Madam Speaker, I rise tonight at adjournment proceedings to review a question and a response I received on October 4, 2017. It relates to the challenge of climate change. My question was for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister did rise and provide a response, but it was not entirely to the point of the question. It was certainly positive, and he was very generous in praising my long-time personal work on the file.
I quoted from our colleague, the late Arnold Chan, who in his last words to the House in a speech that was read by the hon. member for Ajax, who said to all of us:
It is imperative that we stop treating climate change as solely an environmental issue, but recognize it as an all-encompassing priority that we as a society and a government must confront with the utmost urgency.
When I stood to ask that question October 4, the day before we had had the release of the report of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, within the office of the Auditor General, Julie Gelfand, the commissioner, happened to have said this about how we were doing as a country and as a government to meet our climate change targets. She said:
Climate change is one of the defining issues of the 21st century. These audits show that when it comes to climate change action, Canada has a lot of work to do in order to reach the targets it has set.
As my colleague, the parliamentary secretary to minister of environment, will know, because I have made this point in the House in debate before, Canada showed leadership in 2015 in Paris. In the negotiations of the Paris accord, Canada was the first industrialized country to step up and agree with the developing world that we had to aim to hold global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5o C above what it was before the industrial revolution. These sound like trivial numbers, but in the context of survival for the low-lying island states, survival for people in the African content, and survival for the Arctic ice to be present over our north pole, seasonally, year round, and into the future, we have to hold global average temperature to 1.5o.
However, the target that Canada chose domestically was the very one that our Minister of Environment and Climate Change criticized in Paris, pointing out that the target of the previous prime minister, Stephen Harper, was really, as the minister said at the time, the floor, that we had to do better and aim higher. Certainly, the target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, put in place by the previous government in May of 2015, is entirely insufficient to meet the goals of the Paris accord.
This inconsistency is troubling, but even more troubling is the observation that we do not yet have a plan. We have the promise of a global carbon price across all of Canada, and that is a step in the right direction. However, in the context of what needs to be done, as Arnold Chan said, we need to make this an all-encompassing priority. That means we do not approve one project that increases greenhouse gas emissions, like approving pipelines full of bitumen and diluent, and then claim we can somehow meet the targets even though we have not yet put in place energy efficiency measures, gotten rid of fossil fuel subsidies, nor delivered on a comprehensive plan to avoid going above 1.5o. We need more. We need action.