We have a responsibility to future generations to do our absolute best to make decisions today on their behalf as well. In Bill 34, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is beginning to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive climate action plan.
Setting goals and standards for accountability is an important place to start. I look forward to seeing working with the Ministry as he develops the plan for today and future generations.
It’s an honour to stand today and speak to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Amendment Act, which is now going to be renamed, and quite thoughtfully renamed, the Climate Change Accountability Act.
I think, you know, oftentimes we can get caught up in words in the Legislature here, and I think that these are important words — the Climate Change Accountability Act. I think, as my colleague so passionately spoke about just for the few minutes that he had the floor, this was about us being accountable.
We must be accountable for our territory…
I often tell the story of XÁLS, the Creator in the Saanich territory. XÁLS left that place, left that territory, for the W̱JOȽEȽP, the people that live there. And the key message that he left us was that we were to be accountable for our territory, that we were to make decisions that were not to diminish it, that we weren’t to take more than could be replenished.
I think that that is the foundational principle of what’s trying to be accomplished here with the repealing of this name, which was the reduction targets, and giving it a new name, which is adding the word “accountability” — Climate Change Accountability Act. I don’t think that this should be something that should be underestimated, the importance of the change of the name of this bill.
What is also important — not more important — is that we identify the fact that we have a responsibility. The decision-makers in this place have a responsibility to more than just the four-year cycle that we get elected to in this place. We have a responsibility that goes much further into the future than four years.
Election cycle policy-making…
I know we get caught up in the cycle of this place, that decisions need to be made now in order…. You know, the tough decisions need to be made at the front end of an election cycle and then at the back end of an election cycle. We start to give back, and we get caught in this cycle where we, the 86 members that fill the seats of this place, become the most important. Our political careers are seen as more important than the actual policy that we’re putting forward.
I think that what’s critical here is that we start to take a look at this policy, the Climate Change Accountability Act, and we see that we’re actually making decisions that are much further in the future — the intergenerational equity.
The responsibility that I have as a father is to make decisions that are not only going to impact me and my wife in our lifetime but also the lifetime of our children, my ten-year-old son, my six-year-old daughter — the chances that they have in the future of also having a place that’s worth living in so that when they get to the time in their life where they decide whether or not they’re going to have children, they don’t throw their hands up in the air and say: “Well, what good is it? When my dad had a chance to make a choice, a decision…. When my dad had a chance to stand up for us, he made the wrong decision. He sold us out, all for a few dollars or for some opportunity that was fleeting, for a too-good-to-be-true sales pitch. He bought into it, and now we’re stuck with the world.”
Taking bold, courageous action on climate change…
My colleague, as only he could do in this place, could highlight the challenges that we will be faced with if we do not take firm, bold, courageous action on climate change.
We don’t face down the dinosaurs that we face in the open fields these days — the fossil fuel industry that has a sales pitch for us. We don’t face them down in the open fields, but we drag them into the jungles, and we say, “You’re going to have to battle us there,” because we’ve put forward an alternative vision for this beautiful place that we live that says that we don’t need to survive on fossil fuels alone. We can invest in innovation. We can create other opportunities for us that don’t require us to be beholden to the fossil fuel industry.
We find ourselves saying things that we don’t believe, or we find ourselves morally compromised, ethically compromised, because we’re chasing a dream that just simply does not exist. It may exist now, but it’s fleeting, and it won’t exist a few years into the future.
Climate action is a BC Green Caucus priority…
I think it’s hard for us to remember that we’re only here for such a brief moment in time, but yet we have to make decisions that are going to be impactful for countless generations ahead of us. So it’s important that the government takes action. I think it’s important to me and my colleagues in our caucus that this bill, only a few pages in length — that the three of us are going to take the time to stand and speak to it.
It emphasizes the point that we want to make — that this is an absolutely fundamental and critical part to why we are here as members of this House, why we have stood to put our name forward. The action that we take is important to us — that we all stand and speak to it, that we all stand and say that this is an important first step, setting the target, setting the goals.
If we are going to take action on climate change, then we have to set goals, and we have to be accountable to them. So I think that this is a phenomenal step to that.
Climate change cost us big, and dearly…
I think it was highlighted on Monday. A number of speakers on both sides of the House talked about the costs of climate change, and oftentimes we find ourselves having these economic arguments around certain industries, primarily the fossil fuel industry now, as it’s in its sunsetting days.
We have these conversations about economics. I think that we cannot overlook the economic costs that climate change is going to provide us. One of the examples of that is just in North Saanich alone, the conversations that are happening around rising sea levels. The property owners on the beachfront — and the district itself — are starting to wake up to the fact that early action on this now will save the property owners and the districts into the future. Making these investments, making the decisions now, here, that we can make in this place are the critical first steps. Preparing our properties, preparing our communities to become resilient and making those investments are important next steps.
I think it’s important to highlight two things. We used to be a leader in climate action. We have an opportunity to regain and retake our position as a leader in climate action. This bill, Bill 34, is not the action. This is just simply the goal-setting. It’s important to set goals. It’s also important to set the tone and to create signals for the marketplace so that they know that, once again, British Columbia is going to be a leader in climate action.
That’s going to create all sorts of economic opportunities for companies in our province, businesses in our province, the innovators in our province to take the wicked challenges that we have in the 21st century and find solutions for them. It’s going give an opportunity for the government to be working with our post-secondary institutions, making the investments to ensure that we are at the head, at the forefront of finding solutions to those problems.
I appreciate in this bill the fact that the minister has taken up the Auditor General of Canada’s suggestion to have annual reporting. That’s an important piece of accountability — to see where we’re at.
The section here, part 1.1, preparing for climate change, and adding the reports on climate change risks and progress…. I think it’s important that our government has in front of them a process in which we determine the risks, that we report out on the progress that we’ve taken to reducing the risks, that we’re clearly identifying the actions that we’re talking to achieve that progress and that we’re talking about how we’re planning to continue to progress in time.
We are at a critical moment in time…
I think these are really critically important opportunities for government to be learning and to be learning from our learning, and to be always in a position where we are advancing ourselves in this great challenge that we have in our time.
I’d like to thank the Speaker for providing me the opportunity to speak to this bill today. I would like to thank and raise my hands to the minister for putting forward a bill that really clearly highlights the accountability that we, the 87 members of the government of British Columbia, need to take on this important topic of climate change.
I’ll take my seat at this time, and thank the Speaker for the opportunity.