Help Canada Reduce it’s Carbon Footprint by Taking GreeninTO’s Challenge!

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That’s me running the carbon footprint calculator booth at St. Cuthbert’s Annual Environmental Fair in Leaside, Toronto.

What is GreeninTO’s Carbon Footprint Challenge?

Step 1: Measure Your Carbon Footprint at footprintcalculator.org. Find out what day of the year is your ‘Earth Overshoot Day.’ This is when the Earth’s resources would run out if every person on the planet needed as much energy as you.

Step 2: Pick one behaviour that is contributing to your carbon footprint and decide on a way to eliminate or reduce your emissions.

Step 3: Share with your network (friends, family, social media, etc …) Share this post or talk about your experience of lowering your carbon footprint!

Step 4: Help Canada reduce it’s Carbon Footprint by supporting organizations that hold are government accountable to the Paris agreement signed in 2015. The Paris agreement signed by about 160 countries will keep the global mean temperature from rising 2 degrees higher than preindustrial times.

A few suggestions from GreeninTO:

Science is the most useful tool we have to adapt to climate change and avoid its worst outcomes. But it requires critical thinking and a big-picture perspective to ensure we consider all available evidence. With so many people scrolling through social media feeds for news rather than reading entire articles, facts and clarity can become elusive. It’s up to us all — media and consumers alike — to dig deeper for the full story.

-David Suzuki, Understanding climate change means reading beyond headlines

Why does anybody care about green house gas emissions?

There is worldwide recognition, especially within the scientific community, that the average global temperature is increasing, sea levels are rising and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and ferocious. Ninety-seven (97%) of climate scientists agree that climate change is caused by human activity¹. It is predicted that by raising the world’s temperature even by a mere 1.5 degrees we will displace tens of millions of people worldwide because their homes will be under water. See why a few degrees matters: click here.

The economy vs. environment mindset has created catastrophic consequences including the destruction of our forests, over-fishing of our oceans, and pollution of our freshwater sources. The ecosystems and human communities that rely on these resources are heavily affected by the relentless industrialization of our planet. The poorest communities on our planet are hit the worst.

It is predicted that by 2050 one quarter of the species on earth could be extinct. We have already lost 19% of the world’s coral reefs and it is predicted that almost all our reefs will be extinct by 2050². Coral reefs are home to the greatest species diversity in the ocean and hundreds of species, including Nemo, depend on the existence of these reefs for survival.

These predictions are based on our current consumption and greenhouse gas emission trends. If we continue with business as usual, by 2050 it will be too late. It is already too late to have the world our parents had – but it is not too late to save what is left.

 How does Canada compare to the rest of the world?

GlobalEmissions90_12
(1) In the graph above, we don’t look so bad…
CanadaPerCapita
(2)…but the truth is in the PER CAPITA green house gas emissions:

Canada ranks 15th out of 17 countries for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per capita and earns a “D” grade.³

Ontario has seen a decline in CO2 emissions since 1990, meeting our 2014 target. We did this by closing coal-fired power generating stations but reducing emissions to reach our 2020 and 2050 goals will be much harder. It requires a shift in the attitude and behaviour of the masses.

IMG_20170407_152301R
(3) The carbon footprint of your average person from Ontario is much higher than that of other people around the world.

 

OntarioGHGbysector
(4) Since 1990, emissions from transportation has grown 28%. Less fuel efficient vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, emit 45% more greenhouse gases per kilometer than cars. Yet, consumers prefer these types of vehicles.

Read the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s annual report: Facing Climate Change

People of Toronto, Your Carbon Footprint Matters!

Toronto, one of the economic hubs of Canada, is the fourth largest city in North America. Fifty percent (50%) of the world’s population live in cities and cities account for 70-75% of the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. (4)

Toronto has flourished into a high energy, diverse, urban center with something for everyone. Hippies and bankers live side-by-side in the downtown core sipping fair-trade coffees from the same shop. Distinct neighbourhoods showcase the history of immigrants seeking a new life in the West. The evolution, and gentrification, of those neighbourhoods are signs of prosperity and momentum. However, prosperity and financial success begets consumption and consumption without restrain is destroying the natural world.

The City of Toronto’s TransformTO Initiative

TransformTO is an initiative which expands throughout various levels of economic and political structures to decrease the level of greenhouse gas emitted by the city. The strategies range from community engagement to infrastructure.

It is a “community-wide, crosscorporate initiative of the City of Toronto and The Atmospheric Fund, designed to engage residents, other stakeholders, experts, and all City operations in identifying ways to reduce Toronto’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, and by 80 per cent by 2050, against 1990 levels.” (5)

Read the full report: Climate Action for a Healthy, Equitable, and Prosperous Toronto

Toronto
GHG emissions have decreased significantly since 1990, however, this is largely due to the closing of coal plants, resulting in industry and residents using cleaner energy.
TorontoGHGSector
Meeting our TransformTO’s targets will require upsetting the norm. People will need to make lifestyle changes and consumption choices that reflect their values.

If we care about the conserving our planet, preventing species from going extinct and saving human beings from being displaced by the severe weather events and polluted water, then we need to show these attitudes and values to politicians and to the economic machinery that seems to monopolize our social consciousness.

What YOU do makes a difference. 

One of the perks of democracy is that politicians are our civil servants. They are meant to represent OUR COLLECTIVE WILL and they care about what we want. If the masses want economic growth at all costs, then that’s what we will get but if we want change, then we all have to starting speaking up and challenging ourselves to be more environmentally conscious.

Sources:

  1. Climate Science Glossary. (n.d.). Retrieved April 09, 2017, from https://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus-advanced.htm
  2. Coral Reef Loss Suggests Global Extinction Event. (n.d.). Retrieved April 09, 2017, from http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5960
  3. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions. (n.d.). Retrieved April 09, 2017, from http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/environment/greenhouse-gas-emissions.aspx
  4. Dianne Saxe, J.D., Ph.D. in Law. Facing Climate Change. Toronto’s Climate Challenge.  April 4, 2017.
  5. TransformTO: Climate Action for a Healthy, Equitable, and Prosperous Toronto. Report 1: Short-term Strategies – Highlights, November, 2016. Web. April 8, 2017.

1st Graph: Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Select Countries: Government of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada. (2016, April 14). Environment and Climate Change Canada – Environmental Indicators – Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Retrieved April 09, 2017, from https://www.ec.gc.ca/indicateurs-indicators/default.asp?lang=en&n=54C061B5-1

2nd Graph: Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions. (n.d.). Retrieved April 09, 2017, from http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/environment/greenhouse-gas-emissions.aspx

3rd + 4th Graph: Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Greenhouse Gas Progress Report 2016, November 22, 2016. Print.

5th + 6th Graph: TransformTO: Climate Action for a Healthy, Equitable, and Prosperous Toronto. Report 1: Short-term Strategies – Highlights, November, 2016. Web. April 8, 2017.

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