Climate Change & the G8


Dear friends,

Last week, Avaaz campaigners hand-delivered our 100,000-signature climate change petition to the environment ministers of the world’s most polluting countries. It worked. The chair of the meeting waved the petition in the air, calling on his fellow ministers to act–and they agreed that climate change would be the #1 issue at the G8 summit in June.

The momentum is on our side. Let’s build on it. Next Tuesday, another high-level group will meet to move forward with G8 planning — and we can keep the focus on the climate issue by showing that the call for action is growing. Can you help us reach our ambitious goal of 150,000 signatures by Tuesday by forwarding this to ten friends? Your friends can sign the petition here:

Here’s how our campaigner Iain Keith, who presented the petition, describes his experience:

When my turn came to speak to the Environment ministers, I was so nervous that I thought my voice would quiver. But I wasn’t just speaking for myself–I was there on behalf of 100,000 Avaaz members, and I couldn’t let them down. I walked to the microphone, took a deep breath, and said, “Dear Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, m y name is Iain Keith and I’m here on behalf of the 1 Million members of Avaaz. Avaaz is a new online community where global citizens can go to take action on the biggest issues facing our world. I have here, in my hands, a petition from our members who would like to tell you that they are scared of climate change, and the lack of action being taken. The countries represented in this room are responsible for the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions. As ministers of the environment you are in an excellent position to persuade your leaders to make tackling climate change the number one priority for the next G8 summit. Our members humbly request that you acce

I handed the petition to the German environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel. The meeting continued, with speeches on other issues from other organizations. I wondered if all of the work had been worth it.

And then came Minister Gabriel’s closing speech.

I could hardly believe it: he was saying that climate change must be the number one priority at the G8 summit. And he was holding our petition.

“Thanks to increased pressure from people around the world,” he said, “the tide is turning. When an international NGO can gather this many signatures” (here he holds up the petition), “we cannot ignore this problem anymore… As Environmental ministers, we have a responsibility both to the environment and our voters to make sure our heads of state act!”

And a few days later, German Chancellor and G8 President Angela Merkel vowed to put climate change at the top of the agenda for the G8 Leaders Summit.

We did it!!

Iain’s right. And we can do even more. Can you forward this to ten friends, and help us reach our goal of 150,000 signatures by Tuesday?

It’s amazing what can happen when we work together. Thanks for all that you do.

With hope,

Ben, Iain, Ricken, Lee-Sean, Galit, Graziela, and the rest of the Avaaz team

P.S. For a more detailed report of the meeting, including photos, visit the Avaaz blog

ACTION: Baird in Regina

The inbox is the source of all activity these days.  Check this out and then the following:

psst…pass it on…

Greet Federal Environment Minister John Baird

5:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Canadian Italian Club
2148 Connaught Street, Regina

Bring banners, placards and noise-makers to make noise in support of a green Canada which meets its commitments to the Kyoto Protocol.

“Green is the colour,
The climate is the game
We’re all together
and reducing is our aim
So let’s all work to stop climate change
Saskatchewan Green Greeters is our name”

(adapted w/o permission)

Info gathered from here

Environment: Reputation = Performance

George Monbiot’s new book, Heat, had me revved up before it had hit the shelves of Canadian bookstores. And now, well, now that it has arrived in my house (thanks to the holly daze and a wonderful nephew, J, in Toronto), I have to rave about it again.

Today is the second time I’ve cracked the cover with the intention of reading.  The first was on Boxing Day when I thought I’d sneak a chapter before we headed out the door for more family and leftovers. After the first three paragraphs of the Foreword to the Canadian Edition, I’d decided to put it down because I knew I’d never get out the door if I kept at it. Today, I sat down with the intention to read only the Foreword and the Introduction, but before I could get to the Introduction I had to blog this:

Thanks to the efforts of Mr Harper and your [Canada’s] environment minister, Rona Ambrose, Canada’s global reputation is now beginning to catch up with its performance. When they say that Canada cannot reach its Kyoto targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, they mean that they do not intend to try. Their surrender within the first few months in office is an astonishing instance of political cowardice. Having presented himself to the Canadian people as a man who can make tough choices, Harper declared himself an irresolute wimp as soon as he was faced with a choice between upsetting a few industrial lobbyists or helping to save the planet. (p. x)

Like Bush, the Conservatives have also cut or suspended their funding for energy efficiency programmes and other means of preventing climate change. Environment Canada is beginning to look like the Environmental Protection Agency in the US: an official body whose staff are treated by the government as enevies of the state. (p. xi)

I expect I’ll have more to highlight here as I move through Monbiot’s work.

Climate Change, Government of Canada

11 months in office and there’s been no action from Ambrose and the Harperites on the issue of Climate Change.


The Clean Air Act was a waste of our tax money, unless the parties in Opposition can do something with it. Ambrose must be listening closely to what her family’s big oil and big ass big gas friends said as she formulated the death of our children’s future.

Thanks to where’d that bug go? for the lead.

Renewable Energy in SK

One of the the brightest and greenest Members of the Legislative Assembly in the SK NDP, Peter Prebble, has released (in PDF) The First Report on Renewable Energy Development and Conservation. The highlights the Premier wants us to see are outlined in the news release and below

• A legislated Renewable Energy and Conservation Portfolio Standard for the
electricity sector;

• Major investments in conservation initiatives, including an expanded
EnergyShare conservation program;

• An important role for large scale wind power;

• Net metering for small scale producers of green electricity;

• The promotion of higher building energy efficiency standards; and

• An expanded role for the Office of Energy Conservation.

So far as I can tell — I’ve not yet read the complete report — it’s not as ambitious as it needs to be if we are to address the very real issue of climate change in what’s left of my lifetime. I hope the second report, due out in June (in time for an election campaign, perhaps?), will focus on transportation, ethanol and bio-diesel production, as well as opportunities in the north. I hope it will be a tad more aggressive.


One must wonder if Minister Responsible for the Environment, Rona Ambrose, is a compulsive liar. Or, is it that she’s being set up to take the fall when it will be politically necessary for someone to fall? Because someone is going to have to fall if the Cons are to gain any credibility on the Environment portfolio. Conservation groups are suing the Minister because flocks of species at risk, the piping plover in Saskatchewan and Alberta, are not getting the protection provided for in legislation. And, with the NDP, the Bloc, and the Greens already strong in green politics, and the green Dion now leading the Liberals, the environment could well be the deciding issue for the electorate come the next election. From The Globe & Mail:

Ambrose feels the heat as blunders pile up

Critics heap scorn on rookie minister leading sensitive climate-change file

From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — She catapulted straight into a prominent cabinet spot over more experienced Albertans like Diane Ablonczy and she’s graced magazine covers as the fresh face of the new Harper government.

But 10 months into the job, Rona Ambrose finds critics are seizing on the number of mistakes the rookie Environment Minister continues to make as the lead minister on the climate-change file.

“I’m astonished that once again Madame Ambrose has come before the environment committee contradicting herself, saying things that are blatantly untrue. And the question is does she know they’re untrue as she said them? ” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who was in the audience yesterday as the minister got another rough ride from opposition MPs.

Ms. Ambrose was scorned by MPs for insisting repeatedly that Canada had no unpaid debts to the international Kyoto system, even though MPs said United Nations documents show that — at $1.5-million — Canada owes more than any other country.

Thank the Minister of Pollution

First, take a moment to thank our Minister of Pollution for doing nothing on the Environment portfolio. She has two email addresses This one. And this one. And then read this, from MediaScout:

by Ceri Au
October 25, 2006

There was a time, not too long ago, when environmentalists were stereotyped as a collection of misfits and outcasts who lived on the peripheries of modern society. In other words, they were barefoot hippies who ate granola and wore hemp. Those days are over. Now politicians and common citizens alike recognize that environmental degradation is a serious issue with large-scale ramifications not only for the planet, but also for “the American way of life” as US President George Bush is apt to call rapacious consumerism. When the World Wildlife Fund released it’s ecological report card yesterday, ranking the current state of ecological decay in 150 countries, it only added more statistical data proving our green home is quickly becoming a sooty wasteland devoid of natural resources. But like an environmental Cassandra desperate to be believed, the WWF has moved away from its traditional overload of depressing information and is trying to appeal to the average consumer with a simple message: By 2050, the world will require double the amount of resources required to sustain current consumption levels. In short, without serious change the prospect of future generations living healthy, prosperous lives is grim.

The WWF report uses an “ecological footprint” measurement to compare environmental damage in various countries. And when it comes to Canadian responsibility, our collective hands are soiled. The National focuses on the country’s unenviable fourth-place ranking in a list of the world’s worst polluters (behind the United Arab Emirates, the US and Finland). According to WWF botanist and zoologist Steven Price, Canadians are bad environmental performers; over-heating their homes in winter and over-cooling them in summer. Price argues it’s important for Canadians to make greener choices as consumers, such as buying green energy derived from solar and wind power. Yet despite North America’s current high-octane consumption habits, the economic growth of developing nations such as China and India is also becoming a concern for environmentalists. In developing countries, the side-effect of rapid industrialization is often a trail of unchecked ecological destruction. But until a company can commodify sustainable living like a hip new soft-drink, or until the size of an ecological footprint becomes an embarrassment to public officials, greener living will continue to be a tough sell to North Americans and the rest of the global community.

So, that’s two addresses. This one. And this one.

SK women take action

The Saskatoon Women’s Community Coalition would like to invite all individuals concerned with the recent federal cuts that affect women to an organizing meeting to discuss a fight back strategy. The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss the recent cuts announced by the Federal Government as well as strategize on ways to have our voices heard here at home and in Ottawa .

The cuts include:

…and many more

Thursday, October 26,
7:00 pm
Mamawopiwin Room, #206
Community Service Village
510 25th Street East, Saskatoon

I understand that there are a number of events taking place that evening and would like to emphasize that this is an initial meeting so if you are not able to make it and would like to be involved or receive the minutes please contact Deanna Ogle at 242-4097 or by email (

Worst polluters: SK right up there

Pollution Watch says that Saskatchewan, with a population of just under 1 million, is the fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter in the country. The government-owned utility, Saskatchewan Power Corporation, is the third largest greenouse gas emitter in the country with 13,669,500 tonnes CO2e emitted in 2004!

Interesting that, on its website, SaskPower boasts it is committed to protecting the environment as we work to provide our customers with safe, reliable and cost-effective electricity.

What a load of hooey coming from a part of the world where sun-less and/or wind-less days are very rare. But try telling SaskPower that! All you get in response is a ten-page letter telling you how green coal is! Premier Calvert and the Honourable John Nilson, his Minister Responsible for the Environment and for SaskPower, as well as all Members of the Legislative Assembly, should be ashamed!

I suspect that, unless the NDP go very green very soon, we’ll see a surge of Green Party support in Saskatchewan next provincial election.

And I didn’t even get started on uranium!

Thanks to the conscious earth for the heads-up.

United Opposition

Lovely bit of news in my inbox today: we have an Opposition that finally has it together! From Maisonneuve:

The National (not available online), the Citizen, the Globe and the Star all go inside with yesterday’s vote in the House of Commons on Canada’s Kyoto commitments. Handing the minority Tories a “significant defeat,” all three opposition parties banded together to vote for legislation that would force the government to implement the Kyoto Protocol, reports the Citizen. According to the Star, “The 152-115 vote in the Commons is an embarrassment for the Conservative government, which has declared the emissions-cutting targets of the climate treaty to be unachievable.” Environment Minister Rona Ambrose nevertheless received a standing ovation from the Tory caucus as she voted against the bill, which will now be studied by a parliamentary committee.

The growing Commons divide over climate-change policy comes as Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the federal Conservatives are gearing up for a fight over the government’s environmental plan, expected to be released soon. According to the Globe, McGuinty is worried that Ambrose’s plan will unfairly target the auto sector, which the paper cleverly calls “the engine of Ontario’s economy.” Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove joined McGuinty in criticizing the plan, which is rumored to target smog-related emissions rather than those actually responsible for global warming, reports the Star. Hargrove and McGuinty say Ontario will bear the brunt of the costs associated with such a plan, while Western Canada’s oil and gas producers won’t be expected to do much.

Makes me feel like scoring 1 for the Environment and 1 for all the bloggers who have taken on Ambrose over the NGC’s ludicrous position on Kyoto!

UPDATE:  See Accidental Deliberations for a discussion of how the NGC admits it really has no “plan” for the environment.

Rona - Wanted