This is a rather long e-mail, but The Sierra Club of Canada would like to inform all of you the differences between SC of Canada and Sierra Club (US). There seems to be some issues involving the possible election of members with contraversial stances on various issues. Please read if you're interested. ************************************* Sierra Club of Canada Response on Sierra Club (US) Election January 26, 2004 Dear member, The upcoming Sierra Club (US) election of their National Board has raised public concern about a potential "take-over" of the Club by "anti-immigration" members. In light of the media attention on this, the Sierra Club of Canada would like to clarify our position on the population and immigration issues and explain the difference between the Sierra Club of Canada and Sierra Club US policies. The Sierra Club of Canada and the Sierra Club (US) are separate organizations. Sierra Club of Canada National Board has approved a policy that deals with the population and environment relationship in the broader context of consumption, equity and women's empowerment. This policy was developed through a two year consultation process in partnership with Action Canada for Population and Development. You can find this two-page policy on our web site www.sierraclub.ca/national. One statement from our policy that explains our position on immigration is: Migration from developing countries to Canada should not be opposed on the grounds that the migrants' ecological footprints will swell; rather, the ecological footprints of people in Canada should be reduced. The human rights of migrants should be respected. Sierra Club of Canada Population Policy The Sierra Club (US) has a separate but complementary position on population. They do not currently have a position on using immigration as a way to control population within a country. Currently the Sierra Club (US) has chosen to stay out of this debate with a "neutral" stance on the issue. The rumours are true, and there are candidates running in the next Sierra Club (US) election who would advocate for reducing population growth in the US through immigration controls. It is unfortunate that this has brought such negative publicity. The Sierra Club US is a democratic organization and the current concerns regarding immigration were put on the table through a fair democratic petition process. It is up to their US members to vote for the candidates they feel best represent their views. As the main campaign of the Sierra Club (US) is currently to ensure Bush is not re-elected, we in Sierra Club of Canada hope that this internal election does not distract activists from achieving this very important objective. It is unfortunate that the anti-immigration members have chosen this year to run their internal debate. Sierra Club of Canada has existed since the late 1960s and is a separate Canadian entity. Therefore, we would like to clarify to our Canadian members that the US club elections do not affect our positions. Both organizations are autonomous in their own countries on domestic policy. We also encourage you to check our own Sierra Club of Canada Population Policy which focuses on the real issues that affect the population and environment relationship. Any further questions, do not hesitate to contact our national office. Sincerely, Amelia Clarke President, Sierra Club of Canada *Sierra Club of Canada: Population Policy * September 14, 2003 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ * POPULATION POLICY * This policy will be used by the Sierra Club of Canada to guide our positions and programs as they relate to Canadian governments, institutions, organizations and firms? positions, processes and activities. *1. The Relationship between Population and Environment * The human species is constrained by finite natural resources and a limited biosphere. The degradation of our air, water, and land is evidence that humans are already pushing the biosphere beyond its limits. We are exhausting finite and renewable resources and running out of the atmospheric and geo-biological capacity to recycle the massive waste created by our consumption and use of these resources. For decades, human numbers have been cited as a key cause of a worsening environment in some regions of the world. This argument is overly simplistic as the relationship between human population and ecological systems cannot be understood without examining the web of interrelated factors which determine when and how human numbers will be benign or destructive to the environment. Arguably, the impact of consumption by the one billion affluent humans has far more negative environmental consequences than the three billion poorest. *2. Factors Affecting the Impact of Population on Environment * /a) Global Economy and Trade / We are no longer human beings in local societies bent on meeting our own needs. Now, the ?carrying capacity? of the planet is a real limit. ?Carrying capacity? must be re-conceived taking into account the global economy. The environment and social costs of trade and growth should be internalized in industry, government and global institution policies. Government and global institutional policies should be subservient to the population it serves. /b) Consumption and Production / Resource consumption and pollution is grossly disproportionate to population size in the industrialized world. Individuals, firms and governments in industrialized countries must take action to reduce their ecological footprint in order to mitigate environmental destruction and liberate resources for the developing world. Local, small-scale, ecologically sustainable production should be favoured over large, multi-national operations that do not meet the needs of local peoples or promote environmental degradation. /c) Migration and Urbanization / Migration has always been part of human activity. Migration frequently brings benefits not only to the individuals and families who move, but also to the societies to which they move, and to the societies from which they came. Migration from developing countries to Canada should not be opposed on the grounds that the migrants? ecological footprints will swell; rather, the ecological footprints of people in Canada should be reduced. The human rights of migrants should be respected. Migration is occurring from rural to urban areas, and in some cases, this may reduce the pressure of human numbers on sensitive ecological areas. However, rural people have frequently been stewards of local ecological services. Urban areas often use enormous amounts of energy and resources and create vast amounts of waste. Municipalities should be managed to maximize resource conservation, energy efficiency, safe waste disposal, and recycling with incentives and penalties as necessary. /d) The Status of Women / The empowerment of women is a key element of planetary sustainability. With greater economic, social, and political power, and access to health care and family planning services, women often choose to control their fertility rates. In fact, in every instance where female literacy and health care are improved, the birth rate falls. Women?s sexual and reproductive rights must be respected and championed; the past injustices of forced sterilization, medically dangerous methods of birth control, and female infanticide must be condemned. /e) Militarism / Military conflict and war cause the deaths of millions of people worldwide and devastate the capacity of our natural world to sustain life. A sustainable future is not possible in the absence of peace. /f) Equity / The extreme poverty of much of the human population is not an acceptable condition, but promoting excessive consumerism for all is not the solution. Rather, access to land and resources should be distributed equitably among current and future generations. Inequalities based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, class, sexuality, or other bases should be eradicated. Equality and justice should be pursued on local, national, and international levels. *3. Rights of World Citizens * All efforts to create a harmonious relationship between human population and the environment must respect fundamental human rights as established in 1948 by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every human being, present and future, has a right to a world with a healthy environment, clean air and water, uncluttered land, adequate food, sufficient open space, natural beauty, wilderness and wildlife in variety and abundance, and an opportunity to gain an appreciation of the natural world and people?s place in it through firsthand experience. *4. International Agreements * In order to ensure a sustainable relationship between population and environment, the Canadian Government must deliver on the promises made at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 and at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994.