Let’s Get Going – Climate Action Together

Lets-Get-Going

F is for Future, a world without fossil fuels,

new solar symphony changing the gyre,

clean up our garbage, restore Nature’s harmony,

offer our children the hopes they desire.

To download the PDF version of this paper, click Climate Action Together

So how do we do it?[1]

How do we tackle the climate crisis with the speed and resolution that the climate scientists say is so urgently needed?

How do we make a rapid transition to a 100% renewable energy economy in a positive, nation-building manner, without causing economic mayhem, unemployment and chaos?

It’s complicated. There’s no doubt about it. Our economy is completely enmeshed in fossil fuels. We use fossil fuels to travel, to heat our homes and buildings, to generate electricity, to power our industry, to make plastics and to pave the roads. If fossil fuels were to magically stop working due to a zombie-ray from outer space or an unexpected change in the laws of physics, our economy would grind to an immediate halt.

But if we don’t make a global transition out of fossil fuels, protect Earth’s forests and reduce our consumption of meat—if we fail to prevent the carbon from accumulating in the atmosphere and fail to reduce the 300 GT carbon overload that’s already there—we face a far more devastating and permanent collapse.

An economy can recover, but Earth’s oceans, savannahs, farmlands, forests and tundra and all the species they support cannot so easily adapt to the multiple impacts of a steadily warming world.

We must achieve this transition, pushing aside the denial of those who claim that climate change is a hoax we can safely ignore, or who insist that the needs of the economy must come first, as if an economy can exist independent of the environment that supports us all.

Yes, it’s complicated—but so was going to the Moon. So was establishing public healthcare, and defeating the Nazis. Endless tinkering to make the first airplane fly was complicated, too. Discovering how to bring electricity to a whole city was complicated. But since when did that stop us?

We owe it to ourselves to move beyond the single solutions that newcomers to the debate often promote, such as nuclear power, carbon capture, ending growth and consumerism, or somehow stopping population growth. We owe it to ourselves to grapple with the complexity of the crisis, and to emerge with a basket of solutions that address the actual emission of greenhouse gases, and the politics, policies and persuasions that drive them.

And we need to do it together. We cannot depend on policy wonks or governments to do it for us. We need all to be engaged, from students to full-time parents, from business-people and public servants to farmers and foresters. We need to do it together. So let’s get going.

Canada’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions have seven main sources, which are listed in the government’s inventory. These do not include our exported emissions, or emissions embodied in imported goods.

GreenhouseGasEmissions_Sector_EN

Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector. Environment and Climate Change Canada, April 2015.

Any strategy that does not address all seven of the major sources, and the dynamics that drive them, will be unable to achieve the transition that’s needed.

For ease of understanding, and hopefully without any sacrifice of complexity, I have sorted the initiatives that are needed into ten clusters, each of which has ten solutions, some of which are well acknowledged while others are less well understood.

How rapidly must we do it?

There is a widely acknowledged risk that if the global temperature rise exceeds 2°C, it will be difficult and maybe impossible to prevent it from rising by 3° or more degrees, since feedback loops will kick in, and the last time the temperature was 3° warmer, the global sea level was 25 metres higher. Even a two or three meter sea-level rise will cause the permanent inundation of highly populated areas of the world, from Vancouver to New York, from Holland to Shanghai.[2]

The current increase of 1°C is already bringing a costly, painful and damaging increase in natural disasters.[3] This is why the world’s nations collectively agreed at the COP-21 Paris climate conference to try to limit the warming to 1.5°C, and to ‘well below’ 2°C.

To achieve this, the quantity of additional carbon that can be added to the atmosphere is very small, and the global transition to 100% renewable energy is needed as rapidly as possible. It is chiefly the difficult psychology and challenging politics of rapid change, influenced by stubborn resistance from fossil fuel interests, and climate denial propaganda financed by them, that make people believe it is not possible.[4]

The climate science is unequivocal, based on the physics of the accumulating carbon. For a 75% chance that the warming will not exceed 2°C, the total global carbon budget (starting in 2016), i.e. the total additional carbon dioxide that can be released, is 460 Gt of CO2.[5] A recent February 2016 analysis published in Nature Climate Change sets the budget at 590 to 1240 GtCO2 for a 66% chance that the warming will not exceed 2°C.[6]

Based on the global budget of 460 Gt of CO2, Canada’s total carbon budget starting in 2016 as a percentage of global emissions comes to 5,275 Mt of CO2, and it will be exhausted by 2028 at the current slow decline of just 7 Mt a year. For an orderly transition, Canada’s emissions need to fall by 5-10% (25-50 Mt) a year, reaching zero between 2030 and 2040. The only way to justify a later date is to increase the chance of failure.

If the goal is to try to limit the warming to 1.5°C, as the world’s nations agreed to in Paris, the decline must be a more rapid 10% a year, or 50 Mt a year.[7]

Key technological breakthroughs are still needed to make the goal achievable, but when President Kennedy declared in May 1961 that America would put a man on the Moon before the end of the decade, no-one at NASA knew how they were going to do it: they simply had the faith, skill and determination to make it happen, matched by a ten-year investment of $25 billion, equivalent to $500 billion in 2016 prices. What would climate action look like if our business, cultural and political leaders really intended to adopt a level of urgency similar to that with which we fought to defeat Hitler in World War II? This is what this paper addresses.

Are these the best policies?

No. If we call the policies and initiatives enacted in Canada between 1990 and 2015 Plan A, then this is Plan B.

Climate Plan A was a mish-mash of weak approaches, a bit here, a bit there, without any long-term commitment, consistency, or correlation to the actual emissions that needed reducing. The only effective policies were those that are also in Plan B: the hard timetable for the closure of Ontario’s coal-fired power; BC’s carbon tax, until it stalled; and the Canada-US vehicle fuel emissions standards.

Climate Plan B, laid out here, is targeted and determined. Its important take-aways can be summarized as three major commitments:

  1. Inspire and educate Canadians to participate in a transition to 100% renewable energy and a new green economy;
  2. Put an effective price on carbon, and use most of the income to invest in the new green economy;
  3. Introduce comprehensive, targeted regulations that are effective enough to get us there.[8]

Climate Plan C will be needed if Plan B fails, and will become politically more acceptable as the urgency of the climate crisis sinks in. In Plan C, the world’s nations, instead of offering voluntary Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs), would agree to a global carbon cap, leaving most of the carbon reserves in the ground, imposing a hard global cap on the total carbon that can be released, leading to hard national caps for each nation, falling by 5% to 10% a year to stay within the cap. This will bring the need for carbon rationing as the fairest way to distribute the available carbon rights among people, businesses and governments, with rations falling by 5% to 10% a year as the transition to 100% renewable energy proceeds.

In reality, Plan C is needed now, but since most of Canada’s pundits, public and politicians have yet to grasp the true urgency of the crisis, the debate about what’s really needed has not even begun, not even on tiptoe. There is not yet the political will to embrace a hard, legislated “leave it in the ground” cap, accompanied by rationing. In Britain, rationing was not introduced until after World War II broke out, when everyone knew they were in an emergency, starting with gasoline and then including bacon, butter, sugar, and other essential food items.[9] Once the challenge had been taken on, both in Britain and in Canada, rationing was accompanied by an exceptional spirit of single-mindedness, determination and shared commitment.[10]

Plan B is based on the stated desire of Canadians to embark on the transition to 100% renewable energy, knowing that doing so in a planned and orderly manner will give us the best chance to safeguard our economy and the jobs we depend on for our incomes as the transition proceeds. According to a November 2015 Oraclepoll, 84% of Canadians want the federal government to direct new investment toward a plan to create jobs in the renewable energy sector, and 70% percent want a commitment to legally enforce limits on carbon pollution.[11]

So without more ado, let’s dig into Plan B. Each cluster is accompanied by a scorecard, creating a maximum score of 100, enabling our policy progress to be tracked, published and rewarded.

Summary: The Ten Most Important Climate Action Clusters

  1. Promote climate leadership, engagement, education and adaptation.
  2. Create targets, policies and regulations to achieve 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2030.
  3. Create targets, policies and regulations to achieve a transition to sustainable transportation.
  4. Create targets, policies and regulations to achieve a transition to sustainable buildings.
  5. Put an annually increasing effective price on carbon.
  6. Build a green cooperative entrepreneurial economy for the 21st century.
  7. Create targets, policies and regulations to reduce fossil fuel industry emissions and leave most fossil fuels in the ground.
  8. Create targets, policies and regulations to help Canada’s emissions-intensive industries to reduce their emissions and shift to 100% renewable energy.
  9. Create targets, policies and regulations to help Canada’s farmers, ranchers and foresters to reduce their emissions and sequestrate carbon.
  10. Work with other nations to accelerate global progress.


Cluster 1. Promote climate leadership, engagement, education and adaptation

The transition needs the support, involvement and engagement of millions of climate-literate Canadians. We need to do this together. Therefore:

  1. Work with Canada’s provinces, mayors and other partners to organize cross-country inspirational celebrations of Canada’s new vision, and our determination to be a world leader in our embrace of a sustainable green future.
  1. Work with the provinces to establish a long-term funding program for community climate initiatives, and by 2018 to train 5,000 Canadians to become Climate Solutions Leaders in their communities, and in the businesses and institutions where they work.
  1. Work with the provinces and educational leaders to ensure that climate educators in Canada’s schools and colleges teach accurate climate science, and place most of their emphasis on solutions to the crisis, not just the problems. Our kids already have deep worries about the future, and it is highly irresponsible to give them more reason for despair without also showing how we are tackling the crisis.
  1. Work with the provinces and college leaders to ensure that Canada’s colleges offer the training programs needed for the transition to 100% renewable energy, and to Canada’s new green entrepreneurial economy.
  1. Work with the provinces and college and university leaders to assist every school, college and university in Canada to convert to 100% renewable energy by 2025.
  1. Work with Canada’s school and university leaders to create a requirement that starting in 2020, every student applying for college or university must have passed a high school course in Environment 101, including coverage of 100% renewable energy and other climate solutions
  1. Work with Canada’s provinces, mayors and councils to assist every community in Canada to develop plans to become a 100% renewable energy community.
  1. Work with Canada’s First Nations to encourage the shift to 100% renewable energy for all purposes on First Nations land.
  1. Work with Canada’s business leaders to move each sector of the economy towards a green, 100% renewable energy future.
  1. Work with Canada’s provinces, mayors and councils and First Nations leaders to ensure that local and regional climate adaptation and resilience plans are properly developed and funded. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has estimated the cost of climate-related weather disasters to the federal disaster fund at $900 million a year from 2016-2012, and at $4.2 billion a year for all Canadians. [12]
Score Action
1 1 of the ten initiatives
2 2 of the ten initiatives
3 3 of the ten initiatives
4 4 of the ten initiatives
5 5 of the ten initiatives
6 6 of the ten initiatives
7 7 of the ten initiatives
8 8 of the ten initiatives
9 9 of the ten initiatives
10 All ten initiatives

Cluster 2. Create targets, policies and regulations to achieve 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2030

This goes to the core of the problem, which is the planned replacement of fossil fuel energy with 100% renewable energy. The solutions in this cluster address the use of electricity, which produces 12% of Canada’s GHG emissions. Heat is covered below under buildings and industry, fuel under transportation.

As recently as five years ago it was rare to hear people call for the transition to 100% renewables. Today, the call is being made by climate leaders worldwide, including leaders of the G-7. Even those who seek the expansion of fossil fuels acknowledge that in the long-term the transition is inevitable, changing the debate from “if” to “when.”[13] Research based on getting to 100% by 2040 shows that 420 TWh of new renewable electricity will be needed each year. To get there by 2030, much more will be needed each year.[14]

For Canada’s supply of electricity to come from 100% renewable sources, ten solutions are needed:

  1. Work with the provinces to develop a legislated plan to phase out all coal and diesel-fired power plants by 2025, replacing them with renewable energy to generate electricity.
  1. Work with the provinces to develop a legislated plan to phase out all gas-fired power plants by 2030.
  1. Launch an initiative to lift the required efficiency of all lighting, appliances, fans and other equipment to a world-best standard, similar to Japan’s Top-Runner program.[15]
  1. Launch an initiative to provide appropriate incentives and tax-breaks and to encourage energy-saving behaviour and technologies in our homes, businesses, factories, farms and public institutions.
  1. Work with the provinces to develop policies, incentives and regulations to support the rapid development of solar energy, to eliminate unnecessary barriers and costs, and to ensure that Canada’s utilities continue to prosper while supporting the solar revolution.
  1. Work with the provinces to develop policies, incentives and regulations to support the rapid development of Canada’s wind and other renewable energy resources, and the grid development needed for east-west transmission.[16]
  1. Do the same for geothermal power, which faces unique challenges due to its high initial set-up cost
  1. Work with Canada’s First Nations to assist all remote communities to move to 100% renewable energy.
  1. Invest in R & D for power storage and demand-side management technologies, to balance the intermittency of wind, solar and other renewables.
  1. Work with Canada’s colleges and universities to ensure that electricians, plumbers, builders, architects and engineers receive the training needed for a 100% renewable energy future.

If successful, these policies will generate 127,000 direct and indirect jobs and 90,000 induced jobs. If the transition is successful, it will generate over a million new jobs during a planned 25-year transition (2015-2040), and 876,000 new permanent green jobs, compared to the 800,000 jobs in fossil fuels that will be lost. All jobs numbers come from the research paper Almost Twice As Many: Green Jobs in Canada in the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy, by Guy Dauncey (2015), assuming a goal of 100% by 2040.

Score Action
1 1 of the ten initiatives
2 2 of the ten initiatives
3 3 of the ten initiatives
4 4 of the ten initiatives
5 5 of the ten initiatives
6 6 of the ten initiatives
7 7 of the ten initiatives
8 8 of the ten initiatives
9 9 of the ten initiatives
10 All ten initiatives

Cluster 3. Create targets, policies and regulations to achieve a transition to sustainable transportation

Moving on. 23% of Canada’s emissions come from transportation, which depends on diesel, gasoline, kerosene and bunker fuel. For long-distance trucking, shipping, aviation and industrial-scale transport devices the solutions have yet to be developed, but for the rest, an electric future is within sight. Therefore:

  1. Adopt a legislated goal of achieving 100% renewable energy for most transportation purposes by 2040.
  1. Work with the provinces and city mayors to invest in a greatly expanded cycling infrastructure, and to dramatically increase the share of cycling for urban trips, as towns and cities in Holland, Denmark and Sweden have already achieved, bringing many benefits to personal happiness and the quality of urban life.
  1. Work with the provinces and rural communities and regional districts to build a world-class long-distance cycling network, similar to Quebec’s 5,300 km Route Verte.
  1. Work with the provinces and city mayors to invest in expanded electric transit and light-rail transit, and to substantially increase the share of transit for urban trips. An investment in electric buses is self-financing, since it pays for itself within the 12-years life of a transit bus.
  1. Work with the provinces and Canada’s railway companies to invest in the solar-electrification and dual-tracking of all of Canada’s major railways by 2040.
  1. Work with the provinces to integrate electric vehicle financial incentives into a pan-Canadian program, and to build a nationwide EV charging network including incentives such as free use of HOV lanes.
  1. Work with the US, the province of Ontario and Canada’s auto-industry to enact new vehicle emissions standards that would require all new cars and light trucks manufactured in or imported into Canada to have a fleet average of 0 gm CO2/km by 2030, resulting in a fleet that operates predominantly on 100% renewable energy by 2040. The current US/Canada standard calls for 101gm CO2/km by 2025.[17]
  1. Work with Ontario, Quebec and the auto-industry to ensure Canadian manufacturing success in the rapidly growing market for electric vehicles, trucks, bikes and buses.
  1. Form a partnership with other nations, industry experts and partners such as the Carbon War Room and invest in R & D to support progress and deployment toward 100% renewable energy for long-distance trucking, using electricity, sustainably harvested bioenergy, green hydrogen, green methanol, electric hyperloops or other means.
  1. Do the same to support similar progress toward 100% renewable energy for long-distance shipping and flying.

If successful, these policies will protect Canada’s auto-industry, and generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in transit, 14,000 jobs electrifying the railways, and 75,000 new jobs in cycle tourism as Canada’s network of cross-country bike-routes grows

Score Action
1 1 of the ten initiatives
2 2 of the ten initiatives
3 3 of the ten initiatives
4 4 of the ten initiatives
5 5 of the ten initiatives
6 6 of the ten initiatives
7 7 of the ten initiatives
8 8 of the ten initiatives
9 9 of the ten initiatives
10 All ten initiatives

Cluster 4. Create targets, policies and regulations to achieve a transition to sustainable buildings

Buildings produce 12% of Canada’s GHG emissions. The challenge is both to ensure that everyone has a home, and to heat all of Canada’s buildings using renewable energy, even in the north. We don’t have all the technical solutions yet for complex renewable energy retrofits, but there’s a huge amount we can be getting on with:

  1. Work with Canada’s building professionals to produce an upgraded National Building Code requiring all new buildings to be nearly zero energy starting in 2021, similar to the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. In Brussels, Belgium, every new building is now being built to the Passive House standard, requiring 90% less heat energy, the 10% being supplied by heat recovery ventilators.[18]
  1. Require all new federal buildings to meet the Passive House standard, starting immediately, and work with the provinces to require the same for all new provincial buildings.
  1. Require all federal buildings to be retrofitted to meet the Passive House retrofit standard by 2030, starting with the PM’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive, and work with the provinces to require the same for all provincially managed buildings.[19]
  1. Work with the provinces and city mayors to establish a lasting national affordable housing strategy, and to provide the investment needed to eliminate homelessness and meet the right of all Canadians to secure, adequate, accessible, affordable, sustainable, zero-carbon housing.
  1. Work with the provinces to require energy labeling and benchmarking for all buildings. An initiative to improve the efficiency of lighting and appliances is listed at #2.3 (electricity) above.
  1. Establish incentives, tax credits and new financial tools and work with the provinces, city mayors and industry organizations such as the Toronto Atmosphere Fund to assist, accelerate and require (a) residential building energy retrofits, and (b) multi-unit residential building energy retrofits for apartments and condos.
  1. Do the same for commercial building energy retrofits, using 100% renewable energy district heat where appropriate.[20]
  1. Work with Canada’s First Nations to retrofit all homes and buildings on reserves, and to train First Nations people to develop businesses and cooperatives providing renewable energy, and passive house building and retrofitting.
  1. Work with the provinces and with Canada’s colleges to ensure that people attending architectural, engineering, planning, building, electrical and plumbing courses acquire the skills needed to build and retrofit 100% renewable energy buildings.
  1. Invest in R & D to support Canada’s business, engineering and architecture leaders to develop technical and design solutions for the task of retrofitting high-rise and other buildings for 100% renewable energy, using district heat, bioenergy, biogas, ground-source heat, air-source heat, stored solar thermal energy, waste heat and other means, and to deploy the solutions.

If successful, these policies will generate 90,000 new direct and indirect permanent jobs.

Score Action
1 1 of the ten initiatives
2 2 of the ten initiatives
3 3 of the ten initiatives
4 4 of the ten initiatives
5 5 of the ten initiatives
6 6 of the ten initiatives
7 7 of the ten initiatives
8 8 of the ten initiatives
9 9 of the ten initiatives
10 All ten initiatives

Cluster 5. Put an annually increasing effective price on carbon

There is a growing consensus that it is essential to put a price on carbon, since carbon pollution imposes severe costs on our societies and our planet’s ecosystems, the same way that smoking imposes costs to people’s health and public healthcare and is taxed accordingly.

There is debate about the merits of different systems of carbon pricing, including (a) whether it should be done by means of a tax or fee, or by means a cap, with the auctioning of credits; (b) whether the resulting income should be redistributed to taxpayers as a tax-reduction or an annual dividend, or be re-invested in the transition;[21] and (c) about the price that’s needed to be effective.[22]

Assuming agreement that a price on carbon is needed, the ability to make it effective is only limited by public and political acceptability, the negative aspect of which is linked to a perceived negative economic impact on Canada’s economy. This, in turn, is linked to the absence of a clear and compelling vision and analysis of a future Canada that operates on 100% renewable energy, with the multiple benefits this will bring, and the absence of an informed understanding of the damage that Canada and the world will face if we fail to make the transition.

To tackle the true urgency of the crisis, a final price of north of $150 a tonne is needed, and it is this author’s belief that as much of the revenue should be re-invested in the transition as is politically possible. Therefore:

  1. Work with the provinces to determine whether to adopt a cap, a fee, or a combination of both, and to establish a unified pan-Canadian price on carbon. To be effective, it needs to start at $50 a tonne in 2018 and increase by $10 a year, reaching $170 a tonne by 2030, generating $20 billion to $30 billion a year. For the purposes of this paper, we assume that a fee will be applied, while not precluding the use of a cap. If there is a lower starting price, the annual increase needs to be more rapid.
  1. As far as measurability will allow, include methane and the other greenhouse gases, with appropriate prices.
  1. Put most of the income in Canada’s Low-Carbon Economy Trust to finance the transition to 100% renewable energy, the rest being returned to people on lower incomes. Create an arms-length management structure to operate the Trust to free it from political footballing and other sensitivities.
  1. Allow temporary tightly defined case-by-case exemptions for businesses that are vulnerable to imports from countries that have not imposed carbon pricing, or required the equivalent level of greenhouse gas reductions. If the price on carbon threatens the existence of a Canadian company due to expanded business by its non-carbon-priced competitor, no emissions reductions will be achieved, so bi-lateral GHG reduction agreements will need to be pursued.
Score Action
1 $10/tonne, 100% R-N (revenue neutral), rising by $5 a year
2 $30/tonne, 100% R-N, rising by $5 a year
3 $50/tonne, 100% R-N, rising by $10 a year
4 $50/tonne,  50% R-N, 50% Solutions Fund, rising by $10 a year
5 $50/tonne,  40% R-N, 60% Solutions Fund, rising by $10 a year
6 $50/tonne,  30% R-N, 70% Solutions Fund, rising by $10 a year
7 $50/tonne,  20% R-N, 80% Solutions Fund, rising by $10 a year
8 $50/tonne,  10% R-N, 90% Solutions Fund, rising by $10 a year
9 $50/tonne, 100% Solutions Fund, rising by $10 a year
10 $50/tonne, 100% Solutions Fund, rising by $15 a year 

Cluster 6. Build a green cooperative entrepreneurial economy for the 21st century

In addition to the transition to 100% renewable energy, we need to build a Canadian economy that does not depend on the financial stimulus from producing and selling fossil fuels. This cluster of policies combines a number of solutions relating to the development of a new green economy:

  1. Issue additional Ministerial mandate letters anchoring climate protection into all government decisions to ensure that trade, export, infrastructure or land-use policies do not trump climate policies, and requiring ministers to apply a climate test to all energy-related decisions. See climatetest.org
  1. Invest in targeted research and development in areas where the private sector is unwilling to take the risks. In her book The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths the economist Mariana Mazzucato shows the importance of government involvement and investment to build a green, entrepreneurial economy.[23]
  1. Develop an initiative to support innovation, entrepreneurship and cooperatives in all communities, including schools, colleges, universities, First Nations and minorities.
  1. Develop an initiative to encourage community-based economic development and the formation of local cooperative business networks, learning from the successful post-war experience of business development in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.[24]
  1. Develop an initiative to encourage banks and businesses to become Benefit Corporations, embracing a legal change to their governing principles that commits their owners and directors to produce a social or environmental benefit as well as a financial benefit.[25]
  1. Develop a Canada-wide initiative first to encourage and later to require green business certification, building on the model developed on Vancouver Island.[26]
  1. Require annual carbon emissions reporting by every company above a certain size, and require every business seeking a grant, loan or export assistance from the federal government to show how it plans to reduce its emissions by 5% a year or more.
  1. Enact legislation re-affirming the right of the Bank of Canada to create and lend interest-free and low-interest credit to federal and provincial governments for the purpose of investing in infrastructure developments for a 21st century green economy, as it did prior to 1974 to finance the construction of the Trans-Canada Highway, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and Canada’s universities and hospitals.[27]
  1. Work with the provinces to encourage the development of Provincial Banks, similar to the Bank of North Dakota, enabling them to invest in economic development using locally created credit.[28]
  1. Use this new public lending ability to finance key components of the transition to 100% renewable energy, including R&D, building retrofits, railway solar-electrification, and cycling and transit investments.
Score Action
1 1 of the ten initiatives
2 2 of the ten initiatives
3 3 of the ten initiatives
4 4 of the ten initiatives
5 5 of the ten initiatives
6 6 of the ten initiatives
7 7 of the ten initiatives
8 8 of the ten initiatives
9 9 of the ten initiatives
10 All ten initiatives

Cluster 7. Create targets, policies and regulations to reduce fossil fuel industry emissions and leave most fossil fuels in the ground

The oil and gas sector produces 25% of Canada’s GHG emissions, more than any other sector. The transition to a 100% renewable energy economy will reduce them to zero, but untangling Canada’s economy from its historical engagement with fossil fuels, leaving most of the fossil fuel reserves in the ground, will be a huge undertaking. Therefore:

  1. Work with Canada’s banks and investors and with Canada’s pension and similar funds to integrate climate risk and stress tests into all investments, and to support an orderly divestment from fossil fuels by 2030.[29]
  1. Phase out all remaining fossil fuel incentives and subsidies by 2020. In 2014, the Pembina Institute estimated that subsidies and other direct federal supports in 2012 came to $1.3 billion.[30]
  1. To balance the loss by 2040 of 550,000 direct and indirect jobs in the fossil fuel industry, work with the provinces to develop programs to help people retrain for new jobs, and to help affected communities such as Tumbler Ridge and Fort McMurray to envision, plan and build a new future.
  1. Issue no new federal permits or approvals for pipelines or other facilities intended to facilitate the export of Canada’s coal, oil and gas resources, and work with the provinces to issue no new permits for oil exploration, as France has done.[31]
  1. Work with the provinces and Canada’s coal industry to prepare for the phase-out of coal from Canada’s economy by 2025, and to ensure the successful bioremediation of lands disturbed by coal-mining activities.
  1. Work with the provinces and Canada’s oil industry to prepare for the phase-out of oil from Canada’s economy by 2030, and by 2040 at the latest, and to ensure the successful bioremediation of lands disturbed by oil sands and other operations.
  1. Work with the provinces and Canada’s natural gas industry to prepare for the phase-out of gas from Canada’s economy by 2030, and by 2040 at the latest, and to ensure the successful bioremediation of lands disturbed by fracking and other activities.
  1. Establish a preparatory legal framework to enable the possible federal purchase of bankrupt coal, oil and gas companies, with a view to an orderly wind-down.
  1. Work with the foreign owners of coal, oil and gas companies to negotiate an orderly wind-down of their activities, and to minimize the risk of legal action under free trade treaties.
  1. Work with the provinces and with Canada’s coal, oil and gas industries to assist, accelerate and require the reduction of fugitive methane and nitrous oxide emissions.
Score Action
1 1 of the ten initiatives
2 2 of the ten initiatives
3 3 of the ten initiatives
4 4 of the ten initiatives
5 5 of the ten initiatives
6 6 of the ten initiatives
7 7 of the ten initiatives
8 8 of the ten initiatives
9 9 of the ten initiatives
10 All ten initiatives

Cluster 8. Create targets, policies and regulations to help Canada’s emissions-intensive industries to reduce their emissions and shift to 100% renewable energy

Canada’s emissions-intensive industries produce 11% of Canada’s emissions, so a targeted regulatory environment needs to be created that will assist, accelerate and require their reduction, including nitrous oxide and fluorinated F gases, and their full participation in the transition to 100% renewable energy. Therefore:

  1. Work with the provinces and with Canada’s mining industry to assist, accelerate and require the reduction of GHG emissions.
  1. Do the same for Canada’s smelting and refining industry.
  1. Do the same for Canada’s pulp and paper industry.
  1. Do the same for Canada’s iron and steel industry.
  1. Do the same for Canada’s cement industry.
  1. Do the same for Canada’s lime and gypsum industry.
  1. Do the same for Canada’s chemicals industry.
  1. Do the same for Canada’s fertilizer industry.
  1. Do the same for Canada’s refrigeration, air conditioning, foam and aerosol industry.
  1. Do the same for Canada’s municipal, industrial and other landfills, and work with Canada’s municipalities to accelerate progress towards achieving a zero-waste, circular economy by 2050.[32]
Score Action
1 1 of the ten initiatives
2 2 of the ten initiatives
3 3 of the ten initiatives
4 4 of the ten initiatives
5 5 of the ten initiatives
6 6 of the ten initiatives
7 7 of the ten initiatives
8 8 of the ten initiatives
9 9 of the ten initiatives
10 All ten initiatives 

Cluster 9. Create targets, policies and regulations to help Canada’s farmers, ranchers and foresters to reduce their emissions and sequestrate carbon

Agriculture produces 10% of Canada’s GHG emissions, including CO2 from farm operations and soil depletion, methane from livestock and liquid manure, and nitrogen oxide emissions from the use of fertilizers. Canada’s farms and ranches can also play a crucial role in absorbing surplus carbon from the atmosphere by the use of organic farming practices and management-intensive livestock practices, both of which build soil carbon.

The carbon emissions from Canada’s forests and peat-lands are another important consideration. In 15 of the 24 years from 1990 to 2013 Canada’s managed forests and forest products sector removed more carbon from the atmosphere than they emitted, for a total net sink of 3,600 Mt CO2e. During the same period, the carbon stored in harvested wood products sequestered a net total of 938 Mt CO2e.[33] Therefore:

  1. Commission a report into the ability of Canada’s farms, forests, ranchlands, peat-lands and ocean sea-grass beds to sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere, with recommended policies and incentives to reward increased carbon sequestration.
  1. Commission a report into the full external cost of conventional farming, and then introduce a tax on pesticides and fertilizers, with most of the revenue being used to eliminate those costs by supporting farmers as they make the transition to certified organic status.[34]
  1. Work with the provinces and with Canada’s greenhouse industry to assist, accelerate and require the reduction of its GHG emissions, and to accelerate its transition to the use of 100% renewable energy.
  1. Work with Canada’s agricultural colleges and beef, pork and dairy farmers to accelerate programs to measure and reduce methane emissions from cattle, and to reward reductions.
  1. Work with the provinces and Canada’s farmers to do the same to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from the application of fertilizers, and to reward reductions.
  1. Work with farmers and ranchers to educate them about the way different soil management methods and managed intensive rotational grazing practices sequester carbon from the atmosphere.[35]
  1. Work with various partners to educate Canadians about the climate impact of a meat-based diet; work with Canada’s restaurants and retail food industry to offer more low-meat options; and invite people to join the federal cabinet in making one day a week meat-free, as the City of Oslo is doing.[36]
  1. Work with the provinces, forest professionals and forest companies to develop and require new standards, regulations and educational tools to protect the remaining old growth forests, to increase forest carbon sequestration, and to protect Canada’s forests against increasing climate-induced wildfires and insect attack and help them adapt.
  1. Work with Canada’s provinces, developers, architects and building industry to encourage and require more use of carbon sequestering timber in buildings, in place of GHG-producing cement and steel.
  1. Work with Canada’s agricultural and forestry colleges and training programs to develop programs to ensure that students understand the impacts of climate change, the means of adaptation, and the methods that can reduce emissions and store more carbon in Canada’s soils and forests.
Score Action
1 1 of the ten initiatives
2 2 of the ten initiatives
3 3 of the ten initiatives
4 4 of the ten initiatives
5 5 of the ten initiatives
6 6 of the ten initiatives
7 7 of the ten initiatives
8 8 of the ten initiatives
9 9 of the ten initiatives
10 All ten initiatives

Cluster 10. Work with other nations to accelerate global progress

Canada’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis contribute to the larger global effort—and there are several ways in which Canada can show leadership globally. Therefore:

  1. Plan Canada’s future Intended National Determined Contributions, as per Paris, so that they ramp up every five years to reflect Canada’s progress toward 100% renewable energy and zero GHG emissions.
  1. Join and play an active role in the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). irena.org
  1. Work in the High Ambition Coalition, which includes Canada, the United States, the European Union, and 79 African, Pacific and Caribbean countries, to push for stronger climate action targets and implementation.[37] [38]
  1. Work with the High Ambition Coalition to ensure that emissions from international aviation and shipping are included in the next round of UN climate talks, and not left to the discretion of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization, which have been unable to reach agreement on how to deal with their emissions. Pressure the ICAO to accelerate the adoption of a CO2 standard for new aircraft, a CO2 standard for all operating aircraft, and the adoption of a market based mechanism.[39]
  1. Deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for more than 10% of global emissions. Work with the High Ambition Coalition to strengthen the REDD mechanisms (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), to ensure that the critically important store of carbon in the world’s forests is protected.
  1. Work with the High Ambition Coalition and other supportive nations to negotiate a series of Climate Solutions Treaties, independent of the Paris Climate Agreement, to accelerate the spread of tangible climate solutions such as geothermal energy, carbon pricing, Passive House design, electric vehicles and farmland carbon sequestration.
  1. Work with the USA and Mexico to strengthen the 2016 North American clean energy and climate accord, to press for greater cooperation and ambition, and to end public financing by Export Development Canada and similar bodies for coal, oil and gas developments overseas.
  1. Work with nations that are party to Canada’s existing and future Free Trade Agreements to renegotiate any clauses that state or imply that free trade has priority over climate action, and to include language that guarantees climate action measures protection against legal challenge from companies seeking damages for losses.
  1. Work with supportive nations to develop the foundations for similar Fair Trade Agreements, with a view to replacing all Free Trade Agreements.[40]
  1. Increase Canada’s November 2015 commitment to the $100 billion Green Climate Fund from $2.65 billion to $4 billion to help developing nations with the cost of coping with the climate crisis and to support the renewable energy transition.[41] Canada produces 1.25% of global GHG emissions and 2.25% of the global GDP, but we are a prosperous nation, and we need to pull our weight.
Score Action
1 1 of the ten initiatives
2 2 of the ten initiatives
3 3 of the ten initiatives
4 4 of the ten initiatives
5 5 of the ten initiatives
6 6 of the ten initiatives
7 7 of the ten initiatives
8 8 of the ten initiatives
9 9 of the ten initiatives
10 All ten initiatives

What will it cost?

A Climate Solutions Budget to achieve these goals is suggested in Appendix 1, showing an annual expenditure of $22.5 billion, set against carbon tax income averaging $22.6 billion a year.

By retaining 80% of the income from the carbon tax for use in the Low Carbon Economy Trust, the $22.6 billion withdrawn from consumer spending would be put straight put back into the economy, generating jobs and maintaining consumer spending.

Over the period of the transition to renewable energy, the plan would generate almost twice as many jobs as would be lost, enabling Canada’s economy to come through the transition in good shape. Every major transition has its challenges, just as the transition from horses to automobiles did in the period 1890 to 1920. The end-point of the transition, however, will be a far more ecologically and financially stable and resilient economy. Failure to make the transition, on the other hand, will bring ecological and financial devastation.

Further finance for the transition can be created by using interest-free and low-interest loans created by the Bank of Canada and Public Banks in each province, as described above.

In Conclusion

T is for Truth, is it easy to tell it

when comfort and lies intervene?

When solid reality speaks of a tragedy

waiting its millions to claim?

The truth is we’re cooking the planet in carbon,

we’re loading the oceans with grief,

we’re melting the icecaps and burning the forests,

burdening Earth past belief, but…

The truth it is also that visions impossible

now stand ready to chime,

that people are ready and change is inevitable.

Everything changes in time.

From A Modern Alphabet, by Guy Dauncey (2015)[42]

 

About the Author

Guy Dauncey is a futurist who works to develop a positive vision of a sustainable future, and to translate the vision into action. He is founder and past-President of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, and the author or co-author of ten books, including the award-winning Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change (2000), The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming (2009) and the recently published Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible, an ecotopian novel set in the year 2032, which describes Climate Plan C in action.

He is the author of these recent research papers:

He is an Honorary Member of the Planning Institute of BC, a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, and a Fellow of the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. His websites are www.earthfuture.com and www.journeytothefuture.ca and www.thepracticalutopian.ca

Appendix 1: A Climate Solutions Budget

Billion

+

Billion

A carbon tax starting at $50 a tonne on 500 million tonnes of CO2. 80% of the income to finance the transition to 100% renewable energy, 20% returned to low-income Canadians. Income averaged over three years. For income from future years, see below.

22.6

0

For building retrofits, tax credits and incentives pay for themselves through GST spent on building products. Low-interest loans self-financing through savings. The government could create the credit needed to advance low interest loans by forming a Canada Infrastructure Bank, or using the Bank of Canada for this purpose.

1.0

The shift to renewable electricity would be self-financed through tendering for wind, solar and geothermal power, supported by solar feed-in tariffs until the price of solar PV falls sufficiently that it no longer needs support.

1.0

Based on the Ontario Metrolinx Go Rail electrification numbers, railway electrification would cost $7 billion a year, split between the railway companies and the government. Canada’s railways hauled 289 million tonnes of freight in 2010.[43] Several studies have outlined the benefits of electrification:

·       50% reduction in rolling stock operating costs.

·       15% reduction in infrastructure operating costs such as track maintenance due to lightweight trains.

·       3% increase in rolling stock availability.

·       22% reduction in vehicle leasing costs.[44]

3.5

The investment in safe, separated bike lanes would be shared with local communities, with a $1 billion federal contribution. If the cycling rate in towns and cities reaches 25% there would be $43 billion annual savings in healthcare costs due to increased fitness. This compares to BC’s current BikeBC commitment of $11 million a year and Ontario’s $8 million a year. Vélo Québec has estimated that cyclists on the Route Verte spend $95.4 million annually, generating revenues of $15.1 million for the government of Québec.[45]

1

The investment in transit, at 50% of the level proposed for the 2015 MetroVancouver Mayors’ Plan, would cost $12 billion a year.

12

The electric vehicles incentives program, targeting 100,000 vehicles a year with a $5,000 incentive, would cost $500 million a year.

0.5

The transition to organic farming would be self-financed through the new tax on chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

0

First Nations funding for zero-carbon housing and training

1

Climate science, education and community engagement

0.5

Canada’s Contribution to the Global Climate Fund

1

Program administration (spread between initiatives)

1

22.6

22.5

Appendix 2: Carbon Tax Income, 2016-2026

Year

Carbon tax

$

Tonnes of CO2

million

Revenue

$ billion

80% of revenue

$ billion

2016

50

500 25

20.0

2017

60

475 28

22.8

2018

70

450 31

25.2

2019

80

425 34

27.2

2020

90

400 36

28.8

2021

100

375 37.5

30.0

2122

110

350 38.5

30.8

2123

120

325 39

31.2

2024

130

300 39

31.2

2025

140

275 38.5

30.8

2026

150

250

37.5

30.0

Appendix 3: Green Budget Coalition 2016 Budget Recommendations

  1. Energy Efficiency: Implement a series of initiatives to greatly improve energy efficiency in Canadian homes and businesses. For 2016-17: $30 million.
  1. Renewable Energy: Accelerate the uptake of renewable energy technologies and diversify the energy economy by supporting solar, wind, tidal, biomass, micro-hydro, geothermal, clean technologies and electric cars. For 2016-17: $10 million.
  1. National Carbon Pricing: Coordinate a national carbon-pricing standard to support the provinces and territories in reaching a harmonized carbon price across Canada of at least $50 per tonne of CO2 by 2020. For 2016-17: $2 million.
  1. Energy Subsidy Reform: Begin the phase-out of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. For 2016-17: $1 million in administration. Estimated savings: $4.694 billion per year in subsidies no longer paid.
  1. Public Transit: Implement new public transit spending. For 2016-17: $2 billion.
  1. Conserving Oceans: Fulfill the government’s commitments to reach Canada’s international marine protection targets, and ensure ocean health by investing in ocean planning to manage development, restore ocean science and monitoring capacity, and transform fisheries management. For 2016-17: $105.5 million.
  1. Green Infrastructure For First Nations Communities: Green infrastructure planning should be integrated into all investments in infrastructure on First Nations land. For 2016-17: $514 million.

Green Budget Coalition: http://greenbudget.ca/recommendations 

Endnotes

[1] My thanks and appreciation to Patricia Warwick (co-founder of Zero-Carbon Ontario), Mitchell Beer (President of Smarter Shift, Climate Reality Project leader), Mark Jaccard (Professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University), and Audrey Dépault (National Manager, The Climate Reality Project Canada) for their valuable feedback on this paper.

[2] “A 2C rise in global temperatures could have consequences including the migration of 20% of the world’s population from cities flooded by sea level rise, such as New York, London and Cairo, according to a study published this month.” The Guardian, Feb 15, 2016. www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/15/europe-climate-change-goals-need-profound-lifestyle-changes-european-commission

[3] Global climate in context as the world approaches 1°C above pre-industrial for the first time. UK Met Office. www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/2015/global-average-temperature-2015

[4] Era of climate science denial is not over, study finds. The Guardian, Jan 6, 2016. www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2016/jan/07/era-of-climate-science-denial-is-not-over-study-finds

[5] The Climate Imperative: Zero Emissions by 2040. Guy Dauncey, BCSEA 2015, www.bcsea.org/2040-imperative

See also The global Carbon Budget after the Paris Agreement. LINGO, Feb 2016, which puts the global carbon budget at 473 Gt of CO2. http://leave-it-in-the-ground.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Post-Paris-Carbon-Budget-LINGO.pdf

[6] Differences between carbon budget estimates unraveled. Nature Climate Change 6, 245–252 (2016). www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n3/full/nclimate2868.html

[7] Six years worth of current emissions would blow the carbon budget for 1.5 degrees. Carbon Brief, Nov 14, 2014. www.carbonbrief.org/six-years-worth-of-current-emissions-would-blow-the-carbon-budget-for-1-5-degrees

[8] Want an effective climate policy? Heed the evidence. Mark Jaccard, Policy Options, Feb 2, 1016. http://policyoptions.irpp.org/issues/want-an-effective-climatepolicy-heed-the-evidence

[9] A future scenario set in the year 2032 in which Plan C happens, including carbon rationing, is laid out in Journey to the Future: A Better World is Possible, by Guy Dauncey (2015). www.journeytothefuture.ca

[10] A look back at the Canadian ration coupon books of WW2. Chronically Vintage, June 10, 2011. http://www.chronicallyvintage.com/2011/06/look-back-at-canadian-ration-coupon.html

[11] Canadian Perspectives on climate change, energy and policy priorities for climate action and the Paris Climate Negotiations: Survey Results. CANET, Nov 23, 2015. http://climateactionnetwork.ca/2015/11/23/canadian-perspectives-on-climate-change-energy-and-policy-priorities-for-climate-action-and-the-paris-climate-negotiations-survey-results/

[12] Canadian disaster relief to cost $900M a year over next 5 years, new PBO report says. CBC, Feb 26, 2016. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/canada-extreme-weather-costs-pbo-report-1.3465264

Estimate of the Average Annual Cost for Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements due to Weather Events. Parliamentary Budget Officer, February 2016. www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/web/default/files/Documents/Reports/2016/DFAA/DFAA_EN.pdf . The PBO estimates the cost to all Canadians at $4.2 billion per year.

[13] The Solutions Project: http://thesolutionsproject.org

Denmark’s commitment to 100% renewable energy. Greenpeace briefing, October 2014.

www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/briefings/climate/2014/BRIEFING-Denmarks-commitment-to-100pct-renewable-energy.pdf

It’s time to transition to 100% clean energy: the wind is now at our backs. The Guardian, Dec 20, 2015/  www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/20/time-for-clean-energy-sustainability-mark-ruffalo

Net Savings of $71 Trillion by 2050 with Transition to Renewable Energy. Clean Technica, May 5,2014. http://cleantechnica.com/2014/09/05/net-savings-71-trillion-2050-transition-renewable-energy/

[14] Almost Twice As Many: Green Jobs in Canada in the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy, by Guy Dauncey. The Practical Utopian, September 2015. https://guydauncey.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/almost-twice-as-many.pdf

[15] Japan’s Top Runner Program: www.eceee.org/events/eceee_events/product_efficiency_08/programme_presentations/Kodaka_TopRunnerProgram.pdf and www.climatepolicy.jp/thesis/pdf/09035dp.pdf

[16] The Benefits and Costs of Increased Electricity Trade Between Quebec and Ontario. Clean Air Alliance. www.cleanairalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/QBbackgrounderpage-feb17.pdf

[17] EPA Fuel Economy Standards: http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/climate/documents/420f12051.pdf

[18] Passive House Legislation in Europe: http://www.passivehouse-international.org/index.php?page_id=176

Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament on the Energy Performance of Buildings: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32010L0031&from=EN

[19] Passive House Retrofit Standard (Ireland): www.seai.ie/Publications/Your_Building_Publications_/Passive_House/Passive_House_Retrofit_Guidelines.pdf

[20] Architecture 2030 has developed detailed plans to get all buildings, both new and retrofits, to zero GHGs by 2050. http://architecture2030.org/paris-to-world-an-end-to-the-fossil-fuel-era/

[21] A proposal to save the middle class … by cutting carbon pollution. David Roberts, Grist, Nov 10, 2014. http://grist.org/climate-energy/a-proposal-to-save-the-middle-class-by-cutting-carbon-pollution/

[22] What is a carbon tax or carbon fee? David Suzuki Foundation. www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/science/climate-solutions/carbon-tax-or-cap-and-trade

Carbon Tax Center: www.carbontax.org

[23] Mariana Mazzucato: http://marianamazzucato.com/the-entrepreneurial-state/

[24] The cooperative economics of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna holds a lesson for the U.S. Robert Fitch. The Nation, May 13, 1996. www.uwcc.wisc.edu/info/bologna.html

Emilia-Romagna, Cooperative Region and Economy, by Mitch O’Gorman. Prezi: www.stories.coop/stories/slideshow/emilia-romagna-cooperative-region-and-economy

[25] Benefit Corporations: www.bcorporation.net

[26] Vancouver Island Green Business Certification: http://www.vigbc.ca

[27] Rocco Galati challenges Bank of Canada to offer interest-free loans. CBC, May 8, 2015. www.cbc.ca/news/business/rocco-galati-challenges-bank-of-canada-to-offer-interest-free-loans-1.3065650 The legal challenge has been dismissed, but the policy argument is as strong as ever, needing a new champion.

[28] This Publicly-Owned Bank Is Outperforming Wall Street. Common Dreams, Nov 19, 2014. www.commondreams.org/views/2014/11/19/publicly-owned-bank-outperforming-wall-street

[29] Financial Risk and the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy. 2 Degrees Investment Initiative, July 2015. http://2degrees-investing.org/IMG/pdf/2dii_risk_transition_low-carbon_workingpaper_jul2015.pdf

Carbon Asset Risk. CERES. www.ceres.org/issues/carbon-asset-risk

Climate change stress tests in financial sector could help avoid financial crisis. Institute for Public Policy Research, Dec 1, 2015. www.ippr.org/news-and-media/press-releases/climate-change-stress-tests-in-financial-sector-could-help-avoid-financial-crisis

[30] Fossil Fuel Subsidies: An analysis of federal financial support to Canada’s oil sector. Pembina Institute, July 2014. www.pembina.org/reports/fossil-fuel-subsidies.pdf

[31] France says ‘no’ to all new oil exploration permits. Inhabitat, Jan 14, 2016. http://inhabitat.com/france-says-no-to-all-new-oil-exploration-permits/

[32] National Zero Waste Council Circular Economy Working Group: www.nzwc.ca/circular-economy/Pages/default.aspx

Moving Towards a Circular Economy. McKinsey & Company. www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability-and-resource-productivity/our-insights/moving-toward-a-circular-economy

[33] Carbon emissions and removals. NRCan: www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/report/disturbance/16552

[34] With Climate Change, Organic Agriculture Could Outperform Conventional Agriculture. Climate Progress, Feb 11, 2016. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/02/11/3748642/organic-agriculture-climate-change-study/

[35] Grazing Prior style. Canadian Cattlemen, April 22, 2014. www.canadiancattlemen.ca/2014/04/22/grazing-prior-style/

[36] Meat-Free Mondays: http://www.meatfreemondays.com     Meat-free days: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meat-free_days

[37] Climate coalition breaks cover in Paris to push for binding and ambitious deal. The Guardian, Dec 8, 2015. www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/08/coalition-paris-push-for-binding-ambitious-climate-change-deal

[38] Phoenix from the Ashes: An analysis of the Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change. Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. January 2016. http://wupperinst.org/en/info/details/wi/a/s/ad/3362/

[39] Developing Canada’s Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aviation. Transport Canada, June 2012. www.icao.int/Meetings/Green/Documents/DAY3/State%20Action%20Plan/7-Rogers.pdf

ICAO under pressure to forge deal on aviation emissions. EurActiv, July 2014. www.euractiv.com/section/transport/news/icao-under-pressure-to-forge-deal-on-aviation-emissions

[40] Canada’s Free Trade Agreements: www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/fta-ale.aspx?lang=eng

[41] A Primer on Trudeau’s $2.65 Billion Green Climate Fund Announcement. DeSmogCanada, Nov 27, 2015. www.desmog.ca/2015/11/27/primer-trudeau-s-2-65-billion-green-climate-fund-announcement

[42] From A Modern Alphabet, by Guy Dauncey. https://thepracticalutopian.ca/2015/09/29/a-modern-alphabet/

[43] With CO2 priced at an average $100 over 10 years, the carbon tax would add $268 to each 1,000 litres of fuel. In 2009, Canada’s railways used 1.87 billion litres of diesel, costing $500 million a year. With full electrification, fuel costs will fall from $2.8 billion a year (diesel at $1.25/litre + carbon tax at $100 /tonne) to $400 million for electricity, saving $2.8 billion a year. See 2010 Rail Trends, page 22. www.railcan.ca/assets/images/trends/2010_12_29_RAC_Trends_2010_en.pdf

[44] Toward a clean train policy: diesel versus electric. West Toronto Chapter, Professional Engineers Ontario. www.academia.edu/5399500/Toward_a_clean_train_policy_diesel_versus_electric

[45] Quebec Cuts Funding to Route Verte – Outcry from Cycling Community and Municipalities. Pedal Magazine, Nov 11, 2014. https://pedalmag.com/quebec-cuts-funding-to-route-verte-outcry-from-cycling-community-and-municipalities

 

Dad, I’m scared and angry. Your generation created this problem.

What are you going to do to fix it?  

– Mary Doerr, 15-year old daughter of John Doerr, in 2007

EarthFuture_logo

© Earthfuture Publications

March 2016

ISBN 978-0-9738058-1-9

Guy Dauncey,

13561 Barney Road, Ladysmith, BC V9G 1E9

guydauncey@earthfuture.com

250-924-1445

http://www.earthfuture.com

When Santa Lost His Reindeer

Santa

It was a week before Christmas, and Santa was busy polishing his boots in the big Winter House, up at the North Pole. It was a pleasant evening, and he was feeling good about life.

“My, don’t these boots look good!” he said to himself as he sat in front of the big log fire, admiring his reflection in the polish. “That should make a show when I’m ready to do my rounds!”

Most of the presents were neatly stacked in the Store House ready for delivery, and the reindeer were asleep in the barn, resting up before the big journey.

All except one, that is – Binky.

Binky was a mischievous young reindeer who was full of energy and ideas – way too many ideas for a young reindeer.

Binky wanted to take the other reindeer up to the Moon – but they said it was too far.

She wanted to take them to visit the Sun – but they said it would be too hot.

Above all, she wanted to take them to visit the Magic Gardens of Greenland – but they laughed at her, and said, “There aren’t any gardens in Greenland – that’s just a fairy-tale. It’s all ice and snow in Greenland, just like it is here! Pooh, Binky! You’re such a silly reindeer. Who ever heard of gardens in Greenland – what a silly idea!”

Even Rudolf, the chief reindeer, thought it was a silly story. And he was an old, old reindeer.

For a day or two, Binky would go around with her head hanging down, feeling sad and sorry for herself – but she would soon perk up again. After all, she was a young and mischievous reindeer. She was sure her great-aunt Gwendolyn Reindeer had told her a story about the Magic Gardens of Greenland – and she was sure she wasn’t making it up.

So while Santa was admiring his shiny black boots and warming his big bottom in front of the fire, Binky was lying awake in the barn, thinking about those gardens in Greenland.

“They must have magic waterfalls!” she thought, “and little ponds with goldfish in them! And great trees, covered in leaves – and flowers of every colour you could think of!” She was so excited, just thinking about it. “I bet they have magic paths you can wander down – and grasses of every flavour. Oh, how much I want to eat some lovely fresh grass, instead of this dried-up hay, and these miserable dried lichens we have to scrape off the rocks. They hurt my tongue! How can he expect us to work all night delivering presents to children all over the world if all we get to eat is dried hay and miserable lichens? I want to go to Greenland. I do want to go to Greenland!”

Poor Binky. The other reindeer all thought she was weird. They laughed at her and turned up their noses. “Binky wants to eat grass in Greenland!!” they said, in silly voices.

But this night, Binky was determined to find the way to Greenland – and to take all the other reindeer with her. If they didn’t come too, how would they believe her when she came back and told them about the garden? But how? Oh dear – it was such a problem. Oh reindeer!

“Reindeer…Rein…deer.” Binky was thinking very hard – so hard, in fact, that her furry antlers were aching. Yes, girl reindeer have antlers, too. “Rein…deer…deer who play in the rain…but rain is so nasty and wet, not nearly as nice as snow…but when it freezes, the rain turns into ice…and the ice is so slippery…and there’s that big patch of ice behind the Store House where Grandpa Santa told us never to play, in case we slipped right away…I wonder…I wonder….”

Binky crept out of the barn as quietly as she could, so as not to wake the other reindeer. She was going to look at the ice. She had to look at the ice!

She shut the barn door very quietly behind her, and trotted over to the big Store House where the Christmas presents were stored. Then she jumped over the wooden fence Grandpa Santa had put up to keep them out – what a silly idea! – and walked around to the back of the Store House.

Then all of a sudden – whoops! – she stepped on something really slippery and before she knew it she was sliding away downhill, gaining speed as she slid. “Help!” she cried out – but there was no-one there to hear. Then suddenly she saw a bend coming up, and as she went round the corner she made an especially big leap and managed to jump off the ice, just in time to save herself.

But as she stood on the bank of the ice-river, looking down to where it was flowing away, ever faster, she heard a voice in her head singing “Greenland! Greenland!” and she just knew that this was the way to Greenland.

As she walked back to the barn, she was thinking, and then thinking some more – and then thinking even some more. My, how her head hurt! So that was the way to Greenland – but how was she going to persuade the other reindeer to join him? They didn’t believe in Greenland, or the Magic Gardens. Maybe she could trick them by telling them she’d found some juicy fresh lichens behind the Store House. Would they believe that? Well, maybe they would! After all, they were all fed up with eating dried old hay and dried old lichens left over from last summer. What reindeer can resist the thought of juicy fresh lichen in the middle of winter?

So Binky ran back to the barn and made all sorts of reindeer noises, saying “Wake up! Wake up! I’ve found some fresh lichen! Fresh lichen! It’s delicious!”

And when they woke up, they said “Where?” and she said, “Behind the Store House, where Grandpa Santa said we should never go! I’ll bet that’s why he won’t let us go there! He wants to keep it all for himself!”

Now if there is one thing that gets a reindeer even more excited than the thought of fresh lichen, it is the thought that someone in the Santa family might be hiding fresh lichen from them. They had heard a rumour that the Santa family collected fresh lichen to make a delicious soup. So it must be true, after all!

As quickly as they could get up, the reindeer rushed out of the barn and over to the Store House. Even Rudolf joined in – he wasn’t going to miss a tasty meal of fresh lichen, if that’s what this was all about. Binky jumped over the fence, shouting “Here!” and then she quickly jumped to one side to avoid the ice. The other reindeer followed her without thinking, and slip! Before they knew it, they were sliding down the ice-river, with Binky jumping on behind.

“Greenland! We’re going to Greenland!” she shouted to herself inside her head.

The other reindeer were too surprised to know what to think. In a flash, they passed the bend in the ice-river where Binky had jumped off, and as the river straightened out they slid faster and faster and faster.

“Wow! This is fun!” the young reindeer thought, as they slid past glaciers and great big ice-mountains. Two polar bears watched them go by from a snow-covered hilltop as they rushed away towards the south, and an arctic hare woke up from her underground sleep, surprised to hear the unexpected noise as the reindeer slid by.

They slid for almost the whole night, until it began to grow light. The reindeer were very surprised, because at the North Pole, where they lived, there was no light at all in the middle of winter. Days and nights were all the same, and they only knew when it was time to get up and when it was time to go to bed because Mrs. Santa came out to feed them.

“Where are we?” they called out, as it began to grow light.

“Greenland!” Binky answered. “We’re going to Greenland!”

And just as she answered they saw a big mountain appear in front of them, unlike any mountain they had seen before. Then as they watched, the ice-river began to slow, until it left them standing on the shore of this strange new land.

“Greenland?” the reindeer all asked, in a very surprised voice. “Greenland?”

“Yes, yes!” Binky replied. “I’m sure it’s Greenland. Let’s go and explore!” And so saying, she led them off the ice and onto the land.

By now some of the young reindeer were quite excited. They thought this was a tremendous adventure, and they had started looking up to Binky as their leader.

“Look – there’s a kind of path!” Miranda reindeer called out. “Let’s follow it!”

So with Miranda and the other young reindeer leading, and Rudolf and the older reindeer following nervously from behind, they trotted up the path and disappeared into a forest.

*

Meanwhile, back at the North Pole, Santa Claus, Mrs. Santa, the elves and the whole Santa family were waking up, ready for another day. There would be children’s letters to read, presents to choose, and then there would be the work of wrapping them all, keeping them separate and carefully listed so that nothing got muddled. It was a lot of work! But the Santa family loved it. This was the very best time of the year – the days before Christmas.

After breakfast, Mrs. Santa went over to the barn to feed the reindeer. As she approached the barn, she had a terrible shock – the barn door was open, and all the reindeer were gone! Gone!

She could see the hoof-prints where they had left the barn, and she quickly followed them over to the Store House. Then she saw the hoof-prints run up to the fence and re-appear on the other side.

“Oh my dear! They must have jumped over the fence and disappeared down the ice-river! This is terrible! Whatever can we do? There’s no way back from down the river, and it’s only six days till Christmas! Whatever are we going to do?”

Back at the house, when Mrs. Santa returned with the news that all the reindeer had got out in the night and disappeared down the river of ice, Santa was completely beside himself.

“This is terrible!” he said, pulling on his beard with both hands. “In all the years we have been delivering presents, we have never missed a year. Never! What are we going to do?”

“What can we do?” Mrs. Santa replied. “They’ve gone down the ice-river! No-one has ever returned from going down the ice-river! That’s why Grandpa Santa fenced it off and told the reindeer never to go near it! You remember Rudolf’s brother, Rimsky? He disappeared down the ice-river years and years ago, and he never came back!”

“Oh, please!” Santa cried, and started snuffling into his big red handkerchief. “Don’t ever mention Rimsky. He was such a lovely reindeer. Next to Rudolf, he was my most favorite reindeer!” Santa started crying, and the tears ran all the way down his beard and into his cereal. “Oh dear, oh reindeer,” he cried. “What ARE we going to do?”

The whole morning passed in this way. Santa felt so miserable that he didn’t feel at all like packing up the presents. Even the elves felt miserable. Every time Santa read a letter, from a little girl in New York who wanted Santa to find a nice warm home for all the people who had to sleep on the streets, or from a boy in Paris who wanted a toy rocket big enough fly him to the top of the Eiffel Tower, he broke down in tears, thinking that he would not be able to make any of them happy. In fact, he thought, it was far worse than that – far, far worse. The terrible truth was, without his reindeer, he would actually make all the children who had written to him most awfully unhappy, because they would go to bed expecting Santa to deliver their presents and they would wake up in the morning, and – oh – this was so terrible! This was awful! They would have no presents at all!

Luckily, Mrs. Santa was more practical.

“Look! It’s no good you sitting around like that moping into your beard. That won’t get us anywhere. We’ll just have to hope that a miracle happens somehow, and they’ll all come back just in time. So meanwhile, you get off your big backside and start packing up these presents. It’s bad enough losing the reindeer without you turning the place into an ice-rink with all your tears. So come on – pull yourself out of it!”

So Santa and Mrs. Santa, with help from the elves and all the Santa family relatives, continued to read the letters, wrap the presents, and stack them in order. Read, wrap, stack. Read, wrap, stack. But it was all so miserable! And every so often, Santa would disappear off to the bedroom to have a big cry. It was not a happy Christmastime, not at all.

*

A long day’s slide away, down at the end of the ice-river, Binky, Miranda and all the other reindeer were exploring their way through the forest. They had never been in a forest before – though Rudolf swore that according to his mother, his great aunt Jemimah had once told her a story about travelling to a place just like this, and finding some kind of magic garden.

“But Rudolf!” Binky said, when Rudolf told them the story, “You swore there was no such place! You were lying! You never told me!”

“Now now, young woman,” Rudolf replied, in a sweet-tempered voice. “I never told any lies. If you remember, I just said nothing – nothing at all! I just didn’t want you getting us into any kind of trouble! And now look where we are! Miles away from home, and only five days till Christmas! And how are we going to get home? I’ll bet you never thought about that. Only five days to Christmas, with all those presents to deliver, and here we are, lost in the middle of nowhere. You could at least have chosen summer to make this kind of journey. I don’t know – you young reindeer, you’re all the same.”

None-the-less, there was a twinkle in Rudolf’s eyes, as if, well, as if he wasn’t too upset to be undertaking an adventure as big as this. Maybe even Rudolf got fed up with old hay and half-dead dried lichens, Binky thought, and wanted a change.

After a while the forest began to thin out and they came to a large green field that spread as far as the eye could see.

“Greenland! This must be Greenland!” Miranda shouted. By now, the other young reindeer thought Binky was a genius. “Where’s the Magic Garden?” Miranda asked.

Binky looked out across the field. It was awfully big. In fact, it seemed to go on for ever! She began to feel rather disappointed.

Just then, however, there was a squeal of pleasure from one of the older female reindeer, who had started nibbling at the grass.

“Taste the grass!” she shouted. “Taste the grass!”

Everyone started eating, and sure enough, the grass tasted wonderful. It was so soft, fresh and sweet, like nothing they had ever tasted before.

And then Binky looked up, and when she looked back towards the forest she saw an apple tree in full bloom, covered in tiny pink flowers – and some brightly coloured birds with great long tails, flying in and out of the trees.

“Look! Look!” she cried, and everyone turned to look at the forest, which had changed from the dark, quiet forest they had arrived through and was now full of colour and movement.

“But that’s beautiful!” Miranda squealed. “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful! Let’s go and play in it!”

And without delay, the reindeer all ran over to the forest.

It was truly magical. In all his long years, Rudolf had never dreamed of anything quite like it – and when you are eating your way through endless piles of stale hay, the same every day, you do tend to dream a bit sometimes.

There were coloured birds of every description, and bushes covered in huge green leaves, and flowers of every shape and size you could think of. There were huge red flowers, and tiny blue ones, and flowers with a hundred tiny flowers all clustered up the stem, and flowers with just one big beautiful blossom, smelling more fragrant than the freshest summer lichen they had ever tasted. So Binky had been right! There was a Magic Garden!

For three days, the reindeer wandered among the trees, eating the grass, nibbling on the flowers and sleeping in the sun. Surely, old Agnes reindeer thought, she must have died and gone to reindeer heaven. In all her sixty years of reindeer living, she had never known anywhere quite so beautiful.

On the fourth day, however, Rudolf came up to Binky, and beckoned her away for a short talk.

“Binky,” he said, “This is certainly all very lovely, and it was most clever of you to trick us into coming – but it is only two days until Christmas, and really, it is time we should be getting back. After all, if we’re not there to deliver the Christmas presents, how will Santa manage? He’ll never be able to deliver them on his own.”

Binky blinked. Christmas? Oh my goodness, she thought, so it is. She had really only imagined that they would be away for a day or so. It had never crossed her mind that they might not be home for Christmas. But where was the way home?

“Bu…bu…but Rudolf,” she said, rather nervously, feeling a bit foolish, “I d…d…don’t know how to get home. The ice-river brought us here. And it only seemed to flow one way. What are we going to do?”

“Oh dear,” Rudolf thought. “In fact, I shall say, oh reindeer. Now we are in a pickle. We’ll have to call everyone together and see if anyone has any ideas.”

So together, Rudolf and Binky spent the afternoon wandering through the forest finding all the scattered reindeer, telling them to meet by the big pond for a very important meeting that evening. Some of the reindeer were lying in the sun, asleep on their backs with their legs in the air. Some were bathing in a beautiful lake they had discovered. Several of the younger reindeer had fallen in love, and were smooching and canoodling with each other in quiet places. It was all very difficult to find everyone, but eventually by evening all the reindeer had gathered by the pond.

Rudolf cleared his throat, ready to speak.

“My friends, my fellow reindeer. We owe a great apology to our young friend Binky, for all the many times we laughed at her and said unkind or unpleasant things. I must apologize too, for even though my mother once told me that her great aunt Jemimah had told her stories about some kind of a magic forest, I didn’t believe her, and I chose not to believe anything Binky was saying either – so by not saying anything, I encouraged you all to tease her and say unkind things. So, Binky was right. This is truly a wonderful, magical place.

“But the truth is, my friends,” he went on, “that lovely as it is, it is only two days until Christmas, and without us, Santa will not be able to deliver any of his presents.”

From all over the herd, there were small murmurs and shouts of distress. “Oh! Oh!” the reindeer cried, as they began to realize their situation. “What are we going to do?” they all asked at once. “How are we going to get home?”

“Well,” old Rudolf continued, “it seems we have a problem. Neither Binky nor I have any idea how to return. Not at all. We were rather hoping that one of you might have found the way home.”

There was silence throughout the herd. Not a sound was made, not even a neigh, as the herd waited, and hoped that someone would speak up with the answer.

But no, there was not an answer. And as they waited, the true awfulness of their situation sank in. Tomorrow would be Christmas Eve, and by tomorrow night they had to be winging their way around the world, carrying Santa and his sacks of presents to all the world’s children. There had never been a Christmas without Santa, and without presents. It was unthinkable! But what were they to do?

But just then, just as they were beginning to lose hope of ever finding an answer, or a way back home, there was a stirring at the back of the herd. The younger reindeer moved aside, and through the herd there came a very old reindeer they had never seen before. His hair was grey, and his antlers were the most magnificent they had ever seen – bigger even than Rudolf’s. There was complete silence as he made his way through the herd.

When Rudolf saw this old grey reindeer he felt a funny shudder go all the way down his spine, making his tail shake with an ancient, long-lost feeling he hadn’t felt for years. Could it be? No, surely not – but wait, could it possibly be? Could it be? Why, yes, it was…it was Rimsky, his long-lost brother!

“Rimsky!” he roared. “Rimsky – it’s you! You old devil! How can it be…What are you doing here? This is amazing!”

And as the herd watched, Rudolf and Rimsky broke into a wild and excited dance, prancing up against each other, clashing antlers, scuffing the ground, and behaving in a totally childlike way.

Eventually they calmed down and turned to face the herd. Rimsky cleared his throat, and began to speak in a very low, gruff voice.

“My friends,” he said, “it is very wonderful to see you all. I have been living here alone for over twenty years, and I never thought I should live to see you again, or to play with my brother Rudolf. This is indeed a miracle. I have many stories to tell, but for that you must wait, because I have listened to your concerns from the back of the herd, and I believe I know the way home.”

There was absolute silence as the herd gazed in amazement at this venerable old reindeer, and waited to see what he would say.

“When I first came here, I was so excited that I fell in love with this paradise, and I forgot all sense of time. After a while, I realized that I must have missed Christmas, and to tell the truth, I was too ashamed to return, even though I had long since been told what I think is the way to get home. For a reindeer to miss Christmas is such a terrible thing, that I could never find the courage to go back and face you all, so I thought it best to stay here, and hope that in time, you would forget me. I have had my sadnesses, but this is such a magical place that I have made many new friends, so I have not lived an entirely unhappy life.”

“But now it is time to return, both for me and for all of us. A long time ago, a bluebird told me that a long way to the north there is a river made from ice that flows towards the north. She said that according to the old birds’ tales, which have been passed down over years and years, the ice-river leads directly to the North Pole. If this is true, it is our only hope. But we must leave immediately! If we travel all night, we may just get back in time. But there’s no time to waste! Binky, Miranda? Will you come with me at the front? Rudolf – will you take up the rear, to make sure we don’t lose anyone in the forest? It gets very dark, and it is easy to lose your way.”

So the herd of reindeer travelled all through the night, and as dawn approached they came to the banks of a flowing river of ice, just as the bluebird had said.

“Come on!” Rimsky said. “There’s no time to waste!” – and he jumped onto the ice, followed by the rest of the herd, with Rudolf jumping on at the end.

The ice was soon moving very fast, just as it had on their journey down, and as they travelled north the sun soon disappeared from view until they were travelling in complete darkness. Only the stars were there to give them light, and as the reindeer rested on the ice, tired after their long trek through the forest, they marveled at how many stars there were scattered across the sky, twinkling as they shone, and they felt excited at the thought of returning home.

The ice-river carried them on for hours and hours until finally, it began to slow. Rudolf stood up, and looked around. With difficulty, he made his way to the front, taking great care on the slippery ice. The stars seemed to be in the right place, which told him that they must be very close to home. And then finally, as the ice slowed still more, he saw a light on the horizon.

“Look, everyone!” he shouted. “Look! We’re home!”

“We’re home! We’re home!” everyone shouted, and without delay they leapt off the ice and started running across the snow.

All except Rimsky. He stepped off the ice-river, but then he paused and hung his head.

“What’s up, old brother?” Rudolf asked. “Come on – we’re home! Everyone will be delighted to see you!”

“I can’t,” old Rimsky said. “I’m too ashamed. I have missed – oh, I don’t know how many Christmases. I can’t go back now, and just walk in as if nothing had happened. I’d rather die here, or just disappear off into the snow. You go on without me, my brother. I’m old now. I’ve had my day.”

“What nonsense!” Rudolf replied. “Why, you old scoundrel! First, you go off and have a great old time, living in clover with every flavour of sweet grass around you for twenty years, and then you threaten to disappear again without telling us your stories? No! There’s no way you’re disappearing. And what’s more – you’re coming with us, tonight, when we all go out with Santa! I love you, Rimsky – and you’re coming with us!”

Rimsky did not have the strength to argue, so slowly, he and Rudolf walked towards the lights of the houses.

*

Back at the big house, Santa was feeling as low as he had ever felt in his whole life. Lucky for him, Mrs. Santa, the elves and the rest of the Santa family had buckled down and got the remaining presents wrapped and stacked, just in case there was a miracle, as Mrs. Santa had said there might be. Poor old Santa, she thought to herself. After all, it’s not we who will have to face the children next year and explain why they didn’t have any presents this year. He must feel awful. But there’s nothing to be done for it. If there was a miracle, and we hadn’t got any presents wrapped, then what would we do? Always look on the bright side, I say. It’s certainly better than looking on the dark side!

Just then, there was a great noise and a racket outside the door.

As quick as she could fly, Mrs. Santa ran to the door and flung it open.

“Goodness be to heaven,” she cried. “They’re home! Santa! Santa! Come quickly! They’re home!”

And sure enough, there they were, prancing and dancing in the snow, as excited as could be, so happy you could see them laughing. Santa and Mrs. Santa, along with the elves and all the Santa family poured out onto the snow, and oh my, how they hugged their reindeer. What a relief! How pleased they were to see them!

But then Santa suddenly stood up and said, “Where’s Rudolf? Is he here too? Where’s Rudolf?”

Everyone looked around, but Rudolf was nowhere to be seen.

And then out in the darkness, some distance away, they saw not one, but two elderly reindeer, walking slowly towards them through the snow.

Santa and Mrs. Santa strained their eyes to see who it was, and then they looked around the herd to see who was missing. No, there was no-one missing – they were all there, except Rudolf. So who was this? Who was it?

It was then that Santa saw – and understood. It was – no, it couldn’t be – but yes, it was Rimsky, his long lost reindeer.

“RIMSKY!!” he roared at the very top of his voice, and went charging off across the snow faster than if all the reindeer had been pulling him. “Rimsky! It’s you! You’re home!”

From the house, the elves, the Santa family and all the reindeer watched as Santa ran up to Rimsky and threw himself at him, hugging him round the neck, kissing him all over. At first, Rimsky did not know how to respond – he was still feeling ashamed for having missed so many Christmases. But then slowly he looked up, looked Santa in the eye, and when he saw how happy Santa was to see him he began to cry large, slow tears, which rolled down his fur, turning into ice on his beard. Then he started to nuzzle Santa, and his tears flowed until they were all done, and he could look Santa in the eye, and know how thoroughly, how happily, he had come home. Then Santa jumped on his back, and they all rode back to the house, through the neighing and the cheering reindeer.

That night (for it seemed as if it was always night) they had the greatest of celebrations, and everyone – all the reindeer, Rudolf, Rimsky, Binky, Miranda, Santa, Mrs. Santa, the elves and the whole Santa family – were as happy as they could ever remember.

And after they had celebrated, and then rested, they all took off for the one greatest journey of the year, the one that was greater than all other journeys, the journey of Christmas. And all around the world, the little children, who were safe and snug in their beds, would have their presents after all.

And as for Binky, she was the happiest and proudest reindeer of them all.

So there was a Greenland, she thought to himself, as she rode through the night sky with Rudolf, Rimsky and all the other reindeer, carrying presents to children all around the world.

And there was a Magic Garden.

THE END

Santa’s Reindeer

 

A Modern Alphabet

Alphabet

 Thanks to Terry Sohl for the photo image, and to William Morris for the letters.

Opportunities to perform this are welcome. I hope to get it on YouTube soon. 

william-morris-letter-a

A is for Albatross

A is for Albatross,

far-winging freely across oceans of wonder,

mating for life till they die,

but their chicks have a diet of grim plastic plunder,

filling their bellies with lies.

.

Death-stranded now on far distant islands,

wings ne’er to fly,

hearts ne’er to guide those bold ancient mariners,

genes all to die.

.

From millions of years of glorious biology

their future ends now in the junk of our age,

with the white tampon applicator, plastic red lighter,

broken remains of the six-pack brigade.

.

Grief is the world of the albatross bird-poets,

passing their wisdom from adult

to wings that will never sing, hearts that will never beat.

Oceans fall silent.

.

The human heart knows not the depth of our folly,

to empty this world of albatross wings.

.

william-morris-letter-b

B is for Beauty

B is for Beauty, balm for the soul,

breathing its harmony into the whole.

Mountains so glorious, wrapped up in ancientness,

mornings so intimate, mist through the dawn.

.

Music so delicate, dancing divinity,

silence so exquisite, forests so old.

Nothing could heal the ache that we’d feel

if beauty was gone from us, never to heal.

.

 Unknown

C is for Cecil

C is for Cecil, the pride of Zimbabwe,

lion of the universe, proud of his own,

shot by a dentist, first wounded then blasted

then skinned for a trophy to hang on a wall.

.

Pride of creation, pride of Earth’s nation,

pride of all animals, shame of our own.

.

Thus now for centuries, songbirds and buffalo,

rhinos and beavers, killed for our gain,

food for the pot or fuel for our egos,

wolves, sea otters, tigers, whales.

.

 william-morris-letter-d

D is for Diaphany

D is for Diaphany, soul of divinity,

echo of love that rings through creation,

spark of the Universe sings through all consciousness,

general, omnipresent, diaphanous whole.

.

Why do we love, why seek higher harmony?

How do we know that we’re part of some whole?

Why Jesus, Mohammed, why Buddha, why Krishna,

if not that they offer a way to come home?

.

Surrender to emptiness, cast off the holding lines,

fall in embrace of miraculous whole.

Give up the struggle, let go the defending line,

love in diaphany lightens the soul.

.

william-morris-letter-e

E is for Energy

E is for Energy, power up and get there,

amazing machines that can rush round the world using

fire from Earth’s fossil fuels, fission and dynamite,

power that can satisfy passion and fury.

.

E is for energy, all solar energy,

distant past fossils from aeons ago,

locked up in earth for myriad millennia

then suddenly freed and let loose to give birth

to powerful industry, steam pumps and symmetry,

armies so fast they can kill from afar,

then questions, then misery, nature catastrophe,

atmosphere filling with carbon catarrh.

.

If E for Ecology, Earth-love and Empathy,

maybe we’ll change just in time to restore

the balance of carbon, balance of wisdom,

put envy aside and return to the core.

.

william-morris-letter-f

F is for Future

F is for Future, a world without fossil fuels,

new solar symphony changing the gyre,

clean up our garbage, restore Nature’s harmony,

offer our children the hopes they desire.

.

F is for future without a plutocracy,

no more tax havens corrupting the vine,

Instead clear democracy, justice and equity

bring change and compassion, all down the line.

.

images

G is for Gross

G is for Gross Depletion of the Planet,

the GDP all economists seek,

the ripping, the tearing, the cutting and killing

that brings us such wealth, and Nature’s defeat.

.

Gross is the weight of the rainforests leveled,

gross is the volume of metal ores mined,

gross is the sadness of species gone missing

and people long driven from ancestral lands.

.

william-morris-letter-h

H is for Hope

H is for Hope, the fuel of our future,

the magic ingredient that powers all our dreams,

the purpose, the mission, the guiding commitment

that helps us work miracles, helps us build teams.

.

They say hope springs eternal, but is that really so?

The teenagers I know feel worry and grey

for the future they’ll live in where hope’s far away.

.

Dig deep is what’s needed to let hope have sway,

to unearth its power and give joy to the day.

Earth’s problems are many and we are the cause,

but we’re also the answer, to open the doors.

.

william-morris-letter-i

I is for Ice

I is for Ice, melting fast, melting everywhere,

dripping and flooding, rising the sea,

Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, glaciers

feeling the heat of the carbon-soaked sky.

.

Challenging intellect, fathoming history,

calling on courage to understand why.

.

Ice in the heart leads to ice in the brain,

failure to see Nature’s warnings in vain.

Failure to comprehend, failure to apprehend

causes that threaten a deep watery grave.

.

william-morris-letter-j

J is for Joy

J is for Joy, singing bright in the innerworld,

permanent pillar of kindness unfurled.

Joy makes all nature sing,

friendship and music bring

blissful communion to life’s inner swirl.

.

 william-morris-letter-k

K is for Killing

K is for Killing, the inverse of Kindness,

the sorry debacle when all people think is

to stab or to shoot, to bomb or explode,

machine-gun to pieces, the heart turned to cold.

.

We’ve done it on battlefields, done it in darkness,

done it in prison cells, done it at dawn.

We’ve done it for love and we’ve done it for hatefulness,

done it for greed, in stupidity’s maw.

.

We’ve done it to humans, we’ve done it to animals,

once filled with life on the hoof or the wing,

packed into cages then trucked to oblivion

every last one of them longing to live

one more day, one more night,

one more dawn in this paradise,

blessed, alive again, breathing the light.

.

When will we cease? Open hearts to a better way,

talking and sharing instead of the gun,

living life without cruelty, food without misery,

sharing creation under the sun.

.

william-morris-letter-l

L is for Love

L is for Love, the ocean’s vast longing,

the music, the mystery, two become one.

One become many, then Earth become whole again,

all by love’s silence, burst into song.

.

L is for love, the heart’s way of saying

you’re part of me, all of me, show me the way

to touch you, to care for you, treasure and share with you

all of life’s colours, all of life’s grey.

.

L is for love for the deepest great mystery,

spirit of everything, silent within,

love that’s returned to us, each every one of us,

love that embraces us, holds us as one.

.

Open my heartstrings, show me the way,

show me love’s mysteries: this do I pray.

.

 3acb18af5c2ca7c61e4821f1ea381223

M is for Mammoth

M is for Mammoth, the last of the giant ones,

roaming the Earth before humans appeared,

life before danger, life before spears,

life for ten million years under the stars.

.

What do we know, we who so lately came

here onto nature’s stage, hunting our way?

Seen by the mammoths, seen by the short-faced bears,

seen by the bison, roaming the plains.

.

Time’s our accompanist, here in the present

but time holds such secrets, before and beyond.

Time was the mammoths’ friend long before we arrived,

then no more.

.

william-morris-letter-n

N is for Nature

N is for Nature, miracles everywhere

filling the planet with green creeping vines,

from tiniest microbes to wandering wolverines,

explosion of living, wings, teeth and eyes.

.

Starting with atoms then built into molecules,

mixed with rich carbon infused with belief

in a future so possible, strange and improbable,

bursting all over from crevice to reef.

.

Nature’s our origin, seed, life and everything,

total surrounding, total within.

To think we are separate, better or different,

that has to be the original sin.

.

william-morris-letter-o

O is for Ocean

O is for Ocean, deepest far water-sweep,

carrying memories far,

source of all life, evolution’s long ancestry,

all DNA began here.

.

Ocean deep ocean, even the waters weep

plagued by our plastic and trash,

stripped of your best and left bare for the jellyfish,

slave to the bankers and cash.

.

What are we doing that we plough you so thoroughly,

chasing anchovy, pollock and squid

with our trawl nets so deep and our long lines so lengthily

trolling your depths for a quid?

.

Add heat from the atmosphere, acid from carbonsphere,

toxins from oil spills and tar,

sick is the word that burdens your waters,

urgent the need to repair.

.

Unknown

P is for Peace

P is for Peace, when we sleep in our beds at night

unworried by rockets or bombs,

when the harvest comes in and we party so merrily,

peace with our hearts and our kin.

.

P’s for Persistence, that breaks down the violence,

silences missiles and drones,

makes people talk and begin to communicate,

find common ground in our bones.

.

william-morris-letter-q

Q is for Quandary

Q is for Quandary, challenging choices,

whether to fight—or to sleep?

Join in the effort to make this a better world

or just change the channel, and weep.

.

Driving’s so easy, steaks are so tasty,

plastic bags are, oh my, so convenient,

but what if it’s true, what they say about climate change,

what if we have to act now?

.

What will my friends say, what will they think

if I pick up a placard and march?

If I join in the struggle

make effort to help us grasp

.

Victory at last over money and lassitude,

corruption and cruel inequality,

victory over the power of the plutocrats,

bring back democracy, fast.

.

william-morris-letter-r

R is for Revolution

R’s for Revolution, for change in the streets,

for change in our hearts and our minds,

for change in our inner-scapes, change in our vision

change in our reasoning why.

.

R’s for re-evolution, a rolling of the soul,

a turning of attitudes grey,

out of the doldrums of endless dull listlessness

into a joy that will grow

Into a future so bright with the possible,

dreams long suppressed that now live,

ending the racism, put-downs and ridicule,

entering rainbows and love.

.

Right here over the rainbow, real dreams fly.

If dreams fly over the rainbow, so, then oh so, shall I.

If other people choose to fly

beyond the rainbow so, oh, so shall I!

.

william-morris-letter-s

S is for Spirit

S is for Spirit, the heart of who we are,

the voice that speaks so quietly,

the voice that speaks so far.

.

S is for Spirit, the heart of one and all,

the song of the whole Universe, the song of divinity’s thrall.

.

 william-morris-letter-t

T is for Truth

T is for Truth, is it easy to tell it

when comfort and lies intervene?

When solid reality speaks of a tragedy

waiting its millions to claim?

.

The truth is we’re cooking the planet in carbon,

we’re loading the oceans with grief,

we’re melting the icecaps and burning the forests,

burdening Earth past belief, but…

.

The truth it is also that visions impossible

now stand ready to chime,

that people are ready and change is inevitable,

everything changes in time.

.

 william-morris-letter-u

U is for Utopia

U is for Utopia, the hopes that persist,

tucked in the back of our minds.

The dreams of what’s possible, ready and practical,

over the rainbows and rhymes.

.

It’s common to mock it, to chuckle and denigrate,

say that it never can be,

but all the good changes we now see as normal

were once utopian dreams.

.

 william-morris-letter-v

V is for Victory

V is for Victory, laughter and ecstasy,

everyone’s efforts rewarded.

Vision of centuries, labour of many hearts,

history changed and recorded.

.

 william-morris-letter-w

W is for Wave

W is for the Wave that sweeps across continents,

awakening the vision to thrive,

saying “Now!” saying “Come join us!” to millions of people

who have dreamt of this day all their lives.

.

 william-morris-letter-x

X is for for eXtraordinary

X is for eXtraordinary, the efforts we make

to save precious Earth from the worst,

to use all our brilliance to serve the emergence

of this new evolutionary burst.

.

 william-morris-letter-y

Y is for You

Y is for You, the great possibility,

loving and skillful and wise,

saying ‘Yes, I am part of this, I share in the heart of this,’

joining the blessed surprise.

.

 william-morris-letter-z

Z is for Zenith

Z is for Zenith, the climax, the far above,

Earth on the edge of transforming

from fossil to solar, from exploit to restoring

to wisdom, to essence, to love.

A Bold New Climate Vision: If I was Prime Minister of Canada, How Would I Tackle The Climate Crisis?

Bold

By Guy Dauncey

New Scientist magazine reported in June that five meters of future sea-level rise is already locked in, due to the steady collapse of the West Antarctic Ice-Sheet. If we don’t act rapidly, their staff reported, it will be twenty metres.

The full extent of the flooding will not happen for several thousand years, but “locked-in” is the phrase they used.[1] Venice, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Vancouver, London, Mumbai, Kolkata; large parts of Holland; a large part of Bangladesh and many cities in China—all will be under water.[2]

Right now, the climate crisis is causing drought conditions that could end commercial food production in California. The record-breaking heat, drought and forest fires in western Canada are causing distress, fear and death, as well as huge damage. The great blob of warm water and the resulting algae bloom in the eastern Pacific is threatening the salmon as well as the shellfish. With the plankton numbers in the ocean plummeting and rivers being too warm to migrate up to spawn, their future is in peril. Think to the future, and what we’re experiencing today is only a small indicator of far worse to come.

To all except the deniers, the climate science explains what’s causing Earth’s temperature to rise. It’s not the Sun, not the Earth’s changing orbit, not volcanoes, not deforestation, not ozone pollution, not aerosol pollution, not chemtrails: it’s the greenhouse gas emissions that result from burning ancient fossil fuels, destroying Earth’s forests, and other human activities.[3]

If we really understood the severity of the crisis, if we understood in our hearts the grief that our children and grandchildren will experience long after we’re gone, what would we do?

What would I do if I was Prime Minister of Canada in October 2015? It’s an important question that everyone one of us should ask. Canada’s current commitments are abysmal, [4] more informed by religious fundamentalism than by climate science.[5]

My First Week In Office: A Nation-Wide Broadcast 

As the imaginary leader of one of Canada’s main opposition parties, my team would already have already consulted with Canada’s best and brightest climate scientists and renewable energy specialists. As a result, within my first week in office I would host a nation-wide broadcast in which we would lay out the dangers, and show how a future with a greatly reduced use of fossil fuels could be just as comfortable and dynamic as the Canada we know today.

I would then announce a bold new climate vision, telling Canadians that my government would work to achieve an urgent and rapid transition to 100% renewable energy by 2040, moving to the front of technological change and generating hundreds of thousands of new jobs while leaving most of the remaining coal, oil and gas in the ground, supported by public banking to create the credit needed to finance the transition.

To coordinate the process I would create a new department, Climate Canada, absorbing the important energy-related portfolios of Industry and Natural Resources, and my ministers would make two major announcements a week leading up to the crucial UN Paris Climate Conference in December, which I would attend in person, accompanied by the entire Climate Team from my Cabinet.

First Announcement: A Price on Carbon

My government’s first announcement would be in Victoria, BC, where my new Minister of Finance would invite the provincial Premiers to meet as soon as possible to coordinate a plan for a single Canada-wide carbon tax based on BC’s example, starting at $50 a tonne and increasing by $10 a year, with 80% of the income being used to finance the transition to 100% renewable energy and 20% being returned to people on lower incomes. The tax would generate $20 billion rising to $30 billion a year to invest in the transition.

Second Announcement: Greener Buildings

Three days later my new Minister of Urban Affairs would make an announcement in Winnipeg introducing a series of incentives and tax credits to make homes and buildings more energy efficient and to switch to renewable sources of heat. She would announce my government’s intention that starting in 2020 every new building must be zero carbon, and that low cost loans would be available for building retrofits and district energy systems with the goal of reducing emissions from buildings to zero by 2040. In doing so, the work would generate up to 90,000 new direct and indirect jobs. [6]

Third Announcement: Transportation

The following Monday my Minister of Transportation would make a big announcement in Toronto, where he would lay out the government’s commitment to the solar-electrification of Canada’s railways, the integration of provincial electric vehicle incentives into a single Canadian program, and the goal that all new cars and light trucks manufactured in Canada would be electric by 2025.

He would announce a large funding commitment for transit and safe separated bike lanes, that he would work with Canada’s mayors to increase the share of transit and cycling to 50% of trips by 2040, and that Canada would work with other nations to make urgent progress towards 100% renewable energy for the difficult challenges of long-distance trucking, shipping and flying.

The work would generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in transit, 14,000 jobs electrifying the railways, a strong auto-manufacturing industry, and up to 75,000 new jobs in cycle tourism as Canada’s network of safe bike pathways grows.

 Fourth Announcement: Fossil Fuels

The next announcement would be by my new Minister of Climate, in Fort McMurray, Alberta, where she would explain that due to the urgency of the climate crisis no new federal permits would be approved for the transportation or export of Canada’s coal, oil and gas resources, either by pipeline or by rail.

To balance the pain, and to address the gradual loss of 550,000 direct and indirect jobs in fossil fuels, my government would work with communities and the provinces to develop programs to help people retrain for new jobs, and to help affected communities design and build a new future without fossil fuels.

Fifth Announcement: Electricity

The fifth announcement would be by my Secretary of State for Energy at the University of Saskatoon, standing next to a solar home. Working with the provinces, he would develop a plan to phase out all coal-fired power plants in Canada by 2020, followed by all gas-fired power plants, replacing them with solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and other renewable energy resources. He would also launch a Canada-wide drive to increase the efficiency of lights, appliances, fans and other equipment, and to encourage energy-saving behaviour. As an estimate, the work would result in 85,000 new direct and indirect jobs, growing to 125,000 new jobs by 2040.

Sixth Announcement: Business and Industry

The sixth announcement would be in Halifax, where my Secretary of State for Industry and Natural Resources, based within Climate Canada, would issue a challenge to every business in Canada: become a certified Benefit Corporation, embracing a legal change to your governing principles that commits you to produce social and environmental benefits as well as profit, and the government will give you a tax-break.[7]

He would urge every company to seek ways to become more competitive by becoming more energy efficient, and announce plans to develop a Canada-wide program of Green Business Certification based on the model developed on Vancouver Island.[8]

He would also announce that starting immediately every business seeking a grant, loan or export assistance must submit a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by 5% a year, and that to build Canada’s economy without fossil fuels his department would develop a new program to support innovation and entrepreneurship in schools, universities and communities, including First Nations, women and minorities.

Seventh Announcement: Farming and Ranching

Three days later my Minister for Agriculture would make an announcement from a Quebec organic farm, where she would emphasize the importance of organic farming and management-intensive livestock grazing for sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. She would list the many externalized costs of conventional farming and announce the government’s intention to introduce a new tax on pesticides and fertilizers, with 100% of the revenue being returned to farmers to support the transition to organic status. She would also talk about the climate impact of intensively raised beef, and urge people to join the federal cabinet in making every Monday a meat-free day.

Eighth Announcement: Forests

Toward the end of that week my new Secretary of State for Forests, based within Climate Canada, would make an announcement in Whitehorse, Yukon. Emphasizing the importance of Canada’s forests as another important source of carbon sequestration, as well as of jobs and economic prosperity, he would invite the provincial forest ministers to meet to develop new standards to protect the carbon in the forest, protect the forests from devastating climate-induced wildfires, and come up with new ways to overcome the American softwood lumber agreement and develop more value-added jobs in the forest industry.

Ninth Announcement: Canada’s First Nations

At the start of the next week, my new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs would meet with First Nations leaders in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, where he would make a commitment to regular consultations, and propose an offer to accelerate the treaty-making process, writing off the accumulated legal costs. He would also propose a new initiative to retrofit 200,000 sub-standard First Nations homes, and to train First Nations people in the skills to develop businesses and cooperatives providing solar and wind energy, energy storage, passive house building and zero-carbon home retrofitting in First Nations and neighbouring communities.

Tenth Announcement: Education & Training

That same week my Secretary of State for Climate Education would invite the education ministers from every province to meet in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where, if she has done her homework, they would announce a threefold commitment: to ensure that climate education in Canada’s schools place most of its emphasis on solutions to the crisis, not just the problems; that Canada’s colleges develop the necessary training programs for the renewable energy transition; and that every school, college and university in Canada would convert to 100% renewable energy by 2025.

Eleventh Announcement: Climate Science

For the eleventh announcement, my new Secretary of State for Science, based within Climate Canada, would invite Canada’s leading climate scientists and Inuit leaders to meet with her in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where she would announce her goal that the entire Arctic should become a marine protected area.

She would also announce the restoration of all climate science programs cut under the previous government, and that henceforth all Canadian scientists and researchers would be allowed to speak freely, and never again fear the loss of their jobs for speaking out.

Twelfth Announcement: Community Engagement

For the penultimate announcement my Secretary of State for Community Engagement, based within Climate Canada, would meet in Glassville, New Brunswick, with staff and volunteers from the Falls Brook Centre and with Craig and Marc Keilburger from the youth empowerment organization MetoWe, where they would jointly invite Canadians to gather in stadiums across the country for a series of inspirational celebrations of Canada’s new vision and our determination to be a world-leader in the fight against climate change and our embrace of a renewable energy future. She would also announce a new funding program for community climate initiatives, and invite 20,000 Canadians to train to become Climate Solutions Leaders in their communities.[9]

Final Announcement: The Paris Climate Conference

Finally, before leaving for the UN climate conference in Paris, I would bring my entire climate team to Charlottetown, PEI, where I would once again emphasize the urgency of the crisis and where I would announce Canada’s intentions to work with the world’s nations to achieve three things:

  1. A mandatory global carbon cap set low enough to create a 75% chance that the temperature would not rise by more than 2°C, requiring an average 5% reduction in emissions by every country, every year.
  1. That in addition to their commitments to reduce their emissions the world’s nations would agree to work on a series of climate solutions treaties to accelerate specific solutions.
  1. That the world’s wealthier nations would do everything in their power to produce by 2020 the $100 billion Green Climate Fund promised in 2010 to help developing nations with the cost of coping with the climate crisis and to support the renewable energy transition. I would announce that Canada, with 2.25% of the global GDP, would provide $4 billion at $1 billion a year.

What would these announcements cost? My Climate Solutions Budget (Appendix 1 below) shows annual expenditures of $22.5 billion, set against carbon tax income averaging $22.6 billion over three years.

By retaining 80% of the income from the carbon tax, $20 billion would be withdrawn from consumer spending, but it would all be spent back into the economy, generating jobs and restoring consumer spending. Over the period of the transition to renewable energy, the plan would generate almost twice as many jobs as would be lost, enabling Canada’s economy to come through the transition in good shape.

*

This is just one possible way to address the climate crisis: there will be many more. What would you do? What would you ask our actual political leaders to do?

With every month that we delay, the carbon emissions keep growing, the forests keep burning, the ice keeps melting, the ocean and rivers keeps warming, the sudden floods and deluges keep coming, the droughts keep lasting longer, the stream of climate-related refugees increases, the death-toll keeps rising, and the likelihood of a locked-in 20-metre sea-level rise keeps growing. We must act now.

About the Author

Guy Dauncey is an author and futurist who works to develop a positive vision of a sustainable future, and to translate the vision into action. He is founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, and the author or co-author of nine books, including the award-winning Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic and The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming. He is currently completing his tenth book Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible. He is an Honorary Member of the Planning Institute of BC, and a Fellow of the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. His websites are www.earthfuture.com and The Practical Utopian.

 

Appendix 1: A Climate Solutions Budget ($ CAN billion)

Initiative

$ IN

$ OUT

A carbon tax starting at $50 a tonne on 500 million tonnes of CO2. 80% of the income to finance the transition to 100% renewable energy, 20% returned to low-income Canadians. Income averaged over three years. For income from future years, see below. 22.6 0
For building retrofits, the tax credits and incentives would pay for themselves through GST on building products. Low-interest loans self-financing through savings. The government would create the credit needed to advance low interest loans by forming a new Public Development Bank. 1.0
The shift to renewable electricity would be self-financed through the normal process of tendering for wind, solar and geothermal power, supported by solar feed-in tariffs until the price of solar PV falls sufficiently. 1.0
Based on the Ontario Metrolinx Go Rail electrification numbers, railway electrification would cost $7 billion a year, split between the railway companies and the government. Canada’s railways hauled 289 million tonnes of freight in 2010.[10] Several studies have outlined the benefits of electrification:

·       50% reduction in rolling stock operating costs.

·       15% reduction in infrastructure operating costs such as track maintenance due to lightweight trains.

·       3% increase in rolling stock availability.

·       22% reduction in vehicle leasing costs.[11]

3.5
The investment in safe, separated bike lanes would be shared with local communities, with a $1 billion federal contribution. If the cycling rate in towns and cities reaches 25% there would be $43 billion annual savings in healthcare costs due to increased fitness. This compares to BC’s current BikeBC commitment of $11 million a year and Ontario’s $8 million a year. Vélo Québec has estimated that cyclists on the Route Verte spend $95.4 million annually, generating revenues of $15.1 million for the government of Québec.[12] 1
The investment in transit, at 50% of the level proposed for the MetroVancouver Mayors’ Plan, would cost $12 billion a year. 12
The electric vehicles incentives program, targeting 100,000 vehicles a year with a $5,000 incentive, would cost $500 million a year. 0.5
The transition to organic farming would be self-financed through the new tax on chemical pesticides and fertilizers. 0
First Nations funding for zero-carbon housing and training 1
Climate science, education and community engagement 0.5
Canada’s Contribution to the Global Climate Fund 1
Program administration (spread between initiatives) 1
22.6 22.5

Appendix 2: Carbon Tax Income

2016-2026

Year Carbon tax Tonnes of CO2 (million) Revenue (billion) 80% (billion)
2016 50 500 25,000 20.0
2017 60 475 28,500 22.8
2018 70 450 31,500 25.2
2019 80 425 34,000 27.2
2020 90 400 36,000 28.8
2021 100 375 37,500 30.0
2122 110 350 38,500 30.8
2123 120 325 39,000 31.2
2024 130 300 39,000 31.2
2025 140 275 38,500 30.8
2026 150 250 37,500 30.0

Endnotes

[1] Latest numbers show at least 5 metres sea-level rise locked in. New Scientist, June 10, 2015. www.newscientist.com/article/mg22630253-300-latest-numbers-show-at-least-5-metres-sea-level-rise-locked-in

[2] Coastal Nations, Megacities Face 20 Feet of Sea Rise. Climate Central, July 9, 2015. www.climatecentral.org/news/nations-megacities-face-20-feet-of-sea-level-rise-19217

[3] What’s Really Warming the World? Bloomberg Business, June 24, 2015. www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-whats-warming-the-world

[4] Canada’s INDC Commitment, via Climate Tracker: http://climateactiontracker.org/countries/canada.html

[5] Stephen Harper’s Covert Evangelism, by Andrew Nikiforuk. The Tyee, Sept 14, 2015. http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/09/14/Covert-Evangelism-Stephen-Harper/

[6] All jobs numbers come from Almost Twice As Many: Green Jobs in Canada in the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy, by Guy Dauncey. The Practical Utopian, September 2015. https://guydauncey.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/almost-twice-as-many-green-jobs-if-canada-phases-out-fossil-fuels/

[7] Benefit Corporation: www.bcorporation.net

[8] Vancouver Island Green Business Certification: http://www.vigbc.ca

[9] Me to We: www.metowe.com

[10] With CO2 priced at an average $100 over 10 years, the carbon tax would add $268 to each 1,000 litres of fuel. In 2009, Canada’s railways used 1.87 billion litres of diesel, costing $500 million a year. With full electrification, fuel costs will fall from $2.8 billion a year (diesel at $1.25/litre + carbon tax at $100 /tonne) to $400 million for electricity, saving $2.8 billion a year. See 2010 Rail Trends, page 22. www.railcan.ca/assets/images/trends/2010_12_29_RAC_Trends_2010_en.pdf

[11] Toward a clean train policy: diesel versus electric. West Toronto Chapter, Professional Engineers Ontario. www.academia.edu/5399500/Toward_a_clean_train_policy_diesel_versus_electric

[12] Quebec Cuts Funding to Route Verte – Outcry from Cycling Community and Municipalities. Pedal Magazine, Nov 11, 2014. https://pedalmag.com/quebec-cuts-funding-to-route-verte-outcry-from-cycling-community-and-municipalities

Almost Twice as Many Green Jobs if Canada Phases out Fossil Fuels

Almost

by Guy Dauncey

The 48-Page Report is here.

Is It Really True?

Is it really true that if we don’t build more pipelines and allow more exports of coal, oil and gas, that Canada’s economy will be in danger and unemployment will rise?

That’s certainly what we are frequently told, both by the Conservative federal government and by several provincial governments, either directly or by implied assumption.

There is alternative, however. The climate crisis is inescapably real. It threatens everyone’s future, and it is being caused by carbon emissions from the same fossil fuels that our governments want to expand.

So what would it look like if there were an organized plan to phase out fossil fuels and embrace 100% renewable energy in Canada? That’s certainly what the climate crisis calls for.

Denmark has agreed to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050

Denmark has agreed to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050. The Japanese province of Fukushima has pledged to do so by 2040. Hawaii may also get there by 2040. At the G-7 Summit in Germany in June 2015 Britain, Germany, France, Italy and the US were all willing to sign onto a call for decarbonization by 2050. Only Canada and Japan said no, agreeing to a phase-out by the end of the century instead.

New research, published by The Practical Utopian in a report titled Almost Twice as Many: Green Jobs in Canada in the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy, shows that if Canada was to undertake a planned twenty-five year transition to renewable energy it would generate almost twice as many new green jobs as the number of fossil fuel jobs that would disappear. By the end of the transition there would be as many new permanent green jobs as there are jobs in fossil fuels today.

In an economy with 19 million jobs, fossil fuels support 550,000 direct and indirect jobs, the wages from which support 245,000 induced jobs, for an approximate total of 800,000 jobs. 4% of Canada’s workers depend on fossil fuels for their income. 96% of Canadians work in other fields.

The transition to 100% renewable energy would have ripple effects across the economy, but most of the new jobs would be generated in four sectors: electricity, buildings, transportation and farming.

Where Do the New Green Jobs Come From?

To generate electricity, we would need a major expansion of wind, solar, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy, supporting 127,000 direct and indirect jobs and 90,000 induced jobs.

To retrofit most of Canada’s buildings to use less energy, and to phase out oil and gas for heat in favour of heat pumps or district energy, we would need a major building retrofit effort across the country, supporting 93,000 direct and indirect jobs and 31,000 induced jobs.

If we were to invest in a country-wide network of safe, separated bike lanes, enabling up to a quarter of our personal trips to be made by bike (including electric bikes), based on Europe’s experience, the investment would support the creation 5,000 new jobs a year, mainly in cycle tourism, rising to 125,000 jobs by the end of the transition.

If we were to expand the use of transit and LRT in Canada’s communities at half the level planned for Metro Vancouver in the defeated plebiscite, this would generate in 37,000 jobs a year from the capital expenditure and 18,500 jobs operations and maintenance jobs at the start, rising to 462,500 jobs by the end of the transition.

If we were to electrify Canada’s railways, phasing out the use of diesel, the work of electrifying 50,000 kilometres over twenty-five years would generate 14,000 direct and indirect jobs a year, plus 6,000 induced jobs.

Conventional farming depends on the use of natural gas to make fertilizer, so the switch to 100% renewable energy would mean a switch to organic farming, which supports 32% more workers on the land. Such a change would generate 4,000 new permanent jobs a year, rising to 100,000 jobs by the end of the transition.

By the time the transition was complete the building retrofit jobs and the renewable energy installation jobs would end, but the cycling, farming and transit operating jobs would continue, and the cycle of infrastructure renewal would begin for the solar, wind and geothermal and railway installations. Taken together there would be 876,000 new permanent green jobs, compared to the 850,000 jobs in fossil fuels that would have ended.

The detailed 48-page report has been researched and written by the BC author and ecofuturist Guy Dauncey, with support from the BC Sustainable Energy Association, and is backed by over 100 referenced sources.

For media enquiries, call Guy Dauncey at 250-924-1445

To read and download the full report, click here.

Almost Twice As Many

Passing the Baton: The Clean Energy Economy is Ready

baton

Can we live without the tar sands, the oil and gas pipelines, the oil tankers, the fracking and the coal-fired power? Can we live without our gas-heated homes and factories, and our oil-powered planes, ships, trucks, trains and automobiles?

They are all part of the fossil-fueled economy, and as such they are essential.

But they are also transitory. This too will pass, the court servants whisper to the fossil fuel Caesars as they power up their oil tankers, exploratory rigs and giant mechanical coal-mining shovels.

Right on time, the Clean Energy Economy is arriving to take over the baton of progress from the Fossil Fueled Economy. Within the incredibly short span of three hundred years the world will have moved from the Firewood Economy to the Fossil-Fueled Economy to the Clean Energy Economy, also known as the Solar Economy, since most clean energy is directly or indirectly solar.

We need to celebrate the Age of Fossil Fuels, and then move on. Without the incredible power of all that ancient stored solar energy we could never have developed the steam engine. We could never have flown, never developed the electric vehicle, never developed a solar panel or a modern wind turbine. We needed the growth of science and the genius of engineering to achieve these things, and they in turn needed fossil fuels, without which none of our civilizational progress would have been possible.

If the hand-over of the baton is successful, historians will look back on the Age of Fossil Fuels from a thousand or ten thousand years ahead and be astonished at how much its sudden injection of power enabled us to achieve.

If the hand-over fails, however, and the baton is dropped, those same future historians will tell how our fossil fuel addiction caused the greatest self-inflicted wounds in the history of the world—the multiple wounds of climate soil erosion, ocean fish depletion, species extinction and the climate crisis.

Luckily, the Clean Energy Economy is ready to take over the baton in time to minimize at least some of the wounds, depending on how quickly it can do so.

It is taking over because more and more people are realizing just how dire the climate crisis is, and because more and more people are reading the science, connecting the dots and dismissing the confusionism of the industry-funded climate deniers.

It is taking over because scientists and engineers are successfully improving clean energy technologies, and because prices are falling, consumers are buying, and investors are pouring money into a clean energy future. They know that the future global economy will—and must—be a green economy. Here’s the evidence.

#1: Investors are Pouring Money into the Clean Energy Economy

Investors are becoming alarmed by climate change: it’s their biggest source of uncertainty, while the clean energy economy is their biggest source of confidence. They know that the future economy must be green for both environmental and economic reasons, and they are betting good money on it.

Between 2004 and 2011 there was a five-fold increase in annual investments in clean energy, from $54 billion to $302 billion. This fell back to $269 billion in 2012 for the simple reason that renewable energy technologies had become cheaper, requiring less cash.

By 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance CEO Michael Liebreich, clean energy investments will total 73% of global energy investments, at $630 billion. Even the bearish IEA suggests that clean energy investments will total 57% of total energy investments by 2030. (1)

The Ethical Markets Green Transition Scoreboard, which tracks the private investments that are growing the green economy worldwide, shows that since 2007, $5.2 trillion had been invested or committed to the green energy economy by mid-2013. Investors and governments are on track to invest $10 trillion in clean energy by 2020. Ethical Markets founder Hazel Henderson writes that “Models show that investing at least $1 trillion per year until 2020 will lead from the fossil fueled industrial era to a technologically advanced solar age based on ethical principles of equity, efficiency, biomimicry and earth systems science.” (2)

Investment is also pouring into Green Bonds, says Bloomberg New Energy Finance CEO Michael Liebreich (pictured above): “Bloomberg New Energy Finance figures show $14 billion worth of clean energy project bonds and asset-backed securities were issued in 2013, far above the previous record from 2010 of $6.5bn. The opening days of 2014 have seen signs this surge will continue: the European Investment Bank issued $860m worth of green bonds, and a similar amount has come from the World Bank and Export Development Canada combined. I would expect this year’s total figure to establish a new record, perhaps at $20bn or higher.” (3)

But what about natural gas—isn’t that a clean energy source? Not by a long mile. To quote North America’s leading climate and clean energy wonk, Joe Romm: “By the time natural gas has a net climate benefit you’ll likely be dead and the climate ruined.” (4)

#2: The Solar Revolution is Underway

Since 1977, solar PV prices have fallen by an incredible 99%. They fell by almost 80% from 2007-2012, and by 20% during 2012 alone. Solar price parity has already arrived in sunny areas of the world where electricity prices are high. Within ten years most regions of the world will pass solar price parity, and every homeowner will be able to make money by investing in clean energy.

The billionaire Warren Buffett is investing $2.5 billion in solar energy, acquiring what will become the largest photovoltaic development in the world. His Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary MidAmerican Energy Holdings has more than 1,830 MW in assets, including wind, geothermal and hydro projects. “Once so risky that only government backing could draw private capital, solar projects now are making returns of about 15%, according to Stanford University’s center for energy policy and finance.” (5)

Imagine if we had said ‘NO’ to the first computers or the first cellphones because they cost too much. Or to the first wheel.

#3: The Wind Energy Revolution is Underway

Globally, wind power has growing steadily, reaching a global installed capacity of 318 GW by the end of 2013. Just three countries—China, the US and Germany—account for 59% of the installed capacity, showing how much is yet to be delivered. (6)

Wind turbine prices have fallen by 43% since 2009. The US Department of Energy’s 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report shows that average US prices fell from $70/MWh in 2009 to below $40/MWh in 2012. (7)

In January 2014, more than 99% of the new electric capacity that was added in the U.S. came from renewable energy sources. (8)

#4: China is Leading the World

In 2011 China increased its investment in clean energy by 20%, more than any other country. They know the world economy is going green, and they want to be front of the pack, developing and selling the technologies. (9)

China’s rate of solar PV installations has ramped up to a world-beating 14 GW a year, on track to reach 65 GW by 2015. Their wind energy is 75 GW, compared to 90 GW for the entire European Union, and their wind energy goal for 2020 is 200 GW. China has a solid track record of exceeding its previous wind and solar targets.

China still obtains 65% of its power from 676 GW of coal-fired generation, but the triple threat of pollution, climate-induced disasters and popular unrest is clearly exercising the minds of the Chinese leadership. If they were to split the clean energy challenge four ways between efficiency, solar, wind and geothermal, aiming to end the use of coal by 2030, they would need to install 700 GW of solar by 2030 to displace 170 GW of coal-fired power. (Solar capacity needs to be four times larger than coal-fired capacity, since solar produces power 20% of the time compared to coal-fired power 80% of the time.) This would require the installation of 50 GW of solar PV a year, which is four times the current annual target—but only four times.

If Chinese wind energy was to displace the coal-fired equivalent of 170 GW, with wind generating energy 33% of the time, they would need to install 412 GW by 2030, compared to their 2020 goal of 200 GW. It seems eminently doable. (10)

#5: The Electric Vehicle Revolution is Beginning

Electric vehicles are intrinsically three times more efficient than conventional cars, and when they are powered by green energy, their operation produces no air pollution or greenhouse gases.

Electric vehicle battery prices fell by 40% from 2010-2012. The 2009 price was $1,000/kwh; the current Tesla price is $200/kwh. Projections for 2016 are as low as $120/kwh. (11)

Since 2011, EV battery prices have fallen by 37%, and since 2010 there has been a nine-fold increase in EV models available on the market. By 2018/2020, prices will have fallen such that there will be cost-competitive EVs without need for subsidy, taking full life costs into account. “Regardless of the source of the EV’s electricity—be it a coal-fired power plant, nuclear plant, solar array, or wind farm—it will pollute less than a typical conventional gas-powered vehicle.” (12)

During 2013, the number of electric cars sold in America increased fourfold from 15,708 to 67,232, showing that worries about range anxiety may be overhyped. Tesla’s sales shot up from 160 to 13,050; sales of the Nissan Leaf increased from 5,212 to 16,076. (13) Globally, Bloomberg Finance estimates sales of more than 300,000 electric vehicles in 2014, 50% higher than 2013. They expect a breakout year in 2015 or 2016; “it might even happen in 2014.”

Quite aside from zero-emission electric vehicles, if North America were to adopt the best fuel efficiency standards for cars, we would require 50% less oil and reduce vehicle air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.

If Canada and the US were to adopt the proposed European standard that from 2020, all new cars in the EU should emit no more than 95 grams of CO2 per km (95 g/km) and 68-78 g/km after 2025, the amount of oil needed for cars would fall by 50%, with no loss in personal convenience or jobs. The current average is 170 g/km. (14) To put this in perspective, in 2012 US light vehicles averaged 233.5 g/km; Europe’s five biggest markets averaged 140.3 g/km, and Japan averaged 130.8 g/km. (15)

The entire Volkswagen Group is planning to reduce its fleet emissions to 95 g/km by 2020. It already offers 36 models under 100 g/km, and 245 model variants under 120 g/km. (16)

The world is moving steadily towards a system of transport that will no longer need oil. For a vision of such a future, see Transportation without Oil by Guy Dauncey. (17)

#6: Entire Countries are Requiring that their Future Energy be Green

• Scotland has a mandate to achieve 100% renewable power supply by 2020. (18)
• Denmark has a goal to obtain 100% of its heat and power from renewables by 2035, and 100% of all its energy from renewables by 2050.
• Even Saudi Arabia has set a goal to get 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2032.
• The town of Gussing, in Upper Austria, is already powered by 100% renewable fuel, heat and power.
• Upper Austria, inspired by Gussing, has set a target to achieve 100% renewable heat and power by 2030.
• Many businesses including IKEA, Whole Foods and Google are aiming to power or are already powering their companies with 100% renewable energy.
• 8 Countries, 41 Cities, 48 Regions, 8 Utilities, and 21 Non-Profit/Educational/Public Institutions have shifted or are committed to shift to 100% renewable energy in at least one sector.
• In the 1st quarter of 2013, Portugal got 70% of its electricity from renewable energy. (19)

#7: The Only Future Economy that will Flourish will be a Clean Energy Economy

Finally, the argument that continued fossil fuel investment is essential for the future economic growth is deeply flawed. In reality, the exact opposite is true. It cannot be long before an economist wins the Nobel Prize for Economics for producing a solidly researched paper that demonstrates this on these and other grounds:

1) The financial cost of climate change, according to the economist Sir Nicholas Stern, will be equivalent to losing at between 5% and 20% of global gross domestic product a year. (20) Weather-related disasters liked to climate change are costing the global economy more each year, from an average of around $50bn a year in the 1980s to just under $200bn a year in the last decade.

According to the reinsurance company, Munich Re, data, total reported losses from disasters are estimated at $3.8 trillion in the period from 1980 to 2012 with 74% due to extreme-weather.

“While you cannot connect any single weather event to climate change, scientists have warned that extreme weather events will increase in intensity if climate change is left unchecked.” – Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice-President for Sustainable Development.

Weather-related economic impacts are especially high in fast-growing, middle-income countries due to increasingly exposed, valuable assets. The average impact of disasters equaled 1% of GDP over the six years from 2001 to 2006, ten times higher than the average for high-income countries. (21)

2) The long-term health costs of air pollution from electricity alone are such that every tonne of carbon pollution eliminated reduces health costs by between $50 and $380. (22) A recent US study found that the nationwide hidden health costs of fossil fuels in electricity generation are at least $886.5 billion a year, or 6% of the nation’s GDP. (23) Globally, a recent study has shown that the air quality and health improvements that will accrue from switching to clean energy average $49 per ton of CO2 removed, compared to $30 per ton for the cost of the transition, creating a net economic benefit of $20 for every ton of carbon emissions eliminated. (24)

3) Most countries need to import fossil fuels, causing their economy to bleed money. Every dollar spent on renewable energy, by contrast, remains in the country, generating wealth, jobs and taxes.

4) A German study found that in a renewables-expansion scenario GDP would be 1.0 to 2.9% greater by 2030 than in a scenario without renewables. (25)

5) Among countries that produce and sell their own fossil fuels, there is good evidence that the value of fossil fuels inflates the currency, putting exports at a disadvantage (aka ‘Dutch disease’). (26)

6) Future growth is suppressed by the looming scarcity of cheap oil. Whenever the price of oil passes $110 a barrel investors take fright due to the perceived inability of the global oil supply to sustain such growth, applying the brakes to global growth. The current shale gas boom will do little to prevent this from happening in the long run. (27)

7) The only reasons why fossil fuel prices are not higher are (a) because they are heavily subsidized, using tax-payer dollars to support the industries, and (b) because the cost of the environmental and health damage they cause is covered by governments and insurance, not by the industry itself through a price on carbon.

8) The price of solar energy in particular is falling rapidly, and will continue to do so as scientists and engineers develop ever more effective solar technologies.

9) Globally, fossil fuels reserves are valued as if they can all be burnt, in spite of the evidence that doing so will cause terrible consequences. The global bank HSBC has warned that “40-60% of the market capitalization of oil and gas companies is at risk from the carbon bubble,” and the economist Sir Nicholas Stern has warned that the world could be heading for a major economic crisis as stock markets inflate a carbon investment bubble in fossil fuels to the tune of trillions of dollars. (28)

10) More than three times more green jobs are generated in the clean energy economy per $1 invested than in fossil fuel or nuclear energy. (29) (30) After the 2008-9 financial meltdown, Canada dedicated far less of its stimulus spending to clean energy than Mexico, the US, Australia, China and South Korea. If Canada’s per capita spending had matched US investment in renewable energy, an additional $11.5 billion would have been invested in clean energy, and 66,000 jobs would have been created. (31)

In Conclusion

The clean energy economy is ready to take over the baton of progress from the fossil fuelled economy. With every month that passes, more people switch their mental allegiance from fossil-fuels to clean energy. Only people with their heads in the sands of climate denial continue to argue that we should expand our use of fossil fuels. The only way to build the future economy is to continue to invest in the clean energy economy.

Guy Dauncey is Founder and Communications Director of the BCSEA. He is the author of nine books, including The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming (New Society Publishers, 2009)

[1] #1 Cleantech Presentation — Bloomberg New Energy Finance CEO Michael Liebreich. CleanTechnica, April 25, 2013 http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/25/1-cleantech-presentation-bloomberg-new-energy-finance-ceo-michael-liebreich-video

[2] Ethical Markets Green Transition Scoreboard: http://www.ethicalmarkets.com/category/green-transition-scoreboard/ and http://www.ethicalmarkets.com/2013/03/08/green-transition-scoreboard-finds-over-4-1-t-in-private-green-investments/

[3] 10 predictions for clean energy, by Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Climate Spectator, Jan 31, http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/1/31/wind-power/10-predictions-clean-energy

[4] By The Time Natural Gas Has A Net Climate Benefit You’ll Likely Be Dead And The Climate Ruined. Joe Romm, Climate Progress, Feb 19, 2014 http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/02/19/3296831/natural-gas-climate-benefit

[5] Warren Buffett to build world’s largest solar energy project. Daily Telegraph, Jan 2, 2013. www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/9777016/Warren-Buffett-to-build-worlds-largest-solar-energy-project.html

Solar 15% Returns Lure Investments From Google to Buffett. Bloomberg Sustainability, March 20, 2012. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-20/solar-15-returns-lure-investments-from-google-to-buffett.html

[6] Global Wind Statistics, 2013. www.gwec.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/GWEC-PRstats-2013_EN.pdf

[7] The Falling Cost of Wind Power Spurs New Investments. Union of Concerned Scientists, Nov 4, 2013. http://blog.ucsusa.org/falling-cost-of-wind-power-spurs-new-investments-289

[8] 99 Percent Of New Power Generation Added In January Came From Renewable Energy. Climate Progress, Feb 21, 2014. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/02/21/3317221/99-percent-power-renewable

[9] Bloomberg Michael Liebreich (see above) http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/25/1-cleantech-presentation-bloomberg-new-energy-finance-ceo-michael-liebreich-video/

[10] China on world’s ‘biggest push’ for wind power. BBC News, Jan 7, 2014. www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25623400

[11] EV Battery Prices — The Disruptive Drop In Prices Will Continue. CleanTechnica, Jan 19, 2014. http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/19/ev-battery-prices-disruptive-drop-prices-will-continue

[12] How Do Lifecycle Carbon Emissions from Electric Vehicles Compare to Conventional Gasoline-powered Vehicles? Union of Concerned Scientists, January 2014. www.ucsusa.org/publications/ask/2014/lifecycle-emissions.html

[13 Electric Car Sales Increased 228.88% In 2013. EV Obsession. http://evobsession.com/electric-car-sales-increased-228-88-2013

[14] MEPs back fuel-efficiency plan for cars, including ‘super-credits’. Euractiv, April 25, 2013.  http://www.euractiv.com/energy-efficiency/meps-back-fuel-efficiency-plan-c-news-519335

Reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars. European Commission, http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport/vehicles/cars/index_en.htm

[15] U.S. vehicle CO2 emissions still almost double Europe and Japan. Gizmag, June 21, 2010 http://www.gizmag.com/us-european-japanese-car-market-co2-pollution/15485/

EPA trends report sees record levels of average new vehicle fuel economy and CO2 emissions for MY 2012; role of new gasoline vehicle technologies. Green Car Congress, Dec 13, 2013. www.greencarcongress.com/2013/12/20131213-trends.html

[16] Volkswagen Group to Reduce CO2 Emissions to 95 g/km by 2020. Market Wired, March 5, 2013. http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/volkswagen-group-to-reduce-co2-emissions-to-95-g-km-by-2020-1764468.htm

[17] Transportation without Oil: 23 Steps to a Sustainable Energy Future, by Guy Dauncey http://www.bcsea.org/blog/guy-dauncey/2012/03/21/transportation-without-oil

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/GuyDauncey/transport-without-oil-23-steps-to-a-sustainable-energy-future

[18] Scotland: 100% Renewable Energy Goal: 100% Renewable Power Exporter by 2020 http://www.go100percent.org/cms/index.php?id=70&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=39

[19] 100% Renewable Energy: Becoming the New Normal? CleanTechnica, Feb 22, 2013. http://cleantechnica.com/2013/02/22/100-renewable-energy-becoming-the-new-normal/

 Portugal reaches 70 percent renewable power. Renewables International. www.renewablesinternational.net/portugal-reaches-70-percent-renewable-power/150/537/61809/

Go 100% Renewable Energy: www.go100percent.org

100% Renewables Policy Institute: http://www.renewables100.org/

[20] Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. UK Treasury, 2006. www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/CLOSED_SHORT_executive_summary.pdf

[21] Damages from Extreme Weather Mount As Climate Warms. World Bank, Nov 18, 2013. www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2013/11/18/damages-extreme-weather-mount-climate-warms

[22] Co-benefits of mitigating global greenhouse gas emissions for future air quality and human health. Nature, Sept 22, 2013. www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n10/full/nclimate2009.html

[23] How Much Do Health Impacts From Fossil Fuel Electricity Cost The U.S. Economy? Forbes, Aug 8, 2013. www.forbes.com/sites/justingerdes/2013/04/08/how-much-do-health-impacts-from-fossil-fuel-electricity-cost-the-u-s-economy

[24] Curbing Fossil Fuels to Power a Public Health Revolution. Huffington Post, Nov 5, 2013. www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-patz/curbing-fossils-fuels_b_3253415.html

[25] DIW says net impact of renewables is positive. Renewables International, Sept 30. 2011. www.renewablesinternational.net/diw-says-net-impact-of-renewables-is-positive/150/537/32087/  and www.diw.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=diw_01.c.385051.de

[26] Canada Dutch Disease? OECD Says Yes. Huffington Post, June 13, 2012. www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/06/13/canada-dutch-disease-oecd-report_n_1593050.html

[27] Shale gas won’t stop peak oil, but could create an economic crisis. Guardian, June 21, 2013. www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/jun/21/shale-gas-peak-oil-economic-crisis

Drill, Baby Drill: Can Unconventional Fossil Fuels Usher in a New Era of Energy Abundance? David Hughes, Post Carbon Institute, Feb 2013. www.postcarbon.org/reports/DBD-report-FINAL.pdf

Are We Living through a Shale Bubble? Worldwatch Institute, June 24, 2013. http://blogs.worldwatch.org/sustainabilitypossible/shale-bubble/

[28] Carbon bubble will plunge the world into another financial crisis – report. Guardian, April 19, 2013. www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/apr/19/carbon-bubble-financial-crash-crisis

[29] Over 3 Times More Green Jobs Per $1 Invested Than Fossil Fuel Or Nuclear Jobs. Clean Technica http://cleantechnica.com/2013/03/20/over-3-times-more-green-jobs-per-million-than-fossil-fuel-or-nuclear-jobs

[30] More Bang For Our Buck: How Canada Can Create More Energy Jobs and Less Pollution. BlueGreen Canada, 2012. http://www.usw.ca/admin/media/documents/files/BlueGreen-Report-Nov2012.pdf

[31] Falling Behind: Canada’s Lost Clean Energy Jobs http://environmentaldefence.ca/reports/falling-behind-canadas-lost-clean-energy-jobs

 Building the green economy: employment effects of green energy investments for Ontario http://assets.wwf.ca/downloads/building_the_green_economy.pdf

A Brief Poem on Sustainability

Sustainability

Thanks to Charles Hopkins for the opening four words,

and the inspiration for the poem.

I Am the Very Model of a Modern Climate Heretic

Heretic

For the music, see YouTube  (starts at 50 seconds). Any singer or Gilbert and Sullivan Society is welcome to take the words and run with them – please let me know when you do.

I am the very model of a modern climate heretic,

I quibble and prevaricate, and cherry-pick each statistic,

I fulminate and froth a bit and calumnate the lot of it,

I am the very model of a modern climate heretic.

They say that burning fossil fuels is warming up the atmosphere,

That all our greenhouse gases will eliminate the biosphere,

But since there is a God above who’s always looking after us,

There’s little sense in worrying about a weak hypothesis.

Chorus:

There’s little sense in worrying about a weak hypothesis,

There’s little sense in worrying about a weak hypothesis,

There’s little sense in worrying about a weak hypothe-pothe-sis,

They say the Arctic’s melting and that soon there’ll be no polar bears,

They say the sea is rising and our future will be perilous,

And all because of fossil fuels, those jolly jolly fossil fuels,

And all because we’re burning all those jolly jolly fossil fuels.

Chorus:

And all because of fossil fuels, those jolly jolly fossil fuels,

And all because we’re burning all those jolly jolly fossil fuels.

They say the world is warming but I will not have a bit of it,

The weather’s always changing, so we shouldn’t make a thing of it,

It’s all so very natural, I am so very practical,

I am the very model of a modest climate factual.

They want to stop us driving and they’d like to take my car away,

They build those horrid wind turbines that spoil my lovely view all day,

Oh how they do pontificate, pronounce and co-conspiritate,

They get under my skin and then they bloody bloody irritate.

Chorus:

They get under his skin and then they bloody bloody irritate,

They get under his skin and then they bloody bloody irritate,

They get under his skin and then they bloody bloody bloody irritate.

They say the climate scientists are telling us the truth of it

That new computer models tell us everything we know of it,

But why should I accept a bit? Their science may be left a bit,

So why should I believe them when they are so very full of it?

Chorus:

But why should he accept a bit? Their science may be left a bit,

So why should he believe them when they are so very full of it?

We’ve got to stop their nonsense, all their science and sociology,

Why should we change our lifestyles for their silly ideology?

They mustn’t touch our fossil fuels, our precious precious fossil fuels,

We’ve got to stop them quick before they sink the whole economy.

I do believe it’s sunspots that are really all the cause of it,

Or maybe cosmic rays from space, that blast the Sun’s magnetic bit

And if there is some warming, well, it has a lot of benefits,

A little bit of added heat will help my garden grow a bit.

Chorus:

A little bit of added heat will help his garden grow a bit,

A little bit of added heat will help his garden grow a bit,

A little bit of added heat will help his garden grow a bit-a-bit

 

Chorus, facing the audience, slower tempo, with urgency:

What can we do to scupper all this nonsense and stupidity?

It’s hurting all our efforts to resolve Earth’s climate tragedy,

We need to break with fossil fuels, those carbon-breathing fossil fuels,

We need a better future that is hopeful and sustainable.

We need to break with fossil fuels, those carbon-breathing fossil fuels,

We need a better future that is hopeful and sustainable.

Guy Dauncey

guydauncey@earthfuture.com

www.earthfuture.com

Healing in the Natural World

by Guy Dauncey

Growing up in southern England and Wales, we always lived close to the woods, streams, and hills of the nearby countryside. The towns were built to be dense and tight, so it was relatively easy to walk out of the buildings and away from traffic into a land of kingfishers, beech trees, and marsh marigolds. It was “smart growth” before anyone had invented the term.

Shinrin

Today, I live in a clearing with a small, organic nursery in a recovering, second-growth forest, just north of Victoria. On a typical winter day, we see ravens, tree frogs, a Cooper’s hawk, hummingbirds, blue jays, and woodpeckers, as well as worms, spiders, and a host of smaller birds. And, of course, the forest.

Wood-Air Breathing

In the August 6 2005 issue of New Scientist, Joan Maloof, a biology professor at Salisbury University in Maryland, describes how the Japanese have a word to describe the particular air of a forest. They call it “wood-air bathing.” Maloof writes: “Japanese researchers have discovered that when diabetic patients walk through the forest, their blood sugar drops to healthier levels. Entire symposiums have been held on the benefits of wood-air bathing and walking.”

I’m able to enjoy shinrin-yoku all the time, but for those who live in concrete canyons, amidst a soundscape of car alarms and sirens, instead of the croak of frogs and the wind, it has become a distant experience.

Greening the Blues

In Emily White’s article Greening the Blues, published in the October issue of The Ecologist, White writes about depression and the aspiration of drug companies and their medical colleagues to turn it into a clinical illness that should be treated with drugs. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020, depression will be second only to heart disease as a cause of disability.

White notes that during her career, she was transferred from a downtown Toronto law firm to a government office in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, in the Arctic. Although she took along her stash of SSRIs to treat her depression, with 24 hours of daylight, she started hiking the tundra, taking photos, and exploring the surrounding world. Her anxiety decreased, her mood improved, and she found herself becoming interested in things. According to White, it wasn’t that she was getting more exercise: “It was that the landscape around me was so vibrant and solid that I began to feel that way as well.” In her article, she offers some intriguing evidence for one’s capacity to heal in a natural environment.

Less stressed and anxious

In work with autistic children and people with organic brain diseases, when animals are introduced the subjects have an improved attention span, laugh and talk more, and demonstrate less aggression. When people are shown photos of natural settings, their blood pressure drops, their heart rates fall, their muscles relax, and they report feeling less stressed and anxious. In hospitals, when post-operative patients are given a room with a view of trees, they need fewer painkillers, develop fewer complications, and check themselves out sooner than patients in rooms with an urban view. In a long-term study of the type of wall art typically destroyed by psychiatric patients, while abstract images were often attacked, not once in 15 years had a patient destroyed a picture of a natural scene.

Now, let’s return to Joan Maloof’s work. As a biologist, she has delved into the science of all of this, and notes that researchers in the Sierra Nevada of northern California have found that the air in the forested mountains contains 120 chemical compounds. Some of these compounds derive from bacteria and fungi in the soil, but most come from the trees, which release them from pockets between their leaf cells. They also produce edible monoterpenes (MT), fragrances, which have been shown to both prevent and cure cancer. When we inhale them, they become part of our bodies, and the forest becomes part of us.

Our bodies and souls are part of nature

Having evolved along with nature for five million years or so, our bodies and souls are part of nature. There is something within us that longs for the forest and the stream. Until this last, tiny micro-slice of time, we have always lived in close proximity to the animals, Our cities, suburbs, colleges, and schools should offer many more green spaces, trees, and urban farms. The first remedy for depression should be a zoology lift, not Zoloft.

When we attack nature, by clearcutting forests or paving farmland, we attack ourselves. There is a reason why our health care budget is spinning out of control: we are cutting ourselves off from nature’s drugs, which are natural and free, and handing the responsibility for our health over to the drug companies, which produce anything but free products.

Guy Dauncey is a speaker, author, activist and eco-futurist who works to develop a positive vision of a sustainable future, and to translate that vision into action. He is founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, co-founder of the Victoria Car Share Cooperative, and the author or co-author of nine books, including the award-winning Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic and The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming. He is currently completing his tenth book, set in the year 2032, titled Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible. He is an Honorary Member of the Planning Institute of BC and a Fellow of the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. His websites are www.earthfuture.com and The Practical Utopian. This article was first published in Common Ground Magazine in December 2005.

Six big changes could put an end to poverty

endpovertyincanada-header

Sarah Petrescu’s series in The Times Colonist on poverty and homelessness made a valuable contribution to public awareness about the realities that people living in poverty have to live with every day.

Her final part, Big problem, small changes, laid out small changes that could help, such as raising income assistance rates. It’s a big problem, however, so here are some big changes that could contribute to a future in which there is no poverty at all, except the voluntary simplicity of those who want to live with a minimal footprint on the Earth.

A $15 Minimum Wage

In June 2014, after a yearlong campaign by fast-food workers and poverty activists, Seattle City Council voted to approve a $15 minimum wage, phased in over 3-10 years depending on the size of the business. In November, San Francisco followed suit. The campaigns produced plenty of debate, and there were threats that some businesses might fold, but in the end, the campaign succeeded. If Seattle, why not Victoria?

Affordable Housing

The cost of housing is a real challenge for anyone living on a low income. We could require developers to make 20% of their units affordable and create incentives to build 100% rental buildings, as Vancouver does. We could require developers to sell 10% of their units at cost to an Affordable Housing Agency, which is how Whistler solved its housing crisis. We could double the tax on properties left empty; make it legal for more than five people to share a house together; allow the construction of car-free laneway housing; and create tax-free retirement funds which can be invested in affordable housing.

Affordable Food

Seattle has 82 neighbourhood allotment gardens where 6,000 people grow their own food. In Victoria, the land adjacent to View Street Towers at Fort and Quadra has sat vacant for at least 25 years. That could change, if Victoria City Council wrote an appropriate by-law. In Toronto, The Stop Food Bank is teaching people how to grow their own food and cook cheap nutritious meals together. We could do that too, something The Mustard Seed is actively exploring.

Affordable Daycare

Parents pay up to $1,000 a month per child for daycare so that they can go to work. Every $1 invested in a child before the age of 6 saves $9 in future spending on health, welfare and justice systems, so we should go ahead and invest in a $10 a day daycare system as many are advocating, including the Surrey Board of Trade.

Free Post-Secondary Education

Student debt is a major burden, and a major inhibitor against investing in an education. Most universities in Germany are now free, and in Oregon, the State Legislature will debate a serious proposal this summer to make post-secondary education free, financed by a 3-5% post-graduation levy on a graduate’s income for 20 years. Why not here in Canada, too?

An Inheritance Tax

In his ground-shaking book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the French economist Thomas Piketty showed why poverty and inequality are increasing, since private capital is growing at a much faster rate than the economy as a whole. To those who have, more shall be given, unless, Piketty concluded, there is a tax on capital. When parents own property, their children generally inherit their wealth. When parents can only afford to rent, their children inherit nothing, so poverty gets passed from one generation to the next. An inheritance tax could begin to fix that, along with other tax reforms, including stamping down on the offshore havens that are storing as much as $32 trillion in tax-avoiding wealth.

It is shocking that among Canada’s province and territories, only British Columbia and Saskatchewan do not have a strategy to tackle poverty; that BC has Canada’s second worst child poverty rate; and that among BC’s 188 municipalities, only Surrey has made the effort to develop a poverty reduction plan.

Where is the imagination of our leaders? We could be exploring options for a basic income guarantee, as the economist Milton Friedman and the civil rights leader Martin Luther King have recommended, and as Switzerland is seriously considering. We could be encouraging worker-owned co-operatives and workplace share-ownership. We could be creating a Collateral Partnership Fund that would enable First Nations to borrow money to start new businesses the way the rest of us do. We could be seeking solutions to the problem of low-income dental care.

Come on, elected leaders. You can do better than this.

Guy Dauncey is a local author, speaker and futurist, and founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association.

First published in The Times Colonist, January 6th 2015.

Follow-up Action

Make Poverty History: www.makepovertyhistory.ca

Canada Without Poverty: www.cwp-csp.ca

BC Poverty Reduction Coalition: http://bcpovertyreduction.ca

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