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Climate Change to Create Unparalleled Economic Depression: Suzuki

Unchecked global warming would spawn unparalleled depression, Suzuki warns
Friday, April 20, 2007

OTTAWA (CP) - David Suzuki says Canadians are ready to pay for fighting climate change so long as it's fair.

After a cross-country tour in which he heard from thousands of people in more than 40 cities, the veteran broadcaster and author says Canadians are ready for a carbon tax that would penalize wasteful use of energy and reward efficiency.

"I think they're willing to suck it in and accept that they're going to have to pay more but they want it to be fair.

"The thing I hear over and over again is: 'Some sectors in Canada are getting a softer ride, and why should we as consumers have to pay when, say, the tar sands or the auto sector are not being asked to meet their obligations as well?"'

Asked about government claims that meeting Kyoto targets would cause a recession, Suzuki said unchecked global warming will cost the economy more than the two world wars put together and bring about a global depression, "the likes of which we have never ever seen."

A Conservative government study released Thursday says the Kyoto emissions-cutting targets for Canada could be met only by introducing a massive $195-per-tonne carbon tax that would wipe out thousands of jobs and undercut Canadians' quality of life.

Critics say the study is flawed because it excludes the benefits of cutting emissions, such as reduced energy costs and a more stable climate, and because it limits access by businesses to international emissions credits.

Suzuki said Canadians are confused about how Kyoto works, but they understand it is an international law that Canada has signed, and they want its targets to be met.

"They don't understand the details of it, but whenever I would say in my speeches at 41 different communities,'Canada has an obligation and we want to meet the target,' people would burst into applause, every single time."

He believes the current national preoccupation with the environment, and climate in particular, is a long-term phenomenon.

"It's absolutely clear that public opinion has undergone a fundamental shift. Canadians are no longer saying, 'Is global warming happening, are humans a part of it?' The major question I'm asked all the time is, what are we going to do about it?"

He said his consultations revealed five clear priorities:

-Build a sustainable, affordable public transportation system.

-Introduce a carbon tax to help Canada meet its Kyoto commitments.

-Entrench the right to clean water, breathable air and safe food in the Constitution.

-Protect vital habitat for endangered species.

-Institute a national program to penalize polluters and reward green initiatives.

Suzuki was to meet Friday with Environment Minister John Baird, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and NDP Leader Jack Layton. He says Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to meet with him in person.

© The Canadian Press, 2007

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