Since posting this originally on December 5, 2016, President Trump has announced plans to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. 

The Trudeau government approved the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project last week, along with Line 3, while rejecting Northern Gateway – prompting celebration in the oil patch and outrage from the environmental community.

Taking to Twitter, Trudeau said the decisions announced were based on “debate, science, and evidence” (and no doubt, politics).  Premier Notley had said that the approval is directly linked to Alberta’s carbon tax, and that the pipeline will not result in an increase in production from the oil sands, although environmental groups and academics vehemently disagree.  

I get that these pipeline decisions are tough, multifaceted, and include a lot of political give-and-take.

Nevertheless, a lot people feel let down.

If you, voted for the Trudeau government because you wanted strong climate action, the approval of these pipelines represents the failure to break free of legacy fossil fuel infrastructure, and a shrinking of the window of time when we can prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

And maybe you feel the need to take action before the next election in 2019. Here’s the good news: 

With or without government, there’s a lot we can do as individuals to move forward with the clean energy transition.

1. You can divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy projects.

First, find out what you’re invested in. Take a look at your mutual funds and RRSPs. There are great tools available like https://fossilfreefunds.org that have analyzed over $11 trillion in assets, making it easy for you to see the carbon footprint of your mutual funds and ETFs.

Then start the conversation – ask your financial institution, advisor and pension plans what kind of fossil free options they have available. There are hundreds of advisors who are members of the Responsible Investment Association and who are specialists in this area.

And take the plunge. There are a growing number of responsible, fossil free investment funds now available, and even better, individuals can now invest directly in clean energy projects via products like CoPower green bonds or co-ops like SolarShare.

More and more data is showing that fossil free investments are performing at or above benchmarks. That’s not even considering the enormous carbon bubble risk that Mark Carney has highlighted.

2. You can buy clean energy credits that offset conventional power.

Organizations like Bullfrog Power generate clean energy on your behalf. Based on your personal energy usage, they’ll inject an equivalent amount of clean energy into the grid, offsetting energy from conventional sources like coal.

3. You can buy a hybrid or electric car.

The majority of your oil use is probably related to your car. Next time you’re in the market, consider investing in a now much more affordable EV like the Chevy Volt, or a Tesla if you’re feeling fancy. 

4. You can install clean energy or lease your roof to a solar developer.

The costs of solar have decreased dramatically as have the costs of installation. Geoexchange heating and cooling systems might also be a cost-effective choice depending on your location.

5. You could form or join a community solar garden.

This model is excellent for individuals who can’t install clean energy at home, for example, those who rent. Own a share in a community energy project, for example, the Nelson Community Solar Garden, and earn credits on your electricity bill.

6. You can support companies that are going clean.

Vote with your dollars. Companies like Ikea, WholeFoods and Apple have invested massively in solar for their own operations. Besides its own operations, Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, is even funding solar rooftops on 1500 houses in the US.

7. You can donate.

Support  groups who are advocating for better climate and clean energy policy at all levels of government. On #GivingTuesday, earlier this week, we suggested Clean Energy Canada,  Pembina, Our Horizon, and Environmental Defence.

8. You can cut your energy consumption at home and work.

Reducing demand for energy. Easy switches like installing energy efficient light bulbs or appliances and improving insulation can save energy and money. Groups like Efficiency Capital are working with building owners and managers to finance building-scale retrofits.

9. You can speak up.

Finally, despite government approval, these pipeline projects may not even go ahead. Groups like 350.org, LeadNow.ca and the First Nations communities who live along the pipelines’ paths are continuing the fight. You can support them via campaigns like this, or write to your elected representatives and tell them about the climate leadership you expect from them.

Fossil fuels may be on an overall downward trend globally, but it’s not steep enough to keep the climate cool. Now more than ever, we need to be doing all we can to support the clean transition.

Tags: Clean energy - Green investing - Green bonds - Renewable energy investment