Friday, October 5, 2012

Green Screens Could Awaken a Tiger

When we talk about China and the environment, we seem to be dealing with two opposites. On the one hand, China is where the majority of the world’s solar panels are manufactured, and produces the world’s largest amount of wind energy, adding a turbine every hour, much of it from the kind of offshore wind farms that Canada is still too timid to construct. Their automobile emission standards match Europe’s, and their reforestation projects are truly massive.
On the other hand, China’s environmental footprint is a great concern. They burn vast amounts of coal, and are building still more coal plants. Their CO2 emissions rival those of the United States, though their per-person emissions are much lower. Many who work to delay climate action in Canada point to China’s emissions as a reason not to bother doing anything here.
So what is the truth? Is China a great green hope, or does their future growth doom our sustainability initiatives to irrelevance? Are their solar panels being dumped on the world market at below-cost prices or are they efficiently making renewable energy affordable? Will they scoop up what’s left of Canada’s tar sands to burn in their factories and cars, or will they find a cleaner way to power their growth?
The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between. Although the Chinese environmental record is abysmal in many ways, they also have a demonstrated ability to shift gears quickly. And there is finally a mass environmental consciousness taking root in China, one with the power to give pause even to the autocrats at the top of their one-party government.
You can learn more about this new spirit in the Canadian documentary leading off the 2012-13 Green Screen series this October 11th. On Thursday evening at 7 PM, “Waking the Green Tiger” will launch Living Green’s new season of environmentally-themed films. Follow the series at
This season will be screened at 89 Dunlop St. E. (behind Casa Cappuccino), Suite 101, in the generously donated space of lawyer Maureen Tabuchi. We’ll present a film every other month, and feature filmmakers or expert panels to help enrich the lively post-film discussions. Admittance is only $5, or pay-what-you-can.
The space seats over 50, so bring a friend (or two) interested in what’s happening in our world now, and in the future. Beyond learning from the movies, the following group discussion will give us a chance to explore ideas for action, or discover groups already working on local solutions. After this film, perhaps we’ll discuss how China is establishing and strengthening new and accessible environmental regulations at the same time as Canada is rolling back or gutting our own to shut out public participation.
Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner under the title "Environmental footprints of great concern"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation

1 comment:

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