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Should Canada implement a carbon points system? – CTV News

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Should Canada implement a carbon points system? – CTV News


TORONTO —
Imagine if, tucked between your debit and credit cards, your wallet had a another piece of plastic: a points card designed to save the planet as you use it.

Loaded with a year’s worth of points, your carbon card would need to be presented to buy a pound of steak from the butcher, a flight to Mexico, a tank of gas – anything that adds emissions to the atmosphere and contributes to climate change.

Your annual points limit would be determined through a variety of factors, such as access to public transit or geography. A lobster fisherman in Nova Scotia who needs gas to power his boat would have more points than, say, a barista in downtown Toronto with access to public transit.

If you run out of points before the year ends, you could buy more from someone with extra points to spare – a financial reward for going green.

The idea was floated in a recent Globe and Mail opinion piece by Vancouver-based writer Eleanor Boyle. Her argument is that, during the Second World War, food rations helped galvanize citizens who weren’t at the frontlines of battle. Studies show rations were popular, too. 

Tackling climate change can be compared to going to war, but Boyle suggests the fight can be propelled by rationing carbon instead of food.

“I think life is empty without contribution,” Boyle told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. “We all want to know how to contribute to addressing this problem.”

Boyle didn’t invent the idea. Eleven years ago, a group of British MPs floated the idea of citizens carrying carbon cards loaded with points. At the time, Britain’s environment minister praised the idea as having potential, but said it was “ahead of its time.” It was eventually shelved.

Canadian politicians have never officially considered the idea. But maybe they should, Boyle said.

“If systems are designed that really address the problem and are as fair as possible, people will get on board.”

COULD IT WORK?

Some environmental experts are, at best, skeptical of the idea.

Jessica Green, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto who has written extensively on environmental politics, called the idea of a carbon points system “a political loser, over and over again.” Worse, she said, it would unfairly put the onus on everyday citizens to tackle climate change rather than big corporations.

One report suggests that, since 1988, 100 companies are responsible for 70 per cent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“It forces the individual consumer to consider, ‘Do I want to spend all my carbon credits on this new television,’ as opposed to saying to business and firms that they need to solve this problem — fossil fuel companies, I might add,” she said.

“If there is any value in such an approach, it would be the government officially recognizing that we’ve come to a crisis point. Which could be useful in trying to galvanize more public support. But I think that’s the extent of it.”

Simply put, Green said: “It’s not going to fix the problem.”

Steve Easterbook, director of the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment, said rationing “in some form or another” is inevitable because today’s solutions – such as the carbon tax and emissions trading schemes — don’t go far enough to adequately curb emissions.

“But given the political battles over the federal carbon tax, it’s hard to imagine that voters in Canada would willingly accept rationing until a lot more people experience the impacts of climate change,” he said.

“People need to see that rationing is in support of a massive effort on all fronts. So you can’t just introduce rationing and expect people to go along with it. What we really need is a government willing to make the massive investments in clean energy infrastructure that would create jobs and boost the economy in the process. Rationing comes later.”

THE VALUE OF COLLECTIVE ACTION

Boyle responded to the critiques by pointing out that she isn’t married to the idea of a carbon points system, but simply thinks it is a possible solution worth considering. She also agrees that big corporate emitters need to be held accountable.

But there’s something valuable in uniting people behind a single goal with clear instructions, she said.

“Systems like rationing are a form of collective action … As well, they give individuals a way of participating in this grand project that we all have,” she said.

“What I’m saying is let’s put some big ideas on the table. Let’s talk about some really broad and wide-scale actions that we might consider.”

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Trudeau nominates first judge of colour to sit on Supreme Court

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Trudeau nominates first judge of colour to sit on Supreme Court

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday made history by nominating the first judge of color to sit on the country’s Supreme Court, which has only ever had white justices in its 146-year existence.

Mahmud Jamal, who has been a judge on Ontario‘s court of appeal since 2019, trained as a lawyer and appeared before the Supreme Court in 35 appeals addressing a range of civil, constitutional, criminal and regulatory issues.

“He’ll be a valuable asset to the Supreme Court – and that’s why, today, I’m announcing his historic nomination to our country’s highest court,” Trudeau said on Twitter.

Trudeau has frequently said there is a need to address systemic racism in Canada.

Jamal, born in Nairobi in 1967, emigrated with his family to Britain in 1969 where he said he was “taunted and harassed because of my name, religion, or the color of my skin.”

In 1981 the family moved to Canada, where his “experiences exposed me to some of the challenges and aspirations of immigrants, religious minorities, and racialized persons,” he said in a document submitted to support his candidacy.

Canada is a multicultural country, with more than 22% of the population comprised of minorities and another 5% aboriginal, according to the latest census.

“We know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-black racism every single day,” Trudeau said last year.

Jamal will replace Justice Rosalie Abella, who is due to retire from the nine-person court on July 1.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Donors pledge $1.5 billion for Venezuelan migrants, humanitarian crisis

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Donors pledge .5 billion for Venezuelan migrants, humanitarian crisis

More than 30 countries and two development banks on Thursday pledged more than $1.5 billion in grants and loans to aid Venezuelan migrants fleeing a humanitarian crisis, as well as their host countries and vulnerable people still in the country.

The $954 million in grants announced at a donors’ conference hosted by Canada – which included pledges of $407 million from the United States and C$115 million Canadian dollars ($93.12 million) from Canada – exceeded the $653 million announced at a similar event last year.

But that fell short of the needs of countries hosting the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have left their country since 2015, as the once-prosperous nation’s economy collapsed into a years-long hyperinflationary recession under socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Most have resettled in developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who have themselves seen their budgets stretched thin due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Does this cover all needs? Of course not,” Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters. “We will have to continue to encourage donors to support the response.”

At the conference, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso announced that the country – which hosts some 430,000 Venezuelans – would begin a new process to regularize migrants’ status. That came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the 1.8 million Venezuelans it hosts.

Karina Gould, Canada‘s minister for international development, said the amount pledged showed donors were eager to support such efforts.

“There is that recognition on behalf of the global community that there needs to be support to ensure that that generosity can continue, and can actually deepen, in host countries,” Gould said.

In addition, the World Bank and Inter-American Developmemt Bank pledged $600 million in loans to address the crisis, Gould said.

($1 = 1.2349 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Luc Cohen, Michelle Nichols and David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Aurora Ellis)

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Ecuador to start new ‘normalization process’ for Venezuelan migrants

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Ecuador to start new ‘normalization process’ for Venezuelan migrants

Ecuador will implement a new “normalization process” for the 430,000 Venezuelan migrants living in the South American country, President Guillermo Lasso said on Thursday, without providing further details of the plan.

Lasso’s announcement, at a conference hosted by Canada intended to raise money to support the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have fled an economic crisis in the South American country, came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the nearly 2 million Venezuelans it hosts.

“I am pleased to announce the beginning of a new regularization process, which in order to be an effective, lasting and permanent policy should be complemented by strategies for economic integration and labor market access,” Lasso said.

Ecuador in late 2019 launched a regularization process for Venezuelans who arrived before July of that year. That included two-year humanitarian visas meant to facilitate access to social services.

Lasso said Ecuador needed outside funding to continue caring for Venezuelan migrants, estimating that more than 100,000 additional migrants were expected to arrive before the end of the year.

“I call on our partners in the international community to be co-responsible and have solidarity with Venezuelan migrants and refugees, and with the countries that receive them,” he said.

 

(Reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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