Everyday there are small ways to affect big change in the world around us.
What it takes is forward thinking and a little resolve to make walking, carpooling or busing to work a mainstay, says NDP MP Richard Cannings.
“Walk more, bike more and drive less, “Cannings emphasized. “I know this can be a challenge in small cities and more rural areas, but we have to move away from using our cars for everything,” he added. “Often it just takes a bit of planning ahead and getting into that habit.”
Friday is “A Day for Our Common Future,” in the city following Trail council’s proclamation which gives a nod to sustainable development – and also marks the last day of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris.
“Sustainable development meets our needs today without compromising the ability of our grandchildren and their grandchildren to enjoy a lifestyle similar to ours,” said Cannings. “It means using our renewable natural resources wisely and making a transition away from non-renewable resources.”
The climate change behemoth takes the world stage once a year – but action can, and is, happening every day on a personal, municipal and provincial level.
He points out a resourceful project in the East Kootenay and a growing trend in Trail as healthy approaches that balance needs of society and nature while furthering goals for sustainable development.
“One of the boldest initiatives I’ve heard of lately is the SunMine solar energy project built in the City of Kimberley with support from Teck and Columbia Basin Trust,” he explained.
“But I also have to mention the great work by Trail to promote food production downtown.”
While the former exemplifies what can be done with millions of dollars and innovation, making Canada’s highest city the ideal spot to harvest solar energy; the latter shows how a small group of volunteers with a lot of heart and little money can also effect big change.
“If we all grew our own vegetables in our back yard and preserved them for winter use,” says Cannings. “We could reduce energy costs and eat healthier as well. (So besides taking the bus or walking to work Dec. 11), you can check out a seed catalogue to plan for your vegetable garden next year.”
As the conference closes this week, Cannings says he’s cautiously optimistic the Liberal government will deliver global action in the “fight against climate change.”
“I am greatly heartened by the new climate policies coming out of Alberta,” he continued.
“And hope that other provinces and the federal government will follow that lead. And I am proud that British Columbia led the way years ago with our carbon tax.”
A Day for our Common Future was developed by the Vancouver Island and Coast Conservation Society marking a Dec. 11 global turning point 28 years ago – that’s when, in 1987, the United Nations received the first global sustainable development report from the World Commission on Environment and Development.
That report opens to the General Assembly, citing concern about the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development.
Further, the documents states sustainable development should become a central guiding principle of the United Nations, governments, and private sectors, while meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Cannings has long advocated for B.C.’s outdoors, including service on the province’s Environmental Appeal Board, co-chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and sat as director on the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Bird Studies Canada.
He says after Canada backed out of the Kyoto Accord agreement, any temporary reductions in carbon dioxide emission in the country have come as a result of the economic downturn in 2008 and actions of the Ontario government to close coal-fired power plants.
“Other countries, especially those in Europe, have made real progress,” he said. “In this regard we have a lot of catching up to do.”
The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty whereby countries agree to reduce greenhouse gases, based on the premise global warming exists and is caused by carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) emissions. There are currently 192 parties in the Protocol, and 84 signatories following Canada’s withdrawal in 2011.
“I’m very hopeful, Canada voted for change on Oct. 19, and I am sure the Liberal government knows that they must deliver on that change,” Cannings said. “Especially on critical issues like climate change. And the NDP will be the progressive opposition to hold them to those promises.”