CORNER BROOK As a veteran politician, Tom Hedderson may know a thing or two about rhetoric and spin.
But when it comes to climate change, the provincial government’s minister of Environment and Conservation is convinced the time for talk is over.
Recently appointed minister responsible for the Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Emissions Trading, Hedderson delivered an address as part of ACAP Humber Arm’s Coastal Matters series Wednesday at Grenfell Campus Memorial University.
His remarks focused on a new government initiative called Turn Back the Tide. The campaign is designed to give citizens and businesses the necessary information to help make a greener province by helping reduce carbon footprints and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
The centrepiece of the campaign, according to Hedderson, is a website which gives tips to make communities and households greener, as well as such tools as a carbon calculator and interactive house which shows ways to make various parts of one’s home more energy efficient.
“Climate change is happening and it requires a serious, sustained global response,” Hedderson said. “All must do their part, especially here in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have to be open to partnerships to make sure we are woking together the best we can.”
Hedderson’s sister lives with her family on Staten Island, N.Y., a site ravaged by sea surges in the wake of hurricane Sandy.
He said while the devastation may seem distant, hurricane Igor — which caused $186 million in damages and left 22 communities in a state of emergency in 2010 — proved similar things can now happen in this province as well.
A coastal area in which 90 per cent of citizens live near the sea, our communities are open to storm surges and erosion as sea levels continue to rise. Hedderson presented statistics which showed after just six severe storm or hurricanes per decade from 1900-1986, there were 11.5 per decade from 1990-2009 and a startling three have already occurred since 2010, suggesting the trend will only get worse unless drastic measures are taken.
“We’ve lost a few roads because, especially during the winter with no ice, the ocean surges are really taking a toll on our coastal areas,” he said, pointing to destruction witnessed in Daniel’s Harbour as coastal homes slid towards the sea. “It’s real, it’s happening and we must do something about it.”
Projects such as Muskrat Falls, Hedderson said, will help meet the increasing demand for green energy in the coming years.
He anticipates the government will continue to focus on renewable resources in the future, with an emphasis on innovation in order to encourage more energy efficiency.
“A key thing we can do as a government is raise awareness,” he said.
“It’s about caring for our province for future generations and also, about the real benefits that can be brought about today. Taking action to be more energy efficient can save homeowners and businesses money, as well as tackle climate change.”
For more information, visit www.turnbackthetide.ca.