Seniors’ voices are a powerful asset and can be used to push for change in all levels of government and in private corporations. Policy changes rarely happen on their own. They require the strong voices and stronger resolve of citizens willing to fight for climate action.
Spotlight on: Samantha Tremmel and ClimateActionWR
ClimateActionWR has recently wrapped up a massive two- and half-year project to create a community level climate action strategy for Waterloo region.
The TransformWR strategy is a collaboration with eight municipalities, local non-profits, businesses, individuals–just about anyone you could think of who has a stake in Waterloo region’s environmental future.
“It’s really rewarding to see municipalities embrace this,” said Samantha Tremmel, plan manager for ClimateActionWR.
The strategy looks long term. It aims to achieve an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with actions and strategies outlined to reduce emissions 30% by 2030.
“It was really exciting to see that not only did councils endorse the plan, but they set a new community level target. Basically, if we’re able coordinate our advocacy efforts and push for help from the provincial and federal levels, then we can get past that 30%,” said Samantha.
ClimateActionWR played a facilitator role that collaborated with all the key players in order to develop and now to implement the plan. The plan outlines four calls to action.
“To oversimplify a bit, the first is transforming the ways we move, transforming how we build and operate spaces, transforming how we produce, consume and deal with waste and lastly transforming how we relate,” said Samantha.
Underneath those four umbrella actions are six transformative changes, broken out into measurable actions that are, “the backbone of this strategy,” said Samantha. These include a mix of actions that will happen at the municipal level, organizational level and individual level.
One example of a measurable action is increasing broadband internet access for some of the rural municipalities in the Waterloo region.
“Although it’s not intuitively about sustainability, Internet access plays a big role in individuals’ ability to participate in sustainable activities,” said Samantha. “How can people ride the bus if they can’t access the bus schedule?”
Admittedly, this type of multi-municipality, multi-year strategy is fairly unique in the country. ClimateActionWR worked with all municipalities throughout the process of developing the strategy.
“Ideally by the time [the plan] got to council there were no surprises,” said Samantha. “It was very much a relationship building effort that went into making sure people were informed and knew this was coming.”
It helps that ClimateActionWR is funded by four municipalities in the region so in some ways, they were already on board. But that’s not to say it didn’t take a lot of work and consultation to come up with a plan of such a huge scale.
“We engaged with over 1,600 community members, municipal staff, election officials…and actually we received funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities because we had so many organizations coming together in this work,” said Samantha.
The TransformWR strategy demonstrates what can be done through close collaboration and determination from all sectors in a region. Now, the ClimateActionWR team is thinking about ways it can support municipalities, businesses and individuals to achieve the ambitious targets they helped set.
In many cases, advocating for change at the government level is key to making real change for a sustainable future. Many groups in our network focus on government advocacy.
- Sign Sustainable Orillia‘s petition that aims to pass a bill requiring manufacturers to install microfilters on washing machines. In the Great Lakes, microplastic pollution is a huge issue for people and nature. One of the main causes is microfibres that come off clothes in washing machines. Sign the petition today!
- Citizen’s Climate Lobby (NCR-Ottawa) is dedicated to lobbying for a carbon fee and dividend at the federal level. They train citizens to write compelling op-eds, to build relationships with elected officials and to educate others on the importance of a low-carbon future. Find out more here.
- The Grandmothers’ Advocacy Network is a dynamic network of volunteers from across Canada working together to influence policy change and stimulate effective action in Canada to protect human rights of grandmothers, children and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Get involved today!
When trying to get corporations to take climate action, one of the most powerful actions seniors can take is to voice your concern on social media and move your money to other, more green-oriented companies.
- Check out this video about how the Eco-Elders of Calgary used their voices to advocate against the Grassy Mountain Coal Project in Alberta.
- Send a letter to RBC and TD asking them to disclose timelines and transparent plans to stop funding of fossil fuel projects, sacrificing our climate to make a profit and our grandchildren’s futures.