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B.C Green and NDP come to an environment-focused agreement

The B.C. Greens and NDP parties have reached an agreement that will allow them to create a minority government and remove Premier Christy Clark from her seat as head of the province. Both parties have made it clear the new agreement is not a coalition — the Green Party will still be able to support their own platforms, but will guarantee any support of an NDP budget or confidence motion.

Both parties signed a confidence agreement that set out specific requirements for both parties to work together in B.C. It is a dream come true for Green supporters across the country as the environment and climate change goals are put at the forefront for the first time in Canadian history. An entire section of the agreement focuses on reducing greenhouse emissions and calls for an increase in the carbon tax and a revitalization of the environmental assessment process in the province. The Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon will most likely cast a vote of no confidence to remove Christy Clark as Premier, though she has confirmed she will remain leader of the opposition.

The agreement takes a hard stance against the pipeline expansion of the Kinder Morgan project and promises to “immediately employ every tool available” to stop the project. The Site C hydro dam, another controversial environmental project, will also be sent to the B.C. Utilities Commission for review of its economic viability. Kinder Morgan’s shares fell on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange due to the uncertainty of the Kinder Morgan project and the recent coalition government.

The electoral results and vote recount has cast doubt onto the ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system and is bringing up the issue of reform. The first-past-the-post system allows people to elect representatives for their ward, and the political party with the most representative becomes the leader of the province. The agreement between the NDP and the Green includes the discussion of changing to proportional representation, which would cast a popular vote for the premier or prime minister in addition to a vote for the candidate in each riding. The plan is to have a referendum in 2018. The Federal Liberal government pushed for electoral reform in their campaign and once Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected, they dropped the issue. The new government in B.C desires to bring that issue to the forefront.

The NDP-Green agreement marks a new relationship between two parties that have traditionally both been in disagreement. If the no confidence vote dethrones Clark and NDP leader John Horgan becomes Premier, it will be interesting to witness the environment become an issue of focus on a level never-before-seen in the province and across Canada.

Toronto pushes climate change to back burner

Toronto is taking an aggressive approach to tackling climate change with a new plan to transform the city into a green metropolis — or are they?

TransformTO, the new climate change policy being proposed to city council, was supposed to be discussed on May 24, but it was deferred until the July 5.  This came as a disappointment to Toronto climate supporters, who would love to see the city embrace a plan that will actively decrease greenhouse gases in one of the Canada’s largest city.

The ambitious climate change plan would see Toronto reduce greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050. The city has already lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 24 per cent, which has exceeded the six per cent 2012 climate change goal. In order to meet this more strenuous climate change goal by 2050 though, serious action is needed. The plan will take aggressive action to lower emissions, including diverting 95 per cent of waste from landfills to recycling programs and 100 per cent of public use vehicles will use zero-carbon energy. There would be more focus on creating bike lanes, infrastructure related to low-carbon vehicles, and cycling parking.

The climate change plan also wants Toronto to focus on building green houses, condos, and apartment buildings in the future. The plan would mandate city structures to have near-zero greenhouse gases by 2030 and retrofit most other buildings by 2040. Retrofitting buildings will save 40 per cent of energy costs and the city also wants to use renewable energy that would lower the amount of heat that homes use to 20 per cent of the rate used in 2015. This goal would be achieved by collecting waste heat and converting it into power.

TransformTO is an ambitious move that will ultimately help support creating a greener and healthier city — if it gets off the ground, that is. The City of Toronto would benefit by taking the climate change plan seriously and pushing it through as a key item in the July 5 council meeting to ensure no more delays.

Woman of the Week: Susan Swail

With rising housing costs and developers vying for land to build on, ensuring the safety of Ontario’s Greenbelt is no easy feat. Principal of Lloyd Swail Consulting, Susan Swail, is one of the women leading the fight to keep this preservation of farmland protected for years to come.

Swail launched her own consulting firm in 2008, which has enabled her to work on several environmental policy projects at once. “I’ve been doing policy analysis, facilitation and strategic communications in the planning field for the last 10 years. I created this consulting firm so I could work on project based contracts. I can work on a number of projects on the same time,” Swail says. She is currently on contract with Environmental Defence and the Greenbelt Foundation.

Swail works for Environmental Defence as the Smart Growth Program Consultant of the Greenbelt and is also working on a review that focuses on the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) review. During the OMB review, over 5000 letters were submitted to the province to obtain funding for citizens and citizen groups, and upholding provincial and municipal plans. Swail conducted a literature review and interviewed many stakeholders, including planners, ratepayers and lawyers to develop a policy position for Environmental Defence.

Swail and the non-profit await the new OMB legislation to see if the recent changes are a success. “[Environmental Defence] didn’t get everything we asked for. We’re still waiting to see what happens. We wanted opportunities to have legal support and advice for ratepayer groups who are launching appeals and we don’t know if the legal advice is intended to be free,” Swail says. “The province is also looking at a joint board hearing that would refer environmental planning matters to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) rather than being heard by just a OMB chair. The provincial announcement suggests they are considering joint ERT, and OMB board hearings. It is important have an environmental lens when making land policy decisions that effect groundwater, and natural heritage features like forests and wetlands.” Originally, Environmental Defence asked the OMB to refer environmental matters directly to ERT, but instead the legislation suggests having a joint board with the OMB and the ERT.

Swail was also a city councillor for the King Township for three years from 2000 to 2003, which helped foster her passion for policy and giving citizens a voice. “It was an exciting time to be on council because Oak Ridges Conservation Plan was being created at that time,” Swail says. When asked about the most important lessons she took from being a councillor, she explained that giving citizens a voice is so vital and being able to negotiate solutions between stakeholders and citizens is what really counts.

“When I was councillor, there was a situation with a developer who wanted to build on 107 acres in the headwaters of the Humber River.  The citizens were adamantly against it. We negotiated between the ratepayers, the Region of York, the Conservation Authority, Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust and the City of Toronto,” Swail says. “In the end, the developer agreed to make a gift of the land and recieved a donation receipt. Today the tableland is part of the York Region Forest.”

After Swail lost the next election, she moved to the Oak Ridges Land Trust,and eventually became the Program and Outreach Manager of the Greenbelt Foundation. Swail returned to York University in 2008 to do a master’s degree in land use planning and launched her own consulting company from there. At York, she was awarded the MITACS Research Award for the research project, Building Sustainable Communities in South Simcoe.

Swail believes the most prevelant environmental issue today is climate change for land use conservation projects. She has dedicated many years to sustainable planning, helping the environment and trying to mitigate the impacts of climate change through supporting and implementing conservation land use projects over the years. She has served as the executive of many charitable organizations for the last 20 years.

Her passion for the environment began in 1990 when she and her husband moved to Nobleton in 1990 from High Park because house prices in Toronto were too high. “I got involved in my new community right away in the Parks Committee and then co-founded a local ratepayer group,” Swail says. “They were going to put in a larger sewer system in around Nobleton, which would traveled over 17 km of farmland to serve 3000 people, not economically or environmentally sustainable.   Instead, we got a local sewer system put into our town and Nobleton is still a complete community today.”

Swail is also an advocate for women who are passionate about the environment. “I mentor women whenever I can. When I was working at Environmental Defence, I had a call at least once a month from women who wanted to get involved in the environment,” Swail says. “I took at least a dozen of people out for coffee and helped them out to understand what it takes to get involved in the environment, emphasizing the importance of volunteering and networking.” Swail also noted that being a considerate woman in the business world can go a long way to helping other women in the industry.

When Swail isn’t at the frontlines protecting the Greenbelt, she is an avid reader. Currently, she is reading Walking Home by Kent Greenberg and Dark Age Ahead By Jane Jacobs. She also enjoys visiting with her six-month-old granddaughter, hiking with her husband and three sons on the Oak Ridges Moraine, cooking and gardening.

 

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Canada needs to invest in green bonds to support infrastructure goals

With the rising costs of climate change and environmental degradation, governments are vying for solutions by investing in green infrastructure.

One of the most effective ways to invest in these types of infrastructure and energy projects is through green bonds — and it’s high time Canada gets the ball rolling. Green bonds are fixed-income securities that are created to fund projects that have environmental and climate benefits.When a project needs to be funded, it is possible to reach out to investors or creditors to support a project through bonds as opposed to obtaining a loan from the bank. Typically, federal governments will issue green bonds from public entities and will also provide targeted tax incentives. The involvement of the government in green bonds lowers risk and improves return  and makes the investment more desirable. This pushes large stock-holders to invest in green projects, and helps further build a green economy.

Canada has seen a total of $4.5 billion in total green bonds issued so far, with Ontario leading in investments in 2014 and 2017 consecutively. The Quebec government has also issued a bond, but the federal government has yet to release green bonds according to a report by RBC Capital Markets. The federal government and private market issuers have the capacity to support $56.3 billion worth of green bonds for green infrastructure in public transit, renewable energy, and electric vehicles.  The support of the federal government is needed to make green bonds competitive in Canada.

Across the world, green bonds are growing as a viable way to build green infrastructure. In London, England, the Climate Bonds Initiative contributes $694 billion that are being used to support low-carbon infrastructure. China has invested $36 billion in green bonds. This type of investment makes it easier to gain government approval on green projects rather than regular development initiatives. Even in India, developers are turning to the rising international trend in green bonds to support building projects as their weakened banks shy away from the non-green alternatives.

Canada has the opportunity to become a global leader by moving away from a purely resource-driven economy. Alongside the $180 billion over 12 years the federal government has committed to spend on infrastructure, green bonds could help support that lofty goal. If the federal government invested heavily in green bonds for environmental infrastructure projects, it could also give the currently depressed resource economies in Western Canada a much needed push towards a green economy.

It shouldn’t only be the responsibility of the provinces to invest in green bonds. The green economy is the way of the future, and green bonds are yet another way to make that a reality. It is time for Canada to take a stand on the international stage and become an environmental leader worldwide.

2017 budget highlights include health care, no new transit

Thursday, the Ontario Liberal government put forward the first balanced budget in the last decade.

“This budget is fiscally responsible,” Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa said to reporters in budget lockup, prior to the Throne Speech. “Balancing the budget allows us to make these important investments — investments that have real meaningful impacts in people’s lives.”

The 2017 Ontario Budget, entitled A Stronger, Healthier Ontario, is meant to spearhead a balanced budget for the next three years. The document focuses greatly on health care and education, while investing less in infrastructure and transit. There are some special tidbits for families, including a 35 per cent reduction on hydro bills for eligible households, free prescription medication for children and young adults, and funding for work-related opportunities through a new Career Kick-Start Strategy.

Sousa was adamant the budget did not have anything to do with the impending provincial election.

“Our message for the people of Ontario is that we, together, have balanced the budget, have taken the precautions of assumed growth, and now we are taking the necessary steps moving forward,” he said. “We want to be competitive long term. These decisions we make today are not based on election times. They are based on long-term benefit for the people of Ontario.”

It’s important to note that despite the balanced budget, there still exists a projected total debt of $332.4 billion as of March 31, 2017.

Here are some of the highlights from the 2017 provincial budget:

Health care

The biggest announcements in the 2017 Ontario Budget was the Child and Youth Pharmacare benefit program, which will provide free prescription medications for everyone ages 24 and under — also called OHIP Plus. The coverage includes rare disease medications, cancer drugs, medication for diabetes, asthma, mental health, HIV, and birth control. The new OHIP program will be effective as of Jan. 1, 2018.

The cost of this program, which was left out of the budgetary documents and press releases, is $465 million annually.

Ontario will also expand access to safe abortion by providing publicly funding the new abortion pill Mifegymiso.

Other investments include:

  • $9 billion over 10 years to support construction of new “hospital projects” across the province
  • $518 million to provide a three per cent to help decrease wait times and maintain elective surgeries, among other hospital services.
  • $15 million for primary care and OHIP-funded non-physician specialized health services
  • $74 million over three years for mental health services, including supportive housing units and structures psychotherapy

Transportation

The provincial government, while making significant investments in health care and education, chose to maintain investments on pre-existing projects rather then provide new funding for further transit networks like the downtown relief line.

In addition to the province’s continual $190 billion investment over a 13-year period, which started in 2014, Ontario is investing an additional $56 billion in public transportation for the GO Network and other pre-existing infrastructure projects like the Eglinton Crosstown, Hamilton Rapid Transit, and the Mississauga Transitway.

The budget indicates the province will continue to “support for the planning of the Downtown Relief Line in Toronto”, but no further funding was made available. Currently, Ontario has offered $150 million for the planning of this integral transit project.

Instead, the province is standing firm in their contributions via the gas tax program, which promises to double the municipal shares from two to four cents per litre by 2021.

Other transit projects receiving funding include:

  • $1 billion for the second stage of the Ottawa LRT
  • $43 million for proposed transit hub in downtown Kitchener, which will connect to GO and Via Rail.

Housing

The province introduced their Fair Housing Plan, which is meant to help increase affordability for buyers and renters. The cost of housing has increased up to 33.2 per cent since 2016. Ontario has proposed a non-resident speculation tax to help cool the market. This will be a 15 per cent tax on the price of homes for non-Canadians, non-permanent residents, and foreign corporations. If passed, this tax would be effective as of April 21, 2017. Ontario has also committed to improving rent control in Ontario to include units occupied on or after Nov. 1, 1991.

Toronto Mayor John Tory may not have been given the right to toll the DVP and Gardiner Expressway, but the provincial government has permitted the city to implement a levy on “transient accommodations”. This will allow Toronto to tax hotels and short-term accommodations in order to generate much-needed revenue for infrastructure in the city.

The authority to implement such a tax will also be extended to all “single-tier and lower-tier municipalities”, with the understanding that 50 per cent of the funds accumulated from the levy be given to the municipality’s regional tourism organization.

An amendment to the City of Toronto Act will have to be approved before such a levy becomes a reality.

Other investments include:

  • $200 million over three years to improve access for up to 6,000 families and individuals to housing assistance and services
  • $125 million over five years for multi-residential rebates to help encourage development
  • $70-100 million for a pilot project throughout GTHA to leverage land assets to build affordable housing
  • Proposed amendment of legislation that would grant Toronto authority to add a levy to property tax on vacant homes.
  • Frozen municipal property taxes for multi-residential properties where taxes are high

Child Care

Ontario will support an access to licensed childcare for an additional 24,000 children ages four and under. The $200 million in funding allotted to this project for 2017-18 includes a mix of subsidies and the creation of physical spaces for childcare.

In fall of 2016, Ontario spent $65.5 million to create 3,400 licensed childcare spaces.

Climate Change

This year’s budget didn’t put as much of an emphasis on the province’s environmental efforts. Through the cap and trade program, the government has accumulated $472 million in funding that must be re-invested into programs that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This specific funding was from Ontario’s first carbon auction in March.

Through these auctions, Ontario expects to raise $1.8 billion in 2017-18 and then $1.4 billion annually following that year. Examples of where this money can be spent include promoting electric vehicles, modernizing transit, preserving lands, enhancing research, and Green Investment Fund initiatives.

Other investments include:

  • $377 million through the Green Ontario Fund to make it easier for households and businesses to adopt proven low-carbon technologies.
  • $200 million in funding for schools to improve energy efficiency and install renewable energy technologies
  • $85 million to support additional retrofits in social housing
  • $50 million in commuter cycling infrastructure like cycling lanes and barriers
  • $22 million in electric vehicle charging infrastructure

 

More to come.

Snowstorm a sign of the apocolypse or just normal Canadian weather?

The late winter weather in Toronto has left many people feeling shaken. It appears that climate change is rearing its ugly head, making spring something akin to living in an ice box.

This change in the weather has left many struggling to prepare for a severe winter storm set to hit the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area — because apparently, as Canadians, we are easily frazzled by the mere possibility of this newfangled thing called snow. It is the Great White North after all. Snow in March isn’t that unusual. Still feel the need to bunk down in your basement and prepare for the next 48 hours of high winds and below freezing temperatures? Don’t worry, Women’s Post is here to help.

If by some random chance, the weather does become catastrophic, it is important to have an emergency kit. Everyone needs to have an emergency bag on the off chance that a natural disaster occurs, but what should go in it? Definitely include a flashlight with extra batteries and an extra phone battery if possible. Being able to contact people in the case of an emergency, especially when the power is out, is incredibly important. Also have a few non-perishable foods, toilet paper, and a first aid kit on hand. Some reports say to keep cash on hand to purchase goods if the ATM machines spark out, but it’s also handy to bribe people to help you in the case of an apocalypse. You can also burn it to stay warm!

If this “storm” turns out to be a few snowflakes and a slight chill wind, which is the more likely option here in every-centimetre-of-snow-is-a-disaster Toronto, take the time to hang out with family and enjoy yourself. Read a few good books and catch up on a Netflix series, and try not to let the cold air depress you. It will pass soon enough and spring will be well on its way. Take advantage of being able to cozy up in your slippers and cuddle with your loved ones. This final stretch of winter is manageable as long as chocolate and warm drinks are involved. If you have an indoor fire, make sure to turn that on for an added touch.

Winter is almost over (unless the apocalypse really is upon us) and doing relaxing indoor activities in the last stretch is the best way to survive this last big snow storm.  Be sure to enjoy how bright and beautiful the snow really is. Try and appreciate how that fluffy white stuff clings to the trees and makes everything so silent and still. Soon it will be gone for good and the warmth will set in. In a way, won’t you miss the ethereal beauty of the snowy weather.

Or will you? Just kidding…you definitely won’t!

Ontario moves towards zero-waste using a circular economy

Landfills are one of the most glaringly obvious examples of human waste, holding over 2.6 trillion pounds of trash worldwide per year. Over half of this garbage is organic waste, which can be composted. Many other sources of ‘garbage’ can be recycled or reused. Something needs to be done to reduce waste and Ontario is taking steps towards a zero-waste future.


Ontario’s Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario
is an initiative that will introduce a circular economy to begin the process to become zero-waste in the province. The strategy is a creation of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and is a welcome addition to Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan. The circular economy is a model that would divert waste from landfills by changing from a make-use-dispose landfill system to a re-using products until they are truly not useful any longer. This will lower levels of waste substantially and will promote the use of the three R’s, reduce-reuse-recycle.

In 2014, Ontario generated 11.5 million tonnes of waste, nearly a tonne of waste per person every year. Approximately 75 per cent of this waste goes to the landfill.  It is definitely time for a massive change when it comes to managing waste. If Ontario increases organic waste diversion from landfills by 10 per cent, from 38 per cent to 48 per cent, it will prevent 275,000 tonnes of green gas emissions. According to the Ministry of the Environment, this is the equivalent of removing nearly 64,000 cars from Ontario roads per year.

In order to implement steps towards building a circular economy, Ontario will use the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, which establishes full producer responsibility and makes them environmentally accountable for recovering resources and reducing waste. Producers are described as importers, wholesalers, retailers and e-tailers. The ministry will also create a Resource Productivity and Recovery Registry to oversee producer performance and will monitor progress of the producers’ waste reduction strategies.

The province plans to lower waste 30 per cent by 2020, 50 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050. The zero-waste plan has a relative timeline to meet these goals and in 2017, the province plans on developing the Food and Organic Waste Action Plan, and establishing the Resource Productivity and Recovery Registry. The ministry also plans on making amendments to 3R regulations, implementing the Organic Waste Action Plan and transitioning the Used Tires Program. All of these changes should make it possible to lower waste 30 per cent by 2020.

Zero-waste in Ontario sets the stage for the province to be a leader in creating a green economy that focuses on the financial gains of recycling and reusing items. It will save producers’ money to enact the 3R’s when disposing of used products and will reduce waste in the province. It is time for the green economy to become the mainstream way of making money in the western world, and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is taking important steps to making that a reality.

Woman of the Week: Dr. Vicky Sharpe

Dr. Vicky Sharpe can claim something many professional women cannot: “I basically follow my passion.”

Sharpe sits on the following boards: QUEST (Quality Urban Energy Systems for Tomorrow), the Alberta Energy Corporation, Carbon Management Canada Inc., and the Temporal Power Ltd. She is also a director on the board of The Capital Markets Regulatory Authority. Sharpe’s goal is to use her background in microbiology and energy to help inspire sustainable practices and encourage funding and investment in clean technologies.

“Board work, in my view, is really rewarding — if you get on the board that is right for you. I wanted to try and create more change.”

Sharpe always had a passion for the outdoors, in particular for the microorganisms that connect it all. These “tiny little simple genetic organisms” could affect so much change. They could digest oils, or remove hydrogen from the air. It was this interest that led her down an impressive and fulfilling career path in sustainability and finance.

She began her career studying science in Bath, U.K. and took her PhD in microbiology, or more specifically surface chemistry as applied to water pollution, at Trent University in Nottingham. She originally moved to Canada because there were more opportunities for women in her field.

“It’s a male-dominated system. In the U.K., I took a higher degree, a PhD, because I knew if I wanted to compete with the men, I had to be more qualified. People forget how hard women worked at that time to be treated equally,” she says. “There were more opportunities for women [in Canada]. It’s more receptive.”

Sharpe began her illustrious career as VP of Ontario Hydro International Inc. She was responsible for a community-based conservation program that helped retrofit homes, commercial buildings, shopping centres, and hotels in a small town with energy efficient technologies. The idea was for Hydro to become as utility energy efficient as possible. “There was a 90 per cent uptake in people taking at least one product that would be beneficial,” she says. “That was the highest level of adoption by society of energy efficiency.”

While at Ontario Hydro, Sharpe was involved with Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). She would travel to schools and talk with kids between the ages of five and eight about careers in science and technology. She also informally mentors women and helps connect them to other decision-makers. “I actually have taken some heavy hits working to support employment equity,” she says. “At the time there was a lot of negativity about that [but] I integrate it into my life. I give them advice.  We all need help. I had great people who help me.”

One of Sharpe’s other big accomplishments is the founding of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an organization she helped run as CEO for 13 years. She describes the SDTC as an “unusual organization” that was created through an act of parliament as a response to the Canadian Climate Change Commitment in the late 1990s. Through this organization, she helped find and negotiate agreements with clean technology companies and start-ups. In total, she mobilized over $5 billion for clean tech companies in Canada.

“It’s so exciting to see these great Canadian companies growing and building, but now – I asked for this in 2006 — we need to get more capital to scale up these companies if we want to be world leading. We are still struggling with that. Investors tend to go with what they are used to.”

Throughout her experience and studies, Sharpe never had any formal training in terms of finances — yet now, she is one of the leading negotiators in the field. “I found I spend a large chunk of my life chasing money for these companies,” she says. “I just learnt it. If you are trying to persuade businesses to be more sustainable, they are designed to optimize financial returns. So if you are presenting opportunities, you have to take that into account.”

Sharpe has a variety of experience, but there is one commonality that drives her.  “I have to do something that does an impact,” she says.  She won the Purvis Memorial Award in 2016, which is given to those who have made a major contribution to development and strategies in Canadian industry or academia in the field of chemistry.

In the little free time she has, Sharpe does a lot of travelling. Sometimes it is to visit family in the U.K., and other times it’s to better understand a global issue or to use her skills as an amateur wildlife photographer. Travelling and reading helps her reconnect with her love of nature and the environment, and revitalizes her passion for the topic.

“Climate change is in the background and it’s a critical thing to deal with. It’s a threat. I … promote a better understanding of what this is and what it means to people’s lives, both business and personal, and try to influence it for the better because as a society. I don’t think we’ve embraced the positive angles of sustainability,” she says.

“But, when you want people to do stuff, you have to be able to help them do it. There are great Canadian technologies for those who want to build sustainability. They are carrying the torch.”

Best environmental books to read right now

One of the best ways to educate yourself about environmentalism is to read as often as possible. There are many talented writers who are experts in their field and able to provide detailed accounts about various environmental issues while still making them interesting to the reader. Knowledge is one of our greatest weapons, an integral tool to tackling, and understanding, the world’s problems.

Here are a few recommended books about issues in the environment that will leave you determined to save the planet:

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Silent Spring is a ground-breaking historical environmental read that was written by scientist Rachel Carson in 1962. The book followed several lawsuits in the United States about the effects of DDT, chlordane, dieldrin and other non-banned substances and their effects on humans and wildlife. It caused an uproar and 10 years later, led to DDT being outlawed in the country. The success of creating protectionist environmental law saved several species including bald eagles and hummingbirds. Carson is an acclaimed author as well due to the fact that though the content of the novel is heavy, it still reads as a well-written novel.

Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach

Animal Rights: the Abolitionist Approach by Gary L. Francione and Anna E. Charlton

This book discusses the six key principles of the animal rights abolitionist movement, which is centred around the idea that owning animals as property is inherently wrong and only serves to make the public feel better about using animals. It also emphasizes that veganism is the only way to be a real animal rights activist. Gary L. Francione and Anna E. Charlton are both celebrated animal rights lawyers and have led the way in bringing animal rights law education to the forefront in training lawyers the legal means to rights for animals. Francione was the first person to bring animal rights law to academia in the United States in 1989.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Walden is a poetic account written by Henry David Thoreau that describes his deep love of nature. It was written over a period of two years, two months, and two days in 1854 and is an account of Thoreau’s spiritual, and transcendent journey of living in nature and solitude. Thoreau’s descriptions of nature have been used time and time again in environmental movements because of their absolute beauty and clarity. He does an amazing job at helping people understand why humans need and rely on nature.

Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy.

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy

 Melanie Joy brings an important novel about the reasons why people have certain animals as companions and other animals are used as property in various ways. By understanding the societal implications of doing so, it helps people understand why these differences are inconsequential and driven by immoral factors.

Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet by Todd Wilkinson

 Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet by Todd Wilkinson

 Ted Turner is a talented environmental journalist who has written for almost every major environmental publication in North America. Wilkinson has written a biography of Turner, and leads the reader through the life of the media master. Turner ending up marrying Jane Fonda and also tried to repopulate over 2 million acres of property with bison and prairie dogs.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

There is a possibility that trees can communicate with each other, care for the saplings that are borne from their roots, and help their sick family members. Wohlleben brings that reality to life through the imaginative and eye-opening exploration of the life behind trees. This book will change the way you look at trees forever.

What are your favourite environmental novels? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below!

 

Over 300 people ask ‘do we live in a green city?’

On Jan. 25, over 300 people entered the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library to discuss and debate this question: How do we design, plan, and build a green city?

The Transit Alliance, a non-political organization that works with those in the transit and infrastructure industry, hosted its first Green Cities breakfast Wednesday to discuss the need for greater transit, greener building, and an overall more liveable city design. Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat was the keynote speaker. “As humans, we have the ability to shape our habitat,” she said. “The model is not sustainable.”

During her speech, Keesmaat announced the King Street Pilot Project, which hopes to help unlock gridlock in a particularly messy and busy corridor. This is the first time Keesmaat has, in an official capacity, mentioned the project. Further details will be released on Feb. 13.

While guests enjoyed their coffee and muffins, Bruce McGuaig, CEO of Metrolinx; Dr. Dianne Saxe, Ontario Environment Commissioner; David Paterson, VP Corporate and Environmental Affairs for GM Canada; and, Mary Margaret McMahon, Toronto City Councillor walked on stage to take part in a panel discussion on transit. While a variety of topics were introduced, the common denominator seemed to be this: the Golden Horseshoe needs more. The city needs more transit, more funding, and more emphasis on liveability in design.

The second panel of the morning focused on green building, both commercial and residential. The panel consisted of Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Ontario Green Party; Amy Erixon, Principal and Managing Director Investments at Avison Young; Christopher Wein, President of Great Gulf; and, Andrew Bowerbank, Global Director, Sustainable Building Services at EllisDon. Education was a big topic of interest. Building green is only slightly more expensive, but the benefits and the return to the homebuyer is much greater. Everyone agreed that educating the public as to the real costs of building green is critical to a low-carbon community. The question of the panel: Why would we ever NOT build a LEED-certified or Net-Zero home anymore?

Here are a few select photos from Green Cities:

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”5″ gal_title=”Green Cities Highlights”]