Good Sunday Morning!
I had such a great day yesterday at the End Fossil Fuels march in Vancouver. We had a strong turn out. I love a good march and it has been a while since I was in one. This was my first major physical effort since having a stroke. I was able to walk the whole march – but was good and truly exhausted at the end. Jonathan Pedneault was at the Ottawa march and had a speaking slot at the rally (which is great!). I was not allowed to speak in Vancouver which is more the typical thing at most events. In the old days an MP who wanted to speak was almost always allowed. There has been a major and mostly positive shift to excluding politicians at marches and rallies. Reports from across Canada are of well-attended marches. They continue over the next week as the Climate Summit at the United Nations takes place. As the crowd chanted: to the call and response – “what do we want?” CLIMATE JUSTICE… when do we want it? I yelled “forty years ago!” Drowned out by the expected “NOW!”
Tomorrow parliament will resume after the summer recess. Mike Morrice will be there in person while I participate from Sidney on Zoom. Mike and JP will hold a joint press conference highlighting Green Party priorities for this session.
Last Sunday I was on Salt Spring Island with the family and friends of the remarkable Dorothy Cutting. Dorothy was a dedicated climate activist well past her 90th birthday and she was my adopted mom, volunteering to be my mom when my mother died. She left this world August 16, 2021. Last Sunday we joined her children (my adopted sibs, Melissa and Duncan) who came up from Seattle to dedicate a bench in her memory at Artspring. Melissa wrote this perfect epitaph for the bench: “She had the vision to see the future and the courage to do something about it.”
I have been tracking the abomination known as the Transmountain pipeline in the news. Our publicly owned project is seeking regulatory changes from what used to be called the National Energy Board, now the CER, Canadian Energy Regulator.
TMX wants two things – an alteration in the tolls it can charge its customers to transfer some of the billions of dollars of increased costs to them. No surprise, the customers oppose paying more. Our TMX Crown corporation also asks CER for a route change. The cursed project has run into engineering failures in directional drilling near Kamloops. To avoid technically challenging and expensive drilling it wants to alter the route. The proposed route change involves a cheaper approach and damage to the territory of the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc First Nation. (more details in news stories below.)
Trans Mountain is seeking approval for a route change in British Columbia that would scrap the tunnelling project in favour of an alternative that’s more intrusive—but cheaper—after running into engineering challenges. But the local Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation, or SSN, opposes the change, saying the change would do “irreparable harm” to its cultural and spiritual rights. The regulator has scheduled public hearings on the proposed change for this month.
I’ll be watching for news of the hearings.
More international condemnation can be expected as Canada’s government insists the pipeline must be built. It is new fossil fuel infrastructure condemned by the latest global review of the world’s progress or lack of progress to meet Paris climate targets—spoiler alert, we are not on track to hold to 1.5°C.
The last global environmental treaty that worked was the 1987 Montreal Agreement to save the ozone layer. One reason it worked was that it contained effective penalties for transgressors. Over the objections of the global trade folks, the Montreal Protocol stipulated that if any country ratifying the treaty violated its terms, all other nations that had ratified (ie “parties” to the agreement) could bring trade sanctions against the transgressor. Ten years later in Kyoto Canada’s environment minister, the late Christine Stewart said that if trade sanctions were included, Canada would not sign the 1997 climate pact. And so it goes, every climate deal, no matter how “legally binding” has had no penalties for laggards and violators. Back in December 2015 when we were negotiating the Paris Agreement without access to legal tools that work—trade sanctions—negotiators came up with a new non-penalty—the “Global Stocktake.” This is a form of public shaming. The first Global Stocktake under the terms of Paris is this year at COP28. The work in measuring where we stand globally has started. The United Nations released its first report card leading to COP28, and the news is not good:
One excerpt: A recent analysis from the International Monetary Fund found these (fossil fuel) subsidies have only grown; they surged to $7 trillion last year, $2 trillion more than in 2021.
Also: The stocktake says in stark terms that there can be no new fossil fuel infrastructure in a world committed to keeping warming in check.
Canadians must demand we cancel the $31 billion boondoggle—our largest new “fossil fuel infrastructure”, the Transmountain pipeline. It is a measurable obstacle to holding to 1.5 degrees. The fallacy of “sunk costs” must be exposed to stop the draining of public coffers for a dangerous project. If completed and tankers loaded with dilbit leak destroying coastal ecosystems, the costs of building the pipeline will be rivalled by the economic losses.
It is never too late to stop a bad project.
Hoping all of you have a good week of health and happiness. I am happy to report I feel better all the time. And for friends in the Maritimes hoping you all weather the coming storm; tropical storm Lee is making landfall, now demoted from hurricane status. Be safe.
Much love and gratitude,
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens