Declare a climate emergency, and to mobilize our economic, political, and social resources

Code

G14-P37

Proposal Type

Policy

Submitter Name

Elizabeth Woodworth

Party Commentary

This motion calls for intensification of existing policies G08‐p123 and G08‐p122, G10‐p11 and may conflict with motion GPCR-52 which calls for more domestic oil refining. The motion is a repetition of several policies already in the Green Party platform and policy with the intent of calling for more drastic changes.

The motion adds the following new policies: a specific rate of transition (6%), the public Trust doctrine and a call for wartime-like mobilization to combat climate change. There is not justification given for the 6% transition rate. The public trust doctrine is defined in motion G14-P38. Therefore, as written both motions G14-P37 and G14-P38 must be passed for Green Party policy to remain consistent.

Preamble

WHEREAS Earth, the platform for life and civilization, faces an unprecedented emergency in the form of global warming;

WHEREAS The March 2014 IPPC Report warned that we are at risk of crossing multiple tipping points (thresholds for abrupt and irreversible change) in the Earth’s climate system, with the next two years “critical” to averting catastrophe in time;

WHEREAS Every major independent study has found a low net cost for climate action, and a high cost for delay;

WHEREAS Fossil fuel investments within the carbon economy will lead to wasted capital because of:

i) falling clean energy costs and increased grid parity

ii) growing regulation of greenhouses gases

iii) consumer divestment from fossil fuels, and

iv) the physical impacts of climate change, such as the melting of permafrost, which supports an oil and gas infrastructure.

Fossil fuels will therefore become increasingly unburnable, and will remain in the ground as economically unviable “stranded assets”;

WHEREAS An imaginative, large-scale program to confront climate change by means of an orderly restructuring and transitioning of the carbon economy to a clean energy economy will stimulate Canadian industry and employment;

WHEREAS The Canadian public is 84% in favour of governments taking a leading role in addressing climate change, yet believes governments have been failing to do so;

WHEREAS Professor Joseph L. Sax’s formulation of the ancient Roman Public Trust Doctrine is being introduced by governments around the world as the legal foundation to safeguard the planet’s air, land, and waters in a public trust for current and future generations;

WHEREAS No Canadian political party has yet endorsed a policy of urgent mobilization to address climate change; thus the development by the Green Party of a mobilization policy drawing its authority from the Public Trust Doctrine would create a leadership model for Canada and elsewhere:

Operative

BE IT RESOLVED THAT

a) The Green Party of Canada declare a climate emergency, and commit to a course of transformational rather than incremental (“business as usual”) change;

b) The Green Party of Canada commit to a specific course of a WWII-like mobilization – an all-out effort to restructure the energy economy;

c) The Green Party of Canada commit to policies, starting immediately, of:

i) initiating the transition of carbon-based energy to sustainable energy at a rate of at least 6% a year;

ii) encouraging and enabling accelerated energy efficiency and conservation programs through both regulation and financial incentives; and

iii) developing an industry plan for skills, jobs and investment to build a clean, renewable energy economy.

d) The Green Party of Canada base the transformation to sustainable energy on the legal authority of the Public Trust Doctrine, which the Green Party would introduce if elected; and

e) Green Party Members of Parliament, once elected in sufficient numbers, will implement the above policies.

Sponsors

Elizabeth May, Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu, Dorothy Cutting, Michelle Mech, Andrew Park, Mark Bigland-Pritchard, Chris Turner, Debra Eindiguer, Cheryl McNamara, Greg Allen, Richard Tyssen, Andy Blair, Tom Mitchell, Brian Smallshaw, Chris Dixon, Joanna Montrichard, Jan Slakov, Ron MacKenzie, Victoria EDA, Toronto-Danforth EDA

Background

Backgrounder: (this motion is submitted with its companion motion, "Motion for the Green Party of Canada to Adopt the Public Trust Doctrine as its Guiding Principle for a Climate Change Response"

The March 2014 IPPC Report warned that we are at risk of crossing multiple tipping points (thresholds for abrupt and irreversible change) in the Earth’s climate system,[1] with the next two years “critical” to averting catastrophe in time;[2]

On the cultural side, many well-known authorities on global warming have repeatedly stated that we are moving towards destroying civilization as we know it.[3]

Yet governments, corporations and the media continue to act in denial of nature’s fundamental reality: The human economy is a subset of earth’s ecology,[4] and humanity must act in accordance with the laws of nature;

Politically, while 84% of Canadian citizens desire strong government leadership to combat climate change,[5] Canada, out of 61 countries, ranked 58th (“very poor”) in the 2014 Climate Change Performance Index.[6]

Economically, fossil fuels are slowly becoming obsolete:
1) renewables are coming down in price,
2) the “carbon bubble”[7] is threatening fossil fuel investments, with unburnable carbon left in the ground as “stranded assets,”[8]
3) the costs of delaying a mobilized response to curbing carbon emissions will be much higher than taking immediate action to reduce them. [9]

Both our belief in and our alleged addiction to hydrocarbons as the cheapest form of energy, are unfounded.

We need to understand that oil is our habit – not our addiction – and wage war on our carbon-based energy habits, through an imaginative, large-scale program comparable in scope to a war economy.

The ancient Roman Public Trust Doctrine protecting both current and future “commons”, and restored to life in 1970 by environmentalist Joseph L. Sax, would provide the legal authority to implement such a program.[10]

The Green Party of Canada is committed to a policy of leadership with respect to climate change, drawing authority from the public trust principle, to mobilize our social, economic and political resources to aggressively reduce carbon emissions. [11]

REFERENCES:

[1] Frank McDonald, “World close to tipping point on global warming, UN body warns,” The Irish Times, April 14, 2014
(http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/world-close-to-tipping-point-...).

[2] Michel Jarraud, chief of the World Meteorological Organisation.”Climate change report: ‘The worst is yet to come’ – as it happened,” The
Guardian, March 31, 2014
(http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/31/climate-change-report...);
Damian Carrington, “IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable,” The Guardian, April 13, 2014
(http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/13/averting-climate-chan...).

[3] Paul Crutzen referred to global warming as raising concerns about Earth's environment being able to maintain viable human civilizations.” Paul J. Crutzen, "The Anthropocene: Are Humans Now Overwhelming the Great Forces of Nature?” Ambio 36/8 (December, 2007), 614-21.

Lester Brown subtitled one of his books Mobilizing to Save Civilization. Lester Brown, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, substantially revised edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2009).

Lonnie Thompson wrote that “virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.” Lonnie G. Thompson, “Climate Change: The Evidence and Our Options,” Behavior Analyst, 33/2 (Fall 2010), 153–170.

Ross Gelbspan wrote that “a growing number of scientific findings are focusing on the increased likelihood of abrupt and catastrophic changes. . ..this problem is real. It threatens the survival of our civilization.”
Ross Gelbspan, U.S. Press Coverage of the Climate Crisis: A Damning Betrayal of Public Trust,” The Heat is Online, June 2010.

Al Gore said: “What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.” Al Gore, “Climate of Denial: Can Science and the Truth withstand the Merchants of Poison?” Rolling Stone, June 2011.

In 2012, 20 winners of the prestigious Blue Planet Prize stated: “In the face of an absolutely unprecedented emergency, society has no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilization.” The Blue Planet Laureates, “Environment and Development Challenges: The Imperative to Act,” February 20, 2012
(http://www.af-info.or.jp/en/bpplaureates/doc/2012jp_fp_en.pdf).

Noam Chomsky wrote that “we are moving toward what may in fact be the ultimate genocide - the destruction of the environment.” Noam Chomsky and Andre Vitchek, On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare (Pluto Press, 2013), p. 2.

[4] Satish Kumar, co-founder of the Schumacher Institute, “Economics is a Subset of Ecology,” posted November 10, 2011
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW0IV30H6Hk&noredirect=1).

[5] November 6, 2013 (Ottawa) – The Canada 2020/Université de Montréal National Survey of Canadian Opinions on Climate Change (http://canada2020.ca/latestnews/new-poll-canadians-want-federal-leadersh...);
see also: http://www.environicsinstitute.org/news-events/news-events/canadians-los...

[6] Climate Change Performance Index, “Results 2014,” Bonn, November 2013 (https://germanwatch.org/en/download/8599.pdf) and “Results 2014,” Bonn, November 2012 (http://germanwatch.org/en/download/7158.pdf).

[7] An economic bubble is caused by the market assumption that all fossil fuels reserves will be consumed. This assumption is on a collision course with increasing regulation of carbon emissions.

[8] The report “Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded assets” has revealed that fossil fuel reserves already far exceed the carbon budget to avoid global warming of 2°C, but in spite of this, spent $674 billion last year [2012] to find and develop new potentially stranded assets.” Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics, 2013 (http://www.carbontracker.org/wastedcapital# and http://carbontracker.live.kiln.it/Unburnable-Carbon-2-Web-Version.pdf). See also Lord Stern’s contradiction: “Markets are assuming that fossil fuel companies will burn the fossil fuels that the world’s governments have, at least implicitly, said they cannot burn.” David Roberts, “Markets and climate change: A case of cognitive dissonance,” Grist.org, December 21, 2011
(http://grist.org/climate-policy/2011-12-20-markets-and-climate-change-a-....

[9] Joe Romm, “Introduction to climate economics: Why even strong climate action has such a low total cost,” Thinkprogress.org, updated February 8, 2011
(http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2009/03/30/203888/global-warming-econom...).
For example, the International Energy Agency warned in 2011: “Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.” [9] International Energy Agency, “The world is locking itself into an unsustainable energy future which would have far-reaching consequences, IEA warns in its latest World Energy Outlook,” November 9, 2011
(http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2011/november/name,20...).
The 2014 IPCC Report affirmed this evidence: Damian Carrington, “IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable,” The Guardian, April 13, 2014
(http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/13/averting-climate-chan...).

[10] Joseph L. Sax, “The Public Trust Doctrine in Natural Resource Law,” Michigan Law Review, Vol. 68:471, January 1970 (http://www.uvm.edu/~gflomenh/PA395-CMN-ASSTS/articles/sax.pdf). In 1967 Joseph Sax established that natural resources are a public trust. Many countries (including including the US, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Ecuador and Canada) have since
adopted this ancient doctrine. Douglas Martin, “Joseph Sax, Who Pioneered Environmental Law, Dies at 78,” New York Times, March 10, 2014 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/11/us/joseph-l-sax-who-pioneered-legal-pr...).

[11] Mobilization might include rationing, if applied fairly, as it was applied in World Wars I and II. See: “Rationing returns: A solution to global warming?” Mark Roodhouse ( BA (Cantab), MSc (Oxon), PhD (Cantab), FRHistS), History and Policy, Institute of Contemporary British History, King’s College, London,
(http://www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-54.html).