#BoldAction: The Moral Call for Climate Justice Tuesday, June 10th. 7-9pm

Tuesday, June 10th. 7-9pm.
Christ Church Cathedral,  690 Burrard Street
Coast Salish Territories, Vancouver

On Facebook at: www.facebook.com/events/1397855707163546

Tickets (free and by donation) at: boldaction.eventbrite.ca


Reverend Lennox Yearwood gets that climate change and poverty, race and culture, democracy and corporate power, are all connected. He knows that it is a moral challenge, and he preaches the need for bold action. The Rev is a minister and community activist, and President of the Hip Hop Caucus, a national non-profit that empowers young people to participate in elections, policymaking, and systemic change. He has been an influential voice for the moral call to climate action in the United States, speaking against the Keystone XL pipeline, and in favour of green economy alternatives that create good jobs and a clean environment for future generations.

Sean Devlin is a comedian, filmmaker, activist and Executive Director of SHD. He has been performing standup comedy since he was a teenager and has been active in the climate justice movement for 4 years. He is a direct action trainer and a thought stylist at the Yes Men’s Yes Lab for creative activism.

Heather Milton-Lightening has over sixteen years of organizing experience from local issues to international campaigns. Heather was a founding member of Native Youth Movement that empowered youth politically and socially to make change in their communities, and then went on to found and build a national Native youth network that supported Native youth organizing across the US and Canada with the Indigenous Environmental Network. Heather currently is working on a contractual basis with many different organizations doing trainings, facilitating and support work for Native communities.


Memorial Day 2050 – New York Times Op-Ed by Thomas L. Friedman

OF the many things being said about climate change lately, none was more eloquent than the point made by Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State in the Showtime series “Years of Living Dangerously,” when he observed: “We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”

The question is how do we motivate people to do something about it at the scale required, when many remain skeptical or preoccupied with the demands of daily life — and when climate scientists themselves caution that it is impossible to attribute any single weather event to climate change, even if recent weather extremes fit their models of exactly how things will play out as the planet warms.

Andrew Sullivan’s Dish blog last week linked to a very novel approach offered by Thomas Wells, a Dutch philosopher: Since climate change and environmental degradation pit the present against the future, our generation versus those unborn, we should start by giving the future a voice in our present politics.

Wells suggests creating a public “trusteeship” of nongovernmental civic and charitable foundations, environmental groups and nonpartisan think tanks “and give them each equal shares of a block of votes adding up to, say, 10 percent of the electorate,” so they can represent issues like “de-carbonizing the economy” and “guaranteeing pension entitlements” for the unborn generation that will be deeply impacted but has no vote.

Read the full article here.


Athabasca Glacier could disappear within generation, says manager

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Tourists walk on the Athabasca Glacier, part of the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park, on May 7, 2014. The park’s manager says the glacier could disappear within one generation. (The Canadian Press/Jess McIntosh).

What’s believed to be the most-visited glacier in North America is losing more than five metres of ice every year and is in danger of completely disappearing within a generation, says a Parks Canada manager.

The Athabasca Glacier is the largest of six ice sheets that form part of the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park. It is a popular destination for tourists from around the world who climb aboard huge snow coaches to get an up-close look.

While it receives about seven metres of snowfall annually, the glacier has been slowly shrinking for about 150 years.

“It’s astonishing,” John Wilmshurst, Jasper National Park’s resource conservation manager, said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“Every year we drive stakes five metres deep into the glacier in the fall. We have to return and re-drill them in mid-summer because a lot of those stakes on the Athabasca Glacier, the one that a lot of people go visit, will be lying flat on the ice at that time.

“We’re losing at least five metres a year on the surface of that glacier.”

Bob Sandford, chairman of the Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade, said it’s “mind boggling” because not only is the glacier receding — it’s also becoming more shallow.

Read the full article here.




Momentum for Change: Now accepting applications for the 2014 Lighthouse Activities – Deadline extended to 27 May at 18:00 CET!

The search for the 2014 Lighthouse Activities is on! Applications are being accepted from 31 March to 27 May.

Lighthouse Activities shine a light on the most practical, scalable and replicable examples of what people around the world are doing to tackle climate change.

If you’re leading a small, entrepreneurial project or if you’re part of a large initiative that is transforming cities, governments and businesses, we want to hear from you!

Learn more about the benefits of being named a Lighthouse Activity and apply today!

Momentum for Change is an initiative spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat to shine a light on the enormous groundswell of activities underway across the globe that are moving the world toward a highly resilient, low-carbon future. Momentum for Change looks for innovative and transformative solutions that address both climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges.

Momentum for Change’s Lighthouse Activities highlight some of the most practical, scalable and replicable examples of what people, businesses, governments and industries are doing to tackle climate change.


5th International Disaster and Risk Confernce IDRC Davos 24-28 August 2014

GRFACT is an endorsing partner for IDRC Davos 2014, where over 1000 participants will gather including risk management experts, practitioners, scientists, key players from civil society, Non-Governmental Organisations and the private sector. The diversity of participants enables both a strategic and operational level of discussion to ensure “the last mile” will be considered with key players from line ministries and disaster and risk management authorities.

Registration for the 5th IDRC Davos 2014 is open! Benefit now of reduced fees and register today online!

The IDRC Davos 2014 is the world biggest gatherings for integrative disaster risk management you don’t want to miss!

Visit the website for details.





Rising Waters Are Spawning a New Breed of Cyborg Architecture

Screenshot 2014-05-23 15.30.06

Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, a masterpiece on the banks of the Fox River, has been hit by three different “100-year-floods” in the last 20 years. Now, preservationists are considering putting the home on permanent hydraulic jacks to lift it above floodwaters. The Farnsworth House would become a cyborg building—and it’s far from the only one.

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, architecture critic Blair Kamin describes how the home’s owner, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is considering several ways to save the Farnsworth House. Mies, when he designed the home in the late 1940s, foresaw the flooding issue—that’s why he lifted the building up on steel columns that make it seem to “float” over the landscape. But that landscape is changing: The floods are coming more and more often, and the fragile building can’t withstand many more.

The simplest option: The building could be moved to higher ground. The problem there? Many historians argue it would defeat the careful siting of the structure around the wooded glen it sits inside. What about building up its foundation so it’s a bit higher above the floods? The same issue applies—and it’s very expensive, at $2.9 million. The third idea, and by far the most remarkable, would only cost a smidgen more.

Read the full article here.



The Sea Level Rise Adaptation Primer is a resource for coastal management authorities (mainly local governments) to help them identify and evaluate options for adapting to the impacts of sea level rise and associated hazards. The Primer is intended to be relevant for southern coastal regions across Canada with application to British Columbia, Quebec, and the Atlantic region.

Additional resources provided by the BC Ministry of Environment include:




Coquitlam extends setbacks in climate change preparation

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Beedie’s Waterfront Village Centre  |  Beedie Living

Coquitlam, one of the three Canadian cities involved in an insurance-industry backed pilot program to access threats of climate change, has ruled that new developments on the Fraser River must be set further and higher back from the water.

The policy change will require the Waterfront Village Centre, a 36-hectare development planned by Beedie Development on the former Fraser Mills site, to be built up about one meter higher than previous municipal standards. This would increase the foundation height to about 4.5 metres (or 14.5 feet.)

The development will also be set back sufficiently from the river to allow a dike to be built in the event of an historic flood, according to Dan Soong, manager of utility programs for the City of Coquitlam.

Read the full article here.





Should we try to fight rising sea levels — or abandon the coasts?

Screenshot 2014-05-22 12.21.21Cape Cod, Truro, Massachusetts. John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

The world’s sea levels are expected to rise 1 to 3 feet — or more — as the planet heats up in the coming century. The more greenhouse gases we emit, the bigger the rise, but we’ve already locked in at least some sea-level increase no matter what.

So what should the millions of people living in low-lying coastal areas do?

Broadly speaking, there are three ways to deal with sea-level rise. First, large coastal cities like New York or Boston or Tokyo will likely spend billions to erect dikes and other defenses to fend off the rising oceans. Second, some coastal infrastructure will have to be elevated.

But there’s a third option that rarely gets as much attention — retreat. In many areas, it may make more sense for residents and communities to flee inland rather than fight the rising seas.

In a recent paper in Climatic Change, Carolyn Kousky argues that there are inevitably going to be parts of the United States where dikes and artificial defenses against sea-level rise probably shouldn’t be built. Often, the barriers just won’t be worth the cost. In other regions, seawalls might create more problems than they solve — by, for instance, increasing coastal erosion or by destroying crucial wetlands.

For these areas, Kousky argues, “managed retreat” is probably the best option. But coastal communities will need to start planning ahead of time. In some places, that may mean restricting development in high-risk areas or not subsidizing reconstruction after hurricanes and other disasters. But there aren’t any easy policy options here — and in many places, the process could get messy and controversial.

Access the full article here.


What drives national adaptation? A global assessment

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That the climate is changing and societies will have to adapt is now unequivocal, with adaptation becoming a core focus of climate policy. Our understanding of the challenges, needs, and opportunities for climate change adaptation has advanced significantly in recent years yet remains limited. Research has identified and theorized key determinants of adaptive capacity and barriers to adaptation, and more recently begun to track adaptation in practice. Despite this, there is negligible research investigating whether and indeed if adaptive capacity is translating into actual adaptation action. Here we test whether theorized determinants of adaptive capacity are associated with adaptation policy outcomes at the national level for 117 nations. We show that institutional capacity, in particular measures of good governance, are the strongest predictors of national adaptation policy. Adaptation at the national level is limited in countries with poor governance, and in the absence of good governance other presumed determinants of adaptive capacity show limited effect on adaptation. Our results highlight the critical importance of institutional good governance as a prerequisite for national adaptation. Other elements of theorized adaptive capacity are unlikely to be sufficient, effective, or present at the national level where national institutions and governance are poor.

Find the PDF here.



Screenshot 2014-05-20 10.38.26Every year, natural events, such as earthquakes, floods, storms, heatwaves and droughts cause huge humanitarian and economic damage around the world. Although we are now better able to identify and respond to such natural disasters, in many cases lack of knowledge and poor planning, resourcing and deployment of relief systems can create problems for both the local and global community. This report examines the three key aspects of disaster response and the need for engineers to be at the heart of efforts to reduce the impact of these events, from initial humanitarian aid through to building resilience for the future.

This report has been produced in the context of the Institution’s strategic themes of Energy, Environment, Education, Manufacturing and Transport, and its vision of ‘Improving the world through engineering.’

Access the report here.






Adaptation Inspiration Book: 22 great examples of European adaptation! SLR, heat, flooding, drought responses

InspirationAbout this book

The idea of supporting an inspirational book on practical climate adaptation first appeared in 2011 during the preparations for a CIRCLE-2 workshop called ‘From National Adaptation Strategies to Concrete Adaptation Actions’.

Right from the start the challenge was to answer fundamental questions such as ‘what does a practical adaptation example look like?’ and ‘what exactly does it mean to be inspirational?’ Fortunately, and thanks to the vision and knowledge of our partners and in particular of our editors and contributors, an (inspirational) answer was soon to be found: ‘a practical adaptation example has to be something that can be photographed’ and that ‘inspires others to see adaptation as an opportunity rather than a response to a problem’. Well, that is easier said than done. Adaptation remains a complex and often elusive concept. In practice, both in Europe and around the world, it is still dealt with from a strategic perspective rather than an effective one (hence the title of that workshop back in 2011). And for many, adaptation is tangled so tightly with other areas of science, policy and practice that it becomes difficult to understand and clearly define its frontiers. But CIRCLE-2 thrives precisely in this interface were science meets policy.

Our experience shows us that adaptation is the ultimate trans-disciplinarily challenge and one that will only succeed through original, imaginative and inspiring solutions. This is how decision-makers and communities across Europe and the world will be inspired to adapt to a changing climate. Or how they will perceive that there is more to adaptation than a very distant future. This book is designed to inspire science, policy and practice. It is one out of the several CIRCLE-2 contributions to something we aim and expect to see in the coming decades: the branding of adaptation as a positive approach to face climate change. Please enjoy this marvellous set of adaptation examples. We hope that you too, like us, feel inspired by them!

The book is available as a PDF here.


The Future is Local: Progressive Civic Governance Forum May 29th, 2014 in Toronto

The future is local

Progressive Governance Forum

Thursday, May 29th 9:00am – 3:30pm
Victoria College, University of Toronto

Read more and register here.

The Future is Local preliminary program

Highlighted Session:  

Rising to the Climate Challenge – Across the country, local leaders are experiencing the brunt of climate change impacts, through unpredictable weather patterns and damage to infrastructure. And across the country, local leaders are rising to the challenge, through greenhouse gas reduction strategies, recommitments to public transportation, green energy, and more. The crisis of climate change is global, but many of the most impactful actions are possible right where you are.

Featuring Dr Danny Harvey, a lead author of the IPCC’s 4th and 5th assessment reports.




One Simple Idea That Could Revolutionize Wetlands Conservation in New Orleans

The Rockefeller Foundation 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge: Resilience Blog

By: Chris Michael and Elena Goodinson

Louisiana state officials estimate that the cost of restoring the wetlands around the Mississippi Delta—which are the primary buffer between New Orleans and the hurricanes that hit the city nearly every summer, and which have been seriously degraded over the past eight or so decades by levee- and dam-building and oil and gas industry activity—will cost around $50 billion. They estimate the process will take at least half a century, over which time—let’s be realistic—the cost could increase drastically. But what’s even less certain than the actual cost of the undertaking is where the money will come from. Creators of the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan say they are “reasonably sure” that damages from the BP oil spill, congressional appropriations for levee and restoration programs, and a share of federal offshore oil money will be enough to cover the bill. But with the future of New Orleans and the entirety of southeast Louisiana very seriously at stake, actors in both the public and private sectors are looking for ways to create novel revenue streams that can help fund this monumental task.

Sarah Mack was working as the liaison between the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and other agencies responsible for the post-Katrina recovery when she came across the idea of using carbon-offset credits as a source of funding. She was trying to initiate a project that would use treated wastewater to nourish a newly planted 10,000-acre cypress wetland, but money allocated from FEMA would not be enough. She began looking at carbon credits—which companies that emit the carbon that fuels global warming can purchase under cap-and-trade programs—and, today, she has positioned herself and her new company, Tierra Resources, at the forefront of a nascent industry that could prove a serious boon to coastal restoration coffers.

Read the full article here.


‘Historic achievement’ as British Columbia replaces its 105-year old Water Act

Ted_van_der_Gulik“The Act provides a new opportunity and framework to collaborate and implement watershed-based solutions,” says Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

On April 29, 2014 the British Columbia Legislature passed the Water Sustainability Act (Bill 18). The Act recognizes the connection between land use actions and the implications for the both the water cycle and watershed sustainability. This means the Act will have widespread impacts on how water and land practitioners conduct their work. 

Completion of the enactment process involves development of regulations and Royal Assent. The Province’s plan is that the Water Sustainability Act will come into force in 2015. In the meantime, the first phase of work will be undertaken this year and will comprise groundwater regulations as well as a number of other tools.

“A decade in the making, the new Water Sustainability Act truly is an historic achievement. Provincial staff merit accolades for their diligence and commitment in developing an Act that moves the province in the right direction,” states Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. Recently retired from government, he observed the roles that government staff had and the approach that was taken.

“Developing and crafting the Act was a difficult and challenging job, as there are many views on water, many of them conflicting. Provincial staff consulted far and wide to ensure a diversity of input. The end result is legislation that has broad-based support.”

“There are many water management issues that need to be resolved and the new Act has established a process that can address many of them. For example, BC is one of the few remaining jurisdictions in North America that have yet to licence groundwater, something that will now be rectified.”

“Also, proclamation in 2015 of the provision that allows for the development of  Water Sustainability Plans will enhance food security by securing water for future development of agricultural lands; ensure critical environmental flows for survival of fish and other aquatic habitat; promote a water balance way-of-thinking; and establish a water reporting system so that water is used beneficially.”

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability is already working with the Province on an array of programs that support implementation of the Water Sustainability Act as well as a water balance way-of-thinking in the local government setting.  Notable examples of collaboration include the Water Sustainability Action Plan, released in 2004, and the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative, launched in 2012.”

“The Partnership is the lead entity for existing web-based tools that will support implementation of future Water Sustainability Plans in populated areas. These include the Water Balance Model andWater Balance Model Express for Landowners for watershed-based rainwater management; and the Water Conservation Calculator for water supply planning. In addition, the Partnership is assisting the Ministry of Agriculture to expand province-wide application of the Agriculture Water Demand Model because it will be useful in the Water Sustainability planning process.”

“BC is at the dawn of an exciting new era in water and watershed management. The Water Sustainability Act provides a fresh opportunity and framework for a uniquely British Columbian ‘top-down / bottom-up’ approach. The provincial government, local governments, stewardship sector and others can formally align efforts and collaborate to implement watershed-based solutions,” concludes Ted van der Gulik.

TO LEARN MORE: For a summary of what is in the Water Sustainability Act, download an Overview of the Legislative Proposal. For much more information, check out the Water Sustainability Act website. 

The Partnership for Water Sustainability is the hub for a “convening for action” network in the local government setting. The Partnership believes that water and watershed sustainability in the local government setting will be achieved by implementing green infrastructure policies and practices. How BC communities get there relies on a change in mind-set and “land ethic”. The mission of the Partnership is to help facilitate that change. 

To learn more, click on ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP.



Climate Change Class Action Filed By Insurers Against Cities In Chicago Region

A recently filed lawsuit headed by Illinois Farmers Insurance Company against municipalities in Cook County, Illinois, should act as a serious wake up for local governments ignoring their management of climate change.

The lawsuit, Illinois Farmers Insurance Company and Farmers Insurance Exchange v The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago sees the insurer and all of its subsidiaries filling a request for a class action and jury trial against approximately 100 cities, villages and townships in the Cook County region (including the City of Chicago).

The legal action is based on a heavy rainfall event in the region on the 17th and 18th of April 2013. The Plaintiffs state that the Defendants, amongst other things, failed to “adopt and/or implement policies which would maximize the stormwater storage capacity of its stormwater sewers and sanitary water sewers so as to prevent injury to Members of the Plaintiff’ Class” (p.21).

Interestingly the legal action specifically mentions climate change:

…defendant knew or should have known that climate change in Cook County has resulted in greater rain fall volume, greater rainfall intensity and greater rainfall duration than pre1970 rainfall history evidenced, resulting in greater stormwater runoff from a rainfall with Cook County and its Watersheds. (p.20)

This legal action is a very interesting case and is at the very heart of the local government / insurance nexus. Climate Planning will be following and reporting on this case it as it unfolds.  Please click here or to download the action or here for the original article.

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