Canada, Mexico must unite to pressure U.S. on climate change, says ex-president

Felipe Calderon

The former president of Mexico is urging Canada and his country to work together to pressure “our common neighbour” to act on climate change.

Felipe Calderon was addressing the Globe Forum 2018 in Vancouver on Wednesday when he told the crowd Canadian firms could enjoy significant benefits from putting more money into the low-carbon economy.

“We need to invest a lot in innovation and technology. There are big companies in Canada, the United States as well, that could improve their own future by improving the current situation,” Calderon said, adding energy firms, banks and insurance companies have the most to gain from such a strategy.

“The problem with that is that we do not have enough money upfront to finance all those projects.”

The Globe Forum, running March 14-16, is North America’s largest and oldest summit dedicated to innovation in a low-carbon economy.

Calderon served as Mexico’s president from 2006-12 and is now chairman of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

Calderon wouldn’t directly acknowledge U.S. President Donald Trump, drawing laughs when he said “I don’t remember exactly what’s the name of this guy” immediately after referring to the U.S.

But for the majority of his 20-minute address, he offered a number of key points for tackling climate change including the “right economic incentives” for businesses.

He said companies should be mandated to maintain a low-carbon footprint and that calculations of carbon footprints should be included in companies’ financials.

Businesses must also do a better job measuring the risks and economic costs associated with climate change, according to Calderon.

The former politician said these organization should be subject to carbon pricing via cap-and-trade programs or taxes.

“Whatever you want,” he said. “You need to pay for polluting.”

When pressed by moderator Chris Henderson, chairman of the Globe series, Calderon acknowledged the world is not moving fast enough to address climate change.

“We need to win the battle in public opinion,” Calderon said.

He said the world has been hearing about the dangers and risks of climate change for 30 years but these efforts have yet to move a sufficient number of people and decision-makers into action.

“We need to talk about the benefits of taking action,” Calderon said.

“The good news is different from before … Today, to be responsible implies profit for a lot of companies.”

— Business in Vancouver

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