2007 Archive --- April-December

Support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax continues to grow in the BC faith community

December 14, 2007

We continue to be amazed at the broad base of support for a carbon tax in next year's BC budget. We received these two letters yesterday, the first on behalf of the Diocese of British Columbia for the Anglican Church, the second from the Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver.

 
 

Dear Minister Taylor

I am Ken Gray, an Anglican Priest in Colwood BC. I have for many years worked on ecological justice issues for the Anglican Church of Canada. In January 2006 I was privileged to meet with Dana Hayden and Matt Price (Conservation voters of BC) to discuss your government's policy direction in relation to energy policy and climate change mitigation.

It has been encouraging to note the development of this policy direction over the past twelve months.

With others I was encouraged to hear recently that you are considering a carbon tax in next years budget, and I want you to know that I fully support such a measure.

If BC is to reach its goal of a 33 percent reduction in emissions by 2020, we are going to need powerful tools like a carbon tax to get the job done. Simply offering consumers a series of subsidies and rebates will not lead to the changes in behaviour and decision making needed to get the job done.

I appreciate that a new tax will have to be introduced gradually so that individuals and firms have time to adjust. However, I urge you to initially set the tax at a level that will have a noticeable effect on decision making, and to commit to a transparent schedule of future increases so that businesses and consumers will be given a clear signal that they need to reduce emissions or pay the cost.

I understand that many economists argue for an initial tax of $30 per tonne, rising to $75 to $150 per tonne over time, and I support these targets.

I also want you to know that I support a shift of taxes from income to carbon emissions, in order to keep the tax revenue neutral and avoid undue impact on those less well off members of our communities.

Finally, I urge you to call on your cabinet colleagues to introduce regulations requiring higher efficiency standards and cleaner fuels, in order to make new low emission technologies and fuels available in anticipation of increasing taxes on those emissions.

Looking forward to your government's continued leadership in this area,

Kenneth J. Gray
Chair, Environment Committee
Anglican Diocese of British Columbia
Rector, Parish of Colwood and Langford
Canadian Representative, Anglican Communion Environmental Network

copy to:
Premier Campbell
Carole James

 
 
The Honourable Carole Taylor,
Minister of Finance
P.O.Box 9048, Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
 
 

December 12, 2007

Dear Minister Taylor:

At our recent meeting of the Environment Ministry team at Canadian Memorial United Church we voted to forward you this letter supporting your initiative to introduce a Revenue-neutral Carbon Tax in the next BC Provincial Budget. There is growing support for this type of initiative in the faith communities.

It is important for our government to send a message to citizens about the need to significantly alter our behaviour with respect to use of fossil fuels if we are to have any impact on the current climate crisis. A carbon tax would be preferable over a cap and trade system, which has high costs to administer and produces no revenue, which our government can use to compensate more needy consumers. As well, a carbon tax can be gradually raised as it becomes more widely accepted.

Voluntary measures, we believe, have proven to be relatively ineffective.

Our Environment Ministry team now has approximately 27 participants compared to 6 when it was first formed four years ago; a sign that concern over our human impact on the environment is growing.

Introduction of a carbon tax will give everyone the message that we have a price to pay for damaging our planet's atmosphere and restoring it to health. It will help us think about reducing our emissions of CO2 and other Greenhouse Gases. BC will not be alone in this matter, as we understand that Quebec has plans to bring in a carbon tax in the near future.

As citizens of this planet that we hold sacred, we urge you to consider the introduction of this important action to help reduce our impact in a meaningful way. We thank you for your bold leadership.

Respectfully,

Russ Quinn
Environment Ministry Team
Canadian Memorial United Church

cc: The Honourable John Baird
cc: VTACC

 

We know that the Finance Minister, Carole Taylor, is taking public support into consideration as she decides whether or not to introduce a carbon tax in next year's budget. If you haven't yet told her that you support a shift of taxes from income to carbon emissions, there is still time to make your voice heard before the holidays. Please click on our carbon tax campaign link on the left to find out how to get involved.

Support for a carbon tax from an economist, an environmental lawyer and the former CEO of Shell Canada

November 30, 2007

B.C.'s carbon tax shift is smart public policy

CLIVE MATHER and NANCY OLEWILER AND STEWART ELGIE

November 29, 2007 Globe and Mail

B.C. Finance Minister Carole Taylor's idea of introducing a carbon tax, matched by cuts in other taxes, is a smart one: good for the climate and good for the economy. It is probably the single most effective step B.C. could take toward achieving the major cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions that Premier Gordon Campbell has promised.

Although many experts agree that a carbon tax of some sort would be a vital weapon in combatting climate change, Canadian politicians have been reluctant to go that route, for fear of being seen to raise taxes. B.C. is wisely steering clear of this conundrum by proposing a "tax shift," one that would offset the carbon tax revenues with tax cuts and incentives in other areas.

Economists have understood for nearly a century that a fundamental flaw in our market economy is its failure to fully account for impact on the environment. Indeed, in most of Canada, carbon is released into the atmosphere without any charge (and with few regulatory restrictions). That's despite the fact that global warming will impose massive costs on society - as is already being witnessed in B.C.'s devastated pine forests, Ontario's lowering Great Lakes, and the Arctic's melting permafrost.

An elegant solution proposed by economists has been to intervene in what they call this "market failure" by charging the emitters a fee or a tax reflecting the cost of their emissions. In the case of carbon, applying a tax is simply the most efficient way of kick-starting reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.

Would such a tax shift raise overall costs for industry and consumers? Likely not on the whole. Certainly, prices will move; carbon-intensive goods and services will become more expensive, while other goods and services will become relatively cheaper. And that is a good thing: Companies that lower their emissions will become more competitive, and consumers will have an incentive to buy green products.

Tax shifting can achieve this win-win because it is revenue neutral; it raises taxes on harmful emissions (which we want less of) and lowers taxes on things such as income, employment or investment (which we want more of). Some of the revenues from a carbon tax, for example, could be used to reduce income taxes, and some could go into a green technology fund that would leverage industry investments in new clean technologies. Such an approach would spur innovation to find low-cost ways of lowering greenhouse-gas emissions.

So a carbon tax shift stands a real chance to link the health of the environment with the health of the economy, and to bolster both. And that's exactly what's begun to happen in countries that have set a price on carbon. The canonical example is Germany. In 1999, it began to phase in higher taxes on electricity, gasoline, fuel oil and natural gas. The government used the new tax revenues to finance reductions in social security contributions from both employers and employees. The reforms included special protections for vulnerable industries and low-income individuals to ensure they weren't disproportionately affected (an important lesson for B.C. to follow). The result: 250,000 new jobs and a reduction of 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2003 alone (equivalent to taking five million cars off the road) - and a significant step toward the much deeper cuts needed to prevent dangerous climate change.

In Canada, a growing chorus of voices is now calling on our politicians to follow suit. A recent GlobeScan poll found that four out of five Canadians favour raising taxes on energy sources that cause climate change if other taxes are reduced by the same amount. And last month, 70 professors of economics and business in B.C. wrote to Ms. Taylor urging her to include a revenue-neutral carbon tax in her next budget. Blue-chip economists, think tanks, businesses and environmentalists are urging governments to put a price on carbon emissions.

There is no simple answer to climate change. To stabilize and then reduce carbon in the atmosphere will require change on an international scale. Businesses and consumers will need to pay more attention to managing their carbon emissions. But, as a first step, sound fiscal policy will provide a vital incentive and increase awareness. A cleverly designed carbon tax - one that is phased in over time, recycles the revenue, and protects vulnerable members of society - will prove that government can serve the environment and the economy at the same time. It lays the foundation for truly sustainable prosperity.

No wonder B.C. is looking at a carbon tax shift - it's smart public policy. The big question is whether B.C.'s political leaders have the courage to implement it.

Clive Mather retired as president and CEO of Shell Canada in June. Nancy Olewiler is a professor of economics and director of the public policy program at Simon Fraser University. Stewart Elgie is a professor of environmental law at the University of Ottawa. All are members of the Sustainable Prosperity Initiative.

Carbon Tax Campaign Update

November 28, 2007

Unitarian Church of Vancouver calls for a provincial carbon tax!

Early this week the Unitarian Church of Vancouver -- located in Carole Taylor's riding -- sent a resolution to the Finance Minister calling on the province to introduce a carbon tax. The resolution was first passed 9 years ago at their national AGM -- they were way ahead of most of us on this. Here is the text of the resolution:

Therefore, be it resolved, that the 1999 Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Unitarian Council urge appropriate levels of government to initiate carbon taxes, including an additional gasoline tax of fifteen cents per litre per year for the next five years, and to apply a portion of these funds toward the development of safe, alternative fuels. This will nearly bring the tax up to the European level.

(A fifteen cent per litre tax on fuel is equivalent to a $60 per tonne tax on carbon dioxide.)

Messages in favour of a carbon tax are pouring in to the Finance Minister

The response to our call for citizens to send a message to the finance minister has been tremendous. There is clear public support for a carbon tax in next year's budget, as documented by the overflowing in-box of our email. Thanks to everyone who has copied their messages to us. Support continues to grow on our facebook group BC Needs a Carbon Tax! as well.

It is clear that the public is looking to the provinces to lead the fight on climate change right now, given that our federal government appears to be in complete denial about the problem. If you haven't made your voice heard yet on the need for a carbon tax, please go here to start. Five minutes of your time now may make a world of difference for our future.

Even if you are not from BC you can still show your support for bold leadership on the government's part. Change has to start somewhere -- let's all encourage BC to lead the way!

Help ensure BC gets a carbon tax in next year's budget!

November 19, 2007

BC's finance minister, Carole Taylor, recently stated that the time may be right to introduce a carbon tax in BC. The minister has since begun consultation with economists and others to determine how such a tax could be implemented. This is great news!

However, we need to keep in mind that those opposed to a carbon tax are also at work trying to water down proposed measures. Right now it is crucial the public keeps pressure on the BC government to ensure it follows through with a tax substantial enough to influence decision making and reduce emissions. If we sit back, there is a good chance that any tax introduced will amount to window dressing -- the appearance of action, but without any impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

If any government in Canada can successfully introduce a meaningful carbon tax, it will be the current BC government. It has the support of the business community, and Premier Gordon Campbell is personally committed to taking serious action to reduce emissions. However, action may not happen without public support -- let's not miss the opportunity! Help us send 100 letters to Finance Minister Carole Taylor in support of a carbon tax.

Please go here to find out how you can make your voice heard on this important issue in just a few minutes.

VTACC is having a party, and you're invited to help celebrate a year of community action on climate change!

November 14, 2007

Start the holiday season November 30th with an evening of live jazz at the Wired Monk along with community members concerned about climate change. Network with like-minded individuals from various organisations. Check out some locally produced arts and crafts and get a jump on your holiday shopping while helping to support VTACC. We hope to see you there!

It's official! BC is "considering" a carbon tax for next years budget!

October 26, 2007

Finance Minister Carole Taylor received the following open letter from more than 70 BC Economists urging her to include a revenue neutral carbon tax in the 2008 budget. Read her response in the Globe and Mail below.

Dear Minister Taylor,

We are writing to urge you to include a revenue neutral carbon tax in your upcoming budget. Your government identified action on global warming as a critical policy goal. We believe that a carbon tax is the most efficient and effective way to reach that goal.

A carbon tax would consist of adding a tax to the price of carbon intensive fuels (e.g., oil, gas or coal) when they are sold in BC. Such a tax would induce consumers of carbon-intensive products to switch to more environmentally friendly goods. It would also induce firms to find more environmentally friendly ways to produce.

Right now the prices of the goods we buy don't fully capture the costs to the environment of making those goods. A carbon tax will make the prices more accurately reflect all the costs of making a good.

The carbon tax could be made revenue neutral by offsetting increased carbon taxes with cuts in other taxes (e.g., the income tax). As a result, the average British Columbian family would see no change in its after-tax income. Families would still, however, have incentives to change their consumption patterns to make them more environmentally friendly. Even with the same income, if gas prices increase, families will choose to drive less, for example.

A carbon tax is superior to regulatory mandates because it allows both ordinary citizens and firms to adjust in the way that is best for them. It will also provide incentives for people to innovate, finding more environmentally friendly ways to produce and to live. In contrast, regulatory mandates force a "one size fits all" approach, are likely more costly to administer, and will always be one step behind in terms of the environmental technologies being applied.

In order not to impose too large a burden on BC businesses, the tax could be phased in with clearly announced steps. The initial steps may be small. This would allow BC firms time to innovate and adjust. All firms in all jurisdictions will eventually face requirements related to addressing climate change. Quebec is introducing a carbon tax in October of this year, for example.

We recognize that implementing a carbon tax involves complex decisions, including how to mitigate its impact both on the least well-off in our society and on BC firms. We stand ready to help the BC government develop an effective plan.

There is a growing consensus that the time to act on climate change is now. The most effective way to address problems related to carbon consumption is with a carbon tax. With a carbon tax, we can have a cleaner environment, a stronger economy, and a brighter future for our children.

 

Carbon Tax Letter Signatories:

 

University of British Columbia

Economics
Siwan AndersonViktoria Hnatkovska
Paul BeaudryAtsushi Inoue
Mathilde BombardiniTsvetanka Karagyozova
Gorkem CelikAshok Kotwal
Clive ChappleAmartya Lahiri
Brian CopelandThomas Lemieux
Michael DevereuxKevin Milligan
Erwin DiewertHugh Neary
Catherine DouglasDonald Paterson
Mauricio DrehlichmanMichael Peters
Mukesh EswaranAngela Redish
Patrick FrancoisW. Craig Riddell
Giovanni GallipoliShinichi Sakata
Robert GatemanHenry Siu
David GreenRashid Sumaila
Yoram HalevyWilliam Troost
Joseph HenrichOkan Yilankaya
Sauder School of Business
Richard BarichelloThomas Ross
Anthony BoardmanRatna Shrestha
Keith HeadVeikko Theile
Thomas HellmanIlan Vertinsky
Sanghoon LeeRalph Winter
Peter Nemetz
Faculty of Land and Food Systems
Richard BarichelloSumeet Gulati
Katherine BaylisJames Vercammen

 

Simon Fraser University

Economics
Steeve MongrainArthur Robson
Gordon MyersNicolas Schmitt
Krishna PendakurSimon Woodcock
Public Policy
Dominique GrossJohn Richards
Jonathan Kesselman
School of Resource and Environmental Management
Mark Jaccard

 

University of Victoria

Economics
Merwan EngineerHerbert Schuetz
Martin FarnhamPaul Schure
Elisabeth GuglDavid Scoones
Malcolm RutherfordG. Cornelius van Kooten

 

University of Northern British Columbia

Paul BowlesFiona MacPhail
Ajit Dayanandan

 

Read Minister Taylor's response in the Globe and Mail:

The New Climate: B.C. mulls economic impact of carbon tax

Opposition to the Gateway Project gaining momentum!

October 25, 2007

More and more people are asking how much longer Gordon Campbell, our Premier with the vision of a climate friendly future, can continue to justify the government's plans for massive highway and port expansion in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Vancouver Sun columnist Pete McMartin has asked the question three times recently in his column. All are worth checking out:

Automobile's curious lure about laziness, not lack of transit

Gateway project promises have hefty environmental price

Port Mann twinning will only likely lead to tripling it later

See also this recent opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun by Ian Bruce of the Suzuki Foundation:

Campbell's vision collides with Falcon's freeway plans

To find out more about the Gateway Project and the groups supporting alternatives to it, check out these sites:

The Liveable Region Coalition http://www.livableregion.ca/

Stop Gateway http://www.stopgateway.ca/

A further chance to make your voice heard on carbon taxes:

BC Budget public submission deadline extended to Friday October 26!

October 23, 2007

By popular demand, the BC finance committee has extended the deadline for public input by one week on its Budget 2008 public consultation process. You can quickly and easily tell the provincial government that you support carbon taxes by heading to this on line submission form: https://www.leg.bc.ca/budgetconsultations/survey.asp Click on the link and in five minutes you too can have the satisfaction of having urged the province to adopt the single most effective tool in fighting climate change: a carbon tax. Check out the previous blog below to find out more about carbon taxes, or have a look at this 8 minute video discussion of the topic with BC energy economist Mark Jaccard: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Q-5YsCFBGfw.

Several of our group had the chance to make an oral presentation to the finance committee last week. The committee members are aware of the concept of a revenue-neutral carbon tax, which we support, but they need to know that there is broad public support for this measure. It is likely that there will not be any action out of our federal government in the near future, so leadership will have to come from the provinces. Let's start the ball rolling with BC's next budget. If you haven't done so already, please take 5 minutes today to through your support behind this important measure: let the government know that we want real action on climate change, not just stirring speeches!

BC needs a carbon tax!

October 3, 2007

British Columbia has established a consultation process around its 2008 Budget and has invited the public to present its concerns and priorities. We here at VTACC think that this is a key opportunity to push British Columbia towards implementing a carbon tax – possibly the single most effective tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The government of BC has shown a desire to take on a leadership role in reducing emissions. We want to encourage them to move beyond bold targets and into effective action. You can help by sending in a submission to the budget consultation committee.

Why a Carbon Tax?

For some time different organisations have been advocating the use of a carbon tax as the most straightforward way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It's a simple and effective idea – taxing carbon containing fuels when they are first sold, so that the higher price encourages individuals and companies to switch to less carbon intensive goods and services – but in the current political climate politicians are leery of introducing a new tax as a way of solving our problems. Gordon Campbell said as much when we met with him last month. We need to show the government that there is a broad base of support for a carbon tax as an efficient way of reducing emissions.

Learn more about carbon taxes

Find out how you to provide input to the Budge 2008 consultation process

We Challenge the Conservative Party of Canada to a Car Race!

July 05, 2007

If they win, they have to bring Bill C30 back before the House this fall for a vote, and implement a $30 per tonne tax on carbon effective January 1 2008. If we win, they have to bring back Bill C30 for a vote, implement a $50 carbon tax, and Prime Minister Harper has to wear one of our "I'm looking for REAL action….on CLIMATE CHANGE" t-shirts during question period everyday during the next session of the House.

Why all this focus on politics?

July 03, 2007

We have had some interesting conversations will people lately who ask us why we focus on political and not personal action on climate change. Some people are deeply suspicious of political promises and cynical about political posturing, and they doubt that any party would take serious action on climate change if it formed a government. Why not just rally people to reduce emissions from their own personal activities instead?

We still are optimistic that at least some of our political parties take global warming seriously and would implement the tough measures necessary to reduce emissions if they were in government – especially if they realised that citizen concern about global warming was what brought them to power. And tough measures by government are necessary, because even if many of us sat on our hands in darkened rooms for the next year, our countries emissions would continue to rise – given plans to quadruple oil sands production, among other things.

Nonetheless, we recognise that if you apportion Canada's emissions by end use, a big chunk of our national contribution to global warming comes from driving cars, home heating and cooling, and other personal activities, so personal action is important. However, we are leery of politicians who put sole emphasis on personal responsibility for voluntary emissions reductions, and don't talk about the urgent (and unpopular) need for things like regulations and carbon taxes to help get emissions from household and industrial sources down. We don't want people to think that they don't have the right to demand that government take action simply because they aren't living like a monk themselves. (And lets face it: some people aren't going to make the changes in lifestyle needed unless government forces them to).

So please don't give up on political action. Consider sending in one of our postcards to the government in Ottawa and putting one of our lawn signs up in your yard. Contact the opposition parties and demand to know why they aren't fighting harder to force the government to act on this problem. Write a letter to your premier asking what actions they are taking to start reducing emissions immediately. Ask your mayor and council what sort of measures they will use to reduce urban emissions. Don't be satisfied with bold promises of reduction targets – they are meaningless without actions to back them up.

Finally, if you haven't taken steps to reduce your personal emissions, what are you waiting for? There are lots of organisations out there with tips and information on how to get it done. Many of their suggestions will also save you money and improve your health. Keep in mind that changes like this are easier to do if you work together with your neighbours and friends. Local emission reduction groups are springing up all over the place – check out our What You Can Do page to find out more.

Getting our message out to the people and the premier in Point Grey and Kitsilano

June 25, 2007

Thank you to everyone who helped out with our entry in the Fiesta Days parade and the Kits soap box derby, both in advance and at the events!

The parade on Saturday gave us the chance to remind the crowds along Tenth Avenue that it is up to us to choose BC's future -- one that embraces clean energy and better transit, or one that chases highway expansion and off shore oil development down a path to increased emissions and urban sprawl.

At the Fiesta Days Fair, we spoke to Vancouver Councilor Peter Ladner about his upcoming motion to council calling for the city to reduce its emissions 80 percent by 2050. We told Mr. Ladner that we support him in this effort, but we also pointed out that targets are only as good as the measures that are used to reach them. We look forward to the opportunity to provide input when city staff start work to develop those measures. We also had a chance to talk with Vancouver Quadra candidates Joyce Murray (Liberal) and Rebecca Coad (NDP). We told them we look forward to seeing their respective leaders call the Harper government to task for its failure to bring Bill C30, the Clean Air and Climate Change Act, back before the House for a vote. We're working hard to show public support for this bill, and we want to know that they are too!

At the soap box race on Sunday we cheered our car on at the finish line with supporters in VTACC t-shirts waving a wind turbine and lawn signs. A big thanks to Pablo Corry, our intrepid racer, who braved pouring rain and mechanical malfunction to see us through three runs of the "VTACC Viper" down Fourth Ave.

After the event we had a productive and positive 15 minute street side conversation with Premier Gordon Campbell about the province's action on climate change. Our conversation covered a lot of ground, and we appreciated his thoughtful comments. However, we also made sure he heard some of our key concerns. Our premier stated that everyone has to work to reduce emissions, including individuals and municipal governments. We replied that his government is in control of some very big emission reduction levers and that he has a responsibility to take action as well. Specifically, we told him we don't think he can reconcile the emission reduction promises of his throne speech with his plans for massive highway expansion in the Fraser Valley or his efforts to lift the off-shore oil moratorium on our coast. We also raised the issue of Mr. Campbell's legacy. Did he want to be remembered as the premier who finally stood up and showed strong leadership on climate change -- taking actions which, though unpopular, were in the best long term interests of British Columbia, or as the leader who doubled the size of our main highway, increased emissions and urban sprawl, and introduced oil development and tanker traffic to our pristine coastline? We said that if he chose the first path then he would have the support of a lot of mainstream British Columbians just like us.

We hope he took our comments to heart, and we'll have a chance to explore these topics further when we meet with him more formally later this summer.

You're invited to a Parade and a Soap Box Derby

June 18, 2007

Nothing says "summer is here" quite like Point Grey Fiesta Days (Saturday June 23) and the Kits Soap Box Derby(Sunday June 24). VTACC is taking part in both events, and we invite you to join us!

Saturday June 23 10 a.m. -- 10th Avenue Parade and Trimble Park Fair

We're starting off the festivities with an entry in Vancouver's premier west side parade. Our theme is BC: Your vote + your actions = your future. We'll be taking the air dressed as good futures (wind turbines, solar panels, fluorescent bulbs) and bad ones (oil tankers, twinned Port Mann bridges) and we will be conducting polls of the crowds as we stroll along 10th Ave to see which they prefer for their province. Gordon Campbell always participates in his ridings most prestigious summer event, and hopefully his entry in the parade will be near ours, and he can hear what the crowd has to say! Come out and add your voice and send a message to the BC government as we go by.

The Carnival Band will be joining us to help us keep in time. Interested in joining the parade? We may still have a couple of spaces left in costumes, and cyclists are needed, so send us an email before the weekend if you'd like to get involved. Kids are especially welcome to join!

After the parade we will have a booth at the Trimble Park fair, so come by and say hello before you head over to the jumpy-castle. Take part in our campaign to save the Clean Air and Climate Change Act by filling out postcards to PM Harper and Environment Minister Baird You can also pick up a climate change lawn sign at the booth.

Sunday June 24 9 a.m. to Noon -- 4th Ave Soapbox Derby (between Vine and Cypress)

VTACC is getting in on the fun with our very own "community action" powered racer. We're not sure what time we'll be competing, but the race is always fun and well worth a look. If you are on 4th for the race, please be sure to give a shout of encouragement as our sleek entry flashes by. (If Harper and the Conservatives were really hip, they'd dump the whole NASCAR thing and get in on this elite event). Meet us at the staging area near Balsam if you'd like a checkered flag (OK, it's actually a climate change lawn sign) to show your support. Hope to see you there!

Ps -- we're not kidding about the Conservatives and NASCAR. Check it out here: http://autos.canada.com/news/ story.html?id=247b217b-0ffd-4daa-8dbc-d38be75b5545

The G8 Summit bad news and good news

June 12, 2007

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and host of the recent G8 summit, pushed hard to get G8 leaders to agree to a 50 percent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2050. She also asked them to also agree to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. Neither agreement was reached, largely because the United States refused to agree to any firm targets for reductions.

However, there were a couple of positive outcomes at the meeting. The United States has agreed to work within a UN framework to pursue negotiations for mandatory emissions reductions in the post Kyoto period, rather than pursuing a voluntary, non-binding agreement with heavy duty emitters such as Australia. That round of negotiations kicks off in Bali in December and will include developing nations such as China and India.

Also, our Prime Minister has acknowledged that industrialized nations need to shoulder more responsibility than developing nations for starting us down the path of emissions reductions. Mr Harper also said that Canada supports the goal of a 50 percent reduction in global emissions below 1990 levels by 2050 (which means an 80 percent reduction in Canada's emissions below 1990 levels).

Mr Harper, we will be working hard to hold you to your word: no more finger pointing, and back to the drawing board with your climate change plan!

Susan Riley's column in the Ottawa Citizen gives a good over view of the outcome of the summit.

Canada's special Harper to G8 Leaders in Bonn

June 07, 2007

We think Canada's special too, but we don't think our country deserves special treatment when it comes to reducing emissions. That's what Prime Minister Harper was asking for at the start of the recent G8 Summit in Bonn, Germany. Since Canada has a growing economy and population and a robust, highly profitable oil industry, he argued that our country cant be expected to meet its Kyoto commitments especially since the previous Liberal government did nothing to start us down the path to emissions reductions. Realistic, Mr Harper said. A disappointment, countered German Chancellor Angela Merkel, host of the summit.

We think Canada should play a leadership role in the fight against climate change, and stop making excuses for why it can't be done. Canada has the dubious distinction of having the greatest percent increase in emissions among all G8 countries since 1990. As recent reports from the Pembina Institute and the CD Howe Institute show, Ottawa's new climate change plan, Turning the Corner, will do little or nothing to reverse that trend.

Poll after poll shows that a strong majority of Canadians want Canada to honour its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need our government to cap emissions and start reducing them now, using tough transparent measures like a carbon tax to get the job done. We don't need more paper targets and meaningless plans. If you want the world to see how special we are, Mr Harper, start cutting emissions now.

May 30, 2007

We experienced a bit of trouble with our website and email earlier this week. Our apologies if you had trouble getting through by email, downloading postcards, or ordering lawn signs. Everything is back up and running smoothly now.

Getting the message out to politicians

May 23, 2007

And to aspiring politicians as well. VTACC continues to pursue quality face time with those representing us in government, as well as those who would like to represent us in the future. This spring we interviewed all the nominees for the federal Liberal Party candidacy in our riding (Vancouver Quadra) in order to express our concerns about government policy on climate change and the need for urgent action. We have also interviewed the NDP candidate, and we would like to follow up with the two Conservative Party nominees in the near future. These interviews have been an interesting process for us, and, we hope, an educational one for the candidates who will be asking for our votes in the next election.

Just yesterday one of our group was able to share our concerns on climate change and government policy with Stephane Dion as he passed through town. He asked that Mr Dion keep up the pressure on the Conservative government to bring Bill C30, the Clean Air and Climate Change Act, back before the House for a vote. We want to see that the Liberals (and the rest of the Opposition) are passionate about bringing about deep reductions in emissions and making Canada a world leader in the fight against climate change. Were working hard to keep pressure on the Conservative government from our side, and we want to know that the opposition is pushing hard on this as well -- not the least because their actions now will inform our voting decisions come next election.

We also continue to pursue sit down meetings with Mr Dion and Premier Gordon Campbell. Stay tuned.

Canada to Join the Axis of Emitters?

May 18, 2007

The UN climate conference wrapped up in Bonn Germany today, and indications are that our government is leaning towards joining the US and Australia in pursuing a separate, less aggressive emissions reduction strategy than is supported by European nations. (The United States and Australia have previously rejected the Kyoto protocol on emissions reductions, and while Canada is a signatory to the protocol the current government is making no effort to meet our international obligations.) European nations are working towards formal recognition in any post Kyoto treaty that global average temperature increases must be kept below 2 degrees C if we are to avoid irreversible and potentially catastrophic changes to climate. Canada, along with the US, are reported to be actively resisting this recognition. Read more here.

It is one thing if our government takes a head in the sand approach to climate change at home. When it actively works to derail negotiations to develop international agreements to reduce those emissions, our government threatens the planet's future. Please take some time today to let Ottawa know you won't stand for this. Here are a few approaches you can take:

  1. Download one of our postcard pdfs, print it on cardstock, and mail in your postage free cards to Ottawa.
  2. Send us an email at climate_action@vtacc.orgclimate_action@vtacc.org with your address and we'll send you a quantity of cards which you can distribute in your community of friends and family.
  3. Send in a letter or email to Prime Minister Harper or Environment Minister Baird. You can find their contact information on the first link on our "what you can do page."
  4. Send a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing your concerns about Canada's growing "outlaw" reputation. You can also find these links on our "what you can do page."

Thanks for continuing to take action on climate change!

Thanks for coming out to the Wired Monk!

May 14, 2007

A very big thank you to everyone who came to the Wired Monk last Friday. We packed a shoulder to shoulder crowd of about 50 people into the cosy confines of our local coffee house to enjoy jazz by Martin Howard, Neil Hahn and Mike Turmell. We sent about 150 postcards to Ottawa asking the federal government to bring the revised Clean Air and Climate Change Act back before the House of Commons for a vote. Community members ranging from toddlers to grandparents got to know each other and share their concerns about climate change. And, last but not least, we raised close to $1,000! Thank you to all the local artists who contributed, and thanks as well to Tim and Leia of the Wired Monk for hosting the event. For anyone who couldn't make it, consider checking out one of their live music events on Fridays.

It's not easy being green

May 11, 2007

--especially when you are Gordon Campbell and you are trying to square the climate change convictions expressed in your throne speech with the emissions producing folly of the Gateway Project, the provinces massive highway expansion plan. Gary Mason expressed his thoughts on the predicament facing BC's Premier in a recent column in the Globe and Mail, and it is worthwhile reading.

The province would like to make the movement of goods through the Asia-Pacific Gateway [a.k.a. the communities of the Lower Mainland] as frictionless as possible. Unfortunately, the method they want to use to reach that goal 60's style highway building isnt compatible with liveability or emissions reductions. The pressure for an alternative solution continues to build along with public awareness of the scale and implications of the proposed highway development, so we can be optimistic that a date need not be scheduled between concerned citizens and the bulldozers.

Check out the Livable Region Coalition link on our Resources page to find out what you do to help stop the Gateway Project.

What about China?

May 9, 2007

And India, as well as Brazil and a host of other developing countries which are rapidly increasing their emissions as they grow. Why should Canada act to reduce emissions when these countries continue to pollute? There have always been lots of relevant responses to this question: on a per capita basis, Canadians are some of the worst emitters of greenhouse gases in the world; Canada and the other early-to- industrialise countries created the mess we are in today, and we cant very well ask a developing country to stop bringing its citizens up out of poverty simply because we got there first and have a monopoly on the right to pollute; if Canada, one of the richest nations in the world, doesnt step up and show some leadership on this issue, then we cant expect any other country to do so; the list could go on. Now there is an even better response: China and these other developing nations have already reduced their emissions substantially in fact, by a greater amount than the highly developed nations that have committed to reducing their emissions under the Kyoto protocol.

This astounding news is included in a UN report released May 4 at the IPCC conference in Bangkok. The report notes that policies which are primarily aimed at reducing emissions of smog forming pollutants and saving energy have had the unintended consequence of reducing annual global warming emissions from in countries such as China, India, Brazil and Mexico by over 500 million tonnes per year. There is still a lot of work to be done to determine an equitable international distribution of emissions reductions, but Canada needs to get started on its own reductions at home rather than pointing fingers across the ocean. Check out NewScientist.com for more on the UN report.

Send us your letters!

May 7, 2007

One of VTACCs main goals is to encourage Canadian citizens to get engaged politically to demand that governments take immediate action to reduce emissions. We provide tools such as lawn signs and postcards which we hope facilitate that engagement, but we know that many Canadians are already sending out that call for action themselves, through letters direct to government, through letters to the editor, via op-ed pieces, and through other venues as well.

Wed like to post some of those letters and pieces here, to help inspire other people to follow your example. If you have had a letter to the editor published, please consider sending it on to us well set it up here for everyone to read. If youve thought of some creative way to get a politicians or the medias attention to express your own call for action on climate change, pass it along to us and well share it with other people as a post to our home page. Photos are good too, and we hope to be able to link to video as well.

If you are just gearing up to send in your own letter, check out the link on our "What you can do" page for quick access to government and newspaper editor contacts from across the country.

WERE HAVING A PARTY, AND YOURE INVITED!

MAY 4, 2007

We would like to invite you to join us for an evening of live jazz on Friday May 11th at the Wired Monk, on the corner of 4th and Trafalgar in Vancouver. The evening offers a chance to meet other people in the community who are concerned about climate change and also to send a message to Ottawa calling for realistic action on the issue. Well be holding a silent auction of local art, goods and services to raise funds for future actions.

Click on the poster to the right to find out more information.

We hope to see you there!

LAWN SIGN CAMPAIGN UPDATE

MAY 3, 2007

VTACC has been quietly running a campaign all spring to distribute lawn signs which proclaim, in a dignified and refined manner, the owners intention to make climate change a key voting issue in the next election.

There are now signs up in Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody, North Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler, Kamloops, Vernon, and Nelson. Even if an election isn't held till the fall or later, the signs create conversation between neighbours, and they quietly send a message that your community is concerned about this problem and wants action. If you would like to get one, please click here to find out how.

SEND US A PHOTO OF YOUR LAWN SIGN!

If you already have a sign, we would be delighted if you would send us a digital photo of yours, in its setting, along with some locational information (your postal code, your street address, or just your community if that is all you are comfortable with). We are setting up a map in Google Earth which will show the locations of all the signs in the province, so that people can watch as the campaign grows. When you click on the flagged locations, you will be able to see a photo of the sign in its setting (we wont be including any information linking to your street address on the site). As time goes by and an election draws near, we will consider developing a national network for distributing the signs, and it would be great to see photos of them from across the country.

If you do send us a photo, please add as much context as you like: include your family, your pets, your low emission push mower, your balcony or porch, your veggie garden, what ever you like; we want to create a visual record of the wide diversity of people who want action on climate change in our country.

Well let you know here as soon as the map is up and running.

THE CLEAN AIR ACT IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE CLEAN AIR AND CLIMATE CHANGE ACT!

MAY 2, 2007

You may be aware that last fall the Conservative government brought forward a bill called the Clean Air Act for consideration. The bill was roundly denounced as inadequate and ineffectual. The government agreed to an opposition request to send the bill off to a special committee for revision before it was brought forward for reading.

The committee hearings ended in March, and the revised bill which it produced, now called the Clean Air and Climate Change Act, bore little resemblance to its predecessor. The new bill has support of all three opposition parties as well as all of the major environmental groups working on climate change policy analysis and advocacy. Its not perfect, but if enacted the revised bill would go a long way towards redressing Canadas past inaction on climate change.

Theres just one problem: the Conservative government has refused to bring the revised bill back before the House for a vote. Public pressure may be able to move Ottawa on this issue, and groups across the country are gearing up to urge government to bring the bill back for a vote. At the very least, such an effort will let the Conservatives know that we are not satisfied with the wholly inadequate climate change plan they recently announced, and it will put the opposition on notice that which ever party forms the next federal government will have to meet a fairly high standard for action on climate change.

Check back for further updates on co-ordinated actions on this issue, and if you haven't already done so, please consider downloading a set of our postcards to send off yourself.

PERSUASIVE ANALOGIES AND POLITICAL COMPARISONS

MAY 1, 2007

The Conservative government has fought back hard against Green Party leader Elizabeth May's use of a quote by George Monbiot to draw an analogy between their climate policies and Chamberlain's appeasement of Nazi Germany. The analogy goes too far because its emotive language draws too much attention to itself and distracts from the message it is trying to reinforce that the Harper governments recently announced climate policy is inadequate, ineffective, and an abdication of Canadas legal and moral obligations.

We have used a comparison between leadership traits associated with Churchill and Chamberlain in our recent to try and persuade Ottawa to bring the revised Clean Air and Climate Change Act back before the House for a vote. To our thinking, the current Conservative government displays Chamberlain-like leadership tendencies and the comparison is a valid one.

Chamberlain failed to prepare his country for a war that many saw coming, and instead deluded himself and his fellow citizens with the notion that half measures would be enough. Messrs Harper and Baird are failing to prepare Canada for a crisis that is setting off alarms around the world, and our children will all pay later for this governments inadequacies of leadership.

What we need in Ottawa is a Churchill who can challenge Canadians to ready themselves for the hard work of significant emissions reductions that lies ahead, and who can seize the opportunity to become a world leader in the fight against climate change.

TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: THE NEW CONSERVATIVE CLIMATE POLICY

APRIL 27, 2007

After months of pointing fingers at the previous Liberal government for its inaction on climate change, the new Conservative government has finally released its own climate change plan, which is remarkably like the last government's plan. Hmmm.

One way it is different is in its emission reduction targets. The new plan abandons Canadas international obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, sets a new arbitrary baseline of 2006 emission levels, and commits to reduce emissions 20 percent below that level by 2020 (which, just for comparison, is 11 percent above our Kyoto target, 8 years late).

In any case, targets are meaningless if they aren't supported by tough measures to get us there. In this area, the current governments plan and the previous Liberal one are in complete agreement. The Conservative plan includes a mish-mash of measures that allow industry to buy its way out of emissions reductions, as well as straight out exemptions from reductions requirements for new oil sands facilities and a grab bag of subsidies for energy efficient appliances etc. See Andrew Coynes recent column for more. http://andrewcoyne.com/columns/2007/04/ kyoto-hypocrisy-bipartisan-cause.php

GATEWAY TO INCREASED EMISSIONS

APRIL 25, 2007

Gordon Campbell's throne speech this spring sent shivers down our spines with its strong call for urgent action to reduce emissions and fight climate change. Unfortunately, his government's actions since then have taken much of the edge off that pronouncement.

Take for example the province's continued, unconditional support for the Gateway Project, the plan for massive expansion of the Lower Mainlands highway capacity and port system. The project involves twinning the Port Mann Bridge and Trans Canada Highway to Langley, and while it may relive traffic congestion in the short term, over the long run it is a recipe for sprawl, the paving over of farmland, increased emissions and an eventual return to congestion.

Fortunately there are several groups who are actively working to make sure that the plan doesnt go ahead and that the province invests in alternative sustainable transportation solutions instead. They have just collaborated to produce an excellent overview of the project. Check out their report online here to find out more and learn how you can help.
http://www.wildernesscommittee.org/campaigns/ policy/gateway/reports/Vol26No02

WELCOME TO VTACCS NEW WEB SITE!

April 23, 2007

We're excited by the look and grateful to Sherry Higgs of Art Machine for all the work she put into setting the site up. We think that the new site will give people a better sense of what we are all about, and enable us to connect more easily with people who want to get involved in our campaigns. Weve also provided some links to useful sources of news, to the key scientific agencies and their reports, to other groups working on policy analysis and advocacy around climate change, and to various organizations offering suggestions on how you can reduce emissions in your own life.

We will add more to the site in the future and we welcome your suggestions as well. Please feel free to send us your thoughts and comments, and any suggestions for links which you think relate to our mission, vision and values