Our planet is warming, bringing more extreme weather – floods in Calgary and Toronto, forest fires in the Northwest Territories, Quebec and B.C. and hurricanes on the East Coast. We can expect more extreme weather as the planet heats up.
Canada, with other countries, committed to limiting global warming to 2 degrees. But the oil industry, which wants to triple tar sands production, is spending millions of dollars on ads to promote the tar sands—Canada’s fastest growing source of carbon pollution. This year ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE countered Big Oil’s spin with our Reality Check reports, which set the record straight on how the tar sands are damaging our water, air and climate.
We also raised awareness about risky pipeline projects that would enable the tar sands’ expansion. We helped more than 10,000 Ontario residents speak up about the risks of Enbridge’s Line 9 tar sands pipeline plan. We hosted Rock the Line, a concert with Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie and the Sadies, Hayden and Minotaurs. Over 2,000 people attended and together, we raised public awareness about Line 9’s risks. We also kicked off a campaign to educate the public about how TransCanada’s Energy East tar sands pipeline, the largest proposed tar sands pipeline on the continent, would threaten the water of millions of Canadians with the risk an oil spill—all to export unrefined oil and create few jobs.
We helped build a growing movement of Canadians saying no to risky fossil fuels. At the Healing Walk in Alberta, National Days of Action and other events, we helped citizens raise their voices, and there were some big wins. A U.S. government decision on Keystone XL pipeline was delayed, and public and First Nations opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline has led most observers to conclude it will never be built.
At ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE, we know Canadians want a future they can be proud to pass on to their children. This year we released a poll, conducted by Environics, that found 76 per cent of Canadians believe that, given climate concerns, we should be moving away from depending on fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy. Canadians know that we don’t need to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. We can and must have both.
That’s why we support energy solutions that make sense. This year, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to stop burning coal for electricity. We celebrated with an event featuring Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore. Eliminating coal from Ontario’s grid is the largest greenhouse gas reduction project on the continent. It’s helped air quality too. In 2005, Ontario had 53 smog days and in 2013, it had only two.
We support energy conservation to save families and businesses money, reduce pollution and create a more sustainable energy system. With our clean economy partners, Blue Green Canada,we released More Jobs, Less Pollution: Why energy conservation is common sense for Ontario. The report shows that cutting electricity and natural gas use by 25 per cent by 2025 would create 25,000 new jobs, reduce federal and provincial deficits, boost GDP by $3.7 billion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nine per cent. It appears we made a compelling case.
In April, Ontario announced a Conservation First framework that will ensure the province pursues cost-effective ways to reduce energy needs before building new infrastructure.
And, we support investing in renewable energy. Our report, Your Home Electricity Bill: A study on the costs in Ontario, shows that renewable energy accounts for a small part of residential electricity bills, that renewables are not the main reason electricity costs rose in Ontario and that cutting energy waste can offset a large part of the projected increase in electricity prices.
We’ll keep helping Canadians speak out against reckless plans to expand the tar sands and the risky pipelines that enable that expansion. We’ll work with industries and governments to develop new ways to reduce global warming pollution and shift to renewable energy. And we’ll continue to lead the effort to build a clean economy, powered by safe, modern energy.