Ontario Urges U.S. Co-Operation on Air Pollution
TORONTO Canadians and Americans are harming each other with air pollution and must work closely to mitigate climate change and reduce environmental damage, politicians from both sides of the border said Monday.
"We need to keep pushing each other, prodding each other, (and) supporting one another in our efforts to protect our shared air," Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty told a government-sponsored conference on cross-border air pollution.
"Some of our activities as humans are seriously compromising our health and the health of our planet," he said. "Our generation bears a heavy responsibility to do something about this."
His sentiments were echoed in even starker language by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who said calamity looms if no action on climate change is taken.
"Within the next 10 years, if we don't do something real about global warming, we are looking at a global catastrophe," Kerry, a former Democratic presidential candidate, said in a speech delivered live via video-conference. "Now, more than ever, we need to work with neighboring states and provinces to address this common threat."
Ontario says more than half of its air pollution comes from U.S. sources. As well, air pollution from outside the province is responsible for more than 2,700 premature deaths, almost 14,000 emergency room visits and more than C$5.2 billion ($4.6 billion) in health and environmental damage every year, Ontario says.
In 2005, the province had its worst year on record for smog advisories, featuring 15 alerts that covered 53 days.
Ontario and its neighboring province of Quebec formally signed Monday a deal to work together on smog, air pollution and climate change. And while Ontario is moving to renew clean-air pacts with New York and Michigan to help relieve the situation, more remains to be done, McGuinty said.
Kerry said that although there's plenty evidence of the dangers of climate change, there has been a shortage of political will in Washington to tackle the issue.
"The bad news is that Washington is full of flat-Earth politicians," Kerry said. "No matter how the evidence mounts for over two decades -- the melting of the Arctic ice cap, rising sea levels, extreme weather that we've all witnessed and hurricane seasons that grow more and more intense -- the flat-Earth caucus isn't convinced."