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Frustrated solar panel installer says it’s time to cut the red tape

Hans Wekking says a single set of regulations for solar panels in B.C. would save homeowners time and money

By Jesse Johnston, CBC News Posted: Aug 22, 2017

Hans Wekking installed this solar panel behind a home in Surrey.

Hans Wekking installed this solar panel behind a home in Surrey. (Wekking Electric

A small business owner who installs solar panels on people’s properties is frustrated that so many municipalities have different sets of rules when it comes to issuing permits.

Hans Wekking — who runs Wekking Electric — says his clients could be spared all kinds of bureaucratic headaches if there was a streamlined set of guidelines for the entire province.

“Two out of three permits I’ve had with the City of Surrey have been stopped,” Wekking said.

“We have a client who had to make nine separate trips to city hall with his engineer to finally get the permit released.”

One of Wekking’s most frustrated customers is Valarie Nickel, who bought a home in Surrey nearly a year ago with her husband.

She says she’s been trying since December to get a permit to install solar panels in her yard.

“It’s an adversarial process,” she said.

“We’re happy to pay our taxes and be good citizens but this is just one problem after another.”

Nickel says the city notified her in March that she wouldn’t be given a permit because there was an issue with a deck that was built in 2011.

“We’d like to address the issues with the deck but why didn’t they tell me this six months ago when we first applied?” she said.

“We’re now $3,000 into the process. Why wouldn’t this come up during our first visit to city hall?”

‘To be honest, we don’t see any urgency with this’ – Mehran Nazeman, Surrey Building Division Manager

The city says there are safety concerns that come with solar panels, whether they’re placed on the roof of a home or mounted on the ground.

“We don’t want the panels flying all over the place when the wind comes, so they have to be anchored,” said Surrey’s Building Division Manager Mehran Nazeman.

“Some of the applications they had in the past in Vancouver, there were problems. You have to make sure the roof is capable of taking the wind flow, because they’re not always flat on the roof.”

Nazeman says permits are usually issued within three to four week,s but sometimes people have to wait longer.

“To be honest, we don’t see any urgency with this,” he said.

“We have more urgent items to deal with than to issue these permits. We are trying our best to to simplify the process in terms of reviewing but we have a waiting time.”

Nazeman says they’re also working on a flat permit fee to lower costs, which will likely be rolled out in the coming months.

Wekking says in an ideal system, all regulation would fall under the provincial government instead of different municipalities.

“In the United States and in the rest of the world, the solar industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. It could be the same here. Let’s get a B.C.-wide mandate so that everyone is playing by the same rules.”

See article here……….


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How to win the climate wars – talk about local ‘pollution’ not global warming

August 22, 2017 by Tae Hoon Kim, The Conversation – Phys.Org
Credit: shutterstock

Donald Trump has done many things to tarnish America’s reputation, but his decision to walk away from the Paris Agreement is probably the most internationally symbolic and damaging. That a US president can put climate change denial at the centre of his climate and energy policy is truly unprecedented, and it is difficult to remember an administration that has been so intent on undermining the intellectual and scientific findings on global warming.

Fighting back against Trump’s climate folly seems to be an uphill task. Even the impending publication of the Climate Science Special Report, drafted by scientists from 13 federal agencies, is unlikely to do much. The final report is expected to warn of the dangers of climate change, but it will most likely be surreptitiously sidelined.

One of the reasons behind Trump’s bullish attitude might be to do with public opinion in the US. In a poll carried out by Yale University in 2016, 70% of Americans said they believed in global warming and 58% believed that it will harm Americans. However, only 40% believe that it will actually impact them individually. Furthermore, just 24% said they heard about global warming in the media every week.

In a poll conducted by the Pew Research Centre this year, 76% said terrorism should be a top priority for the administration. Only 38% mentioned global warming. The polls suggest that Americans might be concerned about global warming and want more to be done about it. But they are more likely to be worried about, say, Kim Jong-un than climate change.

It appears that confronting Trump – or any other climate denier – on the basis of facts simply won’t work. The challenge should perhaps be to first rally public opinion until there is an overwhelming consensus that serious and urgent action is needed.

One practical short-term solution might be to shift the public discourse from “climate change” to “pollution”. Focusing on pollution has three advantages that may mean it moves public opinion better than global warming.

Can’t see ‘warming’

First, pollution is tangible. The fact that glaciers are melting might be alarming but it is not something that most of us experience in everyday life. And why would a rise in temperature matter as much to someone living in Sacramento, California, where it is already hot and where one can find shelter in air conditioned buildings?

Pollution, however, can be experienced on a daily basis and causes nuisances of all sorts. The same Sacramento resident who is indifferent to global warming might be concerned with the pollution in their local urban river parkway, for instance. In addition, reports claiming that there are millions of annual deaths from air pollution have a different, more personal ring from those making the more abstract claim that “global temperatures” are rising fast.

People care about pollution

Americans also seem to be more concerned about the environment than global warming. In the same opinion poll carried out by Pew, 55% of Americans saw “the environment” as a priority, a similar score to crime or poverty (and comfortably ahead of the military, immigration or “global warming”). They seem to be more worried about the quality of air and water where they live rather than losing sleep over a global climate phenomenon.

What might also be encouraging is a poll carried out by the Center for American Progress this year which showed around two-thirds of those who voted for Trump opposed the idea of privatising or selling off America’s national forests and public lands. Whether this is a strong enough basis for there to be a rallying of the public is difficult to know. Nevertheless, focusing on the local environment is a good start.

You, the expert

A focus on pollution might also actually open up the debate on the environment and encourage some kind of grassroot reaction. Too often the discourse on the environment and global warming has been dominated by scientific experts and politicians. As such, the public might believe that this is a matter of scientific debate that somehow they cannot participate in, without some prior knowledge. After all, what can you, personally, contribute to a debate on carbon dioxide parts-per-million, or melting glaciers? Would you even know either was a problem if scientists hadn’t warned us?

By contrast, feeling the effects of environmental pollution does not require expert knowledge. The public can express remedial actions and suggestions, without having to pretend that they understand atmospheric science. Moreover, actions are more likely to be taken on a local level if the focus is on local pollution.

The public should be scientists’ first ally in this battle. Any language and issues that engage people against Trump’s climate folly in whatever way should be the priority for scientists and policy makers seeking to address the problem.

Explore further: Saying ‘climate change’ instead of ‘global warming’ decreases partisan gap by 30 percent in U.S.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-08-climate-wars-local-pollution-global.html#jCp

See article here………


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Here’s how Canada’s oil sands could collapse by 2030

Vice by Geoff Dembicki

Alberta’s bitumen may be obsolete much sooner than you think.

According to the oil industry our society will keep burning oil for a long time. The low oil prices that have wreaked havoc in Alberta and other oil-producing jurisdictions for the past several years are just a temporary slump. Prices will soon rise. Global demand will grow. Canada’s oil sands will expand by 53 percent. Any talk of the industry soon collapsing is “greatly exaggerated,” argues the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

But more and more evidence suggests sunny predictions such as these are dead wrong. The global oil industry could be on the brink of a rapid and irreversible decline. If and when it begins, Canada’s oil sands would be one of the first major casualties.

This is a scenario that few people in Alberta want to acknowledge. Just the mere mention of it causes defensiveness and outrage. “We’re not going anywhere,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the prospect of an oil sands phase-out earlier this year.

“If Mr. Trudeau wants to shut down Alberta’s oil sands, and my hometown, let him be warned: he’ll have to go through me and four million Albertans first,” warned the Wildrose Party’s last leader Brian Jean.

Yet VICE spoke with two prominent economists—one in the US and one in Canada—who think we should take the prospect of an oil sands collapse very seriously. They think it could happen within the next decade. And there is little that anyone in Alberta, or Canada for that matter, can do to stop it.

They think the collapse could be set in motion by electric cars, self-driving technology, new business models for transportation and the international fight against climate change. They believe global oil demand will peak within the next few years. Oil prices will crash. High-cost sectors like the oil sands will shrivel while companies like Suncor and Exxon struggle to survive.

This will be financially devastating to the province of Alberta—as well as any other place on the planet that relies heavily on oil revenues. Alberta will lose a key source of income at the same time that it becomes liable for billions of dollars in ecological cleanup costs. Yet overall the Canadian economy will be fine. Oil is a small enough part of Canada’s GDP that the country as a whole won’t suffer catastrophic losses.

If you accept this scenario is a likely possibility—and there are compelling reasons to do so—then we should be doing all we can to help places like Alberta transition off oil. Because in the end, building more oil pipelines while denying the looming threats on the horizon will only screw us further.

***

Most people imagine societal change as a slow and linear process. But in reality, change can often be the result of sudden and unforeseen disruptions. Tony Seba is fascinated by these disruptions. He’s spent years studying them. And the Stanford University futurist and economist regularly tries to predict when and how they’ll occur. Seba’s most recent prediction is a doozy. He argued in a report this spring that gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles will effectively vanish from American roads by the year 2030. Large fleets of self-driving electric vehicles will replace them. “It’s going to make no economic sense to own a car—ever,” Seba argued.

Here’s how he thinks this scenario will unfold: Though electric vehicles make up a tiny percentage of vehicle sales, there is clear evidence that this is changing. Volvo will only build electric and hybrid models starting in 2019. Large European cities are moving to ban combustion engines. Tesla has a higher market valuation than General Motors. China is eager to get into the market. It’s not hard to see where all this leads. “The cost of electric vehicles is coming down substantially,” Seba said.

That’s only part of the story though. The model of car ownership is also changing. Only a decade ago, the idea that you would pay for access to a fleet of vehicles via a powerful computer in your pocket was unthinkable. But Uber is now valued at $68 billion and Car2Go has over two million members. Companies like these are making it culturally acceptable to think of vehicles as a service instead of a consumer good. And they are building a vast digital infrastructure for ride-sharing in the process.

See article here……..


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Haida strip two hereditary chiefs of titles for supporting Enbridge

Haida strip two hereditary chiefs of titles for supporting Enbridge

The extraordinary decision by a Haida clan to strip two of its hereditary chiefs of their titles for secretly supporting the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is being closely watched by First Nations across Canada.

Darin Swanson, head chief of the Yahgulaanaas/Janaas clan at the ceremony where two hereditary chiefs were stripped of their titles. Ernest Swanson, his nephew is to the left holding a staff. Mary Helmer / For PNG

The extraordinary decision by a Haida clan to strip two of its hereditary chiefs of their titles for secretly supporting the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is being closely watched by First Nations across Canada.

The rebuke, delivered last week in an elaborate ceremony witnessed by more than 500 people, came as the Haida Nation rejected what they say is a growing trend by companies to enlist the support of hereditary chiefs as a way of claiming broad First Nations support.

“This is an absolutely huge decision and I think it is a wake-up call to the hereditary system of governance and leadership,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

“I think First Nations across the province and throughout Indian country in general are paying attention to these developments.”

On Aug. 13, members of the clan stripped Carmen Goertzen and Francis Ingram of their titles, effectively removing them as representatives of two houses, the Yahgulaanaas Janaas of Daadens, and the Litjaaw Yaahl Naas. Goertzen, a well-known Haida artist, had held the position for 25 years. Ingram had only been appointed a year ago.

The Haida are made up of 22 house clans, each overseen by hereditary chiefs. An elected council represents the Haida Nation.

The men were part of a group of eight, including two other hereditary chiefs, who signed a letter to the National Energy Board in March supporting Northern Gateway’s request for a time extension to its permit for the bitumen transport pipeline. Earlier this summer, the Federal Court overturned federal approval of Northern Gateway, leaving the company with only one more “faint hope” opportunity.

Goertzen, Ingram and the others, including four men whom the Haida Nation says do not hold any hereditary position, formed a group they called Hereditary Chiefs of North Haida Gwaii LLP.

The head of the clan that Goertzen and Ingram represented said the community never knew the men had signed on to support Enbridge and that their letter made it look like the Haida at large had reversed their long-standing opposition to the project.

“I don’t think anyone in a clan can tell people who they can work for, but when you are a hereditary chief leader you have responsibilities to your clan and you have to consult with them on important issues like this,” said Darin Swanson, the head chief of the Yahgulaanaas Janaas clan. “As hereditary leaders, they didn’t do that. Everything was a big secret up till now. At the end of the day, they are crawling into bed with Enbridge. It is almost up to the point that Enbridge is accepting them as (representing) the consultation on the whole of Haida Gwaii.”

Attempts by Postmedia to contact Goertzen and Ingram were unsuccessful. But in an interview with Vice News, which broke the story, Ingram denied asking for an extension, even though he signed the letter. Goertzen acknowledged that Enbridge had paid the men fees to attend a meeting but that he had his community’s best interests at heart.

 “To meet with them, we’ve been paid per diems, and we’ve had a few meetings, not even four days,” he told VICE News. He said his clan members were “blowing stuff out of proportion.”

Peter Lantin, the elected president of the Council of the Haida Nation, said the letter shocked his members because they had a consensus agreement to oppose the pipeline project and they see this as an attempt by Enbridge to divide them.

“The lesson to be learned in this is that there is a proper way to consult with us and at the end of the day, no means no. People are really questioning the integrity of the Haida Nation,” he said.

“The problem that we’re seeing with the tactics of Enbridge is that they know how we feel, they know what our answer is and they don’t like it.”

A spokesman for Northern Gateway said it was aware of the action against the two hereditary chiefs but maintained they had not represented the Haida Nation to them. It presented meetings with the eight as being for the purposes of discussing “West Coast marine emergency response, employment and training opportunities, food source protection, and other safety measures.”

“At no time have these individuals claimed to us either verbally or in writing that they represent or speak for the Haida Nation or their respective clans,” said communications manager Ivan Giesbrecht.

Phillip, whose organization represents 115 First Nations in B.C., said the implications stretch well beyond the Northern Gateway project and touch on other projects such as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project and the provincial government’s push to export liquefied natural gas.

“It is a clear message that hereditary leaders need to know and understand their stewardship responsibilities to caretake the land in a proper and responsible fashion,” he said.

This isn’t the first time First Nations have protested the support given to Enbridge by hereditary chiefs. The company says it has support of 31 aboriginal communities across B.C. and Alberta, including a number of First Nations, as well as Métis associations.

One of the “aboriginal stewards” of the Enbridge proposal is Elmer Derrick, a hereditary chief of the Gitxsan nation. A few years ago, members of the Gixsan seized Derrick’s office in Hazelton after he became the first hereditary chief to support Northern Gateway. Many of the nation’s other hereditary chiefs wrote letters saying Derrick doesn’t represent them, although others do support the project. The Gitxsan remain divided.

See article here……..


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Indigenous chief says Trudeau needs ‘wake-up call’ on land rights

 

The Globe and Mail by Sunny Dhillon / Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017

First Nations leaders have expressed their concerns about the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada to a United Nations committee that examines racial discrimination – and one chief says the Prime Minister needs a “wake-up call.”

Representatives from several Indigenous Nations held a news conference in Vancouver on Thursday, fresh off their meeting with the UN committee in Geneva earlier this week.

Judy Wilson, chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band and secretary-treasurer with the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, said Canada cannot present itself as a leader on human rights when its land-rights policies aim to extinguish Indigenous title.

“What we spoke [to] was mainly about the land rights of our people. We cannot continue to have the Crown say they have underlying title to our lands when it’s actually the Indigenous First Nations across Canada that hold that title,” she told reporters.

The federal government has committed to “a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership, and rooted in the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

But Ms. Wilson said Ottawa needs to work more directly with the Indigenous Nations themselves. “The Prime Minister really does need another wake-up call,” she said.

A statement from the office of the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs said the federal government remains fully committed to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to consulting and working in partnership with Indigenous people.

The statement said the government’s consultations have begun, with the Minister of Justice leading a working group that will ensure Canada lives up to its obligations under the UN declaration and the federal Constitution.

“We need to get this right, and we will continue to work in partnership, on a whole-of-government approach, to renew our relationship and advance reconciliation,” the statement read.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination monitors how effectively member countries implement a UN anti-discrimination convention. Canada is a signatory to the convention and must report to the committee every two years.

The submission to the committee by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs said it is “presently witnessing a great divide between the words of the Canadian government and its actions on the ground.”

The submission highlighted several areas of concern, including land title, energy projects, forestry and housing.

It said the Trans Mountain pipeline project – which the federal government approved last year – “poses an unacceptable risk to the health, safety and livelihoods of First Nations throughout British Columbia.”

It went on to say forestry activities in B.C. continue to affect the territories of Indigenous nations “with little or no benefit to them.”

On housing, the submission said Indigenous people experience disproportionately poor living conditions on- and off-reserve. It called the amount of federal funding for First Nations housing “critically low.”

Chief Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, said the fact Indigenous groups must still travel to international forums “to expose Canada’s dirty secret of racism towards First Nations people” is a significant issue.

The committee received submissions from about 20 Indigenous groups, including the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

The committee is expected to release its initial comments on Friday.

See article here……..


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Kinder Morgan Info/Strategy Truth to Power Meeting

 

The announcement on Thursday, August 10th by Provincial NDP was good news! It is encouraging they will stand with the indigenous nations by supporting the court challenges. Public land will be off limits to KM until all 8 NEB environment ‘Plans’ are satisfied, only 3 are cleared to date.

Facebook Event page here……

In consideration of Kinder Morgan’s comments in response to BC governments announcement for special legal council today, KM states they still plan to build the pipeline on land owned by Kinder Morgan and privately owned land starting in September. Therefore, we feel it is more important than ever to make it crystal clear to KM and the Federal government and to support the BC Provincial government, we NEED TO BE READY to defend our land and water from the risk of this bitumen pipeline.

We have set up this meeting in response to many requests for legal information to be ready for ALL outcomes, especially regarding our right to protest. This event will give up-to-date reports and practical suggestions on what is happening and/or planned on the pipeline route.

There are many questions to be answered regarding what can be done to resist the proposed start and on-going construction. According to media reports, the work is expected to begin September 7th starting work on the tunnel through Burnaby Mountain.

An example of some of the questions to be considered: (please bring your own!) 🙂

What are our individual rights to protest?
What is ‘peaceful protest’?
How do we follow indigenous leadership?
How do we respect indigenous land soveignty and protocols?
How do we communicate?
How do we interface with others?

You will have an opportunity to ask questions and offer ideas and suggestions. You will also hear from experienced Front Line Land Defenders. We will discuss specific things that were successful and others that did not have the best outcomes.

We will have Information/work stations including different groups leading the way in resisting.

Ready to let KM know we say NO to pipelines and YES to clean water! #RESIST

We work and live with gratitude on the traditional, unceded, occupied territories of the Coast Sallish peoples: the mi ce:p kʷətxʷiləm (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

We will have snacks and drinks, if you would like to contribute, please feel free to bring something along! Thank you! 🙂

Here are brief descriptions of groups that will be involved in sharing information:

PEACE BEARERS
“Introduction to the Peace Bearer initiative with Bob Ages.

In the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) language “those who bear the burden of peace” refers to the people who have accepted responsibility to uphold natural law and maintain harmony and balance within and between communities.. This is a concept common to all indigenous societies and an example Settlers should and can learn from.

Whether social and climate justice activists are coming together to march or rally for a few hours, or setting up a permanent camp in the path of a pipeline, these gatherings should be “safe spaces” – free from harassment or other types of oppressive behaviour. Where women, children, elders – in fact everyone – feels welcome and free to participate.

The Peace Bearers has been created to work with, and under the direction of, First Nations land defenders to help make this a reality. Learn more about what Peace Bearers do, the principles that guide our work and how you can get involved.”

DIVESTMENT MOVEMENT OF MAJOR CANADIAN BANKS
Presentation by Cedar Parker-George and Kia Parker-George, Tsleil-Waututh
We need to exert pressure on all fronts possible. ALL tactics and all tools in our collewctive tool box must be used to stop KM. We believe the divestment movement that has been successful in the U.S. will be as effective here as well. We are pleased to have Cedar and Kia Parker-George to present stategies and how to implement those plans.

 

 

 

 

 


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Five Pacific islands lost to rising seas as climate change hits

Six more islands have large swaths of land, and villages, washed into sea as coastline of Solomon Islands eroded and overwhelmed.

The remains of one of six partially eroded islands in the Solomons.
The remains of one of six partially eroded islands in the Solomons. Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters

Five tiny Pacific islands have disappeared due to rising seas and erosion, a discovery thought to be the first scientific confirmation of the impact of climate change on coastlines in the Pacific, according to Australian researchers.

The submerged islands were part of the Solomon Islands, an archipelago that over the last two decades has seen annual sea levels rise as much as 10mm (0.4in), according to research published in the May issue of the online journal Environmental Research Letters.

The missing islands, ranging in size from 1 to 5 hectares (2.5-12.4 acres) were not inhabited by humans.

But six other islands had large swaths of land washed into the sea and on two of those, entire villages were destroyed and people forced to relocate, the researchers found.

Many of the Solomon Islands are low-lying and prone to flooding from rising seas.
Many of the Solomon Islands are low-lying and prone to flooding from rising seas. Photograph: BBC NHU/Jon Clay/BBC NHU

One was Nuatambu island, home to 25 families, which has lost 11 houses and half its inhabitable area since 2011, the research said.

The study is the first that scientifically “confirms the numerous anecdotal accounts from across the Pacific of the dramatic impacts of climate change on coastlines and people,” the researchers wrote in a separate commentary on an academic website.

The scientists used aerial and satellite images dating back to 1947 of 33 islands, as well as traditional knowledge and radiocarbon dating of trees for their findings.

The Solomon Islands, a nation made up of hundreds of islands and with a population of about 640,000, lies about 1,000 miles north-east of Australia.

The study raises questions about the role of government in relocation planning, said a Solomon Islands official.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/maps/embed/may/2016-05-10T01:00:49.htmlMap of Nuatambu Island.

“This ultimately calls for support from development partners and international financial mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund,” Melchior Mataki, head of the Solomon Islands’ National Disaster Council, was quoted as saying in the commentary.

The Green Climate Fund, part of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was founded to help countries deal with climate change.

In April, the Solomon Islands was among the 177 nations that signed a global agreement reached in Paris to curb climate change.

Ad hoc relocation has occurred on the islands, the study said. Several Nuatambu islanders moved to a neighbouring, higher volcanic island, the study said. Other people were forced to move from the island of Nararo.

Sirilo Sutaroti, 94, is among those who had to relocate from Nararo. He told researchers: “The sea has started to come inland, it forced us to move up to the hilltop and rebuild our village there away from the sea.”

See article here…….