Welcome to Pollution Probe’s last e-newsletter of 2019!
It’s been an amazing year, capped off with the best birthday celebration we could have asked for – our 50th Anniversary Gala! We’re grateful to CBC for the wonderful tribute on our 50th anniversary – check out the OurToronto episode on Pollution Probe here! After five decades, we have a legacy we can truly be proud of. Here are just some of the things we’ve accomplished over the years:
- Helped get phosphates removed from detergents, reducing aquatic pollution levels
- Coined the iconic and now internationally-adopted slogan “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”
- Legislation and regulations to restrict acid rain causing emissions
- Played a key role in the creation of Blue Box recycling
- Contributed to the closure of Ontario’s coal plants
- Helped put in place GHG emissions regulations for cars and trucks (the first federal regulations for climate change)
More recently, during a difficult time for environmental organizations, we contributed to:
- The redesign of Ontario’s Drive Clean program to focus on trucks
- The newly announced extended producer responsibility approach to Ontario’s Blue Box Program
- The federal and Ontario tax rebates to accelerate uptake of electric and hydrogen vessels in corporate fleets.
None of our work would be possible without the generous support of our sponsors and donors – thank you for all that you do!
Read on for the highlights reel of our 50th year…
50th Anniversary Conference and Gala
With close to 400 attendees including leaders across the full spectrum of the Canadian environmental sector, the Conference and Gala were a resounding success. We were privileged to welcome some extra-special guests – the Right Honourable M. Brian Mulroney, Anishinabek Nation Chief Water Commissioner Autumn Peltier, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and many more!
As we’d hoped, the Conference provided invaluable insights on priorities and pathways for a 2050 environmental agenda for Canada. We look forward to sharing the findings very soon – so stay tuned!
HERE is a handy recap of the evening – and HERE are pictures!
Find in-depth coverage of our award winners: The Environmental Leadership Award, The Peter Middleton Legacy Award and The Rising Star Award.
THE FUTURE OF NATURAL GAS
Earlier this year, we hosted an expert workshop and public event on the topic of Natural Gas and how it might feature in a decarbonized Canadian energy system. After a lot of work, our Future of Natural Gas report is out!
Natural gas can, we found, play an important role in decarbonizing Canada’s energy system despite being a fossil fuel. Increasing energy efficiency and incorporating new technology as well as low-carbon gases (renewable natural gas and hydrogen) will be critical. The full report, as well as a summary document with the essential highlights only, are on our website now – find both by clicking the report cover!
VISUALIZING A LOW-CARBON FUTURE
Picture what, exactly, it would mean for Canada to meet Paris Agreement targets for lowering emissions. What would need to change to make that possible? How would the everyday lives of regular Canadians change?
In our new web tool, we used data from several Futures Models to build an image of what a low-carbon future would look like for Canadian life and how your home, commute, car and even your shopping habits might change.
The more data we get, the more detailed the website will become! Find it HERE!
BIG DATA AND THE GREAT LAKES
In early 2019 we began one of our most ambitious and exciting water projects yet – the Big Data and Great Lakes Management project with the Council of the Great Lakes Region (with support from RBC).
Understanding the issues facing the Lakes is critical to effectively managing and protecting them. The Big Data project explores how cutting-edge data science, high-performance computing and A.I. technology can help to clearly and concisely explain the Lakes’ complex processes and changes, making it easier to develop effective management plans.
Our June report summarizes the progress we’ve made so far and outlines the Demonstration Project that we expect to make up the next phase of the work.
Click the report cover to read it!
CITIZEN SCIENCE AND PHARMACEUTICALS
Earlier this year, we highlighted the issue of pharmaceuticals in the Great Lakes and the damage they do to aquatic systems. Key points in the report were the need for regular, systematic sampling to effectively understand and manage the issue, and the importance of spreading awareness and building public engagement.
Citizen Science Projects could be a powerful tool to both build our knowledge base on the pharmaceuticals problem and spread awareness of what we already know, all while building engagement by giving people the chance to do something tangible to help. In partnership with Swim Drink Fish Canada, we are working to establish a robust citizen science program that will help us involve as many Canadians as possible in studying and protecting the Lakes from pharmaceutical pollution. We have already started water testing at three Lakes locations and are putting together a how-to guide for citizen science groups.
We’re excited to share updates in the new year – for now, why not check out our Pharma 101 video – follow the links on YouTube to find out what you can do now to be part of the solution!
In 2018, Canada was one of several nations to adopt the Ocean Plastics Charter to combat damaging plastics pollution in the world’s oceans. Later in the year, Pollution Probe partnered with the Council of the Great Lakes Region and the Clean Water Foundation to advocate for action on plastics in freshwater ecosystems as well as oceans at the Great Lakes Plastics Forum. We’re pleased to be working with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) on the Action Plan for Zero Plastic Waste (watch for updates in the new year and info on the January 2020 Toronto Workshop!)
2020 will see the launch of several initiatives to address plastic pollution on multiple fronts. Our focus is two-fold: effectively deal with the immediate problem of removing plastic from waterways using the best available technology, while simultaneously working towards realizing a long-term vision of a circular economy for plastics.
This summer, we released reports that identify and develop solutions for common barriers to the use of ZEVs in Canada. The Framework for Municipal Zero Emission Vehicle Deployment report presents a suite of over 150 activities that any municipality can put in place to increase ZEV use and reduce emissions. The Zero Emission Vehicle Charging in Multi-Unit Residential Buildings and for Garage Orphans report addresses challenges of owning ZEVs when charging at home is an issue.
Click the report covers for more detail!
ULTRAFINE PARTICLE EMISSIONS
The environmental and health impacts of transportation GHG emissions are now well known, with many programs in place to successfully reduce those impacts. But new technologies to address greenhouse gas emissions may be contributing to new and lesser-known air pollutants.
In a workshop with the University of Toronto’s Transportation and Air Quality (TRAQ) Research Group, we took a close look at recent research on ultrafine particles (UFPs). UFPs potentially pose a serious threat to human health, in part because their small size allows them to spread easily through the human body.
The workshop was a first step to developing mitigation strategies and identifying where more research is needed. We look forward to sharing what we’ve learned and continuing our work on this emerging health issue.
HISTORY ON FILM
As part of our anniversary celebrations, we’ve put together a series of videos featuring iconic individuals and milestone moments from Pollution Probe’s 50-year history. Keep an eye on our social media so you know when each new video drops – you can now check out the first installment in the series, ‘Origins’ – featuring two of our founders, Brian Kelly and Peter Love, talking about the very beginnings of Pollution Probe.
DOING IT FOR THE 'GRAM
Pollution Probe is a registered charitable organization and donations from people like you allow us to continue our work for clean air, clean water and a healthy planet.