From left, environmental artist Regan Rosberg talks to the audience at Pugwash District High School about climate change following a presentation by herself, Project Drawdown’s Chad Frischmann, and Robert Cervelli, the executive director of the Centre for Local Prosperity. A report on the Thinkers Retreat, which the three participated in, has been released and includes a number of recommendations surrounding climate change. File photo

A report has been released with some recommendations for residents and municipalities to consider when addressing climate change.

This past autumn, 24 Thinkers from around the world gathered in Pugwash on the 60th anniversary of the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs. Much like it was 60 years ago, the retreat was hosted at the Thinker’s Lodge, with the Centre of Local Prosperity taking the lead.

In the report, available online at centreforlocalprosperity.ca, climate change is noted as the “defining crisis of our times” and that too much or not enough water is causing devastating losses and radical change.

The retreat, which was held late September into the beginning of October, had a number of goals, including creating a narrative to provide a strong vision for the future, with residents taking actionable ownership. The Thinkers wanted to be able to come up with solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while countering weather and sea level impacts, as well as give community opportunities for more stable prosperity.

They also focused on municipalities and any roles they could take with policies, programs or projects.

The first day of the retreat saw Thinkers discussing obstacles to change and shared advantages – from lack of education to economic incentives, shared audiences and advocates to partnerships.

On the second day, five topics were delved into – localizing solutions from Project Drawdown; moving money to finance solutions; energy, carbon forestry, farming, and ocean management; treaty rights as leverage for change; and education and community engagement.

Each of the topics identified risks and possible outcomes.

When it comes to localizing solutions from Project Drawdown, the report says the 50 municipalities in the province have “significant” power to achieve Drawdown. Obstacles, however, include financial, sociological, and political barriers.

“The overarching mindset and cultural narrative needs to move from a ‘growth and extraction’ model to one that favours eco-friendly and financially viable solutions that can contribute to Drawdown,” the report reads.

“Achieving Drawdown at the local level requires transformative thinking that reconsiders humankind’s relationship to the environment.”
Drawdown solutions need to encompass three core principles – committing to lowering carbon emissions, collaborating between partners, and feedback mechanisms allowing the sharing of collective information.

At the municipal level, outcomes were suggested including the creation of energy and resiliency plans as the principal economic development strategy. Considering solutions for the strength of the community is also suggested, as well as educating community residents through public consultations and engagement.

When it comes to energy, agriculture, and oceans management, the report says trends in municipal energy usages and sources are often key in any strategy for climate change. Atlantic Canada, it says, has some leading examples from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island that others could adopt for their own region.

With technologies and models constantly changing, some of the new ways of doing things can replace existing industrial models. Carbon-credit forestry and institutional heating are actionable outcomes for forestry, while farmers can adopt carbon-farming practices to increase and preserve soil carbon, which, in turn, can improve crop yields.

Over the years, talk about climate change has often incited panic in people, and for a variety of reasons.

“Information is often abstract, often provided on a scale from science to panic, and too theoretic for complete understanding of the issues,” reads the report around education.

Goals surrounding education and engaging the community include identifying the main communication channels, as well as leaders. Local needs should be explored, as well as specific community impacts, and financial resources for providing education should also be investigated.

The full report, complete with all recommended outcomes, visit centreforlocalprosperity.ca. A documentary of the retreat is also in the works, with plans to be available on the website in February or March.

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Raissa Tetanish
Raissa Tetanish is the editor of the Tatamagouche Light. She has more than 12 years experience as a reporter, with a background in both photography and photojournalism. She can be reached at 902-305-6177, or raissatetanish@tatamagouchelight.com.