Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 15, No. 6, October 6, 2010


This issue, as Fall unfolds and as the world prepares for the next major UN Climate Change conference in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November to 10 December, focusses on updating some of our climate change coverage. We will be continuing this coverage right up to the dates of the Cancun conference. As reported in this issue, the Canadian Medical Association says that climate change "has the potential to be one of the greatest threats to human health in the 21st Century. While the damage is being done now, many of the health effects may arise only decades in the future." Gallon Environment Letter is committed to not ignoring this.

The US is moving ahead on regulation of GHG emissions from industry. As we have reported previously, many in industry are now recognizing that greenhouse gas legislation may be preferable to GHG regulations under the existing Clean Air Act. It will be interesting to see what the new Congress does on this file in 2011. In the meantime we bring you a list of the top spenders in the battle against GHG legislation. That ExxonMobil tops the list of spending on lobbying may be no surprise, but to see BP (Beyond Petroleum) and Shell on the list seems to GL to detract from the Sustainability image that these companies have tried to cultivate. However, all is not gloom and doom. The CEO of Ford Canada is pushing for higher gasoline prices. We explain why this is the mark of a progressive company.

The Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism has issued some guidance on what will happen to the CDM and its associated tradeable Carbon Emission Reductions. We summarize the information, in a non-legal manner, and provide a link to the full text.

The CEO of global mining giant BHP Billiton is another CEO who apparently supports a carbon tax. We bring you the evidence. BHP is currently bidding to take over Saskatchewan's Potash Corp, the world's largest producer of fertilizer with annual revenue close to one billion. The Canadian Fertilizer Institute, of which Potash Corp is the largest member, does not support a carbon tax.

In Australia, a minority government is propped up by the Greens and others. Climate action is part of the government's agreement with the Green Party. We look at the situation in Australia and at Elizabeth May's musings that a similar situation could arise in Canada following our next federal election. We will be watching the Australian situation carefully.

We review Climatopolis, a new book about climate change and cities. We hope that it helps launch a new genre of books that provide useful advice on adaptation. If you live in a low-lying area that is at risk of flooding you may be interested in a new building technique from the University of Waterloo. It brings a new approach to the term "house boat".

Despite our view that climate change is an extremely important issue, it is not the only Sustainability issue on our radar screen. For example, how's your beef? If you were a consumer in Lincolnshire, UK, you might have found it overpackaged. We relay the story, along with our suggestion to companies that may be in a similar situation. (Can any major brandowner really claim to be free of overpackaging?). There is more news on one of the issues that we focus on from time to time: asbestos. A federal staffer resigned after being caught trying to hide the facts. In the US Congress a bill has been introduced that would hit spillers, like Canada's Enbridge, hard if they failed to move quickly to report and act on spills. On the food front, the US FDA has moved against nutritional claims on carbonated beverages. A ban on caffeinated and high sugar beverages and some so-called junk foods is coming to Ontario schools next September. We'll report in more detail on the Sustainability impacts of government control of our food and beverage intake in a future issue.

We wrap up this issue with a report on the world's smallest production car, originally from the early 1960's but once again on the market in limited quantity. You can even use it to drive around your office! Look at the video link we provide and remember that the last story in each issue of GL normally has a humorous side.
This Fall municipal elections will be happening in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and parts of Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan. Our next issue will focus on some of the campaigns where Sustainability is being profiled and will update our coverage of municipal government Sustainability initiatives from around the world. We will get it to you before election day! Meanwhile we invite you to send campaign promises and links to municipal government Sustainability initiatives, or any other comment or suggestion about anything Sustainable Development, to


The Carbon Disclosure Project, a UK-based global not-for-profit which seeks "to accelerate solutions to climate change by putting relevant information at the heart of business, policy and investment decisions", recently published its 2010 Global 500 report. The report is based on a survey of the FTSE Global 500 companies, essentially the world's top companies. The CDP also compiles the largest database of primary corporate climate change information in the world. Primary means the emissions that come directly from the company's operations, not those associated with production of raw materials or use of products.

Not surprisingly, Europe is significantly ahead of North America in reporting of GHG emissions. We should note, however, that performance in GHG reporting and in GHG emissions reduction performance has improved somewhat since the 2008 study.

More importantly, the CDP study reports that there has been a shift in corporate emphasis from risk-based to opportunity-based. 86% of respondents said that they viewed climate change as providing the company with significant opportunities. This is a much higher number than reported in a recent US study, Sustainability Reporting and Greenhouse Gas Management, which reported that only 40% of a sample of US companies indicated that competitive advantage/corporate brand and business value were key Sustainability drivers. In this US sample, 27% indicated that Sustainability is seen primarily as a regulatory compliance issue.

Focussing on statistics for a small number of companies, albeit some of the world's largest, who are acting to address climate change will not be very interesting until many more companies are involved. The CDP study includes some much more interesting information on the opportunities and risks which companies are considering in the context of GHG action. GL has summarized the list contained in the CDP study, which is organized by industry sector, to the following positives and negatives. Among the positives resulting from corporate GHG action are:
  • Greater demand for low carbon products driven by increased interest and awareness of environmental issues.
  • New market for “green” products, such as sustainable packaging and locally sourced food with low carbon footprints.
  • Cost savings through initiatives to improve energy efficiency of operations, particularly in buildings, utilities and transport.
  • Competitive advantage obtained by pioneering efficient low cost carbon processes.
  • Competitive advantages for the early-movers adapting their businesses to new legislation resulting in better cost management and improved reputation with customers.
  • New revenue streams through financing climate change mitigation and adaptation e.g. low-carbon technologies and renewable energy; carbon markets; responsible investing; energy efficiency.
  • Increased revenue opportunities from new climate related products and services e.g. new products by insurers, emissions trading, and consulting services.
  • Enhance reputation to consumers and potential employees through communication of low carbon products and initiatives.
  • Diversification from traditional energy sources to low carbon alternatives, including solar, wind, biofuels and hydrogen fuel-cells.
  • Improved efficiency and diversification of supply in operations to reduce costs and supply dependence, especially for utilities and raw materials.
  • New products and services, including Carbon Capture and Storage, and collaboration with next generation infrastructure.
  • Financial opportunities through the Clean Development Mechanism market.
Among the risks to those taking action:

  • Potential caps on production for carbon intensive products.
  • Market risks, including higher demands from customers for lower carbon products and services.
  • Increased cost of compliance resulting from future carbon regulations pertaining to intensity targets or cap and trade system.
  • Reputational risks arising from regulatory obligations and voluntary emissions reporting.
  • Increasing regulatory pressures across various localities to reduce and report on emissions creates a risk to making investment decisions.
  • Increased utilities and material costs as a result of regulatory and physical changes from climate change.
However we slice and dice the information, it appears that the opportunities for climate action by corporations in most sectors are significantly greater than the risks. Why then are so many North American companies slow to act? In addition to a different and more conservative, less entrepreneurial corporate culture, GL suggests that a major problem is the way in which North American governments wield their clout. In Canada and the US, the increased costs of compliance with future carbon regulations could be very high. Typically, governments give no credit for early action to those companies that have already acted to reduce emissions at the time regulations are enacted. If regulations require either intensity-based or absolute reductions in industrial GHG reductions then those companies that have done absolutely nothing could well find it easier to comply than those which have already reduced their emissions by a significant amount.

In North America, inaction by governments on regulating corporate GHG emissions may well have become the biggest barrier to voluntary and economy-based actions by the private sector. We don't expect Canadian government inaction on the climate change file to end very soon but our federal government can help reduce industrial emissions by getting out of the way. If government announces that companies will not be penalized for GHG emission reductions achieved since 1998, maybe those companies that see future government regulation as a risk which inhibits action today will decide to move forward for some of the great reasons that the CDP study has identified. How can any government turn down the opportunity to achieve worthwhile environmental improvement at no cost to the taxpayer, unless of course they actually don't want to see action on climate change?
Colin Isaacs
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Recent environmental disasters in major corporations that have touted strong environmental performance have left GL wondering to what extent corporate pronouncements can be believed but even so a recent comment on policy preference by the CEO of Ford Canada caught our attention.

David Mondragon, CEO of Ford Canada, was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying that "we need higher fuel prices". Mondragon was interviewed on CBC radio in Toronto just a few days ago. He told CBC's Matt Galloway: "Fuel prices go up. People shift their buying patterns . . to smaller more fuel efficient vehicles. That's truly what has to happen for the economy, it's what has to happen long term for the environment, and at Ford we are putting all our plans in place to build a lot more smaller more fuel-efficient vehicles."

Mondragon's emphasis is that Ford is planning for what it expects to happen in the future (oil prices over $100 per barrel by 2012) and that it is very open to encouraging that future vision in order to support its sales. Implied, though not explicitly stated, in Mondragon's comments is the concept that higher fuel prices will encourage more rapid turnover of the vehicle fleet and therefore help sales of products from those companies (in this case Ford) that are offering more fuel efficient vehicles.

Assuming Mondragon's statements are supported by the Company's actions we applaud Ford for demonstrating how creative thinking can turn a company from viewing climate change and energy prices as a problem to seeing it as an opportunity.

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The Western Climate Initiative is holding a consultation for Essential Requirements in reporting of greenhouse gases for Canadian jurisdictions. The WCI has already held stakeholder consultation on harmonization of the ERS following adoption by the US Environmental Protection Agency EPA of its final Mandatory Reporting Rule in September 2009. The purpose of the current WCI consultation is on the revisions for Canadian partners to comply with the WCI ERs. Members of the WCI are seven western states and Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba.

Ontario is currently consulting in amended GHG reporting requirements as detailed in Ontario Regulation 452/09 (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting). The amendments are to support a cap-and-trade program which aligns with the WCI. Ontario has signed a memorandum of agreement with Quebec which also proposed amendments in June. The purpose is to form a regional cap and trade system for greenhouse gases to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals.

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GL is not a big fan of conspiracy theories, being inclined to believe that, in today's climate of reasonably open communications, neither governments nor big corporations are particularly skilled at organizing and keeping secret a conspiracy. However, a recent report entitled "Dirty Money" from the politically left of centre (in US terms) Center for American Progress Action Fund, headed by John D. Podesta, former chief of staff to President William J. Clinton and a professor at Georgetown University Center of Law, seems to us to be so based on data that it does not qualify as a typical conspiracy theory.

Dirty Money documents how much industry has been spending to lobby members of the US Congress and Administration to defeat climate change legislation. According to the report, the oil, gas, and coal industries have spent over $2 billion lobbying Congress since 1999. The report states:

"Lobbying activities ramped up in 2009 as the House of Representatives began debate on the American Clean Energy and Security Act, or ACES. Senate deliberations began last fall and continued throughout 2010. The entire electric utility industry spent more than $264 million on lobbying alone in 2009 and the first half of 2010. Oil and gas interests spent a record $175 million lobbying in 2009—a 30 percent increase from 2008—and have spent $75 million already in 2010.

Six of the seven companies with the largest lobbying expenditures are Big Oil companies - ExxonMobil (1), ConocoPhillips (2), Chevron (3), BP (5), Koch Industries (6), and Shell (7). Their 18-month lobbying expenditures total $143 million. Their agenda varies among companies, but generally they oppose most proposals to reduce global warming pollution from oil refineries and transportation fuels. And they seek to limit companies’ liability for oil spills like the BP oil disaster."

Lots more information, including information on so-called Astroturf rallies (see GL vol number) (or : events planned by an organization but disguised as grassroots events) by following the link to the Center for American Progress Action Fund website.

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Our sister consulting division, CIAL Group, has received several inquiries as to what happens with the Clean Development Mechanism when the Kyoto Protocol expires in December 2012. The Clean Development Mechanism is that component of the KP that allows investments in projects in developing countries that reduce GHG emissions and contribute to sustainable economic development to create carbon credits (Carbon Emission Reductions) that can be traded and that may eventually count towards Annex 1 country commitments towards reducing climate change emissions.

To assist, the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism has issued some guidance. In brief:
  • The future of the CDM is somewhat uncertain but it is expected to continue in some form.
  • Current CERs will be tradeable up until mid-2015, subject to the requirements of domestic or regional trading systems.
  • It may be possible to carry over CERs from the first KP commitment period to the second commitment period but the rules for this have not yet been determined.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


For the 2010 Australian election in August, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the governing Labor party made promises relating to clean manufacturing, low-carbon communities, renewable energy, green buildings and building resilience by protecting plants and animals such as in the Great Barrier Reef and sequestering carbon in national green corridors. Critics said, however, that there wasn't enough emphasis on climate change.

Although the Gillard government position on a carbon tax seems somewhat murky, Gillard was quoted before the election as saying her government would not introduce a carbon tax. Some political observers say that lack of action on carbon pricing and action on climate change resulted in the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (now Foreign Minister) losing popular support although his ouster was regarded with some suspicion.

As new Prime Minister and the first woman PM ever in Australia, Gillard's leadership led to lost seats and a minority parliment (72 for Labor, 72 for a coalition of the opposition, 1 Greens, 4 independents).The Greens took nine seats in the elected Senate leaving them with the balance of power when the new senators join the Senate in July 2011. A coalition* with the one Green seat, the first in the House of Representatives (won by Adam Bandt) and independents allowed Gillard to form a government although it required several different agreements to be signed. The agreement with the Greens agreement was signed by Bandt and Green Senators Bob Brown and Christine Milne, both from Tasmania.

The Labor-Greens Agreement requires pricing of carbon through a well-resourced multi-party Climate Change Committee "which encompasses experts and representative ALP, Greens, independent and Coalition parliamentarians who are committed to tackling climate change and who acknowledge that reducing carbon pollution by 2020 will require a carbon price."

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Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May hopes that the Greens in Canada will match the Australian Greens' progress. She writes in her blog that the Australian Greens had about the same support in 2007 (7%) as her party received in Canada's 2008 election. By 2010, the votes for the Australian Greens as first preference was 11.75% (although this still only won them one seat).

May suggests that the "old-line parties" are losing popularity because of hyper-partisanship and lack of focus on climate change and concludes, "Like Australia’s Greens, we recognize that in ignoring the climate crisis, we are losing economic opportunities as well as hastening the onslaught of severe climate disasters. As in the recent elections in the United Kingdom, where the Green Party leader won their first seat (despite the first past the post electoral system), and in Australia, support for the Green Party is growing across Canada as well.

*Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently revived the epithet "unholy coalition", which was "Unholy Coalition Junta" in the conservative blogs in the past especially when the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc were said to be considering partnering to form the government last fall. Canada's ruling Conservative Party came very close to causing a constitutional crisis by acting on their expressed opinion that such a coalition has no place in a democracy. Flaherty was criticized last month for using the politically-loaded description when he was supposed to be acting as Finance Minister reporting on the state of the economy. In Australia, Conservative oppositions leader Tony Abbot called the alliance the "Labor-Green beast" although this name was due more to policies unacceptable to him rather than aspersions on the democratic status of coalitions.

Green Party of Canada. Blog: Elizabeth May. Australia's Greens | Green Party of Canada. September 10, 2010.


On September 27, 2010, Prime Minister Gillard announced the formation of the Climate Change Comitttee to report to Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet on options for the introduction of a carbon price. The starting point is "that carbon price is an economic reform that is required to reduce carbon pollution, to encourage investment in low emissions technologies and complement other measures including renewable energy and energy efficiency." Since the Committee is to meet until the end of 2011, the government is delaying carbon pricing/carbon tax until after that. Although the Committee is supposed to help in raising public consensus, its meetings and papers are confidential unless all parties agree otherwise.

Also two roundtables will be set up chaired by high level ministers. One The Business Roundtable is for obtaining feedback from business and the other The Environment and Non-Governmental Organisation Roundtable will have ngos as members.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Rumour has it that a phone call from BHP CEO Marius Kloppers* that was somewhat supportive of carbon pricing influenced Australian Prime Minister Gillard to at least consider a carbon tax. Kloppers spoke at the Australian British Chamber of Commerce on September 15, 2010. BHP is listed in Australia and the UK, has 40,000 employees in 25 countries and is "critically dependent on international trade". Among Kloppers' comments on climate change and a carbon tax were:
  • Australians are clearly concerned about the potential impacts of climate change.
  • BHP accepts the mainstream science and is committed to working with government to design policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as the company produces, exports and consumes significant amounts of energy.
  • A global framework for action is best and despite the debates will eventually be developed. Australia should be ahead to maintain competitiveness. Australia needs a lower carbon economy.
  • Australia is the 8th largest emitter of carbon and the largest per capita of Kyoto Annex 1 countries.
  • A single silver bullet does not exist to transition to a lower carbon economy.
  • Some choices have long term impact e.g. every year new power generation plants are built which lock-in carbon emissions for 30 to 50 years. 90% of Australia's carbon emissions from electricity arise from coal-fired plants. Planning for such long-dated decisions needs to take into account a global price for carbon.
  • Carbon emissions need to have a cost impact to change behaviour of both consumers and businesses. It is a politically charged subject because people object to increased costs but making a difference comes at a price.
  • Carbon pricing should be revenue neutral ie the money should be returned to the economy rather than put into general funds.
  • Companies with trade exposed products must receive rebates so their products are not disadvantaged on the global markets until a global emissions scheme is in place. GL notes that this seems akin to saying tax everybody but give the money back. Nevertheless the more Captains of Industry commit even if on a superficial level to the reality of climate change and the need for policies to do something about it, the better. For GL, the fact that GL feels forced to laud such a weak support for climate action so late in the game is a sign societies are moving to action way too slowly.
Other details are available on BHP Billiton's web site and in the 2010 Sustainability Report.

*Some say that Kloppers is willing to accept a carbon tax if it can be used to negotiate against a proposed mining tax.

Kloppers is also currently busy with BHP Billiton's hostile $39 billion takeover bid of Saskatchewan's Potash Corp. In an era of climate change and global population need for food, key fertilizer ingredients like potash are regarded as essential for future food production. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall was not supportive of the bid.

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According to the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology, the climate of the 20th Century was "drought, dust and deluge - a century of climate extremes in Australia." The extremes described are cyclone, storm, drought, flip side (beneficial events), flood, temperature and fire. And a special climate statement on October 1, 2010 says the 21st centuruy is also presenting significant climate events - many are best described as disasters with those some "flip sides" with "unexpected benefits" such as fewer frosts.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


In June 2010, the Canadian Medical Association approved a policy on climate change and human health as an addition to a policy on environmentally responsible activity in the health-care sector first jointly approved by the CMA and the Canadian Nurses Association and 2008.

The climate policy says that climate change "has the potential to be one of the greatest threats to human health in the 21st Centure. While the damage is being done now, many of the health effects may arise only decades in the future." The potential impacts GL has discussed before including increased death, disease and injuries from heat waves and extreme weather events; changes in infectious diseases e.g. 260-320 million more cases of malaria estimated by 2080 and six billion at risk of dengue fever; more malnutrition; more flooding in some areas and drought in others; rising sea levels; poorer air quality.

Most of the effects are in areas where the vulnerable are alreacy vulnerable but Canadians vulnerable to climate change include seniors, children and infants, socially disadvantaged and those with existing medical conditions. City dwellers will also be more vulnerable as cities are heat islands but these often have better access to medical support such as emergency services, social and financial supports.

The policy document outlines steps to help limit the negative impacts. Some examples are:
  • a public awareness program on the importance of environment and global climate change on personal health.
  • Education on environment in health sciences schools as well as continuing education modules for those practicing in the medical sector.
  • Filling in the gaps about health impacts e.g. the federal government must undertake studies modelling the burden of disease caused by climate change, monitor diseases and identify the most vulnerable populations.
  • All governments should work to improve the ability of the public to adapt to climate change, create targetted programs for specific exposures and ensure physical infrastructure that allows adaptation.
  • The federal government should develop concrete actions to reduce the health impacts of climate-related emissions.
  • Ensure adequate surge capacity of the health system to deal with suddent increases in demand to cope with climate change.
  • better housing e.g. for those in the North and Aboriginals
  • integrate medical professionals into emergency planning
  • The federal government should support the Millennium Development Goals and support the principles outlined in the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health report
  • provide advice on self-management of negative health episodes due to climate change
  • take action to reduce emissions, "Investments in cuts to greenhouse gas emissions would greatly outweigh their costs and could help to reduce the future burden of climate change related illness."
  • Health care professionals should act within their professional settings to reduce the environmental impact of medical activities and to develop environmentally sustainable professional settings;
  • All Canadians should act to minimize individual impacts on the environment.
The policy statement states, "Canada’s physicians believe that: What is good for the environment is also good for human health. It is past time for those of us in the health sector in Canada to engage fully in the debate and discussions within our own house, as well as in the broader body politic to ensure that protecting human health is the bottom line of environmental and climate change strategies."

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In 2009, the World Health Association's annual General Assembly in New Delhi, India issued a new declaration on an action plan on health and climate change. Among the measures are:
  • funds for developing countries to strengthen health systems.
  • green adaptive practices including right to safe water and sewage disposal for all.
  • involvement of medical associations and physicians in development of national and local plans to prepare for climate emergencies including stopping privatization of water
  • strengthening of public health systems
  • research on burden of disease due to climate change
  • physicians to be encouraged to do patient environmental impact assessments to evaluate risk from climate change
  • government planning for refugees within and between countries
  • medical clinics and hospitals to reduce their own environmental impacts due to medical services.
Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, former president of the Canadian Medical Association chaired the climate change working group, was quoted as saying, "‘We should recognize that most initiatives which improve the impact of climate change also improve individual and population health – that what is good for the environment is also good for health. So, for example, if we can protect safe water supplies, develop- sewage disposal and prevent the privatization of water, we also significantly improve the health of populations."

This year's annual assembly of the World Medical Association is being held in Vancouver October 13-16, 2010. The theme of the scientific session is "Health and Environment" with one of the speakers Professor Sir Michael Marmot, President of the British Medical Association who will speak on achieving improvements in health for all in a changing environment.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Most books about climate change are generalizations, covering the causes and effects but not much about the adaptation that will be required. Climatopolis, by Matthew E. Kahn, professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment, is one of the first of what GL hopes will be a genre of books about adaptation.

When we first picked up the book the title gave us the idea that it was likely yet another bunch of nonsense from the deniers. How wrong we were! This fairly small volume is based on the precept that global GHG emissions are not likely to decline anytime soon. As our world gets hotter, urban life will have to adapt to survive. Kahn is an optimist - he is confident that human ingenuity and adaptability can do what is necessary but he does not present it as easy. There will be winners, including such places as Salt Lake City and Moscow, and losers, such as New York City and Phoenix. He says that "the innovative capitalist culture will allow us to make a Houdini-style escape from climate change's most devastating impacts."

Kahn draws on history and on his education as an economist for seven lessons:

  • Destruction often triggers [an economic] boom. For example, Hiroshima and Nagasaki have experienced an amazing postwar comeback.
  • A Federal Government "Jump Start" Is Not a Free Lunch. High taxes to pay for recovery come with all sorts of problems.
  • Government Activism Can Put More People at Risk. For example, along the Mississippi River, government reconstruction programs have put replacement housing in many places that are certain to flood again.
  • What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Stronger. One architect has developed homes for use in flood prone areas that can float when the next flood comes.
  • Don't Forget the Little Guys. For a city to recover from a disaster, millions of people must collectively decide that, despite the tragedy, the opportunities and quality of life in that city are better than elsewhere.
  • We Are Not All in the Same Boat. If climate change is viewed as a poor person's problem, then it is unlikely to attract middle-class support.
  • People Migrate in Response to Shocks.
The book analyses public reaction to climate change in several important ways. For example, if people perceive that a city is not at risk from climate change then that city's landowners, politicians and incumbent industries will benefit. This provides a financial incentive for climate change denial within the community. However, external opinions can lead to a city being left behind and losing economic opportunities as a result. [Alberta?] Kahn argues in quite a compelling way that green leaders and green communities often provide a better social and economic environment than communities with traditional leadership.

To succeed in a climate challenged area, cities are going to have to adapt both their own actions and those of their citizens in significant ways. For example, climate change will force Californians to have a serious policy discussion about water. Distaste for the concept of water flowing from toilet to tap may have to be set aside to ensure adequate water to support the population. Communities that are at high risk of forest fire may have to pay the full cost of fire services as those in safer areas decide not to support fire service for those who locate homes and industries in high risk locations with greatly increased rates of fire. People will have to use public transit instead of personal automobiles because congestion, air pollution, and climate change will make the one-passenger car unacceptable to the community as a whole.

Kahn provides a solid description of the social, infrastructure and technology elements which he sees as necessary for the North American city in a climate challenged future. He suggests that we need not one strategy for winning this war but instead a billion mutinies against climate change. He concludes "In a world with billions of educated, ambitious individuals, the best adaptations and innovations will be pretty good". GL could not find too much to quibble with - even if you are involved already in development of green community policies and plans we are sure this book will provide you with more ideas and food for thought. We commend this well-referenced book to all who are interested in visioning the city of the future.

Kahn, Matthew E. Climatopolis: How our cities will thrive in the Hotter Future. New York, New York: Basic Books (Perseus Books Group), 2010.


Prof. Elizabeth English an architect professor and engineer at the University of Waterloo in Ontario was one of the presenters at the Delta Conference held in Rotterdam. She is floating the idea of a house built with Styrofoam foundations, which allows the house to float in a flood. She is trying to promote the experimental idea particularly in New Orleans. There are other methods for raising a house from floods such as stilts but she says that if you have an eight-foot stilt and the flood is ten feet, the house will still be flooded. English was formerly Associate Professor - Research at the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center and has been at a number of other universities including obtaining degrees at Urban Planning at Princeton and Civil Engineering MIT. She has researched wind loads on buildings and aerodynamics of wind-blown debris. When not in Canada, she continues research in New Orleans on hurricane damage. In 2006, she found the Buoyant Foundation Project to design and retrofit amphibious foundations for traditional elevated wooden houses especially in New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward. The cost of retrofitting can be as much as USD20,000 if contracted or about $10,000 if the homeowners can do it themselves.

Presentations at the Deltas in Times of Climate Change were from all over the world. The Netherlands sees an economic future in applying its expertise globally to survival. Not all impacts on deltas will be flooding of low-lying areas, for example, salinity and drought are also possible effects. Wim Kuijken, Delta Commissioner, Government of the Netherlands described the Delta Program in his country and proposed adaptation to rising sea levels. Cedric Grant, Deputy Mayor of New Orleans spoke on "A delta city 5 years after disaster." Links to papers are available. on the website.

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While the maximum fine of GBP5000 is unlikely to worry UK retailer Sainsbury's, the embarrassment of being charged under the 2003 packaging regulations is high. Lincolnshire County council is taking the giant grocer to court for breaching its Trading Standards bylaw which is based on the national packaging rules which in turn are based on the EU directive on packaging. The beef packaging is alleged to be greater than essential for hygiene, safety and acceptance of a packaged product. The meat is vacuum-packed, stored inside a plastic tray with a lid and the tray is wrapped with a printed cardboard sleeve. Sainsbury's is due to appear in court in the middle of October.

Sainsbury's packaging improvements were defended by WRAP, a UK government funded arms-length agency which works with companies to reduce waste and promote recycling. Sainsbury's has been an active participant in WRAP programmes. GL thought Sainsbury's response communication fell into the category of "We are surprised Blub Blub". The news stories also subtracted attention from its announcement on packaging reduction of cereals. On September 17, 2010, the company announced that it would replace cereal boxes with bags for basic cereals saving 165 tonnes of packaging each year. The reduction is part of a number of initiatives designed to help achieve the target of one third packaging reduction by 2015 against a 2009 baseline.

GL thinks that a company planning well for packaging reduction should have had the meat packaging somewhere in the plan and could have responded more positively by explaining when the meat packages were scheduled for improvements and what kind of improvements were planned.

Letsrecycle. com. Essential Requirements charge for Sainsbury’s. September 2010.

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Despite a promise that it would be more accountable, Canada's Conservative government is known for its secretive ways. Minister Tony Clement told the CBC radio audience back in the summer that he could not explain what aspects the government considered before eliminating the mandatory long form census because of cabinet secrecy. He said he could not reveal how or why the decision was reached because if he did so he would be in breach of the law. Poor minister, so high a position and so powerless. Of course, he also said that although the decision making process must remain secret, Canadians should know the decision was taken on the advice of Statistics Canada. Poor minister was caught out when the Chief Statistician Chief Munir Sheikhhead of Statistics Canada resigned in protest at the decision in July 2010.

In an atmosphere where unnecessarily protecting information is the norm, it is no surprise that political staff take extraordinary steps. The government has made political staffers' emails and documents relating to their work out of reach of scrutiny by Parliament and its committees. Sebastien Togneri resigned from the office of Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis after being found to be withholding documents in four access-to-information requests. One of the cases related to Canada's international health and safety shame: asbestos. Asbestos is becoming an international issue as Canada continues to support the mining and export of this toxic substance while banning its use in Canada.

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Congressman Mark Schauer, representing Michigan, drafted the Corporate Liability and Emergency Accident Notification CLEAN Act, H.R. 6008 which passed in the House at the end of September. The bill was in response to the oil leak into the Kalamazoo River watershed in Marshall, Michigan on July 26. Shauer's press release says that the bill requires:
  • amending the current law which requires immediate reporting defined as "earliest practicable moment". The amendment requires reporting within an hour of the leak discovery
  • current penalties of $100,000 for failure to report go up to $250,000  up from the current
  • fines for companies with multiple violations go up from $1 million to $2.5 million.
  • transparency will improve through a public searchable internet database of all reportable incidents involving gas or hazardous liquid pipelines.
Shauer says that faster reporting by Enbridge would have reduced the damage from the one million gallon spill of heavy crude oil. He is also active in other pipeline safety regulatory initiatives.

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Both Doctor Pepper Snapple Group (Plano, Texas) and Unilever (Englewood, NJ) received warning letters from the US Food and Drug Administration FDA in August 2010 about antioxidant and Vitamin C claims for beverages. For Doctor Pepper Snapple's Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale, the major misbranding was due to the nutrition claim. Also because it is a carbonated beverage, the FDA considers it a snack food which is not supposed to be fortified. GL wonders whether Canada will get the blame for the misbranding just as some people in the US blame us for the mess the Canada Geese make on their beaches. Unilever received a warning letter for its "Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated." The US Food and Drug Administration found both products in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requiring the companies to take prompt action to correct the label on product and package and the related websites within 15 days.

GL observes:
  • FDA didn't bother with the term natural at all but concentrated on those parts directly covered by regulations. GL notes that many critics of environmental labelling assign the term "natural" to an environmental claim category even though most commonly as in this case the regulators don't express an opinion about the term "natural" and the case against isn't made on environmental claims.
  • GL also has often grumbled that regulators can't keep up with creative language of the marketers but the FDA was able to interpret. For example, for "tea is a naturally rich source of antioxidants", the FDA said "rich source" characterized the level of antioxidants as "high", a term in the act, which made this a nutrient claim. Ditto for the term "packed with protective flavonoid antioxidants." The nutrient claims didn't meet requirements and the products was judged to be misbranded under nutrient sections of the act.
  • FDA reviewed the web sites and considered these labelling within the definition of the Act. The web site discussing Tea and Health and mentioning health research e.g. which found lower cholesterol after drinking 8 cups of green tea daily for 12 weeks made the product need to meet the conditions of a drug. and a new drug at that. New drugs need to be approved based on scientific data to prove the drug is safe and effective. Adequate instructions for use cannot be written because it is impossible for an individual to do self-diagnosis. The FDA found the product is misbranded as a drug. GL notes that companies often forget what regulators consider advertising and the range includes more than what is on the label. Although in this case, the product was judged to be in violation anyway, sometimes in the environmental area, the product is carefully evaluated and labelled to be in compliance and then the marketers take over. Regulators also check corporate Twitter and Facebook accounts. And increasingly the competition is happy to alert the regulators to misbranding.
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The popular British auto show Top Gear, also available on BBC Canada, recently featured the Peel P50, a three wheel mini-car manufactured between 1962 and 1965 by Peel Engineering on the Isle of Man. The Company closed in 1969. The P50 is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's smallest car.

Top Gear's Jeremy Clark, 6ft. 5in. tall, folds himself with considerable difficulty into the car, advertised as seating "one adult and a shopping bag". The rest of the show is a laugh as the quirky car is put through its paces in a quirky setting, the BBC Building. Clark had to be rescued a few times because the car has no reverse gear but help consisted of someone picking up the rear end of the car and moving it around in the direction he wanted to go; help was particularly needed in order for him to drive in and out of the BBC elevators.

Today Peel is offering a limited number of the cars which were originally sold at GBP199 each. The 50 special limited edition Peel Cars are priced at GBP12,499 excluding shipping and delivery. At the time GL visited the web site, 21 Peels were still remaining. We cannot guarantee whether it is approved for use on roads in Canada - our guess, based on previous knowledge of Transport Canada vehicle safety approvals, is that it is not.

Fuel consumption is said to be 100 miles per imperial gallon (2.8 L/100 km; 83 miles per US gallon). Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency lists the 2010 winners of the annual ecoENERGY for vehicles awards, the most fuel efficient vehicles. In Canada,  the two seater Smart Fortwo (3 cylinders) is rated at 5.9L/100 km in the city and 4.8 L/100 km on the highway. The Prius hybrid is listed at 3.7L/100 km in the city and 4.0L/100 km on the highway.

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