Madam Speaker, I rise in adjournment proceedings tonight to take up a question that I asked earlier this spring. It might be considered to be somewhat stale-dated by this point, but there are current issues of real importance related to the question that I asked of the Prime Minister back in the month of March. It was on the eve of a very important meeting of the Arctic Council that took place in Fairbanks, Alaska. It was the last Arctic Council meeting chaired by the United States, which chaired the council for a brief period when the Obama administration represented the United States in international affairs.
It was very clear that we were making progress. Ironically, we were repairing the damage that Canada had done as chair under the previous Conservative government. Under Canada's chairing of the Arctic Council, climate change was ignored and shelved as an issue. When chairmanship went from Canada to the U.S. under Obama, we began to see the focus of what we would expect in a time of galloping climate change in the Arctic. It is critical to look at the impacts on not just the Arctic as a specific region but at the impacts of a warming Arctic on the planet.
In any case, the question I put to the Prime Minister was whether Canada would stand firmly with Nordic nations to ensure that the urgency of climate change and the commitment to the Paris accord were reflected in the communique from the Arctic Council. I have to say that I am very pleased that Canada stepped up. The Trump administration was somewhat sidelined, but in the end, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed on to the joint declaration from the Arctic Council in Fairbanks, Alaska, in the spring to say that the Paris accord was critical and that the parties were committed to climate action.
In taking it up now, we know that the current and next chair of the Arctic Council is the Government of Finland. However, science is increasingly conveying the urgency to start asking questions about the kind of Arctic we need to have to ensure that we can avoid catastrophic and indeed cataclysmic levels of climate change. This has to do with asking questions about working backwards from the Paris target of ensuring that we do not go above a 1.5° Celsius global average temperature temperature increase over what it was before the industrial revolution. It is specifically and urgently critical to the question of what kind of Arctic we need to have for human civilization to survive.
It relates very directly to evidence presented most recently in Nature as a projection based on current levels of governmental commitments, and I mean government commitments globally.
There is only a 5% chance that we will stick to 1.5°, and for every degree of warming above where we are now, recent studies in Nature Climate Change predict that for every 1° Celsius of warming, we will see 1.5 million square miles of permafrost disappear. Every ounce of permafrost that disappears releases vast quantities of methane, which is 20 times more powerful, unit for unit, than carbon dioxide. In other words, if the world's permafrost melts, it is game over for humanity. It is stark. It is real.
The urgency of acting means that we not take our target from the Paris accord—the weak target left behind by the Conservatives of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030—but actually take on board the far more real challenge that Canada supported in Paris of avoiding 1.5° Celsius. That is the challenge I put to the government.