SSG Newswire June 2015: How does our work at the provincial level affect the bigger picture?

A monthly newsletter on news and inspiration at the nexus of sustainability

[Recently completed]

Future Oxford: our plan is endorsed by Council

“Community’s vision for its future emphasizes education and creativity, a growing sustainable economy, and environmental leadership”.

A year and a day after the Community Sustainability Plan Steering Committee was announced, the final draft of Oxford’s first Community Sustainability Plan was tabled and endorsed at County Council last week. We have worked with them and our partners InDeco since 2014 in a thorough and ambitious public engagement process. Online, this included a website ( and related social media tools and offline, World Cafe’s and a competition for community members and students to envision Oxford County life in 2030, using video, artwork or writing. They also recently gained attention for their aspirational target to be 100% renewable by 2050!

Halton Hills approves the Community Energy Plan

Back in April, you may recall Halton Hills Council approved our draft Local Climate Action Plan for Halton Hills. This month, Council approved the Mayor’s Community Energy Plan – a two part plan with the Local Action Plan and Corporate Energy. The latter was developed in response to the provincial Green Energy Act, and outlines a 5-year roadmap for successful energy management (electricity, natural gas and vehicle fuel) at Town facilities.

We published our Community Vitality book

SSG members, in collaboration with Professor Ann Dale, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Community Development, and Rob Newell, have published our first book under a new publishing outfit, Fernweh Press.

Community Vitality: From Adaptation to Transformation explores key themes on what makes a community vital, why vitality is important and how vitality helps inspire and guide critical shifts towards thriving, resilient and sustainable communities. You can buy a copy here.

Pathway to Paris

Activity and energy is building with warnings from Ban Ki Moon and oil and gas suppliers for the UN climate talks in Paris later this year. To be fully up to date on these rapid developments in the run up to COP21 Paris, follow our bi-weekly briefing by subscribing here.

[Of interest]

Pope’s encyclical: how are faith movements responding to climate action

This piece from our from our friends at COIN: (Climate Outreach and Information Network) looks at the response the 42,000 words had on US followers, and the implications.
“This was not simply a turgid retelling of the science of climate change, or a meek meditation on the ‘risks of dangerous climate change: this was a powerful and prescient call to arms, drawing as much on political passion as it did on scientific studies.”
They are involved with the multi faith network Our Voices, that encourages urgent participation from faiths internationally to voice their concern over climate change.

Climate and Health

This month, The Lancet, the world’s most important medical journal has released its first ever dedicated report from it’s Health and Climate Change Commission, with the outcome that “climate change threatens to undermine the last half century of health gains”.
Among other recommendations, it calls for a rapid phase out of coal from the global energy mix, for the 2200 coal plants in the pipelines to be replaced with renewable energy and for an end to fossil fuel subsidies. It also confirms that long term economic growth and energy access is only possible with renewable energy. Here is a video too to share that clearly lays out their findings.

Climate change is a “medical emergency” says Commission author, but tackling it could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21^st century

[SSG News]

New Director of Finance joins SSG

We are very happy to announce that Colin MacDougall will be SSG’s new Director of Finance. Colin has worked most recently for the Agency for Co-operative Housing overseeing the Corporate Services Division and previously at La Siembra Co-operative as Director of Finance (source of Cocoa Camino chocolate, and, like SSG, a workers co-operative). Based in Ottawa, Colin is bilingual in English and French. Colin has an MBA from McGill and a Bachelors of International Business from Carleton.
“I am absolutely thrilled to join the SSG team,” says Colin. “The work that they do is inspiring and simply vital given the challenges our natural world is facing. The fact that SSG has organized as a worker co-operative really speaks to me as well. I believe that democratically run organizations are the wave of the future. I am looking forward to helping SSG grow and spread their passion and expertise further and wider.”

Colin takes the reigns from Berta Gaulke, who has managed SSG’s finances for nearly five years, where she leaves a legacy of organized and improved financial management systems. We are very thankful for all of her work and wish her well in her retirement!


District Energy: transforming the utilities sector

This week, Yuill attended the IDEA15, the global forum for energy experts, business and policymakers, representing our Plan 4DE team and exploring new developments in CHP and microgrids. The energy sector is transforming how it views generation and supply of energy, with a focus on resilience and sustainability. One project that is particularly exciting is a collaboration with UNEP announced last year at NYC Climate Summit in September. The Initiative calls for accelerated global deployment of district energy in cities to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen local economies. The partners include C40 Cities Climate Leadership, USDN Network and US EPA Clean Power Plan, who all recognize district energy / CHP as strategic energy infrastructure.

Co-operatives UK pledge to be fossil fuel free by 2030

Having challenged Cooperatives UK —the national membership body for cooperatives in England, Scotland and Wales—at last year’s Congress that climate change was absent from the agenda, Petronella was invited to introduce and host a session on sustainability at this year’s ‘Co-operation: Now’ Congress. With 500 delegates from the cooperative sector, Petronella invited them to think big and be brave. Framing her talk on our paper, the Role of Cooperatives and Climate Change, the pledges agreed to by the sector went beyond her expectations, one being to be fossil fuel free by 2030.