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Groups say Green Actions can have Big Economic Benefits

Key to restoring prosperity is action on environment now

TORONTO, Nov. 14 /CNW/ - Thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in investments could be leveraged by taking action on a suite of environmental initiatives, say 24 of Ontario's leading environmental organizations.

Whether it is unlocking the province's tremendous green power potential, safeguarding some of the planet's largest fresh water supplies or getting out in front on carbon cap-and-trade, there is a growing global consensus that major benefits will go to jurisdictions that take the lead in greening their economies, the groups point out.

Today, the groups unveiled a set of seven major environmental priorities for Ontario as part of the largest joint endorsement of environmental policies in the province's history:

  • developing a continent-leading carbon cap-and-trade system;
  • following through with promised protection for the vast northern boreal forest;
  • cutting the use of toxics by 50%;
  • powering up a renewable energy industry;
  • procuring healthy sustainable food for public institutions from local farmers;
  • creating a coordinated action plan for Great Lakes health;
  • making transit work for communities across Ontario.

"These are all actions that will make Ontario a better place to live, work and invest and they are all actions that we are already, to a certain degree, working toward. But given the current economic climate, it only makes sense to direct stimulus efforts to these areas to get the full benefit of a cleaner, greener economy," says Kristopher Stevens, executive director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Organization.

"Ontario could be hugely successful with a green economic transitiongiven our skilled workforce, high education levels, and tremendous natural advantages," adds Dr. Anastasia Lintner, staff lawyer and economist with Ecojustice. "We need to be in the forefront of developing the solutions the world is looking for to create a more sustainable future."

"Right now, we have only scratched the surface of the power of green. The United Nations says the market for green goods and services is likely to double in next 10 years. Ontario needs to develop a global reputation as a major green economic centre," continues Lori Stahlbrand, president of Local Food Plus.

One of the best ways for Ontario to signal its seriousness about being a green leader is by developing a robust carbon cap-and-trade system. Such a step would be a green light for dramatically improving our economic efficiency and productivity and for developing new technologies and services that lighten our carbon footprint.

"Now is the time to be thinking - and acting - green," says Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

"Not only will we benefit from cleaner air and water, healthier cities, green spaces and wild areas, we will also be better off economically and we will leave a more sustainable world for our children."

A full description of the environmental priorities endorsed by the 24 groups is available at www.GreenProsperity.ca (en Fran├žais www.prosperiteverte.ca).

The groups endorsing this initiative are: Anishinabek of the Gitchi Gami Environmental Programs, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, Citizen's Environment Alliance, Community Power Fund, Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment, Conservation Council of Ontario, David Suzuki Foundation, Earthroots, Ecojustice, Environment North, Environmental Defence, Forest Ethics, Great Lakes United, Greenpeace, Local Food Plus, Ontario Nature, Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Ontario, Toronto Environmental Alliance, Wildlands League, World Wildlife Fund.

For further information: Brad Cundiff, Green Living Communications, (416) 535-0205, [email protected]