Climate Change is costing Fred, Martha and Canada’s biodiversity

Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel

On Thursday May 24, Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel at Nature Canada, testified before the Senate Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. He voiced Nature Canada’s support for the proposed Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. This proposed legislation would put a price on carbon emissions (initially $10 per tonne) released when fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel oil are burned.

Stephen opened by stating that climate change is probably the biggest global threat to nature and biodiversity, and pointed out that carbon pricing clearly has been demonstrated to be the most economically efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

After describing the failed promises and inaction over three decades of Liberal and Conservative governments to put a price on carbon, Stephen reviewed the catastrophic impacts that extreme weather events linked to climate change have had on Canadian communities in the past decade

The Cost of Catastrophes

  • The City of Calgary had two “100-year floods” in 8 years, the most recent of which in 2013 resulted in $6 billion in financial losses and property damage.
  • In May 2016 almost 90,000 people were evacuated from Fort McMurray due to wildfires. Thousands of homes were reduced to ash. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Fort McMurray wildfire is the costliest insured natural disaster in Canadian history, with an estimated $3.77 billion in claims filed by mid-November 2016.
  • In spring 2017, the military was called in to deal with flooding in Montreal, Gatineau and Ottawa. The flooding caused more than $220 million dollars in insurable damage in Ottawa alone.
  • Last summer, British Columbia recorded the worst fire season in the history of the province. More than 1,300 fires burned more than 1.2 million hectares, displacing 65,000 people from their homes and costing B.C. over $500 million.

Fred & Martha need the government to take action on Climate Change

The bottom line is that the costs of inaction on climate change now far exceed the costs of action. In response to a question from Sen. Neufeld about how the ‘Freds & Marthas’–average Canadians struggling to make ends meet– could pay higher gas prices, Stephen noted that he also worries about the Freds and Marthas whose homes have been flooded or burned down in the Saint John Valley, Gatineau, Fort McMurray and Grand Forks as well as Freds and Marthas in Surrey who may lose their homes as sea levels rise. Stephen added that there are Freds and Marthas across Canada who seriously affected by climate change already, and we have to look after all of them.

Stephen then argued that the key is to make a start now to reduce Canada’s carbon pollution and stop fiddling while our communities burn and drown. Nature Canada urges the Senate to complete its review and enact this bill in an expeditious manner.


Watch the video below for more on Nature Canada’s stance on the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

 


For more on this Nature Canada’s advocacy work, please consult the following

Hazell at the House of Commons on Bill C-69
Graham Saul on Climate Change, Carbon Pricing and Ordinary Canadians

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