Thursday, January 2, 2014

Top Canadian Environmental Defense Issues in 2013

This report from Environmental Defense reviews some of the top Canadian environmental stories of 2013.

Environmental Defence has been working since 1984 to protect Canadians' environment and human health. They have accomplished a great deal in the last 30 years.

They are Canada's most effective environmental action organization. They seek to create a world Canadians are proud to pass on to their children. To bring this about they challenge and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

Here are some excerpts from the report including the section on Highlights and the section on Energy.


Highlights


No More Escarpment Blues

After eight years, and much hard work, along with our partners, Protecting Rural Escarpment Land (PERL), we were thrilled with the Joint Board’s decision to protect Burlington’s Mount Nemo this year. The decision denies Nelson Aggregate’s proposed 26 million tonne quarry on an 82 hectare site. It will give Mount Nemo and its rare and endangered species a chance to breathe after a century of quarrying. The decision will also protect the unique ecological functions of the Escarpment, which cannot be replaced by planting trees nearby, as was originally proposed by Nelson Aggregates to offset its negative environmental impact.

A Blue Flag for the Sea-Bound Coast

This year, the prestigious Blue Flag went east. In cooperation with the community of Dartmouth, we raised the first flag on a beach in Nova Scotia. Birch Cove beach is now one of 18 beaches and four marinas receiving a Blue Flag in 2013. Communities in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec are also proud of their clean, green beaches and marinas. The Blue Flag recognizes beaches and marinas that meet strict standards, including water quality and environmental education. Now that’s something worth celebrating!

Ontario’s Greenbelt Gets Bigger

It’s been eight years since Ontario’s Greenbelt was born, and it just keeps getting bigger and stronger. This year, Oakville’s Glenorchy Conservation Area was added to the Greenbelt, which marked the first expansion since the Greenbelt’s creation in 2005. Considered an environmentally sensitive area, Glenorchy includes hills, forests, creeks, and wetlands that are now protected from sprawl and development. We also commemorated eight years by releasing a report with the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. Good Things Are Growing in Ontario: Expanding Ontario’s Greenbelt Through Urban River Valleys shows how over five million more Ontarians will be directly connected to the Greenbelt if it expands along some of the province’s best known rivers and creeks. This is now a possibility, thanks to the province’s new urban river valley designation announced in January.

So Many Green Journalists!

Canada’s youth stepped up again this year to reveal their writing, photography, and videography talents. 2013 saw more entries in ourCanada’s Next Green Journalist competition than ever! And, four Canadian youth moved up to the international Litter Less competition, which encourages youth from around the world to submit their multimedia solutions for reducing litter. Congratulations to this year’s Canadian winners: Rajbalinder Ghatoura, Kristen Rodrigo, Lovely Juson, and Spencer Woolf, whose work was up against entries from 19 other countries.

Celebrity Partners

We made a lot of new friends this year, and some of them are making us famous! Our Celebrity Partners lend their time, skills, passions and energy to raise awareness about various environmental issues and support the work of ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE. From actors and musicians, to television personalities and activists, we’re pleased to count these well known individuals, like Randy Bachman, Bruce Cockburn, Sarah Slean, Gill Deacon, Kari Matchett, and Sarah and Tamara Podemski, among our supporters.

Flamborough Quarry Proposal Put to an End 

Let’s hear it for our partners and Ontario Greenbelt Alliance members, Friends of Rural Communities and the Environment (FORCE), who have some celebrating to do after the Ontario government and St. Marys Cement reached an agreement to end the Flamborough quarry proposal. After a nine year fight, FORCE was successful in achieving a conservation covenant that extends to all proposed quarry lands and prohibits any aggregate extraction. In addition, a large portion of the area will be designated as a protected area and given even more use restrictions.

Energy

They say there’s no use beating a dead horse. With no federal regulations on greenhouse gas pollution from the tar sands—Canada’s fastest growing source of emissions—and the federal government backing the oil industry to push oil pipelines on both sides of the country, the hope of addressing climate change in Canada could easily appear to be a very dead horse.

Of course, at ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE we know the conversation on climate isn’t over, and so do Canadians. We know we can build an economy that isn’t destructive to the environment, one that is cleaner, greener and prepares all Canadians for the transition to a sustainable future.

Instead of building pipelines and tankers to carry dirty oil across our precious land and water, we’ve been working to promote clean energy solutions, and the thousands of jobs that go along with them. And, we’ve done so in partnership with communities, First Nations, unions, academics, economists, and scientists, to name a few.

Communities like those in British Columbia, whose voices were heard loud and clear about the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline and tanker project in May. We were delighted by B.C.’s responsible decision to reject Enbridge’s risky proposal. If built, the pipeline would carry 100 million tonnes of carbon pollution each year, the equivalent of putting 18 million cars on the road. By listening to residents and people across Canada, B.C. made an important move to protect the rights, environment and health of Canadians over the narrow interests of oil companies.

Of all the pro tar sands rhetoric out there in Canada, perhaps some of the toughest to swallow promotes the economic benefits of expanding the tar sands. That’s why we released More Bang for our Buck: How Canada can create more energy jobs and less pollution, with our green economy partners, Blue Green Canada. The report shows how Canada’s increasing reliance on the oil sands is not the best strategy for the economy or our environment. If the $1.3 billion in government subsidies now given to the oil and gas sector were instead invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency, Canada would create 18,000 more jobs, and also diminish the economic risks of relying increasingly on the volatile oil market.

The same goes for the risky Line 9 pipeline, proposed to run through Ontario and Quebec. The proposal to ship potentially more dangerous tar sands oil through an old pipeline that crosses every river flowing into Lake Ontario on the Canadian side, and runs directly through the most populated part of Canada, is extremely risky.

If you live in Ontario, you’ve probably seen evidence of our work to stop Line 9. We’ve spoken with thousands of residents along the proposed pipeline route, and our “Stop Line 9” lawn signs can be seen in front of homes from Kingston to Hamilton. In January, we worked with groups across Ontario, Quebec, and New England to support a Day of Action on Line 9 and say no to tar sands oil being shipped through our communities. And then, in May, we drew attention to the National Energy Board’s (NEB) new rules requiring members of the public to submit a resume and references as part of a 10 page application form, just for permission to submit a letter to the NEB. These rules appear intentionally designed to prevent public participation in hearings about new energy projects, such as the Line 9 pipeline project.

We encourage all Canadians to be concerned about what’s happening in their home community, no matter what’s on their resume. And, ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE is also actively supporting the type of energy development we do want. We were happy that the Ontario government announced in July that it wants to put energy conservation first when planning to meet the province’s energy needs. That means more money, more jobs and less pollution. Not a bad deal. We’ve also seen more green energy projects built in Ontario this year. Our priority is to make sure the province sticks with a strong plan to go green. All in all, the call for a new way of thinking about energy in Canada is strong. We’re proud to lead this effort, and will continue to push for a national clean energy strategy..

To access the full report click here.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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