Monday, 19 Feb 2001

OTTAWA, Ontario

Today started early for me, as I did my last-minute preparations for the interview with www.Epress.ca. Live video interviews can be rather nerve-wracking, but all went fairly well, probably due to some last-minute coaching from Heidi Lasi, one of the Pembina Institute’s communications gurus. “Keep it simple” is her usual message. It is too easy to become mired in detailed statistics and lose the key messages.

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Heidi and I worked together to get the news release for the Green Power Action campaign out to our electronic lists. We had done some “sneak peek preview” releases last week, which resulted in the Epress interview, as well as a radio interview this afternoon on the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation). To sustain interest in the campaign, we plan on doing at least one major communication activity each week leading up to Earth Day. Since EcoAction.ca was only piloted last fall, we are just starting to build momentum. We joined forces with another renewables advocacy effort at the Institute in order to fund the design and production of some new communi
cations materials.

EcoAction.ca nicely complements the Pembina Institute’s more traditional style of lobbying for change. The Institute is active on a variety of fronts. For example, the Institute, along with Suncor Energy, recently helped to form an unlikely alliance of energy industry and environmental groups, as well as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, in support of government action to help develop the market for renewable energy in Canada. It’s called CARE, the Clean Air Renewable Energy Coalition. And next week, the Institute, led by Andrew Pape-Salmon, will release a new paper on economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy policies in an effort to inform the electorate during the Alberta provincial election. Due to power supply problems and the recent hikes in natural gas prices, Alberta has some new coal-powered generating stations on the table, which is of great concern for environmentalists both nationally and internationally. The new report will make it clear that these new coal plants should not — and need not — be built.

At the federal level, Robert Hornung, our Climate Change Program Director, is meeting for three days with Members of Parliament from all political parties to promote new environmental initiatives as part of Canada’s Green Budget Coalition. The Green Budget Coalition, formed by Canadian environmental groups working on a variety of issues, is pressuring for economic reform at the federal level to help reduce environmental impacts of government spending (on fossil fuels and nuclear energy). But the true test will be what policy and finance changes actually get implemented in the next budget.

An important part of my work is staying informed on issues related to energy and the environment, for which I use various listservs. I post important items in the newsroom at EcoAction.ca to keep it current. Between this and working on the EcoAction release, I managed to begin working on a presentation for the Urban Forum for this Wednesday evening. I will talk about sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Canadian communities and strategies for reducing them. Aside from landfill gas, all of these emissions come from fossil fuel use of one kind or another. This relates to my work on http://www.climatechangesolutions.com, which has occupied the majority of my time for the last two years. Climatechangesolutions.com is a public information and education tool on how to reduce GHG emissions; it covers all major economic sectors and important sources of GHG emissions. It focuses on practical and affordable strategies and highlights the multiple benefits of taking action. I will be working on this presentation tomorrow, between preparing for the CBC interview and attending a climatechangesolutions.com team meeting.

I have been writing this at a neighborhood pub, since it was a long day and I wanted to get out of the office. With my view of the street over the last hour, I am reminded of the many problems that people face in this world and that I am fortunate to have my family, friends, good health, and rewarding work. I live downtown, a 15-minute walk from work, because I can’t imagine having to commute to work in the traffic. This also means that I share this community with many homeless and disenfranchised people. It’s not difficult to feel lucky here.