Thursday, February 1, 2007

Global warming: opportunity, not disaster, for Canada

Jacqueline Thorpe, Financial Post

New Arctic shipping routes, a boom in trade with Russia, corn instead of wheat on the Prairies, golf instead of skiing in Ontario, Chardonnay instead of ice wine in Niagara, lower heating bills and fewer deaths due to pneumonia.

As the world braces for an onslaught of doom and gloom from a United Nations report on climate change next Friday, perhaps it is time to consider a hitherto heretical notion: while a warmer climate may pose challenges for Canada, it will open up new economic opportunities, too.

Consider one overlooked passage in last year's Stern Review, a sweeping assessment of the potential costs of global warming by Nicholas Stern, Britain's chief economist: "In higher latitude regions, such as Canada, Russia and Scandinavia, climate change may lead to net benefits for temperature increases of 2C or 3C, through higher agricultural yields, lower winter mortality, lower heating requirements and a possible boost to tourism."