Climate Change Confronts Us
As citizens and moral beings, how do we respond?
Once we've stared climate change in the face and accepted how serious it is, taking action can feel pretty daunting. Join Kevin Washbrook of Voters Taking Action on Climate Change and Lynne Quarmby, SFU professor and applicant to the constitutional challenge against the NEB Kinder Morgan hearings, for a discussion of how we can collectively confront the challenge of our times.
June 19 7:15 pm North Shore Unitarian Church
370 Mathers Ave West Vancouver
Premier Clark, we need you to take a stand!May 28 2014
Please say NO to US thermal coal from Texada Island.
US coal companies want to haul their dirty product by rail through our neighbourhoods and send it to Texada Island on huge uncovered barges so it can be shipped to Asia and burned.
It's a crazy plan -- bad for our communities, the Salish Sea and the climate.
Premier Clark can stop it.
Can you write her today to ask her to take a stand? Click here to send a message.
Please ask the Premier to stop the Texada coal port plan and to direct her Health Minister Terry Lake to conduct a Health Impact Assessment of all US coal exports from BC.
One by one, coal port plans in California, Oregon and Washington are being stopped, so now Big Coal wants to make BC their dirty door mat. Our Premier can make sure this doesn't happen. Scroll down to learn more.
Times Colonist May 28 2014:
We can't stand idly by: Faith leaders call on Premier to say NO to US thermal coalMay 15 2014
More than 50 leaders from the Sikh, Jewish and Christian faiths have written to Premier Clark asking her to rescind the Texada Island coal export permit and conduct a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment of US thermal coal exports from BC.
Read their letter here.
In May of 2012 Premier Clark stated that responsibility for climate change does not stop at BC's borders. She also claimed that BC LNG exports would be good for the world and good for the climate because they would allow other countries to wean themselves off of dirty sources of energy like thermal coal.
However, when asked to take a stand on current plans to export US thermal coal from Fraser Surrey Docks and Texada Island to be burned in Asian power plants, the Premier has remained silent. The letter from faith leaders calls on the Premier to end that silence and take action.
We hope she heeds that call.
Province Quietly Approves 20 Fold Coal Export Expansion on Texada Island Without Public NoticeApril 17 2014
-- coal contamination on beach confirmed by citizen lab tests, suggests terminal violating existing export permit
An email sent April 10th by the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) to a concerned citizen revealed that the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) quietly approved up to a 20 fold expansion in coal exports from Texada Island one month earlier. The Lafarge Canada facility on Texada currently handles up to 400,000 tonnes of coal each year from Quinsam Mine on Vancouver Island, but the permit amendment now means that it could handle up to 8 million tonnes of US thermal coal each year, delivered by barge from Fraser Surrey Docks, if the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority approves that company's proposal to build a coal terminal.
VTACC is challenging the government's decision in court.
Latest UN climate report confirms it:
April 15 2014
Surrey coal port a very bad idea.
The latest report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change singles out thermal coal for special attention. The Summary for Policymakers lays out our situation bluntly: to have a reasonable (but not certain) chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, we must rapidly reduce use of coal in energy production.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority will decide in June on plans to build a new coal port in Surrey on the Fraser River, dedicated to the export of 8 million tonnes of US thermal coal to Asian power plants each year. The Port has refused to consider the climate implications of coal exports in its decision.
The latest UN report should be a wake up call for the Port Authority, Metro Vancouver and the province of BC. Business as usual is not an option. Expanded coal exports are bad for the climate, our communities and our economy.
Go here to read excerpts from the UN climate report that are directly relevant to the Surrey coal port controversy.
Time for BC to end its double standard on LNG, thermal coal exportsFebruary 21 2014
In his column today, Globe and Mail writer Gary Mason praises MLA Andrew Weaver for calling the BC government on its hypocrisy over LNG and thermal coal exports.
We couldn't agree more. Premier Clark wants to convince us that exporting LNG will do the world a favour because, she claims, it will reduce coal use. But when we ask her to take action on US thermal coal exports from BC, all we get are excuses.
That has to end. Please, take five minutes to send Premier Clark a message. It's time BC showed some leadership on the coal export issue.
Port continues with closed door, piecemeal response to coal export concernsFebruary 19 2014
The latest announcement from the Port provides vague reference to further study, does not commit to a Health Impact Assessment, leaves out Texada Island, and ignores Neptune Terminals...
It's time the Province took a stand against US coal exports from BC
Help send a message to the Premier:
we want leadership, not rhetoric!
February 14 2014
Our Premier says she wants to export LNG to help other countries stop using dirty thermal coal -- yet she ignores plans to double exports of that coal from our province!
It's time the BC government responded to public concerns about the export of US thermal coal from BC. Can you send the Premier and her Environment and Health Ministers a message asking them to take a stand?
Visit RealPortHearings.org to send your message today. We'll make sure it gets to key decision makers.
BC banned coal fired power in 2007, and if Premier Clark really wants to "do the world a favour" on climate change today, she'll do everything she can to kill plans to export US thermal coal from Surrey. Go to RealPortHearings.org to learn more.
Two Key Questions Port CEO Should Answer
Appearance Before Surrey Council Ideal Time to Respond to Concerns Over Plans for US Coal Port in SurreyJanuary 13 2014
1. Will CEO Silvester finally reveal long term plans for public lands leased to Fraser Surrey Docks?
Evidence indicates that long term planning is underway for major development at the Fraser Surrey Docks site. The Port Authority has redacted information on these plans from records obtained through access to information requests, citing a financial interest in these developments. Fraser Surrey Docks lobbyists have made repeated visits to the federal government, including the PMO's office.
Robin Silvester clearly knows what is planned for the Fraser Surrey Docks site over the long term -- something likely tied to the removal of the Massey Tunnel, and more significant than current plans for 15M$ US thermal coal terminal, described by the Port and Fraser Surrey Docks as "temporary" in nature.
At this point we can only speculate what may be planned for FS Docks over the long term, post Massey Tunnel removal: a larger coal port? A Kinder Morgan pipeline terminal? A terminal for the delivery of Bakken oil by BNSF Railway from the United States?
The public deserves to know earlier rather than later what is planned for these public lands on the Surrey waterfront. Otherwise, it is difficult to have confidence that the Port Authority is consulting the public in good faith over long term development plans for our region.
Mr Silvester should make those plans public today in Surrey.
Update February 2014: Port CEO Silvester did not address this issue, though Surrey City Councillors indicated they want answers.
2. How will the Port Authority respond to the overwhelming rejection of the Coal Export EIA by independent experts, and the rejection of the Fraser Surrey Docks coal project by the public?
Independent experts in air quality and health have provided detailed, critical responses to the FS Docks coal export EIA. They said the EIA contains "significant deficiencies, incorrect assumptions and superficial analysis." A summary of their critiques is found here.
The onus is now on the Port Authority to show how it will respond to these critiques -- and the sharp critiques of the EIA by our Medical Health Officers, local and regional governments. Their responses can be found here.
A final tally of public comments submitted to the port in response to the EIA shows overwhelming opposition -- approximately 3500 comments opposed to the project, and only six in favour. Details here.
(North Vancouver City council passed a motion December 2013 calling on the Port to conduct a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment of the Neptune Terminals coal export expansion proposal, and Burnaby council passed a similar motion on January 13 2014.)
Over to you, Port Authority.December 23 2013
Nearly than 3500 comments to the Port on their US thermal coal export EIA. Just six in support.
A dozen experts analyses -- all pointing out serious flaws.
Municipal rejection of the EIA all along the rail and barge route.
The people have spoken and the message to the Port is clear: we don't want US thermal coal on the Fraser River.
We've given the Port a lot to think about, and we trust they'll take some time to seriously consider our concerns.
Thanks to all who've taken a stand on this issue over the past year. It's making a huge difference.
The Port can't pretend that it's business as usual any more.
Silent demonstration at the Port Offices, December 17th. A powerful experience shared by community members from Texada to White Rock. Credit: Eoghan Moriarty
Our response to the Port Authority's US thermal coal export EIADecember 17 2013
We submitted comments on the Port's coal export environmental impact assessment (EIA) jointly with our allies at Communities and Coal.
Our submission details our concerns about substantive flaws (fisheries, air quality modelling, health impacts) and procedural flaws (lack of clarity, reasonable apprehension of bias) in the EIA.
A heartfelt thank you to the staff lawyers at Ecojustice who worked on the submission, and to all the experts who provided the analyses of the EIA that formed the basis for our submission.
You can read the submission and the background reports here.
Tell the Port what you think of its US coal export agenda!November 24 2013
The Port Authority has released its environmental impact assessment (EIA) of US thermal coal exports on the Fraser.
Our Health Authorities say the EIA does not meet the most basic requirements. The Mayor of White Rock says of the Port Authority: "I've just had it with these guys."
We have to agree with both assessments. The EIA is deeply flawed, and the Port is not working in the public interest. They need to hit restart on the whole process.
Please go to RealPortHearings.org to see what others are saying of the EIA and send your own comments to the Port.
Let's tell them one last time: this project is a mistake.
Latest NewsNovember 20 2013
NEW: The Port Authority should immediately release all public agency comments on the US coal export EIA so that the public can be properly informed before they send in their own comments. Details.November 1 2013
Fearing press and public backlash, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (Port Metro Vancouver) covered up Coal Association of Canada event sponsorship. How can we trust them to make decisions in the public interest? Read the Port documents here.
Access to Information Requests reveal inappropriate, "cozy" relationship between Port Authority and National Public Relations, the PR firm behind the Coal Alliance. Read the email exchanges here.
Port Authority acknowledges direct financial interest in coal export proposals: can we expect an objective decision on this issue? Details.
Health, environmental experts to Port: scrap flawed coal export EIA, start over. Details.
VTACC calls on Federal Environment Minister to use her powers, designate Fraser Surrey Docks US thermal coal port proposal for federal Environmental Assessment. Details.
Find out more about the rally here.
Protect Texada Island, Stop US Coal exports!
The weakest link in the plan to double US thermal coal exports from BC.July 11 2013
Think the Port Authority does a poor job consulting on plans to export US thermal coal by barge out of Surrey? Prepare to be appalled - then read on to see how you can help turn this situation around. But don't delay: we only have one week to respond.Credit: Dan Murphy
Once those coal barges leave Surrey, they will head up to Texada Island in the northern Strait of Georgia. There the coal will be dumped into huge piles, then loaded into ocean going vessels for shipment to Asia. Eight million tonnes a year - a 20 fold increase in the amount of coal being exported off of Texada right now.
This is an enormous industrial development in a sensitive marine environment. We think it deserves intense public scrutiny, but we're not sure the proponent agrees.
Lafarge, the company that wants to run this operation, placed one Notice of Work in the Powell River Peak newspaper and a copy of its permit application in the Texada Island Library.
We think that is an inadequate effort at public consultation for a project with such big implications for our future.
Plans to export US thermal coal out of Surrey are coming under intense scrutiny for health and environmental impacts. We think that Texada and the northern Strait deserve no less.
Fortunately, the province of BC decides if the Texada coal terminal goes ahead or not, and the government is accountable to the people of BC. We can demand action.
We encourage you to review Lafarge's permit application and express your concerns to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas.
Please send your comments to SouthwestMinesDivision@gov.bc.ca Don't delay -- the deadline for submission of public comments is July 19th!
There are many problems with Lafarge's coal export application, starting with the fact that it only addresses stormwater management in any detail. Some of the more obvious shortcomings:
- the stormwater plan only accommodates a one in five year rainfall event -- inadequate at any time, but absurd given the increased frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change. What happens to the marine environment when the system is overwhelmed?
- the permit application provides no details on plans for controlling coal dust -- neither from barges nor from coal storage and handling at this exposed site.
- will freshwater be used to wet coal piles, a common practice elsewhere? If so, what is the source, what are the volumes, and what are the implications of diversion?
- what are the implications of airborne dust escapes for the marine environment and nearby shellfish beds?
For a more detailed critique of the application, check out this review forwarded to us by Lasqueti Island land owners.
BC doesn't need another mess like the one recently exposed at Ridley Coal Terminal in Prince Rupert.
Plans to export dirty US thermal coal bring no benefits to our province. Up and down the US west coast communities have stopped plans for new coal ports. Why should we take on these risks?
Please take a few minutes to write to the Ministry of Energy and Mines to express your concerns -- together, we might just be able to stop this crazy plan to export US coal out of BC!
Update May 2014: The Ministry of Mines quietly approved this plan in April 2014, despite evidence that Lafarge may be violating its existing permit by dumping coal on the beach. VTACC is challenging the government's decision in court and urging Premier Clark to overturn the decision.
Appealing to allies to fight US thermal coal exports!June 25 2013
Seeking common cause with the cruise industry.
When it comes to the export of US coal, our Port Authority has shown itself indifferent to the concerns of the public, local and regional governments, and our health authorities.
Will it listen to its own customers?
We hope so, which is why we recently sent letters to all the cruise lines operating out of Vancouver.
We think these companies will be concerned when they hear about plans to build a new port in Surrey for the export of US thermal coal, because by making climate change worse, those plans will threaten the very things that draw cruise tourists to our region -- things like spectacular Alaskan glaciers and majestic killer whales that depend on threatened salmon populations.
We've asked their corporate leaders to urge the CEO and Board Chair of our Port Authority to rethink plans to export US coal out of Metro Vancouver.
They are more likely to respond if others ask too. Can you send them a quick message using the link below?
Update July 2013: The Cruise industry has indicated they do not want to take a position on this issue. You can read their response here. They have not responded to requests for a follow up meeting.
Metro Vancouver votes to oppose expanded US thermal coal exports!June 17 2013
Our regional government has shown strong leadership on this issue and they deserve our thanks.
Last Friday, June 14th, Metro Vancouver Regional District voted to formally oppose plans to build a new coal port on the Fraser River. (details below)
Their vote was important for several reasons:
- It emphasized the widespread opposition to these plans
- It reinforced Fraser Health's call for a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment of coal export proposals
- It drove home the point that our Port Authority cannot make decisions of this scale without our input
Why not send Metro Vancouver's board of directors a quick message to say thanks?
The fight to stop this coal port plan is not over yet, but after last Friday's vote it will be that much harder for our Ottawa-appointed Port Authority to claim that this plan has public support.
The motion before Metro Vancouver on Friday:
3.1 Air Quality Impacts of New and Expanded Coal Shipment Activity in Metro Vancouver
1) That the Board write to Port Metro Vancouver to:
a. request detailed information on their review processes for permit applications for expanded and new coal handling infrastructure at Neptune Terminals and Fraser Surrey Docks respectively, and request a formalized procedure in the referral of project review processes between Port Metro Vancouver and Metro Vancouver;
b. advise of their support for the inclusion of health impact assessment in the review of expanded and new coal handling infrastructure, as suggested by the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health authorities; and
c. express opposition to coal shipments from the Fraser River Estuary other than the existing Roberts Bank coal port.
2) That the Board request Port Metro Vancouver, Transport Canada and Environment Canada require the necessary mitigation measures and monitoring to address emission sources that are not within the jurisdiction of Metro Vancouver
Say NO! to US thermal coal export expansion
A new proposal to export US thermal coal out of Metro Vancouver make absolutely no sense.
If approved, our region would be the largest coal exporter in North America. Yearly, these exports would release more global warming pollution than all the oil flowing through the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.
Coal train traffic in our region -- up to ten US thermal coal trains per day after expansion, back and forth through White Rock alone -- would expose our neighbourhoods, schools and daycares to more noise, traffic delays, diesel exhaust and coal dust. Up to four loaded coal barges would travel down the endangered Fraser River each day.
Who gets to decide if it's worth putting our future at risk to export US thermal coal? Right now, not us -- just the Ottawa-appointed board and unaccountable staff at Port Metro Vancouver. That needs to change.
Here is the first step in stopping these dangerous plans:
Please write Port Metro Vancouver today!
Tell them what you think about their plans to export US thermal coal out of Metro Vancouver and the impacts this will bring to your community and the climate. Please ask them to delay any decision on the Fraser Surrey Docks coal export proposal until it has undergone comprehensive health and environmental impact assessments and full public hearings.
Please ask your Mayor and Council to stand firm on this issue!
White Rock, Delta, Surrey and New Westminster have all demanded that the plan to export US thermal coal from Surrey be subject to a comprehensive health impact assessment. If you haven't done so already, why not send them a message to express your thanks and on going support for their position?
Recently, Metro Vancouver Regional District passed a resolution opposing expanded coal exports in the Fraser Delta. Let them know they have your support!
Click on the links below to send your council & Metro Vancouver a message on this issue.
Please send us a copy of your letter!
Please send us a copy of your letters so that we know how many comments the Port receives on this issue and what people are saying about it. We'll display them here to keep a public record of our concerns. (Current through January 2013 only; to see public comments sent to the Port Authority during it's coal export environmental assessment process in late 2013, go here.)
The Port Authority's mandate is to "operate with broad public support in the best interests of Canadians." Let's make sure they live up to it.
To learn more about the coal export proposals, click here.
Port Authority misrepresents public concern over coal exports: here.
Port Authority Decision on Neptune Terminals expansion, and our response.
In January 2013 the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority approved the potential tripling of metallurgical coal exports out of Neptune Terminals -- from current levels of approximately 6 M tonnes/year up to 18.5 M tonnes/year. This decision was rushed through without a comprehensive health impact assessment or proper consultation of the regional public.
In its rationale, the Port Authority does not mention climate change once. It shrugs off calls for broad regional consultation. It ignores concerns about potential regional health impacts.
It says, in essence, that its only job is to keep the trains and ships running on time. Read our response here.
Port Authority Reply to November 27 letter from Climate Leaders, and our response: here.
Open letter from health leaders to Port Authority here.
Archive of public letters sent to the Port Authority here.
Letter from City of Vancouver to Port Authority here.
Open letter from climate leaders to Port Authority here.
Read why we should all be concerned about the effects of toxic coal dust on our health, our farms and wild salmon here.
For coverage of the coal export controversy in the media, go here. (Current through January 2013 only!)
December 18: Citizens send a message to the Port Authority -- You must consult us over coal export expansion. Robert Semeniuk Photo.
Join our #OpenPortAuthority campaign!February 15 2013
It's time our Port Authority reflected who we are as a region. Help us send a message that we want the Port to be more transparent, accountable and engaged. Please endorse our Director, Kevin Washbrook, for nomination to the Port Authority Board of Directors.
Click here to send an endorsement to the Port Nominating Committee and the Federal Minister of Transportation.
Read Kevin's platform and see a list of current endorsements here.
On Facebook: Endorse Kevin for the Port Authority.
Update June 2013: Campaign closed! Kevin Washbrook received a telephone interview, after which the Port Authority Board Nominating Committee indicated that it wants to go "in a different direction." Port Authority reform -- including how directors are chosen, and the role they play in Port oversight -- will have to come from the political level.
Defend our Climate!Oct 18 2012
This will be an opportunity for Vancouver to say NO! to pipelines and tankers, and the huge risks they pose to our climate.
Wednesday's action is part of a province-wide effort to bring BC's "unbroken wall of opposition" to pipelines and tankers right to our MLA's offices.
Together, we'll drive home the point that we're not going to let massive fossil fuel exports destroy our climate and our future.
- Bike Convoy from UBC (McInnes Field) @ 10:30.
- March starts at Almond Park (12th and Alma) @ 11:00.
- Rally at Christy Clark’s office (4th Ave, between Dunbar and Alma) @ noon.
For more information, check out the event on Facebook.
See you there!
Ps -- if you missed out on joining us at last summer's Point Grey Day's parade, next Wednesday's march will be a great chance for some follow up street theatre:
Beau Doherty photos
Civil Disobedience in a Changing ClimateSept 14 2012
Friday September 21st, 7:30 pm, Alice McKay Room, Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library. Free.
We need to start cutting emissions now to avoid runaway climate change. At the same time, our governments encourage increased exports of fossil fuels, making the problem worse.
What are good citizens to do?
Join in an open discussion on why peaceful civil disobedience is an ethical course of action for those concerned about climate change.
Moderated by James MacKinnon (co-author of The 100-Mile Diet). Citizens arrested last May for stopping a US thermal coal train in White Rock will share their experiences. Hear the practical, legal and financial implications of taking a stand for our future.
Further Details:on Facebook
It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what is required. -- Winston Churchill
Rob Baxter photo.
如果您想卑詩省長保衛本省豐盛的海產資源，免受石油洩漏所污染，您可以發電郵到下列郵址，要求她拒絕讓油輪穿過本省沿岸水域：發電郵給簡蕙芝省長 (Christy Clark)。
Premier Clark: please stand up for BC!June 23 2012
An oilspill would devastate our coast, pipelines are leaking everywhere, climate change is getting worse... and natural gas is not a "clean" fuel just because you declare it so!
It's time our Premier stood up to Stephen Harper and the corporate interests that want to turn BC into a major point of export for tar sands oil and liquified natural gas. If you agree, why not take a minute to send her a message right now?
Read more on why we need to act now.
What an awesome moment!June 3 2012
One crisp hour expressing our desire to keep tankers off of BC's coast and pipelines out of our mountains.
Here is one of the shots from Apo Hekimhan, our new hero at Berson Photography. We estimate + 1500 people took part!
To see a high resolution version of the photo, go here.
Thanks to Solidarity Notes Labour Choir, Kids for Climate Action and Public Outreach for their support. Special thank you to Chief Ian Campbell, Squamish First Nation, for his welcome and statement of solidarity.
We hope to have the Sun and Province newspaper ads ready in 2 to 3 weeks.
Our next goal: place the ad in Sing Tao, Vancouver's highest circulation Chinese language daily, and First Nations Drum, Canada's National Native Newspaper. The longer we keep these ads in the public eye, and the harder it is for Christy Clark to ignore our concerns! If you would like to help make that happen, there are two ways to donate:
1. By cheque: Payable to VTACC, PO Box 74504, Kitsilano RPO, Vancouver BC, V6K 4P4.
2. By Paypal:
For first out of the gate news coverage and a great photo from 24 Hrs, go here. Note that we counted 1500 people, not 300 as they say in the article -- judge for yourself!
Bake Sales VS PR MillionsJune 2 2012
Join us Sunday June 3rd 4pm at Kits Beach in Standing UP for BC!
We're taking out full page ads in the Sun and Province calling on Christy Clark to Say NO! to tankers on our coast and pipelines across BC. The centrepiece of these ads will be a huge group photo of British Columbians who care about this issue.
We want you in the picture!
Enbridge has $5 million to spend on promoting a pipeline that is bad for BC and the planet. We hold bake sales and dance parties to raise money to buy our ads. Guess who's going to win? The people who want a healthy future.
Twitter: @ClimateVoters #NoTankers
No Tankers Dance Party!May 28 2012
Thanks to everyone who came out to our dance party in support of the "No Tankers!" ad campaign. Together, we raised $3,000 towards the cost of the ads. We're looking forward to gathering together on June 3rd, 4 pm at Kits Beach on the shore of the Salish Sea for the group photo for the ad.
Want to help make it happen? Go here to donate and learn more.
Here was the view from Kits Yacht Club on Saturday night -- what we're all working to protect.
Vancouver Point Grey stands up for BC!April 15 2012
Are you concerned about oil spills and climate change?
Do you want Premier Clark to say NO! to supertankers on our coast, and pipelines cutting across BC?
If your answer is yes, then we want you in the picture!
Residents of Vancouver Point Grey are taking out this full page ad in the Vancouver Sun & Province. We want you to join us June 3rd for the photo shoot.
We were inspired by community members in the North who have made similar efforts. We want to show that people in the Premier's own riding share their concerns.
This ad will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people across the province! It's our chance to send a message to the Premier: time to stand up for BC. continue
Sustainable Transportation Funding for Metro Vancouver: Lessons from SeattleApril 5 2012
Transportation is a significant source of GHG emissions in urban areas, which is why it is crucial we develop efficient and effective transit systems that provide alternatives to private cars.
Unfortunately, Translink, Metro Vancouver's transportation authority, has been hobbled by insufficient funding since its inception. It has a good long term transit plan -- Transport 2040 -- but not enough revenue to fund it.
VTACC is part of the Sustainable Transportation Coalition, which advocates for smart funding solutions that provide adequate revenue for the transit system while also helping to reduce demand for the single occupant vehicle.
Come out to SFU Downtown on Wed, 11 Apr 2012 at 7:00 PM to learn more about Seattle's experience with road pricing as a tool for demand management and revenue generation, and how these lessons can be applied here. Reserve a seat here.
Moblilizing for Climate ActionMarch 19 2012
Thanks to everyone who attended, and shared their inspiration and insights! A special thanks to our keynote speakers, panelists and celebrity judges.
To view the video discussion of values and frames provided by one of our keynote speakers, Tom Crompton, go here:
We face some big challenges in the years ahead, and it will take our combined, collaborative efforts to surmount them. It was inspiring to spend the day with such a diverse and motivated group of people.
To view the presentation of our other keynote speaker, Susanne Moser, and to stay involved in the discussion, visit our online forum at Climate Acess here.
Moblilizing for Climate ActionMarch 13 2012
A one-day summit on best practices for public engagement on global warming.
It's never been more important that our efforts at public mobilization are focused and effective. How do we build strong face to face relationships for the work that lies ahead? How do we inspire the public to take action? This event brings together a passionate group of individuals from a range of backgrounds to share experiences and insights. March 13: 6 spaces left!.
See the conference program and register here.
Here's to citizen activism!February 27 2012
Last week we were surprised to find ourselves the target of outlandish allegations, when a reporter/blogger who came across the FOI response to our coal billboard campaign (see below) stated that we are an astro-turf front group for the US Sierra Club. We were accused of using US corporate funding to take advantage of naive urban voters.
This blog was linked to from over 90 local papers across BC. As you can imagine, this was extremely distressing to us. We are a volunteer, grassroots group with a minimal budget. Our greatest asset is the goodwill and genuine concern of the people we interact with. Our biggest in-house resource is our reputation as an earnest and committed group of citizens who want to work with others to build a better future. If these two things are lost through this kind of attack then we are finished.
There is something more important at stake here than our reputation, however. What's really at risk is direct citizen engagement in the effort to make the world a better place. Attacks like the one we faced just invite the public to become even more cynical and despairing about the potential for people to join together to call for positive change. If it wasn't VTACC, it would be some other grassroots group.
We were delighted to see so many of you come to our defense on short notice. As a result of all our efforts, the original offending blog post was removed and the mistake was acknowledged in a subsequent blog post. We'll need to be vigilant in the future, but this whole episode has reassured us that people who care about climate action are ready to mobilize when the time is right. We hope that we can now all stay focused on advocating for the changes needed to deal with global warming.
There was one other positive outcome of this event. We were motivated to set up a twitter account to defend ourselves: @ClimateVoters Please follow us!
Coal Billboard Campaign: we're up!November 14, 2011
Update Feb 22 2012: BC Ferries responds to FOI request on reasons for refusal to post billboards at Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. Details at bottom of this post.
Thanks to all your donations, we've rented a billboard near Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal to challenge the BC government's status as a leader on climate action:
It's never been more important to challenge Premier Clark's plan for an economic boom driven on an expansion of fossil fuel exports.
Just last week the International Energy Agency - a legitimate, mainstream organization - announce that we have just 5 years to radically reduce fossil fuel use in energy and industry if we wish to avoid runaway and potentially catastrophic global warming.
Given this urgent need for action, Premier Clark's drive to expand the export of polluting fossil fuels can only be described as reckless. Her plans put our children's futures at risk.
Please take a moment to tell the BC government what you think about coal exports:
Minister of Energy and Mines Rich ColemanEMH.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Minister of Environment Terry LakeENV.Minister@gov.bc.ca
UPDATE: BC Ferries responds to our FOI request for correspondence on refusal to post billboard at Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. Unfortunately, the correspondence doesn't provide a clear reason why BCF has refused our ads, and offers no explanation for their infringement of our right to political expression.
Read the full FOI exchange here.
Metro Vancouver Transportation Funding:
Show your support for action!August 2, 2011
We have a key opportunity to help ensure a healthy, sustainable future for our region. Unprecedented collaboration between the province and Metro Vancouver's mayors has led to agreement on new, long term funding for our region's transportation system.
Your show of support now can help ensure that our political leaders continue to make the right investments in a sustainable transportation system.
Translink, Metro Vancouver's transportation authority, has been inadequately funded since it's inception. As a result, the region has been unable to afford needed investments in rapid transit routes, new buses, bike lanes and other sustainable infrastructure.
It's crucial we solve this problem now: transportation accounts for 40 percent of our region's GHG emissions, and, with a million more people expected to live here by 2050, we simply can't continue to rely on cars and freeways to get around.
The province and mayors agreement on a 2 cent per litre regional gas tax isn't a complete solution to our transportation funding shortfall, but it represents a bold move in our current political climate.
We encourage you to express your support to the Premier and the Mayor's Council, and to urge them to commit to further long term funding for our transit system. You can see our letter to the Premier below.
Here is their contact information:
The Honourable Christy Clark Premier of British Columbia firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayors' Council Corporate Secretariat Shirley Shankar email@example.com
VTACC is part of the Sustainable Transportation Coalition (STC), which aims to secure long term funding for Metro Vancouver's transportation system. The STC recently convened a meeting of social, environmental and business interests to discuss options for regional transportation funding, and were encouraged to see strong support for three key funding sources: a dedicated share of future regional carbon tax revenue, a graduated, annual vehicle registration fee, and smart road pricing. Together, these three funding sources could meet our region's transportation needs. It's up to us to encourage our political leaders to make this happen. Read more about the region's transportation funding situation and the STC here.
Sustainable Transportation Coalition letter to the Premier:
July 26, 2011
The Honourable Christy Clark Premier of British Columbia Box 9041 Station PROV GOVT, Victoria, BC V8W 9E1
RE: Support of Increased Gas Tax and Other Funding Measures for TransLink
Dear Premier Clark:
We are very pleased that the Province of British Columbia is considering a gas tax increase of 2 cents and other measures such as a vehicle registration fee and road and bridge pricing to help fund the construction of the Evergreen Line and badly needed transit and cycling improvements throughout the region.
The Sustainable Transportation Coalition is a non-partisan organization that brings together key constituents who support a range of funding sources to allow TransLink to complete the 2040 plan and create a truly sustainable transportation system for our region. We are working to create a positive vision for our region's transportation future and to build public and political support for the bold transportation policies and secure transportation funding needed to achieve that vision.
Families across the region need affordable transportation choices. We envision an integrated network of mobility options that simultaneously supports responsible, personal transportation needs for all, urban livability and land-use densification, and economic growth. This network will help to mitigate high gas prices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve public health.
On May 18th we held an interactive transit funding workshop with over 50 key participants from transportation-related business and community organizations across the region, to envision potential funding sources for the 2040 plan. The consensus of the group was that decisive action by the province was necessary to move forward. The top three choices for funding options were: 1) Post-2012 Carbon Tax revenue, 2) A vehicle registration fee, and 3) Road and bridge pricing. Overwhelmingly, participants felt that using existing carbon tax revenue was saleable in the region, followed by strong support for a vehicle registration fee and for smart road and bridge pricing.
We thank you for taking the lead on this issue. We pledge to help mobilize public opinion in support of a diverse range of options for long-term, sustainable funding transit in the region.
Sustainable Transportation Coalition
Peter Ladner Fellow, Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University; Former board member, TransLink Gordon Price Director, City Program, Simon Fraser University Kevin Washbrook Director, Voters Taking Action on Climate Change Tanya Paz Business Development Director, Modo The Car Co-op Jack Becker President, Third Wave Cycling Group Margaret Mahan Executive Director, BEST Better Environmentally Sound Transportation Wayne De Angelis Regional Director, BC & the Yukon, Architecture Canada Brent Elliott Chair, South Coast Chapter, Planning Institute of BC John Calimente Transportation Planner; Columnist for Spacing Vancouver Magazine Matt Horne Director, B.C. Energy Solutions, Pembina Institute Richard Campbell Vice President, VeloWorks Cycling Society Nathan Pachal Director, South Fraser OnTrax Transportation Advocacy Society
Student and Youth Groups call for Action from BC Government
Students and youth are doing their part to fight climate change, call on Premier to do the same.May 10, 2011
Dear Premier Clark,
In a country that is failing to show leadership on climate change, B.C. stands out as a jurisdiction that is taking action to reduce carbon emissions and to build a low carbon economy. Students and young people of B.C. support this action and want our province to continue to take the next steps on climate action.
You ran on a platform of change; action on climate change, however, must remain front and centre on your government's agenda. As our new Premier you have the opportunity, and responsibility, to build on the important climate change policies the province has already implemented. Doing so will allow us to work together with our partners like California and encourage other jurisdictions to do the same.
We know that the window of opportunity to prevent dangerous climate change is closing, and closing quickly; and as young people we are well aware of the impact that your decisions will have on our prospects for a livable future. Many of us have recently reached voting age, or soon will be. You can be confident that we will continue to speak out strongly about issues that affect our future, and we will hold leaders accountable for their actions.
BC Climate Policy: A Race to the Top?
Call on the Liberals & NDP to make strong commitments in the Vancouver-Point Grey by-electionMay 06, 2011
Are we poised for a race to the top when it comes to climate policy in BC? Both the Liberals and the NDP have recently taken on new leaders, leading us to wonder how quickly they are prepared to move on the most urgent issue of our time. The current by-election in Vancouver- Point Grey gives us a great opportunity to check under the hood and kick the tires on both party's plans for climate action.
We've had a chance to meet with both the Liberal (Premier Christy Clark) and NDP (David Eby) candidates for Vancouver-Point Grey this week. We had good discussions with each about their party's climate policies.
Today both candidates provided us with written statements which summarize their positions on these issues. You can read them in full here:
The short summary: both the Liberals and the NDP indicate that they support already scheduled increases in the carbon tax. Both parties indicate that they are open to the possibility of using revenue from future increases in the carbon tax to fund green initiatives like public transit. Both parties indicate that they want BC to participate in the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) and work with California and other jurisdictions to implement effective climate policy the regional level.
We are reassured by these statements, because they show that both parties are committed to continuing BC's leadership role on climate action. BC's carbon tax can be a powerful tool for fighting climate change, if it is kept in place and if it continues to increase on an annual basis. Also, in the absence of strong federal action, regional initiatives like WCI are our best bet for working cooperatively to reduce emissions.
It's a promising start to that race to the top, and between today and the by-election next Wednesday, it's up to us to urge both parties to make the strongest commitments possible. You can help make that happen by getting in touch with the candidates, asking questions and demanding commitments.
Here are some key points to raise:
- Indicate if you support continued, regular increases of the carbon tax after 2012, the extension of the carbon tax to cover emitters that are currently exempt, and the use of carbon tax revenue for public transit, energy efficiency and other emission reduction initiatives. Call on both parties to make a solid commitment to the same.
- Indicate if you support a ban on oil tankers on BC's north coast, and if you are opposed to Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
- Indicate if you support ending all subsidies to BC's oil and gas sector.
Political parties are never more interested in hearing what you have to say then they are at election time. Tell them what you think! Please contact both candidates today and call on their parties to make strong binding commitments to climate action.
Vancouver Peoples' Summit, June 20 2010
Take your place at the Table!May 12, 2010
Join us on June 20th 2010 at Vancouver's contribution to At The Table, the international campaign to ensure issues that matter are on the table at the G8/G20 Talks in Toronto.
The Vancouver Peoples' Summit will bring together activists and advocates to celebrate our common cause and send a message to leaders: we want bold action to end poverty, stop climate change, and make sure the global economy works for everyone.
We're partnering up with Main Street Car Free Day Festival to make this happen, and we're going to fill Main Street between 29th and 33rd Ave with music, children's performance, street theater, dialogue, debate and more. It's a party with a purpose, and we want you to be part of it!
Find out more here: Vancouver Peoples' Summit web site.
Find us on Facebook
Follow us on twitter: @VanPeopleSummit
Internationl Day of Action with Bridge to a Cool PlanetOctober 14, 2009
Coming up soon on Saturday October 24th is the International Day of Climate Action. The event in Vancouver is being organized by Bridge to a Cool Planet.
Higher! Faster! Stronger! Politics and Parades.June 17, 2009
It's time once again for the Point Grey Fiesta Days Parade, Saturday June 20th. Our theme this year: Way to go with the Carbon Tax, BC, but what about off-shore oil exploration, a pipeline from Alberta, and oil tankers on our coast? How does that fit in? It's street theatre with a serious message, and you are welcome to join us, the Carnival Band and stilt walkers from The Public Dreams Society as we show that you can have fun while expressing your concerns. Contact us (above right) for details.
Politics in the age of Global Warming: How do we move forward?May 7, 2009
A full house was on hand last night for our environmental leaders election discussion at SFU downtown. Attendees heard Barry Penner, Shane Simpson and Damian Kettlewell discuss how their parties would address climate change and what principles should be used to guide climate policy development. We also heard their views on how best to develop and implement climate policy in our adversarial political system. You can view the highlights here:
Cap and Trade:
The event was sponsored by VTACC, UBC's Faculty of Arts, SFU's Graduate Program in Public Policy, and The Tyee.
We Need a New Approach to Climate Policy!March 23, 2009
Almost every day we hear new reports that climate change is occurring faster than expected and that the impacts are coming on earlier than projected. Scientists are frustrated over delays in reducing in emissions, the public has accepted that the debate is over and is ready for strong action, but still governments dither, or, even worse, pursue policies that further increase emissions.
We think consensus is emerging around some key principles which should be used to guide our way forward in the fight against global warming:
- We must cut emissions immediately -- in our homes and from our lifestyles, businesses, and industry.
- Climate change is not a partisan issue. Governments must strive to make climate policy development and implementation as inclusive and collaborative as possible.
- All solutions will involve costs, and we must ensure that those costs are spread out fairly, and that we minimize impacts on those least able to afford them.
We need to take effective and fair steps to reduce emissions as quickly as possible. We'll be working with other groups to highlight these principles during the coming BC election. Global warming is more important than politics!
We Need a New Way of Electing Governments!February 15, 2009
Our winner take all electoral system gives political parties an incentive to avoid tough solutions to long term problems. Why would any government try to convince voters to accept short term pain for long term gain, when the other parties will always be tempted to offer easy answers in exchange for a chance at power? Solving complex problems like global warming -- which will require long term commitment, discipline and some fundamental lifestyle changes, long before the worst impacts are visible -- will be near impossible under our current system. Voters who want to support strong action are often disappointed on election day, because their votes are wasted and their voices aren't heard.
Fortunately, on May 12th 2009 British Columbians have an opportunity to make fundamental changes to how we elect governments. When we fill out our ballots in the general provincial election this May we will also be voting in a referendum on electoral reform. The referendum will ask you to choose between our existing first past the post system, and an alternative recommended by the BC Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform.
This assembly of 160 BC citizens examined electoral systems around the world and recommended that our province adopt a new voting system, the single transferable vote (STV). The assembly concluded that STV is our best option for electing governments that truly reflect the preferences of the voting public. We agree, and we think that if BC STV is approved, it will help ensure that in future we elect governments that represent a diversity of views and are willing to take strong action to fight climate change. We urge you to vote yes on STV on May 12th!
For more information on the referendum, how the single transferable voting system works, and how you can help make it happen, visit STV.CA
We Need a Green Revolution!January 29, 2009
The global economic crisis demands action by governments. We need to ensure that our government's response to this crisis is proactive. Unfortunately, the recent federal budget is disappointing. Instead of directing billions of dollars towards road and bridge projects and providing tax breaks to Canadians who do things like re-sod their lawns, our government should be jump-starting our transition to a green, low carbon economy. We need significant investment in wind and solar power as well as public transit. We need an end to federal subsidies for motor vehicle infrastructure and the oil industry. We need to shift taxes away from income and payroll expenses and towards the pollution which causes climate change.
It is quite likely government will have to continue to intervene in our economy as the downtown deepens and widens. Please let our Prime Minister and his key cabinet ministers know that you expect a Green Revolution, not band-aid measures in support of the status quo. Send them a quick message today!
Prime Minister Stephen Harper: HarpeS@parl.gc.ca
Environment Minister Jim Prentice: PrentJ@parl.gc.ca
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty: FlaheJ@parl.gc.ca
Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt: Raitt.L@parl.gc.ca