|Le réchauffement climatique 10
Il y a dix ans, les scientifiques
réunis à Toronto pour la Conférence sur le changement atmosphérique ont déclaré que
les conséquences les plus à craindre du changement climatique seraient comparables à
une guerre nucléaire mondiale. Ils ont recommandé, entre autres, que les pays
industrialisés réduisent leurs émissions de dioxyde de carbone de 20 pour cent pour
lan 2000, afin de franchir la première étape.
Depuis, en dépit de la volonté exprimée officiellement par le gouvernement, les
rejets de gaz à effet de serre ont augmenté de plus de 11 pour cent au niveau national
et de 7 pour cent au niveau provincial.
Cest avec de la pression venant du public que des mesures efficaces et rapides
seront prises. Autrement, linaction se poursuivra.
10 Years of Inaction
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
ago, the policy-makers and scientists at the Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere
declared that "climate change is an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive
experiment whose ultimate consequences can be second only to global nuclear war."
Pretty strong language. Along with other recommendations, they called for industrialized
countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by the year 2000 as the
first step to stop the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
"New Brunswick is particularly at risk because its economy is built around forestry,
fishing and farming,"
Ever since, governments in Canada have been dragging their feet on
taking meaningful action to reduce emissions, despite our ratification of the 1992 U.N.
Climate Change Convention and commitment to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at 1990
levels by the year 2000. Instead, our emissions have actually increased by more than 11
percent nationally, and 7 percent provincially.
Annual provincial-federal discussions on climate action began almost immediately
following the 1988 Toronto Conference, and almost as quickly many of the provincial
governments rejected any meaningful action. Instead, studies were commissioned,
consultations initiated and a multistakeholder consensus processes instituted. Now we are
into another 18-month consultation period - one in which the Conservation Council has
declined to participate after playing an active role in an earlier 18-month process.
If ratified, the Kyoto Protocol to the Climate Change Convention (negotiated last year)
would commit Canada to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels in
the period 2008-2012. Increasingly it seems that if Canada ratifies the protocol, it will
seek to meet its commitments primarily by paying others to reduce their emissions outside
Continued inaction is not an option. New Brunswick is particularly at risk because its
economy is built around forestry, fishing and farming, all of which stand to suffer
financially from climate change. What needs to happen? The federal government must show
leadership on the issue and stop hiding behind provincial intransigence.
In a July letter to the Prime Minister, the Canadian Action Climate Network (a
coalition comprising the Conservation Council and seven other Canadian environmental
groups) asked him to make the following commitments:
|1. Implement a package of measures to address climate
change in areas of federal jurisdiction, by the next budget (e.g. fuel efficiency
2. Meet the majority of our international obligations to protect the climate
through actions taken in Canada to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Initiate negotiations with the provinces to apportion Canada's Kyoto commitments
among the provincial and federal governments.
In the letter the groups also requested a meeting to discuss these
points. The Prime Minister's executive assistant brushed off the request in a written
response and referred the letter to the federal Minister of Environment.
Neither Canada nor New Brunswick are short of solutions to address climate change.
However, the political will to tackle the energy issues that are at the root of both
climate change and regional air pollution problems has been entirely lacking.
Aggressive action is required to improve energy-efficiency and move to a low carbon
economy. New Brunswick thus far has fumbled the ball badly on reducing greenhouse gas
emissions: a coal-fired power plant at Belledune was constructed and the government's own
1990 energy policy, which had energy efficiency as its centrepiece, was never fully
implemented. On the national scene, despite the threat posed by climate change to our
provincial economy, New Brunswick has failed to take a strong position on climate action
at the provincial-federal meetings that have taken place every year since the Toronto
conference ten years ago.
New Brunswick has a real opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the
impending arrival of natural gas and the planned reform of the electric power sector. This
will require public policies that:
|1. Place a priority on making natural gas as widely available as possible
to maximize the opportunity for business and homeowners to switch, from electricity and
oil, to gas.
2. Establish targets for improving energy efficiency and expanding the use of renewable
energy in a re-regulated electric power sector.
The kind of measures that need to slow climate change are not to be feared, but rather
represent opportunities to reap huge financial savings in energy and transportation costs
for both business and citizens while solving local air pollution problems. Obviously there
will be economic costs as well, particularly for Canadians whose livelihoods and local
economies are based largely on oil or coal. This reality needs to be faced squarely, and
appropriate transitional policies will be required.
However, the prospects for meaningful climate action remain bleak in the absence of
public pressure. And public pressure requires a sense of a clear and present danger. This
places the onus on the environmental movement to play a far more prominent role in
campaigning for climate action than it has to date.