UN Report on Climate Change
A report issued in October 2018 by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that governments need to act soon to avoid far-reaching catastrophic effects. After the report was released, Canada’s MP’s held an emergency debate in the House of Commons that went well into the evening.
(Transcript of Lawrence Gunther’s bi-weekly 12-minute segment on Live from Studio 5 broadcast over AMI TV and Audio across Canada)
Q. Welcome back Lawrence, exactly what does the report say, and are we on track?
A. The UN report claims the world needs to aim to hold the warming to no more than 1.5 °C.
A. The problem is, commitments made by those who signed the Paris Agreement, put us on track for reaching that temperature increase by 2040, ten years after this new deadline, and that’s only if the U.S. remains part of the Agreement.
Q. A rise of 1.5 °C doesn’t seem like that big of a jump, or is it?
A. The world has already warmed up about 1 °C compared to the mid-19th century.
A. Canada would need to cut its annual carbon emissions almost in half from current levels within 12 years to meet the goal of no more than a .5 °C rise.
A. Our current commitments for this same period of time aim to cut emissions by only 25 per cent — only half of what is required.
Q. What would happen if the temperature rises beyond what the experts have identified as the maximum upper limit?
A. Effects of exceeding the recommended limit could include more violent storms, more frequent flooding, longer droughts and more forest fires, all of which are becoming common enough in Canada now.
A. Each 0.5 °C 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.
Q. Is this call to action meeting with non-partisan support?
A. MPs spent their first day back in Parliament after the Thanksgiving break debating the perils of climate change.
A. The emergency debate was requested by Liberal, NDP and Green party MP’s, but not by the Conservatives.
A. None of the MP’s dispute the report’s predictions that the world is on the precipice of major disasters if governments don’t step up with a firmer plan to stop spewing so many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
A. The problem is the parties aren’t aligned on how we get there. e.g. carbon taxes.
A. Conservative governments in Ontario and Manitoba are now suing the federal government claiming that mandatory implementation of the carbon tax is unconstitutional, which has led to groups such as Green Peace suing the Ontario government over their cancellation of the cap-and-trade program.
A. Conservatives across Canada believe that carbon emission reductions should be achieved through incentives and innovation, and not through carbon taxes that could increase the price of virtually everything we buy.
Q. Can Canada reach its goals without the support of the Conservatives?
A. Even if the Government is able to continue with its current commitments, including carbon pricing, energy efficiencies, renewable power sources and technological innovations, we don’t even achieve our current goal, never mind the new UN limit.
A. Knowing this, Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna still says the plan remains to implement the existing climate framework and reach the current targets before the Government will consider more ambitious measures.
A. To ensure the government’s goals are met, Ottawa is introducing new legislation to force the four hold-out provinces — Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario – to implement a carbon tax, and will likely provide these provinces with financial incentives intended to make up for any additional costs to their citizens. be reduction the
A. Minister McKenna also said “We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and we’re the last generation to be able to act,”.
A. It means that if you have a child who is 10 years old today, by the time they are 40, the world will be experiencing catastrophic impacts.
A. Even if Canada reduces its carbon emissions, some argue it won’t make much difference if the biggest polluters — China, India and the United States — are not taking steps as well.
A. Others argue Canada needs to do more.
A. One thing is for certain, we all need to do more because what we are doing now is not only insufficient, our reduction plans themselves are at risk.