1 Climate Change | West Coast Environmental Law

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Climate Change

Land Use Planning for Nature, Climate and Communities: Taking Stock and Moving Forward

Subject(s): 
cumulative impacts; land use planning; climate change; forest carbon offsets; mineral tenure reform; green economy
Author(s): 
Jessica Clogg, Deborah Carlson
Summary: 

In this report West Coast Environmental Law analyzes the resource management direction provided by twenty years of strategic land use planning in BC to address three related questions:    

  1. How well do existing land designations and related resource management objectives manage the effects of cumulative environmental change from resource management and other human activities?
  2. Do BC’s existing land designations and resource management objectives provide for resilience and adaptability of ecological systems and human communities in the face of climate change?
  3. How could existing or new land designations be used to enable a ‘greener’ BC economy while safeguarding our natural life support systems?
     

All legally established, mapped areas with conservation-related management objectives at the landscape level or above were included in the analysis, which examined legislative requirements associated with relevant designations and related management objectives. Concurrently, ForestEthics Solutions released maps compiling existing environmental designations for the province as a whole for the first time. Based on data assembled in collaboration with several provincial ministries, the maps and legal analysis illustrate how BC’s collection of land-use designations masks a weak and fragmented approach to conservation at the provincial level.

Key Findings:

  1. BC has many forms of land use designations, but only 15.6% of BC’s land base is covered by an environmental designation that protects the land and water from most types of resource development.
  2. When it comes to managing for resilience, BC’s laws and policies are ‘hardwired for failure’.  Our laws and policies governing the nature, extent and distribution of various land use designations present barriers to maintaining resilient ecological systems and human communities. These barriers include:
  • Legal or policy caps on how much land may be protected and/or how great an impact on resource extraction is permitted
  • Exemptions and loopholes that allow economic considerations to trump conservation objectives
  • Designations and legal management objectives that are not applicable to most forms of development
  • Absence of mandatory triggers for conservation planning
  • Failure to recognize and give legal effect to First Nations decision-making authority in the context of land use planning and environmental decision-making
  1. Climate change was not explicitly taken into account in most strategic land use plans and resulting decisions about designations and land use objectives.
  2. Lack of overall strategic direction and gaps in the enabling legal framework are likely to hamper forests’ contribution to a ‘greener’ economy in BC, but with leadership from provincial and First Nations governments and collaboration with non-governmental organizations these challenges could be surmountable.
  3. With respect to many land designations in BC, our laws do not position us well for the rigorous application of forest carbon accounting standards, with potential environmental and economic costs to the province and project proponents.
     
Publication Date: 
February 2013
Year: 
2013
Pages: 
26
Date Catalogued: 
Thursday, February 21, 2013

Climate Accountability Letters: An introduction for local governments

Subject(s): 
Carbon Majors, Climate Law in our Hands
Author(s): 
Andrew Gage
Summary: 

Over 50 community groups from around BC - organizations focused on health, faith, human rights and environment - have asked BC's local governments to take action to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for its role in the climate costs being caused by fossil fuel pollution.

In the short term, the 50+ organizations ask municipalities (or regional districts) to send "Climate Accountability Letters" to 20 of the world's largest fossil fuel companies.  These letters demand that the companies pay for climate costs that are being incurred by each community. This brief will answer some questions that local governments may have about why each community should send Climate Accountability Letters.
 

Publication Date: 
February 2017
Publisher: 
West Coast Environmental Law
Year: 
2017
Date Catalogued: 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Green Waterfront Design Charrette Report

Subject(s): 
Climate adaptation, local governments, sea level rise, coastal communities
Author(s): 
Deborah Carlson, Deborah Harford et. al.
Summary: 

The Green Waterfront Design Charrette brought together design experts and staff from five British Columbia municipalities, including planners, engineers, sustainability specialists, emergency managers and biologists. Working collaboratively, they explored how shifts in land use and building design could support community resilience to sea level rise, focusing on responses that developed green infrastructure and provided opportunities to protect and restore coastal ecosystems, and maintain valuable natural shoreline amenities.

This report provides a thorough overview of the Charrette, including the objectives, expert presentations, as well as ideas and insights to address sea level rise in BC's Lower Mainland.

This report was prepared by West Coast Environmental Law, with assistance from Robert Barrs, MODUS Planning, Design and Engagement, and George Benson.

The charrette was organized by West Coast Environmental Law with assistance from Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT) – SFU, MODUS, graduate students from SCARP-UBC and SFU’s School of Public Policy, and participating municipalities (City of Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, District of West Vancouver and District of Squamish).

Publication Date: 
December 2016
Year: 
2016
Pages: 
104
City: 
Vancouver
Date Catalogued: 
Friday, December 16, 2016

Preparing for climate change: An implementation guide for local governments in British Columbia

Subject(s): 
Climate Adaptation, Local Governments
Author(s): 
Deborah Carlson
Summary: 

Our climate is changing, and we need to plan for a “new normal”. Just a few examples include rising sea levels in coastal areas, more extreme weather events, increased risk of flooding and forest fires, and the possibility of seasonal water shortages.

Local governments have a lead role to play in ensuring our communities will be resilient and sustainable in light of these challenges. Preparing for Climate Change: An Implementation Guide for Local Governments in BC is a resource developed by West Coast Environmental Law that looks at the tools available, and highlights useful experiences and good practices from around the province and elsewhere in Canada.

Some key findings from our work:

  • Local governments already plan for change, and can mainstream climate change adaptation strategies into official community plans, financial and infrastructure planning, emergency response, community development and the protection of the natural environment;
  • Greener communities are often more resilient communities, and measures like green infrastructure and smart planning offer significant benefits from a climate change perspective; and
  • Regional collaboration and cooperation is important to address challenges around capacity—e.g. applying climate models--and being able to respond at the necessary scale to be effective.

 

This publication received a 2013 Gold Award for Excellence in Planning from the Planning Institute of British Columbia. It was a project of the British Columbia Regional Adaptation Initiative, with funding from NRCAN, the BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and the Fraser Basin Council.

West Coast Environmental Law also acknowledges the generous support of the following organizations:

Vancity EnviroFund

 

Publication Date: 
October 2012
Year: 
2012
Pages: 
110
Date Catalogued: 
Thursday, March 7, 2013

Taking climate justice into our own hands

Subject(s): 
Climate Compensation Act, Private International Law
Author(s): 
Andrew Gage, Margaretha Wewerinke
Summary: 

The Taking climate justice into our own Hands report, co-released by West Coast Environmental Law and the Vanuatu Environmental Law Association, explains how well-established principles of private international law allows the courts and governments of individual countries to take action against fossil fuel polluters. The report also includes the first public proposal for the text of a Climate Compensation Act that clarifies the principles of liability for large-scale greenhouse gas emitters, and which could be enacted by countries around the world.

Taking Climate Justice into our own Hands is hosted at climatelawinourhands.org.

Publication Date: 
December 2015
Publisher: 
West Coast Environmental Law
Year: 
2015
Pages: 
47
Date Catalogued: 
Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Open letter to federal cabinet on recent push to support tar sands pipelines

Subject(s): 
Tar sands pipelines and climate change
Author(s): 
Open letter
Summary: 

This open letter, endorsed by over 40 Canadian organizations representing hundreds of thousands of people, calls on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Cabinet Ministers to reject the pressure to champion tar sands pipelines.

The open letter challenges key myths being used to support the false argument that more pipelines will fix Alberta's economic woes, and emphasizes the very serious risks presented by the projects and the viable alternatives we have.

Publication Date: 
April 2016
Year: 
2016
Pages: 
3
Date Catalogued: 
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Re: Climate Leadership Report Consultations

Subject(s): 
BC Climate Leadership Team
Author(s): 
Andrew Gage, Deborah Carlson
Summary: 

West Coast Environmental Law's submissions to the BC Ministry of Environment in response to the province's Climate Leadership Team report and the Ministry's public consultation. 

Publication Date: 
March 2016
Year: 
2016
Pages: 
3
City: 
Vancouver
Date Catalogued: 
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Carbon Budget for Canada: A collaborative framework for federal and provincial climate leadership

Subject(s): 
Carbon budget, Climate Change Act 2008
Author(s): 
Andrew Gage
Summary: 

A new report – A Carbon Budget for Canada: A collaborative framework for federal and provincial climate leadership – explains how budgets and other best financial management practices provide a model for national leadership on climate change. The report also calls for a national scientific committee to advise both levels of government on what needs to be done to fight climate change in Canada.

Publication Date: 
December 2015
Publisher: 
West Coast Environmental Law
Year: 
2015
Pages: 
52
City: 
Vancouver
Full text: 
Date Catalogued: 
Friday, December 4, 2015

Open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau re: Kinder Morgan / Energy East NEB

Subject(s): 
NEB review process
Author(s): 
open letter
Summary: 

An open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the NEB process.

Publication Date: 
November 2015
Year: 
2015
Pages: 
4
Date Catalogued: 
Friday, November 13, 2015

Open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau re: Commitment to introduce legislated ban on oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s north coast

Subject(s): 
North coast tanker ban
Author(s): 
open letter
Summary: 

An open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed by

BC-Yukon KAIROS
BC Nature
Dogwood Initiative
Douglas Channel Watch
Eye of the Storm
ForestEthics Advocacy
Fort St. James Sustainability Group
Friends of Morice Bulkley
Friends of Wild Salmon
Greenpeace Canada
Haida Gwaii CoASt
Living Oceans Society
My Sea to Sky
North West Watch
Pacific Wild
Prince George Public Interest Research Group
Prince Rupert Environment Society
RAVEN
Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance
Sierra Club BC
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition
T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation
The Steelhead Society of British Columbia, Northern Branch
UFAWU - Unifor United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union
United Church of Canada
Watershed Watch Salmon Society
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Wilderness Tourism Association of BC
Publication Date: 
November 2015
Year: 
2015
Pages: 
1
Date Catalogued: 
Friday, November 13, 2015
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