Notes from Nov. 17, 2015 at the Sustainability Network
1. The “climate crisis” will have impact on water, food, transportation, energy, requiring an 80% reduction in our carbon emissions by 2050, then, “carbon neutral as soon as possible”. Ontario’s industrial emissions have come down since the 90’s, in part because of the phase out of the coal-fire electricity plants. “Climate change, it’s an existential crisis”. His goal at the Paris Climate Change conference is to restate that Ontario, as a subnational political entity with power to legislate and regulate climate, is a signatory to previous documents recognizing that the temperature rise on the planet needs to stay less than 2 degrees and that we need to reduce our carbon use drastically from 20 tonnes each. Ontario, Quebec and California who have similar legislation have the combined weight of the 5th largest economy in the world, so can move others too. He told the story of how he inserted himself into an event with California’s Governor Brown when the Californians generally didn’t know which Ontario he was the Minister of the Environment. (There is a town of Ontario in California, if that helps explain the confusion). They agreed that “cities, states and provinces in big federations have the power to legislate” change because they are “the level of government that just gets the job done”.
2. He is proud of the legislation, jointly introduced by him and the Minister of Agriculture limiting the use of “systemic neurotoxic pesticides”, aka neonics, as a prophylactic measure rather than treat an infestation.
3. The Great Lakes’ health is threatened by microbeads, acidification, and several invasive species so he is glad that the Great Lakes Protection Act is passed. He also cast aspersions on other plastics.
4. He advocates a circular economy where waste is now a resource, recycling is now recovery and reduction happens first. It will be out shortly. That policy, the Resource Recovery and Waste Reduction Strategy, will be out soon and will “decouple economic growth from Green House Gases and resource extraction. He includes 40% waste of food as one of the reduction targets. To achieve the reduction in GHG, he advocates incentives for vehicles and buildings, removing the criteria in building codes for instance which are based on the notion that carbons will be consumed to keep it liveable. As for the costs of the conversion, he cited examples of where the conversion from carbon was resulting in a boost to the economy.
5. Cap and Trade has been posted on the EBR for 30 days of comment but that “I don’t stop accepting letters” just because a date has gone by.
6. Cycle-On is making Ontario a cycle-friendly province. The 5-year action plan has “deliverables” and “foundations for the longer term”. He sold his car and rode his bike to the meeting.
7. To achieve a “change of culture” and get the behaviours he sees necessary, we have to “create a state of emergency, and drive change”. This would be a “very interventionist approach” which would result in “changing the narrative of your civilization” including talk about values, world view, faith, not only technologies. He asks “how to build that change into your life rather than be a carbon emitter”. He exhorted the audience who have “to be climate leaders” linking this to the approach which has quite successfully managed AIDS by dealing with improvements in self-esteem to reduce risky behaviours rather than relying on needle exchanges and condoms to control the virus.
8. In another analogy, he noted that the disruption caused by drought which might be ascribed to climate change helped set up the rural exodus to cities in Syria and other Arab Spring countries. “Climate literacy” he said, would “look at drought, conflict, mass migrations” adding that he did not want anyone tweeting that ‘Glen Murray says that the Syrian war is caused by Climate Change’.
9. “It is hard to be literate about the food you eat” he said, adding that “food security is tied to the 1960’s carbon dioxide emissions whose impact is now being felt. He then cited the enormous % of our food which comes from drought-stricken California where crops have failed or will fail.
10. He invited people in the room to Paris, France, and said “we have to play a leadership role on this planet”, but that we “are too comfortable” because we are not yet feeling the impacts other parts of the world do. “We need a much more powerful coalition to change how we spend our infrastructure dollars” he said with some allusion to cars and roads versus public transit where he said Metrolinx has an electrification strategy, which is belied by the diesel-engine GO trains we rode to the event though it may be a work in progress. He said we need to be heard loudly. He didn’t say how loud or how to be heard. “Social enterprise is the foundation of how you create social change”, he noted, adding that “the tools for social change are huge”.
11. Those looking for intervener funds might be heartened by his assertion that “this needs to be an activist movement” and that “we should be funding that kind of thing”.
12. When presented by John with letters opposing the dump coming to Oxford, he accepted them. When shaking hands with the second Oxfordian, who said “I’m from Oxford, from Oxford People Against the Landfill”, he said “They are doing good things there; I should come visit”. I pounced saying “You are invited”, asking “Is this the person who arranges your schedule?” to which he assented, then I added that “I’ll take a card so we set up the visit, and give her one of mine so she will recognize the source when the invitation comes”. He agreed to come to Oxford.