The Senate

Motion to Recognize that Climate Change is an Urgent Crisis--Debate Continued

February 8, 2022


Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Senator Galvez’s motion to recognize that climate change is an urgent crisis. As Senator Galvez’s motion states, climate change is indeed an urgent crisis that requires an immediate and ambitious response from coast to coast to coast by governments, industries and individuals.

As you know, I am a staunch supporter of agriculture — it’s what I know best. So as you might surmise, my focus today will be on the way in which climate change has impacted the agricultural community and the industry’s role in the fight against climate change.

Climate change has had widespread effects on almost every industry. Agriculture often sees these effects first due to the nature of the work and the processes involved. For example, farmers know all too well that agriculture is highly dependent on weather. While many modern methods, techniques and technologies have made today’s farms increasingly productive, they still rely on Mother Nature to do her part. At the end of the day, agricultural success depends on getting the right amount of rain and the right amount of heat at the right time of each year.

From large-scale farms to the smallest gardens, agriculture and agri-business depends on climate at every stage in the cycle of production. And as we know, our climate is changing. We have all seen the destruction left in the wake of extreme weather conditions. These incidents, once rare and uncommon occurrences, have become more and more familiar in our changing world. In fact, extreme weather events in 2021 shattered records around the globe.

For farmers, 2021 was a tough year. Extreme heat, droughts, flooding and wildfires affected farms across this country. Late last year, we saw the Fraser Valley in British Columbia consumed by water. These floods and subsequent mudslides have led to widespread destruction of life and livelihoods, particularly in B.C.’s rural and agricultural communities. Thousands of farm animals perished, and thousands more required critical attention. Just last week, the agricultural committee in the other place began studying this matter and the subsequent recovery efforts.

Earlier in 2021, we saw hundreds of thousands of animals succumb to the heat dome in Western Canada, and countless farms struggled during the droughts of this past summer. In fact, the other place also held an emergency debate in December where these very concerns were discussed and debated. While farmers are used to planning for uncertainty, climate change is bringing new extremes, seasonal shifts and increased variability that are likely to push the boundaries of our climate beyond anything they are used to managing.

The effects of climate change have been widespread and vast. A Cornell University-led study found that global farming productivity is 21% lower than it could have been without climate change. This is the equivalent of losing about seven years of farm productivity increases since the 1960s.

Ariel Ortiz-Bobea, Associate Professor at Cornell’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, said:

We find that climate change has basically wiped out about seven years of improvements in agricultural productivity over the past 60 years. It is equivalent to pressing the pause button on productivity growth back in 2013 and experiencing no improvements since then. . . .

This cannot continue to be the trend going forward. Canada is a leader in the agricultural and agri-food sectors. We must work collaboratively to address the effects of climate change to ensure that our farmers, producers and processors, as well as our grocery stores, can continue putting food on Canadians’ plates.

It’s no surprise that the agricultural industry also has an important role in fighting climate change as well. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in 2016, agriculture contributed about 17% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and that figure does not include an additional 7% to 14% caused by changes to land use. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 10% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are from crop and livestock production, excluding emissions from the use of fossil fuels or from fertilizer production.

These are significant numbers that we need to work to bring down. However, the onus cannot be placed solely on the farmers and the agricultural industry. They work hard to provide us with food, and most of them are good stewards of the land. As stewards of the land, farmers are heavily invested in the fight against climate change and mitigating its impacts. After all, they too eat what they produce.

In fact, many farmers have introduced innovative ways to reduce these emissions and have pursued land-use practices that help to mitigate climate change. Many have already taken steps over the years to make their land a zero-till operation. This technique increases the retention of organic matter and nutrient cycling, which in turn increases carbon sequestration, or to have and use perennial forage coverage. There is more carbon in soils under perennial forage than annual crops, due in part to the farmer’s ability to better transfer carbon to the soil. In fact, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture shared that farmers have kept their emissions steady for 20 years while almost doubling production, resulting in a decrease of greenhouse gas emission intensity by half. There are many opportunities in this sector for technical innovation that can help to ensure both climate mitigation and economic benefits.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada also recognizes that agriculture helps slow climate change by storing carbon on agricultural lands. Storing, or sequestering, carbon in soil as organic matter, perennial vegetation and in trees reduces carbon dioxide amounts in the atmosphere.

We have also seen more technological advancements and innovations, including precision agriculture and the use of artificial intelligence and drones, that aim to decrease negative environmental impacts while also increasing profitability. We can also explore the possibility of scaling up technologies that we already know about to yield positive environmental outcomes.

There are many other innovative methods farmers are employing in order to protect the environment without sacrificing profitability. An example of this is reintegrating livestock and crops on farms and incorporating the use of managed grazing, which can increase livestock’s nutrient consumption as well as increase soil organic matter.

Additionally, vertical farming and urban farming have gained popularity in recent years. These innovative ways of farming allow us to grow crops in cities without taking up much space. We also see the use of hydroponics, meaning growing crops directly in nutrient-enriched water rather than soil.

The challenge for the agriculture and agri-food sector will be to mitigate greenhouse gases while adapting to the impacts of climate change without jeopardizing food security. To do so, Canadian agriculture producers and food processors will need the government’s help and support in transitioning their operations to be more sustainable, and they will also require the government’s support while they seek to change decades-long practices and procedures.

Many organizations, including the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, the Dairy Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Pork Council, among others, have highlighted their dedication to supporting Canada’s fight against climate change. There are, of course, specific concerns to each sector regarding such issues as fair carbon pricing and other potential impacts to the overall sustainability of the industry and sector, but, ultimately, Canadian agriculture knows that they have a critical role to play as stewards of the land, which involves preserving ecosystems and resources, such as soil and water, as well as minimizing the environmental impacts of their activities through the implementation of beneficial agricultural practices.

In December, I attended a meeting hosted by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, where they screened the “Guardians of the Grasslands” documentary. I highly encourage everyone to take time to watch it. This short documentary was created by a group of dedicated conservationists, ranchers and Canadian filmmakers.

The film explores the current state of one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems, the Great Plains grasslands, and the role that cattle play in its survival. Unfortunately, 74% of our grasslands are already gone. It is critical to note that the grasslands are home to over 60 Canadian species at risk and is also one of the world’s most stable carbon sinks. This is just another example of the environment we need to work to protect.

I am proud to highlight the ranchers who are doing their utmost to conserve the natural prairie grasslands by using beef cows to mimic the vital role that bison played in forming these landscapes through grazing over thousands of years.

At this time, I would like to quote Kristine Tapley of Ducks Unlimited Canada:

The beef industry relies on the grass landscape as part of its production cycle and the prairie ecosystem needs the impact of grazing in order to rejuvenate grass and plants. It’s a necessary and symbiotic relationship. When ranches disappear, we lose the grass that goes along with it.

Honourable colleagues, we know that climate change is one of the biggest issues facing our world today, and it is clear that the agriculture industry understands and supports the call to action to fight climate change.

As stewards of the land, they continue to see first-hand the negative effects of climate change, and they are also among the front lines of mitigation efforts. And, as I mentioned earlier, our farmers face the brunt of climate change in many cases as Canadian agriculture suffers greatly from the effects. The frequency of extreme weather events has doubled since the 1990s. There has been an increase in floods, droughts, forest fires and storms that, unsurprisingly, interfere with planting to harvests, which disproportionately affects farms of all sizes.

While we recognize that agriculture is a part of the problem when it comes to climate change, the agricultural sector has demonstrated continuous improvement over many years while emissions from other sectors have risen over time. So agriculture also has amazing potential to be an important part of the solution.

All that being said, we are asking a lot of our farmers. Many agricultural operations rely on decades-old practices that have only recently been deemed to be environmentally detrimental. Making the switch to new technology costs a lot of money and, while I’ve never met a farmer who was in it for the money, it does impact the viability of their businesses and enterprises.

I am taking this opportunity to once again call upon the Canadian government to work collaboratively with our agricultural industry so they can help make the journey to environmental sustainability a little easier for everyone. They can and will be part of the solution, but we also need to give them the tools necessary to do so. And those tools must be science-based and harmonized across the country and around the world with all our trading partners to ensure that they can continue to be viable participants in the fight against climate change.

I am confident that the agriculture industry, which has been innovating for as long as it has existed, will continue to rise to the challenge. Of course, initiatives must come from all sectors and be a joint effort from all of us and, in order to achieve our goals in greenhouse gas reduction, government and industry must work together.

The second-to-last point of Senator Galvez’s motion highlights that the failure to address climate change will result in catastrophic consequences, especially for Canadian youth, Indigenous peoples and future generations. Honourable colleagues, I know that many of us in this chamber have children and grandchildren. Without working together to challenge and change the effects of climate change, I fear they will be living in a world entirely different than the one we know today.

Countless Canadian farmers are working across the country to ensure that our ecosystems, such as the grasslands, are preserved for generations to come. The climate crisis is clear. Let’s do our best to support all sectors that are working to save our planet.

Thank you, meegwetch.

Hon. Donna Dasko [ + ]

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Senator Galvez’s motion to recognize that climate change is an urgent crisis that requires an immediate and ambitious response.

Such a motion is not unprecedented. In fact, on June 17, 2019, the House of Commons passed a motion put forward by the former minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna to declare a national climate emergency in Canada.

As Senator Galvez said:

By passing this motion, the Senate will demonstrate the solidarity our fellow citizens expect and send a strong message to the House of Commons and the government that the Senate is finally ready to take on the challenge and will henceforth expect more ambitious and meaningful climate action.

As of December 4, 2021, a climate emergency has been declared in over 2,000 jurisdictions and local governments, covering 1 billion citizens worldwide. In Canada, over 500 local governments, covering 99% of the population, have declared a climate emergency.

We are beginning the year 2022 knowing that catastrophic events took place last year — floods, fires and unbearable heatwaves. In British Columbia, the Coroners Service eventually reported that 526 people in the province died as a result of the heat. An analysis from World Weather Attribution, a collaboration of scientists, later determined that the devastating heatwave would have been virtually impossible without climate change caused by human activity. If we do not want this crisis to worsen, we need concrete action.

For almost three decades, the United Nations has been bringing together almost every country on earth, including Canada, for global climate summits. In that time, climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority.

For the first time ever, in Paris in 2015, every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and to aim for 1.5 degrees.

As well, there is scientific consensus that climate change is attributable to human activity and that greenhouse gas emissions must be massively reduced. The COP26 meetings held last year in Glasgow identified in particular the need for significant new investments to fight climate change.

It is clear to everyone involved in this area that concerted action is required to meet these ambitious goals. Others speaking to this motion have spoken eloquently with respect to the extent of the climate crisis and the actions that are required, and I will not repeat those arguments here.

The main purpose of my brief comments today is to try to understand how Canadians themselves view climate change and whether we are up to the challenge. Recently I read a piece in The Globe and Mail, describing the booming worldwide demand for luxury cars: massive three-tonne structures with fuel consumption ratings of 12 miles per gallon — but you can get 17 on the highway — which are flying off the dealers’ lots. When you read this, you have to wonder how such disdain for the environment can co-exist with our climate challenge.

Still, I want to try to make sense of some of the public opinion research on aspects of climate change. We can look at it from the perspective of Canadians’ awareness of the existence of climate change, their knowledge regarding climate change, perceived consequences of climate change and — last but definitely not least — what Canadians are willing to do to address the issue.

International surveys as well as Canada-only research confirm that Canadians’ understanding of climate change has come a very long way. A report by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication presents results from an international survey conducted in over 30 countries and territories worldwide in February and March of last year. Among its many findings, 89% of Canadians say that, yes, climate change is happening. This ranks Canada in fifth place — imagine, there are four other countries higher than 89% — in the world in recognizing this basic fact.

Similarly, an October 2021 Abacus Data survey finds that almost all Canadians — 93% — believe there is at least some evidence that the earth is warming. That includes 69% who say there is either conclusive or solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades. This latter view has increased over the previous six years with a notable increase in the numbers of Canadians who now say there is conclusive evidence of warming temperatures.

Knowledge that global warming is caused by human activity is growing. In 2015, 71% felt global warming was being caused by human activity. This is now 75%, according to Abacus. Similar findings are shown in the Yale study, with 86% of Canadians agreeing that climate change is mostly caused by human activities or equally by human activity and natural changes.

I conclude from these and many other similar findings that there is significant awareness and knowledge of climate change. But what about the climate emergency that is at the heart of the motion before us? An Angus Reid Institute survey from last November — just a few months ago — indeed shows that three quarters of Canadians believe that climate change poses a serious threat to the planet earth. A Leger Marketing survey recently found that 85% of Canadians agree that global warming is a serious threat for mankind.

As Senator Galvez has noted in her speech to her motion, the way we should actually address climate change is subject to debate and deliberation. But since Canada has committed ourselves — this country — under the Paris Agreement to an ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, it is clear that serious action is required.

Are Canadians ready for this?

Well, when it comes to individual actions, it’s a mixed picture. In looking at some of the public opinion data, I was disappointed to see what I would say is a lack of engagement among Canadians in taking up truly impactful individual actions to mitigate climate change. For example, in a very extensive Ipsos poll taken in 2020, before the pandemic, only about 20% of Canadians said they take public transit and avoid taking planes and travelling by car whenever possible in order to reduce carbon emissions. Even fewer than one in five people limit their consumption of meat and dairy, ride a bike or use renewable energy in order to reduce emissions.

How do we bridge the gap between the significant awareness and recognition of the climate emergency on the one hand and the lower level of enthusiasm to take action at the individual level? In fact, the gap is actually bridged by government action. Whether we like it or not, Canadians are looking to government to take the steps necessary to deal with climate change.

For example, the Yale survey that I mentioned earlier from 2021 shows that 7 in 10 Canadians say that climate change should be a high priority for government, and an equal number say that the Canadian government should do much more to deal with climate change. Six in ten strongly support Canada’s participation in the Paris Accord.

Governments have a vast arsenal of policy options available, including taxation, subsidies and regulation. Public support varies for a number of policy initiatives.

A 2021 Leger survey finds, for example, that 7 in 10 Canadians support capping and reducing pollution from the oil and gas sector to net-zero by 2050; two thirds support a policy to stop exporting coal by 2030, and; 6 in 10 support ending subsidies that help oil and natural gas companies operate and expand their operations outside Canada.

About half of Canadians, according to various polls and depending on what is asked, support the federal government’s carbon pricing initiative, which is its most significant policy in place meant to reduce carbon emissions.

All this being said, we have to recognize that the Covid pandemic and its challenges to Canadians’ health and to the economy has shifted the focus somewhat toward other issues on the national agenda, especially in the recent period. Also, inflation has grown in importance as an issue in recent months as well as during the recent federal election campaign, and this concern adds to existing unease about jobs and income security.

Still, it’s important to note that even in this challenging economic environment, Canadians place environmental concerns at least on an equal footing with economic concerns. This was found in a 2021 survey conducted by the Environics Institute. As well, Nanos Research found in a 2020 poll that 49% of Canadians placed the priority on the environment, even if it causes less growth and job loss, compared to 39% who prioritized jobs and growth over environmental protection.

Colleagues, in my brief comments today I have tried to present a picture of some aspects of public opinion related to the climate emergency. I would conclude that Canadians have come a very long way in their understanding of the climate crisis. They are aware that climate change is real, they understand it, and they see that its impact is immense. They look to government to take actions, and they support some serious policy directions.

I also believe that Canadians are open to more change on a personal level. If over 80% of us can be persuaded to double vaccinate over the course of one year — that is, going from 0 to 80% — so too I believe we can we make progress in promoting better individual actions around the environment.

By passing this motion, I believe the Senate can bring our strong voice to this debate and continue to move Canada and Canadians in a positive direction. I say to us all, let us pass this motion with enthusiasm. Thank you. Meegwetch.

Hon. Marilou McPhedran [ + ]

Hello, tansi. As a senator for Manitoba, I acknowledge that I live on Treaty 1 territory, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

I also acknowledge that the Parliament of Canada is situated on the unsurrendered territory of the Anishinaabe and Algonquin First Nations.

I am honoured to speak in support of this motion by Senator Rosa Galvez, the senator in this chamber with the most expertise on the science of climate change. If this scientist alerts us to the urgent need to declare a national climate emergency, we would do well to respond carefully, thoughtfully and rapidly.

We are exceptionally fortunate to have her voice here in this place, bringing credibility to the Senate and to Canada in multilateral settings around the world.

I similarly applaud the Senate of Canada coalition for urgent climate action, and in particular Senators Coyle and Kutcher for their initiative in bringing this inclusive work group into being. By this I mean that as an unaffiliated senator I get to participate along with any other senator, because this issue is bigger than any lines drawn by our small ways in this place.

This evening I hope to be respectful of the brilliance and tenacity of youth leaders who woke up to this crisis much sooner than most of us. For the first time, colleagues, Canada has become an old country. The 2016 national census marked a new reality. Canada has more folks in the age range of this chamber than younger generations. This is a shift that does not bode well for Canada unless we amplify intergenerational joint action.

From the age of 12, Autumn Peltier has continued in the line of Indigenous matriarch leaders with her clarion voice as a water defender. She reminds us that we can’t eat money or drink oil. And repeatedly she has reported that she has not felt respected or heard — perhaps because she is a young Indigenous woman. Autumn has said that it is almost like the politicians “don’t believe climate change is real. Climate change is a real thing and they are not realizing that.”

When Autumn was recognized at the elite gathering of the powerful at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, she said that people are awarding her, but:

“I don’t want your awards. If you’re going to award me, award me with helping me find solutions. Award me with helping me make change.”

No corner of the globe is immune from the devastating consequences of climate change. Rising temperatures are fuelling environmental degradation, natural disasters, weather extremes, food and water insecurity, economic disruption, conflict and terrorism, both international and domestic. Sea levels are rising; the Arctic is melting; coral reefs are dying; oceans are acidifying; forests are burning.

To state as much is not fear mongering. It is the tragic reality we are living today and will only increase in frequency and magnitude. As other senators have noted in this debate, we need look no further than our own recent Canadian experience of wild fires, flooding, infrastructure and ecosystem collapse, heat domes and Arctic degradation for the evidence that this truly is an emergency, truly a crisis. It is beyond obvious that business as usual is illogical, ineffective and immoral. It has been said that we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature. As the infinite cost of climate change reaches irreversible highs, talk, debate and negotiation fall away. This is not a climate negotiation because we can’t negotiate with nature. What is required is action, inspired by this truth that this is an emergency.

I was recently inspired by Dominique Souris, the founding executive director of the Youth Climate Lab, who has said:

. . . real action and real leadership does not lie at the negotiating table, but on the ground. Young people and local communities are the drivers of this change.

In explaining why the Youth Climate Lab was founded, Dominique said:

. . . we were frustrated with a lack of meaningful youth engagement, which is why we created Youth Climate Lab.

. . . young people today, especially those on the front lines have the most at stake and the most to gain when it comes to fighting climate action. So Youth Climate Lab focuses on supporting youth to create and support climate solutions because as a generation youth are the most impacted by climate change.

I agree with Dominique Souris that young leaders are some of the most collaborative, intersectional and innovative problem solvers that create the solutions that we need. Not seeing youth as partners to solve this is a total missed opportunity and, she goes on to say, it’s even a moral mishap.

Speaking of young leaders, I’m honoured to be able to work with members of my youth advisory from many parts of Canada on a range of issues. Now a Toronto university student, Aleksi Toiviainen was in high school when he suggested to me that we start the climate justice work group of youth advisors, which is now active and paying close attention to what Parliament is doing about the climate crisis. They well know that they are the ones who will soon be living the impact of the decisions that parliamentarians make today.

Colleagues, it is imperative that we do not myopically reduce climate change discussions to a simple accounting of temperature. As the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, report clearly establishes with sound, concrete, scientific rigour and unparalleled data, climate change is already affecting every region on earth in multiple ways. Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion, such as continued sea level rise, are irreversible.

Climate change is intensifying the water cycle, bringing more intense rainfall, flooding and more intense drought in many regions.

Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding, rapid Arctic ecosystem devastation such as the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.

Changes to the ocean including warming, more frequent marine heat waves, ocean acidification and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human cause.

Urban areas are not immune to these worsening conditions which manifest in increased urban temperatures, flooding, fires, food and resource shortages. All of these have costly impacts on basic services, infrastructure, housing, human livelihoods and health.

While technology has contributed to this climate crisis, new and efficient technologies can help us reduce net emissions and create a cleaner world. Readily available technological solutions already exist for more than 70% of today’s emissions.

I am not talking here about the proposals from the nuclear industry. That is not a viable way for us to go in finding technological solutions to the climate crisis.

In the meantime, nature-based solutions provide breathing room while we tackle the decarbonization of our economy. These solutions allow us to mitigate a portion of our carbon footprint while also supporting vital ecosystem services, biodiversity, access to fresh water, improved livelihoods, healthy diets and food security. Nature-based solutions include improved agricultural practices, land restoration, conservation and the greening of food supply chains.

Honourable senators, please consider these words from Dr. Andreas Kraemer — founder of the Ecologic Institute and senior fellow at the Canadian Centre for International Governance Innovation — at COP26 where he described how we have:

. . . missed the opportunity to initiate meaningful change, particularly to integrate the ocean into the climate agenda, and the damage about to be done to marine ecosystems will be in the trillions of dollars.

Several trillion, whether euros or U.S. dollars, in surplus liquidity are currently stashed in household bank accounts, accumulated during the pandemic and waiting to be spent once restrictions are lifted. On release, this pent-up demand will reinforce existing economic patterns and accelerate the destruction long underway.

Dr. Kraemer goes on to state:

Driving earth’s overheating are dominant patterns of production, trade, and consumption, reinforced by perverse subsidies and tax rules. Along with the deteriorating climate, rising inequality, and modern slavery, cocktails of chemicals poisoning life on land and in the water, rapid loss of biological diversity, and disruptions of natural cycles are the direct consequences of policy choices and business practices. About 15 percent of economic activity might be sustainable, 85 percent is clearly not. The 15 percent should expand. The 85 percent needs phasing out fast.

Dr. Kraemer continues:

National stimulus packages are small by comparison, and investment in infrastructure that locks in dirty practices is still too high. All eyes are on “building back better” rather than “building forward toward sustainability.”

At the COP26 summit held last November in Scotland, there were mixed results. Despite the many advances and new commitments reached at COP26, the wider consensus was that Glasgow revealed the weight of unkept promises, missed targets and a growing loss of public confidence in national commitment and capacity.

As Senator Forest aptly surmised in his comments, is it any wonder that the public is increasingly losing faith in federal promises and instead turning to local, municipal, community and grassroots leadership instead?

A group of Canadian and Scottish researchers in environmental law and governance from the University of Ottawa, the University of Cambridge and the Quebec Environmental Law Center have provided a stark assessment of the COP26 summit.

While acknowledging that the 1.5-degree temperature increase target remains alive, these scientists stress that the goal is in critical condition as the required concrete measures to achieve it are still lacking. It is telling that, under the Glasgow Climate Pact, states did not adopt new commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Among the positive results of COP26 was a strengthening of certain alliances among states. This was the case, for example, of the Powering Past Coal Alliance co-founded by Canada, which aims to eliminate unabated coal power. It now has 165 members, including 28 that joined during COP26.

Another example is the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, which aims to phase out the use of fossil fuels. Quebec joined, but not Canada.

These agreements, which were concluded in parallel to the main negotiations, may allow states to take action on issues where there is still no international consensus.

At COP26, Canada was one of more than 130 countries that signed a declaration to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. It covers more than 3.6 billion hectares of forest around the world. However, 40 countries, including Canada, signed a similar agreement in 2014, the New York Declaration on Forests, yet deforestation increased 40%.

The Hon. the Speaker [ + ]

I’m sorry, Senator McPhedran. My apologies for interrupting you, but your time has expired. Are you asking for five more minutes?

Senator McPhedran [ + ]

I would appreciate it. I can wrap up in one minute, Your Honour.

The Hon. the Speaker [ + ]

If anybody is opposed, please say “no.”

Senator McPhedran?

Senator McPhedran [ + ]

Thank you very much.

I support this motion by Senator Galvez. I commit to use my position and privilege as a senator to contribute to needed change. The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we cannot afford to quit.

Allow me to close with a message sent to me yesterday from Aleksi Toiviainen, the member of my youth advisory, who suggested our climate justice work group. He says to each of you:

The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently reported that the clean-up of abandoned oil and gas wells has been dumped on the taxpayer instead of the industries responsible. Ontario’s Auditor General uncovered a similar story about that province’s toxic spills.

These alone should hint at where government’s true priorities lie. The federal government claims to pursue a just transition with net-zero emissions by 2050 while still expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline and while new oil projects plan to produce tens of millions of oil barrels each year.

Young people are not fooled. They know this means that we are waiting for them to grow up so we can foist the obligation onto them. This is what it means when the government makes promises for tomorrow. This is why we must declare a climate emergency.

Thank you, meegwetch.

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