Catastrophic climate change may decrease Canadian GDP by 25 per cent

Catastrophic climate change may decrease Canadian GDP by 25 per cent

By Carrie Saxifrage

November 15, 2011

Stéphane Dion, MP and former leader of the Liberal Party, would like to see the headline above published everywhere. It reflects a finding buried on page 38 of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) report “Paying the Price.” “This headline would accurately represent the way things are headed right now,” Dion told an audience of SFU Public Policy students at a Carbon Talks presentation, “If this were the headline, it would stay in the minds of everyone. Instead, papers report that climate change impacts will reduce the Canadian GDP by $5 billion in 2020. This doesn’t mean very much to people.”

Dion set the stage for his advocacy of a global carbon tax with some items he found buried in the news: a new International Energy Agency study that states dangerous climate change (an increase of over 2 degrees) will be “locked in” if humans don’t act within five years and that business as usual will result in an 11 degree warming; and a recent report that global emissions increased by a record 6 per cent in 2010.

Dion first spoke of the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa from November 28 to December 9. He told the audience that many critics would like the UN process to completely fail, so new efforts can take its place. He doesn’t share this view, in part because he has been deeply engaged in the COP (Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) talks ever since he chaired the highly successful Montreal COP in 2005. He agrees that COP is unlikely to surmount the different interests of the developing and developed nations. But, if there are no big clashes in Durban, COP can facilitate progress in small, technical areas, as it did in Cancun. A complete failure of COP would weaken existing carbon markets as well as leaders who are  making progress in their own countries.

This article originally appeared in the Vancouver Observer following a Carbon Talks dialogue with former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion

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