Now, more than ever, we must build bridges. We must build bridges between environmental sustainability, social justice and economic growth because only a solution that addresses all of these concerns will ensure success. And we must build bridges among the countries of the world because climate change is a global crisis requiring global action.

I believe the countries with the strongest economic fundamentals and the most inclusive approach to social issues will be in the best position to find solutions to the climate-change crisis. Canada is one of those countries – with some of the best educated, most ingenious, most industrious people on Earth.

We have access to the best tools. We have top-notch research and education. We're rich – one of the richest nations on Earth. As such, we also bear a tremendous responsibility to tackle this challenge as well as the challenges of air and water pollution, species depletion and environmental toxins. But most importantly, if we take on this responsibility as a country, if we turn these challenges into opportunities, we stand to become a leader of the coming green revolution. The private sector is beginning to recognize and seize these opportunities as well.

The first movers of today – who understand that green technology and energy efficiency are the way of the future – will be the leaders of tomorrow's economy. According to Goldman Sachs, the amount of international capital to be invested in environmental technologies and clean energy has skyrocketed from $400 billion in 2003 to $3 trillion in 2006 – more than a seven fold increase in just three years. Those numbers are only going to grow and Canada stands to lose out if more isn't done to earn our share.

But the economic effects won't come just from productivity or trading opportunities for our companies if we act now, but also from the competitive threats if we do not.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.