Marcher de pair avec les Européens

Selon des recherches, les changements climatiques pourraient produire des températures insupportables pour les humains. Une réduction massive des gaz à effets de serre est nécessaire pour éviter cette situation désastreuse. Une cause première de celle-ci est la consommation énorme d'énergie. Une diminution de son utilisation ainsi que l'installation de formes d'énergie renouvelable améliorerait cette situation.

Les pays d'Europe sont exemplaires quant à la réduction de la consommation d'énergie et l'installation d'énergies renouvelables. Malgré l'attente pour des programmes similaires au Canada, l'auteur, Brent Crowhurst, expose certains projets visant à réduire la consommation au Nouveau-Brunswick.

Keeping Up with the Europeans 

Brent Crowhurst
Falls Brook Centre
June 2007

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 energy:

  • 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.
  • Energy 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 you!

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.