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The B.C Green Party finally puts on their big boy pants

The British Columbia provincial election results have shocked Canadians across the country. The B.C. Green Party has never-before-seen political leverage after the closest election results on record.

The final seat count as of May 24 revealed the Liberal party has 43 seats, the NDP has 41 and the Green Party has three seats in the legislature. The Liberals won by a mere 1566 ballots after very narrow results forced a vote recount, leading many people to question whether the election should be recast entirely. The election results have also put the Green Party in a strong position. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver has been approached by both the Liberal and NDP parties to strike a possible coalition and is currently in discussions to decide which party to support, or to not support either party at all.

According to Weaver, the final decision on a potential coalition government will be announced by Wednesday May 31. For the first time in Green Party history in Canada, the classic underdog that champions the environmental movement is in a politically powerful position. The Green Party has the opportunity to have certain demands met by either the Liberals or the NDP government to help form a coalition government in B.C.

On Tuesday, a coalition of activists joined together to assemble in front of the B.C. Legislature buildings to try and convince the NDP and the Green Party who have always been at odds with each other to join together and end 16 years of Liberal rule in the province. Dethroning Premier Christy Clark would be in the best interests of the province from an environmental standpoint. Clark has repeatedly approved devastating environmental projects, including the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and supporting the Site C megadam project.

Clark did not speak when the final election results were announced on Wednesday, but issued a statement saying, “”with 43 B.C. Liberal candidates elected as MLAs, and a plurality in the legislature, we have a responsibility to move forward and form a government.” The Green Party will play a big part in what type of government is formed in coming weeks.

This is a key moment in Canadian politics for the Green Party in B.C. An opportunity to actually make a difference and have political weight in legislature. It is also a crowning moment for Green supporters everywhere who have toiled for years being the underdog and finally have a chance at affecting meaningful change in Canada’s most environmentally progressive province.  Canadians everywhere wait on the edge of their seats to see what move Weaver makes, and whether the NDP and Green Party can finally put their differences aside and dethrone Clark once and for all.

What do you think will happen? Let us know in the comments below!

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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Investment in greenhouses is an environmental win for Ontario

Eating local produce is not only much more delicious, but a healthier alternative for the environment as well.

Earlier this week, Ontario launched the Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative to fund $19 million into greenhouses to promote local and high quality produce in the province. The initiative will allow for the use of new and sustainable technologies and will encourage investments in greenhouse agriculture.

Ontario is the leader of greenhouses, currently contributing to over half of Canada’s greenhouse produce. The province is growing by 150 acres per year and continued investment in this form of agriculture has positive financial benefits for the future. Greenhouses are especially beneficial for sensitive crops that are susceptible to erratic weather patterns and a harsh climate — like the weather Ontario was subjected to this year. Continued investment in greenhouses allows Ontario to expand its local produce capacity and provide people with fresh, homegrown food.

Greenhouses are a sustainable and ‘green’ initiative because they allow carbon to be captured in a concentrated area with high density of green growth being grown inside of a structure. Greenhouses also open the doors for other innovative technologies such as solar-powered electricity and using recyclable materials to build (with the poly-tunnel as an example). Transporting produce locally also lowers carbon emissions because it doesn’t have to travel as far.

Overall, Ontario’s investment in greenhouses will benefit the green economy, provide more green jobs and the province will continue to be a national leader in promoting an environmentally-friendly agenda. By focusing heavily on innovation in the green sector, perhaps Canada stands a chance at actually meeting carbon targets in the future.

Tourism Toronto captures beauty and creativity in city

The perception of Toronto by outsiders and those actually living within the city are very different. As someone who moved year a little over a year ago, I can confidently say that Toronto is not the mean, green, and cold place many across Canada think it to be.

Toronto is hot, it is fresh, and it has an edge to it that offers people many creative outlets to express themselves. The new video “The Views are Different Here,” released by Tourism Toronto, truly manages to capture Toronto’s essence and shows a variety of different perspectives to living in the Big Smoke. The video is getting massive hits on social media because it shows the quintessential Toronto narrative of a multicultural city, where everyone is welcome. Tourism Toronto manages to capture the annual pride parade, the AGO, Caribana and a Drake concert in the video and it creates a narrative of what it is like to be a part of the multicultural fabric of this city.

When I moved to Toronto from Western Canada, I had certain assumptions of the city. I thought it would be big, mean, and greasy. It has the reputation of being the main hub of Canada where people go to work long hours and spend most of their time underground on the subway. I was completely surprised when I learned that Toronto isn’t just a chaotic and busy city, but actually exudes a vibe that is creative and beautiful; yet, authentic. Toronto is replete with people full of large ideas concerning art, the environment, music, and everything in between. Most of these folks manage to own their ideas, but are not pretentious or self-serving about it. In other words, they are real and genuine creators looking to collaborate and work with other like-minded people.

Though Toronto typically has a reputation of being one of the more ‘unfriendly’ Canadian cities, its actually just the opposite. The majority of city dwellers are non-judgmental and very kind to each other. I have met so many lovely people since moving here and am struck nearly every day by how kind the average person really is. There is a level of openness and progressive discussion in this city (perhaps due to deep ties leaning to the left politically) that opens doors for a variety of topics. Any daily conversation could range from an 80 year old man about attending a drag show to discussing the future of classical music with a 20 year old woman with green hair.

I will even admit that the man bun has grown on me. It isn’t just a sign of the dreaded hipster, but has become a fashion symbol for the Toronto urban style ([note the clip in the tourism video of the older gentleman with the man bun, doesn’t he look suave?). It is important to notice that the video also includes a special focus on graffiti art in the city. To see the beautiful street art that exists in the city showcased as a tourist grab is phenomenal. It is a form of art that deserves celebration and there is a turn happening in Toronto where art is become an important avenue of expression for the city. Lastly, the video also manages to put a creative spin on the TTC with ballet dancers on the subway. This gives a more positive outlook for the subway system, and dare I say it almost makes commuting on public transit look enjoyable.

It really is incredible to see Tourism Toronto for giving other outsiders such as myself a more realistic glimpse of what this beautiful city has to offer. I am proud to live in this dirty, artsy, and fascinatingly multicultural city. It is busy, it is loud, and it is in your face. I would ask for nothing else in the years of my youth and I am astounded nearly every day by something new and fresh in this city that I just hadn’t noticed before.

What did you think of “The Views are Different here”? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

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.”

Woman of the Week: Ingrid Thompson

Ingrid Thompson combines the practical love of science with passion for the environment. As the newly anointed Chief Executive Officer at Pollution Probe, one of the oldest environmental charities in Canada, she brings over 20 years of real-world experience into the boardroom.

“One of my quirks is I have a certain amount of appreciation for the geekiness of science and the complexity of information,” Thompson says. “Energy is very important for building the type of societies we want, but if you sacrifice the environmental part, we aren’t getting very far ahead.”

Thompson began her career as press secretary to the Minister of the Environment, Norm Sterling, in 1996. She briefly left to take on a role as a Senior Consultant for National Public Relations and returned in 2000 as Chief of Staff for the new Minister of the Environment, Dan Newman. During her tenure with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, she had to deal with the Walkerton E-Coli outbreak, one of the biggest environmental crises in Ontario’s history.

“It was one of the bigger crisis experiences.  On the May long weekend, a bunch of people showed up at doctor’s offices complaining of intestinal issues,” Thompson says. “They were noticing that there was a cluster of sick people and that it could be an E.coli infection. Eventually it became clear that the water was the source of the infection. Six people died and thousands got seriously sick.”

Thompson was very involved with the Walkerton Crisis, calling water supply companies to bring clean water to residents and attending town hall meetings in Walkerton, among other things. She also helped the environmental minister reconfigure the water administration. Thompson said the experience was a test for the minister and his staff, who were elected into cabinet barely two months before the Walkerton catastrophe struck.

After 2001, Thompson became the Director of Communications and Marketing for a government relations group invested in energy, the environment and infrastructure law practice, and was a subsidiary of the law firm, CMS Cameron McKenna. From there, Thompson played a leading role in a cellphone company called Vodafone in Prague, and moved back to Canada briefly to do environmental consulting.

“I met a Dutch marine on the beach and that screwed up everything. I met my fiancé and decided to hit a reset button on my career.” Thompson took a job across the ocean as an Independent Consultant at Thompson Marcom in the Netherlands for the next six years. In October 2016, she returned to Canada and accepted the role as the Chief Executive Officer for Pollution Probe.

Thompson emphasizes that Pollution Probe takes a unique approach to environmentalism and works with oil companies and not against them. “We are a pragmatic, science-based company. We don’t take the view of putting all oil and gas companies in an automatic black hat and we choose not to do that,” Thompson says. “If you work directly for an environmental solution, we would rather work with companies than fight them. We work with a lot of companies, including Shell. They are pushing for the decarbonisation of the economy.”

After 20 years in the environmental and energy sectors and amassing an extensive amount of job experience, what does Thompson believe is the single most pressing environmental problem affecting the world today?

She didn’t skip a beat before responding, “Climate change.” Thompson explains it is imperative greenhouse gases be managed by finding credible and reasonable solutions through networking.

Supporting women in the environmental and energy sectors is also an issue close to Thompson’s heart. “Twenty years ago when I was a young consultant at a PR firm, I used to bring an older vice president along with meetings with me because my clients were unfortunately middle-aged white guys,” she says. “In order for me to be comfortable, I felt I needed to bring a ‘beard’ to my meetings. It is important to make a point of supporting strong smart women and connecting with them.”

Recently, the Pollution Probe Annual Gala  ‘Generation Now’, focused on youth engagement and innovation in the environmental sector. The event also included awards that were given to two young women named , Eden Full Goh for creating a solar panel from a gravity powered clock, and Nivatha Balendra, for discovering a bacteria that can digest oil spills. “I was so thrilled to be able to support our awards program because it happened to result in two young women being the ones selected for incredibly impressive accomplishments,” Thompson says. “They were both incredibly intelligent and as women tend to do, they also had a sense of humility.”

In her spare time, Thompson enjoys knitting and scuba diving — things she finds to be meditative and peaceful. Pollution Probe has a bright future with the energy and environmental veteran who is leading the way towards the hopeful decarbonisation of the Canadian economy.

How to stuff the perfect vegan stocking

Making a stocking for a vegan can be a new experience for family members who aren’t familiar with the most animal-friendly treats out there. Where do you get vegan chocolate? Are there some items that aren’t environmentally-friendly you should stay away from? Women’s Post is here to help. May I present: the dream stocking that is vegan, eco-friendly, and delicious to boot.

Most stocking stuffers can be found at a local grocery store with ample organics options. Loblaws is a great option and alternatively, any community food store like Whole Foods will work as well. The first thing to look for is your food and dessert alternatives. Vegan protein packs, such as the sample or sample size of Vega One will fit in the stocking and provides a delicious protein supplement. Chocolate is a must-have and vegan chocolate options are fairly easy to track down. Endangered Species has many dairy-free chocolates, including coconut-filled crèmes and sea salt. These dark chocolate bars also donate a portion of the proceeds to a wildlife conservation network, which makes this vegan dessert a double-hitter! Cleo’s peanut butter cups taste exactly like Reese’s and are available in several stores.

Protein filled nibbles can also be put in stockings, like roasted chickpeas. They come in various flavours and spices. Maybe try some nut mixes, as long as there isn’t an allergy in the house. Pistachios are a delectable treat and are expensive to buy regularly, so they make a great gift during the holidays. Magic Vegan Bacon Grease is also a treat that cannot be purchased regularly, but is a necessary indulgence for vegans everywhere. The magic mix is a coconut oil sauce that has a natural smoky taste. It can be added to tofu scrambles, greens, and beans. Finally, a gift certificate to a Whole Foods market, a community market, or a popular vegan restaurant can go a long way.

For stocking stuffers not related to food, cruelty-free cosmetics and lotions are a great option. Rocky Mountain soaps has cruelty-free soaps, lip balms and lotions that are affordable. Lush is also a cruelty-free advocate and their bath balms fizz and smell heavenly. Many vegans will make their own cleaners and beauty supplies using Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, which can used to make hand soap, body wash, lotions, laundry detergent and cleaner — why not give them a head start by placing a tiny bit in their stocking? For something a bit different, try purchasing a reusable tote bag. They are cheap, and you can’t have too many of them.

Don’t forget to add vegan stickers, patches and pins because love for the animals and the environment is normally accompanied by a desire to publicly advocate on behalf of beings that can’t speak for themselves. Any small books and pamphlets that provide more information for environmental groups and any donations to non-profits that advocate for the environment, climate change and animal rights are a quick last-minute addition as well.

Whether it be desserts, snacks, cruelty-free cosmetics or vegan decorations, there are many sustainable stocking stuffers that don’t need to come from animals or wasteful products. Instead, go for the eco-alternatives and feel good about the stocking stuffers you purchase from local companies that are looking to make a difference. Hopefully this, vegan stocking stuffer guide gave you some great ideas for a different kind of gift, one that helps animals worldwide and keeps your vegan family member warm and full on Christmas day.

Ontario is gearing up for groundbreaking cap and trade project

Ontario has been working hard to prepare for cap and trade, an environmental initiative that will put a cap on greenhouse emissions and help high polluters to lower their carbon levels.

The program will lower greenhouse gas emissions substantially and will help Ontario reach its climate goals to 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and up to 80 per cent by 2050. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has been ramping up in preparation of the ground-breaking environmental program in Ontario, with three officers of the legislature releasing detailed reports on the cap and trade program over the last few weeks. This included the Environmental Commissioner on Nov. 22, the Financial Accountability Officer on Nov. 23, and the Auditor General on Nov. 30. The Ontario government is clearly demonstrating transparency and public awareness of the many positive aspects that involve the cap and trade program.

On Nov. 16, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray also met with Quebec Premier Philip Couillard and Matt Rodriquez, Secretary for Environmental Protection for California, at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco. The three leaders discussed their plan to link the cap and trade programs across international boundaries. Ontario plans to link the cap and trade program to Quebec and California by 2018, which will help the new green economy flourish with increased opportunities for competition. Nova Scotia recently announced it is planning to start a cap and trade program as well.

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Dianne Saxe, mentioned the partnership in her report and commends its positive aspects: “The key purpose of linking is to reduce compliance costs for Ontario emitters. Linking reduces compliance costs in two main ways: Creating a bigger, more liquid market for allowances; and giving Ontario emitters access to lower cost allowances from other jurisdictions.”

Cap and trade is a a large undertaking for Ontario, but increasingly crucial in our climate-based economy. The program forces large polluters to cut down on greenhouse gases or contribute to provincial revenue through carbon credits. Alternatively, if a company lowers their emissions, they can make money by selling their extra credits. The program is expected to make $478 million in its first year, and will generate 1.8 to 1.9 billion in the following years until December 2020. The funds will be directed towards green initiatives such as solar power, energy conservation methods, and battery storage. Either way, both initiatives help the ‘green’ agenda because either a high polluter will help fund green projects or they will lower their carbon emissions.

Cap and trade program will be activated in January 2017.

The Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is leading the way on the climate change agenda, and it is exciting to imagine the significant impact that cap and trade will have on greenhouse emissions in the province.

The environment is screwed with Donald Trump as president

If the environment wasn’t under imminent threat before, it most certainly is now that the United States elected Donald Trump as their newest president.

President, Donald Trump (I can’t believe that string of words in now a reality) has proposed to cancel President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, threatened to pull out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and famously claimed in a tweet that climate change was a ‘Chinese Hoax’. Trump’s various claims do not bode well for the planet and its future.

So what does Trump’s presidential win mean for the environment? Essentially, it means that the planet is in peril.

Trump represents an American ideology that focuses solely on the economy at the expense of lowering carbon emissions. At a conference in Bismarck, North Dakota in May 2016, he supported oil fracking and also stated he would minimize the U.S commitments to the Paris Agreement. The U.S is currently the second largest producer of oil and Trump’s agenda to push fossil fuels even more will increase carbon emissions tenfold. He hinted that the failing oil economy can be resolved if the United States exploited the lands that have been previously considered off limits, including the Outer Continental Shelf. He also wants to push more production in the non-renewable energy sector. This would be a short-term solution and would harm the economy, not to mention the environment, in the long term. By over-flooding the energy sector with more oil through fracking, it would further lower the value per barrel of oil and would decimate even more land that is already threatened in the United States.

Trump has publicly stated several times that he would wipe Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was a fruit of labour for the democratic president. Within the Clean Power Plan, the environmental protection agency (EPA) gave each state the power to decide for themselves how to lower carbon emissions in power plants by using renewables or nuclear energy instead of carbon pricing. States were supposed to submit plans by 2016-2018 and would start cutting emissions by 2022 at latest. The EPA estimated that the plan would lower power plant emissions by 32 per cent by 2030 as compared to rates in 2005. Trump has claimed he intends to cancel this plan and has vaguely threatened to get rid of the EPA all together. He has not recommended any alternative plans to lower carbon emissions.

The future of the environment in the United States looks dark, but there is hope. Strong environmental advocacy groups such as the Sierra Club, one of the largest environmental advocacy groups in the United States that has been fighting to protect the earth since 1892, are not going to give up.

There are many other groups that are preparing to continue the fight for climate change despite this unwelcome change of leadership in the country.

Trump may surprise his citizens by not canceling environmental agreements, though I won’t be holding my breath. It is a historical and frightening time to be living in such close proximity to a country that has a leader who cares so little about climate change. We all breathe the same air and drink the same water. We can only hope he was serious about creating clean air and clean water (the only vague environmental commitments he has made), and is willing to see that climate change goals are inextricably linked to providing those very things.

Otherwise, Canada may want to start building that wall.

Canada and the U.S protest oil pipelines in our waterways

Mixing oil and water has never been a good idea, and oil companies should remember that rule of thumb. The thought of another pipeline blowing up in a fresh water source in North America leaves many environmentalists shuddering in fear — and for good reason.

People are joining together to demand that the Canadian and US governments put an end to this practice. Oil pipelines are coming under fire this week with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation protests in North Dakota and the Kinder Morgan protest at Parliament Hill. Social media has blown up with over one million people “checking in” to Standing Rock on Facebook to show support for the protests and deter police from trying to gain background information about protesters on social media and knowing who to target for arrest at the protest. On a slightly smaller scale, but nevertheless equally important, was the protest north of the border, in which over 100 protesters gathered in Parliament Hill and 50 were arrested for storming the fences to demonstrate that this pipeline is not wanted in British Columbia.

The Dakota Access pipeline is a project that is set to be built near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota and crosses under the Missouri River. The pipeline would carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil and any oil spills would leave the reservation without clean water. In April 2016, a few representatives of Standing Rock Sioux Nation set up camp to block the pipeline from beginning construction on their land, and in the last few months the camp has increased by the thousands. The police have made several arrests and the tension is escalating at Standing Rock, but the protestors continue to protect their land.

Across the prairies and into Canada, the Kinder Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline transports 300,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to British Columbia and Washington. The new leg of pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby would increase crude oil transport to 890,000 barrels per day, a formidable number. The National Energy Board (NEB) approved the project with 157 conditions. Though the federal ministerial panel is conducting a series of public consultations about pipeline, the time is prime to protest Kinder Morgan because the federal government is set to end public consultations and make a final decision in December. Among many other protesters, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has strongly opposed the proposal. The expanded pipeline goes right into Vancouver at the Burnaby Chevron Refinery and if an oil explosion occurred, it would be dangerous to local residents and would cost millions in repairs. Ocean tankers having more access to increased amounts of oil is dangerous for the ocean if a spill were to occur as well. Robertson also argues that the pipeline threatens the green sector, a growing industry in Vancouver. Protestors crossed the fence to gain Prime Minister Trudeau’s attention and were subsequently banned from Parliament Hill.

Both demonstrations show a growing concern for the devastating environmental effects of oil spills in waterways. The public outcry against pipelines is the result of years of unkept promises by oil companies, who all say they will protect the waterways and then claim little responsibility when detrimental oil spills occur. This was certainly the case in 2010, when Enbridge’s Line 6B pipeline burst in the Kalamazoo River and leaked thousands of gallons of oil into the river, contaminating the water source and  harming wildlife. Enbridge has another pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac that was built in the 1950’s and is growing old, heightening the threat of it breaking down. If this pipeline were to burst, it would spread oil into the Great Lakes, the largest fresh body of water in the world, at a rapid rate.

Building pipelines under water requires a lot of maintenance and the threat of leaking oil is consistently an issue. Alternatives to oil pipelines needs to considered because the threat of environmental disaster is extremely high. Furthermore, the ability for oil companies to carry unprecedented levels of the product is unsustainable and dangerous because it allows them to exploit the earth to an even larger extent.

The solution — end the reign of oil.

Currently oil is a necessity for the transportation sector. Instead, more sustainable technologies need to be embraced. This can include biofuels and electric vehicles. Biofuels are made most often with ethanol, and are highly available because they are made most often from corn, a common North American crop. This form of renewable energy has a closed carbon cycle where carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is recaptured by the plant material used to make the biofuels. It is then used to produce more fuel.  Cars can use biodiesels, which are a bi-product of biofuels. Another alternative is embracing electric vehicles that would make cars fuelled with oil obsolete and are a step forward to being rid of the dirty product.

On Nov. 5, protestors are joining together at Queen’s Park to peacefully march for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and call to everyone who cares for land and water to unite with them. The march will stop at TD Bank, RBC, and Scotiabank, companies that are funding the pipeline, and then end at the US Consulate. Protests will be happening worldwide to honour the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. The time to act is now before all of our waterways are contaminated. Putting in an effort to end pipeline use is the only option for a healthy future living in North America.