Ontario charity launches “Second Front” on Climate Change

Dec 28th, 2007 12:58 PM

For Immediate Release

Bali shows we cannot afford to wait for government to lead

(Toronto, December 27, 2007) The failure of the Bali conference to show leadership on climate change has forced an Ontario charity to establish its own five year plan on climate change. Beginning today, the Conservation Council of Ontario wants all Ontarians to join their “We Conserve” campaign and make a personal effort to conserve more beginning in 2008.

“From all accounts, Bali was a bust” said Chris Winter, Executive Director of the Conservation Council of Ontario.  “It just shows that we can’t rely on governments alone to solve climate change.  We need to open a second front on climate change.  We need to build a united conservation movement in Ontario, and across Canada.”  “It may sound impossible,” says Winter, who has twenty-three years experience in environmental campaigns and strategic planning, “but the answer is as simple as connecting the dots.”

Start with “I Conserve”

Almost everyone wants a healthier environment. Ask people what they are doing to save the environment, and they will likely say, “I conserve”.  Everyone’s personal commitment is unique to their situation, but the common thread is that people all over are investing their own time and money in conservation.  The Conservation Council has laid out ten conservation priorities, each of which would make a significant contribution to creating a conserver society.  

Connect people with solutions

There are already hundreds of organizations, businesses and local governments that offer products, services and incentives to help people conserve.  This, says Winter, is the emerging social and economic infrastructure that needs to be nurtured and grown.

Winter knows from experience that importance of having a support structure for conservation.  His family uses less than one-third of the provincial average demand for electricity; they use 100% green power, they have no car, they buy local and organic food, and their yard is naturalized.  “Much of what we do is made easy for us by organizations and companies that offer green products and services”, notes Winter.  This is a huge change from when the concept of a Conserver Society was first proposed by the Science Council of Canada in 1973.”

Using a common word mark, “We Conserve” will provide instant recognition to the organizations, businesses and governments that have made a public commitment to conserve in their internal operations, their products and/or services, and in their support for conservation in the community.  In 2008, the Conservation Council will also develop a detailed online directory of the programs, products, services and incentives that can help people become better conservers.

Build the movement

Drawing on its 55 year history, the Conservation Council will help strengthen the conservation movement, including promotional campaigns, networking and collaborations, a united conservation appeal, and recommendations on policy and fiscal incentives.  

We Conserve was developed by the Council over the past three years with major funding from The Beer Store and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.  The entire plan, “Are you In?” is available at www.weconserve.ca.  Pulling all the pieces together, it sets three challenging goals: 1) everyone in by 2009; 2) organized by 2010; and 3) great change by 2012.

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For information:

Chris Winter, Executive Director, The Conservation Council of Ontario, 416-533-1635 (ext .1), Cell: 647-393-5000

BACKGROUNDER

If there was a trigger event for the latest green wave, it was the August, 2003 blackout, when conservation was thrust back into the public spotlight.

Over the past three years, the Conservation Council has developed the model of a cooperative and diverse conservation movement.  We’ve developed and tested movement-based campaigns, such as “Doors Closed” for the retail sector, and “Lighten Up Ontario!” to promote electricity conservation.

From all accounts, We Conserve is a highly successful and inclusive approach, winning praise from community groups, municipalities and businesses alike.  The five year plan, “Are You In”, marks the transition from the pilot phase to a full-blown province-wide initiative with the potential to become a nation-wide campaign.

Although the challenge targets in the five year plan were set by the Conservation Council, we wish to acknowledge the advice we received from conservation leaders in Ontario in setting these targets.  In particular, the following individuals are excellent contacts for in-depth stories…

Home Energy Conservation (including low-income energy efficiency):

Clifford Maynes, Executive Director, Green Communities Canada (705) 745-7479

Renewable Power:

Deborah Doncaster, Executive Director, Community Power Fund (416) 977-3154 (ext.41)

Water Conservation:

Emily J. Alfred, Executive Director, RiverSides (416) 868-1983

Fuel Efficiency:

Bob Oliver, Transportation Program Director, Pollution Probe (416) 926-1907

Buy Local:

Chris Lowry, Executive Director, Green Enterprise Toronto (416) 644-1012

Eat Local:

Lori Stahlbrand, President, and Mike Schreiner, Vice-President, Local Food Plus (416) 699-6070

Waste Less and Prevent Pollution:

Jo Anne St Godard, Recycling Council of Ontario (416) 657-2797 (ext. 3)
Chris Wolnik, Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention (416) 979-3534 (ext. 2)

Green Investments:

Sucheta Rajagopal, Past President, the Social Investment Organization (416) 862-7800 (Hampton Securities)

Business Leadership:

Sara Taylor, Manager of Communications, The Beer Store (905) 361-4203
John Filice, Director of Residential Mortgages, Citizens Bank of Canada (416) 868-8315
John Kiru, Executive Director, Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (416) 889-4111
Kevin McLaughlin, President, Autoshare (416) 816-3037

Municipal Leadership:

Suzanne Elston, the City of Oshawa (905) 436-5636 ext 2132
Suzanne Austin, the Town of Oakville (905) 845-6601, Ext: 3910