This article appeared in the Daily Gleaner, Friday, January 24, 2020

How long before climate emergency gains traction?

Fredericton is under pressure to join the many hundreds of Canadian municipalities and federal government that have declared a climate emergency.

A Climate Emergency declaration is “a piece of legislation or directive putting a government or organization on record in support of emergency action to restore a safe climate.” (Climate Mobilization 2020)

With few indications of leadership at the provincial level in this province, local governments are being pushed to take the strongest possible action towards mobilization. So far Bathurst, Saint John, Moncton and Edmundston have done this. Are the declarations of climate emergency symbolic, without teeth? That depends on how much people hold Council members to account to living up to their words.

Declaring a climate emergency is the first step towards shifting governments into emergency mode to address this global crisis. The focus should include a healthy dose of carbon/greenhouse gas drawdown as well as public safety in adapting to the new norm of extended heatwaves, more violent weather events and possible food shortages. It should include City residents as well as corporate operations.

What would declaring a climate emergency change for Fredericton?

 It would tell everyone, from environmental activist to electrical journeyman that this crisis is real, and that their personal actions—from choosing a new car to heating their homes—matter.

It would clearly say to our community, in turn percolating down to neighbourhoods, social groups etc. that you can either contribute to making things better in a framework where we are all working together, or you can choose to make things worse by your individual choices.

My guess is most of us would want to do the former.                                                                         

Mobilizing to address the climate crisis takes everyone, everywhere with no exceptions. This is a crisis, even though when we get up the sun is still shining, there is still food on the table and heat in the house. We lead a fairly privileged life here in New Brunswick; we have so far avoided the impacts being felt in places like Australia or along the US southern border, where migrants fleeing economic and climate breakdown and crime are signs of things to come elsewhere (but not here, we secretly tell ourselves).

Talk to an emergency measures coordinator though, and the future picture in New Brunswick gets dark in a hurry. They are the ones buying houses on the hill, out of the floodplain, and worrying about social unrest and crime waves.

Providing a safe climate, irrespective of our own seemingly miniscule contributions to its deterioration, means maximizing protection for people and species with whom we share this Earth. Organizing isn’t solely in the wheelhouse of the professionals. Neighbourhoods, block parents, local food groups, seniors all have a role in both drawing down our carbon output as well as supporting adaptive measures to help us cope.

A Mayor’s task force on the climate emergency, or a committee similar to that on homelessness is in order.  Council just had a perfect opportunity to direct surplus budget resources to climate, but did not. Instead, funds were put into Ignite Fredericton and immigration. Both of these are worthy, they are just not emergencies like the climate crisis.

Frederictonians are increasingly aware that something is amiss with the climate. By electing a Green Party MP in Jenica Atwin to represent us in Ottawa citizens have embraced the political party with a coherent and relevant plan to address the climate emergency—one that envisions a World War II scale mobilization starting now.

The effects of climate change aren’t going to stop. They’re going to overlap and get worse. What can seem an inconvenience today can become a major catastrophe in a heartbeat.

If you want people to act in an emergency, you have to act AS IF it’s an emergency. I want our city to be the public voice that makes people aware of their role and gets them out of their comfort zones. I want the city to start making climate adaptation and carbon drawdown a line item in every budget, not counting on staff to write grant applications for crumbs from the Feds.

And most of all, I want City Council to avoid taking decisions that compromise our climate resilience or endorse projects that add more emissions to an already overburdened atmosphere.

One wonders how bad things have to get before this climate emergency concept gets traction.

Margo Sheppard


Ditching fossil fuels is like a ‘monkey trap’

The Daily Gleaner, Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A recent Brunswick News Commentary wondered how bad must things get before the concept of ‘climate emergency’ gets traction.

One depressing answer may be found in the title of a widely circulated NYTimes editorial: “Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide.”

The continuing unimaginable conflagration of Australian bushfires has already burned an area much larger than New Brunswick, destroyed thousands of homes, and killed over a billion animals.

Decades will pass before knowing how many human lives will be lost or shortened by exposure to the world’s worst air pollution. An air quality index (AQI) above 200 is defined as hazardous. The AQI in Canberra has hit 4,650.

Climate scientists have long predicted such events, as the conditions that created them are well-studied climate topics.

While droughts and heat waves are normal, climate warming increases the odds of their occurrence, their duration, and their intensity. A continually warming Australia experienced its hottest and driest year in 2019. Average temperatures in the 40’s have baked the entire continent for weeks. Altered weather patterns push normal rains out to the ocean.

Yet, despite scientists’ warnings, years of increasingly destructive weather, and the current catastrophe, Australia plans to expand its world-leading exports of coal and liquid natural gas (LNG).

Perhaps, the country does have a psychotic death wish. Maybe it’s contagious.

In the USA, 100, 500 and 1000-year floods are meaningless, as they occur regularly. While the southwest faces water shortages, the central breadbasket remained flooded for months. California’s fire season is now year-round. Coasts are threatened by tropical depressions that turn into monster hurricanes within a day.

America’s response? Promote coal and frack as much gas and oil as possible.

Canada watches record fires burn BC, Ft. McMurray, and boreal forests. Extreme temperatures and precipitation and record flooding are the norm. Canada is warming at twice the global rate, and three times as fast in our north, where melting ice and permafrost lead to abandoned settlements and climate refugees.

Yet, several provinces stake their futures on huge new tarsands and LNG projects. The federal government, while shouting climate emergency warnings, inexplicably abets these expansions.

Maybe a mass psychosis has seized these countries. But, perhaps, there is a better explanation - the classic ’monkey trap’.

A monkey trap is an immovable trap, with a hole just large enough for a monkey's open hand. It is baited with a banana. A monkey grabs the banana, but the hole is not large enough to allow the monkey to withdraw its clenched fist (now clutching a banana).

Because the monkey can’t conceive of letting the banana go, it remains trapped, awaiting its fate.

It is the perfect analogy for humanity’s current situation. We cannot escape our trap (climate emergency), because we can’t conceive of giving up the banana (fossil fuels), even though doing so is our only means of escape.

There is absolutely no doubt about the climate trap. All the recent climate disasters resulted from less than 1.5-degrees warming - considered the ‘safe’ limit.

Our current fossil fuel usage puts us on track for 3 to 5 degree warming. At 3 degrees, Australian-like catastrophes become normal.

2019 ended the hottest decade on both land and in the ocean. No one born after 1985 has experienced a month cooler than the 20th century average.

Coal, and the energy intensive processes of fracking, LNG and tarsands produce more greenhouse gases than conventional oil and gas, and make the USA, Australia and Canada the word’s largest per capita contributors to climate change.

Despite knowing this, they still can’t conceive of letting them go.

Supposedly, a monkey isn’t intelligent enough to understand how its trap works. Is it conceivable that we, likewise, lack the intellect or imagination to envision a life without fossil fuels?

Or is it something more distinctly human? Are we so tied to greed, convenient habits, or misbegotten ideology that we cannot act to save ourselves?

We have a simple choice. Let go of the banana, or remain trapped. Nothing else will save us.

New Brunswick’s record floods, tropical storms, hurricanes, ice storms, and windstorms are becoming the norm. Each costs millions and affects our health, lives and livelihoods.

Our government has finally begun taking small steps to address the climate crisis. Hydro-electricity from Quebec to replace coal-fired Belledune is a good idea, as is regional cooperation. The Ministers of Environment and Energy tout their climate awareness in plans to use carbon-pricing revenue for climate action programs.

Yet, immediately upon hearing that a complicated investment deal might restart a local shale gas industry - an industry that supercharges climate warming - the Minister of Energy boasted how his Department had made it possible.

Congratulations! Have a banana! They’re irresistible.

The fossil fuels we have all profited from now threaten our existence. If you believe that we can gradually let them go, because we are superior to monkeys, let your leaders know. Act for our children instead of quietly awaiting fate.

Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance

Pour diffusion immédiate
Le 18 novembre 2019

Samedi le 16 novembre 2019, cinq prix environnementaux ont été attribués à des groupes et citoyens du Nouveau-Brunswick pour souligner leur service exemplaire à leurs communautés.

L’Alliance du bassin versant de la Petitcodiac a reçu le prix Samaqan pour ses efforts constants pour protéger et restaurer les habitats d’eau douce des bassins versants de la Petitcodiac et de la Memramcook grâce à la science, l’éducation et l’engagement de la communauté. Le prix Samaqan est accordé à ceux et celles qui ont consacré leurs efforts à l’eau et aux espèces qui habitent dans les eaux.

Le prix Phénix était présenté à Symbiose, le groupe environnemental de l’Université de Moncton, pour la mobilisation non seulement des étudiants mais aussi de la communauté du Grand Moncton sur les changements climatiques en lien avec le mouvement mondial pour le climat. Le prix Phénix est accordé à ceux et celles qui ont consacré leurs efforts aux politiques et à la législation et qui ont été dans le feu de l’action.

Le prix Gaia a été présenté à Megan de Graaf, écologiste forestière de Community Forests International, pour sa profonde compréhension des liens entre les gens et les forêts, pour son dévouement au renforcement des capacités rurales pour la conservation et la restauration de la forêt acadienne et pour son souci des détails, sa curiosité et son respect. Le prix Gaia est accordé à ceux et celles qui ont consacré leurs efforts à la terre et aux espèces qui habitent sur terre.

EOS Éco-Énergie a été honoré par le prix Zéphyr pour son leadership communautaire et ses efforts assidus pour dynamiser des solutions locales aux changements climatiques dans la région Tantramar-Memramcook. Le prix Zéphyr est accordé à ceux et celles qui ont consacré leurs efforts à l’air et aux espèces qui habitent les airs.

Le Conseil de conservation du Nouveau-Brunswick a reçu un prix spécial en reconnaissance de ses 50 années d’activité et de leadership environnemental au Nouveau-Brunswick.

Les prix ont été présentés lors de la réunion annuelle du Réseau environnemental du Nouveau-Brunswick, Éco-confluence, qui a eu lieu à Fredericton au cours de la fin de semaine. Chaque année, les efforts importants déployés par les citoyens et les groupes de citoyens pour protéger et restaurer l’environnement au Nouveau-Brunswick sont reconnus durant une cérémonie spéciale.

Le Réseau environnemental du Nouveau-Brunswick est un réseau de communication sans but lucratif comprenant plus de 110 groupes environnementaux de citoyens et de citoyennes de toutes les régions de la province. Le but du Réseau est d’encourager le réseautage et la collaboration parmi les groupes et entre les groupes, le gouvernement et d’autres secteurs.

- 30 –

Award Winners NBEN 2019
Photographe : RENB.

Raissa Marks, 506-855-4144,
Chers amis et collègues,

Le 16 septembre, le juge Richard Petrie a rejeté notre demande de procéder à une révision judiciaire de la décision du gouvernement d’aménager un centre de services pour motoneiges au parc provincial Mont-Carleton. Nous pouvons soit porter en appel la décision du juge, soit abandonner les procédures judiciaires. Le but de ce message est de vous demander votre avis quant à la meilleure chose à faire maintenant.

La raison invoquée par le juge Petrie pour rejeter notre demande de révision judiciaire est que,  selon lui, aucun des requérants  - le Grand conseil malécite, le Grand Chef Ron Tremblay et moi-même – n’avait qualité pour agir, c’est-à-dire n’avait le droit d’exercer une action en justice dans ce cas.  Le juge Petrie a expliqué que seuls les chefs élus en vertu de la Loi sur les Indiens sont les vrais représentants des Autochtones et peuvent agir en leur nom. Comme ni le Grand conseil ni son Grand Chef n’ont reçu l’autorité d’agir d’un chef élu selon ces termes, ils ne peuvent pas exercer une action en justice au nom des Autochtones.  Aucune loi ne vient corroborer cette assertion et, en plus, le Traité de Mascarene de 1726 sur lequel reposait notre argumentation en cour contredit les allégations du juge Petrie. Le traité dit que tout Indien peut avoir recours aux tribunaux. Autre fait : puisque je m’étais rangé du côté du  Grand conseil, un organisme autochtone,  je n’ai pas pu obtenir qualité pour agir comme représentant de l’intérêt public même si je suis le co-fondateur et un des directeurs en poste des Amis du parc provincial Mont-Carleton, inc.  

Ceux d’entre vous qui ont participé au processus de révision de la Loi sur les parcs se souviendront que nous avions demandé que des plans de gestion soient élaborés pour chaque parc provincial avant qu’aucun projet de développement comme celui d’un centre de services pour motoneiges proposé ne soit accepté. Ces plans devaient s’appuyer sur un plan de zonage propre à chaque parc. Le zonage des parcs se fait en fonction de la protection des habitats. Notre nouvelle Loi sur les parcs reflète cela. De tous les parcs provinciaux, celui du mont Carleton est le seul qui a un plan de zonage, et ce plan ne prévoit pas d’aménagement de sentiers et de centre de services pour motoneiges tels qu’envisagés par le ministère du Tourisme, du Patrimoine et de la Culture. Le plan de zonage du parc n’a pas été non plus inclus dans l’Évaluation d’impact environnemental  pour le projet de centre de services. Pourtant, plus tôt cet été, le Ministère a reçu le feu vert pour aller de l’avant avec le projet de centre de services.  Nous alléguons dans notre demande de révision judiciaire que la Loi sur les parcs et l’Évaluation d’impact environnemental n’ont pas été respectées. En rendant une décision appuyée uniquement sur la qualité pour agir, le juge Petrie a ignoré tous ces autres éléments importants. La décision du juge Petrie a donné carte blanche au gouvernement pour aller de l’avant avec le projet de centre de services sans que rien ne puisse y faire obstacle puisque la période de 90 jours pendant laquelle quelqu’un d’autre aurait pu soumettre une demande de révision judiciaire a pris fin il y a longtemps.   

Grâce à la générosité du public, nous avons recueilli presque 30 000 $ ( jusqu’à maintenant, ce qui est suffisant pour payer les honoraires de notre avocat pour les services déjà rendus, en plus des frais judiciaires encourus par le gouvernement. En effet, non seulement avons-nous échoué dans notre tentative de forcer le gouvernement à respecter ses propres lois et règlements tel qu’énoncés dans la Loi sur les parcs et la règlementation sur les évaluations environnementales, mais en plus nous sommes pénalisés pour avoir fait appel aux tribunaux en étant maintenant obligés de couvrir les frais judiciaires du gouvernement.  Cela laisse entendre que si vous échouez dans vos efforts pour protéger la nature devant les tribunaux, vous devrez vous acquitter des frais du gouvernement en plus de couvrir les honoraires de votre avocat.

Notre avocat nous recommande d’en appeler de la décision du juge Petrie et nous offre de s’occuper gratuitement des tâches administratives nécessaires. Il faudrait tout de même que nous lui payions ses honoraires pour  défendre notre cause à la cour d’appel et, si nous perdons aussi en appel, s’ajouteront alors de nouveau les couts additionnels du gouvernement.

Alors nos options sont soit d’accepter la défaite et de limiter nos pertes, soit de trouver d’autres fonds pour pouvoir demander à la cour d’appel de renverser la décision du juge Petrie afin d’obtenir justice pour les plantes et les animaux. Veuillez m’informer de ce que vous pensez être le mieux à faire maintenant en me contactant d’ici le 30 septembre à

Jean Louis Deveau


FREDERICTON – The Mi’gmaq and Wolastoqey Chiefs of all fifteen communities in New Brunswick have come together over their concerns with consultation under the Higgs government.

“We officially put the Province of New Brunswick on notice that we will continue our efforts to protect the lands, water and resources of New Brunswick. This is our responsibility, and it is in the interest of all New Brunswickers,” said Fort Folly Chief Rebecca Knockwood.

The Mi’gmaq and Wolastoqey Nations both learned through media reports that in early May Premier Higgs and the Province of New Brunswick quietly passed an Order in Council exempting an area near Sussex from the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing without any consultation with, or notification to, the Nations.

“As signatories to the Peace and Friendship Treaties, the Mi’gmaq and Wolastoqey never gave up legal rights to our lands, waters or resources. Despite this, in the past century, our lands, waters and resources have been increasingly exploited to the point that they are in serious danger. We will not sit by and allow our Aboriginal and Treaty rights, including Aboriginal title, to be infringed on by the Crown and Industry” said Tobique Chief Ross Perley.

 The 2018 Throne Speech of the Higgs government committed to addressing unkept promises to First Nations and to defining a new relationship with First Nations that would include more control over lands and resources. The decision to secretly exempt the Sussex area from the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing without any Indigenous consultation does the very opposite and perpetuates the status quo in the New Brunswick government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.

“We came together to tell government they cannot cause division among our Nations and communities. We want to make sure the Premier never has to question who he needs to consult if he plans to frack in this province,” said Elsipogtog Chief Arron Sock.

The Mi’gmaq and Wolastoqey are committed to taking a strong and unified stand in protecting and taking back what is rightfully theirs and ensuring the Crown meets its consultation obligations.

Media contacts:

Jennifer Coleman, Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn, 506-292-1241 or at

Kenneth Francis, Kopit Lodge, 506-523-5823 or at

Gillian Paul, Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick, 506-461-1187 or at

Climate emergency: health and cost 

Sam Arnold

Climate change is now widely recognized as a planetary emergency that is having both health impacts and economic costs caused by extreme weather events.

These events, linked to global warming, now include prolonged droughts, increased forest fires, massive rainfalls, floods, polar ice melting, sea level rise, and severe storms around the world. This is an emergency that if not checked, is on track to severely impact human health and economic life. The effects of this emergency are already being felt in New Brunswick.

Climatologists and the vast majority of unbiased climate scientists, led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have essentially proven that the mining and burning of fossil fuels has produced a sharp spike in global warming over the past 200 years. They have made it amply clear that if fossil fuel use remains at current levels, within a dozen years it will almost certainly be too late for humans to limit global warming, and the climate emergency will become uncontrollable.

Climate change resulting from human produced global warming is by far the most serious threat facing the future of humanity with the global temperature on track to reach 4 to 5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. It is no surprise that a growing number of municipalities are declaring climate emergencies, while the World Health Organization has called the climate crisis the greatest threat to public health. 

This situation is very hard to accept or ignore. It means that fossil fuel extraction and use must now be sharply curtailed if the human species is to have any possibility of passing a liveable environment on to the next generation and to the generations to come.

But in the face of these warnings and this evidence of the climate emergency, leading news stories and editorials in these newspapers continue to advocate for growing the economy with oil and gas extraction and with pipelines to bring these carbon producing fuels to market. The Conservative premiers of New Brunswick and Alberta continue to talk about “responsible resource development” for bitumen oil and shale gas. 

How can this be “responsible” when long-term damage to public health and to economic life will be the result of continuing to burn fossil fuels? Resource development that increases global warming and makes the climate emergency worse is not responsible. It is negligent. It is even negligent about the well-being of the economy. 

It is not responsible to insist that we must burn fossil fuels in order to have a healthy economy when the climate emergency created by burning fossil fuels is increasingly damaging the economy. Even major business corporations are now recognizing the reality of this situation, including some energy companies.

Moreover, new research from Global Energy Monitor, an organization that tracks fossil fuel development, questions the long-term viability of even the natural gas industry. It cautions that many natural gas developments could become “stranded assets”. Investment in fossil fuels, which are creating the climate emergency, will become less and less attractive. Investment in clean energy alternatives will become increasingly attractive as costs continue to decrease and benefits continue to increase.

New Brunswick, Canada, and the entire world must now pull out all the stops to substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions while making the switch to a low carbon economy with clean, renewable energy. The comparison has often been made that we need to mobilize for this climate emergency with the same speed and determination that was mobilized for World War II. 

Only a total team effort by all levels of government, business, industry, and every citizen in all parts of the world can we make the changes necessary to reverse the climate emergency and avert a public health and an economic disaster. 

The future looks grim unless all government subsidies to the fossil fuel industries end and are redirected to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and rapidly advance the conversion to a clean energy economy. The sooner actions of this sort are taken, the lower will be the climate emergency costs and the better the outcome for the health of New Brunswickers and the economy of the province.

For an eye-opening report that puts New Brunswick in the centre of this issue, see Healthy Climate, Healthy New Brunswickersby Dr. Louise Comeau and Daniel Nunes. 

This comprehensive report summarizes existing research that explains how climate change can affect physical and mental health in New Brunswick. It includes temperature and precipitation projections for 16 NB municipalities. It reviews the health profiles of these same communities and makes recommendations for the next thirty years. This important report can be downloaded from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) website.

Sam Arnold is a member of the Sustainable Energy Group in Carleton County.

 © 2018 NBEN / RENB