Energy Working Group

Although I am the Co-coordinator of the SfP Energy Working Group, I would like to speak about work that I’ve been doing with the Energy Action Council (EnerACT http://www.eneract. org). EnerACT has a large “Public Education and Awareness Strategy” (PEAS), that has received substantial three-year funding from Trillium. In fall 2002, EnerACT will launch its PEAS – a comprehensive education campaign that will challenge the residents of the City of Toronto to lower their energy bills while raising awareness of the benefits associated with such actions. The campaign will integrate elements of Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) into the design of program details in an effort to target the barriers to, while increasing the incentives for wide-scale participation in, energy conservation activities.

The problem is both local and global. Poor air quality is creating a public health crisis in Toronto. In 2000, 501 people were killed in Toronto due to poor air quality. This figure is expected to rise to 538 in 2004 – the last year of the PEAS. In that same year, the local economy suffered a $2.43 billion blow due to workplace absences and health care costs. This figure is expected to rise to $2.53 by 2004. In addition, the planet is heating up, leading to grave human and economic disasters.

The following excerpts are taken from publications in the Greater Toronto Area and reflect EnerACT’s belief in the importance of this work:

The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) providesa very clearsummary and update of the past five years of research on climate change. The report clearly states that: “emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols due to human activities continue to alter the atmosphere in ways that are expected to affect the climate”. As an illustration of the extent of the problem, consider the report’s evaluation of carbon dioxide (CO2) trends: “the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has increased by 31% since 1750. The present CO2 concentration has not been exceeded during the past 420,000 years and not likely during the past 20 million years. The current rate of increase is unprecedented during at least the past 20,000 years”.

Globe and Mail July 24, 2001:
“Since May 1, there have been more than two weeks of smog advisories from the province, the highest amount since 1993.”

-Hamilton Spectator_ June 28, 2001:
“The Ontario Medical Association says smog is getting worse, not better, and it’s poisoning us … The OMA made headlines again last year with a computer model that calculated air pollution would cause 1,900 premature deaths in Ontario in 2000 and cost the province at least $1.2 billion in health care and lost productivity … The OMA called those numbers cautious, conservative and almost certainly low.”

We intend to organize a number of sustainable energy seminars, public meetings and workshops, provide publications focused on sustainable energy in order to reach out to the people of Toronto, and support more leading edge projects like the Solar DHW project in the next three years. The impact of our work will go beyond the local, as reductions in transboundary pollutants from within Toronto take effect around the world

Aside from these efforts, we will also make our expertise and selves available, free of charge, to local and community groups for presentations and workshops.