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As the Americans continue to dump on the Kyoto Protocol, Canada is challenging their citizens to make Kyoto a reality.

The One-Tonne Challenge is a call to all Canadians to conserve energy and cut their emissions by one tonne. That may sound like a lot but, as this handy emissions calculator shows you, it can mean simply taking public transit to work or installing a few fluorescent light bulbs. With a TV ad campaign, fronted by Canadian comedian Rick Mercer, it seems that this just might be money well spent.

My household (consisting of two, non-car-owning freelancers) weighed in at a measely 2.49 tonnes. That’s well below the average, but we’ve already got a head start with my commute to work, which is about 100 feet via the bathroom and the coffee maker, and the fact that all our consumer needs are within walking distance. Other households aren’t so lucky, so meeting the challenge might seem like, well, a challenge.

Regardless of whether people actually meet the challenge of cutting their emissions by one tonne, I think half the battle is won simply by putting the message out there.

It’s not often that messages of reducing consumption are broadcast to the public. We live in a society fueled by consumption and it’s damaging our environmental health and our mental health. December is a time of ramped up consumerism, so I think it’s fitting that this campaign is launched now. Hopefully once people start thinking about their energy consumption, the meme can spread to other areas of life ruled by out-of-control consumption.

If you live in Canada, watch out for the ads on TV (or via the internet), sign up for the challenge and spread the word.

If improving the environment isn’t enough of a motivation, think of how smug Canada can be to the American government in a few years when we meet the Kyoto goals that they said were impossible to achieve.

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