Canada Waging War on Climate Change

By Dennis Bueckert
Canadian Press
Saturday, March 27, 2004


OTTAWA (CP) - The federal government has issued a national call to battle, a battle in which no sacrifice is too small.

It will not be fought on the beaches, but in the kitchens and laundry rooms of the nation; not in the air, but in the attics.

Under the One-Tonne Challenge program, officially launched Friday, Canadians are being urged to take on the enemy of climate change one light bulb at a time.

Ottawa wants everyone to cut by 20 per cent the greenhouse gas emissions caused by their daily activities. That would mean a one tonne reduction per capita.

"Each one of us, every time we go shopping, every time we turn on the lights, we are undoubtedly contributing to the climate-change gases in the atmosphere," Environment Minister David Anderson told a news conference.

If each household replaced a single conventional light with a fluorescent bulb, said Anderson, the country would save $73 million a year in energy costs.

"And we would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 400,000 tonnes which is the same as taking 60,000 cars off the road."

Environmentalists welcome the effort, but say it would help if Ottawa provided incentives for doing the right thing.

Currently, for example, Ontario and British Columbia provide rebates for buying fuel-efficient cars, but the federal government does not.

Some provinces provide rebates for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances, but Ottawa does not.

The David Suzuki Foundation says that voluntary actions by individuals can have only limited impact on national energy consumption patterns.

"It's going to take a lot more than turning down our thermostats to solve the problem of climate change," said the foundation's Morag Carter.

"What the federal government really needs to do is make deep emission cuts and that means targeted regulations for large industry, transportation and the oil and gas sector."

Matthew Bramley of the Pembina Institute said Canada's total greenhouse emissions in 2002 were 720 megatonnes, or 23 tonnes per capita. Out of those 23 tonnes, five tonnes are directly attributable personal activities, he said.

"It's entirely appropriate to have a program focused on those five tonnes, and that's what the One-Tonne Challenge is about, but of course we absolutely have to have some tough policies to address the other 18 tonnes."

The federal government is working on a plan to curb emissions by large emitters, and is negotiating with automakers to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles.

Environment Canada http://www.ec.gc.ca/envhome.html has posted other tips on the its website, covering everything from good car maintenance to environmentally friendly gardening.

Informant: NHNE


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