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National climate emergency declared by House of Commons

Global News logo Global News 2019-06-18 Hannah Jackson

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The House of Commons passed a motion to declare a national climate emergency in Canada on Monday night.

The motion was put forward by Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, and it passed with 186 votes to 63.

It declares a national climate emergency, and supports the country's commitment to meeting the emissions targets outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, Thursday, May 9, 2019 in Ottawa. © THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, Thursday, May 9, 2019 in Ottawa.

READ MORE: World ‘not on track’ to achieve Paris Agreement objectives: UN chief

McKenna urged all members to vote across party lines to "recognize the climate emergency."

"The science shows that Canada is warming at twice the global average and that we need to meet our international obligations," she wrote.

"That's why I'm voting for the motion and that's why Canada's already taking action."

A scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) released in April found tha Canada is warming up at twice the rate of the rest of the world, and that the warming effect is "effectively irreversible."

More than 40 scientists worked on the report. They said that Canadians will end up with 10 times as many deadly heat waves and twice as many extreme rainstorms if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The motion described climate change as a "real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity, that impacts the environment, biodiversity, Canadians' health, and the Canadian economy."

The motion declares that "Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires, as a response, that Canada commit to meeting its national emission target under the Paris Agreement and 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."

READ MORE: NDP reveals climate plan to ease transition to green economy

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May tweeted before the vote, saying she was "disappointed" she was the only leader in attendance for the debate.

"This is a national security issue, it is time we started treating it as one," she wrote.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh were not present during the debate. All three were in Toronto to attend the Toronto Raptors victory parade and rally.

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was present, and voted with Conservative members against the motion.

Singh released details of his party's climate plan last month.

The NDP is proposing a package of measures to combat climate change, ranging from subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles to easier access to employment insurance for workers in industries threatened by the move away from fossil fuels.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer committed in April to present his party's environmental plan by the end of the parliamentary session in June.

He is expected to unveil the policy on Wednesday.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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