November 22, 2016, Ottawa—A new report that analyzed responses to the federal government’s request for public input on climate action at town halls and on social media shows engaged Canadians think pipelines and fossil fuel subsidies do not belong in Canada’s climate plan.
The report by Leadnow, an independent advocacy group, and The Climate Reality Project Canada, a climate literacy group, is based on documented and analyzed input from thousands of participants. These included elected officials, citizen group members, students, First Nations and others, who attended the more than 100 town halls, 86 of them involving members of parliament. Leadnow assembled and analyzed minutes from MP-involved town halls after it was clear the federal government had no system in place for reporting back to the public and, in at least one case, the minutes of a 200-person meeting were not even submitted to Environment Canada.
"After being so outwardly interested in hearing from Canadians on climate, it’s concerning the federal government has not said how nationwide public feedback will be used in its climate plans,” said Logan McIntosh of Leadnow. “In every province that held a town hall, we found engaged Canadians rejected a climate plan that includes fossil fuel subsidies and new pipelines."
“As the federal government prepares its climate plan and its decision on Kinder Morgan, input from Canadians on climate action couldn’t come at a more crucial time,” said Mike Soron of Leadnow. “Participants shared feedback about Indigenous rights, trade agreements, national security and other policy areas that affect federal climate action. Climate change is about so much more than just the environment and future policy discussions can better consider that.”
As part of the report’s analysis, Montreal-based Nexalogy performed a lexical analysis of notes captured by staff and volunteers at 53 town halls involving Members of Parliament and other elected officials.
“Our analysis of the comments shows that national consultation participants understand the urgency to act on climate; they also understand that supporting the expansion of the fossil fuel industry is incoherent with Canada’s Paris commitments,” said Audrey Dépault, National Manager of The Climate Reality Project Canada. “Participants also expressed their strong support for a transition to a renewable energy economy, while recognizing that this transition should be carefully managed to respect Indigenous rights and support re-training of fossil fuel workers.”
Audrey Dépault (french or english,) Climate Reality Project, (514) 871-8845; firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Lee is a 23-year-old climate change activist, a policy advocate to the United Nations, and a global speaker. He is the Executive Director of FES (Foundation for Environmental Stewardship) and its 3% Project (www.3percentproject.com). He is going on 5 national tours across 400 towns in 2 years to educate and empower 1,000,000 young Canadians - that's 3% of Canada - to solve climate change in their local communities.
A prolific speaker and panelist to dozens of events, Steve has represented the Canadian youth on the issues of Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Youth Empowerment at over a dozen international fora including G8 Summit, NATO, Facebook, UNEP, UNESCO, UNICEF, and World Bank. Steve is a voice to the voiceless youth globally in policymaking as a member of World We Want 2030 Policy Strategy Group, UN Major Group Children and Youth, UNEP Tunza, UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, Youth Commission on the Status of Women Taskforce, and more. He has moderated and drafted policy outcome documents, lobbied diplomats and businesses, and observed negotiations with many UN officials, heads of state, and industry leaders.
Steve is personally trained by Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader, featured on news channels, blogs, and newspapers, and a University of Toronto graduate of Physiology and Human Biology. An entrepreneur, Steve was the Partner of RevIT² Solutions, a market research consulting firm for private investment firms, and the CEO of Steve’s Guidebook, a publishing company for university-level calculus and biology study guides.
Steve has lived in 4 countries, traveled to over two dozen nations, reads voraciously, plays the clarinet, volunteers at a mental health rehab centre, serves on the Board of HealthOutLoud, and is a follower of Jesus. What led Steve to get involved in the climate campaign in the first place? "My passion for climate change developed slowly over a period of time. It was a series of undeniable scientific facts and realities that I either had to deny and ignore or do something about it. Stronger conviction came as I travelled and heard the stories of youth leaders whose work in eliminating poverty, delivering healthcare, teaching children, fighting gender equality, bringing clean water are stifled by climate change.
You can request a presentation from one of our leaders in the "Our Presentations" tab.
Trump, climate and us: A letter to those who won't give up
By: Karel Mayrand, President of the Board of Directors
November 9, 2016
Like me, you likely woke up before sunrise this morning, opening your eyes in the dark to confirmation that the nightmare is real.
Like you, last night I felt sick to my stomach. I felt a strong sense of anxiety for my sleeping children, who also went to bed anxious. What future will we be leaving them?
I'm writing to you today because I need you to know that this new obstacle will not stop us. I need you to hear the truth — that we are millions, that we will not abandon our values of justice and inclusion, or ever stop working to protect all life on Earth.
Let me be clear: The election of Donald Trump and a Congress controlled entirely by the Republican party and the fossil fuel industry is devastating to the fight against climate change. We can expect this new president to quickly approve Keystone XL, get rid of regulations on coal that were central to Obama's climate plan, and slow down or eliminate investments in renewable energy. We can also expect that he will withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as he can. This will likely prevent the United States from reaching its emissions reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent by 2025. It will also put attaining the larger Paris objectives into serious question.
But Trump can't stop an energy transition that has become inevitable. The most he can do is slow it down. Here's why:
Investments in renewable energy have surpassed investments in fossil fuels every year since 2010, and the gap continues to grow. Two times more money was invested in green energy than in fossil fuels in 2015. This transformation is happening because green energy is finally more competitive than fossil fuels in many markets — even without measures to fight climate change.
From California to New York, American states and cities are putting a price on carbon, investing in renewable energy and in transit. This trend will only continue. China is making similar efforts, recently announcing its intention to lower emissions per unit of GDP by 18 per cent by 2020.
In the transportation sector, studies show electric vehicles will achieve price parity with gas vehicles in five years, by 2022. EV sales have already increased six-fold since 2014. Analysts say this exponential increase could cause a collapse in gas sales early in the next decade.
The global movement against climate change is not going to stop. Citizen actions, including many acts of non-violent civil disobedience, will continue to become more common all across the United States. This is true in Canada as well. We need to show solidarity with our American counterparts and with Indigenous people who are bravely defending their land and our collective future.
Powerful solidarity will come from winning battles here, in our own backyard, to prove that winning is still possible. What's at stake is not whether the energy transition will happen. It's how quickly it will arrive, and whether it will be fast enough to save our climate.
It's in our hands.
That's why we cannot give up. Instead, we need to redouble our efforts and create a groundswell. We need to bend like a willow and be as strong as an oak.
Donald Trump can set the fight against climate change back years or even decades. But he hasn't done it yet.
The Climate Reality Project Announces 24-Hour Global Broadcast Focused on Solutions in 24 Largest CO2 Emitting Countries
By: Audrey Dépault
November 4, 2016
One month after the Paris Agreement enters into force, former US Vice President Al Gore will host 24 Hours of Reality: The Road Forward, a star-studded, 24-hour broadcast focused on making solutions to the climate crisis a reality across the globe.
WASHINGTON, DC (November 4, 2016)—In recognition of the landmark Paris Agreement entering into force today, Vice President Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project announced the sixth-annual 24 Hours of Reality broadcast – a star-studded, 24-hour live event focused on climate solutions watched by millions of viewers around the world. This year’s event, produced by Emmy-nominated ShoulderHill Entertainment, – 24 Hours of Reality: The Road Forward – will focus on the 24 largest CO2-emitting countries, beginning at 6:00 PM EST on December 5, 2016.
In 2015, Climate Reality’s Road to Paris initiative helped build planet-wide support for a strong agreement that included global commitments and cooperation by all countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions and reverse the tide of climate change. The result was the Paris Agreement—the world’s first truly global agreement to address climate change. This year, 24 Hours of Reality: The Road Forward will examine what happens next, including the steps these 24 countries must take to ensure the Paris Agreement is a success at home and around the world.
Each hour of the broadcast will explore the climate landscape in one of the 24 largest CO2-emitting countries, delving into its commitments to the climate fight, the region’s unique challenges related to climate change, and most importantly, how each country can do its part to make the goals of the Paris Agreement a reality. As with the previous years’ programs that have raised awareness about climate change on a global scale and rallied millions to demand action, this year’s broadcast will feature interviews with celebrated thought leaders, policymakers, scientists, and experts as well as compelling stories of clean energy solutions on the ground and special guest appearances by today’s marquee artists.
“The Paris Agreement has fundamentally and permanently altered what the world thought was possible in terms of addressing the climate crisis,” said Al Gore. “The conversation no longer hinges on if we can do something to address climate change. Instead, world leaders, environmental activists, and ordinary citizens are asking what we can do to solve this crisis and how we can work together to do it. This year’s 24 Hours of Reality will help the global community envision the Paris Agreement coming to life, as we look at the elected officials, business leaders and activists that are making climate action a reality in countries around the world.”
“24 Hours of Reality: The Road Forward is a celebration of how far we have come in the year since COP 21, but also a reminder of the hard work that lies ahead,” said Ken Berlin, president and CEO of The Climate Reality Project. “Ensuring global access to clean and affordable energy and climate-resilient infrastructure for people around the world will not be an easy task, but the Paris Agreement has provided us with the first step in the right direction. We’re excited to share stories of climate action and progress from the 24 largest-emitting nations on Earth, and we hope to inspire people to take up the mantle of climate action within their own communities.”
Past 24 Hours of Reality events have each focused on a different theme, including The World is Watching in 2015, 24 Reasons for Hope in 2014, The Cost of Carbon in 2013, The Dirty Weather Report in 2012, and the inaugural 24 Hours of Reality in 2011. ShoulderHill Entertainment was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Promotional Announcement for 24 Hours of Reality: The World is Watching in 2015.
Canada Ratifies the Paris Climate Agreement
By: Audrey Dépault
October 7, 2016
The Climate Reality Project applauds the more than 70 nations that have joined the Paris Agreement for recognizing the need to work together across the globe in order to collectively and urgently address the climate crisis. As The Climate Reality Project Canada’s branch manager, I especially congratulate Canada for taking this significant step forward and for announcing its plan to move ahead with a federal price on carbon.
This week’s announcements must not make us complacent, however. Canada has just embarked on a long journey to reduce its national greenhouse gas emissions. While Canadian provinces and cities continue to forge ahead in local and regional climate action, we still have critical work ahead of us at the national level. Our leaders must ensure that Canada’s proposed Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change will be in line with the country’s nationally determined contribution, allowing Canada to go above and beyond to strengthen the country’s ambition and overperform on its emissions reduction target.
We urge the Canadian government to apply its price on carbon to all sources of carbon pollution that can be accurately measured, accelerate the phase-out of coal-fired power, and develop a long-term plan for a zero-emissions, renewable electricity supply. Moving forward, Canada’s policy decisions must be consistent with its greenhouse gas target, as further fossil fuel infrastructure development will compromise the country’s ability to reach its Paris Agreement commitments. I join the chorus of voices that have already recommended the introduction of a federal zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) legislation, and further investments in public transit and active transportation infrastructure that will constitute a major reduction in emissions.
Though the work to cut emissions and ultimately solve the climate crisis is just beginning, I look forward to celebrating many more policy milestones achieved by our federal and provincial governments, alongside the rest of the world.”
Open Letter to The Honourable Catherine McKenna
By: Audrey Dépault
October 3, 2016
Dear Minister McKenna,
As we approach the anniversary of the United Nations climate summit in Paris, the Canadian government has some big decisions to make. Authentic public engagement is crucial to gaining social licence for successful implementation of Canada’s climate plan. If Canada is to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, your government must ratify a plan with targets based on the best available science, that moves Canada to a 100 per cent renewable energy economy by 2050 and that upholds Indigenous and workers’ rights. Signatories to this letter, representing a cross-section of the Canadian climate community, are keen to see Canadians’ voices, which were heard and recorded at nearly 100 town hall events across the country, incorporated into the federal plan.
The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change to be released this fall will define the government’s leadership and make good on the promise that “Canada’s is back.” Will changes to the status quo be superficial or transformative? The climate community’s collective membership, spanning the country geographically and demographically, is positioned to help raise ambition and implement policies that will promote a more secure, just and sustainable future for all Canadians. Solutions exist, but we and you understand that they will require political courage to implement.
The nation-wide public engagement on Canada’s Climate Action Plan concluded on September 27. It has been refreshing to see your government respond to popular demand by extending the engagement period several times, more than doubling its original duration. Nearly 4,000 citizens have posted more than 13,000 comments and ideas on the “Let’s Talk Climate Action” online portal. More than 7,500 citizens turned up to town hall events organized by Liberal, New Democrat, Conservative and Green MPs across the country.
Members of Canada’s climate community, under the banner of the People’s Climate Plan Coalition, helped volunteer riding leaders mobilize their communities’ involvement in town halls, and the results were impressive. Citizens from all walks of life showed up with their own reasons to want strong climate action, with thousands voicing support for the plan’s three pillars:
● Science-based policy that keeps the majority of fossil fuel reserves in the ground;
● A transition to a 100 per cent renewably powered economy by 2050; and
● A plan that enshrines a just transition for workers and justice for Indigenous communities.
While we welcome the effort your government is making to engage Canadians, the process by which our voices are informing the Climate Action Plan content is not in line with the ideals of open, transparent governance that you were elected to uphold. Shifting timelines, opaque methodology, inadequate site planning and non-transparent submissions make it more difficult for civil society to participate effectively in the process. We hope some of these shortcomings will be addressed in the upcoming panel review of the environmental assessment process. The commitments to publish all submissions online and transparently document citizen input in public sessions are welcome evolutions. Ultimately, authentic and effective public engagement requires best practices to be institutionalized, not improvised.
Following the coalition’s presence at 88 town hall events, the organizations named below call on your government to heed citizen voices and ratify a strong science-based climate plan. We stand ready to help build the base of enthusiastic support necessary for Canada’s new Climate Action Plan and an ambitious energy transition, particularly as crucial decisions are pending this fall regarding oil and gas infrastructure that could lock Canadians into high-carbon pathways for decades to come.
In concrete terms, this means we need a clear, transparent, independent environmental assessment process applied to existing and future projects that takes downstream emissions into consideration. It means honouring Indigenous rights and treaties while ensuring adequate retraining for fossil fuel workers. It also means setting updated, science-based emission-reduction targets and fixing an effective price on carbon that internalizes an increasing percentage of its true cost while levelling the playing field for emerging renewable energy innovations.
We implore you to stay true to your word. When you proclaimed that “Canada is back,” the world took notice. Now it’s time to follow through.
Climate Reality Project Canada
350 Ottawa, Larry Dobson
Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion-BROKE, Karl Perrin
Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, Kiki Wood
Cap-Rouge Scouts, Pierre Richard
Citizens for Public Justice, James C. Dekker
Citizens in Action, Nadia Alexan
Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet, Paul Berger
The Council of Canadians, Daniel Cayley-Daoust
David Suzuki Foundation, Ian Bruce
Development and Peace, Geneviève Talbot
Divest Ryerson, Ben Donato-Woodger
Divest Waterloo, Laura Hamilton
Divest McGill, Andrew Stein
Dr. Edith Callaghan, F.C. Manning School of Business, Acadia University
Environment Hamilton, Ian Borsuk
Foundation for Environmental Stewardship, Steve Lee
Gabriola Save Our Shores, Kristin Miller
GreenStep Solutions, Angela Nagy
Groche International, Helmi Ansari
Imagine Lachine Est, Kate Luthi
Jay Smith, Environmental Studies, Algonquin College
LeadNow, Rodrigo Samayoa
Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, Alex Patterson
Manitoba Wildlands, Gaile Whelan Enns
Mississauga People’s Climate Plan, Matt Hunter & Michael Suksi
Montréal Climate Coalition, Matthew Chapman
Parvati.org, Parvati Devi
Paul Beckwith, Climate System Scientist, University of Ottawa
United Church of Canada, Michael Blair
ON THE GROUND: At ICAO Meeting, overnight talks offered chance for progress toward climate deal
By: Audrey Dépault
September 30, 2016
On September 29, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) presented the resolution text for a “Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation” (CORSIA), to cap international aviation emissions. States and international organizations offered statements and initial observations. Of the 88 countries that intervened, nearly all expressed strong support for the market-based measure, and most made a strong commitment to join voluntarily in the first implementation phase.
One of the international organizations that offered their views is the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), the coalition of organizations that aims to represent civil society at ICAO. ICSA’s Tim Johnson delivered a speech on behalf of this delegation, reminding ICAO member states that “the world is watching ICAO and its credibility is on the line.”
Despite overwhelming support for the CORSIA measure at the end of the day on Thursday, both by developed and developing states, a consensus had not been reached. The president of the assembly closed the meeting, announcing that he would hold bilateral consultations overnight with the aim of presenting modifications in the coming days.
As ICSA stressed in its intervention, political compromise shouldn’t further compromise the ambition of the aviation climate agreement. Countries should use this opportunity to expand participation in the measure’s first phase and improve environmental integrity.
Delegates are now impatiently waiting for the edited resolution text, and for discussions to resume on a global market based mechanism (GMBM) that would enable international aviation to further participate in the achievement of the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature increase at 1.5°C.
Upon learning about the ICAO’s plans to adopt a GMBM, some individuals and environmental groups have expressed genuine concerns about carbon offsetting mechanisms. ICSA and its delegates representing various environmental organizations share those concerns, along with government delegates that ICSA has spoken with over the past few days. ICSA recognizes that the GMBM is one of the crucial elements in a large basket of measures that must be implemented by ICAO and its member states in order to limit greenhouse gases from the aviation sector. Emission units created to offset aviation greenhouse gas emissions must deliver real, additional, verifiable and permanent emission reductions. They must also support all aspects of sustainable development. As stated by Tim Johnson, ICAO will also have to ensure that emission reductions achieved under the GMBM "must not be double-counted towards other obligations," such as the nationally determined contributions made under the Paris Agreement.
While ICAO will not be deciding the specific rules for offsets or alternative fuels at this Assembly, the technical committees have been working on a framework for a few years, and are likely to keep working on this for the next year – or more – to ensure that the GMBM reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Adopting the GMBM (or CORSIA, as it is also referred to) is the first bold step which must be undertaken by ICAO, without any further delay, and without changes to the resolution that would reduce the climate ambition of the measure.
Note: The Climate Reality Project and The Climate Reality Project Canada are not official members of ICSA, but I am part of the ICSA delegation at this ICAO Assembly, as ICSA is the only organization that is accredited to represent civil society at ICAO.
Airline emissions are flying too high
By: David Suzuki
September 14, 2016
In July, Solar Impulse 2 became the first airplane to fly around the world without using fuel. At the same time, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been working on electric planes. These developments mean air travel and transport could become more environmentally friendly, with less pollution and fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and planes would be quieter.
As promising as solar and electric planes may be, these technologies still have a way to go and won’t likely usher in a new era of airline travel soon. That’s unfortunate, because aircraft are major sources of pollution and climate-altering greenhouse gases, contributing the same amount of emissions as Germany, about two per cent of the global total. As air transport becomes increasingly popular, experts project aircraft emissions could triple by 2050.
Analysis by U.K.-based Carbon Brief found that, under business as usual, a growing commercial aviation industry could contribute 27 per cent of allowable emissions between 2015 and 2050 if the world is to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement’s aspirational 1.5 C target for global average temperature increase — and that other factors, such as nitrogen oxide and water vapour emissions and contrails, could exacerbate climate impacts.
Air travel is also an area where there’s a huge discrepancy between those who benefit and those who suffer. The wealthiest three to five per cent of the world’s population are the biggest users of international aviation, while the impacts of climate change fall disproportionately on the world’s poorest.
Despite their emissions, airplanes haven’t been included in climate change accords like the Paris Agreement. That’s changing: A new deal to impose limits on aircraft emissions will be considered for approval at the UN International Civil Aviation Organization assembly in Montreal from September 27 to October 7. Many fear the proposed agreement doesn’t go far enough.
Earlier this year, ICAO’s technical committee agreed on efficiency standards for new aircraft. Although improving each new plane’s efficiency will help slow growth in aviation’s carbon pollution, the numbers of new planes taking to the skies means overall emissions will skyrocket without other measures. In 2013, ICAO committed to agree, by the time of the upcoming 2016 assembly, on a market-based measure to keep net emissions from international flights from rising above 2020 levels.
This pledge means all but the least emitting countries would require their airlines to stabilize emissions at 2020 levels. Airlines that exceed the cap would have to buy offsetting emission reductions from companies that cut their carbon pollution below it. That framework is on the table for the assembly, but it’s been watered down significantly. Any country can opt in or out of the system until 2027, and targets until then are voluntary. That creates uncertainty over whether countries like China will join.
If ICAO’s 191 member nations fail to reach a strong aviation agreement in Montreal, it could undermine the world’s ability to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate goals. In the absence of a robust international agreement on aviation carbon pollution, ICAO member nations would be left to implement their own policies, which could result in an ineffective, piecemeal approach.
The non-profit civil society member organizations of the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation are urging ICAO to enact a “climate deal which meets the 2020 goal, has the widest possible participation, has environmental and social safeguards for the offsets and alternative fuel used and increases ambition in line with the requirements of the Paris Agreement.”
Although the greater stability international agreements would provide over scattered domestic policies and regulations means the aviation industry is mostly on-board, governments have been reluctant to sign on to strong measures.
It’s time for industry and governments to take much-needed steps to bring this major emissions source under control, especially as air traffic continues to increase. We can hope that new technologies such as solar-powered and electric planes will develop quickly enough to make a difference, and we can try to limit our personal use of air travel, and buy high-quality carbon offsets when we do fly, but international agreements are crucial.
Let’s urge government representatives to come up with a strong, enforceable agreement that helps meet the Paris Agreement objectives. If that speeds up development of planes that produce no emissions or far fewer than current aircraft, even better.
David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.
Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.
Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.
Many fear the agreement doesn’t go far enough: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/un-aviation-emissions-pact-could-let-states-opt-out-in-first-phase/article31567498/
Carbon offsets: http://davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/science/climate-change-basics/carbon-offsets/
People surge where climate politics falter
By: Seble Gameda, Climate Leader and Guest Blogger
June 7, 2016
There are words that are drafted onto paper, and there are truths that are made on the streets. The former are created in parliament buildings, ivory towers, white houses. The latter are the movements and the manifestos that can only be made by the masses.
Let's think for an instant about the moments that shook the status quo: the toppling of dictators, the abolition of segregation, the downfall of apartheid, the victorious cries of the civil rights movement, the leaps of feminism and the bold dreams of queer rights.
These moments helped to rupture whatever was called the norm. This is not to say that old evils have not crept up with new masks. (Our work is never really done.) But these movements were able to imagine and create something different. They leaped over legislated injustice. Of course there are always new beasts. And we must choose the ones that most stir us awake.
Today the one squaring most of our thoughts is that the planet may soon take on a climate that we as humans are unable to inhabit. Last year we entered a world of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide. If you understand, then you are far past alarmed. If you don't, it means that everything is about to get way too hot and chaotic. There is a safe amount of carbon we can have in the atmosphere. That number is 350. And we left that behind in the late 1980s.
This was just about the time global climate governance was springing into action. In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body composed of thousands of the world's top climate scientists, came into being. In 1992, the Rio Earth Summit sought to bring an environmental agenda to the international stage. And in 1995, the very first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties took place in Berlin, Germany.
What ensued? There were treaties, jargon, agreements, and non-binding targets. But despite better intentions, the world has only gotten hotter, fuelling rising seas, violent storms, fierce droughts, and devastating floods. Meanwhile, we have mastered the elaborate dance of climate negotiations, greenwashing, buzz words, and non-commitment. And the eerie revolving door between politics and the fossil fuel industry has filled bright eyes with disillusion.
A peoples' movement is now stepping in to fill the void where climate politics has faltered. The rising climate movement is empowering. The Break Free Campaign, which filled the world's seas, mines, streets, railroads and ports during early May, was deemed the largest ever series of mass protests against fossil fuels. These actions circled the globe from Indonesia to Brazil, South Africa to the United Kingdom, Australia to the Philippines. They brought together thousands of everyday people riled up by climate inaction, embodying a surging movement that is growing in stride: blocking pipelines, divesting universities, and shutting down coal mines. These feats exemplify what the climate movement is achieving much faster than our governments: climate action.
Across Canada now, a mass movement is growing to forge Canada's "People's Climate Plan." It calls for Canada's fossil fuels to remain in the ground, justice for indigenous peoples, workers and climate-affected communities, and a 100% renewable energy economy by 2050. As these mobilisations hit the halfway mark, organizers are aiming to schedule at least 150 climate consultations across the country so that constituents can overwhelm their members of parliament about the urgency of climate action. Previous Canadian environmental policies have been stained by the hands of the fossil fuel industry, and the People's Climate Plan is determined to drown them out with the voices of the masses.
The stakes are high. What is left of oil, gas, and coal must stay in the ground. We cannot continue to burn our lives away. As world leaders recently convened in Bonn, Germany determine how to implement the emissions targets of the Paris Agreement, the pressure continues to rise. We are in overtime and we have never been so close to an historic breakthrough. We must not falter. There is no time to wake up sleepily from our fossil fuel slumber. Yes snail-paced government action has been dispiriting, but the momentum of the climate movement is nothing short of inspiring. In moments that tempt despair, we must remember that nothing worth while has ever been easy.
Thousands Rally in Ottawa for Climate Justice
By: Seble Gameda, Climate Leader and Guest Blogger
November 29, 2015
On the eve of the climate negotiations in Paris, hundreds of thousands worldwide took to the streets to demand climate action. The people power was shining bright in Canada's capital as roughly 25,000 people flooded Ottawa's streets calling for immediate climate solutions and 100% renewable energy by 2050.
Ringing in the 100% Possible March in Ottawa were the words and songs of indigenous communities, children, elders, unions, students, and environmentalists. Their voices echoed the sentiments of the many thousands of climate enthusiasts gathered to march today: Climate Justice Now. The key word being now. As David Suzuki emphasized in his opening speech, "The urgency of this struggle is like a war. In this moment of climate crisis, there is an opportunity for a radical transformation in our society."
The climate discussions in Paris will run from November 30 - December 11, and the global voices of the climate movement today are nearly six hundred thousand strong. These voices are the power of collective action screaming that there is no more time for negotiating climate failure; it is time for climate justice.
(Photo Credit: Arturo Velasquez)
Our Home and Native Land Our Climate is Changing the Land
By: Seble Gameda, Climate Leader and Guest Blogger
September 22, 2015
35 years ago, I was not yet born.
That year, John Lennon was assassinated, the rubik's cube was launched internationally, the global population was 4.5 billion, and the words climate and change were never used in the same sentence.
Fast forward 35 years and 'Imagine' still chimes out of happy afternoon radio stations, and a few persistent folks are still struggling to solve the rubik's cube (most likely in app form), but the world population is now 7.3 billion and the words climate and change now go together like salt and pepper.
Except, of course, it is not such a desirable combination. Glaciers are melting, sea-level is rising, forests are falling, coral reefs are crying, droughts are spreading, floods are raging, people are scrambling and natural disasters are taking no prisoners.
And so, to solve this gawking mess, we hold climate negotiations. Well, they are called climate negotiations, but sometimes they are a bit more like people-in-fancy-suits-talking-in-circles-about-promises-they-are-reluctant-to-make. As Naomi Klein stated in her recent book This Changes Everything, quoting young climate activist Anjali Appadurai: "You have been negotiating all my life." And for us 90s babies, this is indeed sad but true.
In another 35 years, the big 2050, who knows where we will be. So instead of daydreams and what-ifs about this faraway time, when current politicians will be filling retirement homes and the yet to be born babies will be running the world, we need to ace the upcoming climate negotiations like MJ rocks his slam dunks.
So this means, Paris in December is going to be a really big deal. For two weeks, it will be the headquarters of the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known as CoP21. The Kyoto Protocol, an international climate agreement that commits member parties to emission reduction targets, will come to a close in 2020, and CoP21 decides what happens next.
Throughout the year, developed and developing countries have been submitting their post-2020 climate action pledges known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs. What do these look like? Well currently, a mix of climate action commitments that reflect unique national circumstances, priorities, emissions profiles, capacities and responsibilities (available here).
The INDCs will serve as the backbone for the 2015 climate agreement. Next month, these national climate submissions will be reviewed by the UNFCCC, who will publish a synthesis report on the overall impact of the INDCs globally.
Canada has put forward an emissions reduction target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, comparable to the pledges of other large economies such as Australia and the United States. However these proposed commitments trail far behind that of the European Union who has announced a binding target of 'at least a 40% domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2030.'
Across Canada, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise annually, as reported by Environment Canada. As the oil-happy government continues slashing boreal forests, pumping crude, fracking away and drooling over pipeline expansion, Canada remains far from its' initial pledge of reducing emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.
In the thick of this mess, Canada steals the climate negotiations shame show.
Since 2006, Canada has won five consecutive Colossal Fossil of the Year Awards, given to the country who most obstructs progress at the international climate talks, receiving strong criticism from the global climate community. In 2009 Canada became the only country to weaken its emissions reduction targets following CoP15 in Copenhagen. In 2011 Canada formally abandoned the Kyoto Protocol. In 2013 Canada received the Lifetime Unachievement Award at CoP19 in Warsaw for continuously disrupting and blocking advancement in United Nations climate negotiations, referred to as the 'absolute worst country at the [climate] talks.'
Meanwhile, last year was the hottest on world record, and floods, droughts, cyclones, wildfires and their gang of climate disasters are coming down with no mercy.
But this is no time for sloth speed. Canada's negotiators need to become the Donovan Bailey's and Usain Bolt's of the climate movement and mirror the progress being demanded everywhere else: renewable energy investments are skyrocketing, provinces are implementing cap-and trade systems, carbon taxes, coal cuts, and record-breaking masses are taking to the streets for climate justice.
The time to make our voices heard could not be better. During the upcoming elections we can decide to fall chaotically into the climate hall of shame, or we can request climate action from our federal candidates and march into Paris' CoP21 with the sounds of fossil fuel cuts, renewable energy investments and low carbon climate resilience. We decide. But one thing is clear. Climate change is not the type to linger politely at the door until we negotiate proper action. So we better hurry.
PRESS RELEASE: Al Gore's Climate Reality Project Training Fully Subscribed in Toronto
Former U.S. Vice President to train next generation of ‘climate heroes’
By: Audrey Dépault, National Manager
July 6, 2015
Toronto, Canada (July 6, 2015) – Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore will lead a packed training session in Toronto this week, helping to shape the next generation of environmental leaders and educators as part of his global Climate Reality Project.
More than 550 people from around the world will take part in Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, taking place July 9-10. It’s the first time the training has been held in Canada since 2008.
Participants will travel from across Canada, the U.S. and 43 other countries to gain a better understanding of environmental issues and help spread the urgent message of climate action across their communities.
“The Climate Reality Project empowers individuals to come together to help fight weak government policies and inaction that are hurting our economy and our livelihoods,” said Karel Mayrand, President of Climate Reality Canada.
Participants at the Toronto training are from a wide range of backgrounds and professions including the environment as well as technology, finance, health, education and more. The age range of participants varies from 11 to over 70, with a high proportion of Millennials.
Of the 550 attendees, nearly 400 are from Canada, 88 from the U.S. and 19 from Nigeria. Some other countries with a handful of participants include Pakistan, Turkey and Bangladesh.
“We’re thrilled to see so many Canadians get involved in this influential and inspiring program,” said Mayrand. “At the same time, the international mix of attendees will deepen the knowledge among all participants, and provide support as climate leaders worldwide work collectively to put pressure on governments to increase their commitments to help reduce the devastating impacts of climate change.”
The Toronto training will focus on environmental issues in Canada, including the cost of climate change on the country’s infrastructure and economy.
“We hear regularly through our global network that people are dismayed by the Canadian government’s poor performance around action to fight climate change,” Mayrand said. “Through these training programs, we aim to educate and embolden a new set of climate heroes as part of a growing global movement to protect our climate through clean economic development.”
“The timing for the training is key,” added Mayrand. “With the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21 climate negotiations) taking place in Paris at the end of this year, 2015 is a critical year for climate policy.”
The training kicks off the Canadian segment of the global Road to Paris campaign. Newly trained Climate Leaders will put their skills to use on July 11th for a Toronto Day of Action, where nearly 200 trainees will celebrate municipal and provincial climate policy successes and collect petition signatures to request more action federally.”
The Toronto training is the 29th Climate Reality Leadership Corps training. The Climate Reality Project has trained more than 7,800 Climate Reality Leaders from more than 125 countries, with recent trainings held in Johannesburg, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Since the first Canadian training in 2008, Climate Reality Project Canada's climate leaders have reached more than 600,000 Canadians across all provinces and territories, making it the largest program of its kind in Canada.
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Reflections on the Great March for Climate Action
By: Anita Payne, Climate Leader
January 21, 2015
In Los Angeles, CA on March 1 last year, hundreds of students and climate activists gathered to send a few dozen climate marchers off on an 8 month 3000 mile trek across the continent. I was fortunate to participate in the Great March for Climate Action for 100 days, from LA to Phoenix and Chicago to Washington, DC. On Saturday, November 1, we reached our destination, the White House. The purpose of the march was to bring attention to the climate crisis and demand action. We brought messages from frontline communities known as “sacrifice zones” whose health and livelihoods are affected by air and water pollution as a result of the extraction and processing of fossil fuels. These polluters included oil refineries in Wilmington, CA and Toledo, OH, open petroleum coke piles in Southeast Chicago, and fracking wells and waste injection sites in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Other messages came from people affected by the severe multi-year drought in the southwest and those fighting the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska. At our closing event on November 1 we shared stories from all the states we traversed and symbolically left our shoes on the stage.
While the physical demands of walking many miles every day was something that people told me they couldn’t do, many of my Canadian friends were happy to support my participation in the GMCA. Each day I wore a photo of the children or grandchildren of my supporters and then carried a banner made of all the photos into Washington. The end of the Great March for Climate Action was the first step to further actions. Many of the American climate marchers have been taking action to stop the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure in several areas of the US and even getting arrested. Like other marchers, I am giving presentations and volunteering with Citizens’ Climate Lobby. This organization focuses on a revenue-neutral carbon fee which is returned to taxpayers as a dividend. A similar carbon tax in British Columbia has successfully reduced greenhouse gas pollution while maintaining a strong economy and not unduly affecting citizens.
As we enter 2015, I am filled with hope and optimism that is tinged with fear. I hope that this is the year that the people of the world come together and take action on the climate crisis but I fear it may not happen. More and more the climate crisis and what we should do about it are being discussed in the media. The growth of renewable energy has been surpassing expectations, new coal plants are being cancelled across the US, and the surprise agreement between China and the USA gives the Canadian government no more excuse to delay action. Reports of the success of BC’s carbon tax and the positive experience of lobbying Canadian MPs and Senators in Ottawa in November give me hope. In Ontario, we have the wonderful opportunity to work with the provincial government that plans to put a price on carbon. In July, Ontario will be hosting a pan-American Climate Summit in Toronto. Federally, we are now in an election year, a real opportunity to demand climate action from the candidates and new government. The global community is poised to hammer together a post-Kyoto agreement involving all nations. Talks in Paris in December will be a last ditch make or break effort to move to concerted global action that will determine the fate of humanity and ultimately all life on Earth.
Anita Payne is a volunteer Climate Leader and former science teacher based in Perth, Ontario.
GMCA website: http://climatemarch.org/
November 1, 2014, Closing event of GMCA: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLssu0pRLqQ4A1K5OTnH4BVGdT79_FQtq-
Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada: citizensclimatelobby.ca/
A Breakfast Like No Other!
By: Hossein Maleki, Climate Leader
March 31, 2014
Imagine my excitement, getting to personally meet my real life, living hero. On March 20th, 2014, just hours before the start of spring, we arrived at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Canada Place to volunteer for Mr. Al Gore’s breakfast presentation to a large group of TED Talks attendees.
Judy Fainstein and I were in charge of guest registration. Judy, Regional Mentor for BC and Yukon Climate Reality Canada is a friend and mentor to me. Working with her on this was just as fun and exciting as I thought it would be. As we familiarized ourselves with the list of names on the guest list, we immediately realized the audience was full of decision makers, influencers, CEOs, COOs, actors, film directors, artists.
The doors closed and Mr. Gore started his speech, immediately capturing everyone’s attention. The presentation’s format was different than the one I had seen before, yet highly effective in focusing positively on available climate solutions. These are existing solutions being implemented already around the world today. There was also a strong reminder of the current dangers of climate change... if we fail to take action.
A huge highlight of the presentation was when Mr. Gore yelled “The time for denial is over!” This received a very loud ovation from the crowd. It seemed like everyone attending felt inspired to go out and create real world change.
Personally, I got to recharge a boost of hope in keeping up this fight. Being around amazing people like Judy and the Climate Reality Project team; people who are just as passionate as I am, I know we can leave behind a healthy, beautiful world for the coming generations just as the one we inherited.
And for a final cherry on top, Judy and I got to meet our hero and shake his hand. Overall, I’d say this event was a huge success.
Hossein Maleki is a volunteer Climate Leader and President of Satel Enterprises, an IT consulting firm based in Vancouver.
Reality is Not an opinion
By: Liz Rice, Climate Leader
October 1, 2013
What’s it like to have Al Gore talk at you for 10 hours? Well, I found out late July in Chicago at the largest ever Climate Reality Leadership Corps training event.
The Climate Reality Project (CRP) was founded and is currently chaired by Nobel Laureate and former American vice president Al Gore. CRP is dedicated to unleashing a global cultural movement demanding action on the climate crisis. One way that this is being accomplished is by training people across the world to deliver the presentation that was at the centre of the 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.
I was one of 1,250 people from 70 countries, eager to receive the training. To attend the training we had to apply, be accepted, and pay our own way.
Everyone’s #1 question: What’s Al Gore like? I found out on day two of the three days of training. At 65 years old, Gore is very energetic. As a speaker myself, I was in awe that he presented and took questions for a 10-hour day. Every word was delivered with passion. How current is the information in the presentation?
Well, the photocopies of the slides in our training binder were already out of date as they were handed to us. Gore explained that he often edits the presentation on a weekly and sometimes even daily basis. Why did it take 10 hours? That’s because he went through the presentation twice. The first time the presentation took about 20 minutes longer than the usual hour it would take to be delivered to an audience. Then the second time it took about 7 hours in total. He explained the meaning of the data on each slide, transition points in the presentation where subtopics changed, and exactly what the science says and doesn’t say. At the three key transition points we had the opportunity to work in small groups to decide on questions to ask Gore and the two scientists who joined him on stage.
There are four countries where the denier industry is quite successful: the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia. While I don’t know any hard-core “climate change deniers”, i.e., the kind who would appear on Fox News, I do read and hear people minimizing either the cause of climate change (it’s not all because of us) or the severity and speed (it’s not so bad). I attribute this to our innate fears and the superb job that oil, gas, and coal companies have been doing to cause doubt in the average person’s mind (exactly how it was done by the cigarette companies decades ago).
Turn up the heat on denial by visiting www.RealityDrop.org for short and factual information to counteract any climate misinformation. Make a “Reality Drop” in an email, on a comment post, or on any social media platform. There are so many acts of climate leadership that you can do right now: www.ClimateRealityProject.org has all the ideas and tools that you could possibly need to make climate issues more prominent in the media and to “win the conversation” online or in face-to-face interactions. At the very least, add yourself to the community of over 5 million who’ve already stood up for “reality” and registered their support for CRP. Mark your calendars for the 3rd Annual “24 Hours of Climate Reality” happening online October 22-23, where you’ll see conversations about climate change and CRP presentations given in real time. Apparently Gore is there for all 24 hours. This man is 100% committed! Got an audience in mind? You’ve got at least 25 newly trained CRP climate leaders from the GTA eagerly waiting for you to book a presentation via www.ClimateReality.ca. Presentations are free and customized by the presenter specifically for the audience using presentation templates that have been designed for youth and adults.
Liz Rice is an Environmental & Health Speaker. She can be reached via email@example.com or www.envirohealthpresentations.ca
Al Gore Welcomes 101 New Canadian Climate Leaders
By: Audrey Dépault, National Manager
August 20, 2013
On August 1st, 2013, 101 Canadians graduated from Nobel Laureate Al Gore's Climate Leadership Corps after having taken part in a formal three day training. The Canadian delegation joined over 1200 new trainees from over 50 countries, on July 30th to August 1st, in Chicago, Illinois. The participants represented a wide range of backgrounds and ages and included students, university professors, business leaders, environmental consultants, engineers, professionals from diverse sectors, and climate scientists. The majority of the trainees had already demonstrated an exceptional involvement in local and international initiatives on climate change. The training allows the Climate Reality Project Canada to extend its reach and raise awareness among more Canadians on climate change issues. It also better equips the organization to advise small and medium enterprises on how they can strengthen their efforts to the fight against climate change since many of the new graduates have a vast range of management experience. Hosted by Mr. Gore himself, the training was a huge success and was made possible through the generous support of Climate Reality Canada's partners including, the Government of Quebec, Desjardins General Insurance, CN, and BLJC. Newly trained presenters, in addition to the over 350 previously trained Climate Leaders, are excited about the prospect of reaching even more Canadians through free presentations across Canada. Individual presenters can be requested to deliver free presentations by filling out a simple request form.
Special Thanks to the Canadian Climate Leaders!
By: Alexis Fefer, Climate Leadership Coordinator
August 15, 2013
We’d like to thank some of the climate leaders who have made particularly impressive contributions to the movement against climate change, with the Climate Reality Project Canada. Thank you to Sangita Iyer, Marian White, Rod Campbell & Daniel Kingsbury who were trained last summer in San Francisco and have gone way above and beyond their goal of completing ten presentations in their first year!
We would also like to recognize Carl Duivenvoorden, Eric Novak, Lee Norton, Catherine Orlando, and Victoria & Corrina Serda for giving the highest numbers of presentations per individual, in the history of the Climate Reality Project Canada!
Furthermore, we would like to introduce three new regional mentors who will be supporting Climate Leaders: Jay Smith for the Ottawa and Kingston group, Stephanie Berger for the Montreal region, and Julie Chartrand-Beauregard for the Quebec City team!
The Jellyfish Project Touring Canadian High Schools this Fall
By: Alexis Fefer, Climate Leadership Coordinator
June 6, 2013
This upcoming fall, the band the Mindil Beach Markets will tour Canada, performing rock concerts with an environmental message to high schools all across the country. Through a mix of musical performance and engaged discussion the presentations touch on issues such as overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution. In light of World Oceans Day this week we want to share this exciting and unique environmental campaign.
The Canadian high school tour is an initiative of the Jellyfish Project, the band's environmental organization that aims to raise awareness about the current state of our oceans through music. The band offers its presentations to schools free of charge as a way to give back the community that has supported them.
The band is composed of 5 dedicated members: Rod Campbell (vocals/keys), Daniel Kingsbury (vocals/guitar), Patrick Codere (vocals/guitar), Cam Ainslie (drums), and Matt Posnikoff (bass/guitar). Native of Vancouver Island, the band has performed to dozens of high schools around British Columbia already as part of the Jellyfish Project initiative. In 2012, Daniel Kingsbuary and Rod Campbell were trained by Al Gore at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps in San Francisco. The band has since added a climate change component to its presentation.
Know a school that would be interested in hosting the Mindil Beach Markets? You can request a presentation during their upcoming tour. Dates are still available in the following cities:
Donations are welcome as they help cover the band's tour expenses. To host an event with the Mindil Beach Markets, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.