Canada’s climate targets must be stronger

Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
2021-06-09 19:41 [p.8188]

Madam Speaker, I am resuming a question I asked previously. The minister of fisheries answered the question, but it pertains to climate targets and climate accountability. I made the point in question period that, when we talk about climate targets, they are not political. Climate targets are deeply about the science.

The minister of fisheries replied at the time that the new targets the Prime Minister had just announced at the Earth Day summit with Joe Biden were, in fact, to be put into the law and actually reflected in part of what is called the net-zero emissions accountability act, Bill C-12. Since then, the government decided not to put those targets in the act.

The key point I want to make today in our adjournment proceedings is about the nature of what we committed to do under the Paris Agreement in 2015 at COP 21. The key thing we committed to do was to work with all the other nations on earth to hold the global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5° above what those levels were before the industrial revolution, and to certainly hold it as far below 2° as possible.

Why does this matter? The survival of human civilization is very much at risk if we miss these targets. We are now more than 1°C in global average temperature increase above where we were as a society and a planet before the industrial revolution. Going above 1.5° is actually not a safe zone; it is a danger zone. It involves a significant risk to human civilization’s survival. Going above 2° would put our future generations, our own children, very much at risk. That is why the targets are not political. They are about the science.

I am heartbroken that the government chose to put forward its so-called climate accountability legislation, which aims for a level of reductions of emissions that are not tied to the science. It actually puts us at risk. There is a lot of clamouring around Bill C-12 and the title “net-zero”, but net-zero by 2050 is the wrong target. Net-zero by 2050 does not hold to 1.5°. In the words of Greta Thunberg, net-zero by 2050 is “surrender” without short-term and near-term targets that ensure global emissions are cut in half by 2030.

I have just this moment left clause-by-clause as it ends on Bill C-12. The milestone year remains 2030, but the large problem remains that, if we do not improve what we have agreed to do, the target of 40% to 45% below our 2005 levels by 2030 referenced when I put this forward in question period is not close to being what we committed to do in Paris.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set forth what all countries on earth have to do. Canada has a larger burden than most, because it is the only country in the industrialized world to see our emissions go up so very much since 1990 and go up since Paris.

We have a commitment to do better and to do more. That means that we should be revising our target upward and we should not delude ourselves into believing that net-zero by 2050 is anything other than a public relations gloss on what the science tells us we must do. We are in a climate emergency. We need to act like it and ban fracking, cancel the TMX pipeline and do those things in our power, as a wealthy industrialized society, to move to climate security.