Peace and Eco Briefs, November 2011–January 2012

Peace and Environment News — Insider, November 2011–January 2012
by Mike Buckthought

Environmental Network Loses Funding

The Canadian Environmental Network (RCEN) was forced to lay off its staff, after the federal government abruptly cancelled its core funding. The national network includes over 640 environmental groups across the country, and has played a vital role in raising awareness about environmental issues over the past 34 years. If the network closes its doors, it would be a serious setback for environmental organizations across Canada. “The Network forms an invaluable and irreplaceable grid of communication among environmentally concerned Canadians and the Government of Canada,” said Larry McDermott, Aboriginal Representative and Director of the RCEN. (CBC News, October 14, 2011; RCEN, October 19, 2011)

Paying the Price

A new report by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) estimates the economic impacts of climate change in Canada. By 2075, the annual costs of climate change could reach $51–$221 billion, depending on economic growth and increases in greenhouse gas emissions. It is important to reduce emissions now, because “lower global emissions levels reduce the risks of extremely high costs of climate change.” Climate change will lead to warmer summers and smog, resulting in increased death rates in major cities. It will present a “growing, long-term economic burden for Canada” with average costs equivalent to 0.8% to 1% of GDP by 2050. (NRTEE, September 29, 2011)

EU Includes Tar Sands in Fuel Law

The European Commission has decided to include oil from the tar sands in a proposed ranking of fuels. The ranking of fuels will help industry choose the most climate-friendly options. Environmental groups have praised the decision. European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard faced strong opposition from Canada’s oil industry. Oil from the tar sands will be rated at 107 grams of carbon per megajoule, much higher than conventional crude oil, which will be rated at 87.5 grams per megajoule. (Globe and Mail, October 4, 2011)

Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer infestation has spread across Ottawa, from Orléans to Kanata. The invasive wood-boring beetle attacks all species of ash trees. Since 2002, the beetle has killed millions of ash trees in Ontario and the United States. Ash trees make up about one quarter of Ottawa’s urban and rural forest cover. The emerald ash borer was discovered in Ottawa’s east end in July 2008. (CBC News, October 18, 2011; Environment Committee, October 18, 2011)

Mike Buckthought writes about environmental and human rights issues.

Published in the Peace and Environment News Insider, Volume 26, Number 6, November 2011–January 2012, page 7.