Thank you for sharing your concerns about climate change with me. New Democrats have been very clear in the House of Commons that the government should live up to its commitments under existing climate change agreements, and that they should play a constructive leadership role in the establishment of the next international climate change agreement.ew Democrats support the following key priorities for the next international climate change protocol:
- a fair, ambitious and binding agreement;
- adequate financing for the Green Climate Fund to assist developing countries with adaptation and mitigation of climate change;
- closing the “gigatonne gap” between the world’s promised emissions cuts and actual action; and
- ensuring that there is no gap in legally binding commitments when Kyoto runs out in 2012.
This Parliament, New Democrats have tabled for the third time the Climate Change Accountability Act, a legislative framework with the firm, science-based emissions reduction targets required for Canada to meet its international obligations. This bill, which was first introduced by Jack Layton and passed by the House of Commons on two occasions, was unjustifiably obstructed by the government and eventually voted down by the unelected Senate.
The government’s decision to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol is irresponsible and misguided. It will further damage Canada’s international reputation and compromise Canada’s voice in future international climate change negotiations. By withdrawing they are letting the big polluters off the hook and attempting to hide six years of total inaction on the environment by avoiding the emission reduction audits that are an important part of the Kyoto protocol.
The reality is that Conservative’s domestic climate change plan is failing. The latest report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development shows that Canada is on track to achieve only 46% of its own weakened greenhouse gas reduction targets, which have been reduced by 90% since 2007, even when taking into account both federal and provincial reduction initiatives.
Climate change will not respect borders. It is estimated that the effects of climate change will cost Canadians over $5 billion annually by 2020, significantly affecting our health, economic well-being and national security. This is why climate leadership from our government is so important, both domestically and internationally.
It is still possible for Canada to return to a leadership position on climate change, by starting at home and adhering to our climate change commitments, choosing green energy over fossil fuels, and ensuring our communities can cope with a changing climate. We need to support the key priorities for a new climate change protocol, and make significant domestic green energy investments that work jointly with ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets.
A healthy, biologically diverse environment is the greatest gift we can leave future generations, and the global transition to a green economy offers Canada the opportunity to improve both our environment and our economy.
By making smart investments that support our local economies, we can also establish a green technologies sector that will put Canada at the leading edge of international green trade.
Conservative inaction means that the rest of the world is moving forward in building the new energy economy. Canada is being left behind, which is going to cost us jobs and trade opportunities.
The time for action is now. New Democrats will continue to pressure the government to improve its environmental record, and to take a leadership role in the fight to combat climate change.
Member of Parliament for Halifax
NDP Environment Critic