A Primer on Energy Systems in Canada

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Thanks to Jesse Kohl of Environics Communications for sharing.

Today, Pollution Probe released the Primer on Energy Systems in Canada. It’s the first educational resource of its kind that gives readers a comprehensive look at energy in Canada, including an overview of the resources, challenges and opportunities related to energy in Canada. The full release is below….

There are a few reasons Pollution Probe recognized the need for a document like this:

  • (Most) Canadians don’t know jack – An online poll testing 4,000 Canadians’ knowledge about energy. Respondents could only provide correct answers to less than 40 per cent of the questions asked.
  • Act now, or pay later – Much of Canada’s energy infrastructure is aging and in need of upgrades and replacement. And, global patterns of energy use and demand are changing. The energy systems that Canadians choose in the coming decade will determine, in part, the future of this country, its people, its prosperity, its international relevance and its culture.
  • Consistency! – There is an urgent need to grapple with the energy issue, but currently, Canadians have no common vocabulary to discuss energy systems in this country. This absence of information prevents decision-makers in government and industry, as well as engaged citizens, from working together to build effective energy strategies and, ultimately a sustainable energy strategy.
  • Cohesiveness! – Canada practices a separatist energy policy, each province often going it alone, pursuing their own distinct energy objectives. This makes achieving national coherence on energy a struggle.
  • Environment (duh!) – Our society is built on an assumption of inexpensive energy sources, but prices are expected to increase as the easily accessible and cheap-to-produce sources decline. As well, in recent decades, the public has come to understand that how we produce and use of energy can bring real, long-term environmental problems. Solving these challenges requires serious thinking and planning, and it needs to happen now.

The first step in addressing the challenges and making progress is to acknowledge the scope of their complexity and to engage each other through open dialogue. The purpose of the primer is to enhance Canadians’ level of energy literacy and foster and enable a more productive dialogue and debate about the future of energy management in Canada. Ultimately Pollution Probe hopes that the primer will help Canadians at all levels work towards a national energy policy.

Pollution Probe releases educational primer to raise “energy literacy” in Canada

New Primer on Energy Systems in Canada educates Canadians about important energy, environmental and economic issues

Toronto, February 10, 2011 – Pollution Probe today announced the release of the Primer on Energy Systems in Canada, a comprehensive but easy-to-read overview of the resources, challenges and opportunities related to energy in Canada.

The Primer offers a balanced look at energy systems in Canada, including traditional, alternative and renewable energy sources and also provides a framework for building an informed national sustainable energy strategy.

Much of Canada’s energy infrastructure is aging and in need of upgrades and replacement. Moreover, global patterns of energy use and demand are changing. The energy systems that Canadians choose in the coming decade will determine, in part, the future of this country, its people, its prosperity, its international relevance and its culture.

Our new Primer on Energy Systems in Canada jump-starts an essential conversation on energy in Canada,” said Bob Oliver, executive director, Pollution Probe. “There is an urgent need to grapple with the energy issue, but currently, Canadians have no common vocabulary to discuss energy systems in this country. This absence of information prevents decision-makers in government and industry, as well as engaged citizens, from working together to build effective energy strategies and, ultimately a sustainable energy strategy. This free new guide provides readers the ABCs of Canadian energy.

A recent online poll by RBC tested 4,000 Canadians’ knowledge about energy. On average, respondents could only provide correct answers to less than 40 per cent of the questions asked – highlighting the need for an educational resource like the Primer. Additionally, just over 47 per cent of respondents said the government should be spending its time developing a national energy policy, further underscoring the need for all Canadians to understand the resources, challenges and opportunities related to energy in Canada.

The Pollution Probe Primer on Energy Systems in Canada is intended to provide a baseline description of the elements of Canada’s energy systems. Step-by-step, chapter-by-chapter, the primer guides the reader through the energy systems in place to deliver an amenity, such as lighting into a home, and provides insights into how these energy systems affect the everyday lives of Canadians. By understanding how energy is generated, distributed and consumed, readers will be able to participate in more meaningful discussions around the future of Canada’s energy management.

The first educational resource of its kind that gives readers a comprehensive look at energy in Canada, the Primer on Energy Systems in Canada:

  • Describes energy as well as the benefits and problems with our current patterns of energy use
  • Draws a distinction between the amenities that we demand and the energy systems that provide those amenities.
  • Describes the major energy services in Canada and how those services are provided.
  • Outlines the major energy commodities in use in Canada and explains the technologies used to produce those commodities. .
  • Describes Canada’s energy sources as the primary supplier to the energy system.
  • Includes information on the policies most impacting energy systems in Canada and actions that individuals can take to effect change.

“Knowledge truly is power, and the more we all know about energy, the better. Pollution Probe has done a tremendous job at presenting the key issues Canadians face when it comes to producing and consuming energy.  RBC is proud to support the Primer on Energy Systems in Canada because it is so important to educate Canadians on energy issues,” said Sandra Odendahl, Director, Corporate Environmental Affairs, RBC.

The Primer on Energy Systems in Canada is available for free download at: http://pollutionprobe.org/energy/energyliteracy/energy_primer.asp.

About the Pollution Probe Primer Series:

Pollution Probe publishes educational primers on environmental topics. The goal of the primers is to inform Canadians about current environmental issues by setting out the scientific basis for concern, potential solutions and the policy tools available. Each primer focuses on what is being done and what more can be done by governments, businesses and individuals on these issues.

Before publication, each primer is reviewed by scientists, non-governmental organizations, industry experts, policy makers and others who have technical expertise on the issue to ensure that they are factually correct and reflect current thinking on the topic.

About Pollution Probe

Pollution Probe is a national, not-for-profit organization that exists to improve the health and well-being of Canadians, by advancing policy that achieves positive, tangible, environmental change. We strive for objectivity in pursuing the best ways to achieve our goals. Pollution Probe works with industry, government and environmental non-governmental organizations.

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