Scientists urge action on climate change

Guest Contributor
July 7, 2008

At least 140 Canadian scientists have released an open letter to the country's elected government leaders urging them to move more aggressively on the increasing urgent challenges posed by climate change. The letter was issued in late June to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Canada's hosting of the Our Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security conference. It follows a similar letter to prime minister Stephen Harper sent in 2006.

The letter urges governments — particularly the federal government — to establish a polluter-pay principle and set absolute emission caps instead of the research intensity approach adopted by the Harper administration.

"We're not trying to be critical of government per se," says Dr Gordon McBean, professor and director of policy studies at the Univ of Western Ontario's Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. "We would like the (federal government) to move its climate change plans more aggressively ahead. There are concerns over what the (climate change) announcement it has made will mean in principle."

The letter also calls for a national adaptation strategy and new R&D investments.

McBean says he hopes the urging of the scientific community will prompt the government to take more aggressive action prior to the follow-up meeting to Kyoto in Copenhagen next year.

While McBean says the letter represents a cautious approach to dealing with government, not all signatories agree.

"We don't think the government is doing enough or fast enough," says Dr John Stone, a climate change advisor and adjunct professor at Carleton Univ. "They're using the right language but it's still a plan. They have not done anything yet. To say government is doing something is somewhat of an extrapolation."

The letter and full list of signatories is posted on the RE$EARCH MONEY web site (


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