Madam Speaker, I would like to take a few seconds to say how pleased I am to be back here in this new place. I am very happy to see all the work that has been done over these past years to build this new House of Commons. I commend everyone who worked on it, because it is amazing. I hope that it will help us have useful discussions and debates that will benefit our constituents.
Today, we are examining a bill pertaining to the Federal Sustainable Development Act, and as the NDP environment critic, I am obviously very pleased to rise in the House to talk about sustainable development, the environment, ecology, the future and what we will leave our children.
We urged the government to be more transparent and engage in more intergovernmental coordination to ensure better planning and accountability with respect to sustainable development in Quebec and Canada. I believe that this is an approach to economic development that has unanimous support in Canada today. We would have liked to see Bill C-57 go further in some respects, but, at every step, the NDP supported the government's policy direction on this matter as well as the progress made on this bill.
We could have gone much further. For example, we would have liked to see the United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals included in this bill, which would have strengthened the federal government's commitment to those UN goals. It is unfortunate that they were not included. We suggested it, but the government declined.
Today, however, we need to debate and vote on the government motion in response to the three amendments proposed and adopted by the Senate. The government agrees with amendments 1 and 3 from the Senate, but it disagrees with amendment 2. That is the fly in the ointment. We in the NDP cannot understand the Liberal government's attitude. Let us look at what amendment 2 says:
2. Clause 8, page 5: Add the following after line 30:
“10.2 Performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada, including employment contracts, shall, where applicable, include provisions for meeting the applicable goals and targets referred to in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and any applicable strategy developed under section 11.”.
The Senate is basically suggesting that federal government contracts awarded to companies and subcontractors take into account the goals and targets of the federal sustainable development strategy. This is something I do not say very often in the House, but I agree with the Senate. The representatives of the upper house have made an excellent suggestion.
The NDP does not understand why the government disagrees with Senate amendment 2 in its motion. Why does the Liberal government want to prevent the contracts in question from having to meet the objectives of the federal sustainable development strategy? How will that help build a greener country that is more respectful of future generations and our ecosystems?
It would not have cost the Liberal government very much to be consistent and agree to the Senate's amendment. It would not cost anything to require that contracts comply with a framework set out in the national sustainable development strategy, which includes certain objectives and principles. Why does the government want to sidestep that requirement? It seems as though the government is giving itself some wriggle room, creating a grey area so it can do what it wants when it awards contracts.
The NDP opposes the government's motion because it rejects that amendment, which seems completely reasonable, coherent and consistent with a comprehensive vision of sustainable development.
There is a lot to say about the Liberal government's coherent and ambitious vision for the environment. This is such an important issue for all Canadians, their children and their grandchildren, but we are once again dealing with a government that says one thing and does the opposite. The government's hypocrisy, its Jekyll-and-Hyde approach, is completely mind-boggling.
In December, I went to Poland for COP24, a major gathering of the United Nations focusing on the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement. I attended a number of meetings and round tables.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change delivered a speech to the delegates at the plenary hall in Katowice. There were 20,000 people there from about 185 countries, and not just government representatives. There were also people representing unions, businesses, investors and environmental groups. The Minister of Environment delivered an absolutely outstanding speech. I was there, I heard the speech, and I applauded along with everyone else. I applauded out of politeness, but also because the speech was very good. The speech laid out a vision that New Democrats and most environmentalists can get on board with. I myself would have wholeheartedly endorsed the text.
The problem is that the Liberal government's decisions have nothing whatsoever to do with what was said in the speech. On the international stage, they are all about making themselves look good, patting themselves on the back and saying all the right things, but there is a lot they are hiding and would rather not talk about. That hypocrisy is a real shame. There are countless examples of how the government says one thing but does the opposite.
A report was presented at COP24 assessing the performance of the 60 richest, most industrialized nations—and obviously that includes Canada—when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. People in Canada often like to brag about our strong performance in various areas. For instance, Canada ranks pretty high on the United Nations human development index. Where does Canada rank in terms of greenhouse gas reductions? Canada ranks 54th out of 60 countries. That is nothing to be proud of. The Liberal government does not keep its promises, and greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
I actually just read an interesting statistic. The only year in which greenhouse gas emissions decreased in Canada was 2008, and that was because of the economic crisis and recession. Every other year, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise inexorably. We are getting further away from our targets. Let us move forward together, and not fall backwards.
In 2030, we are supposed to have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions to 517 megatonnes. That is our target. The Liberal government did not make much of an effort considering that was the Harper government's target. The Liberal government simply copied the targets set by the government of Stephen Harper, known friend of the environment and ecosystems. The Liberals are so ambitious that they decided to adopt the same target as the previous government and they are not even going to reach that.
According to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, we are going to miss the 2020 and 2030 targets. Every year we see the gap between our achievements and our targets getting ever wider.
According to the December 2017 report, if the Liberal government continues down the same path, it will fall 66 megatonnes short of the target. It will fail to meet the Harper government's target by 66 megatonnes.
What did we learn from the December 2018 report a few weeks before Christmas? We learned that we will fall 79 megatonnes short. That is 13 megatonnes more than what was predicted in 2017.
As the years go by, we are falling further behind our 2030 target. Instead of moving forward, we are moving backwards. The Liberal government's results continue to fall further and further behind the Conservative target for greenhouse gas emission reductions. The Liberal government's performance is really nothing to be proud of. Despite its claims, the government does not seem to realize the urgency of the situation.
Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, quoted the IPCC, which submitted a truly exceptional report last year. He told us that we have 12 years to act; we have 12 years before it is too late.
After that, we will not be able to stop or fix global warming and climate destabilization. This will lead to some massive environmental crises. Climate refugees will have to leave their homes, their communities or islands. These islands will be swept into the ocean because we were unable to take action and we did not take global warming and climate destabilization seriously, even though they are the greatest challenge of our generation. It is absolutely catastrophic.
Failures like the ones at COP24 are worrisome. Sure, some progress was made to encourage countries to be transparent, to share information about their greenhouse gas reduction plans and to compare these plans.
However, we all know that we will not be able to meet the Paris target to avoid a 2°C rise in temperature with the existing plans some countries have put forward. The target was to have just a 1.5°C rise in temperature. We will not reach the 1.5°C target or 2°C target with the plans and strategies that have been put forward by western countries and the major developing countries.
There were discussions in Katowice about setting more ambitious targets. They focused on recognizing how, even if we manage to meet our targets, it will not be enough and how we need to be more ambitious. Rather than reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to 517 megatonnes by 2030, Canada may need to consider reducing them to 490 or 480 megatonnes.
We need to make a decision about what to do. If we do not and we stick with the work plans that are on the table right now, the earth's temperature could increase by 3°C or 4°C by 2050. That would be catastrophic in many respects. It would result in natural disasters, such as droughts, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and forest fires. Last summer, British Columbia experienced more forest fires and bigger forest fires than it has in years. Montreal had a heat wave. It was 35°C in Montreal and people died because it was too hot and their bodies could not cope with the heat. This sort of thing is going to happen more and more often. Our targets are not good enough to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. They are not good enough to prevent global catastrophe and climate deregulation that will lead to human suffering, displaced populations, war and reduced economic prosperity.
We will not meet our targets, and we cannot even acknowledge that we should have aimed higher and seen the bigger picture, that we need to take responsibility.
Aurélien Barrau is a French astrophysicist I really like. He is the kind of scientist who sometimes dives into these discussions because he feels that, as a scientist, he has a duty to get involved and sound the alarm. A few months ago, he delivered an absolutely brilliant talk that is available on the Internet. He talked about how global warming is a threat to life as we know it.
In a recent interview on French television, Mr. Barrau said something I found devastating but true: a few years from now, our children will view us as criminals. That really got me thinking. Many of us here and at home have children and grandchildren or have friends who do. I would not want my sons and daughters to be going through hard times a few years from now and blaming us because we failed to step up, do the right thing, and make the green transition happen when it needed to happen. That time is now. We have 12 years.
Humanity faces no greater challenge than the fight against climate change. It will take a monumental effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than put in that effort, what has the Liberal government done besides making fine speeches at international conferences? It bought a pipeline. It took $4.5 billion of our money and bought a leaky 65-year-old pipeline so it could triple oil production, which also means more greenhouse gas emissions. We are going backwards.
If we have the money to buy a pipeline, could we not use it to invest in renewable energy instead and create jobs for the many communities that need them? Renewable energy is not just the way of the future, it is the way to prosperity. It means jobs for today and tomorrow. Kinder Morgan thought it was too risky to hang onto the Trans Mountain pipeline, so it decided to sell it, but it could not find a buyer. Not one private company wanted to buy it, because of the multiple risks involved. Then along came the Liberal government. It decided to drop $4.5 billion of our money on a pipeline no one wanted, and then it decided to spend $7.4 billion to triple oil production and make the pipeline even bigger.
This pipeline crosses 800 rivers and waterways in British Columbia. Today we have learned that it is going to endanger a threatened species, the southern resident killer whales. The team that made a submission to the National Energy Board wrote that, because of marine shipping, the project is going to have significant adverse effects on the ecosystem and habitat of the killer whales. That is understandable, since tanker traffic will increase by 700%.
The government is spending money to say it is going to protect our oceans and the B.C. coast, but at the same time it buys a pipeline that will increase marine traffic, endangering a species that is already threatened. As for the coast, the oil we are talking about is heavy oil. In the event of an oil spill in a river, a lake or the ocean, which would be even worse, no one knows exactly how that type of oil will behave. There is a good chance that after a certain period of time the oil will sink to the bottom, and it will be nearly impossible to clean it up. These are important factors.
Last November, an Equiterre report gave us some insight into this government's choices. The Liberal government is investing 12 times as much money in the oil and gas sector as it is in renewable energy. We propose doing the opposite, investing in solar, wind, tidal and geothermal energy, as well as in electric cars, to change the way we think about the economy so that we have a new clean, green economy that will create good jobs for Canadians.
Export Development Canada alone gives at least $10 billion to the oil and gas sector. Last year, it was more than $10 billion, since we have to include the $4.5 billion that was invested in the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
We have a collective responsibility that goes beyond the re-election of a government or an MP. We have to have the courage to do things differently and make the shift that we have been slow to make here. That is why 300,000 people signed the Pact for the Transition and have decided to make an effort. They will compost and recycle their waste and eat less meat, for example. Why is the Liberal government unable to follow the public's example and make the right decisions for the future?