Federal Election: Pontiacers speak about environmental issues
As our federal election approaches, I’ve been asked by several candidates whether I would interview them. Instead, I have chosen to ask some Pontiac residents about what they believe are pressing environmental issues, both locally in the Pontiac, and globally. This is the first of a three-part series, where I interview Luskville resident, Kevin Brady.
KF: Kevin, please tell us a bit about yourself.
KB: I am a consultant, author and educator who works with industry, governments and non-governmental organizations on sustainable development issues. My consulting focus is on helping clients improve their environmental, social and financial performance. I also teach a course in sustainability at Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design.
KF: As this federal election approaches us on October 21, what do you think the THREE most pressing Pontiac-related environmental issues are?
KB: Climate change is the most pressing challenge both locally and globally. The Pontiac is already affected by climate change: we’re experiencing extreme weather events and unpredictable weather patterns. Our future will likely include more drought, floods and higher winds. We need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and work on adaptation measures such as planting more forests and protecting and building marshlands to help moderate impacts we are already feeling.
Food security and promoting sustainable agriculture are key environmental issues which have links to social well-being and jobs. We need safe, reliable and healthy food sources and we have a great opportunity in the Pontiac to meet that need. To do that, we need to protect our farmland from developers, work with farmers to institute more sustainable practices, support our producers by rewarding good practices and help build the Pontiac brand and introduce it to new markets. We already have many producers who are using sustainable agricultural practices and we need to provide them with the infrastructure and support needed to build a secure food supply that creates employment and reduces our environmental footprint.
Access to water and water quality are generally not considered a major issue, but they are critical for our survival. We need to protect our watersheds from contamination from agricultural run-off, waste and other pollution. There are also many households serviced by wells that need to better understand the source of their groundwater and how to protect it.
KF: What’s the greatest global environmental issue we’re facing? And, what should our newly elected federal government be doing about this?
Climate change is the greatest crisis as it is undermining our economy, our biodiversity, our health and our children’s future. Many people don’t want to believe it is happening, and I understand the resistance to believing the world is in peril, but I have read the science reports and worked with industrial clients on what climate change means for their businesses. That work has convinced me that continued increasing of greenhouse gas emissions poses a massive risk to our environment and our economy. Like a growing number of people around the world, Pontiac residents have first-hand experience seeing what flooding, tornados, drought and heat waves can do to our ability to live and work. The government needs to go beyond a national- level goal to develop the sector-level targets and action plans needed to meet our international commitments. This needs to include investments in renewable energy sources and infrastructure, a greater focus on efficiency measures such as setting high standards in building codes and improving rail transportation. We need to work with capital markets to ensure that the billions of dollars being spent on projects in Canada are supporting emissions reduction and supporting adaptation. This also requires divesting financial support for fossil fuel extraction while cooperating with the provinces to build the labour skills needed for a renewable energy system.
Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer, author, and visual artist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and view her art at facebook.com/KatharineFletcherArtist/