Remembering Canada's Greenest Prime Minister. Hint: He's Not a Liberal.
We remember him as "Lyin' Brian" to the extent he's remembered at all but, for all his failings, Brian Mulroney was the greenest prime minister Canada ever had.
I was reminded of the bright side of Mulroney thanks to an article in Yale360 about the 1987 Montreal Protocol to save the ozone layer. The startling news was that the protocol has not only worked but it has also spared the Earth an astonishing 2.5 degrees Celsius of global warming.
On the 30th anniversary of the protocol Mulroney took a victory lap in the Globe & Mail.
The Montreal Protocol was the result of prioritized and pro-active leadership by Canada, the United States, some Nordic countries and UN leadership of both the developed and developing world.
From the perspective of our government, the environment was a priority from the day we took office. We knew we had to lead by example at home, and engage the international community on environmental issues that knew no borders.
At home, we established eight new national parks, including South Moresby in British Columbia, and our Green Plan put Canada on a path to create five more by 1996 and another 13 by 2000. Dr. Mostafa Tolba, when he was head of the UN Environment Program, called Canada's Green Plan "a model for the world."
We began the long-overdue cleanup of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence and Fraser rivers, and we launched the Arctic strategy to protect our largest and most important wilderness area – the North.
In Toronto in 1988, Canada hosted the first international conference with politicians actively present on climate change. Norwegian prime minister Gro Brundtland delivered a powerful keynote address, and Canada was the first Western country to endorse the historic recommendations of the Brundtland Commission, and the first to embrace the language of "sustainable development."
In 1991, we signed the Acid Rain Accord with the United States, an issue we had been working on since taking office in 1984. I want to come back to acid rain as an important example of leadership and engagement.
At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, we helped bring the U.S. on board in support of the Convention on Climate Change, and we were the first industrialized country to sign the Biological Diversity Accord Treaty.
Quite apart from eliminating ozone depletion and avoided GHG emissions, the Montreal Protocol, as our Canadian government notes, "has prevented up to two million cases of skin cancer and eye cataracts globally." The UN Environment Secretariat forecasts: "Up to two million cases of skin cancer may be prevented each year by 2030."
That also means uncounted billions of dollars of avoided health-care costs around the world.