Pollution Costs Canadians Tens of Billions Every Year, Reveals one-of-its-kind Report

“This report demonstrates that the costs of pollution amount to tens of billions of dollars a year. These costs are real and will be borne by Canadian families, businesses and governments into the future unless we take action to minimize pollution.”                          – Scott Vaughan, president-CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development

News from the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a non-profit organization of experts in economics, law, environmental sciences and a host of other fields, with offices in Canada, the United States and Switzerland

Posted July 10th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

A  from Niagara At Large journalist and publisher Doug Draper –

 

One of many  fish kills in the Great Lakes over my more than 35 years of following Great Lakes environmental issues

This report, released this spring by a team of researchers for the International Institute for Sustainable development, speaks to a very costly reality that, in my more than three and a half decades of covering environmental issues, flies in the face of those in government and industry who repeatedly argue that environmental protection regulations are a burden to the economy.

 

This rap against “burdensome environmental regulations” has almost always come from politicians on the right end of the spectrum – members of federal and provincial Conservative parties in Canada and Republicans in the United States – who represent the interest of corporation and other entities pushing to advance narrow, short-term interests and gains over long-term consequences that can often prove very costly, and even deadly, for a great many people.

The consequences of this narrow, short-term thinking and the breaching of environmental protection rules it fosters can fill volumes – the Love Canal chemical dump disaster that ravaged an entire neighbourhood in Niagara Falls,

New York four decades, ago; the loose rules and monitoring around a PCB storage site in the Niagara, Ontario community of West Lincoln that poisoned a drinking water aquifer three decades and cost the tax payers of the province tens-of-millions of dollars to clean up; the un-tolled harm decades of contaminants from industries, municipal wastewater systems and farm fields have done to a multi-billion-dollar recreational and commercial fishery in the Great Lakes, the  Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989; the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010; the ever more frequent floods, winds, droughts and wildfires that are destroying lives, properties and adding up to trillions of dollars in costs to people and businesses and communities and countries around the world.

When Conservative and Republic politicians, who would have us believe that they are far more mindful of financial impacts on the rest of us than their more liberal counterparts, hardly ever seem to want to consider the part of the balance sheet that tallies up the costs of cutting environmental protection programs.

So this report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development, like reports I’ve covered from Canadian and American physicians in the past, estimating the number of people who die each year from smog and other forms of air pollution, and like too few other reports of this kind that attempt to tell us how costly not protecting our environment can be, comes at a critical time when we have the Trump administration in the U.S. and Conservative parties in Ontario and federally in Canada continuing to peddle the misleading, dangerous and ultimately very costly notion that environmental protection is an economic burden.

Congratulations to this non-profit Institute for producing this important report. Please review it and remember it the next time a politician tries to con you into thinking that you have to make a choice between a healthy economy and a healthy environment.P

Plastic bottles  and other debris washed up on a Great Lakes beach. Plastic pollution, including tiny plastic fragments in the water column where they are ingested by fish and other wildlife, has emerged as a serious threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Now here is the Institute’s news release on the report and a link to the report itself

Ottawa, Ontario – Pollution costs Canadians tens of billions of dollars every year in terms of impacts on their health and well-being, their pocketbooks and the value of their homes, buildings, roads and the natural environment.

This is according to a new report released today by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) entitled The Costs of Pollution in Canada: Measuring the impacts on families, businesses and governments. The report offers the most comprehensive portrait of pollution and its costs ever undertaken in Canada.

Based on a systematic review of published Canadian and international studies, the report reveals that:

  • Pollution of all types cost Canadians at least $39 billion in 2015 in terms of lost health and well-being. The total health and well-being costs – which could not be measured because of data gaps – were possibly twice this amount.
  • Lost income and increased spending to deal with pollution’s impacts cost households, businesses and governments billions of dollars more. Just cleaning up sites contaminated by past pollution cost the federal government more than $300 million in 2015 – a cost that will grow in the future. Costs associated with common diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, caused by ‘persistent organic pollutants’ could have been tens of billions of dollars.
  • Loss in the value of Canada’s assets – houses, buildings, roads and the natural environment – from pollution is also significant. Lake Erie’s value for tourism, commercial fishing and water supply has dropped by $4 billion because of phosphorous pollution. Homes along the lake’s shoreline have dropped in value by more than $700 million. In total, Canada has trillions of dollars of assets at risk from pollution and we simply cannot say how much of their value – Canadians’ wealth – we are losing today. Better data are urgently needed here, especially with the growing threat of climate change.

Massive wildlifres burning around communities in British Columbia this July, just as they ravaged large areas of northern Alberta last year.

“This report demonstrates that the costs of pollution amount to tens of billions of dollars a year. These costs are real and will be borne by Canadian families, businesses and governments into the future unless we take action to minimize pollution,” said Scott Vaughan, president-CEO, IISD. “Having strong data to demonstrate the costs is key to reducing them. The impacts of pollution are too great to allow poor data to stop us from taking action,” he added.

“Our report reviewed the costs of all pollutants in Canada using a transparent method. Since costs vary, we wanted to examine everything we could,” said report author Robert Smith. “It is the most complete look to-date at the costs of pollutants in Canada. The seriousness of our findings underscores the need for more research to fill the gaps in our understanding of pollution costs,” added Smith.

The development of the report also identified several priority data gaps: climate change; persistent organic pollutants; heavy metals and freshwater pollution from phosphorus and nitrogen.

The Costs of Pollution in Canada: Measuring the impacts on families, businesses and governments Report videos include: Contaminated sites Extreme Weather Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Smog

About the International Institute for Sustainable Development – The International Institute for Sustainable Development’s mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability through innovative research, communication and partnerships.

Established in 1990, IISD is an independent, non-profit organization that provides practical solutions to the challenge of integrating environmental and social priorities with economic development. We report on international negotiations, conduct rigorous research, and engage citizens, businesses and policy-makers on the shared goal of developing sustainably.

The institute has offices in Canada, Switzerland and the United States, and operates in over 70 countries around the world. As a registered charitable organization in Canada, IISD has 501 (c) (3) status in the U.S. IISD receives core operating support from the Government of Canada, as provided through the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Province of Manitoba. The institute also receives project funding from numerous governments inside and outside Canada, United Nations agencies, foundations and the private sector.

For more information on the International Institute for Sustainalbe Development and its work, click onhttp://www.iisd.org/ .

Here is a time-lapse video of Wildfires burning in British Columbia this July, this one dangerously close to homes and businesses in the Nelson, BC area.  –

 

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

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