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The Grey to Green Conference, held on June 1-4, in Toronto, ON is about helping us understand the value of green infrastructure (bioswales, green roofs and walls, urban forests, etc.) as an important tool in the fight to both mitigate against and adapt to climate change.
Grey to Green is Ontario's leading forum for designers, policy makers, manufacturers, growers, landscapers, and more to discuss the benefits of the important green infrastructure industry, and how to grow it even further. The interdisciplinary conference will explore the latest science on green infrastructure performance, economic valuation and public policy developments, new technological developments, and best practices in design, installation and maintenance. The conference also includes a trade show, cutting edge training courses, and tours of outstanding projects.
2013 Alberta Floods
Riverfront Avenue, Downtown Calgary
Credit: Ryan L.C.Quan
Bioswale along Grange Avenue
Credit: Aaron Volkening
Grey to Green: Addressing Climate Change with Green Infrastructure
Addressing Climate Change
How we choose to address climate change is likely the major challenge of our generation, not unlike WWII in scope and impact! Our cities hold the keys to addressing climate change mitigation through greenhouse gas reduction and sequestration. They are also on the front lines in terms of adapting to negative impacts such as flooding and rising temperatures. Mounting scientific evidence from the last few decades demonstrates that sea level rise, severe flooding, an increase in the urban heat island effect, and poorer air quality all threaten our ability to live in urban areas.
In its last publication, “Climate Prosperity”, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy estimated the costs of climate change in Canada will range from $21 billion to $43 billion by 2050 depending on the level of population and economic growth and emissions scenario used. Lower emissions results in fewer negative future economic impacts.
In “Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency looked at the costs of current warming trends across 20 sectors and concluded that climate change policy enacted now could save $200 billion in additional costs by the end of the century by reducing negative impacts.
The worldwide costs of addressing climate change impacts run into the trillions of dollars. A recent report entitled “Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet” was prepared by the Dara Group and Climate Vulnerable Forum by more than 50 scientists, economists and policy experts, and commissioned by 20 governments. The report indicates that climate change currently costs $1.2 trillion and contributes to the deaths of 400,000 annually, with much of this occurring in the developing world. If present trends continue, it is increasingly likely that some major cities may become inhabitable by the 22nd Century. The sooner we act, according to a number of studies, the less the impacts of climate change costs.
How we choose to invest in our response to climate change has enormous consequences for our society. The good news is that we can reduce the costs of climate change and make investments that generate prosperity, new employment opportunities, and improve our health and the liveability of our cities and regions.
What is Green Infrastructure?
The Grey to Green Conference on June 1st to 4th is about furthering our understanding of the important contribution of the Green Infrastructure Sector to contributing practical solutions that reduce climate change related costs and enhance our overall prosperity. Green infrastructure is comprised of living technologies such as urban forests, bioswales, engineered wetlands, green roofs and walls, which contribute both to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The Green Infrastructure Sector is diverse and broad, comprised of many small to medium sized firms, as well as public sector institutions:
Design professionals (landscape, engineering, architecture)
Growing media/soil blenders and transportation
Composting and aggregate firms
Growing system manufacturers
Maintenance equipment manufacturers
Irrigation manufacturers, designers, installers, and maintenance professionals
Public and private maintenance professionals
Collectively, these organizations provide hundreds of thousands of jobs, more than 150,000 in Ontario alone, and have the ability to respond quickly to new investments.
Why Grey to Green?
At Grey to Green, we will explore the most recent science on green infrastructure performance, economic valuation and public policy developments, new technological developments, and best practices in design, installation and maintenance.
Our goal is to help inform the current policy debates by making the case for a rapid and significant increase in investment in green infrastructure. Green Infrastructure is an important and underutilized part of the toolbox of approaches required to better prepare our cities and regions for the many challenges of climate change.