Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert. I would also like to acknowledge that we are on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin and Anishinabe people.
It is an honour to join this emergency debate. If I seem a little tired, it is because I came in this morning on the red eye and it is 11:25 p.m. here. However, I would never miss this opportunity to speak and bring a message from the people of Courtenay—Alberni about how concerning this issue is. Clearly it is the most important issue, not just for people in my riding and our country but globally.
The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an urgent call to action on the most serious threat facing our planet: global climate change. Thousands of scientists and experts from around the world warn that if major and unprecedented action is not taken immediately, it will no longer be possible to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and the consequences will be devastating for people in ecosystems across the globe.
Canada is failing to meet even its own modest emission reduction targets. Now the IPCC is telling us that our current emissions must be cut by 45% in order to stave off disaster. This is serious, and after a summer of soaring temperatures, rising floods and raging wildfires in my home province of British Columbia, Canadians are already feeling the impacts of climate change. If we fail to act now to fight climate change, the cost will be immense: families losing homes and property in extreme weather events, farmers losing crops and all Canadians losing species and the ecosystem that make up our natural heritage.
This is real. The PBO said that the impact of intense storms and intense weather would cost us about $1 billion a year. We know that it is supposed accelerate to about $5 billion by 2020, which is only two years out, and it could be upwards of nearly $50 billion by 2050. We are accelerating not just fiscal debt and shouldering that to future generations, but we are shouldering them with a huge environmental fiscal debt. We need to be much more responsible.
The world's scientists have stated clearly and firmly that we must take bold and immediate action to ensure a safe and sustainable world. Canadians expect more from all of us and they expect us to come together to address this issue, which is why we are here today. It is really important that we work together on finding solutions.
I think about some of the things we might be facing if we are in a world where global warming has reached 2° above pre-industrial times. The Arctic Ocean could be free of sea ice in the summer. It could be once per century if we are at 1.5°C, but compare that with once per decade if we are at 2°C. If we look at our coral reefs, we could see them decline between 70% and 90% at a 1.5° rise in global temperature. Virtually all, 99%, would be lost with the global temperate rising 2°. We should all be very nervous about that.
I think about my own community in Port Alberni. We have seen three hundred-year floods in the last four years. We have seen huge floods in Alberta, and as a I mentioned earlier, the fires raging across British Columbia and Alberta in the last couple of years. We had a drought in 2014 and we were worried about our salmon making it up our streams. We could have lost several species in salmon, and our salmon are struggling. Every day and every year we hear about the challenge. They are fighting to get up our streams. as warming temperatures are warming our rivers and making it more difficult for them, specifically our sockeye.
We talked about the forest fires. We could barely breathe in my riding, yet some people still do not believe that climate change is real, that the impact is real. We could not breathe for almost two weeks. It was like smoking five cigarettes a day, which is what the medical health officer compared it to, yet some people are still not awake to this being real and that there is a sense of urgency.
Ocean acidification is happening in our riding. As my colleague from Quebec talked about earlier, we have had our worst year in 50 years with respect to weather affecting agriculture, including in my riding.
We can look at what the other political parties have done in the past. The Conservatives muzzled scientists, attacked environmental organizations and they lacked the courage and commitment that was necessary to tackle this very important issue.
The Conservatives ran huge environmental deficits. The Conservative Party runs on a platform of being fiscally responsible, yet it leaves huge deficits for future generations to clean up.
The Liberals ran with two major promises. One promise was to tackle climate change and the other was on electoral reform. Clearly, they have broken both promises.
I mentioned earlier that in June 2016, I asked the minister why she did not follow through with her promise to end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Instead, what she chose to do was to go out and support her cabinet and her government's purchase of a leaky pipeline. Not only did the Liberals not follow through with that promise, but they went in the other direction. It is very concerning. They believe that we need to own a pipeline to tackle climate change. Where I live, no one is buying it.
We can look to countries where they have taken real action, such as Sweden and the U.K. Sweden has grown its economy by 50% and reduced emissions by 25%. We know the track record is very similar in the U.K. We need bold action.
I remember when Al Gore came to Victoria in 2007. He said that we need bold action. He said it is great that all of us are recycling and riding our bikes and doing all these great things and we can make an impact. However, he said that 90% of it is going to be the corner cutters, big industry, the huge emitters. He said that we need regulations to actually curb their emissions and incentives to help invest in clean energy. He was right. I will give credit to the opposition party in British Columbia, the Liberals. When in government they brought in a carbon tax. Gordon Campbell was with me there, listening to Al Gore, and he agreed with Al Gore that we need leadership. I commend him for that.
We need that kind of leadership right now, but even accelerated more. If we are going to reduce emissions by 45%, we need urgent action. We can do it. We can invest in geothermal and solar and wind, like other countries are, and electrification. I am here with my colleague. We are the only party that has an electrification critic. We can try to create an electrification grid across the country and be energy efficient and help support electric vehicles and moving away from fossil fuels. We need to work with local government and first nations so we can help them accelerate issues.
My friend from Pontiac talked about cycling, and I appreciate his work too on cycling. My bill, Bill C-312, encourages the government to create a plan. We actually need a plan with targets to grow cycling in our country. It is one of the very small initiatives, but 95% of municipalities voted in favour of it, and the Liberal government still has not honoured that commitment. Municipalities are just asking for a simple strategy and some funding so they can actually target something that they can help with. We know there are many different ways to address this issue, but really it comes down to urgency and taking action.
I was fortunate to have constituents of mine send me messages. On Friday, I was doing business walks in my community. I met Tyler Cody, who owns Osprey Electric. He is a contractor who specializes in solar and energy efficient technologies. He really wants to contribute. He knows that if people have an incentive, they will purchase solar energy. A small incentive will accelerate things a hundredfold if we can get some incentives out to individual homeowners who want to participate and want to join in this fight to tackle climate change. His manager sent me a note saying, “Canada is one of the only advanced countries where the federal government offers no incentives for renewable energy implementation at either the commercial or residential level. This means no programs providing low-rate or zero-rate interest loans, no tax rebates or tax credits. Business and homeowners who want to adapt are on their own. It's a bit embarrassing, really.” He is saying that a little bit of help would go a long way.
John Standen sent me a note on Facebook saying that we need to mobilize, that people are at risk now, not 20 years from now. He wants us to get started. He does not want us to waste any more time.
Claire Schuman from Parksville said that policies are not helpful if they are not put into action. She said that instead of focusing on the pipeline that was bought, immediate attention must be paid to reducing our carbon footprint, and no more waiting.
That is what people in my community are asking for. That is what first nations are asking for. They are asking for the government to be bold, to be courageous, to not wait. That is why we are having this emergency debate. I hope that the government, in the coming days before the big meeting in December, will come forward with bold proposals, accelerate its plan and come back with some clear targets that are measurable, because we need to take this seriously. It is for our children and the future of our planet and our ecosystem. We have everything at stake.