Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for April 28th, 2008

Sweden’s carbon-tax solution

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In 2007 Sweden topped the list of countries that did the most to save the planet – for the second year running – according to German environmental group, Germanwatch.  Between 1990 and 2006 Sweden cut its carbon emissions by 9%, largely exceeding the target set by the Kyoto Protocol, while enjoying economic growth of 44% in fixed prices.

It has not even got started here yet, but we are being flooded with tales about how terrible our tiny carbon tax is going to be.

Jeppe Gustafsson/AFP

Sweden can lay claim to the world’s first train running solely on biogas.

Photograph: Jeppe Gustafsson/AFP

Well, we can expect some teething troubles, and nowhere does a policy translate directly. Bit I think Canada and Sweden have a bit in common. They just don’t have the space, oil and gas that we do. Which is why they pursued this initiative with such vigour. They realised early on that reliance on imported oil was not a good idea. The ghg reductions were kind of a bonus.

I know a lot of environmentalists – and others – now regard “growth” as a dirty word, but the Swedes have shown you do not necessarily need to trade off the environment against the economy.

Anyway, I thought it was about time for something positive for a change.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 28, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Landmark land settlement

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Canadian Geographic

Canada’s first modern, urban treaty gives the Tsawwassen First Nation control of its land and the chance at a prosperous future

The hat tip goes to Damien Gillis who alerted me to this in depth analysis which includes his video of Bertha Williams, which I linked to some time ago.

This treaty was driven by the Gateway process – not any concern for the TFN. The collapse of the US dollar ought to be the danger signal that makes the port start to doubt its forecasts. The airport has a much more prgamatic approach – it does not start the next stage of expansion until the demand is clear, and is very reluctant to attach dates to projects in their plan. They expand at need, not on a whim.

I have also been noting here how the flawed environmental assessment and the cavalier rush to construction will have a dramatic effect on the Pacific Flyway and the feeding grounds of the sandpipers. Given this government’s shabby record on issues like farmed salmon and the Sea to Sky don’t expect much noise from our designated environmental agencies where the staff are more concerned with hanging on to their pay cheques than actually doing anything effective. At one time professional public servants acted in the best interests of the province. Now they are little better than lackeys to their political masters.

Well worth spending some time on the in depth coverage.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 28, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Driven to the Brink

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Those of you following the fortunes of the US and who read Chris Leinberger’s article will find the following somewhat familiar

A new analysis shows that high gas prices are not only implicated in the bursting of the housing bubble, but that the higher cost of commuting has already re-shaped the landscape of real estate value between cities and suburbs. Housing values are falling fastest in distant suburban and exurban neighborhoods where affordability depended directly on cheap gas.

Author Joe Cortright wrote to me “Our contribution is to use some current and very detailed data about real estate markets to flesh out that [Leinberger] story.”

Read the press release here.

Download the full study here.

Download File (PDF 107 KB)

Of course I do not expect that this will have any impact at all on Kevin Falcon – who will just stick his fingers in his ears and start singing the zoom zoom song

Oil $120m a barrel, gas $1.30 a litre – and we are going to widen a freeway and build the SFPR across Burns Bog

Written by Stephen Rees

April 28, 2008 at 4:17 pm


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Callout to ALL citizens, artists, activists, performers, pranksters and funsters.

Car-Free Vancouver Day is less than two months away !! Get ready, to change EVERYTHING.

Sunday June 15th (Fathers Day) will see Car-Free Festivals going off all over the city. We expect 100,000 people to flood the streets to celebrate their neighbourhoods and re-imagine what a more sustainable, ecological, ethical and genuinely cultural city might look like.

Other cities around the world are already doing this, and car-free streets are the way of the future. Let’s start taking back our streets, NOW!

The City is listening, and they are on our side. This is a huge opportunity to show/tell them what we really want: car-free streets, no more highways, and support for authentic urban culture.

All four Festivals are all deep into their organizing and have great crews working hard, and we would welcome anyone who wants to get involved in any capacity: organizers, volunteers, performers, anything. Right now we are specifically calling out to all activists, artists, performers, organizations and creative trouble-makers, hoping you will all be coming out and causing a stir.

We encourage you to set up soapboxes, banners, art installations large or tiny, info tables, events, performances, games, gifting stations, interactive displays, parades, theatre pieces, interventions… pretty much whatever fun you can dream up. It’s your party so please do what you like best – we only ask that your activity be respectful (noise and spacewise), and FREE: free of charge, free of boring corporate stuff, free of cars.

There is tons of space for you to express yourself at Car Free Vancouver Day, so please get in touch and let us know what you have in mind. If you’re envisioning anything that may require a good chunk of space or a sound system of any sort, please check in with the Fest in question. This is an important courtesy and will help everything run harmoniously.

Car Free Vancouver Day – isn’t it about frickin’ time?! [Why is there no Car Free day in Metro outside of Vancouver?]

Check out for more.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 28, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Environment

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