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Climate change: Homefront action

Climate change: Homefront action

One way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions is to throw less food out.

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If there is one reality that hit home at the recently concluded COP26 conference in Glasgow, it’s that unless we finally begin to take ambitious steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global warming will continue to get worse. More extreme weather conditions. More wildfires that, in the instance of the west coast, have adversely affected the livelihoods and livelihoods of millions more Canadians. More record-breaking precipitation contributed to heavy flooding in B.C.

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Previously, all of these problems seem to be taking place in other parts of the world, but clearly now these challenges are hitting home – literally, as I experienced personally (along no doubt with Canadians in most parts of the country this year) when I recently received a notice that our insurance was going up tied to increased concerns over flooding. We are not near any rivers or lakes, and have no need for a sump-pump. Therefore, heavy rainfall is our only exposure to flooding.

If we’re to make a concerted effort to slow the pace of climate change and reduce carbon emissions, it’s time we as consumers took ownership of the problem and not just pin our hopes on the steps our politicians take at the provincial or national level.

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Canadians have one of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the world, averaging 14.2 tonnes of CO2 as of 2019, and the reality is that it’s not just because we live in a country with long winters. For perspective, Sweden and Nordic countries generate 4.52 tonnes per person annually, which is less that one-third what we produce.

How can we help combat climate change?

As we enter winter, it is a good idea to make your home more efficient. This includes addressing leaky windows and walls, as well as replacing low-R-value windows with triple- or double-pane windows.

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Other options include switching from gasoline to electric appliances and tools, installing solar PV panels on the roof (especially as the prices continue to drop), and switching to an heat pump or geothermal HVAC.

Yet another ‘monster’ step, if you will, that seems to evade us all, is to waste less food. You can make a difference in your daily habits, which can include not overstocking your fridge or forgetting about what you have there, and saving leftovers instead of throwing them away. And if you like challenges … try weighing your green bin the next time before putting it out on the curb and then find ways to consistently reduce the weight of that bin from one week to the next (and no, that doesn’t mean throwing the food into your garbage). According to the Government of Ontario (which produces methane gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat), over 60% of food waste ends-up in landfills.

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Food shopping is also a good idea. Try to buy locally and get products in season to reduce the energy required to ship fresh strawberries to your local store in the middle winter.

It is possible to drastically reduce our carbon footprint by rethinking how we move around. Driving less (e.g. You can telecommute on some days, switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle, and stop using drive-throughs (which are large carbon generators).

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Hands seen above a growing garden including kale.

This is the key takeaway: Instead of thinking that climate change is only a matter of politicians, we as citizens must take ownership of it. But the good news is you don’t have to do it all on your own.

In fact, Ottawa is already working towards zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. The City of Ottawa, along with the Ottawa Community Foundation, launched the Ottawa Action Climate Fund earlier this year. This fund is used to promote low-carbon investments, including deep energy retrofits of homes in neighbourhoods.

For more information, visit: www.ocaf-faco.ca/insights

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