Public consultation on reducing our dependency on fossil fuels

Fossil fuelFollowing the request of a group of citizens using Montreal’s “rigth to initiative”, the city has mandated the Office de Consultation Publique de Montréal (OCPM) to hold an extensive consultation on the reduction of the use of fossil fuel energies in the city and surrounding areas.

Citizens and organizations are invited to participate by submitting their proposals. Several different means of participating in the process are at the disposal of the public in order that citizens can best express their views: submission of briefs, community activities, an online, interactive platform, and a creative marathon including hack-a-thons and a “Social Start-up Weekend”. This consultation offers an excellent opportunity to bring original and innovative solutions to light.

The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our time.  In order to avoid reaching a tipping point, beyond which the situation risks becoming catastrophic, we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions immediately.  Transportation, urban planning, housing and lifestyle choices are the main sectors targeted by the consultation as being areas where action can most effectively be taken.

It is vitally important that a critical mass participate in this exercise to help demonstrate the citizen will behind this movement. Climate change threatens us all and we must act now in order to mitigate its impacts. The first step is an online consultation. We can make proposals, vote on others’ proposals and enrich the discussion with our collective intelligence and creativity.  We’ve been given the floor so let’s take advantage of it!

Start the online consultation.

Electrification of transportation : target 80 / 20

tramway

On June 2th, at 12:15, the Maison du développement durable will present, in partnership with Montreal Climate Action and Coalition Objectif 22, a discussion about the electrification of transportation.

With the goal of eliminating Quebec’s dependence on fossil fuels, is it possible to electrify at least 80% of the transportation sector within the next 20 years ? Can we start this transition right now ?  What are the best ways to do it ?

Three experts will discuss whether or not it is realistic to begin such a project in Quebec.  Can the system provide enough electricity to power such a large fleet of vehicles ? Should we replace 4,5 million gasoline-powered cars with electric ones ? What will be the role and the impact of public transportation ?

Considering that the transportation sector generates 44 % of Quebec’s greenhouse gas emissions, there is an urgent need to provide for a substantial reduction.  Not only is this discussion particularly relevant for Quebec’s situation, it’s interesting to note that it is being held just a few days before the F1 Grand Prix race !

The panel of experts  will be  :

  • Mme Florence Junca-Adenot, associated teacher at the urban and touristic studies, UQAM
  • M. Sylvain Castonguay, general director of CNTA
  • Mme France Lampron, director, electrification of transportation, Hydro-Québec

Mme Catherine Kargas, president of Canada Electric Mobility, will moderate the discussion.

You are cordially invited to attend this event on Tuesday, June 2th, from 12:15 to 1:30, at the Maison du développement durable, 50, Sainte-Catherine West, Montreal (metro Saint-Laurent).

To register

One month of living differently

ChickadeeThe Shortlist

We’ve carefully selected each entry for its potential to light the fuse: where that spark leads is up to you. This movement is 100% curiosity-powered.

The list begins with spaces: sustainable centers, tour opportunities, greened spots and greening initiatives – sustainability as a place.

It ends with actions: composting, bike repair, gardening, cutting out packaging, exploring sustainability as a lifestyle.

Begun as a challenge among friends, it ends as a small celebration where people can share their experiences over the month. For our part, our organization is planning a candle-lit potluck.

Spaces (see the map)

Actions

(click on the + sign to read more about)

  1. Write a letter to your MP +
  2. Sign up for compost collection or buy/build a composter +
  3. Start sprouting seedlings, create a garden wherever it grows: plants some herbs on your balcony +
  4. Start a shelfponics project +
  5. Start biking or using public transit to get to work +
  6. Take a 5-minute shower or try tracking how many litres of water you use in a day +
  7. Eliminate packaging from one regular purchase by finding an unpackaged alternative (ex. Produits Lemieux) +
  8. Switch to low-flow: toilet or shower-head +
  9. Get rid of 5 things you truly don’t need +
  10. Get rid of 5 more things (feels good doesn’t it?) +
  11. Make your own cleaning product +
  12. Explore the world of eco-apps, buy something using good guide app +
  13. Call an investment advisor to get sustainable investment options (ex. ethiquette.ca) +
  14. Approach your favourite store and inquire about sustainable development policies (can you get a sustainable forestry logo, recycling bin) +
  15. Take a vegetarian cooking class (Vegetarian Montreal offers cooking classes every Saturday at 4:00pm for 15$) +
  16. Try a no meat diet: for one meal, one day, or one week +
  17. Try using a bixi or a car-sharing service. If you have to drive to work, try setting up carpooling with your neighbors, or use a carpooling website like Covoiturage.ca or Covoiturage AMT +
  18. Make a zero-waste meal (no packaging for any of the ingredients). Start bringing a regular waste-free lunch to work to replace the lunchtime fast-food or cafeteria rush +
  19. Give up disposables in the kitchen (use rags instead of paper towels, use cloth napkins or no napkins, use containers or a plate on top of a bowl instead of plastic wrap) +
  20. Air dry your clothes instead of using the dryer/ set up a clothesline +
  21. Have a no-waste picnic: everyone brings their own non-disposable plates, cups, cutlery +
  22. Skip the Dry Cycle. Open the dishwasher door and allow dishes to air-dry. +
  23. Switch to an Electric Kettle. Electric kettles boil water faster and more efficiently than stovetop kettles. +
  24. Overhaul your fridge +
  25. Add checking for drafts and patching up insulation to your spring cleaning blitz: insulation’s not just for heating: keep the cool in this summer too +
  26. Switch over to biodegradable cleaning products +
  27. Register to “adopt” a group of monarch butterflies +
  28. Go one day without buying anything +
  29. Switch completely to reusable grocery bags, cut out plastic water bottles with a dedicated reusable water bottle, carry your own reusable coffee cup to cut out the disposables +
  30. Spend a few hours at a park – why fight for fresh air and never take time to enjoy it? +
  31. Celebrate ! +

 

In details

Grouse1. Politics is all about money, right? Well, not exactly. MPs work hard in their constituencies to ensure they’re listening to the concerns of their constituents. If half of the letters they receive are about sustainability, you can bet they’re going to make that a priority. In fact, many MPs do care about the environment, but their job is to serve our interests, not their own. So if we show it’s our priority, they’ll make it their priority in turn.

2. One of the biggest contributions to greenhouse gas emissions are landfills – but in a way you might not expect. When compostable material breaks down deep into a landfill without enough oxygen (called anaerobic decomposition) it produces whole loads of methane – a greenhouse gas that’s 20 times worse than carbon dioxide. So not only will composting cut your garbage production in half and create some super fertile soil, but it reduces our city’s overall GHG emissions in a huge way.

3&4. “We must cultivate our own garden.” Voltaire may have not have meant that so literally, but to hell with it. With our modern systems of large-scale agriculture and international distribution it’s so very easy to become disconnected from the food itself. Gardening is a wonderful way to reconnect with the process that makes human life possible. Not to mention the heap of herbs and veg you can eat once your season’s finished.

5. This is pretty straightforward: more cyclists means a stronger push for more cycling infrastructure, more exercise, more freedom. It also means less time in traffic, searching for parking, shelling out at the pay-lot or gas station.

6. With water being as abundant as it is, it’s hard not to take it for granted. I mean, we’re literally swimming in it! All the same, access to clean drinking water and the environmental impact of water treatment plants are each important issues not to be overlooked. Since we already know not to waste food, why would we waste water?

7. When you’re recycling and composting, what’s left to pile up in your trash bin? Packaging. Every choice we make to cut down on heavily packaged products means less material to sit in our landfills for basically forever.

8. This one’s a no-brainer, in the best way possible: once you switch to low-flow, you never have to think about it again.

9&10. This one speaks to a sea change. Do things make us happy, or does having too many things more often take time away from the pursuits and relationships that actually make us happy? While we all know the answer, it’s easier said than done. So start simplifying, and keep it Grossbeakup – who knows where you’ll end up?
But what does this have to do with the environment? For starters, having too many things to manage makes it harder to make the right choices, especially ones that take our time and energy. Buying less also means less to manufacture, package, ship, store, and finally throw out when it breaks. Some of the stuff we buy spends such little time between the sale rack and the garbage bin that it’s hard not to feel we were literally just buying garbage.

11. Not only is the majority of cleaning products effectively toxic, but also needlessly expensive. By substituting the storebought with the homemade, you can clean your home without the overkill or overpricing.

12. The tech wizards have been busy. There are now dozens of apps out there to check up on the eco-report card of the companies you buy from, and to look for more sustainable options in light of the real flunkies (our favourite is Good Guides). Ethical purchasing has never been easier.

13. The unfortunate truth is, the vast majority of investment portfolios are packed with extremely unsustainable options. A few years ago I was surprised to find my TFSA held obligatory investments in the oil industry.
Divesting from these companies doesn’t only make clear environmental sense – it makes good financial sense too. The Bank of England is already conducting an inquiry into the financial risk of inflated fossil fuel assets in the global economic system.
So while switching to a different investment is already one of the greatest individual changes you can make for the planet, it might also end up saving you a lot of financial angst down the road.

14. Stores are built around giving customers what they want – it’s the only way they can stay around. If people make it clear that sustainable practises are a crucial part of the package, then they’ll come around. Make it clear that caring about the environment makes good business sense – because if they don’t care, we can always find another shop that does….

15. So what do vegetarians eat? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this throughout my life. If people find it hard to guess, it’s not for a lack of actual meal choices but simply a lack of exposure and imagination. And it’s not just about the environment – it’s about daring to switch up the ol meat and potatoes every once in a while. We seek out now movies, new music, new clothing – why not new food?
Food has so much more potential!

16. While animal rights is a whole other conversation that’s very much worth having, something far less debatable is the meat industry’s colossal impact on climate change. One climate change scientist has even suggested that simply giving up red meat has a bigger impact than giving up your car. Cutting down on your meat intake is one of the single best changes you can make for the environment.

17. When you drive down the highway, what do you see? Hundreds of cars that are totally empty, save whoever’s behind the wheel. If even a quarter of our solo drivers carpooled during rush hour, we’d almost never have to sit through traffic again. And the rare moments that we do, we won’t be sitting there alone, mulling over our regrets, but in great company. Not to mention we’d reduce our city’s overall emissions in a big way.

18. It’s simply habit at this point: choose, buy, open, season, eat, toss. What if we found a way to cut packaging from the process? Bring your food in a reusable container, and you get to pick where the ingredients come from, and to see a little less waste going to the landfill.

19. This one’s pretty simple too. Nothing adds to a meal’s presentation like a sleek cloth napkin on the side. And nothing cleans better than a 100% authentic bona fide rag.

20. Who needs to fuss when the whole world is a dryer? Cut out the second biggest household power-sapper and see the difference in your energy bill. Just add clothespins.

21. There’s got to be a better way than single-use cups and plates! This one is so clear it’s basically a lifehack. If you’re going to stock up on travel flatware, make it one trip to the shops for a reusable set, rather than 20 trips for the same old trash.

22. When your dishwasher has finished running, it turns into a giant drying rack. Your dishes may be great, but they don’t need a trip to the sauna after every time they grab a shower. Just towel or air-dry and you’ve just saved loads of energy.

23. Unless you’re doing all of your cooking over an open fire, now might be a good time to go electric with your kettle. It’s faster, easier, and takes less than half the electricity.

24. The fridge is one of the biggest consumers of household electricity. It turns out that keeping a box full of coldness is actually a lot of work. So while tuning up your bike and breaking out the spring cleaning, why not give your fridge and freezer a quick tune up to keep them running at their peak?

25. It only takes a few hours, but once you’ve finished look forward to energy savings that last for years.

26. After heading down the drain, all that soap’s got to go somewhere. Do your part to make sure it’s no harm to the environment – wherever it ends up. And unless you live in a hospital ER, these products will do the trick: tough on germs, easy on the planet.

27. Due to the decimation of habitat and main food groups, along with changing climate patterns and aggressive insecticide use, our Monarch Butterfly populations are their lowest in decades. This is an opportunity for you and your friends or family to experience the metamorphosis of four monarchs, from egg to butterfly (a process scientists still don’t really understand). All proceeds go toward ecological conservation.

28. In too many ways, life has organized itself into an obstacle course where you can’t makeCurlew your way through a whole day without being slapped with some unforeseen costs. Challenge yourself to go a whole day purchase-free to spend some much-needed time out of the game. By sunset you’ll have a stronger sense of any excessive expenses along with ideas for how to change them for the better. In the end, what and how you spend is up to you – just so long as you take time to remember it.

29. To stop using single-use plastic bags, water bottles, and coffee cups is to cut out some of the main ingredients in our landfills, and some of the greatest polluters in our oceans.

30. Space is an important part of the urban ecological conversation: how do we use public property in a way that reflects the desires of the community? As simple is it sounds, the best way to protect our green spaces is to use them. So grab that book, throw together a picnic, bring your guitar – whatever it takes to get your outdoor ritual going.

31. Once your One Month draws to a close, why not top it off with a candlelit reunion of everyone who took part. Swap stories about the places you visited, the actions you tried – well, anything really: it’s your party !

Right of initiative

mtl_vert_375A coalition of citizens, social and  environmental organizations launched a petition asking the city of Montréal to hold a public consultation (similar to urban agriculture in 2012) on how to significantly reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and take ambitious steps to become a leader in clean technologies and sustainable alternatives.

Volunteers needed !

  • Ambassadors – Represent the project for a segment of the population (Health Care, University Education, Researchers, etc) & train recruiters
  • Recruiters – Represent the project in their institutions (School, Church, Community Group, Company) & train canvassers
  • Canvassers – Organize or attend events to have the petition signed

For more information or to get involved: agir@mtlvert375.org

Official launch date april 21 !

Act on Climate March in Quebec

Act on CLimate March 11th aprilOn the 11th of april, in Quebec City, prime minister Philippe Couillard will prepare to receive his canadian homologues to discuss about climate change. We will be there to welcome them.

We need everybody to send a strong and clear message to the prime ministers of Quebec and others provinces. Together, tell them :

  • NO to TransCanada pipeline project and to tar sand oil
  • YES to climate protection
  • YES to renewable energies

Province’s prime ministers have to choose.  We can’t fight for climate protection while by the same time exploiting extreme oil.

 April 11th, all together in Quebec City for the climate !

Join the Act on Climate March

Benefit concert

concert-fev-19thMontreal Climate Action brings you his first benefit concert, thursday 19th of february, 7 pm, at La Vitrola, 4602 St-Laurent.

Come see great musicians and comedians all donating their talents to a great cause—fighting climate change! Ticket sale proceeds go to plan, promote and support our environmental actions in 2015.

Musical Performances: Hochelega, Pablo, Randyman and Magic Perm.
Comedy from: Stephen Spinola, Morgan O’Shea nad Phillipe-Audrey.
Tickets $10

Thank you for your support !

 

Quebec new energy policy

energy efficiencyThe Québec government is initiating a process leading to a new Québec energy policy that will enable Quebecers and organizations throughout Québec and local and foreign experts to express their opinions, share their expertise and make suggestions to satisfy the key energy challenges that Québec is facing.

Experts panels and citizens consultations will address three major themes : hydrocarbons, renewable energies and energy efficiency and innovation.

The first event, an experts panel on energy efficiency, will be held february 13th in HEC Montreal, followed from 6 pm to 9 pm by a public consultation.  Citizens can also participate online.  More details…

 

Symposium : The role of science in mitigating climatic changes

On December 14th at Redpath Museum, we held our first symposium.

This event featured talks by eminent researchers to help demystify the science of climate change and explain global climate trends, including impacts on terrestrial, riparian and marine environments and on human society. The speakers addressed climate policy at the provincial, federal and international levels, with special focus on strategies for concerned citizens to influence these policies. They also talked about the history and future of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the impact that international policy should have on our national policy in Canada.

If you missed this event or if you want to see again the presentations, here are the video capture:

Climate Closure: Game over for climate skeptics
Dr. Shaun Lovejoy Ph.D Physics, McGill University

Le Québec en 2100 : portrait scientifique des projections de changements climatiques
Dominique Paquin, Specialist in climate analysis and simulations, OURANOS

Quebec at the time of oil. On Anticosti Cacouna!
Dominic Champagne, Director and documentary filmmaker

Le défi énergétique à l’heure des changements climatiques
Dr. Normand Mousseau Ph.D Université de Montréal
University Research Chair Complex Materials, Energy and Natural Resources

Using science and policy to averting climate catastrophe: The road to UN Climate Summit, Paris 2015
Dr. Catherine Potvin Ph.D, McGill University
Canada Research Chair on Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical

Experts’ reports confirm Energy East’s dangers

TransCanada pipelineThe Ontario Energy Board (OEB) released four preliminary assessments from its technical advisors on TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline project yesterday, confirming that the pipeline is all risk and no reward for Ontarians.

Key findings in the reports include:

  • TransCanada has overstated the project’s economic benefits.
  • A full environmental impact assessment of drinking water and other sensitive areas is not possible because TransCanada’s application is incomplete.
  • Up to 100 km of the pipeline in Ontario is especially vulnerable to stress corrosion cracking.
  • A 2.6 million litre spill, which would be the largest in Canadian history, is possible – even with a perfect emergency response.

“The OEB report confirms what many Ontarians fear about Energy East as well as questioning TransCanada’s claimed economic benefits,” said Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

The economic impacts report finds the TransCanada’s estimated benefits are likely inflated while local benefits are expected to be small, particularly along the converted portion of the pipeline in northern Ontario.

“TransCanada has been selling Energy East to Ontarians as a boon for local revenue and jobs, while downplaying the risks,” said Teika Newton of Transition Initiative Kenora. “We knew there was more to the story. Now we have the facts to back this up.”

While the project confirms what many environmentalists have been saying about the risks, the climate change assessment was disappointing.

“Ontarians need to know that Energy East will wipe out all the climate gains made by shutting down coal plants in the province. This pipeline would allow the tar sands to grow by 40 percent, when the world’s leading scientists have said we need to leave most of the tar sands in the ground to maintain a liveable climate,” said Ben Powless, Energy East Campaigner with Ecology Ottawa.

“The climate change assessment makes the false assumption that the oil slated for Energy East will be put on trains if the pipeline isn’t built. But we know that this is not economically viable and that there isn’t enough railway capacity to ship an additional 1.1 million barrels per day,” said Ruth Cook of the Thunder Bay chapter of the Council of Canadians.

The reports were produced for presentation at community open houses being hosted by the OEB along the proposed pipeline route. The second of seven OEB open houses happens tonight in Thunder Bay followed by Kapuskasing, Timmins, North Bay, Ottawa and Cornwall. Participation at the previous round of consultations exceeded expectations and reflected clear concerns about the risk to our shared  climate, land and waterways.

Source : The Council of Canadians, by Sujata Dey, Media Officer