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					A Climate for Change

                                    A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE
                       “Changing direction with greenhouse gas emissions.”
                                                     by Ian Jarvis

                              In 1987 the Brundtland Commission launched the concept of sustainability onto the
                              world stage with the publication of “Our Common Future”. In 1996 the Independent
                              Commission on Population and Quality of Life gave us “Caring for the Future”
                              which began the mapping of core principles and integrated models of
                              sustainable development.

                              In the 20 years since Brundtland, some things have improved. For example,
                              population growth has moderated, and remarkable economic and social
                              development has taken place in Asia. On the down side, the global scourges of
                              AIDS and terrorism, and the global threats of flu pandemic and climate change,
                              have emerged. While much has changed, the core principles of sustainability
                              articulated by the Commissions remain the same. The issues are global and
                              interrelated, and successfully reversing downward trends in one area can create
                              upward spirals of progress towards a truly sustainable future.

Climate change may be that galvanizing issue. It is universal in scope. It threatens the developed as well as the
developing world, the rich and the poor. Its impacts are being felt by corporations and governments, and by
communities and individuals. We are all in this together, and time is not on our side. To address climate change,
transformative change is required across societies and economies around the world – change in what we do, how
we do it, and how we think about our choices. Importantly, the Earth is not patient, and its dramatic
demonstrations of the consequences of inaction over the past few years have created “a climate for change.”
Individuals and corporations are increasingly unified about the need and urgency for action.

The core principles of action for sustainability include collaboration, integration, education, equity and
accountability. The nature and scale of the needed transformation to address climate change hold the appealing
possibility of a global “upward spiral.” Comprehensive, international solutions could draw in other seemingly
intractable social, economic and environmental problems around the world into a more comprehensive path
towards sustainable development. This is a good time to think globally and think big, as we act in Canada to get
our own house in order.

As we consider the challenges of climate change, it is sobering first to reflect on how little real progress has been
made in the fifteen years since the Kyoto Accord. Much has been attempted, much has been learned, but we
have barely made a dent in the accelerating growth of greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations in Canada
and around the world. Let us therefore consider this as the preparation period. No substantive solutions have
yet been proven, but we have a lot of experience and ideas to share. Let me suggest some elements of a
future scenario, where we have built upon this experience and successfully changed the direction of greenhouse
gas emissions.

The starting point is the concept of individual, community and corporate responsibility. Public concern about
climate change has generally not yet evolved into an acceptance of the role that we each play individually in
causing greenhouse gas emissions. It is too easy for Canadians to demand action from government. It is too
easy for politicians and citizens to attribute the problem to faceless “large final emitters”, and to reproach narrow
symbols of excess such as SUV’s. It is comforting to celebrate wind farms and solar power, and to look forward
to fuel cells and other technology break-throughs to save the day, but these will not be anywhere close to
sufficient to solve the problem. In fact, the growth in emissions corresponds directly with growth in consumption,
and we are all consumers. The really inconvenient truth is that decisions we take every day in the energy we use,
the products we buy, and the things we throw away, connect directly with the residential, transportation, power
generation, manufacturing and other components of the escalating greenhouse gas emissions charts. Residential

Enerlife – “Building Towards a Sustainable Future”                                                                1
A Climate for Change

and commercial energy use, coupled with personal transportation, account for half of Canada’s emissions.
Domestic consumption of manufactured products adds a whole lot more. Pogo had it right – we have seen the
enemy and it is indeed us. Changing direction requires rethinking and reducing all aspects of what we purchase
and how we use it.

The next step is the realization that effective response to climate change can improve our prosperity and quality of
life. Cleaner air, upgraded transportation, and better buildings will improve public health, productivity and
happiness. Higher energy and water efficiency will lower costs and improve reliability. Infrastructure projects and
innovation in technology and services will create expertise and jobs for domestic and international markets. We
can flourish in the sustainable future if we do it right.

Then, we have to rethink the greenhouse gas emissions accounting framework, to support individual responsibility
for greenhouse gas emissions. The purpose of accountability is to attach costs to responsible parties who can do
something about them. The current worldwide national/regional accounting model is unhelpful. Canadians are
apparently the worst per capita offenders in the world. But how can a citizen or community do anything about the
emissions from the oil sands or from the Inco smelter when the production goes into global markets? And how
does it help the global situation if this production is shut down in Canada and moved to other parts of the world,
perhaps with less rigorous environmental standards?

The new greenhouse gas accounting will separate production-related emissions (including oil extraction, metals,
manufacturing and forest products), from the consumption-related emissions for which Canadian individuals,
communities and organizations will be accountable. Canadian producers will be benchmarked internationally,
and will be expected to be the cleanest in the world. Canadian consumers will know their emissions footprints,
and will have individual, community and corporate standards to aim for. Real progress will be made when every
citizen, facility manager, CEO, school principal, mayor and provincial premier knows the emissions they are
responsible for and how they compare with their peers.

Then let’s consider effective programs to engage and enable action. It is useful to begin with energy conservation
in commercial buildings and homes, which accounted for 30% of Canada’s 2004 emissions. We have a good
deal of experience with energy management programs for buildings, and know enough to aim for a 50 percent
reduction in buildings’ energy use over the next 5-10 years through improved design, retrofits, commissioning and
operations. A reduction of this magnitude will take us half way to Canada’s Kyoto target, leaving industry,
transportation and agriculture (which made up 70% of 2004 emissions) to pick up the rest. Early success with
buildings will provide the experience, momentum and confidence to tackle these other areas and complete the

The new generation of energy conservation programming will evolve from individual projects, and promotion of
specific technologies, to be large-scale, comprehensive, sector-wide and data driven. Benchmarking will
establish energy performance standards for each building type. Individual owners will be able to adapt standards
to produce targets for their own buildings, and to monitor progress towards their targets. Standards will improve
as ever-higher performance is achieved and identified. This virtuous cycle will work relentlessly towards optimal
energy use in all buildings. Programming will be delivered by industry associations, local utility companies, and
other organizations which are best positioned to engage and influence end-use energy consumers. Governments
will set targets, provide targeted financial support, and monitor and report on performance standards and

Enerlife – “Building Towards a Sustainable Future”                                                              2
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Public policy to support this transformation will provide leadership, setting the standard of target-setting, planning,
reporting and continuous improvement for the governments’ own facilities and operations, and for all publicly-
funded organizations. Governments will use codes and regulations to set standards and remove the most
egregious products and practices from the market. The tax system will be used to reward climate-friendly
choices, discourage emissions-intensive options, and fund sustainable infrastructure and programs. The sharing
of federal gas tax revenues for sustainable municipal infrastructure projects, and the recent federal tax credit for
transit passes, are useful early Canadian examples. The Irish experience with taxation of plastic shopping bags
led to a 95% reduction in their use. Ken Livingstone’s fabled imposition of congestion charges in central London
served to fund transit improvements. These models illustrate a global trend towards leveling or tilting the playing
field towards funding sustainable development through taxation of emissions-intensive choices.

Elements of this model are already emerging in Canada. In Ontario, the Energy Conservation Leadership Act,
proclaimed in 2006, requires energy reporting, action plans and energy targets for all government and publicly
funded facilities, setting the stage for this virtuous cycle of conservation. The province has strengthened the
Ontario Building Code to be the most supportive of energy efficiency in Canada. The Social Housing Services
Corporation has developed its Green Light Initiative to serve more than 250,000 social housing units across
Ontario, with financial support from the federal government, the Ontario Power Authority, and local electric and
gas utility companies. Toronto & Region Conservation has adopted “The Living City” as its vision for the future,
and over the past five years has launched large-scale energy programming for the health care, schools, municipal
and residential sectors. The Canada Green Building Council works with Natural Resources Canada in advancing
energy efficient and environmentally friendly building design across Canada. With support from the Ontario
Power Authority, the Building Owners and Managers Association is engaging Toronto’s commercial building
owners in comprehensive energy conservation projects, while OCAAT is coordinating a growing number of
projects in Ontario’s community colleges.

Changing direction from our current upward greenhouse gas emissions trajectory to a decline to below 1990
levels can be visualized, is attainable, and is absolutely essential. Its realization requires a corresponding change
of direction in public policy, programming and allocation of responsibilities and resources. A long-term effort is
required which can adapt to new learning and ever-changing circumstances. Governments have a crucial role to
play, but industry-led organizations can move faster. New, integrated and collaborative models are needed for
how governments, educators, associations, utility companies and corporations work together to effect real,
accountable change. Above all changing direction demands individual, community and corporate adoption of
responsibility for their greenhouse gas emissions, and the accountability framework to support and verify action.

Canada is already making progress. The opportunity presents itself to ramp up the effort. A new,
comprehensive, integrated and accountable framework is required which can demonstrate substantial and
immediate results, and leverage Canadian experience around the world. Importantly, Canada can assume a
natural role as the global leader in climate change response, and both influence and support the policies and
programs of the developed and the developing world. Canada is expected to be home to the new secretariat of
the World Green Building Council, which will serve as a global hub of climate change response. We should seize
the moment.

   Ian Jarvis is President of Enerlife Consulting, and has served as chair of the Canada Green Building Council
  since 2003. He is a member of Canada’s National Advisory Council on Energy Efficiency, the Ontario Energy
    Minister’s Advisory Committee, and the Ontario Power Authority CEO’s Conservation Advisory Committee.

Enerlife – “Building Towards a Sustainable Future”                                                                  3