WHITEHORSE — Members of Yukon’s legislature have voted to declare a climate emergency.
The vote adds Yukon to the growing list of nearly 500 federal, provincial and municipal governments, including the House of Commons and the Province of Quebec, that have declared climate emergencies in Canada over the last year.
Yukon joined the list when a Liberal government motion recognizing the existence of a climate emergency was amended by New Democrat Opposition Leader Kate White to include the declaration of a climate emergency.
The motion passed unanimously.
Environment Minister Pauline Frost told the house the Yukon government recognizes climate change has hit the territory hard.
Councillors in Whitehorse voted last month to declare a climate emergency, while the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in the northwestern corner of Yukon, made a similar declaration in May, the first community north of the Arctic Circle to do so.
Frost says individuals, governments and nations must all act to halt climate change.
“The actions governments, including ours, need to take have impacts. Actions will call on our government to change the way it does business,” Frost said in the legislature.
The Yukon government website says climate change has a greater and faster impact on the North than other parts of the world.
It says Yukon’s average temperature has increased by 2 C over the last half century and winter temperatures have increased by 4 C, which the statement says is two times the rate of change in southern Canada.
The effect of weather extremes such as flooding and fires or melting sea ice and permafrost, have damaged roads and infrastructure, limited access to certain foods and challenged traditional activities of Yukon’s First Nations as wildlife patterns shift, says the statement. (CKRW)
This report from The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 11, 2019
Tim Kucharuk, CKRW, The Canadian Press