No. 170 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver
LIFE WITHOUT FOSSIL FUELS
Here in British Columbia, we are sitting on
an opportunity to demonstrate the solutions to global climate change that is
unique in the world.
Let me be clear: it is hard to exaggerate
the scale of the planetary eco-disaster that lies ahead if we do not get a
firm grip on our emissions.
As an advanced nation with the capacity to
show leadership, we need to reduce our emissions to 60% below the 1990 level
by 2020, and 85% by 2030. Any talk of reducing emissions by 2050 is too far
out, too late to stop the consequences.
It is only if the leader nations of the
world can demonstrate how this can be done that we will have a chance to
achieve what is needed globally, which is to stabilize emissions by 2015 to
2020, and then reduce them rapidly.
This is why the City of London has set a
goal to reduce its emissions to 60% below the 1990 level by 2025. It may seem
impossible, but that is in the order of what’s needed.
We must prevent global emissions from rising
above 450 ppm, since that will bring a 2°C rise in temperature, trigger the
unstoppable meltdown of the Greenland ice-cap, and an eventual 7 metre rise in
sea level, wiping out most of the Lower Mainland and the core of BC’s economy.
The other global consequences are equally devastating.
Unless there is a federal election that
results in a Liberal-NDP-Green Coalition government, we’re not going to see
any useful leadership there. Here in BC, however, now that we have strong,
committed leadership from the Premier’s office, BC’s goal of 10% below 1990 by
2020 is good enough to get us started.
So what is it that makes BC so unique? In a
nutshell, our mountains. They give us hydro electricity that is 88% green. By
2016 we will no longer be importing dirty power from Alberta and the USA, and
our electricity will be almost 100% green.
We also have enough additional green
electrical capacity from conservation, wind, solar, geothermal, microhydro,
tidal and other sources to generate 150% to 200% more electricity than we use
today without need for the Site C hydro dam in the Peace region, providing us
with a large margin of comfort as warmer temperatures causing faster spring
snowmelts and reduced hydro-reserves in late summer.
Illustration by Patricia Geernaert,
Recipe for a Cool Planet
The reason why green electricity is so
important is that there is a strong emerging consensus that the primary energy
for future vehicles will not be hydrogen or biofuels, but electricity, for use
in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which are expected
on the market by 2012.
The power needed to run the whole of BC’s
fleet primarily on electricity is only 15% to 25% more than our current use,
making it easy for us to achieve. The typical time it takes for fleet turnover
is up to 15 years, but if we used incentives, including a carbon that that
penalizes the use of gasoline, the turnover could be reduced to ten years. A
side benefit would be the elimination of air pollution, smog and noise,
bringing enormous health benefits.
BC’s electricity is the 3rd cheapest in
North America, which places us at a disadvantage when it comes to doubling our
efficiency and jumping into the solar age, but it creates a big advantage when
it comes to powering our vehicles, since it makes them that much cheaper. A
typical electric car in BC will cost only a quarter of what it costs to run a
Land transport only represents 31% of BC’s
emissions, so we also need to demonstrate innovation and excellence in the way
we retrofit all our existing buildings, make all new buildings carbon neutral,
capture all our landfill gases, grow far more local, organic food to reduce
our imports, switch to video-meetings instead of flying, and capture and
sequestrate all of the greenhouse gases from BC’s oil and gas industry (20% of
our emissions), so there’s no mistaking it, there’s a lot of work to do.
There are also contradictions we need to
overcome such as the large annual subsidies we give to the oil and gas sector
(average $263 million a year), and the government’s continuing commitment to
the Gateway Program, which will spend $4 billion on new roads and bridges in
the Lower Mainland, bringing a guaranteed increase in emissions. If
road-pricing were used instead, the income could finance a major expansion of
cycling, transit, coaches and ridesharing, eliminating the congestion.
There is a vast array of effective,
innovative policies and technologies that we can draw on to achieve the needed
level of reductions. In the process, we would catapult BC to a global
leadership position, demonstrating how we can solve this problem.
The transition to an economy and a way of
life that no longer needs fossil fuels will bring innovation, jobs, and a
pulse of excitement, as people realize that a sustainable way of living can be
exciting and rewarding. We just need the courage to believe that it’s
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Need assistance? Friendly accountant John Bowers, 383-7727
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* Volunteers wanted for 3rd Annual Organic Islands Festival, Glendale Gardens July 7th and
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CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS – May
On Sat May 5th I am repeating my 8-hour
course at Royal Roads on The Global Climate Crisis: Seeking Solutions that
Work. The feedback from those who have attended has been extremely positive,
as the day is so full of positive examples from around the world. It covers
the myriad solutions for buildings, transport, electricity, and fossil fuels,
and policy levers that can be used by all levels of government.
$95 +GST, call Royal Roads 391-2600-#4801.
Or register here: www.royalroads.ca/continuing-studies/PAGI1225-Y06.htm .
All members of the BCSEA will get a 25%
discount on the day. See www.bcsea.org
The Garden Path Centre
Open Garden & Plant Sale
Monday May 14th – May 21st
Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
395 Conway Rd
(off Interurban, just past Camosun
BETTY KRAWCZYK AND HARRIET
While we’re enjoying the spring wildflowers,
Betty Krawczyk is holed up in jail for her determination to exercise her right
to protest the destruction of the arbutus forest and wetlands at Eagleridge
Bluffs, in North Vancouver, which is being destroyed to make it easier for
cars to speed to Whistler for the “Greenest Games Ever”.
Betty was arrested with Harriet Nahanee, an
elder from the Pacheenacht tribe who was protesting the negotiating away of
unceded Squamish land by the band's chief and council. Betty was protesting
“the needless destruction of an irreplaceable eco-system by my own chief and
council: Gordon Campbell in Cabinet and Wally Oppal.”
Harriet Nahanee, 1937 – 2007
Before they were arrested, they had gone to
the Bluffs to say prayers for the dead and dying creatures due to the logging
and blasting. Harriet wanted to pray for the red-legged frogs “who only live
in wetlands and who signify life because that’s where we all came from, the
wetlands … in the Pacheenacht belief when the last red legged frog dies all of
humanity will also die.”
Harriet had severe asthma and a heart
condition, but after they were arrested for disobeying an injunction not to
protest, Madame Justice Brown sentenced Harriet to 14 days in the Surrey
pre-trial centre, a men’s jail known to be bad for women’s health. Harriet
died a few days later from complications with pneumonia, aged 71. Her life
needs to be celebrated: www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/1097
Betty was sentenced to 10 months. “My Lady,
in a very real sense this trial is not about me. It’s about an awakening human
consciousness, a consciousness that wants to do things differently, that wants
to be healthy, and that wants a healthy planet.”
Please write to her: Betty Krawczyk,
Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, PO Box 1000, Maple Ridge, BC V2X 3K4.
For news of Betty, and how to visit, see http://bettysearlyedition.blogspot.com
CAMBRIDGE GOES GREEN
Cambridge, Massachusetts (pop’n 101,000) has
established a ground-breaking model that other cities can learn from and
adopt. Under the program established by the Cambridge Energy Alliance,
hundreds of energy consultants will knock on the doors of the city’s 23,000
buildings, offering a free energy audit. They will also offer free or
low-interest loans enabling owners to upgrade their buildings with more
efficient lighting, heating, cooling and insulation, and renewable energy
The $100 million package is financed 80%
from private sources and 20% from electrical utility incentive programs,
creating no obligation to the city or state. The cost of an upgrade will in
most cases be covered by the financing with no upfront costs, and be repaid
from future energy savings by Cambridge’s universities, hospitals, small
businesses, residents, and the city’s facilities.
The city’s goal is to reduce its peak
electricity demand by 15%; to reduce annual electricity and water demand by
10%; to achieve a city-wide participation rate of 50%; and to reduce overall
greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2011.
The governor of Massachusetts, Deval
Patrick, has also announced a $2 million revolving loan fund to finance the
start-up costs to replicate the approach in five other Massachusetts cities,
starting with Boston.
But note: people in Cambridge pay 9.5 cents
US a kilowatt-hour for electricity, almost twice the price in BC, making an
upgrade twice as cost-effective. This is one reason why the BC Sustainable
Energy Association supports higher prices for electricity.
GREEN DRINKS IN JULY
Put Tuesday July 10th in your diary for an
amazing fun-filled event. You probably know Green Drinks– Victoria’s monthly
get-together at the Queen Mother Restaurant on each 2nd Tuesday, 5-8pm.
For July, Roger Colwill is brewing something
very different. In collaboration with Royal Roads, Green Drinks will become
“Green BBQ at the Castle” – but everyone has to get there sustainably. Some
will come by bus, and some will carpool in a hybrid or electric vehicle, but
we’re hoping most will cycle there along the Galloping Goose. 500 green
cyclists – that’s our goal. Visualize the photo – and plan to be part of it!
PS Victoria also has a new monthly Green
Lunch, every fourth Wednesday at the Fernwood Inn. 12-1:30pm
BIKE TO WORK WEEK
Starting on Monday May 28th, it’s Bike to
Work Week in Victoria. Last year, 5,500 people took part as members of a
workplace team. This year, the goal is to exceed 6,000, attracting 850 new
There’s a kick-off breakfast on Monday 28th;
a Car vs Bike commuter race on Tuesday 29th, a mid-week BBQ, and a wrap-up BBQ
on the final Friday: this is all about celebrating cycling, and the pleasure
of getting fit in the fresh air.
Talk to your people at work, and maybe form
a team? Lots of prizes. To learn more, see www.biketowork.ca, email firstname.lastname@example.org,
call her at 920-5775 or drop in at 202-2610 Douglas (just north of Bay).
SALT LAKE CITY PARKING
In Salt Lake City, anyone driving a low
emission or alternative fuelled vehicle can get a sticker in their window and
park for free at city meters (time limits are still in force). An easy way for
Victoria to show leadership? They also give free bus passes to city staff.
They have reduced their emissions from city operations by 31% since 2001.
THE COST OF PLASTIC BAGS
Let’s face it – they’re a scourge. On
average, each person uses 300 bags a year. Collectively, the people of BC use
1.2 billion bags a year, using 18 million litres of the world’s oil supply a
year, releasing 50,400 tonnes of CO2. (Data via San Francisco’s Department of
The Stern Review estimated the purely
economic cost of climate change to be $100 a tonne of CO2, so the cost that
future generations will have to pay for our use of the bags will be $5 million
a year. We use them for 30 minutes and they sit in a landfill for up to 1,000
years, slowly breaking down into smaller toxic bits.
Even if we recycle them, the recycled
plastic is not used to make more bags. Every year, hundreds of thousands of
sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die from eating plastic bags they
mistake for food: there are over 46,000 pieces of plastic in each square mile
The solution is to ban them, or tax them.
Ireland’s “PlasTax” of 23 cents a bag has led to a 95% reduction in their use.
In San Francisco, they have voted to ban
their use at supermarket checkouts within 6 months, and in large chain
pharmacies within a year; compostable bags made from corn starch and recycled
paper bags made will still be allowed.
Leaf Rapids, Manitoba (pop’n 550) started
with a fee a year ago, and has now adopted a ban. The French island of Corsica
banned the bags in large stores in 1999; Paris has just banned all
non-biodegradable bags. By 2010, they will be banned all across France.
Ireland’s Plastax (increasing to 33 cents a
bag in June) reduced consumer use from 328 bags a year to 21, raises $28
million a year, and has raised $140 million since 2002, used to provide more
recycling facilities, enforce waste management regulations, recycle old
fridges and freezers, run waste awareness campaigns, and to launch a very
successful Green Schools initiative. It would make sense for BC to do the
It would also be a feel-good measure, as
people get used to carrying cloth bags.
On May 24-17th, Prevent Cancer Now (PCN) is
organizing a major conference in Ottawa on how to prevent cancer, with great
speakers and workshops; the goal is to build a nation-wide movement to remove
the causes of cancer, as opposed to working to find a cure.
If you’re interested, I encourage you to
come – see www.preventcancernow.ca. We
are doing a 5km or 10km Run, Walk and Roll for Cancer Prevention to raise
funds for PCN at Elk Lake on Saturday May 12th, and this can be used as a
fundraiser to help you come to the conference. For details, see www.stopcancer.org/rwr07,
or call me, Guy Dauncey, at 250-881-1304. .
RECIPE FOR A COOL PLANET
Helen Lupowitz from Brentwood Bay has
produced a very simple little pocket book called Recipe for a Cool Planet,
full of practical ideas to tackle global warming, with lovely soft
illustrations by Patricia Geernaert. It is excellent for use in communities,
and costs $28 for 5 copies – one for you, 4 to give to friends. It is also
intended as a fundraiser for schools, communities and local climate groups,
who can buy it at a wholesale rate for resale. See www.recipeforacoolplanet.com,
or email email@example.com
GO BOULDER’S ECO PASS
In Boulder, Colorado, the city offers a
Neighbourhood Eco Pass (NECO) that gives people a bus service all year round
for $56 to $128 per household. People volunteer to become a neighbourhood
coordinator, and work to raise a group contract worth $5,000 among their
neighbors. Once they have done this, all the neighbors get to qualify for the
Eco Pass. Research shows that once NECO passes are distributed, ridership
increases by 50%. In 2005, 21 neighborhoods used the program, totaling 4,500+
ACTION OF THE MONTH: CLIMATE
Write to the Premier, and thank him for
showing leadership on climate change. Encourage him to involve the public, not
just the civil servants; to change the Gateway Program to the Greenway
Program; to phase out the $263 million a year oil and gas subsidies; to keep
the moratorium on offshore oil and gas; and to bring in a carbon tax for all.
Premier Gordon Campbell, PO Box 9041 Stn
Prov Gov’t Victoria V8W 9E1. Tel 387-17
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