The Opposition Green party has introduced a bill that would see the Island adopt a more robust target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The party’s amendment would change the Island’s 2030 target for reducing greenhouse gases from the current target of 1.4 megatonnes per year to 1.2 megatonnes per year.
This would represent approximately a 43 per cent reduction from 2005 levels.
During debate on the Green amendment, Summerside-Wilmot MLA Lynne Lund, who introduced the amendment, argued the province needed to place more urgency on reducing carbon emissions.
“As a small province, we are known to be the most vulnerable to sea level rise, to erosion, to precipitation patterns. Our entire economy, or a big chunk of it, is reliant on industries that would be disrupted by climate change,” Lund said.
Over the last week, Lund has referred several times to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which found that limiting global warning to 1.5 C would require “rapid and far-reaching” action from world governments.
But Water, Environment and Climate Change Minister Brad Trivers said he believed more information was needed before changing the Island’s current GHG reduction targets. He suggested the issue of targets be explored by one of the legislative standing committees.
“I’m thinking it might be a little premature to be making this particular amendment,” Trivers said.
“I’d love to know what information you would need to see to think that we needed to be more aggressive in our targets on climate reduction,” Lund said.
Trivers responded that he would like to see more information on the current costs incurred on P.E.I. due to changes in weather patterns. He suggested that more “fulsome” amendments may be needed to the province’s Climate Leadership Act but said more information was needed.
“I think it’s important to know that we’re never going to be able to say definitively how far we can kick this down the road,” Lund said.
“I’m not talking about kicking it down the road,” Trivers said.
“That’s exactly what we would be doing, though, by saying ‘we have to wait until we have the proper targets,’ ” Lund said.
Debate around the province’s greenhouse gas reduction targets also consumed much of the legislative session on Thursday afternoon.
During question period, Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker asked Premier Dennis King if he would commit to reaching carbon neutrality or net zero emissions by 2050.
In response, King said he hoped to reach this target sooner.
“I feel confident that we can get there sooner. But, we also have to have some, what I like to say, common sense and some reasoned approach to this, and 2050 is a target that is very reachable,” King said.
The throne speech does not mention the year 2050 as a target for reaching zero net emissions on P.E.I.
Debate on the Green amendment will continue during this spring’s sitting.