Canadian delegates to the last climate conference burned $622,000 in airfares, despite advocating for "the next step forward for climate ambition."
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault led a 266-member Canadian delegation — including 53 from his department — to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last November 6 to 18.
He said the finances reflect the costs incurred by different government departments as of November 21.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, the federal records peg the expenditures of the entire delegation at $1.8 million, including a million for hotel charges, $622,000 for airfares, and $27,000 on meals.
However, Guilbeault said the amounts do not reflect final costs.
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 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.
Delegates to the earlier Glasgow conference included Deputy Finance Minister Michael Sabia, who billed $13,655 to attend the final three days of the meeting.
Sabia has urged Canadians to think about climate change in previous speeches.
"It is important to contribute positively to what I think is a massive issue facing humanity, climate change," said Sabia in 2018.
He claimed we see its impacts every day.
"Heat waves and drought in Europe, this summer record temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius north of the Arctic Circle, deadly hurricanes, floods, wildfires that were the largest in the history of California."
In 2020, Sabia told reporters that Canada "must meet its greenhouse gas emissions to build a cleaner and more prosperous economy for the future."
"The evidence is there."
Federal agencies to date have not disclosed all costs of attendance at a 2021 climate conference in Glasgow, but they revealed Guilbeault spent $11,426 on airfare.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, Guilbeault and five staff billed taxpayers $101,712. Expenses included $12,653 worth of meals, another $37,171 for airfare, and $49,265 for hotels.
Accounts show Guilbeault spent $22,023 to attend the conference, including $11,246 in airfare. He also spent $8,327 on hotels and $2,034 on meals.
On his return from Glasgow, the environment minister invoked disaster imagery to illustrate climate change.
"When the roof is leaking over our heads, we must repair it, and then we can think about what to have for dinner," Guilbeault told the House of Commons on May 17, 2021.
"We can, and we must mitigate the impacts of climate change."