Climate change warnings met with denial from Ottawa, NDP says
NDP MP Megan Leslie asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, February 27, 2014. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
NDP environment critic Megan Leslie says a new UN report on the impact of climate change is a call to action, with a message that it's not too late to act.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report Monday, warning that climate change is driving humanity toward a whole new level of risks, including more droughts, wildfires, deadly floods and killer heat waves.
"Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change," the panel's chairman said at a press conference to release the report.
But the New Democrats' environment critic isn't so sure the Harper government is listening.
"I'm not hopeful that they're seeing it as a clarion call," Leslie said on Parliament Hill Monday.
Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq defended her government's record Monday during question period.
"Since 2006 we have invested more than $10 billion in green infrastructure, energy efficiency, adaption, clean technology, and cleaner fuels," Aglukkaq said.
But Leslie accused the minister of offering up the same old answers.
"I think they show a real denier mentality and I use the word 'denier' on purpose, because I think if you are failing to act on climate change then you are denying it's a problem," Leslie said.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May agrees.
She points to Environment Canada's 2013 report that shows the federal government won't even come close to meeting its international commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.
Internal government documents show that's true even if the government brings in its long-promised oil and gas regulations, aimed at lowering emissions in that sector.
"Canada is now really at the bottom of the pack in terms of keeping any of our promises. Ever. So no, we have no climate plan in place that's comprehensive, that deals with all sectors," May told CBC Radio's The Current on Monday.
Canada is the only country to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol. It has cut funding for climate research and closed institutions like the Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.
Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Munich, where he was asked what he thought of Germany's efforts to move away from oil, gas and nuclear, toward greener power sources such as solar and wind.
He told the crowd he believed that would be challenging.
"So this is a brave new world you're attempting, and we wish you well with it," Harper told the business audience.
John Stone, a Carleton University professor and one of the lead authors of Monday's IPCC report, said two things are needed for the federal government to change its position.
"One is imagination. Imagination to imagine a different world. And the second is political leadership," Stone said.
Stone said that political leadership will only come with more pressure from the public, which he predicts will increase as the effects of climate change become more and more apparent.