Earth Hour Celebrates Fifth Anniversary on Saturday, March 31
In the five years since Earth Hour was started in Sydney, Australia, Canada has seen a number of “game changers” that will impact the pace of climate changes both here and around the world.
WWF has selected the top five game changers that point the direction for a cleaner, greener Canada.
1. Ontario’s Green Energy Act
Ontario’s Green Energy Act was introduced in 2009, a comprehensive policy aimed at energy conservation, expanding renewable energy creation and building a green energy industry in the province. This policy, coupled with the ongoing coal phase out in Ontario, was the single biggest action taken to reduce North American emissions in the past five years.
2. Electric cars in the hands of Canadians
The introduction of electric vehicles to the Canadian marketplace, backed by provincial support, will help encourage Canadians to purchase cleaner car technology. So far, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have introduced rebate programs for electric vehicles. Quebec is the most generous, with $50M earmarked for the program over the next few years.
To help residents transition to the new technology, municipalities - including Vancouver, Montreal and Quebec City – are implementing public charging networks. While there are still strides to be made in developing the infrastructure to support these vehicles, they represent a radical shift away from fossil-fuel cars, and are one part of a shift to sustainable transportation.
3. British Columbia and Quebec put a price on carbon
In 2008, British Columbia introduced a carbon tax, a landmark decision that saw the province apply the tax to all fossil fuels, including gasoline, diesel, coal, natural gas, propane and home heating fuel.
To- date, the tax has resulted in a 3 per cent reduction in BC’s gasoline consumption. Quebec has also taken leadership on carbon, having adopted a cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emissions to begin by 2013.
4. Investment in renewable energy overtakes fossil fuels
2011 marked a major global milestone for renewable energy – for the first time, investment in renewable energy sources was higher than investment in fossil fuels. Savvy investors have realized that the next big opportunity is in renewable energy, not in oil, coal or gas. In Canada alone, new financial investment in renewable energy rose 47% in a single year, from 2009 to 2010.
5. 50% of the Canadian population now lives in a city or town that has a climate action plan
Municipalities across Canada are leading the way in commitments to cut emissions and take action on climate change. Vancouver has boldly pledged to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. Canadians can feel proud that half of us live in a place where our local governments are showing real leadership by measuring their greenhouse gas emissions, setting targets for cutting these emissions and committing to hard-hitting action plans that will deliver results on climate change.
The Next Five Years
There is still a lot of game-changing to be done. As custodians of 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water, half the Arctic region and the world’s longest coastline, Canada has a unique opportunity to show leadership in conservation. WWF has pinpointed its top five climate and energy goals for the next five years:
- Put a price on pollution – Canada needs an energy strategy that puts a price on carbon and other emissions, eliminates fossil fuel subsidies and transitions the country from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
- Phase out coal – we have the capability to phase out coal-generated power within the next five years, which would have a significant impact on our emissions.
- Lead the world in renewable energy innovation – Canada has a vast amount of untapped renewable energy which could make us a world leader in clean energy innovation and exports. Provinces can help make this happen by creating good renewable energy policy. Canada should make the move to remove all remaining subsidies to the coal, oil and gas sectors.
- Invest in upgrading our public infrastructure – outdated infrastructure leads to an incredible amount of energy waste, from the electricity used to push water through old pipes and sewers, to the energy loss through 50-year old hydro systems. We urgently need to upgrade to new infrastructure that is capable of connecting to smart grids and renewable energy sources
- Make the switch to electric vehicles – company and municipal fleets should be switched to electric vehicles, which will also help to encourage the development of the necessary infrastructure to support these vehicles across the country.
Sites That Link to this Post
- names of 17 Greenest City Fund community grant recipients announced | February 8, 2013