moved that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, I certainly appreciate the opportunity to address the House of Commons today for the second reading debate of Bill , the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act. It is an act that I believe is extremely important.
Our government's highest priority continues to be the health and well-being of Canadians. That is why we are taking unprecedented action to combat the health emergency presented by COVID-19. As we come through this, and we will, that commitment to the health and well-being of Canadians demands that we put two things in place with an eye on the post-pandemic horizon.
First, we must build back better in a way that makes the economy more competitive, cleaner, stronger and fairer than it was before.
Second, Canadians expect us to have a thoughtful plan to counter a parallel emergency that has continued during the pandemic and will get significantly worse in future if we do not take more action than we are now, that being climate change.
Canadians know how much of a threat climate change is to our health, our economic well-being and our planet. We are already experiencing the ravages of climate change, what with extreme weather events, catastrophic floods and devastating fires.
As with COVID-19, ignoring the risks of climate change is not an option. Such an approach will only increase costs and worsen the long-term consequences. To use a pandemic metaphor, if we want to flatten the climate curve and avoid its worst effects, the best available science tells us that the planet must reach net zero by 2050.
Reaching net zero by 2050 means that emissions produced 30 years from now would be fully absorbed through actions that scrub carbon from the atmosphere, whether through nature, such as planting trees or through technology, such as carbon capture and storage systems. This imperative comes at a time when the world is changing. We are seeing an acceleration of global momentum and healthy competition toward a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 as nations, investors and consumers recognize the ecological imperative and the economic opportunity of moving to a clean economy.
Over 120 countries have made a commitment to be net zero by 2050, including many of our major economic competitors and trading partners. This will likely soon include our biggest trading partner south of the border. Low carbon and climate-resilient projects and technologies are not just good for the planet, they are good for business.
Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, recently said that the transition to net zero “...is creating the greatest commercial opportunity of our age.” On the day before Bill was introduced in this House, Tiff Macklem, the current Governor of the Bank of Canada, said that “...we need to position Canada to seize the climate-smart opportunities that consumers, workers and investors are looking for.”
Major Canadian companies have already committed to net zero by 2050, including companies such as Cenovus, Teck Resources, MEG Energy, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Enbridge and the Canadian Steel Producers Association. Shell's global chief executive officer says that net zero is “the only way to go” for his company. Canadian companies such as Maple Leaf Foods and CAE are already carbon neutral.
Leveraging climate action as we rebuild Canada's post-pandemic economy is simply the smart thing to do. It will ensure that we emerge stronger, better prepared and more competitive in a low-carbon world.
During the last election campaign, our government promised to come up with a plan that would allow Canada to exceed its pollution reduction targets and create a legally binding process for all future governments to set national climate targets that will achieve the science-based goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Bill , the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, is the fulfillment of our commitment to Canadians to put these legally binding processes in place.
This process is essential to our strategy for a sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery and long-term prosperity for all Canadians in a low-carbon world. It reflects our government's desire to stimulate our collective ambition for climate action and to do more than ever before in a considered and pragmatic way, guided by scientific data and evidence.
The proposed Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act is an important contribution to articulating a Canadian vision for a clean economy, and it sends a signal of the depth of our resolve to be a serious competitor in the clean global marketplace.
To do that, we need to tool up for low-carbon advantage and demonstrate that Canada is meeting climate risk head-on. By doing so, we can provide the confidence and certainty required to attract investment and ensure that Canadians are delivering products and services that will be in high demand the world over now and well into the future.
The bill marks the first time a Canadian government has introduced emissions accountability legislation to address climate change and achieve net zero by 2050. One element of its importance is that accountability legislation has the muscle to depoliticize climate action by setting legal requirements on governments to achieve climate headway. It is intended to ensure that never again will Canada have a government like that of Stephen Harper, which established an emissions reduction target but never brought forward a credible plan to achieve it.
The Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act would be the first significant step in the second phase of our government's climate plan. In phase one, during our first term in government, we spearheaded the creation of a pan-Canadian framework to fight climate change that comprised over 50 separate initiatives, including a price on pollution, a plan to phase out coal by 2030 and historic investments in public transit, nature and renewables.
In the coming weeks, the government will be announcing an enhanced clean-growth plan and further investments that encourage, accelerate and support the work Canadian businesses are doing to move to a thriving carbon-neutral economy. The plan will also provide Canadians with visibility on how we will meet and exceed our 2030 Paris Agreement target.
Bill provides the legal framework to put the emissions reductions goal of that plan and future plans between now and the middle of the century into law. The act would provide a legally binding process for this government and for future governments to set national climate targets on a rolling basis every five years between 2030 and 2050 and to meet the goal of net zero by 2050.
It would provide that this government and future governments must bring forward detailed plans as to how they would meet these targets. In the near term, Bill would require the Government of Canada to establish the initial 2030 target within six months of the act's coming into force, along with an emissions reduction plan. Both would have to be tabled in Parliament.
A progress report would have to be tabled by 2027. If the government of the day is not on track to meet the 2030 milestone, it would have to detail how it will get back on track. In addition, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, supported by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, would have to examine and report on the Government of Canada's implementation of the measures aimed at mitigating climate change within five years of the coming into force of this act and every five years thereafter.
For each subsequent milestone year, in 2035, 2040 and 2045, a target would have to be set and an emissions reduction plan established at least five years in advance of each subsequent milestone year. Both would have to be tabled in Parliament.
Finally, if a target is not met, the government would have to table a report in Parliament detailing the reasons why and identifying specific actions to correct course and catch-up.
Bill also requires the to publish an annual report explaining how the government is managing its financial risks and opportunities related to climate change. This information will help the government manage the risks of climate change in its decision-making.
This is in addition to our current reporting requirements, including the fifth biennial report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the official national greenhouse gas inventory that we publish every year.
The five-year targets and the plans for meeting them will be based on the best scientific information available. They will require an inclusive approach that reflects Canada's unique demographics and geography, the importance of our resource-based economy, and the governments' shared responsibility for energy and the environment.
The input and engagement from all parts of Canadian society are crucial. The Government of Canada simply cannot achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of the century on its own. That is why the act would establish the independent net-zero advisory body, a group of up to 15 experts with a diverse range of experience and expertise from across the country. It would include business, labour, indigenous, clean technology and environmental leaders.
The advisory body's ongoing advice to government over the next 30 years would be informed by extensive consultation and engagement with Canadians. Its initial work would focus on identifying actions that support both net zero and economic recovery from the pandemic. The advisory body would provide its advice through an annual public report, and the government would be required to publicly respond to the advisory body's recommendations.
All of the public reporting measures are designed to ensure accountability to Canadians and accountability built on transparency, both of which are vital to establishing credibility with Canadians. Moreover, transparency and accountability are key to fostering dialogue when friction arises on the ways and means of moving forward on climate change. Bill lays out a framework of accountability and transparency to ensure we reach net zero by 2050 in a way that gives Canadians confidence that as a nation we will succeed in this endeavour.
Should the bill pass, it will be extremely difficult for any future government to shirk its responsibility to take action on climate change. I believe the reaction in Parliament and among Canadians generally would provide severe sanction to a government that did not honour its legal obligations under the act.
I want to say a few words about the parliamentary process.
It takes co-operation and collaboration to bring about real change, and several parties in the House of Commons have proven their commitment to ambitious climate action, including the NDP, the Bloc Québécois, the Green Party and even some Conservative members.
I want to congratulate the member for for her work on Bill and the member for for her work on Bill . These bills are part of a long line of bills introduced in an effort to address this problem.
It is important to recognize the contribution made by Jack Layton, who was the first to introduce his bill, the climate change accountability act, in 2007. Unfortunately, that bill was defeated by Conservative senators 10 years ago to the day last month, without debate, despite majority support in the House of Commons.
I would also like to commend the work of my colleague, the government House leader, who managed to get his private member's bill, the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, passed in 2007, before the Harper government repealed it in 2011 and withdrew from the Kyoto protocol.
In developing the bill, I have reflected on the hard work done by my colleagues in the House and on the work of those who came before us. It is certainly my hope that they see their work and devotion reflected in the spirit and intent of Bill . I am committed to taking an approach of co-operation and collaboration and will consider, in good faith, constructive suggestions to improve this legislation further. That is how the parliamentary process is supposed to work, and I am committed to doing my part to make it work.
I am confident that together, in the spirit of co-operation, we can achieve an outcome that allows us to continue to move another step forward to address the threat of climate change. I have engaged in constructive conversations with many of my parliamentary colleagues on moving forward with action to address climate change, and it is my hope that we can work together to pass the bill in this minority Parliament so that we can quickly move forward on its implementation.
At the end of the day, climate change is a science issue, not an issue of ideology. It should not be a partisan issue. It is my hope that MPs from all parties in the House will work together and collectively support this vital legislation.
As a nation, we cannot afford inaction. It certainly will require resources. It will also require pragmatism and, certainly, Canadian ingenuity.
Canada has the tools to do this, including a skilled and innovative workforce that is already rising to the challenge of emissions reduction. From copper to nickel to energy, Canada has the resources needed to develop, produce and deploy clean technologies and proven expertise. We have a productive and resilient manufacturing sector. We also have the innovative spirit, talent and experience to be among the world's cleanest suppliers of natural resources, and we have the drive, born of a chance, to create a future we can pass along to our children and grandchildren with confidence and with pride.
I am sure that many colleagues, as well as their children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren, have watched some of Sir David Attenborough's programs on the natural world. One of his comments resonated strongly with me. He said, “We are the only species that can imagine the future. Living in balance with nature simply requires the will to do so.”
The bill represents a key step in demonstrating our collective will to do so, and I very much look forward to engaging with my colleagues today and in the days to come as we move forward with this very important legislation.
Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in this place and debate the people's business, and Bill is a critically important debate. Last week as parliamentarians we received a 13-minute briefing on the bill with zero opportunity to ask questions and to have those questions answered. We have to ask, why was that? Why was there no opportunity to ask questions? This is a bill that the describes as an accountability framework, and on the very first day we are being denied the simple most important part of being accountable: the right to ask questions.
I have read the bill and much of the media coverage, and on that note I have to give the Liberal government full credit for its media rollout on the bill. Many headlines read “A road map to net-zero emissions,” which is rather fascinating because while the bill is clear on where it would like to go, it is completely void of any actual detail on how to get there. In fact, if it were a map, it would simply show where we wanted to be but no map or trails on how to get there. That is kind of the point, is it not?
In typical Liberal fashion, this bill will not hold the current government accountable for climate failures, only future governments. The easiest promises to make are those that do not require the maker to be held accountable, and that is exactly what the Liberals are doing.
The Liberals continue to promise both too much and too little when it comes to climate change. Their approach is obviously not working. The Liberal government's projections show that the government is not even close to keeping its current commitments, and yet it plans to set new, even higher targets to be met down the road.
Let us take a look back in history. If we go back about 27 years, in 1993, former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% relative to 1988 levels by 2005. What happened to those promises? They were broken. There are others.
Let us go to 1997 when Prime Minister Chrétien signed the Kyoto accord. This promise was to reduce our emission levels by a smaller amount of 6% below 1990 levels. That would be achieved by 2012. What happened to that promise? In 2006, when the Liberals were voted out of office, Canada was 30% over that commitment. As a result, we know that former prime minister Stephen Harper eventually had to withdraw Canada from the Kyoto agreement because we could not reach that target.
Let us not forget that in 2009, at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, Prime Minister Harper matched the U.S. target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 30% by 2030 in what was a non-binding agreement. In 2015, shortly after the election of the current , he sent the largest Canadian delegation in history to attend the Paris UN Climate Change Conference and at excess cost, I would say, of $1 million.
We all know that in Paris, despite often criticizing the former Harper government, ultimately the Liberal government adopted the same targets. Despite what partisan Liberals and others say, Conservative governments, both federally and provincially, have a long record of practical and successful environmental initiatives.
Let us now look at where we are today. Reports indicate that the Liberal government did not keep the commitments it made in 2015. It has missed its 2020 target by 123 million tonnes. Once again, we are not meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Obviously, the government is following a pattern: It promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a certain amount by a certain date and then it breaks that promise. It makes another promise and then it breaks that one too.
Now, there are new developments. Today, we are examining Bill . This bill once again postpones addressing the problem to such an extent that it will be up to whatever government is in office in 2050 to deal with it.
The government is going to have a problem with the bill's strongest opponents precisely over that.
The government is not proposing anything at all today. It has no road map, no solution, no willingness to listen and no penalties in case of failure.
Once again, they are promising to do more later.
At this point, I probably sound quite negative about the bill. That is not actually my intent. I just firmly believe that when we debate the bill, we must be very candid about what is really up for debate, as it is certainly not a road map as some have described it. I will actually give the Liberal government some credit for that, because it did not follow the usual approach of the , which is to promise things he has no intention of delivering on. We know the Prime Minister is an expert at making promises he will never have to be responsible for. Setting targets 30 years down the line means that future governments have 30 years to figure it out. More importantly, industry has the time to come up with much-needed solutions.
Indeed, the has spoken of improving energy efficiency in homes and businesses. He has talked about hydrogen fuel cells, as well as the potential for small modular nuclear reactors, although I will note on the last point that once again the Liberal government has delayed promised plans and details on that. The point is that what the bill would do, by making commitments so far in the future, is leave the door open for future innovation. We know that we will see more electric vehicles in our future, some built right here in Canada, a made in Canada solution.
There is a company in British Columbia that could soon be transporting passengers in the world's first electric seaplane.
These are all exciting examples of the kind of innovation that can reduce our emissions. I am pleased that our has recognized some of them. Personally, as environment critic, I love it when we can all agree on areas where we can use innovation rather than fiscal measures to reduce our emissions. We will not prosper as a nation by taxing ordinary Canadians and making industry foot the bill for costly regulations. That may be the Liberal way, but it is not the right way.
When I agreed to serve as the environment and climate change critic, our new official opposition leader was clear. He pledged to recognize the importance of ensuring that Canada meets its greenhouse gas emission commitments. If we want to do that, we all have to work together on areas where we can come to an agreement. I believe that much of our time in the previous Parliament was spent talking about issues on which we disagree. When we do that, we are not serving the interests of future Canadians.
The reality is, from my perspective, there is really nothing to oppose in this bill. In many respects, it is a Seinfeld bill. It is largely devoid of details or costs. In fact, I suspect that those who will be opposing this bill will do so for that very reason. Canadians agree on the importance of protecting our environment and natural spaces. It is an issue that our party and leader are passionate about.
In my speech thus far, I have not mentioned the Canadian oil and gas industry, much as this bill is also largely silent on this essential Canadian industry. We know this industry has publicly stated it is committed to the highest environmental standards in the world, and many of its members have committed to net zero by 2050. We need to ensure that these critically important Canadian industries will be part of the solution.
We will be proposing amendments to this bill in committee that clearly state that Canadian oil and gas has the highest environmental standards in the world, and that any action plan must draw on that expertise and ensure that oil and gas play a necessary role in providing the world with energy. This legislation must also recognize that Canadian energy is not the enemy, as many Liberals believe, but part of the solution. As I mentioned previously, we need to find ways that we can work together if we are to succeed.
We also need a mechanism that can, over time, figure out how much it will cost Canadians to remain on that path to net-zero emissions by 2050. The Parliamentary Budget Officer indicated that, in order to meet our current commitments by 2030, the carbon tax might have to increase to over $200 a tonne, but the Liberals still refuse to be honest with Canadians about that.
I know some people will say that it will cost a lot more to do nothing. However, consider for example someone on a fixed annual income who lives in a 70-year-old house when winter temperatures fall below -20°C. Their monthly heating bill could force them to choose between heat and groceries for the month. We cannot ignore this. We cannot ignore the fact that many rural communities do not have public transit. In many cases, they have lost Greyhound as a private carrier.
Millions of Canadians depend on imported fuel oil to heat their homes because no other options are available. We cannot forget about those Canadians, and they should not be forced to carry a disproportionate share of the cost burden.
I mention this because when it comes to putting a price on pollution, as the current Liberal government likes to say, we know that all too often some of the biggest industrial polluters typically get exemptions from the price they pay on their pollution because of carbon leakage, which is a big concern.
What is carbon leakage, for those unfamiliar with the term? When an industry in one jurisdiction is paying carbon taxes and cannot compete with that same industry in another jurisdiction that is not paying carbon taxes, the situation is called carbon leakage. We know that if an industry loses market share to heavier-polluting competitors, it affects our economy and does not reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon leakage is not the only example of where big polluters get a break from paying a price on pollution. In British Columbia, although the B.C. NDP government signed on to the Liberals' carbon tax framework, the new B.C. LNG investment will be exempt from the carbon tax increases called for in that agreement. This is not an isolated incident where a polluting industry in B.C. has secured some form of carbon tax relief.
Why am I raising these points? Because we cannot ignore the fact that more and more major polluters in Canada are being exempted from paying the price for their pollution.
These carbon tax exemptions rarely make the headlines for various reasons, but they do happen. However, the average citizen or the small business owner has to pay for their pollution.
This brings me to the last, but not least, part of my speech on this bill. Since it will take 30 years to meet the targets, we have an opportunity to try to work with our biggest trading partner, the United States. Hopefully, we will have a clearer idea of the policies and regulations required to help us collectively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
These emissions are a global problem. Climate change has had devastating effects on many sectors in my riding over the past year. Forest fires and floods have caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage. Local farmers have been hard hit by changing weather patterns. I am sure that other members in the House have had similar experiences.
Canada is not responsible for global climate change, but we can and must be part of the solution.
It may raise some eyebrows that my party will be supporting this bill at second reading, but if we are going to have any success, we need to find those things that we can agree upon and take action. There are things we can and must agree on.
In summary, I see very little in this bill to oppose. It is not a road map. It is essentially a piece of paper with a destination on it. Fighting climate change at home and around the world is an important goal that requires work. It will be current and future governments that will start to fill in the map and show how they intend to reach that destination, but we must agree on a starting point. I would submit that is precisely what Bill is: a starting point.
I, for one, will be supporting this bill for what it is, and what it can and must become. What I do not support is the Liberals' failed record on climate change. They are on track to miss their 2030 climate commitments, and they have failed to plant a single tree. My wife has planted more trees than the current government.
The Liberals continue to over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to climate change, and their approach is clearly not working. Conservatives will build a climate policy that respects the jurisdiction of the provinces, focuses on making industry pay rather than taxing ordinary Canadians, and is founded on proven market-based principles for incentivizing positive economic change. Conservatives understand that reaching net-zero is a goal that Canadians care about and want to see action on. We must preserve our shared environment for future generations without sacrificing the jobs Canadians need today or damaging the economic engine that helps fund our vital social programs. Canadian workers are counting on it.
I would like to thank all members for taking the time to hear my comments today.
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House and talk about the environment and climate change. I was eager to see this bill tabled. We waited a long time for it.
At the Bloc Québécois, we even took the initiative and tabled our own climate accountability bill, Bill , which we debated here in the House a few weeks ago and which seems to have a few more teeth than Bill an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.
Let us talk about Bill C-12. There are several interesting terms in it, like “transparency”, “accountability” and “net-zero emissions”. I have to admit, it is certainly a good first step. The government is taking this further than probably any other government before it. However, the reality is that, when you read the bill, you soon realize that it is nowhere near sufficient to address the climate emergency.
I will say it right out of the gate: Bill C-12 is dishearteningly tame. It needs to be more binding. If the Liberals are serious in their desire to protect the environment, ensure a green future for the next generation, implement a fair, green economic recovery plan, put an end to the cycle of broken promises and missed targets on greenhouse gas reductions and respect their commitment made around the Paris Agreement, they will surely be open to amending and enhancing the bill to make it more binding.
The emergency is real, and the health and financial crisis we are experiencing should not be an excuse for setting aside the climate crisis and the measures required to address it. Canada’s performance in reducing greenhouse gases leaves much to be desired. I would even say that it is embarrassing. Canada has never met its targets. It had to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and will likely not meet the Paris Agreement targets. If it could, the government would have put that in the bill and shown more boldness and ambition. It would perhaps have been a little less concerned about 2050 and a little more about 2030. It would certainly be more concerned about the importance of meeting our international commitments than honouring its own election promises.
Climate change should not be a partisan issue. Unfortunately, that is what we are seeing with this bill. During the 2019 election campaign, the Liberals promised to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and they are repeating that promise with this bill, without telling us how they are going to do it.
I want to act in good faith, but Bill C-12 is so easy to criticize, even for the government. According to Environment Canada’s most optimistic projections, we will miss the 2030 target. We must stop burying our heads in the sand; Canada will not achieve its emission reduction target of 30% by 2030. We are a whopping 77 megatonnes short, even if we take into account the impact of the reduction measures that have been announced.
When you are about to miss a target, your logical priority should be to do everything in your power to quickly rectify the situation, reverse course and preach by example. The Bloc Québécois is not the only one to say this; environmental groups are saying the same thing. The Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique says that the bill is extremely vague and not particularly binding, and that it shows that the Government of Canada has not done the work since 2015. Like us, they are still waiting for a serious and responsible commitment on the part of the Liberal government.
We are hearing the same thing from the Climate Action Network, Ecojustice, Environmental Defence Canada, the West Coast Environmental Law Association and Équiterre, although I am not naming any names.
I will say it again: Canada failed to meet any of its international climate targets. In its current form, Bill C-12 provides very little guarantee that this trend will change.
We know that we want to move toward a net-zero economy and way of life, but we still do not know how to get there. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to realize that it will take more than one or two somewhat stringent measures to get there. For now, we have no idea whether the most polluting industries will have targets to meet, which is regrettable, whether we are moving toward the electrification of transportation or whether we will support some form of circular economy. We do not know any of this because there is no plan.
With Bill C-12, the Liberals are asking us to vote on a plan we have not seen yet. For now, what we know is that we will probably achieve net-zero emissions in 2050, even if we do not really know what that looks like.
Now is the time for concrete measures that will actually help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
The bill must ensure real accountability, not only for meeting the targets that are already on the table, but for aligning Canada with the Paris Agreement and its ultimate goal of limiting average global warming to 1.5°C.
It is crucial that Canada have a five-year accountability cycle, that it start in 2025, not 2030 or 2050, and that it align with the Paris Agreement’s five-year inventory cycle and its goal of raising the stakes. That is the demand of every environmental group worth its salt and every individual who believes in the need for energy transition to ensure our survival on this planet.
I have trouble understanding the government’s lack of ambition and initiative with respect to Bill . We should be past the point where we need to plan for an energy transition. In fact, we should be making the transition now, because 2050 is in the future.
We have to be realistic; the solution to the economic, health and climate emergencies does not lie in the perpetuation of an oil-based economy. We need to invest in natural resource processing, research and innovation in our institutions and the production of our own clean, renewable energy.
We must admit that Quebec has a lot to offer in this area. That is where our wealth lies; Canada’s wealth lies elsewhere. That is why, we in the Bloc Québécois think that the government should provide substantial assistance for the energy and economic transition of certain provinces toward a sustainable wealth creation model.
Economic development based on green technologies, such as biomass, wind and solar energy, hydroelectricity and geothermal energy can sustainably fuel progress and it can certainly be used as a model.
The Bloc Québécois can propose a number of concrete measures. In this bill, we would have liked to see a plan outlining concrete measures for achieving our goals.
I want to get back to the Climate Action Network. I could not agree more with their desire to decarbonize the economy. It is an interesting concept that is now more relevant than ever. People often say that the environment should go hand in hand with the economy; you cannot have one without the other.
I had an interesting conversation recently with Paul Fauteux, an environmental lawyer who was the director general of Environment Canada’s Climate Change Bureau and co-head of the Canadian delegation to the international negotiations on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. He is an optimist, but he is disappointed with the government’s inaction. We were discussing the fact that we should not be afraid of the energy transition and that we should not see it as bad for the economy or as a destroyer of high-paying jobs.
The opposite is true. Moving away from fossil fuels will result in net gains in employment. Whether for installing solar panels or renovating homes to adapt them to climate change and make them more energy efficient, the potential is huge.
However, decarbonizing the economy does not only mean that we are trading oil industry jobs for jobs in the solar and wind energy industry. We can build a low-carbon caring economy.
Some members may be wondering what a caring economy is. It is an economy where we care for the planet as much as we care for each other. The lowest-carbon jobs are the ones that do not extract anything from the land, that do not create any new waste and that have a limited impact on the environment. These jobs, often performed by women, need to be more highly valued. This work of caring for the most vulnerable members of our communities must be better understood. As part of our economic transition, care work needs to be become a good job, with union benefits, fair pay and safety protections.
Last Sunday, Laure Waridel, an associate professor with the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal, said that it will take profound change, binding measures, systematic measures, because we are at the point where we have to completely transform the economy.
We are driven by development. This development brings in money, of course, but it is costly in terms of greenhouse gases. There is a cost, not just an environmental one, but also a social one, and that is fundamental.
The problem is that we are individualistic and think only of ourselves. The government is certainly not setting a good example. We need to stop working in isolation. We need to join forces. That is how we will build a society that is a bit greener and a bit fairer. In fact, I hope it will be a lot greener and fairer.
For that to happen, we need a government that can put partisanship aside and stop with the hypocrisy. It needs to walk the talk, as we say. A government cannot claim it wants to achieve net-zero emissions and in the same breath say that it will make the Keystone XL pipeline a priority in its relations with the United States. That makes no sense. It is literally an example of saying one thing but doing another. The government needs to choose between investing in the future and driving straight into a wall. I am sure members would agree that the right choice is to invest in the future. However, this cannot happen without real measures to reduce our carbon footprint.
Even the Canada Energy Regulator has projected that if Canada strengthens its climate policies to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, neither the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion nor the new Keystone XL pipeline will be necessary. That is interesting.
Why does the government stubbornly support projects that are harmful to the environment? These projects are not even embraced by the new U.S. administration. These projects are not sustainable in the long term, as current events constantly remind us.
A group of over 100 economists and natural resources experts from all across Canada recently urged the government to abandon Trans Mountain before sinking any more of taxpayers' money into it. As I was saying earlier, this money should instead be used to accelerate the transition to a greener economy, particularly in Alberta, Canada's leading oil producer. We need to be far more aggressive in immediately transitioning away from oil and gas.
The International Energy Agency recently calculated that the demand for oil should drop by 30% over the next two decades if the countries that signed the Paris Agreement on climate change respect their commitments. The oil-based economy is no longer viable in the long term, and experts are doing all they can to remind us of that.
On Monday, the World Meteorological Organization published a report showing that, despite the brief decline in greenhouse gas emissions because of the COVID-19 crisis, concentrations of these same gases have reached record highs. Once again, these data show that urgent action must be taken because, as greenhouse gases continue to rise, the social and economic costs of inaction rise with them.
This could not be any clearer. We have to rework Bill to give it more teeth because the way this bill is currently worded, it does not measure up. The government has to work with the opposition to improve its bill by adding a target for 2025, a more ambitious goal for 2030, and a requirement to meet the targets instead of simply preparing to present reports that will outline yet another failure.
Again, the mandatory target for 2030, in other words Canada's commitment under the Paris Agreement, should be enshrined in law, and unfortunately, that is not currently the case.
I will come back to the particularly important words that the bill puts forward: “transparency”, “accountability”. The one that seems to be missing is responsibility. Instead of making the government responsible to Parliament, this bill wants to make the the one who sets the interim targets. Clause 11 even gives him the right to amend the targets and emissions reduction plan.
If the minister and the government think that they will not be able to meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, all they have to do is amend the targets and once again become fake climate champions. The government could change its targets to suit lobby and industry groups. That is not a serious approach.
The only limits that Bill C-12 imposes on the government, if it decides to amend the established targets somewhere along the way, is that it must consult its own federal ministers and provide an opportunity for comment to the public, the provinces and territories, indigenous groups, and advisory bodies created by the government itself.
Consulting an advisory body is good, but it is not the same thing as evaluating the measures and the progress towards the goal. Can these really be called limits? No. In addition, the minister reserves the right to choose which comments to share with civil society. The advisory bodies are window dressing, just like the role of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development in the bill. The bill does not even have the commissioner assess the minister's action plan based on progress towards the Paris targets. Once again, with no independent authority to assess the targets, tools and progress, this is not a serious approach.
We need a climate bill in which achievement of targets no longer depends solely on the will of the government of the day. The government must be accountable for its climate action. It must answer to the thousands of people who are counting on it simply to ensure healthy living conditions on Earth in a future that is nearer than we think.
I will give another example of the government's lack of seriousness when it comes to accountability. According to clause 16, the minister himself will state, in his own report, the reasons for failing to meet the target and the actions taken to address the failure. That means that the minister will be assessing his own performance. Self-assessment: is that what the Liberals' commitment to transparency comes to?
According to Bill , the reports on the targets, whether or not they are achieved, must be submitted to Parliament and made public. That is fine. However, once again, there is a big loophole, because nothing in this bill requires that the content of the reports be assessed by an independent authority.
We have a lot of work to do, and I sincerely hope that every party in the House will collaborate to improve this bill and make it a truly binding text that will make all of our constituents proud. I am thinking of the mothers who are fighting on the front lines for their children's future, and the young people who are taking to the streets and to our courtrooms to demand that we fulfill our commitments. They are the people to whom the government should be accountable.
That is why I introduced my bill, Bill . We need a transparent, accountable government. We need to measure progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions based on targets. Let's talk about my bill, because I hope that the government and the other parties will be inspired to set stronger limits on the governments that take office between now and 2050, no matter their political stripe. I believe that is the approach we must take. Once and for all, we must pass climate legislation that does not change with the political party in power. The climate emergency demands it.
With Bill C-215, we are proposing to require that the government announce the suite of measures that it plans to take to reach its targets. The government would thus be accountable as soon as the bill is passed, and it would have to respond publicly if it failed.
With Bill , we would entrench in Canadian law our international commitments under the Paris Agreement and make them mandatory in Canada. It is essential that we do so. Bill C-215 also requires the government to establish additional measures to ensure that its action plan meets the requirements of this act. If not, the government must inform and explain to the House why it failed to do so.
Under Bill C-215, the minister's action plan must include interim targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by 2025, 2030, 2035 and 2040, measures to be taken to achieve these targets, the method for calculating Canadian greenhouse gas emissions, tools or instruments for measuring the progress made and tools for assessing the impact of emission reductions. Those are what I call real constraints.
Of course my Bloc Québécois colleagues and I support climate legislation, but we think it must have truly binding measures so that future governments have the legislative tools they need to stay on course for a healthy and hopefully carbon-neutral future, a future in which, most importantly, greenhouse gas emissions will be significantly lower, not just compensated for by bogus measures.
Regardless of whether we are in government or in opposition, as parliamentarians, we must do better. As I said, the climate crisis must not be a partisan issue. That said, I am very much looking forward to studying this bill in committee. I do have reservations, but climate legislation is crucial. I am impressed with the minister's involvement on this file. I know he wants to ensure a healthy future for the next generation.
The legislative process presents a perfect opportunity to establish the robust accountability framework we need to ensure that Canada meets its international commitments and to support the aggressive action needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Let's work together towards that goal.
Madam Speaker, climate accountability legislation is so important. Why is it important? I had a question asked of me a few times this week by journalists. They asked why people should care about this. When I say we have missed every international climate target we have set, every single one, it does not really get to the heart of what is happening. We are so used to broken promises. We are so used to a government telling us we are on track, that it is taking action and that it understands the urgency, when its actions and urgency in no way match the scale of the crisis we are facing.
Why does this matter? For one thing, it is because we are stealing the future from our children. The young people know it, and they should not have to feel that fear. They should not have to march in the streets because politicians are not protecting their futures.
Before I ran for office, I taught a course at the University of Victoria that covered climate change and social movements. I remember that during one of the breaks, a young woman in my class came up with to me tears in her eyes. She asked me how she should study and work on the things we were talking about when scientists are telling us that we have a decade to turn this around. She said that if we fail, it means the collapse of ecosystems, mass extinctions and millions of people dying, along with our food systems and our future. We talked about how we maintain hope, how we make space to grieve and how to tap into fear and pain while continuing to fight for a livable planet. She went on to help organize climate strikes in Victoria.
Her wisdom and leadership, and the wisdom and leadership of kids across Canada and around the world, often bring me to tears. They motivate me to action.
What this young woman was doing was listening to the science and looking at the challenges we face, straight on. She was seeing and feeling the urgency. When people do that, when they choose not to look away and let themselves feel the real threat of what we are facing, what our children are facing and what it means for their futures, it is devastating, heartbreaking and terrifying. If people are willing to stay with that feeling, then they have no choice but to act and no choice but to act with the urgency that matches the crisis.
When Greta Thunberg said to world leaders, “How dare you...look away”, this is what she was talking about, and given that the government has put forward a bill that puts off climate accountability for the next 10 years, I can only assume that the , the and every Liberal MP are choosing to look away. Maybe they do so because it is politically inconvenient to feel. Maybe they do so because it is unparliamentary to show emotions while debating legislation. Maybe they do so because it is scary to stand up, speak out, act with courage and face the consequences. However, whatever the reason, I say, “How dare you look away.”
However, it is not too late. We could still turn this small step in the right direction into something meaningful and real, and something that would give those young people some hope that the politicians who have so often betrayed them feel the urgency and are going to do something to turn this around.
We could still amend the bill to put in a milestone target of 2025. We could strengthen the accountability measures in the bill. We could ensure that the targets we set are in line with the best available science, our international obligations and equity principles.
I encourage every member, especially those on the government side of the House, not to look away and to take a moment to feel the scale of the crisis we are facing, the urgency. I hope they will work with us to make the bill something our children can be proud of.
In that spirit, I want to go through the parts of the bill I was really glad to see and then the parts that are missing.
I will mention the top three pieces that I appreciate about the bill. First, putting a commitment to net zero by 2050 into law is essential. The bill would not only ensure that the net-zero target is put into law, but also ensure we legislate our other long-term targets. Second, it was good to see the bill explicitly name the government’s commitment to upholding section 35 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Third, I am glad there would be progress reporting two years before each milestone target, with an opportunity to adjust and take additional actions if we are off track.
When it comes to the things that are missing, of course the most egregious omission is the lack of any real accountability for the next 10 years and the glaring omission of a 2025 milestone target. Scientists have been clear that this decade is the most important. The next 10 years are the ones the IPCC says are crucial if we want to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
It is hard to wrap my head around how the government can put forward a climate accountability bill that would put off and avoid accountability for the most important 10 years. It is hard for me to understand how Liberal members of Parliament, especially those with children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, can stand behind the bill, how they can look young people in the eyes and tell them they have to wait another decade. It is an easy fix: Put in a 2025 milestone target.
The second big gap is in the need for stronger accountability mechanisms, both with the arm’s-length advisory body, which only gives advice right now but does not have a defined role in assessments or reviewing progress, and with the environment commissioner, who, in the bill, would only have to do one report every five years. Neither of these bodies have the capacity or mandate in the bill to properly hold the government to account.
As it stands, the is mainly accountable to himself. The government determines what targets should be set, opening up the opportunity to set weak targets, and whether the government is on track to meeting those targets.
To fix these issues we need to strengthen and clearly define the advisory body's role in establishing targets, reviewing climate plans and evaluating progress reports and assessment reports. We also must guarantee that this body is composed of independent experts from all regions of Canada, and that it includes indigenous and worker representatives and does not include fossil fuel executives or industry representatives.
These fixes would strengthen the advisory body, but we also need to ensure the environment commissioner is reporting on whether our targets are in line with the best available science, whether our climate plan will actually get us to our target, whether our progress report and the assessment report are accurate and whether our proposed corrective actions are adequate for addressing the times when we are not on track.
The environment commissioner could play an important role in this legislation, but we learned last week that the environment commissioner currently does not have the resources to do its regular environmental work, and that its staff and environmental experts can be reallocated to other projects by the Auditor General. We need to make the environment commissioner an independent officer of Parliament.
The third gap is the fact the government has given itself up to nine months, after the bill gets royal assent, to set a target for 2030 and therefore create a plan to meet that target.
This means it could be up to a year from now until we see a plan to reach our 2030 target, yet in the Liberal government's most recent throne speech, the Liberals said they would immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada's 2030 climate goal. They said “immediately”. I do not know who defines “a year later” as “immediately”. I feel like we need to remind the government, again, that a plan to create a plan is not a plan.
We know that climate accountability means nothing without climate action, so where is the government's climate action plan? When will we see the new target that exceeds our 2030 climate goals, and when will we see the plan to get us there? We need to see investments in green infrastructure, in transportation, in building retrofits and in building green affordable housing. We need a just and sustainable recovery, a green new deal that creates good family-sustaining jobs in the low-carbon economy. We need a just transition for workers, and all of this needs to be outlined in a climate plan that will get us to our targets, ones that are ambitious and that are based on keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5°C.
There are a number of gaps that I will not cover in as much detail, but we should be talking about carbon budgets instead of milestone targets, about Canada's fair-share contribution to 1.5°C, and we should be requiring the minister to meet strong standards when setting targets, as well as strong standards when creating and adjusting plans. Currently, the bill would allow future governments to set weak targets and create plans without much detail. If we fail at strengthening the bill, we have to tell young people and tell Canadians that we were not courageous enough to put the measures in place to avoid catastrophic climate change, that we were not courageous enough to protect their future.
For most of this speech, I have been speaking about the future and the severe consequences of our present action and inaction. That future outlined in the IPCC report is scary, but this is not just about our future. The impacts of the climate crisis are already being felt in Canada. In my riding of Victoria and in B.C., it was not too long ago that we were choking on the smoke from the climate fires south of the border. We know that temperatures in Canada are increasing at twice the global rate. The impacts are felt particularly in the Arctic along the coasts, and are disproportionately felt by indigenous, rural, marginalized and racialized communities. Canadians want real action on the climate crisis, and they want a government that not only promises to fight climate change but will actually deliver on that promise.
When I say, again and again, that our government has missed every single climate target and that the current Liberal government is not even on track to meet Stephen Harper's weak targets, I hope that the members in this chamber feel the seriousness of this failure, that they do not look away and that they feel the urgency. We need climate accountability now, not in 10 years. We need climate action now, not in nine months to a year.
It was back in 2008 that the United Kingdom created its climate accountability framework, the Climate Change Act. This act was the first of its kind in the U.K., and it remains highly regarded and has served as a model for legislation in other jurisdictions, including Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, France, Germany and Spain. The U.K. has set five-year carbon budgets covering immediately from 2008 onward, and regular reporting to Parliament has enhanced transparency and accountability. The U.K. also has an expert advisory committee, the Committee on Climate Change, that is much stronger than the advisory body proposed by the current government.
Two years before the U.K. implemented this bill, in 2006, Jack Layton, the leader of the NDP at the time, originally introduced the first climate accountability act in Canada. The bill passed at third reading by a vote of 148 to 116. The Harper Conservatives voted against it, but the bill died in the Senate. The NDP has introduced the climate change accountability act as a private member's bill in the 39th, 40th and 41st Parliament, by Jack but also by former MP Megan Leslie.
Imagine where we would be if we had passed strong climate accountability legislation back then. Since implementing climate accountability, the U.K. has successfully reduced its emissions over the past decade, in stark contrast to Canada, whose emissions continue to increase despite the government's empty words and claims to climate leadership.
In this Parliament, my NDP colleagues, the member for and the member for , have both put forward legislation in Parliament that calls for strong climate accountability. I want to thank my Bloc colleague for introducing Bill .
I want to highlight one important piece of the member for 's bill, Bill . It provides for the development and implementation of a climate emergency action framework. It explicitly outlines how a climate emergency action framework and climate accountability legislation must be built on a foundation that recognizes the indigenous inherent right to self-government, that upholds the provisions in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and that takes into account scientific knowledge including indigenous science and knowledge as well as the responsibilities toward future generations.
While I was glad to see that the government included a commitment to upholding section 35 in UNDRIP in the preamble of the bill, so far the Liberals have failed to enshrine UNDRIP into law. When will the government put action behind its words when it comes to reconciliation and put the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law? We have a lot of work to do and we must come together if we want to do it.
As I wrap up, I want to note again that there can be no climate accountability without climate action. The government has missed every single climate target that it has set. Climate accountability is important, but the Liberals are not only putting it off for 10 years. They are also putting off a new target and a plan. They are putting off a climate action plan for up to another year. Where is the government's climate action plan? Part of that plan has to include an end to all fossil fuel subsidies. Stop giving away billions of dollars to profitable oil and gas companies. Stop throwing good money after bad at the Trans Mountain expansion. Please invest those billions of dollars in creating the good, sustainable jobs that people need right now.
We need investments in green infrastructure, in transportation and in building retrofits. We need a just and sustainable recovery, a green new deal, one that creates good jobs in a low-carbon economy. We need a plan that is based on science and in line with keeping global temperatures below 1.5°C.
We must move forward with climate action and climate accountability legislation immediately. We needed it in 2006 when Jack Layton first put it forward and Jack would not want us to wait another 10 years for climate accountability. We needed it in each iteration of the IPCC report. We needed it when we read about the catastrophic impacts of global warming. We needed it last year when young people were marching in the streets, begging politicians, begging decision-makers to listen to the science, to not look away, and we need it now.
I will be pushing the government to make this bill stronger. We cannot afford to wait any longer. We are running out of time. Young people and Canadians are watching us, and they will not forgive us if we fail them, if we lack the courage do what is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change. They are telling us to wake up.