OTTAWA — MPs are spending their first day back after Thanksgiving break debating the perils of climate change.
The emergency debate, to take place this evening, was granted by House of Commons Speaker Geoffrey Regan just a week after the United Nations climate change arm dropped an explosive warning.
It bluntly said 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.
The world has already warmed up about 1 C compared to the mid-19th century, and is experiencing the effects of that including bigger 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.
The report says the world needs to aim to stop the warming at 1.5 C but that marker will be upon us by 2040 if drastic, global action isn’t taken.
Canada will need to cut its annual emissions almost in half from current levels within 12 years to meet that goal but currently aims to cut them by a little more than 25 per cent by 2030.
The current climate plans, with carbon pricing, energy efficiencies, renewable power sources and technological innovations don’t even get Canada to the existing goal.
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.
MPs from the NDP, Liberal and Green parties all asked Regan for the debate.
Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who represents a central Toronto riding for the Liberals, said the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presents a “dire, urgent warning.”
“The scientists have spoken, what we need now is political will,” he said.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said Canada could take a new leadership role at the upcoming UN climate change meeting in Poland in December by ramping up its efforts.
Canada could rise to the challenge if it wanted to do so, said Quebec New Democrat MP Guy Caron.
“Preventing a single degree could make a life or death difference,” Caron told the House of Commons.