climate change

Posted by Denise Deby.

Image courtesy of EnviroCentre

Image courtesy of EnviroCentre


If you’re keen to green your commute, spend active time outdoors and support cycling in the city, why not sign up for Bike to Work Month in May?

Bike to Work Month promotes and celebrates cycling. Beyond the joys of biking itself, the campaign, which is organized by EnviroCentre, provides incentives like prizes for participation.

You can sign up at and log your bike trips. (My suggestion: You can log work-related trips even if you don’t commute regularly to a workplace.)

You can also start a workplace team, or book a “lunch and learn” workshop on commuting or basic bike maintenance. The website has other resources and links, too.

EnviroCentre says last year during Bike to Work Month, 2,500 Ottawa participants collectively cycled more than 300,000 km, equivalent to seven times around the planet. That’s impressive! Every little bit helps reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gases, and helps make our city healthier and more vibrant.

See you on the bike routes!


Written by Denise Deby.

Happy Earth Day! by Kate Ter Haar on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Happy Earth Day! by Kate Ter Haar on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

April 22 was Earth Day. Earth Day draws needed attention to the environment, but sometimes it comes with a lot of hype, too–for example, by companies promoting yet more consumption of their stuff, or association with things that have very little to do with sustainability.

Reflecting on Earth Day this year made me want to think bigger–about the earth’s complexity, the way good writers or artists can express it. When I learned that April 23 is World Book Day, that clinched the idea of a post on books.

Of course, there’s a lot of great literature—fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction—on the environment, so here’s just a tiny sample:

The Lorax: The incomparable Dr. Seuss speaks for the trees, inspiring kids and adults alike to do their part, however big or small, for the environment.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein: a big-picture yet often personal book about how changing the way we organize our economy and society can help us transform our world for the better.

The Big Swim: Coming Ashore in a World Adrift, by Carrie Saxifrage: a book that reflects on nature and life through the author’s personal experiences.

The Ecoholic books by Adria Vasil, and Toxin Toxout by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith:  Practical help for living and consuming sustainably.

The Once and Future World by J.B. MacKinnon, The Global Forest by Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Eating Dirt by Charlotte Gill, The Oil Man and the Sea by Arno Kopecky and Happy City by Charles Montgomery are just a few more examples of compelling books that blend storytelling, history and evidence to give us a big picture of the earth and living as humans within it.

I’d love to hear what eco-books have inspired you!

Written by Denise Deby.

Ottawa-March 27, 2009-First Flowers 6 by Douglas Sprott on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

Ottawa-March 27, 2009-First Flowers 6 by Douglas Sprott on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

April is always a busy month for environment-related events. Here are a few coming up:

For inspiration about acting on climate change:

Development and Peace, the Canadian Religious Conference, Equiterre and Citizens for Public Justice are holding a talk on Paris Climate Conference: And After? along with the film This Changes Everything. It’s at Saint Paul University (223 Main St.) on Tuesday, Apr. 5, 2016.

Catch This Changes Everything again on Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2016 at Carleton University with a screening hosted by Carleton Climate Commons Working Group, 350 Ottawa, Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op and Carleton Cinema Politica.

Also on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, Impact Hub Ottawa hosts What’s next after Paris? Community action for a post-carbon future. Panelists Mitchell Beer (Smarter Shift/The Energy Mix), Mike De Souza (National Observer), Andrea Flowers (City of Ottawa), Graeme Cunningham (Bullfrog Power), Janice Ashworth (Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op) and EnviroCentre’s Carbon 613 will talk about getting involved in creating a sustainable world.

Ottawa hosts a National Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation for industry, governments and organizations Apr. 12-14, 2016.

For inspiration on understanding and protecting nature and ourselves within it:

Local conservation biologist and author Robert Alvo launches Being a Bird in North America at Octopus Books (Glebe) on Saturday, Apr. 9, 2016. It’s a book that uses humour and science to provide a new perspective on birds.

Celebrated primatologist Jane Goodall will be speaking in Ottawa on Monday, Apr. 11, 2016 about her lifetime of research and her sustainability work with youth. (Proceeds from the event support the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada’s conservation, humanitarian and youth programs.)

The City of Ottawa is hosting Engaging Citizens in Science to showcase groups that are involving people in understanding and documenting nature. As well as speakers Dr. Jeremy Kerr (University of Ottawa, co-founder of and Andy Kenney (University of Toronto, Neighbourwoods Program), several groups will present their citizen science and research initiatives. It’s on Tuesday, Apr. 12, 2016.

The film Love Thy Nature, coming to the Mayfair Theatre Apr. 10, 11 and 13, 2016, explores humanity’s connection with the natural world.

On Thursday, Apr. 14, 2016, Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees plays at the Mayfair. The documentary follows scientist and environmentalist Diana Beresford-Kroeger as she explores ancient trees. (See for details.)

The Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club has several upcoming birding and other events. Check details on their website.

For inspiration on making Ottawa a more sustainable city:

Janette Sadik-Khan led New York City’s program to create safer, more liveable streets, and wrote about the experience in Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution. She’ll be speaking in Ottawa on Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2016 at Streetfight: NY’s Urban Revolution Comes to Ottawa, a discussion organized by Ecology Ottawa and other groups.

Of course, April 22 is Earth Day. Check for events at

To stay up to date with local environmental events, check out the great event calendars at Green Ottawa, Ecology Ottawa and Transition Ottawa.

Written by Denise Deby.

Churchill Avenue in February - D. Deby

You don’t even need to brave the elements to take part in some of these environment-related activities.

Ecology Ottawa is calling on people to get involved when the city’s Environment Committee meets on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016—in what Ecology Ottawa calls a key moment for climate action in the next 12-18 months. The Committee will be considering a Renewable Energy Strategy, the climate change management plan and a motion that includes strengthening Ottawa’s greenhouse gas reduction target and other measures. (See more here and here.) Attend the meeting (9:30 a.m. at City Hall) and/or contact your councillor and the mayor.

The Environment Committee is also reviewing a report that has implications for whether the city will support harvesting of fruit and nut trees for citizens and groups in need rather than treating it as waste. Find the report here.

The National Capital Commission is hosting The Urban Forest: From Science to Poetry through its Urbanism Lab series. The session will look at the importance of forests in the city for biodiversity and health. Speakers are Dr. Tom Smiley (Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory, North Carolina), Dr. Jérôme Dupras (Université du Québec en Outaouais) and Diana Beresford-Kroeger (author and scientist), moderated by Michael Rosen (Tree Canada). The event on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016 from 6-8 p.m. is full (there’s a waitlist), but it’s available live online. (Hope the discussion includes the at-risk South March Highlands.)

There’s another Urbanism Lab event on February 24 on cycling and Sunday Bikedays.

EnviroCentre and the Healthy Transportation Coalition host the Sustainable Transportation Summit: Building Equity into Ottawa’s Transportation System on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Sessions cover how to improve equity in transportation planning and delivery, and practical steps that we in Ottawa can take to make sustainable transportation available to everyone. The Summit is 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (with a lunch at 12:30) at City Hall. More information here.



Written by Denise Deby.

100 Per Cent We-Can-Solve-Climate-Change

Why support the March for Climate Solutions and Justice in Ottawa on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015?

You’ll be joining a national and global effort to:

  • Spread the word that a renewable energy economy and a just society really are possible, and within reach;
  • Support the positive steps that governments, including Canada’s, have taken so far, and remind Canada’s delegation to the UN Climate Summit in Paris next week that we’re watching what they say and do there, and after;
  • Encourage more municipal and provincial governments and companies, following on the example of Vancouver and other jurisdictions, to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
  • Bring together people from all walks of life, including through groups such as Ecology Ottawa, Ottawa Riverkeeper, Climate Action Network, WWF Canada, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and dozens of others, in a call for sustainability and justice.

Things will get going around noon on Sunday at Ottawa City Hall (110 Laurier Ave. W.), with music, food trucks and more. The opening ceremony, including David Suzuki and other speakers, starts at 1 p.m. People will begin walking to Parliament Hill at 1:30 p.m., with closing speeches by youth around 2:30 p.m. Organizers are asking people to wear green. Check here for details and updates.

There have been climate marches–and international climate conferences–before, but there’s every reason to believe a broader array of governments, citizens, organizations and businesses are coming together to make renewable energy happen. If you need additional reasons to attend, read this.

If you can’t attend, talk about the March, the issues and the solutions with your friends and neighbours. Share your support on social media. Write your MP.

See you there!

Written by Denise Deby.


There’s new optimism in Ottawa and across much of the country that action on the environment and climate change is possible.

To draw attention to the opportunity for change and encourage the Canadian government to act, a coalition of environmental, community, labour and other groups is organizing 100% Possible: Marching for Climate Solutions and Justice on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015.

Everyone is welcome to join the March from 1-4 p.m., starting at Ottawa City Hall and moving to Parliament Hill.

Organizers encourage people to wear green—representing renewable energy, the environment and hope—and bring posters or banners. More tips here.

The Ottawa event is part of a Global Climate March that day.

We can solve climate change in our lifetimes. Canada is at a crossroads. The solutions to the climate crisis exist, solutions that:

  • Create low carbon jobs
  • Respect Indigenous rights
  • Stop tar sands expansion

We can create a clean, renewable energy economy, for everyone.

A 100% clean economy by 2050 is not only possible, it is NECESSARY. It’s a vision for a healthy, diverse economy that leads to a safer, more sustainable, and more just future. This fall, we have a historic opportunity to be HEARD by our new government in their first month in power, on the eve of their first international meeting in Paris.

On November 29, let’s show our leaders that 100% clean is possible, together.”

For many years, Canada has promoted and subsidized fossil fuels, but with political will can shift to clean energy. Read more and get involved here.

You can also sign up here to get Ecology Ottawa’s updates on the March.



Written by Denise Deby.

Image: Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue and the Centre for European Studies (EU Centre of Excellence) Policy Workshop poster, Climate Change and Renewable Energy Policy in the EU and Canada

Image: Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue and the Centre for European Studies (EU Centre of Excellence) Policy Workshop poster, Climate Change and Renewable Energy Policy in the EU and Canada

There’s a lot going on in Ottawa related to sustainable energy right now:

Climate Change and Renewable Energy Policy Workshop and Forum:

Carleton University’s Centre for European Studies (European Union Centre of Excellence) and Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue are hosting a workshop and public forum, Climate Change and Renewable Energy Policy in the EU and Canada, on Thursday, Oct. 1 and Friday, Oct. 2, 2015.

This free event, open to everyone, is looking at the role of wind, solar and other ‘new’ renewables technologies in addressing climate change, including public acceptance, innovation, and government commitment (or lack thereof). It also focuses on the potential for leadership at city, provincial, national and supranational levels, and Ottawa and Ontario’s experience compared to European examples.

This important discussion comes at a time when ideas for Canada’s position at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015 are being debated.

See the website for details, speakers and registration.

Carbon 613:

EnviroCentre’s new program Carbon 613 supports businesses to set and meet targets for sustainability that include reducing carbon emissions. They’re also holding seminars in October, starting Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. See for details.

Green Energy Doors Open:

Green Energy Doors Open is a chance to visit energy projects in Ottawa (and around the province). An initiative of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, the free event intends to demonstrate how Ontario is already moving towards a clean and sustainable energy system. It’s on Sat., Oct. 3, 2015.

Investing in Solar:

Learn about solar energy in Ottawa with the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op—their next information session is Wed., Oct. 14, 2015 at the West End Well. Or learn about their current securities offering here.



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