Madam Speaker, it is again my honour to rise in the House to support the motion to ratify the Paris agreement signed by Canada on April 22 in New York.
As well, I am honoured to speak in support of the motion's call for support for the Vancouver declaration signed on March 3, 2016, which calls on the federal government, provinces, and territories to develop a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change.
Since coming to this House I have spoken many times about the matter of climate change, including on the harmful impacts of climate change in my home town in the riding I represent, Halifax, Nova Scotia. I have often told my colleagues here that I view climate change as one of the most urgent and pressing matters facing this country and this Parliament.
That is why I introduced my private member's motion M-45 to this House, which addresses the growing threat of climate change by requiring GHG analyses of federally funded infrastructure.
I am grateful to all of those in this chamber who helped pass M-45 last Wednesday, and I am also extremely encouraged, not only to see that motion pass but also to see so clearly that the great majority of members in this place, more than two-thirds of those present in last Wednesday's vote, recognize the importance of taking concrete action to address climate change. It is my sincere hope that this demonstration of support for real climate action is repeated again with respect to the motion we are debating today. I believe we have no other responsible choice.
In the spring of 2016, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change issued a call to Canadians and asked for their help to shape Canada's climate change policy. In the months that followed, certain members of Parliament from across the country hosted town hall meetings in their ridings to solicit that feedback from their constituents. On June 28, more than 250 people packed a room at Dalhousie University for my own town hall meeting on climate change. The energy was intense and Haligonians were eager.
Participants at that event were split up among 10 themed groups. Halifax residents themselves identified the themes through a social media outreach from my office the week before. Sitting in groups of 10, each group was provided with a single large sheet of paper, a handful of markers, and three simple questions on their respective themes: “What are your big ideas? What do you think government should know about this? What are your top recommendations to government on this?”
In no time, the tables were demanding a second sheet of paper and then a third and in many cases a fourth piece, easily having filled their paper with their big ideas to fight climate change. From a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, experiences, and political affiliations came an extraordinary set of ideas that our government can take to tackle climate change. My team and I took everything recorded on those sheets of paper and provided them, word for word, to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and I posted them at hfxclimateaction.ca.
The citizen turnout and the passion, the high volume, and the thoughtfulness of the feedback was such a tangible demonstration of just how strongly the people of Halifax want real climate action, but not only that, but of just how much our city wants to be a leader, an ally, in what is one of the greatest challenges facing our government and our planet today.
Then again, this cannot come as much of a surprise. I have said before that Halifax finds itself on the front lines in the battle against climate change, with the rising sea levels and the extreme weather events that go with it. The impact of continuing climate change, if not addressed, will have serious implications for Halifax and for all of the communities we love across this country.
As one of Canada's primary coastal cities, Halifax faces a clear and present danger with sea level rise. It puts the quality and quantity of our drinking water at risk, and it jeopardizes Halifax's status and viability as a great Canadian port city, a key economic driver in my riding, my province, and eastern Canada.
It stands to harm marine habitats and the commercial viability of fish stocks, like salmon and cod. Transportation infrastructure will deteriorate, and increased costs for infrastructure repair and maintenance will become a larger and larger strain on public resources.
The impact of climate change is just as threatening right across Canada, where we are surrounded by more than 200,000 kilometres of coastline, where so many of our beloved cities and communities lie, and where as my colleague the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the member for the Northwest Territories have pointed out, our indigenous communities are disproportionately affected.
That is why I am speaking in favour of ratifying the Paris agreement and supporting the Vancouver declaration. I will begin with the Paris agreement.
In December of last year, as our then new Minister of Environment and Climate Change and our Canadian delegation left for Paris to participate in climate discussions, I will admit I was very nervous.
I knew our delegation was strong and exceptionally capable and absolutely committed to a positive result, but I just was not sure how successful negotiations would be because, after all, the success of the agreement depended not only on our own government but on the capacity for consensus among many nations from across the world, each with unique interests and challenges. Previous efforts had failed, and I wondered if enough had changed in the world and here at home for the Paris negotiations to reach a better result.
Thanks in no small part to our Minister of Environment and Climate Change, things had changed, and the Paris climate talks were in so many ways a terrific success. More than 190 countries signed the agreement, each agreeing to do their part to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To date, more than 60 countries have ratified the agreement, representing over half of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions. With that we have surpassed the threshold number of 55 countries required to ratify the agreement in order for it to come into effect, and with the recent ratification by the European Union, we have achieved the requirement that those who ratify it must represent 55% of global emissions. This train is on the tracks.
The agreement is now in force. The global community is forging ahead, and we must join it.
The Paris agreement is a historic one, and it is urgent that we seize its potential. We simply cannot afford to wait any longer to support its ratification and put it into force here in Canada. The climate is changing and the impacts of global warming are closer than they have ever been. I only hope it is not too late.
Our government did its part in Paris, and now we must do our part here at home by supporting the motion before us.
Now I would like to address the Vancouver declaration. In much the same way that Canada cannot act alone to curb global emissions, our federal government cannot act alone to curb our country's emissions. We must work with provincial and territorial governments, as well as with indigenous groups to collaborate on a national plan to fight climate change.
On the heels of the Paris agreement, first ministers and indigenous leaders from across the country met in Vancouver in March of this year to discuss climate change. Parties agreed that we must transition to a low-carbon economy to ensure clean, sustainable growth, and the group committed to developing collaboratively a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change.
At the conclusion of their talks in Vancouver, parties formed into four working groups: one on carbon pricing; one on clean technology, innovation, and jobs; one on mitigation opportunities; and one on climate resilience and adaptation. The findings of these working groups will help inform the pan-Canadian framework.
I am proud to support a government that respects the need for intergovernmental collaboration on files like the environment. At the same time, our federal government has made it clear that it will take the necessary steps to meet our international obligations.
Pricing carbon pollution, for instance, is one such step, as the Prime Minister outlined yesterday. Indeed, pricing carbon pollution was one of the commitments of the Vancouver declaration agreed to by all premiers.
I believe implementing this mechanism can be done while working with provincial governments, which are already taking concrete steps to reduce emissions within their jurisdictions.
Our government is committed to ensuring each province has the flexibility to meet its individual needs, such as in my province of Nova Scotia, where we are already leading the nation of terms of GHG reductions and where we are well on our way to meeting our 2020 target of reducing emissions to 10% below 1990 levels.
Pricing carbon pollution is only one step, and I look forward to December when provinces and territories come together again to reach a pan-Canadian framework on the entirety of clean growth and climate change.
As I said earlier, we must work together to reach a solution, for none of us alone can fight climate change. No region, no country can win this war against climate change on its own; so we must unite, bound together by our common interests, our common survival, and the trust placed in us by Canadians coast to coast to coast to take meaningful action on climate change.
I believe the Paris agreement and the Vancouver declaration are the best shot we have, and so I fervently hope that the House will join me in voting in favour of the motion that is before us.