Climate Change Accountability Act

An Act respecting Canada’s fulfillment of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligations

This bill was last introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2021.

This bill was previously introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session.


Kristina Michaud  Bloc

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


Second reading (House), as of Feb. 27, 2020
(This bill did not become law.)


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

This enactment enacts the Climate Change Accountability Act, which provides for the development of an action plan to ensure that Canada fulfills its obligations under the Paris Agreement, including by means of targets for reducing Canadian greenhouse gas emissions and accountability mechanisms for emissions reduction.


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.


Feb. 3, 2021 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-215, An Act respecting Canada’s fulfillment of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligations

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:05 p.m.
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Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

moved that Bill C-215, An Act respecting Canada’s fulfillment of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligations, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am deeply moved to rise today to present, support and defend the climate change accountability act on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, our team of MPs, our members and the thousands of Quebeckers who support us. It is a signal honour for me to be the author and sponsor of this bill.

I entered politics knowing my convictions. I am a democrat, a Quebec separatist, a feminist and an environmentalist. Today, my goal is to use my words, my arguments and my heart-and-soul sincerity to convince parliamentarians, every member of this assembly, of the merits of this bill. Given the chance, for years to come, it will be the cornerstone of our shared efforts to create an environmentally sound future.

Sustainability is a word that should resonate and make us think right now. For the past few months, we have all experienced something quite real that we could not quite grasp before, and that is how fragile the world is. The pandemic is not changing the laws of nature, but it is revealing new aspects, things we did not notice before, things that were hard to imagine or we simply did not want to see.

Our wealth comes from our efforts, but also very much from the services rendered by our natural environment. Environmental degradation increases health risks and compromises our economic well-being. More than ever, the relationship between environmental health and human health is becoming apparent.

The current challenge does not replace the previous one, it adds to it. Governments around the world will respond to the economic challenge as they responded to the health challenge. They will need to respond to the climate challenge better than they have in all these years.

The climate crisis is as real as the health crisis. I know that every party here in the House recognizes that. I believe that, as legislators, we have a common challenge that must be stated, affirmed and heard by everyone: The fight against the pandemic must not become an excuse for failing in the fight against climate change.

Let us now all agree that we will not be fooled by this false opposition, that it would be a complete failure on the part of public officials to respond to the great challenge of our time. Let us prove together, despite our differences of opinion on certain issues, that democracy can produce better results.

This is not just rhetoric. The main goal of the climate change accountability bill is to help us put words into concrete action.

I have no doubt that there have been decision-makers in Canada in the past who were sincere about their desire to meet the challenges of climate change, but let's face it, Canada has never met its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Canada has failed repeatedly. Canada had to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol. Between 1990 and 2017, Canada's greenhouse gas emissions increased by 18.9%. Over the same period, it should be noted that Quebec's emissions decreased by 8.7%. I might add that the Canada-wide statistic includes the Quebec data.

However, I am not willfully blind. Quebec is not perfect and there are still major challenges to be addressed. Like all highly industrialized societies, Quebec has a large environmental footprint, and much remains to be done to restore the balance between prosperity and environmental sustainability. However, in this federation, Quebec has made contributions to climate action even though it does not control all the levers that it should legitimately have to protect its territory. In short, that is Quebec's and Canada's political reality. The intent of this bill is not to retaliate, far from it.

Many states around the world have adopted framework legislation for climate governance. In general, the objective of these laws, commonly known as climate laws, is to make governments accountable for their climate action. Despite having a so-called progressive society, young people who are engaged and politicians who profess to be green, Canada does not have a climate law.

Canada's current target is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. That was Stephen Harper's target.

According to the most optimistic projections, namely those that take into account the impact of reduction measures already announced, Canada will miss its target. Holding the government accountable for its climate action will prevent this failure from happening again. That is the bill's objective.

I want people to buy in. Everyone knows that pollution knows no borders, even though the sources of pollution are unevenly spread out throughout our territory. Our domestic and international climate policy must account for this unevenness. More specifically, if we want to be a world leader, if we want to convince the major polluters in the world to contribute, there is one fundamental thing we need to do: We need to lead by example and show that we are capable of fulfilling our own obligations.

We need to show some credibility if we want to be able to negotiate. It pains me to say this, but I think we lack any shred of credibility. We are offside but we need to get in the game.

Canada committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement. Canada's commitment falls short of the global objective, but at the very least we should start by achieving our own objectives. The climate bill we are debating would allow us to do just that, since it would enshrine Canada's obligations under the Paris Agreement into Canadian law.

The act would provide for two essential things. First, it would set official reduction targets, increase them and set interim targets until we achieve the target of net-zero emissions by 2050. I believe that Liberal Party members will agree with this objective, since they were the ones who set it.

Second, the government's action plan should be assessed by a competent, independent authority. We can count on the commissioner of the environment to do that. We all agree that, in order to have enough teeth, climate legislation must include mechanisms that make it binding. That is what is proposed here by giving an entity that already has the confidence of the House the power to assess whether the government's actions are consistent with the legislation's objectives.

The Bloc Québécois released a comprehensive plan that included a variety of proposals for implementing a true green recovery. The government can draw upon that when developing an economic recovery strategy that addresses climate change.

The good thing about this bill is that it gives the government the freedom to choose the approach it wants to take to deal with this issue. The bill seeks to ensure that the government's choices are in keeping with Canada's international commitments and that the measures it plans to take are realistic and sufficient.

This bill is very simple, but it is of crucial importance. It already seems to have the support of the opposition parties. I have talked to NDP, Green Party and Conservative colleagues. They all agree that the principle of the bill is sound, they agree with the principle, and they recognize that Canada needs a bill like this as soon as possible.

I know that many people find it hard to grasp the concept of climate change because we cannot see it from one day to the next. We know we need to act locally, at home, by doing things like recycling, composting, choosing low-emission vehicles and minimizing our use of single-use plastics. There are many things we can do individually, but we need to do a lot more collectively.

The transition affects all regions and communities in Quebec and Canada because the effects of climate change are devastating and ubiquitous. Every region has its own unique economic realities and its own distinct challenges. Municipalities are grappling with erosion, insect pests are proliferating, fisheries are changing. We can observe the effects of climate change everywhere.

Back home, riverside municipalities have to deal with shoreline erosion. People have to abandon their homes because the location where they were built is no longer viable, as it is too risky. In my riding, Sainte-Luce-sur-Mer and Sainte-Flavie are the two municipalities in Quebec that are most affected by shoreline erosion. The people back home do not need to be reminded of the high tides of 2010 to raise their awareness of this issue. More than 40 homes were damaged along the river in Sainte-Flavie, which is a lot for a community of 800 people.

More than 50% of the coastline is susceptible to erosion in Quebec's maritime regions due to rising sea levels, storms, the absence of ice along the coast, the increased frequency of freeze-thaw cycles, milder winters and the advent of heavy rains in the winter, all of which are consequences of climate change resulting from human activity.

Farmers have to deal with drought and losing their harvest because of the unpredictability of the climate. People in the Baie-des-Chaleurs region fear for their respiratory health because pollution from nearby factories is degrading the air quality in the Gaspé region, which is so dear to us.

We need to make a major collective effort. We need to come together.

On a broad scale, it takes governments that take their responsibilities seriously, that have the courage to fulfill their commitments and that are not afraid to bring in drastic but necessary measures to combat the greatest challenge facing the next generation.

Unfortunately, Canada cannot boast about being at the forefront on this matter. Other countries have had the courage to act before us. It is possible to give up fossil fuels and live off solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energy. Not only is it possible, it is crucial.

I am thinking of countries like Morocco, which relied almost exclusively on imported oil back in the early 2000s. Today it generates more than 40% of the energy it needs thanks to a network of renewable energy plants, including the largest solar power plant in the world.

I am also thinking of the Netherlands, one of the most densely populated countries, with thousands of agricultural producers in a very small geographic area. They have learned how to produce more and better with less, meaning less water, less fertilizer, and less pesticide, and how to use their land sustainably, emitting less CO2. The Netherlands is doing this and is the second-largest food exporter in the world.

Another example is Costa Rica, three-quarters of which was covered by forest a hundred years ago. Most of this forest was wiped out by uncontrolled logging in the 1980s. Then, the government took the bull by the horns and offered subsidies to owners who planted new trees. In just 25 years, the forest has reclaimed half of the country.

These countries are obviously different from Canada. They are not perfect, but they did the best they could with what they had, because their government was brave enough to take action. Canada needs a little bit of that courage.

Ironically, regardless of how the American presidential election turns out, the U.S. is officially withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, as decided by the Republican President in 2017. That is shameful. It shows that we need to double down and set an example. We need to show that we are stronger than that. I cannot emphasize enough that we need to lead by example.

I cannot speak about the climate issue without mentioning Quebec's legitimate ambitions. Members can see where I am going with this. Canada is an oil-producing country, which provides the highest per capita funding for the gas and oil sector, whereas Quebec has access to a phenomenal amount of renewable natural resources such as forests, water, mining resources and agricultural land on its territory. Quebec has built a robust and renewable electricity network which, unlike Alberta's oil sands, will be an asset for the future.

We could become world leaders in renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable development. That is one of my favourite arguments for sovereignty. We recently marked the 25th anniversary of the referendum, and I must say that Quebec has really changed since that day, as have we. That does not affect the legitimacy of the bill. Quebec is positioning itself as an environmentally friendly model of wealth creation that is setting an example for the rest of the world. Canada should unreservedly follow its lead.

I need to cut my explanation short, but I am sure that members will have taken the time to study the mechanisms in this bill in minute detail before voting. I am confident they will have assessed its merits and will see that this bill is substantive, constructive, well thought out and well written, and no mere statement of principle or list of arbitrary measures.

This is my final argument. Members will have noticed that the bill is deliberately drafted in such a way as to preserve the room to manoeuvre that a democratically elected government needs to conduct public affairs and fulfill its mission in accordance with its party's legitimate political ambitions. Our goal is to ensure successful climate policy, not to tie decision-makers' hands.

That reminds me of one specific quote that reflects a governance style that inspires me. As Premier of Quebec, Pauline Marois skilfully managed a minority government like this government. At the beginning of her term, she said, “We will be flexible in our approach but remain firm on our objectives.” Those are wise words.

The bill that I am introducing proposes that, for the future of the planet and climate justice, Canada be flexible in its approach but firm on its objectives in the coming years. I have the following question for the current government, which continues to repeat that it is committed to addressing climate change, and for the future government: Are they prepared to be firm on our objectives?

If so, I humbly invite them, on behalf of my constituents and with a sense of accomplishment in my heart, to vote in favour of the Bloc Québécois's climate change accountability bill.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:20 p.m.
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Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member across the way for a tremendous presentation on some very good work that she has done. I just came from the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and we had the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada there. We were looking at its budget and the main estimates, which have gone from $800,000 a few years ago to $3 million in this coming year. There are a lot of new programs coming through the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.

I am wondering whether the hon. member has looked at the work of the Impact Assessment Agency that is measuring the impact of the policies that we are putting forward in terms of her research for the bill.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:20 p.m.
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Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Of course we did a lot of research when preparing Bill C-215. It is based on an international agreement among a number of countries, the Paris Agreement. Canada ratified this agreement but is not obligated to enforce it in its domestic law. This bill would force Canada to be accountable on climate change.

The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development is already conducting major studies and will be assigned others if this bill moves forward. I would be happy to talk to my colleague about that if he wants.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:20 p.m.
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Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, I apologize but I am going to make my comments in English, to ensure that they are interpreted properly.

My hon. colleagues in the Bloc Québécois on this side of the House seemed to lionize, including in the bill, certain energy in Canada. We have to realize in Canada how fortunate we are to have a multitude of energy sources, a portfolio of energy sources of vast degrees. We have all kinds of oil, gas and hydroelectricity. We are the envy of the world for the diversity of our energy supply, including nuclear. Everyone envies Canada for the fact that we have so much good energy. The thing about energy that most people do not understand is how much pollution is associated with every form of energy. There is no clean energy. Every bit of energy has its cost. From hydroelectricity, to uranium, nuclear, oil and gas, everything has a land effect. We need to understand why we look at this in the sense of one energy source being bad and one being not so bad when they have different effects.

Could the member explain how she assesses the power energy from Quebec being less polluting and less different from the power energy from the oil and gas sector? I would love to hear that.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:20 p.m.
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Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his interesting question.

He is right. Canada has plenty of natural resources, which is what makes for that beautiful diversity. Unfortunately, I do not agree with him. There are indeed some energy sources that are more polluting than others, as scientists have proven time and time again. Solar, hydro and wind energy pollute a lot less than fossil fuels. This becomes even more obvious if you think of projects like Teck Resources' Frontier mine. The project proponents had to drop it because there were not enough investors, as people knew it was not viable in the short term.

I would like people to make the shift to more promising energy sources, that is, green energy. Unfortunately, oil and gas are not renewable energies.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:25 p.m.
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Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I really want to thank my colleague for her speech, which I greatly appreciated.

I agree with almost everything she said. I am not going to ask her any questions about GNL Québec. I will save that for other exchanges later.

This bill has been introduced in the past by the NDP, by Jack Layton and Megan Leslie. I also introduced a similar bill. We see how far we are from achieving the Paris targets and how important it is for Parliament to be accountable and ask the government questions about meeting those targets. What does my colleague think about that?

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:25 p.m.
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Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

It is critically important. We totally agree on that. I was talking to my colleagues in the NDP who also worked on this. They made constructive comments on changes to make to the bill. I hope it will get to committee.

We have to talk about it more because we do not talk about the environment enough here. As I was saying, this is a crisis. Despite the health and economic crisis, the climate crisis is here and the next generation and my generation will pay the price. We have to talk about this more.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:25 p.m.
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Sudbury Ontario


Paul Lefebvre LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-215, an act respecting Canada's fulfillment of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligations.

The purpose of Bill C-215 is to ensure that Canada fulfills its obligations under the Paris Agreement, including by establishing targets for reducing Canadian greenhouse gas emissions and accountability mechanisms for emissions reduction.

More specifically, Bill C-215 includes a target of zero net emissions by 2050 and an interim emissions reduction target of at least 30% below the level of greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 by 2030. It also requires a centralized action plan that establishes five-year interim targets, from 2025 to 2040.

An annual report on the progress made in reducing Canadian greenhouse gas emissions must also be prepared and tabled in Parliament. The bill provides for a review of the action plan and annual progress reports by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development and a review of the act every four years.

Achieving a prosperous future and net-zero emissions by 2050 remains a priority for the Canadian government. Canadians know that climate change is a threat to their health, and the government will continue to work on this issue.

Even as the world copes with the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change continues to worsen, and it is nearly certain that 2020 will be one of the four hottest years on record. As UN Secretary General António Guterres pointed out, climate change is not taking a break during the COVID-19 pandemic, so we cannot put climate action on hold.

Just as our government committed to supporting Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to do the same with climate action. Canadians are already living the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events, such as the changing intensity and frequency of flooding, storms and fires, coastal erosion, extreme heat events, melting permafrost, and rising sea levels. All of these effects pose a significant risk to the safety, security, health and well-being of all Canadians, our communities, our economy and our natural environment.

Our existing measures to fight climate change and those to come will help Canada further reduce its emissions, support a growing economy and make life safer and more affordable for Canadians. In addition to these national commitments, Canada is a leader when it comes to international measures and the fight against climate change.

Climate change is a major global challenge, and that is why Canada and 194 other countries adopted the Paris Agreement to fight climate change. This agreement seeks to strengthen efforts to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and, if possible, to limit it to 1.5°C.

As a reminder, under the Paris Agreement, Canada committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada is also determined to strengthen existing greenhouse gas reduction measures and implement new ones in order to exceed the greenhouse gas emission reduction goal by 2030.

Canada is also a founding member of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which was created to accelerate clean growth and climate protection through the rapid phase-out of traditional coal-fired electricity. The alliance currently has over 110 members.

Canada is taking part in many other climate change initiatives. For example, Canada is involved in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. From 2016 to 2018, it was co-chair of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which works to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. It is a member and co-chair of the Global Methane Initiative, an international partnership aimed at reducing methane pollution and advancing the recovery and use of methane as a cleaner energy source.

Despite the fact that COP26 was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada is still making its international commitments to fight climate change a priority.

COP is not only a forum for negotiations that guide international climate action, but it is also an important forum for pursuing progress with international partners on many initiatives and maintaining bilateral relations on climate action and environmental protection.

COP will remain a forum where the Government of Canada can continue to showcase not only its efforts to combat climate change, but also many other initiatives that strengthen the integration of solutions based on nature, biodiversity and the oceans, such as phasing out coal, targeting zero plastic waste, enhancing protection for nature and promoting funding for coastal resilience.

Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I can assure my colleagues that Canada is pursuing and will continue to pursue initiatives and collaboration with its international allies. Our actions are more important than ever because the science is clear: we cannot wait for future generations to stop polluting or take action to adapt to the effects of climate change. We must act now.

If we are to meet our Paris target of holding the temperature increase to 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit that increase to 1.5°C, global emissions will have to achieve the net-zero emissions target by 2050. Canada recognizes these conclusions and agrees that additional work is needed, hence its commitment to achieving its net-zero emissions target by 2050 through a five-year national greenhouse gas emissions reduction milestone, based on the advice of experts and consultations with Canadians.

Canada is not alone. Nine countries have passed or are in the process of passing legislation to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. These countries include France, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Including Canada, at least 120 countries, 14 regions, 398 cities, 786 businesses and 16 investors have committed to meeting this target. Clearly, several components of Bill C-215 reflect both the national and international priorities of our government.

I thank the hon. member for presenting such an important subject. I look forward to continuing discussions on measures that will enable us to fight climate change and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:35 p.m.
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Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak this evening about the bill sponsored by the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

The stated objective of this bill is to ensure that Canada fulfills its obligations under the Paris Agreement. That is definitely an objective that I support and my leader has pledged that the Conservative Party will fulfill it.

In fact the Paris targets themselves are Conservative targets. During my first mandate, the previous Prime Minister consulted every province on their reduction capacity and settled on a reduction of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. That was presented as Canada's commitment under the Paris Agreement and continues to be the target today. This work was done in collaboration with the provinces and it focuses on maintaining economic opportunities. Furthermore, the Paris commitments are on all points in line with what my party stands for: environmental protection that is not at the expense of the economy, and respect for provincial jurisdictions and expertise.

Unfortunately, since this agreement was signed, the Liberal government has not taken any significant action to meet these targets and instead has led an ideological and divisive campaign. The Prime Minister said that we are on track to meet the 2030 objective. During the last campaign, he said several times that Canada was on track to meet the objectives.

That is not true now, and it was not true then. He now claims that they will exceed our objectives but he refuses to provide details. They cannot even achieve the bare minimum, yet they promise to exceed the targets without providing any reason other than a promise. That sounds about right for this Liberal government.

Let us look at the facts. The latest report from Climate Transparency shows that not only is Canada not on the right track to meet its Paris commitments, but we are also among the least prepared countries of the G20. Climate Action Tracker ranked this government's measures as “insufficient” and the government's own projections, which are surely the most charitable, say that Canada is not even close to meeting its objectives.

Let us look at where we are right now. Even with the massive spending on programs such as electric vehicle subsidies, even with the Liberal government's total destruction of our oil and gas industry and even with the federal government's complete refusal to co-operate with the provinces and instead favour a top-down approach, Ottawa knows what is best. We are not even close to meeting our targets.

We are now in a position where the government did not keep the Paris commitments made by the Harper government. However, the Liberals expect us to believe that everything is fine and that they are even going to exceed those targets. We should not ask questions because the Liberals simply cannot tell us how that will happen.

We therefore have a bill from a Bloc Québécois member. As I already said, I support the stated objective of developing a responsible plan to meet the Paris Agreement commitments made by the Harper government. In that sense, there are many aspects of this bill that I like and support.

It is a very intelligent idea to not merely legislate targets but instead focus on creating a plan. As we all know, Parliament cannot bind Parliament.

As such, enshrining targets in law with no plan to achieve them essentially has no legal force and would amount to nothing more than virtue signalling.

Fortunately, this bill calls on the government to create a framework and to present it to the House, where it can be studied and debated. We know the Liberal government detests parliamentary scrutiny. It even shut Parliament down to avoid scrutiny. As such, this bill's move to force the government to present a plan is welcome.

I am always in favour of greater parliamentary oversight. I like the requirement for the environment commissioner to review the plan. In addition to mandatory parliamentary review by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, I like that the plan called for in the bill requires specific measures to achieve the targets and assess progress.

However, there are provisions in this bill that I find hard to accept. The Paris targets were negotiated with the provinces and supported by every party here, but the commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 was not among them. I am therefore surprised to see this concept in the bill when its stated objective is to comply with the Paris Agreement, which does not include a net-zero emissions target.

It is troubling that the bill is linked to our international commitments under the Paris Agreement and that it states at the outset that Canada is committed to an ideological goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Whether 2050 is the right date should be debated in the House and should be the subject of extensive consultations with the provinces. The date of 2050 appears to have been chosen because it is a round number chosen by other nations, contrary to the Paris targets, which were based on science and consultation.

A promise in a Liberal platform is not the same as a well-established and agreed-upon target. This commitment requires further debate and study, and it is simply inappropriate to include it in this bill. I would have more confidence in the bill if it focused on the Paris targets, which all parties support, rather than an ideological commitment like achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

I hope the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia is listening to these concerns and is prepared to make a few changes.

I think we can agree on many areas where we are on the same page, but that means focusing on science, not ideology. We agree on the Paris targets and want to see a plan brought forward by this government to get us there. Let us move forward with that.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:40 p.m.
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Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very glad to be speaking in the House today in support of climate accountability legislation.

While the world has been reeling from the impacts of COVID-19, the climate crisis has not gone away. It poses an ever-increasing threat to our environment, our ecosystems, our food systems, the health of our families, the future and our children's future. It also threatens the economic well-being and health of our communities. I do not know if I can adequately communicate the fear and anxiety that young people have communicated to me about their future or that parents have expressed about what kind of world we are leaving to our children, but it is not just about the future. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in Canada, in the smoke from the climate fires, the fact that temperatures in Canada are increasing at twice the global rate and the impacts on permafrost. The impacts are felt particularly in the Arctic and along the coasts and are disproportionately felt by indigenous communities, rural communities and marginalized and racialized communities.

There is a broad scientific agreement that an increase in the global average surface temperature of 1.5 °C or more above pre-industrial levels would constitute dangerous climate change. Canadians want real action on the climate crisis, and they want a government to not just promise to fight climate change, but to actually deliver on that commitment. The Liberals have missed every single climate target, and we are not even on track to meet Stephen Harper's weak targets. In a fall 2019 report, the commissioner of the environment said there is no evidence to support the government's statement that its current or planned actions would allow Canada to meet its targets.

The list of Liberal commitments on environmental targets that the current government has missed or is on track to miss is long. We are not even close to being on track to meeting our targets of selling 100% zero-emissions vehicles by 2040. The government committed to plant two billion trees by 2030, and not a single dollar has been allocated to that target. The clean fuel standard, a key part of the pan-Canadian framework on climate change, has been delayed. I could go on, but in many ways, all of these are symptoms of a government that has not been accountable to its climate commitments. Climate accountability is needed. This bill focuses on our climate targets. Reporting on how we get to those targets should include how the government intends to meet all of these vital climate-related policies.

As has been mentioned, in 2008 the United Kingdom created a climate accountability framework, the Climate Change Act. This act was the first of its kind and remains very highly regarded. It has served as a model for legislation in other jurisdictions including Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and New Zealand. The U.K. has set five carbon budgets, and regular reporting to Parliament has enhanced transparency and accountability. The U.K. has an expert advisory committee, the committee on climate change.

Two years before the U.K. implemented its bill, in 2006, the leader of the NDP at the time, Jack Layton, introduced the first climate change accountability act in Canada. This bill passed third reading by a vote of 148 to 116, with the Harper Conservatives voting against it, but Jack Layton's bill died in the Senate. The NDP has introduced the climate change accountability act as a private member's bill in the 39th, the 40th and the 41st Parliaments, by Jack and also by former MP, Megan Leslie.

In this Parliament, my NDP colleague, the member for Winnipeg Centre, has put forward a bill, Bill C-232, an act respecting a climate emergency action framework, which would provide for the development and implementation of a climate emergency action framework. It explicitly outlines the need for an action framework ensuring the transition toward a green economy; increasing employment in green energy, infrastructure and housing; and ensuring economic well-being.

Importantly, it explicitly states that the climate emergency action framework, climate accountability legislation, must be built on a foundation that upholds the provisions in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The bill we are debating today, put forward by my Bloc colleague, is a really good start. It is headed in the right direction, but I see some gaps and some areas that need strengthening.

First, as outlined in the member for Winnipeg Centre's bill, Bill C-232, climate accountability legislation must be explicitly built on a foundation that recognizes the inherent indigenous right to self-government, that upholds the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and that takes into account scientific knowledge, including indigenous science and knowledge, as well as the responsibilities we have toward future generations.

I applaud, in Bill C-215, the inclusion of interim targets every five years, although 2045 seems to be missing, and applaud the requirement to outline the methods, measures and tools for measuring and assessing greenhouse gas reductions. However, the bill needs strengthening in relation to what these targets will be. It relies on the Paris Agreement, and we need to acknowledge that the Paris targets and net-zero by 2050 are not enough. Our greenhouse gas reduction targets need to be ambitious and consistent with Canada’s fair share contribution. They need to be strong targets that help us stay below a temperature increase of 1.5°C.

The last IPCC report is telling us that we need to at least cut our emissions in half by 2030, and the new targets need to reflect this. Yes, our targets need to be set into law, but we also need to include mechanisms so that they can be strengthened when the experts advise.

The next area that is in need of strengthening is accountability. We need experts involved not only in strengthening targets, but also in reporting and analyzing our progress. It is essential that these experts be at arm’s-length, and their mandate needs to focus on climate accountability.

The NDP has pushed for an independent climate accountability office and the appointment of a climate accountability officer, who would undertake research and gather information and analysis on the target plan or revised target plan; prepare a report that includes findings and recommendations on the quality and completeness of the scientific, economic and technological evidence and analysis used to establish each target in the target plan; and advise on any other climate change and sustainable development matters that the officer would consider relevant to climate accountability.

Environmental advocates and organizations have also called for an independent arm’s-length expert climate advisory committee drawn up from all regions of the country, one that would specifically advise on long-term targets, the five-year carbon budgets and climate impact reports. These experts would also monitor and report on governmental progress toward achieving the short-term carbon budgets, long-term targets and adaptation plans, and would provide advice to the government on climate-related policy.

Another element that we need to look at is carbon budgets, both national and subnational.

While all these areas need attention, I believe they can be addressed in committee. It is essential that we move forward with climate accountability legislation immediately. We needed it back in 2006, when Jack Layton first put it forward. We needed it when each iteration of the IPCC report came out, outlining the catastrophic impacts of global warming. We needed it last year, when young people were marching in the streets begging politicians and decision-makers to listen to science. We need it now.

The Liberals promised climate accountability legislation in their election platform and again in the throne speech. In fact, in the most recent throne speech, they said that they would immediately bring forward a plan outlining how they are going to meet and exceed Canada’s 2030 emissions reduction goals. They also committed to legislating net-zero by 2050. That was back in September. I am not sure what the Liberal government's definition of “immediately” is, but it is now November and neither of these things have happened. If the Liberals vote against this bill, it will be another example of how they are content to make climate promises but are unwilling to take climate action. We need to remember that this is the government that declared a climate emergency one day and bought a pipeline the next.

I implore my fellow MPs to support this motion. I will be—

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:50 p.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

The hon. member for Repentigny.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:50 p.m.
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Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today next to my colleague from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, who is introducing Bill C-215.

Accountability is a welcome word. We approve of it when we see it at work in our everyday lives, in society. It is reassuring to be around people who are accountable. Being accountable means behaving in a meaningful and commendable way.

In this case, what does it mean to be accountable? For elected members like us, it means legislating climate accountability. It means honouring the wishes of those who expect us to take action and make progress.

In 32 years under four prime ministers, no fewer than nine different targets have been announced by the federal government. Canada failed to meet its targets for 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2012 and will fail to meet its targets for 2020, which were introduced by the Harper government.

Thirty years ago, Canadian greenhouse gas, or GHG, emissions were 602 megatonnes. In 2017, they had increased by 18.9% while in the same period Quebec had reduced its emissions by 8.7%.

The federal government needs to fully grasp what is happening. The most optimistic scenario would still see us fall 77 megatonnes short of meeting the target that Canada set for itself.

There is no excuse for inaction. Canada accounts for just 0.5% of the world's population but emits 1.5% of GHGs worldwide and ranks 10th among some 200 countries. Canada is among the developed countries that have been especially responsible for producing GHG emissions and destroying our planet.

As my colleague said earlier, a lot of analysis and thought went into this substantial bill. It is flexible enough to be sustainable, because sustainable climate action is how Canada can hope to join the ranks of countries that have taken action. With this bill, successive governments through 2050 and beyond will have the flexibility needed to continue working on it. Everything can be adapted depending on what has been achieved: plans, mitigation measures, policies, sectorial targets, and so on.

This climate accountability bill is measured and it was designed to guarantee that Canada can both take climate action and combat the health crisis. Our efforts will improve the health of humans and the environment. I often speak about the connection between the two in my speech, so I will repeat myself.

It is important to know that the links between human health issues and the impacts of climate change have been extensively studied and demonstrated. Whether it is air pollution or the virus, whose undeniable increase in transmission is rooted in the loss of biodiversity and climate upheaval, all populations are vulnerable. COVID-19 has provided some insight into this, but we should know that the effects existed before this pandemic. They were measured, and thousands of researchers were and are still working on the links between health and the environment.

I therefore believe that supporting this bill at this specific moment in time is undoubtedly one of the best ways to contribute to the government's efforts to combat the pandemic.

In 2007, the House of Commons passed the bill sponsored by the opposition member who today is the Leader of the Government, our hon. colleague from Honoré-Mercier. The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act was intended for the most part as legislative protection for Canada's international ambitions and commitments.

In 2020, the Bloc Québécois is taking the initiative in the same spirit, but in the context of a climate crisis of unparalleled urgency. This bill seeks to ensure that Canada fulfills its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also its responsibility to take the essential steps needed to attain the reduction targets that the government itself has set.

I will now talk about a specific case, that of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Canada has shown leadership, in particular by helping less wealthy countries eliminate these substances through the deployment of resources for atmospheric monitoring of the Arctic and much more. Since 1987, this treaty has been signed by 165 member countries and the list of substances continues to be updated. This is a success story.

However, the challenge presented by the requirements and context of the Paris Agreement is so great that it is hard to believe we did not implement suitable measures. Even with the elimination of the substances listed in the Montreal Protocol, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase.

I participated in the various COPs since Paris. It was an opportunity to learn about the acceleration of the climate crisis in particular but also about the growing engagement and expertise on the issue.

Despite the fact that these are priorities in every forum—political, academic, economic and social—reminders are still needed. The way things are going, global warming could reach 4°C to 5°C by the end of the century, 2100.

Parents and grandparents should consider the fact that today's children will suffer the consequences throughout their lives. Children born today will be seniors at the end of the century. What will we leave them? A planet that is 4°C to 5°C warmer?

Oceans, freshwater and air and soil quality are all affected by phenomena linked to climate change. Other considerations are plants, animals, man-made structures, public health, public safety and the economy.

Clearly, not all legislation to fight greenhouse gases has the same impact, as my colleague said. Let us take a quick look at some of the nations with a record that inspires hope, courtesy of National Geographic and Climate Action Tracker. Other colleagues have named some of them this evening. Norway adopted legislation to reduce greenhouse gases to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and to 80% to 95% below 1990 levels by 2050. Electric cars made up 60% of the vehicles sold in March. We are not even close to that.

Would the United Kingdom be a case study? It cut greenhouse gas emissions by 44% between 1990 and 2018 all while growing its economy by 75%. In June of this year, the U.K. passed a law to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

I now want to talk about India. Its economy was booming, and the country made a choice to prioritize investments in renewable energy. It has already achieved its objective of meeting 40% of its energy needs through renewable energy. India had set this objective for 2030, but it is just 2020.

My colleague mentioned Morocco, which has the largest solar panel farm in the world. It is the size of 3,500 football fields. There is also Gambia, which committed to restoring 10,000 hectares of forest and savannah.

These examples show that everyone is doing their part. Countries big and small have a role to play in avoiding disaster. Canada should not be lumped in with Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia or its neighbour to the south when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Canada needs to step up and aim for progress. To make progress, however, you have to take action, and my colleague's bill offers a way to do so.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 7 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to add some thoughts with regard to our environment. We all recognize how important it is not only for those of us here today, but also for future generations. I can assure members that the government and the Prime Minister take the environment very seriously, and I look forward to contributing more to this debate when it comes up next.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 7 p.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

The House resumed from November 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-215, an act respecting Canada’s fulfillment of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligations, be read the second time and referred to a committee.