Citing potential climate-related GDP losses of up to 20 per cent by 2050 and the economic benefits of shifting to low carbon and resource efficient economies, investors are calling for national and international policies that will spur private investment into low carbon technology and adaptation measures.

“We cannot drag our feet on the issue of global climate change,” said Barbara Krumsiek, chair of the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative and chief executive of US-based investment firm Calvert Investments.

“Based on the Stern Report, we know these impacts could reach global GDP cuts of an unimaginable 20 per cent per year. Why should we take that risk? The solutions are quickly emerging and we must deploy these solutions to help secure the innovation and sustainable growth our economies need.”

So how is Canada, which has by and large survived the Great Recession better than most, positioned to address this urgent challenge?

A global-warming bill that passed the House of Commons with the support of Canada’s elected officials, was abruptly killed by the Conservatives with a snap vote in the Harper-appointed Senate on Tuesday. In other words, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have just sabotaged climate-change legislation in a manner that has provoked national alarm regarding the state of democracy in the country.

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Meanwhile, sub-national governments and groups around the world are simply giving up on lame-duck national leadership and are getting on with facing the challenge, and making new opportunities, under their own steam.

‘R20’ is the name of a new initiative that seeks to bring together regional governments from across the world in order to share knowledge and push ahead with actions to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transport. The initiative, launched in California this week (15-16 November), is being actively supported by regions across Europe.

And this year the Navajo tribal government has announced a move away from coal, as well as approving a wind farm to be built west of Flagstaff, Ariz., to power up to 20,000 homes in the region. Last year, the tribal legislative council also created a Navajo Green Economy Commission to promote environmentally friendly jobs and businesses.

So will Canada catch up in Cancun? Or will we continue to lag behind, and potentially compromise our so-called recession-proof economy?