Climate Change Accountability Act

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

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

Sponsor

Kristina Michaud  Bloc

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

Status

Defeated, as of Feb. 3, 2021

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-215.

Summary

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.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

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

February 3rd, 2021 / 7:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, I would just remind members that we generally do extend this courtesy to each other in this House. Earlier tonight, a member of another party was extended this courtesy. We did not say no. I certainly hope that if the member were to try again, he would—

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2021 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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 address the chamber on the important issue of our environment.

When I looked at Bill C-215, the first thing that came across my mind was that in November of last year, the government introduced Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act. If we were to look at these two pieces of legislation side by side, we would easily understand why we should be supporting Bill C-12. I look forward to debating Bill C-12 to hear the ongoing discussions, because it covers so much more than Bill C-215.

Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, would hold the federal government to its commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and exceed our 2030 Paris target. That is the essence of what Bill C-215 does. Having said that, there are some significant differences between the bills. There are certain things that Bill C-215 does not have.

Before I comment on some of those differences, I want to emphasize that we must take advantage of the economic opportunity that climate action presents in order to provide the world with the cleanest and most cutting-edge innovation. I think, for example, of hydroelectricity in my home province of Manitoba. When we talk about the development of clean energy and being innovative, there is so much potential in my home province. Equally, I suspect that if we were to go to all regions of our beautiful country, we would find opportunities. That is why it is critically important that we take to heart the idea of net-zero emissions and the goal of 2050 and take actions today that will really make a difference going forward.

I made reference to some key differences between Bill C-215 and Bill C-12, and I will now give a couple of specific examples.

In Bill C-12, the government's bill, there is a requirement for consultations with the provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, experts and Canadians as a whole. This is absent in Bill C-215.

Bill C-215 would only require the publication of a single action plan. Contrast this with Bill C-12, the government's legislation. It would require the publication of an emissions reduction plan for every milestone year. That is a significant difference. Bill C-12 would also require the government to set each target at least five years before the beginning of the related milestone. Bill C-215 would require the government to set all of its targets up front.

Those are the types of differences that I believe clearly demonstrate that we should be looking at ways to get Bill C-12 through the House of Commons and encourage some form of consultation about it at committee, and encourage the Senate to recognize the true value of the bill. I suggest that my friend from the Bloc, who introduced Bill C-215, review the bill to see if maybe there are aspects of the legislation that could in fact be incorporated at the committee stage.

Bill C-12 requires the Minister of Finance to publish an annual report describing how departments and Crown corporations are considering the financial risks and opportunities of climate change in their decision-making, whereas Bill C-215 does not include any such provision. That is why I would encourage members of the Conservative Party who are supporting Bill C-215 to seriously look at ways in which we could see Bill C-12 pass. I have already had the opportunity to speak to Bill C-12, and members can look at some of the content that I put on the record at that time.

One of the things that I want to put in perspective is the issue of other initiatives. In the throne speech introduced in September, we not only talked about green policy but we committed hundreds of millions of dollars to ensuring that we were on the right track. I look forward to when a budget is presented to Canadians, and to the many initiatives and specifics that will give Canadians reason to be optimistic that we finally have a government that is taking the environment seriously.

As a government, we have recognized from the beginning that, to have a healthy economy, we also need to strive for a healthy environment, and that we can develop policies that complement both the environment and the economy. We have recognized the value of major projects going through the department of environment or through independent provincial or national commissions, and that it is important to do research and consultations because those will give projects a better chance of success.

I want to very quickly say that I am excited about the pledge to plant two billion trees. The Prime Minister has made it very clear that we, as a government, are committed to planting two billion trees. That will be a great filter for our water. It will ensure that the air we breathe is healthier.

These are the types of initiatives that people can understand and relate to, and they are going to make a difference and get Canadians that much more excited about working to improve our environment.

I appreciate the opportunity to share a few words on this legislation.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2021 / 5:40 p.m.
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NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to start by congratulating my colleague, the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, for putting forward her first private member's bill, Bill C-215.

The climate emergency is the greatest existential threat of our time, and we are running out of time. Executive director Inger Andersen of the UN Environment Programme stated, “The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead.” There is a direct correlation between the climate emergency and the current pandemic in which we find ourselves. She went on to say, “To prevent future outbreaks, we must become much more deliberate about protecting our natural environment.”

It is clear that climate accountability and climate action are essential to preventing future pandemics. It is clear that without acting on this emergency, we will increasingly experience food and water insecurity, income crises, conflict and, even further, global conflict. The infinite cost of climate change will continue to rise unless we act now.

The climate emergency poses a serious threat to our environment, economy, health and safety. At the forefront of this issue are indigenous peoples. The government has even acknowledged that. In fact, a preamble paragraph in Bill C-15 states:

Whereas the implementation of the Declaration can contribute to supporting sustainable development and responding to growing concerns relating to climate change and its impacts on Indigenous peoples

This is in reference to the full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The impacts of this crisis are already being felt in Canada, particularly in the Arctic and along our beautiful coasts. It is disproportionately impacting indigenous nations, rural communities and marginalized and racialized communities. This is what we call environmental racism. Indigenous and northern communities, farmers, food producers and others have been sounding alarms about the impact of climate change on ecosystems, but this has fallen on the deaf ears of consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments, which have failed in their duty to protect our beautiful mother earth.

We know that the climate emergency is now impacting our food security, and indigenous people across our lands are among the most impacted. It is disrupting traditional ways of life and food security, especially in remote northern communities, where the climate is warming at a much faster rate, which is impacting traditional food sources.

Not only that, when we take away people's sustenance, we force them to find other ways to acquire food. We force remote communities to rely on expensive imported food alternatives, leaving individuals to afford only the unhealthy food options. This has a negative impact on health, so it is not surprising that there is a correlation between physical wellness and the impacts of the climate emergency.

In addition, it goes beyond just climate to include the kind of violence and the increased rates of violence against indigenous women and girls that come as a result of resource extraction projects that bring workers into our communities. They are perpetrating violence against indigenous women and girls, a crisis that was confirmed in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We need to act now to respond to the calls for justice.

Indigenous people have experienced the greatest impacts of the climate emergency, so it is not surprising that many indigenous peoples from across this country, even as we speak in the House today, are on the front lines to fight against the climate emergency.

Reconciliation and fundamental indigenous rights, the rights that are articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, go hand in hand with environmental justice. With all due respect to my colleague, the fact that she did not even mention the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in her bill is shocking.

Not only that, but I think we see the impacts of climate change on emotional health, particularly the emotional health of young people who are fighting to keep our world healthy. People are tired of governments committing to targets and then missing them again and again. We are running out of time to turn things around.

With Bill C-12, we will not be on track to meet our international climate obligations. We need an action plan that honours our international climate commitments and obligations. We need a plan that addresses the urgency of the climate emergency.

Although the current government proposed Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, it is not consistent with agreements we have made with the international community. For example, there is no target for 2025 and there are no real accountability measures for the next 10 years, even though we know the next decade will be the most critical.

The accountability mechanisms, including the advisory committee, are weak and rely on the environment commissioner, whose office is already underfunded. We will not achieve climate justice without accountability, so it was surprising to me that although there are many good parts in the bill, the accountability measures put far too much power in the hands of ministers, who have a history of destroying our environment and not taking environmental stewardship seriously.

The NDP has a long history of pushing for greater accountability of government for its actions to fight climate change. I put forward, for example, Bill C-232, which provided a clear accountability framework and called on the federal government to take all measures necessary to address the climate emergency. For the first time, a piece of legislation pushed forward a clean, safe and healthy environment as a human right that would be enshrined in law with the federal environmental bill of rights.

We have other examples, such as Linda Duncan, Jack Layton and Megan Leslie.

We need to work together to push forward a bold climate agenda. We are running out of time.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2021 / 5:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-215 introduced by my hon. colleague the hon. member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia is to make the government accountable for its climate action.

This bill calls on the government to bring in realistic and adequate measures and to implement oversight mechanisms. Through this bill the Bloc Québécois is hoping to make the government accountable to the House of Commons and the public on its environmental measures.

The Bloc Québécois is proposing that a commissioner of the environment assess the action plans to attest that they meet their objectives, or that he or she recommends to the federal government changes that will help meet the set targets. It is not rocket science.

We want the minister to take the commissioner's recommendations into account and implement them. I believe that Bill C-215 on climate change accountability is a tool for success, not an obstacle to action.

Quebec sets the bar for North America because it is one of the world's very few environmental leaders. Quebec's per capita CO2 emissions are lower than in the rest of Canada thanks to its massive investments in hydroelectricity over the past 80-plus years. Quebec understood the need for long-range climate action over 30 years ago. The rest of Canada did not. That is why the Bloc Québécois believes that meeting targets should not hinge on what the federal government decides to do. Measures need to be formalized, and the law must hold the government accountable to the people. It is time to walk the talk.

Reducing the impact of human activity on the environment is crucial for the future. A green recovery would stimulate our economy and increase our GDP while reducing environmental impact. We owe it to future generations.

By green recovery, I mean supporting renewable energy sources, such as forestry and hydroelectricity. I mean investing in research and development and in our CEGEPs and universities so they can create and adapt green technologies that our SMEs can use to their advantage.

We in the Bloc Québécois believe it is essential to meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets and stop funding tax incentive programs that support fossil fuels. We must encourage innovation and the quest for new economic avenues.

The necessary means must be deployed to achieve that. We need to look further ahead and encourage innovation and the energy transition. This economic recovery, which we will all contribute to, offers a great opportunity to take a hard look in the mirror and promote measures that will also have a positive impact on future generations.

The Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique says that the government bill is extremely vague and not particularly binding, proving that the Government of Canada has not done its job since 2015.

To help the Canadian government come up with some solutions, I have a few to suggest. First, Canada must invest in freight transportation infrastructure and supply chains to make the movement of goods as efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.

To that end, Canada must help businesses modernize digital platforms and data sharing. Canada must also fund research on heavy-duty vehicles with a view to making them greener, possibly even electric. Why not start immediately by providing incentives for the purchase of electric buses and ambulances, for example?

Quebec and Canada do not have a shortage of forestry resources. Canada must invest in this sector and Quebec's and Canada's regions must take advantage of forestry innovations to develop and supply the most environmentally friendly products possible and produce forestry waste with low carbon emissions. Let us develop markets for innovative forestry products.

Furthermore, why does Canada not focus on research and development for forestry biomass supply chains and the production of bioenergy? It should do so.

Why does Canada not also promote Quebec's aluminum, which is the greenest in the world?

We should fund the shift from producing simple aluminum to producing carbon-free aluminum. To continue its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, Canada must invest in research and development and research centres in the regions and at colleges and universities in order to promote the acquisition and adaptation of green technologies that will benefit businesses as well as the land, wildlife and plant life, and above all, everyone's health.

Canada must make smart investments in transportation electrification by facilitating the purchase of zero-emission or hybrid vehicles and the replacement of older vehicles, while guaranteeing their availability on the market. The federal government needs to install charging stations at federal buildings, particularly in the regions, and establish carbon footprint as a criterion for procurement and the awarding of contracts in federal government procurement policies.

The Bloc Québécois supports enforcing the polluter pays principle, which rewards those who care about the environment, by instituting green equalization, which is a carbon tax for provinces that produce more greenhouse gas emissions than the national average. That money would be given to provinces that produce less pollution than the national average. That is an idea that is very popular among my colleagues in the House, at least those who are here. I am being sarcastic, of course.

At the same time, Canada should stop directly investing in western Canada's fossil fuel industry through subsidies and tax breaks. Obviously, we also need to support our friends in Alberta in their green transition. I am sure that Albertans will know better than the federal government how to expedite their transition to a greener economy.

The purpose of Bill C-215 is to make the federal government accountable for its climate action. The bill calls on the government to bring in realistic and adequate measures and to implement oversight mechanisms. We need to reassess how we operate and how we interact with the land and the economy. If we want to do things right, I think we need accountability mechanisms. I think Bill C-215, introduced by my colleague from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, is an excellent bill.

I also want to mention some parts of this bill, which talks about adapting and mitigating effects, in addition to limiting greenhouse gas emissions as part of the fight against climate change. These are all things that I feel are missing from Bill C-12.

Key words are important to me. The bill establishes greenhouse gas reduction targets, mechanisms to review those targets and mechanisms to monitor that reduction. It requires the government to table, within nine months of its passage, an action plan for greenhouse gas reduction that includes detailed measures. It also provides for monitoring of the action plan by a competent and independent authority, an environment commissioner, who will be able to keep an eye the government's actions. The commissioner must analyze the action plan within six months of its tabling and report back to Parliament. The goal is to be accountable to the House and the public on the progress of the action plan.

If the environment commissioner determines that this is insufficient, the government will have to take his or her recommendations into account and rectify the situation. The legislation includes mechanisms for reviewing targets and evaluating how well the government is adjusting its actions. This is enshrined in legislation to ensure that Canadian climate action is consistent with Canada's climate objectives. In other words, the Bloc Québécois's climate accountability bill has been drafted in such a way that it can be supported by all MPs of all stripes. We are therefore reaching out to Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats, Greens and independents.

If the government is serious about its stated intention to meet its own targets, nothing should stop it from voting for a bill that would enshrine those very same targets in law. The economic recovery must not compromise our climate future. It is interesting to note that climate change affects human health, security, the food supply, climate migration, human rights, the economy, jobs, national security, defence and transportation infrastructure.

When we talk about growing a green economy that is good for people, that is what we mean. Those are the conditions and the principles for a green recovery.

In closing, what this means is that we must move to ensure sustainable climate action. Meeting our targets can no longer hinge on what the government decides to do. It must be guaranteed by law. Emissions reduction targets and the mechanisms to adjust them must be enshrined in law. That, to me, is key. The purpose of the law is to make the Government of Canada keep its own greenhouse gas emissions reduction promises.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2021 / 6 p.m.
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Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Terry Duguid LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada) and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Canada Water Agency)

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-215, an act respecting Canada’s fulfillment of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligations. I would like to thank the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia for raising an issue of urgency and importance: climate change.

Canadians know that climate change threatens our health, way of life and planet. They want climate action now and that is what the government will continue to deliver. Canadians continue to face the impacts of climate change during the COVID-19 pandemic. From forest fires and floods to ocean pollution and coastal erosion, Canadians are experiencing the impacts of climate change each and every day.

Canada's climate is warming at twice the rate of the global average. In the north, warming is happening at nearly three times the global rate. The effects of warming are already evident in many parts of Canada and are projected to intensify in the near future.

Bill C-215 aims to ensure that Canada will fulfill its obligations under the Paris Agreement to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. It would recommit Canada to achieving our current Paris Agreement target of at least 30% below our 2005 GHG levels by 2030 and enshrine in legislation Canada's commitment to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to net zero by 2050.

Our government has committed to two key climate change mitigation objectives: exceeding our 2030 target of 30% GHG emissions below 2005 levels, and legislating Canada's goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. While the government supports the intent of Bill C-215 and thanks the hon. member for bringing this important issue forward, it will not be supporting the bill, as it has introduced Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act. Bill C-12 would codify the government's commitment for Canada to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

While Bill C-12 and Bill C-215 share similarities, they have important distinctions and differ in key respects. Both share a common purpose and objectives. They both require the establishment of a pathway for Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and achieve its international commitments with respect to mitigating climate change.

Bill C-12 requires the federal government to set national emissions reduction targets at five-year intervals for 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045. Moreover, Bill C-12 goes further than Bill C-215 by requiring the government to develop emission reduction plans for each target area, as well as explaining how each plan will contribute to reaching our long-term goal of net zero in 2050. This process ensures that each plan will be tailored to its target and will be built upon previous plans when applicable. It would also ensure that other federal ministers who have duties and functions related to measures that may be taken to achieve a target will be consulted when establishing emission reduction plans.

While both bills require reporting to provide updates on Canada's progress in reducing emissions or achieving the GHG targets, Bill C-12 goes further than Bill C-215. It enshrines in legislation reports that must be prepared to provide an update on the progress that has been made toward achieving the GHG emissions target and, furthermore, on the implementation of the federal measures, sectoral strategies and federal government operation strategies described in the emissions reduction plan.

Bill C-12 would also require that the minister prepare an assessment report in relation to a milestone year or to 2050 that states whether the target has been met or not and an assessment of how the federal measures contributed to Canada's efforts to achieve the target. If Canada fails to achieve the targets, the minister would have to explain why and describe actions the government will take to address the shortfall.

Bill C-12 goes further than Bill C-215 by establishing an advisory body whose mandate is to provide the Minister of Environment and Climate Change with advice on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and to conduct engagement activities related to achieving net-zero emissions.

This advisory body will be composed of up to 15 experts who will draw on research and analysis to identify actions that Canada can take to set the foundation for 2050. It will engage with stakeholders, indigenous peoples, other experts and the public.

In terms of accountability, both Bill C-12 and Bill C-215 include a role for the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to examine and report on the Government of Canada's implementation of the measures aimed at achieving the greenhouse gas emissions targets. Bill C-12 includes robust transparency mechanisms, including requirements that all targets, emission reduction plans, progress reports and assessment reports be tabled in Parliament.

Finally, Bill C-12 would also require our government to lead by example by having the Minister of Finance report on key measures that the federal public administration has taken to manage its financial risks and opportunities related to climate change. The government intends to use the report to enhance transparency about its own operations with respect to climate-related financial risks and opportunities.

Net zero is not just a plan for our climate; net zero is a plan for our economic competitiveness in the global marketplace. In December 2020, the Government of Canada released “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy”, which is the federal plan to build a better future with a healthier economy and environment.

This is a plan that builds on the work done to date and efforts that are already under way under the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change and continues down that path that Canadians, governments and businesses have been setting. It is a key pillar in the government's commitment to create over one million jobs, restoring employment to pre-pandemic levels, of which climate action and clean growth is the cornerstone. This strengthened climate plan will also enable Canada to exceed its current 2030 emissions reduction target under the Paris agreement.

While many of the themes presented in Bill C-215 echo our government's priorities set out in the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, we will not be supporting Bill C-215. While we will be advancing Bill C-12, I am encouraged to see all parties in this place recognize the need for strong climate action. Combatting climate change should not be a partisan issue and our government will work across party lines and with all Canadians to achieve our climate goals.

Once again, I thank the member for bringing forward such an important issue. I look forward to further discussions on Canada achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2021 / 6:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I am so happy to be back in the House for the second hour of debate on this climate accountability bill.

This bill is deeply important to me because it is the first bill I had the opportunity to introduce in the House of Commons. I hope it will be the first of many. It is also deeply important to me because it could not be more timely.

The public health crisis we are going through spotlighted another crisis we were already going through: the climate crisis. As everyone knows, the current health crisis and the environmental crisis are inextricably linked. Decades of government inaction on the environment had a hand in the emergence of this pandemic. We need to acknowledge that and take action now.

This parallel is brilliantly explained in the book Pandemic, written by journalist Sonia Shah, who explains that today, we imagine pandemics “to be as unfathomable and unpredictable as being struck by lightning. We cast them as acts of foreign aggression. We did not grapple with our complicity in their spread”.

Like our increasingly mild winters, the pandemic is a reflection of how nature is changing. Our complicity in the increasing number of pandemics stretches back to the development of transportation and industry, from the dawn of the modern age to the chaos of contemporary urban development. All of this created an unhealthy proximity between humans, animals and potentially dangerous micro-organisms. Of course, the impact of oil and gas development, which exacerbates climate warming a little bit more each day, also serves as a vector of pathogen transmission.

There is no denying that not only are COVID-19 and nature connected, but the political decisions we make connect them even further. Failure to take action on the environment is setting up a world where the risk of epidemics will be part of our daily lives. The question is how our societies will choose to manage this risk. I believe that our societies are prepared to move forward with the energy transition and protect our environment and our communities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The only thing missing is a bit of political will.

I see this bill as a sort of safeguard to shield us from the current and future governments' lack of political will to protect the environment. It is high time that the government took the climate crisis seriously. It is our responsibility as parliamentarians, legislators and representatives of the public.

The public deserves more than a government that talks out of both sides of its mouth. The public deserves more than a government that promises to surpass the greenhouse gas reduction targets it committed to under the Paris Agreement, but that continues to invest heavily in highly polluting industries. It is high time that the government stepped up and did what is needed to combat climate change. This is the main objective of the climate change accountability act. It would force the government to turn its rhetoric into meaningful action.

I would remind members that Canada has never met its greenhouse gas reduction targets. It failed to do so multiple times. It had to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and will likely not meet the Paris Agreement targets. Making the government accountable for its climate action will prevent this failure from being repeated. That is the objective of the bill I introduced.

We cannot stress enough that this is critical. We are beginning to pay dearly for the government's inaction. The cost is high financially but also in terms of human life. We are running straight towards our own demise, and that is deplorable.

It is certainly a huge challenge, but I am confident that we can do it. I am confident in my generation, the young people driven by an inspiring passion. They deserve more representation in our institutions. The government must live up to the trust it has been given.

Bill C-215 gives Canada the opportunity to pass a climate act. A climate act must truly be binding and make it possible to have transparent and honest mechanisms. It must make the government accountable for its action or inaction on climate. This should have been put in place a long time ago.

The good thing about this bill is that it gives the government the freedom to choose the avenues it wants to take in the fight against climate change. For governments, this is a perfect opportunity to remain flexible on the means but firm on the targets.

I encourage my colleagues from all parties to vote in favour of our climate change accountability bill so that we can study it in committee.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all members who have risen in the House to speak to this bill. It has been inspiring to see that, regardless of our political affiliation, we are prepared to make this a non-partisan issue and work together.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2020 / 6:05 p.m.
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Bloc

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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Liberal

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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Bloc

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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Conservative

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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Bloc

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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NDP

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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Bloc

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

Liberal

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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Conservative

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.