Thursday, December 31, 2009

Climate crisis will be the challenge of new decade

By Oisin Cohlan
The Irish Times
Thu, Dec 31, 2009

What will the decade ahead hold for the environment? Mankind has yet to meet the stark challenges posed by global warming, which will not go away

THIS IS not how it was supposed to end. Internationally, this decade was supposed to give us a comprehensive global treaty to contain climate change. In Ireland, some of us allowed ourselves hope that a soft-landing for the Celtic Tiger would herald a “post-materialist” era where environmental and social considerations were given as much weight as economic ones in policymaking.

Instead, the Copenhagen climate talks ended in confusion and recrimination and in Ireland the economic crash has driven us back to very understandable materialist concerns about budget cuts and job losses.

The coming decade will see whether humanity is capable of overcoming a complex web of environmental problems that pose an existential threat to civilisation. Climate, the most urgent and most mainstream of these problems, epitomises the challenges.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Carbon Supermarket comic book

Kate Evans (aka CartoonKate) presents The Carbon Supermarket: Your Future For Sale. She writes: “This comic is creative commons anti-copyright, so feel free to pass it on to others or use it for any non-commercial purpose.”

Canada Successfully Destroys Parody Websites

Climate policy remains deplorable
Submitted by Andy Bichlbaum on December 29, 2009 to The Yes Men.

The government of Canada has used strong-arm tactics to shut down two parody websites criticizing Canada's poor environmental policy, taking down 4500 other websites in the process.

The two websites, "" and "", are "directly connected to a hoax which misleads people into believing that the Government of Canada will take certain actions in relation to environmental matters," wrote Mike Landreville from Environment Canada in an email to the German Internet Service Provider (ISP) Serverloft. "We trust you appreciate the importance of avoiding confusion among the public concerning Canadian governmental affairs and that you will assist us in preventing this hoax from spreading further."

In a remarkable overstepping of bounds, Landreville also asked the ISP to "make every effort to prevent any further attempts concerning other environment-related domains (enviro, ec-gc, etc.) originating from your servers."

In response to Environment Canada's request, Serverloft immediately turned off a whole block of IP addresses, knocking out more than 4500 websites that had nothing to do with the parody sites or the activists who created them. Serverloft was shown no warrant, and never called the web hosting company about the shutdown.

Canadian Winters, Cuban Sun

Many Canadians travel to Cuba to escape our cold winters for a while. But don't just waste your time on the beaches. Learn about Cuba, especially its ecological initiatives. Make up for your flight footprint by bringing back knowledge and support for Cuba.

Cuba Education Tours provides knowledgeable and ethical approaches to Cuban Tourism. Read Green Cuba Resources on their website and book a tour or just find out more about Cuban tourism before you go.

You may also want to keep an eye open for David Suzuki's documetary Cuba: The Accidental Revolution that examines Cuba's success in providing for itself in the face of a massive economic crisis, and how its latest revolutions -- an agricultural revolution and a revolution in science and medicine -- are having repercussions around the world.

 "Anyone interested in ecologically sustainable development...will find this documentary thought provoking." Gregory Biniowsky, Canadian Development and the Environment Consultant living in Cuba.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Climate Change for Christmas

by Nick Moase/The Advance

MP Gerald Keddy got an early Christmas present last week, although it probably wasn’t what he was hoping for.

Oxfam Canada and the Ecology Action Centre delivered a 15-foot oil barrel to Keddy’s office, to tell the politician and his Conservative colleagues that it’s time for an “oil change.”

The action builds on a weekend of activities aimed at convincing the Canadian government to change its stance at climate negotiations currently underway in Copenhagen. Instead of blocking a fair, ambitious deal, Canadians want their federal government to take immediate measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Let’s make no mistake: our pollution is destroying the lives and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people,” Oxfam Canada Regional Outreach Officer Brian O’Neill said. “We need to stop harming and start helping.”

O’Neill and a small group of area residents delivered the giant, mock oil barrel and sang a few modified “climate carols.”

The stunt is part of thousands of events taking place in hundreds of countries as part of “The World Wants a Real Deal” actions coordinated by the TckTckTck campaign to urge world leaders to take bold and immediate steps to sign binding climate deal in Copenhagen.

Prime Minister Stephan Harper is taking part in the talks at Copenhagen, however before the talks began Harper said Canada would do no more than the United States to fight climate change.

This, along with the Alberta tar-sands, has drawn heavy fire from countries all around the world.

A Harris-Decima poll recently released showed 84 per cent of Canadians think this government is failing on the environment. So far, the Canadian government has been considered a laggard in the negotiations, earning numerous “Fossil of the Day” awards and refusing to reconsider the impact development of Alberta’s tar-sands is having on the planet’s health.
Nova News Now

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Canadians cool to Harper's climate change stand

By Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service, December 22, 2009

The Harper government might not lose many votes over its controversial stance on climate change even though half of Canadians disapprove of its policies, says a new poll.

The survey, conducted over the past few days by Innovative Research Group for Canwest News Service, found 49 per cent of respondents disapproved of the government's position at the Copenhagen climate conference, but 44 per cent said it would not make a difference on whether they were more or less likely to vote for the Conservatives.

The poll found that 43 per cent would be less likely to vote for the Conservatives because of the government's position and 13 per cent would be more likely to support them. But Greg Lyle, the polling firm's managing director, said those who already supported the Tories were not likely to change their minds.
Full article here - Montreal Gazette

Monday, December 21, 2009

Shambles in Copenhagen

By Greg Albo, Socialist Project

"There is only one good thing to have come out of the Copenhagen debacle. The sordidness of the final agreement may well stall extensive implementation of the cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, and the ‘clean development mechanisms’ foisted on the global south– the latest mechanism of imperialism – in the name of GHG reduction.

Well, maybe another positive note: it showed clearly the Conservative government of Stephen Harper in Canada toadying behind the U.S., bought and paid for shills of the Alberta oil and gas industry and as strong of defenders of neoliberalism as exist anywhere on the planet. Now the whole world can see what Canadians should know well: the ‘ugly Canadian’ can no longer be shielded by nationalist cultural mythologies."
Socialist Project - The Bullet

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lets Build from the Crisis

Ecosocialists were not surprised by the failure of the Copenhagen summit. The powerful interests of corporations and capitalism were arraigned against a diverse movement but with morality and science on their side.

But this struggle has never been about leaders making rational decisions. It is about capitalism getting away with as little as they can. In this case though, the future of humanity was at stake and once again profits came before people.

This isn't the end. Now the struggle becomes more urgent just as the incapacity of capitalism to save even its own long term interests becomes clear. Out of any crisis comes opportunity.

Ecosocialists can grasp that opportunity by working with ecological, social justice and labour groups to help educate and build a stronger constituency for change. With so much at stake, we need to work in many small and big ways to take the initiative that began around the Copenhagen summit and build on it.

“Copenhagen is not the end, I repeat, but a beginning: the doors have been opened for a universal debate on how to save the planet, life on the planet. The battle continues.”
- Hugo Chavez.

Like many other Canadians, I received numerous posts, emails and facebook appeals to sign the Avazz e-petition. The following is from their website.

Copenhagen: The Fight Continues!

The Copenhagen climate summit ended up in failure: an unambitious, non-binding accord that leaders themselves admit won't come close to tackling climate change.

Their failure is a disappointment -- and their failure is a challenge. We must work harder, demand more and never resile from our fight for our children and our planet.

That fight continues now. In just 6 weeks time leaders of each country will lock in their nation's emissions reduction targets under this week's agreement.

We must show leaders that their inaction is unacceptable.

Join over 14 million people from around the world in the largest ever climate petition. Our campaign will continue to build until we get a Real Deal - we won't accept a sham. Sign below, tell everyone -- it's not too late:
Link here.

What is is a new global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want. “Avaaz” means “Voice” in many Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European languages.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Live Blogging from Copenhagen

Canada’s speech to the ministers
Posted on 18. Dec, 2009 by Rosa Kouri in Canada.

While Harper was in Copenhagen tonight, he declined to present Canada’s speech to the plenary (unlike many other world leaders), and sent Environment Minister Jim Prentice in his stead.

There is nothing startling in this speech, and it includes many of the positions already identified in previous positions. It continues the language of synchronising Canada’s efforts with the US, and maintaining a one-track approach (implying a new agreement rather than the Kyoto Protocol). Far as I can tell, there are no concrete tragets identified, no new financing commitments, or reference to emerging science.

You decide what you think!
Canada’s speech to the ministers

First Nations at Copenhagen

On Monday a protest was held at the Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark to highlight the fact that Canada's tar sands production is the leading contributor to carbon emissions nationally. Carrier Sekani Tribal Council  territories are directly impacted from the tar sands through the pipeline proposal being brought forward by companies like Enbridge.

Vice Tribal Chief Terry Teegee spoke to a crowd of activists with other First Nations from the Athabasca area as well as Council of Canadian activist Maude Barlow and Naomi Klein, the author of the "Shock Doctrine". "We've told the government and Enbridge that Dakelh people do not want their dirty oil going through our territories. The world knows that Canada is a climate criminal for allowing tar sands development to occur and yet they continue to allow it."
Read NationTalk article here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What Should We Do to Help Build a New Left?

In the latest issue of Relay, Greg Albo and Herman Rosenfeld of the Socialist Project posit the question of rebuilding the left and propose four main points for the Canadian left to start work on. The following is a short summary of their article.

"The defeat of the Left and the workers’ movement dates from the end of the post-war boom and the militant attempts through the 1970s to develop alternatives in multiple forms – a radicalized social democracy, reform communism, liberation struggles carrying the banner of socialism, workers’ control and participatory democracy movements, and still others. The ascendancy of neoliberalism to revitalize capitalist power as a response to these developments still haunts us. This also has deeper roots in the often ossified ways that Marxism was translated into the political, cultural and economic realities of developed capitalist society.

These are part of our difficulty in developing a ‘21st century socialist’ vision, and in finding ways to apply socialist thinking today to the needs of segmented and unorganized working classes.

We could do much worse than start with the following, which constitute a very small part of what needs to be done.

First, there is no way to avoid sustained building of alternate communications, publications and educative capacities for socialist ideas and analysis.

Second, there is a need to work among the different segments of the working class, gaining a deeper understanding of how to build class unity and how to mobilize and inspire workers to fight-back.

Third, socialist approaches to the environmental crisis need to be explored and movements built around them, and challenge the ecology movement’s drift toward its vulgar embrace of market solutions and its utopian and nativist vision of localist enclaves. 

Fourth, there is a political urgency to working together as socialists to build toward higher forms of unity: the era of small group attitudes and organizing around a singular issues is, at long last after decades of isolation and marginalization, over. 

In the actions taken today in the building a new correlation of political forces, in our workplaces and communities, the constricting grip of neoliberalism might at last be broken, and new kinds of political futures again be explored."

Full Relay article
Latest issue of Relay

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mass Protest in Copenhagen

Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Copenhagen on Saturday to demand action on climate change, ending with a vigil outside the venue where United Nations talks are under way.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Financial Crisis and Ecological Amnesia

By Laurie E. Adkin

As OECD governments and political parties rush to pour billions of dollars into the generation of more credit to stimulate more consumption, no one seems to be pointing out that only a short time ago, the same governments were insisting that there was no money for a significant reduction of greenhouse gases. There was no money for transition to renewable energy sources. There was, in short, no money to invest in the ecological transformation of our economies.

Now, it is as if politicians everywhere have developed a severe case of ecological amnesia. Is there no longer a global warming crisis? A collapse of fish stocks in the oceans? An historically unprecedented rate of extinction of species? Millions of people living without clean drinking water or sanitation? Endemic illnesses caused by ubiquitous toxins? Or any of the other socioenvironmental crises that scientists and social ecologists around the world have worked so hard to document and to bring to the public’s attention?

Suddenly all that matters is that “consumers” in the rich countries redouble their efforts to over-spend, over-consume, and generate more waste so that the global economy does not remain in recession. And let’s not mention that personal debt is a huge problem in North America, as well as a leading cause of the current crisis. Have all these economic experts and politicians had their memories and imaginations surgically removed?

Rosa Kouri: Canadian negotiator watcher at Copenhagen

Follow Rosa Kouri from Saskatoon, Canadian "Negotiator Watcher" at the Copenhagen climate talks.

Visit the "adopt a negotiator" site here and the videos on YouTube here.

Don Kossick from Making the Links radio interviews on day four in Copenhagen here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Building an ecosocialist movement in Canada

By Doug Taylor

The political postions held by those advocating ecosocialism in Canada are many and varied, as they are elsewhere. They include green social democrats, left-wing environmentalists and many hues of Marxists, socialists and anarchists.

So how do we proceed to build a movement for ecosocialism and what might be the first steps in the process?

Among a small group subscribing to an ecosocialist email list, the discussion has been sporatic and  lacks conclusion.

Options discussed include:
  • work within existing parties, either the Green Party or the NDP
  • a new political organization\party adhering to ecosocialist goals
  • focus on work with environmentalists, unions and others in common struggles while promoting ecosocialism
Despite the differences over these positions, there seems to be a strong sense that we need to start with connection and communication. Start by initiating local activities but with a common theme or purpose. Surely all positions can be accomodated, particularly at this early stage of education and agitation. Maybe that is the point of any initiative.

This blog was set up to assist this discussion and open it up to others.

Let's have a discussion on concrete steps to move forward, make connections and start the hard process of organizing. Join in, comment, contribute an article or opinion!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Review: Energy Security and Climate Change

Energy Security and Climate Change: A Canadian Primer

reviewed by Terisa E. Turner
Canadian Dimension
October 29th 2009

The “Canadian primer” succeeds brilliantly in presenting historical and factual narratives of two ramifying realities of our time: climate chaos and the transition from carbon (oil, gas, coal) to solar energies.

The authors challenge the obscenity of mainstream “help the polluters profit” discourse. Their 18 chapters are short, provocative, and ideal as tools in popular and student education.

The primer addresses the reality of climate change and peak oil, the imminence of drowned cities, climate refugees, starvation, more intense resource wars, and the trickery of green capitalists and their funded NGOs such as the Natural Resource Defense Council and Ducks Unlimited. Beyond these crucial themes the reader is given a list of 12 time-buying steps to combat climate change and an endorsation of eco-socialism.
Read full review here

Greenpeace occupies Parliament roofs to shout “Climate inaction costs lives”

On the opening day of pivotal climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, 19 Greenpeace activists have occupied roofs on the Parliament Buildings to highlight the failure of Prime Minister Harper and Opposition Leader Ignatieff to help end the growing loss of human lives from the ever-worsening climate crisis.

The Greenpeace action targets Harper and Ignatieff for their failure to support legally binding, science-based targets that will lead to significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

The activists have unfurled two 12 x 7 metre banners on the West Block of Parliament reading “Harper/Ignatieff: Climate Inaction Costs Lives” and “Harper/Ignatieff: L’inaction climatique coĆ»te des vies.” Activists occupying roofs have also placed banners at the East Block and across entrances calling for an end to tar sands development.
Greenpeace webpage and video

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Green, Decent and Public

This report focuses on the distinct opportunities of the public sector to play a prominent role in generating decent green jobs. This begins with a discussion of the shovel-ready capacity of the public sector and the economic growth potential of green jobs. This is followed by a closer examination of energy efficiency opportunities in the electricity sector and beyond. Focus is then shifted to the electricity sector and the tremendous potential for green job creation associated with renewable power generation.

Departing from the historical pattern of public power systems, today there is a trend towards market liberalization in Canadian electricity sectors. This is problematic for a number of reasons including decreased accountability, higher electricity prices and concerns with limited reliability. Public and community ownership of renewable power generation is offered as an alternative path to further market liberalization that has distinct advantages.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cree aboriginal group to join London climate camp protest over tar sands

Canadian First Nations seek to highlight UK's 'criminal' role in CO2-heavy oil schemes
by Terry Macalister

Photograph: Orjan F. Ellingvag/Dagens Naringsliv/Corbis

Members of the Cree aboriginal peoples are to join the Climate Camp protests in the City of London this week in an attempt to draw attention to corporate Britain's "criminal" involvement in the tar sands of Canada.
Guardian article link