Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks to Dan for this unexpected opportunity. Thank you very much.
And to the minister, thank you for being before committee, and thank you for your personal commitment to climate action. It’s evident and you know you have my deepest respect in knowing that you care and that when you say “we cannot afford to wait”, I think I firmly believe you mean it, which is why I’m very disappointed with this legislation.
My first question is why in developing this legislation it seems apparent that Environment Canada and Climate Change chose not to decide to study the climate accountability acts of other countries, the U.K., New Zealand,
Denmark, and to do better than what they recommend. And in three places I note the differences between those legislation that we don’t start right away with a five year target with five years when the legislation started, the milestone year, we don’t include carbon budget, we don’t rely on an expert committee of expertise that reports to the whole parliament and actually sets those carbon budgets for the government.
There must have been a decision not to look at the gold standard of climate accountability elsewhere in the world, and I wonder why not.
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson: Thank you for the series of questions, and certainly thank you for your ongoing
commitment to the climate issue which I know is very deeply felt.
We did certainly look at all of the other relevant acts around the world. We came to conclusions that we were going to
develop something that we felt fit best within the Canadian context.
As you will know, we have established an expert panel. The expert panel is one piece of this. The role for the
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development is another piece. In some other jurisdictions, those
roles are fused, but in this case, the commissioner does the review and effectively the auditing of that function. The
expert panel is appointed to provide advice to the government which is public, it must be responded to by the minister
every year, so that piece of it is, we think, the gold standard in terms of how we actually are moving forward.
With respect to other elements of the bill, certainly as I say, we look very closely at those. We believe that actually
setting five year rolling targets that essentially embed in them emissions relating to sectors is the right way to go in
Canada, a federal system. We believe that it is essentially similar in terms of outcomes as to what you get from carbon
budgets. And there are many other countries including Denmark and Scotland and others that have gone the same
direction that Canada has.
Ms. Elizabeth May: With all due respect, Mr. Minister, the bill refers to an advisory committee, not an expert
committee. You’ve only got one climate scientist on the current—I do think it was disrespectful to this committee and
the parliamentary process to jump the gun and appoint an advisory committee before the bill had had even a single
witness to talk about why so many people and experts believe this should model ourselves much more on the U.K.
climate committee, which is universally respected for its expertise. You’ve got one climate scientist on your advisory
body and Professor [Inaudible] has been clear that Canada’s climate target for 2030 should be, if we’re going to pull our
fair share, somewhere between 96%-99% reductions below the emissions today, but he’ll be surrounded by other
stakeholders who have other views.
I wonder if you will reconsider the composition of this, and [Inaudible] of the people on it, the structure of it to be
much more like a U.K. expert body that sets carbon budgets?
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson: Thank you for the comment.
I would say to be honest, I’m a little bit surprised at the comment because certainly the focus for us is actually on
getting the expert panel working because the issue is so important and so timely. That is one of the reasons why we did
move forward with it.
I would say that achieving net zero is going to require the support and engagement from all parts of society, that includes provinces and territories, it includes indigenous peoples and youth and civil society and a range of sectors
within the private sector.
We have launched an independent net zero advisory body that is filled with exceptional Canadians that bridge a wide range of experiences and expertise including sector expertise that will enable us to make the kind of progress that we need to make going forward. I can certainly go through the bios of the people who are on that committee. They are an exceptional group of folks that bring together a range of prospectus from across the [Inaudible] to ensure that the government is getting the best advice with respect to pathways to achieve net zero.