North America’s three amigos in the fight against climate change are urging other leaders to join their crusade.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and California Gov. Jerry Brown kicked off the Climate Change Summit of the Americas on Wednesday with a call to arms.
“It is impossible for any one jurisdiction to do this alone,” Wynne said at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
“This is not something we can solve overnight. This is a trajectory that we are on right now that is extremely important — that we’ve got to keep moving on,” she said of the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to extreme weather changes.
Couillard, whose province has joined with California on a cap-and-trade carbon-pricing system that Ontario could soon link to, said provinces and states can lead the way for national governments.
“My feeling is that we’re seeing the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era. It’s not going to happen tomorrow — it’s a decade-long process and it’s not going to happen because we’ll eventually run out of oil,” he said.
“It’s going to happen because people have innovated and invented new technologies that will take us elsewhere. The Stone Age didn’t end because of a lack of stones.”
Brown, whose fast-growing state boasts the world’s seventh largest economy, ahead of Russia, Canada and Italy, implored Prime Minister Stephen Harper to join the premiers and governors in combating climate change.
“He ought to re-examine what he’s doing,” Brown said of Harper, who has shown little interest in the issue since becoming prime minister in 2006.
“Canada has a long way to go, as does the United States — as does everybody. It’s not about pointing fingers because we have to point at ourselves. We’ve got a lot to do.
“Get on board, let’s get going. Let’s work together and make a world that really will work for all of us,” the governor said, stressing global warming is “a disaster waiting to happen.”
“In California I have made the pledge that we will reduce petroleum products for cars and trucks by 50 per cent by 2030. That’s a big hill to climb and we will work out the ways to get there,” he said.
“We know that by 2050 we have to start to go to zero carbon. You can compensate for the fossil fuels you do use with extraction – either carbon capture and sequestration or afforestation and other ways.”
Overall, California hopes to reduce emissions 80 per cent under 1990 levels within the next 35 years.
Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq skipped the summit, which was attended by 300 delegates from 20 states, provinces, and regions, and sets the stage for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris that starts Nov. 30.
“This is a call to arms in the fight against climate change,” thundered Brown.
“We have to get out of the way of the catastrophe that is looming. And I hope we have enough time. But we certainly have to take radical, systematic, continuous efforts on a local, national and global basis. Is this hard? You bet it’s hard,” he said.
“This is big and that’s why we can’t wait for propaganda from certain oil companies or conservative parties that don’t want to do anything.”
Wednesday’s confab came one day after Ontario’s acting environment commissioner said Wynne’s government must take further action to meet its own 2020 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The summit continues Thursday with a keynote address by Nobel Peace Prize-winning former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.
It was Gore’s 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, that brought worldwide attention to the threat of climate change.