Photo: Foundation has a long history of working to solve climate change

We joined The Climate Project and Al Gore to educate Canadians about climate change

By Ian Hanington

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When the Foundation started 20 years ago, climate change was just emerging as an environmental issue in the public eye. Our major push in this area took place in the lead-up to the Kyoto Climate Conference in 1997, when we recruited people to our volunteer Climate Action Team. Foundation staff attended the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan, and prepared a briefing paper called The Role of Government for then Finance Minister Paul Martin.

To raise awareness about climate-related health concerns and to promote clean energy, we toured Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Calgary in 1999. In 2000, we went on the road again to promote clean energy and transportation outlined in our report Power Shift: Cool Solutions to Global Warming.

Then in 2002, our years of hard work on the Kyoto file paid off when the Kyoto Agreement was ratified. It is one of our biggest milestones, because most of the climate team's work for several years was aimed at getting a strong agreement in place.

At the same time, we were also active on the government-and-industry front in B.C. We helped stop plans to build a natural gas pipeline across Georgia Strait, a proposed power plant near Nanaimo, and two coal-fired power plants, one near Princeton, and the other near Tumbler Ridge.

Later, in 2008, we helped convince the B.C. government to release the most comprehensive climate action plan, with a carbon tax and $1 billion investment in climate action.

Since then, we continued to be involved in international negotiations, including the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit. We've also worked at the provincial level, advocating for a price on carbon emission, which led to the first significant carbon tax in North America. We provided recommendations to the organizers on how to make the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver more sustainable, which led to a commitment to make the games carbon neutral. Along with Olympic athletes, about 500 members of the NHL Players' Association committed to going carbon neutral and telling others about the impact of climate change on winter sports.

Also in 2009, we provided policy recommendations to the Ontario government for its groundbreaking Green Energy Act. And to raise awareness about climate change, we teamed up with Al Gore and The Climate Project to deliver his climate lecture across Canada.

Our latest upcoming program, the Trottier Energy Futures Project, will include scientific reviews of the clean-energy options available in Canada – such as wind, solar, and geothermal – taking economic, social, and environmental concerns into account. The project, which will kick off this September, is a five-year collaboration with the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Trottier Family Foundation.

In the years ahead, our climate team will focus on developing renewable energy in Canada, working with businesses to reduce their climate impact, and working closely with provincial and territorial governments to help Canada reduce its emissions.