberta and Canada have been hit hard in recent months. There has been considerable pressure on the federal Liberal Cabinet to respond, including Premier Notley’s recent address in Kananaskis and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s public comments urging Cabinet members to ensure major pipeline projects are approved.

This most recent push for new tar sands, or oil sands, export pipelines exhibits a number of problematic arguments that deserve response. Adding new pipelines will not solve economic woes caused by instability in world oil markets and a world that is rapidly – and necessarily – transitioning away from fossil fuels in order to safeguard our climate for future generations.

We must proceed with a fair review of pipeline projects that includes all scientific evidence, welcomes public participation and puts in place a climate test that ensures Canada doesn’t build infrastructure that makes the 1.5 degree limit of global temperature rise impossible. The review must include true consultations with Indigenous communities and respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Oil to tidewater won’t fix tar sands troubles

As argued by Ross Belot, former senior manager with one of Canada’s largest energy companies, a new pipeline won’t solve Alberta’s woes because “…the problem a pipeline to tidewater was intended to address doesn’t exist anymore.”

The abundance of cheap fracked oil in the U.S. and the global oil crash have contributed to narrowing the price differential between North American crude (whose benchmark is West Texas Intermediate, “WTI”) and global crude (whose benchmark is Brent) to almost zero. As a result, the benefits Canadian tar sands producers once sought by trying to access higher returns on global markets have vanished. The discount that now exists for Western Canadian Select (WCS) relative to WTI is now due to inherent quality differences that make WCS more costly to refine. Building new pipelines to get tar sands crude to tidewater and foreign markets cannot overcome the quality discount.

New pipelines incompatible with our fair share towards a 1.5 degree world

The Kinder Morgan, Northern Gateway, Line 3 and Energy East pipelines would lock Alberta and Canada into producing and shipping heavy crude for many years to come, well beyond the 2050 deadline in the Paris climate agreement set as a goal for weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Building more pipelines conflicts with the expertise of more than 100 scientists who have publicly called for no further expansion in the tar sands.

With the realities of climate change intensifying, more people are demanding action and world leaders will need to respond. In an increasingly de-carbonized world, particularly carbon intensive forms of heavy oil, including tar sands crude, will become economic risks.

Uniting for the protection of our climate and water

These pipeline projects present significant risks not only to our shared climate, but to critical waterways along their paths. The proposed tar sands export pipelines would see diluted bitumen transported over, under and through critical waterways including the drinking water sources for millions of Canadians.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently released the most comprehensive study of diluted bitumen to date, affirming it substantially differs from other types of oil when spilled near or in water. Diluted bitumen creates a unique and complex spill scenario as bitumen sinks in water after a short period of weathering. The study concluded that special response strategies and tactics are needed to respond and cleanup diluted bitumen spills; however, these have not yet been fully developed in Canada or the U.S.

Respecting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

It has been suggested that Canadians must unite around a nation-building pipeline, and Prime Minister Trudeau must lead us to this, even before a fair review of these projects is complete. Doing so would require agreeing to force a pipeline through the lands of Indigenous communities that have raised clear concerns about the duty to consult, as well as the impacts these pipelines will have on their lands. Forcing a pipeline approval will be on a collision course with respect for the UN Declaration on the RIghts of Indigenous Peoples; be it Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan, Line 3 or Energy East.

Indicating support for one of these pipeline projects as requested would require ignoring the voices of major cities along the pipeline routes, countless communities wanting a fair review of these projects and stands to run in conflict with ongoing provincial reviews of certain projects.

There are solutions. Opposing new tar sands export pipelines isn’t anti-Albertan

Clearly workers and their families, even whole communities, are hurting in Alberta. No one wants this. But more of the same will not fix the problem.

A new poll asking Albertans how they would like revenue raised by a proposed carbon tax spent indicates that, by more than a two-to-one margin, people favour spending it on green energy projects, transit and energy efficiencies. 144,000 Albertan jobs can be created with government policies that encourage and invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transportation.

Let’s unite around a better future, one we can be proud to hand to our children and grandchildren’s children.

Sincerely,

Brandon/Westman chapter, Council of Canadians
Calgary chapter, Council of Canadians
Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada
ClimateFast
Climate Justice Saskatoon
Comox Valley chapter, Council of Canadians
Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal
Council of Canadians
Ecology Action Centre
Ecology Ottawa
Fredericton chapter, Council of Canadians
Georgia Strait Alliance
Greenpeace Canada
Green 13 Toronto
Kent County chapter, Council of Canadians
Leadnow
Les Citoyens au Courant
London chapter, Council of Canadians
Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition
Mid-Island chapter, Council of Canadians
Montreal chapter, Council of Canadians
Northwatch
Ottawa chapter, Council of Canadians
Oil Change International
Peace NB
People for Peace, London, Ontario
Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County
Peterborough and Kawarthas chapter, Council of Canadians
Transition Initiative Kenora
Quill Plains chapter, Council of Canadians
Quinte chapter, Council of Canadians
Quinte Water Watchers
Regina chapter, Council of Canadians
Saint John chapter, Council of Canadians
Saskatoon chapter, Council of Canadians
Sierra Club, BC
South Shore chapter, Council of Canadians
Sustainable North Grenville
Stand (formerly ForestEthics)
Tanker Free BC
Team Ecohealth
Thunder Bay chapter, Council of Canadians
Vancouver / Burnaby chapter, Council of Canadians
WaterWealth Project
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Wilderness Committee
350.org
350Vancouver

Bringing the Pope’s Encyclical to Renfrew County

In June 2015, Pope Francis released his encyclical on ecology out of his concern for the world. The encyclical argues persuasively that the environmental crisis and the social crisis are not separate, but instead are manifestations of the same underlying patterns.

Francis draws attention to climate change through the lens of human suffering and poverty, and deals with climate change as a moral issue. He builds on the works of previous Popes who have addressed ecological issues, and goes deeper and broader.

The encyclical is a “sweeping, radical and highly persuasive critique on how we inhabit this planet”. [Bill McKibben]

The message of the encyclical is urgent, yet the tone is full of compassion and extreme clarity, filled with hope as opposed to despair.

To help amplify the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical, we are reaching out to Renfrew County churches by presenting a summary of the encyclical, and encouraging deeper engagement. To support this effort, we have prepared this presentation. Please let us know if you have comments or would like to host a discussion about the Pope’s encyclical.

PARC presentation on Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home

Myth Busting: Energy East is Canadian oil for Canadians | The Council of Canadians

When TransCanada first announced its 4400km Energy East pipeline project from Alberta to Saint John, the spin was all about nation-building. This spin is dependent on the idea that Energy East will see crude produced in the Prairies replace so-called ‘foreign imports’ to Atlantic Canada.

Read More: Myth Busting: Energy East is Canadian oil for Canadians | The Council of Canadians

Power to the People or Protection of Vested Interests?

Originally published as a Letter to the Editor in the Eganville Leader, December 9, 2015

Is Ontario MPP John Yakabuski’s proposed Energy Referendum Act a tool to “put power in the hands of citizens” to determine whether or not to allow large-scale renewable energy projects in their communities? Or is it a thinly disguised ruse to stop the progress of clean energy projects in Ontario?

What other industrial projects require local government to hold a referendum before they proceed? None. For example, is TransCanada’s proposed Energy East tar sands export pipeline subject to local referendums along its entire 4,600 km route? No it is not. If it was, it would never proceed, as many municipalities have already passed resolutions opposing the Energy East pipeline, and many others are considering such resolutions.

If Mr. Yakabuski’s Private Member’s Bill was a genuine attempt to put power in the hands of citizens to determine their future, I would support it fully. But it is not genuine. It singles out one category of energy development and would impose special requirements on clean energy that are not imposed on dirty energy or any other type of industrial project.

This is a shameful act to protect dirty energy vested interests disguised as people power. The people of Renfrew County and Ontario expect and deserve better.

Duncan Noble, Killaloe