March 29 - April 5, 2004

One-Tonne Challenge calls on Canadians to reduce GHG emissions from everyday activities

The federal government's One-Tonne Challenge, officially launched March 26, calls on individual Canadians to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by one tonne, or about 20%, through modifications in their day-to-day activities.

The everyday routine of each Canadian generates, on average, more than five tonnes of GHG emissions a year, says Environment Canada. Using both national awareness initiatives and partnerships with communities, provinces and territories, youth, educators and the private sector, the One-Tonne Challenge will raise awareness of how the choices individuals make every day affect GHG emissions. The program encourages Canadians to take the challenge, and provides the motivation and tools necessary to succeed in reducing emissions at home and on the road.

The official launch follows from the announcement last August that the federal government would invest $45 million over three years in climate change communications and the One-Tonne Challenge (OTC) - a multi-faceted public outreach program involving community action and national promotion to engage Canadians in reducing their personal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

"Canadians have shown time and again that they are prepared to play a leadership role in protecting the environment," said federal Environment Minister David Anderson. "I have no doubt they are ready to commit to the important national goal of meeting our Kyoto target, and at the same time helping address other key priorities for Canadians, including cleaner air and sustainable communities."

Natural Resources Canada Minister John Efford added that "the One-Tonne Challenge is about building partnerships that will help individuals do their part. The Government of Canada is also committed to doing its part by reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions. We're supporting the development of the 'green' technologies needed to respond to climate change and that will pay economic and environmental dividends in the future," he added.

"The transportation sector accounts for about 25% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, much of it from personal transportation," Transport Minister Tony Valeri observed. "The One-Tonne Challenge provides Canadians with some practical and realistic ways to reduce emissions from transportation while helping them use less energy, save money and protect our environment."

An example of the type of partnerships the OTC will encourage is Scouts Canada's Climate Change Education and Action Program (CCEAP), whose official launch coincided with that of the OTC. The CCEAP was created in collaboration with The Delphi Group, an environmental consulting firm based in Ottawa, and pilot-tested earlier this year (ELW January 26, 2004). Funding assistance for this initiative is being provided by Alcan and Nexen, as well as the federal government. Details on the program are available on the Scouts Canada Web site, www.scouts.ca.

The government plans to work with industry, retailers and utilities, as well as communities and other groups to help individuals meet the challenge. Some initiatives are already under way.

Sobeys and Quebec-based Alcoa, for example, are engaging their employees in the challenge, while in Alberta, the Pembina Institute has engaged large companies such as Suncor, Shell and Petro-Canada in employee-based emission reduction activities.

Home Depot and the Hudson's Bay Company are looking at ways to link existing programs and promotions to the OTC goal, and labour groups have expressed interest in educational programs to encourage worker involvement. Discussions are under way with TD Financial concerning ways for its Friends of the Environment Foundation to suport community challenge groups.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Green Communities Association are working with the OTC program as well to develop an approach for community challenges: pilot activities in communities across Canada will help pave the way for broader public participation.

The launch of the One-Tonne Challenge is being supported by a dedicated Web site page at www.climatechange.gc.ca, and a new publication titled Your Guide to the One-Tonne Challenge. The Web site features an on-line calculator Canadians can use to assess their GHG emissions, as well as information on how to reduce emissions.

The Guide shows how to create a personal emissions reduction plan, with tips and information about how to reach the one-tonne goal and beyond. Printed copies may be requested by calling 1-800 O CANADA (1-800-622-6232), or downloaded from the Web site.

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