Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the motion asking the House to support the government's decision to ratify the Paris agreement made at the COP 21 on April 22 of this year. Of course, New Democrats in the House will support the ratification of the Paris agreement.
However, we would be remiss if we did not also recognize what a deep disappointment it is for all Canadians who believed the Prime Minister's promise of change; for all Canadians who want a secure, healthier future for their children and grandchildren; and for all Canadians who know that significant emissions reductions are the only way to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Instead of respecting its promise to Canadians and its obligations to future generations, the Liberal government has adopted the woefully inadequate Harper Conservative targets. That will see Canada fail to meet its previous Copenhagen commitment, on top of the previous Liberal failure to meet Kyoto targets. Of course, tragically, that will also mean that we will fail to keep the promise of a 1.5°C temperature limit made by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Paris.
Canada is still without a national greenhouse gas reduction plan, and the Liberals have not taken the steps necessary to meet targets here at home to comply with our international climate obligations, including the carbon tax announcement yesterday.
What we can guarantee with a carbon tax increase is an increase in taxes. What we cannot guarantee with a carbon tax is a decrease in greenhouse gases. The only way to do that is with a cap-and-trade system.
Theoretically, if the carbon tax were to get high enough, it would discourage people from doing the types of things that are producing GHGs. However, Canada has the best working model for greenhouse gas reduction, and it is the reduction scheme put in place to come to grips with a problem that was not global warming at the time, but it was acid rain. Instead of CO2, which is the main greenhouse gas, we were dealing with SO2, sulphur dioxide.
Big companies like Inco had said that they would never put in the scrubbers in their stacks, because they were going to cost tens of millions of dollars. Madam Speaker, in your part of the world, you know that well. However, when Canada and the United States got together and put in a cap-and-trade system, limiting the amount of SO2 that could be produced year over year, we took care of acid rain.
Do members know why? It is because companies like Inco were forced to make a market decision at some point. They were either going to have to buy SO2 credits in the market created for that substance, or they were going to put in the scrubbers; and the year that it was cheaper to put in the scrubbers, they did just that. This is what a cap-and-trade system does. It is a complicated notion, but it actually works.
Canada right now is simply dealing with the Conservative plan. That is what we are taking to the table, and we will once again fail future generations, because the Liberals, of course, have not followed through on their promise. We share the disappointment of many Canadians who voted Liberal thinking that they would get real change on a big subject like reducing in greenhouse gases, only to realize that what they got was Stephen Harper.
Instead of keeping the promises they made to Canadians, the Liberals adopted the completely inadequate targets of the Harper Conservatives, which do not even meet the Copenhagen commitments and break the promise made by the Minister of the Environment in Paris to have a maximum temperature increase of 1.5°C.
Canada still does not have a national plan to reduce greenhouse gases. The Liberals have done nothing to meet the targets in Canada.
Naturally, any progress in this area is a step in the right direction. However, yesterday's announcement will not help us act quickly enough to reduce GHGs, and Stephen Harper's targets will certainly not get us there.
According to the recent report from Environment and Climate Change Canada published in February, Canada will still miss the low targets set by Stephen Harper for 2030. The Liberals will not meet the Harper targets for 2030. This is recent and comes from a non-partisan source, Environment and Climate Change Canada.
What the Prime Minister announced yesterday will not close this gap, and the targets will not be enough to help us meet the international commitments we made under the Paris agreement.
I was listening attentively to my colleague from British Columbia. She told us what the government was going to do to reduce the federal government's emissions. She talked about the federal fleet. That is very interesting.
However, it was not a question of the federal government's action with its fleet that was signed in Paris. The Government of Canada signed an accord that required us to reduce our greenhouse gases. It is interesting to hear her say that they are going to do a certain number of activities, but what is required under article 4, paragraph 4, of the Paris accord is an economy-wide effort to reduce our greenhouse gases.
Now she described the fact, and I knew her at the time, that she spent three years as British Columbia's environment minister. Our paths crossed at the time. For three years, I was Quebec's environment minister. For every one of those three years, in Canada's largest province by territory and second-largest by population, in Quebec, we were able to reduce greenhouse gases. We had an across-the-economy plan to do just that, and we believed in it. That is what happens when we use the resources of our government to produce a positive result for the future.
What others have done, and what the Liberals continue to do, is to try to use this for public relations purposes.
I will never forget my old classmate, Eddie Goldenberg, who did something quite unusual for a Liberal. He told the truth. He explained that when the Liberals signed Kyoto, they had no plan. In fact, he used a lovely expression. He said they signed Kyoto “to galvanize public opinion” which no doubt, in his mind anyway, explains the fact that under the Liberals, after signing Kyoto, we missed our targets by 30%. In fact, we had one of the worst records in the world for increases in greenhouse gas productions. One of the only countries that was worse than us was Kazakhstan. If that is the company that the Liberals are comfortable keeping in terms of dealing with our international obligations, I will leave it to them.
What I know is that Canadians expected better. Canadians who voted for change, thinking that the Liberals would deliver change, are bitterly disappointed to realize that it is just more of the same.
Fighting climate change with Liberals or Conservatives is six of one and half a dozen of the other. However, the Liberals do it with a smile and go to Paris.
I was there when the Prime Minister waved his hands and proclaimed that Canada was back. What he failed to mention is that Canada was back with Stephen Harper's plan, targets, and timeline.
Yesterday, we learned that the Liberals did not even have a plan to achieve Stephen Harper's targets. Such is the Liberal reality. As usual, they know how to capitalize on this to improve their public relations. However, they are doing nothing to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Why is that so important? I remember when I was young and in school, reading in an encyclopedia that if the ice in Greenland melted, it would raise the seas to such a level. A picture accompanied it. I saw large cities around the world that would be completely sunk by the amount of water that would enter the oceans by the melting of the ice cap on Greenland. I remember being terrified by the thought, but saying how could that possibly ever happen? A week ago, new figures published show that hundreds of billions of tonnes of that ice cap in Greenland is melting, moving into the oceans, changing currents, changing salinity, changing the planet. We can do something about it, but it begins with reducing greenhouse gases.
We heard the Prime Minister today. He did not dare deny when I read to him the three cases that were before us, that he had Stephen Harper's plan, that the government's tax could not guarantee a reduction, and that we were not going to be able to meet our obligations. He could not deny it. Members saw that, as well as I did. That is terrifying for future generations.
Very few of us who are here today will feel the full force of the changes being wrought on the planet by our inaction. We have had enough of the posing, the posturing, the feel-good phrases. They are all empty. It is time for action on climate change, and the only way to do it is to reduce greenhouse gases.
We can change course, set new targets based on science that are consistent with our international commitments, adopt a national greenhouse gas reduction plan, and take immediate urgent action regarding internal climate policies in order to meet our international obligations and especially our imprescriptible obligations to future generations.
We have to convert these international ambitions into tangible policies here at home. The NDP knows that it is possible to grow the economy while protecting the environment, but this government is currently failing at both at the same time. So far, the Liberals seem to be continuing the pattern of previous governments: make international commitments and then fail to live up to them.
With each passing day and each new decision, Canadians are questioning whether the Liberals have any intention of keeping their promises. They are finding it increasingly difficult to reconcile the Prime Minister's words with the actions of the Liberal government.
We saw this particularly in the wake of decisions like last week's approval of Pacific NorthWest LNG. Again, I refer to my Liberal colleague from British Columbia who just spoke before me. It was incredible to hear her boast about the work with regard to first nations. What is required by the Supreme Court is meaningful consultation and accommodation, whether it is in the case of site C, where the government approved it while it was still being debated before the courts, or in the case of LNG, which is a single project that will increase the entire greenhouse gas production of the major province of British Columbia.
Liberals did that with the stroke of a pen while it was still being opposed by six major first nations in that province. They say that is respectful. We say it is an abject failure to meet the responsibilities imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada. That Pacific NorthWest LNG project, as planned, would in fact be the single-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in all of Canada. It would produce more than 10 million tonnes.
My Conservative colleagues ask, what about globally? That is one of the Conservatives' main talking points: Canada only represents a small percentage of the globe in the fight against climate change.
What if Canadians, in the Second World War, had adopted this position? That because Canada only represented a small percentage of the overall forces of the allies in the Second World War, we would not have fought. Canada fought. Canada has to do its part to fight climate change.
The Liberals promised a new era of renewed relationships with indigenous nations. I remember when the Prime Minister, just last week, sent three ministers to the Vancouver airport, only 1,000 kilometres away from the people and territory that will be directly affected by their decision. That decision was made without proper consultation and in spite of major opposition.
The Liberals said they would fix the environmental assessment process, but instead they are still relying entirely on the Harper Conservatives' broken promises. That is right, there is a fourth broken promise. This also threatens key juvenile salmon habitat that the Liberals promised to protect.
Four broken promises in one single decision. That is where the Liberals are on the environment and respect for first nations. That is why the NDP knows that we are the only progressive voice in this House, standing up on key issues like climate change.
That has been the story of so many of their other commitments. It is almost as if they have different categories of broken promises. They promised to restore postal delivery door to door in Canada, and now they are pretending that is in a special category. That is a promise that they do not even remember making.
Here, this is a different category of promise. During the election campaign, the Liberals promised a whole new series of targets. Then, once the election was over, they said it is a whole new series of mimeographed targets, the same ones we saw from Stephen Harper. They just forgot that word.
Soon the Liberals will be celebrating their first anniversary in power, which will be marked by broken promises and failures on important issues, such as fighting climate change.
What better example do we have of the Liberals breaking fundamental promises than what this party, which prides itself on its image of a party that works for peace, did in Geneva, Switzerland in August. Members should brace themselves. This Liberal government voted against nuclear disarmament in Geneva. Members heard correctly. This is yet another example of the Liberals not keeping their word and they have not even been in office for a year. However, that is fundamental. We saw it with the Kyoto protocol, which the Liberals signed for public relations purposes. We saw it with the Copenhagen agreement when the Conservatives were in office, and emissions have increased significantly since then.
Let us not forget that the federal Liberals have been promising to do something about climate change since 1993. Jean Chrétien ran on that platform in 1993. The Liberals used the same tactic during the last election. They took so many of the same positions as the NDP that many Canadians thought they could count on the Liberals as a way of getting rid of Harper. They thought that, since they had been having the wool pulled over their eyes by the Liberals for only 149 years, they would give them one last chance.
Less than a year later, those people are starting to realize that they were misled. They are beginning to become disillusioned. The people who voted Liberal are extremely disappointed to see that all they are getting is Stephen Harper's plan but with a smile. Unfortunately, for future generations, that does absolutely nothing to change the fact that greenhouse gas emissions are rising and there have been changes in the climate itself.
If we go above the 2°C mark, we will be at the tipping point. Global warming will have negative and irreversible effects on ecosystems, the global economy, and human beings in particular.
However, it is becoming increasingly clear that even such an immediate and urgent threat is not enough to make the Liberals do more than hold press conferences, make empty announcements, and spout rhetoric, clichés, and platitudes.
The New Democrats have consistently stood up for urgent and effective action on climate change. We have introduced progressive policies for Canada to transition to a new and vibrant low-carbon economy. We will keep fighting on behalf of Canadians because Canada cannot fail the global effort to fight catastrophic climate change.
The Liberals cannot continue to break their promises. Their words on climate change must be matched by meaningful action. They cannot continue to operate under Harper's broken environmental assessment process. We all remember what they promised in cases like Kinder Morgan and others in British Columbia, in particular to the Dogwood initiative. We will bring in a whole new credible environmental assessment process and we will restart those evaluations under that new process, an entirely broken promise. Believe me, the people in British Columbia know it is an entirely broken promise.
When a project like Pacific NorthWest LNG is approved without a new process and one that considers climate targets, that is what we are talking about. How can the Liberals approve any of these major new projects if they are already failing to meet their international obligations to reduce greenhouse gases? It is nonsense. They cannot do it. Yet that is what the Liberals would have us believe, that they can approve these massive new projects, the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in Canada, while at the same time pretend they will meet international obligations. It is impossible to do. What the Liberals should have done was respect their promise to come in with a new process, make it credible, and include the analysis of greenhouse gases every step of the way.
We have proposed an amendment to the government's motion to press the Liberals for a clear plan, with updated targets and specific measures to meet our Paris commitments, including our obligations to first nations, but words are not enough. We are past the point where Canadians will accept empty promises on climate change and we are past the point where our environmental and economic future can afford more broken promises on climate change. Canadians deserve better. The New Democrats will keep working with hope for a better future for us all.
I will close by saying that we in the New Democratic Party will always stand strong for real environmental change in Canada. It starts with a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases. That is the only way to curb climate change.