Premier says Islanders will have to make lifestyle changes to address climate change concerns

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 12, 2015

Anne Robichaud of Air Canada checks Premier Wade MacLauchlan's paperwork at the Charlottetown Airport Friday evening as he prepares to fly to Paris to attend the international talks on climate change

©THE GUARDIAN/Brian McInnis

Paris delegates were impressed at P.E.I.’s impressive strides in embracing green energy

Prince Edward Islanders will have to begin making some big lifestyle changes as more urgent action is needed on climate change, says P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan.

MacLauchlan took part in the COP21 climate change summit in Paris earlier this week, participating in panels and discussions with leaders from across the country and the globe.

He said P.E.I.’s story resonated especially in highlighting the need for more immediate action to stop the negative effects of climate change.

“The issue of rising sea levels and vulnerability and adaptation is very much one that people appreciate in the case of P.E.I. when I tell people like (federal Environment Minister) Catherine McKenna that we lost 43 centimetres of our shoreline on average last year, that brings it home.”

But COP21 delegates were also impressed at P.E.I.’s impressive strides in embracing green energy, notably how Prince Edward Island generates up to 80 per cent of its electricity from wind during peak periods.

Nonetheless, MacLauchlan said Islanders will have to do more to reduce emissions and conserve resources.

Transportation is one of the biggest sources of emissions in P.E.I. something that will have to be addressed partly through technology and partly through an examination of how often Islanders use their vehicles, MacLauchlan said.

Lifestyle adjustments can also make a difference, he added.

“If teenagers take shorter showers that will help. If people go for a walk in the woods rather than turning on their cooling systems in August that will help.”

MacLauchlan says he is confident Islanders can do their part to make the changes needed to stop the negative effects of the warming planet. He pointed to improvements in smoking rates over the years as proof changes can happen when people recognize risks and unite in effort to make improvements.

“We won’t have any choice,” he said.

“This is now more urgent than people have understood it to be and if we’re looking at getting down to the kind of emissions levels that are being contemplated by the people who are negotiating in Paris we’re going to have to make some big changes.”

The P.E.I. premier plans to unveil a new energy strategy for the province early in the new year that will include his government’s climate change plan.

“That will undoubtedly include working on lower emissions, working on more green energy mix and working on mitigation and adaptation.”

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

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