Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment
Program, told the Economic Club yesterday that the Green
Economy is already moving quickly worldwide, and is the best bet
for a better future. The question for Canada is: will we be one of
the winners, or one of the losers of this great transition?
UNEP's fascinating report: Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to
Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, shows
that, over the medium and longer term, a green economy grows
faster, creates more jobs and preserves natural capital. It is
better to live in for everyone, especially the poor. Even in the
short term, countries that spent their stimulus funding on green
initiatives recovered from the 2008 financial collapse better than
those, like Canada, that did not. And economies that become less
dependant on oil will be hurt less as oil prices rise.
We remain one of the world's most wasteful countries in
terms of natural capital, including energy and water. On combined
measures of environmental and economic resources, we are losing
ground to many others, both developed and undeveloped. Denmark
already gets 30 to 35% of its power from wind. China is
transforming its economy at a dizzying speed. Just as we tear up
Transit City, our best transit plan in a generation, Shanghai will
build a 200 station subway in two years. New world clean energy
investments are soaring and exceeded $243B in 2010. World wide
investment in renewable energy has outstripped annual world
investment in new fossil fuel supplies. But Canada remains
transfixed by the oil sands.
An effective transition to the Green Economy would cost 2% of
world GDP, much of which should come from eliminating annual world
fossil fuel subsidies of $700B. And it would take a much better
regulatory framework and market based instruments than the ones we
have in Canada. Sustainable Development Technology Canada has a
great record, having helped 5,600 Canadian innovators grow towards
commercial and international success. But the single most
indispensable element, as every economist knows, is putting a price
on pollution, like a carbon tax. Amazing that we just had
a national election without discussing any of these issues.
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Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
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