Kathy Mostardi
COLUMNIST

Matt Smith
PHOTO

There was a lot of ‘climate talk’ on the news and radio in the fall leading up to our federal election and associated with the Paris Climate Summit.  It’s easy to feel that with our new pro-climate government and the agreement coming out of the Paris Climate Summit that we can rest on our laurels.

However, the hard work of climate justice must be ongoing, incremental and bold to make real on our climate commitments federally, provincially and personally. The issues of climate mitigation and adaptation are still pressing and we’ll need ongoing citizen pressure to keep our new federal government to task.

Reducing our national and global emissions load quickly is both monumental and complex.  Yet there is much we can do as individuals to play our part in lessening our CO2 load and advocating for substantial climate action.

Here are my thoughts on reducing personal carbon emissions. Some of these are simple, easy actions. Others require change in our attitudes and the high priority we place on personal convenience and unlimited shopping choices.

Drive less and drive the speed limit.  This is hard to do when one lives in a sprawling urban community and ones’ job or errands often take place many kilometres away. Now might be the time to consider car-pooling to work or sharing errands with a neighbour. It takes a little organization at first, but flexibility and dedication between like-minded parties can make this work. Reducing speed and limiting fast acceleration can lower your fuel consumption by 30 per cent.

Eat local foods seasonally and avoid the emissions from foods transported long distances. Eat less meat, particularly beef, one of the biggest contributors to emissions in the agricultural industry.

Give up bottled water. I still don’t understand our society’s enormous consumption of bottled water when our municipal water supply is clean, tested regularly and cost pennies.  “Ease of use is not an excuse for this wasteful and unnecessary luxury.  Same goes for plastic bags. Stash a cloth bag in your purse or backpack to have on hand when needed.

Plant a tree—or more and help boost our earth’s natural air cleaners and carbon sinks. Much of our original forest cover in Ontario has been reduced by urbanization and agriculture. Severe weather events wreak further havoc on our tree cover. Let’s take the time to rebuild this vital component of our ecosystem.

Write your MP, MPP and Ministers of the Environment. Substantive social change requires us to be active citizens. We must keep the pressure up on making carbon reductions our highest national priority for the next decade (at least). Advocate for a strong price on carbon which will help initiate new jobs and opportunities in the green energy sector. Voice your opinions, your priorities and your ideas with your representatives on a regular basis.

None of these actions require hardship or severe restrictions to our comfort. What it takes is focused commitment to do a bit each month and live what we value.

Keep an eye for future installments of Climate Matters, in which Kathy writes about our relationship(s) with climate change, and so much more!