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Updated: 10 hours 20 min ago

B.C. budget falls short on critical transit investment and climate action

Tue, 2017/02/21 - 2:29pm

VANCOUVER -- The B.C. government has failed to prioritize badly needed transit infrastructure investment in its latest budget. Based on details provided, investment over the next three years will continue to fall short of what Metro Vancouver and the province need to build and maintain fast, effective public transit.

"Anticipated budget surpluses over the next three years are dwarfed by the growing costs of congestion in B.C.," said David Suzuki Foundation policy analyst Steve Kux. "Traffic congestion costs Metro Vancouver alone over $1 billion a year -- and that's expected to balloon to $2 billion by 2045. Failing to commit to increased investment in transit is a missed opportunity no matter how you look at it."

Kux emphasized that this is a critical moment for the province to follow the federal government's lead on infrastructure improvement.

In November 2016, the federal government committed to provide $25.3 billion for public transit infrastructure projects across the country over the next 11 years, including up to 50 per cent of funds needed for specific projects. However, to secure this investment, provincial and municipal governments have to cooperate to produce the remaining 50 per cent.

"The B.C. government has only committed to a fraction of the funding needed to achieve the needed transit improvements across Metro Vancouver, the province's most congested region," Kux said. "Instead of pledging a fair share of investment, the B.C. government has prioritized tax cuts that will benefit the wealthiest British Columbians most and give financial protections to polluting industries like liquefied natural gas. This lack of investment will lead to costly delays in improvements that are needed today."

In Breaking gridlock, the Foundation's 2016 report on B.C.'s transit investment deficit, Kux and Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce found the government has underfunded transit since 2008. Eight years into the 12-year Provincial Transit Plan, only 23 per cent of the provincial contributions have been realized.

The budget also falls short on reducing carbon emissions. Although it provides a $40 million top-up to the Clean Energy Vehicle Program, it fails to strengthen the province's carbon tax and focuses more attention on financial incentives for fracked natural gas, which is a major contributor to climate change.

"The province continues to pin its hopes on LNG and new hydro projects at the expense of innovation and supporting job growth in areas like clean tech," Kux said. "Clean energy organizations are leaving this province, and we're falling behind the rest of the country and the world."

The Canadian Wind Energy Association shut down its B.C. operations last year, citing better opportunities in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Other low-carbon, job-creating industries could follow if B.C. does not commit to help transition the world off of fossil fuels.

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Media contact:
Emily Fister, Communications Specialist -- 604-440-5470

Canadian environment ministers must protect caribou habitat

Sun, 2017/02/19 - 3:24pm

TORONTO -- Conservation groups are calling on federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers to act quickly to recover Canada's imperilled woodland caribou herds through habitat measures. The call comes in advance of the environment ministers' meeting in Ottawa February 21 to 22.

It has been almost five years since the federal government released the boreal woodland caribou recovery strategy under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The strategy developed a threshold of risk for managing caribou, and guides provinces to maintain or restore each caribou range so that at least 65 per cent of it is undisturbed, as caribou need undisturbed habitat to avoid predators and survive. The recovery strategy calls for range plans to be completed by October 2017 that demonstrate the protection, maintenance and restoration of caribou habitat for each caribou herd.

Yet, across Canada, industrial activities such as mining, oil and gas and logging continue to disturb critical caribou habitat. For example, even though the habitat of west central Alberta's Little Smoky range is over 95 per cent disturbed, the province released a draft range plan that allows new logging and oil and gas surface disturbance. In Ontario and Quebec, logging continues to degrade intact caribou habitat.

A recent article in Biological Conservation concluded that Canada will likely lose more than half its woodland caribou populations within a few decades unless habitat conservation measures are improved -- especially in Western Canada where energy industry activity is heavy.

"Clear science exists to guide caribou recovery, yet we continue to see provinces allowing habitat destruction while engaging in band-aid solutions such as predator control and zoo-like enclosures," said Rachel Plotkin of the David Suzuki Foundation "If we are to have wild caribou in the future, habitat protection and restoration need to be kicked to the top of the action list."

Conservation groups believe the economy can work for both caribou and industry. Tenure and lease systems can be realigned to reduce pressure on critical caribou habitat, some activities can be confined to existing disturbed areas, and restoration initiatives can be implemented in areas where habitat has already exceeded disturbance thresholds.

Protection and restoration of caribou habitat will have impacts beyond caribou recovery; the boreal forest on which caribou depend stores significant carbon and provides homes and resting places for hundreds of other species, such as migratory birds.

"To uphold our wildlife laws and commitments, provinces need to enforce limits on surface disturbance within caribou ranges," said Alberta Wilderness Association conservation specialist Carolyn Campbell. "They also need to follow important protected-areas promises with actions."

"Protecting caribou is synonymous with a healthy Boreal forest. We have the knowledge and capacity to be good stewards -- we can protect our wildlife and have sustainable forest industries, too," said Greenpeace forest campaigner, Olivier Kolmel. "The government must act now, because soon it will simply be too late."

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For more information, please read the media backgrounder or contact:

Carolyn Campbell, Alberta Wilderness Association: 403 921-9519.
Rachel Plotkin, David Suzuki Foundation: 416 799-8435
Manon Dubois (French): 514 679-0821

Hecate Strait marine protection good for environment and fisheries

Thu, 2017/02/16 - 2:25pm

VANCOUVER -- Today's announcement by Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard Minister Dominic LeBlanc to protect rare, delicate glass sponge reefs in B.C.'s Hecate Strait is a strong step toward meeting international biodiversity commitments and ensuring the ecosystems that underpin fisheries are better managed for decades to come.

"The sponge reefs that cover roughly the same area as the Lower Mainland are globally unique, and their contribution to overall ocean health and fisheries is only beginning to be understood," said Foundation senior research scientist Scott Wallace. "This marine protected area not only safeguards the sponge reefs but also fisheries that are inextricably linked to a healthy ecosystem."

Glass sponge reefs were thought to have been extinct for 60 million years until scientists discovered them in the 1980s in B.C.'s coastal waters. The extremely fragile animals use silica dissolved in seawater to manufacture skeletons.

"The minister's announcement signals to other countries that this unique marine reef is something Canadians value as a precious part of our natural heritage," Wallace said.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Wallace, Senior Research Scientist
Cell: 778-558-3984

Theresa Beer, Senior Communications Specialist
Cell: 778-874-3396

Canada takes small step for ocean health and marine protection

Wed, 2017/02/15 - 10:47am

VANCOUVER -- Canada's announcement today to ratify a plan that guides how people use and protect its North Pacific coastal waters marks a small but positive step toward meeting biodiversity targets and supporting coastal ecosystems and communities, the David Suzuki Foundation said.

"This conservation framework has been 10 years in the making," said Foundation science projects manager Bill Wareham. "Moving ahead is an important step to prevent human-based ocean activities from harming one of the world's richest marine biodiversity areas."

Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard Minister Dominic LeBlanc is also expected to announce a marine protected area for Hecate Strait's glass sponge reefs tomorrow.

"These prehistoric reefs are considered one of the Pacific Ocean's most awe-inspiring treasures," Wareham said. "Protection will help ensure the reefs survive and provide vital habitat to marine life."

Although most Canadians are familiar with city planning, few are aware of how activities are zoned and regulated in oceans. The initiative -- in what is known as the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area -- maintains ecosystem health and biological richness as the foundation of all marine-use decision-making.

"This approach highlights the dependency of human communities and economies on healthy ocean ecosystems," Wareham said. "We know that human activities must respect biological limits if we hope to support cultures, communities and economies over the long term."

Ratifying the plan and establishing the new protected area bring Canada closer to meeting international biodiversity commitments, including the responsibility to protect at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The initiative supports communities that depend on the marine environment for fisheries, sustainable aquaculture and tourism. It also respects Indigenous rights and title and is designed to use traditional knowledge in managing marine resources.

Managing this ocean area's rich biological wealth to support local livelihoods and future generations is one of the most important issues facing B.C.'s coastal communities. "With Canada, B.C. and First Nations co-governing, we're hopeful this ocean area can support some of the best-managed and productive marine areas anywhere in Canada," Wareham said.

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Media Contacts:
Bill Wareham, Science Projects Manager, Western Canada
Cell: 604-928-1150

Theresa Beer, Senior Communications Specialist
Cell: 778-874-3396

Federal government failing First Nations on drinking water promise: report

Thu, 2017/02/09 - 8:04am

OTTAWA -- The federal government will not meet its commitment to end all drinking water advisories affecting First Nations communities by 2020 without significant changes to current processes, according to a new report, Glass half empty? Year 1 progress toward resolving drinking water advisories in nine First Nations in Ontario.

Released by the David Suzuki Foundation and Council of Canadians, and with advisers Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the report assesses the federal government's progress in nine First Nations across Ontario. With 81 active DWAs -- more than any other province -- Ontario provides a snapshot of Canada's First Nations water crisis.

"We are calling on the government to work with First Nations to make necessary changes to the way it addresses the lack of safe drinking water in First Nation communities," said David Suzuki Foundation Ontario science projects manager Rachel Plotkin. "At present, it is not on track to meet its promise."

As of last fall, Canada had 156 drinking water advisories affecting 110 First Nations communities, many of which are recurring or ongoing. Some have been in place for more than 20 years. The 2016 federal budget included $1.8 billion to help resolve the crisis by 2020, in addition to funding it has already invested in First Nations water infrastructure, operations and management.

Of the nine First Nations profiled in the report, three are on track to or have had drinking water advisories lifted; efforts are underway in three others, but there is uncertainty about whether the advisories will be lifted on time; and for the remaining three, it is unlikely advisories will be lifted by 2020 unless current processes and procedures are reformed. One community that had its DWA lifted now faces a new suite of problems, pointing to the need for long-term, sustainable solutions.

The report reveals fundamental flaws in how the federal government fulfils its responsibility to ensure safe drinking water in First Nations communities. These include a highly complex funding process full of loopholes, gaps and delays; a lack of transparency and accountability in federal monitoring of progress; and the lack of a regulatory framework to govern drinking water for First Nations.

The report outlines a series of 12 recommendations that the government must implement to get its work back on track.

"The Canadian government is required to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and recognize human rights to water and sanitation, but it has yet to take the action required to uphold these rights," said Council of Canadians political director Brent Patterson. "This report's recommendations are long overdue steps that the government must take to ensure these fundamental rights are enjoyed by all people in Canada."

"This report highlights the need for a more transparent process for how long-term drinking water advisories will be addressed, so that First Nations and Canadians can monitor the government's progress toward its commitment and, ultimately, toward the realization of the human right to water for First Nations," said Amanda Klasing of Human Rights Watch.

The complete Glass half empty? report is available at davidsuzuki.org/water.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Brendan Glauser
Communications Manager, David Suzuki Foundation
(604) 356-8829
bglauser@davidsuzuki.org

Note to editors:

In addition to the full report and news release, a fact sheet is available to all media.

Statement on B.C. NDP Clean Growth and Climate Action Plan

Thu, 2017/02/02 - 2:32pm

VANCOUVER -- The David Suzuki Foundation is encouraged by several elements of the B.C. NDP's Climate Action Plan, released today. The strategy addresses several major concerns that will put B.C. on track to achieving emissions reductions. These elements include:

• A commitment to reduce emissions and achieve emissions-reductions targets for 2030 and 2050.
• Investing in climate change solutions, including public transit, energy efficiency, clean technology and initiatives that will reduce B.C.'s dependence on fossil fuels.
• Working with the Climate Leadership Team to implement the complete list of recommendations.

"It's promising to see the B.C. NDP's commitment to public transit infrastructure and clean tech," said foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. "Investing in a clean energy future represents a significant economic opportunity. In particular, we're happy to see the transportation funding framework that the David Suzuki Foundation advocated for in our 2016 report Breaking gridlock incorporated into the B.C. NDP platform."

The NDP's plan also commits to meeting the federally mandated $50 per tonne price on carbon pollution by 2022. Although this target is in line with national carbon pricing, the foundation wants to see the next government of B.C. commit to a plan beyond 2022.

More detail is needed about the financial elements of the plan. These questions should be answered as the election unfolds.

"Climate leadership is not a sprint," Bruce said. "B.C. needs to commit to going the distance, improving on current targets and clearing the air on key issues like liquefied natural gas. How does LNG fit in with any plan to reduce emissions? We're not sure yet. How will the next government ensure that methane emissions from this sector are accurately measured and reduced? All parties still need to answer these questions. We look forward to hearing what the other parties have planned on climate action. Now, more than ever, B.C. has the opportunity to lead on environmental solutions and invest in a sustainable economy."

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Media contact:
Emily Fister, Climate Change & Clean Energy Communications Specialist
David Suzuki Foundation
604-374-4102

Pipeline approval is a missed opportunity

Tue, 2017/01/24 - 3:02pm

VANCOUVER -- The U.S. government's decision today to approve the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines represents a missed opportunity for the country to lead on clean energy. "If the world is serious about addressing climate change, we can't continue to build long-lived fossil fuel infrastructure," David Suzuki Foundation CEO Peter Robinson said. "These projects lock us into increased use of carbon fuels while hindering the urgently needed transition to clean energy."

Beyond their climate impacts, the pipelines threaten Indigenous water resources and land. "Indigenous rights must take priority over short-term oil-industry profits," Robinson said. "We stand with the community of Standing Rock, which is opposing the Dakota Access pipeline. Approving these pipelines is short-sighted and will affect not only the environment, but the health of communities."

"Climate change has no borders," Robinson said. "Canada doesn't need to follow U.S. President Donald Trump's direction on this pipeline decision. We can lead on one of the fastest-growing industries in the world: renewable energy."

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Media contact:
Emily Fister, Climate Change & Clean Energy Communications Specialist
David Suzuki Foundation
Phone: 604-374-4102 (Vancouver)

David Suzuki Foundation offers opportunity to discover Mexican monarch butterfly sanctuary

Fri, 2017/01/20 - 11:26am

MONTREAL -- As North American monarch butterfly populations decline, the David Suzuki Foundation is launching a Monarchs in Mexico contest. Citizens throughout Canada will have the chance to win a one-of-a-kind trip to discover a magnificent refuge for this species. The monarch was designated as endangered in November.

Winners will have 10 days to discover Mexico's beauty and observe monarch butterflies in their natural habitat. After visiting the historical heart of Mexico City, winners will enjoy an awe-inspiring spectacle of millions of butterflies in flight at the El Rosario and Sierra Chincua sanctuaries, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

The endangered monarch is a Canadian icon

The contest is part of the Butterflyway Project launched by the Foundation last spring to raise awareness among Canadians of the threats facing the monarch, including climate change, habitat reduction and pesticide use. In agriculture, widespread herbicide use reduces the number of plants monarchs rely on, including flowering plants adult butterflies need for nectar and milkweed their caterpillars depend on for food. Milkweed used to be common in North America, but has now been eradicated from many fields, declining by as much as 58 per cent in some regions. Experts on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada say every generation of migrating monarchs depend on milkweed. Planting milkweed helps the monarch population, which hit a historical low of barely 33.5 million in 2013, compared to the annual average of 350 million a year over the past 15 years. Thanks to the efforts of citizens, more than 5,000 plants and 20,000 seed packs have been planted in Canada in 2016, as part of the Butterflyway Project.

"This steep decline in monarch populations over the past few years has raised concerns about the impact humans have on biodiversity, on which we all depend," says David Suzuki Foundation Quebec science projects manager Louise Hénault-Ethier. "A 2016 study published in Scientific Reports estimates that the monarch population in North America has a probability of declining up to 57 per cent over 20 years. Fortunately, there are solutions, but they require cooperation between North American governments, scientists, non-governmental organizations and citizens everywhere, including in Quebec. The first step could simply be discovering the wonder of the monarch. We hope this contest will encourage people to learn more about this butterfly and the importance of protecting it."

Butterflyway Project: Second edition will take off in 2017

The second edition of the Butterflyway Project will be announced in early March with a range of suggested actions that will enable people to help save an iconic Quebec species -- including buying milkweed, spearheading political advocacy and taking part in an ambassador program to create a butterfly effect to protect the monarch locally.

Contest information

The contest will run from January 18 to 29, 2017, and is open to all Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. The prize includes a 10-day trip for two to Mexico, including return flight to Mexico City* from the winner's city of residence, and accommodations.

The winner will be drawn at random and contacted on January 30, 2017, between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. EST, through the contact information indicated on the entry ballot. The winner will have two hours to confirm whether he or she accepts the prize.

For more details, go to http://action2.davidsuzuki.org/mexico

The Monarchs in Mexico contest is presented by Nature's Way and Cascades, in partnership with Espace pour la vie, Aeroplan and G Adventures.

_*The Foundation would like to point out that GHG emissions from the return flight to Mexico will be offset by the purchase of carbon credits. _

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Information and interview requests:

Manon Dubois, Communications Director (Quebec)
David Suzuki Foundation
514-679-0821, mdubois@davidsuzuki.org

National program partners:







Contest partners:

National climate strategy is a positive step, but more is needed

Fri, 2016/12/09 - 5:12pm

Vancouver/Montreal/Toronto -- The David Suzuki Foundation welcomes the pan-Canadian climate action plan released at today's First Ministers' meeting, but notes that more will be needed to put us on track to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2 C.

"This is a good start on the way to a cleaner, stronger future for Canada in terms of the economy and the environment," said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. "For the first time, Canada has built the foundation of an effective national climate plan that, if fully implemented, will put the country much closer to reaching its 2030 emissions target. These policies will need to be improved over time."

The federal government has taken an important leadership role by amplifying some of the best provincial climate solutions at a national scale, and adding a few new ones.

The key solutions included in the plan include:

  • An increasing price on carbon pollution that will encourage innovation and deployment of clean energy.
  • A phase-out of coal-fired power.
  • A green-building standard that will improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings.
  • A clean-fuel standard that will cut emissions from transportation fuels.
  • A $45 billion, 10-year investment commitment to transit, electric vehicles and renewable energy infrastructure.
  • A requirement to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.
  • A review mechanism to hold parties accountable for implementing the plan.

Notably absent from the strategy is a zero-emission vehicle standard similar to California and Quebec's that would increase availability and sales of electric vehicles in Canada, although the plan does include measures to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The Foundation is also concerned that if recently approved pipelines and LNG facilities are built, they could prevent Canada from reaching deeper reductions required to keep global temperature rise within safe levels. These projects would also force other sectors of the Canadian economy to reduce emissions more drastically.

Canada's leaders must now lay out a timetable for implementation and provide a full accounting of how newly approved pipeline and LNG projects fit in with the country's plan to reduce emissions by a minimum of 30 per cent relative to 2005 levels by 2030.
"For a plan to be credible, it must not send mixed signals about national priorities," Bruce said. "Responsible action on climate change means shifting from fossil fuels and diversifying the economy to ensure Canadians have good jobs today and into the future while also protecting the environment. That is what is in the national interest."

As large economies around the world take aggressive action on climate change, demand and markets for fossil fuels will decline. Canada must therefore seize the opportunity to transition to a clean economy to strengthen competitiveness, environmental sustainability and quality of life.

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Media Contacts:

Vancouver

Steve Kux, David Suzuki Foundation: 604-374-4102

Toronto

Gideon Forman, David Suzuki Foundation: 647-703-5957

Montreal

Diego Creimer, David Suzuki Foundation: 514-999-6743

Traditional knowledge needed to bring back B.C. caribou

Tue, 2016/12/06 - 6:10am

VANCOUVER, DECEMBER 6, 2016 -- Traditional ecological knowledge offers one of the best solutions to help the Chinchaga caribou herd in the face of numerous threats to their survival, according to a report released today by the Doig River First Nation, Firelight Group and David Suzuki Foundation.

The report identifies priority areas of restoration for the herd in northern B.C. The Province of British Columbia must complete a range plan for the Chinchaga herd that identifies restoration objectives by October 2017 to comply with the caribou's Recovery Strategy under Canada's Species at Risk Act (SARA). That's less than a year away.

Based on interviews with members of the northern B.C. First Nation, about 700 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, the report documents multi-generational stories and practical knowledge about hunting, trapping and cultural and spiritual practices relating to caribou.

"My people have harvested caribou in this area for millennia," said Chief Trevor Makadahay. "In only a few generations, industrial exploitation of these lands has diminished caribou populations to the point that there are no longer enough caribou for us to sustain ourselves."

In 2012, the federal government assessed that 74 per cent of the Chinchaga caribou Range had been impacted by forestry, oil and gas operations and roads. The local caribou population is listed as threatened under the SARA. Though some protective measures have been enacted through the Boreal Caribou Implementation Plan, oil and gas development has occurred at a rapid pace within winter ranges and calving habitat, and forestry activities have continued largely unchecked.

"The stories that come from intergenerational, place-based traditional ecological knowledge are far richer than those obtained from formal scientific methods such as radio-collaring and deserve a place at the forefront of recovery planning," said David Suzuki Foundation policy manager Rachel Plotkin.

"This work is a great example of how Indigenous expertise and strong ecological science can be brought together to support First Nations leadership in restoration of species at risk," added Firelight Group ecology director Carolyn Whittaker.

The report highlights that indigenous cultures in Canada have a deep-rooted responsibility to steward the land, especially in light of the failure to adequately do so by government.

"My people have a responsibility to the land to steward it for future generations. There needs to be a place at decision-making tables for our knowledge of the land," Chief Makadahay said. "The elders in my community want to eat caribou again before they die. Doig River First Nation is ready to play a leadership role in planning for caribou habitat restoration."

The report maps priority restoration areas and identifies 14 management recommendations for caribou in the Chinchaga range.

Download a copy of the report at www.davidsuzuki.org. For further information, please contact:
Jode Roberts, David Suzuki Foundation: 647.456.9752 jroberts@davidsuzuki.org

Expanding pipelines now doesn't make environmental or economic sense

Thu, 2016/12/01 - 8:59am

The federal government's decision today to move ahead with Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline expansion flies in the face of efforts to prevent a 2 C increase in global average temperature, as Canada committed to in the Paris Agreement.

Giving a green light to the Kinder Morgan project, in particular, doesn't make sense from an environmental or an economic perspective. "This decision, along with the recent approval for Pacific NorthWest's highly polluting LNG project near Prince Rupert, is forcing fossil fuel infrastructure where it's not needed or wanted," David Suzuki Foundation director of science and policy Ian Bruce said. "We should finance a shift to renewable energy projects rather than support large, outdated infrastructure projects that lock us into climate-altering fossil fuel use for years to come."

The controversial decision comes amidst opposition from 59 First Nations and 21 municipalities representing more than two million people. The pipeline expansion would bring bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to B.C. for export.

If built, these projects could lead to upwards of 34 million tonnes of emissions, putting significant strain on Alberta's plan to cap oilsands emissions at 100 million tonnes.

The David Suzuki Foundation opposes all fossil fuel infrastructure expansion, including Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion which will increase tanker traffic seven-fold. "British Columbians are right to worry about the effects of oil spills on sensitive marine environments, killer whales and their communities' health," David Suzuki Foundation Western Canada director general Jay Ritchlin said. "Oil spills will happen and they will never be fully cleaned up." Research confirms there is no spill response technology to effectively clean up diluted bitumen. "Even without an oil spill, this level of increase in shipping traffic is distressing for the future of the 80 remaining southern resident killer whales.

"The Salish Sea is an iconic part of Canada's economic, natural and cultural history, supporting wildlife and outdoor adventure and providing livelihoods to thousands in commercial fisheries and tourism. It's far too precious to risk a heavy crude oil spill and that's exactly what this project does," Ritchlin said.

Concerns have also been raised about limitations in the public consultation process and the collapse of public trust in the National Energy Board. "This is not a sound, evidence-based decision. We expect British Columbians to fight this decision and demand that Canada stop expanding fossil fuel infrastructure. Clean technology is the fastest growing sector in Canada's economy. That's where we need to invest in Canada's best interest," Ritchlin said.

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Media contacts:
Jay Ritchlin, Director General Western Canada, David Suzuki Foundation
Phone: 604-961-6840

Theresa Beer, Senior Communication Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation
Phone: 778-874-3396

CEO Peter Robinson completes nine years of service to DSF; new CEO sought

Tue, 2016/11/29 - 3:57pm

After nine years of leadership at the David Suzuki Foundation, CEO Peter Robinson is ready to hand over the reins. Robinson, who was previously CEO at Mountain Equipment Co-op and BC Housing, and has worked with BC Parks and the Red Cross, said leading DSF through many significant changes was his "most rewarding position."

"When I joined DSF, I had in mind a number of things I wanted to accomplish," Robinson said. "These included building a strong and successful organization, expanding our community to groups beyond our traditional followers through multicultural and large-scale digital outreach, ensuring we were national by creating a presence in Quebec and adding French to our communications, moving to a regional structure so we could address important local and provincial issues across Canada, and building a highly motivated management team. With this strong foundation in place, DSF is ready for the next CEO who can build on the best of our history and take us into the future of environmental education and advocacy."

DSF president and co-founder Tara Cullis said "We have been blessed to have Peter Robinson at our helm for nine excellent years and we're sorry to see him go. We wish him all the very best at his next enterprise and we know he will continue to do great good in the world."
 
All of us at the David Suzuki Foundation are grateful for Robinson's leadership and guidance and know he will continue to have success in his future endeavours. DSF is currently seeking a new CEO, working with recruiting firm Odgers Berndtson. For information, visit their website.

Celebrated authors join growing movement to clean up mercury mess in Grassy Narrows

Thu, 2016/11/24 - 12:04pm

TORONTO, NOVEMBER 24, 2016 -- This week, more than 60 of Canada's most celebrated authors joined the growing movement to clean up mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows, a northern Ontario community. The people of Grassy Narrows First Nation have been exposed to mercury in their waterways and fish since a pulp and paper company dumped almost ten tonnes of the potent neurotoxin on their site in the 1960s. In parliament yesterday, Ontario environment minister Glen Murray promised that the province will clean up mercury from the English-Wabigoon River system.

"While we applaud the minister for promising to act, we need an immediate commitment from the premier with a budget and timeline," David Suzuki Foundation science projects manager Rachel Plotkin said. "We applaud the authors for standing with the Grassy Narrows community, and call on the Ontario government to follow through on its long-awaited promise to make the fish safe to eat and the water safe to drink."

More than 60 celebrated Canadian authors (including Vincent Lam, Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden, Lawrence Hill, Yann Martell and Madeleine Thien, winner of this year's Governor General's Literary Award and Scotiabank Giller Prize) joined the growing movement calling for an immediate cleanup.

"I am deeply moved that writers in Canada stand with Grassy Narrows -- to see that the right thing is done," acclaimed author and medical doctor Vincent Lam said. "It is time for this mess to be cleaned up."

To demonstrate that they stand with Grassy Narrows First Nation community members, authors began sharing photos of their feet on social media this week with the hashtag #standwithgrassy. The posts encourage others to take action by sending a letter to Ontario's premier and Canada's prime minister through the David Suzuki Foundation's website (www.davidsuzuki.org/standwithgrassy).

The authors join a diverse group of celebrities, musicians, artists and advocates, including David Suzuki, Rachel McAdams and Jane Fonda, who are also standing with Grassy to demand a cleanup.

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For more information, please visit www.davidsuzuki.org/standwithgrassy or contact:

Jode Roberts, David Suzuki Foundation, 647-456-9752, jroberts@davidsuzuki.org

List of #standwithgrassy writer supporters -- as of November 23, 2016: Andre Alexis, Angie Abdou, Margaret Atwood, Mona Awad, Deni Ellis Béchard, Dennis Bock, Joseph Boyden, Cathy Marie Buchanan, Catherine Bush, Jowita Bydlowska, Sasha Chapman, Karen Connelly, David Cronenberg, Anthony De Sa, Esi Edugyan, Marina Endicott, Charles Foran, Will Ferguson, Douglas Gibson, Graeme Gibson, Don Gillmor, Charlotte Gray, Rawi Hage, Elizabeth Hay, Teva Harrison, Kenneth J. Harvey, Lawrence Hill, Miranda Hill, Wayne Johnston, Adrienne Kress, Alice Kuipers, Vincent Lam, Kateri Lanthier, Catherine Leroux, Linden MacIntyre, Stephen Marche, Yann Martel, Ken McGoogan, Bruce Meyer, Lisa Moore, Marina Nemat, Michael Ondaatje, Laurence Packer, Christine Pountney, Andrew Pyper, Michael Redhill, Robert Rotenberg, Elizabeth Ruth, Robert Sawyer, Sarah Selecky, Antanas Sileika, Merilyn Simonds, Johanna Skibsrud, Linda Spalding, Eva Stachniak, David Suzuki, Ania Szado, Madeleine Thien, Miriam Toews, Ayelet Tsabari, Jane Urquhart, Russell Wangersky, Zoe Whittall, Michael Winter, Alissa York.

Équiterre and David Suzuki Foundation applaud federal action to phase out neonicotinoid pesticide but criticize timeline

Thu, 2016/11/24 - 9:46am

Ottawa -- Yesterday Health Canada announced a proposal to phase out imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide widely used in agriculture in Canada, within three to five years. The proposal is based on new findings that imidacloprid poses unacceptable risks to aquatic insects, such as midges and mayflies, which are important food for fish, birds and other animals.

Équiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation find the proposed timeline unacceptable, given the risks acknowledged in the proposal and the high concentrations of the chemical found in waterways in Canada. "Other jurisdictions have acted decisively, such as France's ban on all neonicotinoids that will come into effect in 2018," Nadine Bachand, project manager at Équiterre said.

Research shows integrated pest management and other best practices are currently available to eliminate the need for these pesticides to manage pests on crops. "Neonicotinoids are used preventatively in corn and soy crops, through seed coating, whether or not farmers actually have pest problems," Faisal Moola, David Suzuki Foundation director general Ontario and Northern Canada added. "We need to move quickly to integrated pest management approaches now widely accepted in Europe."

While this measure will cover several uses of the pesticide, its use in and around homes and buildings or for treatment of pets (flea, ticks and lice) are not covered, an omission Équiterre and DSF condemn.

Health Canada also announced a special review of two other types of neonicotinoids, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, to assess risks to aquatic species. Special reviews initiated by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency take an average of two years. Équiterre and DSF recommend these special reviews be completed quickly as a matter of priority.

The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, a group of 50 international researchers, examined more than 1,100 peer-reviewed scientific articles and found neonicotinoids are persistent and pervasive throughout the environment and pose an unacceptable risk to biodiversity, including species that are beneficial to farmers, such as earthworms and pollinators.

In January, contrary to the TFSP review, Health Canada concluded that imidacloprid posed no unmanageable risk to bees and native pollinators. A preliminary risk assessment to pollinators for thiametoxam and chlotianidin should be released by the end of 2017. However, special review with a focus restricted to pollinators or aquatic insects could neglect potential human health impacts.

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Sources:

Nadine Bachand
Project Manager
Collective Choices, Agriculture and Pesticides
Équiterre
514-213-3287 (cell)
514-522-2000 ext. 222
nbachand@equiterre.org

Faisal Moola
Director General
Ontario and Northern Canada
David Suzuki Foundation
647-993-5788 (cell)
416-348-9885 ext. 1571
fmoola@davidsuzuki.org

Federal coal phase-out announcement a major win for health and climate action

Mon, 2016/11/21 - 11:59am

VANCOUVER -- The federal government's announcement to end conventional coal power by 2030 will accelerate Canada's shift to a clean economy. Doctors, environmental groups and people of all stripes have told government that carbon emissions and air pollution from coal power are unacceptable in a country with as many clean energy resources as Canada. And the government listened. The plan to support this shift with infrastructure investments in clean power sources like wind and solar will help spur innovation and develop Canada's clean tech sector, leading to jobs and economic growth.

"This announcement marks a huge commitment to health and climate action," David Suzuki Foundation director of science and policy Ian Bruce said. "Once the federal government enacts this promise into law, people across the country will be able to breathe easier about the future of energy production."

Coal power contributes 70 per cent of carbon emissions from Canada's electricity sector. Ending its use by 2030 is projected to avoid more than 1,000 premature deaths and save more than $5 billion in health-care costs compared to previous regulations.

"Along with putting a price on carbon emissions, ending the use of traditional coal power represents a serious commitment to climate action in Canada," David Suzuki Foundation director general for Quebec and Atlantic Canada, Karel Mayrand said. "The next piece of the puzzle needs to be rejection of proposed fossil fuel infrastructure projects, including new pipelines."

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For more information:

David Suzuki Foundation -- Steve Kux 604-374-4102

Coal-fired power worsening health and climate nation-wide

Mon, 2016/11/21 - 9:02am

New report from doctors, health and environment groups call on federal government to phase-out coal nationally by 2030

OTTAWA --A national coal phase-out by 2030 would prevent thousands of premature deaths across Canada and result in billions of dollars in health benefits, according to a new report from the Pembina Institute and a coalition of health and environment organizations. A federal policy commitment of this nature would double health benefits compared to the existing federal phase-out timeline, and would make an important contribution to the upcoming pan-Canadian climate plan.

Out with the coal, in with the new: national benefits of an accelerated phase-out of coal fired power, finds that pollutants from coal-fired power traveling across provinces affect the health of populations in both coal-burning and non-coal-burning provinces. Air pollutants from coal plants are known to produce heart and lung diseases, aggravate asthma and increase premature deaths and hospital admissions. Coal plants are also a significant source of mercury that is harmful to children exposed during pregnancy and in early life.
A national phase-out of coal-fired power is a critical piece of an effective pan-Canadian climate plan, not only for the significant greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, but for the health and economic co-benefits it would secure nationwide. By advancing a national phase-out by 2030, Canada would join a growing number of jurisdictions, including provincial leaders in Alberta and Ontario, as well as the United Kingdom, Austria and the states of New York and Oregon.

Quick facts

  • A national phase-out of coal-fired power by 2030 would avoid 1,008 premature deaths, 871 emergency room visits, and produce nearly $5 billion in benefits between 2015 and 2035.
  • Coal-fired power represents over 70% of emissions in Canada's electricity sector, while providing only 11% of the country's electricity.
  • The electricity sector is responsible for approximately 12% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Currently, there are 35 coal power units across Canada, in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
  • According to the Government of Canada, in 2015, coal plants were 9 of the top 13 sources of sulphur dioxide in Canada, 10 of the 13 top sources of nitrogen oxides, and 3 of the top 5 sources of mercury.

Quotes

"Because of its potential to reduce carbon pollution and avoid negative health and economic outcomes, a national coal phase-out is a foundational element of credible long-term climate action. In order to live up to its commitment outlined in the Paris Agreement, Canada must rapidly clean up its electricity grid and replace fossil fuel combustion with clean electricity. We expect an accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power by 2030 to be a critical piece of the upcoming pan-Canadian climate plan."
-- Erin Flanagan, federal policy director, Pembina Institute

"By closing Canada's remaining coal-fired power plants by 2030, we can improve the health and well-being of thousands of Canadians by improving air quality from Alberta to the Maritimes. By closing these plants, we will save lives, prevent chronic heart and lung diseases, make breathing easier for those with asthma, while saving health care costs by reducing emergency room visits and hospital admissions. This is climate action that will produce many immediate co-benefits."
-- Kim Perrotta, executive director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

"Public support for ending coal use is enormous. People know burning coal poisons the air and leads to health problems, particularly for children and the elderly. And they understand it contributes to climate change. In 2005, Ontario had 53 days with smog warnings. In 2014, after the province's last coal plant closed, there were zero smog days."
-- Gideon Forman, climate change and transportation policy analyst, David Suzuki Foundation

"The scientific evidence on the destructive health effects of coal pollution is clear; it has been associated with myriad health issues, such as cancer, autism, miscarriages and poor lung and brain development in children. The federal government has the opportunity to reduce the ongoing serious damage being inflicted on the health of taxpayers as a result of coal-fired power plants. By tightening federal regulations on coal-fired power plants, the Government of Canada can take an important step towards creating the healthy energy environment that will protect the health of Canadians today and provide a stable climate for the future."
-- Ian Culbert, executive director, Canadian Public Health Association

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Visit the Pembina Institute's website to download a copy of Out with the coal, in with the new

Contact

Kelly O'Connor
Communications Lead, Pembina Institute
416-220-8804 | kellyo@pembina.org

Kim Perrotta
Executive Director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
(905) 320-8710 | kim@cape.ca

Gideon Forman
Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst, David Suzuki Foundation
(647) 703-5957| gForman@davidsuzuki.org

Emma Mallach
Communications Manager, Canadian Public Health Association
(613) 725.3769 ext. 160 | (613) 914.1151 | emallach@cpha.ca

Vanessa Foran
President and CEO, Asthma Society of Canada
(416) 787-4050 ext. 102 | vanessa.foran@asthma.ca

Barb McKinnon
President and CEO, New Brunswick Lung Association
barb.mackinnon@nb.lung.ca

Background

Submission: Building a pan-Canadian climate plan (June 2016)

Report: Breathing in the benefits: How an accelerated coal phase-out can reduce health impacts and costs to Albertans (September 2016)

Submission: Modernizing Canada's electricity systems: A pan-Canadian electrification strategy to cut carbon pollution (July 2016)

Report: A costly diagnosis: Subsidizing coal power with Albertans' health (March 2013)

Regional Spokespeople

Alberta:
Benjamin Israel (English / français)
Advisor, Pembina Institute
(403) 269-3344 ext. 103 | benjamini@pembina.org

Dr. Joe Vipond (English / français)
Emergency Physician
(403) 510-9236 | jvipondmd@gmail.com

Saskatchewan
Dr. Mark Bigland-Pritchard
Clean power and coal exit campaign coordinator, Climate Justice Saskatoon
(306) 827 7431 | mark@lowenergydesign.com

Dr. Wanda Martin
President, Saskatchewan Public Health Association
(306) 966-5429 | wanda.martin@usask.ca

Ontario:
Barbara McElgunn
Health Policy Advisor, Learning Disabilities Association of Canada
(416) 281 9676 | mcelgunnb@rogers.com

Marion Zych
Director of Communications, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)
(647) 406-5605

Quebec:
Karel Mayrand
Director General, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, David Suzuki Foundation
(514) 871-4932 ext.1451 | kmayrand@davidsuzuki.org

New Brunswick:
Dr. Louise Comeau
Director, Climate Change and Energy Solutions, Conservation Council of New Brunswick
(506) 238-0355 | louise.comeau@conservationcouncil.ca

Nova Scotia:
Stephen Thomas
Energy Campaign Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre
(902) 441-7136 | stephen@ecologyaction.ca

Business group, environmentalists urge parking levy to fund Toronto transit

Thu, 2016/11/10 - 9:52am

Toronto -- The David Suzuki Foundation and Canadian Business for Social Responsibility have launched a campaign urging Mayor John Tory to support a commercial parking levy to fund public transit.

This is the first joint initiative by a business organization and an environmental group to win this new revenue tool.

"We've long said that a levy on commercial parking lots would help Toronto fund vital transit services and get our city moving again. We're delighted that a forward-looking and progressive business organization like CBSR agrees," said David Suzuki Foundation transportation analyst Gideon Forman. "Busting congestion is good for the environment and it's good for business."

The new campaign will involve both an online effort to get citizens contacting the Mayor's office and a subway station ad buy. The ad says: "To bust congestion, we need more transit! Ask Mayor Tory to support a commercial parking levy to fund transit."

According to a recent KPMG report, the public is supportive of parking levies if the revenue is directed at transit investments.

"Monies from the parking levy should be directly linked to transit funding and not get lost in general revenues," CBSR executive director Steven Fish said.

Research suggests the parking levy -- which would be paid by parking lot owners -- could bring Toronto as much as $535 million annually.

"The projected amount per parking spot is modest -- about $1.50 a day -- but collectively this money could be very significant for the city," Forman said. "It would let us avoid fare hikes and improve TTC service, while addressing climate change and relieving congestion."

The Toronto Region Board of Trade estimates gridlock currently costs the Toronto region $6 billion annually in lost productivity and is projected to grow to $15 billion by 2031. The Board is on record as recommending a parking levy to help pay for public transit.

For more information, please visit www.davidsuzuki.org or contact:
Gideon Forman, Transportation Policy Analyst, David Suzuki Foundation (416) 348-9885, ext. 1575
Steven Fish, Executive Director, Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (416) 703-7435

Federal government announcement misses the boat on coastal security

Mon, 2016/11/07 - 3:13pm

VANCOUVER -- While the David Suzuki Foundation welcomed today's federal government announcement to improve West Coast marine safety and oil spill response, it pointed out what's missing for a real oceans protection plan.

"Improving responses to spills on B.C.'s coast is absolutely necessary, as we've seen recently with the botched spill recovery near Bella Bella," said Jay Ritchlin, the Foundation's director-general for Western Canada. "It's impossible, however, to adequately clean up oil spills, especially bitumen. As long as we keep increasing transport of fossils fuels, ecosystems, wildlife and communities remain at unacceptably high risk.

"With a decision by the federal government about the Kinder Morgan pipeline project just around the corner, coastal ecosystem security should be front-and-centre. This government must say no to expanding fossil fuel infrastructure."

Industry only recovers on average 14 per cent of oil in a spill and the impacts are felt in ecosystems for many years. "There's no coastal security with this kind of poor oil spill recovery, especially with plans to increase tanker traffic seven-fold should the Kinder Morgan pipeline project be approved," Ritchlin said.

Real security for coastal communities and wildlife must go beyond spill response measures. That requires effective marine planning and protected areas, wild salmon and killer whale recovery and a ban on tankers for the North Coast, according to the Foundation.

"We were disappointed that today's announcement focused on clean up after the fact rather than avoiding oil spills in the first place by reducing fossil fuel production and transportation.

"If the federal government was focused on meeting Canada's marine biodiversity targets and protecting coastal ecosystems, it would ratify a long-awaited framework for ocean planning for the north Pacific.

"The safety of wild salmon and other marine species, including the 80 remaining endangered southern resident killer whales, has to be part of any plan for the coast. Following the lowest B.C. sockeye salmon run in recorded history, acting on the Cohen Commission recommendations and investing in actions under Canada's Wild Salmon Policy is more important than ever," Ritchlin said.

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Media contact:

Jay Ritchlin, Director-General Western Canada, David Suzuki Foundation
Cell: 604-961-6840

COP22 is a chance for Canada to follow through on its promises

Mon, 2016/11/07 - 2:25pm

VANCOUVER --The 22nd United Nations climate conference starts today. It's been nearly a year since more than 195 countries signed the first global agreement to limit climate change to safe levels. But the important work of deciding how the Paris Agreement will be implemented lies ahead. As a country that led in the agreement's development, Canada is obligated to show strong leadership in addressing climate change.

"Canadians want a comprehensive national plan to drive down emissions," said David Suzuki Foundation director of science and policy Ian Bruce. "COP22 is an opportunity for leaders nationwide to take clear, co-ordinated action to meet and exceed our emissions reductions targets."

In the wake of announcing a federal price on carbon emissions to come into effect in 2018 and ahead of a first minister's meeting in December, Canada needs to show it's willing to do what it takes to drive down carbon emissions. This is especially true following the approval of an LNG plant for the B.C. coast that will be one of the country's largest sources of emissions.

"The federal government needs to show how it plans to reduce emissions in the context of approving new fossil fuel projects or it needs to put a stop to them," Bruce added. "It can't take steps to address climate change and approve projects that actively work against that goal at the same time."

A comprehensive approach to climate change should build on the recently announced price on carbon emissions and renewed investment in public transit and green infrastructure. The next steps for Canada are to phase out coal-fired electricity, end fossil fuel subsidies -- that work in direct opposition to a carbon price -- and expand access to low- and zero-emissions vehicles.

"With the Paris Agreement ratification underway, the world has sent a clear message about the importance of acting on climate change," Bruce said. "That action begins at home with a comprehensive plan to meet the goals we've set and live up to our international obligations."

Media:

David Suzuki Foundation -- Steve Kux 604-374-4102