by Mike Buckthought
One Thousand Solar Roofs
On September 11, Ottawa's 1000th solar energy project was inaugurated on the rooftop of Maurice Lapointe High School in Kanata. The 190-kilowatt project was entirely financed by Ottawa residents through contributions to the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op (OREC). "We have shown that community ownership is possible and viable in Ottawa and we will continue to increase the accessibility and awareness of sustainable energy technologies throughout the city," says OREC president Dick Bakker. The solar panels were installed by iSolara Solar Power, a company based in Ottawa.
The city of Oslo, Norway, plans to ban private cars from the centre of the city by the year 2019. The plan to establish a car-free zone is part of the city's programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95% below 1990 levels by the year 2030. Oslo has also become the first capital city to promise to divest from fossil fuels. Its US $9 billion pension fund will drop investments in companies that produce energy from fossil fuels. The city also plans to build more bike lanes, and reduce car traffic by 30% by 2030. Oslo's new city government includes representatives from the Labour Party, the Socialist Left, and the Green Party.
Court Orders Climate Action
A court in Lahore has ruled that Pakistan must do more to take action on climate change. The precedent-setting legal case was initiated by a farmer, Asghar Leghari. He says the government is not following climate commitments set out in the 2012 National Climate Policy and Framework. The judge ordered the establishment of a climate council to ensure that the government implements its climate change policies. The climate ruling follows a groundbreaking legal case in the Netherlands. In June, the Hague District Court ordered the Netherlands to reduce emissions by at least 25% from 1990 levels by the year 2020.
A new study examines the long-term impacts of climate change in Antarctica. If global temperatures increase by 3 degrees Celsius, the Antarctic ice shelves will disappear over the next few centuries. The ice shelves help keep the ice sheets of the interior away from the ocean. If the ice shelves are lost, the continent's ice sheets will collapse over a period of thousands of years, leading to a sea-level rise of up to 9 metres. The researchers say it is still possible to prevent the collapse of Antarctica's ice sheets, if we follow the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). To avoid catastrophic climate change, global emissions must peak in five years, and rapidly decline to zero.
In September, deminers destroyed Mozambique's last known antipersonnel landmine. Tens of thousands of landmines were planted during the country's 1964-1975 war for independence, and the civil war that followed. The conflict ended in 1992, but landmines continued to claim hundreds of victims annually. By 2009, there were an estimated 10,900 casualties from incidents involving landmines and other explosive remnants of war. Over two decades, the international mine clearance organizations APOPO, HALO Trust, Handicap International and NPA destroyed around 200,000 landmines. Mozambique signed the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1997.
Mike Buckthought writes about environmental issues.
The PERC thanks the above organizations for their support.
Thank you to Sustainable Eastern Ontario, the Community Foundation of Ottawa, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation for sponsoring the Winter 2015-2016 edition of the PEN.