April 2024


Happy Earth Week!

Living in the country’s capital means that our city can, at times, be the site of globally relevant events—and this week is one of those times. From April 23 to 29, negotiators from 176 countries are meeting at the Shaw Center for the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.

This is the fourth round of five negotiations, and country representatives are meeting with an aim to reach a deal by the end of the year to form an international treaty for eliminating plastic pollution in 20 years.

On Monday, Earth Day, Canadian environmental organizations were taking to social media in a Twitterstorm call for eliminating plastic, including Ontario Nature, EcoJustice, and Environmental Defence. Demonstrators also marched through the downtown core.

This write-up in the Toronto Star explains that, of those countries participating in the negotiations, Canada is considered a ”high ambition” country—along with 64 others—because it is pushing for a legally binding treaty. The U.S., naturally, wants measures to be voluntary, and a block of countries that include Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, and China, want any resulting treaty to not focus on production.

As of Wednesday, April 24, the process had “become mired in procedural debates and delegates have accused other countries of being less-than-ambitious about reaching an agreement,” reported City News, and there were also “accusations of interference by fossil fuel and chemical industry lobbyists.”

The group’s next and last (planned) meeting will take place in Busan, South Korea, at the end of November.

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

Oh, and Ottawa witnessed a near-total solar eclipse earlier this month. It was kind of a big deal.

Stories from the PEN!

And now on to the Stories from the PEN!

  • Our Treasurer, Stefan Klietsch, writes about two events he attended that were hosted by the organization Solidarité Québec-Haiti. The events both mark the 20th anniversary of the 2004 coup against the Haitian government led by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

  • In Regenerating Life to Cool the Earth, Lynn Jones describes her new perspective on climate change that could be called the “life cools the planet paradigm,” and is also referred to as the “land use leg of climate theory,” and the “living climate paradigm.”

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

From the Archives

A series of Peace and Eco Briefs written by Scott Redding in the PEN’s April 2003 edition covered a range of notable news items, including:

  • U.N. funding for dealing with the “unexpected humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq” was barely a quarter of what agencies had asked for, leaving much of the population without adequate food or drinking water. Two million children and one million pregnant or lactating mothers needed immediate “therapeutic feeding,” two million Iraqis were expected to be left homeless, and 500,000 people were to need medication.

  • An article in the New York Times, which noted that the “U.S. could alter the future of the Middle East by controlling Iraq’s water.”

  • U.S. Organic livestock producers were no longer required to use organic feed after a provision was passed in the 2003 Farm Bill.

  • The Scottish Parliament passed the Homelessness Act, which offered greater legal protection to those without housing or in danger or losing housing, and mandated that by 2012 all those who were unintentionally without housing would be entitled to permanent accommodation.

Other News

  • Not-the-Nuclear-Lobby Week is taking place from April 30 to May 2 in Ottawa: Citizen groups from across Canada will meet on Parliament Hill to share important info we don't usually hear about nuclear energy - for example, that building new reactors (a slow and multi-billion-dollar undertaking) will actually delay climate action. The push to expand nuclear energy and build "small modular" reactors across Canada will also worsen our unresolved radioactive waste problem and increase the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation. Find out more at three free public events, a film screening of Radioactive: The Women of Three Mile Island (April 29 at the Mayfair - PWYC), play reading of The Children (April 30 at GCTC) and public forum (May 1 at St. James United Church). Details and links to RSVP can be found at not-the-nuclear-lobby.ca [this informational blurb was submitted by Council of Canadians - Ottawa Chapter].

  • CBC News reported on data indicating increasing consolidation of Ontario’s rental market, with newly released data from the province’s rental housing tribunal showing that fewer than two dozen corporate landlords filed most of the applications to raise rents above provincial guidelines in 2022.

  • The City plans to spend $150,000 to study options for making Mooney's Bay safe for sledding, though staff warn the cost of doing so will be high.

  • Following a motion by Rideau-Jock Ward Coun. David Brown, city staff will start to explore options for partnering with private snow plow operators to help clear roads in rural areas.

  • The Ontario government and federal government reached a deal to begin construction of the controversial Highway 413 project. Environmental advocates say the federal government should still re-designate the project for a review under the Impact Assessment Act.

  • Remember in this section of the PEN’s February edition, there was a link about Energy Minister Todd Smith’s vow to overturn an Ontario Energy Board decision that would have shifted the cost of new natural gas hookups in homes to developers, rather than home-buyers? Well, The Narwhal has reported that internal documents show senior officials in Doug Ford’s office were at the time concerned about the costs that the decision would place on Enbridge Gas, and pushed to overturn the OEB ruling despite expecting lawyers to object. Go figure.

    • “The most glaring thing in these documents is that Enbridge clearly has very good access to the highest levels of this government,” Keith Brooks, programs director with Environmental Defence, told The Narwhal. “We see staffers working after hours to issue this press release and essentially do Enbridge a favour.”

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

--Christopher Bonasia, PEN editor

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