A Letter to The Honourable David Anderson, Minister of the Environment, Calling for Canada to Ratify the Kyoto Protocol and Begin a Program of Emissions Reduction

Tuesday, June 25 2002

The Honourable David Anderson
Minister of the Environment
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0H3

Dear Mr. Anderson:

We write to express our gratitude for your leadership over the past several years in working with the 168 countries that have agreed to adopt the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. We join our voice to those of religious leaders around the world who are urging their governments to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and address the problems of climate change already occurring throughout the earth.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has also been engaged in the issue of climate change. Through participation in the 1997 petition of the Canadian Council of Churches, 50,000 signatures were presented to the Canadian government in favour of climate change action. In February 2001, the Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs wrote an open letter to all Members of Parliament, entitled The Common Good or Exclusion: A Choice for Canadians, in which we advocated ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

We now wish to repeat our call for Canada to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and begin a decisive program of emissions reductions. Such action should serve as a catalyst for specific policies on energy efficiency and renewable energy production, both of which are necessary to meet the protocol targets. The longer we wait, the harder it will become to meet the goal of reducing the
production of greenhouse gases. The damages will only increase over time if no, or insufficient, action is taken. These damaging effects will be most severe for the more vulnerable peoples located in the Northern parts of Canada, coastal regions, and in the Southern and poorer countries. The economic costs of not acting to redress climate change will be far greater than the costs of reducing greenhouse gases, adopting alternative energy policies and developing more ecologically benign lifestyles.

We are aware that the government has proposed its Discussion Paper on Canada’s Contribution to Addressing Climate Change, and has undertaken a further consultation process. We are also aware that powerful forces opposed to changes are mobilizing to defeat action on climate change. This is in spite of recent polls indicating overwhelming public support for the Kyoto Protocol. The Bishops encourage the government to continue with ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Concerted action in this regard could be particularly opportune at this week’s meeting of the G-8 in Kananaskis, leading to an announcement at the September 2002 United Nations’ World Summit of Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The problems of climate change and global warming affect all of humanity, as well as the entire ecosystem. But these are not only economic issues. In every world religion there are themes of a spirituality or sacredness of the earth. Those who contemplate the earth soon come to have a great sense of wonder. In our time, perhaps more than any other, we need to reawaken a sense of wonder and reverence for the earth as one means of fostering a sense of care for creation and solidarity with others.

The challenges of climate change are deeply moral as well as spiritual. We add our voices to those who are insisting upon a healthy planet, and asking for political will to ensure it remains so. Signing the Kyoto Protocol is both a necessary responsibility and a symbol of Canada’s commitment to the health of our world. We respectfully ask that you consider our views in your deliberations.

Yours sincerely,

Most Reverend Jean Gagnon
Auxiliary Bishop of Québec
Apostolic Administrator of Gaspé
Chairman, Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs

Cc Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister