À noter que ce discours est présenté dans la langue officielle dans laquelle il a été prononcé.
International trends on Climate Change – Kyoto Protocol
Keynote address by Hon. Senator Mac Harb
In the modern global context in which countries of the world are more interconnected than ever before, the actions of a single individual can have unprecedented impact on the world around him. Nowhere is this causal relationship more significant than on matters affecting the environment. Over the past 20 years, scientists have been assembling data leading to the conclusion that human activities are affecting the global climate.
Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere have been accumulating since the industrial revolution. The subsequent accelerated greenhouse effect has warmed the atmosphere and is increasing variations in our climate, affecting not only ecological systems, but human activities as well. Such change has huge economic costs, most notably on sectors dependent on a stable natural environment like farming, fishing and forestry. What started as a quiet whisper of concern has grown to an international chorus calling for a change.
Indeed around the world there has arisen an unprecedented global consensus on the seriousness of climate change and its potential dangers. From student groups and grassroots organizations, to municipal governments, business people and national leaders, sustainable development has become an integral component of the planning process. Climate change considerations are now being integrated into many of the day-to-day decisions of individuals, governments and businesses.
International agreements have been forged, commitments made and action plans created. Despite the political and economic hurdles that have made this campaign more difficult, the greater interests of the planet and its inhabitants have prevailed. There is measurable progress being made around the globe and momentum is building. The Kyoto Protocol and the negotiation process which preceded its coming into force have been instrumental in raising awareness and generating the international mobilization necessary to deal with climate change head on. Kyoto has enabled us to turn the challenge of climate change into an opportunity: an opportunity to enhance our health through cleaner air and to strengthen our competitiveness by ensuring our economies are more efficient and more sustainable.
Climate change is a global challenge. Thanks to the United Nations and its leadership on this file, signatories to the Protocol as well as other responsible nations outside of the agreement have set ambitious but not unattainable goals to mitigate the effects of climate change. As leaders of the world gather in Montreal later this month for the First Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, these goals will be reaffirmed and the next stage of the global action plan on climate change will begin. There is much to be gained by our efforts and even more to be lost should we fail.
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International Trends on Climate Change – Kyoto Protocol
Keynote Address by the Hon. Senator Mac Harb
There is a particular synchronicity to our meeting here in beautiful Kaohsiung this week. Outside is a modern industrial centre, from its bustling harbour to its thriving petrochemical industry. It is also rich in the finer things in life … art and cuisine and cultural activities for its residents and visitors alike. And as I look around this room I see representatives from government, business, non-profit organizations … a wide spectrum of individuals interested in global issues and interested more importantly in building networks and relationships to resolve them. The issue which is before us is global climate change. The very network that is present here today is a reflection of the teamwork and cooperation that will be required if our efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of global warming are to be successful. Your presence at this conference indicates that you, your governments, your companies, and your organizations understand the close relationship between environmental sustainability, economic stability and preserving our quality of life.
But first, let us take a moment to consider what has been happening around the globe. The last century has witnessed some of the most dramatic technological advances in human history -- jet planes, quantum leaps in production capacity, the advent of the computer and the high speed internet – advances that would have been beyond human imagination just a few short decades ago. Sophisticated transportation systems bring oranges to the Arctic in winter and fresh arctic char to the Caribbean in summer. Tourists travel in droves to the most far flung corners of the earth. Vast numbers of the human population live in previously uninhabitable parts of the globe – deserts, polar regions and by the ocean’s edge, even below the level of the sea itself. Each new development made us faster, more productive, more efficient.
As we rushed headlong into the 21st century however, we began to notice that our actions and our sheer numbers (there are now more than 6 billion of us sharing this planet) were having an impact on the earth’s climate. Around the globe, temperatures were increasing. The increase in temperature was not constant, but rather consisted of warming and cooling cycles at intervals of several decades. Nonetheless, the long term trend was one of net global warming. This warming is now causing alpine glaciers to retreat, sea levels to rise, and climatic zones to shift. Increasing temperatures will lead to changes in many aspects of our weather including wind patterns, precipitation, and the types and frequency of severe weather we can expect. It will affect developing nations disproportionately and more severely than developed nations. It will change forever how we do business and how we live our lives.
We are indeed facing a challenge, but in the words of Canada’s Environment Minister Stéphane Dion, “(F)acing a challenge is not the same as facing the impossible.” 
Understanding the challenge is the first step on the path overcoming it. So let’s take a moment to discuss climate change itself.
I am not a climate change expert. But these days every one of us needs to know at least the basics about this serious phenomenon that is already affecting our day-to-day lives, how we do business and how we will live our lives in the future. Already we brace ourselves for the inevitable smog alerts on windless days, listen for increasingly common weather reports on extreme hurricanes and floods, and learn from experts that the polar ice caps on five different continents are melting at a rate unprecedented in history. What exactly is happening?
Modern temperature records only go back to about 1860, but by studying sediment cores from the bottoms of oceans and lakes, tree rings, glacier ice cores and other data, scientists learn about changes in climate over thousands of years. Think about these statistics: the 1980s and 1990s are the warmest decades on record, with 1998 listed as the warmest year. The ten warmest years in global meteorological history have all occurred in the past 15 years. The 20th century has been the warmest globally in the past 1000 years.
If we look closer at the numbers, we learn that the average surface temperature of the globe, including sea and land, increased by about 0.6 degrees over the past 100 years. This 0.6°C warming makes the 20th century the warmest of the past 1000 years, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. And it is going to get warmer much faster in the next century. In fact, scientists are now suggesting that global temperatures will increase somewhere in the range of 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius over the next 100 years.
Just to put this in context, the change in temperature between the last ice age, which ended about 15,000 years ago, and today was only about 4-6°C. That seemingly insignificant change was associated with the transformation of the landscape in my country of Canada from a large ice sheet several km thick to the richly varied and productive ecosystem we have today. Obviously, a minor change in temperature can make a major difference to the landscape.
Life on earth is possible thanks to the greenhouse effect, which simply put is the sun’s heat trapped by various gases in our atmosphere. Unfortunately, the global warming we are now experiencing has occurred largely as a result of increased levels of those gases over the past 50 years. These gases include carbon dioxide which has increased significantly due to the burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of the earth’s forests. Methane and nitrous oxide, two other well-known greenhouse gases have shown similar increases.
You don’t have to be a climatologist to know where these gases are coming from – there are ever-increasing numbers of cars and trucks on our highways, airplanes criss-crossing the globe 24 hours a day, factories producing goods in response to growing consumer demand and air conditioners and heaters working overtime to make us comfortable as we work and sleep. While we are delighting in our progress and the comfort and flexibility it introduces to our lives, we cannot help but be dismayed at the toll it is wreaking on our environment. Emerging global markets showcase human ingenuity and the well-earned rewards of hard work. At the same time, these advances are putting our world at risk.
A very measurable effect of the warming is evident in the arctic regions. The latest satellite studies show marked decreases in the amount of ice cover at the poles. Between one-third and one-half of the ice in mountain glaciers is expected to disappear over the next 100 years. Even after warm summers, Arctic sea ice has typically recovered in wintertime, but this has changed in recent years. Besides its dramatic retreat in the summer, Arctic sea ice has begun to decline in the wintertime as well. Some scientists have begun to wonder whether Arctic sea ice has already crossed a critical threshold from which it can’t recover.
As George Monbiot noted in an article in The Guardian recently, something similar is happening in Siberia. For the first time on record, the permafrost of western Siberia is melting. And as this is happening, methane which has been stored in the peat is being released. Methane has 20 times the greenhouse warming effect of carbon dioxide. The more gas the peat releases, the warmer the world becomes, and the more the permafrost melts.
As well, the melting of the permafrost could cause a great deal of damage to the buildings, dams and pipelines which have been built upon it.
Both the melting arctic ice and the thawing permafrost are examples of “positive feedback”: self-reinforcing effects that, once begun, are difficult to stop. (Monbiot- above)
And of course, what will also be difficult to stop are the environmental, social and economic impacts of these changes.
The extent of these impacts has worried scientists and prompted international bodies to look at the bigger picture. Thus in 1988, the United Nations Environment Programme established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC), a group of hundreds of scientists from around the world. It is this group of renowned climate specialists who concluded in a 2001 report, “In light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.”
This conclusion, based on widespread scientific evidence, has come to be generally accepted by governments and businesses around the world. It has changed forever how we perceive ourselves in relationship to our natural environment. Ironically, in our haste to improve our lives we have irrevocably and negatively changed our world and affected the future of the Earth and its population. We have altered the makeup of the atmosphere and now we must deal with the consequences.
There is no doubt in my mind that we do indeed have reason to be worried. In the words of Klaus Topfer, the Executive Director of the United Nations’ Environmental Programme:
“The most profound global threat facing humanity today is the prospect that our economic activities will result in global warming, with serious consequences for the earth's entire ecosystem and for the way of life in rich and poor societies alike.”
Let us now take a moment to examine these consequences of climate change. The same scientists who shared with us their findings on its causes have also contributed greatly to our understanding of its potential impact.
The IPCC has told us that along with the warmer temperatures, climate change will bring longer and more frequent extreme weather events such as heavy rains, droughts, floods, and severe storms whose impacts on humans and natural ecosystems could be significant. Already we are suffering as a result. According to the World Health Organization, in the year 2000, more than 150,000 premature deaths were attributed to various climate change impacts. The expected increase in the number of heat waves, for example, would increase illness and death from heart and respiratory problems. This would occur both as a direct effect and indirectly because hot weather aggravates air pollution, particularly smog. 
Regional changes in crop yields and productivity due to climate change are likely to increase the risk of famine, particularly in semi-arid and arid regions of the tropics and subtropics, areas least able to cope with further food shortages. Global warming is also expected to increase the potential transmission of infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue, and yellow fever as the range in which disease carrying organisms can survive expands.
Back home in Canada, given our long cold winters in much of the country, you would think that we would be celebrating a slight rise in temperature. But that is not the case. The prospect of more tropical temperatures are quickly offset by the corresponding reality of extended droughts in the fertile growing areas of the prairies, and rapidly melting glacial and sea ice in the North. In Central Canada, smog and extreme weather would have serious health and safety repercussions. Our dependence on our natural resources and the health of our ecosystems also leaves us vulnerable.
And the impact on the rest of the world is equally, if not more, severe.
The rise in sea levels alone will be devastating. Consider the country of Bangladesh. In this developing nation of 124 million people, 17.5% of the land area lies less than one metre above sea-level. In fact, an IPCC report indicates that about 46 million people are currently at risk from flooding in low lying coastal areas, where 50 to 70% of the world’s population lives. A mere 40 centimetre rise in the sea level would increase those whose land will be at risk from serious flooding or permanent inundation by up to 200 million.
Like Canada’s prairie region, areas of the globe that currently grow a large portion of the world’s food may fall prone to droughts resulting in even more widespread famine in a world where too many are already suffering from hunger. Salt-water from rising sea levels may contaminate fresh drinking water sources. Extreme weather such as we have so tragically witnessed in the Gulf of Mexico this fall may become more common, and most of the world’s endangered species – including 25% of its mammals and 12% of all birds may become extinct over the next few decades due to lost habitat.
Taiwan, this beautiful and thriving land which we are all so fortunate to be visiting this week, will also be threatened by global warming. The Taiwanese Environmental Protection Administration has published a long list of impacts including rising ocean levels, changes to rainfall patterns, decreased agricultural and aquacultural production, changes in plant and animal ecosystems, as well as increased health risks due to epidemics.
Europe will also be hard hit. For example, scientists predict that a large amount of melting freshwater in the Arctic coupled with increased rainfall will reduce the saltiness of this water, causing a cold rush of fresh water heading south along the North American coast, ultimately resulting in the weakening of the flow of the Gulf Stream in the Northern Atlantic. Indeed, satellite studies have demonstrated a weakening in North Atlantic circulation in the 1990s relative to earlier decades. If this continues, the result would be a dramatic cooling of the climate of Western Europe.
The rapid pace of the change will exacerbate its impact. When climate shifts occurred in the past, they tended to take place over a long period of time. Ecosystems and their inhabitants had time and the necessary space to adapt. This will not be the case if climate change continues its exponential growth in the modern context.
On a socio-economic level, climate change is particularly unfair. The United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has pointed out that the human population itself is vulnerable to this change. While the poorer developing nations of the world have done almost nothing to cause global warming, they are perhaps most exposed to its effects. They are ill-equipped to cope with the storms, floods, droughts, disease and disruption to the food supply that climate change may bring.
And of course, there are the economic costs of global warming to consider.
Much of what people do, as well as how and where they do it, depends on climate. Land-based activities such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, which are all highly sensitive to climate, remain an important part of modern economies. This is particularly so at home in Canada, where one in three workers is employed directly or indirectly in land-based industries. The cost of adapting to climate change, when added to the billions of dollars Canadians already spend annually adapting to our current climate, through measures ranging from heating and air-conditioning to the appropriate design and location of buildings and other infrastructure will be high indeed. Extreme weather, such as storms and floods, will add a further financial burden, especially for insurers.
Just weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast earlier this fall, Professor Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a report that showed how the damage done by hurricanes has risen dramatically over the past few decades in an apparent correlation to global warming. And just a few weeks before Emanuel's paper appeared, the Association of British Insurers issued an equally ominous report on the growing financial risks posed by extreme weather events due to global warming. It predicted that the U.S. may suffer losses from single hurricanes of up to $150 billion. (To put that in perspective, Hurricane Andrew caused losses of about $30 billion in the Southern United States in 1992.) In fact, initial estimates now indicate that Katrina will cost the United States $200 billion or more over the next 10 to 20 years.
Between the 1960s and the 1990s, the number of significant natural catastrophes such as floods and storms tripled, and the associated economic losses rose by a factor of nine, even after adjusting for inflation. Although the researchers point out that directly linking this trend to climate change is difficult, the statistics do provide an important warning of how future changes may affect us.
Sadly scientists agree that the current warming trend cannot be stopped or reversed, but that it can be slowed down enough to allow biological systems and human society more time to adapt. In fact, we know for certain that further climate change is already unavoidable as the climate continues to respond to increased greenhouse gas concentrations already in the atmosphere. Also, while global emissions of greenhouse gases can be slowed down, it will take time to transition from a fossil fuel-based global economy to alternative energy sources. However, taking the appropriate actions can slow down and eventually stop this increase.
The global economy has led us to this point in our history. Not surprisingly, it will be the global economy that pulls us back from the brink of environmental disaster, a global economy based on sound sustainable development principles, a global economy in which the competitive advantage will go to those who put the environment at the centre of its conditions for success. Financial prosperity has for too long been the motivating factor and goal in the psyche of individuals, cities and developed nations. A new mindset is required, in the form of education and by instilling this sense of environmental responsibility and respect amongst our youth.
And this is where the Kyoto Protocol and other emission-reducing initiatives come into the picture, altering the direction of the potential train wreck that was our global economy at the end of the 20th century.
Say what you will about humans, but the same ingenuity that led us to burn fossil fuels for warmth has spurred us to work together to tackle the environmental damage that has ensued. The United Nations, in perhaps one of its most important global missions, has spearheaded the task. Over a decade ago, most countries of the world joined an international treaty – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) -- to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable. More recently, a number of nations have approved an addition to the treaty: the Kyoto Protocol, which has more powerful (and legally binding) measures., These initiatives brought nations from around the world together to address the potential adverse effects caused by the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. While the Convention sets up the overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change, the Kyoto Protocol commits nations to individual, legally-binding targets to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol came into force on February 16, 2005. By August 2005, 153 countries (representing over 61% of global emissions) had ratified the agreement. The Kyoto Protocol is widely seen as only a first step in this campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but it has already played an important role in bringing countries together and kick starting real action amongst the stakeholders in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The Protocol, as I mentioned, is a legally binding agreement under which industrialized countries will reduce their collective emission of greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared to the year 1990. It is important to note that compared to the emissions levels that would be expected by 2010 without the Protocol, this target represents a 29% cut.
The Protocol also entrenches the principle that developed countries have to pay and provide technology to less-developed countries for climate-related studies and projects. The agreement puts in place an emissions trading system, whereby countries needing to decrease emissions to meet a target may purchase un-used emission amounts from those countries with limits set above their current production levels. Countries that meet their targets are rewarded and financial incentives are provided to ensure others do so as quickly as possible. There is no single solution to climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions come from thousands of activities; they can be reduced through thousands of approaches.
Allow me to share with you how Canada is handling its commitment to the Protocol and how I believe its approach is symbolic of the global effort on climate change.
Let me begin by saying right off the top that although some individual Canadian companies are world leaders in sustainability, Environment Canada statistics show that Canada is falling behind on an overall basis. The fact is that Canada has a small population in a large country rich in natural resources compared to other countries. Because of this, our environment is in relatively good shape. However, on a per-person basis, Canada does not fare as well, particularly with respect to per capita greenhouse gas emissions. While Canada contributes only about 2% of total global GHG emissions, it is one of the highest per capita emitters, largely the result of its resource-based economy, climate (i.e., energy demands), and size. In 1990, Canadians released 21.9 tonnes CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gases per capita. Over the 10-year period from 1990 to 2000, this has increased to 23.6 tonnes per capita.
For example, due to the large amount of fresh water in our country, we routinely abuse the privilege that is easy access to clean water. In fact, we are the second largest consumer of water in the world, next only to the United States. The amount that we spend on pollution as a share of GDP is on the lower end of the G7 countries. We have not been aggressive in the pursuit of environmental technologies, and the sad fact is, our emissions of CO2 and key air pollutants on both a per unit GDP and per capita basis are among the highest among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. But Canada, like other countries represented here today, has succeeded on environmental issues in the past. We have tackled the issues of acid rain and ozone depletion. We are moving forward on water treatment. We must take encouragement from this but we know we need to do more if we are to maintain our position in the fiercely competitive global economy.
And the Kyoto Protocol, along with strong support from a majority of its citizens has been the catalyst for the Government of Canada’s efforts on this front. In response to the Protocol, we have committed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by about 270 megatonnes per year in the period from 2008 to 2012.
To achieve this ambitious goal, Canada has put forward its Green Plan that will promote economic competitiveness built on a foundation of environmental sustainability. The Green Plan involves: establishing a Climate Fund for the purchase of emission reductions and removals on behalf of the government of Canada; setting reduction targets for large final emitters such as the oil and gas, mining and manufacturing sectors; investing in programs to encourage homeowners to increase the energy efficiency of their homes; investing over $1.5 billion from the 2005 Budget in renewable energy; obtaining commitments from the auto industry for reduced emissions from their automobiles and production practices; and by the further “greening” of the government itself. And to ensure that action is taken on all fronts, Canadian provinces and municipalities are also climbing on board the Kyoto train.
Municipalities in fact are major players in the global struggle to protect the climate. By taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their own operations and by using bylaws, fiscal incentives, education and awareness programs municipal governments can help the federal governments to reduce GHG emissions in the broader community. For example, in Canada, municipal governments can influence more than 50% of our nation’s total emissions thanks to these policy tools and grassroots networks.
In addition, many municipalities are forming innovative partnerships with community groups, local businesses and other governmental organizations to promote community-wide GHG emission reductions. In 1993, municipal leaders from around the world met at the UN in New York and established the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign. It has now grown to involve more than 650 local governments worldwide that are putting the environment at the forefront of their decision-making process.
I am fortunate enough to live in one of these cities. Ottawa is not only the seat of the federal government in Canada, but it is also a very progressive municipality. In 1992, Ottawa City Council committed to reducing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2005. The well-known EnviroCentre located at City Hall helps residents obtain government grants for energy saving renovations, provides energy conservation tips and encourages healthier and environmentally sound forms of transportation in and around Ottawa.
But the hard work doesn’t stop at City Hall. Thanks to the “One Tonne Challenge” program initiated by the federal government, each individual Canadian is also being called upon to do his or her share in the fight against climate change.
We have been asked to take the One-Tonne Challenge by eliminating one metric tonne of emissions per person each year. One metric tonne of emissions would weigh 1,000 kilograms. The volume of the metric tonne of greenhouse gas emissions would fill a two-storey, three bedroom house. Surprisingly the average Canadian produces 5 tonnes of GHGs a year by simply driving a car, heating their home, cutting their grass or turning on the lights. The Challenge highlights the significant environmental cost of our daily routines.
We will be learning more in the sessions being held this week about similar municipal initiatives, about corporate strategies and about specific sustainable development policies coming from a variety of levels of government that together broach the issue of global warming. Never has there been a greater need for multi-sector partnerships, cooperation and understanding.
In Canada, it will take a concerted effort to achieve our goal of a 270 megatonne reduction in emissions. On a larger scale, this is exactly what must take place around the globe – a multi-pronged approach touching on every aspect of human activity. And there will be dividends to such an approach.
The most important component of Canada’s Green Plan is that our Prime Minister has pledged to honour the Kyoto obligation “in a way that produces long-term and enduring results while maintaining a strong and growing economy”. Canada has recognized that the government has a moral responsibility and an obligation to act on behalf of its citizens to preserve a healthy and sustainable environment for its future generations. But it also acknowledges that it is also its responsibility to pursue economic prosperity. These responsibilities need not be contradictory nor are they mutually exclusive.
The challenge that Kyoto puts to each and every nation, each provincial and state government, each municipal council and indeed to each and every individual on the planet, is the challenge to put the environment first in every decision we make. Kyoto provides us with the opportunity to maintain and in fact enhance our economic bottom lines while we improve the health and well-being of our people and our environment.
Canada’s Minister of the Environment has stated that this clear connection between environmental considerations and economic competitiveness is leading a transformation in the way the global economy works. He has described this as the latest Industrial Revolution – the revolution of the sustainable economy. It is an interesting idea. The industrial revolutions of the 19th and early 20th centuries saw successful countries integrate new technologies such as steam engines and electricity into their industry. The late 20th century saw the emergence of the knowledge-based economy grounded in the use of computer and information technology. By investing in technology and the education of our workforce, Canada, like many other nations in similar circumstances around the globe, was able to leverage the benefits of our rich natural resources.
And now we are being asked to adapt ourselves to another shift – the shift towards the sustainable economy. Canada has the potential to play an important role in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, thanks to its wealth of natural resources and the associated possibilities for renewable energy technologies. Every nation can prepare for this shift through an integration of science and technology with policy. Strategies that include increased collaboration between educational institutions, industry and government and an educational system based on cooperative programs will enable those students, and their respective countries, to become leaders in the 21st century.
They will be part of a revolution in which the environment is the key driver of innovation and of competitiveness around the world. The countries that fail to integrate environmental and economic factors will not be in a position to improve or to adequately maintain, the quality of life of their people.
The corporate world is full of examples of those who have adapted to this shift mid-stride and who are reaping the benefits.
To quote environmental scientist Don Kennedy, who is Editor-in-Chief of the U.S. journal Science, companies aren't changing necessarily because of a sudden love for the environment but rather because they see change as an opportunity to protect their investments. And as these big companies start moving in that direction, people will start to take climate change and the emission goals more seriously. Regardless of the motive, corporations are increasingly leading the way when it comes to the shifting economy.
GE, one of the world’s largest companies, has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions one percent by 2012 and the intensity of its emissions 30 % by 2008 (both compared to 2004). Based on the company’s projected growth, GE’s GHG emissions would have risen 40 percent by 2012 without further action. In addition, GE is committed to doubling its investment in environmental technologies to $1.5 billion by 2010. These efforts are part of GE’s initiative to aggressively bring to market new technologies that will help customers meet pressing environmental challenges. Jeffrey Immelt, GE chairman and CEO explained his company’s actions this way, “It is time for the private sector to assume its rightful place as a major catalyst for environmental change. We believe that the growing market for environmental technology can get us where we need to be.”
In January 2005, a study done by the Climate Group entitled “Carbon down, profits up”, found that five companies – IBM, DuPont, NorskeCanada, Alcan and British Telecom – had jointly reduced their emissions by 60% since 1990, for a saving of $5.5 billion US.
I am certain that many of you know of similar success stories in your own communities. We must point out at this point that as the private sector revs up its efforts to combat climate change, the public sector’s efforts are ramping up in tandem. It is actually difficult to say at times which is leading, but as it is a win-win situation, no one minds the confusion.
Nations, both signatories and non-signatories to the Kyoto Protocol are equally eager to place themselves strategically at the front of the line in order to benefit from the re-tooling of our global economic engine. Allow me to list just a few examples of the programs that are underway around the world to alleviate climate change.
Denmark stabilized emissions between 1990 and 2000 by switching to more efficient methods of electricity generation and by shifting from coal use in industry to renewable energy and natural gas. Proving that the cost of sustainability does not have to devastate a nation’s economy, the country’s Gross Domestic Product in Denmark increased by 27% during this decade.
Germany achieved a large reduction in carbon dioxide emissions through the economic restructuring resulting from the reunification of the country. It’s reduced dependence on lignite, and the increased use of wind energy led to further reductions. There were also substantial cuts in methane emissions from coal production, waste management, and agriculture.
As a group, the EU member nations have been very proactive on the climate change file. The EU, which produces around 21% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, has created a system of emissions trading in an effort to meet its Kyoto targets, also setting quotas in six key industries: energy, steel, cement, glass, brick making and paper/cardboard. Starting this year, fines will be imposed on those member nations that fail to meet their obligations.
The United Kingdom set up a “national climate change” policy that set targets for using energy more efficiently and was able to lower emissions, among other things by using less coal and more natural gas.
Japan has recently launched a voluntary emissions trading scheme, in which the Ministry of the Environment subsidizes the installation cost of CO2 emissions reduction equipment to help businesses that are acting trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In exchange, the companies must commit to a certain reduction in their CO2 emissions. The country recognizes that its economy could benefit from the Kyoto agreement, as Japanese companies could capture markets for new, clean technology.
Taiwan, although not a signatory to the Protocol due to international political considerations, nonetheless is taking its role as a member of our global community seriously. Its CO2 emissions account for 0.9% of the world total, ranking it as the 23rd largest CO2 producer in a position between the industrial nations and developing nations. It has taken important steps to protect the environment and achieve sustainable development, supporting the UN and its specific climate change initiatives and recommendations. As part of its Environment Protection Three-Year action plan, the EPA of Taiwan (ROC) will take the message of sustainable development to each home, school and community throughout the country, ensuring that environmental protection is part of the day-to-day lives of all Taiwanese. This is only one of the EPA’s extensive list of initiatives designed to ensure that Taiwan moves towards greater sustainable development goals.
Given Taiwan’s many strengths, there may be further opportunities for it to become engaged in climate change adaptation and mitigation. In particular, Taiwan could assist in efforts to develop international indicators of sustainability based on resources, population, amongst other factors, such as is done in the United Kingdom. Taiwan may also play a role in providing parts for emerging renewable and alternative energy technologies.
As you may be aware, not every nation which produces greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Most noticeably perhaps, the United States and Australia although signatories to the Protocol chose not to ratify it, citing possible damage to their national economies. They have, nonetheless, been active on the climate change front.
Although the White House has stated its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, the U.S. government administers a substantial body of programs that recognize the opportunity presented by the development of greenhouse gas reduction technologies.
As part of the February 2002 introduction of the Global Climate Change Initiative, President Bush announced that the U.S. government would develop policies to encourage geologic sequestration, which involves carbon dioxide capture and storage in special reservoirs. Earlier this fall, the UN’s climate scientists on the IPCC published a special report on this technology, describing it as a promising addition to the portfolio of current and future climate protection technologies. United States’ support for sequestration technologies includes $20 million for seven regional partnerships involving 40 states to test potential capture technologies and storage reservoirs, creation of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum to encourage multilateral carbon sequestration projects, and the Integrated Sequestration and Hydrogen Research Initiative, FutureGen, which is a $1 billion government/industry partnership to design a “nearly emission-free” coal-fired plant to produce electricity and hydrogen. Obviously the US administration shares the IPCC’s interest in this technology.
Individual states have joined in the effort as well. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for a reduction of more than 80% in his state's emission of greenhouse gases over the next five decades. On the east coast, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a coalition of nine Northeast states, has been working since 2003 on what will be the first multi-state regional cap-and-trade program in the U.S. to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.
On the other side of the globe, Australians have focused their greenhouse reduction plans on renewable energy, such as solar and wind, planning to develop the technologies domestically and export them to growing economies in China and India.
Other nations were exempt from the emission reduction targets of the Kyoto Protocol. Countries such as China, India, and other developing nations were excluded from the targets because they were not considered to be the main contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions during the industrialization period that is believed to be causing today’s climate change. Many of these countries continue to have relatively low per capita emissions. That is not to say that they will not have a role to play in the next stage of post-Kyoto negotiations. And I would like to emphasize once again that it is increasingly apparent that failure to adopt the strategies inherent in the Protocol will result in a nation lagging behind in the new economy. Indeed, this fact has not gone unnoticed by the emerging economic superpowers in Asia.
As I have stated, as a developing country, China is not yet formally required to reduce its emissions. However China is the world's second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, next only to the United States and the actions it takes today will impact on the Protocol and climate change in the future. It is safe to predict that with China accounting for a fifth of the world's population, continuing increases in its emissions could dwarf any cuts made by the industrialized countries. The average Chinese person consumes only 10-15% of the energy an average US citizen uses, but with its economy developing at such high speed many analysts expect China's total emissions to overtake America's by mid-century.
Already China has decided to invest 1.3% of its gross domestic product into cutting pollution by 10% per year as part of a commitment to a new model of economic growth. Chinese leaders recognize that given the growth within their economy, they simply cannot continue with the status quo and its heavy impacts on air and water quality, on soil erosion and on human health.
Although India figures among the top 10 contributors to GHG emissions, its relative share is low in terms of per capita emissions. The current gross emissions per capita in India are only one-sixth of the world average. However, India, perhaps recognizing that many of its one billion people could be vulnerable to the effects of climate change, ratified the Kyoto Protocol in August 2002.
Obviously the booming economies of both India and China raise serious issues surrounding the question of developing country emissions commitments. These issues will have to be included in upcoming global negotiations on climate change.
In July of this year, the formation of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate was announced during the Association of South East Asian Nations regional summit. Members of the Partnership include Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States, who together account for nearly half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. While not committing to set targets for emission reductions, the member nations of the pact have committed to voluntary reductions through technology and partnerships. To date, we have not heard of any concrete proposals from this body and in fact a meeting scheduled for next month in Australia has been cancelled.
Given the importance of involving all nations in the establishment of guidelines for climate change, I would call upon world leaders to find common ground and to embrace collaboration with these nations to ensure a truly international approach on climate change. Bringing the U.S and Australia, and the developing nations such as China and India into the global effort on greenhouse gas emission reduction is vital to the ultimate success of our efforts.
While it is true that climate change requires participation at every level of government, and across the intricate web of international, national, regional and municipal associations and organizations, it is also true that the frameworks for this action must be formed on a truly global basis. Unilateral regional efforts will be helpful, but they cannot take place in isolation from a cohesive global plan for atmospheric protection. In a recent speech to top Canadian public service officials, our Prime Minister put it this way:
“The simple fact is that to truly make a difference, we not only have to think globally, we have to act globally. We have to try to build a truly international platform from which to combat climate change, a platform that includes not only the Kyoto signatories, but all major nations.”
Each nation on the globe must be one of the many links needed in this comprehensive strategy. We must encourage an integration of endeavours, economies and values founded on the principle of environmental stewardship and sustainability. Collaborations which already exist in the form of business and educational partnerships, mentorship and exchange programs, trade, and emissions trading must be strengthened and expanded. We must avoid the fragmented approach that was often promoted in the 20th century and that some see as largely responsible for the increasing rift in the economic, social and political landscapes of the world.
The Kyoto Protocol covers a period up to 2012, but obviously this won’t be the end of the international effort to halt climate change. In fact, this December, Canada will host the 11th Annual United Nations Climate Change Conference. This is the first Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention since the Kyoto Protocol came into effect in February 2005. This meeting will bring together 10,000 participants, including delegates from 189 countries and a large number of stakeholders from industry, business, the scientific community and other groups interested in seeing action on climate change.
At this meeting, we will begin discussions among the 189 nations who are represented there on how to tackle climate change beyond 2012. We must consider issues which have remained beyond the scope of Kyoto – issues such as the anticipated 50 percent global population growth and 400 % economic growth by 2055 and how this growth will impact on global resource demands and already increasing energy costs. We must take advantage of the growing momentum on climate change issues and make firm plans and even firmer commitments.
As we are doing today, we must put aside our parochial interests and share our common ones – recognizing that a global Climate Change agreement is an agreement on global economic transformation. The Montreal Convention will start the next chapter in the climate change dialogue and bring us in step with the latest industrial revolution and the sustainable economy. As Environment Minister Stéphane Dion pointed out earlier this year, “Humanity must emerge from the 21st century having learned to control its impact on the climate. The Montreal Conference on Climate will be a turning point: it will allow the process of identifying the post-2012 international regime to get off on the right foot.” 
I urge you all to take this message into the sessions over the coming days and back to your communities in the weeks that follow. Together we caused the problem. Together, I believe we can resolve it, emerging from this period of change as truly global citizens.
 Speech, Calgary, Alberta, Sept. 10, 2004
 Environment Canada data
 IPCC: TASR, Ch. 3
 George Monbiot, The Guardian, Sept. 20, 2005
 IPCC 2001, Synthesis Report, pg 91-92; IPCC 2001, WGII Chapters 4, 5, and 18
 IPCC 2001, WGI, Chapter 11; IPCC 2001, WGII, page 363; McCulloch et al., 2002
Hakkinen and Rhines, Science, 2004
 Environment Canada (1998), Climate Change Digest, Extreme Weather and Climate Change, p.27
Economic and social dimensions of climate change– www.climatechangesolutions.com
David Stipp, Fortune, Sept. 3, 2005
Munich Re Group (1999), Press release, March 15, 1999, www.munichre.com/press/press/990315_eng.htm.
UN Environment Programme press release
 Environment Canada
 Speech, Vancouver, Canada, Sept. 5, 2005
The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection, www.iclei.org
Japan Launches Voluntary Emissions Trading Scheme, September 28, Japan for Sustainability http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3143798.stm)
Comparison of Current Government Action on Climate Change in the U.S. and Canada Matthew Bramley; the Pembina Institute, May 2002
S. Dion, Minister of Environment, Calgary, Canada Sept. 10, 2004
ADB 1994;. ADB. 1998; ALGAS-India; Asia Least-Cost Green house Gas Abatement Strategy;
Manila: Asian Development Bank
 Prime Minister Paul Martin, Gatineau, Canada, Sept. 20, 2005