Adjournment Proceedings (The Environment)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, in beginning the adjournment proceedings this evening, I turn my attention to a question that I asked numerous times. Tonight’s adjournment proceedings deal with the time I asked the question of the Prime Minister, which is found in the Hansard for April 2. I had asked the Minister of the Environment as well, and part of tonight’s adjournment proceedings will bring this issue up to date.

To give you maybe a spoiler alert, Mr. Speaker, you will find that I was able to get a response through the efforts of a journalist, having failed to get a better answer here in the House. I am hoping that we pick up in tonight’s adjournment proceedings discussion about Canada’s climate target with the advantage of the additional information brought into the picture by Aaron Wherry of Maclean’s magazine.

Just to recap, on April 2, my point to the Prime Minister was that, in light of the IPCC’s most recent report on the severity of the climate crisis and the clock ticking very rapidly toward a point where Canada’s actions would cease to make much difference, we still have time to act, and that is what the IPCC is urging us to do, as are other nations around the world.

We now have Environment Canada’s estimates of where this country will be in terms of greenhouse emissions by the year 2020 when the Prime Minister’s Copenhagen target is due and, again, to underline, the Prime Minister adopted that target. Environment Canada says that by 2020 we will be nowhere near it, not even close.

I asked the Prime Minister if, given the information that we were headed toward a 100% failure rate on current commitments, the government was still committed to reaching the Copenhagen target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. The Prime Minister’s answer was on the same topic, but it did not answer the question. The Prime Minister, at the time, stated:

…as you know, the government remains committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while doing so in a way that obviously respects Canadians’ jobs and protects our economy.

However, there was no reference to the Copenhagen target or whether the government or the Prime Minister regarded themselves as still committed. In questions to the Minister of the Environment, I received a similar response, not expressing any firm commitment to actually reach the target that was adopted in 2009 by the Prime Minister.

Subsequently, it was the work of a reporter, Aaron Wherry with Maclean’s magazine, who, curious about my various attempts to get an answer, pursued the matter himself. He contacted the Minister of the Environment’s office to ask if the government was still committed. Initially, an evasive answer was received, but, surprisingly, on his second effort, came this response from the office of the Minister of the Environment, “Absolutely, we are committed”. Again, to verify it a few days later, Mr. Wherry contacted the office of the Minister of the Environment with this question, “Does the government intend to fulfill its commitment?”, again referring to Copenhagen. The response was, “Yes”.

Now I would like to pursue with the hon. parliamentary secretary what steps are currently planned, when they will be rolled out, and when we will see a plan that would allow the Prime Minister and his administration to keep the commitment that they have now confirmed publicly to Maclean’s magazine that they regard themselves as committed to. When will we see a plan to get to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020?

Colin Carrie: Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to addressing the challenge of climate change and is following through on that commitment with concrete action, both domestically and internationally.

Domestically, our government is implementing a sector-by-sector regulatory approach and has started by addressing emissions in two of the largest-emitting sectors of the Canadian economy, the transportation sector and the electricity sector.

In collaboration with the United States, our government has developed emissions standards for passenger automobiles and light-duty trucks as well as heavy-duty vehicles. With these regulations, it is projected that 2025 light-duty vehicles will produce 50% less greenhouse gas emissions than 2008 vehicles.

With our government’s coal-fired electricity regulations, Canada became the first major coal user to ban the construction of traditional coal-fired electricity generating units. In the first 21 years, the regulations are expected to result in a cumulative reduction of about 214 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to removing roughly 2.6 million personal vehicles per year from the road over this period.

As well, our government will build on these actions by working with the provinces to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sectors while ensuring that Canadian companies remain competitive.

Our government has also made significant investments to transition Canada to a clean energy economy and advance this country’s climate change objectives.

Since 2006, our government has invested over $10 billion in green infrastructure, energy efficiency, the development of clean energy technologies, and the production of cleaner energy and fuels.

Our approach is getting results.

It is estimated that as a result of the combined actions of provincial, territorial, and federal governments, consumers, and businesses, greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 will be 734 megatonnes. This is roughly 130 megatonnes lower than what we would have had under the Liberals. I make this distinction because in contrast to the Liberal climate change policy of international rhetoric followed by domestic inaction, our government’s policies are achieving real results.

Internationally, Canada is playing a constructive role in the United Nations negotiations toward a fair and effective new post-2020 climate change agreement.

At the latest UN climate change conference in Warsaw, Canada demonstrated leadership in helping to achieve a breakthrough in an important initiative to help developing countries reduce deforestation and forest degradation, which account for nearly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Canada is also taking a leadership role on a number of collaborative international initiatives outside of the United Nations to combat climate change.

For instance, our government is taking meaningful actions to address short-lived climate change pollutants such as black carbon and methane through active engagement on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, of which Canada is a founding member, and through its current chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Owing to their short lifespan, reducing these types of pollutants can achieve more immediate climate benefits, particularly in the north.

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether to laugh or cry. I thought we had made some progress with the responses that were given to the reporter for Maclean’s magazine and that we would be agreeing upon the fact that the Conservative government is committed to the Copenhagen targets.

The hon. parliamentary secretary is a lovely person and I do not take any of this personally, but unfortunately the notes given to him are all rhetoric about doing something about greenhouse gases and doing nothing toward reaching the Copenhagen target.

The parliamentary secretary has just confirmed that by 2020, Canada’s emissions will be at 734 megatonnes. That is exactly three megatonnes below where they were in 2005. His own government’s commitment, the Prime Minister’s commitment, was to reduce them by 130 megatonnes below 737 megatonnes. In other words, three megatonnes is an abysmal failure and a total abdication of any commitment to meet the target.

We need a plan to reach the target, not a lot of rhetoric blaming the Liberals.

Colin Carrie: Mr. Speaker, the evidence speaks for itself. Our government’s actions have resulted in a constant decline in emissions intensity and emissions per capita. Both of these trends clearly demonstrate that our sector-by-sector approach is achieving real results in terms of reducing greenhouse gases while fostering economic growth.

We can compare that to the Liberal approach. The Liberal approach toward reducing greenhouse gases was to sign the Kyoto agreement and then name a dog Kyoto. That is about it.

Our approach is getting results, and we are committed to that.