Environment Canada pledges to 'cut costs' after spending $1 million on accommodations for 2022 U.N. Climate Conference

Rebel News learned that accommodations cost taxpayers $1,077,126.40 for the conference through an access-to-information request.

Environment Canada pledges to 'cut costs' after spending $1 million on accommodations for 2022 U.N. Climate Conference
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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The Department of Environment pledged Monday to cut costs when it attends the next global climate change conference.

"Our goal is always to keep the costs at a minimum if possible for such an event," Chris Forbes, the deputy environment minister, testified at the Commons environment committee. "We'll look at the options concerning hotels and costs."

In an Inquiry of Environment Canada, they informed the Commons they had spent $1.8 million sending a 266-member Canadian delegation to a U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last November 6 to 18th.

The finances reflect the costs incurred by different government departments as of November 21. However, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said the amounts do not reflect final costs.

According to Blacklock's Reporter, delegates spent a fortune on airfares at the latest U.N. climate conference last November while booking a hotel with a disco, camel rides and room rates upwards of US$1,270 a night.

An inquiry by Conservative MP Gérard Deltell uncovered Environment and Climate Change Canada spending $1127 USD (1548.63 CAD) a night for an executive suite at the Domina Coral Bay Hotel in the Egyptian resort town.

Booking 106 rooms at the resort costs $811,639, ranging from $405 to US$1,270 per night. The hotel featured three buffets, eight swimming pools, 13 bars, a spa and a disco club.

Other costs included $622,000 for airfares and $27,000 for meals.

Another booking at the Parrot Beach Resort included a room with a nightly rate of $1096.63 CAD, while other rooms at the same resort cost $790.25 USD ($1087.32 CAD) and $816.26 USD ($1123.10 CAD).

Rebel News learned that accommodations cost taxpayers $1,077,126.40 for the conference through an access-to-information request.

"What measures can we take for the next conference that will be held in Dubai?" Deltell asked the environment committee. "Last time I checked, it was not an inexpensive place."

"What measures will be taken to ensure we don't spend exorbitant amounts?" he asked. "One million dollars for hotel rooms in Egypt is a lot of money."

"You could have attended this conference by internet," said Deltell. "Why do you need such a large delegation? What was the environmental footprint?"

According to Blacklock's Reporter, Guilbeault clarified that taxpayers only cover the costs for federal employees and some Indigenous representatives, youth and civil service representatives, stating most delegates cover their expenses out of pocket.

However, he did not estimate the greenhouse gas emissions produced by delegates to the last climate conference. 

The environment minister claimed the climate crisis is an "inescapable reality."

"Climate change can no longer be considered a future threat. It is upon us. Canadians already feel the effects, from droughts to wildfires to shoreline erosion and floods."

Guilbeault contends his "role is to work for all Canadians as we try to reduce our carbon footprint."

"I have worked since I was appointed environment minister to ensure Canada reduces its carbon footprint," he said, instead pivoting to the need for Canada to reduce its emissions in transportation and oil and gas.

"We need to work harder on every sector of our economy, but two sectors, transport and oil and gas, represent more than 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions," continued Guilbeault. "A specifically targeted effort must be made in these two sectors."

Deltell also questioned the cabinet's frequent use of RCAF aircraft for routine travel within Canada, including short flights between Ottawa, Toronto and Montréal. 

Governor General Mary Simon chartered an RCAF to fly her back and forth between Halifax and Ontario last August 23, logging nearly 3,000 kilometres to attend a six-minute ceremony to fight climate change.

Expenses to ferry Simon totalled $12,589, excluding the actual cost of aviation fuel and flight crews. The military would not disclose what it charged taxpayers for the flights.

"This use of aircraft, we know they are highly polluting," added Deltell.

"As Minister of Environment, wouldn't it be important to tighten up the use of aircraft to be consistent when you fly around the world as the prime minister does, preaching to everyone about the environment?" he asked.

"I don't share your characterization," replied Minister Guilbeault. "We can agree to disagree."

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  • By Alexandra Lavoie

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