This week we celebrate Earth Day and look at why cities are so important in the fight against climate change. I have two features on the program today:
- Interview with Jed Goldberg, president of Earth Day Canada
- Presentation by Alex Wood of Sustainable Prosperity from the City of Ottawa Greenhouse Gas Roundtable
We also have our usual update from Kathy of Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns.
Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.
Part 1 – Earth Day
This Monday is Earth Day so we kick off today’s program by speaking with the president of Earth Day Canada, Jed Goldberg. He tells us what is being planned for this year’s event and we discuss the role of Earth Day activities at a time when many environmental problems around the world seem to be getting worse.
Every year on April 22, more than one billion people take part in Earth Day. Across the globe, individuals, communities, organizations, and governments take action to raise awareness about the importance of environmental protection. This will be the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day. From Beijing to Cairo, Melbourne to London, Rio to Johannesburg, New Delhi to New York, people are demanding that our so-called “leaders” act boldly.
But does any of this make a difference? After all, many environmental problems have gotten worse since Earth Day began back in 1970. The first Earth Day led to many tangible steps forward in environmental protection but, as Nicholas Lemann wrote in The New Yorker just a few days ago, “the original Earth Day remains a model of effective political organizing” but “(t)oday’s big environmental groups recruit through direct mail and the media, filling their rosters with millions of people who are happy to click “Like” on clean air. What the groups lack, however, is the Earth Day organizers’ ability to generate thousands of events that people actually attend—the kind of activity that creates pressure on legislators.”
We’ll find out what Jed Goldberg thinks about all this. Is Earth Day still relevant and effective in raising awareness and changing behaviour?
Part 2 – The City of Ottawa takes on climate change (again)
Did you know that cities in Canada are either directly or indirectly responsible for roughly 45% of this country’s greenhouse gas emissions? Cities have a huge role to play and any solution to climate change will have to involve action at the municipal level. In fact, with an absolute absence of federal measures to reduce GHGs or to set virtually any climate change policy whatsoever, it is the cities that are increasingly filling the policy void in Canada.
The City of Ottawa wants to be a leader in the fight against climate change and on March 23, Ottawa hosted its first ever Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Roundtable Roundtable. Last year, City Council committed to host the Roundtable to kick-start the review and update of the 2004 Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan. The 2004 Plan set GHG reduction targets for 2008 and 2012 and work is scheduled to commence mid-year to determine whether the City and the community-at-large targets were met. Following that, the City’s work will focus on setting new targets and updating the plan with support from the City of Ottawa’s new Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee.
The keynote speaker at the Roundtable was Alex Wood of Sustainable Prosperity, a national green economy think tank. SP focuses on market-based approaches to build a greener, more competitive economy. It brings together business, policy and academic leaders to help innovative ideas inform policy development. Alex Wood is the senior director of policy and markets at SP and he explains why climate change is such an important issues for cities.
Earthgauge Radio airs every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa and online around the world at www.ckcufm.com. Ottawa’s only radio program dedicated exclusively to environmental news and commentary from Ottawa, across the country and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and right here on earthgauge.ca.
Earthgauge Radio November 29, 2012: International climate science, Ottawa climate politics, and the growing movement to protect Canada’s waterways
This week on Earthgauge Radio, we’re talking about climate change and the protection of Canadian waterways. Right click here to download the show. I have 3 features on the program today:
- Radio EcoShock‘s broadcast of a speech by the top U.K. climate scientist Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
- My interview with John Bennett, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada, on the federal government’s proposed changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act
- A discussion with Joan Kuyek about the connection between the City of Ottawa Environment Committee Chair, Councilor Maria McRae, and her husband’s blog posts claiming that climate change is a hoax and a “non-existent” threat
The Doha Climate Change Conference (COP-18) kicked off this week in Qatar. In a year in which we have witnessed more devastating storms such as Hurricane Sandy and the greatest extent of Arctic sea ice melt ever observed, one could not be blamed for wondering if the world is hurtling towards some kind of catastrophic climate shift. Even the World Bank said last week that a world where temperatures rise by 4 degrees Celsius “must be avoided”, but can it be? Well, a top British climate scientist seems to have good reason to doubt this and he claims scientists haven’t been telling us the whole truth about climate change.
So to begin today’s edition of Earthgauge Radio, we take a listen to excerpts of an astonishing speech by Kevin Anderson who is Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Britain. Thanks to our friend Alex Smith of Radio EcoShock in Vancouver, we hear a breakdown and analysis of Anderson’s speech to the Cabot Institute from Bristol, England on November 6. An advance warning folks: what he has to say may shock and upset you. The subtitle for the talk is “Brutal Numbers and Tenuous Hope” and Dave Roberts of Grist wrote two articles about the implications of this talk, which he called “The Brutal Logic of Climate Change” (this one and this one). But as delegates and officials around the world are meeting in Doha as we speak to try to find a way to keep the planet from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, it’s time for a reality check from one of Britain’s top climate scientists. Is this 2 degree target realistic? Is it even possible? Anderson lays out the evidence for us and it is not pretty.
Also on the show today, we hear from John Bennett of the Sierra Club who will tell us why so many people and organizations, including the musicians Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie and Feist, are speaking out against the government’s proposed changes to Navigable Waters legislation. Harmer appeared on Parliament Hill this week to join with those raising concerns about the Harper government’s second omnibus budget legislation C-45, which includes changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act that limit federal protection for waterways to only 62 rivers, 97 lakes and three oceans. The government says it has chosen to protect only the busiest waterways in Canada that meet specific criteria for navigation. Critics say the changes will decimate environmental protections for the vast majority of Canadian waterways.
Finally on the show we discuss a startling revelation that has come to my attention thanks to some industrious individuals in Ottawa who have been following the city’s climate change plans and specifically its Greenhouse Gas Roundtable which appears to have stalled for the time being. It has come to light that the husband of the Chair of the City Environment Committee, Maria McRae, has written repeatedly about climate change as a “non-existent threat” and a hoax. Now we all know the growing mountain of evidence and research supporting the reality of human-caused climate change is now virtually incontrovertible and becoming more so with each passing year (see here, here and here). Still, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how uninformed it might be. There are still people who believe the earth was created 6000 years ago after all.
Councilor McRae may well have her own views on this matter and there is no evidence I’m aware of to suggest she doesn’t accept the science of climate change, but at the same time she has been accused by some of being obstructive when it comes to the city’s environmental initiatives in general and particularly on the climate change file. As she is directly involved with guiding the City’s climate policies, should the fact that her husband has repeatedly denied the reality of climate change on his blog be a concern to citizens of Ottawa who have been frustrated with the city’s apparent slow progress on the climate change file? Well to find out I speak with Joan Kuyek who is a constituent of Councilor McRae in the River Ward. She has been following this issue closely.
We’ll also have our usual update this week from Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns.
Earthgauge Radio airs Thursday mornings from 7-8 AM on CKCU 93.1 in Ottawa. Podcasts on iTunes and earthgauge.ca. Stream live on www.ckcufm.com. Check us out on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/EarthgaugeRadio.
Click the audio player to hear my interview with Charles Hodgson of Ecology Ottawa who produces the excellent blog climateottawa.ca. Right click here to download the interview. We discuss the recent City of Ottawa greenhouse inventory and what is going on at city hall with regard to Ottawa’s commitment to reducing GHGs. As Charles points out, the City of Ottawa’s own numbers show that we’re not achieving our climate change targets. What’s more, although evidence shows climate change is everyone’s problem some city councillors don’t think it’s a municipal issue and are trying to suppress discussion.
You can help by telling your local city councilor that Ottawa needs a climate change plan and we need to make a stronger commitment to reducing the city’s emissions. Even more effective would be to attend the meeting of the City’s Environment Committee on Tuesday, June 19 to tell them in person. The meeting is at 9:30 am in the Champlain Room (that’s in the heritage building portion of city hall). Click here for more info.
Check out ClimateOttawa.ca for more info on:
- What the City of Ottawa greenhouse gas inventory means
- More detail on why climate change is a municipal issue
- Examples of how climate change is costing Ottawa taxpayers
- How the greenhouse gas inventory was kept from being hidden
- How the greenhouse gas inventory became public
This video by Ecology Ottawa provides more info on the City of Ottawa GHG Inventory: