Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 5, 2007
Live up to Kyoto commitment, say Canada's bishops
Public opinion catching up to bishops' teachings
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
"What kind of heritage are we giving to young people?"
Without action, they will face increased drought, floods and other extreme weather conditions, he said in an interview in Ottawa.
Blanchet pointed to the recent intervention of the Holy See to the United Nations' sustainable development committee. It called for the creation of a "sustainable economy" in order to provide for a sustainable environment.
The Holy See called for "an ecological conversion" to see environmental issues not just as ethical and scientific problems, but also as political and economic ones.
Blanchet echoed those comments. "We need some kind of conversion of thought to find a way to better use the energy we have."
People involved in politics should choose the best means to protect the next generation, Blanchet said.
"What kind of heritage are we giving to young people?" he asked, noting that when he was young he had "received" an environment that "was in rather good shape." Over the past 50 years, air, water and soil quality have deteriorated.
"The younger generation hopes we will act in a responsible manner," he said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who once debunked Kyoto as a fraud and a socialist scheme to redistribute wealth, is showing signs he is poised to take serious measures in the March 19 federal budget.
Many pundits argue, however, that years of inaction in Ottawa have made it impossible to meet the commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012 without putting the economy into a freefall.
Archbishop Bertrand Blanchet
Greenhouse gases have risen since 1990 to such an extent that the government says meeting the Kyoto targets will mean a cut of 26 per cent, something Harper has said is not possible. Kyoto commitments require 1990 levels of greenhouse gases to be cut by six per cent by 2012.
Eddie Goldenberg, a key advisor to Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who signed the Kyoto Accord, told the Canadian Club in London, Ont., Feb. 22 that the Liberal government knew Canada couldn't meet its Kyoto targets when it signed the agreement.
Goldenberg said Canada signed on to "galvanize public opinion to bring it to where it is today in Canada," according to a Canadian Press account.
Some have argued Canada produces only two per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and it could shut down its entire economy and it would have little effect on climate change.
They argue that China, with its growing economy, would replace those emissions in less than two years. They claim Kyoto would call for huge transfers of money to countries like China, or Russia, which is now rolling in oil revenues.
The present Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, and the three opposition parties, plus Green Party Leader Elizabeth May are saying Canada can meet the Kyoto targets.
The CCCB has cited the October 2006 report of Sir Nicholas Stern, a British economist who has argued that not acting on climate change will cost more in the long run than the impact on the economy of acting now.
In November, St. John's Archbishop Brendan O'Brien appeared before the House of Commons immigration committee and urged government to take immediate action "to counter the environmental destruction, famine and disease that come with global warming by taking meaningful action to implement Kyoto further to the report of Sir Nicholas Stern."
Stern warned that up to 200 million people could become climate refugees due to flood or drought. He said global warming could shrink the world economy by 20 per cent. An investment of one per cent of the global gross domestic product, Stern's October 2006 study reported, could avert this disaster.
Gunn, who used to be head of the office serving the CCCB's social affairs commission, pointed out that Canada has "lost momentum and lost time."
"It's a crying need and the earth is a sacred trust," he said. The issue is whether the Canadian people will allow their government to abandon its commitment to international accords.
Gunn recognizes however that Kyoto is a flawed document and work needs to be done to update it to reflect current realities, such as Russia's emergence as an oil-rich nation.
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