Climate change is the topic of United Nations talks currently taking place in Doha. The decisions made at Doha will largely determine what the future will look like for our children and grandchildren in the last half of this century and the next.
Early this year, the International Energy Agency warned that the world has only five years to take action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions sufficiently to avert irreversible and catastrophic climate change.
Current actions and pledges by the international community represent only 60 per cent of the global effort needed to prevent this scenario, says the UN climate chief. Her warnings are echoed by the World Bank, and by a coalition of the world’s largest investors that called on governments to ramp up action on climate change and boost clean-energy investment or risk trillions of dollars in investments and disruption to economies.
Irreversible climate change could wipe out up to 25 per cent of Canada’s wealth due to impacts ranging from flooding of coastal communities to decimation of forests by insects and fires. Compared to the three per cent drop in GDP that Canada experienced during the recent financial crisis, it’s hard to imagine a 25 per cent drop.
Canada has pledged to reduce its GHG emissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. But Environment Canada forecasts that under current government policy, our GHG emissions will actually rise to seven per cent above 2005 levels by 2020. This is unacceptable.
Canada must become part of a global shift away from oil and gas production and consumption combined with a restructuring of the energy economy in favour of renewable energy. In doing so, the Canadian government could create new economic opportunities for our future while at the same time significantly reducing our GHG emissions and helping to avoid catastrophic climate change.