Saturday, July 21, 2007

Climate Plan Passed at Toronto City Hall

This was forwared from Angela Bischoff of Greenspiration: Greenspiration

Toronto City Climate Change Plan backed

Jul 17, 2007 / Jim Byers, City Hall bureau chief,

One of the most ambitious climate change plans in North America has been
adopted unanimously by Toronto City Council.

About an hour after a divisive debate that saw council members defer the
issue of imposing dramatic new taxes on city residents, councillors voted
37-0 last night in favour of a plan that aims to cut greenhouse gases in
the city by 6 per cent by 2012, 30 per cent by 2020 and by a full 80 per
cent by 2050.

A report circulated earlier this year talked about banning two-stroke
motors, like those used in lawnmowers and leaf blowers, by 2010. But
councillors yesterday merely asked staff to report at a later date on the
idea, as well as on how the city could ban such machines from its own
operations such as parks maintenance and street cleaning, by 2009.

"It's an amazing vote," said deputy mayor Joe Pantalone. "We're going
beyond the Kyoto Accord targets and we're going to look at everything from
energy retrofits for buildings in the city to installing geothermal energy
at Exhibition Place."

Pantalone said the city will also promote the use of hybrid vehicles as
taxis, and create incentives for green roofs and solar power cooperatives
in neighbourhoods.

The report also talks about bringing in road tolls to increase transit
usage, but there was no vote yesterday on specific toll proposals. The
issue is likely to resurface in the coming months, but Mayor David Miller
repeatedly has said tolls would work only if the city uses the money to
build transit lines in areas not currently served by the TTC, and only if
tolls were brought in on all area highways and not simply on roads owned
by the city.

Pantalone said the vote shows how far the environmental movement has come
in Canada.

"Everyone from councillors on the right to members on the left said this
is a fight worth having," he told the Star.

Councillor Doug Holyday, a notorious penny-pincher who represents Ward 3,
Etobicoke Centre, said he voted for the city's climate change plan in part
because spending on such things as building retrofits would be recaptured
through energy savings, and because some of the money would come from
other levels of government. "It does seem ambitious to me for a group that
doesn't have much money," Holyday said of the plan.

Miller has said the city only needs to spend $1 million on the plan this
year and that $84 million could be taken from a Toronto Hydro reserve fund
to cover 2008 costs.


Below is an excerpt from the follow-up letter to SACC's deputation to City Hall of June 18th, 2007:

Attn: Executive Committee, Toronto City Hall

Re: Climate Change, Clear Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan for the City of Toronto, Heard at Parks and Environment Committee, June 18th

Dear Members of the Executive Committee and City Council,

. . . We would agree with many of the deputants at the June 18th hearing that the plan does not go far enough in many places (especially with regard to reducing vehicle emissions) — self-censorship in deference to the status quo is common among those given the task of drafting policies stimulated by the necessity for dramatic change. However, the plan does actually begin to address the problem through a proposal for substantial reforms, which the province and federal governments have thus far failed to do. This should be recognized and congratulated.

Emissions targets and traffic reduction

A note about the targets and about vehicle emissions is in order: A 90% (or greater) reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2017 in industrialized nations, rather than the proposed target of 80% reduction by 2050, is necessary to avoid the danger of a "tipping point" of a global increase of temperatures of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Thus, it seems necessary to implement changes which help us achieve a 90% cut in 2030.

The fact that the governments of the U.S., Canada, and China are willfully disregarding this necessity does not remove the moral imperative and practical need for Toronto to take decisive action to protect its citizens. As Gandhi once remarked, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” The City of Toronto can lead by example.

We predict that as the negative consequences of climate change become increasingly apparent this Action Plan will be amended in future years, in response to public demand, to achieve greater reductions than 80% by 2050. However, the necessary changes are needed more now than later.

Specifically, plans to significantly reduce vehicles on Toronto's roads will have a greater impact if implemented now rather than later. We heard an excellent proposal by deputant David White on July 18th for a 25% education in traffic, with the means for achieving this to be determined by staff. Before the Action Plan goes to Council we strongly recommend that this proposal should be taken seriously and included in the City's Action Plan.

In addition to an overall reduction in vehicle traffic, we wish to advocate the following:

No-car zones

Our proposal borrows from the notion of "no car zones." There are several extremely busy streets where pedestrian traffic far exceeds vehicle traffic and where the latter impedes and is impeded by pedestrian traffic:

University of Toronto St. George campus (St. George, from Bloor to College); Chinatown along Dundas St. W. from Beverly to Spadina; Kensington Market; Bay Street and the business district downtown; Yonge Street from Bloor to Lakeshore; Queen Street West from Yonge to Gore Vale Ave; Queen Street East from Woodbine to Beech Ave; and intermittent sections of the Bloor-Dundas corridor (including the western section from Bathurst to Yonge and the eastern section around Coxwell and Pape).

Tourists already frequent these areas, and no-car zones would increase commerce and reduce smog in those areas and help the City achieve its emission reduction targets.

Of the areas mentioned, we suspect that the majority of students, residents and shopkeepers in these areas would welcome this change, especially at St. George Campus and Kensington Market, and especially in non-winter months. We respectfully request that Council ask that staff prepare a report on the feasibility of declaring these area "no car zones" (with the exception of public transit, taxis and delivery vehicles) in those areas. Increased public transit and bicycle infrastructures should accompany the changes, if implemented.

Ban short-haul flights

With the exception cruise ships and some military and industrial vehicles, airplanes are the worst vehicles in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Short-haul flights are particularly bad because planes emit most of their carbon dioxide during landing and take off, and because the flights are short and overland (land which could easily be traveled by train or bus).

Short-haul flights for pedestrians should not be permitted within City borders. The runway on Toronto Island Airport is too short to allow planes to fly at full capacity; as a consequence, plane can only fly at maximum 30% capacity. We believe Toronto should ban short-haul flights at the Island Airport and at Pearson.

Although Porter Airlines uses relatively fuel-efficient planes, most flights are not full; this negates any benefit of fuel-efficiency. Fewer greenhouse gas emissions would result from the average number of passengers driving to Montreal or Ottawa, the destinations of most of the flights.

We respectfully suggest that Council consider ending short-haul flights within Toronto borders and ask staff to prepare a report to investigate the feasibility of doing so. This means prohibiting Jazz and Porter from operating OR imposing carbon taxes on them. Right now, their operations are expanding. This is the wrong direction to go in if the City is serious about emissions reductions.

Both measures —no-car zones and the end of short-haul flights— would have symbolic as well as practical value. They would be visible signs of the City's commitment to actually achieving its stated targets.

Emulate European examples

The main thing we wish to suggest, and which was not emphasized enough at the hearing or in the written report, was the wisdom of emulating the European model —especially as it exists in Germany, Norway, and other nations which have actively adopted environmental practices over the last thirty years. One deputy referred to photos of photovoltaic power presented by Denis Hayes (founder of Earth Day) at a recent renewable energy conference; one photo showed solar panels covering a parking lot, above the cars, serving two purposes: 1) shading the cars and reducing ground absorption of heat; and 2) generating electricity.

Another European example that could be emulated is their public campaign for reduction of energy consumption. CNN recently reported that both London and Paris turned off their lights for half an hour as part of a public education campaign designed to stimulate conservation by the populace. Road tolls are operative in London and Stockholm and should be implemented here, but if they are not then another measure to reduce inner-city traffic should be implemented.

The main point is that all the solutions exist and are currently in operation and have been for years in other cities. Toronto does not need to re-invent the wheel; it has only to consult with and follow the good example of European municipalities in order to meet its targets. This should be neither controversial nor partisan, but rather a matter of common sense.


There are many other ideas that the City's initiative brings to mind, from restrictions on new development that doesn't meet the requirements of "green" architecture to better enforcement of idling bylaws to the necessity for stronger regulations against pollution and a greater reduction in electricity consumption in Toronto.

The Parks and Recreation Committee heard many excellent deputations from more than fifty individuals and organizations. More public consultation would be of great benefit not only to review the plan more thoroughly and comment intelligently upon it, but also to serve as an opportunity to engage the public in the process of moving Toronto towards what theologian Thomas Berry in The Dream of the Earth calls “the ecological age.”

Interestingly, Berry identifies both universities and governments as important sectors for facilitating this change; the City’s Action Plan and our interest in it represents the beginning of a change that extends beyond the scope of one city or nation, towards a future that values biodiversity and the natural world and tries to live in harmony with it. Truly, this is the greatest challenge facing humanity at this historical juncture and we applaud the City for starting the process.

The alternative, as we should all know by now, is a bleak future of smog, heat-induced deaths, and economic and environmental devastation. The May edition of Toronto Life gave us a vision of that bleak future. Furthermore, we are increasingly made aware that the consequences of climate change are even worse than predicted by the IPCC: that it could in fact result in massive economic collapse (as suggested by the Stern report, for example) and the enormous tragedy of social disintegration caused.

As long ago as the 1992 Rio Summit, the world was informed by reliable sources that that inaction in reducing greenhouse gases could be catastrophic; we are gratified that among Canadian governments the City of Toronto is now moving in the right direction -- although there is still much ground to gain before we meet the standards of some European cities.

We are appreciative of the City's effort in bringing this plan forward. It gives us hope in world that otherwise appears hopeless, due to the intransigence of national and international governments. It is frequently stated that anthrogenic (man-made) climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity in the 21st century.

The City's plan does appear to acknowledge the necessity for change; what is needed now, above all, is decisive progress in bringing that vision to bear. We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to be part of that process.

Sincerely, Paul York and Shayla Duval
on behalf of Students Against Climate Change

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Public transit cuts bad for environment, students

Some people at Toronto City Hall are proposing a cut to public transit:
TTC cuts could be devestating

Below is a letter sent to each member of City Council. You are urged to write your own letter to your particular City Councillor about this. To find out who your councillor and his or her contact information go to List of Toronto City Councillors

Letter to City Hall

Re: TTC cuts proposal

I wish to point out a simple but important point: any cuts to TTC at this time run counter to the Clean and Climate Change initiative begun by City Hall's Parks & Rec Committee.

Speaking for university students, most of whom take the TTC, this is an absolutely awful direction for the City to go in. It hurts education and it hurts the environment.

Students will be hindered by these cuts and the environment will suffer because a reduction in public transit will result in greater emissions from car traffic.

The City of Toronto needs to cut car traffic by 25% or more within the next few years, not increase it!

The world is facing a global warming crisis, which will spell economic and social and environmental disaster for Canadians and the world unless we collectively reduce our emissions by 90% by 2020 (not 80% by 2050 as is commonly suggested).

How can we possibly achieve even the lesser target if car emissions go up and not down?

Add to that the problems that go with increased traffic flow in a city where gridlock is everywhere all the time, and you begin to see how foolish it is not to fund the TTC even more.

This proposal for public transit cuts is in direct violation of the public's interest at a time when funding for public transit should be increasing. There is an incredible amount of waste in the City that ought to be addressed before TTC is cut.

I am astounded by the misallocation of priorities that this ill-advised proposal represents. I am sending this letter to all members of City Council with the hope that the cuts will not take place.


Feedback from City Hall

The feedback from Toronto City Council has come in. This small exercise and the response it received shows that letter-wring can help change public policy for the better.

From Councillor Heaps

Thank you very much for your comment. In fact, Councillor Heaps is extremely concerned about the suggested TTC funding cut since it will impact residents in our ward tremendously as there are three subway stations in our ward and a lot of Ward 35 residents depend on the bus service. Our office is committed to maintaining the services of the TTC, as we are aware that the TTC is not only a means of transportation, but also part of the City's climate change plan.

Regards, Caroline Law for Councillor Heaps

From Councillor Giambrone, Chair of the TTC

Thank you for your email. The Toronto Transit Commission will be meeting today to discuss the cuts that the city has asked us to make. These are not decisions that I am taking lightly. I will be supporting every effort to make decisions that have the lowest negative impact on TTC riders. The options however, are limited. As always, I am happy to hear feedback from TTC riders. Please feel free to contact TTC Customer Service at 416-393-3030 or our office at 416-392-7012 to share additional comments about these or other matters.

Yours Truly, Adam Giambrone Toronto City Councillor Ward 18 Davenport Chair, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)

From Councillor Perruzza:

Glad to hear from you. I agree that it is important to prevent any cuts on public transportation. I will pass on your message to Anthony before the emergency meeting for him to read.

Cheers, MdeD., Office of Anthony Perruzza, City Council for Ward 8

From Councillor Pantalone

Thank you very much for your informed and passionate message. I will, of course, take into consideration the concerns of the residents of my ward as well as all Torontonians. We all have a stake in making Toronto a liveable City.

Sincerely, Joe Pantalone, Deputy Mayor, City of Toronto

From Councillor Fletcher

Thank you for your email. I know that Councillor Fletcher agrees that public transit is essential to helping with the climate change crisis that we are facing. She is also very supportive of students and post-secondary education and knows that having an educated population is part of the solution. Councillor Fletcher is troubled about the implications of the vote to defer the cities new taxes that were to come into effect this January.

As you now know the city is now facing a massive revenue shortfall. She is following the issue of the TTC very closely and we will be sure to keep you update of the situation. She has a direct stake in the issue as chair of the Parks and Environment committee and is committed to making the environment a cleaner and safer place for everyone.

Sincerely, Jeffrey Andrus, Assistant to Councillor Paula Fletcher - Ward 30

From Councillor Filion

I am not a member of the TTC and therefore not entirely familiar with its funding intricacies. Currently, TTC operations are heavily subsidized by the city. So the more operations we have, the more it costs us. The only way for the TTC to reduce spending is to shut down routes, and the way to do so most efficiently is to cut routes with the lowest ridership (and which therefore require the largest city subsidy).

Best wishes, John Filion

From Councillor Carroll:

Thank you for contacting the office of Councillor Shelley Carroll. Your comments are always appreciated. The suggested cost containment measures for the TTC that include the closing of the Sheppard Subway line came as a surprise to Councillor Carroll and represent an important concern to her and her Ward 33 constituents. The Sheppard Subway line is a vital link for residents and businesses of Ward 33 to the downtown and the rest of the City and Councillor Carroll will continue to voice her opposition to this proposal.

Councillor Carroll attended the TTC meeting on Friday to raise her concerns and the decision was made by the commission to delay any service cut decisions until further study and consultation can occur. Councillor Carroll hopes that the TTC can find the necessary budget cuts to comply with the City Managers cost containment plan without closing essential service routes such as the Sheppard Subway.

Public transit is the lifeblood of a big city and essential to any climate change initiatives. However, it must be pointed out that the City is currently in a financial situation that is simply not sustainable. Although Councillor Carroll does not support the closing of the Sheppard Subway line, as the City Budget Chief she is fully aware of the dire financial situation that the City has found itself in after the deferral of the new taxes proposed to Council last week. The City is a very efficient service provider and although we continue to look and find more savings and efficiencies every year, without any new sources of revenue the Budget Committee will be forced to look at cuts in all City divisions, including the TTC. This is most definitely not the preferred solution, as Councillor Carroll feels the City could benefit from greater investment in services, not less, however the Budget Committee has been left with little choice but to cut costs and services to allow the City to continue to run.

Councillor Carroll will continue to voice her opposition to the closing of the Sheppard Subway line and will continue her on-going budget reviews and services planning reviews in attempts to curb spending and find more efficiencies.

Sincerely, Jesse Calvert, Special Assistant to Councillor Shelley Carroll

From Councillor Ainslie:

The City must undertake the task of making responsible decisions to deal with it's debt while servicing the city. Cuts which would further add to congestion on our streets and add to pollutants to the air are not responsible cuts. Thank you for making your views known to me.

Paul Ainslie, City Councillor, Ward 43, Scarborough East

From Councillor Moscoe:

We can avoid that by approving the Land Transfer Tax which will raise
$300M. Write councillors and urge them to approve the Land transfer tax
when it comes back in October.

NB - the Land Transfer Tax is a real estate tax on new home sales. It is opposed by the real estate industry.

SACC activities update for July 19th

Here is an update on SACC activities, posted by Paul York:

1. Art show at City Hall by UTSC SACC students
2. "Closed Doors" energy conservation campaign
3. Room bookings for September for 2 citizen's forums during Environment Week
4. Space for weekly meetings and movie showings for SACC
5. Tabling update and request for volunteer help
6. Stop Climate Chaos and bus to Quebec for major protest
7. Last SACC meeting, St. George campus and taking the 7 point pledge plus discussion

1. Enviro-art at City Hall by UTSC SACC students

Last weekend Shayla Duval organized an amazing art show at City Hall, downtown.Students, teens and kids drew enviro-art in chalk on Nathan Phillips Square.Pieter, who was there, said it was amazing. Unforunately, a power-mad security guardruined the event about 2 hours after it started, but next time we'll get a City Hallsponsor to back it up and give it some well-deserved publicity.

See the photos and full report atShayla's blog.

2. "Closed Doors" energy conservation campaign

The whole thing started on Live Earth Day: I went into a store, Sports Champ, on Yonge to ask them to close their doors while the AC was blasting. Pieter Basedow and Chuck from Stop Climate Chaos were with me.

The store manager rudely refused to comply, so I raised my voice and told the patrons of his decision and urged them to boycott the store.At that point he attacked me physically to force me out of the store!

Fortunately I was able to turn this in a positive thing: two days later I brought in Global TV. They did a great story on the issue and interviewed Chris Winters from ConservationCouncil or Ontario who ran the "Closed Doors" campaign last summer.

CCCO is not doing it this year, so we met with Chris, got some posters, and decided to do the program. This meant asking store owners to closed doors while the AC was running. 95% ofthem are happy to comply. Only about 5% disagreed and we took their informationto write a letter, copying CCCO and Global TV in every case.

This is a great way to do low-level direct action and community activism to fight global warming. Those that closed their doors we give a poster to, endorsed by the City of Toronto.It says "Please Come In: our doors are closed to save energy."

Last week, two teams of three peoplefrom SACC went and did the campaign on Queen St. E. and Yonge & Bloor area with goodresults. Call or write me if you have time get involved.


3. Room bookings for September for 2 citizen's forums during Environment Week

We have made some progress in getting bookings by making contact with the organizers of Environment Week at U of T and with the Sustainability Office. It is impossible for a campus club to book space on campus without a lot of money more than a month in advance, but with thehelp of these contacts we are working on getting that done.

The speakers for both forums, on global warming and on the energy future of Ontario are willing to speak at U of T, so it is really the room booking that is holding us up. After that is done, we will need your volunteer help to advertise it.

These forums will be incredible opportunities to really learn in-depth about these issues. They mayeven change your life! Please let me know if you want to help pull them together.

4. Space for weekly meetings and movie showings for SACC

Finally, we have secured a good space for weekly meetings -- at Wordsworth College, 119 St. George, in the student lounge, room 101. There is a TV and DVD there too, so our meetings will consist of watching environmental movies followed by discussion. Meet us every Friday at 6:00 p.m. in room 101!

The movie this week is incredible and everyone should see it: "A Crude Awakening." We were originally going to show "Escape from Suburbia" (also worth seeing) but "A Crude Awakening" is a much better documentary about peak oil. It is shocking to see our current situation -- the affluence of this society -- in historical context and to realize that it cannot possible last and that humanity is about to enter an endless economic depression, leading to countless wars over scarce resources. All the wealth of this age is built on a non-renewable resource. You owe it to yourself to see this movie!

5. Tabling update and request for volunteer help

So far several people have "tabled" to get more people involved: Ma'ayan, Alice, Pieter, Shayla,Marissa and myself, and Baby the dog. But more are needed! If you are interested in spending a couple of leisurely hours signing people up outside the Student Life Centre or Robarts on a nice summer day, talking to students about global warming, contact me. We will arrange it a time for several people to work together on this.

We have all the equipment -- just need people to show up and talk to folks. Also, if you can volunteer with anything else, let me know or Shayla (at UTSC) know. Shayla's email is <>

6. Stop Climate Chaos and bus to Quebec to join major protest

The Security and Prosperity Partnership meeting of George Bush, Stephen Harperand the Mexican president is set for late August. Thousands of activists will convergeon Ottawa for this. A bus, arranged by Stop Climate Chaos, is leaving from Toronto.If you want to be on it, the sliding scale cost is $60 to $90.

Working with Stop Climate Chaos, the plan is for SACC to make climate change a majorissue in Ottawa during the protest, through banners, by speaking at rallies (where possible)and simply by showing up and being counted in the non-violent sturggle for democracy.

Some people there will be violent (on both sides) but that does notinvalidate the message of those who are there non-violently, such as Council ofCanadians or others. The real violence is what's being done to this planet and weshould be there in Ottawa to protest that.

The link between SPP and climate change is this: the Harper government is bent ongiving away all of Canada's natural resources (oil, wood, water) to U.S. corporations andusing the SPP agreement to do it.

In the SPP document they actually speak of increasing tar sand production with no dicussion of whether that is good or bad. Instead of saving oil (and reducing its production) they are allowing its production to beincreased dramatically, even though it is destroying the boreal forests of Alberta and spewingthousands of tonnes of CO2 into the air everyday -- both at the source, through mining and through cars (through consumption).

According to the WWF, the oil sands are Canada'ssingle largest source of GHG emissions, and they are calling for a halt to production: WWF news.

By the way, Stop Climate Chaos is an excellent local group with weekly meetings (almost every Tuesday night at Trinity St. Paul's 7:00 p.m.). The contact for the bus SCC is Brian Champ.

To reserve a seat contact Brian at <Brian Champ>.

There are several sites devoted to the SPP event. Here are a few: War Criminals coming to Quebec in August; Protest Against SPP; Calderon, Harper, and Bush in Montebello_q.

This event will change your life in a very positive way -- I did this kind of thing in 1998 (Armx '88) and because of that event became a lifelong social activist.

Seeing the naked abuse of power and the great effort by government to stifle legitimate democracy firsthand will convince you of the necessity of the struggle for justice, peace, defense of democracy and protection of the environment.

Also to let you know, the U.S. Army is in Quebec and is already stifling democracy by prohibiting the Council of Canadians from using a local community centre.

Council of Canadians press release; and COC website.

7. Last SACC meeting, St. George campus and taking the 7 point pledge

The last meeting of SACC, last Friday, was excellent. We went through Al Gore's Live Earth7 point pledge and discussed it in detail to determine how it could be applied in Toronto,in our individual lives and collectively. Here is the pledge followed by a comment on how itapplies in Toronto and at U of T, point by point ...

Pledge No. 1. Demand that my country join an international treaty within the next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90 percent in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy earth.

Comment: Write an email to the Harper government demanding that they comply with this firstpoint. Send a copy to the other parties' leaders and a blind copy to me, if you don't mind.In addition to the demand (above) you may wish to also urge Harper to stop subsidizing the U.S.companies extracting oil from the tar oil sands of Alberta.

Canada gives away more than a billion dollars per year to U.S. oil companies when we should be imposing a carbon tax on Shell, Exxon and those other corporations.

Albertans get 25 per barrel, which is almost nothing, so the economic argument that the tar sandsare beneficial to Canadians holds no weight. Economically and environmentally it is a disaster of epic proportions, fueling the U.S. war machine and destroying life on Earth. The emails to write to are:

Write to: Steven Haper, PC Party of Canada <Steven Harper's email>

Copy:Stephan Dion, Liberal Party of Canada <Stephane Dion's email>

Jack Layton, New Democratic Party of Canada <Jack Layton's email>

Giles Duseppe, Bloc Quebecois <Giles Duceppe's email>

Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada <Elizabeth May's email>

Also blindcopy:<I">Paul York's emailI will publish these letters on the SACC blog if you send them to me.

Pledge No. 2. Take personal action to help solve the climate crises by reducing my own C02 pollution as much as I can and offsetting the rest to become “carbon neutral”.

Comment: Some of the single biggest contributions individuals can make is 1) stop flying, 2) stop driving,3) become a vegetarian or eat meat less, and 4) stop using air conditioning, and 5) buylocal food, and 6) buy fewer products altogether (nearly everything is made with cheap oil or coal).

Flying is a major contributor to GHGs. If everyone stoppedflying in the world, we would go a long way to solving the problem. See Monbiot's book "Heat" chapter 8 "Love Miles" or consider this quote from naturalist David Attenborough:

“Each of us in the UK is responsible for producing about 11 tonnes of CO2 each year [in the UK]We can try to make a difference by cutting down that figure. By wasting less energy: Insulatingour homes better, for example. By driving more efficient cars. And by flying less often...”

For a more thorough list seeEnergy conservation tips; and Global Warming tips.

Pledge No. 3. Fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility thatburns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store the C02.

Comment: In Ontario, this directive should lead us in the direction of opposing the Portlands EnergyCentre, being built for natural gas processing even though natural gas produces GHGs andis running out worldwide. Those public funds should instead be spend on windmills and solarpower and conservation.

For a good critique of Portlands see
Danforth Greens.

And we must also continue to oppose coal power in Ontario. Dalton McGunity hasnow signed a bill to shut it down by 2014, which means 7 more years of smog-relateddeaths and global warming GHG emissions in Ontario from coal (if he keeps his promiseor it is not reversed by an incoming government!)

Here are two recent communications on the coal issue, one from a moderate"liberal reformer" Ontario Clean Air Alliance and one from a much more radical group,Paradigm Shift Environmental Alliance. They are both worth reading and acting on.We need both radicals and moderates to get make a difference - the main thing isto be an activist!

From Ontario Clean Air Alliance (the more moderate position) ...

The McGuinty Government is moving forward with establishing a legally binding deadline for an end to coal burning for electricity in Ontario. The government has now posted a draft regulation on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Registry setting a legally enforceable deadline of Dec. 31, 2014 for an end to coal use in this province. Which is very good news.

However, the draft regulation sets no interim targets for reducing coal use before the final 2014 deadline. That's something that can and must be fixed: the McGuinty Government has already managed to cut coal use by 32% between 2003 and 2006 and the Ontario Power Authority is forecasting that we will need coal for less than 1% of our electricity needs in 2010. Therefore, there is no compelling reason not to include firm interim reduction targets in the shutdown regulation.

It is absolutely critical that you and everyone you know uses the 30-day EBR comment period to let the government know that you strongly support a legally binding phase-out deadline and interim reduction targets. This is a tremendous opportunity to get the coal phase out back on track, but even the 2014 deadline is likely to be opposed by the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario (e.g., Dow Chemical, Imperial Oil, Inco).

Please visit Tell the Province that you oppose coal power and support a legally binding phaseout of coal power in Ontario and legally binding deadline for an end to coal power.

You also want to see legally binding requirements for interim annual reductions in coal use. You can learn more about the draft coal phase-out regulation in our new factsheet: Coal phase-out regulation: Finishing the job available on our website at Ontario Clean Air

If you have any problems with the link above, the EBR registry number for the regulation posting is 010-0945. Simply go to Province's website regarding coal power and enter this number. You can submit comments online by clicking the “Submit comment” button in the right-hand margin on the draft regulation page.

Please pass this message on to your friends. Thank you.

Jack Gibbons, Chair
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 240Fax: 416-926-1601
Email: Jack Gibbons
Website: Ontario Clear Air Alliance

From Paradigm Shift Environmental Alliance (the more radical position) ...



Every Tuesday from 5:30 - 6:30 pm

SW corner University and College, Toronto in front of Ontario Power Generation Building (OPG)
Paradigm Shift Environmental Alliance - PSEAContact Ivona Vujica Coordinator

1. Letter to Queen's Park2. Letter to Harper


We thank all people from Ontario and beyond who sent their advocacy letters.If you have not had a chance, please write Premier Dalton McGuinty to urge him to close down Ontario Coal Plants OR take a second and email the following sample letter (below) to:

Dalton McGuinty <>
CC to John Tory, MPP <>
BCC toParadigm Shift Environmental Alliance <Paradigm Shift email>

Premier Dalton McGuinty:

Your # 1 Election Promise was to close Ont.'s coal fired power plants by 2007. In fact, your exact words were, "Come hell or highwater, Ontario coal plants will close by 2007."We are holding you to your promise.

Nanticoke is Canada's # 1 Polluter and Greenhouse Gas Emitter and N. America's largest coal plant. It's killed thousands and made even more ill. Cancer now surpasses heart disease as the # 1 killer. Please keep your promise. The health of all Ontarians demands it.

Also, we are asking you to stop the proposed giant methane plant in the Portlands that is going ahead without a full environmental assessment and is opposed by Mayor David Miller, most local politicians, the Board of Health etc.

- Greenhouse gases up 90% from Ontario coal plants from 1995-2005 (Tor Star, Feb 1/07)
- Closing down Ontario coal stacks amounts to taking all the cars and small trucks off our streets - McGuinty government says that "the annual costs of coal-fired generation, including health and environmental costs, ... [is] significantly higher than other electricity generation options."

- The Ontario Power Authority is recommending that in 2010, Ontario Power Generation should export 93% of its coal-fired electricity to the U.S. (meaning we get all the toxins, illness and have to account for the greenhouse gasses while the US gets our power. McGuinty promised in 2003 to export zero amount of power to the US. from Ontario's coal-fired plants.



Prime Minister, the Kyoto protocol of which Canada is a signatory and is bound to under international law is now also the law of the land in Canada as it was passed unanimously by the House of Commons and the Senate. No one is above the law prime minister Harper.

The only way Canada can keep its Kyoto obligations is by the Canada wide phase-out of coal-fired plants by 2012. It not only reduces our greenhouse gases effectively but it also protects the health and wellbeing of all Canadians young and old. Canada's words / obligations mean something.

NAMEAddress or City

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Jack Layton, NDP leader
Gilles Duceppe, Bloc Quebecois leader
Dion Stephane, Liberal leader
Elizabeth May, Green party leader
CC to Paradigm Shift Environmental Alliance <>

Pledge No. 4. Work for a dramatic increase in the energy efficiency of my home, workplace, school,place of worship, and means of transportation.

Comment: What this could mean is starting a "Sustainability and Conservation Committee" with otherworks at your workplace, or at least speak to the manager / boss when you see energyand resource waste that costs the company money and is bad for the environment as well.

At U of T, this could mean spotting areas where U of T could improve and sendingan email to the Sustainability Office on campus. Their email is <>

As well, SACC can do a campaign on a particular issue. For example, there is a Tim Hortonson campus now and they don't use recyclable cups. We have been writing themabout this to urge them to use corn cups, which are biodegradable. This is just one example.

Lastly, join and become active in an environmental campus club, whether it is SACCor some other one. Here are just few of the existing groups (there are more):

- UTERN (a sort of umbrella group) - Animal Rights -

- Environmental Students' Union (promotes veganism)


- OPIRG (social justice and the environment) -

- Gardening -


Pledge No. 5. Fight for laws and policies that expand the use of renewable energy sources andreduce dependence on oil and coal.

Comment: The first part of this point related to the possibility of 100% renewable energy for Ontario and Canada. This is not only desirable to reduce smog and pollution and global warming -- it is necessary because of peak oil (the end of the oil age). 100% renewable energy means a huge amount of conservation (radically reduced consumption and an end to exporting Canada's natural resources to the U.S. and abroad) and it also means production of wind turbines and solar panels and geothermal units and DC lines on a massive scale in Canada. All the funds currently used on military or subsidizing oil companies, for example (which amounts to billions and billions of dollars) should be going toward renewable energy and energy conservation projects.

Bill C-30 is a very small step in that direction, but the Harper government refuses to pass it in legislature. Again, write Harper (and copy all the other national leaders) urging that they sign Bill C-30 and start investing in renewable energy.

Also, all the money spent on nuclear power should also go to renewables. The $40 million slatedfor expenditure on nuclear power in Ontario could and should be going to renewables. Thebillions being spent on the Portlands Energy Centre -- the same argument. All that money should goto wind power and DC cables. Germany produces more wind power than all of what Ontario uses,and has less land mass than Ontario. Why can't Ontario do that?

Write to McGuinty and demand that he shut down coal power in 2007 and spend the funds slated for nuclear energy and natural gas on renewables (wind, solar, geothermal) and conservation.

Write to:Dalton McGuinty <
Copy:John Tory <>
Howard Hampton <>

The second part of this point is covered by point # 3 above.

Pledge No. 6. Plant new trees and to join with others in preserving and protecting forests.

Comment: The first part of this directive is simple. The City of Toronto has initiated a tree-planting project.To get a free tree planted on your lawn, call 416-338-8733. See City of Toronto tree planting initiative.

The second part, preserving forests, is more difficult because it means becoming an activist.The big problem is clearcutting and deforestation of old-growth and boreal forests.

Greenpeace has been a leader on this. See andGreenpeace forestry campaign and

Also, please note that carbon offsets that go to reforestation are problematic becausesome sources are saying they pay for "carbon rights" to projects that are alreadyoccurring and therefore don't really result in reforestation.

See this article to get an idea of the problem with carbon offsets: Article critical of carbon offsets.

Pledge No. 7. Buy from businesses and support leaders who share my commitment to solvingthe climate crises and building a sustainable, just and prosperous world for the 21st century.

Comment: This means buy local products. There is a lot of "greenwash" these days, so be sure not tobuy products which claims to be environmentally friendly which are not. Stuff that's shipped fromafar, or has a lot of packaging, for example.

You might wish to check out this site (although I cannot attest to its accuracy):

Better yet, don't buy anything (or buy much less). See Buy Nothing Day. As for leaders, see Vote For Clean Energy: Vote for clean energy/.

Cutting to the chase, in the Ontario provincial election, the Tories and Liberals are NOT green,and the NDP and Greens are (by comparison). Vote with your conscience, and moreImportantly become an activist for green energy at U of T through this club or some other way.

Lastly, everyone should know that this provincial election we will have the chance to vote onrepresentative democracy in Ontario through "proportional representation." This is importantfor allowing politicians into provincial legislature who actually represent the views of a citizens.Sharon Howarth has been promoting this tirelessly.

See this site for more info: Fair Vote Canada. And to help Sharon get the word out, contact her at <Sharon's email>.

If you have further ideas to add to these (regarding the 7 points) send them to me and I will add them to the blog. Sincerely, Paul

Friday, July 13, 2007

Climate change action opportunity

WHERE: In front of City Hall
WHEN: Sunday July 15, 2007 @ 1 p.m.

Concerned individuals will gather in front of City Hall to send a message to politicians and citizens alike about the need to take major action on climate change now. Join us to help create chalk-art murals on the sidewalk that inform and motivate on the issue.

CONTACT:, 416-697-4170

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Meeting Agenda for Friday July 13th

Both students and non-students are invited to attend the next SACC meeting this Friday:

Friday, July 13th 2007 (for those who are not superstitious!) Time: 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Wordsworth College, Rm. 101 119 St. George Street (east side, south of Bloor, north of Harbord) Rm 101 is the student lounge, north side of building, 1st floor (big sofa chairs) Non-students interested in fighting climate change are welcome as well.

*** Everyone who attends gets a free full-length movie on the enviroment on DVD! ***

Issues on the agenda ...

* Minutes from last meeting

* Discussion on Al Gore's 7 point pledge, what it represents, and how to advance it For background info:

* Report on air conditioning action on Yonge St. by SAAC, and the Closed Doors campaign For background info: Vote on whether to actively participate in Closed Doors campaign in a systematic fashion.

* Report on forums beings organized by SACC for Environment Week in September: (1) Power to Choose: A Citizen's Forum on Ontario's Energy Future, and (2) Global Warming Solutions: A Citizen's Forum on Climate Change Note: SACC is the main organizer for these two events, so your input is needed!

* Update on organizing efforts at UTS, UTM and St. George campuses

* Report on recent alliance with Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. Info on CYCC:

* Report on meeting with renowned expert on climate change, Dr. Harvey. You can enroll in his course:

* SACC support for the Vote Green Energy campaign against nuclear and coal power and FOR 100% renewables. See for details.

* Other issues: community garden at U of T? Films? Other ideas and initiatives?

Monday, July 9, 2007

This fable, by Aesop, written about 2600 years ago in ancient Greece, provides a valuable lesson on energy and natural resource conservation for today's world.

The grasshopper is comparable to those who consume wastefully; the ant is comparable to those who are conserving energy and resource for the benefit of the future.

The Grasshoper and the Ant

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.

When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

SACC news for July 5 - 7, 2007

SACC has recently joined forces with the organizers of the Power to Choose forum, to host a forum on Ontario's energy future at the University of Toronto. This will occur in September and will feature some of Ontario's most renowned experts on energy issues. We are also supporting the Vote Clean Energy and Pledge Green Toronto campaigns.

See and

We have also joined forces with Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, a wonderful group of young people (18 to 25) who are chaning the world through activism. We have a table with them tomorrow at the City of Toronto Green Streetfest at Dundas Square.

If you manage to catch this post today by Friday July 6 before 5 p.m., please consider joining us for the SACC organizing meeting: Friday July 6 @ Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St. George, Rm. 1078, 5 p.m to 6:30 ish.

Events for Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Saturday - Dundas Square, Dundas & Yonge @ the CYCC (Canada Youth Climate Coalition) / SACC table (there will be many tables -- it is part of Green Streetfest) 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Satuday eve. -Climate Change party for Live Earth / 7pm and beyond / 655 Bathurst Street (Just below Harbord b/w College and Bloor) / Contact: Dave at 647-832-0062. Call if you're coming past 10 p.m. to see if the party is still going on. This is participate in the Al Gore event on television:,,2115785,00.html

The CYCC website is

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Hope is a renewable resource

As an environmentalist or someone who cares about social justice do you find yourself losing hope at times? It is easy to lose hope in the face of peak oil, environmental collapse, social injustice, climate change and increasingly totalitarian methods employed by large corporations and governments working at their behest. If you find yourself starting to despair, start working with young activists and you will soon find that hope is a renewable resource

I recently met with members of Canadian Youth Climate Coalition last night. They are all teens or in their early 20s. They are going to save the Earth. I really believe this. If you look at what people over 30 have done to this planet, young people appear to be our only hope. They are not fixed in their ways of thinking -- they are open-minded. For this reason, my bet is on them to change things, to move us collectively in a hopeful direction ...

The latest article from George Monbiot tell us why this matter is so urgent: A Sudden Change of State This really puts things into perspective ... What Hansen's report tell us is that we are not at some ordinary political juncture, but rather at the end of a 10,000 year period of stability in which civilizations flourished, allowed to exist due to stable weather patterns. That is no longer the case. Between peak oil and climate change this civilization is on precipice of collapse. That is why it is absurd to speak of economic priorities as George Bush or Steven Harper routinely do, to excuse inaction on climate change. It is like worrying about how much money is in your pocket while trapped inside a burning house. Please refer to Edward O. Wilson to get a sense of the how immense this change is:

Many people feel we are at the tipping point or past it. I am not sure of that; like many others I have hope that we can save a lot of the Earth, although it will be a Pyrrhic victory, or in military terms, a rearguard action, saving some species and peoples (and losing many others, despite best efforts) through extraordinary effort -- but what other choice is there for a person who follows his or her conscience? If you are looking for an author who looks the really big picture, I would refer you to Thomas Berry who speaks, more hopefully, in terms of our transition to an "Ecological Age":

I like Berry's phrase: "The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects." Our division from the natural world and objectification of it, led to this impasse. Embracing a more holistic vision of our place in the natural world -- having a biocentric rather than anthrocentric worldview -- is a prerequisite for continued survival in any sort of meaningful way. Berry is a visionary. He tries to embrace universal wisdoms beyond that given by the immediate culture. His heart is open to aboriginal wisdom, holistic visions, simplicity. We all need to adopt his way of thinking, not only because it is right, but because collective survival depends on it.

At National Aboriginal Day I met several young people who impressed me as having that vision. One was Thalia, an artist and volunteer with "Earth Day Canada ecoMentors." See

She sent an email: "I have been 'ecoMentoring' Elementary school students with my own original lesson plans. These special lessons are always interactive and have a sense of play as the young students learn about themselves, their culture and the many connections with planet Earth. It donned on me that I am one human in the interconnected web of billions. There is a diverse range of cultural teaching methods, so let us these methods. As a multicultural Canada, let us learn from the aboriginal peoples of this land. Let us use aboriginal teachings in our school system . . ."

Shayla, who writes for this blog, is another young person who cares enough to become an activists. Check out her blog at

I hope that people like those in the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition and SACC will be representative of those determining the future. They are part of a worldwide movement to help shape society through countless acts of good will and life-affirmative creativity. As Gandhi said, "be the change you wish to see in the world."

- Paul York

Monday, July 2, 2007

National Aboriginal Day (June 29, 2007) and Climate Change

While native protesters were blockading the 401 to bring attention to government-violated land claim treaties, several hundred kindred souls met at Queen's Park to commemorate the day and to call for social and environmental justice.

Several native elders spoke with eloquence, and at least one included mention of the need for a massive reduction of consumption and shift toward renewable energy sources. The speaker told us she had given up her car and personal computer, and enjoined us to do the same.

The fact is that aboriginal peoples have lived sustainably for millennia and most still do. We can learn a lot from them. Eco-theologian Thomas Berry makes this point in his book The Great Work (1999):
" . . . we have begun to recognize both how little we really understand these peoples and how much we need the wisdom of their traditions.

" . . . the Indian peoples of this continent do possess, it seems, an indestructible psychic formation that will remain into an indefinite future. They have held on to dimensions of their ancient wisdom traditions of which European Americans have had little or no knowledge.

"As the year pass it becomes ever more clear that dialogue with native peoples here and throughout the world is urgently needed to provide the human community with models of a more integral human presence to the Earth."
The Aboriginal Day protesters retired to the U of T campus for a BBQ hosted by Students for Social Justice, followed by some wonderful song and speeches and a community circle and drumming.

Several speakers mentioned the environment, an issue intimately linked to the native rights. Yours truly had an opportunity to bring attention to the problem of the provincial government's plans to dump radioactive waste on aboriginal lands without environmental assessments or public consultations -- an issue first brought to our attention by environmental lawyer Sarah Dover, who works for Greenpeace.

The ethical case against dumping of radioactive toxins in any location is that they remain dangerous for tens of thousands of years, beyond a time when we can guarantee their safe disposal. Countless future generations will be poisoned because our society required cheap energy to power a wasteful lifestyle, when clean, safe renewable energy sources could have sufficed instead.

At the recent Power to Choose forum Dr. Rosin-Goldenberg spoke on the health hazards of tritium, a form of radioactive waste. The basic conclusion is that there is no safe level of radioactive waste; the only safe solution is not to produce it in the first place, which means rejecting nuclear power.

One lady told me that she lived near the Bruce Peninsula and the province had failed to consult the public or do environmental assessments regarding the newly proposed nuclear power plants to be built there, despite evidence of health problems in the region. This lack of public consultation on matter of great importance is an unfortunate hallmark of the current provincial government.

It should be evident that aboriginal wisdom and traditional knowledge -- which emphasizes a biocentric (Earth-centered) rather than anthrocentric (human-centered) world view -- would be beneficial for the planet, if adapted to the current situation.

The McGuinty government should not arrogantly dump toxic waste from our unsustainable way of living on to their land. And the Provincial and Federal governments should honour native land claim treaties made in the past, as the protesters have been asking for generations.

The climate crisis can be solved, but it requires a recognition of how wrong we have been to pollute the atmosphere and destroy the earth. Killing half the species on Earth and changing the natural enviroment so significantly that it endangers human civilization will certainly lead to a change in our thinking -- but everyone is fearful that it will be too little, too late.

So we don't have a lot of time to get it right, and this knowledge breeds impatience. Yet for those of us in the environmental movement who want immediate results, we should ponder the lesson of "seven generations": Aamjiwnaang resident Ron Plain says ‘I’ve been taught and my people have been taught to always be thinking seven generations ahead,’ Plain tells me. ‘Nothing is going to change in my lifetime. But this activity, this destruction of my community and my people, has occurred for the most part in less than seven generations, and it can be reversed in that time as well. That’s what keeps me going.’ (See Seven Generations Ahead)

For now, be active, learn from other cultures, work with and encourage young people, and "be the change that you wish to see in the world." Every act of good will bears fruit in time.

- Paul York