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Movement Generation’s Gopal Dayaneni on California’s Wildfires

Movement Generation - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 20:32

Aerial footage shows homes destroyed by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on Thursday, November 15, 2018. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

Like many of y’all, the MG collective is trying to wrap our heads around the roots and scale of devastation of California’s “Camp Fire,” now the deadliest in state history (the second time we’ve said that in less than a year). On Wednesday, as Gopal was talking about the wildfires, Brooke pulled out a tape recorder and began recording. Below is the (lightly edited) transcript. It’s by no means our collective’s complete thoughts on the fire, but we hope it is a useful jumping off place for conversation about the intersection of the wildfire, ecological disruption, investor-owned utilities vs. energy democracy, incarcerated labor, and rural-urban interfaces. Want to join the conversation? We’d welcome your thoughts in the comments.

Brooke Anderson: Wait, that thing you just said about the wildfires – can you say it again? While I pull out my phone and record it this time? Because you’re making connections we’re not hearing in the way the fires are being talked about right now and people need to hear this shit.

Gopal Dayaneni: Just listening to the radio, every dimension of the wildfires is being explored in isolation. There are stories about the relationship between climate change and the wildfires, about PG&E power lines, about the urban-wildland interface, about non-management of forests because of the timber industry, and even about incarcerated firefighters. There are plenty of stories but they all exist in isolation. They are not helping people see that all of this is the emergent consequence of a common problem.

Just listening to the radio, every dimension of the wildfires is being explored in isolation… There are plenty of stories but they all exist in isolation. They are not helping people see that all of this is the emergent consequence of a common problem.

Brooke Anderson: Right.

Gopal Dayaneni: Climate change is increasing the likelihood of these epic wildfires. One of the things that causes climate change is the burning of fossil fuels. We get our electricity from centralized PG&E power plants (coal then natural gas) that require enormous distribution grids. Power lines move electricity from these massive centralized power plants all across the state, through forested areas. These massive centralized power plants are part of the thing that causes climate change. That climate change is then responsible for epic drought, broken wood, and increased fuel load.

Brooke Anderson: You lost me. What do you mean by “broken wood”?

Gopal Dayaneni: One of the primary causes of downed power lines isn’t that the wind just knocks the power lines over. It’s the dead, broken wood from the millions of trees that have been lost because of drought and disease, both rooted in ecological disruption. Those get blown around in the wind, knock down power lines, and start fires. And of course when we have a drought and then some rain we end up with fast growing ground cover that is more likely to burn. There is also the decades of fire-repression that increases the fuel load.

It’s also that centralized, utility scale energy infrastructure – the grids where you can move electricity wherever you want – that enables development right up against the wildland in many parts of the state. So the urban-wildland interface is increasingly driven by access to electricity. That power generation is causing climate change which is exacerbating the conditions and it depends on infrastructure that is most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. If we had decentralized the electricity infrastructure from the beginning, we’d have much less carbon-intensive, much more resilient energy systems. We’d have a lot less infrastructure spread over a huge area that is managed by a single entity. It’d be a constraint on your ability to build developments on the edge of the forest. It’s all related.

If we had decentralized the electricity infrastructure from the beginning, we’d have much less carbon-intensive, much more resilient energy systems.

Brooke Anderson: Energy democracy is not the conversation that people are having around the wildfires right now.

Gopal Dayaneni: Democratizing and decentralizing our energy infrastructure actually makes it less vulnerable to things like wildfires. Right now it’s impossible to maintain centralized infrastructure in a cost effective, timely efficient manner, so the cost of that maintenance has been externalized.

Brooke Anderson: Onto who?

Gopal Dayaneni: Paradise. It’s gone!! Externalized onto everyone. Hopefully PG&E will go bankrupt and we can take it over.

Brooke Anderson: Where do you see people doing the work to decentralize and democratize energy systems? Where are people winning?

Gopal Dayaneni: Local, community choice aggregation – taking energy back from investor-owned utilities – is definitely a huge one. And all the work people are doing around community solar. It’s not because the answer is the technology. Solar panels isn’t the solution. It’s not about the technology. It’s about governance. Centralization is part of the problem. But decentralization and democratization are not the same thing. If decentralization happens but corporate control remains (whether it is Solar City or BP solar) – where we or communities are not in control of the energy system – then it becomes not about meeting people’s energy needs and resilience needs, but about maximizing profit. Profit always creates externalities. You have to externalize cost and consequence onto someone else to maximize profit. You’re either exploiting workers or exploiting nature. So there’s externalization inherent in that process which is why democratization and equity are as important as decentralization.

I also think the win against the coal export terminal here in Oakland is huge. Not moving coal across the planet is a really good idea. It’s not just about the carbon that is released from coal fired power plants. It’s the world that is created through that kind of energy released into the system. That’s the thing that creates the sprawl, development, erosion of natural carbon sinks and wildlands that protect us against these vulnerabilities.

Brooke Anderson: Can we talk about incarcerated firefighters? At MG, we talk about shocks (acute moments of disruption), slides (slower, incremental changes which are not acute but can be equally catastrophic), and shifts (the cultural and systemic changes we seek). And how we need to harness the shocks and slides toward the shifts we want to win. I’ve heard you talk about wildfires as shocks and mass incarceration as a slide. Can you connect the two for us?

Gopal Dayaneni: There is no way to internalize the costs of the real consequences that have been set in motion through colonialism, slavery, and climate change (which is the next iteration of that systemic crisis). The cost is unbearable. There is no way to internalize the true cost of it. There are just further and further externalities. The only way we have enough people to fight fires is to re-enslave people. That’s the assumption in order to maintain the system.

The only way we have enough people to fight fires is to re-enslave people.

In terms of the wildfires, you can think of them as shocks. They are exactly what a shock is. People think shocks are unpredictable. They are only unpredictable in that you don’t know exactly when it is going to happen, but it is entirely predictable in that it is the reasonably predictable consequences of the system playing out exactly as it is set up to. We know this is going to happen. So the question is what do we put in place to address it?

There’s also the slide of the continually expanding Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). Policing and prisons were built off of the exploitation of labor, the re-enslavement of black folks, the leasing of convict labor. That is not the business model of the PIC anymore. Their business model is finance. Investors invest in building bigger and bigger prison infrastructure projects. The same banks, investors, and private prison companies that are building these things are fighting for mandatory minimums, increased border enforcement, and criminalization of immigrants. They are driving these policies to fill the beds to justify the existence of these things so they can extract money from the state and federal coffers. We’ll always keep the prisons full so it’s a safe bet to make money off of the financing of the prison industrial system. So then you have this ever-increasing caged population of humans and that’s butting up against this ever-increasing catastrophe of climate disruption and California wildfires. And it’s like two great tastes that taste great together for capitalist bullshit.

Brooke Anderson: The fact that the wildfires is happening closer to urban areas is part of why the toxicity is so intense – because it’s one thing to have trees up in flames, it’s another to have plastics, upholstery, cars, fuel, batteries, light bulbs incinerated. You used to work at Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. You understand better than anyone else the toxins in the air. People know it’s smoky, but I don’t think most people really understand the full extent of what they’re breathing right now. Can you break it down for us?

Gopal Dayaneni: Oh yeah, they’re not wildfires. They are toxic waste incinerators. We’re talking about incinerating toxic waste. Let’s take flame retardants. Ironically, when flame retardants don’t stop fire, then they become toxic and aerosolized. Then when you burn vinyl and plastics, you get furans and dioxins. The incineration of vinyl is high production of dioxins. The particulates are real too. Then there are all the metals. And pressure-treated wood.

They’re not wildfires. They are toxic waste incinerators.

Brooke Anderson: Wait, what’s wrong with pressure-treated wood?

Gopal Dayaneni: Pressure treated wood is no longer made with arsenic, but old buildings with pressure-treated wood have arsenic in them. So that gets incinerated and is now out in the soil. But not even new treated wood should be burned. There’s also Canadian chipboard, formaldehydes, and all the chemicals they use to bind plywood. Plywood is the most safe it is ever going to be when it is in the wall. It is toxic to make and toxic when burned.

So we’re talking about a lot of toxic materials, let alone the synergistic effects, let alone when you incinerate them! These are persistent bioaccumulative pollutants. The consequences of it aren’t just the smoky air today. We’re releasing bioaccumulative toxins that are going to travel and migrate over great distances. They’ll work their way up the food chain and into our bodies. And, of course, the “top-feeder” is the breastfeeding child. We’re chucking the problem into the future. It will have generational consequences. The point is – wildfires that hit urban spaces have both immediate damage and serious long-term consequences.

Brooke Anderson: The state is on fire from both ends. This is the second time in a year that a fire has been named the most destructive in the state’s history. People can’t breathe. It’s intense. More people – not movement folks but the masses – are using the words “new normal.” There’s a certain despair people are feeling. I’ve heard you talk about how despair leads to desperation which leads to false solutions and shortcuts. What do you mean by that?

Gopal Dayaneni: It is easy to despair. There is clearly an urgency to the climate crisis. The challenge is when urgency enables despair – or more directly desperation – which then enables false solutions. We have to have a sense of urgency but there are no shortcuts. There are lots of examples of this, where we end up throwing our weight behind the system despite our recognition of it as the problem. Well, because the suffering we are experiencing through the collapse of the system is so unbearable, the thing we lean on is bringing stability back to the system. This is how capitalism resolves its crises. Capitalism is about the daily resolution of crises and always has been.

Brooke Anderson: We should stop now. This is going to take forever to transcribe!! Any final thoughts?

Gopal Dayaneni: There are all these things that have created the conditions we’re in and that make us even more vulnerable: maintaining centralized energy systems that aren’t based on local and regional resources; building massive coal and gas fired power plants across the state; and managing agriculture by damming rivers, controlling water, and moving it over mountains. The communities that are going to be the most resilient are the ones that lead with a vision of Just Transition; become more local and regional; constrain the development, consumption, production of resources; and transition to community-controlled energy. Those things won’t just help address the long term issue of climate disruption over the next 50-100 years, they’re also what will make the consequences less bad and more equitably distributed.

Restoring the Heartland and Rustbelt through Clean Energy Democracy: an Organizing Proposal

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 16:27

By Steve Ongerth - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, April 29, 2017

The world faces a crises of enormous proportions. Global warming, caused by the continued burning of fossil fuels, threatens life on Earth as we know it, and yet, those most responsible for causing the crisis, the fossil fuel wing of the capitalist class, seems hell bent on doubling down on business as usual. In the United States of America, whose corporate overlords are among the worst offenders, they are led by the recently elected Donald Trump, whose cabinet is bursting at the seams with climate change denialists and fossil fuel capitalist industry representatives. Instead of transitioning to a clean energy economy and decarbonizing society as quickly as possible, as climate scientists overwhelmingly recommend, Trump and his inner circle would seemingly rather not just maintain the status quo; they’ve signaled that they intend to make the worst choices imaginable, putting all of the US’s energy eggs into the oil, natural gas, and coal basket.

Worse still, Trump claims to enjoy a good deal of support for such moves from the Voters who elected him, which includes a good portion of the "White working class" who have traditionally supported the Democratic Party, whose policies are just barely more favorable to addressing the problems of global warming (which is to say, still woefully inadequate). Meanwhile, the leadership of the AFL-CIO, pushed principally by the Building Trades unions, have doubled down on their efforts to continue to serve as capital’s junior partners, even as the latter continues to liquidate them in their ongoing campaign of systemic union busting.  Just recently, science teachers across the country began to find packets in their school mailboxes, containing a booklet entitled "Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming", a DVD, and a cover letter urging them to "read this remarkable book and view the video, and then use them in your classroom," courtesy of the climate change denialist Heartland Institute.

One might think, given all of these situations, that…well, to put it mildly…we’re doomed. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in spite of the bleakness of these circumstances, a deeper look behind them reveals that fossil fuel capitalism is in terminal decline, that their hold over our lives hangs by a thread, so much that we the people, the workers and peasants of the world, have the ability to transform the human existence to one based not on plundering the Earth and exploiting the masses for the profit of a few, but one based on true grassroots democracy, free of suffering and want, and one that exists in harmony with the Earth. The key to making this transformation lies with clean energy, and the people who can make this transformation are the very people who helped elect Donald Trump themselves. One may justifiably ask, how is this even remotely possible?

This new organizing proposal, Restoring the Heartland and Rustbelt through Clean Energy Democracy, offers a potential solution and practical steps to achieve it which can not only break the reactionary tide, perhaps once and for all, but also can greatly accelerate the very necessary process of abolishing capitalism and building a new, ecological sustainable world in the shell of the ecocidal old by building an intersectional movement championing "Clean Energy Democracy". Such a movement has the potential to unite workers, rural and rustbelt communities, climate justice activists, environmentalists, indigenous peoples, and farmers of all backgrounds and revitalize a vibrant and grassroots democratic anti-capitalist left, and it offers goals that help address the intertwining crises of global warming, decadent capitalism, failing economies, and demoralized communities plagued by economic depression, racism, and reactionary nationalism.

While the burgeoning "resistance", loosely led by a coalition of groups and movements with a smorgasbord of goals and demands, many of which are reformist and defensive (though not undesirable if seen as steps along the way to more revolutionary and transformative demands) has so far successfully held back much of the worst intentions of Trump and the forces he represents, making the latter fight tooth and nail for every single inch (as well they should), such resistance still lacks the positive vision needed to truly meet the needs of most people, including especially the most oppressed and downtrodden. By contrast, Restoring the Heartland and Rustbelt through Clean Energy Democracy offers one piece of a revolutionary and transformative vision that can truly help build a new world within the shell of the old, thus putting an end to capitalist economic oppression as well as the ongoing systematic destruction of the Earth's ability to sustain life.

Download the Proposal (PDF File).

Leave feedback on this proposal by sending an email to euc@iww.org.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Tags: Just Transitiongreen unionismenergy democracyjobs versus environmentgreen jobsgreen syndicalismDonald TrumpDemocratic PartyThe Resistanceclimate justicecarbon bubblerenewable energy workersrenewable energycoalmine workersoilnatural gasKoch BrothersHeartland Institute

Newfoundland and Labrador announces its “lax tax” on carbon

Work and Climate Change Report - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 12:11

A “ Made-in-Newfoundland and Labrador Approach to Carbon Pricing” was announced and  described in a press release on October 23 , with a carbon tax rate of $20 tonne starting on January 1, 2019.  The details are many, as published here . Exemptions are granted for consumers (e.g. for home heating fuel) , and for industry – specifically “for agriculture, fishing, forestry, offshore and mineral exploration, and methane gases from venting and fugitive emissions in the oil and gas sector.”  These exemptions make sense in light of the province’s Oil and Gas  growth strategy announced in February 2018,  Advance 2030 , which aims for 100 new exploration wells to be drilled by 2030.

Despite the weakness of the provincial plan, it has been accepted by the federal government – thus, Newfoundland will avoid the stricter regime which would have been imposed by the federal backstop plan in 2019.  For a brief overview: “Why the lax tax? Finance minister says Muskrat burden played role in carbon pricing” (CBC) . In depth analysis appears in  “Newfoundland’s carbon tax gives ‘free pass’ to offshore oil industry” in The Narwhal.   (Nov. 9)

Just Transition proposals to protect workers’ interests in a report commissioned by Australia’s energy workers’ union

Work and Climate Change Report - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 09:02

An October  29 report commissioned by CFMEU Mining and Energy union of Australia argues that  government will need billions of dollars for comprehensive  measures to support workers and communities  in a move away from coal-fired power generation. It calls for consultation and participation in planning, and an independent statutory Energy Transition Authority .  The Ruhr or Appalachia? Deciding the future of Australia’s coal power workers and communities  examines case studies from around the world – both successful and unsuccessful  – including South Wales (U.K.), Appalachia (U.S.), Singapore, Limburg (Netherlands) and the Ruhr Valley (Germany).  Within Australia,  the Hazelwood closure is judged as unsuccessful – due to a lack of advance planning – and the LaTrobe Valley experience as a positive model.  The report concludes that advance planning is essential to success, with a national framework …“ International evidence tells us that such a framework will require active participation from companies, workforce union representation, and government.”

The Ruhr or Appalachia?   report was written by Professor Peter Sheldon at the Industrial Relations Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. It includes an extensive bibliography of other studies of Just Transition. The report was commissioned by  CFMEU Mining and Energy union, which represents over 20,000 workers, mainly in coal mining and also in metalliferous mining, coal ports, power stations, oil refineries and other parts of the oil and gas production chain.  For briefer versions see the union’s press release “New Independent Authority Needed To Manage Transition For Energy Workers”, or a 4-page Executive Summary .

A “new social contract” launches to fight climate change in Quebec

Work and Climate Change Report - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 08:23

An article in the Montreal Gazette on November 12  describes the rapid rise of a new grassroots group in the province: in English, called “The Planet goes to Parliament”.  Their demonstrations have been covered by the CBC– including a march of 50,000 people in Montreal on November 10, calling for the newly-elected provincial government to make climate change action an urgent priority .  A report of an earlier  march in October is here   .

In addition to marches and demonstrations, over 175,000 Quebecers have signed the group’s Pact for Transition (English version here ), French version here ), which calls for “radical, co-ordinated and societal transformation” .  The Pact first calls for a solemn personal pledge to change behaviours “to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.” It also calls for the government to: enact a plan by 2020 for reaching Quebec’s climate targets; commit to reducing emissions by 50 per cent by 2030; develop an energy efficiency and electrification strategy; rule out any exploitation of fossil fuels in Quebec; and make climate change the first consideration of every policy.  Dominic Champagne, a theatre producer and anti-fracking campaigner, is being credited with launching the mass movement, and states: “This time it’s not just left-wing ecologists and artists. It’s way larger … This is really fulfilling an empty space on the political landscape.”

The Quebec government is now led by the right-wing Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) party, which had the weakest  environmental platform in the election campaign; Québec Solidaire, a new left-leaning party, had the most well-developed and ambitious climate platform , and went from 0 to 10 seats in the new legislature. (See a WCR explainer here).   Since taking power in October,  the CAQ government announced the cancellation of the Apuiat wind farm , which was to be built in partnership with Innu communities.  As reported by the  Energy Mix ,the Chair and Vice-Chair of  Hydro-Québec resigned due to the cancellation.  Details about the Apuiat project are provided by CBC here (Oct. 20).

The Planet Goes to Parliament  has announced plans for at least two more climate protests, in Quebec City and in Montreal,  during  the COP24 meetings in Katowice Poland in December.  The group is thinking big, with a goal of 1 million signatories to their Pact – out of a population of 8 million in the province.

LAKE O'S GATEWAY CITY SPEWING ILLEGAL WASTEWATER

PEER - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 06:52
Clewiston Phosphorus and Other Pollution Violations Go Unpunished and Unabated
Categories: A2. Green Unionism

CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD IN CLOSED-DOOR WRANGLE

PEER - Mon, 11/12/2018 - 05:45
Fight for Additional $300K Retainer for Law Firm in Marathon Personnel Case
Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Bonds Not Ballots

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief - Fri, 11/09/2018 - 06:30

As another election year spectacle has come and gone, and as we inch closer to irreversible, cataclysmic shifts in our climate, we are reminded that our hope is in each other, in relationships of mutual support that bind us to each other.

 

Many of us have very differing opinions about engaging with electoral “democracy” and its (f)utility, but we find common ground in voting everyday with our bodies, putting our whole weight towards our dreams and desires, rather than merely one strip of paper or button on one day. In Florida, as another proto-fascist (DeSantis) ascends to power, we continue to plant the seeds that we know can take root and bring the fortress down.

These seeds look small: cleaning supplies, baby items, rides, medical care and companionship for a birthing immigrant mother and her family; diabetes care, paying for prescriptions, tree-cutting, supplies, and assistance finding a temporary shelter for an extended family that knows what it means to weather a storm; tarping roofs, clearing debris, checking on prisoners, distributing harm reduction kits, rescuing animals, resisting illegal evictions, applying legal pressure. We are finding, voicing, and building something together that is deeper and truer than the mirage of power authoritarianism offers.

 

Many tenants in numerous public housing facilities have successfully resisted illegal evictions, remaining in their homes while awaiting repairs or relocation. Community barbecues and make-shift stoves have emerged as landlords shut off electricity and gas to force tenants out. One woman shouts from across the street, “You with us, you may as well eat too.” We take a break from helping a new friend move to savor the food and the moment.

 

The state demonstrated its inability (or lack of will) to respond to climate catastrophes at a public town hall meeting. FEMA representatives deflected questions from an audience comprised primarily of low-income residents of color. The FEMA representatives responded robotically, patronizing the residents who sought answers about housing and financial aid. FEMA claimed that the state of Florida requested trailers on the 23rd of October but couldn’t answer to where they were or if they would even arrive at all. Residents shared their difficulties in locating housing in hotels and rentals even with the aid of vouchers and rental assistance. The nearest available housing is between 2 to 7 hours away, rendering it inaccessible to those without transportation and those with jobs, children, or families with disabilities. To this concern, a FEMA representative responded that there are three shelters available. The town hall attendees quickly corrected her, pointing out that there was only one, and it was at capacity.

Disaster Capitalism meets Disaster Bureaucracy. Top-down, bureaucratic institutions and predatory, exploitative landlords both impose their “solutions” and “participation” is just a smokescreen for coercion. Real participatory efforts necessitate sharing power, something the state and predatory capitalists avoid like the plague.

 

As the weeks pass, visual reminders of the destruction of Hurricane Michael are still ever present. But we have learned to listen. Even with the weight of governmental inaction, landlord abuse, and newfound homelessness for many, people recognize a different way of being as possible and desirable.

 

“I know my neighbors better now than I have for the past 14 years.”

 

“People are at their best when things are at their worst.”

 

“There is always good that comes from tragedy.”

 

This is what we hear from disaster survivors in Panama City. And we echo it.

 

When the grid fails, when roads are impassable, amid the profound suffering and loss, we see clearly that all we have is each other — that relationships are what matters — and when things fall apart, people come together.

 

We listen to our hearts, to each other, to strangers quickly becoming friends. We listen to the unspoken words and warnings in the winds. We listen to a world slowly dying — or being born. We are not sure which. We think it is still up to all of us and the choices we make. A movement elder taught us that we will be either the most loved or most hated generation; that we will be known as the generation that either saved or squandered life as we know it.

 

A just recovery and a just transition are necessities for our collective survival. Now is the time to experiment with ways of living that give us the flexibility and freedom to do what we know needs to be done. Now is the time to gain practical skills and knowledge that can be used to further people’s survival in crisis and beyond.

 

Storms are coming. Let’s be ready. Humanity, liberation, justice, belonging and, yes, paradise will never be on the ballot. But if we know where to look, we can still find them — in each other. 

Climate Strikes: Children are leading the way

Work and Climate Change Report - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 14:22

Although all eyes have been on the Juliana vs. United States legal action in the U.S ( given the go-ahead again on November 2, according to  Inside Climate News ), other young people are taking up the fight against climate change.  In September, after record heat and forest fires in Sweden, Greta Thurnberg began to skip school to demonstrate outside the Swedish Parliament buildings, and, using the  hashtag #Fridays for Future ,  is calling for people to demonstrate in solidarity at their own government’s buildings on Fridays  – read “The Swedish 15 year old who’s cutting class to fight the climate crisis”  in The Guardian for more.

Greta has become a Nordic celebrity, and her protest has spread.  Australian kids from 8 to 15 began their own campaign on November 7, with a call for  a nation-wide strike on November 30 – Updates and news are at  #School Strike 4 Climate   (the website is here)  .

NDP MP Charlie Angus supports Sudbury striker

In  Canada,  an 11-year old in Sudbury Ontario credits Greta for inspiration and began striking from school in November, as reported by the Sudbury Star in “Young climate activist to strike Friday in Sudbury” (Nov. 2) and “Activism runs in the blood for Sudbury student “ (Nov.8) .  The article quotes her as asking: “If adults don’t care about our future why should I? What is the point of going to school?”

Further inspiration also comes from (slightly older) young adults in Canada, in “Meet 2018’s Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability” in Corporate Knights magazine (Nov. 6). It profiles  young adults from 16 – 29 who have rolled up their sleeves in a variety of green projects, organizations,  and businesses.

The Politics of Power: Getting to Grips with Changing Electrical Technologies — TUED Bulletin 80

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 14:49

November 5, 2018

With this issue of the TUED Bulletin, we bring you a guest contribution from Simon Pirani, Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and author of Burning Up: A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption, published this year by Pluto Press. Simon is also a long-time activist around issues of energy, democracy and climate change.

Simon’s book provides a thorough and detailed historical account of how fossil fuels have come to shape modern societies, economies and environments. It is an invaluable contribution to debates about the challenges we face if we are to successfully reclaim energy to public, democratic control, and navigate the transition we need towards a sustainable alternative based on renewable sources.

In the piece below, written specifically for TUED, Simon describes key aspects of our rapidly changing systems for providing electrical power. Emerging technologies hold enormous potential for meeting people’s energy needs in safe, secure and sustainable ways — but realizing this potential will require deepening the technical expertise throughout our movement, developing concrete programs for action, and redoubling our commitment to class-conscious, worker-focused politics.

~ ~ ~

Technological Change in Electricity: Why History Matters By Simon Pirani

Electricity technology is changing. The communications revolution of the last quarter century – i.e. the growth of the internet and the instant information-sharing and management techniques that go with it – can, and will, turn supply, distribution and balancing upside down.

Computer technology not only has the potential to ease efficient organisation of electricity consumption by households and larger users. It also makes balancing, storage and distribution simpler on regional and national scales. All this enhances the potential of decentralised generation – and that in turn helps renewables. Properly used, the technology will keep pushing the cost of smaller-scale renewable supply sources downwards.

Many engineers see integrated urban systems – in which electricity, district heating, gas and transport networks are closely linked – as the next horizon. When there is too much of one form of energy, other networks can store it. Surplus electricity would be converted into heat, or hydrogen to be used as fuel. Surpluses of other energy types might be used to produce electricity, which could be stored, for example, in electric vehicles’ batteries. Combined heat and power technologies, long used to boost power station efficiencies, would become more adjustable.

For electricity workers on one hand, and social and labour movements fighting for socially just energy provision on the other, this technological leap throws up both possibilities and problems. Our movement’s strategies for electricity are developing, in opposition to the corporations that control the networks in many countries, and have their own ideas about how technological change can profit their owners.

To fashion effective approaches in the present and future, an accurate understanding of the past is helpful. Having recently researched a book on the global history of fossil fuel consumption – in which electricity plays a big part – five themes, at least, jumped out at me.

1. Technological innovation doesn’t solve class conflict

Working-class militants of the late 19th century were inspired by the thrilling possibilities that electricity opened up. Its ability to provide easily-accessible heat, light and motive power fitted, like hand in glove, with their hopes of transforming society.

August Bebel, the German socialist leader, foresaw electricity lifting the burden of domestic labour from women. Charles Steinmetz, a militant on the run from Germany’s anti-socialist laws, emigrated to the USA, became the chief engineer at General Electric, helped invent alternating current – and believed that electricity grids could lay the foundations of social justice. The mood was summed up in 1901 in Work, a novel by Emile Zola. One of his characters, an electrical engineer, said: “The day must come when electricity will belong to everybody, like the water of the rivers and the breezes of the heavens.”

Were such hopes realised? Yes and no. In the rich countries, with the growth of the labour movement, the welfare state and municipal services, electricity was supplied to urban working-class populations and contributed to a massive improvement in living standards. Domestic labour became less back-breaking, although the time women spent on it didn’t go down much on average. But electricity, almost always and everywhere, remained under the control of corporations who saw it as a profitable commodity, or by governments who saw it as essential infrastructure for industrial development. The democratic potential dreamed of by Steinmetz and Zola was not achieved.

2. Electrification always reflects inequality and class divisions

Between 1950 and today, the proportion of the world population with electricity access rose from well under half to more than four-fifths – while the share of the world’s total fossil fuels used to generate electricity rose from one tenth to more than one third.

But electrification was unequal. Corporations prioritised urban customers, both industry and households – and usually the state did, too, even in the Soviet Union, where most rural areas were only electrified after the second world war. In no country, not even the USA, was the countryside electrified by private corporations. In India, in states where owners of large farms pressured government, electrification was extended to the countryside for agricultural production – but poorer farmers in other states were deprived of electricity, in some cases until today.

3. Struggles over commodification have profoundly shaped how electrical systems have evolved

The tension between the supply of electricity as a commodity (by private corporations) and as a state benefit to industry and households (by governments) persisted in the post-war boom, as networks spread across the rich world, and in the last third of the twentieth century, as they multiplied across the global south.

In the 1990s, the wave of liberalisation and privatisation encouraged by the World Bank and other international financial institutions did little or nothing to advance electrification in the global south. Governments, under pressure from labour and social movements, rejected elements of the institutions’ privatisation recipes – although corporations often took control of profitable generation assets.

In the last three decades, the massive expansion of urban populations in the global south has meant that a huge proportion of the world population – more than 1.5 billion people today – live on the edges of the commercial energy system. They have some access – usually irregular and unreliable – to electricity, but use biofuels to cook, as do the 1 billion people with no electricity at all.

In poorer neighbourhoods of cities in the global south, from Brazil to north Africa and India, the opposition between electricity as a commodity, and access to it as a state benefit, has taken shape in social conflict, in which urban residents have demanded free or cheap electricity as a right.

4. Ownership and control over electricity have proven to be decisive in shaping our options for tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

Since the 1980s, the more obvious it has become that fossil fuel consumption needs to be reduced to avert dangerous global warming, the clearer it has become that possibilities for non-fossil generation, and for energy conservation, are constrained by the way that electricity is owned and controlled.

For non-fossil power generation, governments in the richest countries had focused almost exclusively on nuclear throughout and following the post-World War II economic boom – a technological option that dovetailed with their military activities. In the USA, state support was given to solar development in the 1970s but withdrawn in the 1980s. Countries that persisted with renewables, such as Denmark with wind, proved to be exceptions to the rule, in which incumbents invested, and often over-invested, in mainly coal-fired generation.

Governments and international organisations alike projected constant growth of electricity demand: energy conservation, which began to be seriously researched after the oil price shocks of the 1970s, was pushed to the margins again in the 1980s, as oil prices fell again and globalisation set in. Conservation measures recommended by researchers, such as building regulations with teeth, and wider use of cogeneration, were often brushed aside.

5. Given these patterns, the potential of new technologies to curb demand has not been realized

On one hand, possibilities for rationalising grids with internet-based technologies have been held up by corporations who profit by keeping throughput high. On the other, the internet itself has become a substantial new source of demand – larger than India’s – due not to technical necessity but largely for advertising purposes.

~ ~ ~

These are five general, global trends. Obviously there were and are exceptions and complexities in individual countries, of which readers will be aware. Nevertheless, a general conclusion can be drawn, that the technological evolution of electricity systems has been shaped by the social, economic and political contexts.

From this it follows that a future change in the technological system – and decarbonisation implies very sweeping change – can best be envisioned in the context of deep-going social, economic and political transformations.

This, I believe, applies not only to electricity networks, but to the other big technological systems that account for the vast bulk of fossil fuel consumption: urban car-based transport networks; urban built infrastructure; industrial processes such as steelmaking and manufacture; chemical fertiliser production; and state and military uses.

History does not provide us with any easy formulas to guide future transitions. But it can help us unravel the complex systems that use fossil fuels, and the forces that shape them, to understand better how change can be brought about.

~ ~ ~

Simon Pirani is the author of Burning Up: A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption and a lifelong militant in labour and social movements.

Nurses Oppose EPA Roll Backs

On October 17th, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and nurses from Wisconsin and Missouri visited Capitol Hill to educate members of Congress on the importance of environmental protections to human health. The nurses shared with their representatives how human health is impacted in Missouri and Wisconsin when environmental protections are inadequate.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created to protect American families from toxic, dangerous pollution in the air we breathe and the water we drink. EPA has restored cleaner air and water for millions of Americans, bringing our country back from the brink of far-reaching – and dangerous – industrial pollution. All Americans have benefited profoundly from the safeguards EPA has put in place.

However, under the Trump Administration, regulatory roll backs such as repealing the Clean Water Rule and revising clean cars rules threatens to reverse the progress made. Restricting EPA’s ability to set health protective regulations puts children and communities at serious risk, and will have lasting public health and environmental consequences for future generations.

The Wisconsin and Missouri shared stories about how extreme heat and weather events from climate change are affecting the patients and communities they care for and how EPA regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and the clean cars rules are critical to protecting against the health impacts of climate change. The nurses also emphasized the need for strong water protections such as those under the Clean Water Rule to protect the drinking water sources of state residents.

To show the wide opposition from nurses around environmental roll backs, members of Congress were provided with a copy of the clean cars letter with signers from their state. Over 600 nurses from all 50 states and DC., signed on to the letter opposing the efforts to weaken the clean cars rules, with almost 100 of those signers from Missouri and Wisconsin. These comments were submitted by the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments to the EPA during the open public comment period.

The period to submit public comments to the EPA on the clean cars rules and on the replacement plan for the Clean Power Plan are now closed, but we encourage nurses to sign-up for the ANHE newsletter and to check back for the latest updates on how nurses can take action to oppose EPA roll backs. Through advocacy for health and environmental protections nurses can make a difference!

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Preview of the recommendations by Canada’s Just Transition Task Force

Work and Climate Change Report - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 07:29

In a November 5 article, “ Federal panel privately urges Trudeau government to do more for coal workers”  ,  National Observer reporter Carl Meyer reveals that the Just Transition Task Force Interim Report is already in the hands of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, though not yet publicly available. Canada’s Just Transition Task Force was launched in April 2018 – an  11-member advisory group co-chaired by Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff,  to “ provide advice on how to make the transition away from coal a fair one for workers and communities.”  The Task Force Terms of Reference   allowed for 9 months for the report; Environment and Climate Change Minister McKenna said on  November 2 : “We’re still reviewing the report, but as we talk about the need to power past coal and our commitment in Canada to phase out coal by 2030, we know there has to be a priority to supporting workers and communities.” A formal response is expected in November, and given the Minister’s leadership role in the international  Powering Past Coal Alliance and the public spotlight of the upcoming COP24 meetings in Katowice Poland in early December, that deadline is likely to be met.

The National Observer article of November 5, along with an April 2018 article about the Task Force launch, provide good background to the Task Force.  The new article emphasizes the different needs of different provinces – notably Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.  Most of the article is based on interviews with a few Task Force members.

But what are the Report’s Recommendations?  One member states that  “A lot of the recommendations are directly connected to what we heard from municipalities, from workers, from unions and from communities.”  The comments about the actual  recommendations are far from earth-shattering, but include:  1. Just Transition policies should be enshrined in legislation so that they are not as vulnerable to changing governments; 2. The  government should commit to infrastructure funding for municipalities in order to attract other businesses and offset job losses; 3. Support to workers should be extended, to help people quickly and efficiently access benefits like employment insurance, retraining, and relocation assistance.  These fall along the same lines as the 2017 Recommendations from the Alberta Advisory Panel  on Coal Communities , which are more detailed and which also accounted for First Nations issues.

A list of Task Force members is here. In addition to co-Chair Hassan Yussuff, there are members from the CLC, the Alberta Federation of Labour,  United Steelworkers, Unifor, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

 

The Cross-Border Farmworker Rebellion

Familias Unidas por La Justicia - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 19:58

By David Bacon
October 31, 2018

Workers in the berry fields of the United States and Mexico have the same transnational employers. Now, farmworker unions in those two nations have begun to work together.

Nicolasa Lopez Gonzalez signs a membership card for the union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia. Copyright David Bacon

Surrounded by blueberry and alfalfa fields near Sumas, Washington, just a few miles from the Canadian border, a group of workers last week stood in a circle behind a trailer, itemizing a long list of complaints about the grower they work for. Lorenzo Sanchez, the oldest, pointed to the trailer his family rents for $800 a month. On one side, the wooden steps and porch have rotted through. “The toilet backs up,” he said. “Water leaks in when it rains. The stove doesn’t work.”

His wife, Felipa Lopez, described mistreatment in the fields. “The old man [the grower] sometimes walks behind us and makes fun of us,” she charged. “He yells at us to make us work faster.” Other workers in the circle nodded in agreement.

Ramon Torres, president of the farmworker union Familias Unidas por la Justicia, listened and then took union membership cards from the pocket of his jacket. “This is the first step,” he said. “Join the union. But you have to agree to support each other in this. If he fires any one of you, the others have to stop work to get the grower to give the job back. If he tries to evict you, you have to act then, too.”

Everyone signed the cards. They’d actually gone down to the union office in Bellingham two weeks earlier to ask for help-they’d had plenty of time to think about the consequences. After the cards were signed, they all agreed that the following Monday, instead of going into the field to work, they’d confront the grower and demand changes.

Two days later at sunrise, Torres and Edgar Franks, another union activist, joined the workers at the edge of a highway, next to the field where they’d been pruning blueberry bushes. Soon the grower, Gill Singh, drove up with his two sons. Torres gave him a letter from the union. “You don’t have the right to treat people like this,” he told the father. One son responded, “That’s true, they do have that right. But don’t we have the right to require them to work?”

Soon the workers were angrily recounting to Singh and his sons the pressure and the insults they’d endured, adding complaints about low wages and deteriorating housing. In the end, the grower agreed to fix some housing problems, to stop mistreatment in the fields, and not to retaliate against the workers for joining the union or stopping work over the problems. By then it was mid-morning, and the pruners went into the rows to begin their daily labor.

“This is how we’re building the union,” Torres says. “There are a lot of paros [small work stoppages] here all the time, and we come out to help the workers get organized.”

Continue Reading at The Reality Check

Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Take the Initiative 2018 Voting Recommendations for Liberals, Progressives, Radicals, & Revolutionaries

Labor Community Strategy Center - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 19:32
Recommendations for Liberals, Progressives, Radicals, & Revolutionaries

Locate Your Polling Place

The Strategy Center supports the initiative process and urges everyone to vote tomorrow. We have focused on the ballot initiatives we understand the most—With Our Highest Priority Voting Yes on Proposition 10. We are appalled at the deceptive advertising of the landlord lobby and send big props to the Yes on 10 Coalition of which we are a part. We urge our friends to look to the Voter Guides of CHIRLA, ACLU, Advancement Project, and L.A. Progressive for more extensive recommendations. We are deeply concerned about the national elections and urge everyone to stand up against the right in the electoral arena and appreciate the work of those who have made this their priority.

Prop 1   Yes Authorizes bonds to fund specified housing assistance programs. Legislative statute. Authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for existing affordable housing programs for low-income residents, veterans, farm workers, manufactured and mobile homes, infill, and transit-oriented housing. Prop 2 Yes Authorizes bonds to fund existing housing program for individuals with mental illness. Legislative statute. Amends mental health services act to fund no place like home program, which finances housing for individuals with mental illness. Ratifies existing law establishing the no place like home program. Fiscal impact: allows the state to use up to $140 million per year of county mental health funds to repay up to $2 billion in bonds. These bonds would fund housing for those with mental illness who are homeless. Prop 5 No Changes requirements for certain property owners to transfer their property tax base to replacement property. Initiative constitutional amendment and statute. Removes certain transfer requirements for homeowners over 55, severely disabled homeowners, and contaminated or disaster-destroyed property. Fiscal impact: schools and local governments each would lose over $100 million in annual property taxes early on, growing to about $1 billion per year. Similar increase in state costs to backfill school property tax losses. Prop 6 No Eliminates certain road repair and transportation funding. Requires certain fuel taxes and vehicle fees be approved by the electorate. Initiative constitutional amendment. Repeals a 2017 transportation law’s taxes and fees designated for road repairs and public transportation. Fiscal impact: reduced ongoing revenues of $5.1 billion from state fuel and vehicle taxes that mainly would have paid for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs. Prop 10 Yes Expands local governments’ authority to enact rent control on residential property. Initiative statute. Repeals state law that currently restricts the scope of rent-control policies that cities and other local jurisdictions may impose on residential property. Fiscal impact: potential net reduction in state and local revenues of tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term. Depending on actions by local communities, revenue losses could be less or considerably more. Locate Your Polling Place
Categories: A2. Green Unionism

Just Transition for energy workers in Northern England includes job quality, skills training

Work and Climate Change Report - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 09:54

Risk or reward? Securing a just transition in the north of England  is a study released in late October by the Institute for Public Policy Research North (IPPR), based in Manchester and Newcastle of the U.K. – an area disproportionately at risk for job losses in the shift to a low carbon economy as it is the home of  the majority of England’s coal and gas power stations.  This Interim report estimates that approximately 28,000 jobs in the coal, oil and gas industries could be lost by 2030 as the low carbon economy grows.  In 2017, the IPPR forecasts that up to 46,000 low-carbon power sector jobs and 100,000 jobs could be created by 2030 by its Northern Energy Strategy , including a  Northern Energy Skills Programme .

Risk or Reward?  forecasts job numbers, but also discusses the quality of jobs using compensation levels of representative energy jobs.  The report concludes that “Fundamentally, there is a failure to incorporate a just transition into industrial strategy and decarbonisation policy more generally; but, even if it were acknowledged, the skills system is ill-equipped to provide support for those that need retraining or for the next generation. Compounded by the uncertainty of Brexit amidst international competition for labour and skills, there is a real risk that the transition to a low carbon economy will not be just.”

Risk or Reward is an interim report.  IPPR promises a Final Report in 2019 which will recommend a strategy for government action,  to put just transition “at the heart of decarbonisation and industrial strategy”, and to build a skills system capable of supporting existing and future workers through well-paid, skilled and secure jobs.  “This strategy will also consider other challenges facing the low-carbon sector both now and in the future, including how to ensure it can deliver good working conditions and a diverse workforce. In addition, it will set out the crucial role of trade unions in delivering well-paid, secure and high skilled jobs, as well as a successful industrial strategy and improving productivity.”

Companion reading to Risk or Reward is  the broader perspective of  Prosperity and Justice: A plan for the new economy  – the final report of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice  , established in the 2016 in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.  The Final Report is here; an Executive Summary is hereProsperity and Justice  presents a 10-part plan for economic reform and makes more than 70 recommendations – which it states “ offer the potential for the most significant change in economic policy in a generation”. It includes a chapter titled “Ensuring Environmental Sustainability”  as fundamental to its economic goal of just growth.  The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice published an Interim Report (2017), as well as discussion and policy papers –   including including Power to the people: How stronger unions can deliver economic justice.

MORALE CRATERING AT CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD

PEER - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 06:47
Number of Investigators Down by More Than Half as More Employees Depart
Categories: A2. Green Unionism

New Just Transition agreement for Spanish coal miners called a model for others

Work and Climate Change Report - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 14:31

The new government of Spain, in power since May 2018, has reached a new Just Transition agreement with coal miners, to further the coal phase-out which has been underway since the early 2000’s.   Approximately 1,000 miners and contractors at 10 mines will lose their jobs at the end of 2018, but according to a report in The Guardian (Oct. 26) “Unions hailed the mining deal – which covers Spain’s privately owned pits – as a model agreement. It mixes early retirement schemes for miners over 48, with environmental restoration work in pit communities and re-skilling schemes for cutting-edge green industries.”  The cost of the program is estimated at 250 million Euros.

Spain’s coal industry employed more than 100,000 miners in the 1960s, but today only 2.7% of the country’s electricity is powered by coal.  The country had already done a good job of its coal phase-out, according to Coal Transition in Spain, published in 2017 by The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI)  and Climate Strategies Just Transition project.   That report draws on Spanish language resources to provides a thorough overview of employment statistics, policy instruments and stakeholder positions from previous coal phase-out. It also evaluates the success of measures taken, including training and early retirement incentives, community and infrastructure investment.

What are the prospects for a Just Transition in U.K. communities?

Work and Climate Change Report - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 09:44

On October 30, DeSmog UK  began a new series of reporting titled  Just Transition, from Fossil Fuels to Environmental Justice , which it describes as “a comprehensive exploration of the UK‘s prospects for a just transition towards a sustainable future and environmental justice.”  The first installment, Part One: Kingdom of Coal  profiles Fife, Scotland: the history of its coal mine closures around 2002, and the transition to its current situation as the site of a gas extraction facility run by Shell and an ethylene production plant operated by ExxonMobil. The report states that the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has issued fines and final warning letters to both Shell and Exxon for the flaring conducted at the two sites; a SEPA investigation into the flaring is underway, with a report scheduled for November 2018.  Finally, Kingdom of Coal discusses the  prospects for a just transition for Fife to a renewable energy industry,  in the  context of the Just Transition principles proposed by the Friends of the Earth Scotland. The impending Brexit  threatens funding from the European Investment Bank (which was used to build  the Beatrice Wind Farm in the Moray Firth), and “wider economic insecurity makes longer-term investments, such as hiring more apprentices, growing the workforce and investing in new machines and premises, increasingly challenging.”

Just Transition, from Fossil Fuels to Environmental Justice is described by DeSmog UK as : “This powerful new series starts from the basis of understanding that current lifestyles are dependent on oil and plastic, and that we are all to some degree complicit and integrated into the present system. It looks at how the UK can achieve the immediate, transformative and radical changes to the economy and society necessary to address the climate crisis. And it addresses this transformation through the perspectives of the communities that will be most affected.”

Tips for greening office workplaces in new Guide

Work and Climate Change Report - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 08:39

The Canadian Coalition for Green Healthcare, in partnership with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and others,  recently published the  Green Office Toolkit ,  which provides practical tips and examples focused on improving energy and water conservation, handling of toxic materials, and  workplace transportation, as well as the topics of creating, organizing and motivating a workplace “green team”.  Although it is intended for health care clinics and medical offices,  like Confronting Climate Change on Campus , (published by the Canadian Association of University Teachers in 2018),  the Green Office Toolkit  is easily adaptable to other office workplaces beyond the medical office or university setting.

The Guide falls squarely within the interest area of the Canadian Coalition for Green Healthcare , established in 2000, and which is the lead agency managing the Green Hospital Scorecard  program, “ the only comprehensive health care benchmarking tool in Canada measuring energy conservation, water conservation, waste management and recycling, corporate commitment and pollution prevention.” The CCGH publishes an electronic newsletter, Green Digest , with news from Canada and the U.S. , and other resource guides and tools.

One of the other partners in the publication of the Guide is the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment  , best known for its increasing advocacy related to the health impacts of climate change – such as  air and water pollution, toxic chemicals, health effects of wildfires and natural disasters.  The other partner organizations are McMaster University Hospital (Hamilton, Ont.), Women’s College Hospital (Toronto, Ont.) and  Synergie Santé Environnement (Quebec).

Updating the political battle of carbon pricing in Canada

Work and Climate Change Report - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 12:33

On October 23,  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government will hold its resolve to impose a carbon pricing policy across all Canadian jurisdictions in 2019 – see the press release, “Government of Canada Putting a price on pollution”   (Oct. 23).  Key to the plan: the Climate Action Incentive, whereby all carbon revenue will go directly back to people in the provinces from which it was generated.  David Roberts of Vox hits the nail on the head with  “Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is betting his reelection on a carbon tax” (Oct. 24) , stating,  “It’s a thoughtful plan, remarkably simple, transparent, and economically sound for something cooked up in a politically fraught context. If it’s put into place (and stays in place), it would vault Canada to the head of the international pack on climate policy.”

Reaction from the Canadian mainstream media reaction: From the Globe and Mail, an Editorial:  “For the Liberals, a spoonful of sugar helps the carbon tax go down” ;  “Arguments against the carbon tax boil down to a desire to do nothing” (Oct. 24)   by Campbell Clark ; “Carbon tax vs. climate change will be an epic contest” by John Ibbitson  and “Trudeau’s carbon tax rebate is smart – but complicated”  by Chris Ragan of the Ecofiscal Commission . From Andrew Coyne in the National Post: “Liberals’ carbon tax plan has its faults — but who has a better option?”  and from Chris Hall of the CBC, “How the Liberals hope to escape the ‘Green Shift’ curse in 2019”  (Oct.23)  .

The National Observer provides some detail to the complex calculations of the backstop rebates of the Climate Action Incentive, but the detail is at the government’s webpage, Pricing Pollution: How it will work  which provides links to individual explainers for each province and territory.

Other Responses: Rabble.ca Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada ;  Canadians for Clean Prosperity ;  and the Smart Prosperity Institute , which also provides a compilation of reaction and reports .

There seems to be general agreement that it is politics, not economics, which will determine support for the carbon plan.  Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been making the rounds with other Conservative politicians in Canada to coordinate their messaging and opposition to the federal carbon tax – culminating in the introduction of Bill No. 132—The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Amendment Act , 2018 in Saskatchewan on October 30, and on October 31, passage of Ontario’s Bill 4, The Cap and Trade Cancellation Act.  The National Observer describes the events of October 31 and summarizes the recent  political dance in “Doug Ford and Andrew Scheer play fast and loose with facts about carbon tax”  . Other press coverage: from the CBC:   “‘The worst tax ever’: Doug Ford and Jason Kenney hold campaign-style rally against carbon levy”  on Oct. 5 ;   “Doug Ford attacks ‘terrible tax’ on carbon alongside Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe” on Oct. 29; and  “Doug Ford meets Andrew Scheer as carbon tax war heats up”  on October 30, describing their meeting in Toronto.  The gist of their arguments:  the carbon tax is a money-grab which will “drive up the price of heating your home”, with Doug Ford stating “It’s just another Trudeau Liberal tax grab. It’s a job-killing, family-hurting tax. ”  After the rebate details were announced on October 23, Ford has added that the promised rebates are “a complete scam”, “trying to buy Canadians with their own money.”   But as iPolitics reported on October 26, “Ford gets his facts wrong while bashing federal carbon tax”  and  “Ford doubles down on falsehoods about federal carbon tax”  .  iPolitics cites the independent analysis of the carbon tax’s impact by  Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer, which supports the federal government’s numbers, and differs from Premier Ford’s public statements.  Meanwhile, the Ontario government promises to release their climate plan in November,  according to the Toronto Star   (Oct. 29), and Andrew Scheer also promises a climate plan “in 183 days”.

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