The Current

Ottawa too 'timid' in its fight against climate change, says environment reporter

A new UN report is urging swift international action to tackle climate change. A journalist following the political response to this urgent call says environmental groups are angry the federal government isn't moving fast enough.

UN report urges immediate global action limiting human-caused global warming to half a degree

A new IPCC climate change report is calling for an immediate international consensus on fighting climate change with a goal of restricting human-caused global warming to 0.5 C - instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1 C. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

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Environmental groups have little confidence Ottawa will take immediate action in response to Sunday's grim UN report urging global action on climate change, says an environmental reporter for The Canadian Press.

"Ottawa ... ran on a platform to deal with climate change and some of the environment groups who sort of bought into that a couple of years ago are very angry now that they're not moving fast enough — and they say now is not the time to be timid," Mia Rabson told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"This report in particular shows you have to be really courageous."

The 728-page document by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change detailed how Earth's weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world's leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming to just a half degree Celsius from now, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of one degree.

On Tuesday, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna told Rabson that the government doesn't intend to raise their targets right now because the current plan can't meet them, but added that they intend to implement a new plan.

"The problem is 12 years is not a long time and we've already spent three years waiting to introduce just a minor carbon price — so these things take a lot of time," Rabson said.

A statement from McKenna's office to respond to this report was sent to The Current, it reads in part:

"Our emissions are down, we've created 700,000 middle class jobs and our economy is growing. Climate action should not be a partisan issue. It's time for Conservative politicians to stop playing games with our kids' future. "

Tremonti examined the roadblocks to swift action in response to this UN report with:

  • Kirsten Zickfeld, one of two Canadians selected to author the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. She's an associate professor in geography at Simon Fraser University.
  • Katharine Hayhoe, a Canadian atmospheric scientist who is a director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
  • Mia Rabson, the energy and environment reporter for The Canadian Press.

Listen to the full discussion near the top of this page.

With files from The Associated Press. Produced by Idella Sturino, Anne Penman and John Chipman.