Climate change fight will help global economy, Gore tells Toronto conference

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and former Mexican president Felipe Calderon say fighting climate change will be a boon to the global economy, despite critics’ fears that abandoning fossil fuels will cripple world markets.

TORONTO — Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and former Mexican president Felipe Calderon say fighting climate change will be a boon to the global economy, despite critics’ fears that abandoning fossil fuels will cripple world markets.

On the final day of the Climate Summit of the Americas both tried to dispel the notion that society must choose between economic growth and helping the environment.

“We’re seeing in some of the states and provinces reductions in (carbon dioxide) emissions accompanied by economic growth surging,” Gore told a crowd of hundreds of invitation-only delegates in attendance.

“Places like B.C., California, Quebec and Ontario.”

Calderon, now chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, echoed Gore’s thoughts, saying his organization’s research shows economies can grow while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas output.

“Sweden increased more than 50 per cent its economic growth and reduced almost 25 per cent its carbon emissions related to 1990,” he said.

“For the first time in 40 years at the global level, the GDP of the world increased almost three per cent and the emissions didn’t grow — in other words we started to decarbonize the economic growth.”

Calderon said societies need to fundamentally change their systems, from getting away from fossil fuels, to ending deforestation, to building better cities and retrofitting aging infrastructure to make them more environmentally friendly.

Earlier in the day, Gore drove his point home in an optimistic speech that only briefly touched on severe weather and natural disasters.

“The thrilling news is the cost of renewable sources of energy is plummeting much faster than anyone expected they would,” he said.

The economy is already converting to one with an environmental focus and costs for alternative energy sources such as solar and wind energy will continue to drop, he said.

Gore laid out his speech in three parts to explain the climate crisis, answering yes to his own questions: “Must we change? Can we change? Will we change?”

“You can go around the world and see that Mother Nature is sending us very clear messages,” he said.

He said 99 per cent of California is in a drought, as is much of the Caribbean and wildfires across western Canada and the United States shows society something is wrong with the planet.

“It is striking isn’t it that every night on the television news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation?”

Gore said moving to an environmentally focused economy will be a lot of work. For example, he said, old buildings need to be retrofitted by installing solar panels and energy-saving windows.

All that work “provides jobs, lots of jobs,” he said.

“And they’re the kind of jobs that can’t be done by robots — at least not yet.”

After Gore’s talk, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and 21 other subnational states signed a climate action statement that commits to supporting carbon pricing, meet greenhouse gas reduction agreements and ensure public reporting.

Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, California and Vermont are among those who also signed the statement along with several regions in Brazil and Mexico.

On Wednesday, Quebec joined Ontario and California and other subnational states after Premier Philippe Couillard signed a memorandum of understanding in a pledge to keep warming at or below two degrees Celsius by 2050.

The leaders emphasized the role subnationals, such as provinces and states, can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Just Posted

Everything from coffee makers to coats in latest Canada Games sale

Sale runs 1 to 7 p.m. at Games office at Bower Place mall

Town of Sylvan Lake has big ideas for lakeshore

Day mooring docks wanted but first water licence needed from province

Red Deer business moves away from overdose prevention site

At least one Red Deer business has moved away from the temporary… Continue reading

Canada Revenue Agency tax services back online after ‘hardware’ problems

OTTAWA — The websites Canadians use to file their taxes online were… Continue reading

Roof structures failed before Radiohead stage came down, inquest hears

TORONTO — Metal structures meant to hold a roof over a stage… Continue reading

Opinion: Business tax relief is a sound idea

NDP leader should avoid picking winners and losers

Svechnikov scores in overtime, Carolina beats Montreal 2-1

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes struggled to beat Montreal goaltender Carey… Continue reading

Canadian men’s soccer squad off to Gold Cup with 4-1 win over French Guiana

VANCOUER, B.C. — Canada’s men’s soccer team is looking to the future… Continue reading

Inquest into fatal Radiohead stage collapse set to get underway in Toronto

TORONTO — An inquest is set to get underway today into the… Continue reading

The Latest: Streisand apologizes for Jackson comments

NEW YORK — The Latest on Barbra Streisand’s comments about the sexual… Continue reading

Pricey Titanic wreck tours hope to bring new life to a century-old story

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Adventure tourists with money in the bank have… Continue reading

Most Read