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AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews reaches thousands of people each month, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation?

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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 
Econews

Newsletter No. 165 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - December 2006

Now available as PDF's! Front (PDF117kb) - Middle (PDF640kb) - Green Diary (PDF77kb)


A NEW ENERGY PLAN

This fall, the news about global warming has been falling as thick and fast as the autumn leaves.

At the end of August, John Holdren, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, warned that if the pace of climate change continues, a catastrophic sea level rise of 4m will be within the realm of possibility by 2100 - far higher than previous forecasts. The chief reason is that Greenland has started to melt, with enough water locked into its 2km high icecap to cause a 7 metres rise in global sea level.

In early October, scientists from Britain’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research warned that if we don’t reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases, a third of the planet will be desert by the end of the century.

In mid-October, Britain’s Tony Blair and Holland’s premier Jan Peter Balkenende sent a dramatic joint letter to their fellow European premiers, warning that Europe had only 10-15 years to avoid a catastrophic tipping point. Both Britain and Holland have large areas of land that are extremely vulnerable to any rise in sea-level.

Then at the end of October, Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank, released the review he had been asked to write by the UK government on the economic impacts of climate change. He warned that if the temperature rises by more than 2ºC – which is coming, relentlessly - the economic consequences could be a 20% loss to the world’s GDP – similar to the Great Depression and World War II combined. It is a very sobering warning.

On the positive side, Stern said that if we do act to reduce our emissions, the investment needed will be just 1% of global GDP.

Furthermore, this investment – in clean energy, energy efficiency, smart transport, and new research – would bring millions of jobs, and multiple health benefits as air pollutants from our use of fossil fuels were eliminated.

Here in BC, the timing of the government’s new Energy Plan, due to be released soon, could not be better.

If you did not know the government was preparing such a plan, you are not alone, as it has been done with almost no public consultation. When you consider the enormous consequences for future generations, the secrecy is remarkable. Where is the province-wide Conversation on Energy, similar to the Conversation on Health?

An Energy Plan designed to meet the challenge of global climate change would start by setting clear targets. The science, as opposed to the perceived political possibility, calls for a 90% reduction in our emissions by 2030, far greater than California’s law requiring an 80% reduction by 2050 and a 25% reduction by 2020.

It would plan for BC to become self-sufficient in sustainable energy and a strong green energy exporter, to help Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California cease burning coal and gas.

It would enable BC Hydro to spend up to 8 cents a kilowatt hour on energy saved through efficiency measures, the same as it spends on new green energy.

It would bring in the Advanced Renewables Tariff that is so successful in Europe (that Ontario has introduced as the Standard Offer Program), giving guaranteed grid access to suppliers of wind and solar (etc) energy, with good prices and secure 20-year contracts.

It would place a permanent moratorium on the use of coal to generate power except with 100% capture and sequestration of the CO2.

It would scrap the contracts to the controversial coal-fired power projects near Princeton and Tumbler Ridge, which will produce yearly CO2 emissions equivalent to 300,000 new cars, as well as air pollution that will aggravate asthma and other illnesses.

For the oil and gas industry, it would require that all of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions be either eliminated, or neutralized by the purchase of certified offsets.

For transport, it would establish a roadmap to accelerate the use of vehicles that can achieve 100 mpg, such as the soon-to-arrive Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, and plan investments to maximize the use of walking, cycling, transit, and rail, instead of expensive new roads and bridges.

It would introduce a provincial carbon tax, offsetting the increase with reduced PST.

It would call for rapid growth in organic farming, so as to store more carbon in the soil, which organic farming does very well, and reduce the carbon footprint of our imported food.

To back this up, it would call for a strong Global Warming Solutions Act, and a new provincial agency with staffing and a budget equal to the task.

Yes, it will cost money: we have to invest now to forestall the catastrophic financial consequences of not acting.

Will this happen? The government says it wants BC "to lead the world in sustainable environmental management, with the best air and water quality … bar none". That is a good sign. But do they mean it? Time will tell.

Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community, & the joys of personal fulfillment, protected and guided by active citizenship.

Donations can be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria, BC, V9E 2B9. For a receipt send stamped addressed envelope.

Donations can also be sent by PayPal, please send to GuyDauncey@EarthFuture.com, be sure to 'earmark' it to EcoNews.

The Money

Oct

Nov

Dec

Copies printed

1900

1800

1900

Sent by email

2550

2580

2620

Print, postage

$828

$880

$830

Editorial

$350

$350

$350

Donations

$450

$865

You?

Advertising

$95 $70

Balance

$585 $290

A big thankyou to Vera Gottleib, Bob McMinn, Ikuyo Ito, Alberni Environmental Coalition, Maureen McArdell, Fran Grady, Sher Morgan, Dave Secco, Bea McKenzie, Claude Maurice, Aase Bradley, John Sprague, Betty McInnes, Victoria Natural History Society, Brian Russell, Debra Barr, Dan Schubart, and Michael Poole.


THE ECO-CORNER
$5/line (non-profits, low-income free)
1" box ad $45, $2" box ad $90

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* Life/Work Renewal Coach 388-7210 Free newsletter @ www.BruceElkin.com

* Pacific Gardens Cohousing Nanaimo 250-754-3060 www.pacificgardens.ca

* Organic Horticulture 1-Week Intensive Program for professionals and experienced gardeners. Jan 22-26, in Victoria. www.gaiacollege.ca 250-709-2229 info@gaiacollege.ca

* Great gifts, save BC's special places www.conservancy.bc.ca/catalogue

* Syd's Demo Salvage Used building materials. Old growth fir, maple and oak floors, doors, trim, windows, clawfoot tubs, pedestal sinks, furniture, wood, bricks, plywood, building lumber 381-1141 syd@pacificcoast.net

* UVic graduate student seeks PAST & PRESENT conservation volunteers to understand why they began and/or stopped volunteering. Contact athunter@uvic.ca (250) 721-7345

* Small footprint living in Gulf Island community. 2 wooded acres, water view, timber-frame family home. Children walk/bike to excellent 2-room school (k-7). $454,000 firm. 250-246-5265 beverlyvreeswijk@gmail.com

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BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS

There’s nothing like a good read, especially when the snow is deep, the sky is bleak, and you’ve an aching in your soul for something deep. So here are some moving ideas for gifts. You can buy most in good condition from www.abebooks.com, Victoria’s very own amazing e-shop that links 13,500 used booksellers around the world:

An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore

How to Save the World in Your Spare Time, by Elizabeth May

Enough Blood Shed: 101 Solutions to Violence, Terror and War, by Mary-Wynne Ashford

Confession of an Economic Hitman, by John Perkins

The Great Turning, by David Korten

The Weather-Makers by Tim Flannery

A Year on the Garden Path: A 52 Week Guide to Organic Gardening, by Carolyn Herriot

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BOULDER’S CARBON TAX

Why wait for sleeping politicians? In Boulder, Colorado (pop’n 100,000), voters have passed North America’s first municipal carbon tax to fight global warming. Residents will be charged an extra $1.33 on their monthly power bills (businesses $3.80), reflecting the use of coal to generate power. Residents who sign up for wind energy won’t pay the tax. It will generate $1 million a year, and be used to fund energy audits and visits by energy experts to advise people how they can save money by making their homes and buildings more efficient. The measure passed with 58% support. Boulder adopted Kyoto’s goal to tackle global climate change in 2002.

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OTESHA CYCLING TOUR

This spring, summer, and fall, over 80 young cyclists will transform Canada, delivering inspiring presentations to schools, camps and communities about global and local sustainability. They will explore Canada, live sustainably, develop their leadership and speaking skills, and have one whale of a time. If you are young and this is giving you the chills, make haste to www.otesha.ca, where you can learn more, and make a life-changing decision.

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SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION

If you teach sustainability in any way, there’s a new resource for you at Walkingthetalk, an on-line gathering place for 200 BC people who are sharing resources, finding out what others are doing, and learning from each other. It’s also the home for the new BC Working Group for Sustainability Education, which has big hopes and plans. See www.walkingthetalk.bc.ca

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ESCAPING FROM GARBAGE

Esquimalt High School in Victoria has a student society called ESCAPE – Esquimalt Students Caring About Peace and the Environment. During Waste Reduction Week this October (www.wrwcanada.com), they invited classes to take the black garbage bags out of the bins outside the school. The bags were dumped on the floor and they sorted the trash into categories, from paper to plastic to cooked food. They found that 99% could be recycled, and went about educating the whole school on the importance of recycling and composting. Cameron Fraser, the school’s food services teacher, is trying to get the school to become a zero-waste school over the next few years. (Thanks to Maggie Knight, a youth member of the Oak Bay Green Committee who is part of Esquimalt High’s waste reduction program.) Maybe Esquimalt High could challenge other Victoria area schools to see which can recycle the most during 2007?

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CANDLE NIGHT

It started in Japan, and is spreading round the world. Every midsummer and midwinter, from 8-10pm, people are turning off the lights, lighting a candle, and using the darkness to connect to a deeper sense of hope and purpose. (Try bees wax candles, as normal candles are made from oil.) It’s about peace, and conserving energy. So in the evening of this December 22nd, join thousands of others by turning off your power and living by candle-light. Read a book with your child; enjoy a quiet dinner with friends; play some music; and know that you are connecting with kindred souls both in your time-zone and around the world. Or go to Candle Night in Victoria, 6-9pm at the James Bay New Horizons Centre, 234 Menzies, organized by the Capital Unitarian Congregation. One Earth, one hope. See www.candle-night.org

 

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ONE HOPE, MANY MICROBANKS

One day 30 years ago, in 1976, a young economist called Mohammad Yunus from Bangladesh was wondering why the economics he taught at Chittagong University made no difference to the lives of the poorest. So he spoke to one of the poorest women in a nearby village who was earning two cents a day making bamboo stools. She didn’t have the money to buy bamboo, so she had to borrow it from a trader, on condition that he determined the price he paid her. The next day, he took a student and they found 42 women in similar circumstances. The banks would not lend, so Yunus lent them $27 from his own pocket that they used to buy their own bamboo, repaying him 3 weeks later. From this germ, Yunus went on to establish the Grameen Bank, which today has 6.6 million borrowers, 97% of them women, and which has inspired similar microlending schemes all over the world, making it possible for the poorest women to start small enterprises, and lift their families out of poverty. This December, Mohammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Stockholm for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. RESULTS, and its affiliate RESULTS Canada (with a strong group in Victoria), which work to create the public and political will to end hunger and the worst aspects of poverty, have lobbied for years to see Dr Yunus recognized in this way. See www.grameen-info.org

"One day our grandchildren will go to museums to see what poverty was like." – Yunus Mohammad

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A BILLION TREES

In 2004, it was Wangari Maathai who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in founding Kenya’s Greenbelt Movement and promoting human rights. Now she has launched a massive drive aimed at curbing global warming – she wants the world to plant and care for a billion trees during 2007. Individuals, children, youth groups, schools, community groups, NGOs, farmers, businesses, and local and national governments are encouraged to enter pledges online for anything from a single tree to 10 million trees. So far, 26 million have been pledged. A billion is one for every six people, so here in Victoria (310,000 people) we need to plant 50,000 trees to contribute our share. Is anyone willing to assume the leadership for this? I’m sure there are lots of people who would help. See www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign .

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FAIR VOTING FOR DEMOCRACY

Fascinating! In the recent US mid-term elections, in the land of broken democracy, the residents of Minneapolis voted 65% in favour of adopting the Single Transferable Vote for all municipal elections. No more vote splitting, or concern about too many candidates running. How sensible, and how sad that we have had put up with "dim democracy" in Canada for so long. The people of Davis, California, also voted by 55% to adopt STV to elect its city council, and Oakland (CA) and Pierce County (WA) they voted to adopt Instant Runoff Voting, which is similar to STV. In all these elections, a 50% threshold was required to make the change, not the 60% that was required in BC for our referendum. In Australia, the state of Victoria has just held its first STV election for seats in the upper house, which went off without a hitch. The major parties all earned seats in rough proportion to their popular vote, while smaller parties won representation for the first time. Next year, Scotland will join Ireland, Northern Ireland and Australia, as well as various cities in New Zealand and the US, in using STV. If you’d like to see more "smart democracy", join Fair Vote Canada, which has an active Chapter in Victoria. www.fairvotecanada.org

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KUDOS TO HOME DEPOT

They are a mega chain store, but I’ve got to give it to them. Home Depot has just produced a really well researched EcoOptions magazine (free) which highlights everything from efficient light bulbs to low VOC paints, energy efficient appliances, natural flooring, programmable thermostats, and FSC wood, with lots of d-i-y information. It even promotes the humble garden rake over the evil leaf-blower. Go to www.homedepot.ca and you’ll find it under "site map". Why don’t they feature it on their home page? That’s my only complaint.

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ACTION OF THE MONTH: BC’S NEW ENERGY PLAN

For the past year, BC’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources has been quietly writing a new Energy Plan for the province to update the 2002 Energy Plan. All around the world, energy planning has become a critical area of importance, because of global warming, and concerns about peak oil.

Will BC’s future be based on fossil fuels, or wind, solar, and energy efficiency? Will we develop hydrogen? Biofuels? Electric vehicles? These are big questions to decide – yet they have held not one public meeting. There’s not even a Standing Committee that looks at energy matters.

Will BC adopt California’s great approach to energy efficiency? Will we continue to subsidize the oil and gas companies? Will we allow yet more CO2 belching coal-fired power plants, throwing fuel on the fire of global warming? Nobody knows, because nobody has been asked, not even the MLAs (of either party).

Action: The new Energy Plan is about to be put before a meeting of the Liberal Caucus, possibly in the first week of December, so this is very critical timing. Please, now is the time to contact the Liberal MLAs.

Go to www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-4.htm, choose a member of the Executive Council, and write a letter urging him or her to support a really forward thinking Energy Plan, not a fossil fuel "business as usual" plan. Emails are good, but letters are much, much better.

If you’ve no Internet access, write to

(1) Carole Taylor, Minister of Finance, Rm 153 Parliament Bldgs, Victoria V8V 1X4;

(2) Barry Penner, Minister of Environment (Rm 112);

(3) Colin Hansen, Minister of Economic Development and Olympics (Rm 301), or

(4) Murray Coell, Minister of Advanced Education Research & Technology (Rm 247).

Or all four.

"Ignoring climate change will be the most costly of all possible choices, for us and our children." - Peter Ewins, British Meteorological Office

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LOCAL ACTION OF THE MONTH: CRD and the GAS TAX

John Luton writes: On Wednesday December 6, the CRD will meet to decide on allocating $11 million in federal gas tax funding.  $4 million has been earmarked for cycling, $2 million for walking, and $4 for transit.  Some directors now want the entire fund to go to transit.  That’s not fair – the region needs to support cycling and walking to ensure projects like the E&N Rail Trail get done.

You can still help – call your Mayor or come to the CRD meeting and speak out for cycling and walking.  The meeting will be held in the 6th Floor boardroom at 625 Fisgard St. from 11:30am to 12:30pm

Sign up to speak at the CRD Board where a decision will be madewww.crd.bc.ca/board/addressing/index.htm

Backgrounder and Contact Information for area Mayors and Councils: www.capitalbikeandwalk.org

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some noteworthy sites that have passed my way


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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria
V9E 2B9
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
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