Michael Chong: 'We Have A Moral Obligation To Conserve Our Environment'

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Conservative MP Michael Chong is calling on the federal government to take action in the wake of a startling new report on climate change.

Chong, a prominent member of an all-party, non-partisan "climate caucus," rose in the House Monday to respond to the fifth assessment report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report concludes that, if left unchecked, climate change "will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems."

Without "substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions," the report warns the planet could be at risk of flooding, food shortages, extreme weather, and the mass extinction of animals and plants.

"This most recent report concludes that the warming of the planet due to emissions is 'clear' and 'unequivocal,'" Chong said. "The report also concludes that without urgent action to reduce emissions, by the end of this century there is a high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible damage due to extreme heat waves, more intense weather events, mass extinctions, coastal flooding, and crop failures."

Chong said scientists have done their work, now politicians must do theirs.

"As a Conservative, I believe that we have a moral obligation to conserve our environment, so I call upon this government to meet its commitment to reduce emissions and I call on all governments meeting next month in Lima, Peru, and next year in Paris, France, to work together toward a new global treaty to reduce emissions," he said.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May took to Twitter to laud Chong's speech.

In an address to the House of Commons just hours earlier, French President Francois Hollande also referenced the UN report and warned a "lack of action will lead to a disaster."

Hollande said he hoped that as Canada continues to develop its energy sector in the western provinces that it "will be fully committed in this fight against global warming."

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Hollande urged Canada to play an active role in international climate change meetings — like the one to be held in Lima, Peru next month — in advance of a summit he will host in Paris in December 2015.

Under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, which the Harper government signed in lieu of participating in the Kyoto Protocol, Canada committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. However, the environment commissioner announced last month Canada is all but certain to miss that target.

In question period on Monday, May said Hollande received a standing ovation in the House when he referenced a European commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.

"We stood as one and applauded," she said. "Is the government, which so far in question period has offered the usual nonsense about how we are on track, going to accept the challenge?"

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Canada emits less than two per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and the federal government has taken action on climate change while protecting the economy.

"Everyone has to do their fair share and we are seeking an agreement in Paris that would include all emitters and all economies," Aglukkaq said.

With files from The Canadian Press

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