The Newfoundland and Labrador Climate Change Podcast

By Conor Curtis, Podcast Host and Editor/Composer, from 2019

Photo of a mountain in Western Newfoundland, photo credit Conor Curtis. Newfoundland Labrador Climate Podcast

Photo: Conor Curtis.

It’s hard to avoid the topic of climate change. Every day we hear about new impacts and discoveries on the news, and even sometimes witness impacts directly. If you’ve ever wondered what climate change will mean for Newfoundland and Labrador then you’re in the right place.

The NL Climate Podcast hosts interviews with experts and problem solvers dealing with the issue of climate change in our province; from those working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to those helping communities prepare for the impacts of factors like sea level rise and changing weather. Find out more in the FIVE episodes below!

5 – Kelly Vodden and Brian Eddy: Surviving Climate Change

In Episode 5 of the NL Climate Podcast we talk about how communities can prepare for climate change with Kelly Vodden of Grenfell Campus and Brian Eddy of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). A recent government report, featured by the CBC, highlighted some of the impacts of climate change expected for Canada. Kelly and Brian are working on a different report, as part of the same series of reports, that deals with the impact of climate change on rural and remote communities in Canada.

In the past Kelly also worked on a 7 step guide for communities to help them assess and prepare for climate change impacts. With rural and coastal communities in Newfoundland and Labrador on the front lines of climate change, it is vital we work quickly to understand both the threats and opportunities in our province. We also discuss the tremendous contribution rural communities make to our lives and economies, and how we need to stop talking of rural communities only in terms of decline.

4 – David Brake: Public Transit & Electric Vehicles

We hear from David Brake about how public transit can help mitigate climate change and how it can be improved in Newfoundland and Labrador. Transportation is a significant sources of emissions in our province; it accounts for 34% of our emissions (second only to “large industry”) and we saw an increase in households’ transportation emissions of 40.9% (2009 to 2016). By transporting more people in fewer vehicles emissions can be reduced and public transport also has a lot of other social benefits.

We also talk about electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are already able to operate in Canadian winters and are increasing in range; we delve into the need for charging infrastructure in NL, measures to reduce upfront cost, and the impact rate changes might have on charging costs.

Finally, we discuss the province’s new [2019] climate change action plan, The Way Forward on Climate Change in Newfoundland and Labrador.

3 – Delia Warren: From Petroleum Engineer to Green Champion

Delia Warren is a former petroleum engineer, born and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador, who has taken it upon herself to help grow the green economy here. She works with the organization Iron and Earth, which was started by oil sands workers, to help promote renewable energy projects and train workers who are transitioning from oil and gas to renewables.

Iron and Earth’s NL-chapter, Iron and Earth East, has a new green house and has been running a solar training program for workers.

Don’t think solar can work in our province? You’re going to be surprised by what Delia has to say.

We discuss the legislative barriers holding back renewable energy development in NL, something we first talked about with Nick Mercer in episode one. We also talk about how renewable energy can help support agriculture in NL. Agriculture has a key role to play in climate solutions as we learned from Katie Temple in episode two.

Delia’s take on what you can do: Contact Iron and Earth East and volunteer or set up a chapter of Iron and Earth in your province. Making a difference, and working together, is the best way to tackle climate change; talk to your politicians and make renewable energy a political priority in NL.

2 – Katie Temple: Food, Bikes, Drinks, & Climate Change

Food systems can contribute greatly to climate change but can also be part of the solution to the problem. Katie Temple is working to make agriculture in NL more resilient to climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. NL’s environment might actually be the perfect place to make a difference on these issues, as it turns out.

Whether it’s buying local products or growing your own food there’s a lot that can be done. We also talk about electric bikes and green drinks; some of the dynamic actions taking place in my hometown of Corner Brook. She invites people to learn more on the Western Environment Centre’s website.

Katie’s take on what you can do: Find something you’re passionate about in terms of climate change and work on it in you community. Tell other people about what you’re doing and work together. Tell politicians to take action on these issues.

1 – Nick Mercer: Energy Planning, Diesel’s High Cost, & Youth

Wind energy faces legal hurdles in Newfoundland and Labrador. That hasn’t stopped Nick Mercer; in diesel-dependent communities he’s working on improving energy sustainability.

Diesel dependence is coming at a huge cost for these communities, when better solutions exist. In Black Tickle a quarter of residents report living in a cold home. Through renewable energy, like wind and solar, and energy efficiency measures this dependence can be lowered.

Ten youth from Southern Inuit communities in Labrador will also be hired as part of this work, through the NATURE Youth Council.

What’s needed now is political will and the end of restrictions that prevent communities from working with renewable energy developers, Nick says.

Nick’s take on what you can do: Talk to your local politicians, your MHAs, and get active on social media. Make these communities a priority and make it clear how sustainable energy can be part of the solution to these problems.

Other Resources

Want to learn more? Here are some other provincial resources on climate change, and climate action, that you’ll want to check out (you’ll also find a contact form below):

Turn Back the Tide – The Government of NL’s Climate Change Resources

Coastal Communities in a Changing Climate – a symposium website with teaching kits and recorded talks

Climate Watch NL – a network of concerned citizens that envisions a minimal carbon economy for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Iron and Earth (East) – an organization, led by oilsands workers, dedicated to integrating renewable energy projects in their work scope.

A few important notes from the host:

This blog is a distance-education class project for Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy & Social Media (University of Toronto). Any opinions I express here, however, are purely my own.