Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pursue a question I asked of the Minister of the Environment on January 26. It was my first opportunity to raise with the Minister of the Environment and the House the results of the meetings of the Conference of the Parties at the Framework Convention on Climate Change. It was COP20, which occurred in Lima, Peru in December.
In the terms of the agreement to which Canada has agreed, countries that are ready to do so would provide their targets and planned actions under a basket of terms now in the UN lingo called INDCs, intended nationally-determined contributions, no later than the end of the first quarter of 2015. Next week, March 31, is when Canada's statement of intentions are due. I would certainly hope Canada would want to fulfill its responsibilities with the rest of the industrialized world.
I will back up in terms of why this is so critical. Members of the House will recall that the negotiations that took place in Copenhagen, at what was then the 15th conference of the parties, were not successful. However, there was a kind of patched together side deal called the Copenhagen accord, which the current Conservative administration greeted favourably. That approach was launched by President Barack Obama in sort of a backroom deal with other nations, in which a two-page agreement was provided to world leaders, such as our Prime Minister, with an approach that was basically fill in the blanks, “This country will sign on, and this country will reduce by x amount by x year our greenhouse gas emissions”.
The goal that was crystal clear and that was not fill in the blanks was that the collective level of commitments of the countries that adopted this accord would be sufficient to avoid global average temperatures increasing 2°C more than they were before the industrial revolution. Further, the text of the so-called Copenhagen accord left open the possibility of a much more important target; that we avoid allowing greenhouse gas levels to rise so fast and become so concentrated in the atmosphere that we could actually avoid 1.5°C, which would be a much safer level for a new stabilization in the climate system.
Leaving Copenhagen, once they filled in the blanks, the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change started crunching the numbers to see if those countries met their commitments would it be sufficient to meet the goal of avoiding 2°C or even 1.5°C? It quickly concluded that even if every country met their targets from 2009, it would be wholly insufficient to avoid very dangerous levels that soared far above a 2°C increase.
To avoid that same phenomenon of commitments being made at the large event, only to be totted up later and found insufficient, the parties, which includes the Government of Canada, agreed to the approach to ensure that all of the commitments, including commitments to funding, adaptation and technology transfers, but very specifically reduction of emissions, would be tabled in the first quarter of 2015 to determine if each country that gathered in Paris this year met their targets would it be sufficient. We now know Canada has no hope of meeting the targets that we set for ourselves in 2009.
That is why it is critical that Canada gets its plans, its intended nationally-determined contribution, tabled with the UN Secretariat next week.