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Throne speech gives attention to climate change


October 1, 2002   by Canadian Underwriter


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In the swirling controversy over the Kyoto Protocol, yesterday’s throne speech from Prime Minister Jean Chretien focussed on the environment and climate change as among the nation’s priorities.
“On a global scale, the problem of climate change is creating new health and environmental risks and threatens to become the defining challenge for generations to come,” the Prime Minister writes.
He notes that the country would be agreeing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 through Kyoto, and adds that before yearend a resolution will be put in front of parliament to ratify Canada’s participation.
He also mentioned the importance of modern infrastructure and says the government will put in place a 10-year plan for infrastructure renewal. “Within this framework, it [the government] will introduce a new strategy for a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation system that will help reduce congestion in our cities and bottlenecks in our trade corridors.”
Coincidentally, the throne speech comes on the heels of an announcement by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) launching the Natural Disaster Health Research Network, with funding from Health Canada’s Climate Change and Health Office. The research initiative aims to come up with strategies for coping with increasing extreme weather events, the product of climate change.
“Canadians will see more storms and increased frequency of floods and droughts in decades to come. Action now, including research, will help make our lives healthier in the future,” says Dr. Gordon McBean, ICLR’s chair of research.
An ICLR press release notes that the Kyoto discussions have largely ignored the impact of climate change. “Neglected in this debate are the costs of the impacts of a changing climate on Canadians, their health, their property and their lifestyles,” says McBean. “Since Kyoto is only a small step towards reducing global emissions and greenhouse gases, we need to be aware that the climate of Canada fifty years from now will be quite different from the past fifty years.”


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