Mr. Speaker, environment and climate change are issues that consistently rank as top concerns for the constituents of my riding in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. That is why I am pleased to have this short opportunity to intervene and give some of my thoughts on the bill that is before us, Bill C-12.
The reason this issue ranks so highly in concern among my constituents is that we have had consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments that have failed to meet a single climate target. I think Canadians are quite tired at this point, it being 2021, of governments committing to targets and then missing them again and again and again. We are running out of time to turn things around.
I often wonder where we would be today if, all the way back in 2010, the Senate had not killed Jack Layton's climate change accountability act, which was passed by the democratically elected House of Commons. We would have had 11 years of legislated targets in place, and I think Canada would be well on its way to achieving what we need to as a country.
Climate scientists have most definitely reached a strong consensus that, in the absence of any measures to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions significantly, changes in our climate will be substantial and will have long-lasting effects on many of earth's physical and biological systems. The evidence is very clear. It is no longer in dispute. We have observable data. We can compare it with the fossil record and with what we see in earth's geographic record. It is there for all to see.
We know these changes are going to bring about more frequent and more severe winter storms and summer hurricanes. Many parts of the world are going to see deadly heat waves that will result in mass casualties. We are going to see desertification spread and prolonged droughts. Many populations that are already suffering extreme water shortages are going to see those problems exacerbated.
Here in Canada, we are already becoming familiar with the wildfire season, which is beginning earlier, lasting longer and is much more intense, especially in provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia. Of course, because Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and much of the world's population lives on the coastline, we are going to be impacted by the sea level rise. The levels the oceans will rise by may not look like all that much, but when these are combined with shifting tides and storms, many cities are going to face some extreme flooding dangers, and many in the world have already seen this.
We have seen a rise in ocean acidification, which has an impact on our fisheries because of the bleaching of corals and combines with all sorts of problems in our oceans. Of course, all of these problems are going to contribute to the migration of millions of climate refugees. Although Canada, by virtue of its geography, is separated from much of the world by the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, we live in an increasingly globalized world, and for us to say we will be immune to all of these problems is a venture into fantasy.
We know we will be impacted by negative supply shocks. We know many of these climate-related weather phenomena are going to have a physical impact on Canadian infrastructure. We know our financial system is going to be negatively impacted, and we can see that in some of the data that already exists. According to some reports, climate-related disasters cost the world approximately $650 billion from 2016-2018. We know that a warming world is going to depress growth in agricultural yields by upwards of 30% by the year 2050. That is going to impact many small-scale farmers around the world.
The UN Environment Programme estimates the global cost of adapting to climate impacts to grow to anywhere from $140 billion to $300 billion per year in just nine short years: by the year 2030. This could increase to almost $500 billion per year by 2050. When I hear members in the House of Commons wonder aloud about the costs of the transition, I do not think we fully appreciate the costs of doing nothing or of not doing enough.
I have a very real concern about the biological effects of climate change and what it is going to do to our ecosystems, but for those who are more aligned to the monetary matters of our country, we have to be prepared to ask ourselves how much, as a country, we are prepared to spend in future years' tax revenues. How much are we prepared to spend to adapt to a changing climate and to fix the disasters? These are going to range in the billions of dollars just for Canada. The smart economics are for us to start making changes now and address this problem before the costs start spiralling out of control. This is why we, as a country, must have legislated targets in order to reduce our emissions.
I understand that Canada has fossil fuels. We have been developing them and exporting them, and we have many people whose livelihoods depend on the sector. The changes coming our way are not going to be easy, but they are going to be necessary. This is why, if we are going to do justice to the energy workers currently employed in the oil and gas sector, we absolutely must have a just transition strategy in place. We can already see the writing on the wall. Increasingly, investment is drying up and we are going to see more and more investment firms and banks start listing fossil fuel reserves as stranded assets. We need to identify the fact that many energy workers have transferable skills that are going to be needed in the renewable energy economy in the future. In addition, in Bill C-12 we need to start employing that just transition strategy so that we can take advantage of their skill sets and really position ourselves where we need to be.
I think Bill C-12 is a great first draft and, like any first draft, there is a nucleus of an idea there that we can work with. However, I believe that it needs substantial revisions. The legislation as it is currently written would allow targets to be set by the minister of the environment for the years 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045. The bill also requires that we have an emissions reduction plan, a progress report and assessment report for each target. It would establish an arm's-length advisory body to provide the minister of the environment with advice on how to achieve net zero emissions. It would require the minister of finance to prepare an annual report detailing how we are managing financial risks and so on. While there are some good things in place, and it is a step in the right direction, I believe that, given we are arguably in the most critical decade for addressing climate change, waiting until 2030 is a bridge too far. When the bill gets to committee, I would like to see committee members work constructively together to make some significant amendments to the bill.
I think that we absolutely must have a 2025 milestone target that would require a progress report by 2023 and an assessment in 2027. I also believe that we need far clearer and stronger accountability measures put in place on progress reporting, assessment reporting, emissions reduction planning and target setting. Again, this is a moment in time, and given what we know about climate change, we need to be upfront and very transparent with the Canadian people about what we as a country need to do. Also, the environment commissioner needs to be made an independent officer, similar to other independent officers of Parliament. As well, the legislation before us should not be by itself but should come along with those significant investments in that just and sustainable recovery plan that is going to support our workers, families and communities with training and good jobs.
To conclude, I implore my colleagues, even those who have doubts about the bill, to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let us recognize that Bill C-12 has its flaws and that there is a lot to be desired within the bill, but let us at least vote in principle to support the idea behind the bill, get it to committee and allow important witness testimony to inform the amendments that it needs in order to make it a much better bill and one that Canada needs.