Climate Change Accountability Act

An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.


Matthew Kellway  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Second reading (House), as of Feb. 19, 2015
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

The purpose of this enactment is to ensure that Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by committing to a long-term target to reduce Canadian domestic greenhouse gas emissions to a level that is at least 80% below the 1990 level by the year 2050, and by establishing interim targets for the period 2020 to 2045. It creates an obligation for the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to review proposed measures to meet the targets and submit a report to Parliament.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Safe and Accountable Rail ActGovernment Orders

May 27th, 2015 / 4:05 p.m.
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Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what my colleague's background is or what his credentials are to pass judgment on the chemical make-up of some of the oil being transported either by rail or through pipelines, but I do know that 72 million of the barrels of oil being transported this year by rail come from Canadian sources. That is 72 million out of 162 million barrels of oil, so 90 million barrels of oil that are not of Canadian origin are being transported by rail in our country. Some of that oil comes from the Bakken oil fields, which is a highly volatile form of oil. However, I am not in a position to pass judgment on the actual chemical make-up or the challenges of transporting Bakken crude by way of our pipelines.

However, I do know that one viable alternative for dealing with this issue is dealing with our dependence on fossil fuels and limiting the amount of fossil fuels on which Canadians depend and rely. Our party has an answer to the global warming and climate change issue of which I am very proud. It comes in the form of my Bill C-619, the climate change accountability act. It would reduce the demand of Canadians for fossil fuels and reduce the need to be shipping fuel by either rail or pipeline in any direction across the country.

May 26th, 2015 / 10:10 a.m.
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Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

I think our target is fair and ambitious.

Now it was interesting. I was listening to my Liberal colleague talking about the 30% reduction by 2030. We've heard his leader come out with a plan, something like a Health Canada type of plan, where he would force the provinces and territories to meet certain targets without their input. He also supported the NDP bill. They have a bill on the floor, I believe it's Bill C-619, that says that we need to get to an 80% reduction by 2050.

Now my colleague across the way from the NDP said the 30% reduction by 2030, to quote her, was unrealistic.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 27th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
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Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, not too long ago my colleague from Beaches—East York introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-619, the climate change accountability act. Here I am holding in my hand a petition that many people have signed saying that they want to see this bill turned into law, that we need a climate change accountability act.

They also point out the fact that the government has done things like cancelled the eco-energy home retrofit program and that it continues to give subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

The petitioners are asking that we take action and pass this bill into law so we can start reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

February 19th, 2015 / 6:45 p.m.
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Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this debate today. I do appreciate the efforts of the hon. member in presenting Bill C-619, but I intend to join with the government in opposing this bill and the unrealistic climate change targets that it would impose upon Canadians.

The targets specified in the bill simply cannot be achieved without significant negative economic effects upon Canadians. Moreover, the government has already delivered a comprehensive suite of climate change initiatives that is generating real results for Canadians a way that does not harm our economy.

Further, unlike previous agreements, the international climate change agreement, which will be concluded in Paris later this year, is expected to require countries to submit specific plans showing how they will achieve the targets that they propose. That is only common sense.

The time is long past when politicians could pull the wool over the eyes of voters by proposing feel-good climate change targets without any specific plan to achieve them.

A specific plan is exactly what is missing from this bill. The hon. member has not included any plan whatsoever in his bill. It does not measure up to current international standards. For that reason alone, the House should not support the bill.

The Conservative government, by contrast, I am proud to say, has a plan. The government is committed to addressing climate change. It is continuing to advance a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reduce the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions across the country.

Canada is a vast northern country with large distances between urban centres and a rapidly growing population, so we face unique challenges in reducing our greenhouse gas emission. A sector-by-sector approach allows the government to tailor regulations for each economic sector, reducing emissions efficiently, while still safeguarding jobs.

Because of our close economic ties with the United States, we also work to align our greenhouse gas regulations with those in the U.S., as appropriate for the Canadian context.

This sector-by-sector approach allows the Government of Canada to work collaboratively with provincial and territorial governments to avoid duplication of efforts through measures such as equivalency agreements. Officials engage regularly with provincial and territorial colleagues and other stakeholders to develop federal regulations.

The government also works collaboratively with provinces and territories in a leading role through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, which will consider climate change strategies across the country in the coming year.

The government has successfully taken the initiative on two of our largest sources of emissions: transportation and electricity generation. The transportation sector produces nearly a quarter of all GHG emissions in Canada. That is why the government has made regulations for the transportation sector a key priority in its action on climate change.

The government is targeting emissions from transportation by setting stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for both light and heavy duty on-road vehicles. We are also aligning with the U.S on these measures, given the high degree of integration of our automotive markets.

In October 2010, the government put in place greenhouse gas regulations for passenger automobiles and light trucks for model years 2011 to 2016, so new vehicles purchased by Canadians emit fewer greenhouse gases and, by the way, are more fuel efficient. Over the lifetime of all 2011 to 2016 model year vehicles sold in Canada, this will result in an actual cumulative reduction of 92 megatonnes of GHG emissions.

However, continued advances in vehicle technologies have provided an opportunity to introduce a whole new generation of vehicles emitting even fewer greenhouse gases. As a result, in October 2014, the government finalized new regulations to establish progressively more stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for light-duty vehicles of model years 2017 to 2025. As a result of these measures, 2025 model year cars and light trucks will consume up to 50% less fuel than 2008 models, leading to significant savings at the pumps for drivers as well, and they will only emit half as many GHGs as the 2008 models. Over the lifetime of these 2017 to 2025 model year vehicles, these measures will deliver total GHG reductions of 174 megatonnes.

Canada is also reducing emissions from on-road heavy-duty vehicles. In 2013, the government implemented regulations to put stringent standards in place for the 2014 to 2018 model year heavy-duty vehicles such as full-size pickups, garbage trucks, and buses. These regulations reduce actual GHG emissions from 2018 model year heavy-duty vehicles by up to 23%. Building on this real success, the Minister of the Environment recently announced proposed regulations to further reduce GHG emissions from heavy-duty vehicles for post-2018 model years.

The government has also delivered real reductions in the electricity sector. Specifically, we now have regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired electricity generation. Canada is the first major coal user in the world to ban the construction of traditional coal-fired electricity-generating units. The regulations also require the phase-out of existing coal-fired units that do not capture and store the carbon dioxide they emit.

Taking action now to regulate coal-fired electricity generation achieves multiple health and environmental benefits. Our measures will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 214 megatonnes by the year 2036. This is equivalent to removing 2.6 million personal vehicles from the road every year over this period. These regulations will also deliver significant air-quality and health benefits, reducing emissions of harmful pollutants like sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and mercury from coal-fired electricity generation, all associated with a wide range of negative health outcomes.

Canada already has one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world, and these regulations will take us even further, a permanent transition toward lower emitting and non-emitting electricity generation such as high-efficiency natural gas and renewable energy sources.

Building on these very real successes in the transportation and electricity sectors, in December 2014 the government published notice of its intent to regulate hydrofluorocarbons. HFCs are greenhouse gases that are actually thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide. They are used as coolants in refrigeration and air conditioning in homes, buildings, industrial facilities, cars, and trucks and in other ways elsewhere. HFCs currently account for less than 2% of global GHG emissions, but if left unchecked, emissions of HFCs are expected to increase substantially in the next 10 to 15 years. These measures are intended to control the manufacture, import, and use of HFCs in Canada.

The Government of Canada will continue to work closely with stakeholders, provinces, territories, and our largest trading partner, the United States, to implement GHG-reduction measures. The government takes climate change seriously and will continue its sector-by-sector regulatory approach to deliver additional reductions while protecting economic growth and job creation.

Bill C-619, on the other hand, is proposing targets that would not fulfill these goals but would do the opposite. That is why I join with the government in opposing this bill.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

February 19th, 2015 / 6:20 p.m.
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Oshawa Ontario


Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak today to Bill C-619, the Climate Change Accountability Act.

I would like to begin by saying that the government does not support Bill C-619 for a number of reasons. The main reason is that the bill would require Canada to adopt unrealistic climate change targets. These targets could not be met without having a significant impact on the competitiveness of Canadian businesses. They would impose a heavy burden on taxpayers and would have a major negative impact on the economy as a whole.

If the targets set out in this bill were to be adopted, they would impose on Canada a disproportionate burden for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as compared to that imposed on the United States and our other trade partners. We are already taking a realistic, comprehensive approach to dealing with climate change at the national and international levels, and that approach is getting results for Canadians.

This bill would create an obligation on the federal government to ensure that Canadian greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 34% below 1990 levels by 2025, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. If converted from the 1990 baseline used in the bill to a 2005 baseline used by Canada, this target would be equivalent to a 47% reduction from 2005 levels by 2025.

This is simply an unrealistic target. Indeed, it translates to a target that is 20 percentage points more than the recently announced U.S. targets of 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Adopting such a target would leave us with a far greater emissions reduction burden than our largest trading partner and, potentially, other key peer countries, and lead to negative economic impacts on Canadian industries, firms, and individual Canadians.

I would be very interested to know from the bill's sponsor how he proposes to achieve these reduction targets. Perhaps the members opposite will mention some new unheard-of technology that will allow us to meet these goals.

Looking at this another way, perhaps the hon. member is planning to meet these targets by slashing emissions in sectors that provide jobs and economic benefits for Canadians. In this case, achieving the reductions contemplated in this bill would mean eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from all transportation sources and all oil and gas sector activities combined by 2025. This is simply not realistic.

On the basis of these concerns and the fact that our government already has a comprehensive climate change agenda in place that is generating results for Canadians, our government does not support Bill C-619 and will instead continue to take decisive action on the environment while protecting our economy. Domestically, our government is pursuing a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. This approach makes it possible to tailor regulations according to individual sector circumstances, and to integrate environmental and economic considerations.

Regulations are designed to achieve emissions reductions, provide regulatory certainty, and leverage capital stock turnover to avoid locking in long-term high-emitting infrastructure. This approach allows Canada to maximize progress on reducing emissions while maintaining economic competitiveness. Our government has introduced regulations for two of the largest emitting sectors of the Canadian economy, the transportation and the electricity sectors.

As a result of regulations introduced for the transportation sector, for example, the 2025 model-year passenger vehicles and light trucks will emit about half as many greenhouse gas emissions as 2008 models, and greenhouse emission from 2018 model-year heavy-duty vehicles will be reduced by up to 23%.

In the electricity sector, our government has introduced stringent coal-fired electricity standards, making Canada the first major coal user to ban construction of traditional coal-fired electricity-generating units.

In the first 21 years, these regulations are expected to result in a cumulative reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing roughly 2.6 million personal vehicles from the road per year. This is an example where we consulted with stakeholders, unlike the NDP proposals, which would cripple our economy.

Building on this action, our government also recently announced the next steps for the development of regulation for hydrofluorocarbons, which is the fastest-growing set of greenhouse gases in the world. In fact, this group of gases can be thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.

To complement these regulatory efforts, since 2006, our government has made investments of over $10 billion to transition Canada toward a clean energy economy and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the long term. The NDP voted against all of that. These measures include support for green infrastructure, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies and the production of cleaner energy and fossil fuels. These funds have helped establish Canada as a global leader in the research, development and demonstration of carbon capture and storage technologies, and assisted with developing the world's first post-combustion carbon capture project in a coal-fired power plant, a project which recently opened in Estevan, Saskatchewan, within the riding of Souris-Moose Mountain.

Our government has also taken action to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, such as tax preferences for oil sands producers and eliminating certain tax preferences for mining sectors, including coal. As a result of collective actions by all levels of government, as well as by consumers and businesses, Canada's 2020 greenhouse gas emissions are projected to be 130 megatonnes lower relative to the scenario with no action since 2005. In other words, relative to the scenario under the Liberals.

Moreover, between 1990 and 2012, the emissions intensity of the Canadian economy decreased by 29% and Canada's per capita emissions reached a historic low of 20.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person, their lowest point since tracking began in 1990. These improvements in emissions intensity and emissions per capita are expected to continue through 2020.

Canada is playing a constructive role within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiation process and is committed to continue working toward the establishment of a new global climate change agreement. For Canada, an effective new international climate change agreement must be fair and, most important, such an agreement must include a commitment to action by all the world's major emitters of greenhouse gases.

The importance of this last point cannot be understated. Previous climate change agreements were supported by countries representing only a fraction of global emissions. Given Canada only accounts for less than 2% of global emissions, any new climate change agreement must include all these major emitters, including emerging economies that represent the bulk of projected growth in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Our government's international efforts also include providing support to other nations to help address climate change. Our government delivered $1.2 billion in fast-start financing, which supports a wide range of climate change projects in developing countries around the world. Building on this effort, our government recently pledged $300 million for the Green Climate Fund. The Green Climate Fund will play a key role in addressing climate change globally by balancing mitigation and adaptation initiatives, and focusing on helping the poorest countries.

Beyond the United Nations, our government is also advancing important work under a number of key international partnerships. These collaborative efforts include addressing short-lived climate pollutants, which help slow the rate of near-term warming, both globally and in the Arctic.

Clearly, our government already has a comprehensive climate change agenda in place that is achieving real results for Canadians. That is why we do not support this irresponsible bill, Bill C-619, and the unreasonable targets being proposed and, instead, continue to address climate change in a way that balances the environmental and economic objectives.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

February 19th, 2015 / 6 p.m.
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Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

moved that Bill C-619, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to begin debate on Bill C-619, the climate change accountability act.

It is always a privilege to be here in this place, but sometimes what we have to do makes that sense much more present and inescapable. This is how it feels to me today as we begin debate on Bill C-619, because in truth we are continuing on what Jack started, the climate change accountability act. We are picking up again where Jack left off and building on his efforts to have us avert dangerous levels of global warming.

As I am sure Jack would happily acknowledge, and indeed did happily acknowledge, he too was just a torchbearer when he introduced the former and original iteration of the climate change accountability act in 2007.

Homage needs to be paid to a long lineage of Canadians who have persisted in the fight to arrest global warning. They had the foresight to know its urgency before most of us could even label it as an issue and have clung to a positive picture of our future on this planet, the possibility of living sustainably on this planet. They have hung in there not just in the face of inaction of government but in the face of the hostility of government and threats by government, most recently in the form of Bill C-51.

To paraphrase David Suzuki from some years ago, others have done their part. The scientists have done their part. The burden now shifts to the politicians to do ours.

To quote Jack Layton from his speech in this place in 2007 on his climate change accountability act, he said: “Let us take action on that burden and let us do Canadians proud by taking action”. I believe that even more than when Jack spoke those words, Canadians do want us to take action.

The science has being laid out before us many times over, most recently and most comprehensively in the 2014 working group report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The findings are simple and conclusive: climate change is impacting natural and human systems on all continents and across all oceans. Glaciers continue to shrink. Permafrost continues to warm and thaw. The IPCC warns of sea levels rising by as much as half a metre by the end of the century, putting at risk tens of millions of people living in lower-level coastal cities and communities.

The IPCC warns of the changing chemistry of our oceans, of their acidification by way of increased levels of carbon, with impacts on marine ecosystems and dire consequences for global food security, as over one billion people globally rely on fish as their main source of protein.

Around the world, changing precipitation or melting snow and ice is altering water systems. It is affecting water in terms of quantity and quality. For every degree of global warming, the IPCC estimates a corresponding decrease in renewable water resources of at least 20% for significant portions of the global population.

This, in addition to extreme weather events and population growth, will have further negative impacts on food security. We are not immune here in Canada from issues of crop failure and agricultural productivity decline, according to the IPCC.

This is the path we are on. Perversely, these are the threats to our peace, to our security, to our happiness, to the reproduction of human life and other forms of life on this planet that we are creating for ourselves.

Along this path we keep passing warning signs. Jack held up a sign, the climate change accountability act, seven years ago. It urged us to stop and provided a different way forward. It pointed to a different future. Jack, in his speech in 2007 on his version of the bill, talked about there being, “...a moment in time here that is unique in Canadian history when action can be taken”.

Some might argue that that moment was lost on us as Jack's bill got caught up in the partisan machinery and machinations of this place and as the IPCC begins prudently to model global warming beyond the two-degree mark.

However, I am hopeful that the moment that Jack identified still lingers and that we can act with haste, and with more Canadians more certain now that perhaps we must act with haste.

Bill C-619 revises that which Jack had previously tabled, recognizing changes in the institutional context—specifically, the death of the national round table at the hands of the Conservative government—and recognizing that sub-national jurisdictions and international organizations have moved forward while this place stood still, leaving Canada open to international criticism and undermining the reputation of not just Canada but of us, of all of us as Canadians, as people always prepared to do our fair share.

Bill C-619 sets out new milestones to get us to a level of greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, which is the target recognized by the scientific community as the minimum required to limit global warming to 2° Celsius and to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The bill, the only legislation in this Parliament to ever bring forward legislated emission reduction targets, would set a binding medium-term target of a 34% reduction in GHG emissions by 2025.

Bill C-619 would further require the Government of Canada to set and commit to targets for each five-year period up to 2050; to develop and publish plans to achieve these targets; to ensure that these targets are developed in compliance with the latest scientific reports and methodology of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and to ensure that these targets closely reflect the most stringent targets set by other developed nations, effectively setting the best practices in OECD countries as our own benchmark here in Canada

With the United Nations climate change conference in Paris set for December 2015, Canada needs a serious plan to bring to that table, and this is it. This bill would bring our country back to the forefront of environmental protection and climate change mitigation, because the targets set out in Bill C-619 and the accountability process set out to support them do nothing less than commit Canada to doing its fair share to avert catastrophic global warming.

However, the climate change accountability act is not here before us just because of the moral imperative to do something to change the course we are on, but also and equally because of the opportunity it presents to us. Holding firm to these targets brings forward the opportunity to invent and invest in new ways to live and be productive on this planet.

Clearly, as an example, in light of the growing food security issues created by and hastened by climate change, there is a need to usher in transformative change in what food we grow and the way we grow it. Clearly, too, there is an opportunity to usher in transformative change in how we produce energy. According to Clean Energy Canada, a global commitment to getting to 80% below 1990 levels requires a $44 trillion investment in clean energy.

There is a nascent clean energy industry in Canada, with 37% job growth between 2009 and 2013. More Canadians are employed in renewable energy production in Canada than in the oil sands, yet we in Canada have captured just 1% of the $1 trillion global clean energy industry. We are being left out and left behind.

It is notable that the China-U.S. climate change pact signed last November was not just about climate change; it was also about clean energy co-operation. We have in Canada what we need to participate more fully in this industry. As the Pembina Institute put it:

Canada is well positioned to compete in the field of clean energy technology, creating jobs and economic prosperity across the country. It was recently noted that “Canada’s skilled workforce, innovation clusters, research excellence and stable investment climate make it an ideal growth environment for cleantech firms.

However, the current government greets this opportunity with, as the director of Clean Energy Canada put it, “indifference”.

While other national and sub-national governments here in Canada make the clean energy industry a priority, the federal government continues to raise the stakes for all of us on the fossil fuel economy, putting billions of dollars of public funds into subsidies for the oil and gas industry, tearing to the ground environmental regulation in a desperate effort to get Canada's oil out of Canada by whatever means possible without regard to environmental risk or social license. There are beads of sweat rolling down the collective forehead of Canadians watching this desperate gamble, watching the economic stability and the economic prospects of this country at stake in the government's desperate gamble on fossil fuels, on a brittle, unstable carbon economy.

This bill is a response to parents worried about their kids' future. It is a response, too, to young people looking for a future. There is opportunity embedded in this bill on climate change, and Canadians are looking for such opportunity after successive failures by Liberal and Conservative governments to deal with climate change and chart a course into and through this century.

As the urban affairs critic and infrastructure critic for our NDP caucus, I want to close with a word about cities, about the possibilities for our cities that flow from this bill and, as Jack put it, about the moment we are in.

All around the world it is recognized that in cities lie our best opportunity for averting global warming. Cities are responsible for the end-use of three-quarters of our fossil fuels and, consequently, a commensurate amount of our greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking out from here, the story could get worse as the global and historic trend toward urbanization will continue through this century. However, looking out from here, one can also begin to imagine a different way of living on this planet and our potential to defeat this problem.

China and the U.S. have recognized that. Their climate change and clean energy pact includes a climate-smart/low-carbon cities initiative. The joint announcement of the pact says:

Under the initiative, the two countries will share city-level experiences with planning, policies, and use of technologies for sustainable, resilient, low-carbon growth. This initiative will eventually include demonstrations of new technologies for smart infrastructure for urbanization. As a first step, the United States and China will convene a Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities “Summit” where leading cities from both countries will share best practices, set new goals, and celebrate city-level leadership.

We ought to be in on that. Bill C-619 opens up these great possibilities for us and our cities, because as China and the U.S. recognize, meeting the targets that we set, the ones that we need to reach, means rethinking how we live, what we live in, and how we move around our cities. It means cities friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. It means rapid public transit and energy efficient buildings. It means trees and green. It means that vision I have set out in my urban white paper, and yet even more, including things we have yet to invent, yet to conceive. However, cities around the world and here in Canada are moving to this future without the federal government. They are innovating.

In those cities, we have a generation of young Canadians who are eager to get engaged in building the kinds of cities, communities, and neighbourhoods they want to live in. We have, in this climate change accountability act, the opportunity to open up the door and move through it into an exciting sustainable future. The door is ours, as politicians, to throw open with this bill.

The only truly important questions to be answered are still about us, not about the science or the math. They are about whether we are capable of seizing this moment, of seeing beyond ourselves at this time, in this place. To fail to do so would be a failing beyond us as politicians and our political system, a failing more fundamental.

As I said when I introduced this bill last June, all of us are entrusted with the care of the earth we inhabit and the well-being of those who inhabit it. We now need to act upon that responsibility. I urge all members of Parliament to support this bill.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 18th, 2015 / 3:25 p.m.
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Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I also rise to present a petition in support of my colleague's climate change accountability act, Bill C-619, the debate on which will start tomorrow. Signatures have been collected by Sharon Howarth from Toronto—Danforth.

I would like to note that the bill, if implemented, would lead the way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. It is an act this country and the world desperately needs.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 18th, 2015 / 3:20 p.m.
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Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition in support of my climate change accountability act, Bill C-619.

The signatories to the petition want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that Canadians are concerned about the inaction of successive federal governments to address climate change, all the while giving billions of dollars to the oil and gas industries in the form of subsidies.

The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to support the climate change accountability act, a law that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and hold the government accountable to those reductions.

January 27th, 2015 / 11 a.m.
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The Chair Conservative Dave MacKenzie

Okay. Is everybody satisfied?

Mr. Kellway's bill, C-619.

Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

December 11th, 2014 / 5:50 p.m.
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Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-579, an act to reduce the effects of urban heat islands on the health of Canadians. I would like to congratulate my colleague for Honoré-Mercier for bringing this bill before us.

As the urban affairs critic for our NDP caucus and also the sponsor of Bill C-619, the climate change accountability act, I am very excited to have a discussion in this place about the impacts of climate change on cities, on the health of Canadians living in urban Canada and about the great opportunities that present themselves to us for mitigating climate change and improving the health of Canadians by focusing attention on Canada's cities.

The discussion is particularly timely as countries gather in Lima, Peru at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change with the goal of putting in place, by next year in Paris, the agreement necessary to avoid dangerous levels of global warming. To succeed, that agreement needs to include the world's largest emitters.

While the Conservative government likes to point to the fact that Canada is responsible for only 2% of global emissions, that places us within the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters globally. Looking globally, there appears to be positive momentum in that direction. Specifically, the recent agreement between the world's largest emitters, China and the U.S., holds out promise that we have turned a corner on this issue.

Only five years ago, in Copenhagen, these two countries pointed fingers at each other, accusing each other of sinking global efforts at mitigation. However, with this agreement, things will change. China has agreed to slow and then halt greenhouse gas emission growth by 2030. The U.S. has agreed to reduce emissions by nearly 30% by the same date.

Therefore, things will change, but it is also worth noting that this agreement stands as a clear sign that things have already changed. The simplistic contradistinction between economic growth and emission reductions no longer stands. There are new energy economies that these countries are engaged in and can profit from.

Last week's report from Clean Energy Canada tells us that things have changed in Canada, too, and will continue to change. In that same five-year period since Copenhagen, Canada, in the absence of federal support I would note, has seen its capacity to produce electricity from renewable energy sources increase sufficiently to power 2.7 million Canadian homes, and the clean energy industry in Canada is still in its infancy.

Also relevant to today's discussion is the impact of the health effects of climate change. As reported recently in the The Guardian newspaper, in China:

Air quality is so far below World Health Organisation standards that a blue sky appears only after it rains, or when the government closes steel mills around Beijing and bans drivers from highways for major summits...

Of particular relevance to the bill before us, it is heartening to see that that U.S.-China agreement acknowledges the role of cities as final-energy users and, consequently, as significant greenhouse gas emitters. The Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities initiative that forms part of that agreement recognizes the great potential of cities as sites of climate change mitigation.

Now, of course, the times do not look particularly propitious for us in Canada in light of the revelation this week that the Conservative government, contrary to its commitment, has no intention of regulating emissions in the oil and gas industry.

However, it is the nature of government that it changes. Governments come and they go, but a government that breaks its commitment on such a significant, indeed, existential issue, one hopes will go quickly, and a government that calls regulating what it had once committed to regulate “crazy”, one hopes will fall harder and faster than most.

Now, as per the bill, we are talking specifically about urban heat islands. The call in the bill is for the Minister of Health to establish a national strategy to reduce the negative effects of heat islands.

Urban heat islands are understood to be urban environments in which the average air temperature is markedly greater as compared to the average or, in particular, that of the surrounding rural environment. The effect is well known and has been well studied, precisely because of the serious impacts of urban heat islands on human health. Annual average temperatures tend to be 3.5° to 4.5° higher in cities than in surrounding rural areas. According to the OECD, this difference—and note that it is in average annual temperature—is expected to increase by 1° per decade to a difference of about 10° in large cities. In other words, the heat island effect is significant presently and anticipated to get significantly worse over time.

It has been estimated, for example, that maximum average temperatures in my city of Toronto will rise by 7° by mid-century. That means that the extreme climate events, such as heat waves, which we are experiencing as a result of generalized global warming, will also become worse in urban areas as a result of the heat island effect, or more properly the conditions that give rise to the heat island effect. Those conditions relate, in the main, to the type of infrastructure we find in urban environments and the particular materials it is made of, as well as the colour of those materials. Surface materials such as concrete and asphalt, including asphalt roofing shingles, are particularly problematic. This kind of infrastructure tends to absorb large amounts of solar radiation and release it in the form of heat, thus creating heat islands. The increasing daytime temperature, in turn, tends to trigger a vicious circle as it interferes with natural nighttime cooling processes, but it also triggers artificial cooling efforts, such as air conditioning, that add to the heat island effect.

There are well-documented health implications of extreme heat and heat islands. It is fair to say that, around the world, the effects of urban heat islands on human health are being documented by health and environmental agencies. The health outcomes vary from simply heat fatigue to death.

According to studies conducted by the American Ernest O. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, every 1°C increase in warm weather temperature increases the pollution caused by smog by some 5%. Smog generally forms above urban areas and heat islands, and adds to water pollution and air pollution. Smog is one of the main causes of the increase in the number of cases of asthma, throat irritation, and even premature death.

It is worth noting that not all are affected equally by heat island effects. Some people are more vulnerable to health impacts than others. Seniors and youth are particularly vulnerable, but so also are the poor, the disabled, shut-ins, the homeless, and those unable to afford or without access to air-conditioned shelter. There is clearly and notably a social equity issue. This is a matter of climate justice and not just a generalized matter of human health.

Let me end with what I think is some good news. About 80% of Canadians live in urban Canada. Urban Canada is responsible for a commensurate percentage of final energy use and consequently a commensurate percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. Not the current government, obviously, but people around the world who are concerned about the future of this planet, people committed to halting global warming so as to avoid dangerous levels, are alive to the issue of urban heat islands and their health impacts and dangers. They are also alive to the great climate change mitigation potential of cities. That is why this bill and its focus on urban Canada and urban Canadians, and the need to deal with these issues, holds out such great promise for us and should receive the support of all in this House.

I again thank my colleague for bringing it forward.

Climate Change Accountability ActRoutine Proceedings

June 16th, 2014 / 3:25 p.m.
See context


Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-619, an act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change.

Mr. Speaker, it is my great privilege to reintroduce into the House, seconded by the Leader of the Opposition, a bill originally put forward by Jack Layton, the climate change accountability act.

Every day in this place we put ideas and different visions of our future in opposition to each other, and that is fair enough. We imagine and hope for very different things on either side of this aisle. However, on this issue, at this time in our history, it must be different.

We have before us the challenge of climate change, a challenge that calls upon us to look beyond ourselves, beyond this time and place.

Arresting climate change is the world's struggle. Everybody must play their part. However, we in here must lead. To fail to do so would be a failing beyond us as politicians and ours as a political system, a failing more fundamental.

All of us are entrusted with the care of the earth we inhabit and the well-being of all those who inhabit it. We need, now, to act upon that responsibility.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)