The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Julie Gelfand, gives her assessment of Canada’s international climate commitments. Her conclusion reads:
Canadians expect the government to prepare for the future. We know that the difficulty of addressing climate change will only grow the longer we wait to act. We know that the environmental footprint of oil sands development is steadily increasing. We know that Arctic shipping routes will gain popularity as Arctic sea ice melts, increasing environmental risks in that fragile ecosystem. In each case it is likely that a lack of action today will translate into higher costs tomorrow.
To address these issues, the government needs to know:
– how it will reach its GHG emission targets,
– what services it will provide in the Arctic to support increased navigation and minimize environmental risk, and
– what Environment Canada’s role will be in future oil sands environmental monitoring.
Given the stakes involved, Canadians need answers to these questions.
To prepare for resource development, federal departments need to take a more integrated approach to decision making, one that recognizes the many linkages between the economy, the environment, and society. They can do this by investing in better information, acting on the knowledge they acquire, and engaging Canadians in their decisions.