That the House recognize that: (a) climate change is a real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity, that impacts the environment, biodiversity, Canadians' health, and the Canadian economy; (b) Canadians are feeling the impacts of climate change today, from flooding, wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather events which are projected to intensify in the future; (c) climate change impacts communities across Canada, with coastal, northern and Indigenous communities particularly vulnerable to its effects; and (d) action to support clean growth and meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all parts of the economy are necessary to ensure a safer, healthier, cleaner and more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren; and, therefore, that the House declare that Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires, as a response, that Canada commit to meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement and to making deeper reductions in line with the Agreement's objective of holding global warming below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to address the House of Commons today with respect to our government's motion asking all parliamentarians, elected by Canadians from coast to coast to coast, to acknowledge and declare that climate change is an emergency, that the science behind climate change is clear and that we all need to come together to meet our international obligations.
Why do we need to do this?
Let us listen to Greta, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden. What did she say? She said, “Our house is falling apart, and our leaders need to start acting accordingly.” However, it is not just Greta who is standing up. Young people across Canada are demanding serious climate action from us, elected leaders, who have the ability to act.
Louis and Sara, from Quebec, organized the world's largest demonstration, and they are calling for government action on climate change.
Every Friday, Sophia from Sudbury is out on the streets for Fridaysforfuture. Amelia from my riding of Ottawa Centre is putting posters across Ottawa Centre talking about climate change.
Let me tell members about Carter.
Carter is a young Inuit boy from Cambridge Bay. I met him when I was on a ship in the High Arctic. He sat down beside me and said that he was worried about what he was seeing in his community. He thought that some of the impacts he was seeing were being caused by climate change.
I was lucky to be on a ship with my amazing Environment and Climate Change Canada scientists. I had one of them sit down with Carter. Carter started talking about what was happening in Cambridge Bay in his community. He talked about things that broke my heart. He talked about how when hunters went out to hunt, their feet would get stuck in thawing permafrost like quicksand. He talked about the caribou disappearing, the food on which his community relies. Then he said the saddest thing. He talked about how, after a millennia of hunting on snowmobiles, hunters were now falling through the ice because they could no longer tell its thickness.
We need to come together as a country. We need to join governments from around the world that recognize we are in a climate emergency and we need to act like it.
Today, I had the opportunity to present our scientists' report on climate change in Canada. This report shows that Canada is warming at twice the global rate and at three times that rate in the north.
That means our oceans are acidifying. That means we see more extreme weather events and we will continue to see more and feel the impacts.
The Arctic and North Atlantic oceans will lose their summer pack ice.
As sea levels rise, our coastal areas will flood even more.
I do not need to tell Canadians just about the science; let us talk about what is happening.
Right here, in the national capital region, we have seen the impacts of climate change. Three years ago there was a flood, a flood that was supposed to be a once-in-a-hundred-year flood, that devastated communities. Folks were out of their homes. People were sandbagging. People were worried they were losing their homes and livelihoods. They rebuilt. Then what happened?
Last year in the summer, tornados we had never seen before hit the same community. What happened this year? Now these folks are dealing with another flood. This is a flood that was only supposed to happen once in 100 years. Now we are seeing these events every few years.
We can also talk about what happened in Quebec last summer. Temperatures were so extreme that people died. They died because it was too hot.
Look at what happened out west. Forest fires are burning longer and brighter than ever before. These have real impacts on people. I talked to a mother who worried about whether her kids should go outside because the air quality index was 10 or higher, which meant it was dangerous.
We know the science behind climate change. We know the impacts. It is important that we now come together as a country and act. We may not always agree in the House about which solutions are best, but surely we can agree on the problem, that climate change is an emergency like none we have ever faced before and that we all need to do more to ensure a cleaner, more prosperous future for our kids and grandkids.
Everyone needs to do their part to combat climate change and build a cleaner future for our planet.
I am the second longest-serving environment minister, and it has been a huge honour. I often reflect on when I started this job. Two days into the job, we were off to the Paris climate negotiations. I was not alone. The Prime Minister was there. Members of the opposition were there. All parties were represented. Premiers, indigenous leaders, business leaders and young people were there. We fought for an ambitious Paris agreement.
After a decade of inaction, after a decade of stalling on climate action, my colleagues told me they were happy Canada was back at the table to be serious about climate action.
That is what we did. We pushed and we made an ambitious agreement, with recognition of indigenous rights and recognition of the importance of the markets. Then we came back to Canada.
What did we do after that? We had our own work to do, because this is not just about signing an agreement with the world. We need to do our part. For a year, we negotiated with the provinces, territories and indigenous peoples. We heard from Canadians, businesses, environmentalists and youth.
We listened to Canadians. We negotiated for a whole year, and we came up with a made-in-Canada climate plan that was made by Canadians. That was a very proud moment, because we showed that we could be serious on climate change, that after a decade of inaction we could have a serious plan that brought folks together and took serious action to not only tackle climate change but to grow a clean economy. The reality is that we do not have to choose. The environment and the economy go together in the 21st century. However, that requires work. That requires finding solutions that are unique to Canada.
Let us talk about our climate plan.
Yes, it is no longer free to pollute. I was extremely proud when the Prime Minister announced that it was no longer free to pollute in the country, because if it is free to pollute, there will be more pollution. We are giving the money back to people, because we know life needs to be affordable. We can do both. We can put a price on pollution to reduce emissions and put more money in people's pockets so they can have choices and can be part of the solution when it comes to tackling climate change.
We invested historic amounts in public transportation. We were the only party to say that those investments needed to be made.
Now we have public transit projects across the country. Right here in Ottawa, light rail transit will mean the largest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Ottawa's history.
We have also been investing in our entrepreneurs and inventors. I am seeing clean solutions across the country from coast to coast to coast. It is incredible to see businesses stepping up with clean solutions that not only we but the world desperately needs, which means that we can export and create good jobs right here.
We are also phasing out coal, but we are ensuring a just transition for workers and communities, because everyone has to be part of this transition. We are making historic investments in renewables. We have more than 50 measures outlined in the climate change plan that we made with Canadians. We are moving forward on that plan, and it is making a real difference.
However, we are committed to doing more. That is why we have a sustainable finance task force, with some of the brightest minds trying to figure out how to unleash the trillions of dollars that we need to move to a cleaner future.
That is why we have two experts, Vancity's Tamara Vrooman and Steven Guilbeault, from Quebec, advising us on how to do more in the transportation sector and build buildings in ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We are committed to doing more. We are doubling the amount of nature that we are protecting in Canada. That is a good thing, because Canadians love nature, but we also have a biodiversity crisis that is made worse because of climate change. We just had a report that said the planet may be losing up to a million species, and climate change is one of the major contributing factors. We need to be doing more to take care of what we love—our land, our water, our air, our animals.
We are tackling plastic pollution. The creation of plastics creates emissions and so does getting rid of them, and we have too much plastic. We know that if we do not take action, we will have more plastic pollution in our oceans than we will have fish. That is a huge problem, and it is something that we can solve. We are wasting money by throwing out plastics that have value, billions of dollars. We will find ways to move forward, to ban unnecessary single-use plastics, to innovate and find other solutions and alternatives, and to work with countries around the world, because pollution knows no borders.
Unfortunately, we have an opposition of Conservative politicians from across the country who do not seem to understand that we are in a climate emergency, that we have to do more rather than less, that the science is absolutely clear, and that we have solutions that work.
Previously we had a Progressive Conservative prime minister, Brian Mulroney. He tackled the biggest challenge I faced when I was growing up, which was acid rain. I was worried that we were going to poison our lakes and rivers, and Brian Mulroney stepped up. He pushed the United States to take action with Canada. He listened to scientists. He talked to our business people to find solutions. What else did he do? He put a price on pollution, and we were able to tackle acid rain.
We can do this. We are a great country. We can figure this out. However, the only way we do that is by coming together. Polarization will end any action on climate change. We have seen that story. We have seen that story south of the border. We also see it in places like France.
That is where the yellow vests movement started. Of course people want life to be affordable. Fighting climate change has gotten harder. I saw that when I was in France for a G7 meeting last week.
We need to bring Canadians together. In the three and a half years I have been in this job, I realize that yes, we need laws; yes, we need regulations; yes, we need investments, but most of all we need to bring Canadians together.
Canadians, whether a farmer in a small town in Saskatchewan, an Inuk who lives in Cambridge Bay, a person who lives in Prince Edward Island or downtown Toronto or Ottawa centre or British Columbia, care about our environment. Canadians care about clean air and clean water. They want to tackle climate change, but they also want life to be affordable. They also want good jobs. We can do both. We can make sure that the environment and the economy go together.
We know how to solve these problems, but we need to stop fighting with each other. People need to stop telling the kind of falsehoods we keep hearing from Conservative politicians and premiers in this country. They say fighting climate change costs too much, so we cannot do it. They think putting a price on pollution is just a way to fill government coffers, but that is not true.
It is false. We have a plan. We put a price on pollution and we are giving that money back. A family of four in Ontario will get $307.
We are taking action to put a price on pollution but giving the money back to families, such that a family of four in Ontario will get $307. That is more than 80% of what families pay.
Why would Conservative premiers want to not tell the truth? The truth is that we can tackle climate change and do it in a way that is affordable. Why would there be a sticker campaign to mislead Canadians? Why would there be advertising using taxpayers' dollars to mislead Canadians?
We are bringing this motion today. It is not a partisan motion. Everyone should be able to support it.
What does the motion ask? The motion asks that we recognize that climate change is an emergency, that the science behind climate change is clear, that we need to meet our international obligations.
I know we can do this. I know we are a country that has come together, that has faced so many challenges. Think about the efforts that we put in during the two great wars. We stood up. We stood up as a country. We built this great country, and we are blessed because we have amazing natural resources in this country. We have a beautiful country. Our unspoiled wilderness is one of the largest in the world.
Most of all, we have our people. We were elected by Canadians from coast to coast to coast, who expect us to stand up, who expect us to make decisions based on science, who expect us to take action to tackle climate change, who expect us to come together on the biggest challenge that we face and expect us to answer our kids. Our kids are marching in the streets, demanding that we step up.
We know what the problem is: We have too much pollution. We know what the solutions are and we need to be coming together. It is so critically important that we recognize the science, that we recognize that we have an obligation to come together, as we said we would in Paris, to meet our international obligations, to be serious about tackling climate change, to not fight about whether we need to take action but come together and fight for more action and push each other to look at what more we can do, yet always remembering that people are at the heart of what we do. We need to make sure that we bring folks together.
I have learned in this job that I am the Minister of Environment and Climate Change for all Canadians, not only for environmentalists but also for people who work in the energy sector, for people who live in the north of the country and people who live in major cities. I recognize that. It means that every day I work hard with Canadians to find solutions.
When I look at what is happening, I see towns across the country taking serious action on climate change because they cannot ignore it. When there are floods, they have to be there. When Constance Bay is once again hit by another flood, the elected municipal leaders need to be there. They are there helping to fill sandbags, because they cannot ignore the science on climate change.
I see it with Canadian companies. There are so many incredible companies that are working so hard to tackle climate change. They are coming out with amazing, incredible solutions. Whether it is CarbonCure out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, or Carbon Engineering out of Burnaby, these companies are finding amazing solutions. They are showing us what we can do, showing us that we have the ingenuity, that we know what the problems are and can figure out the solutions.
That is why I am asking everyone in this House to come together, to put partisan politics aside and vote for a very simple motion. It is not a complicated motion and it is not a partisan motion. All it asks is that everyone in this House stand together and recognize that the science behind climate change is clear. It points to the fact that we are in a climate emergency and that we need to meet our international obligations.
Canadians will be proud.
Canadians will be proud that we can put political differences aside and say that climate change is a problem but that we can tackle it. We were elected by Canadians to stand up and deal with hard issues, to represent them, to show leadership and to be their voices right here in the House of Commons. I ask everyone to recognize that we need to act. We have a climate emergency.
Greta is asking, and children across Canada and around the world are asking, will we be serious? Will we recognize that there is a climate emergency? Will we stand up and take the action we need to and act?
It is their future. We are only borrowing this planet, and we will pass it on to our children and grandchildren. We owe it to them to pass on a sustainable planet. We owe it to them to ensure that they have good jobs and that life is affordable. We owe it them to come together.
We need to take action now for our children and grandchildren. They are asking us to. They are marching in the streets every Friday because they want us, their elected representatives, to show leadership. Are we going to stand up and say that there is a climate emergency and we need to come together to meet our international obligations? It is simple.
It is a simple request, and it is actually very reasonable. It is reasonable that they would want us to act. It is reasonable that they would ask us to put aside our partisan differences and actually come together to tackle the most challenging problem we face with the Canadian can-do spirit. We can figure this out. We can provide the solutions the world needs, and we can be creating jobs.
I am very proud that our government has a climate plan that we worked on and developed with Canadians. At the same time, we have created one million jobs. We can do both, which is something we all must recognize. Taking action on climate change is not a choice about the environment or the economy. We can do both. We can grow the economy and take serious action on climate change. That is what Canadians expect us to do, and that is what we are delivering on.
However, if we do not come together, we may lose all of this progress. It is a simple request: that we all stand up for the science behind climate change; that we stand up and recognize that we are in a climate emergency; and that we stand up and say that, yes, we are going to meet our international obligations and we are going to come together to do that.
I hope all parliamentarians will vote in favour of this motion and recognize climate change science, the climate emergency and the importance of meeting our international obligations.
I know that we can do this. I have seen it across the country. I have seen that Canadians are committed to acting. Now we need to act like leaders. We need to be serious about tackling climate change. We need to come together, and we need to do it now.