The federal NDP has called for the prime minister to declare an “environment and climate emergency”.
In a motion introduced today (May 13) in the House of Commons, the opposition party said the Liberal government should adopt a climate-change strategy that sets “ambitious targets” for reductions in carbon emissions, includes investments in the “clean energy economy”, and prioritizes reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
“It’s increasingly clear that if we fail to act now to fight climate change, the costs will be immense,” NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said in a media release.
The MP for Burnaby South went on to criticize specific Liberal policies, including the government’s August 2018 purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline and its continued offering of tax breaks and subsidies to fossil-fuel companies.
“Canadians should be able to count on their government to have the courage to do the right thing on climate change, while creating good jobs and making life more affordable for Canadians,” Singh said.
Scientists are in near-unanimous agreement that carbon emissions caused by humans are warming the planet at a rate that will significantly damage the environment. Sea levels are rising and extreme-weather events are occurring with increasing frequency around the world.
Last month, a report commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada warned that Canada will experience the negative effects of climate change more severely than most other regions of the globe.
"Canada's climate has warmed and will warm further in the future, driven by human influence,” it reads. “Both past and future warming in Canada is, on average, about double the magnitude of global warming.
"Scenarios with limited warming will only occur if Canada and the rest of the world reduce carbon emissions to near zero early in the second half of the century,” the report continues.
Six months earlier, in October 2018, a United Nations report stated that many nations are already feeling the effects of climate change.
Jim Skea, co-chair of UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III, was quoted in an accompanying media release suggesting it is still technically possible to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions enough to avoid the worst-case scenario that scientists describe in their report. But Skea noted the measures required to do so are now substantial.
“Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes," he said.
In August 2018, B.C. premier John Horgan conceded that wildfire seasons of unprecedented scale and intensity could occur with increasing frequency.
"We're concerned, all of us, that this may be the new normal," he told reporters while touring areas affected by more than 50 wildfires that burned across the province that day.
Horgan's awareness of the problem did not prevent his government from supporting a massive fossil-fuel project that will add to B.C.'s greenhouse-gas emissions for generations to come.
In October 2018, the B.C. NDP and federal Liberal government jointly announced they had approved a massive LNG Canada terminal and pipeline that will be constructed near Kitimat.
Answering reporters’ questions in Ottawa today (May 13), Singh was asked about the federal NDP’s position on the project. He declined to give a definitive answer. Instead, Singh said he has “some concerns” for the LNG Canada terminal and pipeline. He also emphasized that any natural-resource project must meet key criteria for environmental protection if it is going to have his party’s support.
“At this point, there’s some concerns that I’ve raised and it [LNG Canada] has not satisfied all those criteria,” Singh said.
He also voiced more general concerns for the long-term viability of the oil and natural-gas sector as a whole.
“I do not believe fracking is a future for Canada and I believe that fossil fuels are not the future energy source for Canada,” he said.
“We do not support fracking.”