"Real change happens when there is a consensus across the political spectrum," a chat with Michael Chong

GreenPAC chatted with Michael Chong about his connection to nature, and why he thinks it’s important to be an environmental leader.

When did you first discover your connection with the natural environment?

There were two moments where I really felt the importance of preserving and conserving our natural environment.

        I grew up and still live in a rural farming community an hour and a half northwest of Toronto in Wellington County, in a landscape dominated by farms. My mother was Dutch and we spent time in the Netherlands as a child. I saw how well they used their limited farmland, compared to Canada, where much of our farmland and wild spaces were being eaten up by urban sprawl. It helped me realize the importance of farmland protection.  I saw the way we were paving over farmland in southern ontario, and I realized we could approach this challenge differently.

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On beauty, biodiversity and a country ahead of the curve on conservation

Costa Rica contains a notable range of species- more than six percent of the worlds total biodiversity, to be exact. In fact, the country ranks as one of the top twenty in terms of greatest overall biodiversity, despite its relatively limited surface area, which accounts for a mere 0.03% of Earth’s total land mass. With its geographic location positioned as a bridge between North and South America, the dense forests, micro climate-encompassing mountain range, and coastal waters of Costa Rica have served as a connection between species from both continents for centuries.

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Manitoba's Shot at Environmental Leadership

Spring is not only bringing new growth to the land, it’s bringing a new legislature to Manitoba. April will see a Manitoba provincial election, and GreenPAC will be working to help foster environmental leaders running for office.

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Rise of the Green Tories

The most intriguing Conservative leadership contender so far is Michael Chong, and I don’t just say that because he’s a half-Asian guy like me who favours carbon pricing and democratic reform.

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Here Comes the Next Economy. Are First Ministers Ready?

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial/territorial premiers meet in Vancouver this week, they’ll be searching for agreement on the pan-Canadian climate framework that Trudeau promised to introduce within 90 days of the 2015 United Nations climate summit in Paris.

It’s a big enough, ambitious enough agenda. But the real question facing First Ministers, and the elephant in the room that will dominate their deliberations, is bigger still. It comes in two parts:

What kind of economy do we want for Canada in the 21st century? (Because it’s 2016!)

And however that’s answered, is the plan realistic against anything we know about the future shape of global energy use?

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What China’s “New Normal” might mean for its regional biodiversity

With more than ten percent of the worlds known species, China is home to a notable portion of Earths biodiversity. As a result of its immense geographic size, it possesses a unique mix of differing ecosystems containing numerous endemic organisms.

However, since the Peoples Republic of China was established in 1949, Chinas biodiversity has been sharply reduced. Unsurprisingly, the immense energy consumption required for the states rapid economic and infrastructure development has led to rising carbon emissions levels which devastate the air, water, and land quality of Chinas natural environment. In fact, nearly half of China’s terrestrial vertebrates have disappeared over the past 40 years, and the threat of further loss will persist until Chinas federal leadership is no longer driven by industrialization and expansion.

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Food Insecurity in Canada's Indigenous Communities – A Colonial Legacy

Since taking office, Prime Minister Trudeau has made historic strides towards furthering the rights of Indigenous peoples across Canada. Increased funding for programs to alleviate poverty, and the beginning of a national inquiry on missing and murdered Aboriginal women deserve due recognition. However, where the government still lacks significant legislative progress is in addressing the issue of food security in Indigenous communities.

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The Great Bear Agreement: A Model for Cooperative Decision-making

British Columbia’s landmark agreement to protect and preserve 3.1 million hectares of the Great Bear Rainforest is being heralded as one of the most “visionary forest conservation plans on Earth”. It took years of heated conflict and decades of negotiations between logging industrialists and First Nations. It took the forming of a coalition between forestry companies and environmental groups to establish productive decision-making processes. What finally resulted was the ratification of an agreement that would conserve a primordial temperate forest and thousands of wild species. It emphasizes community well-being, offering security and economic opportunity to the twenty-plus First Nations that live on and cultivate the land.

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Let's Talk Transportation Policy Solutions

The transportation sector accounts for 23% of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—second only to the oil and gas sector (accounting for 25%). Provinces such as Ontario have made great strides reducing emissions from industry and electricity sectors over the past ten years; however, not much progress has been made cutting emissions from transportation. What can we do to improve our transportation policy and reduce harmful emissions?

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In the Energy East Fight, We All Want the Same Things

The pitched media battle between Mayors Denis Coderre of Montreal and Naheed Nenshi of Calgary shows just how quickly the political debate can get nasty when the things that matter most to us are at stake.

It also points to what’s been missing so far in a suddenly much more open federal conversation on Canada’s energy choices and climate responsibilities.

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