Reposted from: PEI Guardian

Dave Stewart

Published on December 07, 2014

© Guardian photo by Dave Stewart – Tony Clarke, founder of the Polaris Institute and a recipient of the Alternative Nobel Prize, goes over some of the agenda items with Mary Boyd, with the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice. The MacKillop Centre hosted a meeting in Stratford on Tuesday centered around climate change. Clarke was the guest speaker.

Climate change is a ticking clock and time is running out, says the founder of a national social justice think-tank.

Tony Clarke, with the Polaris Institute and a recipient of the Alternative Nobel Prize, was the guest speaker at a public meeting in Stratford this week, entitled Climate Jobs, put on by the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice.

“We’re trying to build a movement from the grassroots up, so to speak, that involves people from different walks of life and different sectors coming together in a common interest to deal with climate change,” Clarke told The Guardian during a break at Tuesday’s meeting.

The sectors Clarke refers to included the P.E.I. Federation of Labour as well as church and community groups.

“Instead of being in silos, by bringing those people together, coming together to work together and being a part of something in common, it’s turning out to be a really good message.”

Clarke said there are things happening in P.E.I. that are helping to save the planet: wind power, solar power, heat pumps and organic agriculture.

Then he points to cities like Winnipeg where geothermal power is being used, where the earth itself is used to heat buildings.

He also mentioned Manitoba’s Aki Energy as an example of how combatting climate change has taken hold at the grassroots level.

Aki Energy is an aboriginal social enterprise linking First Nations to the green economy. Geothermal energy, biomass systems and solar thermal hot water heating technologies are being used to reduce energy bills. Aki also delivers training programs to certify First Nations construction companies to install and maintain systems. That has created local jobs and business development opportunities.

“You end up hiring marginalized people, training them and retraining them,” Clarke said. “You make a change in terms of the economy. You create social enterprise that doesn’t go for big profit but serves the community.”

Clarke said climate change is a force of nature that people, somehow, have to come to grips with as a civilization.

“There is deep and long-term change that needs to take place.”

One of the ideas that came up Tuesday is to put solar panels on top of schools and educate students about the green energy. The school benefits and the kids go home and educate their parents.

Carl Pursey, president of the P.E.I. Federation of Labour, said Tuesday’s meeting was a very positive step.

“The green economy can help efforts to overcome poverty and assure stronger communities throughout Canada,” Pursey said.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Climate change generating new economy