Thursday, July 19, 2007

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

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