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‘Monumental Steps’ on Protecting Old Growth Says Horgan. Critics Aren’t Convinced

‘Monumental Steps’ on Protecting Old Growth Says Horgan. Critics Aren’t Convinced

BC defers logging of southern Vancouver Island old growth after months of protests and blockades.

The British Columbia cabinet has agreed to defer the logging of 2,000 hectares of old-growth forest in the Fairy Creek watershed and the Central Walbran Valley, Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday.

The two-year deferrals fulfil a request made by the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations, but are unlikely to satisfy people who have been blocking logging activity in the area between Port Renfrew and Lake Cowichan on southern Vancouver Island.

“These are monumental steps,” Horgan said. “I know it appears at the moment to be just another announcement by another premier, but these announcements are transformative for an industry that has been foundational to British Columbia’s success and will be foundational to our future success, but it has to be done in a different way.”

The deferral areas shown on maps the government released include 884 hectares of old-growth forest in the Fairy Creek watershed and 1,150 hectares in the Walbran. Logging is also deferred in a few hundred hectares of second-growth forests in the two areas.

The deferrals include a stop to new road building in some areas.

“We welcome the decision by the Government of British Columbia to approve the request made by our three Nations to defer old-growth harvesting in the Central Walbran and Fairy Creek watersheds for a period of two years,” said a statement from the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations.

“We will work with the Government of British Columbia and the licensees to monitor all forestry activity outside of the deferral areas to ensure that continuing forest activity does not impact the old-growth timber within the Central Walbran and Fairy Creek protected areas.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Vancouver Council Pushed to Weaken Climate Emergency Plan

Vancouver Council Pushed to Weaken Climate Emergency Plan

An industry group wants the city to delay a deadline for shifting from natural gas in new homes. At least one councillor says no.

A natural gas lobby group could delay action on a pillar of the City of Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan this week.

The plan currently requires all new homes to be built with zero-emissions heating and hot water systems starting Jan. 1, which could effectively ban natural gas hookups in new homes.

But after the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating sent a letter to the City of Vancouver saying the industry couldn’t meet the January deadline and needed an additional one to two years, an amendment was added to the action plan that would delay the zero-emissions requirements by one year.

City council will vote on the amendment Tuesday.

The Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating is a non-profit association with 270 companies across the country who manufacture and distribute plumbing and heating products. In its letter the association said Vancouver should maintain its gas piping infrastructure for the eventual rollout of alternative fuel sources like hydrogen or renewable natural gas.

The Climate Emergency Action Plan was first introduced in 2019.

OneCity Vancouver Coun. Christine Boyle said that a one-year delay would punish climate leaders in the building industry and signal to the fossil fuel industry that the city is willing to cave on its climate goals “with a tiny bit of pressure.”

Over half of Vancouver’s greenhouse gas emissions come from burning natural gas for heat and hot water, according to the plan, so it’s hugely important for old homes to be retrofitted with electric appliances and urgent that new buildings are built to be as close to zero-emissions as possible, Boyle says.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada – Suspend Elections During Pandemics = Trudeau for Life?

 

In Canada, there is a bill claiming it is unreasonable to ask people to put their lives in danger to vote during a pandemic. Thus, all elections should be suspended during a pandemic that never ends.

” in the opinion of the House, holding an election during a pandemic would be irresponsible, and that it is the responsibility of the government to make every effort to ensure that voters are not called to the polls as long as this pandemic continues.”

BC’s ‘Intentions Paper’ on Future of Forests Is Panned for Lack of Specifics

BC’s ‘Intentions Paper’ on Future of Forests Is Panned for Lack of Specifics

Greens say failure to protect old growth breaks NDP campaign promise as protests continue.

As soon as the British Columbia government released what Premier John Horgan said was a new vision for forestry in the province, critics panned it as a status quo document that fails to protect any more old growth.

“I don’t know what they’re thinking, frankly,” said Torrance Coste, national campaign director for the Wilderness Committee advocacy group. “They don’t want to take meaningful action because they’re worried about the consequences of it.”

The 28-page paper “Modernizing Forest Policy in British Columbia: Setting the Intention and Leading the Forest Sector Transition” sets out 20 “policy intentions,” many of which have been talked about for decades.

“Our forests are foundational to our economy and a way of life for British Columbians,” it said. “B.C.’s forestry policy framework, put in place nearly two decades ago, is inadequate to address today’s challenges.”

It includes policies aimed at redistributing forest tenure as a step towards diversifying the ownership of companies in the sector, particularly with an eye to increasing Indigenous participation. Other policies are aimed at improving the oversight over log exports, using managed burns and giving the forests minister and government more discretion over certain decisions.

There’s a policy to “Promote the use of wood and mass timber,” one to “Strengthen compliance and enforcement” and another to “Protect good jobs.”

Coste said that on a first read there’s little to object to in the government’s policy intentions themselves. “On the surface they look OK.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Fate of the Canadian Rockies May Rest on This Decision

The Fate of the Canadian Rockies May Rest on This Decision

Approving the Grassy Mountain Coal Project could enable industrializing Alberta’s sensitive and vital eastern slopes.

Next month, a provincial-federal joint review panel on the massive Grassy Mountain Coal Project in the southern Canadian Rockies will table a decision that could determine the fate of Alberta’s famed eastern slopes.

If the panel gives the contentious metallurgical coal mine a green light, the doors could open for other existing proposals that could industrialize nearly 1,000 square kilometres of the Rockies and threaten the region’s scarce water supplies.

Or the panel could rule against it, reflecting what it heard from writer and local resident Sid Marty in a public hearing last fall. Mountain top removal in the Rockies, said Marty, is “the wrong development, in the wrong location, in the wrong century.”

Much hinges on the panel’s report and recommendations that will be submitted to federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson next month.

For starters, the Alberta government of Jason Kenney has strongly championed Australian metallurgical coal developers as an important new source of jobs and revenue that could replace shrinking oilsands developments in the province.

All the steel-making coal would be shipped to Vancouver-area terminals for export to China or India.

In addition, the province and the Coal Association of Canada, directed by former Alberta Tory environment minister Colin Campbell, have tried to sell open-pit coal mining as a form of “reconciliation” that can enrich First Nations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Experts to Trudeau: Your Nuclear Dream May Turn Nightmare

US Experts to Trudeau: Your Nuclear Dream May Turn Nightmare

Rethink backing the Moltex reactor, urge nine non-proliferation heavyweights.

A blue-ribbon group of American nuclear non-proliferation experts warns that Canada’s investment in new nuclear technology could lead to the spread of nuclear weapons and new threats to the environment.

“We write as U.S. non-proliferation experts and former government officials and advisors with related responsibilities to express our concern about your government’s financial support of Moltex — a startup company that proposes to reprocess CANDU spent fuel to recover its contained plutonium for use in molten-salt-cooled reactors.”

The warning came in the form of an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that was delivered on Tuesday and signed by the nine experts.

The group is spearheaded by Frank von Hippel, professor and senior research physicist at Princeton University; it includes Matthew Bunn, the Schlesinger professor of the practise of energy, national security, and foreign policy at the Harvard Kennedy School; and Thomas Countryman, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation.

“We understand your government’s motivation to support nuclear power and to reduce fossil fuel use but saving the world from climate disaster need not be in conflict with saving it from nuclear weapons. Also, like other reprocessing efforts, Moltex, even in the R&D stage, would create a costly legacy of contaminated facilities and radioactive waste streams, and require substantial additional government funding for cleanup and stabilization prior to disposal,” they wrote.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Jason Kenney’s Favourite Researcher Just Gave Him a Headache

Jason Kenney’s Favourite Researcher Just Gave Him a Headache

What does the UCP do now that Vivian Krause says she never said Canadian enviro groups were being used by US oil interests?

What is the United Conservative Party’s position, pray, about Vancouver blogger Vivian Krause’s bombshell assertion she always understood the environmental conspiracy to landlock Alberta’s oilsands she promoted so energetically had nothing to do with the U.S. oil industry advancing its interests at Canada’s expense?

Wherever it came from, the notion big American corporations and foundations were bankrolling Canadian environmental charities to achieve a market advantage over their supposedly more ethical Canadian counterparts was at the heart of Premier Jason Kenney’s successful crusade to unite the right, drive the Alberta NDP from power, and restore Conservative rule in Wild Rose Country.

Whatever the UCP’s favourite researcher has been saying — and there was vigorous public discussion about that last week — her statement that she has never accused environmental organizations of being used by U.S. oil interests to landlock Canadian bitumen arrived with the force of a thunderclap.

“‘No evidence’: Researcher behind ‘anti-Alberta’ inquiry backs off assertion,” said the headlines on the Edmonton JournalToronto StarGlobal NewsCTV and other websites, all of which published a short, early story by the Canadian Press.

If nothing else, this certainly suggests mainstream Alberta news media, mostly sympathetic to the UCP, had always assumed the conspiracy theory originated with Krause, whose work was championed by the UCP and fossil fuel industry groups like the powerful Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in Canada: Even the Bank of Canada Gets Nervous and Tapers

The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in Canada: Even the Bank of Canada Gets Nervous and Tapers

House prices in the largest markets have gone nuts amid “extrapolative expectations and speculative behavior,” as the Bank of Canada put it.

The first thing to know about the housing bubble in Canada is what the Bank of Canada has been doing, after its furious bout of QE: In October last year, it tapered purchases of Government of Canada bonds by one notch and also ended buying mortgage-backed securities. In March, it started unwinding its liquidity facilities, citing “moral hazard” as reason. In April, it tapered by another notch its purchases of Government of Canada bonds, citing “signs of extrapolative expectations and speculative behavior” in the housing market.

The assets on its balance sheet have now dropped from C$575 billion in March, to C$478 billion as of May 12:

House prices have truly gone nuts.

In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), house prices spiked by 3.0% in April from March, and by 12.3% year-over-year, and have nearly tripled over the past 15 years, according to the Teranet-National Bank House Price Index today.

The index tracks prices of single-family houses through “sales pairs,” similar to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index in the US, comparing the price of a house that sold in the current month to the price of the same house when it sold previously, often years earlier. By tracking how many more Canadian dollars it takes to buy the same house over time, the index is a measure of house price inflation.

In Greater Vancouver, house prices jumped by 2.0% in April from March and are up 9.4% year-over-year. The Bank of Canada’s pandemic magic has completely turned around the housing bust that had started in mid-2018. The index has more than tripled in 15 years:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Brutal Legal Odyssey of Jessica Ernst Comes to an End

The Brutal Legal Odyssey of Jessica Ernst Comes to an End

The Alberta landowner fought an epic battle against fracking interests.

After 14 years of battling Alberta regulators and the fracking industry over a water well contaminated with methane and chemicals, Jessica Ernst says she feels incalculable grief and anger.

On April 1, 2021, her tortuous legal crusade — which included a controversial detour to the Supreme Court of Canada — came to an end with no resolution. What one Alberta lawyer dubbed “the legal saga of the decade” is over.

Court of Queen’s Bench Judge J.T. Eamon accepted applications from Encana and the Alberta government to dismiss the case due to inactivity on the file for three years.

“It was inevitable,” says Ernst who was informed three weeks after the dismissal. “The rules are the rules.”

After Toronto lawyers Murray Klippenstein and Cory Wanless quit the case in August 2018 without warning, Ernst was left hanging.

“My lawyers knew I couldn’t find a replacement lawyer in Alberta when they quit,” said Ernst. “They even wrote me that and added that I would fail as a self-represented litigant.”

She not only had no lawyer, but incomplete legal files to work with, Ernst says. Klippenstein told The Tyee in 2019 that he would return them to Ernst, but she maintains his firm only returned some correspondence but not the complete files. And so the lawsuit languished.

Although Ernst tried to find another lawyer, she says that she couldn’t find a suitable candidate for various reasons, including conflict of interest. Most big law firms do business in or with the oil patch.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Want to Encourage Electric Trucks? Let Them Haul More, Says BC

Want to Encourage Electric Trucks? Let Them Haul More, Says BC

New weight allowance incentive will help spur ‘green’ fleets, but diesel is likely to stick around for a decade.

Electric heavy-duty vehicles are one click closer to hitting the hammer lane on B.C. roads and passing their fossil fuel-burning counterparts.

But there are a few potholes to navigate along the route.

Last week, the B.C. transportation ministry announced it would allow electric and hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles to carry up to 1.5 tonnes more weight than gas- and diesel-burning trucks to help offset extra costs and encourage more “green” fleets.

In a statement released May 14, B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming said British Columbia is the “only province or territory to offer a weight allowance incentive that empowers trucking companies to make investments in clean technology upgrades, knowing with confidence that it will be a sound investment for them.”

Low-carbon trucks weigh more than their diesel-burning counterparts, so the expanded load allowance will help operators recoup the cost of hauling a heavy battery around instead of extra goods, the ministry said.

In addition to individual operators and businesses, the province as a whole would benefit from the electrification of the trucking industry. Increasing the number of vehicles powered by electricity, hydrogen and renewables would reduce harmful greenhouse gases, or GHGs.

According to CleanBC, in 2018, B.C.’s gross emissions were 67.9 megatonnes of GHGs. A third of that came from the transportation sector, and 9.5 megatonnes from heavy-duty vehicles — an amount equal to emissions from heating over three million homes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canadian Banks Have an Outsized Impact on Global Fossil Fuel Financing

Canadian Banks Have an Outsized Impact on Global Fossil Fuel Financing

We pledged to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, but will financial institutions undermine this goal?

When 18-year-old climate activist Naisha Khan wants to start a conversation about how banking fuels climate change, she asks someone how they think their bank makes money to pay them interest each month.

If that person banks with any of Canada’s five largest banks, that money likely comes partly from fossil fuels. But Canadian banks don’t just make money from fossil fuels — they’re also financing the industry, big time.

Canada has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but since the 2015 Paris Agreement the country’s five largest banks have poured $726 billion into fossil fuels, according to environmental advocacy organization Stand.earth.

That’s based on numbers from the Rainforest Action Network’s latest annual analysis of the world’s largest 60 banks.

Ranked by the amount of financing they’ve provided to fossil fuel companies since 2016, the Royal Bank of Canada comes in fifth in the world with US$160 billion. TD Bank is ninth at US$129 billion, Scotiabank is 11th at US$114 billion, the Bank of Montreal is 16th at US$97 billion and CIBC is 22nd at US$67 billion.

Stand.earth adds up this financing and converts it to Canadian dollars using the average exchange rate for the five-year period of C$1.28 to US$1.

When asked by the CBC why it continues to fund fossil fuel projects, RBC “reaffirmed its commitment to net zero emissions, including a promise of $500 billion in sustainable finance by 2025,” the broadcaster reported. “It said it was also the first bank to commit not to lend to resource projects in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How The Big Melt Will Change Life for People and Nature

How The Big Melt Will Change Life for People and Nature

As BC’s coastal mountain glaciers recede the effects alter ecosystems. Can human engineering begin to compensate? Second in a series.

[Editor’s note: To read the first instalment of The Big Melt, a special Tyee series, go here.]

When William Glendale was 10-years-old, his logger father was away for work so much, he bought his son a boat and a .30-30 rifle. “My father told me, ‘When your mom wants fish, go fishing. When she wants meat, go get her a deer.’” Sixty years later, no one knows Knight Inlet better than William Glendale — a Hereditary Chief with the Da’naxda’xw/Awaetlala First Nation, whose traditional territory includes the upper portion of the inlet. (The Mamalilikulla and Tlowitsis First Nations have territories overlapping the inlet out towards Johnstone Strait.)

Knight Inlet is the deep glacial fjord that receives the melting waters of the Klinaklini Glacier on B.C.’s central coast. As long as the Klinaklini Glacier has existed, Glendale’s forebearers have lived in its proximity.

But their future is cast in shadow by research led by B.C. glaciologist Brian Menounos, a professor at University of Northern British Columbia and a Hakai Institute affiliate. As the first story in this series explained, their findings show that the last two decades have been disastrous for western North America’s mountain glaciers, particularly for those on the south and central Coast Mountains, including the Klinaklini Glacier — the largest glacier in western North America south of the Alaskan border.

In 2018, Menounos and his collaborators published research that revealed that glaciers across western North America are melting faster than previously assumed, and that melting had accelerated about four-fold in just the last decade.

The 470-square-kilometre Klinaklini, like many glaciers of the south and central Coast Mountains, is expected to lose at least 70 per cent of its total ice by the end of the century, and as this happens, an ecosystem that has evolved in tandem with the glacier will be upended.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Tanker Spotted in Risky Active Pass Alarms Activists

Oil Tanker Spotted in Risky Active Pass Alarms Activists

Officials promise no repeats. But advocates say the incident raises new concerns about regulation of tankers in BC’s waters.

On a calm Friday afternoon in late April, avid naturalist Barry Swanson was watching Active Pass from his home on Galiano Island, keeping an eye out for the pod of southern resident killer whales that swim by every couple of days.

Instead of orcas, he was shocked to see an oil tanker traversing the narrow channel.

The MV Kassos was sitting low in the water, its hull heavy with petroleum products bound for Los Angeles.

Swanson is the co-founder of the non-profit Salish Sea Orca Squad, a group that works to raise awareness about the region’s killer whales. In an interview with The Tyee, he says he was very concerned to see dangerous cargo being shipped through the narrow waterway.

Active Pass sits between Mayne and Galiano Island. The channel is deep but narrow — 302 metres wide at its skinniest — and features strong currents, rip tides and a blind corner, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It’s also a route favoured by BC Ferries, connecting Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay and the mainland to the Southern Gulf Islands.

It’s extremely unusual for an oil tanker to take Active Pass instead of the neighbouring Boundary Pass, favoured by almost all other commercial routes for its wider, calmer waters. Swanson says he’s never seen an oil tanker take the pass before.

“When you have a tanker travelling through these waters… there is always tremendous danger with dangerous goods being spilt in any amount. It would be a disaster for that to happen,” Swanson says.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bank of England Now 2nd Central Bank to Taper, After Canada, but Denies Tapering is “Tapering,” also Following Canada

Bank of England Now 2nd Central Bank to Taper, After Canada, but Denies Tapering is “Tapering,” also Following Canada

The Big Taper starts one central bank at a time. But you gotta keep the markets from swooning with a bit of welcome delusion.

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) today announced that it voted unanimously to maintain its policy rate at 0.1%. But in terms of its asset purchases, it took the trail the Bank of Canada blazed last November and then widened in April: tapering.

The BoE announced that the blistering pace of its asset purchases would be “slowed somewhat”  – tapering the bond purchases from £4.4 billion a week to £3.4 billion a week – but that this tapering was an “operational decision” that “should not be interpreted as a change in the stance of monetary policy.”

This “is not a tapering decision,” emphasized BoE governor Andrew Bailey during the press conference. The reason this tapering is not “a tapering decision,” he said, is because the BoE left its target for the final level of QE assets unchanged.

Unlike the Fed, the BoE doesn’t have an open-ended QE, but had set a target of bringing its holdings of UK government bonds to £875 billion and its holdings of corporate bonds to £20 billion, for a combined target of £895 billion. And at the meeting, the BoE didn’t change these “fixed amounts,” as Bailey put it.

Obviously, denying that tapering is tapering was designed to mollify the markets with a welcome dose of delusion, and it worked: the UK’s stock index FTSE 100 rose 0.5% for the day.

However, when the members voted on maintaining the target of £895 billion, it wasn’t unanimous, with eight members voting for maintaining it, and one member, outgoing chief economist Andy Haldane, voting to lower it by £50 billion, to £845 billion.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Unearthing the Work of Indigenous Master Horticulturalists

Unearthing the Work of Indigenous Master Horticulturalists

These forest gardeners got sustainable returns for centuries. Dr. Chelsey Geralda Armstrong is now studying their work.

Ahistorical ecologist and her team at Simon Fraser University have made a crucial discovery about B.C.’s ancient forest ecosystems — one that could strengthen the systems of today and tomorrow and equip us to understand our own environment even as it changes with the climate.

Dr. Chelsey Geralda Armstrong, an Indigenous Studies assistant professor and the leader of the Historical and Ethnoecological Research Lab recently published a study in the journal Ecology and Society. In it, she documents four sites that are ecologically more diverse than the conifer forests surrounding them. And for good reason: each is on an Indigenous reserve and marks the site of an ancient community of master horticulturalists.

It’s an old settler myth that North America was “undeveloped” by Indigenous peoples, who subsisted as hunter-gatherers and therefore didn’t deserve to claim stakes in any particular land. Never mind that agricultural civilizations flourished all the way from Mexico to the Great Lakes, or that white explorers traversed the continent by following long-established Indigenous trade routes.

Here in B.C., this self-serving cultural ignorance operated even with relatively advanced anthropologists like Franz Boas, who assumed he was studying dying peoples and only wanted to record their folkways before they vanished. In Boas’ case, he additionally focused on Indigenous men and ignored women, so he missed a key element of coastal Indigenous culture — the clam gardens designed and maintained by women, which could sustain a population well over 100,000 in the centuries before contact.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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