Peace and Eco Briefs, July–August 2011

Peace and Environment News — Insider, July–August 2011
by Mike Buckthought

Ban Asbestos

The Harper government has rejected advice from Health Canada experts who recommended that asbestos should be added to the Rotterdam Convention’s list of hazardous materials. The federal government has opposed international efforts to regulate the carcinogen. Because of this lobbying, asbestos is still not on the Rotterdam list — and there are devastating consequences for people who develop diseases following exposure to the material. “Canada is the only Western democracy to have consistently opposed international efforts to regulate the global trade in asbestos,” states the Canadian Medical Association Journal in an editorial. (CBC News, June 13, 2011)

Nuclear-Free Italy

Italians have overwhelmingly rejected nuclear energy in a recent referendum. About 95 percent of voters supported a ban on nuclear power in Italy. “We must probably say goodbye to the possibility of nuclear power stations and we must strongly commit ourselves to renewable energy,” said Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Meanwhile, Germany’s coalition government has decided to shut down all of the country’s nuclear plants by the year 2022. Seven of the country’s oldest nuclear reactors have already been shut down. (Reuters, June 13, 2011; CBC News, May 30, 2011)

Cuts to Peacekeeping

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre will close its office in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia due to cuts in funding from the federal government. The training centre has supported peacekeeping efforts around the world by providing essential research and education. It has trained thousands of civilians, police and military personnel from Canada and other countries. The Harper government has informed the training centre that its $4 million annual core funding will be cut off by the spring of 2012. (Ottawa Citizen, June 10, 2011; Canadian Press, June 13, 2011)

Auto-Free Market

A small pedestrian zone has been created in the ByWard Market, many years after members of Auto Free Ottawa urged the city to encourage walking there. People have been flocking to the car-free intersection at William and York streets. The city is looking into expanding the pilot project. However, some business owners have expressed concerns about increased traffic congestion on neighbouring streets. People can contact Jasna Jennings, Executive Director of the ByWard Market Business Improvement Area ( to express their support for a pedestrian zone in the ByWard Market. (Ottawa Citizen, June 1–8, 2011)

Costa Rica Protects Marine Environment

Costa Rica has established a large marine protected area around Cocos Island in the Pacific Ocean. The Seamounts Marine Management Area encompasses nearly one million hectares, and will offer protection for many endangered marine species including leatherback turtles and hammerhead sharks. The protected area was established on March 3 through an executive decree signed by Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla Miranda. Conservation International applauded the creation of a protected area around a seamount, saying it sets an important precedent. Seamounts support species that migrate over long distances, including sharks, turtles, tuna and whales. (Conservation International, March 3, 2011)

Mike Buckthought writes about environmental and human rights issues.

Published in the Peace and Environment News — Insider, Volume 26, Number 4, July–August 2011, page 2.