With five months to go before the next federal election, Canada’s political parties are competing for climate credibility, seemingly engaged in a battle to show they care more about the environment, reports The National Observer. This is a climate activist’s dream. Not only will climate be the top issue in the October election, but having politicians compete for climate action supremacy is dizzying. I frankly did not see this coming.
Image credit: Bernd Hildebrandt, Pixabay
Liberals are poised to declare a climate emergency
The Liberals have filed a motion which asks Members of Parliament “to recommit to the Paris climate-change accord by meeting the existing targets for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and toughening them as is required to meet the accord’s stated objective of keeping global warming as close to 1.5 C as possible,” writes Mia Rabson of The National Observer.
The Liberal motion (full text found below) brings Canada closer to a declaration of climate emergency following the U.K., Ireland and Switzerland. This is precisely the kind of climate leadership activists and environmentalists have been calling for since the Liberals came to power in 2015.
We may not always agree on which solutions are best, but surely we can agree on the problem — that climate change is an emergency like none we have ever faced before. The science is clear. Climate change is impacting our environment, our nature, our health, and our economy. pic.twitter.com/SaKYPjV02P
— Catherine McKenna 🇨🇦 (@cathmckenna) May 16, 2019
NDP goes much further than Paris targets
The NDP motion (full text found below) also seeks to reach the Paris targets but goes much further by calling for the cancellation of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and an end to fossil-fuel subsidies. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says “pipelines and fossil-fuel subsidies are not congruent with climate-change action.” However, he will not go so far as to oppose the LNG project in his NDP-led home province of British Columbia.
Greens would double the emission-reduction targets
Meanwhile, the Green Party is calling for a 60% cut in greenhouse gases based on 2005 levels, in effect doubling Canada’s 30% reduction promised in the Paris Accord. Elizabeth May is very emphatic that Canadians need to heed the warnings of the IPCC 1.5°C report and Canada’s own Canada’s Changing Climate report that shows we are warming twice faster than the global average.“
“And an increase of two degrees would be catastrophic,” says May.
Somewhere below two degrees is the tipping point to where we run into something (that) scientists call runaway global warming—a self-accelerating irreversible global warming that could lead to temperatures that call into question the survival of this biosphere.
In order to ensure that action follows rhetoric, the Greens would create a non-partisan ‘war cabinet’ modeled after Winston Churchill’s during WWII to tackle the existential threat of climate change.
Click here for the transcript of a recent E. May interview on The Current, CBC Radio.
Conservatives are stuck on energy
The Conservatives under Andrew Scheer have yet to finalize their climate plan, one that will aim at reducing emissions but without the dreaded price on carbon. The plan will include an east-west energy corridor and a call for Canadian energy independence. How fossil fuel energy development will square with climate action has yet to be made clear by the Conservatives.
Notice Paper motions (full text)
May 13, 2019 — Mr. Singh (Burnaby South):
That the House call on the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change to declare an environment and climate emergency following the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and urge the government to bring forward a climate action strategy that: (a) prioritizes reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; (b) invests in a transition that leaves no workers or communities behind; (c) increases the ambition of its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets to avoid a more than 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in global warming, as recommended by the IPCC report; (d) includes robust rules for implementing the Paris Agreement; (e) prescribes transparency and accountability mechanisms to address climate change; (f) does not proceed with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project; (g) immediately eliminates all federal fossil fuel subsidies, including through Export Development Canada funding; and (h) integrates human health into Canada’s climate commitments.
No. 29 — May 13, 2019 — The Minister of Environment and Climate Change:
That the House recognize that: (a) climate change is a real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity, that impacts the environment, biodiversity, Canadians’ health, and the Canadian economy; (b) Canadians are feeling the impacts of climate change today, from flooding, wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather events which are projected to intensify in the future; (c) climate change impacts communities across Canada, with coastal, northern and Indigenous communities particularly vulnerable to its effects; and (d) action to support clean growth and meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all parts of the economy are necessary to ensure a safer, healthier, cleaner and more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren; and, therefore, that the House declare that Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires, as a response, that Canada commit to meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement and to making deeper reductions in line with the Agreement’s objective of holding global warming below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
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