To say that rock legend Neil Young has been making waves on his ACFN 'Honour the Treaties' tour would be an understatement. His comments about the horrors of the tar sands have made front-page headlines, set social media ablaze, and have brought out more than a few attacks mostly from stalwarts of the oil industry.
We Canadians have a special relationship with snow and ice. We ski in it, skate on it, play in it, shovel it, drive through it, sometimes even bicycle through it and suffer through it for many months of the year -- some of us more than others, depending on what part of the country we call home. But how much do we know about it?
There are moments in history when it becomes clear that our leaders are failing us. They are the moments when people from all walks of life need to dust off those placards, stand up and speak out. This is one of those moments. Canada is failing as a country to curb climate pollution. Under the Harper Conservatives, our country's climate performance has become the worst in the Western world. We cannot sit by and let them put our coast and our country at risk. On November 16, communities from across Canada will stand up to remind our elected officials that they work for us and not just the oil patch.
Could rail realistically provide an alternative to the Keystone XL, aiding in the expansion of Canada's highly-polluting tar sands? The Keystone XL will undoubtedly support tar sands production, promote continued tar sands investment, and contribute to Canada's already-significant greenhouse gas output.
Investments in the oil, gas and coal industry are starting to lose their value and will become a liability based on a major UN report released Monday. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2,000+page report confirms that Canada must keep more than 75 per cent of its fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
Friday, 800 scientists from around the world stood up and told us that humans are the driving force behind dangerous climate change and that the impacts will be pervasive and severe. They did it in the form of the most robust and authoritative report on climate change to date, released this morning in Sweden. As Josh Laughren, WWF's director of climate and energy, wrote yesterday -- this is a message that all of us need to take seriously. The threat is clear, the timing urgent. We have everything it takes to lead. It is in our own best interests, and the world's, to act now.
We know that a just and sustainable future is about more than clean energy and bike lanes. It means recognizing, acknowledging and working with Indigenous communities to challenge a continuing legacy of colonization and injustice. Stopping climate change may be the means that we come together, but justice is the goal.
The Wall Street analyst who labelled Kinder Morgan a "House of Cards" might have had the TV show in mind, but I'm guessing he's also referencing the corporate history involved. You see, Kinder Morgan emerged out of none other than Enron, the infamous energy giant that was tagged as a House of Cards in a book exposing its systemic shenanigans, which among other things tricked its own employees out of their pension funds. Kinder Morgan CEO Richard Kinder is in fact a former Enron executive and almost became its CEO. The Wall Street Journal once called him "the luckiest ex Enron employee" because Jeffrey Skilling, who became the CEO instead of Kinder, is now in the midst of a 24-year prison sentence.
So overall 2012 has indeed been a significant year in relation to our natural and social systems, but the irony is, none of these events seem to have made a dent in the minds of climate skeptics or gun lobbyists, as they continue to cling on to the same archaic paradigms. So what is the deeper problem? What is the systemic issue?
Developed countries, when they put 30 per cent emissions reductions or less on the table are effectively putting death, displacement and devastation on the table. To call current targets enough, is to effectively announce that on this planet there are acceptable losses in those regions least responsible for causing climate change. People are connecting the dots between extreme weather, droughts and famine, desertification, deforestation, rising sea levels, flooding, wildfires, and a range of devastating impacts the result of a changed climate. They are connecting these dots to a history of the fossil fuel industry and wealthy, developed nations having free reign pollute.
As young people, we write today with both grave concern and powerful hope. Unfortunately, our concerns are beginning to outweigh our hope more and more each day. We were raised in a world nearly 1 degree warmer than the pre-industrial average; where disruption of the climate system has become increasingly visible in the few years since we were young children.
As I write this thousands of people are gathered in Victoria, B.C. risking arrest to send a clear message that Canada's west coast is united in opposition to the expansion of tar sands pipelines and tanker traffic. There is no one size-fits-all solution to environmental issues, but that's exactly what PowerShift is all about.
A federal government concerned about what's being passed along to the next generation would be a leader in global negotiations for a strong, binding agreement to cut carbon pollution, put in place domestic rules to make polluters pay, and focus on building clean energy infrastructure instead of doubling down on tar sands. Instead, it's doing just the opposite.