Good Sunday Morning! And the 100th issue of this little newsletter since the SGI Greens revived it as a more personal letter from me. (and eternal thanks to Thomas Teuven for the original concept and all that work!)
Happy Halloween! And Happy Opening Day of COP26!
Last night, around the world places of worship rang out their bells as a climate warning. The idea originated with the Bishop of Norwich in the UK and has spread beyond denominations. I am grateful that my own little church of St. Andrews in Sidney and Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral, rang out the bells to mark the start of COP26.
Likely, as you read this, John and I, on the same train with Mike Morrice (our newest Green MP), will be making our way to Glasgow for whatever awaits us.
It is a groaner, but there are good COPs and bad COPs. And only the next days will tell which one this will be.
Hopes for this one certainly were raised with Justin Trudeau’s major Cabinet shake-up on Tuesday. The big climate news was the appointment of Steven Guilbeault as minister for Environment and Climate Change. Steven is a friend of many decades, a colleague in the climate action network. I had hoped he would go to environment in 2019 when he was first elected. Clearly, Heritage was not a good fit for him. For those reading this who do not know him by reputation, he is as well-known and iconic an environmental leader in Quebec as David Suzuki is in English Canada. A cynic could say: this is Trudeau’s bid to get a majority next time with an electoral path through Quebec. A climate optimist could say: this is the moment when Trudeau realizes you cannot build pipelines and save the climate at the same time. Maybe both?
Meanwhile, Jonathan Wilkinson will also be coming to COP26 as the new Minister for Natural Resources. Wilkinson was in the news this week for a report he co-authored with his German counterpart. They were asked by Alok Sharma, COP26 President (the title for the chair of COP, generally a minister in the host country’s government), to report on progress in meeting the Copenhagen pledge (from COP15 in 2009) that wealthy nations would create a climate fund of $100 billion/year for the Global South and climate action. Now surprisingly, Wilkinson reported failure. And said it was progress.
I am so frustrated by stories like this for their absence of history. The developing world did not demand $100 billion in funding. The USA, under former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, offered it in her Copenhagen speech – rather than do what the Global South was demanding – slash GHG emissions from the USA. She, and then former President Obama taking the stage days later, promised that by 2020 there would be a $100 billion climate fund. In backroom deals, other countries signed on, including Canada. The deal failed to win acceptance at COP15. Low lying island states, in particular, denounced the effort to buy them off:
“Can I suggest that in biblical terms we are being offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our peoples’ future. Mr. President, our future is not for sale. Mr. President, I regret to inform you that Tuvalu cannot accept this document.”
Ian Fry, International Environmental Officer for Tuvalu
Climate Finance is now a key art of the Paris Agreement commitments. This funding gap does not bode well for COP26.
Another record of shame for Canada. This report released on October 28th demonstrates global failure of industrialized countries to meet their 2009 G-20 commitment to stop subsidizing fossil fuels. It highlights that Canada has the worst record of shoveling cash to fossil fuels, while giving a pittance to renewable energy.
I am hoping for a marked change in Canada’s position. This is my longer piece on the cabinet shuffle for Policy magazine, also making note of the appointment of another British Columbia minister, Joyce Murray, as new Minister of Fisheries. https://www.policymagazine.ca/guilbeaults-deep-end-dive-into-his-own-pool-at-cop26/
We desperately need to do absolutely everything we can for meaningful climate action. And the protests at Fairy Creek turn out to be meaningful climate action, as well as important work for old growth. This article on Fairy Creek and carbon in Focus magazine is an eye opener. As David Broadland writes, “The blockades, it turns out, are the opposite of ‘blah, blah, blah.’”
Another study on how forests and carbon link is this new report from four environmental groups. https://naturecanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Missing-the-Forest.pdflik
It got decent coverage from CBC exposing how loopholes have allowed Canada’s forest industry to significantly under-report GHG emissions from the forest sector.
Another busy week comes to an end, but it will feel like a vacation compared to the whirlwind of the next two weeks! Hoping and praying for more than we can ask or imagine!