News and Opinion Articles


Why Ontario SHOULD NOT build new Gas Plants

Bloc Power – Electrification of buildings in USA - a US-based company that is doing energy retrofits for multi-unit buildings

Oakville News article featuring local climate action groups urging faster action on a plan to help residents reduce their carbon footprint by ditching their natural gas furnaces and installing heat pumps.


Oakville News

In this Scenario, Democracy is No More

By Mervyn Russell, November 14, 2022; from the Oakville News

Link here for the OP-ED

"Staggering Financial Implications": Housing Plan Will Download Growth Costs To Property Tax Payers

By Kim Arnott, November 10; From the Oakville News

Link Here for the Article

Oakville Climate Action to Include New Gas Furnaces? 

Link Here for the Article

Op Ed by Hart Jansson, SEPTEMBER 20, 202210:15 AM From the Oakville News

Why Methane Emissions are Threatening Climate Stability

Link Here for the Article

By Tim Cocks, November 3, 2022; From Reuters

Greening Your Home Will be Cheaper, But Expect Growing Pains

Aug. 12, 2022

By Gernot Wagner

Dr. Wagner is a climate economist at Columbia Business School.

This essay has been updated to reflect news developments.

Link Here for the Article

Every Dollar Spent on This Technology Is a Waste

Aug. 16, 2022

By Charles Harvey and Kurt House

Link Here for the Article

This Heatwave Has Eviscerated the Idea that Small Change can Tackle Extreme Weather

George Monbiot, The Guardian

Link here for the article

‘It’s a sanctuary’: the magic of quiet, low-cost, allergy-free ‘passive’ homes

Energy-efficient passive design is catching on in New York and other cities as climate concerns rise

by Aliya Uteuova with photographs by Danielle

Link here for the article

MPP Pam Damoff Meets with HACEN Members Russell and McKee

*Published in the Kitchener Waterloo Record; October 15, 2021, and the Burlington Post

Oct 15/21 

What we need from Trudeau in Canada's climate change fight:

Commitments made at upcoming Conference of the Parties in Glasgow will be decisive for our future – good or bad 


Dear Prime Minister,

The upcoming COP Climate Conference is the 26th such conference.

However, from the time of the first conference in 1995 until now, global carbon emissions have risen despite the solemn promises made by state parties to honor their commitments made at the Earth Summit [1992], Kyoto [1997] and at Paris [2016], and despite the dire predictions and warnings about not doing so, given by the International Panel of Climate Scientists. Canada’s emissions continue to rise and, per capita, are higher than most other nations. This is a deplorable and terrifying record and a dismal and depressing failure of political will.

The scientists tell us we have nine years to exert any control over the destructive environmental processes that have been set in motion since the beginning of the industrial revolution, but which have increased exponentially in the last decades. Failure to achieve the required reductions in carbon emissions will result in climate changes that will be so strong, extensive and continual in their self-strengthening, that it will be beyond any human power to control their destruction of civilized life, accompanied by millions of deaths of both humans and all living things.

The commitments made at this COP conference and the integrity of will to carry them out, will be decisive for future generations to come. Your responsibility as the leader of Canada, and as an experienced world leader in relation to other national leaders, could   hardly be greater.

We implore you to make strong and binding commitments to reduce Canada’s Co2 CO2

emissions at COP 26. Please do not let us down.

We, therefore, urge you to commit Canada to reduce its carbon emissions by carrying through on the following actions:

- Reduce Canada’s carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels

- Remove all financial supports for all oil and gas exploration, development and

  transportation as quickly as possible.

- Provide tax incentives for promising industrial carbon capture technologies

 -Provide tax incentives for the production and purchasing of electric vehicles

- Invest only in carbon-free public transportation

- Fund the retrofitting of residential, institutional and commercial buildings

- Fund tree planting, wetland preservation and renovation, and the retention of farmland

- Invest in the research, development, manufacture and implementation of renewable

  energy products and systems

-Adhere to the requirements of the Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in

 all proposed industrial developments that impact traditional Indigenous lands

- Establish a Crown Corporation for the training of workers in the renewable energy

  sector and industrial transformation

- Research significant reductions in carbon emissions from the Armed Forces and all

  Federal Departments and Agencies

- Raise the tax on aircraft fuel to that placed on fuel used by the general public


Canadians need real incentives to fuel-switch away from natural gas if we hope to achieve our climate goals





Houses in an aerial view in Langley, B.C., on May 16, 2018.


John Lorinc is a Toronto-based journalist who covers sustainable building issues for The Globe and Mail and Corporate Knights.

When Justin Trudeau unveiled the federal government’s plan to offer $5,000 retrofit grants to homeowners in late May, he talked about how making dwellings greener and more energy-efficient would cut utility bills, reduce emissions and create jobs.

“This new grant is going to help you keep the heat inside in the winter and your money in your pocket all year long,” he said. It sounded like it would be a win all around.

But the Prime Minister made no mention of the complicated role of natural gas in home heating as a source of carbon emissions, nor did he invoke the politically fraught rhetoric of “fuel switching” – the notion of shifting away from fossil fuels such as natural gas and moving to renewables (including hydro, wind and solar) to provide energy for home heating.

While electric vehicles have recently garnered intense attention from investors, policy-makers and manufacturers for their potential role in the fight against global warming, there’s been no comparable groundswell of interest in alternatives to the domestic uses of natural gas. This is a big problem, given Canada’s goal of getting to net zero by 2050: There are 15 million residential buildings in Canada, and about half are heated with natural-gas furnaces, with the highest proportions in Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, according to federal data. Fossil-fuel space and water heating in buildings generate 13 per cent of all national greenhouse-gas emissions.

In provinces with low-carbon electrical grids (B.C., Quebec, Ontario), homeowners who switch off natural gas to viable alternatives, such as electric air or ground-source heat pumps or tankless water heaters, will be helping to bring down the country’s fossil-fuel consumption. Fuel switching isn’t simply about improving energy efficiency – it’s about getting off gas, and it would be the equivalent of replacing a car powered by a combustion engine with one that runs on batteries.

Yet fuel switching isn’t yet an explicit goal of Canada’s climate-change agenda. That might not be a surprise, given that the natural gas industry is huge and influential, and operates an extensive network of pipelines that begin in Western Canada and connect to local distribution networks that send gas to virtually every municipal address in some regions and cities. Natural-gas giants have invested billions into this infrastructure, even as gas prices have fallen steadily due to increased U.S. production. Incentives to get homeowners to fuel-shift, then, represents an existential threat to the industry.

There’s a certain irony about the reluctance of policy-makers to promote such changes. After all, fuel switching in the 1970s and 1980s – via policies that encouraged millions of homeowners to abandon heating oil, coal and wood in favour of lower-emission natural-gas furnaces and boilers – resulted in a slight decline in house-related carbon emissions between the late 1990s and 2015, according to federal data.

Natural gas, in other words, was seen as a kind of energy white knight at the time, one that would allow homeowners and builders to feel good about installing high-efficiency gas furnaces and water heaters. In the coming decades, however, policy-makers will have to reckon with the continued residential use of natural gas if they hope to drive down emissions.

Some environmentally conscious homeowners have begun to invest in heat pumps or geothermal systems as alternatives to natural gas – and indeed, these devices, which are popular in Europe, do qualify for Ottawa’s green home-retrofit grants and loans.

But because heating with electricity is still more costly than heating with gas, a truly effective fuel-switching policy must include price mechanisms that level the playing field. Such a strategy would also mean that provincial energy officials will have to add renewable capacity to their electrical grids – or, in the case of provinces such as Alberta or Nova Scotia, phase out coal-fired generation.

It’s true that natural gas prices will rise through 2030 as Ottawa’s accelerated carbon pricing schedule clicks in. Enbridge estimates the increasing annual carbon costs for a typical house will amount to an additional outlay of $790 every year by 2030.

Yet the expected increase in price isn’t going to be sufficient to drive change. In a 2019 brief to the Ontario government, The Atmospheric Fund called for more assertive policy tools, such as targeted rebates for heat pumps in retrofits and new home construction, as well building-code changes.

Stepping back from these details, one point is clear: In transportation, the path to net-zero emissions pivots on drastic shifts in both vehicle technology and in how energy is distributed (i.e., gas stations). But if Canada truly wants to meet its Paris accord obligations, we also need to halt the emissions that come from the home-heating devices hidden in the corners of our basements.

Hamilton will design home energy retrofit program, if it gets funding

Buildings count for 18 per cent of overall emissions in the Bay area, says organization

Christine Rankin · CBC News · Posted: May 19, 2021 5:31 PM ET | Last Updated: May 19

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said retrofit programs have come and gone based on "different governments" being in place, but was pursuing one now was particularly relevant to combating climate change. 

The City of Hamilton will look at designing a home energy retrofit program, as long as it gets funding to cover most of the costs. 

The initiative dates back to 2016, when staff were first directed to look at the feasibility of a program that helps people afford updating their homes in order to impact greenhouse gas emissions. 

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said in a general issues committee Wednesday that he was glad the city was back to exploring the option. 

"I think many folks in our community have done retrofits of their homes, but there are many, many more that need to be done, and a lot of them probably are facing barriers of income or affordability to be able to do that," he said.

"Certainly this program helps offset that in significant ways."

Program contingent on funding

The mayor said programs have come and gone based on "different governments" being in place, but pursuing one now was particularly relevant to combating climate change. 

"I think we can put our weight behind that," he said, noting it would also increase business for the "windows and doors" industry.  

All councillors voted in approval of designing a program and applying to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for funding.

The city says it would involve a one-time project budget cost of $200,000. If approved, the federation would cover up to 80 per cent.

Homeowners would first have to have an energy audit before accessing any fund to help retrofit. 

Burlington is one step ahead

Buildings count for 18 per cent of overall emissions in the Bay area, according to Bianca Caramento, executive director of the Bay Area Climate Change Council (BACCC.) 

The city says the residential sector represents the second largest source of building green house gas emissions at approximately 885,651 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which mostly come from space heating and water heating

Caramento said the council sees home retrofits as a "one piece of the puzzle" to bring these emissions down. 

The Bay Area Climate Change Council says buildings are responsible for 18 per cent of emissions in the area. (Bay Area Climate Change Council)

Burlington is already in the process of setting up a program, Caramento said, and BACCC has been helping them with their design. 

"Knowing that if we have a regional strength in this area, and looking to make retrofits affordable for folks in both Hamilton and Burlington, we're going to see the emission reductions that we need to see to meet our targets," she said. 

While the city says the most commonly recommended format is to place a loan on property taxes, which is paid off over time, how the program will work will be decided during the design process.

BACCC said it would also help, such as recommending the types of projects to include. 

Bang for our buck

The group performed three different analyses, which looked at different programs around the world, reviewed local context, and explored the cost benefits — anticipated changes to energy inputs, emissions, and utility bills for 12 common retrofit projects. 

Caramento said the council went through potential programs — like replacing windows or a furnace and insulating the walls — to compare the cost and emissions reductions and find out the "biggest bang for our buck." 

According to BACCC modelling in 2018, if Hamilton and Burlington retrofitted 98 per cent of dwellings by 2050, there would be thermal and electrical savings of 50 per cent. 

The city says the retrofit isn't meant to hit these targets alone, but be a "kick-starter program." 

Renoviction concerns

Trevor Imhoff, project manager of air quality and climate change, said the retrofit programs would be voluntarily.

But he hopes the city will use data — from sources like Hamilton's Airshed modelling system and Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners energy poverty rates across the city — so it can figure out what areas need the retrofits the most. 

He said BACCC has also researched concerns that retrofits could be used for "renovictions," where landlords evict tenants under the guise of home improvements. 

"They've spoken to the Landlord Tenant [Board] and other legal aid organizations to ensure that that doesn't happen and that is considered throughout the development of this detailed design," he said. 

Ian Borsuk, climate campaign coordinator for Environment Hamilton, said without the program, people might not otherwise have the ability to make retrofits. 

"This is extremely overdue in a lot of ways," he said. "I can see this being something that in five to 10 years the City of Hamilton really values and really looks back on as a key step that we took to really st to address the climate emergency."

Oakville makes progress on emissions reduction, but some residents are not impressed

Efforts not enough, say some climate advocates

David Lea

Oakville Beaver

Monday, May 17, 2021

Mayor Rob Burton says significant progress has been made in implementing a local strategy aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions; however, some residents say much more needs to be done.

During a recent meeting, councilors reviewed an update of the Community Energy Strategy, which outlined some of the key energy projects being completed in response to the climate emergency declared by the town in June 2019.

The strategy was developed by the town and other members of the Oakville Energy Task Force, a team of 19 community leaders from local businesses, government, utilities, schools and community groups.

In February 2020 council unanimously approved this strategy, which sets community goals for improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the local economy.

Some of the town-led initiatives that have been completed or are underway include:

• Collaboration with Natural Resources Canada to install 46 public electric vehicle charging stations across the community by December. Currently, 14 of the 46 have been installed and are available for use.

• Successfully securing more than $48 million from the province and Government of Canada to begin the transition and expansion of Oakville’s public transit fleet with fully battery-electric buses.

• Greenhouse gas emissions reduction of corporate facilities through lighting retrofits, energy conservation projects and more.

“The town and the task force have made significant progress in the first year of implementing the Community Energy Strategy, carrying forward the community-driven spirit in which the strategy was developed,” said Burton.

“This effort is gaining attention globally as an innovative and a best practice approach to community energy implementation.”

However, not everyone is impressed.

Mervyn Russell of Halton Action for Climate Emergency Now (HACEN) said he wanted to see the town take more responsibility for energy efficiency projects in the community — where the majority of Oakville’s greenhouse gas emissions come from.

“In following through on its climate emergency resolution, the municipality deliberately freed itself of directly reducing community energy use,” said Russell.

“Council decided that outside of its internal corporate responsibilities, those reductions would have to be brought about by community involvement, effort and majority financing. Council, therefore, set up a public-private partnership where most of the heavy lifting will be done by the private partner.”

Since February 2020 the town has approved $200,000 in funding to cover startup costs for Future Energy Oakville, a non-profit organization developed by the Oakville Energy Task Force to champion community-driven energy efficiency and emissions reduction projects.

Russell argued Future Energy Oakville has not received anywhere near the funding it needs to make an impact on community emissions noting an executive director has not even been selected yet.

Those present also heard from Hart Jansson, also of HACEN, who said the town could pave the way to greater emissions reductions by engaging in a home retrofit pilot program.

“The mechanics of this Phase 1 augmentation program involves replacing the air conditioning unit with a heat pump to cut 50-70 per cent of emissions. It costs about $8,000 depending on the size of the house and is cash positive even without federal grants and loans,” said Jansson.

He called on the town to fund the administration and promotion of this program later in 2021, noting federal loans and grants and private loans would pay for the actual retrofits.

Not all delegations had issues with the strategy.

Cindy Toth of the Halton Environmental Network called the strategy one of the most innovative and ambitious plans out there.

Burton noted the approach the town is taking has generated and will continue to generate the public buy-in that is so critical for the strategy to succeed.

“That community engagement and community buy-in is the magic sauce without which nothing is going to happen,” said Burton.

“We simply don’t have the dictatorial powers to order people.”

Amid climate change and rampant sprawl, downstream Oakville, Ont., residents discover they may be forced to soak up the risks of expanding floodplains


A housing development next to the Fourteen Mile Creek upstream from Brenda Morrison's home in Oakville, Ont., on May 2, 2021.