Adjournment Proceedings (The Environment)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand this evening in adjournment proceedings to pursue a question I asked on March 27. I asked the Minister of the Environment to face the facts and do the math. I prefaced my question on March 27 by saying that I wanted to address the problem of math and red herrings.

The math is this. On the numbers that have come from Environment Canada’s own database, published by the current government, there is not a chance in the world that on current plans Canada would come anywhere near the target selected by the Prime Minister after breaking faith with the world and abandoning the Kyoto protocol and choosing a much weaker target.

When the Prime Minister committed in 2009 to the so-called Copenhagen target, that represented the second time he had weakened Canada’s targets. First, they were weakened in the spring of 2006 when the Prime Minister, after cancelling the plan in place that would have brought us quite close to Kyoto, announced that he did not feel that Canada was bound to pursue Kyoto and that Canada’s target would be 20% below 2006 levels by 2020. Then in Copenhagen the target accepted by the Prime Minister for Canada was even weaker than the one he moved to in 2006. I know that percentages fly by and one’s eyes can glaze over, but in accepting the target of 17% below a different base year this time—that is, 2005—the target was further weakened. It was an anomaly that in 2005 our emissions were higher than they were in 2006. That was the peak year for emissions for Canada.

We have seen a weakened target. Now we see the evidence. It is right in front of our face. The Environment Canada report from October 2013 makes it clear that by 2020 our emissions will have risen steadily from the low point that was achieved, but not through any effort on the government’s part, but due to the recession in 2009 when greenhouse gases in Canada had gone down to 692 megatonnes. They are now climbing steadily up to where Environment Canada projects they will be 734 megatonnes by the due date of 2020.

I know that numbers are hard to discuss in the House of Commons, but here is the math. It is simple. We pledged a reduction of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. We will have perhaps achieved a 1%, not a 17% reduction.

My question was this. Would the government remain committed to the Copenhagen target given this record of failure? Would we adopt additional measures to try to get there?

Instead, we get a repetition of something, such as in question period earlier today, which I once again had to call nonsense. It is the idea repeated ad nauseam, so we know it by heart, that under this administration we have 130 megatonnes less than what we would have had under the Liberals.

If we go to page 4 of the report I have already mentioned in referencing Environment Canada’s October 2013 numbers, we find this imaginary figure of 130 megatonnes above where we are now. It is hard to express this because it is such nonsense. It is called a “business as usual” number or, as it appears in the Environment Canada report, a “without measures” number. If nothing at all were done by anyone, our emissions would reach a level they have never reached of 862 megatonnes a year. Then this administration tries to take credit for doing nothing and staying at the same level we were supposed to reduce from by 17%, saying, “Look how great this is. We are 130 megatonnes below an imaginary figure that has never happened based on no measures at all”.

It is time to be honest with Canadians. There is no chance of reaching the Copenhagen target. Will this administration commit to meeting its weak Copenhagen target with new measures?

Colin Carrie: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to let my colleague know that our Conservative government is committed to addressing the challenge of climate change and is following through on that commitment with concrete actions, both domestically and internationally.

Domestically, the government is implementing a sector-by-sector regulatory approach that started by addressing emissions in two of the largest emitting sectors of the Canadian economy, which are the transportation and electricity sectors. In collaboration with the United States, the government has developed emission standards for passenger automobiles and light duty trucks, as well as heavy duty vehicles. With these regulations, it is projected that by 2025, light duty vehicles will produce 50% less greenhouse gas emissions than 2008 vehicles. This is great, since I come from Oshawa, where we build cars.

With the 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. This is great news for Canadians. It is equivalent to removing 2.6 million personal vehicles per year from the road over this period. The 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.

The government has also made significant investments to transition Canada to a clean energy economy and advance this country’s climate change objectives. Since 2006, the 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.

We are taking the responsible approach, working closely with all stakeholders, and it is paying off.

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 they would have been under the Liberals. I make this distinction because, in contrast to the Liberal climate change policy of international rhetoric and domestic inaction, our Conservative 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, the government is taking meaningful action to address short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon and methane, through active engagement on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, of which Canada is a founding member through its chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Due to their short lifespan, reducing these types of pollutants can achieve more immediate climate benefits, particularly for the north.

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to blame my friend, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment. I have not been able to get a straight answer from the Prime Minister or from the Minister of the Environment, and it is his unhappy task tonight to try to defend an indefensible record.

The math is clear. Just as the parliamentary secretary says that by 2020, emissions will be 734 megatonnes, the promise that was made by the Prime Minister was that they should be 607 megatonnes, a reduction against 2005 levels.

Instead, there has been no plan to deal with the oil sands sector. The government keeps telling us there is a sector-by-sector approach. We had to bring in regulations on transportation because our car market is shared with the United States. They were good regulations. I supported them.

The coal-fired regulations do not take effect until 2015, and they will not actually shut down any existing coal-fired power plants.

However, the oil sands sector, where the Prime Minister and successive ministers of the environment promised regulations, remains unregulated.

This is a record of inaction and missed targets. I still do not know if the administration regards Canada as committed to the Copenhagen target.

Colin Carrie: Mr. Speaker, the evidence speaks for itself. I do not know if the member had the opportunity to listen to the speech about all the wonderful things we have been doing and to compare that to the Liberal record.

When the Liberals were in government, emissions actually went up 130 megatonnes. They signed all of these international agreements and there was all this rhetoric, but they did absolutely nothing.

We are actually seeing our economy grow as the trend in emissions is slowing. Our Conservative government’s actions have resulted in a constant decline in emissions intensity and emissions per capita. Both these trends, which are projected to continue through 2030, clearly demonstrate that our sector-by-sector approach is achieving real results in terms of reducing greenhouse gases, while fostering economic growth.

That is something Canadians should be proud of.