Kyoto: action wanted

Although people may differ in their opinions of the Kyoto Protocol, they agree that the time to take action on climate change is now.

Allan Amey, President and CEO of Climate Change Central, delivered his talk “Canada and Alberta Climate Change Challenges” on Oct. 23 at the University of Calgary. C3, an Alberta private-public partnership, is an organization encouraging action on climate change and increasing public awareness of surrounding issues.

“Is the ratification of Kyoto the only question we are trying to answer?” Amey asked. “A more interesting question is simply how to decrease our emissions.”

Instead of offering solutions, Amey discussed what he believes are the issues at stake. He cited the differing positions on the need to ratify Kyoto, the estimated impact of ratification, and the timeline to effect change in emission levels.

“We need to do some homework on this issue,” he said. “It has a flavour that energizes the public.”

Amey attributed the strong public interest in the Kyoto Protocol to its far-reaching implications on a variety of areas, including ethics, science, economics, domestic and international policy, and health.

One problem Amey specified was the correlation between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions. For example, Portugal and Ireland’s emissions increased 25 per cent between 1990 and 1999, while those of the Russian Federation decreased by 35 per cent. Their economies followed the same direction.

Alberta’s current situation is unique because it is a key power generator for Canada and the rest of North America. Ultimately, he said, a solution must take into account much more than economic considerations.

“There’s a need to take action,” Amey said. “There’s no free lunch in this game. I’m amazed at how little work has been done to find the most effective opportunities to reduce emissions.”

This was the third lecture in a series of five presented by the U of C on the Kyoto Protocol. The next installment will be on Mon., Nov. 4 at 7:00 p.m. in MacEwan Hall. For more information, see www.ucalgary.ca/kyoto.