Peace and Eco Briefs, March–April 2008

Peace and Environment News — Insider, March–April 2008
by Mike Buckthought

Londoners Take Action

London is taking action to counter climate change, by charging 25 pounds a day ($50) to drive in the centre of the city. The tax only applies to gas-guzzlers — it does not apply to cars that have lower emissions of carbon dioxide. The new tax will help London reach its goal of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 60 per cent, by 2025. London has also announced an ambitious $1-billion plan to encourage cycling and walking. It includes a bicycle rental scheme, patterned after a successful project in Paris. Around 6,000 bicycles will be available for rent, throughout central London. (Globe and Mail, February 12, 2008; The Guardian, February 12, 2008; Toronto Star, February 12, 2008)

Carbon Tax for BC

B.C. Finance Minister Carole Taylor announced the introduction of a carbon tax for fossil fuels to counter climate change. The carbon tax will be introduced on July 1, with increases phased in over a five-year period. The tax will start at $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide, and reach $30 per tonne in 2012, with $5 increases each year. With the tax in place, a litre of gasoline will cost an extra 2.4 cents this year, and an additional 7.2 cents by 2012. People with lower incomes will receive an annual Climate Action Credit ($100 per adult, $30 per child). British Columbia aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 33 per cent by the year 2020. (Globe and Mail, February 19, 2008)

Replacing Lead Pipes

Ottawa will be looking into speeding up its program to replace the city’s lead water pipes. On January 23, councillors voted in favour of a motion to accelerate the phaseout of the pipes. The lead used in older pipes can leach into drinking water. Lead can cause learning disabilities in children, and miscarriages for pregnant women. The city’s current Proactive Lead Service Replacement Program was established last year, and has funding to replace 150 pipes a year. An accelerated program would eliminate the city’s lead pipes by 2014. (Ottawa Citizen, January 24, 2008)

Canadian Mine in El Salvador

Anti-mining activists in El Salvador have been trying to raise awareness about a mining project backed by Pacific Rim, a Canadian company. Farmers in the northern province of Cabanas are worried about the proposed mine’s consumption of 30,000 litres of water per day. Water is already scarce there, and the farmers worry that there would not be enough water for everyone. But the greatest danger would be the cyanide, commonly used to extract gold. The El Dorado mine project is near San Isidro, 65 km from San Salvador. (CorpWatch, February 1, 2008)

Ban GM Crops

The Union of Concerned Scientists has expressed its concerns about genetically modified (GM) crops. The scientists argue that contamination by GM crops has created serious economic losses for farmers growing non-GM varieties. There are lost opportunities for sales and exports. In the future, GM crops may create health problems for people, and harm wildlife. The Union of Concerned Scientists is asking the US Department of Agriculture to prohibit the growth of GM crops used to produce pharmaceuticals, with an exception made for crops that are not eaten by people or animals. (The Guardian, February 18, 2008)

Mike Buckthought writes about environmental issues.

Published in the Peace and Environment News Insider, Volume 23, Number 2, March–April 2008, page 6.