The two day Climate Summit of the Americas convened on July 8, 2015. This event was organized by the government of Ontario. It is intended to emphasize the role provinces, states and other subnational governments can play in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Protestors sought to make themselves heard at the climate summit and and the three day International Economic Forum of the Americas’ which are both taking place at the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto.
Ontario’s Environment Minister Glen Murray accurately explained that situation when he said the provinces have had to address climate issues in the absence of any action from the ruling Conservative federal government.
Under the leadership of Stephen Harper, “The federal government has moved for the last 10 years to the sidelines of this discussion,” Murray said.
Despite the feckless climate leadership of Canada’s ruling federal Conservatives, the nation’s provincial leaders are working to fill the void left by the Tory government’s irresponsible inaction on climate change. In April the provinces came together and made a powerful joint climate declaration.
However, the provinces still need federal involvement if Canada is going to meet its emissions reductions commitment. However, it is very unlikely that provincial leaders will get any support from Harper’s Conservatives on climate change.
At the summit, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called for climate cooperation among subnational states.
“We can’t any longer claim ignorance of the price of further delay,” Wynne said at the conference. “The oceans will continue to rise and we’ll experience longer, more intense heat waves and rainstorms, erosion, flooding, wildfires — our ecosystem is compromised, our infrastructure is at risk.”
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard spoke to the assembled audience about how his province is moving towards an environmentally focused economy. He also spoke about the benefits of Quebec’s new carbon pricing arrangement the includes Ontario and California.
Couillard made it emphatically clear that his environmental approach to governance did not in any way impede growth and job creation. He flatly refuted those who say we must choose between the economy and the environment, and he indicated that we need to develop an economy that is not based on fossil fuels.
“Let us all reject this false choice, rather let us build a different type of growth as solid, but more sustainable than our economy today that is still based on fossil fuels,” Couillard said.
Speakers at the conference include former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.
Before the summits got underway a small crowd of protestors gathered in front of the Royal York hotel. Some were there to convey the usual anti-capitalist vitriol, others came to press governments for more climate action.