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.”
Canada matching more donations for Pakistan flood aid, will raise cap to $5M – CTV News
The federal government will extend its matching of donations to help people dealing with catastrophic flooding in Pakistan in hopes the crisis doesn’t fall off the public radar.
“I felt that it wasn’t getting the (media) coverage that a crisis like this deserves,” International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a Thursday interview.
Severe monsoon rains this summer have affected more than 33 million people, many of whom have needed emergency food, water, sanitation and health services.
More than one-third of Pakistan was underwater, including much of its agricultural land, which experts believe will spark a food shortage.
Sajjan said he saw devastating scenes on a visit to the country earlier this month.
“When I was flying over affected areas, you literally could not see the end,” he said.
“Countries that have had the least to do with contributing to climate change are actually now the most greatly affected by it.”
On Sept. 13, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would match up to $3 million in donations made to the Humanitarian Coalition and its dozen member charities.
That matching campaign was due to end on Wednesday.
Sajjan said it will be extended, and the amount is now capped at $5 million.
Ottawa previously committed $30 million of its own spending.
Sajjan said the idea has been to respond to the immediate, interim and long-term needs of the country, to make sure the right amount of aid dollars reach the correct places.
“What we’re doing is funding in chunks, to make sure we’re assessing the needs in a timely basis so the resources can be there,” he said.
“Now we that we have a little bit of breathing space, we are looking at the midterm need assessment.”
Canada will likely fund climate mitigation work in the country once it has recovered, to lower the impact of future floods, Sajjan said.
He noted that Canada helped fund the early-warning system that officials told him was key to saving lives this summer.
That came after massive 2010 floods in Pakistan.
Within a year, the former Harper government pledged $71.8 million for relief efforts, including $46.8 million from donations Ottawa had matched.
When asked why Canada is only matching slightly more than one-tenth that amount, the Humanitarian Coalition said the funding is in line with cost-matching in past crises such as the 2021 earthquake in Haiti.
“To be sure, the match amount is modest, but it does fit within a recent range,” wrote spokeswoman Marg Buchanan.
She said the amounts are based on what humanitarian groups predict people will donate, “influenced by timing, waning media interest and other dominant stories.”
NDP development critic Heather McPherson argued the Liberals have been slow to put up the funding promised for other humanitarian initiatives.
She pointed to unspent funds in Ukraine and for reproductive health elsewhere.
“Their announcements are starting to be a little slim; I don’t think people are feeling very reassured,” McPherson said.
The Conservatives have called on the government to allow cost-matching for more organizations responding to disasters, including the flooding in Pakistan.
“It is easier (for Ottawa) to say that it is going to match a contribution to this big player, as opposed to saying it is going to match donations to all of the organizations that are doing this work,” Garnett Genuis told the Commons this week.
“Organizations tell me that they get calls from previous donors who say they were going to donate to what they were doing, but they actually want to donate to another organization that is getting matched.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.
GOVERNMENT FAILURE TO RESPECT SEX WORKERS’ HUMAN RIGHTS FORCES SEX WORKERS BACK TO COURT
Sex Worker Legal Media Briefing: Monday, October 3, 2022, 1pm, 330 University Avenue (Ontario Superior Court)
September 29, 2022 – The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform — an alliance of 25 sex worker led groups representing thousands of sex workers across the country — along with several individual applicants, is going back to court to challenge sex work laws next week. The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) introduced in 2014 has failed to protect sex workers and has caused grave human rights violations. In 2014, the Liberal government promised to repeal PCEPA; 7 years later they have failed to act and sex workers have been forced to work in the context of criminalization causes harm to their lives.
“Taken individually and together, the PCEPA provisions reproduce harms of the criminal laws struck down in Canada v. Bedford and causes new harms to all sex workers,” says Jenn Clamen, National Coordinator of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform (CASWLR) speaking at a media briefing this morning. “We don’t want to be going to court again, it is a waste of precious community resources and time. This government can put an end to this by proposing a Bill for total decriminalization of sex work that would save lives and protect sex workers’ human rights. The harms of these provisions are extensively documented in our evidentiary record, which includes academic and community research on the experiences of Indigenous, Black, racialized, trans, and migrant sex workers across the country, many of whom work in some of the most difficult conditions.”
Sex worker rights organizations are seeking to strike down criminal prohibitions on sex work arguing they violate sex workers’ human rights to dignity, health, equality, security, autonomy, and safety of people who work in the sex industry, which includes their right to safe working conditions.
Before PCEPA became law, sex workers warned of the dangers of criminalization; the Liberal, NDP, and Green Party rejected the PCEPA as it moved its way through the House of Commons. Once passed, however, there has only been government inaction and many expected harms to sex workers’ lives.
This is the first constitutional challenge to PCEPA provisions initiated by sex workers, and the first to challenge all the provisions individually and together arguing they violate sex workers’ human rights to dignity, health, equality, security, autonomy and safety of people who work in the sex industry, which includes their right to safe working conditions. Public hearings at Superior Court begin on October 3rd and continue throughout the week.
For more information about the case: http://sexworklawreform.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Infosheet-ENG.pdf
TRC head questions why Catholic Church didn’t sell property to compensate victims
OTTAWA — The former head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says the argument Ottawa made in 2015 that the Catholic Church was unlikely to raise the money it promised to residential school survivors is “blatantly dishonest.”
Murray Sinclair, a former senator, also believes the current Liberal government should seek outside legal advice on the final agreement that released Catholic entities of their remaining financial obligations, including raising $25 million for survivors.
“I don’t think that Justice Canada has come out very well, not only in regard to this, but with regard to other matters, including the fact that it advocates so strongly against the interests of survivors,” he told The Canadian Press in an interview earlier this month.
“I think that relationship needs to be looked at more closely.”
Documents released to The Canadian Press through an access-to-information request detail the reasons Ottawa decided not to appeal a 2015 court decision that ruled in favour of Catholic entities that were party to the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
The 2006 agreement included a group of Catholic entities who signed on to provide financial compensation to residential school survivors, including by way of a $25-million fundraising campaign.
The matter ended up before a Saskatchewan judge, who in 2015 ruled the Catholic entities were free of their remaining obligations in exchange for a payment of $1.2 million.
By that time, the Catholic groups had raised less than $4 million of the $25 million promised, and the court decision allowed them to walk away without fulfilling the rest of the pledge.
Canada was in the middle of a federal election at the time, but internal briefing documents show that the Conservative government of then-prime minister Stephen Harper chose not to appeal.
The briefing notes contain a copy of the signed agreement Canada struck with the Catholic entities following the court ruling. It shows Canada agreed to “forever discharge” the Catholic groups from their financial obligations under the residential school settlement agreement.
The documents also show that one of the considerations officials weighed when deciding whether to appeal the court decision had been that they felt the chances of being able to compel the Catholic entities to meet the fundraising promise were “very low.”
“It’s blatantly dishonest,” Sinclair said in reaction.
He said Catholic entities own “considerable properties” across the country, which they could have disposed of to finance their fundraising campaign.
“That’s what they should have done.”
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minster Marc Miller said in a statement that he hasn’t sought further review of the 2015 release agreement. “Outside legal counsel was not sought, as after review, it was confirmed that there were no outstanding or unresolved questions about the legal parameters of the agreement.”
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the national assembly representing Catholic leadership in the country, has acknowledged that the first fundraising campaign was a failure that sowed significant disappointment and anger among residential school survivors.
The conference was not a party in the initial settlement agreement.
Nonetheless, in fall 2021 it committed to undertake a new drive to contribute $30 million to reconciliation-related initiatives over five years.
The conference released a statement on Thursday that says 73 Catholic dioceses have committed to paying into the fund, which has been registered as a charity.
So far, $5.5 million has been raised in that campaign, the statement says.
More scrutiny has been applied to the steps the Catholic Church in Canada has taken to make amends to residential school survivors since last year.
That’s when First Nations across Western Canada began announcing that ground-penetrating radar technology had confirmed the presence of what are believed to be unmarked graves at the former sites of residential schools.
More than 150,000 Indigenous people were forced to attend the institutions, where many suffered physical and sexual abuse, as well as neglect and malnutrition. A majority were operated by the Catholic Church.
Friday marks the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour survivors of the system and the children who died.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
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