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Recognizing the climate emergency draws a new line in the sand

VICTORIA — Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to Canadian parliament voting to declare a climate emergency.

“We needn’t even look beyond our borders to see that emergency is the right word to describe climate change. Two record-breaking years for wildfires—and already a bad start to 2019. Once-in-a-century floods that are no longer once in a century. Deadly heatwaves.

“While once abstract to people, climate change has become part of our day-to-day lives over the last decade, and here in Canada, where we’re warming twice as fast as the global average, we are on the front lines.

“While today’s vote was a laudable display of leadership, we’re not the first country to declare a climate emergency. The U.K. and Ireland have already done so. And here in Canada, so have a number of cities: Vancouver, Ottawa, Halifax, Kingston, Sudbury.

“While declaring a climate emergency may seem mostly symbolic, it draws an important line in the sand. In an emergency, there is no room for backsliding. In an emergency, we debate how we can do more, faster—not whether or how to undo important, effective policies that are already in place.

“And in an election year—when politics more often divide us—it was inspiring to see so many of our democratic representatives stand together. Five major parties sit in Canada’s parliament, and today four of them voted in favour of calling climate change exactly what it is: a national emergency.”

KEY FACTS

  • The Fort McMurray fire was 1.5 to 6 times more likely because of climate change, while the 2017 record-breaking B.C. wildfire was 7 to 11 times more likely, according to a University of Alberta professor .
  • A new study found the 2018 heatwave, which killed 74 people in Montreal, would have been “impossible” without climate change.
  • 1-in-100-year flood events in Toronto and Montreal are expected to become 1-in-15 year events by the end of the century as a consequence of climate change, according to a study by scientists from Western University and the National Research Council of Canada.

RESOURCES

Video | The cost of climate change