The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently released its annual survey of more than 1,000 experts. Climate change ranked the third biggest concern overall, and failure to adapt to climate change was identified as the most significant single environmental hazard. Runaway climate change was also listed as an X factor, or an “emerging concern of possible future importance and with unknown consequences.”
In stark contrast, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has previously called climate change a “socialist plot”, and members of his Conservative crew continue to deny the science of global warming, despite the overwhelming and extensive evidence from numerous countries and scientific disciplines.
In the face of the Conservative government’s stonewalling, 2012 – a year of droughts, floods, record melting of Arctic sea ice, and Hurricane Sandy – serves as a renewed wake-up call for academic, governmental and industrial experts, as well as people here and around the world.
The Liberal Party of Canada not only heeds the grave risks posed by climate change, and the need for both mitigation and adaptation, but also appreciates the potential economic opportunities. Our party has thus been calling for a number of immediate measures, including: a green economy strategy; a national energy blueprint with goals and targets for energy efficiency, renewable energy and transportation; a long-term plan for the management of the oil sands; and a comprehensive climate change plan, that includes eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, pricing carbon, providing incentives for low-carbon technologies and implementing adaptation measures.
Last week, the Pembina Institute released a new report, Competing in Clean Energy, which asked nearly two dozen academics, entrepreneurs, executives and investors what Canada needs to do in order to compete globally in clean energy. The report points out that while the Canadian clean technology sector includes 700 companies – and has emerged as a major driver of employment and innovation with the potential to increase its market share from $9 billion to $60 billion – today it captures only one per cent of the $1 trillion global clean technology industry.
The Harper Conservatives can no longer afford to delay action. As Competing in Clean Energy highlights, now is the time for strong steps, such as: creating a national clean energy plan to stabilize the playing field and foster growth for emerging companies; developing financial tools to encourage clean energy entrepreneurship; reducing subsidies for the fossil fuel industry; and ensuring that businesses pay a price for pollution.
Liberals understand that time is running out, and that we need robust and immediate legislation with incentives, compliance standards and targets so that we can tackle one of the greatest risks the planet and humans face – together.
Liberal Environment Critic