Adjournment Proceedings – the Environment

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin this evening’s adjournment proceedings a little unusually. As I look across the way, I see that when I finish my four minutes on the subject of my question about Monday, relating to the upcoming climate negotiations in Warsaw, we will be hearing from my friend, the member of Parliament for Oshawa. I wish to congratulate him on recently becoming the parliamentary secretary on the environment. I enjoyed working with him enormously when he was the parliamentary secretary for health.

The issue before us is critical. There is no point in minimizing it. Tonight we are talking about the single greatest threat to our children having a livable world and to us having a future.

The talks that will begin on Monday, November 11, in Warsaw, Poland, is the 19th time that parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will have met to try to advance the agenda. No one can claim, at this point, that we have even come close to addressing the severity of the crisis. It grows year to year.

Canada was once a country that contributed to the forward progress of the community of nations when assembled in these negotiations. We contributed enormously back in the late eighties and early nineties. In 1992, Canada was the first industrialized country, in fact the first country in the world, to both sign and ratify the convention that still gathers nations of the world together, as we will see next week in Warsaw, Poland.

The advice from the scientific community has largely been ignored throughout the world. Those countries that have taken on targets have largely met them. I point to the European Union, which has largely met its Kyoto targets.

We know from the advice of scientists that we are running perilously close to something that can only be called a point of no return. It is a place where greenhouse gases build to such a level in the atmosphere that we will be unable as a human society, as a civilization, to arrest the threat of what scientists refer to now as runaway global warming, with the heating of the planet releasing, on its own, new sources of heating of the planet, and so on, in what are called positive feedback loops.

On Monday I put it to the Minister of the Environment that I will be attending the COP 19 negotiations in Poland. As far as I know, I am the only member of Parliament attending, other than the Minister of the Environment. There certainly is no longer the traditional practice of Canada engaging and involving opposition members of Parliament in government delegations. However, that is a minor point compared to the threat.

The Prime Minister of this country attended the Conference of the Parties that took place in Copenhagen in 2009 at COP 15 and took on extremely weak targets. I think it must be said that collectively the targets taken on in the Copenhagen accord are not sufficient to avoid part of that accord, which is to avoid a two-degree global average temperature increase against the levels that existed before the industrialized revolution.

For Canada, that means we must reduce our emissions to 607 megatonnes by 2020. The most recent report from Environment Canada states that we are farther from the target in 2013 than we were in 2012, and instead of 607 megatonnes we will be at 734 megatonnes. That is a clear failure of leadership and of programs. It is a complete condemnation of the so-called sector by sector approach advanced by this administration.

At the same time in Copenhagen, the Prime Minister committed to advancing funds to a $100-billion-a-year fund for global climate assistance to developing countries to both reduce their emissions and to adapt.

As my time and the planet’s time run out, will this administration and the Prime Minister keep their word and deliver greenhouse gas reductions and assistance to the developing world?

Colin Carrie: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the leader of the Green Party for her kind words. I am looking forward to working with her.

I want her to know that our government is committed to achieving Canada’s targets, and our record speaks for itself. We will continue to take action with our sector-by-sector approach that has been achieving real results while fostering economic growth.

We are proceeding to systematically address all major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. So far our government has contributed to reducing Canada’s emissions through stringent regulations for the transportation and the electricity sectors, two of the largest sources of emissions in Canada.

I would like to now take a moment to highlight some of the great achievements we have made so far.

First, Canada has strengthened its position as a world leader in clean energy production by becoming the first major coal user to ban future construction of traditional coal-fired electricity-generating units.

Second, and coming from Oshawa, I am proud to say that the 2025 passenger vehicles and light trucks will emit about half as many greenhouse gases as the 2008 models.

Third, greenhouse gas emissions from 2018 model year heavy-duty vehicles will be reduced by up to 23%.

Let me reiterate: our government’s collective actions are achieving real results, and thanks to our actions, carbon emissions will go down close to 130 megatonnes from what they would have been under the Liberals.

This is a reduction equivalent to the elimination of 37 coal-fired electricity plants. We are accomplishing this without the NDP’s carbon tax which, as members know, would raise the price of everything.

Between 2005 and 2011, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 4.8%. This is really important: emissions have decreased by 4.8%, while the economy has grown 8.4% and per capita emissions are at a historic low.

In addition to doing our part through the United Nations, we are also actively involved in forums such as the Arctic Council, the Montreal protocol, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to develop practical and collaborative initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and short-lived climate pollutants.

To address the second part of the member’s question, I will point out that Canada has strong international commitments to support developing country mitigation and adaptation efforts. Our Conservative government, in partnership with other developed countries, has fully delivered on its first fast-start financing commitment, which provided $30 billion over the three-year period of 2010 to 2012. In fact, we exceeded the commitment by providing $33 billion.

As we can clearly see, the figures speak for themselves. Our government has committed to the largest-ever contribution to support international efforts to address climate change, a contribution that has supported mitigation and adaptation efforts in over 60 developing countries.

We remain committed to working with other countries to address climate change.