With no hope of meeting targets and with no obvious intention to pay the penalty of buying carbon credits, Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol citing among other reasons, the previously-agreed to targets, the economic costs, and the absence of other major global polluters from the accord.
Short-term political reaction was heated, but long-term costs may have more significant ramifications, as Canada may find itself left behind as incentives to innovate lessen, and as traditional markets evolve beyond our fossil fuel offerings.
Kyoto may or may not be relevant anymore, but Canada’s withdrawal has underlined the cynicism that exists in some circles around the economics of sustainability. While it is true that the term “sustainable” is often abused to the point of becoming meaningless, the true concept- to endure - retains immense value. Fortunately “green” or “sustainable” projects at all scales are starting to prove that enduring, meaningful sustainability can be achieved, and that it does not mean having to compromise on the economics.
With a neighborhood utility system, advanced stormwater management infrastructure, and energy and water efficiency building requirements, the UniverCity project at Simon Fraser University has been in the works for a decade. When SFU’s President committed the university to in 1996 to building "a model sustainable community," it wasn’t immediately clear what that would entail. However, after deciding on four cornerstones to guide the development – environment, equity, economy, and education – a sustained commitment from all major stakeholders has resulted in the creation of a high density neighborhood with affordable housing for students and families, in a milieu that includes access to essential services and amenities. Impressively, UniverCity is a true market project, a fact which injects some much needed credibility back into the "green" label.
Attend CUI’s very first breakfast roundtable of 2012 to hear more from Gordon Harris, President and CEO of the SFU Community Trust about this award-winning model sustainable community, followed by comments from an expert panel and audience discussion.
A roundtable breakfast seminar
presented by the Canadian Urban Institute and the Cities Centre at University of Toronto, in cooperation with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.