The government is failing to address the climate crisis

Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
2021-06-03 20:16 [p.7954]

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise virtually tonight in adjournment proceedings to address a question I initially asked on April 15 of this year.
People who have been paying close attention to the climate agenda and our rapidly shrinking opportunity to make the difference that we need to make, as time passes and our emissions are still rising, will recall the April 22 climate summit hosted by President Joe Biden, held virtually with leaders from 40 countries.

On April 15, first I noted that our emissions kept rising right up until COVID, with recently announced reports to that effect. My second point was that a report from a news outlet called The Breach said a special cabinet committee had formed during COVID with representation of senior levels of government from natural resources, finance, environment and elsewhere that was actually focused on helping the oil and gas sector. My third point was that our subsidies continued to go up.

The minister’s response was that we would see a new target soon. I return to the fundamental question on the not-so-new target now. Since 2015, the Liberal government has proclaimed that Canada is back and clearly understands that the climate issue is real. Has it actually grasped the science? This is my core question.

I will say again that as well-intentioned as the government might be, it does not seem to understand that we must hold to no more than a 1.5°C global average temperature increase above the global average temperature at the time of the Industrial Revolution. Blowing past this target by failing to put in place rigorous targets now will lead us to a place where we do not get a do-over. We cannot fix it later.

From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its special report on 1.5°C, which came out in October 2018, we know that if the world community does not move mountains in this coming decade, it will be too late.

In his book Values, Mark Carney said that understanding carbon budgets is very important. On page 273, he said:
If we had started in the year 2000, we could have hit 1.5°C by halving emissions every 30 years. Now, we must cut our emissions in half every 10 years. If we wait another four years, we will have to halve our emissions every single year. If we wait another eight years, our 1.5°C carbon budget will be exhausted.

The Prime Minister attended the Biden summit. He announced a new target and proclaimed that it was ambitious. It is not. It does not meet the demands of science, and neither does Bill C-12, which we are currently debating in the environment committee. They have good intentions, great press coverage and good public relations, but they fail to do what is necessary.

Years ago, I marched with my daughter in the streets of New York in the lead-up to the COP before the Paris agreement. I saw a sign as we marched that said, “It’s time to stop debating what is possible and start doing what is necessary”.

We have to cancel the TMX pipeline. We cannot afford $17 billion on a pipeline that blows our carbon budget. The choices are stark. The government is failing.