OTTAWA – Canada’s official Opposition says the Conservative government is effectively rejecting climate change and must explain why it’s ignoring the advice of its own most senior bureaucrats to do more to reduce greenhouse gases and fight climate change.
The questions in the House of Commons on Monday followed a Postmedia News story last week about a secret report from a committee of federal deputy ministers to the country’s top bureaucrat that highlighted the need for the federal government to do more to combat climate change.
The report from the Deputy Ministers’ Committee on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment to the Clerk of the Privy Council Wayne Wouters said more action is needed to mitigate climate change and manage the risks that threaten Canadian communities, government infrastructure, food security and human health.
On Monday, NDP deputy leader and environment critic Megan Leslie went after the Harper government in question period over why it continues to delay greenhouse gas regulations for the oil and gas sector and hasn’t accepted the advice of its own deputy ministers.
“The Conservative government loves to blame foreign radicals for criticism of their inaction on climate change. However, now those so-called radicals are their own deputy ministers,” Leslie said. “Why are the Conservatives refusing to act?”
Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq didn’t directly comment on the secret report and advice from the deputy ministers, but claimed the government is a “world leader” in addressing climate change.
“We continue to work with the provinces in reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector,” Aglukkaq said in the Commons. “It is premature to comment further on any work on the regulations.”
Following question period, Leslie argued the Harper government’s failure to implement greenhouse gas regulations for the energy sector and meaningfully tackle climate change suggests the Conservatives continue to ignore the problem.
“They are denying climate change, effectively,” she said.
The internal report from August 2013 – labelled “SECRET” and obtained by Postmedia News under access to information legislation – says that Canada “will likely face significant challenges to mitigate GHG emissions beyond 2020” given its energy intensive and export-oriented economy.
The Alberta oilsands are the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
The federal Conservative government has repeatedly delayed long-awaited greenhouse gas regulations for the oil and gas industry, a decision all the more interesting when the most senior federal bureaucrats are flagging concerns about climate change and challenges in tackling GHGs in the energy sector.
The report says a wide range of climate-change impacts are being felt across Canada, including disappearing Arctic sea ice, thawing permafrost, rising sea levels and increased risks of severe weather. Moreover, “it is likely that these conditions will be exacerbated as the climate continues to change in the future,” it says.
“These impacts pose increasing risks to infrastructure, water quality and quantity, coastal communities, natural resource industries, food security, human health and safety, and wildlife,” the report says.
NDP roasts government for ignoring deputy ministers’ climate change advice | canada.com