The House resumed from November 25 consideration of the motion that Bill , an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to speak in support of Bill , which was presented in the House yesterday. I am very much in support of our government's commitment to making Canada a net-zero nation by 2050, because the urgency to act on the global climate crisis is real and the challenge of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is also an opportunity to build back our economy more competitively, more sustainably and more inclusively. Attracting investments and creating jobs will benefit all Canadians.
While the global pandemic has turned much of our world upside down, it has not changed our resolve to build a clean energy future and to make sure we are putting people at the heart of this transition. This is what I would like to focus on with my time today. Before I do that, I also want to say I will be sharing my time with the member for . I look forward to hearing her comments.
Climate change may be measured in tonnes of greenhouse gases emitted or saved, but it is lived by families and communities. A just transition is where the importance of climate change and government policy positively intersects with the lives and livelihoods of all Canadians.
That is particularly true for those who have been especially hard hit by COVID-19 and the recession: women, youth, indigenous communities, immigrants, racialized people, people with disabilities, rural communities and northern communities, where I live. It is also true for so many workers and communities that are directly affected by the rapid transformation of the global energy sector, which is why creating good, well-paying jobs in the low-carbon economy is essential.
It is essential that we build a sustainable and prosperous future for Canada and all Canadians. How do we that? This is the question that lingers in the minds of many who support the initiatives we have introduced around climate change. How can we do more? How do we play a larger role?
A key starting place is to ensure workers have the right skills to succeed in the clean growth economy. As most know, I am a huge supporter of alternate energy development, but I am also a big supporter of the resource development sector in Canada, especially the mining industry. I know many of these companies are working hard to invest properly to ensure they have a clean growth economy. They are looking at alternatives for fuelling and powering their operations and reducing their carbon footprints.
For example, we are working with communities and workers who have been affected by the phasing out of coal-fired electricity, with meaningful action to diversify their economies and create new jobs. One way we are doing this is with $185 million in new federal funding to support coal-dependent communities, including $35 million for skills development and economic diversification.
Our government not only set targets and adapted a vigorous agenda around clean energy and climate change, but it is making the investments available so people, communities and companies can move forward in Canada to ensure that these happen.
The remainder of some $150 million within the Government of Canada is now earmarked for new infrastructure projects, and so far this year we have invested more than $22 million in 36 projects across Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. This funding has supported economic diversification initiatives in Leduc and Hanna, Alberta; a solar installation training program at Southeast College in Estevan, Saskatchewan; and similar projects in Atlantic Canada.
Right here in my hometown of Mary's Harbour, we are developing alternate energy to support and reduce the use of diesel generation in rural communities like the one I live in. This year, with a partnership from the federal government, we are the first remote community in Labrador to be able to combine hydro power and solar power to supplement, and reduce our dependency on, diesel and reduce our carbon footprint.
We are looking forward to doing projects like this in all communities that have become entirely dependent on diesel and move them off diesel dependency. This would include projects like the Glencore smelter and the Trevali closure diversification initiative in northern New Brunswick. We helped Ignite Labs in Nova Scotia, and we also announced that we were moving forward with the Atlantic loop. The Atlantic loop will connect surplus clean power to regions that are moving away from coal. It is a classic win-win that makes electricity more affordable as we create new jobs for workers and their communities.
I live in a region in Labrador that is one of the largest generators of hydro power. The Atlantic loop provides an opportunity for us to continue to fuel the economy with clean energy through massive development projects, such as those at Gull Island.
We are looking forward to the opportunities this provides, not just for Newfoundland and Labrador and Atlantic Canada, but for all Canadians. We see it as a real win-win situation and are happy that the Government of Canada, our government, is moving forward with the Atlantic loop.
That is just one example of how we are putting people at the heart of this energy transition. [Technical difficulty—Editor]
Energy efficiency is another example. By working with Canadians to retrofit their homes with better windows, appliances and insulation, and with smarter grids and building codes, they are seeing the benefits of the energy transition in their own homes. The benefits include lower monthly utility bills and more comfortable homes, all while creating thousands of good jobs and dramatically reducing our emissions.
Here is a theme I keep coming back to: creating good, green jobs as we drive environmental performance. That has been central to our government’s economic response to COVID-19, including more than $1.7 billion to help clean up orphan and inactive oil and gas wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. This investment is helping as many as 10,000 hard-working Canadians to find ways to put their skills to use, while demonstrating Canadian leadership on climate change and environmental stewardship.
For the same reason, we have announced a new $750-million emissions reduction fund, $320 million to assist the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore industry and $100 million for the Clean Resource Innovation Network. This funding will help make Canada’s oil and gas sector the cleanest in the world, so that good energy jobs are also green energy jobs and so that our move toward a net-zero economy leaves no one behind.
We recognize the vital role that Canada’s petroleum sector plays here at home and around the world. We are investing in these communities to help them achieve their net-zero targets while ensuring their long-term success. We also recognize the need to nurture talent in the oil and gas sector. We are working with industry, provinces and territories to transform this key pillar of Canada’s economy. Further, we are making other generational investments to bring together economic growth and environmental protection. This includes new funding for smart grids, carbon capture and storage, and the next wave of batteries, made right here in Canada.
We are creating good jobs in wind and solar energy, and emerging sources of clean energy such as tidal and geothermal. We have put together a made-in-Canada action plan for small modular reactors and a strategy for Canada to become a global leader in the clean production of hydrogen. We will drive the clean growth economy by making zero-emissions vehicles more affordable and investing in more charging stations across the country.
We are setting a clear course for our net-zero future that enlists all Canadians. We have been incorporating indigenous knowledge and engaging meaningfully on how we review major energy projects, as well as supporting indigenous participation in and ownership of these projects. This fair and just transition will be smart and inclusive.
Our recent Speech from the Throne doubled down on our promise to exceed our Paris commitments by the end of this decade and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. It also launched our campaign to create over one million jobs, restoring employment to pre-pandemic levels and higher. We are ensuring Canadians have good jobs they can rely on, particularly those hit hardest by the global pandemic. We are making direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, providing immediate training to quickly skill up workers and offering incentives for employers to hire and retain workers.
We are aware that to be successful, our climate plan must put all Canadians, and all communities, at the heart of our efforts. Indeed the Throne Speech was clear on this. It stated:
Canada cannot reach net zero without the know-how of the energy sector, and the innovative ideas of all Canadians, including people in places like British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
This pledge to empower all Canadians includes getting more women working as employees and executives in the energy sector. We simply cannot afford to leave half of our workforce on the sidelines as we embrace a future built on innovation, ingenuity and imagination. Studies show that energy companies that have diverse leadership are more innovative and profitable. We can and should do better. We are taking action to advance gender equality through the Equal by 30 campaign. We are promoting women in the energy sector at various international bodies such as the G7, the Clean Energy Ministerial and elsewhere, not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is the smart thing to do. It is just good business. To date, more than 150 companies, governments and organizations have signed on to the Equal by 30 campaign. They are making important commitments towards equal pay, equal opportunities and equal leadership for women.
While we are proud of our record of engaging and including Canadians in this fundamental transformation of our energy systems, we know that there is still more to do. We are prepared to do the heavy lifting to achieve net-zero emissions, grow our national economy and realize a clean energy future that leaves no one behind. Canadians ask no more and they deserve no less.
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Labrador for his speech.
With the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, the government is introducing a bill that will help fight the extreme risks associated with climate change.
The science is clear. Human activity is causing unprecedented changes in the Earth's climate. Climate change poses serious threats to the health and safety of humans, to the environment, including biodiversity, and to economic growth.
Canada's climate is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet's. In our northern regions, it is warming three times faster. We can see the effects of that warming in many parts of Canada, and they will only intensify over time.
These changes have many consequences. For example, scientists expect higher average precipitation in most of Canada. The availability of fresh water is changing, and the likelihood of water shortages in the summer is growing. A warmer climate will intensify some extreme weather conditions, such as heat waves and floods.
Canadians are already feeling the effects of climate change and extreme weather events, including the increasing intensity and frequency of flooding, storms, fires, coastal erosion, extreme heat events, melting permafrost and rising sea levels.
These effects pose a significant risk to the safety, health and well-being of all Canadians, our communities, our economy and our natural environment. It is important to ensure that Canadians are protected against the risks associated with climate change.
Reaching net zero by 2050 is vitally important to mitigating the risks of climate change, not only for Canada but on a global scale. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that meeting that target is essential if we want to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reduce the risks associated with climate change.
Limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C is especially important because it will have a considerable impact on the effects of climate change on all fronts, compared to a potential global temperature increase of 2°C.
Limiting warming to 1.5°C would give us additional options to adapt to the effects of climate change. When Canada ratified the Paris Agreement, it committed to setting and communicating its ambitious national objectives and undertaking ambitious national measures to mitigate climate change in order to meet them.
I would like to remind members that the Paris Agreement seeks to strengthen efforts to hold the increase in the average global temperature to well below 2°C and, if possible, to limit it to 1.5°C. Currently, Canada's nationally determined contribution, communicated in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is its target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The government is determined to meet this target, and even exceed it.
The government has also committed to developing a plan to set Canada on a path to achieve a prosperous net-zero-emissions future by 2050, supported by public participation, including provincial and territorial governments as well as expert advice. Canadians know full well that climate change threatens their health, their way of life and the planet. They want climate action now, and that is what the government will continue to do by immediately introducing a plan that will enable Canada to exceed its 2030 climate targets and legislation that will aim for net-zero emissions by 2050.
Before the government can reach its net-zero targets, it must first engage in a process that takes into account the considerations of the populations most affected by climate change. Although Canada's indigenous peoples and northern communities are exceptionally resilient, they are also particularly vulnerable because of such factors as their remoteness and inaccessibility, the cold climate, aging and ineffective infrastructure, and reliance on diesel-based systems to generate electricity and heat homes.
That is why the government is determined to move forward with the approach based on the recognition of rights reflected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In fact, the government will introduce a bill to implement the declaration by the end of the year.
The government is also commited to strengthening its collaboration with Canada's indigenous peoples when it comes to climate mitigation measures. This commitment builds on existing initiatives. The government is contributing financially and collaborating on first nations, Métis and Inuit projects to monitor climate change in indigenous communities, build resilient infrastructure, prepare and implement climate change adaptation strategic plans or even develop green energy options that will help reduce dependence on diesel.
The plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 would also contribute to making the Canadian economy more resilient, more inclusive and more competitive. With a view to creating a stronger and resilient Canada in the wake of this pandemic, climate action will be the cornerstone of our plan to support and create one million jobs across the country.
Regardless of the global challenges associated with the current pandemic, climate change continues to worsen, and there is little doubt that 2020 will be one of the warmest years on record.
It is important to recognize that climate change is a global problem that requires an immediate response from all governments in Canada, as well as from industry, non-governmental organizations and Canadians.
However, the government recognizes the important collective and individual efforts that have already been made and wants to support this momentum to mitigate climate change. For example, as of 2024, the Société de transport de Sherbrooke will be using new electric buses with a view to completely replacing its bus fleet to make it green. I congratulate the municipal council and Marc Denault, chair of the STS board of directors, for this initiative.
I also want to mention the important work of the Conseil régional de l'environnement de l'Estrie and of Jacinthe Caron, whom I have met several times. They are behind several green projects including the Embarque Estrie platform, which identifies public and active transportation options in the region on a web map. This type of initiative shows that it is possible to make a collective contribution to climate change mitigation and to work together.
Furthermore, not too long ago, the , the and the jointly announced a $100-million investment in the clean resource innovation network to support research and development projects that advance the environmental and economic performance of the oil and gas sector.
Working across government will be an important part of our efforts to mitigate climate change. That is why the provides for consultations with federal ministers having duties and functions relating to the measures that may be taken to achieve the greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act will further our efforts to mitigate climate change by setting national climate change mitigation targets based on the best available science and by promoting transparency and accountability in relation to achieving those targets. Concretely, this bill will create a legally binding process to set and achieve climate targets, and require assessment reports, climate plans and examinations by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development.
This bill will help Canada achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and meet our international climate change mitigation commitments.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to participate in the debate on Bill , a bill that does absolutely nothing for the environment. By way of analogy, I want to explain a little about what the bill actually does and what it does not do.
In 2015, Stephen Harper passed balanced budget legislation as part of the budget. The idea was that he would put in place a law that would require the government to, in most situations, run a balanced budget. That was a good idea and one that was advanced by many fiscal Conservatives who believed on principle that if there were a law in place requiring governments to run balanced budgets, they would be much more likely to balance budgets going forward.
The problem was that in 2016 the Liberals came in. Every time a budget is passed, a new law is also passed. Therefore, what did they do? They repealed the balanced budget law.
In my province of Alberta we had a balanced budget law in place that was actually repealed by another premier of that same political stripe. The idea is certainly desirable, that we might have legislation in place that would bind the actions of future governments. It might have some rhetorical impact, but it only goes so far, insofar as a subsequent government, or maybe even a subsequent group of people from the same party, could repeal or slightly amend the legislation in order to allow them to continue on the course they are on.
The parliamentary secretary is reminding me that I am splitting my time with member for . I want to thank the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader for being so helpful all the time. I look forward to further feedback from him as we go.
It was at least credible as an exercise for a government that was already running a balanced budget to put in place balanced budget legislation. Imagine how absurd it would be if today we had a government that was not running a balanced budget and had no intention of running a balanced budget, putting in place legislation to require a government in 2040 to run a balanced budget.
That would be a little silly. It would demonstrably be an excuse for not having a plan. It would putting in place legislation to bind a future government to have a plan that it does not currently have, recognizing full well that the future government could repeal the law that required it to have a plan, or at least extend it.
This brings me then to Bill , a bill that does not present a plan for action for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is simply a framework by which the government would put in place a plan that it would be expected to follow by achieving certain targets at certain distant points in the future.
I have no problem supporting a bill that calls on government to act, to put in place targets and act on those targets in response to future events as we move forward. However, it should not escape members of the House that we have yet another case in another important policy area where, instead of putting forward an action plan, the government is choosing symbolism. It is choosing statement over substance.
The Liberal government has been in place for five years and we still do not have anything like a serious environmental plan. Instead, what we see from the government are warm words, attempts to demonstrate its feeling and solidarity and aspirations for distant dates. What frustrates me about the issue of the environment is that we have serious challenges in terms of our environment. They require a serious response, a response that understands the opportunities and the trade-offs, and that makes choices today about how we move forward toward the realization of targets that have been put in place.
Imposing new taxes is not going to cut it. That is the Liberals' approach. When they are talking about action, they are talking about putting in place new taxes. The new taxes on Canadian industry and Canadian activity only is simply going to chase jobs and opportunity beyond our borders. If the Liberals succeed, as it seems they are intent on doing, in shutting down our energy sector, those investments will still happen. Global demand for energy is going up. People need energy.
The question is not if can we shut off our use of energy. The question is if we can find ways of producing energy and delivering energy that are more efficient and more effective. Can we provide that quality of life to people around the world who require an increase in the use of energy, but do it in a way that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
If we recognize that the problem is not going to be solved by reducing the use of energy, and that it is only going to be solved, generally speaking, by increasing the efficiency of energy production, that should push us not only to lead in the production of energy that is clean, efficient and effective, but also to lead in a way that recognizes the existing technology.
It is great to talk about wind, solar and other alternative sources of energy, but we have to recognize as well where the existing technology is today and how we can make concrete, meaningful improvements to the use of existing technology that providing energy to people right now to meet their energy needs.
That is why I believe that a real environmental plan should be pro-Canadian and pro-Canadian energy. We should encourage the development of Canadian energy, and we should also encourage our energy sector to continue on the road they are on, in terms of improving efficiency, improving effectiveness and delivering more energy to more people in an efficient way.
We have colleagues in this House from all other parties who, frankly, attack the development of pipelines, who attack efforts to find new markets for Canadian energy. We know, by and large, that the issue for them is not really about the transportation. It is generally about wanting to shut down the production of that energy, but they do not think about what will replace Canadian energy if we shut it down. It is going to be energy from other countries.
A member from the NDP was just attacking the Keystone XL project. We have had other members attack other projects in this place. It was the Liberal government that imposed arbitrary regulations, which killed the Energy East pipeline project. We have politicians from all parties, aside from the Conservatives, who are attacking energy projects, but they do not think about what the alternative would be. Should the United States be importing more energy resources from Venezuela, which has lower environmental standards and lower labour standards?
Should Quebec be importing more oil from Saudi Arabia?
Should we be taking more energy resources from outside of Canada? I would like Alberta to be able to supply Quebec with more of its energy. Of course, the Bloc is not going to like that, because it would be great for national unity if Alberta energy were fuelling Quebec's energy needs.
The fact is, though, that more Canadian energy, cleaner Canadian energy with continually improving innovation and standards, would be good for the environment, not bad for the environment. It would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
We can do even better than that. We can make Canada a super power in terms of the development of clean energy technology. We can incentivize the development of new technology and then export that technology around the world. We can meet our environmental obligations by helping developing countries access the technology that we have here, helping them access it to address environmental challenges that are both local to those places, but also global.
This is our contribution. This would be a great vision for environmental improvement and economic development, not to shut down our energy sector, but to mobilize and unleash our energy sector as an engine for technological development that can actually respond to the challenges of climate change and other environmental challenges that we see around the world. That is the real vision for the environment and the economy that has been lacking from this government. It would prefer to send signals and demonstrate its interest, without actually taking action.
Can we achieve the targets in Bill ? Can we get to net zero by 2050? I believe we can, but we will only get there, not by putting in place legislation that merely sets out targets, but by supporting and unleashing the development of our energy sector as a clean energy hub for the world. That is what we need from the government.
We need a government that truly understands the importance of addressing our environmental challenges and supporting our workers through pro-Canadian energy approach. That is not what we have from the government. That is what we need going forward.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to join members from beautiful Edmonton Riverbend, albeit it is a little snowy here today.
I am pleased to participate in the debate to speak to Bill . I want to start specifically by addressing how bills like this impact my home province of Alberta.
Most Canadians are aware of how tough the times have been here in Alberta over the past several years. Thousands upon thousands of jobs have been lost in the energy sector and my city of Edmonton has an unemployment rate of over 12%. Calgary is about the same. These two cities already had some of the highest unemployment rates in the country before the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has made the situation even worse. Unfortunately, many businesses will not reopen and many Albertans will have no jobs to return to after the pandemic is over.
Why have times been so tough for Alberta? Federal government legislation that appeared designed to decimate the energy industry and rapidly deplete the oil and gas industry has been introduced. Bill overhauled federal environmental assessment processes for construction projects, effectively deterring investment in Alberta. Bill bars oil tankers from loading at ports in northern B.C., making it impossible to export Alberta oil to new markets. On top of all that, we suffered through a regulatory attack like no other from the Notley NDP government, which really set us back decades. Just as all this was occurring, the government announced a new clean fuel standard, which is yet another blow to Alberta.
Honestly, it will be impossible for Alberta to fully recover, with yet more regulation that makes our province unattractive to investors. Our leading-edge energy industry will not be competitive against other countries if we have so many regulations tacked on by the federal government.
To help counteract this attack, the Alberta government just launched a natural gas strategy that would see the province become a leader in hydrogen production and liquefied natural gas for export. Natural gas will be regulated under the clean fuel standard. No other jurisdiction in the world is applying this type of standard to liquefied natural gas. However, the clean fuel standard will once again exacerbate the economic depression, as reported by Canadians for Affordable Energy, which estimates this standard will cause 30,000 job losses nationally and at least $20 billion of capital will leave Canada. Alberta will disproportionately experience this loss, but all Canada will be impacted.
I agree with my colleagues across the aisle that it is well intentioned to strive toward net-zero emissions. However, we do differ on how to get there. Harnessing the energy sector and its talent is, in my opinion, key to meeting that target. We must include energy industry stakeholders when developing any environmental plans. From what we have been hearing initially on Bill , the government has failed to do just that.
At the end of the day, climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. For decades more, the world will continue to use oil and gas. The question then becomes as to whether energy will come from democratic countries like Canada with strong environmental protections or from dictatorships with no environmental protections or respect for human rights.
Domestic energy production, including oil and gas, is an important part of making our country more self-reliant and more resilient in the future. In today's world, we cannot afford to become reliant on energy from any other countries and, quite honestly, we have no need to. Getting to net-zero emissions in the energy industry requires a plan, not just a plan to have a plan. What we see here is a mission to develop a plan in the future and the government's plan is already being poked full of holes. The focus could have been on harnessing energy and the use of technologies from sources such as nuclear and wind carbon capture, with the government providing incentives similar to those that were used to stimulate the early development of the oil sands. Many governments have a long record of practical and successful environmental initiatives.
Under our previous Conservative government, Canada successfully tackled acid rain, expanded national parks and removed dangerous chemicals from the biosphere. We must persevere on 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.
Our recent report from the Canada Energy Regulator found that, even with policies in place to curb emissions, oil and gas will still make up two-thirds of energy sources in 2050. This report also found that there will be increased demand for natural gas, which I mentioned before as a fuel that will become more heavily regulated under the clean fuel standard. This is again a deterrent for investors in foreign markets. We have an opportunity to help with emissions globally, by being part of the switch from coal-fired plants in Asia and other parts of the world to natural gas, a much cleaner form of energy.
Exporting our natural gas, technology and talent to other parts of the world will go a long way in the fight against climate change. Removing coal-fired plants makes a huge dent in emissions globally. We all agree everyone has a role to play in tackling climate change and Canada is no exception, but aggressively regulating our energy industry when there is still known demand for its products is short-sighted.
We can do more good globally by using our technologies in oil and gas to help tackle climate change both abroad and in Canada than by abruptly shutting it down. Natural gas is a huge opportunity for Canada to be a world player in other markets. More excessive regulation by the federal government not only hinders this opportunity but threatens the livelihoods of many Canadian families.
The bill before us would set targets to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. This is a laudable goal and I want to be clear it is one I fully support, but it is once again a big shiny object over here being used to distract Canadians when the government cannot be clear on what the vision of its plan is to get there.
Is this a bill to strike a 12-person committee? If it is, then be honest and tell us that. Do not promise this is a visionary piece of legislation that requires three ministers to walk across an open field that some communications person somewhere decided would make good optics to distract the Canadian public.
We see the government continue to make new environmental commitments, while still failing to meet its previous climate promises. The government's own projections show it is not even close to meeting its current commitments, yet it is setting new targets that are higher and even further into the future. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Canada is on track to significantly miss its 2030 emissions commitments. What about the two billion trees promised in the last election? I have not seen a single tree planted by these guys. Actually, there is not even a plan to plant a tree, let alone a budget to do it.
I, for one, would really like to work with my colleagues across the aisle to produce a comprehensive plan to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and to meet net-zero emissions by 2050. I have kids and I desperately want their future to include a safe and healthy environment. It is hard to support the government when it delivers an optical illusion of a plan that continues to include more regulations and taxes that hurt our economy by deterring investment in Canada. Life has become more expensive for Canadians as a result. Eventually Canadians are going to ask, “At what cost?”
I truly believe here in Canada we can develop a plan that harnesses the technology and brainpower of our energy industry to help other countries transition to energy sources that are much less harmful to the environment. We can make Canada and Canadian energy independent instead of importing oil from countries with brutal regimes and human rights abuses. We can remove regulations and red tape, and at the same time make Canada more attractive for international investment.
I am here and fully on board with achieving a net-zero goal. We can do this by creating a comprehensive plan and policies. We simply need the government to work with us in opposition as opposed to continually pretending to the world it cares without any necessary targets required. I plead to the government to please consider working with us, especially at the environment committee, to strengthen the bill so we get it right for all Canadians.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I have a number of thoughts that I would like to share with the House in regard to Bill , noting that the government's first priority and focus continues to be on the pandemic. There should be no doubt about that.
It has been interesting as we have been dealing with legislation over the last couple of weeks and today. Once again, we are bringing forward somewhat historic legislation, this time dealing with a very important issue related to the environment, of which I know Canadians, as a whole, would be very supportive. I am absolutely confident of that fact. However, when we look back at the legislative agenda and the types of legislation we have brought forward. I find interesting to witness some of the voting that takes place.
For example, related to the pandemic, we had the wage loss and rent assistance program legislation, which was critically important. It received the unanimous support in the House and was passed. It was consider in committee, it went through third reading, was sent to the Senate and received royal assent. That is good news for small businesses in all regions of our country.
Then we have this legislation, Bill . It seems there are different attitudes on this bill. In listening to the Conservative critic, I believe the Conservative party will support the legislation going to committee. On the other hand, it was interesting hearing the former leader of the Green party say that she would not be supporting the legislation. The NDP and the Bloc will support the legislation going to committee at least.
Therefore, on the surface, it seems that we recognize the value and the importance of this legislation. It was really quite encouraging when the minister indicated to all members of the House, like other ministers, that if the opposition wanted to be constructive and work collaboratively with the government, the government was very open to ideas and ways to make the legislation even better.
However, let us be very clear. If we look at the last federal election, the leader of the Liberal party, today's , indicated that we wanted to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and that we would bring in a legislative framework that would allow that to happen. Bill is yet another fulfillment of that election commitment. As I said, I believe Canadians would be very supportive of this.
This is an important issue, if members think of carbon and what it does to our atmosphere. Reference has been made to two ways we can deal with it, such as carbon capture and storage. Incredible companies and individuals have looked at ways technology could advance the capture and storage of carbon. Another way is through nature, such as tree planting. I would encourage my colleagues across the way to stay tuned. They will hear more about tree planting going forward. I have had the opportunity to participate in tree planting ceremonies or activities in the last year.
Net zero by 2050 is achievable. This legislation allows us to set that framework in which we will see regulations. It would create a very important advisory body, which would include individuals of stature, to look at achieving net-zero emissions. It would provide the current government, and hopefully future governments, the opportunity to ensure we stay on target.
Yesterday, during the debate, I heard a Conservative member say that we had to ensure someone from the oil and gas industry would be on that board. The Conservative Party said that it was an absolute necessity; it was not an option. Then the NDP critic said absolutely not, that there should not be executive members from the industry on that board. That was the essence of what she said.
This is not new. Often we get extreme positions coming from the New Democrats and the Conservatives that are completely opposite. What they do not necessarily realize is that the best way to secure the economic development we desire collectively is to recognize the importance of the environment. If we work with stakeholders, we can achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
I would encourage both members who spoke on behalf of their respective parties to read what the minister clearly indicated; and that is that we will have levels of expertise on that advisory group, which will include industry representation.
I asked a question of the previous Conservative member about a tweet yesterday. It was from the member for . We introduced the legislation and the member planted a seed of doubt by asking if it was even achievable. I then listen to the member for . From a Conservative perspective, no doubt it was a great speech. For those who want net-zero emissions by 2050, not so.
In fact, we should all be concerned about what the member said in his speech. He said that it was no problem. Heaven forbid the Conservatives form the next government. They could wipe out the legislation through their budget. The member has somewhat implied this, that they do not have to live up to the legislation the Liberals are putting into law today. After all, a future Conservative government could incorporate the wiping out of this legislation in a future Conservative budget bill. That raises a few red flags.
The Conservative Party needs to tell Canadians exactly what its intent is. Will the Conservatives stand by this legislation? Based on what I have heard, I am not convinced the official opposition is committed to net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Conservatives are already planning ways to can get out of the legislation. The critic has said that the Conservatives have a number of changes they would like to make. We look forward to seeing those amendments once it gets to committee stage.
We have targets, the first one being in 2030. Within the next six months, we will see how achievable it is. Once we get to 2030, every five years after that it will be renewed. Therefore, there is a high sense of accountability. Those annual reports from the advisory body will also ensure there is more accountability and transparency. Unlike the Conservative Party, this government takes the issue seriously.
Madam Speaker, I come to this esteemed chamber from Halifax, the heart of our great nation's maritime coast, Canada's ocean city and my hometown.
We are a city shaped by the ocean. Our jagged coastline cuts into the Atlantic where surf-pounding shores are home to a proud people whose livelihoods for generations have relied on those deep blue waters. Along my riding's shoreline, there is cove after cove, including Ferguson's Cove, Herring Cove, Fairview Cove, Portuguese Cove, Duncan's Cove, Sandy Cove, and on and on, and the great Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin. Each one is unique in its own way, but they are brought together by a shared identity as coastal communities.
In my time as a member of Parliament, I have spent untold hours in these communities, knocking on doors or attending the many festivals and neighbourhood events, like the famous swordfish supper in Sambro. However, in recent years, with greater frequency, there is another reason I travel to these communities, and it is one that brings me no joy at all. In what has become a troubling routine, I find myself putting on my rain jacket and boots and heading out to these communities to survey the wreckage from the latest hurricane and the damage to my constituents' homes, fish shacks, wharves and boats.
In 2019, following Hurricane Dorian, I remember standing on a bridge in Herring Cove alongside constituents as we watched a detached roof float by us. The storm surge from that hurricane had compromised the breakwater protecting the cove and had lifted whole fish shacks from their resting places, smashing them against the rocky shoreline. We watched as one family climbed onto the splintered wood of their now unanchored fish shack, floating in the cove, to collect what few belongings remained.
Last week, I met with a group of constituents in Ketch Harbour to discuss the ongoing efforts to rebuild the community wharf that was destroyed in the same hurricane, more than a year ago. It was a devastating blow to a community that relied on that wharf as its town square. Earlier that summer, my daughter and I had enjoyed ice cream cones purchased from a makeshift ice cream stand on the wharf, with the proceeds funding the local community hall. However, the wharf is gone, at least for now.
I could tell story after story about how extreme weather events have impacted my city and constituents. I know my colleagues in the House understand this experience too, for many have taken on the same heartbreaking routine in their own communities, whether it is helping to mobilize volunteers to sandbag shorelines against 100-year floods now occurring nearly every year, or working to protect whole towns, forests and national parks from raging climate fires. The stories of devastation go on and on.
The science is clear: Climate change is escalating the severity and frequency of these severe weather events. For a coastal riding like mine, it is a flashing red alarm and all hands on deck. We are in a crisis, and we must act urgently to reduce emissions, fight climate change and protect our communities. At its core, that is the matter before the House today with Bill .
Hurricane Dorian hit Halifax just days before the 2019 election, and in that electoral race, our party, the Liberal Party, released its plan to continue our work to fight climate change. In our first mandate, we enacted the strongest climate plan of any government in Canadian history, as the moment required, with over 50 measures, including pricing carbon pollution, phasing out coal, protecting nature, investing in renewables and putting a climate lens on government-funded infrastructure, a measure quite personal for me. It was born out of a private member's motion I had passed in my first year as a member of Parliament, Motion No. 45.
We turned the tide of inaction after 10 years under the Conservatives. Still, we recognized at the end of our first mandate that we needed to go further, and faster. Time, after all, is not on our side.
Today, as we debate Bill at second reading, we are carrying out one of the key promises we made to Canadians in 2019 when they looked at our record and plan and elected our Liberal government to do what is necessary to fight climate change again.
Included in our platform was a promise to exceed Canada's 2030 emissions goals, while setting legally binding, five-year milestones to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Bill , the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, is a key step in ensuring that we reach that target, fulfill our promise and get to net zero by 2050.
I would like to speak about the measures within Bill .
The act would require that national targets and plans for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada be put in place with the target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. It would further require that the government make available, for the public to see and assess, its planning and progress toward those stated targets.
The act would require the government to establish its 2030 target within six months of the act's coming into effect, along with its emission reduction plan, and by 2027, the government would be required to publish its first progress report under the act. From there, in 2035, 2040 and 2045, the government would be required to set targets and provide its plan to get there by the subsequent five-year milestone.
The act would include a number of important accountability measures that impose consequences on any government that does not achieve its target. In such a scenario, the act requires that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change will provide an assessment report to Canadians that includes the reason why, in their view, Canada failed to meet its target and a description of the steps the government is taking or will take to address the failure to achieve the target.
In recognizing the important role of Parliament and officers of Parliament, the act would also require the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, supported by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, to examine and report on the government's implementation of the measures it includes in its plan to reach its targets. Further, input from Canadians is essential to climate accountability, and to this end the act establishes an independent net-zero advisory body, a group of up to 15 experts from across the country in fields such as business, labour, indigenous knowledge and clean technology. It will include environmental leaders. This advisory body would provide advice in an annual public report, and an official government response would be required.
The purpose of the bill is to provide accountability and transparency to Canadians as their federal government, today and in the future, works to reduce emissions and fight climate change. It is what Canadians want and it is what we owe Canadians as we face one of the most urgent crises of our lifetimes.
I would like to speak briefly now to the current state of climate politics in Canada.
When I consider the massive challenge before us, I am troubled by the degree to which politicization of the issue of climate change has led to gridlock, inconsistency and inaction across governments as far back as the 1990s. This trend is not unique to the federal government or to Canada, but it is one that we must overcome.
Action on climate should not be political. It should not be ideological. It should be based on science, based on evidence and based on all of us as parliamentarians looking out for the well-being of the people we represent in this place.
I think about the constituents I mentioned earlier, those I stood with on the bridge in Herring Cove following Hurricane Dorian. They did not care if I was a Liberal, Conservative, New Democrat or Green. They wanted to know what I was going to do as their representative in this place to help them, stop this crisis, fight climate change and protect our environment for future generations.
I believe the legislation we are discussing today, Bill , will hold all governments accountable regardless of political stripe, accountable to Parliament and accountable to Canadians, today and in the future. I look forward to debate on the bill here and at committee, and I will remain hopeful that all members will come together in the interests of the people they represent to act and act now.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
Bill , which we are discussing, purports to improve transparency and accountability as the government moves towards a net zero target by the year 2050, which of course is 30 years down the road.
Before I get into the details of the bill, I just want to say that we, as Conservatives, acknowledge that Canadians love their environment and love their open spaces. As a father of four daughters, when I was a little younger, I spent a ton of time walking mountain ridges, hiking through valleys and on our lakes and rivers. We have done it all through beautiful British Columbia. We love our environment. I want to preserve that environment, not only for my daughters but for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I believe Canadians are responsible. They want a responsible approach to protecting our environment while not sacrificing our long-term prosperity and the jobs that prosperity creates. As we move forward with a net zero project, we want to make sure that it is our own environmental plan: a Canadian plan, driven by Canadian stakeholders and Canadian citizens, not by activist groups that in many cases are funded by foreign sources. We want this to be a homegrown solution.
When I talk about solutions, this is a global problem that calls for a global solution. The Liberal government has always been focused inward. It asks what we are doing in Canada, not what can we do for the world. We have all kinds of opportunities to solve that global problem.
Let me get back to the legislation itself and highlight three important elements within it. First, the legislation would require current and future federal governments to establish a framework to get Canada to net zero carbon emissions. Let us be clear, this framework is not an action plan and it certainly does not identify any additional tools that the government might use in reaching its 2050 target.
What does it mean to be net zero? I am going to try to briefly summarize what that is. It is a situation where the greenhouse gases that are caused by humans are balanced, or offset, by human intervention to remove the carbon from our environment. There are many different ways we could do that. Perhaps the most obvious is to plant a tree or trees, because trees sequester carbon dioxide and store that carbon within their trunks and branches. That is a simple situation that every Canadian would understand.
However, Canada has many other areas where it is a world leader. Carbon sequestration can take place in things such as zero-till farming. Our farmers are leaders in this area of reducing tillage to make sure that we are not emitting more carbon than we absolutely have to.
We have some wonderful examples of carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS as it is called, in Canada, such as the Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan, and Carbon Engineering in Squamish, British Columbia, close to where I live and where I often ski.
These are opportunities for Canadian companies that have found a way of extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or from emissions, and reusing it. They are repurposing that carbon in other ways. For example, in Squamish, Carbon Engineering simply sucks the carbon dioxide out of the air. The company adds hydrogen and creates a new fuel. It is the cleanest fuel, and it can be used in something as simple as a car.
Clean fuels. Canadian innovation. That is something we do not hear a lot about from the Liberals. All they talk about is taxing. They make plans but those plans never materialize. The Liberals have had five years.
Canada is also a leader in such things as hydrogen and nuclear technology. I am talking about 21st-century nuclear technology: modular nuclear technology that is safe to use. There is tremendous potential in that area.
The second thing this legislation does is call for the creation of an outside 15-member advisory board. Where have we heard that before? Let us remember the great electoral reform project that the touted in 2015 during the election. The 2015 election was going to be the last time we were going to have elections under the first past the post system. He established a committee that was supposed to consult with Canadians, but the fix was in because he already had a preferred method that was going to favour Liberals. When the committee brought in the information that it had received from key stakeholders, he realized it was not going the way he thought it would, so he dropped the whole thing and fired his minister. That is what we get from the current Liberal government.
That is my fear. That is why I am skeptical about this legislation and especially this 15-member advisory board. Who is going to be on that board? Why will the Liberals not tell us? Will there be industry leaders on that board? Will the oil and gas industry be represented? Will they appoint members who are not married to the Liberal Party or insiders, such as Gerald Butts' friends, for example? Are they the ones who are going to populate this board? If so, this is going to turn into another disaster like electoral reform.
The second question I have on that particular issue is, why did the government not table a framework and a plan back in 2015? The government has had five years to table a plan to move forward to provide Canadians with the tools they need so that we can reduce our emissions across Canada. There is a very easy answer to that question. It is because the government has failed to meet the targets that the Liberals themselves set at the Paris climate conference.
I was at that conference. I joined the Canadian delegation. I wanted to see what was going on there. The Liberal government had taken the Stephen Harper targets, which were going to be the floor, and the moment they got back from Paris the Liberals were going to ratchet up those targets. What happened is that we still have the same targets. There was no intention of making the targets stricter. Today we know from virtually every organization that is credible, including the IPCC, the Auditor General of Canada, the Climate Change Commissioner and even the government itself, that it is far from meeting the Paris targets that were set for 2030. What makes Canadians believe that the current Liberal government is going to meet its 2050 targets?
Why is the making another promise that we know he will never be around to fulfill? That is the question Canadians should be asking themselves.
Conservatives in the House support this legislation. It is not because we trust the Liberals: we expect they are going to monkey around with this, as they normally do. However, this legislation is intended to increase transparency and accountability as Canada moves forward with its 2050 targets.
This is the problem with transparency and accountability. As my colleagues in the House will remember when the government was first elected in 2015, the government provided mandate letters for every minister, then and since, that say the expects them to raise the bar on openness, transparency and honesty. It is baked right into those mandate letters. I refresh myself by reading them from time to time. I want to make sure that the Prime Minister actually did that, because what we have today is the most unethical government our country has ever seen.
The himself, on three occasions, has been charged with violating or is alleged to have violated the ethics laws of Canada. Twice, he has been convicted. There is a third case pending, and we expect he will be convicted on that one as well.
He is the first in Canadian history to whom this has happened. It is an ethical failure. How can we expect the Liberal government to fulfill its commitments to transparency and accountability in this legislation, Bill ? If Canadians are watching this today, they are going to start scratching their heads and asking themselves how many times the has promised and not delivered. He has become the chief promise breaker of this country. It is a sad reflection on our country.
Some have described this legislation as a “nothing burger”, as there is really nothing to it, just like Seinfeld, but I will conclude by saying this: We support this legislation—
Mr. Speaker, I am going to start off with a quote from George Bernard Shaw: “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past but by the responsibility for our future.” I think that is a timely comment as we are talking about a bill that is not going to take effect until 2050.
I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill , the important issue of climate change and how we must rise to meet the challenge of the country. I want to take this important time to point out some things about Canadian energy producers and why our industry can be a part of the solution to climate change, not a contributor to the world problem.
First off, we cannot talk about climate change without acknowledging that this is truly a global issue. The atmosphere cannot distinguish between two sides of a political border or even opposite sides of the planet. Environmental policy abroad impacts us here at home, and vice versa. When it comes to the planet, all of humanity is interconnected, whether we like it or not.
There is no question that Canada must do its part to fight climate change through increasing the use of renewable resources, employing Saskatchewan's innovative carbon capture and storage technology, expanding our use of nuclear power generation and using new technology to make our existing infrastructure greener and more efficient. I am confident that we can, should and will be leaders in the fight on climate change.
I will say once again that climate change occurs, and human activity influences this. However, our strategy must always keep the global nature of this problem in mind. Canada is not an island and cannot assume that rivals, or even allies, will follow our lead. We need to work with countries from around the world collaboratively to find ways that Canada can minimize environmental impact in the short term while investing in long-term solutions.
When we measure the total life-cycle emissions of liquefied natural gas and coal based on extraction, production, shipping and burning, liquefied natural gas burns roughly 40% cleaner than coal. If Canada were to expand its production capacity and increase LNG exports to developing countries currently using coal to bring electricity to underdeveloped regions, we would be taking a huge step forward, a concrete step in reducing emissions in the short term.
China currently has a coal-fired electrical generating capacity four times larger than the United States' and plans to increase that number by over 25% in the coming years. If only a quarter of China's coal-fired plants transitioned to liquefied natural gas, it would result in emission reductions of around 750 megatonnes per year, based on current levels. For reference, Canada's total emissions in 2019 were 729 megatonnes.
The old saying “perfect is the enemy of the good” comes to mind here. While this government repeatedly fails to meet its emissions reduction targets, our energy industry, which is a world leader in environmental sustainability, continues to be crippled by regulations like Bill , Bill and the ineffective job-killing carbon tax.
Instead of leading a global strategy to reduce emissions based on research and development, technological innovation, and finding economically viable climate solutions, the Liberal government has reduced Canada's ability to compete and receive a market share with countries with zero track record when it comes to fighting global emissions.
Canada needs to strive toward energy independence, create a business environment that mobilizes green innovation in the private sector and export those green innovations around the world. Shutting down energy production in Canada would do nothing to impact the behaviour of countries whose entire economies relies on oil production. If anything, it would drive up global oil prices due to decreased supply and create even more incentive for oil production abroad.
Until we have long-term renewable energy solutions that are economically viable, natural resources such as oil and natural gas will continue to be a part of our way of life. It is not a matter of choice, but a matter of necessity. None of this is to say that it is acceptable to sit back and do nothing about this issue.
My colleagues on the other side of the aisle often scapegoat Conservatives as people who are indifferent about the environment or claim that we do not care about our children's future. Nothing could be further from the truth. We care, and we also want to work hard to bring our climate crisis under control.
We need to find solutions to these problems to guarantee the future of my three children, James, Sinclair and Nixon, alongside that of every child in Canada. We want them to grow up on a healthy planet.
We need to reduce global emissions to avoid reaching the point of no return. I also know that Canada cannot sabotage our own industries as the rest of the world sits back. We cannot be the only country making drastic changes to our energy production capacity, and we cannot assume that we are setting an example for others. Currently, I cannot think of a single country that is looking to emulate Canada's emission reduction strategy and hamper its own ability to grow its economy.
If Canada wants to be a world leader in the fight against climate change, what we do to change our share of global emissions is not enough. We must invest in economically viable green energy solutions that we can export to the rest of the world. Canada has been behind countless green energy innovations. We have been an examples to the world.
One source of Canada's climate innovation is the careful management of our vast boreal forest spread across the country. Canada's network of forests is massive at over 347 million hectors, or 9% of the world's total forest area. Canadians continue to plant hundreds of millions of trees every year without the help of the federal government.
Canada's forest industry alone plants an additional 600 million trees every year, making its commercial activities sustainable for generations to come. Canadian energy companies are doing their part as well. Syncrude has planted 11 million trees, Suncor has planted 8.9 million trees, and the faster forests initiative has planted over five million trees, just to name a few.
Using forests as a natural climate solution is about keeping thriving forest ecosystems alive. Around 70% of carbon in the forest is stored within soil and debris on the forest floor. I know the government has set a target to plant two billion trees, but they have planted zero. Even on Father's Day, my wife asked me to plant five trees in our backyard, so I am doing more than our federal government.
Alongside capturing and storing carbon emissions, our forests are also home to another solution: biofuels. Canada exported 498.3 million dollars' worth of wood pellets in 2019, a solid renewable biofuel that grows back and recaptures the carbon that it emits when the biomass is burned.
I also want to talk about carbon capture and storage solutions. As a Saskatchewan MP, I am proud of the innovations we have made and are leading on this technological front. As an innovator and pioneer, Saskatchewan is proud of our carbon capture. Experts agree that carbon capture and storage is a solution that simply works.
Dr. Julio Friedmann, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, says that when industrial facilities implement variations of this solution, they see emission reductions of between 55% to 90%. About 300 million tonnes of CO2 is captured from large-scale carbon capture, utilization and storage facilities every year. The technology is effective and could lead to real world emission reductions in the short term if we embrace it. The downside is that currently 70% of this is done in North America when it should be done throughout the world.
These are just a few examples of solutions that can drive economic activity, create jobs and act as long-term investments in emissions reductions. None of them involve new taxes, energy austerity or hurt our economy. In fact, all of the solutions I have raised would create new jobs and increase economic activity, instead of dampening it.
I believe in green innovation and I believe in clean technology, but I also know that shutting down Canadian oil and gas production would do nothing to change the course of history. The only way that Canada can have a meaningful impact on this issue is the same way we changed health care forever, through the development of revolutionary technologies like insulin and pacemakers. Both of these inventions saved millions of lives around the world and would have never been possible without Canadian ingenuity and perseverance.
We can meet these ambitious targets. I have unlimited faith in the sheer intelligence and capability of Canadians, but I also know that if we are not focused on solutions, we cannot be embraced by the rest of the world. It will be too little, too late, and our contributions will be in vain. We need the rest of the world to join us in our commitment to reducing emissions.
Net-zero emissions does not mean net-zero growth in the oil and gas industry, the agricultural industry and the manufacturing industry. We need to continue to rely on those very important sectors in our community.
For every step taken, we must take into account Canada's existing obligations to provide secure energy to all of our global customers.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
This is a watershed moment in the history of Canada and the world. We know that, to deal with climate change, we must transform our communities and industries and this transformation comes with incredible potential for growth. We are on the eve of a financial and global economic realignment and we must act now to provide Canadian businesses a long-term competitive advantage and ensure that the use of smart and clean technologies increase in a draconian way immediately.
Canadian industries will have to make important decisions that will affect several generations, decisions on investments in assets that will last for decades much like the consequences of their emissions.
Our plan is simple. We are supporting Canadian industry and investing in the cleanest solutions that generate the least amount of emissions possible and at the same time establishing a clear legal framework through Bill to set national targets and develop plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Canada in order to achieve net-zero emissions within 25 years.
Net-zero emissions is not just a plan for protecting the environment and managing climate change, it is also a plan for building a cleaner and more competitive economy.
Bill C-12 proposes the , which will force the current and future federal governments to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In doing so, we will be binding our government and all the ones that will follow. By imposing accountability, both politically and legally, we will earn the trust of Canadians and our industries in achieving net zero within 25 years.
It was precisely to hold Canadian governments accountable for climate change that I got involved in federal politics in 2015, leaving behind a career as an environmental lawyer.
At the core of this legislation is the requirement that the establish the initial 2030 target and an emissions reduction plan within six months of the act’s coming into force. I would be surprised if it takes that long. Both documents must be tabled in Parliament. A progress report must also be tabled by 2027. That is accountability.
The act requires the tabling and publication of targets, plans, progress reports and assessment reports. That is accountability. The legislation stipulates the content of milestone year plans, progress reports and assessment reports. That is more accountability.
It is important to note that, in the event that a target is not achieved, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, after consulting with the other ministers, will be required to include two elements in the assessment report: the reasons why Canada failed to meet the target and a description of the actions that the Government of Canada is taking or will take to address the failure to achieve the target.
In addition to the strong parliamentary accountability mechanisms mentioned earlier, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, supported by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, will 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 of the baseline years 2035, 2040 and 2045, a target must be set and an emissions reduction plan established at least five years in advance of each of these baseline years. The target and the emissions reduction plan must be consistent with the purpose of the act, which requires that the establishment of national greenhouse gas reduction targets be based on the best available science, the objective of achieving net zero in Canada within 25 years and Canada’s international climate change mitigation commitments.
We are talking here about accountability. We are talking about a series of measures that would hold Canadian governments, this government and future governments, to account. We have never before had such legislation in Canada. It is high time we pass the bill. It would be good for Canada. It would bring confidence to our industries, which know the world is heading toward net zero and that their competitive advantage will be augmented by investments now in efficiency in net-zero technologies.
We would be sending, through Bill , a clear signal to Canadians, first and foremost, that climate change is real, climate change is a crisis and that it deserves action right now. It deserves the accountability of all governments, this government and future governments. We are also be sending signals to industry and to the provinces about the seriousness with which we take this issue.
We will be sending a signal to the whole world that Canada will not fall victim to what Mark Carney has described as “the tragedy of the horizon”. Just because something is far off does not mean it will not hit us right between the eyes. It is already. My riding of Pontiac had massive floods in 2017 and in 2019. We are already paying the price.
The bill contains the word “must”, 27 times by my count, in association with an action by a minister or some agent of government. Canadian environmental law is replete with discretionary provisions, meaning responsible ministers can quite often make decisions as they see fit and are not imposed an obligation at all times. The bill would impose 27 “the minister must”.
That is so important and should give Canadians a great deal of confidence. It means we will not just be generating political accountability through the bill, not only will we require the and the come before the House and account for the targets, the plans and the progress, but we will be enabling the public, if those duties are not fulfilled by those ministers, to bring the government to court. They will have the opportunity to do so. Therefore, there would be judicial accountability and political accountability.
It is not only in our environmental self-interest, it is in our economic self-interest. Our government has absolute commitment to achieving net zero by 2050. I look forward to the day when the Conservative Party of Canada gets on board and agrees that this has to be done. I look forward to constructive contributions from members opposite in all opposition parties. We know a bill can be improved and we know there are expectations on the part of Canadians that we will collaborate to make a great bill even better, which is what will happen through the committee process.
I look forward to the discussion with my hon. colleagues.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today today to speak to Bill , an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, as it is officially known. I like to call it the climate action accountability bill.
I really am very happy, because this is the kind of legislation I have been waiting for ever since I was elected, just over five years ago. This bill does not go far enough as far as accountability is concerned, as I will mention later, but it is a good first step. We could strengthen that with amendments when it goes to committee.
This bill requires that the sets greenhouse gas emission targets at five-year intervals starting in 2030 and ending, of course, in 2050 with the goal of net zero. I will say right now that I think this is the bill's greatest flaw. Science tell us that the coming decade, from now until 2030, is the most critical time for action on climate change. Now is the time when we have to be bold. Now is the time when we have to make sure we are not just kicking this down the road any longer.
Why is there not a goal for 2025? The Liberals have been in power for five years and have been talking the talk about climate action all that time, yet we have gotten nowhere on emissions reductions. In five years, the least they could have figured out is where we should be by 2025. That is the number one criticism of the bill. We need a 2025 target.
We also need a truly independent climate accountability officer whose only job is to monitor government action and effect. The environmental commissioner has other important topics that should be dealt with and is underfunded already on that front.
The advisory body this bill calls for should have a real specific role in setting targets, and the targets should not be set based on what the government feels is achievable without rocking any boats. They should be targets based on science and what we must do.
Another reason I am happy that this bill is finally coming forward is that Jack Layton tabled a similar bill in 2006. That is right, 14 years ago. That bill actually passed through the House of Commons, thanks to the fact that we were in a minority government at the time. People often think of minority government as not accomplishing anything, but the fact is that most of the good lasting actions by Canadian governments have come during minority Parliaments. That is another reason why we should embrace proportional representation in our electoral system, as they do in New Zealand and many other countries, but I digress.
Unfortunately Jack's bill was killed by the Conservatives in the Senate, an all too common example of anti-democratic action by that unelected body. I witnessed the same fate when my private member's bill was killed in the Senate last year, along with many others, as a handful of Conservative senators sought to stop Romeo Saganash's bill on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Happily, I hear there is a movement to change Senate rules so that private members' bills cannot be summarily stopped by a few unelected senators, but I digress once again.
I ran for office five years ago because friends and colleagues told me they felt we needed more scientists in the House of Commons. It is indeed an honour and privilege to be here. When Canada went to the Paris talks in 2015, shortly after that election, I was proud of the commitments we made there. However, I was deeply disappointed the following spring when MPs were literally instructed by the Liberal government to go back to their ridings to find out what we should do to meet those Paris targets.
We knew what we had to do. We had a long list of necessary actions to decarbonize our energy systems, electrify our transportation, retrofit our buildings to become energy efficient, and on and on. We knew we had precious little time to do it. Instead, we were told to spend six months or more talking to our constituents. I did that. I held town halls on climate change. The overwhelming message at those town halls was that we have to get on to it. People wanted to know why we were asking them, because we knew what we had to do and that we should just do our job.
I will not go into the litany of past commitments and broken promises by both Liberal and Conservative governments on climate action. It is clear that even the best intentions are stifled when the going gets tough. What the Liberal government did commit to at Paris was to use the old Harper climate target of bringing emissions down to 511 megatonnes by 2030. When it made that commitment, our emissions were at 720 megatonnes. By 2018, three years later, they had risen to 729 megatonnes. We are going in the wrong direction.
The Conservatives often give the excuse that Canada should not act on climate change, because we are a small country when it comes to population and there are much bigger contributors to global emissions.
The fact is we are the worst emitter on a per capita basis, and the rest of the world notices what Canada does or does not do.
A couple of years ago, I travelled to Argentina with the then Minister of Natural Resources for a G20 meeting on energy. The topic was energy transitions toward a cleaner, more flexible and transparent system. I was impressed by the presentations from countries such as Germany, Japan, the U.K. and China. They talked about bold action over the coming decade.
The U.K. minister, in particular, had a memorable way of summarizing his country's actions. First, was “walk the walk”, meaning legislate the targets and have accountability. At last we have something like that here. Second was, “put your money where your mouth is” and make significant investments now in clean energy transition. Finally was, “have your cake and eat it too”, meaning reap the benefits of the good jobs that are created by those investments.
What did Canada say at that meeting? Our Minister of Natural Resources stood up and said that they probably heard we just bought a pipeline, and spent the rest of his time explaining why that was necessary, in some Orwellian way. One could almost hear the face-palms in the room. The only thing that kept us from being at the bottom of the heap in that G20 meeting was the fact that the Americans were there, talking about clean coal.
We found out this week, from the Canada Energy Regulator, of all places, that those pipelines, the Trans Mountain expansion, will not be necessary; nor will Keystone XL. It turns out that if we are serious about meeting our climate targets, which this legislation would signal we are, we will not need either of those projects to handle oil exports.
There are many things in this bill that I like, beyond the fact that the government is admitting that politicians are bad at keeping promises without some external body looking over their shoulder and carrying some sort of stick. The Liberals are acknowledging in print that we must limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C, and that we are almost there so we have to work fast. The bill does reference the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the first step we must take in any transition to a clean energy future.
The recently said of the lack of a 2025 target, “ultimately the accountability for government's actions or inactions is from Canadians themselves”. These are not the words of a climate leader. They are the words of a climate follower.
We will support this bill at second reading, but the Liberals must work with us to strengthen the accountability provisions by creating a 2025 target and a more independent commissioner dedicated to this job. Canadians expect nothing less than this, and not just Canadians. Let us remember that the world is watching and expecting Canada to do the right thing. My granddaughter in New Zealand will thank us.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill , an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. As I understand the legislation, there are generally five main objectives: one, require the government to produce three specific reports, namely an emissions reductions plan, a progress report and an assessment report with respect to future emissions goals, to be tabled in Parliament; two, provide for public participation; three, establish an advisory board to reach zero emissions; four, write a fourth report on financial implications through Finance Canada; and five, write a fifth report to be tabled every five years by the environment commissioner.
I will say at the outset that I am generally in favour of more accountability and transparency and support the spirit of this legislation, but it does seem overly bureaucratic. In addition, it raises a number of red flags regarding the actions of the government as they relate to public accountability on environmental reporting and its progress to date.
In 2016, I worked as a political aide for the hon. member for . It was a new Parliament and there was general agreement that those on the environment committee wanted to work together for the well-being of Canada. This collaboration led to a June 2016 report entitled “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations—A Report Following an Assessment of the Federal Sustainable Development Act”. It received unanimous support.
The purpose of the report was to address the gaps in the Federal Sustainable Development Act outlined by former environment commissioner Julie Gelfand, who described the law as “a jigsaw puzzle without the benefit of the picture on the box.” The commissioner noted that the reporting required under the law gave readers a sense of progress, but “sufficient information was not included to provide a fair presentation of the progress being made”.
The committee wrote that the legislation did not meet expectations and there was general agreement by stakeholders that it lacked the enforcement necessary to improve how the government addressed environmental sustainability. The committee members recommended expanding the definition of “sustainability” in the act to include not just environmental considerations, but also thorough considerations of economic and social factors. Understanding sustainability more broadly would be instrumental in applying goals and targets that factored into all aspects of our government decision-making.
Some of the other considerations included enabling a whole-of-government approach to sustainability; assigning responsibilities to central agencies of the federal government; considering Canada's commitment to sustainable development internationally; considering short-, medium- and long-term targets; ensuring that the government respond to them; and setting additional measures for improving enforceability. The report was tabled in June 2016.
One year later, Bill , an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, was tabled by the member for . In her speech, she highlighted that the committee was instrumental in her approach to the bill. She thanked committee members and noted that this legislation would make Canada one of the greenest countries in the world, that sustainable development was at the forefront of the government's considerations, that it was about meeting the needs of future generations without compromising the present and that it would expand the definition of “sustainable development” to three core pillars: economic, social and environmental.
All in all, Bill and the original law, the Federal Sustainable Development Act, would mean a few things. The government would need to write a series of reports. There would be parliamentary oversight and regular reporting. It would set targets and strategies on sustainable development in line with these reports. There would be an expanded advisory board to improve public participation and hear from first nations. Sustainability would be a whole-of-government matter, and the environment commissioner would be required to review progress and report on whether the government was meeting its targets and doing what it said it would do.
Upon review of the 2019 report entitled “Achieving a Sustainable Future”, as required under the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the government outlined 13 main goals: effective action on climate change, greening government, clean growth, modern and resilient infrastructure, clean energy, healthy coasts and oceans, pristine lakes and rivers, sustainably managed lands and forests, healthy wildlife populations, clean water, sustainable food, connecting with nature and safe communities. All in all, this is a pretty comprehensive set of goals and targets.
We could argue that net-zero emissions cannot even be considered unless there is real and concrete action on at least 12 of the 13 existing targets in the federal sustainability report and, consequently, the act. I cannot think of many Canadians who would have a problem with the Government of Canada pursuing any of these objectives in a reasonable fashion.
However, here is the major problem. As of November 2, the Government of Canada has still not brought into force Bill , which brings forward needed improvements to the government's approach on sustainability. The issues the environment committee sought to address in 2016 still exist. The environment commissioner outlined them in detail, noting the jigsaw puzzle without a picture on the box. The majority of environmentalists in our country also saw them as something wrong with the legislation.
Nothing the member for said on Bill in 2017 about creating the greenest environment has even been operationalized, and given that the has come before Parliament with a suite of new bureaucratic measures that would invariably duplicate existing objectives passed within Bill and are contained within the Federal Sustainable Development Act and its report, I cannot but be skeptical about this approach. Why not try to address some of the tangible things we can do to improve our environment today toward a net-zero future, as outlined in the existing and stated goals, which are already subject to Governor in Council review, thorough parliamentary oversight and consideration by the Auditor General and by extension the environment commissioner?
For example, Canada's regulatory framework under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act needs to be updated for new battery technology. What about the 13 goals, particularly clean growth and effective action on climate change? The Canadian Environmental Protection Act has not been substantially updated since its introduction by the Conservatives. We could do dozens of things there to improve product standards, help vulnerable populations and update our air quality monitoring systems.
Let us think about safe communities. We could plant a billion trees and reduce our environmental footprint. Let us think about conservation, clean water and healthy wildlife populations. We could work with like-minded countries to sign international agreements that would allow Canada to share our technological expertise. Let us think about effective action on climate change. We are still trying to operationalize those aspects of the Paris accord.
We could continue so much work on protecting habitats and, subsequently, species at risk. We could work more closely with our first nations brothers and sisters to take meaningful action to protect wild salmon and conserve the remaining spawning habitats along the Fraser River. We could even develop an economic plan to incentivize investors in strategic areas like modern agricultural techniques, systems software and satellite technology to reduce our environmental footprint. We could help companies like Carbon Engineering scale its technology in Canada.
What I see in the legislation before us is simply another example of Liberals talking a really good game yet doing next to nothing to make real progress right now. Is the government trying to make everyone laugh by requiring Finance Canada to write a report on risks and opportunities? It will not even commit to a 2021 budget. What a farce. The Parliamentary Budget Officer says the government lacks accountability and is not updating our public accounts and information on how the government is spending money.
What would have been more beneficial for our country and for the to consider doing would be something like the following. He should bring into force an updated Federal Sustainable Development Act, and include within it an updated strategy with five actions every year the government could take during its mandate to move toward a sustainable future so it would be subject to the review of the environment commissioner. We could give Canadians certainty about the actions being taken and the consequences of such actions in real time.
We could set a standard for excellence today both in transparency and accountability, which are sorely lacking in the government and this legislation, and finally get to work and actually do something.
Mr. Speaker, we are here today to talk about Bill , an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.
I am happy to discuss the bill, because it is such an important matter for this country going forward.
My first challenge with the bill is why the government needs to include words like “transparency” and “accountability” in a piece of legislation. These principles should be part of all government legislation and all government action. Unfortunately, that is the way this government sees things or demonstrates its actions. In fact, these actions are about anything but transparency or accountability.
It is important to go back to what the Paris Agreement is. The COP21, the conference of the parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held the carbon levels we were supposed to reach above pre-industrial levels to two degrees by the year 2050. We are doing our utmost to hit that. This requires, obviously, world action including Canada.
Planetary warming is going to happen around the world, and we need to contribute to making sure that we get everybody on the same page of reducing planetary warming. There are 7.5 billion people who live on the planet, and that would rise perceptually to 9 billion by 2050. All of these people emit carbon. All of these carbon-emitting entities depend upon carbon-based activities, including agriculture, livestock, heat and energy to fulfill their lives, which is the first tier of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
I have been in the House for just over a year. I was elected in Calgary Centre partly to give voice to some reasonable voices in the energy industry in Canada and actually show how we could move forward on this file without submerging ourselves, as a country, and making sure we move forward with common sense.
Interestingly, when we look at all the energy industries in Canada and the associations that represent them, they are all fully on board with getting to net zero by 2050. It is part of all of their advertisements and governance charters going forward. They are also the industry, people should remember, that pays the most taxes in Canada and that contributes the most to exports for a balance of payments, which is significant for this country.
Also, whenever we buy fuel, we think about what fuel means in Canada, which is getting from place to place and getting our goods from place to place, including our food and clothes. That is where 45% of the cost of the input from petroleum products goes right back into the government's pocket: what we call “economic rent.” When we compare, dollar to dollar, which energy source is more efficient, which is costing more and which is contributing more, we need to level the field. We need to understand that if we did away with oil and gas, which is what I am hearing some of the members in the House say, we would effectively be doing away with not only a very important industry to Canada, but a very important tax base to Canada. We would then have to replace that with taxation from Canadians generally, and the government would find another way to tax Canadians. However, let us look at that contribution and make sure that it is considered in this discussion.
The Liberal government continues to fail on the environment file. The Liberals have yet to come up with a plan that works, because they do not really understand energy, and I do not mean just fossil fuel energy. I mean all energy: the contributions to energy, how energy is produced and what the effects of producing energy are. There is always an effect to producing energy, even if it is in storage, whether it is hydro or uranium. There is an effect, no matter the sort of energy we get our power from.
We talked about listening to the science, yet in my short time here, I am challenged to find a member on the government bench who actually understands science. Please guide me.
At the same time, the government ignores the multitude of scientists who have provided significant input on this file. I recall the task force for resilient recovery. In the midst of a pandemic, Gerry Butts and his rent-seeking friends jammed an agenda forward. Canada was suffering a pandemic. Is this transparency? Is this accountability? Do not let a good crisis go to waste.
Gerry Butts had a lot of success. He camouflaged a $107-billion speculative program, at least, into a $49.9-billion talking point that was largely reflected in the throne speech. This is not a talking point. This is Canada's environment. This is Canada's future we are talking about. The task force said “it is time to go big”, which means playing roulette and betting Canada's future on red 36. Canadians deserve better stewards of their future.
In reading the task force report and then reading the government's throne speech, one notices that the paraphrasing in the throne speech is astounding. These reports had the same author. Who paid them? Who will pay them? Will it be the 15 advisers in this legislation? Not one of the task force members was a scientist, which is interesting. The report is littered with the moralistic right-speak of public policy experts: people who are interested in their own agenda, which is often their own financial agenda.
Perhaps we should look at the 15-member advisory board that is proposed in this legislation. A potential path forward that the government should consider, in my opinion, is for 15 advisers to be appointed to the . Perhaps the government could commit to appointing 15 people who actually represent the 15 sectors that contribute to Canada's economy. There are enough public policy experts in the bowels of every government department. We do not have to hire others and get their input on what they should already have from their officials. We do not need more public policy experts. Bring in the economy's real experts: those who are contributing to Canada.
While we are talking about transparency, it is timely to discuss the regulation currently being constructed by Environment and Climate Change Canada: its so-called Clean Fuel Standard. In effect, it is a hidden carbon tax on Canada's productive industries. It is inequitably applied. The industry is waiting, once again, to see how the government may exempt them. A little influence in the government never hurt.
It is about picking winners and losers. It is not about transparency and definitely not about accountability. It is not about Canada's environment. It reminds me of the manufacturer's sale tax from years ago that had to be cancelled in the 1980s because industries left Canada. Industries still produced goods for Canadians elsewhere, but jobs and taxes left Canada. Everything left Canada, and it is what we now call carbon leakage because there was the same production and Canadians still bought the same goods that were produced elsewhere. This is an example we do not want to repeat.
There is a lot that has to happen in the energy industry. There is a lot that we need to make sure gets better, and we need to continue to reduce carbon. I am hopeful this bill gets us part of the way there. I am hopeful the government will start taking this file seriously.
To this point, all I have heard is partisan shouting out of that side and blaming past governments for what they did not do. It is the Liberals' turn to step forward and move this file forward. We are trying to work with them.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the virtual House today to participate in this extremely important debate on Bill , the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act.
Before I get into my remarks today, I would like to notify you that I would like to share my time with the hon. member for , who will make a speech after me.
As I said, it is my pleasure to participate in this important debate. It is a topic that is extremely important. It has been important to me throughout my entire life. It is something my constituents care about and remind me of all of the time and this legislation as proposed provides an accountability framework. It certainly does not provide the content of a plan for moving forward. It really defines a framework for accountability and that is a positive step forward.
Canada and countries around the world are facing unprecedented economic, environmental and social challenges, which are all occurring at the same time. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant loss and uncertainty in Canada. Almost half of households lost work at the peak of the pandemic, impacting the ability of families to pay rent and put food on the table.
Responding to the pandemic and ensuring that Canadians can move forward into a recovery phase that ensures there are good jobs and a solid plan for a strong, resilient, competitive and sustainable economy matters more than ever. We need a road map for the future, one that takes into account our current reality but also where we want the world to be in 10, 20 and 30 years from now.
What we know is that the world is changing. Countries are responding to the fallout from the pandemic, but many are doing so in a way that takes into account the equally urgent crisis of climate change. In some respects, the current public health crisis pales in comparison to the larger and impending crisis that will see the effects of human activity, which has harmed our natural world for generations, leading to the alteration of weather patterns, mass extinctions, the loss of biodiversity and even the collapse of ecosystems, which ultimately threatens the habitability of our planet.
The science is very clear that we face a catastrophic future if we do not dramatically alter the amount of pollution we are putting into the atmosphere. I learned recently of a remarkable independent film called The Magnitude of all Things, and that film masterfully depicts a phenomena called climate grief, which is the loss we are all feeling from the destruction of our home.
The science is clear that we need to bend the curve on GHG emissions now and achieve net-zero emissions globally by 2050. Countries around the world are responding to this imperative and they are also moving to take advantage of the clean growth opportunities that will come with it. Those are significant and Canada has enormous advantages, ranging from our vast natural resources to our skilled population, our commitment to research, our innovation and our entrepreneurial spirit. We need to seize the opportunity now. We need to do our part to demonstrate our commitment to the rest of the world.
From forest fires and floods to melting permafrost and coastal erosion, Canadians are experiencing the impacts of climate change every single day. Our climate is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. In the north, warming is nearly three times as fast. The effects of warming are already evident in many parts of Canada and are projected to intensify in the near future. We can see this with wilder weather and seasons and lots of flooding. There is much evidence of these weather patterns changing.
In December 2015, at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada played a leadership role in reaching a historic agreement to address climate change. Canada was also one of the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement and help push it over the threshold to bring it into force in October 2016.
Through the Paris Agreement, we committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global temperature increase to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement, Canada developed the first climate change plan in our history to include joint and individual commitments by federal-provincial-territorial governments and to have been developed with input from indigenous peoples, businesses, non-governmental organizations and Canadians from across the country.
The pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change was adopted in December of 2016, and this was a huge step forward. In fact, one of the reasons I got into politics in the last federal election was that great work. The pan-Canadian framework outlines over 15 concrete measures to reduce carbon pollution, help us adapt and become more resilient to the impacts of a changing climate, spur clean-technology solutions and create good jobs that contribute to a stronger economy.
Between 2005 and 2019 the federal government invested $60 billion to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, generate clean technologies, help Canadians and communities to adapt to the changing climate, and protect the environment. Carbon pollution pricing systems are in place in all provinces and territories, and we have introduced regulations to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas sector and to improve emissions standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles.
As we work to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030, we have worked with communities and workers affected by the transition to a low-carbon economy. We are developing net-zero energy-ready building codes to be adopted by 2030 for new buildings, and we have adopted a climate lens to ensure that future climate impacts are considered and addressed in federally funded infrastructure projects. To ensure Canadians have access to climate science and information, we established the Canadian Centre for Climate Services.
Our plan is working. Our most recent projections show a widespread decline in projected emissions across the economy. The policies and measures now in place, including those introduced in 2019, are projected to reduce emissions by 227 million tonnes by 2030. However, we know that a great deal of work remains to be done. The 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change also invited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to prepare a special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. I have that report here, and I have been reviewing it.
In 2018, the special report on “Global Warming of 1.5°C” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that global emissions must reach carbon neutrality by around 2050 to limit warming to 1.5°C. There are clear benefits to limiting global temperature increases to that level. The IPCC's report made it clear that, to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, an aggressive and long-term commitment to action is needed. Every bit of warming matters, and this is why it is urgent to take action now. Increasing ambition is what science tells us is needed to address climate change, and it is built into the Paris Agreement.
We are currently working on strengthening existing and introducing new greenhouse gas emission reduction measures, which will allow us to exceed our current 2030 target. On top of that, we know that we need to look to the longer term, which is why we committed to enshrining, in legislation, the government's goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Along with this system of five-year targets, emissions reduction plans, progress reports and assessment reports are key enabling components of our work to achieve a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
Our government has committed to implement a number of new measures to help us reach these ambitious targets, while creating a million new jobs and growing the economy. This includes a commitment to plant two billion trees to help sequester carbon, retrofitting 1.5 million homes to improve energy efficiency and save Canadians money on their energy bills, making it easier for Canadians to purchase and drive zero-emission vehicles, and supporting northern, remote and indigenous communities as they transition from diesel to renewable energy systems.
These measures and more, which the government plans to announce soon, will help put Canada on a path to a strong zero-emissions economy, one that is inclusive for all Canadians.
I am going to stop there. I had a few more remarks, but I understand that my time is limited. I will stop there, but I am thankful for this opportunity.
Mr. Speaker, as we live through these difficult times and face the COVID crisis, we have to direct our energies to the crisis in front of us. However, we cannot forget about the climate crisis that looms large. We have to bring that same sense of effort and determination to address it.
When thinking about addressing that crisis, I look at it through three lenses: ambition, accountability and action.
The bill before us, Bill , the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, is about accountability but also about ambition. I want to start with what is very good in the legislation on ambition, which is the commitment to net zero by 2050.
In the last Parliament, I was lucky to join two other colleagues from the Green Party and the NDP to call for a climate emergency debate in the wake of the IPCC report on 1.5°C. I introduced a bill on net zero by 2050 in the House. I was very happy to see that in our platform and the throne speech. Now it is realized as a commitment in this legislation.
In the purpose clause, the legislation says the purpose is “to promote transparency and accountability...in support of achieving net-zero emissions in Canada by 2050”. Importantly, in the preamble, the IPCC is explicitly cited. The IPCC concluded, “achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is key to keeping the rise in the global-mean temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and minimizing climate-change related risks.”
Of course, 2050 is a long time away, so we need to turn that long-term ambition into short-term practical action and we do so in the course of the legislation by way of five-year milestone targets. That is important. We talked about carbon budgets in our platform. It is important for everyone in the House to support the bill going to committee. When it gets to committee, I am certainly interested in hearing from experts about the difference between the carbon budget process and the milestone process that our government has proposed. It is very important that we not just talk about net zero by 2050, but look at shorter-term milestones and targets as well. That is an important ambition.
When it comes to accountability, it is important to highlight a series of positive measures in the legislation.
We first see progress reporting, a requirement of one progress report per milestone at least two years before the milestone. We see a requirement to table assessment reports and an important requirement for the government to table an emissions reduction plan in Parliament to tell the public how we will meet these shorter-term targets and get to net zero by 2050.
We also see a requirement for an expert advisory body that is to not only advise the but report annually to the minister and the minister must respond in a public fashion. These are important accountability mechanisms. We see a requirement for annual reports from the on how the government is taking key measures to manage financial climate risks.
Last, we see a requirement for an independent environmental commissioner tasked with examining and reporting on our progress and holding us to account if we fail to meet the necessary progress.
I started with the positives, but let me speak to some of the challenges. Before I get to the challenges, when I speak of accountability ambition and action, this is not an action plan. For anyone looking at this plan, saying we are speaking about the importance of climate change and asking where the action is, this is not the action plan. We have seen significant action over the last five years, and I can get into the details of that. We have seen projected 2030 emissions between 2016 and 2019 go down 25% because of the policies we put in place, but this is fundamentally about accountability and brings with it a commitment to greater ambition.
It also kicks the can down the road too far. I mentioned turning that longer-term ambition into short-term action. While this is a very strong framework for accountability, there is a significant “but”. That is because this act, as structured, provides the first milestone target as 2030. What this means is that the first progress report would not be required until no later than December 31, 2027.
Clearly, we need a more urgent and credible reporting timeline to meet the act's goal of transparency and accountability. There are a few ways of answering this challenge, in my view. A number of environmental organizations and colleagues have proposed that we move up the first milestone from 2030 to 2025. This would mean that an initial progress report would be required by the end of 2022, and there is some sense in this. Very smart environmental advocates have called for this solution to address the challenge that I have described.
There is another way of addressing this challenge, though. When we look at science-based ambition, we have a 2050 target in this bill, a net-zero, science-based target from the IPCC, and we could have a science-based 2030 target in this bill as well.
What does a science-based 2030 target mean? We talk about net zero by 2050, but the IPCC also tells us that, on that pathway to one and a half degrees, the world needs to be 45% below 2010 levels by 2030. What does that mean in a Canadian context? In 2010, our emissions were 691 megatonnes, and 45% below that is 380. That should be our minimum target.
If we look to the Paris Agreement and the fact we are a highly developed country, we might argue credibly that we actually ought to go further. At a minimum, on the science, the target for 2030 should be 380 megatonnes. If we establish that target in a science-based and serious way, then in the course of this act, we could provide for earlier progress reports.
I would certainly be comfortable with a strong science-based 2030 target. If we do not have a 2025 target, but a strong science-based 2030 target, I would certainly be comfortable with earlier progress reports in 2030, 2025, 2027. With those, this would be a very strong bill.
I have heard from other advocates that we could strengthen the advisory body's role in setting targets and in progress reporting. We could better ensure its independence. I have seen suggestions to require the minister to consider expert advice when setting targets. There are reasonable questions about capacity issues in the environmental commissioner's office to do this serious work.
This is the framework we are looking to. In the U.K., as an example, the climate change committee that was established through legislation in 2008 has great resources. We need to ensure any independent body standing up to do the accountability job has the necessary resources to do that job effectively.
As I mentioned previously, the difference between milestone targets and carbon budgets has also been raised with me. All these considerations will rightly be addressed by experts at committee, and I sincerely hope we see proposals from all parties and constructive work at the environment committee to improve this bill. It is a strong framework but it absolutely does need to be improved.
To close, I just want to emphasize that accountability and ambition are important, but at all times we must be guided by science. Our ambition must be set by science and this accountability act should be as robust as possible. Then of course everything depends upon serious climate action.
I know there are questions about impacts on the economy. This bill, in the preamble, recognizes the importance for the economy to move toward a clean transition, but this is really about jobs as much as it is about climate action for our kids.
We have made significant progress since 2015, so let us, united across party lines, build on that progress. Let us bring, as I say, the same determination and scale of response to the climate crisis that we have brought to the COVID crisis.