Climate debate: Canada’s climate target is insufficient

On Thursday, May 16th, 2019 in Climate Change, Debate, Democracy, Issues, Parliament

Mr. Speaker, I apologize to my hon. colleague from Abbotsford for being out of the chamber for parts of his remarks, so he may have addressed this.

What targets does the Conservative Party currently think are appropriate? If we look at the IPCC report on why we must hold global average temperature to more than 1.5°C, it is quite clear that we cannot continue to have an economy that depends on fossil fuels, but must transition out of it.

I would appreciate my hon. colleague’s thoughts on what targets are appropriate for Canada to ensure we hit no more than 1.5°C.

Mr. Speaker, it is still permissible to say the name Paul Manly out loud. He is not yet allowed to speak in the House. The member referred to him earlier as the incoming member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.

We are not trying, as Greens, to take credit for anything. However, it stretches credulity past the breaking point to imagine that Paul’s election on May 6 had absolutely nothing to do with duelling motions on the climate emergency, on May 9 and May 10, from the Liberals and the NDP. That said, we are thrilled to see the climate emergency front and centre in the debate in this place, where it appears that only the Conservatives do not want to use the words “climate emergency”.

My colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke and I have worked together over the years, and we do have to work together, because this is an emergency that requires us to set aside partisanship.

The Paris Agreement is poorly understood, and I wanted to clarify a point in his speech. The Paris Agreement says that we must hold global average temperatures to 1.5°C, and then there are some weasel words about it being at least below 2°C. We now know that 1.5°C is the limit, and we cannot go above it.

Canada’s commitment was not negotiated in Paris. Canada’s commitment was the one left in place by former environment minister Leona Aglukkaq in May 2015, which was six months before Paris. Just to underscore it, the Paris Agreement is fine; what is wrong is Canada’s target.

I applaud the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth for being brave enough to say in this House that she opposes the Trans Mountain pipeline and the government’s decision to buy it.

The difficulty is that the government’s plan is to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline. It has not announced it yet, but everyone expects that on June 18 the government will say that it is going ahead and that further government funds will go into a project designed to expand production from the oil sands, which will drive up greenhouse gases.

While it is true that the government has taken steps and that the rhetoric is good, if it shuts down coal in Alberta, coal will be replaced by fracked natural gas and LNG in those same plants, resulting in the same carbon footprint as coal. As well, expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline will drive up greenhouse gases by expanding production in the oil sands.

If we are in a climate emergency, and the Liberals agree that we are, it means we have to hold to 1.5°, which means not a single new project can be opened up—no new pipelines, no new oil wells, no fracking.

We need a plan to go off fossil fuels. Does the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth agree?

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