Legislation that would have set reasonable targets for reducing Canada’s outsized greenhouse-gas pollution and required the government to report annually on its climate change efforts was defeated in a surprise vote held Tuesday night in the Senate, when many opposition members were not in attendance.
"To say this is outrageous would be an understatement," said Oxfam Canada Policy Coordinator Mark Fried. "Legislation approved by the House of Commons, which sets minimal goals for the government to address climate change, was killed without debate by unelected Senators in an unscheduled vote in the dark of night.
"What do we say to the women and men reeling from climate change in the poor communities where Oxfam works? That Canada simply does not care?"
The Climate Change Accountability Act would have provided a legal framework for the government’s climate policy. It would have set modest and flexible emissions-reductions targets and would have obliged the government to report on its efforts annually.
The government has yet to take any action to implement its lukewarm climate change policies, announced with much fanfare in 2006 and 2007, and has periodically postponed the adoption of emissions-reductions measures and fuel-efficiency guidelines. Meanwhile, the government has discontinued public support for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.
"The climate is changing rapidly, with drastic consequences for the world’s poorest people, especially for women living in poverty," Fried said.
"We can face the challenge and try to attenuate its worst outcomes. Or we can pretend it does not exist and hope the catastrophe never hits us. For the communities where Oxfam works, the disaster has already begun, and Canada’s failure means they will likely perish."