Re: Funding Support for Climate Change Programs
Dear Minister Ambrose,
Several recent newspaper articles indicate that federal government funding of about 100 climate change programs ends on March 31 (e.g. “Ottawa stops funding One Tonne Challenge, Globe and Mail, April 01, 2006, and “Tories leave climate programs in limbo”, London Free Press, April 01, 2006). Perhaps it will be found on close examination that several of the programs cited in the articles do not warrant further funding. On the other hand useful and innovative programs of research and development are also likely in danger of losing needed funding. I understand that the BIOCAP Canada Foundation could be one of those.
I’ve been involved in extensive study and other activities relating to climate change, and energy and greenhouse gas emissions, since the early 1990’s. I was engaged by Canada’s National Climate Change Process as a member of the group of experts established in 1998 to help develop Canada’s greenhouse control plans. My experience there has made me very aware of Canada’s initiatives to deal with the Kyoto Protocol commitment.
I hear and read more and more strident, extravagant expressions of fear that climate change is putting humanity in dire straits. Canadians are exposed to countless news articles emphasizing narrowly skewed aspects of the issues. Carefully balanced information which weighs the risks posed by climate change against the risks posed by measures needed to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases is almost non-existent. As a result thoughtful Canadians are bound to become more doubtful about the importance of climate change and the relevance of actions taken in the name of managing greenhouse gases. Neither exaggerated cries of imminent danger – nor expressions of complacency - are a substitute for careful examination and expression of scientific evidence
If climate change really is coming as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, it is possible we will be able to do something about it. We would be wise to engage in preparing for that eventuality. We can certainly do more to develop energy sources and processes that result in much lower emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. We also need to appreciate our biosphere and the huge amount of carbon it circulates between the atmosphere, living plants, wood and agricultural products, and soil. Canada received only minimal recognition for the greenhouse gas control potential of our forests and agricultural land during the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol.
An audit of climate change programs is overdue. Some of them are proving to be ineffective. Perhaps worse, some are deluding Canadians into thinking that control of atmospheric greenhouse gas emission is a trivially easy goal that can be accomplished by improving household efficiency and conserving a little bit. Real progress will require serious consideration of science based technology development to provide needed energy which is simultaneously directed to controlling atmospheric greenhouse gases.
BIOCAP understands the significance of the biosphere in the management of atmospheric greenhouse gas. Very few organizations do. BIOCAP has established a working network of universities and research organizations supported by association with industry. BIOCAP’s research projects are directed toward establishing a firm science basis to fully understand and enlist Canada’s forestry and agriculture to help manage atmospheric greenhouse gases. It would be unfortunate if the focus, knowledge and research capability that is developing is inadvertently allowed to lapse.
In summary, a review of climate change programs is warranted. I’m looking forward to a change of direction which focuses on development of science and technology. We need less emphasis on expensive advertising and promotional programs which do little to advance understanding of the issues, and leave Canadians in the dark with respect to climate science and effective solutions.
Duane Pendergast, Ph.D., P. Eng.
Hon. Chuck Strahl, PC, MP
Hon. Gary Lunn, PC, MP
Dr. David Layzell, CEO and Research Director, BIOCAP Canada Foundation