COVID, Climate and Caribou (May 31, 2020)

Good Sunday Morning! 

Amazing. Tomorrow is June first; starting Week 13 in my own COVID timeline. Life in COVID-world is now assured to span four months of 2020 and will likely take us through months to come. 

I have to return to Ottawa to take the last in-person shift for the Green Caucus of the parliamentary session, until June 18.  I will be traveling with John Kidder (thank you honey!) and taking the ferry today and the flight to Ottawa on Air Canada first thing tomorrow. 

Checking the VIA Rail website the other day, I was crestfallen to see no trains will run from Vancouver to Toronto until November 1st.  Far more worrying is the impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of the Paris Agreement.  The climate negotiations (the Conference of the Parties – COPs) are annual. But some years are more important than others.  Clearly, COP3 in Kyoto, COP 11 in Montreal, disastrous COP15 in Copenhagen and successful COP21 in Paris were very important COPs.  So too is the upcoming meeting. 

2020 is the year designated in the Paris Agreement for a full review of existing targets with a requirement that countries accelerate their carbon reductions to meet the treaty’s goals – holding global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees C (as compared to pre-Industrial levels) or as far below 2 degrees as possible.

The critical 2020 climate talks, COP26 scheduled for November 2020 in Glasgow, have been postponed. On April 1, the UK, as host country, explaining that due to COVID-19 the preparatory meetings for COP26 required this spring could not occur, asked that the COP be delayed until early 2021.  A few days ago, the UK proposed a delay of a full calendar year - until November 1-12, 2021. The secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed. 

While the COP is postponed, the requirement that Canada submit a new target (called a Nationally Determined Contribution –NDC- in UN-speak) is not postponed. The new target is still due in calendar 2020.  On Wednesday in hybrid parliament, I pointed out that the planet’s atmosphere hit an unprecedented 417 parts per million (ppm) this week, while one of the hottest places on earth was inside the Arctic Circle at 30 degrees C, 86 degrees F.  We must ensure that Canada at least doubles our NDC this year.  (See details at by clicking on “Mission: Possible” for full details.)  

Meanwhile, Canada is going in the wrong direction. A study released May 26 found that of all the G20 countries, Canada is the worst offender regarding fossil fuels subsidies: 

“Canada has lavished at least C$13.8 billion per year in public financing on oil and gas projects since signing on to the Paris climate agreement, making it the fossil industry’s highest per capita source of public finance in the G20, and their second-largest overall benefactor after China, according to a blistering new report issued today by Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth U.S.” 

We had other non-COVID-19 news this week - as the crisis in loss of biodiversity continues. A very worrying new study demonstrated an unacceptable level of logging in BC, jeopardizing the survival of caribou.  Logging is continuing into critical caribou habitat despite the listing of caribou in the federal Species at Risk Act. According to University of Montana scientist Eric Palm, one of the study’s authors, It is dire. They’re going extinct and it is happening now.”

Meanwhile, on our other coast, a coalition of conservation organizations and leading ecologist, Dr. Bob Bancroft, took the Nova Scotia Government to court for its multiple failures to act to protect endangered species. Mme Justice Christa M. Brothers for the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, wrote a judgment that opened: 

 “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not”.                                                                                                         [Dr. Seuss – The Lorax, 1971]  

It may be the Lorax’s first judicial citation. 

Justice Brothers ruled: 

“I am satisfied that the declarations requested by the Applicants should issue. For clarity, the Court declares that the following  unreasonable failures exist: 

(1) failure to prepare a recovery plan for the Wood Turtle within the statutory deadline at s. 15(1);  

(2) failure to appoint a recovery team for Canada Warbler within the statutory deadline at s. 15(1);  

(3) failure to appoint a recovery team for the Ram’s-head Lady Slipper within the statutory deadline at s. 15(1);  

(4) failure to prepare a recovery plan for the Ram’s-head Lady Slipper within the statutory deadline at s.15(1);  

(5) failure to prepare a management plan for the Eastern Wood Pewee within the statutory deadline at s. 15(10);  

(6) failure to set out core habitat for Black Ash in its recovery plan per s. 15(4)(h);  

(7) failure to set out core habitat for the Mainland Moose in its recovery plan per s. 15(4)(h); and 

(8) failure to review the Mainland Moose recovery plan within the statutory deadline per s. 15(12); 

“... the Minister has exhibited a chronic and systemic failure to implement action required under the ESA [Endangered Species Act].”

We can say that of all ministers administering various bits of endangered species legislation, whether federal or provincial.  The whole system is failing. Species are going extinct.  It is time for a fundamental re-set to laws that work and ministers who will enforce them. 

With that, more packing to do!  Talk to you next Sunday morning.

Stay well, stay safe stay home! 

Love Elizabeth 


  1. For residents of Saanich-Gulf Island :  Community Meeting Tuesday June 2nd, 7pm PST

Webinar registration: 

We have also created a link to submit questions in advance rather than being sent to the main MP email!  Question submission link:  


AND a place to go for GOOD NEWS. “Yes! Magazine” As recommended by Jan Slakov:

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