Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to talk about the new Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act.
Successive governments have, for too long, kicked the can down the road and treated the climate crisis as though it were a problem for our children's generation. That ends now. We are the first generation to clearly see the impact of climate change and we are the last generation that can stop it. We cannot afford to wait any longer. We cannot saddle our children with the burden of a dying world and a sixth mass-extinction event. We must act now.
In December 2015, Canada joined 194 other parties in reaching a historic agreement to address climate change, through the Paris Agreement. This historic agreement aimed, at a minimum, to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to keep the temperature increase to no more than 1.5°C. According to the 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global emissions must reach carbon neutrality by 2050 to limit warming to the 1.5°C goal in the Paris Agreement.
Despite what some may claim, Canada is uniquely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, and in the north, warming is occurring nearly three times as fast.
Canadians recognize that we need to act now to avert this crisis, and they will not tolerate any inaction. I know this because in my riding of Kitchener Centre, constituents come to talk to me about climate change more than any other issue. Young Canadians are rightfully frightened by the thought of what their futures will look like if we do not get this under control now, and this is not a debt I am willing to leave them.
I was elected on a promise to get Canada to net zero by 2050, and that is what the bill would achieve. Within six months of the bill's coming into force, the minister would be required to set a new 2030 milestone target that exceeds our commitments under the Paris accord and deliver our comprehensive plan on how we are going to reach it. This is the vital first step toward achieving our 2050 goal of net-zero emissions, and every step of the way, every target and every action will be based on the best science available, as well as input from Canadians of all backgrounds and experiences.
That is why the bill would create an advisory body of 15 experts made up of key stakeholders, including indigenous people and other members of the public, who would provide expert advice to the minister in an annual report. This would ensure that we reach not only our 2030 target, but also every target that comes after it.
These targets will be vital to keeping the government on track, but they are only one piece of the puzzle. Targets need to be followed up with action. Fortunately, our government is already moving ahead on that action to ensure that Canada is at the forefront of the green economy of tomorrow.
The World Bank estimates that climate action will create $30 trillion in new investment opportunities by 2030, and our government is already making sure that Canadians are the ones who will reap those rewards. Through policies such as retrofitting homes and other buildings to be energy efficient and building new clean-energy infrastructure, not only are we taking action to meet our climate goals, but we are investing in the economy of the future and creating well-paying, middle-class jobs for Canadians.
We are making zero-emission vehicles more affordable for Canadians and investing in new charging infrastructure so that Canadians coast to coast to coast can confidently reach their destination in an electric vehicle. Electric vehicles are important for decarbonizing our economy, but to truly maximize their potential, we need to ensure that the energy used to recharge their batteries is generated from nonemitting and renewable sources.
The energy sector will play a key part in our national effort to reach carbon net zero, and the federal government will be there to support it. Initiatives such as the clean power fund will not only help increase our clean energy-generating capacity, but also build the infrastructure that moves energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed.
Our government knows that we cannot reach net zero without the ingenuity and know-how of the energy sector. Fortunately, the energy sector is already stepping up and embracing this opportunity.
Oil and gas companies such as Enbridge, Suncor and Shell have already made commitments to net-zero emissions, and they are innovating to rise to the challenge. The oil and gas sector has recognized the value behind our approach to legislate accountability and the importance of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has expressed its support for this policy, and so has Shell Canada. It stated, “We applaud the Government of Canada’s action...and look forward to working with them and doing our part to help Canada achieve this goal.”
Canada's energy sector is onside and recognizes the importance of this legislation. In fact, this legislation has received broad support, not just from the oil and gas industry, but across all sectors of the economy, from major labour organizations such as Unifor, to financial giants like TD Canada Trust, to major business organizations like the Business Council of Canada and the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
Perhaps most importantly, environmental groups have overwhelmingly supported this vital step toward ensuring that we reach net zero by 2050.
This legislation is a significant step to put Canada on the course to achieve its emissions targets and sets up Canada to become a global leader.
It is a comprehensive bill that can maintain momentum for climate action when the spotlight is off the federal government.
The David Suzuki Foundation stated:
This legislation could be game-changing. It promises to be a foundation for Canada's path to meeting climate goals, domestically and internationally. Moving forward with climate accountability is exactly what the climate emergency calls for.
Smart Prosperity Institute said, “This #NetZero law charts a course for Canada’s environmental & economic success. It will help us keep pace with global leaders in tackling climate change & build a roadmap for future competitiveness & jobs in a changing world.”
This support is vitally important for ensuring we are successful in reaching our goal, and that support is possible because we listened to experts.
Our government cannot reach these goals alone. Everyone must come together so that we can achieve net zero. While each individual and business have a role to play in making net zero happen, it is the government that must be held accountable, and the bill does exactly that.
Not only does the bill require the establishment of legally binding targets every five years, it also requires that an emissions-reduction plan, a progress report and an assessment report be tabled in the House of Commons for each five-year milestone. They will be key to ensuring that this government and successive governments remain transparent and accountable to Canadian voters.
Perhaps equally important, in addition to these robust accountability mechanisms, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, an independent body, must examine and report on the Government of Canada's progress within five years of this act's coming into force and every five years thereafter. Enshrining this key oversight into law would ensure that Canadians know if their government is living up to its obligations on climate change and would provide the public with the necessary information to hold us accountable.
The bill is not a plan to make a plan. The bill sets clear priorities, timelines, accountability mechanisms and independent oversight to reach and then exceed our Paris Agreement goals. This vital framework forms the road map to a better Canada and sets us on a trajectory to achieve a clean and prosperous future. However, to achieve that future, we must start today at this key juncture in time.
When future generations look back at the fight against the climate crisis, they will see this as the moment when Canadians decided not to do what is easy, but to do what is right, and when we chose to look to the future, not the past. The actions we take now will define not only our children's future, but the future of every generation that comes after them.
Never before in history has one generation had as much responsibility for the well-being of all subsequent generations as ours does today, so I call on my hon. colleagues to put aside differences and work together for the good of our planet and all humanity. Not just the future of our country, but the future of our world depends on it.