Canada and the environment: key events from 2011

From Greens in Parliament to tar sands opposition and the Kyoto Protocol, here's a summary of some of the year's most important environmental issues and events.

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Green Party’s first elected seat in Parliament

In this year’s federal election, Elizabeth May made history by winning the first elected seat for the Green Party of Canada.

May overcame the odds and won in the polls as an MP representing her home riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, despite being refused a spot in the televised leaders’ debate.  Acknowledging the challenge of making headway as a “lone warrior” in a majority Conservative government, the Green leader inspired supporters across Canada by winning a seat and pledging to make the environment a bigger priority in Ottawa.

Together we will make history and change Canadian politics,” said May in a statement after the election.

“The Green Party will continue to grow, addressing the critical issues the other parties ignore.”

Economic impacts of global warming 

Graphic courtesy of the NRTEE.

A groundbreaking analysis submitted to the government in September by the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) reported that climate change could cost Canada up to $43 billion a year by 2050.

Entitled “Paying the price”, the study outlined a number of frightening effects that global warming could have on the economy, if Canadian officials don’t get their act together soon. Analysts said Canada’s GDP stands to suffer as increasing temperatures would kill off forests, create devastating flooding in low-lying areas, and cause more illness.  

In its recommendations, the NRTEE panel said Canada would benefit from a global treaty extending Kyoto Protocol commitments beyond 2012 – and now, just months later, Canada has backed out of the international agreement altogether.

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