By Andrew Mitchell
Global warming is fast becoming the biggest issue of the day, with discussions and proposals for changes in Parliament, Legislature, local government and other organizations.
In the past week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced a $1.5 billion Green Fund for provinces to take their own emissions reductions steps, as well as tax breaks for consumers buying fuel-efficient vehicles and money to automakers to develop cleaner vehicles. Further, he is expected to announce plans to impose new efficiency and clean air standards on industry within the next few weeks.
In Tuesday’s Throne Speech, the Government of British Columbia announced plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020, through tougher emissions standards, new low-carbon fuel standards, and cleaner running coal plans that have 100 per cent carbon sequestering. Further, the oil and gas industry will be required to lower emissions to 2000 levels by 2016.
In announcing the plan, Premier Gordon Campbell noted that voluntary programs to reduce emissions have not worked.
“If we fail to act aggressively and shoulder our responsibility, we know what our children can expect,” he said. “Shrinking glaciers and snow packs, drying lakes and streams, and changes in the ocean’s chemistry.”
The new tailpipe standards for cars will be phased in between 2009 and 2016, and are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars by 30 per cent. Currently transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the province.
The action to curb emissions doesn’t end there. Last week the District of Squamish announced a 12-step program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, through its Global Warming Action Plan — designed to bring the district into compliance with the Kyoto Protocol.
“If municipalities across Canada live up to the pledge, Kyoto targets are achievable,” said Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland. “We are committed to making this happen and are already undertaking a number of green, sustainability, greenhouse gas reducing initiatives. Staff already work tirelessly on achieving these imperatives.”
The 12 steps are:
1. Doing an inventory of emissions in municipal operations and the community to set reduction targets and create an action plan.
2. Adopt and enforce anti-sprawl land-use policies, preserve open spaces, and create compact walkable-bikeable communities.
3. Promote transportation options such as bicycle/pedestrian commuter trails, commute-trip reduction programs, incentives for car-pooling, expanded public transit and regional transportation options, and adopt traffic policies that reduce idling.
4. Encourage and increase the use of clean, alternative, renewable energy. Purchase only “green”, non GHG producing fuels.