Thank you very much, Chair.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to members of the committee on the upcoming international negotiations on climate change at Bali.
First of all, while I'm aware that you heard from some eminent experts on the results of the IPCC's fourth assessment report last week, I would like to highlight some of the conclusions that are particularly relevant to the UN negotiations. It is also important to keep in mind the kind of role the IPCC played in the history of these negotiations. The first assessment report set the stage for the Framework Convention on Climate Change; the second report provided critical momentum towards the development of the Kyoto Protocol; and the third was released just prior to the protocol coming into force.
What specifically does the fourth assessment report contribute? In my view, some of the more critical conclusions are the following.
Evidence of global warming is now deemed as unequivocal.
The contribution of human activities to climate change is now deemed as 90% certain. This colossal environmental phenomenon is already deemed to have irreversible impacts under a 1.5-degree to 2.5-degree change. We're already locked into that sort of change. We're looking at global species at risk of 20% to 30%. Under a 3.5-degree change, which will require some very serious work on our part to keep it there, we're talking about 40% to 70% of our species being at risk. At risk of what? Extinction. We're not just talking about the plight of a few cute animals here. This has grave implications for human well-being. The vast majority of our crops depend on pollinators for germination. Microbes play a critical role in ensuring safe drinking water. Disrupt these ecological systems and you run the real risk of upsetting basic food chains that we all rely on.
Despite these grim conclusions, the report also states that there are many affordable actions available to reverse current emission trends, but that the price we place on carbon emissions will play a critical role in determining their range and depth.
The magnitude of the challenge we face in reducing our emissions is underscored by a recently released study by the International Energy Agency in its World Energy Outlook 2007. In particular, the expected rate of growth in developing country giants, particularly China and India, presents a challenge, the scale of which we have never faced. China will have become the world's number one greenhouse gas emitter this year. As little as five years ago we didn't think that would happen until 2020. India will be the third largest by 2015. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, from now to 2030, China is forecasted to install more electricity-generating capacity than currently exists in the United States. This is due to phenomenal economic growth taking place there, but it must be recognized that this is entirely justifiable. Fully 400 million people, for example, in India still do not have direct access to electricity.
Despite this growth, per capita emissions in those countries pale in comparison with North America. In that respect, Canada and the U.S., along with Australia, are in a completely different league from the rest of the world, with at least two times more emissions per capita than Europeans, four times the rate of those in China, and at least a full five to six times more than the average Indian.
The fourth assessment report also examined the effectiveness of the current international regime in addressing climate change. It rightly, in my view, concludes that the Kyoto Protocol played a critical role in laying the basis for a global response to the real threat of climate change. When it comes to the Kyoto Protocol, everyone's attention, particularly at the political level and with the media, is on the issue of targets.
Unfortunately, this tends to take away attention from where the protocol's real contribution lies. It placed a value on carbon and, by doing so, initiated a rapidly growing financial portfolio supporting clean energy investments worldwide from $27.5 billion U.S. in 2004 to over $100 billion U.S. this year, with a percentage increase in the hundreds. It established a set of rules and guidelines around climate change that frame the institutional accounting of greenhouse gas emissions, and it also stimulated a vast array of national responses to climate change in developing and developed countries, including in countries such as the United States and Australia, which did not choose to ratify the protocol.
What do all these lessons mean for Bali? It is clear that we simply cannot meet the environmental imperative of avoiding human interference with the globe's climate system without engaging all major emitters, but the lead must lie with developed countries who are most responsible for the current greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and who, because of their relatively stable and prosperous social and economic conditions, are most able to take more aggressive actions.
In my view, this is particularly the case for North America, which, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per capita, can accurately be described as a pariah when compared with the rest of the world. However, it also means that the terms set out in the Berlin mandate, which established the framework for the Kyoto Protocol negotiations some 12 years ago, are not set in stone. In particular, we cannot have a provision in a Bali mandate that reaffirms no additional commitments for developing countries. That said, this should not stop this government from agreeing to terms that require developed countries to take the lead in taking on binding, more stringent reduction commitments.
In fact, I would like to remind this committee that Canada, like all other Kyoto parties, has already accepted such conditions in a set of negotiations in which it is currently engaged. I am referring to the ad hoc working group on further commitments for annex one parties under the Kyoto Protocol. The negotiating process was launched at the Montreal conference two years ago and has been going on since then with, I stress, active Canadian government participation.
In the context of the Bali mandate, what is important is keeping the door open to include all major emitters. What I am proposing would provide the Canadian government with the space to precisely continue such discussions over the next two years.
As Aldyen has already mentioned, remember the real achievement of the Montreal Protocol. It successfully achieved commitments on the part of all our parties, but under a graduated scheme, giving developing countries ample time to adjust to these new global environmental prerogatives.
Why were parties able to be successful? First, developed countries not only took the lead in taking on commitments, but they also met and exceeded those targets. Secondly, and as important, if not more--which Aldyen didn't mention--is the success of the Montreal Protocol's multilateral fund in establishing a transparent and effective financing mechanism to help developing countries meet their commitments.
I would suggest we have much to learn from that Montreal Protocol experience. We have to show that Canada and all developed countries are putting serious regulatory frameworks and market signals in place. It also means that governments have to become more focused on how Canada can play its part in helping developing countries make the urgent and necessary transitions they will need to make in the face of climate change, both with respect to mitigation and adaptation.