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Good news for Arctic marine ecosystems
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Good news for Arctic marine ecosystems

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Congratulations to Prime Minister Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama for agreeing yesterday to ban offshore drilling in the Arctic! Trudeau declared a five-year ban on new licensing in all Arctic waters, with a review based on climate and marine science at the end of that period. Obama used the little-known Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to withdraw hundreds of millions of acres of federal land in the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean from new offshore oil and gas drilling. It is increasingly clear that the risk of catastrophic spills from Arctic oil drilling and tanker traffic is unacceptably high given dangerous sea ice, unpredictable weather, and the lack of emergency response capability near drilling sites and tanker routes. These decisions represent significant steps toward protecting the Arctic’s unique ecosystems. Trudeau and Obama also committed to phasing down the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, which should also contribute to the sustainability of Arctic Indigenous communities as well as reduce the risk of harm to whales, polar bears and shorebirds from a tanker spill.

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Three Amigos Talk Butterflies and Birds
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Three Amigos Talk Butterflies and Birds

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] It’s been more than two and a half years since the three leaders of North America last met. So it was great that Prime Minister Trudeau, President Obama, and President Nieto gathered in Ottawa last week to sign the North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership Action Plan. While the Action Plan’s commitments on clean energy and climate received most of the attention, commitments on biodiversity--such as continuing efforts to conserve Monarch Butterflies and their habitat--are also important. During the official announcements on June 29, Presidents Nieto and Obama proudly touched upon the heritage importance of the Monarch Butterfly. The specific mention of the eastern population of Monarchs was a nice surprise in the Action Plan, really emphasizing the trilateral scope of the agreement. There was however, no specific commitment of resources to biodiversity conservation. If there is a financial commitment, there is always more likely stronger action to accomplish the conservation goals. On the topic of Monarch conservation, last year Nature Canada met with the Mexican ambassador, and also established a petition to get Canada on board with financial backing to conserve the Monarchs. It would be significant for Canada to at least match the US commitment announced in 2015 of US$3.2 million toward habitat expansion. It’s important for Canada to uphold its role in Monarch Butterfly conservation as climate change has already started to disrupt the migration of Monarchs between Mexico and Canada.Image of Algonquin Park Other topics such as protecting migratory birds and species at risk had a fairly weak backing, and grasslands protection and common species recovery were not mentioned at all in the Action Plan. The leaders also touched on incorporating Indigenous knowledge to be part of informing natural resource management, which is a very interesting and commendable addition to the Action Plan. Overall the announcements at the North American Leaders Summit had some commendable direction on climate, environment, and conservation but more emphasis and financial back up on the conservation side is needed to implement these goals. It’s important to remember the link of investing in nature conservation and its significant impact on addressing climate change.

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Appoint Senators for Nature, Prime Minister
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Appoint Senators for Nature, Prime Minister

January 26, 2016 (OTTAWA,ON) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s upcoming appointments to the Senate should include advocates for nature conservation says Nature Canada. “You have a wonderful opportunity to appoint Senators keen to be public advocates for nature conservation, as well as support the government’s agenda for environmental law reform” wrote Eleanor Fast, Nature Canada’s executive director, in a letter to the Prime Minister on Monday. “Appointing such Senators will build public support for biodiversity protection and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, as well as respect for the Senate.” “The Senate has been tough on nature over the past decade” said Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s conservation director. “The Senate voted for the 2012 Omnibus budget bill that repealed or weakened many environmental laws without proposing a single amendment. The Senate also voted down the Climate Change Accountability Act in 2010, even though this legislation had been passed by a majority vote in the House of Commons.” “Nature Canada recognizes the strong nature conservation efforts of Senators such as Grant Mitchell, Percy Downe, Janis Johnson, Nancy Greene-Raine and Bob Runciman, as well as former Senators Tommy Banks and Mira Spivak. But on balance the Senate’s record on environmental and nature issues has not been very good.” The Prime Minister’s advisory body for Senate nominees is to be guided by criteria including a solid knowledge of the legislative process and the role of the Senate; “outstanding” personal qualities in areas such as public life, ethics and integrity; and a record of community service or “recognized leadership” in a field of expertise. “Nature Canada urges the advisory committee to nominate, and the Prime Minister to appoint, individuals with a record of service or recognized leadership in the nature and environmental communities.” said Fast. “Appointing independent Senators frees them from Caucus discipline, thus providing an opportunity to be public voices for biodiversity, reduced GHG emissions, and a greener economy. Nature Canada is convinced that the Senate can become a respected national institution engaging Canadians in discussions about solutions to the critical climate change and biodiversity challenges facing humanity” said Fast. “The Prime Minister’s reform of the Senate appointment process is a first step on this path; the next is to appoint Senators who can raise their voices and galvanize action for nature in Ottawa and across Canada.” Over the coming months, Nature Canada is planning an initiative to identify potential Senators for Nature for the Prime Minister and his advisory committee to consider. -30- About Nature Canada Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of more than 45,000 members and supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country, with affiliates in every province. Nature Canada focuses on effecting change on issues of national significance including bird conservation,  citizen science initiatives, urban nature initiatives, building a national network of conservation organizations, building a network of volunteers to care for critical natural habitat sites across Canada and being a voice for nature at the federal level. Media contact Eleanor Fast Executive Director Phone: 613 314-8713 Email: efast@naturecanada.ca Stephen Hazell Director of Conservation and General Counsel Phone: 613-724-1908 Email: shazell@naturecanada.ca

The Paris Agreement – What does it really mean for Canada? 
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The Paris Agreement – What does it really mean for Canada? 

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] The Paris Agreement signed Saturday by virtually all the countries of the world is truly a major success.  Congratulations to Prime Minister Trudeau and Environment Minister McKenna for playing such a constructive role in the negotiations. But let’s also thank Louise Comeau, Steven Guilbeault, Elizabeth May and the many other environmentalists who kept hope alive--pushing for an international agreement despite 10 years of obstructionism from the previous government. The Agreement commits governments to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C. A fund of at least $100 billion to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries is established. Governments are called upon to conserve and enhance sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases (such as forests and grasslands).Image of caribou Implementing the Paris Agreement is a huge challenge for Canada let alone less-developed countries. In effect, implementation means that fossil fuel production would be phased out globally in the coming decades and replaced by renewable energy sources and much more efficient use of all energy supplies. So for Canada, one question is: should any new oil, natural gas, or coal infrastructure (e.g., mines, pipelines, tanker terminals)  be approved for what are in essence sunset industries?  If Canada is serious about meeting its commitments under the Paris Agreement, shouldn’t the billions of dollars needed to build the proposed Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain and Energy East projects be redirected to financing low-carbon renewable energy projects and to improving the energy efficiency of our homes, industries and vehicles?  Shouldn’t the pro-fossil fuel regulatory boards such as the National Energy Board and the offshore boards be replaced by boards with a low-carbon mandate? Shouldn’t all subsidies and export development financing to the fossil fuel industry be cancelled?  The benefits to nature of avoiding the negative impacts of fossil fuel megaprojects would be enormous. Finally, shouldn’t all government be making every effort to protect and grow forests and grasslands, which we know are critically important sinks for greenhouse gas emissions—as well as for wildlife and nature? Email Signup

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