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Updated: 12 hours 55 min ago

Ontario budget emphasizes crucial investment in transit, electric vehicles

Thu, 2017/04/27 - 4:53pm

TORONTO -- The David Suzuki Foundation applauds the Ontario government's plan to spend $56 billion on public transit infrastructure over the next 10 years, as announced today in the Ontario budget. The amount is more than twice what the province will spend on highways.

"This prioritization of transit over road-building is welcome because transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gases in the province," said Foundation policy analyst Gideon Forman. "Helping Ontarians leave the car at home and take light rail or a bike is crucial."

The province is also earmarking about $90 million this year to promote electric vehicle use. That money will come from the sale of allowances through Ontario's cap and trade program.

"We recognize not everyone can take transit, walk or cycle. Some folks will need a car," Forman said. "But if we're going to tackle climate change, we have to ensure that car is electric."

Other 2017-18 projects funded through cap and trade revenue will include:

• $200 million to help schools enhance energy efficiency and set up renewable energy systems such as solar panels or geothermal heat pumps
• $85 million to retrofit social housing
• $50 million to improve commuter cycling infrastructure, including cycling lanes and signals

"These investments are exciting because they have a whole range of co-benefits," Forman said. "When you build bike lanes, for example, you improve air quality and also increase people's fitness. When you install solar arrays on schools, you produce both electricity and opportunities for educating students about power generation."

When the government passed cap and trade legislation in 2016, it suggested annual revenue from the system would be about $1.9 billion. Today's budget takes a more cautious approach, suggesting it may only generate $1.4 billion a year.

"This approach calls into question whether the government will be able to bring in a full range of climate change-reduction activities like transit and renewable energy," Forman said.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Gideon Forman, Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst
647-703-5957

New science reveals unreported methane pollution from B.C.'s oil and gas industry threatens Canada's international climate commitments

Wed, 2017/04/26 - 6:42am

VANCOUVER -- Groundbreaking new research estimates fugitive methane emissions from B.C. oil and natural gas operations -- the majority of which use hydraulic fracturing (fracking) -- are at least 2.5 times higher than reported by the B.C. government and may be much higher.

The study, conducted by the David Suzuki Foundation in partnership with St. Francis Xavier University, is the first on-the-ground, comprehensive research on methane emissions in Canada. It highlights the urgent need for the federal government to get methane emissions under control and not delay action as it recently proposed.

"Our peer-reviewed research shows the true magnitude of Canada's methane pollution problem is much bigger than previously estimated by industry and government," Ian Bruce, Foundation director of science and policy said. "Now that we know the extent of the problem, the David Suzuki Foundation is calling on the federal government to take a responsible approach by quickly enacting strong regulations and ensuring industry follows them.

"The federal government has the power to do what's right. It should re-commit to enact strong regulations within months, not years," Bruce said. "The science is clear: Cutting methane pollution is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to address climate change. The technology exists to eliminate industry-released methane."

Over a 20-year period, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate pollutant. Leading scientists estimate that methane is responsible for 25 per cent of already observed changes to Earth's climate -- why it's identified as a top climate priority globally.

This research is the first ground-based measurement of methane emissions ever conducted in Canada. Scientists travelled more than 8,000 kilometres using vehicle-mounted gas-detection instruments (a sniffer truck), covering more than 1,600 well pads and facilities in B.C.'s Montney formation. The results are available and undergoing final review in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions.

The research reveals that B.C.'s Montney region alone leaks more than 111,800 tonnes of methane into the air every year. This is the climate pollution equivalent of burning more than 4.5 million tonnes of coal or putting more than two million cars on the road.

Today, Environmental Defence also released a new report showing methane emissions from Alberta's oil and gas industry are significantly higher than previously reported, and pointing to the need for strong federal regulations now to reduce and eliminate these emissions.

"Applied at a national scale, these findings show that fracked gas -- rather than serving as a 'clean' transition fuel -- actually makes it harder for Canada to meet its climate change commitments," Bruce said. "Although our research shows that methane pollution is a big part of the problem, if action is taken now it can also be a big part of the solution."

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A media backgrounder summarizing research results and policy recommendations is available here: DSF_fracking_media_backgrounder.pdf

The academic study, Mobile measurement of methane emissions from natural gas developments in Northeastern British Columbia, Canada, is available here:
http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/acp-2017-109/

Infrared video clips of methane pollution, and photos of abandoned and leaking wells in British Columbia's Montney region, are available from the David Suzuki Foundation.

For more information, please contact:

Emily Fister
Climate Change & Clean Energy Communications Specialist
David Suzuki Foundation
604-440-5470

New science reveals climate pollution from B.C.'s oil and gas industry is more than double what government claims

Wed, 2017/04/26 - 6:41am

Poorly regulated extraction operations, the majority fracking gas for LNG, make B.C.'s oil and gas industry the largest source of climate pollution in the province.

VANCOUVER -- Methane pollution from the oil and gas industry in British Columbia is now at least 2.5 times higher than stated by the B.C. government, and may be much higher, according to research conducted by the David Suzuki Foundation in partnership with St. Francis Xavier University.

Over a 20-year period, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate pollutant. Leading scientists estimate that methane is responsible for 25 per cent of already observed changes to Earth's climate -- why it's identified as a top climate priority globally.

"The finding of our peer-reviewed research is groundbreaking. It shows the true magnitude of B.C.'s methane pollution problem is much bigger than previously reported by industry and government," Ian Bruce, Foundation director of science and policy said. "Now that we know the extent of the problem, the David Suzuki Foundation is calling on B.C.'s next government to make it a priority to get this pollution problem under control and ensure industry is responsible for being part of the solution."

"Our research shows fossil fuel extraction in B.C.'s Montney region alone is intentionally releasing approximately 111,800 tonnes of methane into the air annually," John Werring, Foundation senior science and policy advisor and co-author of the study said. "This is the climate pollution equivalent of burning more than 4.5 million tonnes of coal, or putting more than two million cars on the road. It challenges claims that B.C. LNG is a 'clean' or useful 'transition' fuel."

The Montney region represents more than half (55 per cent) of total gas production in B.C. Approximately half of all well and processing sites in the region intentionally release methane.

Spanning 2015 and 2016, the research is the first ground-based measurement of methane emissions ever conducted in Canada. Scientists travelled more than 8,000 kilometres using vehicle-mounted gas-detection instruments (a sniffer truck), covering more than 1,600 well pads and facilities in the Montney formation. The results are available and undergoing final review in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions.

In 2016, David Suzuki Foundation researchers went back into the field to obtain direct well site and facility measurements, using infrared video cameras and leak-detection equipment. These results corroborate the findings of the vehicle-based surveys, while also identifying abandoned leaking wells that have not been capped and properly reclaimed.

"The good news is cutting methane pollution from the oil and gas sector is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to address climate change," Werring said. "The next B.C. government must establish accountability and proper oversight, so oil and fracked gas activities can eliminate methane pollution by 2030. This should include the use of existing full methane capture technologies, mandatory pollution detection and repair regulations, and the application of the B.C. carbon tax to methane pollution."

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A media backgrounder summarizing research results and policy recommendations is available here: DSF_fracking_media_backgrounder.pdf

The academic study, Mobile measurement of methane emissions from natural gas developments in Northeastern British Columbia, Canada, is available here:
http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/acp-2017-109/

Infrared video clips of methane pollution, and photos of abandoned and leaking wells in British Columbia's Montney region, are available from the David Suzuki Foundation.

For more information, please contact:

Emily Fister
Climate Change & Clean Energy Communications Specialist
David Suzuki Foundation
604-440-5470

David Suzuki Foundation reaction to B.C. Liberal Party climate platform

Tue, 2017/04/18 - 4:31pm

VANCOUVER-- With the release of its 2017 election platform, the B.C. Liberal party has maintained its position on climate action and expanding fossil fuel production within the province. The platform celebrates achievements put in place under former premier Gordon Campbell, which have not been strengthened or built upon for a number of years.

The platform calls for:

• Extending the freeze on the carbon tax (in place since 2012) to 2021, effectively reducing B.C.'s price on carbon pollution as inflation erodes its value.
• Continued expansion of the LNG/fracking industry within the province.
• Pushing forward the costly and controversial Site C dam project.
• Hitting B.C.'s 2050 emissions reductions target, but not its 2020 target.

Analysis of B.C.'s Climate Leadership Plan by the Pembina Institute suggests present commitments will cause the province to miss its 2020 emissions reductions target and likely its 2050 target. This failure is due in large part to the decision by the B.C. government not to implement the 32 recommendations prescribed by the Climate Leadership Team that the government itself assembled.

"The B.C. Liberal platform suggests the province can expand its fossil fuel industry and achieve ambitious emissions reductions targets at the same time -- but this is not the reality," said David Suzuki Foundation policy analyst Steve Kux. "The present plan rejects expert input into necessary climate action and pushes ahead with projects that will delay the growth of low-impact renewable energy in B.C."

Last February, the Canadian Wind Energy Association shut down its operations in B.C., citing a lack of interest on the part of the provincial government and BC Hydro in pursuing opportunities for wind power. At the same time, provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan have made commitments to grow their wind and solar power capacity.

"Instead of focusing on fossil fuels like fracked gas, B.C. should invest in good, long-term jobs in clean tech," Kux said. "This province would benefit from continued leadership in reducing emissions and growing a clean energy economy."

The current Climate Leadership Plan contains a few positive elements, such as strengthening B.C.'s low-carbon fuel standard and reducing methane emissions from the LNG/fracking industry by 45 per cent by 2025, but it relies heavily on carbon offsets from forestry rather than plans to actually reduce emissions.

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Media contact:
Emily Fister, Climate Change & Clean Energy Communications Specialist
David Suzuki Foundation
604-440-5470

David Suzuki Foundation calls for swift action on broken environmental assessment process

Thu, 2017/04/06 - 2:03pm

VANCOUVER -- Following extensive public consultation, an expert panel released recommendations today on how to improve Canada's environmental assessment process. They call for a more participatory, fair, comprehensive and scientific process for environmental assessments in Canada.

"The federal government instructed this expert panel to review Canada's environmental assessment law to identify what is needed to restore public trust in the process," said David Suzuki Foundation senior science and policy advisor John Werring. "The panel has done that in spades. We encourage government to implement the panel's recommendations as soon as possible."

In 2016, thousands of Canadians submitted comments to the panel, calling for significant changes that would address critical issues such as Indigenous rights, climate change, public participation and cumulative effects. The environmental assessment process is critical to ensuring that projects such as pipelines, mines and dams are held to rigorous standards.

Notably, the report recommends incorporating a climate lens into environmental assessment decision-making, an important step toward transitioning to a low-carbon future. Until now, a major problem has been that decisions concerning major energy projects have been at odds with Canada's national commitment to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Missing from the panel's recommendations is a widespread call to ground environmental assessment in a rights-based approach. "More than 110 countries legally recognize their citizens' right to a healthy environment, but not Canada. We believe the next generation of environmental assessment must include this right as a guiding principle," Werring said.

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For more information, please contact:
John Werring
Senior Science and Policy Advisor, David Suzuki Foundation
Email: jwerring@davidsuzuki.org
Cell: 604-306-0517

Resources:
Government release on EA Reform Process

First Ontario cap and trade auction will lower emissions, save money

Tue, 2017/04/04 - 3:51pm

TORONTO -- Ontario's first cap and trade auction is a crucial step on the road to climate protection and cleaner air, the David Suzuki Foundation said.

"We've long supported the principle of polluter pays," said Foundation climate change policy analyst Gideon Forman. "Cap and trade embodies that principle so we're very gratified to see its implementation."

The March 22 auction sold greenhouse gas allowances worth over $472 million, the government said Monday. Under law, these funds must be spent on greenhouse gas reduction projects such as home energy retrofits, expansion of electric vehicle charging stations, public transit and social housing retrofits. Retrofits improve homes' energy efficiency, lowering energy use and saving residents money.

The cap and trade revenue will also help First Nations set up renewable microgrids and reduce diesel fuel use in electricity production.

"Burning less diesel is crucial to improving air quality and addressing climate change," Forman said. "It's especially important in First Nations communities, where living conditions are often deplorable. Perhaps the move away from diesel is another aspect of reconciliation."

The March auction was one of four planned for 2017. Total annual revenue from the program is expected to be $1.9 billion.

"The importance of pricing carbon can't be overstated," Forman said. "The atmosphere has long been used as a free garbage dump. It is encouraging to see Ontario putting an end to this practice and spending nearly $2 billion a year in auction revenue on climate change mitigation."

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For more information:
Gideon Forman, Climate Change Policy Analyst
David Suzuki Foundation
647-703-5957

David Suzuki Foundation reaction to BC Green Party climate change platform

Tue, 2017/04/04 - 3:47pm

VANCOUVER -- The David Suzuki Foundation is encouraged by the release of the BC Green Party's climate change platform, which includes numerous proposals to help B.C. regain its status as a climate leader. The platform includes ideas that the David Suzuki Foundation has long advocated for, such as:

• Reinstating annual increases to the provincial carbon tax incentive
• Applying the provincial carbon tax to include fugitive emissions from oil and gas companies
• Increasing provincial government investment in public transit and cycling infrastructure
• Legislating a zero-emission vehicle standard to increase the availability of non-emitting vehicles
• Supporting energy efficiency improvements to buildings across the province

"The BC Green Party platform makes several key pledges to restore B.C.'s reputation as a climate action leader," Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce said. "This is the first platform we've seen from a major B.C. party that goes beyond the minimum standard for carbon pricing set by the federal government."

The BC Green Party has committed to a range of policies to put B.C. back on track to reach its target of 40 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030. With current provincial policies, B.C.'s emissions are projected to rise.

The platform includes a pledge to raise the province's carbon tax by $10 per year for four years beginning in 2018, surpassing the federal government's requirement for provincial carbon pricing policies to achieve a price of $50 per tonne of emissions by 2022.

"It's promising to see the Climate Leadership Team recommend a commitment to mid-term emissions reductions targets," Bruce said. "B.C. has a real opportunity to prosper in the emerging clean energy economy, but we need to take action immediately if we don't want to be left behind."

Missing from this announcement are details of a funding framework for public transit infrastructure investment and a firm commitment to expand the use of low-impact renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and tidal power to achieve the province's energy needs.

The Foundation's 2016 report Breaking Gridlock: B.C.'s transit investment deficit and what can be done to fix it recommends that the provincial government live up to its 2008 pledge to provide 43 per cent of the funding for new transit projects, reducing the burden on local governments by empowering municipalities to raise new sources of revenues.

"Expanding public transit through reliable provincial funding and expanding the use of low-impact renewable energy in B.C. are two things we can't afford to overlook," Bruce said. "Excluding job-creating industries like wind and solar power in favour of big hydro projects fails to recognize the potential of these rapidly growing industries.

"We look forward to hearing more details about all parties' climate action strategies as the election unfolds."

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Media contact:
Emily Fister, Climate Change & Clean Energy Communications Specialist
David Suzuki Foundation
604-440-5470

Ontario decision to end hunt of at-risk snapping turtle is a necessary move

Mon, 2017/04/03 - 6:51am

TORONTO -- Ontario's decision to end hunting of snapping turtles is a welcome move, according to the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Herpetological Society and Ontario Nature. Ontario lists the snapping turtle as a species of "special concern," which means that although it is not yet endangered or threatened, a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats could endanger or threaten it.

In December 2016, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry proposed to limit but not end the hunt. In response, thousands of Ontarians submitted comments through the Environmental Registry, asking the government to close the hunt completely.

Science clearly shows the hunt is unsustainable. Snapping turtle populations will decline with even minor increases in adult deaths. Hunting adds to the cumulative adverse impacts of other significant threats to the species, making recovery more difficult and expensive.

"Snapping turtles mature at a very late age," says Scott Gillingwater, past president of the Canadian Herpetological Society. "It generally takes 17 to 20 years before a female can lay her first clutch of eggs, making populations of this species exceptionally vulnerable to increased mortality of adults. Ending hunting of snapping turtles is an important and necessary first step in the recovery of this species, an outcome that all groups that value nature and the outdoors should support."

"At a local scale, the hunt can have disastrous impacts on some populations," says David Suzuki Foundation Ontario science projects manager Rachel Plotkin. "Ending the hunt is important not only at the local scale but also on the global stage, as turtles are in decline across the planet."

"I commend the government for embracing a precautionary approach and heeding the science," says Ontario Nature conservation and education director Anne Bell. "Ending the hunt helps to give snapping turtles a fighting chance and frees us up to focus attention on dealing with other threats such as wetland loss and road kills."

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For more information, contact:

John Hassell, Director of Communications and Engagement, Ontario Nature johnh@ontarionature.org, (416) 444-8419 ext. 269, cell (416) 786-2171
Rachel Plotkin, Manager, Ontario Science Projects, rplotkin@davidsuzuki.org, cell (416) 799-8435
Scott Gillingwater, Canadian Herpetological Society, cell (519) 495 0400

Transit funding announcement moves us in the right direction, but B.C. government must act to secure deal

Fri, 2017/03/31 - 3:04pm

VANCOUVER -- The David Suzuki Foundation is encouraged by the recent attention being paid to increasing public transit funding in the lead-up to the May 9 B.C. election.

"Alleviating B.C. and Metro Vancouver's traffic and transit congestion crisis and enhancing our environmental leadership must be a top priority for B.C.'s next government," said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. "It's reassuring to see that all political parties are now talking about increasing the province's investment to expand transit infrastructure and provide better service for British Columbians."

The Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council 10-year transportation improvement plan got a step closer to being realized today with a commitment from the B.C. government to match, dollar for dollar, the federal government's $2.2 billion commitment for two new rapid transit lines in the region. Although significant work is still needed to reach a final agreement to fund these transit projects and the region's broader transportation plan, the B.C. government has promised a larger financial investment with the provincial election approaching.

The David Suzuki Foundation sees the need for two key ingredients to secure a successful deal to improve transportation and alleviate congestion in Metro Vancouver.

First, B.C.'s next government will need to commit to increasing provincial investments so that the full $8 billion Metro Vancouver transportation plan (and a more extensive plan for B.C. overall) can move forward.

Second, B.C. must increase the provincial contribution to bring it closer to the 2008 transit plan framework of a 43 per cent provincial share.

B.C.'s next government will also need to change legislation to empower Metro Vancouver to raise new revenues to help pay for the local contribution from cash-strapped municipal governments. Only the province has the fiscal power and legislative authority to create the new revenue tools needed to close the gap. Without those tools, Metro Vancouver's transportation and transit plan is at risk and traffic congestion will worsen, affecting quality of life in the region.

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For more information, contact:
Ian Bruce, Science and Policy Director, David Suzuki Foundation
604-306-5095

Keystone XL approval hinders the growing global renewable energy economy

Fri, 2017/03/24 - 11:30am

VANCOUVER -- The U.S. government's decision to approve the Keystone XL construction permit puts the country behind in a global economy that is rapidly shifting to renewable energy -- and could slow the necessary transition from fossil fuels, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.

"This is not just a U.S. issue," Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce said. "This is also a Canadian issue and represents an international threat to climate stability."

The permit approval marks the beginning of a lengthy process, which includes awaiting approval from Nebraska regulators and TransCanada's filing of its pipeline route plans. Those plans must then go through the state's Public Service Commission and public hearings.

Although the pipeline still faces some hurdles, Bruce stressed that the permit approval is a major step backwards.

"A fossilized past threatens a renewable future," Bruce said. "The global rush for clean energy is on. At this rate, renewable energy will boost the world economy by $19 trillion. There is no need to go backwards as the market for fossil fuels continues to shrink."

Canada's recently announced 2017 federal budget marked a commitment to powering the country with renewable energy. To move forward on Keystone XL would be inconsistent and irresponsible in light of this commitment, Bruce said.

"Promising billions for a green economy while planning for oilsands expansion and increased oil production and exports is a contradiction," Bruce said. "This is Canada's opportunity to move from a dark future dependent on dirty fossil fuels to a bright, healthy future powered by renewables. Our government has a chance to change the course of this unfortunate U.S. decision. We need to honour our international commitment to the Paris Agreement, follow through on federal funding of clean technology, and show the world that leaders innovate -- and do not build pipelines."

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Media contact:

Emily Fister, Climate & Clean Energy Communications Specialist
604-440-5470

Budget 2017 moves towards a clean energy economy, misses nature protection

Thu, 2017/03/23 - 9:50am

VANCOUVER -- The David Suzuki Foundation is encouraged to see the federal government following through on its commitments to invest in clean energy and transit in the 2017 budget. However, the budget misses crucial protection for nature -- the backbone for a healthy environment and thriving economy.

On funding Canada's clean energy economy:

The Foundation applauds the ongoing support for national programs to support the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
"We welcome this budget as a step forward for all communities that want to transition to renewable energy, especially in the North," Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce said.

Following the $1 billion commitment to clean technology in the 2016 budget, the 2017 budget made a commitment of $2.37 billion over four years to Canada's clean technology industry. As well, the government outlines its plan to invest $21.9 billion over 11 years in green infrastructure.

"Investment in renewables will help stimulate jobs and economic growth -- far more so than supporting a fossil fuel economy," Bruce said.

On stable transit infrastructure:

As many areas of Canada experience increased gridlock, the Foundation welcomes the commitment of phase two public infrastructure funding -- $20.1 billion over 11 years -- to solve this problem.

"This is ongoing, stable funding needed across Canada," Foundation transportation policy analyst Gideon Forman said. "It will engage provinces on national solutions to climate change. Supporting transit is one of the most effective ways to cut down emissions, and improve both air quality and economic performance.

"We applaud the commitment to this, but hope to see an acceleration of the funding to meet these goals."

Missing protection for oceans:

While budget elements for climate are robust, nature protection falls short of our expectations.

The Foundation, along with 16 environmental non-profit partners, had advocated for $146 million a year for five years toward marine protected areas and fisheries conservation. Yet, there is no funding allocated in the budget to address this need.

With overwhelming support for ocean protections from Canadians, the Foundation is concerned that this budget falls short.

"Ocean conservation and climate change solutions need to go hand in hand. While developing a clean energy economy we must also make a concerted effort to conserve nature," Foundation Western Region science projects manager Bill Wareham said.

"Last year we applauded the federal government for confirming its mandate to establish new marine protected areas with a goal of protecting at least 10 per cent of our oceans by 2020. This commitment is admirable, but means little if there's no funding to do the work required to meet the goal.

"We're asking the federal government to provide more detail on the Oceans Protection Plan, and how it will help achieve the 10 per cent goal. With less than one per cent currently protected, there's a lot of work to do over the next three years," he said.

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Media contacts:

Climate, clean energy, and transit
Emily Fister
604-440-5470

Oceans
Theresa Beer
778-874-3396

House of Commons committee to open hearings on neonic pesticide with industry-biased panel

Mon, 2017/03/06 - 4:25pm

11th-hour invitation to testify issued to coalition of NGOs pressing government to proceed with proposed phase-out to protect biodiversity and long-term food security

OTTAWA - Leading environmental groups, health advocates and campaign movements are raising concerns about MPs' one-sided review of the proposed phase-out of pesticides formulated with imidacloprid, one of three controversial neonicotinoid insecticides ("neonics") in widespread use. Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has proposed to phase out the main uses of imidacloprid in three to five years, after an environmental assessment found dangerous levels of the chemical contaminating the environment.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food requested an extension to the comment period in order to study the proposal, with hearings beginning Tuesday. The notice posted on the committee website for Tuesday's meeting lists CropLife Canada (the pesticide industry trade association), along with Syngenta Canada and Bayer CropScience Inc. (manufacturers of neonic pesticides) as witnesses. Representatives of the PMRA and Agriculture Canada are also scheduled to appear. Environment and Climate Change Canada is not listed as a witness. None of the groups issuing this release were originally invited to testify before the committee. Approximately one hour after distribution of the original draft of this release, the David Suzuki Foundation received an invitation to testify.

"It appears the committee has given centre stage to industry lobby groups opposed to restrictions on pesticides. It is troubling that environmental concerns are clearly an afterthought," said Sidney Ribaux, executive director of Équiterre.

"Independent scientists warn that the widespread use of neonics threatens many species," said Lisa Gue, senior researcher and policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation. "We urge the PMRA to confirm its decision to phase out imidacloprid, tighten the timeline and take parallel action to ban other neonics."

"There has been an overwhelming flood of public support for Canada's proposal to ban one of the most harmful neonics," said Liz McDowell, campaign director with SumOfUs. "People understand that the routine use of these chemicals is not necessary or sustainable, and they don't want to see industry lobbyists weakening such an important measure."

More than five million people -- including hundreds of thousands of Canadians -- have signed Avaaz and SumOfUs petitions calling for neonics to be banned, and more than 110,000 Canadians and counting have submitted individual public comments to the PMRA in support of a ban on imidacloprid.

Mass die-offs of honeybees linked to the agricultural use of neonics prompted researchers and regulators around the world to re-examine the pesticides in recent years. In 2015, the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides -- an international group of independent scientists -- reviewed more than 1,000 scientific studies on neonics and found clear evidence of harm to honeybees and other pollinators, terrestrial invertebrates such as earthworms, aquatic invertebrates and birds. The Task Force sounded the alarm about these pesticides destroying ecological services, such as pollination, which are essential for long-term food security. Emerging research indicates that neonics and their residues may harm human health.

The European Union has a partial ban on three neonics, including imidacloprid, and France recently passed a law banning neonics altogether as of September 2018.

Canada's PMRA re-evaluated imidacloprid last year and concluded that its current use is not sustainable on the basis of risks to aquatic ecosystems. The environmental assessment found imidacloprid present in Canadian lakes and rivers at levels that are harmful to aquatic insects essential to the health of aquatic ecosystems. This assessment did not consider risks to pollinators, which the PMRA has been evaluating through a separate process with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 2012.

"We would prefer swifter action to stop imidacloprid from entering the environment," said John Bennett of Friends of the Earth Canada. "There is no scientific justification for another three to five years on the market."

Avaaz campaign director Danny Auron said, "This chemical is a threat to our delicate web of life, from aquatic insects to bees and birds. That's why millions of people are urging the government to put bees, people and the environment ahead of toxic corporate interests."

The PMRA will consult on the proposed phase-out of imidacloprid until March 23, 2017, and will issue a final decision later this year.

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Distributed on behalf of the following groups:

· David Suzuki Foundation

· Avaaz

· SumOfUs

· Équiterre

· Friends of the Earth

· Canadian Environmental Law Association

· Environmental Defence

· Prevent Cancer Now

· Alliance pour l'interdiction des pesticides systémiques

· Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)


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

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-356-8829, bglauser@davidsuzuki.org

Ari Pottens, Avaaz, 647 209 9799, ari@avaaz.org

Liz McDowell, SumOfUs, 604-219-6337, liz@sumofus.org

Julie Tremblay, Équiterre, 514-522-2000 × 311 | 514-966-6992, jtremblay@equiterre.org

John Bennett, Friends of the Earth, 613-291-6888, johnbennett@foecanada.org

Kathleen Cooper, Canadian Environmental Law Association, 705-341-2488, kcooper@cela.ca

Muhannad Malas, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 241, mmalas@environmentaldefence.ca

Meg Sears, Prevent Cancer Now, 613 297-6042, meg@preventcancernow.ca

Kim Perrotta, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), 905-628-9437 kim@cape.ca

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

Mon, 2017/03/06 - 3:35pm

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 - 4:24pm

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 - 3:25pm

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 - 11:47am

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 - 9:04am

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 - 3:32pm

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 - 4:02pm

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 - 12:26pm

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: