Poll: BC residents support using carbon tax to fund health care and education

Most British Columbians support carbon taxes, according to a recent poll by the Pembina Institute. The poll found that 69 per cent of respondents supported applying the carbon tax to all sources of greenhouse gas pollution, and 56 per cent supported using the tax revenue for health care and education.

Click here for the Pembina Institute’s press release and analysis of the poll results.



The Arctic ice is melting faster than we feared

For years now we have been hearing that the Arctic is melting faster than even the most pessimistic scientists had predicted. A 2007 study by the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado concluded that sea ice retreat was then 30 years ahead of where scientists thought it would be. In early 2010 a Circumpolar Flaw Lead study, the largest climate-study ever undertaken in Canada, stated this unequivocally. The report links this dramatic melt to human impact on the climate, and suggests that resulting climate variability is also responsible for our warm spells getting warmer and our cold spells getting colder.

This year a group of Canadian scientists, surprised by the rate of this melt, began looking into specifics. The results of their study point to higher salt-levels in the melting ice, causing the melted ice to sink and warmer water to rise, further increasing melting rates. This rate, like many of our climate change indicators, will continue to increase exponentially until the impact of human activity changes course. 

Report on BC’s green industry predicts huge growth for 2011

According to a new report published by KPMG, that assesses the current value of BC’s green industry and directions it may go, BC’s green economy sector is forecasted to be $2.5 billion in 2011, a 57 percent increase compared to 2008. In contrast to the service sector, green jobs pay decent salaries. The average salary for a green job is $72,000.

Read more at the BCSTEA. 

Toronto may ban sale of shark fin

Following Brampton Ontario’s lead, Toronto councilors are pushing to have the sale of shark fin, used mainly for soup, banned. Shark fin soup has a long history in Chinese culture and is considered a delicacy. Recently however, attention has focused on the inhumane slaughter of sharks and the rapid decline in their numbers. Many people within the Chinese community are seeking to have the dish dropped from menus. 

Read more here.

Climate change leading to mass extinction of marine life

A dramatic loss of marine life is happening at a rapid rate due to acidification of the oceans. At a gathering in Oxford, oceanographers called for urgent action –  reduction in fishing, measures to stop pollution and cut greenhouse gas emissions and the establishment of conservation areas. Without action, scientists predict entire ecosystems could disappear within a generation.

Read more at stateofthecean.org.

Report Summary

Pickering Ontario on the verge of implementing “fair wage” policy

On June 13th city councilors voted to recommend a “fair wage” policy for contracts over S1 million. Workers affected by this policy would likely be those in the construction trades. The policy is supported by Terry Dorgan, an agent of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 894, who believes the policy “promotes safety on the job, assures that you’re getting the most qualified people on the job and taxpayers will definitely get their money’s worth.” 

Home CETA: A hot topic at gathering of municipal leaders

At the recent FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) annual conference, nearly two thirds of municipal delegates voted to make CETA (The Canadian European Trade Agreement) a topic of debate. Although trade negotiations are not typically a part of FCM discussions, the parameters of CETA directly impact the ability of local governments to protect local procurement policies and local public services.

The Centre for Civic Governance comissioned  a briefing from the CCPA’s Scott Sinclair on municipal procurement. It was presented at a dialogue session held during FCM.

“Municipal leaders at the Columbia Institute session energetically discussed strategies for putting the CETA issue back on the conference’s agenda. Meanwhile, a strong CUPE and labour contingent was organising inside the convention centre and outside local Council of Canadians activists were leafleting and talking to delegates about the CETA.”

 Municipalities, Progressive Purchasing and the Canada EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), by Scott Sinclair

Vancouver plans for more mid-rise development

Many of Vancouver’s transit corridors are comprised of single family dwellings and low rise apartments, but as the city plans for population increases it is looking at mid-rise developments as a model for development. Unlike the downtown which is comprised of towers, 30 stories or more, city planners have settled on a 6-12 story model for key corridors such as Cambie Blvd. The goal is to keep neighborhoods intact and to provide housing of varying affordability and type, to increase retail space, childcare spaces and parks.

Read more at New Urban Network. 






Patrick Condon – Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities from Centre for Civic Governance on Vimeo.

Edmonton may incorporate food security into neighbourhood planning

The City of Edmonton is looking at incorporating lands reserved for agriculture, as well as community and backyard food gardens, into its city planning. A huge demand for local produce combined with disappearing agricultural land has motivated the city to start looking at the long range picture, “There has to be a balance with how we are going to grow and how we are going to use our land,” said Edmonton Mayor, Stephen Mandel.

Read more in The Edmonton Sun. 

Wild weather hammers home case for green jobs

Written by Charley Beresford.
Read this story on The Tyee

Recent spring flooding across Canada, and the carnage wrought by tornadoes in the American Midwest, are terrifying reminders of the potential implications of climate change. Let’s face it, Mother Nature is mad as hell, and she’s not going to take it anymore. These dramatic climate events are a sign of what our planet is in for if we don’t clean up our act and dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions — fast.

So-called “green jobs” are also top of mind for many politicians at every level of government, and for good reason. With fisheries in decline, oil and gas becoming harder and more expensive to extract, pine beetles on the offensive in B.C. forests and energy prices increasing every day, Canadians know we no longer rely on traditional resource industries alone to fuel our economy.

Last week, municipal representatives from across Canada met in Halifax for the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference. Climate change — and how municipalities can prepare to deal with it — were a hot topic, and to help frame that conversation, the Columbia Institute released our study, This Green House — Building Fast Action on Climate Change and Green Jobs.

Financial innovations

The report examines the role Canadian municipalities can play in setting up financing programs for residential energy retrofits, whereby loans provided to homeowners by municipalities, financial institutions, utilities or other funders can be paid back gradually through small payments on property taxes or utility bills — removing a key financial barrier for many homeowners.

Loan payments can be made from energy bill savings, and because municipalities are providing loans — not grants — to homeowners, there is no net cost to municipalities and their ratepayers.

In 2008, heating, cooling and electricity use in buildings accounted for 28 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. Our research shows that modest investments in energy conservation in homes can save Canadian homeowners thousands of dollars, and dramatically and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Canada. With energy efficiency retrofits, Canadian homeowners have earned average energy savings of between 26 and 35 per cent per home.

And that’s not all. Energy efficiency retrofits create 20 jobs — green jobs — for each $1 million invested, compared with the oil and gas industry in Canada, which creates only 5.2 jobs for each $1 million invested. Clearly, energy efficiency retrofits don’t just make good environmental sense — they make good economic sense, too.

Save money in the long run

So what’s the bottom line? At current energy prices, a homeowner can double their return — over $12,000 on an average $6,000 investment in energy efficiency over 25 years — by making simple changes like upgrading hot water tanks, home heating and cooling systems, and improving weatherization and insulation of homes. With energy prices going up every year, the savings to homeowners will increase even more over time.

A small investment in one’s home — supported with loans provided at the municipal level — will give homeowners significant energy savings that they can take to the bank. Successful programs in San Francisco, Portland and Colorado — along with similar projects underway Winnipeg and Halifax — show that these programs are both affordable and effective.

The concept of municipal financing of energy efficiency retrofits is gaining momentum across Canada — with support from city councillors like Andrea Reimer in Vancouver, Charlie Clark in Saskatoon and Shelley Carroll in Toronto. In fact, the Vancouver City Council just approved an energy efficiency retrofit pilot project for Vancouver homeowners last week.

The next step is getting the regulatory changes necessary to make these kinds of partnerships possible in communities across Canada — municipalities need the support of their provincial governments to establish municipal retrofit financing mechanisms

A modest investment in energy conservation will save homeowners thousands over time — and save the environment at the same time. The time for action is now.

DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT: This Green House: Building Fast Action for Climate Change and Green Jobs