Good Sunday Morning,
Of course we have to lead this morning's missive with the wonderful announcement that Elizabeth May and John Kidder are deeply in love and engaged to be married on Earth Day. Here is how Anne Kingston reported it in McLeans: "On a day filled with grim news — layoffs of thousands of GM workers in Oshawa, Ont., as federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer tried to make political hay by blaming the carbon tax, and the U.S. president said he didn’t believe his own government’s dire climate report — the happy announcement that federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May was marrying for the first time at age 64 was more than a welcome respite: for a fleeting moment, one could hear bluebirds chirping, woodland animals cavorting, and be reminded that life’s surprises aren’t all bad; they can also include unexpected love and joy."
So in keeping with the feeling of love, and hope and gratitude that washed over so many of us as we heard the news, I'm going to try and dedicate this edition of our Good Sunday Morning to good news stories.
Even as president Trump refutes the climate report of his own administration Senator Bernie Sanders, Bill McKibbon, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others are joining forces in a US national town hall on "Solving our Climate Crisis." You can watch it live on Monday at 7pm Eastern.
In the meantime mainstream media is not caving to Trumps willful ignorance. CNN reported on the 15 takeaways from the report. And the Grist broke down the effects predicted for the various regions of the US. Of course they are still understating the impact and overstating the timelines.
COP 24 gets underway on Monday as well and even though Canada will likely be in line for another fossil award as we prop up our wholly inadequate Harper Targets, Elizabeth will be there to try and infuse some hope. You will be able to follow her activities by visiting this page on our National Party Website.
You can also try to keep up with our Leader's activities by visiting her MP site and checking out "The Week in Review". If you are on twitter you can follow Elizabeth directly or keep an eye on this hashtag where Greens will share relevant tweets.
Elizabeth gave a fabulous speech in the House during the emergency debate on the closure of the General Motors plant. She speaks to the lost opportunities and how for example electric car rebates were put in place by the former government of Paul Martin only to be eliminated under Stephen Harper. So far there is absolutely no indication that the Trudeau government has the will to employ such a simple tool to help get us off our dependence on fossil fuels. Instead it's left up to the provinces.
Elizabeth often speaks about the obstruction by government to hold technological advances back by subsidizing outdated industries. It's a point she elaborates on this week in the National Observer. "Historically, we have seen one energy source displace another. The driver is usually a disruptive technology. One example was the end of whale oil as a source of lighting. It was used almost universally in the mid-1800s. The invention of kerosene by Nova Scotian Abraham Gesner changed everything. We did not stop hunting and slaughtering whales because we suddenly cared about whales, but because kerosene burned more cleanly and was cheaper.
"Fast forward to today. We are acting as though propping up whale oil to keep kerosene out of the market would be a shrewd move. If the Canadian policy-makers of today had been around in the 1920s, they would have poured money into the horse and buggy industry to try to keep the Model T at bay. The handwriting is on the wall – the era of fossil fuels is over – but we keep erasing the writing."
But a growing number of articles and even some mainstream news reports are starting to help put the writing back where it belongs. Robyn Allen chimed in last week to set the record straight on oil pricing. She writes: "Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is aggressively advancing a false narrative about heavy oil’s deep discount. She presents the problem in two parts, neither of which stand up to scrutiny."
On Tuesday McKibben talked with The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti about why decades of climate change discussion hasn't turned into decisive action. "The problem is people of my generation who refuse to let change happen, who insist on keeping the same technologies, the same power and patterns of wealth and settlement and industry that we've had in their lifetimes," he said. "One understands why people want things not to change, but things are going to change on a completely different scale if we don't make human changes first."
On Wednesday it was reported that Elizabeth called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to set up an all-party “war cabinet” to address the “ultimate existential threat” of climate change. The MPs who participated in such a body would be expected to put “partisanship and political considerations” aside, the Hill Times reports, recognizing that “time is of essence and that climate change is the fundamental security threat to our future.” There seems to be some trans partisan interest.
In October Electrek reported that Volkswagen is currently trying to figure out a way to secure large quantities of battery cells to support its critical electric vehicle ambitions. Car makers all over the world are scrambling to catch up with the two leading car EV manufacturers; Tesla and BYD. Bill MacDonald offers a perspective in Quora about the scope of that challenge. He outlines why the major car manufacturer's will have a hard time catching up.
But just yesterday I heard that both Volkswagen and a little known Canadian electric car company located right here in Vancouver called Electra Meccanica, are looking for manufacturing facilities in Canada. In addition to the Solo, Meccanica now also has a roadster that looks gorgeous on California's streets.
Crawford Kilian writes in the Tyee how the old GM plant, which we've already paid for with government bailout money and other subsidies, could be a perfect location to embrace this technological shift. He engages us in a little thought experiment about the potential that this "crisis" represents.
Of course that kind of bold action requires that we rethink our policies. Global News reports that new research shows Export Development Canada (EDC) provides 12 times as much financial backing to oil and gas companies as it did to clean technology companies over the last five years. And these kind of subsidies don't even touch the cleanup costs over which the president of Alberta's Energy Regulator resigned one day after the story was reported.
After getting his article about Canada's carbon tax published in his local paper, the president of Guelph Solar wrote this to me: GM closing plants is the direct result of our government failing to provide consistent market signals that gas cars are done. Canada is failing our workers and our families while other countries are providing intelligent and consistent direction. Businesses like GM can not invest where there is instability. Trudeau's Carbon Pricing plan sets the tone for Canada - only $50/ton with a slow ramp up and business as usual for the oil industry. Petroleum corporations will be getting the biggest carbon cheques. GM sees the big government money is headed toward pipelines and oil in Canada. GM knows it will be destroyed if they do not go electric and there is no indication that Canada plans to keep up. Thus they are leaving.
Meanwhile the CBC reports that "the federal government is turning to a longtime environmental activist and the CEO of the country's largest community credit union as it seeks advice on how to reach its climate change targets, particularly in the transportation and buildings sectors. - Green Party leader Elizabeth May said both Guilbeault and Vrooman are thoroughly committed to climate policy, and the sort of activists whose integrity she would never question.
"Between the two of them, they'll have a very good grip on carbon pricing, what it can, and can't, do," May said. "They'll also know that we don't have a climate plan at the moment." May said the government has "the beginnings of some ideas," but doesn't have a plan that meets the aims of the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels."
There it is. A hodgepodge of climate challenges and opportunities all dependent on insightful government action to limit the rise of global average temperatures to 1.5 degrees, but little evidence that our current government is serious about acting. And yet, a recent talk by Mark Jacobson in Vancouver discussed how B.C. and Canada could reach 100 per cent renewable energy. The key lesson from his work is that we have good reason to be optimistic, technologically, economically and in public opinion. If we can collectively align our efforts and overcome politics-as-usual, the world could be powered by 100 per cent renewables.
It is often said that politics is about the art of the possible, suggesting that we need to accept compromise and incremental improvements. But at a volunteer gathering last night to celebrate their engagement, Elizabeth and John were united, not just by their love for each other, but by their commitment to reach beyond that limitation. Fact is Canada's climate targets as they stand will take us to over 5 degrees of global warming. Fact is, that would trigger a runaway greenhouse effect that would spell the end of our civilization. Fact is, we can do so much better than that.
While attending the lighting of the tree ceremony yesterday where I took this picture of Elizabeth and her Love, she pulled out a tiny piece of newspaper and carefully unfolded it in front of me. It already showed signs of wear, indicating she had produced it many times over the last three days. It was a published response to the article in the Times Colonist entitled "Elizabeth May is getting hitched, but she’s firmly tied to her riding."
Here is what it said: "Thanks for the Times Colonist’s story about Elizabeth May and me, our upcoming marriage and intended glorious life together. A minor correction: I can indeed fix pumps and shoe horses and all that, but I would find it difficult to “read Shakespeare in Latin.” I do love to read Shakespeare, and I have a nodding acquaintance with Latin, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Latin edition of Shakespeare, and, if I did, I’d almost certainly have to pass.
"What I will do is put out maximal effort to support Elizabeth May, MP, in serving her constituents in Saanich-Gulf Islands, and her broader constituency across the country and around the world. Her work is critical for all of us, especially as we at last begin to face the reality of global warming, and as the international Green revolution gathers momentum.
"I promise I will not distract her (unduly), I will not suggest that she move to distant Ashcroft, I will help her wherever I can, and (I hope) her constituents will come to see me as part of her team, working for her and for all of us. Then, some day, after she has finished her work and saved the world, we’ll settle on a place to live. - John Kidder - Ashcroft, Vancouver, Sidney and Ottawa"
Thank you John for bringing such joy to the leader we love. And for sharing our commitment to supporting Elizabeth as we embrace together, not only what is possible, but what is necessary.
Until Next Week, take good care of each other...
"It is our job to work tirelessly for justice, for peace, and for a planet that can survive with a human civilization that thrives. This is the challenge that we take on as Greens." Elizabeth May, October 19th, 2015
This weekly missive is authored by Thomas Teuwen, our SGI EDA coordinator. Opinions expressed are his own. We welcome your comments and feedback. If you were sent here by a friend and would like to subscribe to our weekly email simply click here. You can also go to the archives section of our SGI website to read back issues. And if you are on twitter please join in on this hashtag.