Following the 2014 Climate Summit, the United Nation’s Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon renewed his call on countries to step up their efforts to combat climate change.
This announcement came after the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report was released confirming, “The effects of human-caused climate change are already widespread and consequential, affecting agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some industries.”
It concludes that at present, the world is largely ill prepared for climate-related risks.
Local businessman and City Councillor Paul Harris didn’t need the secretary-general of the United Nations to tell him to change his ways, in fact he’s been slowly greening his businesses and home for the past decade.
“Humanity is killing the planet, so that’s my motivation to do what I’m doing,” he said. “There’s a study that just came out that states people can accept what they know to be true, like that climate change is happening, and at the same time they will do nothing about it even when they know what the right thing to do is, so for me I want to be able to set an example of what needs to be done.”
Harris has worked towards greening his downtown business, Sunworks, in a number of ways, including removing all natural gas from the building and replacing it with electric water and heating systems as well as by switching all of the lighting and appliances in the building to energy efficient products, and in addition commutes to work using his electric smart car.
“Next we wanted to find energy that we could know would be green certified,” explained Harris. “Because it’s one thing to switch everything over to electric but then people will just say to you well you’re buying coal energy which is just as bad – but now I can say well actually I’m buying wind and solar.”
Harris purchases certified green energy for his home and businesses through Bow Valley Power, a company which ensures that 1 kWh (kilowatt/hour) of green power produced through solar, wind, hydro, or biomass is put back into the grid for every 1 kWh you use from the grid.
Owner of Bow Valley Power, Charlie Bredo explains the process of green energy and traditional coal energy mixing into the power grid is like a bathtub with two taps.
“The electricity grid is like one huge bathtub with two taps filling it up. One tap is green (representing green power) and the other is grey (representing conventional power). When water pours into the tub, it’s all mixed together,” said Bredo. “Water leaving the tub is a mix of the different types of water used to fill the tub. When you buy green, you ensure that for each cup of mixed water you remove from the tub, you are putting one cup of green water into the tub to replace what you’ve taken out.
“As more and more people buy green power, there will be more and more green power sources feeding our grid, and we’ll rely less on conventional power sources which are much more harmful on our environment.”
With Alberta’s primary source of electricity being generated by coal, which is one of the largest sources of CO2 emitters and greenhouse gas creators, switching away from coal energy is one of the best options for the world to reach its goal of slowing the warming of the earth.
“The idea of green power oftentimes confuses people, because they don’t know what it means, they don’t want to pay more, and they don’t really care about going green for the most part and sometimes they don’t even realize there are other power providers in their area,” said Bredo.
“What they don’t realize is that oftentimes it’s actually cheaper to switch energy providers and you can be doing something great for the environment while saving money.
“Buying green encourages future development of renewable energy projects. Increasing the demand for green power means more renewable generation being built, which reduces our reliance on conventional dirtier methods of electricity generation like coal and natural gas.”