SCC LAUNCHES MUNICIPAL CLIMATE CHANGE CAMPAIGN
Is it possible to act locally and have a big impact in the global
fight against climate change? Ask that question to Sierra
Club Canada national campaigns director Jean Langlois and
you get an enthusiastic response: “Local activists can have
a HUGE impact. Do you realize that approximately half of
It is this realization that led to the creation of the Cool Cities campaign, an innovative campaign to address climate change by advocating practical action by municipal governments. Launched after months of preparation by a committee of SCC chapters and national office, the Canadian campaign is modelled closely on the US Cool Cities campaign developed by Sierra Club in the US in 2005. The campaign has expanded rapidly and already built momentum in Canada, with over 950 cool cities in North America.
The campaign works by empowering Sierra Club Canada local groups and volunteers to work with their local civil society to convince municipal governments to take a highly visible role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These are significant, quantifiable reductions in both the emissions from the municipality’s own operations and those over which it has jurisdiction. The Cool Cities campaign publicly congratulates the mayor and council for their leadership and pushes the city to administratively adopt a range of policies, bylaws and solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs.
These solutions include:
Public recognition and early success stories will be used to inspire other local campaigns and build momentum.
The Cool Cities campaign developed in the US by the Sierra Club has been a political success, and close collaboration between the two Clubs will facilitate efficient adaptation and roll out of the campaign in the Canadian context. Cool Cities leverages the strengths of Sierra Club Canada’s unique structure: national organization, chapters, local groups, and individual activists across the country. As an integral component of Sierra Club Canada’s Climate Change Campaign, Cool Cities will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, both practically and politically.
The campaign achieves more than the sum of its local campaigns. This is because local campaigns will not
only be reducing greenhouse gas emissions in their local
A Message from the Vice-President
I’ve been thinking lately about democracy. And
more importantly — what kind of democracy
we want for our communities, our provinces, our nation
and our organizations. In Alberta, 58 percent of the
electorate chose not to vote in the provincial elections in
March. Last year 80% of our Sierra Club Canada members
How do we reinvigorate democracy in our communities and in our progressive organizations?
In 2003 the Club moved to an elected National Board chosen by you the members. For an organization that
prides itself on grassroots engagement at each level of the
I believe that you elect us not only to govern but to lead.
I am interested in the potential of the National Board as
a democratic entity. I am interested in having YOU the
members set, define and become the agenda of the Club.
That is after all, at the heart of our grassroots mandate.
I see the opportunity for Sierra Club Canada to be a
The June Board elections are fast approaching. I urge you to consider the direction that Sierra Club Canada takes, and to elect people to the Board that will help move the organization in that direction.
We are facing a time of great change and great potential. But we need to choose our direction. So Sierra Club, what
kind of democracy do you want? This summer we will host
a national Grassroots Summit for our community from
coast to coast to coast to come together, plan for the future and for us — the members — to lead our organization to
new successes! Come to the Summit and please contribute
to strategic planning through the members’ assessment.
Message de la Vice-Présidente
Je réfléchissais récemment à la démocratie. Et plus précisément — je me demandais quelle sorte de démocratie nous
désirons pour nos communautés, nos provinces, notre nation et
nos organisations. En Alberta, 58% de l’électorat n’a pas voté
lors des élections provinciales du mois de mars. L’année passée,
Comment pouvons-nous revigorez la démocratie dans nos communautés et dans nos organisations progressistes?
En 2003, Sierra Club est passé à un système dans lequel C.A. est élu par vous, les membres. Cette décision est en accord avec l’approche populiste qui est à la base notre organisation et reflète mieux vos intérêts. Le Conseil demeure fondamentalement une entité penchée sur la gouvernance, la gestion de politiques et les levées des fonds. Ces pratiques opérationnelles devraient nous aider à atteindre les succès environmentaux que nous poursuivons.
Je crois que vous élisez le C.A. non seulement pour gouverner mais
aussi pour mener. Je m’intéresse au potentiel du C.A. national du
Sierra Club d’être une entité démocratique et représentative. Je
m’intéresse à ce que vous, les membres, formulez comme priorités
pour le club; c’est votre contribution qui est au coeur de notre
L’élection du C.A. au mois de juin approche. Je vous encourage de considérer la direction que vous désirez pour le club et d’élire des directeurs qui avancerons ces priorités.
Nous sommes dans une époque de transformation et de grand potentiel pour le Canada et pour le club. Et c’est à nous de
choisir notre direction. Alors, chers membres de Sierra Club, quel
genre de démocratie désirez vous? Cet été, nous organisons une
convention nationale, notre Sommet Grassroots. Cet évènement
Dianne Pachal: Building Alberta’s Conservation Community for Three Decades
As Alberta Wilderness Director, Dianne is no stranger to the wild spaces of Wild Rose Country. Having spent her first ten years of life on a subsistence mixed farm in Manitoba, attending school in a one-room, one teacher school house serving eight grades, she moved to Calgary with her family where her father worked in the oil and gas sector and the first spare dollars were spent on camping equipment. She grew up in the Forestry Reserve and campgrounds of the province, taking school work along on weekend trips if necessary.
Dianne’s childhood experiences led her to complete a degree in
environmental biology and set
her on a three-decade long (and
still going) journey to protect the
She was the first employee of the province’s existing environmental groups, Sierra Club Prairie Chapter (before Sierra Club Canada became a separate organization from the US Club), Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA), Federation of Alberta Naturalists, National and Provincial Parks Association (now the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society), and the Great Divide Trail Association, where she was the Office of Environmental Coordinator. She managed the office and undertook collaborative research and campaigns for these organizations for ten years, laying the groundwork for strong environmental non-governmental organizations in Alberta. And for the other half of her work-day, she was the executive director for the AWA.
Her work today continues to bring people together to fight for the protection of spaces and species. Most recently, her efforts are to protect the southwestern corner of Alberta, north of Waterton and Glacier National Parks. This critical piece of the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem is 1,040 square kilometres of breathtaking beauty and stunning ecological significance. Biologists predict that without this connecting corridor of intact habitat, the Waterton- Glacier populations of grizzly bears and some other large carnivores will eventually become extinct.
Dianne’s work to protect the Castle wilderness has made Andy Russell – I’tai sah kòp Park a not-so-far-off reality. There’s a vibrant groundswell of support from local residents, politicians and even words of encouragement from His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Phillip), to see park establishment once and for all, along with full restoration of its wilderness and watershed integrity.
While pushing the province to
make the final moves to create
the Andy Russell Park, she’s also
working to get recovery plans in
place for Alberta’s endangered
After three decades of organizational development and campaigning, Dianne is looking forward to the 30th anniversary of Sierra Club in Alberta and a time to build on our successes to ensure there’s a strong grassroots ability to fight future environmental battles.
When asked what keeps her motivated she quickly responds that it is people, and her connection with the
land and its history. She recounts that she has walked
2008 Members’ Assessment
Sierra Club Canada is conducting a club-wide strategic planning exercise; this is your opportunity to shape our future direction. At the end of the summer, we will be holding a grassroots summit that will culminate in a strategic plan for the next few years. Since not all supporters will be able to attend, we are soliciting your input today.
Sierra Club Canada supporters often have a personal connection to our campaigns and a passion for what we represent. This survey will help determine what we do and how we do it for the next few years. We would like to know what you think, and what you want, in order to keep our grassroots strong, and to keep us as effective as possible.
It should take about 25-30 minutes to complete. The information you provide will help Sierra Club Canada, including its chapters and
groups, make important strategic decisions on things such as campaign choices, communications strategies, and conservation policies.
We appreciate your taking the time to respond. Thank you very much.
How Canada can make a world of difference
the critical challenge of the 21st century is that human enterprise is degrading and contaminating the Earth’s natural systems beyond the limits of sustainability. Globally, the human footprint now exceeds the capacity of ecosystems to support our 6.6 billion people at a reasonable standard of living.
In March 2008, Sierra Club Canada joined with ten other prominent Canadian environmental groups to announce Tomorrow Today, a common agenda for action by the next federal government to address this challenge in Canada. It is modeled on a similar document, developed by environmental groups and presented to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in April 1989 as he started his second term of office.
A federal election could come soon, possibly in the
spring 2008, possibly in the
autumn, possibly in 2009. This
election represents a defining
opportunity to develop a
Over the four years following that election, Canada must demonstrate a serious commitment to climate protection efforts and real vision in the stewardship of wilderness, waters and oceans. Canada must act quickly to detoxify the environment and air, and ensure healthy food and drinking water for all citizens. Canada must become a model for ideas and examples of innovative and sustainable environmental practices, as well as a nation other countries can work positively with to address globalscale problems like climate change.
Canada can make a world of difference by:
LIGHTENING OUR CLIMATE FOOTPRINT
Strong emission reduction targets will give Canada’s climate efforts the focus and discipline needed to achieve success in reducing Canada’s still-rising greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government should commit to an absolute 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels). The best way to send a signal about Canada’s seriousness in achieving these is to put a proper price on carbon — at least $30 a tonne now and $75 a tonne by 2020. Fuel-efficiency standards for personal vehicles need to be regulated to meet or exceed North American best practice. Runaway resource development, particularly in the tar sands, needs to be reigned in, and smart, innovative approaches to build a thriving healthy society.
PROTECTING WILDERNESS, WATERS AND OCEANS
Few places in the world can still boast our kinds of wild spaces — and
wild species. Canada needs
to move fast to secure this natural legacy by permanently protecting a minimum of 50%
of our remaining wild areas.
A national commitment is
needed that would require
that conservation planning,
including designation of large
HELPING CANADIANS GROW HEALTHY
To help reduce the climate and environmental impact of what Canadians eat, we need to support local food networks that help Canadian farmers adopt conservation-based and organic farming practices, and we need to amend Canada’s Food Guide to provide information about the climate impacts of food choices. We need to let Canadians make smart food choices with mandatory labeling policies that include information on nutrition, country of origin, fairtrade practices, organic standards and genetic modification content. Finally, the federal government must conserve water resources and protect drinking water through a Canada-wide strategy that includes water-efficiency standards for appliances, enhanced prohibitions on bulk water exports, and binding drinking water and wastewater standards.
GETTING THE TOXICS OUT
With thousands of new chemicals being developed every year, the federal government needs a much better handle on what these substances are doing to our air and water — and our health. It needs to change the climate around toxics regulation to put the onus on companies to prove new products or substances are safe rather than relying on overstretched government regulators to prove they are unsafe. And it should immediately require the use of safer substitutes when there is evidence of potential harm. No Canadian should be asked to take a chance on the safety of things like baby bottles, children’s clothing or our food. Finally, the federal government needs to reduce smog through regulated national targets that lead to real reductions in emissions of harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter.
To read the full Tomorrow Today report and find how you can participate in setting a new environmental agenda for Canada visit www.tomorrowtodaycanada.ca. Canada can make a world of difference.
The Last Word - TRAPPED by the Spin Machine
A cautionary tale on how the Conservative government
brilliantly manipulated media coverage of its March
2008 announcement on regulating greenhouse gas
The tale begins with the April 2007 announcement by environment
minister John Baird of a proposed regulatory framework to reduce
GHG emissions from industry. Sierra Club Canada and virtually
all other environmental groups criticized it heavily arguing that
the targets were too weak, that they were based on an emissions
By early 2008, the government was still not prepared to get tough in reducing emissions from the tar sands industry even as public demand for tougher measures grew. As well, the tar sands and coal industries were lobbying hard for billions of federal dollars to subsidize carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology (which would bury carbon dioxide underground) — a tough sell given their huge profits.
What’s the government of our energy superpower tar nation to do? How to maintain the profitability of the tar sands industry, keep the Alberta government happy, and appear to be acting to reduce GHG emissions?
Here is the solution as we understand it now.
Phase one: announce that tar sands projects constructed in 2012 or later will be required to have CCS technology (and sweep under the rug the fact that no actual GHG reductions will be required until 2018).
Phase two: release the billions in subsidies that industry seeks once the public gets the idea that industry is being required to install CCS technology.
In March 2008 the federal spin doctors got to work and leaked a story of tough new requirements for CCS on tar sands projects to The Globe and Mail. Our national newspaper took the bait on Saturday March 8 and ran a Page 1 story above the fold with the headline “Tough new green plan targets oil sands.” Other newspapers and electronic media then reported the story on Sunday and Monday without having seen the details of the proposed regulatory framework.
The federal government got very good reviews and industry players and the Alberta government (who had been consulted in advance, unlike the environmental community) were surprisingly (if suspiciously) comfortable with the announcement.
As part of the spin strategy, Minister Baird and a senior Environment Canada official made calls that weekend to environmentalists to convince us sight unseen that the regulatory package was pretty good. By Monday morning I had done several media interviews relying on the Globe and Mail story and based on the erroneous notion that new tar sands projects built in 2012 or later would be required to have CCS technology incorporated into the project at that time.
This was not such a novel idea as Premier Gordon Campbell had announced a similar approach in 2007 when his government decided that no new coal-fired electricity generating plants would be built in British Columbia unless they are carbon-neutral (which means they would require CCS technology).
I had been trapped by the government’s spin machine.
Finally at 3PM on Monday March 11 the details of the regulatory framework were released — very late in the news cycle for that day and two days after the story broke. Under the regulations, the tar sands industry would not have to achieve actual reductions in emissions from CCS investments until 2018 — a full ten years from now!
Sierra Club Canada and other environmental groups issued media releases critical of the regulatory framework late Monday and early Tuesday, but by then we were yesterday’s news.
Score one for the federal spin doctors.
I believe that prevention of catastrophic climate change is a nonpartisan issue. To win this battle in Canada, Conservatives need
to be signed up as well as Liberals, New Democrats, Greens and
Blocquistes. Climate skeptics such as Prime Minister Stephen
Harper must be convinced that action is urgently needed. I
Furthermore, I don’t like being manipulated. The Conservative government’s spin job on regulating GHG emissions from tar sands companies makes me skeptical that the federal government is at all serious about tackling the most important issue facing humankind in this, the climate century.