The past five years have been productive ones for Canada as the country continues to usher in more and more green initiatives. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recently picked the top five “game changers” within as many years that have pointed the country toward a brighter, greener future.
Number one on the list is the passage of Ontario’s Green Energy Act. Introduced in 2009, the legislation brings together policies aimed at energy conservation, expansion of renewable energy sources and the creation of a green industry sector. WWF said the public policy measures, coupled with the province’s pledge to phase out coal, is the “single biggest action taken to reduce North American emissions in the last five years.”
The second biggest game changer has been the introduction and adoption of electric vehicles in the country. Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have all introduced rebate programs for those who drive electric vehicles. Municipalities have also helped make it easier for residents adopt the new technology. Vancouver, Montreal and Quebec City are all putting in place public charging network. Automotive companies and car sharing companies alike have been quick to introduce electric vehicles onto Canadian roads as well.
Another game changer was British Columbia’s 2008 decision to tax all fossil fuels, including gas, diesel, coal, propane and home heating fuel. The tax has been said to have reduced gasoline consumption in the region by three percent. Equally as significant was the 2011 milestone of greater investments being made in renewable energy sources than in fossil fuels. In Canada alone, new financial investment in renewable energy rose 47 percent from 2009 to 2010.
And last, but not least, WWF touted the fact that half of Canada’s population now lives in a city or town with a climate action plan. Vancouver, for example, set a particularly lofty goal to be the greenest city in the world by 2020.
“These examples of progress over the last five years show us how much is possible when we put our minds to making change. We need to step up the pace of change in the next five years – there is no reason why Canada can’t reap the economic benefits of leading the world in renewable energy,” Josh Laughren, Director, Climate and Energy Program, WWF-Canada.
With all these changes, the last thing Canadians are doing is resting on their laurels. The country still has a number of tasks on its to-do list before it reaches green domination. Those include the continued phase out of coal within the next five years, along with encouraging companies and municipalities to switch their vehicle fleets to electric cars. WWF Canada also said it would like to see it tap into its vast reserves of renewable energy, with provinces helping move it forward through renewable energy policy.