Embracing change is the answer! As a nation, we need to look at this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. This attitude and approach will lower our cost of living while creating a new market opportunity for green technologies. This opportunity can lead us to new industries and new jobs carrying our economy forward into a future world where we have learned to optimize, to adapt and overcome.

What Does Kyoto Mean To Me?

Scott Sinclair | Sinclair Environmental Solutions

Embracing change is the answer! As a nation, we need to look at this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. This attitude and approach will lower our cost of living while creating a new market opportunity for green technologies. This opportunity can lead us to new industries and new jobs carrying our economy forward into a future world where we have learned to optimize, to adapt and overcome.

Even mentioning the word Kyoto causes distress for many Canadians, yet the average person does not understand what Kyoto means to them, and how it may change their daily life. We all want to protect the environment, but we don't want it to change our way of life. We all want to breathe fresh air, drink clean water and enjoy the beauty of nature. We just don't want to lose our jobs or suffer huge tax increases simply to try to satisfy the words on a piece of paper.

So...what do all these words that are attached to Kyoto mean to me, the ordinary Canadian with a middle class family living in the suburbs? Will it change my life? How much will it cost me? Will my efforts be worthwhile? Will my efforts really make any impact on Climate Change? These are the questions that remain unanswered raising fears and doubts for so many Canadians?

The Government of Canada `Climate Change Action Plan' calls for each of us to reduce our emission footprint by 1 tonne. By using electricity, heating our homes, driving our cars, and flying in planes each of us produce 5.4 tonnes of Greenhouse Gases (GG) each year.

So to do our part to meet Kyoto, we all need to reduce our personal energy consumption by 20% by the year 2010! How can we do that? How can we possibly reduce our personal energy consumption by 20%?

This may sound like an incredible task, but it actually can be a lot easier than we might imagine. In 1924, Henry Ford wrote "the choice of primary necessities is largely a matter of habit.these habits change although sometimes rather slowly." We are in the habit of using energy freely, driving individual cars everywhere we go, or heating our water by burning natural gas. Henry Ford proved that habits can be broken and that changes can actually improve our lives.


The data described in this chart is found in the 'Climate Change Plan for Canada' produced by the government of Canada.
This chart shows us roughly how much energy each us use during our day to day living. So if this is what I use, then how can I reduce my GG emissions by 20 %?

Try to conserve energy anywhere you can: take a shorter shower, walk to the store instead of driving, change your light bulbs to compact fluorescent when they burn out, fix the weather stripping on your door, buy a timer to turn down the temperature on your furnace at night.

One of the big questions that people ask is: How much will it cost?

Logic says that if we reduce our consumption by 20%, then we should also reduce our costs. Many of the changes that will spin out of the Kyoto will actually save us money.

The following ideas show us how we can go forward by making some simple changes in our daily life.

Potential Changes GG Savings *
(tonnes)
Buying a different vehicle (25% more fuel efficient vehicle) 1
Driving 10% fewer km per year
(walking, cycling, carpooling or taking public transit)
0.2 to 0.8
Reduce idling (turn your car off at stop lights) 0.1
Retrofit your home (EnerGuide for Houses) up to 2
Buy an R-2000 Home 1 to 2
Be energy efficient at home (lower thermostat at night, turn off the lights when you are not using them, turn your thermostat down when you go away on vacation) up to 0.5
Replace old appliances with Energy Star models (newer appliances use less than half of the electricity of a 10 year old model) 0.2

* The data described in this table is found in the `Climate Change Plan for Canada' produced by the government of Canada.

The amazing thing is that saving energy also saves us money. Saving 1 tonne per year by driving a car with better fuel efficiency will also save you $360 per year on gasoline costs. Owning an Energy Star refrigerator will save you $40 per year on your electricity bill. As we see some of the numbers it becomes easy to imagine how we can save energy.

The shift in our society will be slow and subtle at first, but our habits will change. We will purchase power from zero emission wind turbine farms, our next car will be a hybrid electric/fuel cell vehicle, the high efficiency appliances we upgraded to will be paying for themselves in electricity savings. The light bulbs we use to replace our old ones will be high efficiency fluorescent, and will last 10 times longer than our old ones. We will shower with water heated by the sun rather than natural gas. The technology to reduce our consumption of GG is ready and available, but our old habits keep us from embracing change. Bill Gates has said "most people overestimate what is going to happen in the next two or three years and underestimate what is going to happen in the next decade." A decade from now we may be looking back at the decision to enter Kyoto as the key factor that pulled us out of the recession of the tech markets.

So what about the other questions: Will my efforts be worthwhile? Will my efforts really make any impact on Climate Change?

David Anderson, the Canadian Minister of Energy, recently spoke at the University of British Columbia regarding Kyoto and he responded to these questions. He responded that the `science' says that our global climate is changing due to human activities, and that we need to take action to create a sustainable future. He commented that the 2012 window is only the first phase of Kyoto, which will set us on a path towards a future world 50 years from now where we have reduced our emissions by 50%, where technologies will provide our needs for energy without destroying the environment. Making these small changes in our lives will make a huge difference if we all contribute. These efforts will not only save us money, but they will set us in the right direction towards a clean future world for our children to inherit.

Embracing change is the answer! As a nation, we need to look at this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. This attitude and approach will lower our cost of living while creating a new market opportunity for green technologies. This opportunity can lead us to new industries and new jobs carrying our economy forward into a future world where we have learned to optimize, to adapt and overcome. Let us seize the day and welcome the future, letting the progress of energy technology unfold.

Scott is a mechanical engineer who cares about the degradation of the environment and believes that we need to find new ways of enjoying our lives while consuming fewer resources. He has lived in the rainforest, taught environmental education to kids in India, and has recently returned from the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johanessburg, South Africa. His company Sinclair Environmental Solutions is dedicated towards finding solutions that meet the needs of the modern individual while considering the needs of the natural world. He believes that there are many paths in life, and that by shifting the value structure of society to incorporate the preservation of the environment, we will discover a new way of living that is richer and more fulfilling than it was in the past.

 


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