We are pleased to invite Sierra Club BC members to a pre-film gathering on October 10 at the West Coast Grill (Prestige Oceanfront) from 5-6:30 in Sooke.
We are pleased to invite Sierra Club BC members to a pre-film gathering on October 10 at the West Coast Grill (Prestige Oceanfront) from 5-6:30 in Sooke.
Guest blog by Sierra Club BC member Frances Litman
Frances Litman is a 2018 City of Victoria Honorary Citizen Award Recipient, 2017 Victoria Leadership Award Winner, 2012 CRD EcoStar Community Leadership Award Winner and founder of the non-profit, CreativelyUnited.org. She wrote this guest piece for us about her inspiration to defend nature in BC and the importance of supporting proportional representation in BC’s referendum this fall.
I jokingly blame Robert Bateman and Sierra Club BC for adding another 40 hours to my already full work week.
I started the non-profit Creatively United for the Planet Society in 2012, shortly after finding myself at a special Sierra Club BC donor recognition event with guest speaker Robert Bateman at the Upland’s home of community patron, Paddy Stewart.
At first, I thought I received the invitation in error. After all, how could a self-employed photographer, like me, be a top donor? I learned that my earnest $50 monthly donation did qualify me as one of Sierra Club BC’s top donors.
The penny really dropped when Robert Bateman asked the group present, “Who is looking after the environment?” He pointed at each of the two dozen people present, myself included, and said “You are!”
Given I was one of the youngest in attendance, I was shocked. I realized action needed to be taken to educate and inspire others to find compassion for the environment to ensure we would all continue to enjoy the natural health and beauty of a functioning ecosystem. With Sierra Club BC and other groups already doing the hero work in our communities, I could see a need for more people to know about these organizations.
CreativelyUnited.org was born of that desire. I love that the word passion is in the word compassion. My compassion for the underdog became my passion project.
I suppose I’ve always related to the underdog having grown up in foster care and mostly alone. My happiest memories are those I experienced in the company of nature, my nearest and dearest friend during the majority of my most impressionable years. And nature, my friend, has been and continues to be very much the underdog given the lack of respect and compassion it has received since these lands were colonized a little more than 150 years ago.
Fortunately the forest and the ocean were never far from my reach as my early attempts to make friends often resulted in me being bullied where I lived in Campbell River from 1968-1970. From my experience there, I have come to see that Indigenous rights, social justice issues and the destruction of our natural world are directly related. The systematic dismantling of families, culture and the environment and a complete lack of compassion and respect for Indigenous values and wisdom has led to the crisis we are now in.
Just think how many decades we’ve been negatively conditioned to see those who care about nature as “treehuggers,” “hippies,” “conspiracists,” “bleeding hearts” and on it goes. It seems compassion has become increasingly more commodified like so many other things.
Fortunately, we are awakening. Part of my personal awakening and my growing compassion for people and planet led to me pouring my heart and soul into supporting those I saw doing the hero work to raise awareness and bring action to important environmental and social justice issues affecting us all.
I recognized that it would take creativity and compassion to help rebrand “environmentalism and prejudice” so that we could move away from anger-based activism to compassionate, caring communities of people who recognize that we are empowered in togetherness, resulting in healthier, happier compassionate communities that benefit everyone.
Given I was maxed on the amount of money I could give to non-profits and charitable organizations, I gave, and continue to give, my time, skills and energy to CreativelyUnited.org where you’ll find fascinating videos, stories, events and resources and learn about the many non-profits and organizations in our community making a difference.
We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We are greatly fortunate and privileged to be here.
We can no longer be complacent. It’s our right and our responsibility to create the change we want to see in the world, because we can! Many only dream of doing so.
On this note, having a system of Proportional Representation can really make a tremendous difference. We have a historic opportunity this fall to take part in a referendum that could potentially change this archaic voting system so that every vote counts moving forward.
By doing so, we can actually move toward more compassionate ways of living compared to fossil fuel corporation-led initiatives that are destroying this beautiful land, water, air and democracy, trampling Indigenous rights, and destroying cultures.
By having every vote count, we can elect people who are invested in the greater good of all and show the rest of the country what’s possible. In fact, only the US, Canada and the UK still use the First Past the Post voting system that dates back centuries. It ensured wealth and power remained in the hands of those who already had it. The system was based on the first horse to past the post during a horse race…unreal!
No wonder those with the most money and power are mounting campaigns of fear and confusion. I’ve already seen full page ads and editorials in corporate-bought media…and using names very similar to FairVote Canada, like FairReferendum…ugh!
One compassionate initiative that could arise from having Proportional Representation is the creation of a basic income for all by simply raising the tax rate by a few percentage points for those who can afford it—namely multi-million dollar corporations and the super wealthy.
For example, it’s been said that if the wealth of the 12 richest people in the world was shared equally among the 7.8 billion people in this world, that everyone would be a millionaire.
Just think how that could change everything! That’s compassion in action.
Had we had Proportional Representation in place federally as Trudeau promised us, I can assure you that we, the taxpayers, would not have Site C and pipelines to pay for. Initiatives like a basic income for all would be possible if we weren’t subsidizing rich oil companies. Real jobs could be created in giving real power to the people through solar installations on every building, with affordable carbon-free power from the sun.
If we want to regain control of our governments in the interest of what’s best for people and planet, tell your friends and neighbours, get involved with non-profits like FairVote BC and be sure to vote YES to Proportional Representation. Anything is better than the current archaic system we have.
The Dalai Lama has shared that we won’t have peace in the world until women and girls are treated equally. It makes sense, when we stop and think about this.
We can break the cycle of submission and suppression by voting not only with our dollars in how and where we spend our money, but in electing governments that truly share the power proportionally.
We are currently using up five times our share of planetary resources in this region, which is not very compassionate. However, solutions exist!
Using the power of compassion, prayer and/or meditation and lending your support to non-profits and grassroot organizations like FairVoteBC and Sierra Club BC in whatever way you can makes a positive difference.
I invite you to live with gratitude and compassion for every moment in the spirit of a compassionate one planet community.
Feature image by Frances Litman. www.FrancesLitman.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 2, 2018
Victoria—LNG Canada’s final investment decision to proceed in the absence of a credible science-based provincial climate plan demonstrates the provincial government is disregarding the latest climate science, says Sierra Club BC.
“It is irresponsible for the provincial and federal governments to continue to allow new fossil fuel projects to go ahead without strong, detailed climate plans and accountability mechanisms,” said senior forest and climate campaigner Jens Wieting. “We need a climate test for all major energy projects, a test that stops projects whose carbon footprint makes meeting targets impossible.
“We haven’t yet seen any evidence that the LNG Canada project can fit within a credible climate plan. The latest climate science demonstrates that far more ambitious targets are essential, both in B.C. and globally. Even the Paris carbon pollution reduction pledges are so weak they will result in 3°C of warming by 2100, according to the United Nations.”
The carbon footprint of LNG Canada’s Kitimat project cannot fit in any climate action plan that is in line with the central goal of the Paris Agreement—to limit warming to between 1.5 and 2°C. Scientists are expecting increasingly unmanageable climate impacts even in the 1.5 to 2°C range. Beyond 2°C, impacts will be catastrophic.
Credible estimates of emissions from LNG Canada by the Pembina Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives range from 8.6 to 12 million tonnes, more than the entire emissions of the country of Costa Rica.
“It is absurd that the climate plan being developed by the B.C. government is forced to accommodate LNG Canada,” said Wieting. “The responsible way to proceed would be to set targets the science tells us we need, then have LNG Canada prove it can fit within those targets.”
LNG Canada would consume the vast majority of B.C.’s remaining annual carbon pollution budget by 2050 (13 million tonnes), even under today’s weak reduction target. Abroad, the project would add another 68 million tonnes annually from burning gas exported from B.C., exceeding all emissions from within B.C. today (equivalent to the emissions of Greece).
The B.C. government is expected to release its revised climate action plan later this fall.
Premier Horgan has already acknowledged that if climate targets are to be met, every other sector of B.C.’s economy would have to significantly accelerate the reduction of their carbon emissions just to accommodate LNG Canada within B.C.’s current weak targets.
Earlier this month, Sierra Club BC’s executive director Hannah Askew wrote to Premier John Horgan, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman, and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Michelle Mungall. She called on the B.C. government to strengthen provincial targets and ensure a robust plan for implementation so targets are actually met.
“We are looking at a collapse of the global economic system and of human civilization as a whole if warming pushes past 1.5 to 2°C,” said Wieting. “Recent wildfires, hurricanes, flooding and heatwaves will be seen as the good old days in comparison.”
New fossil fuel projects will be at increasing risk of becoming stranded assets as costs for renewable energy plummet and governments take stronger action to reduce emissions to avert devastating climate change impacts.
For more information:
Sierra Club BC letter regarding LNG Canada and climate action https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/SCBC_Letter_LNG_Climate.pdf
Graph: BC climate goals vs. LNG Canada https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/BC-climate-goals-vs-LNG-Canada.jpg
Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner
Sierra Club BC
LNG Canada cannot proceed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 21, 2018
New LNG terminals and meaningful climate action cannot coexist, says Sierra Club BC in a letter to Premier John Horgan, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman, and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Michelle Mungall.
A soon-to-be-released report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it clear that B.C.’s carbon pollution targets are too weak and robust implementation to ensure targets are met is essential. LNG Canada’s carbon footprint is so large it cannot fit in any credible climate action plan.
“The findings of the new IPCC report make it clear that B.C.’s weak targets, combined with LNG cheerleading, are a blueprint for climate hell, not climate stabilization,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club BC. “Neither LNG Canada nor other LNG facilities can be allowed to proceed.”
The IPCC report concludes that avoiding catastrophic climate impacts requires “rapid and far-reaching” transitions to the world economy and net zero carbon pollution by mid-century. B.C.’s recently announced climate pollution targets are inadequate and do not come close to what the IPCC says is needed.
“This spring, Premier Horgan stated any new LNG plants must adhere to B.C.’s carbon pollution targets, yet those targets fall well short of what the IPCC says is needed,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club BC. “The numbers do not add up and rampant wildfires, turbocharged hurricanes, rising sea levels and lethal heatwaves at 1°C of global warming show that time is running out. People around the world are dying as a result of climate impacts. Here at home British Columbians are facing evacuations and the fear of fires. To willfully ignore the science and promote fossil fuel expansion is a new form of climate denial.”
Recent media reports suggest that a final investment decision for LNG Canada could be announced as early as the beginning of October. If built, it would massively increase BC’s emissions.
“The latest research makes clear that projects like LNG Canada are doomed to become a stranded asset, as governments globally move away from fossil fuels,” said Wieting. “The cost of renewable energy is dropping dramatically. It’s time for governments and investors to consider the climate facts and stop betting on climate breakdown.”
A special report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected on October 8, and a draft leaked in June 2018 showed some of the key findings. Comparing the impacts of 2°C warming compared to 1.5°C, the IPCC found significantly more severe climate impacts on health, sea level, droughts, floods and food production at 2°C compared to 1.5°C. The report also shows that on the current trajectory, the planet will warm by 1.5°C around 2040 and that halting the warming trend will require meeting net zero emissions.
The international community committed in 2015 in Paris to the long term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C. Current reduction pledges, however, will lead to at least 3°C of warming by 2100.
“This month, California set a goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2045. We are calling on the B.C. government to follow this example and commit to climate action based on the latest science, including more aggressive carbon pollution targets and a robust climate test for new energy projects.”
Credible estimates of emissions from the LNG Canada facility by the Pembina Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives range from 8.6 to 12 million tonnes. The project would consume the vast majority of B.C.’s remaining annual pollution budget by 2050 (13 million tonnes), even under the current weak reduction target.
This number does not include even higher emissions from burning exported LNG abroad. This would add another 68 million tonnes annually in other countries, exceeding all emissions from within B.C. today. B.C.’s fracking emissions from leaked methane are also much higher than currently reported. NASA recently attributed the global increase of the powerful greenhouse gas methane to the oil and gas industry.
B.C.’s current targets are a 40% reduction by 2030 and 80% by 2050, compared to 2007 levels. While many other countries have reduced their emissions, B.C.’s emissions have been increasing in four of the last five years and the province remains stuck where it started ten years ago. This summer, the province invited comments on three intentions papers on transportation, buildings and industry to inform B.C.’s next steps on climate action. The papers describe steps in the right direction but include no details regarding the degree to which different sectors must reduce emissions, and by when.
Sierra Club BC has written Premier John Horgan, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman, and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Michelle Mungall to press for action to address these issues.
Sierra Club BC’s letter: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/SCBC_Letter_LNG_Climate.pdf
Graph: BC’s climate goals vs. LNG proposals: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/BC-Climate-Goals-VS-LNG-Proposals_SCBC.jpg
For more information: https://thenarwhal.ca/b-c-s-climate-action-must-address-three-elephants-in-the-room/
Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner, Sierra Club BC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 5, 2018
VICTORIA, BC—The board of directors of Sierra Club BC is pleased to announce the hiring of environmental lawyer Hannah Askew as the organization’s Executive Director.
“2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of Sierra Club BC’s founding and we are excited to welcome Hannah as we transition into our second half century,” said board chair Jackie Larkin. “Hannah’s vision and experience at the intersection of settler and Indigenous law and in community-building will be a huge asset.
“Environmental justice will be at the core of our work as we confront the climate crisis and the cumulative impacts of reckless resource exploitation on species, ecosystems and communities.”
Prior to coming to Sierra Club BC, Askew worked as a staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law. Her work focused on cumulative industrial impacts, advocating for proactive and inclusive planning processes for the land and water. She has also been deeply involved in learning from Indigenous nations about their systems of law and governance.
“The opportunity to guide the work of British Columbia’s oldest environmental non-profit is a huge honour and responsibility,” said Askew. “As we experience accelerating climate impacts and increasing species and ecosystem collapse, our social institutions are being undermined and vulnerable communities suffer the worst consequences.
“We need to try new approaches and inclusive alliances that offer solutions and hope, while respecting and upholding Indigenous law and governance. I’m excited to work with the incredible team at Sierra Club BC to build on the organization’s impactful history, while adapting our approach to today’s unique challenges.”
Askew is deeply familiar with Sierra Club BC’s history, priorities and practice, having served for three years on its board of directors.
Askew holds Master of Arts degrees in history and anthropology from the University of Toronto and McGill University, as well as a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. She was born on Anishinaabe territory into a family of English and Scottish descent.
Editors: Photos of Hannah Askew are available upon request.
Hannah Askew | Executive Director | Sierra Club BC
“Hannah has years of successful experience working with community-based environmental organizations. She has also worked closely with Indigenous communities for many years, including my own First Nation. She is always respectful, open and engaged. Her ability to listen and respond with clarity is a real strength. She builds skill and confidence in others, and raises everyone’s vision through her work. It is a privilege to work with her.
“Hannah is deeply committed to sustaining the beauty of the world around us. She also brings out the best in people she works with. Her detailed legal knowledge, combined with her administrative gifts, will be a significant part of Sierra Club BC’s bright future.”
–John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law
University of Victoria
“Hannah brings invaluable experience and skills to Sierra Club BC developed through her engagement with Indigenous law and communities over the years. She is a thoughtful, creative, and collaborative leader.”
–Val Napoleon, Law Foundation Professor of Aboriginal Justice and Governance
University of Victoria
“Hannah is one of the smartest and most effective people that I’ve ever worked with. She brings a wealth of experience working for communities and First Nations across BC and Canada to achieve greater respect for land, water and air in law.
“Hannah’s energy, wisdom, sensitivity and passion make her an excellent leader for Sierra Club BC. She listens, she collaborates, she inspires and she leads. I’ve seen the transformative power of her leadership first hand. I think she will be an incredible leader not only for Sierra Club BC, but a public leader in BC on the Club’s issues.”
–Josh Paterson, Executive Director
BC Civil Liberties Association
Hannah Askew: Biography
Hannah is the Executive Director of Sierra Club BC. She loves plants, animals, trees, water and rocks, and is passionate about ensuring healthy wild spaces for present and future generations.
Hannah is a lawyer and practiced public interest environmental law prior to joining Sierra Club BC. Her work focused on addressing the cumulative impacts of industrial development on ecosystems, and advocating for proactive and inclusive planning processes for the land and water. As a part of this work, she traveled to communities across northern BC to hear from people from all walks of life about the impact of industrial activity on their lives and about their hopes for the future of their communities.
Over the past ten years of her career, Hannah has also been deeply involved in learning from Indigenous communities about their systems of law and governance. She worked as a researcher on Anishinaabe and Coast Salish legal orders for the Indigenous Law Research Unit at the University of Victoria, and taught as an instructor in the Aboriginal Justice Studies Program at the Native Education College. She also researched Tsilhqot’in and Ktunaxa law as part of the RELAW project (“Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air and Water”). The knowledge received from Indigenous colleagues and mentors has been transformative for Hannah and influences every aspect of her work.
Hannah holds Master of Arts degrees in history and anthropology from the University of Toronto and McGill University, as well as a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. She was born on Anishinaabe territory into a family of English and Scottish descent.