1. Mitigation measures

Mitigation measures are measures that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) or that help increase their absorption. They are long-term efforts that will help minimise the amplitude of climate change. It is important to recognize that however important these measures are, climate change is still going to happen because of the large amounts of GHGs such as CO2 already present in the atmosphere, which will continue to affect the climate for a long time.

In order to be effective, mitigation measures will have to be applied at all levels of society: in industry, commerce and agriculture (which are sectors responsible for approximately 75% of man made CO2 production, Torrie Smith Associates, 1999), and at the individual level (where we produce 25% of the remaining CO2). On average, every Canadian produces 5,5 tons of greenhouse gases per year (source: Pembina, 2003).

 

Calculated from: Environment Canada (2002), Canada's Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2000; Natural Resources Canada (2002), End-Use Energy Data Handbook 1990 to 2000. http://www.climatechangesolutions.com/english/individuals/graph1.htm

1.1) Transportation

There are many ways of reducing vehicle emissions, whether it be by changing driving habits, choosing a better vehicle or fuel type, or by ensuring the proper vehicle maintenance is carried out.

Driving habits:
-use your automobile for transportation only when other transportation means are not possible or practical;
-use public transportation as much as possible; -encourage car pooling;
-avoid aggressive driving. Rapid stops and departures consume more gas;
-drive more slowly. For every speed reduction of the order of 10 Km/hour (when exceeding 60 km/hour), a 10% economy in fuel and emissions is attained;
-avoid idling. If parked for more than 10 seconds, it is more efficient to stop the engine;
-ensure tires are well inflated. For every 2 PSI lower than the required tire pressure, fuel consumption increases by 1%;
-regular check-ups of your vehicle will ensure it is working at its optimal fuel consumption;
-reduce the use of air conditioning in your car. This increases fuel consumption by as much as 21%;
-buy a smaller car that consumes less gas. You might consider a gas/electric hybrid;
-ask for more bicycling trails in your neighbourhood. This will encourage people to choose this type of transportation more often;
-at the industry and technology levels, encourage research and development of alternatives such as hydrogen batteries;
-buy local products that require less transportation and benefit your local farmers.

In Winter:
-use a block heater to increase engine efficiency. The block heater can be attached to a timer and set so that it starts heating the motor 2 ˝ hours before you use the car;
-avoid idling your car for more than 30 seconds. It is more efficient to warm the engine by driving than by idling;
-remove all snow and ice from your automobile since the extra weight reduces fuel efficiency;
-use good winter tires that reduce slipping but remember to remove them in the Spring since they are less efficient on dry pavement;
-before the onset of Winter, choose lighter oil for your engine;
-avoid short trips that would be faster on foot.

Vehicle maintenance:
-ensure tires are well inflated. For every 5% of under inflation, car efficiency is reduced by 1%;
-ensure brakes are well maintained. Faulty brakes could reduce your vehicle's efficiency by up to 40 %;
-oiled joints and balanced tires increase vehicle efficiency;
-clean air filters and good spark plugs also increase efficiency;
-the catalytic converter of your exhaust system plays an important role in pollution prevention. Make sure your vehicle has one and that it is functioning properly;
-the proper adjustment of your motor's idling speed can help reduce emissions;
-ask your mechanic to check if the oxygen sensor is functioning properly. This can help ensure your car is running as efficiently as possible. Choice of vehicle and equipment:
-choose brands of motor oil that are specially designed to increase efficiency (by up 3%);
-choose gasoline that is mixed with ethanol whenever possible. It emits less greenhouse gases;
-choose a smaller, lighter car that is more fuel efficient and economical (Consult the EnerGuide tag on the vehicle);
-hybrid cars are now available on the market. They are more efficient and pollute less;
-make sure luggage or bicycle racks are removed when not in use. Racks increase fuel consumption by as much as 5%.

To calculate your vehicle's emissions, visit one of the following websites:

Calculate my Emissions
www.climatepartners.com

ICLEI Personal CO2 Calculator http://www3.iclei.org/co2/co2calc.htm

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1.2) At home

Any measure that helps reduce energy consumption will help reduce greenhouse gas production since a good portion of the energy that we consume is produced using fossil fuels such as coal and oil, either used directly for heat or for electricity production. In New Brunswick, each kilowatt/hour of electricity used produces 528 grams of greenhouse gases (GHG).

That is why "Making a commitment to improve our use of energy at home, at work and on the road will result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It's a matter of making lifestyle choices that reduce energy consumption and get the most out of the energy we use." (Environment Canada).

Here are some tips that can help reduce energy consumption and green house gases at home:

-choose efficient lighting. Use only the lights that are necessary and choose more efficient compact fluorescent lights that use only 25% of the energy of ordinary bulbs;
-insulate your home properly. This can save you money and save on energy;
-make sure the furnace is clean and functioning properly;
-add insulation on the hot water heater and hot water pipes;
-install water savers on showerheads;
-reduce heating by only one degree can save you up to 10% in heating costs;
-lower the thermostat setting at night or when away from home;
-buy energy efficient programmable thermostats;
-use the traditional clothesline instead of the dryer;
-add curtains to windows and close them in the summer. This will help cut on air conditioning bills;
-shut off unused appliances such as the television and the computer;
-use more efficient heating appliances;
-buy appliances that consume less energy (see EnerGuide);
-encourage energy production using renewable resources such as wind or solar power;
-use more efficient and less polluting sources of energy. Orimulsion fuel used in certain power plants for example is cheaper but emits more pollutants than other sources.

 

1.3) Solid Waste

Domestic and industrial solid waste emit important quantities of methane when they decompose.

-direct reduction of our solid waste is the best way to reduce methane production;
-choose products with less packaging will help reduce waste;
-composting is an efficient way to reduce our solid waste (nearly a third of our waste can be composted);
-some solid waste plants recover methane gas from decomposition and use it as an energy source.

 

1.4) Agriculture

Cattle raising also produces important amounts of methane, an important greenhouse gas.

-reducing the amount of meat we consume would help decrease methane production.
-a better management of manure and methane recovery is also possible.

Certain crops, such as rice, also contribute to the production of methane. Faster growing rice crops can be encouraged to reduce GHG.

Certain fertilizers used in agriculture contribute to the formation of nitrous oxides that are also greenhouse gases. A better management of these fertilizers could help reduce GHG.

Some agricultural practices also contribute to the production of large amounts of CO2. By minimising soil mixing, these amounts could be significantly reduced.

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1.5) Industry and commerce

An important portion of the GHG produced are the result of our industrial and commercial activities. In industry, electricity production and extraction, transformation and distribution of oil are the most important in terms of GHG production. This production reflects the high demand by consumers of a variety of goods and services.

There are ways to reduce GHG emissions in this sector:

-measures aimed at energy efficiency (avoid waste, efficient equipment, etc. ) will help reduce GHG emissions;
-industry could choose a larger portion of their energy needs produced from renewable resources;
-measures can be taken to reduce energy consumption in offices and buildings;
-vehicle fleets could be reduced or more efficient vehicles chosen.

 

1.6) Forestry

Trees are very important in our ecosystems in part because they absorb a large portion of CO2 from the atmosphere. For this reason our forests are called carbon sinks.

What we can do:

-when trees are cut, this carbon sink capacity is diminished. Also, the debris left on the ground will release CO2 during the decomposition process. Reducing the amount of trees cut would reduce CO2 emissions and help absorption. For this to happen, we need to reduce our use of wood products;
-mature forests (old growth) are more efficient carbon sinks than young forests. The conservation of old growth forests can help increase or maintain the carbon sink effect;
-reduce the use of paper by writing on both sides of pages before throwing them out. Once done, paper can be recycled;
-use recycled paper as much as possible;
-plant trees in your backyard or at your work place.

For more information on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, visit one of the following web sites:

Climate Change
http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/english/index.shtml

Climate Change Solutions: Greenhouse gas emission reduction
strategies to reduce global warming http://www.climatechangesolutions.com/english/default.htm

TAKING ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/english/takingaction/index.cfm

You want to calculate your CO2 emissions? Use the Calculator
http:www.climcalc.net

 

2. Adaptation to Climate Change

It is no doubt very important to act on reducing our greenhouse gas production. It is also important to realise that GHGs are already present in the atmosphere in larger amounts than in previous centuries and will affect climate for some time to come. In other words, with all our efforts, we will still be facing some degree of climate change. In Atlantic Canada, experts in the field warn that we are going to face more extreme weather events such as storms with strong winds, heavy rainfalls, storm surges and floods, ice storms, etc.

It is important to be well prepared for these events in order to minimise their impacts on our lives. This is called adaptation to climate change

 

2.1) Sea level rise and storm surges

Many coastal communities have realised in the last five years that they will be affected more and more by sea level rise. Many of these communities have witnessed storm surges and flooding which has caused considerable damage to roads, wharves or other infrastructure. They have also witnessed erosion along beaches, cliffs or coastal marshes.

The Atlantic Provinces are particularly affected by sea level rise because of the natural downward movement of the ground level in a large portion of the area. This "land subsidence" adds to the rising water level that is seen across the world and related to ice melt and rising water temperature.

There are different approaches that can be taken to deal with this reality. It is possible to wait and see and do little or no preparation to the impacts of these events or it is possible to act now in order to minimise the impacts of the near future. In the later case, different strategies are possible:

-more and more coastal communities are planning ahead by incorporating high-risk areas in their management plans;
-it is possible to avoid buildings or infrastructure of any kind in high-risk areas and choose sites that are more appropriate for building higher and further from the coastline;
-it is possible to build structures, such as the Confederation Bridge, that are conceived by incorporating sea level rise data;
-we can choose structures such as boardwalks or others that can be moved once they get too close to the water.

The choice of an appropriate option can be complex and is very site specific. Sums invested, the time scale considered, values placed on structures and natural elements, are all to be considered. When protective walls are built along the coast for example, stretches of beach, coastal marshes and other natural elements are put at risk because of the impossibility of the system to naturally migrate backwards with the rising sea level.

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2.2) Storms

The frequency of storms with high winds, increased precipitation, ice storms and others are predicted to increase with climate change. Therefore…

-it is important to ensure that the infrastructure in place can resist these harsh conditions;
-emergency measures in case of severe storms and floods can be prepared.

 

2.3) Temperature and precipitation changes

According to most models, the rise in temperature in the Atlantic region will not be as significant than in northern parts of the country. Nonetheless, a slight rise in temperature can have significant impacts on ecosystems:

-forest composition can change on the long term because the species distributions are sensitive to mean temperatures and precipitation patterns. It is important to consider the long-term changes when planning tree plantations that will mature in more than fifty years. Black spruce for example is quite common in New Brunswick but its abundance could change with the predicted rise in temperatures.

Some insects considered as pests could increase because of milder winter temperatures. To what extent this will happen and how our forests will be impacted is still not clear.

Because of possible changes in precipitation, the forest fire season could be expanded and it is important to be prepared to restrain them.

-In agriculture, climate change could have some beneficial effects. Certain cultures that are now difficult could be feasible with a rise in the average temperature.

There are unfortunately also negative impacts against which we can prepare:
-global agricultural productivity may decline, especially in tropical areas. It will be important to support these countries when in need;
-some changes in soil management practices may be required. Practices that avoid excessive water loss for example need to be encouraged;
-the installation of irrigation systems or opting for better systems may be necessary in areas of decreased precipitation;
-the choice of varieties planted will need to be looked at carefully in light of the changes occurring in each area;
-in general, a greater diversity in cultures will provide more security in facing the climate changes.

 

2.4) Health

Climate change will and is impacting human health with an increase in stress and heat strokes related to hot days, increase in smog and pulmonary problems, the increase in diseases related to a vector such as insects, problems related to poor water quality etc.

There are measures that can help prepare to face these changes:

-a better surveillance and monitoring of the population can help recognise critical areas; -prevention and early intervention programs aimed at sensitive portions of the population such as old age groups could be necessary.

For more information on adaptations to climate change in the health sector:

Health Effects of Global Climate Change http://www.ncsl.org/programs/esnr/CDCclimatechange.pdf

Climate Change And Health & Well-Being: A Policy Primer For Canada's North
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/ccho/publications/policy_primer_north/chapter3.htm

For more information on adaptations to climate change visit:

Canadian Perspective http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/perspective_e.asp?CaId=9&PgId=25

 

References

Environment Canada (2002), Canada's Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2000; Natural Resources Canada (2002), End-Use Energy Data Handbook 1990 to 2000.
http://www.climatechangesolutions.com/english/individuals/graph1.htm

Environment Canada, The Green Lane: Climate Change - Home, 22/07/2003 http://www.ec.gc.ca/climate/home-e.html

Environment Canada, 2003. Climate Change - What Can We Do About Climate Change? - Using Energy More Efficiently
http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/english/issues/what_can/energy_eff.shtml

Pembina: Climate change policy measures, 03-07-23 http://www.pembina.org/climate_change.asp

Torrie Smith Associates, 1999, in Climate Change in Canada - How do we measure up? 03-07-23 http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/posters/articles/pr_08_en.asp?Region=pr&Language=en

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