Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and privilege to rise today to speak to Bill C-12 from the territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, and to serve the communities in Nanaimo—Ladysmith and the unceded territory of Snaw-naw-as, Stz'uminus, Snuneymuxw and Lyackson first nations.
Climate concerns rank very high in my riding. On November 21, I had the pleasure of taking part in the inaugural meeting of the Community Climate Hub here in Nanaimo. There were some great presentations and sharing of ideas about what we can do as a community to combat climate change. The ideas included creating active, transportation-friendly streets; improving our local food system and lowering the carbon footprint of our food; energy retrofits for homes, businesses and institutions; and transitioning from fossil-fuel heating, oil and fracked gas to electricity and heat pumps. There were suggestions for better public transit and for protecting the local natural environment with green spaces to ensure a vibrant biodiversity both within the city and in the surrounding area. It was an energizing meeting. Climate action at the personal and community level is important and necessary, but all of the actions that Canadians take individually and locally can be wiped out with the approval of a single diluted bitumen pipeline or a liquefied fracked gas terminal.
Just days before this community meeting, the federal government tabled Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act. Unfortunately, this piece of legislation will not hold this government to account for emissions reductions or the next government or the government after that. The accountability does not start until 2030, and that accountability is weak at best. We need climate action and accountability now.
In 2015, this government went to the Paris summit with the Harper government's target to reduce emissions by 30% over 2005 levels by 2030. The government left Paris with that pathetic target in place and tried to pretend that it was the Paris target. In the Paris climate accord decision document, Canada agreed to set new emissions reduction targets in 2020 and every five years after that. It did not happen. It was not until Earth Day this year under pressure from the Biden administration that the government increased the target to between 40% to 45% by 2030. That target is still completely inadequate and fails to address the urgency of the climate crisis. We still do not have a 2025 target that we committed to under the Paris accord.
The last IPCC report states that we have just 10 years to bring emissions down substantially or we cannot keep global warming to under 1.5°. The prospect of a livable future for our children and grandchildren is in peril.
I have heard the argument too many times that what Canada does in terms of climate action will make no difference, but, in fact, we are the ninth highest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet and the eleventh highest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita. When we compare greenhouse gas emissions reductions, we have the worst record of the G8. Canada is a climate laggard.
The U.K. has a carbon budget law that binds governments to emissions targets and holds them accountable. In other words, it eliminates politics from climate action. In 1990, the U.K. produced 25% more emissions than Canada. It has reduced its emissions by 42% and made a commitment at Paris to reduce emissions by 68% by 2030. Collectively, the 27 countries of the European Union have reduced their emissions by 25% since 1990.
Canada's current emission levels are 21% higher than they were in 1990. That is not climate leadership, it is shameful. Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have signed on to nine international climate accords and have failed on every account. None of the governments that signed those agreements created a plan, and Canada has not met a single one of the commitments it has made.
Canada's last target, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, was set by the Harper Conservative government in 2009. Eight provinces and three territories representing 85% of Canada's population were on track to meet that target, but two provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, increased greenhouse gas emissions so much that they completely wiped out the sacrifices, investments and advancements to climate action made by the rest of the country.
These emissions increases can be attributed almost exclusively to the oil and gas industry. Where is the accountability? How is it that the federal government cannot ensure that the provinces work together to meet our international commitments?
Now British Columbia is joining the rogue provinces ignoring Canada's commitment to climate action and accountability. B.C. is providing billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies for fracking and the export of liquified fracked gas. LNG Canada is owned and controlled by five foreign multinationals. It will be the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia. The B.C. government is practically giving the resource away by providing fracking companies with billions of dollars in deep-well subsidies while only collecting a fraction in royalties.
From the wellhead to the end consumer, fracked gas has the equivalent greenhouse gas footprint as burning coal for electricity. Extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracking releases methane into the atmosphere. For the first 20 years after it is released, methane is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Fracking uses and poisons huge amounts of water, poisons airsheds and has been linked to increased risks of asthma, cancer and birth defects. Fracking causes earthquakes, and yet the B.C. government allows it in the vicinity of huge hydroelectric dams.
Many jurisdictions around the world have either placed moratoriums on hydraulic gas fracking or banned it outright. Some jurisdictions are also banning the installation of gas heating and gas appliances in new construction. Why? It is because they understand that creating more demand for a product that releases climate-destroying methane is irresponsible.
Fracking needs to be banned in Canada. It is incompatible with lowering carbon emissions, combatting climate change, protecting fresh water, maintaining a healthy environment, and respecting indigenous sovereignty, rights and title.
As I speak, some of the last big-tree old-growth forests in B.C. are either being logged or are under immediate threat of being logged, trees that sequester massive amounts of carbon, far more than an acre of seedlings. The B.C. government is allowing those trees to be cut down. The B.C. government is also allowing whole trees to be ground up into pellets and exported as biofuel. That is not climate leadership.
These are just some of the reasons that Canada needs a carbon budget law. We need to take politics out of climate action, and follow the science. The priorities of the government demonstrate that it is not serious enough about the existential threat of climate change. The government is spending $17 billion on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Trans Mountain is not just a climate loser, it is a money loser. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, the only way that TMX will not result in billions of dollars in losses is if the government abandons action on climate change and increases oil sands production.
We need a just transition for fossil fuel workers and an end to all subsidies to the oil and gas industry. Research conducted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which breaks down new and recycled spending promises, shows that the government is proposing to allocate just 0.25% of Canada’s GDP toward climate action. That is far less than the 2% of GDP that leading climate economist Nicholas Stern says is needed to stop global warming from surpassing two degrees.
Canada has committed $5.1 billion per year towards climate action, when we need to be committing $40 billion a year. That is not climate leadership. The climate crisis is the defining struggle of our generation, just as World War II was the struggle of our grandparents' generation. Focusing on incentives for households and businesses is not enough. The government must take charge, force the provinces into line to meet our international commitments and bind us to a whole-of-government approach that mandates action to win this struggle.
The real obstacle is not the climate deniers, it is politicians who recognize the science but lack the courage to remove politics from climate action. We need a carbon budget law. Bill C-12 is not it, and does not meet the challenge before us. It provides a false sense of security, and pushes long overdue action and accountability down the road for another decade.
Young people across this country are demanding better from us. They, our children and our grandchildren deserve more than this weak piece of legislation.