Friday, January 10, 2014

Environmental Defense Canada 2013 Achievements

Environmental Defense is one of Canada's leading green advocacy groups. They work with government, industry and individuals to create a greener economy and a more sustainable future for all Canadians for generations to come. With the help of their supporters they have spearheaded a number of noble causes in 2013 including issues related to energy, toxics, water, and grooming future leaders. Here is a summary of some of their achievements last year.

Supporting a green energy shift

In 2013, we gave the tar sands a much needed reality check. We, along with partner organizations, launched the website tarsandsrealitycheck.org and a series of reports to give Canadians the truth about the tar sands.

In Ontario, we helped to raise awareness about Enbridge’s risky proposal to reverse the aged Line 9 pipeline to ship heavy crude, including corrosive tar sands oil, from Ontario into Quebec. The proposal carries many risks, but few rewards for communities along the pipeline’s route, and puts the drinking water of millions at risk of an oil spill.

As part of our awareness efforts, we teamed up with Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie & The Sadies, Hayden and The Minotaurs for Rock the Line – a free concert at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto.

During the year, we applauded moves towards greener, modern energy. In November, we helped celebrate Ontario becoming the first jurisdiction in North America to ban coal, by hosting an event with Premier Kathleen Wynne and Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

We also demonstrated the benefits of energy conservation. In August, we, along with our allies in Blue Green Canada, released a report calling for Ontario to embrace a bold but achievable plan to cut energy use by 25 per cent by 2025 – a move that would increase jobs and the GDP, while reducing federal and provincial deficits and Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Helping Canadians to kick out toxics

This past year, we helped lead the charge in Canada to eliminate toxic chemicals with probable links to cancer and other serious health problems from our homes and workplaces.

In June, we released the report Pre-Polluted: A report on toxic substances in the umbilical cord blood of Canadian newborns. For the report, we tested the umbilical cord blood of three anonymous newborns in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton for chemicals that are known to be pervasive in the environment and are linked to serious health problems.

Out of the 310 chemicals tested for, a total of 137 were found in the three babies – the first of its kind evidence in Canada which demonstrates babies are being burdened with a toxic chemical load before they are born.

We also continued to work with and encourage industry to remove harmful chemicals from their products. As part of this effort, this month we released the report Taking Stock: How the Cosmetics Industry Ranks on Toxic Chemicals which ranked the five biggest cosmetics in Canada against each other when it comes to taking action on toxics.

Protecting water and greenspaces

As a member of the Great Lakes Protection Act Alliance, during the year we worked with communities, as well as the Ontario government, to show support for the Great Lakes Protection Act. The proposed Act is currently at the committee stage and we hope that it will be passed early in the New Year.

2013 was a record year for the Blue Flag program, which saw flags flying at 18 beaches and four marinas across Canada. To get a Blue Flag, beaches and marinas have to meet strict standards including water quality.

Sprawl developments can impact the environment and our quality of life. And as the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area, the most populated area in Canada, continues to grow it’s becoming a serious problem. During the year, we educated residents about the costs of sprawl, including releasing a report about the issue. It shows that curbing sprawl isn’t just good for the environment but also for our pocket books.

We continued to find ways to protect greenspaces as well. In March, the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance released a report which showed that over five million more Ontarians would be directly connected to the Greenbelt if the Greenbelt grew along some of southern Ontario’s best known rivers and creeks.

Creating future environmental leaders

Canadian youth once again used their writing, photography and film talents to propose solutions to local environmental issues. 2013 saw more entries in our Canada’s Next Green Journalist competition than ever before. Four Canadian youth went on to compete internationally and received top honours.

Looking ahead to 2014, we’re gearing up to accomplish even more.

Source: Environmental Defense

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