Climate change is one of the most important challenges facing the global community in the 21st century. A series of reports by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) demonstrate, with more scientific certainty than ever before, that climate change is happening, and that it is almost certainly caused by the greenhouse gas emissions released into the air from industries, homes, vehicles, and other energy-consuming activities1.
Countries around the world have mobilized, both individually and in concert, to address climate change. These efforts continue to intensify and deepen. The recent meeting of the G8 in Heiligendamm, Germany, demonstrated the commitment of the world's major industrialized countries to take further action on climate change. At the meeting, G8 leaders agreed to seriously consider the decisions made by Canada, the European Union and Japan to, at least, halve emissions by 2050.
Although Canada is a comparatively small contributor to the world's overall greenhouse gas emissions, at roughly two percent of global emissions, Canada is among the highest in terms of per capita emissions. Canada faces real challenges when it comes to making progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Given our geography, the structure of our economy, and a growing population, no one should be under the illusion that these challenges can be overcome overnight or even in a few short years. These challenges are made even greater by the nearly continuous growth in Canada's greenhouse gas emissions since the Kyoto Protocol was signed. Addressing climate change requires a realistic and balanced plan based on concrete and practical actions, on both the domestic and the international stages.
Canadians are ready to move forward and act on climate change. They are looking to their federal and provincial governments to offer practical, realistic plans of action that deliver real greenhouse gas reductions in the short and medium term, while maintaining the economic growth and prosperity necessary to sustain and accelerate those reductions over the long term.
The Government has developed a plan, entitled Turning the Corner, that balances the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable economic growth. It employs mandatory regulations to ensure reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and uses market-based approaches to ensure that these reductions are achieved at a reasonable cost. The Plan also promotes innovation by stimulating the development and deployment of clean energy and clean transportation technologies.
Turning the Corner represents a major step forward for Canada. It responds to the compelling science of climate change and Canada's international obligations, while accounting for Canada's unique economic and geographic circumstances. The Plan also makes clear Canada's goal of working with the international community, through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol and other fora, toward a long term approach to climate change that brings all of the world's largest emitters together in action. This Plan provides a solid foundation for domestic action to reduce greenhouse gases, putting Canada in a strong position to play an effective role in ongoing international negotiations on climate change.