Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 13, No. 6 July 14, 2008   
Honoured Reader's Edition


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Our theme this issue is biodiversity. GL often touches on biodiversity; the last theme was Landscaping for Biodiversity in GL V9 N9 May 10, 2004. The global community seems to have begun to recognize that biodiversity is not just an aspect to be managed or protected but is also something which has economic value and which presents economic opportunity. GL’s editor recalls trying to make this case to a Canadian government biodiversity conference several years ago when the vast majority of participants were interested only in protecting and preserving. Today the Value of Nature is a theme for the most prestigious events. In this issue we review the economics of biodiversity and a multitude of ideas for good corporate roles in biodiversity. However, not all companies have yet got the message: we look at the example of coral death and the role of business in lobbying against Marine Protected Areas. If only the effort was put into protecting instead of fighting protection.

Our editorial, while appearing to pick on the cellular phone industry, is intended as a caution to all those industries whose knee-jerk reaction is to deny the existence of any environmental or public health problems with their production or product lines. The lawyers are coming to take you away, ha ha.

Related to biodiversity, we report on the US Conference of Mayors recent resolution against the use of high carbon fuels such as those from the Canadian tar sands. It is difficult for anyone concerned about the environment to deny that they have a point. The question will be how Canada and the companies involved respond. Will it be with major efforts to address the problem or will it be with a denial of the existence of a problem? The ngo ForestEthics has already expressed an opinion. We bring you the industry view as well.

As a preview for the second part of our biodiversity review which will focus more on the role of food and agriculture in biodiversity (next issue) we include in this issue a guest column by Phil Beard on Alternative Land Use Services: Balancing the environmental demands of society, with the needs of farmers and rural communities.

In this issue we also focus on the carbon policies of the federal Liberal and Green parties. Will climate be a major issue in the next election? Perhaps jaded by the fact that environment has never yet taken its position as a major election campaign issue, GL is betting that environment will not make it on to the politicians’ agenda in the upcoming federal campaign, but we note that this is one occasion when we very much hope that we are wrong.

A relatively new apparently low risk pesticide appears to have some issues. We bring you news of a report from the UK. The Competition Bureau has introduced updated rules for environmental labelling of products. Brand owners who have been following the old rules, in effect since the early 1990's, are unlikely to notice much change. However, environmental groups may have to remove their logos from products. We bring you the scoop. Finally a caution to Canadian environmental business and organizational spokespersons: an invitation from the US to appear in a television show about environmental technologies and services may be just another way to get you to pay for advertising which may or may not be useful to you. We bring you a caution.

In our next issue we plan to continue our coverage of recent advances in biodiversity.

In the meantime, enjoy this issue and keep those letters to the editor coming to


It seems likely that the day is not too far off when organizations and their spokespersons could face liability for public statements which they knew or should have known to be untrue. Nowhere is this situation more obvious than in the present debate over the safety of cellphones for children.

Toronto Public Health has issued a report recommending that parents should make sure their children take simple precautions to minimize exposure to radiofrequency (RF) waves if they use a cell phone. The reason for this recommendation: "Scientists are not yet sure what the health effects in children are from using a cell phone. While research continues in this area, many scientists feel that children may be more susceptible [than adults] to harmful effects of RFs from cell phones ".

In response, a spokesperson for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association was widely quoted in the media as saying that "the state of the science is that there are no health effects". Such a statement is blatantly untrue.

Several recent scientific studies have documented the possibility that electromagnetic fields (EMFs), including those from cell phones, may contribute to various types of brain disorder and cancers. Risk in this case seems to correlate to duration and intensity of exposure. An international working group, including several apparently very well-qualified scientists, documented the evidence and last year called for stricter limits on exposure to EMFs from cell phones, power lines and other electronic equipment.

The CWTA spokesperson is a communicator, not a scientist, but in our opinion his denial of the existence of such evidence constitutes reckless disregard for accuracy in public information. Had he explained that there is still uncertainty in the evidence about the effect of EMFs on young children and that the industry does not intend to support or take action until there is overwhelming proof of the negative health effects of EMFs from mobile phones then we might have applauded him for accuracy. This weekend Canada's telecommunications industry sounded a lot like the tobacco industry of fifteen or so years ago.

As is often the case in environmental debates, the cell phone debate is a discussion about precaution. There is growing evidence that EMFs from cordless phones may have a detrimental effect on the health of users. In the face of scientific uncertainty, Toronto Public Health has issued an advisory to parents that it may reduce the potential risk if their children are to limit wireless phone use. For the industry to respond by implying that there is no need to do anything because there is no risk at all is nothing short of unethical.

The CWTA is an industry association chaired by an official from Bell Mobility and with vice-chairs from Rogers Communications, Ericsson Canada Inc., and TELUS. We suggest that at least this group of companies should receive a zero on any assessment of social responsibility until they appropriately revise their association's positions on the possible effects of EMFs from mobile phones on children. We also suggest that the executives of the CWTA check up on the insurance coverage for their board and their staff. With the growing popularity of class actions in Canada, GL predicts that it will not be too long before CWTA and its member companies as organizations and the CWTA Board members and staff as individuals face legal action from the parents of children and young adults who have acquired serious brain diseases and who have been chronic users of portable phones. When the court case comes the damage to corporate reputations will be far greater than the minimal cost of an admission that there might be a problem, that the industry is studying it, and that in the meantime it might be best if parents limited their children's use of mobile phones as recommended by Toronto Public Health.

Are class actions really the best way to resolve issues of scientific uncertainty?

Colin Isaacs

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


The economic case for biodiversity was presented to CBD COP9* this May by Pavan Sukhdev, Managing Director of Deutsche Bank's Global Markets business in India and a founder/director of the Green Accounting for Indian States Project. The Environment Ministers of the G8+5 (including the five major emerging economies Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) endorsed the global study and expressed their commitment to various issues on biodiversity through a resolution at a 2007 meeting. The Sukhdev report, commissioned by Germany and the EU, has a forward by Stavros Dimas, Commissioner for Environment of the European Commission, and Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's Federal Environment Minister.

The Nature of Value / the Value of Nature

Nature provides humans with food, fibres, fuel, clean water, healthy soil, medicines, protection from erosion and floods, and many other services. Biodiversity is declining due to population growth, changing diets, urbanization, and climate change to the detriment of the wellbeing of humans. Nature's services and goods are most often public goods with no markets and no prices so as Sukhdev explains, our current economic compass does not detect them, "we are trying to navigate uncharted and turbulent waters with an old and defective economic compass and this is affecting our ability to forge a sustainable economy in harmony with nature." You cannot manage what you cannot measure so a better yardstick than GDP is needed so that national accounting systems can assess the impacts of losses and gains in biodiversity within the economy. The second phase of Sukhdev’s work will examine ways to improve economic models to better take into account biodiversity and ecosystems.

Economic value cannot be assigned to all aspects of biodiversity because of the intrinsic value many people place on nature regardless of the services it provides to humans.

Ethics and equity also have to be considered. We value a natural service for our grandchild 50 years from now at one seventh the utility we derive from it today. The report says we should value the future natural services the same as we value them today otherwise our grandchildren are unlikely to thank us.

Major gaps in our understanding of ecosystem functions means we can't assess the full range of benefits provided by ecosystems. Marine ecosystems are less understood than land-based ecosystems. Therefore the economic values that have been estimated in the report are on the low side.

The author also wrote about limits on an ever-growing economy, an idea touched on in the last couple of issues of GL, "Imagine the growth of human well-being and security that is not based on higher and higher per-capita GDP and evermore serious climate and ecosystem disasters hitting the headlines every morning."

Business as Usual Is Not an Option

The report estimates that if 'business as usual" continues by 2050, the consequences will be serious indeed:
Humans are causing some changes which cannot be undone. For example, fishing down the food web (first the large preferred fish, then smaller fish, then less preferred species,...) in wild marine fisheries has led to such a decline in fish stock that jellyfish have become dominant in a number of areas. It is an example of a community shift which may be irreversible because jellyfish eat fish eggs too. Aquaculture relies so much on marine fish for fishmeal and fish oil that it is not achieving positive benefits for the wild fisheries. Some researchers are predicting a collapse of commercial fisheries around the world in less than 50 years. Low fish diversity lowers fishery productivity, results in more frequent collapes and less ability to recover from overfishing.

Forests and wetlands protect the water supply even affecting the amount of rainfall, "Ecosystems play a part in determining whether we have droughts, floods and water fit to drink. The value of this role is often forgotten until it is lost."

Half of synthetic drugs are made of natural sources. Three quarters of the world's people depend on natural medicines and traditional remedies. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2007) estimated that 70% of the plants in the world are under threat. The future of the planet's healthcare is going extinct.

Impact on the Poor
Poor people rely more directly on ecosystems with livelihoods such as subsistence farming, animal husbandry, fishing and informal foresty. These people suffer most from loss of biodiversity.

Costs of Loss of Biodiversity

From 2000 to 2050, the estimate is that human societies are losing about $45 billion each year just in forest ecosystems in the early years with the losses rising in later years. The loss of the capital stock also affects service flows in future years so the estimate for the net present value of forest ecosystems we lose each year is between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.

Policies to Strengthen Biodiversity

The basic principles of policies to protect and improve biodiversity are:
Policies and regulations can be ineffective because of information, market and policy failures. The report lauds the use of environmental impact assessments EIA as a means to overcome information failure. (Although GL notes that just because the information is available doesn't mean the policy/decision takes it into account). An Indian Supreme Court ruling mandated rates of compensation which has significant benefits for forest biodiversity by costing more to convert forests. On the other hand, land use permits are commonly issued by local authorities which fragment or destroy habitat. Often the lost biodiversity is of greater benefit than the private gain.

Examples of Biodiversity Policies

Biodiversity policies include:

* Convention on Biological Diversity. Ninth Conference of the Parties

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


In preparation for the 9th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Bonn in June 2008, Germany led an initiative linking business and biodiversity. The background document on Biodiversity in Good Company discusses some of the many benefits of biodiversity including:
The worldwide loss of biodiversity threatens the livelihood of humans.

Leadership in Biodiversity in Good Company

The private sector is challenged to participate by making specific commitments related to the Convention, presenting pilot cases and best practices and integrating biodiversity elements into their business objectives. Different sectors often need different plans and implementation programs. Current and future engagements are to be presented at the COP conventions. The initiative is aimed primarily at German companies but other companies have signed on. Although the original aim was to have 20-30 companies sign, by the middle of May, 34 members with international operations, including 17 companies from Germany alone and nine from Japan.Brazil, Finland and Switzerland had signed. Among the companies are HeidelbergCement AG, Mars Incorporated, Ricoh Company Ltd., SolarWorld AG, The Green Dot - Duales System Deutschland GmbH, TUI AG, and Volkswagen AG.

Among the commitments of companies which sign the Leadership Declaration are to:
Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.

UN Earth Summit 1992 and Later

During the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, 190 nations signed the Convention on Biological Biodiversity with goals to:
In 2002, the Parties to the Convention agreed to reduce the loss of biological diversity by 2010. Business activities have impacts both in loss of biological diversity as well as its protection and have always been identified as having a role and the private sector is often mentioned in national biodiversity strategies and regional frameworks. Yet at Conference of the Parties COP8 ( March 2006, Curitiba, Brazil) a decision stated "The private sector is arguably the least engaged of all stakeholders in the implementation of the Convention; yet, the daily activities of business and industry have major impacts on biodiversity. Encouraging business and industry to adopt and promote good practice could make a significant contribution towards the 2010 target and the objectives of the Convention."


The ninth Conference of the Parties COP9 on the Convention on Biological Diversity CBD was held in Bonn, Germany from May 19-30 following the fourth meeting of the Parties (COP4/MOP4) on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. For the first time, the Prime Minister of Canada, the host of the secretariat located in Montreal, attended the high-level segment. A Global Biodiversity Ministerial Forum was launched. Iraq will become the 193rd Party soon.

Access and benefit sharing ABS measures and climate change were the highest priorities on the agenda. but many felt expectations were not met. The COP9 may have been too early as other efforts such as the FAO High Level Confernce on Energy and Food Security took place after the COP and some high level groups are considering sustainability criteria, for example G8+5 Initiative on Biodiversity and the Global Roundtable on Biofuels.

How mitigation of climate change is linked to biodiversity led to what the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (IISD) writers called the "mitigation troika of biofuels, GM trees and ocean fertilization." The decision on biofuels does not include scientific criteria for sustainable production or consumption. The private sector was encouraged "to improve social and environmental performance of the production of biofuels, in particular through through voluntary initiatives, including through environmental management systems, codes of conduct, certification and public reporting on environmental and social issues." The strong language against ocean fertilization was lauded by some although there are many other proposals for geoengineering for climate change which some say require negotiation. Activists and many delegates were disappointed that there was no ban on GM trees but only a requirement to release only after studies on containment and risk assessment. Other successes include scientific criteria for marine protected areas.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


There were 244 side events, 82 of them organized by business and a number of the others on topics of interest to business.

Businesses have different direct and indirect effects on biodiversity but all depend on biodiversity to a greater or lesser extent. The parties to the convention have agreed to a 2010 target to substantially reduce the loss of biodiversity. This requires a paradigm shift to integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services into decision-making such as land-use policy and planning. agriculture, forestery, fishery, tourism policies, trade and development.

Among the business events were:
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Angelika Pohlenz, Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Germany speaking at the Business and Biodiversity conference held in Bonn before COP9 said that the ICC has been attending the CBD conferences on behalf of the business community since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Among her other comments were:
Business already plays a role in biodiversity and has the potential to contribute more:
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A cooperative effort by Royal Dutch/Shell and International Union for Conservation of Nature reviews how different sectors can be biodiversity business. The chapters review both main approaches as well as specific opportunities for increasing private sector investment in biodiversity.

There are even some new words (new to GL anyway):
Biocarbon: combining climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation in one activity such as reforestation.
Biodiversity Business: a commercial enterprise generating profit through production process which conserve biodiversity, uses biological resources sustainably and shares the benefits arising out of this use equitably.

Among the findings include:
For business, this is an excellent sourcebook. There are chapters for each sector/opportunity type: agriculture, forestry, non-timber forest products, fisheries and aquaculture, biocarbon, payments for watershed protection, bioprospecting, biodiversity offsets, biodiversity management services, ecotourism, recreational hunting and sportfishing. Each discusses what the sector is, what the status and trends are, what is working and what is not, and gaps and business investment opportunities. In addition, there are chapters on the challenges of biodiversity, the business case, mechanisms, business tools, financing instruments, critical success factors and supports which need to be in place such as biodiversity business think tanks.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


An article in the July issue of Environmental Health Perspectives by Charles Schmidt focusses on the toll global warming is taking on coral reefs. Heat disrupts the relationship between the coral animals and the algae which supply the coral with nutrition especially carbon through photosynthesis. When it becomes too hot, the algae which also defines the colour of the coral leave. The coral returns to its stone colour and begins to starve. Bleached coral can return to health if the water temperature cools and the algae return.

However, bleached coral in the East Caribbean never got such a chance because it succumbed to attacks from diseases due to the stress of lack of nutrition. In 2007, nearly two thirds of the coral reef in the Virgin Islands and half of Puerto Rico's La Parguera Natural Reserve died. This tragedy has been repeated around the world for the last few decades putting biodiversity at risk as reefs support 800 different types of coral, 4,000 fish species and many invertebrates. Hundreds of thousand marine species haven't even been identified yet.

In addition to heat, climate change means more carbon dioxide is dissolved in the oceans making them more acidic; the carbonic acid formed is also dissolving the coral.

The impacts on humans are serious: one quarter of the annual fish catch is from coral reefs; storm surges which can cause serious damage to coast settlements are expected to increase in frequency and size as sea levels rise - coral reefs help to buffer the coastline from such damage; visits to the coral reefs are important for tourism; as animals attached to the coral are otherwise defenseless, they use chemicals to repel predators - these chemicals are important sources of medicine.

The impact of business

In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, human activities are adding stressors to the coral ecosystem through pollutants, sewage and sediments from unpaved roads and land development. Hillside development in the tropics causes deep ravines which wash soil into the sea. Technologies to filter out the soil before it reaches the water are available but not often installed. Coral covered in sediment spend too much time cleaning it up rather than finding food. Diving expeditions and dredging operatins stir-up more sediment to settle on coral.

Marine protected areas MPAs can help but enforcement is sometime weak and many allow fishing. The parrot fish plays a key role for coral by cleaning surfaces of seaweed and other growth so the beneficial algae can settle there. With overfishing, other fish species are not there to catch so the parrot fish once seen as garbage is prized and now being fished.

The article suggests that business owners generally lobby against MPAs and marine reserves. Business is said to point to things they can't do anything about, for example toxicity due to suntan lotion but won't "accept financial responsibility for paving roads, limiting sewage and septic releases, or undertaking other, more burdensome measures to protect coral reef."

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Green roofs can provide refuge for nesting and raising young by ground-nesting birds such as killdeer according to an information sheet from the BC Institute of Technology's Centre for the Advancement of Green Roof Technology. Green roofs also provide habitat by connecting with other green roofs and green spaces to provide corridors through the city to bigger natural spaces. GL suggests that in Canada and elsewhere, there is much emphasis on necessary protection of natural areas but that will not be enough as biodiversity is about connections, unique and specialized as well as general interactions, networks, and the overall environment. Green roofs are just one example of taking the needs (food, shelter/cover and raising young) of wildlife outside protected areas and making connections with other wild spaces.

GL notes that if the green roofs are also used by people there could be animal-human conflicts even if only small scale conflict in habitat use. Some of the animals attracted may be considered nuisances or even if they are seen as "good" may create problems due to the wildlife and human needs. An example is a pair of killdeer which build their nest in the middle of the vegetable garden, liking the flat open space because it gives high visibility of approaching predators. Although the nest takes less than a square foot, the killdeer consider the whole area about 10 metres (30 feet) wide and long the territory they need to protect. Goodbye garden planting. One might appreciate and enjoy the not-so-close-up view of dedication as they sit on the nest for 30 days but they need space for which humans have other plans. Of course, other animal-human conflicts on a larger scale (not likely on green roofs) give another meaning to the phrase, “elephant in the room”.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


In its 2007 environmental report, the Royal Bank of Canada discusses the the RBC Environmental Blueprint. The RBC is one of only three Canadian companies listed in the Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies, a project of Corporate Knights and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors Inc. The Blueprint provides guidance for two main objectives: to manage risk and to drive areas of opportunity. In 2007, among the activities were:

RBC has identified three priority environmental issues: climate change, water and biodiversity. The consideration of biodiversity includes:
In 2007 activities relating to biodiversity included:
Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Protection of the boreal forest was one of the reasons that the US Conference of Mayors passed a resolution against the use of "high carbon fuels" including the tar sands, liquid coal and oil shale. GL notes that the phrase "tar sands" is often used by those critical while "oil sands" is used by the oil companies and those more supportive.

Tar sands oil is said to emit three times the carbon dioxide pollution per barrel as compared to conventional oil and "significantly damages Canada’s Boreal forest ecosystem--the world’s largest carbon storehouse." Climate change due to dependence on fossil fuels also threatens "the health of the planet, including its oceans, wildlands, rivers, air and climate." The resolution:
Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Gillian McEachern, campaigner for ForestEthics is contradicting the claims that the federal and Alberta government are holding the companies operating in the oil sands to strict environmental standards. A July 2nd press release is subheaded, "Library late fees in Calgary and Edmonton total 16 times more than environmental fines levied at Tar Sands companies." According to the press release, library fines apparently totalled over $4 million while all the companies in the oil sands were fined only $249,000. Suncor in 2006 alone is said to have had 240 air exceedances. No charges were laid for oil sands under the federal Fisheries Act between 1998 and 2005. GL found it interesting that the reference for the exceedances was to the Suncor 2007 Sustainability Report.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


Syncrude has joined with other oil sands producers in Alberta on a web site "to understand Canadians’ concerns and share ideas about the oil sands."

Marcel Coutu, President and CEO of Canadian Oil Sands Trust, the largest owner of the Syncrude venture, was interviewed on CBC's The Current on June 25 on the new public relations campaign. On one level as he suggested boycotts such as the US Mayors are proposing are ineffective in a commodity market; there is always a buyer for oil. However, Coutu realizes that such high levels of negativity about the environmental effects of the oil sands operation carry risk and potentially increased costs, for example the US Mayors want to trace sources of oil and require lifecycle analysis. Adverse public opinion could bring more regulation.

Certainly negative views about their operations heightened the outrage about the 500 migrating ducks oiled in Syncrude's tailing ponds. The company said this is the first such incident in 30 years. GL isn't sure how much Syncrude paid for ads in newspapers but the full page ad in the Globe and Mail saying sorry seemed an indicator of missed opportunity. Although to Syncrude such advertising expenses are truly neglible, those bucks could have paid for conservation for ducks instead.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.


A new book written for the OECD examines the distributive effects of policies on biodiversity which may benefit the well-being of society as a whole but which creates winners and losers. Limits on land use may protect biodiversity but reduce the income of poor people by reducing access to the natural resources on which they make their living. These distributive impacts are important for a number of reasons:
This separation of efficiency from distribution is seen as not so applicable to biodiversity policies. For most biodiversity policies, the cost are borne mostly locally e.g. by property damaged by protected wild animals usually by people who can little afford the loss. Some policies can ensure that there are local benefits e.g. income to local people from tourism to see wildlife can compensate for losses.

Time scales are as important as geography as future generations may be affected by today's policies. Decisions need to address how much different generations should be affected.

Total Economic Value of Biodiversity

Biodiversity contributes to human well-being through use: assets such as minerals, fish, and forests and through services such as carbon sinks, and cleaning of water. Humans also value non-use biodiversity such as cultural, aesthetic and enjoyment of nature.

Different households have very different views on the goods and services of biodiversity. Poor income households rely on primary resources and are more directly engaged in consumptive and extractive activities. Richer households appreciate more the indirect and aesthetic values of biodiversity. Most biodiversity policies benefit the richer households at the expense of the poor. Since biodiversity is often richest in developing countries, the distribution effects further favour the people in developed countries.

Policy Type

Voluntary versus non-voluntary policies. Voluntary means that those who participate recognize some benefit. Involuntary means that the losers will try to undermine the policy e.g. not pay the tax or fee such as a pesticide tax or use land with land use bans. Non-voluntary policies could still work out to significant net benefit.

Reward-based versus property-based. Reward is similar to voluntary in that the participant can decide how much activity is worth the reward. For property-based policies, the market decides what the value of the activity is but the policy sets the conditions to create the market.

These use and non-use values make up the Total Economic Value of biodiversity. A cost-benefit analysis of a biodiversity can then be done. Costs include direct costs of implementation such as taxation usually to government and indirect costs such as crop losses at the boundaries of parks and opportunity costs such as lost of consumption of natural resources, the last usually the highest cost.

The aim of biodiversity policies is to improve and maintain "biologically diverse habitats and ecosystems to create net benefits to society by realising all of biodiversity's values: material benefits, as well as those that are less easily quantified." Equity is an important policy element. Biodiversity policies are different from other environmental policies mostly because optimal land use is a key policy component and inherently this has a specific geographic scope.

Policy Examples

Some of the examples of the relation of distributional concerns in biodiversity policies include:
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            Subject: Alternatives and Degrowth GL V13 N5

Hey Colin,

I just read your short missive about alternative energy and the IESO and MoEnergy in the Gallon Environment Letter.

We might want to embrace the IESO definition of alternative as including natural gas and oil. For you see, if we were to do that, the alternative to the 'alternative' choices, as provided by the likes of wikipedia, become the preferred choices. In other words, alternative energy sources should never have been called 'alternative' - they should always have been referred to as preferred choices. Let's delegate fossil fuels to the 'alternative' - when all else fails - back burners. (Same goes for transportation!)

Thanks for your coverage of the degrowth work - I too was supposed to present at the Paris conference, and it's great to see some of this covered for a wider audience such as the Gallon Environment Letter.

Robert Rattle


Our guest columnist is Phil Beard, General Manager/Secretary-Treasurer, Maitland Valley Conservation Authority, Ontario where he has worked for almost 30 years. He is also a Provisional member of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and has worked on many community projects. He's been Chair of the Town of Wingham's Economic Development Committee and a member of Wingham Ecological Park Committee. GL knows him for his support for the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario which he helped to establish and mentored in its early days, for example EFAO had office space in the Conservation Authority headquarters in Wroxter and he has also been a director on EFAO's board. His contribution was recognized at the EFAO's 25th anniversary in 2004. He has worked on governance and co-management of natural resources with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

His commitment to the environment, and melding both social and technical issues is illustrated in the Maitland Watershed Partnerships, a multistakeholder partnership established in 1999 using collaboration to manage resources.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.

by Phil Beard, General Manager of the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority MVCA, Ontario

Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS): balancing the environmental demands of society, with the needs of farmers and rural communities .

Agricultural policy in Ontario is at a crossroads. Not only are farmers facing economic challenges, agriculture is also facing an emerging environmental agenda, as an urban-based electorate is demanding new products- clean air and greenhouse gas reductions, clean water, wildlife and species at risk, and pastoral landscapes- from farmers. These environmental goods or "products" are often referred to as "ecological goods and services (EGS)."

Most environmental resources in Ontario, including water, air, fish and wildlife, are in public ownership, even if they occur on private land. Since there are no real markets for public resources, farmers must maximize revenues from crops and livestock. Ontario farmers have used this model to provide Ontarians with the best food in the world as well the essential raw materials for a significant agri-food industry. But now Ontarians in general are demanding even more from our farmers.

The Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) proposal (see ALUS Principles below) is a concept that balances the environmental demands of society and the needs of farmers and farm communities. ALUS proposes that agricultural producers be provided with incentives in return for the provision of environmental benefits to society by conserving the public environmental resources that exist on private land. ALUS is an alternative to regulating private land use under the authority of various acts and regulations. The regulatory approach has not worked because it is antithetical to the "culture of agriculture" while ALUS is part of that culture. The ALUS concept is rapidly gaining momentum in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Prince Edward Island. ALUS is endorsed as official policy of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, the National Farmers Union and conservation groups in Ontario. A voluntary program to encourage the production of environmental goods and services from private farmland was recently recommended by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri- Food and more recently by the FAO of the United Nations in their 2007 State of Agriculture Report.

ALUS is a bridge between agriculture and the environment that will work for farmers, rural communities and urban Ontarians. Lets encourage or better yet demand that our Federal and Provincial Governments make ALUS a cornerstone of the next Agricultural Policy Framework.

The ALUS Principles

1. A mix of public and private ownership of resources exists on private land, so the stewardship of natural capital and environmental resources must be a shared responsibility of governments and landowners. Due to this shared nature, environmental services should be cost-shared with producers. Farmers should receive annual payments or other forms of compensation to deliver and maintain environmental services.
2. Stewardship and conservation are services, therefore they must be assigned a fair market value.
3. ALUS will consider payments for the maintenance of existing natural assets, particularly where a viable alternative exists for converting natural assets into other (agricultural) uses. ALUS will also provide incentives for landscape improvement.
4. ALUS will produce measurable environmental goods and services, and associated socio-economic benefits for all Canadians.
5. Investment in the capacity of citizens and rural communities is integral to conservation. ALUS will build on this capacity, to allow flexible decision-making at the community level that respects local agricultural and environmental priorities.
6. Farmers and ranchers are in the best position to deliver environmental goods and services on their land. ALUS allows farmers to lead the environmental agenda and develop workable solutions in co-operation with their communities, farm organizations, governments, non-government agencies, and the Canadian public.
7. ALUS will be independently monitored and audited by trusted farm organizations and existing institutions that have the capabilities required to perform this role.
8. ALUS development and delivery will be transparent and accountable, from the conceptual stages to service delivery. Community leadership in ALUS planning, delivery, and reporting will ensure accountability and value.
9. ALUS will meet Canada's international trade obligations, and shall remain consistent with ecological goods and services delivery programs undertaken by our trading partners.
10. ALUS will complement the Agricultural Policy Framework and build on provincial policies such as environmental farm planning in Ontario.
11. ALUS is an environmental goods and services delivery program that uses a "fee-for service" concept to provide environmental benefits to all Canadians. ALUS is designed to provide these benefits at a fair market value, and will not provide environmental subsidies that artificially increase farm incomes.
12. ALUS is a science- based agri- environmental program concept, which will integrate best management practices for the environment and agriculture with the needs of rural communities.

Reprinted from Ecological Farming in Ontario. March-April 2008. [Magazine available by subscription or membership in the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario.] Phil Beard’s contact information see


Quite a few people seem to be involved in the "degrowth of the economy" which GL has touched on in the last couple of issues. Peter Victor, economist and Professor at the Faculty of Environmental Studies and Coordinator of the MES/LLB Joint Degree Program at York University writes that his book "Managing without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster" published by Edward Elgar, will be out in August, "Much of the empirical work in the book focusses on Canada." GL will review it. One of the endorsers of the book is Robert Costanza, whose valuation of global natural services reported in Nature in 1997 was startling both for the innovative methodology and the value estimate: $33 trillion, more than the GDP of all the countries of the world.

Costanza, Robert et al. The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature. Issue 387. 1997. p 253-260
David Chernushenko was Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada, a position he left, is also a member of the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy and runs a consulting business. In June he launched a film he made called Be The Change and wrote to GL, "I am hoping the film will be useful for community groups, schools and others as a spur to discussion of the whole idea of living sustainably. Must it be a drag? A sacrifice? Freezing in the dark? Not according to the people I meet who are doing their best to go this route, to live more lightly!" It is called a "100 kilometre film" as it was shot entirely within the Ottawa region with further efforts made to reduce environmental impact. A web site called the Living Lightly Project supplements the film with ideas.

Media kit and images available online at David Chernushenko david^ {replace ^ with you know what) or 613 730-0870.
Arun Kumar, Economist and Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University's Centre for Economic Studies and Planning (see also GL V10 N21, GL V11 N13) has written an article warning that the poor in India still form the largest population group with 77% of people living with less than Rs 20 per person per day (GL: a rupee is about 2 cents Canadian). The article was responding to a speech by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi inaugurating the new airport in Hyderabad and saying that air travel is not elitist anymore. For 2004-05, only 4% of the population or 44 million spent more than Rs. 48 per person per day. Few people can afford trains never mind air flights. GL thinks the point is important in negotiations for international agreements taking the situations of developing countries into account.

Kumar, Arun, Identifying The Indian Elite. April 17, 2008 [Based on the article published in The Tribune, April 1, 2008.

George, Abraham M. Is Government’s Data on Poverty in India Acceptable? - Bangalore, India: The George Foundation.


The federal Liberals Green Shift plan has the right goals towards reducing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions including:
The actual plan for the carbon tax side may help to achieve the goals but the tax cuts don't continue the theme as well as does the Green Party of Canada's plan released June 18, the day before the Liberals released theirs (see separate article).

The Auditor General is to be charged with the tax to verify that the Green Shift charge on carbon is revenue neutral. The target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The carbon price starts at $10 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions rising $10 per tonne per year to reach $40 per tonne within four years. The excise tax on gasoline at the pump is said to be the equivalent of $42 per tonne of carbon so no additional tax will be levied (a political positioning to get around the outrage caused by a price increase at the pumps when BC implemented its carbon tax July 1). The tax on diesel and aviation fuel of four cents per litre will not be raised in the first year. The carbon tax will apply to coal, propane, natural gas, oil and diesel on the basis of their carbon emissions. Because the plan charges at a flat rate for each input, it doesn't seem to reward any future innovation which might prevent the release of the carbon emissions of the fuel. It is projected that $15 billion per year by the end of the four years quite a bit less than the Green Party estimate of $40 billion at $50 per tonne.

As well as various personal income and corporate tax cuts, other initiatives include:,
Issues yet to be resolved:
The carbon tax is a high political risk to the Liberals who have hopes of gaining enough seats to form the government in the next election whereas for the Greens such a policy is unlikely to harm their goal of winning at least one seat. Even if Canadians become willing to bite the inevitable bullet necessary to deal with climate change despite fears of higher oil prices, they may doubt that the particular policies will be implemented fairly and achieve the aims. Prime Minister Harper spluttered calling the plan crazy and insane and using other language some thought crass. In the House of Commons, government MPs attacked the plan with "Shift happens". However, more economists are finally coming around to the idea that climate change is a serious threat and that a carbon tax is necessary. For some time now Don Drummond of the TD Bank has said pollution must be taxed. The June 21 issue of the Economist's special report on "The Future of energy" was introduced with a recommendation that the best thing the rich world can do to encourage alternative energy is to tax carbon even if China and India do not and to remove subsidies supporting fossil fuels.

GL has lamented that no Canadian election has ever been fought with environmental issues at the top so lauds Dion's efforts to try to make it so. However, the public interest in election topics can change on a dime. If he fights an election on the environment and loses his gamble, we may lose even more as the governing party will have received a mandate to ignore the looming threat (not so much a change from now). Critics compare the carbon tax to the former National Energy Program seen as disadvantaging the oil-rich Western Canada. Dion was at the Calgary Stampede wearing a cowboy hat and trying to persuade Albertans, a tough crowd currently benefiting from oil extraction which sees itself as the most to lose. Supporters of the carbon tax see events such as the announcement of the GM shutdowns and the US Mayors resolution against oil sands as dirty oil as a sign of things to come where the greener, more energy-efficient, climate-friendly, environmentally-progressive economies win. GL takes the latter view and hopes that Canadians will be wise enough to choose a decent future for their children's children.

Paid subscribers see links to original documents and references here.
The federal Green Party's Green Tax Shift plan was released before the Liberal Party plan. The Greens’ proposed tax at $50 per tonne of carbon is expected to bring in $40 billion, quite a bit more than the Liberal projection of $15 billion at $40 per tonne in the fourth year. Families will be allowed to split income, employer costs for the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance as well as employee share will be reduced, and there are promises of increases in low-income supplements for seniors and low-income Canadians. Exemptions for farmers and fishers are to be allowed for higher fuel costs. The GST will be increased (most economists advice that consumption taxes are the most fair and better for achieving environmental goals than income taxes.)
The Green Party obtained the costing under a Freedom of Information request from an Environment Canada study done by Marc Jaccard, who is said to have concluded that the $50 carbon tax and the tax reductions elsewhere would have a marginal improvement in Gross Domestic Product for Canada. The Green Party plan is to return two thirds of the revenue in income and payroll tax cuts. Other money would be used for building retrofits. A cap and trade system for the largest emitters, development of renewable energy, increased energy efficiency, support for municipalities for mass transit and other energy saving infrastructure and more passenger rail service are also part of the plan.
No one expects that the Green Party will form the next government but they could be in a position to influence government policies. The fact that both the Liberals and the Greens have indicated that they intend to push off-carbon economic policies in the next campaign may help to keep these topics on the campaign agenda but GL still expects that the Conservative party will obfuscate its position sufficiently that the media decides to focus it attention on other things. As former Prime Minister Kim Campbell once said, election campaigns are not the place for discussion of policy complexities. Unfortunately, if the government does not wish to discuss a particular policy area, such as climate change, introduction of policy details may not be the best way for opposition parties to keep the topic on the campaign agenda.
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The Royal Horticultural Society in Britain posted news in June that gardeners are reporting damage to vegetable crops from all over the country. It is believed that the contamination is due to a chemical aminopyralid, a plant growth hormone herbicide used in pastures to control weeds. The manure from the animals eating the grass or hay was applied to gardens. The pesticide regulator doesn't seem to expect to take any action because it is advising gardeners to ask whoever they got the manure from whether the aminopyralid was used. The gardener is expected to follow the supply chain as the farmers may have bought silage or hay from someone else or even several someone elses.
Although the herbicide is only applied at the rate of a few ounces per acre of grassland, sensitive plants such as tomatoes, potatoes and legumes, especially beans, develop fern like leaves and stunted growth. As the herbicide is registered for non-food areas such as pastures and rangeland and wheat, there is no safety guideline to say the vegetable produce is safe to eat. It is approved for livestock to eat the treated grass so it is not expected to cause harm to children, pets or wildlife. The RHS press release said until now herbicide damage to food gardens was mostly due to individual gardeners making mistakes such as using a container to water which was previously used for herbicides or applying lawn weed killer where non-grass plants are growing. This year has seen a dramatic increase in gardeners calling about damage caused by manure.
Dow Agrosciences Notice
Dow AgroSciences has a notice for allotment holders and gardeners including:
Milestone(tm): Reduced Environmental Risk
Dow's herbicide containing aminopyralid is new in the last couple of years (Canada approved it January 17, 2007). According to company's web site, Milestone(M) is "registered under the EPA’s Reduced Risk Pesticide initiative. Milestone carries a Caution signal word, and it is not a federally Restricted Use Pesticide, so it does not require a special license for purchase or application."
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The Competition Bureau CB has published a new guide on environmental claims. The CB seems to have taken comments into account and adjusted the guide, a refreshing action from a government agency. The guide based on ISO14021 supercedes the Principles and Guidelines for Environmental Labelling and Advertising PGELA (1993). The Competition Bureau had been making the case that it had already made ISO 14021 the basis of its guidance but as GL's editor pointed out, the draft guide proposed in 2001 for replacing PGELA was never implemented. This guide covers what are called Type II, self-declared environmental claims usually single claims made by a manufacturer or distributor. Other types are Type 1 (ISO 14024) which covers products/services under eco-logo programs and Type III (ISO 14025) which are environmental profile declarations. This guide only applies to Type II but the Competition Act still requires the others to meet the same tests for avoiding false and misleading advertising.
The guide is also not a regulation as the Competition Act is the federal law for criminal and civil provisions on false and misleading representations. The guide is considered by the CB to be best practices for businesses to ensure they are not making claims which are false or misleading.
Although a full lifecycle analysis is not required, the environmental claim should consider the lifecycle of the product or service to ensure that the environmental improvement on the one dimension is not offset by negative impacts in other areas and the claim should be based on verifiable data.
A bombshell for environmental groups may be discouraging the use of the logo of environmental groups on products. GL's editor was on CHTV speaking on this guide and by happenstance wearing a tie (a beauty with little pandas eating bamboo) with the WWF logo on the back. Environmental groups gain some funding from participating in such ventures; they don't have to handle the goods but still receive recompense. It seems this tie would now have a claim which could be considered misleading. Cereals and many other products are labelled with the logos of the groups which benefit as some money is returned to the groups.
The guide is still tilted in favour of conventional rather than green products. The focus on the wording of the claims may mean that an environmentally improved product may still be judged to be in breach of the labelling laws. For example, pesticide-free type claims are discouraged for organic products because "pesticides were never used in the first place in that product category." This is like saying a green product is in a green product category so that green bleach (never having had chlorine in it) can't make a chlorine-free claim. This interpretation is removing the very thing that is key to the real environmental features of the product and which gives the product positioning in the market. GL note that the term organic is poorly defined anyway when applied to non-food items except in countries which have specifically set standards.
The guide discourages use of symbols of natural objects such as fish and trees not directly connected to the product e.g. a fish symbol on a paint can might mislead the consumer to think it was safe for the marine environment. Photos and other images which may create the same impression are not discussed. The chasing arrows which resemble the mobius loop for recycling used for plastic coding is also allowed even though some of the plastics are not recyclable.
When GL's parent company conducts third party review of proposed green products, what environmental claims can be made is part of the consideration but while collecting data to support one (or two or three) environmental claims for the label is necessary it is not sufficient. Once a green product is under development, it is sometimes possible to make improvements beyond the single claim given cost and current technical constraints and availablity of product or material suppliers. Product suppliers differ in their ability to respond and sometimes have to scramble to assign the right people in their company to provide the technical information needed or to provide authority to make product design changes. A few suppliers are shocked to find their company's product has been superceded by another supplier with more ability or willingness to make design changes.
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Environmental companies may receive calls from a company called Our Planet calling to ask for participation in a show on sustainable development. Since GL's editor makes appearances, this wasn't so surprising but the lack of detail certainly was since most television shows know what the specific theme is, the questions they want the environmental expert to answer and when the taping is. At GL's office, we asked the caller who gave a phone number as 954 312-0480 what it was all about. She said she didn't know when the show would be aired, what the discussion was or indeed anything about it. When asked whether they pay, she said there were license and production fees. And who pays? Our Planet charges you the fee to make the videos and then apparently tries to have them aired somewhere; GL doesn't know if these videos ever see the light of day but beware. The same group also contacts other non-environmental companies.
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