I may not be able to support Bill C-12. Here’s why.

Speaker: Ms. May
Time: 27/04/2021 13:39:00
Context: Debate
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to finally be able to speak to Bill C-12, the climate accountability act to reach net-zero. It was introduced in November and now we find ourselves with time allocation. It really does need to be debated in this place.

I know how very carefully the parliamentary secretary and the minister, when they speak of all parties in this place ready to support this bill, somehow do not mention the Green Party of Canada, the party that is known and trusted by Canadians more than any other to put climate at the centre of what we do to ensure sustainability, to ensure future generations have a hospitable climate, one that will sustain the human civilization going forward.

Therefore, when we hear the words “climate accountability act” and we hear the words “net-zero by 2050”, it really does sound good. I know a lot of people will be stunned to realize that as someone who has worked on the climate issue for as long as I have, starting in 1986 working through the early stages of negotiating the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, being at the Rio Earth Summit and being at far too many conferences that I do not even want to go back and remember all of them, how it is that I am struggling with how I am going to vote on this bill. How is it that I think that it could be dangerous?

Let me explain why that is, and I will take my comments in two parts: first, to the science. This is all about the science. We have to get it right. There are such things as carbon budgets, which are not included in this legislation. We know that the Liberals are talking about net-zero by 2050. Let me reference for a moment Greta Thunberg. We all know she is a very dedicated climate activist. What Greta Thunberg says about net-zero by 2050 is that it is “surrender” because it gives politicians the illusion that we have time, we have a couple of decades, we can work toward this and we can figure it out. That is not the case anymore.

Let me quote someone the Liberals will have heard of, Mark Carney in his book Values: Building a Better World for All, who explains carbon budgets probably better than anyone I have ever heard. This is what he has to say in his book Values at page 273:

The carbon budget to limit temperature rises to below catastrophic levels is rapidly being exhausted. If we had started in 2000, we could have hit the 1.5°C objective by halving emissions every 30 years. Now, we must halve emissions every 10 years. If we wait another four years, the challenge will be to halve emissions every year. If we wait another eight years, our 1.5°C carbon budget will be exhausted.

Therefore, how can we have a climate accountability act that has its first milestone year at 2030? Clearly, that is too late.

Transcription in progress / Transcription en cours

They cannot get much clearer than that: 2030 is the new 2050. Here we have legislation that tells us we will be all right, we will have our first milestone year in 2030. That is past any accountability to the current government and past any accountability to probably the next one too. What we need to do is make this bill work.

I think it can be fixed, but I am very worried because the Minister of Environment and Climate Change asked me and the Green Party to propose amendments back in December. We have proposed the key thing and without consulting Parliament, without waiting until we got to second reading and committee, he has already negated one of the key things that needs to be fixed in this bill.

Turning now from the science to the policy, there are climate accountability acts in about 12 countries around the world right now.