May and NDP MPs show anger in debate on climate change

May and NDP MPs show anger in debate on climate change

Postby Oscar » Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:49 am

May and NDP MPs show anger in debate on climate change

[ ... ate-change ]

Karl Nerenberg October 16, 2018

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United Nations Report: "Global Warming of 1.5C" [ ]

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The House of Commons took the deadly threat of climate change seriously for one long evening on Monday. At the request of the NDP, the Green Party and one Liberal MP, Parliament held an emergency debate on global warming, which went on from the supper hour until midnight.

The NDP got the ball rolling early in the day, with a letter to the Speaker signed by Parliamentary Leader Guy Caron. It pointed to some of the damning numbers in last week’s United Nations Panel report on climate change. . . . .

Liberal MP Nathan Erskine-Smith started off the debate by quoting former U.S. president John F. Kennedy, who famously answered the question, “Why do we go to the moon?” by saying, “We go not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” . . . . .

(British Columbia MP Richard) Cannings also spoke for the NDP, expressing anger and frustration at the sophistry he hears all too often from defeatist and cynical politicians who say any action to curtail emissions is futile, so why bother.

"The Conservative side says that we should not have a carbon tax because B.C. has had one for 10 years and it is still having fires. So what is the use?" Cannings said scornfully. “That is not how it works. It shows either a shocking misunderstanding of how climate change works or just a wanton disregard."

He then made one of the most honest and telling points of the evening:

"If the whole world went carbon neutral today, we would be at that one-degree rise,” he explained. We would still have those fires. We would still have floods. All that extreme weather would be with us. What we are trying to do is save us from a far more frightening future!"

Cannings pointed out that with a two-degree increase in global warming, we would see the hottest days of summer increase by 4°C, which would mean heat waves in British Columbia that could easily reach 44°C. For those who are still not entirely attuned to the metric system, Cannings translated that number to 112° Fahrenheit.

The NDP MP had a few tangible suggestions for the Liberal government.

"Instead of investing $4.5 billion in an old pipeline,” he said, “we could copy the U.K. and spend $2 billion on building electric vehicle infrastructure across southern Canada. We could provide meaningful incentives for Canadians to switch to electric vehicles, just as Norway has done. We could invest billions in other clean technology projects across the country."

He also mentioned retrofits to buildings, which produce 40 per cent of our carbon emissions.

Elizabeth May was firm and uncompromising

Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s speech was the fiercest and most passionate of the evening. She started by telling a bit of her own story as a long-time environmental policy expert and activist.

"I have had a ringside seat for the decades during which we could have arrested climate change before our glaciers were melting, before we were losing the Arctic, before our forests were on fire, before we saw draught and climate refugees, and before we had tornadoes in Ottawa,” May told her parliamentary colleagues. “We had a chance in the 1990s and we blew it. We had a chance in the first decade of this century, but every time there has been a warning from scientists, the alarm bell has rung and society has hit the snooze button."

She continued in the same vein, directly addressing her fellow politicians, combining controlled rage with a planetary and historical perspective:

"If we are grownups in this place, then we should face the science clear-eyed. We have allowed greenhouse gas emissions to increase to such an extent that we have already changed the chemistry of the atmosphere.… We do not know when we will hit a tipping point of irreversible self-acceleration where the ultimate consequences are not about bracing for bad weather, but about bracing for millions of species going extinct. Even if humanity can hang on now, can we imagine hanging on to human civilization in a world with a four-degree, five-degree, six-degree or seven-degree rise in temperature? The answer is no."

May made it clear that there is no point now debating the government’s current halting and inadequate climate plan. The UN report calls for far more robust and resolute action than Canada is currently taking.

"This is not a status-quo debate,” she said. “The UN Panel report has said to us as a country that our target is approximately 50-per-cent too little. We need to do twice as much. I know that is hard, but to save the lives of our children, what would we not do?"

Then, in response to a question from a Liberal MP as to what specific actions she would propose, May did not, as government spokespeople so frequently do, retreat behind generalities. She unapologetically proposed a radical series of specific and sweeping measures.

"This is a heroic effort on a global scale," the Green leader said. "It means decarbonizing our electricity sector, not just getting off coal, but making sure we do not switch to polluting natural gas instead. We have to improve the east-west electricity grid, get rid of internal combustion engines, use electric vehicles, and ensure energy efficiency and retrofits for every building. At the same time, we have to ensure that there is green biodiesel for our tractors and our fishing boats."

May concluded by explaining that "all of those things have already been invented. That is the miracle. They are all possible. We just have to tell our fellow citizens that we are ready. It is a challenge, and we are all going to do it together."
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Re: May and NDP MPs show anger in debate on climate change

Postby Oscar » Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:56 am

MPs hold emergency debate on climate change in wake of UN report

[ ... -un-report ]

October 16, 2018 - 1:50pm

(Photo by the Vancouver Sun)

MPs spent their first day back in Parliament after their recent break debating the perils of climate change.

According to the Canadian Press [ ... nsequences ], the emergency debate was granted by House of Commons Speaker Geoffrey Regan just a week after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a dire global warning of a looming climate catastrophe.

The report says the world will be facing unstoppable climate change sooner than expected and that urgent government action is needed now.

The article notes that “the world has already warmed up about 1 degree C compared to the mid-19th century and is experiencing the effects of that, including more violent storms, more frequent flooding, longer droughts and more forest fires.”

“Each 0.5 C degree of warming raises those risks significantly, with entire ecosystems possibly being eradicated, parts of the planet becoming too hot to sustain life and island nations getting drowned out entirely by rising sea levels,” it adds.

Canada would need to cut its annual emissions almost in half from current levels within 12 years - by 2030 - to do its part to stop the Earth’s temperature from rising more than 1.5 degree C. Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction goals are nowhere near that, and its actual achievements are even further behind.

According to Canadian Press, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said last week her plan is to implement the existing climate framework and reach the current targets before looking at more ambitious measures. In other words, Canada won’t be taking any immediate or urgent action in light of the UN panel’s report.

"We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and we're the last generation to be able to act," she said during the emergency debate.

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