The House of Commons passed a motion on Monday night to declare a national climate emergency and affirm Canada’s commitment to meet the Paris Agreement’s emissions targets, with all but Conservative Party and PPC MPs voting in favour.
The motion, proposed by climate change minister Catherine McKenna, passed 186-63 and was supported by Guelph Member of Parliament Lloyd Longfield, who is a member of the ruling Liberal Party caucus in Ottawa.
The motion recognizes that “climate change isa real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity, that impacts the environment, biodiversity, Canadians’ health and the Canadian economy.”
The House has voted to “declare that Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires, as a response, that Canada commit to meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement”, an international accord signed in last 2015.
The government also agrees to “making deeper reductions in line with the Agreement’s objective of holding global warming below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
The Liberals forced a vote on the motion, meaning that all parliamentarians had to stand up and be counted over whether or not they support Canada meeting the Paris targets, in a move that analysts pointed out was an attempt to out Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Scheer, whose party currently leads the ruling Liberals in the polls, is set to unveil the Conservative’s environmental policy in a speech on Wednesday, after saying a year ago that that he would unveil a plan that would meet the requirements of the Paris accord, but without the contentious carbon tax.
Last December, Scheer walked back the pledge on CTV News. The party leader said he could not commit that his long-awaited plan would meet the targets, instead saying his it would have “meaningful reductions.”
Scheer has called his upcoming announced the “most comprehensive policy announcement by an opposition party in Canadian history”, though critics, including the Liberals, say that it would be tough to constrain the market without incentives to not pollute.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer will face off in the federal election taking place on Oct. 21 — a battle between an incumbent who has suffered a large drop in polling since last year, largely due to a political affair, and the Conservative leader, who is first in national polling.
Climate change and environmental policy — especially the carbon tax — has been set up as being one of the primary campaign issues for all parties.
Trudeau, Scheer, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh were all in Toronto for the Raptors’ parade and rally on Sunday, and thus were not present for the vote in Ottawa. Green leader Elizabeth May voted in favour and People’s Party chief Maxime Bernier joined the Tories in voting against the motion.