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View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2016-10-04 12:22 [p.5446]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Repentigny.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathering on traditional Algonquin territory.
As we all know, climate change is a threat unlike any other. We know action needs to be taken to address what I believe is the biggest threat to our lives, our country, and our planet. That is why I will be voting in favour of the motion.
Taking action against climate change is a moral imperative. I do not believe there is another option if we care about our children, our grandchildren, the future of our land and our waters.
To meet this threat and to minimize the potential for its devastating impacts requires global action, global co-operation, and global collaboration. Indeed, our world needs the historic Paris agreement on climate change. It was as a result of our commitment to inclusion and engagement that the delegation to Paris included indigenous leaders from regions across Canada, including from the Arctic and from the north. They are the front line in experiencing the impacts of climate change.
In Canada, achieving the vision of the Paris agreement will require the full inclusion and leadership of indigenous peoples. As Canada's first ministers committed to in the Vancouver declaration, we are working in partnership with the provinces and territories to establish a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change to reduce our emissions and to ensure Canada takes full advantage of the opportunities associated with the emerging low-carbon economy. This affects all Canadians, and indigenous peoples and northerners in particular.
Going forward, we need to work with our provincial and territorial partners and with indigenous peoples to ensure that all of our voices are heard. For far too long governments did not listen to the warnings from our elders about how traditional knowledge of the patterns of nature did not apply the way it used to, how the ice was thinning and disappearing, how forest fires were becoming more frequent, how new fauna and flora were appearing while others were disappearing.
These changes are having real impacts on real people, and are affecting the ability of indigenous people to exercise their rights, their ability to connect with the land, and their food security. We must listen to the solutions and the traditional knowledge that indigenous people can share if we are to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
We are committed to acting. Budget 2016 includes $10.7 million over two years to implement renewable energy projects in off-grid indigenous and northern communities that rely on diesel and other fossil fuels for heat and power. That kind of partnership is essential and I hope it is only the start of what can be accomplished. We will invest close to $130 million over five years to strengthen the science we need to inform decision-making, protect the health and well-being of Canadians, build resilience in the north and indigenous communities, and enhance competitiveness in key economic sectors.
Good things are happening, especially in the north. We can learn a great deal from the spirit of collaboration reflected in the close links among aboriginal peoples around the circumpolar region through the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Gwich'in Council International, and the Arctic Athabaskan Council. The very existence of these organizations is due to the fact that indigenous nations took it upon themselves to find a way to speak in unison on issues of shared concern.
The visible effects of climate change, from melting permafrost to waning sea ice, make the Arctic a region that demands our attention. Indeed, in the wake of the Paris conference, the Arctic is the focus of global attention. The world will be watching how we in Canada respond to the real and urgent concerns expressed by indigenous peoples in the north, and northerners in communities across the country. Ratifying the Paris agreement will move us globally in that direction and hopefully will slow down the effects of our warming planet.
I would like to speak a little more on the effects of climate change in the north. As I mentioned earlier, we are seeing vegetation changes, animal migratory changes, and permafrost melting. All of these things are causing abrupt shifts in traditional practices such as hunting and trapping, as well as practical problems such as maintaining infrastructure on melting grounds.
The north is experiencing the impacts of climate change right now. That is a real threat to the sustainability of our communities. This threat is in addition to the high cost of energy and limited infrastructure that already challenge the sustainability of rural and northern remote communities.
Recognizing this, the Government of the Northwest Territories has been working actively to reduce its carbon footprint. Between 2001 and 2011, the territorial government reduced its emissions from operations by 30%. In addition, NWT ranks second in the country on a per capita basis of installed solar power. The feasibility of wind development is also being investigated in the Inuvik region next year.
We in the Northwest Territories understand that a carbon price is an important measure to get people to stop using the fuels that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, but the very high cost of fuel in our communities is already an incentive to reduce consumption. Northerners do not choose high-carbon options. They are one of the only choices.
In addition to the relative high cost of electricity due to our long winters and the use of heating oil, heating costs in some of our northern communities are seven times the cost of those using natural gas in Edmonton.
The NWT government and residents are being diligent and responsible in controlling emissions of greenhouse gases in the Northwest Territories and preparing for climate change impact. Even though the north only accounts for a small fraction of Canada's overall greenhouse gas emissions, there is a commitment from all levels of government to find a way to reduce our carbon footprint.
It is my hope that we at the federal level will continue to assist northerners in their work to provide reliable, affordable alternatives to carbon-intensive fuels for our communities and businesses. Budget 2016 was a great first step.
It is also important that the federal government understands the potential harm that increased carbon prices could have on the fragile resource-based economy of the Northwest Territories if implemented in a manner that does not work for us in the north. Carbon pricing can penalize northerners by raising their already high cost of living or discouraging the economic development northerners need to support themselves and their families.
I am confident that a supportive approach that recognizes the unique realities of the north will be followed. Through ongoing discussions, partnerships, and innovation, along with investment in green energy, clean growth, and better infrastructure, we in the north will continue to reduce our greenhouse emissions in support of the Paris agreement and the Vancouver declaration. In doing so, we will underscore our commitment to ensure all Canadians, including northerners and indigenous peoples, are partners in this global effort.
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