Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)
Mr. Speaker, what a surprising honour it is for me at this moment to realize that I am one of the last speakers you will hear from that chair. I am not supposed to address the Speaker and I am sure it will be removed from Hansard, but I extend my best wishes for your future and for your big move.
I raised this question some time ago in relation to the question of climate targets. The question was asked in May, before the hon. Minister of the Environment tabled the targets, which at that point had been overdue.
In the UN negotiating process in the Conference of the Parties for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, it was determined at the 2012 negotiations in Warsaw, where I was present, that in order to ensure that all countries were prepared to commit to a binding, comprehensive climate treaty at this December's meeting in 2014, all countries would submit their targets within the first quarter of 2015. That was repeated again in Lima in 2014. At the time I asked the question, we had not seen Canada's targets.
Subsequently the targets were tabled. They happened to be the weakest in the G7. The target that was announced by our hon. Minister of the Environment on the Friday afternoon of a long May weekend was that Canada would commit to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. That target was substantially weaker than those of all other countries. In Copenhagen, of course, we had tied our target to that of the U.S., but since the U.S. has met the target that it selected in 2009 in Copenhagen, Canada has fallen off that level of ambition and is even weaker now.
The response I received from the hon. minister included a claim that is repeated so often and I thought I would like to try to lay it to rest in this late show this evening. It is this. She said: “Our Conservative government is the first government in Canadian history that has reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”
It is true that during the time that the Prime Minister has been in office, greenhouse gas levels did drop. They dropped for one reason only. They dropped between 2008 and 2009 because of the global financial collapse. I do not believe the current Prime Minister wishes to take credit for personally engineering a global financial collapse, nor do I think anyone would believe him if he tried to claim credit for it, but that is the one and only reason our greenhouse gas levels dropped. They dropped from a level of around 724 or 725 megatonnes to about 692 or 693, if memory serves. That is when they dropped.
Ever since our economy began to recover after 2009, because of the complete and abject failure of the Prime Minister to put in place any plan to achieve emission reductions, emissions—and this can be checked on the Environment Canada website—emissions have continued to rise. Continuing to rise year on year, by 2020 they are now slated to be slightly below what they were in 2005. They would be above that if it were not for provincial action. The decision by the Province of Ontario to close its coal-fired power plants was important. Unfortunately, the growth in the oil sands overwhelmed the cuts that were made by various provincial governments.
It comes to this in the 30 seconds I have left. We are now a mere month from the negotiations that must achieve a global binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gases. We have been told by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, and now the Vatican that the world must act, and act with more ambition. Canada is now viewed globally as a laggard, and the only way that we will have the kind of treaty the world needs is if Canada once again becomes a leader, which means that in the next few months we must have a new Prime Minister.
Subtopic: The Environment