A new initiative to put climate change on the Canadian government’s front burner was launched in Toronto, Wednesday.

PowerUp Canada has been in the works for months and is led by Canadians for Climate Leadership. The group is made up of leaders in academia, science, business and the environment.

They intend to pressure the federal government, of any stripe, to do much more to deal with climate change.

The key players are Nova Scotia businessman John Roy and Executive Director Tzeporah Berman.

The campaign seems to have struck a chord with Canadians. On the first day, powerupcanada.ca had so many hits that it crashed their Web site.

Among those who support the initiative are four former prime ministers, Joe Clark, John Turner, Kim Campbell and Paul Martin.

The theme of the launch was “Changed your light bulbs? Now let’s change the laws.”


Story Transcript

Call for action on climate change
Producer: Carlo Basilone

CARLO BASILONE: A new initiative to put climate change on the Canadian government’s front burner was launched in Toronto on Wednesday. PowerUP Canada has been in the works for months and is made up of leaders in academia, science, business, and the environment. They intend to pressure the federal government of any stripe to do much more to deal with climate change. The key players are Nova Scotia businessman John Roy and executive director Tzeporah Berman.

TZEPORAH BERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, POWERUP CANADA: Global warming is getting worse. And Canada’s emissions today are projected to rise, not to fall. It is so important to do what we can in our daily lives. We need to change our lightbulbs, there’s no question, but we’re here tonight because there is no question that it is even more important to change our laws.

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PowerUP Canada Campaign Advertisement

WOMAN: I’m fighting global warming.

MAN: And I’m fighting global warming.

WOMAN: But the fact is, despite our efforts, global warming is getting worse, and we need our government to pass stronger laws and policies

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BASILONE: The campaign seems to have struck a chord with Canadians. On the first day, powerupcanada.ca had so many hits that it crashed their website.

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WOMAN: —join thousands of Canadians of other Canadians working together to power up our voice.

MAN: Power up our future. *And power up Canada.

WOMAN: *And power up Canada.

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BERMAN: It is simply not okay that Canada has some of the weakest laws in the world, in fact the second-weakest climate laws of any industrialized country in the world.

BASILONE: Among those who support the initiative are four former prime ministers: Joe Clarke, John Turner, Kim Campbell, and Paul Martin. The theme of the launch was “Changed your light bulbs? Now let’s change some laws!”

RICK SMITH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE: I think most people realize that not only do they have to change their light bulbs, but we need some better political leadership. So that’s what this event’s all about tonight. We need some real leadership at a federal level. I mean, it’s an embarrassment. I mean, Canada has got the worst record in the world on these issues. It’s ridiculous. We’re a rich country, and we can afford to do better. And especially going into next year, when the world’s going to be meeting to follow up on the Kyoto agreement, Canada needs to be leading rather than lagging behind.

STEVEN GUILBEAULT, ÉQUITERRE: Kyoto was adopted in 1997, and here we are in 2008, and Canada still has no climate change to speak of [sic]. So what PowerUP is trying to do is to make sure that whoever the next government is, whatever their political orientations are, right, left, center, center-right, center-left, that they’ve taken clear commitments to tackle climate change and that they get on with the job.

MARLO RAYNOLDS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PEMBINA INSTITUTE: It’s no longer legitimate to use the atmosphere as our ashtray. We have to absolutely say it is a cost to pollute and incorporate that into the economy. And I think there’s a lot of creative and, you know, competitive forces that will allow us to really innovate and implement the right solutions if we get the right price signals in place.

BERMAN: This isn’t rocket science. And what we’re saying is we need to look at the best practices around the world and meet them right away, because we know it’s possible. We need to have the vehicle efficiency laws that China has or, even better, California standards. We need to have a commitment like the UK to have all homes carbon-neutral by 2016. We need to have the feed-in tariff legislation that Germany has to encourage renewables. And more than anything else, we need a price on carbon. And that doesn’t mean we need a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade. It actually means we probably need both mechanisms. Most leading jurisdictions that are reducing their emissions fast have both.

SMITH: Why does Germany get over 20 percent of its power from renewable sources, from wind, and here in Canada it’s less than 1 percent? I mean, it’s an embarrassment. It’s not like we have any less wind here in Canada than they have in Germany. We don’t lack any of that resource. What we lack is some political leadership to make it happen.

GUILBEAULT: I mean, if everybody on the planet was to adopt our lifestyle, we’re cooked. And this is part of the problem, because the Chinese would like to have a lifestyle like we do, and the Indians, and people all around the world. And I don’t feel compelled to go and tell them, “Well, sorry guys, you can’t do it because we’ve already messed up the planet.” So we have to find solutions that work for us and that work for them. They have a right to develop.

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