There is little doubt that major reductions in some GHG emission sources will need to be mandated by governments—federal, provincial and municipal.
What’s our role? As citizens we must raise our voices to call on governments to tackle major sources of GHGs—and the time to do so is now.
Three of these sources are power plants, buildings and transportation—among the main sources of GHGs on the planet.
• POWER PLANTS. In Ontario, we are relatively lucky with the first of these as coal is no longer used to produce energy in the province. In addition, we have a relatively strong source of hydro-electricity in Niagara, and our nuclear energy plants are not emitters of CO2. Here in Orillia, we can thank the far-sightedness of those who, between 1902 and 1950, built local dams for the production of hydro power for our community. (Thank you, Orillia Water, Light and Power [OWLP].) Across Canada, however, coal is still used extensively. In addition, Ontario still depends on gas plants which, though an improvement over coal plants, continue to emit CO2. Even worse, the current Conservative government has plans to build more gas plants. Further, the spent fuel from nuclear plants remains a problem in terms of safe disposal, and there is growing indication that nuclear power is a more expensive energy than that produced from competing alternative sources. Action is needed.
• BUILDINGS. To reduce emissions from buildings, retrofits of older building stock are needed—and these will require investment by homeowners, business owners, and by governments at all levels. The good news, however, is that these investments will not only reduce emissions, but also reduce energy use—and that means reduced energy bills for homeowners, businesses, and governments. Another bit of good news is that the technologies to do these retrofits are currently available—whether in the form of improving the building envelope, switching to clean, efficient heating and cooling, or installing energy recovery systems. Even more good news? Many homeowners will recover the costs of retrofits within just a few years through reduced electricity bills.
• TRANSPORTATION. Transportation is the third area we need to focus on, the source of an estimated 25% of emissions in North America. Electrification of our personal vehicles, transit, and trucking fleets will take time, but will result in immediate reductions in generated emissions. A charging network across the country is needed, as well. More good news? Canada has companies which are producing electric vehicles, so a decision by governments to move in this direction will produce jobs for Canadians while combatting the climate crisis. That’s win-win.
Large-scale changes like those above—changes that need to take place in the next decade—require governments at all levels to take action. If we want these changes to occur, we must let our political leaders know that we expect they will take action to make these changes. We must let them know that we support aggressive action—in Ottawa, in Toronto, and right here in Orillia—to reduce GHG emissions by 2030.
Speak up. Speak out. Let our voices be heard—especially as 2022 will see both a Provincial elections in June and Municipal elections in October. Every voice counts!