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Opposition parties push forward climate change bill

The Liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois presented a united front in the House of Commons yesterday to push forward a bill that would force the federal government to adopt more stringent emissions targets.

The three opposition parties outvoted the Conservatives 155 to 137 to pass Bill C-311, the NDP's Climate Change Accountability Act. It would require the federal government to set greenhouse gas reduction targets of 25 per cent below 1990 levels by the year 2020 and 80 per cent below by 2050. Yesterday's vote means the bill will move to its third and final reading in the House of Commons, and if the support holds, to the Senate for consideration.

Mark Warawa, Langley MP and the parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment, said Canada should stick to the same greenhouse gas emissions targets at the U.S.: 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. He told the House Canada the bill would "isolate Canada economically and throw us back into a deep recession."

"Mr. Speaker, if we are pursuing a continental approach under the Reform-Conservative government, why is the United States investing 18 times more per capita than we are in renewable power?" asked Liberal MP David McGuinty.

Other opposition MPs spoke about the need for real action on climate change that has been long overdue.

"It is based on science-based targets, not politically watered-down ones," said Denise Savoie, NDP MP for Victoria.

Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climatologist, streamed the live debate yesterday.

"It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had watching that stuff in a long time," Weaver said. "It was really refreshing to see three separate parties. . . the NDP, the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois speak passionately and consistently about the need to deal with the problem."

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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