Environment: Current Problems

Climate Change


July 15, 2020


BC

Bill 17 Clean Energy Act ignores First Nations

The amendment of Bill 17, proposed in June, raises alarming concerns that the NDP government has no intention of honouring the principles of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), despite proclaiming it to be a cornerstone of its mandate. Many of the UNDRIP principles speak to the importance of consent from First Nations when changing laws in ways that are directly and materially detrimental to First Nations and Indigenous peoples, as is the case with Bill 17.
Bill 17 directly threatens Tŝilhqot’in clean energy aspirations as captured in the Tŝilhqot’in Nation Clean Energy Plan, currently under review. That plan would see the Tŝilhqot’in become not only self-sufficient in the production of clean energy, but a net contributor to clean energy in BC. Bill 17 represents a direct threat to the future of that program and the clean energy independent power projects that have had such positive impacts for First Nations and regional economies.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has been actively involved in the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources’ Comprehensive Review of BC Hydro, which contains many progressive ideas which, if intelligently implemented, would have positive impacts on energy policy benefiting all British Columbians. The changes contained in Bill 17 have never been raised during these engagements and these changes diminish the progressive ideas discussed in that review. It is disconcerting to realize that while this government was “consulting” on BC Hydro’s future, Bill 17 was secretly being developed.

Bill 17 would introduce a poorly conceived policy detrimental to regional economies and CleanBC targets, as well as the economic and self-sufficiency aspirations of First Nations in this province. The government’s myopic focus on the single priority of ‘affordability’ has blinded it to the ramifications this Bill has for many other government priorities. On the altar of ‘affordability’ would be sacrificed: Reconciliation, First Nations’ economic and governance aspirations, regional economic development opportunities, the energy self-sufficiency we enjoy in BC, clean energy and the NDP’s much touted environmental goals.
http://nationtalk.ca/story/tsilhqotin-nation-stands-with-nuu-chah-nulth-and-other-first-nations-in-bc-in-calling-on-the-ndp-government-to-table-bill-17


November 3, 2017


AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Envronment must include Indigenous views

Assembly of First Nations – First Nations must be full participants in all meetings of Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) to ensure their voices are heard in environmental and climate change solutions.

“Reconciliation has to include respect for our Elder’s traditional knowledge and our understanding of the lands and waters, the animals and plant life. We have a central role to play in lawmaking in this area, and we have responsibilities to safeguard our traditional territories and our people. We hold valuable knowledge that can help everyone in maintaining a healthy environment for all our children.” The AFN has created the Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment (ACCAE) and is currently establishing a network of climate coordinators across Canada. The Assembly is also working with First Nations Elders on the development of an Indigenous Knowledge policy that would support federal efforts to better respond to the impacts of climate change and other environment issues.

In his presentation to the CCME, the National Chief advanced three points:

  • Establish “regional tables” between First Nations and provinces and territories to ensure First Nation participation within the different regions;
  • First Nations’ law must also be accommodated and recognized, in addition to common law and civil law, when dealing with environment and climate change regulation and management as a way to express and share First Nations’ traditional knowledge and responsibilities to safe guard the lands, wildlife, waters, and resources;
  • First Nations must be involved as key players in the emerging economic industry for clean energy, adaptation, and mitigation.

November 18, 2020


BC

Climate Crisis and First Nations Right to Food

The Narwhal – Human Rights Watch released “My Fear is Losing Everything: Climate Crisis and First Nations’ Right to Food in Canada“.

The report details how longer and more intense forest fire seasons, permafrost degradation, volatile weather patterns and increased levels of precipitation are all affecting wildlife habitat and, in turn, harvesting efforts.
The report also outlines how there are more hunting and foraging risks due to warming temperatures. For instance, it’s harder — and sometimes impossible — to hunt caribou because the ice and permafrost they travel on isn’t stable enough for hunters.

“Climate change threatens to decimate these food systems, risking further serious consequences for livelihoods and health,” the report states.

The report also found that climate change is driving up prices for less-nutritious, store-bought alternatives that need to be brought in from the south. This is in part due to the fact that roads constructed from snow and ice are becoming less reliable because of warmer winters, meaning food needs to be flown in, which is far more expensive. This compounds the risk of food poverty for First Nations people, the report states.

Canada gets a failing grade on mitigating the effects of climate change, according to the report. The country is among the top 10 emitters of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, with per capita emissions upward of four times higher than the global average, the report states, noting that between 1990 and 2017, emissions increased by roughly 19 per cent, mainly due to mining and oil and gas production.
Canada is warming roughly twice as fast as the global average; in the North, it’s even worse, with temperatures rising three times as quick.

Human Rights Watch lays out several recommendations for the federal government, including that:

  • Canada deem the right to food a basic human right
  • strengthen its climate change policies to reduce emissions
  • improve climate adaptation measures in First Nations and
  • support a transition toward renewable energy, including for First Nations, in the COVID-19 stimulus package.

https://thenarwhal.ca/climate-change-indigenous-food-insecurity-report/
https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/10/21/my-fear-losing-everything/climate-crisis-and-first-nations-right-food-canada#_ftn301


September 27, 2019


Fed. Govt., QC

Cree Nation imput into climate change policy

Cree Nation Government – Proposed government action must be inclusive of Cree observations and efforts in the fight against climate change. Our privileged relationship with the territory is fundamental to the proper and meaningful development of government policies on climate change for Eeyou Istchee. Government policies must take into account the experiences of Indigenous communities threatened by this ever-growing crisis.

The COMEX, a James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) – protected environmental review board – established in 1975 – has already begun taking into consideration climate change when analyzing impacts from all development projects. Sensitive and high carbon-stock forests are being planned into regionally protected areas. Local greenhouse projects and Styrofoam bans have been contributing to the escalating social conversation in the Cree Nation.

“The Cree Nation has been proactive in observing and adapting to the risks of climate change threatening traditional activities and way of life. Communities understand firsthand the severity of this, but are also in a position to provide invaluable direction to policies. We insist that governments, federal and provincial, include the Cree Nation in the elaboration of climate change policies imperative to the sustainability of our development, a cornerstone of our 1975 JBNQA treaty.”, declared Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum.

Impact Assessment Agency of Canada – An important component of the JBNQA is Environmental and Social Protection (sections 22 and 23) that contain provisions related to the undesirable environmental impact and social effects of development. The provisions attempt to maximize positive effects while assessing their impact.


March 26, 2021


Fed. Govt., BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, NS, PE, NL, NU, YT, NT

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

The AFN, based on direction from the Chiefs-in-Assembly, intervened in this case, as well as court cases in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta, arguing the Government of Canada has a direct legal obligation to recognize Aboriginal and Treaty rights in any legislative efforts to address climate change.


March 25, 2021


Fed. Govt., BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, NS, PE, NL, NU, YT, NT

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Supreme Court finds that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act 2018 is constitutional.


March 25, 2021


AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Westaway Law Group – The majority judges noted that climate change “has had particularly serious effects on Indigenous peoples, threatening the ability of Indigenous communities in Canada to sustain themselves and maintain their traditional ways of life.” [para 11] They also acknowledged that, “the effects of climate change are and will continue to be experienced across Canada, with heightened impacts in the Canadian Arctic, coastal regions and Indigenous territories.” [para 12] These are important acknowledgements on the part of the Court, and no doubt had some impact on their assessment that the matters addressed in the GGPPA are matters of national concern.

Although the Court did not specifically make reference to s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as noted, the result is consistent with the evidence and arguments put forward on behalf of First Nation interveners.


October 20, 2020


AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Toronto Star – The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) reserved judgement on whether the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act 2018 (GGPPA) is constitutional following hearings on September 22 and 23 with the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM), along with the Anishinabek Nation (AN), granted intervener status.

The GGPPA sets minimum standards for carbon pricing on provinces that have not implemented an equivalent provincial program. The provinces argued that they should have control of greenhouse gas (GHG) policies while environmental advocates and other interveners asked the court to recognize the necessity of a national response to climate change.

“The UCCMM intervened in this case because climate change disproportionately affects First Nation communities, our traditional way of life and our ability to assert and exercise jurisdiction in relation to environmental issues that directly impact their lands and their people,” said Patsy Corbiere, UCCMM Tribal Chair. “As stewards of the largest freshwater island in the world we are ensuring that the courts take into account the Anishinabek perspective when determining if climate change is a matter of national concern. As the quality and quantity of our natural resources and medicines continue to diminish with the effects of climate change, it is vital that our voices be heard and our rights be respected.”

In the current appeal to SCC, the AN and UCCMM urged the court to “adopt an approach to the issues in this case which allows jurisdictional space for all levels of government: federal, provincial and Indigenous, in regulation of critical environmental matters.” Patricia Lawrence from Westaway Law Group, appearing on behalf of the AN and UCCMM, argued that “First Nations should not be left without effective redress as a result of federal-provincial jurisdictional disputes.

The Crown must be held accountable for the protection and preservation of the aboriginal and treaty rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. If the provinces are unable to effectively protect these rights, the federal government must be permitted to step in and enact legislation,” said Chief Corbiere.


April 9, 2022


UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change includes the word “colonialism” for the first time

Toronto Star: Earlier this week, the world’s top scientists not only mentioned colonialism as a catalyst for causing climate change but also for making segments of the population vulnerable to its impacts today and in the future.

“Present development challenges causing high vulnerability are influenced by historical and ongoing patterns of inequity such as colonialism, especially for many Indigenous Peoples and local communities, the world’s most authoritative global climate change report says in its summary for policymakers.

Environmental journalist Yessenia Funes, who first reported in Atmos magazine, wrote that the addition if the word “has tremendous potential for how world leaders shape future climate policy.” If colonization is acknowledged as a cause, decolonization has to be part of the solution.

The final language in the summary is meticulously scrutinized and discussed line by line – and not just by the world’s top scientists, but also by officials representing 195 governments, ” Funes wrote. Meaning they all formally recognize the role of colonialism.

Industrialization wreaked havoc on the planet. Industrialized nations made their money in industries such as cotton, cocoa, rubber, mining and oil from colonial expansion. This expansion needed not only to push some people off their lands, by hook or crook, but to also commodify others for labour. This model of growth for some at the expense of others is historical and ongoing.


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