There was a great energy and discussion at the Town Hall consultation on climate change for 46 residents of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke on August 16 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Eganville, Ontario. The event, hosted by three community-based organizations: Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County, Bonnechere River Watershed Project, and Ottawa River Institute, raised awareness of climate change issues and provided an opportunity for local residents to propose actions that can be taken by governments, businesses and individuals to address climate change.
Over 150 ideas were suggested as the 46 participants – including about a half dozen local elected municipal officials – engaged in round-table discussions on the following topics and questions:
- Mitigation: What are the solutions to reducing greenhouse gases that you would like to see governments, businesses, and communities implement?
- Economy and Jobs: What are your ideas to support the economy and create good jobs while reducing emissions?
- Innovation and Clean Tech: What are some ideas to promote innovation and new technologies in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
- Adaptation: What can Canada do to better adapt to impacts of climate change on the environment and support affected communities, including Indigenous communities?
- Putting a Price on Carbon
Several key messages emerged from the town hall meeting. Some of these are incremental changes to the status quo, while others would require dramatic and transformative change. Key messages included:
- Radically increase the sense of urgency about Climate Change;
- Real change will require challenging basic assumptions (e.g., consumer society, endless growth, urban sprawl, need for population control, intellectual property rights vs. open source as barriers to innovation, etc.);
- To speed the transition to a low carbon economy, governments should provide incentives for clean technologies and remove subsidies for dirty technologies (e.g., remove subsidies for fossil fuels);
- Any climate change plan needs to address the unique needs of rural Canadians (e.g., lack of public transit, sparse population, poor access to some services, etc.);
- More use of trains for passengers and freight should be encouraged;
- Canada should emphasize and promote local solutions (e.g., local food and energy production) with local control;
- Forestry and agriculture are promising climate change solutions; We need to promote the use of wood and other renewable feedstocks (e.g., hemp) for energy and materials;
- Rural Canada can create opportunities by retaining/enhancing natural cover as carbon sinks;
- Canada needs to keep some fossil fuels in the ground and stop building long lived fossil fuel infrastructure.
A complete list of all the proposed actions and comments by town hall meeting attendees is available here. These ideas were submitted to Environment and Climate Change Canada via http://letstalkclimateaction.ca/ideas on behalf of the 46 attendees, including about a half dozen local elected municipal officials.