Canadian Consulting Engineer

Stantec Vice President has concerns about Kyoto’s impact

January 22, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

After Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on December 1...

After Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on December 17, Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine asked a chief executive of one of Canada’s largest consulting engineering firms to tell us his views of the global accord. The Protocol commits countries to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, and especially demands reduced dependence on oil and other petroleum products.

Barry Lester, P.Eng., Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Stantec of Alberta, gave this reply.

“I expect that most consulting engineers are in favour of any new technologies which will allow us to achieve better results for our clients while, at the same time, reducing the effect on the environment. Stantec is involved with sustainable buildings, public transit, green energy sources, enhanced methods of water and wastewater treatment, responsible community development and so on. In short every project which we do is done with a view to enhancing the environment. We heartily support any measures which will enhance the environment in a significant and cost-effective way.

“My concerns with the Kyoto Accord are two-fold. Firstly evidence suggests that the ensuing environmental improvements in Canada will be insignificant; and secondly, the potential cost to the Canadian economy, which is currently unknown, could be enormous.


“Without entering into the climate change debate in any way, I think that we all recognise that society has an obligation to steward the environment responsibly. However, it is clear that in global terms, Canada’s incremental emissions reductions under Kyoto will be minuscule.

“On the other hand the potential effects on our economy are very real and could be very significant. In recent years we have expended considerable efforts to develop uniform North American standards for a variety of products only to see those efforts thrown into disarray by Kyoto. The competitiveness of our automobile manufacturing industry, for one, may be affected by this situation.

“And in addition to the effect of non-uniform standards, what other effects will arise from the fact that our largest trading partner is not a party to the Accord.

“What will be the cost to Canadian companies, and the economy overall, of being forced to purchase emissions credits, with no true value, from other countries?

“And finally, as a Canadian who takes great pride in our international reputation as a highly ethical and moral society, I am concerned about the harm to our reputation and to our own view of Canada which comes from signing an agreement which we apparently cannot meet.”

Editor’s Note
The federal government’s Climate Change Plan for Canada that details the steps which the Canadian government intends to take to help reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions and forecasts the economic impact is available at
The plan includes separate forecasts of what the impact of global warming will be on different provinces.)


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