Canada performs poorly in environmental protection
David Suzuki Foundation news release
October 18, 2005
OTTAWA - Canada is one of the worst environmental performers in the industrialized world, according to a comprehensive new report released today by the David Suzuki Foundation.
The Maple Leaf in the OECD: Comparing progress toward sustainability finds Canada ranks 28th out of the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development based on 29 key environmental indicators. These include: energy consumption, water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants, pesticide use, and amount of protected areas.
The study was conducted by an independent team of multidisciplinary researchers at SimonFraserUniversity under the direction of Dr. Thomas Gunton.
"Our research found Canada' s environmental performance to be surprisingly low," says Dr. Gunton. "Canada lags behind in almost every performance indicator."
Canada's worst showings include: 28th in energy consumption, 26th in greenhouse gas emissions, 29th in water consumption, 27th in sulfur oxides pollution, and 30th in nuclear waste and carbon monoxide. Canada fared better in recycling (ninth) and pesticide use (eighth). Canada did not place first in any of the 29 indicators.
Canada s greenhouse gas emissions are two times higher, and major smog-causing air pollutants are two-to-three times higher than the average for other industrialized countries.
"The ability of other high-income countries, such as Sweden, to achieve much lower levels of pollution shows it can be done," says Dr. Gunton. "There's no excuse - all it requires is a strong commitment from government."
The study found Canada has shown no improvement over the last decade. Canada s rank today is the same as it was in 1992: 28th out of 30.
"The Canada we see in this report does not reflect the one we hold in our hearts," says Dr. David Suzuki. "Canadians expect more and they expect better. We should be outraged that we are among the worst in the industrialized world."
Dr. Suzuki called on the federal government to pass a National Sustainability Act, which would require Canada to create a plan on how to reach sustainability. This plan would include clear targets to improve our environmental performance, a timeline and clear accountabilities.
"It is obvious that Canada will not improve its performance unless we enact specific legislation that lays out clear targets and timelines," says Dr. Suzuki. "We are encouraged by stated commitments to sustainability by Prime Minister Martin and Environment Minister Dion, but statements must be followed up with action. We are hopeful the prime minister will take our advice and pass a National Sustainability Act."
According to Dr. Gunton, a National Sustainability Act would provide the necessary legislative framework to ensure Canada does not continue to fall further behind other industrialized countries.
"With Canada s vast natural resources and knowledge base we should be an environmental superstar," says Dr. Gunton. "All we need now is leadership."
The Maple Leaf in the OECD: Comparing progress toward sustainability is based on a study that evaluated 29 key environmental indicators using the latest data published by the OECD. The study was submitted to a peer review by experts in the private, public and non-governmental sector.
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