On behalf of Yukon youth, we would like to express our profound shock and frustration with the Senate’s decision to abolish the Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-311).
Had it passed, Bill C-311 would have required the Canadian government to establish regulations to bring greenhouse gas emissions to 25 per cent below 1990 emissions-levels by 2020 and to set a long-term target of 80 per cent below 1990 emissions levels by 2050.
Now, Canada will enter international climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, next month with nothing new to offer but the pitiful target that it declared in Copenhagen last year: the equivalent of less than three per cent of 1990 emissions-levels by 2020.
Among the naysayers who opposed new targets was Yukon Senator Daniel Lang.
Lang voted against Bill C-311 before the Senate even had a chance to debate the issue Ã the first time that this has happened in almost 70 years.
The vote also marked only the second time since 1961 that the Senate has abolished a bill that was clearly supported by a majority of elected representatives in Canada’s legislature, including Yukon MP Larry Bagnell.
In September 2009, Yukon delegates to the Power Shift Youth Summit, a national conference on climate change, met with Bagnell in Ottawa specifically to seek his support for Bill C-311.
During this visit, the delegates stressed the serious effects of climate change in the North, and emphasized the concerns highlighted by northern youth at the Young Leaders Summit on Northern Climate Change, which was held in Inuvik, NWT, only weeks prior.
On May 5, Bagnell voted in favour of the bill, which passed by a margin of 149-136 in Canada’s House of Commons.
On November 16, Lang made the decision to negate Bagnell’s vote, effectively using his appointed position in the Upper House to trump the will of the Yukon electorate in the House of Commons.
Since the Senate’s vote, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has defended its decision by labelling the targets outlined in Bill C-311 as “irresponsible.”
Yet, it is the youth of today who will be forced to endure the impacts of climate change Ã and northerners sooner than most Ã and in our view there is nothing more irresponsible than Canada’s continued failure to adopt clear, responsible targets to guide our country in reducing its emissions.
Amber Church, executive director
Canadian Youth Climate Coalition
Rachel Parks, executive director
Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE)
Dave Blottner, executive director
Boys and Girls Club of Whitehorse