As we look forward to the holiday season, we also reflect about the past year. We want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you. Everything we achieved this year, every success big or small, is because of you.
Thank you for your incredible support this year. Thank you for taking action by coming to our events. Thank you for reaching out to your elected representatives. Thank you for sharing news through social media about the issues we work on. Thank you for donating to our work. You are what powers our work each and every day.
Here are a few highlights of what you made possible in 2014:
Supporting the shift to a clean economy
In 2014, we planted the seeds for our new Clean Economy Program. We explored new ways to work with businesses, citizens, commuters and farmers to reduce pollution, clean our water, steward our lands and transform our energy use.
And we continued to educate Canadians that Canada still doesn’t have a single regulation limiting emissions from the tar sands – our fastest growing source of global warming emissions. We raised awareness about how a majority of Canadians vastly overestimate the role of the tar sands in our economy. In the fall, at the People’s Climate March, members of our team marched along with 400,000 people through the streets of New York City to demand urgent climate action from the world’s leaders. Also this year, we released a report outlining why expansion of the tar sands is far from inevitable due to obstacles like low oil prices and the growing movement of Canadians who are saying no to risky tar sands pipelines.
This year we raised awareness about TransCanada’s risky Energy East pipeline proposal. With our partners, we released a report showing why Energy East is primarily an export pipeline. And we showed how TransCanada uses outdated, inaccurate information to try to sell its risky project to Canadians. We also hosted a photo exhibit showcasing the people and places the pipeline puts at risk. (Photos from the exhibit are now online so check them out.)
With little federal action on climate change, we continue to encourage provinces like Ontario to take steps towards creating a cleaner economy. We released a report highlighting how natural gas conservation in Ontario can help cut carbon pollution while creating jobs and growing the province’s economy. But a plan under development at the Ontario Energy Board contains a number of shortcomings which, if not fixed, will cause us to come short of realizing conservation’s full economic and environmental potential.
Standing up for cleaner water and beaches
In recent summers, the Great Lakes, in particular Lake Erie, have seen a number of intense and frequent algal blooms. These blooms can poison drinking water, threaten human health, reduce tourism, and kill fish. This year we co-authored a report which provides a four-point action plan to help create a healthier future for the Great Lakes.
We also worked directly with shoreline communities to protect habitat and keep our waters clean. Through our Blue Flag program, we certify clean beaches and marinas across the country that meet strict international criteria. This year we raised flags at three new beaches, bringing the total number of Canadian beaches proudly flying a Blue Flag to 24, along with four marinas. Now, that’s a way to celebrate our program’s 10th anniversary.
Helping Canadians to kick out toxics
This past year, we helped lead the charge in Canada to eliminate toxic chemicals with links to cancer and other serious health problems from our homes and workplaces. To help do this, we gave individuals the knowledge and tools to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals and make a difference. We hosted a number of community workshops in Halifax, Toronto and Ottawa, where participants learned how to identify potential environmental carcinogens in their homes, how they can reduce their exposure, and how they can take action.
During the year, we continued to meet and work with industry and government to improve policies and regulations around the use of toxic chemicals in household products. We also raised the alarm bell over the possibility to weaken federal toxics regulations.
Protecting farmland and natural spaces
Ontario’s world renowned Greenbelt protects agricultural land and natural spaces, like forests and sensitive ecosystems, from urban sprawl. But loopholes in Ontario’s Greenbelt Plan are threatening the Greenbelt. This year, we co-authored a report about threats to the Greenbelt, including proposals for infrastructure like mega-highways, which would see Greenbelt lands paved over. And we engaged Ontarians to make their voices heard by urging Ontario to strengthen the Greenbelt so that in 2015, when the Greenbelt Plan is reviewed, these loopholes are fixed.
Standing up for free speech
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP’s) put a chill on free speech. These lawsuits are intended to silence concerned citizens. And unfortunately, these frivolous lawsuits are becoming more common, with some developers and corporations using these lawsuits to quash public opposition. We believe free speech is a critical part of a healthy democracy. That’s why this year we educated Ontarians about the importance of Bill 52, Protection of Public Participation Act, which would help protect free speech without limiting anyone’s right to defend themselves from slander.
Helping to create future environmental leaders
This year, young Canadians once again applied their writing, photography and film talents to propose solutions to environmental issues. 2014 saw a record number of entries to YRE Canada. And 10 Canadian youth went on to compete internationally, resulting in five wins on the international stage.
This is just a small summary of what we accomplished this past year with your help. Looking ahead to 2015, we’re gearing up to accomplish even more. We know many Canadians want a vibrant clean economy in Canada, so we’ll provide Canadians with new ways to make this possible. We’ll make it easier and more rewarding for you to help us move government and industry to this bright new future.
We look forward to continue working with Canadians from coast to coast to create a cleaner economy and a more sustainable future for all Canadians for generations to come.
Wishing you and your families a safe and happy holiday season and all the best in the New Year.