Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic October 18, 2013 - 11:17 am

I’m a “strong advocate” against climate change, Nunavut MP insists

NDP hounds Aglukkaq for "confusing" remarks in CTV interview

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
The latest science report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” (IMAGE COURTESY OF IPCC)
The latest science report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” (IMAGE COURTESY OF IPCC)

Following what appeared to be ambiguous remarks about climate change in a CTV interview earlier this month, Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, the federal environment minister, told the House of Commons Oct. 17 that she’s “a very strong advocate for taking actions against climate change.”

Aglukkaq was responding to a question from Halifax MP Megan Leslie, the New Democratic Party’s deputy leader and environment critic.

“Can the minister tell us, with a simple yes or no answer, whether she believes the scientific information about climate change contained in the IPCC report?” Leslie said.

In an interview aired this past Oct. 2, Aglukkaq appeared to suggest to Don Martin, host of the daily CTV News Channel show Power Play, that the science of climate change may be debatable.

“There was a report that came out yesterday, I have not received a copy of that but there’s always a debate around science and what’s changing,” Aglukkaq told Martin in the Oct. 2 interview.

It’s not clear what report Aglukkaq referred to. The National Snow and Ice Data Center’s final 2013 report on sea ice extent appeared Oct. 3 and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest big science report Sept. 27.

But the remark triggered an outbreak of denunciations from many environmental bloggers and commentators, such as this attack by ecojustice.ca

It also led to mainstream media speculation that Aglukkaq cast doubt on the science of climate change, including this piece published by Postmedia News.

That prompted Leslie to accuse Aglukkaq of being confused about the science of climate change.

“Canadians were understandably confused after the minister said, “’there’s always a debate around science and what’s changing,’” Leslie said.

The NDP critic also accused Aglukkaq of being confused about what to do about climate change.

“Climate change is real. It is impacting Canadians and it is time for the government to take action,” Leslie said.

Aglukkaq responded by saying the federal government will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by way of regulation: a “sector-by-sector regulatory approach.”

Aglukkaq also denounced the NDP for what she described as its “$20-billion carbon tax” and attacked previous Liberal governments for allowing Canada’s carbon dioxide emissions to rise by 30 per cent.

The NDP “carbon tax” is actually a proposal for a cap-and-trade system, a market-based proposal under which big emitters who exceed mandatory emissions caps would buy credits from other emitters who fall below those mandatory caps.

It’s believed such a system would give the private sector a powerful economic incentive to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming.

Agukkaq said her government has made Canada a “world leader” in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and she said the Conservative government’s approach helps to protect the economy and preserve jobs.

“We have actually reduced our projected emissions by 130 megatonnes. Compare that to what they would have been under the Liberals. Under the Liberals, greenhouse emissions increased by almost 30 per cent,” Aglukkaq said.

The IPCC climate change science report, issued Sept. 27, brought together data and analysis generated by more than 1,500 researchers and reviewers from 63 countries.

The report found that the warming of the planet’s climate system is “unequivocal” and that each of the last three decades has been warmer than any decade since 1850.

The IPCC also said the period between 1983 and 2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period within the last 1,400 years.

The report said Arctic sea ice will continue to shrink and get thinner in the future and that global sea levels will continue to rise throughout the 21st century.

And the IPCC found that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to “levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.”

“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the IPCC said.

At the Arctic Council, which Canada will chair until 2015, Aglukkaq and Patrick Borbey, Canada’s chair of the senior Arctic officials group, are stressing adaptation to climate change and the reduction of black carbon and methane — but don’t say much about mitigating other greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Arctic is already facing rapid changes in its climate and physical environment, with widespread effects for Northern communities and ecosystems,” Borbey said Sept. 25 at an Arctic forum in Salekhard, Russia.

“Short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon and methane, are contributing to warmer temperatures and can also cause local health effects,” Borbey said.

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