Keeping Up with
Falls Brook Centre
recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report used its
strongest language to date describing global warming as
"unequivocal" and stating that it is "very likely"
caused by humans. Top scientists are now describing a two degree
Celsius target as the maximum amount of warming above pre-industrial-era
levels that humanity can handle before damages become unmanageable; a
scenario coming to be known as "dangerous climate
change". This target has been endorsed by the European
Union. In order to achieve this target, climate scientists are
saying that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere must
stabilize at a maximum of 400 parts per million (concentration in 2005
had already risen to 380 PPM, more than 30% higher than pre-industrial
levels). Massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are
required to make this happen.
Renewable energy workshop.
(photo: Falls Brook Centre)
According to climate experts,
industrialized nations will need to reduce their emissions by 25-30%
below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80-90% below 1990 levels by 2050 to avoid
dangerous climate change. Thus, any government policy which claims
to address climate change must include these targets. This is not
a question of what is possible, it is a question of what is
necessary. Even major corporations are demanding climate policy
and they are asking for it to be long, loud, and legal; that is long
term, clear, consistent, and legally-binding.
Energy is a big part of the emissions
problem; from electricity generation and industry to transportation and
heating, our energy-intensive lifestyles contribute to a whole lot of
greenhouse gas emissions. Finding ways to use energy more
efficiently will be a major source of emission reductions. Clean
and renewable sources of energy will also play a major role in the very
necessary transition to a sustainable energy future.
I had the fortunate opportunity to spend
this past winter in Europe, where awareness of the severity of our
climate situation seems to be much more evident. People use less
electricity, ride bikes more, drive less, and drive more efficient
cars. From a global perspective, Europeans still use a lot of
energy but at least they seem to be headed in the right direction.
For example, Denmark produces 20% of its
electricity from wind power and many of its cities are heated using
distributed combined heat and power stations where excess heat from
electricity production is piped underground to homes and businesses in
the community for space heating and hot water production.
Denmark produces 20% of its
electricity from wind power.
(photo: The Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy, Denmark)
Germany is leading the world in renewable
energy installations thanks to its feed in laws which require open
access to the power grid for all generators, gives premium pricing for
renewably generated energy, and guarantees fixed long term
pricing. This policy has allowed Germany to become the world
leader in wind, solar, and biogas electricity generation. Spain is
also having a huge growth in renewable energy and they didn't do it by
reinventing the wheel; they simply implemented similar policy to what is
working in Germany. Sounds easy enough to me!
While we wait for some effective policy
on this side of the Atlantic to address the climate and energy crisis we
are currently facing, there are still many things that we can do right
here in New Brunswick to help. For example, Falls Brook Centre, a
sustainable community demonstration and training centre in rural New
Brunswick, has initiated a number of projects related to climate and
- The Energy Empowerment series consists
of in-depth, practical renewable energy training workshops for those
seriously considering energy efficiency and renewable energy
purchases or projects.
- The Energy Experience Project will
inspire New Brunswick youth to use science and engineering to help
build a better tomorrow through the creation of hands-on Energy
Education kits for middle and high school students, the development
of energetic activities for delivery in schools or at the Falls
Brook Centre, and the coordination of a province-wide high school
Renewable Energy Design Competition.
Connection is a searchable database of all things renewable
energy in New Brunswick.
- The Climate Change Bus is an exciting
interactive museum on wheels. Interactive, hands-on displays in the
bus demonstrate how energy efficiency and renewable energy can
mitigate climate change and become an important part of North
America's sustainable energy future…coming to a school/event near
Climate Change Bus
(photo: Falls Brook Centre)
For more information about these and
other exciting renewable energy initiatives at Falls Brook Centre,
please click here.