Are We On Thin Ice?
Feb 20, 2007
For perhaps the first time, a January 2007 Decima Research poll revealed that the environment was the number one priority for Canadians, more important than even health care. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as environmental issues have been of greater prominence in the media of late, and have been the subject of greater public debate. It’s also possible that this is a reflection of the fact that the debate over climate change and global warming is over: it is real and it is the result of human activity.
It seems that the Federal Government has done a sharp about-face on the matter. Initially staunchly anti-Kyoto, Prime Minister Harper’s change in the Environment portfolio (along with recent announcements, including a $1.5 billion EcoTrust) might signal a new direction for the Government. There is little doubt that increased public awareness of the perils of global warming have been the primary contributor to this policy shift.
Whatever the motivations of the Federal Government, and whether or not they are sincere, it does appear that the environment is being taken much more seriously by both governments and the public alike. Al Gore’s surprisingly popular documentary An Inconvenient Truth has helped make climate change a water cooler discussion topic.
While it has steadfastly opposed Canadian participation in the Kyoto Accord, the Harper government has grudgingly agreed to comply (if forced to) with opposition legislation mandating adherence to the Kyoto targets. However, members of the government still maintain that Kyoto’s restrictions would lead to “economic collapse.” Interestingly, climate change experts are arguing the exact opposite. Former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern has calculated in an economic report to the British Government that the costs of taking action on climate change are between five and 20 times less than the cost of doing nothing at all to fight it.
As we are well aware, Manitoba has been pursuing green initiatives for some time now, and is well positioned to continue its development as a leader in green initiatives. Already the hybrid bus capital for a number of years, the Province is also on the forefront of other initiatives involving hydroelectric and wind power. Business Week magazine even acknowledged Manitoba’s leadership and innovation in sustainable development. A recently announced rebate program for hybrid vehicles will further reduce Manitoba’s commitment to lessening greenhouse gas emissions. With it’s share of the $1.5 billion EcoTrust (estimated to be approximately $50 million, and contingent on the passage of the Federal Budget), other programs will surely be introduced, and some of Manitoba Hydro’s PowerSmart programs will benefit as well. Our province is positioned to address the social and economic challenges that will no doubt result from this new environment.
What is important is that there remains no doubt that climate change is the result of humanity’s influence on the planet, as reported in the recent Working Group Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This group found that it is more than 90 percent likely that increased global temperatures since the 20th century are the result of human greenhouse gas concentrations.
People once believed that the sun revolved around the earth and that the earth was flat. Science proved them wrong.The naysayers are faced with an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence that global warming is real and that it is caused by human activity.
It remains now for those who contributed to the problem to find a way to address it before the effects become irreversible. It is time for the Federal Government to take the initiative and have Canada play a key role in both meeting the Kyoto targets and ensuring Canada plays a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We need to view climate change as less of a problem and more of an opportunity.
Comments are now closed