10-10-10 Follow Up - A Transition Food Forest


On Thanksgiving Sunday, October 10, 2010, inspired by the 10/10/10 climate campaign at 350.org, Transition Cowichan joined forces with Canadians from coast to coast to coast to take practical action against the climate crisis. Working with a number of community partners, we planted over 100 food trees in publicly accessible sites across more than 12 communities in the Cowichan region, and we had a wonderful time building and celebrating our community while we were at it. Thank you to all those folks that came out and donated their time, money and trees to make our 10-10-10 Global Work Party a great success!

Expanding our regional food forest adds to our local forest’s ability to sequester carbon, contributes to local food security and increases our community’s resilience. By working with Cowichan Green Community’s Fruit Save we will ensure that, when the trees are mature, the fruit and nuts will be picked and shared among the pickers, the community and the region’s food banks and food programs.

The City of Duncan supported the planting of fruit and nut trees in Centennial Park in accordance with its Urban Forest Strategy Plan. Food trees and berry bushes were also planted in public parks, school yards, church yards and private/public boundaries in: Shawnigan Lake (Community Corner at Dundas & Wilmot, and Gregory Rd.); Mill Bay(Sylvan United Church); Cobble Hill – Fisher Rd.; Glenora/Eagle Heights (Maplewood Park); Cowichan Bay (Coverdale-Watson Park, Hecate Park and by the Lambourn pond); North Cowichan (Somenos Ball Field, Herons Wood and the SPCA); Somenos Marsh; Maple Bay (Garry Oak Preserve); Duncan (Centennial Park); Crofton (Osborne Bay Terrace); Chemainus (Caswell Park); Lake Cowichan (in front of the Irish Pub) and Mesachie Lake.

Please, check out our 10-10-10 photo gallery to view photos of the day.

Thank you to our partners and supporters: Cowichan Green Community, Cowichan Intercultural Society, B. Dinter Nursery, OUR Ecovillage, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Cittaslow Cowichan Bay, CVRD & Duncan Parks, Somenos Marsh and Wildlife Society and many others.

Below are links to the 350.org action reports for the events that were registered on that site. If you click on a link below and don't see a list of reports, please consider submitting one if you have something to add.

  1. Shawnigan Lake - Dundas and Wilmot Roads
  2. Mill Bay - Sylvan United Church next to Frances Kelsey School
  3. Glenora/Eagle Heights
  4. Cowichan Bay - Coverdale-Watson Park, Hecate Park, and by the pond at Tom Bannister Park
  5. Maple Bay Garry Oak Preserve
  6. Duncan - Centennial Park

Next Steps Locally

We hope to turn this into an ongoing or annual event to build our region's food security and help make sure we have food for the future. Of course, planting trees is just the beginning. The real fun will be when we are ready to harvest all the food from common areas throughout our community! As with every yield, there will be work to do and we will need folks to come out and participate in collecting the fruit and nut harvests. Luckily, the Cowichan Green Community's Fruit Save Program is there to help organize our community efforts and fairly distribute the bounty of all our hard work. Contact CGC if you would like to be a picker.

If you would like to be on the Transition Cowichan e-mail list so that we can let you know about future activities, please contact us at info@transitioncowichan.org

Connecting to the Bigger Picture

Along with thousands of communities around the world, we joined 350.org in this “Global Work Party” mindful that we were fast approaching the UN climate negotiations in Cancún, Mexico, November 29 - December 10, 2010. Concerned citizens in 183 countries participated by installing solar panels, repairing bicycles, planting trees and more. In Canada alone over 190 events took place across the country.

Transition Cowichan’s intention is to engage in positive action at the local level to build our community’s resilience to meet the changes ahead of us. On a community level, October 10th was a huge success. But acting locally is not enough.

We live with the awareness that right now our Canadian government has one of the the worst records on climate in the industrialized world. Our government spends an estimated 2 billion dollars a year in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. At the same time it has virtually cut all federal funding for clean energy development. By participating in the “Global Work Party” we were also sending our leaders a clear message: Local communities are getting to work - now it’s the government’s turn to do the same.

10/10/10 organizers in Canada pointed out that the Government of Canada has yet to implement any meaningful policies to cut Canada’s emissions. Our government's 2020 emissions target of 17 percent below 2005 levels is far from the 40- 45% percent reduction below 1990 levels that science says is needed, and the government has no coherent plan to meet even this meager target.

What Happened at Cancun?

The 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen (COP15) were characterized by secret drafts leaked to the press, backroom deals by elite groups and a general mood of distrust.

The so-called Copenhagen Accord, an agreement with no legally binding commitments on emissions reductions, undermined the survival of the Kyoto Protocol, which still contains the only legally binding international commitments to greenhouse gas reductions. After Copenhagen, little hope was held out for COP16 in Cancún. The President of COP16, Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa, and her team worked hard to re-build trust, pledging transparency and inclusiveness. While there were many difficult days, with Canada, Japan and Russia once again threatening the future of the Kyoto Accord, there were no surprise texts and no secret meetings.

In the end, the COP16 decision was written with strong language, confirming both the science and the urgent and potentially irreversible threat that climate change poses to human societies and the planet.

The Cancún decision formally put the pledges from the Copenhagen Accord, however inadequate, into UN documentation, although they may increase or decrease in future. For the first time, developing countries also agreed to look at how they can cut emissions in the future, but they did not make specific pledges.

Crucially however, none of the Cancún cuts are legally binding, and analysis from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts suggests current pledges, if kept, will lead to a 3.2C rise in temperatures – far higher than the 2C generally considered to be a level of "safe" warming - this despite the fact that in Cancún countries agreed to find ways to avoid allowing global average temperature from increasing to 2 degrees C, while recognizing the need to consider that the high point should be 1.5 degrees C.

The Cancun decision also mandates that all nations should immediately determine the year by which GHG emissions should peak and begin to fall. It states all parties agree “that Parties should cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible” and that industrialized countries should reduce emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. (As noted, the science now says that cuts of 40 - 45% are needed by 2020.)

Further the decision states that “addressing climate change requires a paradigm shift towards building a low-carbon society that offers substantial opportunities….” Language recognizing the importance of human rights in implementing climate policy, respect for indigenous peoples, women, and gender-related issues, and references to the need for a “just transition”, are also included. Here are some of the detailed elements from Adam Vaughn of the UK Guardian, Dec 13, 2010:

Climate aid: A new climate green fund was agreed at Cancún to transfer money from the developed to developing world to address climate impacts. Poorer countries saw this as a success because they will outnumber rich countries on a 'transitional committee' for the fund, due to be set up in 2011. But how much money will go into it is still to be determined. Separately, ministers repeated their political promise made last year at Copenhagen to raise $100bn in climate aid by 2020, $30bn by 2012, but this promise is merely aspirational and not part of the UN process.

Forests: Formal backing was given for the UN's deforestation scheme, REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation), which has rich countries pay poorer nations not to cut down forests, but details, particularly whether developed countries will be able to claims "offsets" rather than make cuts emissions cuts at home, are still vague.

Kyoto protocol: While Kyoto is still alive, and there could be a second commitment period after 2012, the parties are not yet committed. Decisions on the future of the Kyoto protocol, current the only internationally binding treaty to cut emissions, were deferred until South Africa next year. Decisions on the role that the protocol will play in a future legal document binding all the world's countries to emissions cuts were also delayed.

Technology transfer: The idea of transferring knowledge on clean technology between countries was backed at Cancún. A technology executive committee and a climate technology centre and network are to be set up, but there are no details on the money, where they will be based, when or by whom.

Inspections: Countries agreed to the principle of having their emissions cuts inspected. However, who will carry out the "monitoring, reporting and verification" was not specified.

What does it mean?

The Cancun process made progress on some important issues and, in the words of 350.org’s Bill McKibben, “It basically ignored the two crucial questions: How much carbon will we cut, and how fast?”

The Cancún decision calls for industrialized countries to “raise the level of ambition” in their targets, but as McKibben says, “If we let this planet warm much longer, scientists tell us that we’ll lose forever the chance of getting back to a stable 350 ppm CO2. That means we’ll lose forever the basic architecture of our planet with its frozen poles. Already the ocean is turning steadily more acidic; already the atmosphere is growing steadily wetter, which means desertifying evaporation in arid areas and downpour and deluge elsewhere....Physics and chemistry are downright impossible to shift. Physics and chemistry don’t bargain.” So, as McKibben says, government leaders and all the rest of us must try harder.

What can Canadians do?

Once again, in Cancún our government won the Colossal Fossil Award for being the most obstructive nation in the negotiations.

Before Durban, we must once again speak out as citizens to change our government’s position, because we are running out of time. In the next 12 months, we must seize the small ripples of hope emanating from Cancún and insist on Canada’s continued commitment to Kyoto, which is still the only binding international agreement we’ve got, as well demand science-based binding emissions reduction targets, an end to fossil fuel industry subsidies, investment in clean energy, green jobs and climate solutions that support local and bio-regional resilience. You can write to the Prime Minister pm@pm.gc.ca

Toronto Artist Franke James created this slide show for 10/10/10, "What one person can do when 6.8 million people are frying the planet" http://www.frankejames.com/debate/?p=1896, that brings action back to the local and regional level.

About 350.org

350.org is an international volunteer-based organization founded by author and teacher Bill McKibben. 350’s goal is to build a global climate movement. Last October 24th, as world leaders prepared to negotiate an international climate treaty in Copenhagen, climate campaigners at 350.org organized the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history. Citizens engaged in a multitude of creative actions. Churches around the world rang their bells 350 times to mark the 350 parts per million concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is the safe upper limit, according to the latest science, for a stable climate. This is the number from which 350.org takes its name. Unfortunately, the UN conference in Copenhagen in 2009 was not successful. Global concentrations of CO2 are now 392 ppm and rising. It is time to turn them around.

Contact us at info@transitioncowichan.org if you would like to get involved locally.

Tree planters at Cowichan Bay's Coverdale Watson Park