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Environmental Issues Rated the Number One Concern in Canada, but Does Policy Reflect This?

Among Canadians, the top environmental concerns are melting ice sheets, rising temperatures, and forest fires. In Canada, the temperature is rising at nearly double the rate of the global temperature, melting glaciers in nearby Greenland.

Canada is the second-largest country in the world. It also has the longest coastline in the world at 202,080 kilometers (125,567 miles). With a larger area and population, climate issues are a concern for many residents. Yet, the government has put certain regulations in place while neglecting to focus on others.

Environmental Concerns

Among Canadians, the top environmental concerns are melting ice sheets, rising temperatures, and forest fires. In Canada, the temperature is rising at nearly double the rate of the global temperature, melting glaciers in nearby Greenland. This leads to rising sea levels and increased temperature.

With the intense weather patterns, there is an increase in forest fires in British Columbia. These fires have led to increased drought in Manitoba, forcing livestock farmers to consider selling some of their cattle.

The extreme weather has gone the other way, too, causing blizzard conditions. To keep the roads safe, salt is laid down, but it can have negative impacts on the environment. For example, runoff water can carry salt into the soil and increase its chlorine levels. This can lead to organisms dying or preventing plant growth.

Another key concern is Alberta’s oil sands operation. The oil is extracted from pipelines, releasing carbon emissions. Also, there is a concern about pipe leaks or large-scale oil spills. Plus, the toxins can contribute to acid rain. Along with the oil industry, Canadians face concerns about air pollution.

In fact, 86% of residents live in an area where particulate matter exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. The pollutants include methane, ozone, and black carbon. Air pollution is caused by factors such as industrial activities, cars, agriculture, and construction.  Therefore, legislation needs to be put in place and companies need to take action.

One way to encourage community involvement is by creating co-ops. These are businesses in which all members have an equal stake in the company. With all members working toward a common goal like climate change, progress is made quicker.

Governmental Policies

Canada has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. In 2016, 11 provinces and territories signed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Energy. The plan aims to curb carbon emissions by increasing the fuel charge. With the rising cost, people may be more encouraged to switch to renewable sources.

However, other provinces have implemented their own legislation. For example, British Columbia implemented a province-wide carbon tax. Alberta enacted legislation requiring facilities to reduce carbon emissions based on industry benchmarks. Quebec implemented a cap-and-trade system, which sets a cap on emissions by industry.

Another legislation plan is the A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy initiative. It aims to cut pollution and create more jobs. The plan will focus on green buildings and creating more energy-efficient homes.

Another part of this plan is the National Adoption Strategy. This initiative will help identify areas for collaboration and measure progress on a national level. To further develop this goal, Canada launched expert advisory tables focusing on:

  • Health and well-being
  • Resilient natural and built infrastructure
  • A strong and resilient economy
  • Disaster resilience

Technological Advances

Along with policies, Canada is also using technology to combat climate change issues. One method is directional drilling, which reduces carbon emissions in their oil sands. MEG Energy is developing tech to easily move substances through pipelines, reducing energy consumption.

Plus, CarbonCure’s technology is storing carbon dioxide emissions as solid limestone. This lowers industrial operators’ carbon footprints and creates affordable and greener products.

Another agency – Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) – funds cleantech projects, leading to jobs and economic growth. It’s working to build a network of stakeholders from private industries, academia, and governments.

Other technology includes smart thermostats – available from many companies now – which automatically adjust to your ideal temperature to save energy. A popular brand, Ecobee, is headquartered in Toronto. There is also a push to use greener technology within the automotive industry.

Effenco is a company developing hybrid electrical solutions that respond in real-time. Their devices can predict the route used by vehicles to optimize energy efficiency.

Moving Toward Change

Climate change impacts many parts of the world, especially Canada. Their large oil industry and dense population produce abundant greenhouse gas emissions. However, the government has passed policies to increase carbon prices and inspire change. While there are more steps to take, Canada is moving toward a cleaner environment for all.

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