Friday, May 16, 2008

Don't wait to cut greenhouse gas emissions: WWF advocate

Keith Stewart's map of the world that highlighted which countries emit the most greenhouses gases couldn't be ignored. "North America is really saying we won't do anything about our energy use until places like (Asia) get their act in order," said Stewart, manager of the Climate Change Campaign with the World Wildlife Fund Canada.

Canada may only have 30 million people but it's the eight largest polluter of greenhouse gases of the 160 countries in the world, he said.

"We can't wait," Stewart said.

"The longer we wait to start bringing emissions down, the faster you have to do it."

Stewart spoke to about 110 people at the Peterborough Public Library last night about the Renewable is Doable plan created by the WWF and the Pembina Institute to deal with the province's future energy supply. It focuses primarily on conserving and renewable energy.

Stewart was invited by the local anti-nuclear energy group Safe and Green Energy.

With the cost of building facilities and the extrication of uranium, nuclear energy is not the answer, Stewart said.

Nuclear energy is one of the major components of the Ontario Power Authority's power supply plan for the next 20 years.

Currently Ontario's energy supply is 50 per cent nuclear, 25 per cent hydro, 20 per cent coal and five per cent natural gas, Stewart said.

The renewable is doable proposal focuses more on renewable energy while taking into account that nuclear is not going away, he said.

Stewart provided data that showed electricity costs and greenhouse gas emissions would be lower under the plan's "green scenario."

Stewart also said that reacting to climate change can create new opportunities - from laid-off factory workers building hybrid or electric cars, to solar panels, to windmills. Using revenue from a carbon tax to retrofit seniors homes so their energy use goes down and at the same time create "green jobs" for people that need them. "Those are the types of solutions we should be aiming for and those are the things we should be looking for," he said.

Audience member Lorna Devan said she wanted to learn more about a "positive approach to renewable energy," which Stewart delivered.

"I see the evidence of climate change all around us and I know that if we don't act, primarily the poorest of the poor are going to suffer in all cultures," said Linda Slavin, who also attended.

Three pillars

Three pillars of World Wildlife Fund Canada's Renewable is Doable platform:

- Stop energy waste, improve efficiency.

- Tap into Ontario's abundant sources of renewable energy: wind, low-impact hydro, biofuels, methane capture at landfill sites and solar power.

- Capture and recycle waste heat and pressure from industrial and commercial operations.

Peterborough Examiner

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