Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, BQ)
|| That the House call on the government to set fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets as soon as possible so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol, a prerequisite for the establishment, as expeditiously as possible, of a carbon exchange in Montréal.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today on this Bloc Québécois opposition day to discuss the Kyoto protocol and the importance of setting fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets for ourselves in Canada. Hopefully, this motion will also inspire the government to establish a Canadian climate exchange, which we feel should be located in Montreal.
The motion of the Bloc Québécois reads as follows:
|| That the House call on the government to set fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets as soon as possible so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol, a prerequisite for the establishment, as expeditiously as possible, of a carbon exchange in Montréal.
The Bloc Québécois' motion is another of many that have been developed and introduced by the Bloc Québécois in the last 10 years. We have to remember that this protocol, which was signed and agreed to by the international community in 1997, was the first step in an international effort to ensure that the countries in the industrialized world, working in common but each in its own way, would impose a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within their own borders.
The Bloc Québécois was in Kyoto in 1997. The Bloc Québécois got an accurate picture of the state of the environment on this planet. And then we came back here, to the House of Commons, and sounded the alarm, not only to Canadian parliamentarians, but to the entire population of Quebec and Canada, calling on the federal government to act expeditiously, in 1997, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within Canada's borders. We did not leave it at that in 1997. In Quebec we initiated a broad coalition, initiated also by the young people of Quebec, calling on the federal government to ratify the Kyoto protocol as quickly as possible. It was as a result of that initiative in Quebec, which the Bloc Québécois supported, that several years later the Canadian government got on board with what the Bloc Québécois was calling for.
Between 1997 and 2000 we had a federal government whose only goal was to advance the interests of the west and of the economic base of Alberta, the oil industry, a heavy producer of greenhouse gas emissions. We are well aware that while the oil industry is the cornerstone of Alberta's energy policy, Quebec's manufacturing industry was in danger of being the first victim of the federal approach in the years that followed, the goal of which was quite simply to penalize Quebec in the overall effort to reduce greenhouse gases in Canada.
We must recall the facts. While Quebec, with Manitoba, was preparing and presenting one of the first plans to combat climate change in Canada, the federal government was sitting on its hands. Remember Quebec was one of the first provinces to take action in the fight against climate change. What we are essentially calling for today is more fairness in the approach that will be presented by the federal government in the days or weeks to come.
As a result of its actions, Quebec will be able to present to the international community, and to Canadians, some of the best greenhouse gas reduction figures in Canada, since we have succeeded in limiting the increase in our emissions to approximately 6% as compared to more than 26% or 27% for Canada.
It has been shown that when we act and decide to implement a policy, a plan and effective programs to fight climate change, we can achieve the greenhouse gas emission objectives.
Today, the government is proposing that we set intensity targets. The reason we put forward an opposition day motion today is to send the government a clear message: we want absolute targets for greenhouse gas reduction, which result in real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We do not want to support this federal approach which would take into account the growth in oil production and in the oil sands sector when setting greenhouse gas reduction targets.
We believe that the only acceptable reference is the one in the Kyoto protocol. It requires an absolute reduction of 6% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. This is what we are asking for in this motion. Let us not forget that over the next few days, the federal government will try to persuade us, with its intensity targets, that it has rigorous and strict greenhouse gas reduction regulations for the major polluters and industrial emitters, which are primarily concentrated in western Canada.
It is important to understand the situation: a 15% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions based on an intensity approach represents a 179% increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the case of the oil sands sector alone.
This government has a legal and a moral obligation to respect the principles set out in the Kyoto protocol and not to let the public think that the targets in place will enable Canada to meet its international commitments. The reality is that these intensity-based reductions will have the effect of increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector by approximately 46%. The public has not been taken in . This past Sunday in Montreal they sent a clear message: they want a real reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a real reduction achieved through clearly established absolute greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. This is the only solid means of bringing us in line with Kyoto protocol requirements in order to preserve our environment and develop our economy.
Not only will these intensity-based targets not improve the state of our environment, but there is also a risk of their compromising one of the most powerful tools of the Kyoto protocol, namely the creation of a carbon exchange. The creation of an emission credit exchange system and a climate exchange is among the most powerful tools available to us. It will enable us to meet our international commitments, while providing worthwhile prospects to Quebec businesses, which will be able to sell and buy greenhouse gas emission credits on the Canadian, European and international markets. Quebec will be able to sell credits because many businesses have successfully reduced their greenhouse gas emissions. Those, in my opinion, are important tools for developing our economy.
Moreover, an analysis by Richard Kelertas, forestry product sector analyst for Dundee Securities, in the April 7 issue of Journal Les Affaires has indicated that the creation of a well organized carbon credit negotiation system—perhaps as early as 2008—might result in a marked rise in the worth of a number of Canadian forestry companies.
Contrary to what the government would have us believe, protecting the environment and establishing real greenhouse gas reduction targets will not hurt our economy. Rather, this will enable many businesses and industrial sectors in Canada and Quebec to reposition themselves and create major economic opportunities.
That being said, we must read what Mr. Kelertas wrote. What is a well-organized system? It is one in which the targets we set and the system we create are compatible with existing foreign markets.
The European example is probably the best one available. Europe is working toward the Kyoto protocol targets and will probably achieve them. We believe that by complying with the targets, Europe will limit the protocol's economic impact to less than 1% of the gross domestic product. Reports of the European Commission have made this clear. That means it is possible, here in Canada, as in Europe, to both comply with the Kyoto protocol and limit its economic impact.
Clearly, this proves that this week's analysis by the Minister of the Environment does not hold water. This proves that the premises on which he based his economic analysis of the Kyoto protocol are biased. We must establish carbon credit trading mechanisms.
Where should the exchange be located? It should be located in Montreal. Why Montreal? Simply because this specialized area is already part of Montreal's derivatives sector. In 1999, in Canada, an agreement was signed with the Toronto Stock Exchange that left spot trading to Toronto and derivatives to the Montreal Exchange. Emission credits and environmental markets are derivatives.
Of course, in recent weeks, we have heard that the Toronto Stock Exchange would like to be the site of this derivatives market. Toronto would like to have the climate exchange. However, under this 1999 agreement, Montreal is entitled to the climate exchange because it specializes in derivatives. Montreal did not simply let itself be guided by an administrative agreement or courted by certain markets. It went further and, in December 2005, decided to sign an agreement with the Chicago Stock Exchange to form important north-south economic ties in connection with the climate exchange. I believe that the Montreal Exchange is better suited, simply because it has this expertise and experience, and could play an important role.
Luc Bertrand, president and CEO of the Montreal Exchange, has said that combining the Montreal Exchange's unique position in Canada's financial markets and CCX's global leadership in environmental markets will result in innovation for the benefit of all Canadians and the environment.
There is definite interest in creating this emission credit trading system in Canada, because it will create numerous job opportunities. But the federal government's inaction in recent weeks is hurting Canadian companies like Biothermica, which does business abroad and is just waiting for absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets and a national registry that will enable this credit exchange system to be set up, in order to deal on the international market. But instead of announcing absolute targets, the minister came to Montreal yesterday to present catastrophic greenhouse gas reduction scenarios. He announced that hydro would cost 60% to 65% more in Quebec.
The federal government does not know much about the reality of energy in Quebec, where 95% of electricity is hydroelectricity. To extend its fear campaign into Quebec, on principles that are not prevalent in Quebec, is to mislead the public. This fearmongering is unacceptable. That is why we are presenting this motion today, because it is important. Before the government announces its reduction targets a few days from now, we are sending a clear message to the federal government: we are demanding that the Kyoto protocol be respected. We want absolute targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We want an emissions trading system. We want to create opportunities for Quebec and for Canada and to protect our environment at the same time.
On this side of the House, we have made constructive, concrete proposals that can work well with the international proposals that have been made so far. The only thing the government has presented is a fear campaign.
By trying to kill the Kyoto protocol, by rejecting its greenhouse gas reduction targets, by telling us it has no intention of using the mechanisms in the protocol, the government is simply telling us that it does not want to protect the planet. We have to make that clear and we will continue to be vigilant. Furthermore, Canada may want to refuse to honour its international commitments, but I can assure the Canadian public that Quebec does not intend, as the federal government has done so far, to reject the Kyoto protocol.
We have implemented a plan that allows us to respect our greenhouse gas reduction targets. The minister said to me last week that Quebec received $350 million and that we should be happy about that. Let us not forget that the federal government's approach in the coming weeks and days will not get Quebec $350 million ahead because if we weaken the foundation of Quebec's economy and its manufacturing sector, Quebec will suffer even heavier losses.
Finally, with today's motion, we are simply asking that the polluter-pay principle apply instead of polluter-paid.
Mr. Mark Warawa (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague and good friend, a member I highly respect, the member for Louis-Hébert.
On behalf of the government, I want to thank the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for coming forward with his motion today.
Like the hon. member, I believe Canadians want real action on the environment. Canadians want to see climate change addressed and harmful greenhouse gas emissions reduced. They also desperately want to see greenhouse gases and air pollution reduced so that the air we breathe is cleaner.
Canadians demand leadership from their government for both a clean environment and a growing economy. Canadians also want their elected representatives and their government to act responsibly on both fronts.
In 1997 the Liberal government agreed to the Kyoto protocol. In the following nine years in government, the Liberal Party did nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. While it promised big cuts to those harmful emissions, it instead sat back and watched them rise dramatically.
Let us consider the evidence. In 1997 when the Liberal government signed on to the Kyoto protocol, Canada was 22% above its target, but the good news was that we had 15 years to make it. By the time Canadians chose to change their government in 2006, Canada was already 35% above the target.
We accepted our international obligations and we will make our very best efforts. We are big believers in the need for international action.
The government has said very clearly that it is supportive of Canada remaining committed to the principles and objectives of the United Nations framework convention on climate change and the Kyoto protocol.
We would like to see more cooperation and leadership among all major emitting countries, particularly the G-8+5, which includes not only the big western economies like Britain, France, Germany and the United States, but also the big emerging economies like India and China.
Our government was elected to make decisions. The global challenge of climate change and global warming requires meaningful, decisive action. Reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution also demands leadership and resolve.
Already we have taken significant steps that not only prove our commitment to action but will also make a difference in Canada's environment for the health of all Canadians. We have unveiled a wide range of initiatives to promote clean energy and clean transportation, the two biggest sources of greenhouse gases and pollution.
We are increasing the use of renewable fuel through regulation and supporting the growth of our biofuels industry.
We are providing financial and tax incentives to Canadians to drive eco-friendly vehicles.
We will regulate mandatory fuel consumption standards on the vehicles that Canadians buy.
We are supporting the growth of renewable energy resources like wind and tidal power.
We are providing incentives to Canadians to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
We have partnered with the province of Alberta to create an ecoenergy carbon capture and storage task force that will recommend the best ways to deploy technology to capture carbon dioxide from the oil sands and store it deep underground.
We have provided $1.5 billion to the provinces and territories to support concrete energy efficiency technology and other projects they have identified to achieve real reduction in both air pollution and greenhouse gases.
Budget 2007 also demonstrates our commitment to the environment with an investment of $4.5 billion to clean our air and water, to manage the legacy of chemical substances, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, most importantly, to protect our natural environment.
Combined with over $4.7 billion in investments made since 2006, the resulting investments in environmental protection total over $9 billion.
However, these investments alone will not drive the changes in energy efficiency, technology, innovations and investments in industrial facilities that must occur if Canada is to do its part to reduce the global burden of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Our focus is now on implementing tough but realistic regulations to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution from large industrial sources while ensuring that our economy continues to prosper.
We are exploring the use of emissions trading as part of those regulations. I would remind the House it is the private sector that makes those choices and it is the private sector that should provide any trading infrastructure.
There is nothing that says there must only be one exchange here in Canada. In Europe, for example, there are several carbon exchanges. None was established by a government. I believe it was Jean-Charles Robilliard, the spokesman for the Montreal Stock Exchange, who said that there was room for both exchanges to operate in emissions trading.
Our government cannot take responsibility for the inaction and mistakes made by the previous Liberal government but we will take responsibility for cleaning up the mess that we inherited from the Liberals. By doing nothing to reduce the harmful greenhouse gas emissions, the previous government focused far too much on the economy.
While industry pushes for minimal action and the environmentalists push for perfection, the problem is getting worse. It is time for Canada's government to act, and we are acting. Soon we will unveil our regulatory framework for industrial air emissions. Our strategy will ensure real reductions in both greenhouse gases and air pollution.
We will include tougher rules and regulations that will require Canada's industry to reduce pollution that threatens the health of Canadians and that causes climate change. For the first time in our country, we will have a strategy, one that is real, concrete and realistic for reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution.
Of course, Canadians will need to make some adjustments. We all need to take on more responsibility. It is something we believe Canadians are prepared to do. Our citizens want urgent action on the environment and they are ready for some tough but fair medicine.
However, how much is too much? Where do we draw the line? Canadians expect us to deal with these issues with responsibility and balance. We also need a balanced approach that reduces both greenhouse gases and preserves Canadian economic growth.
Will everyone like our approach? Probably not. Some will say that it is too weak, while some in industry will say that it is too tough. Someone must take the lead, though, and that is the responsibility of the Government of Canada. Leadership means making tough choices. We were elected to make those tough choices on behalf of Canadians and not to duck them.
In closing, I want to remind the House once again that we agree wholeheartedly that urgent action on greenhouse gases is needed and we will be coming forward shortly with our plan.
I also want to say again that the government supports the principles and objectives of the Kyoto protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Therefore, we will be supporting this motion. As for carbon markets, I have indicated in our notice of intent that we support emissions trading, and the motion does not specify that Montreal must be the only carbon market in Canada.
Mr. Luc Harvey (Louis-Hébert, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am taking this opportunity to take part in the debate on the motion presented by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, asking the government to set absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets, so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto protocol and, ultimately, to establish a carbon exchange in Montreal.
Greenhouse gas emissions in Canada have constantly been increasing over the past 10 years and now exceed by 35% the targets set under the Kyoto protocol. This is a direct result of the inaction of the previous Liberal government, which claims to be the great protector of the environment.
More than 13 years ago, when it had the opportunity to produce results, it missed the target. In order to reach the targets set by the previous government in the Kyoto protocol, Canada would have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 33% for each of the years covered by the commitment made under the Kyoto protocol.
As the Minister of the Environment said last week, before the Senate committee, achieving such drastic reductions over such a short period of time would require very compelling measures that would have a significant impact on the Canadian economy. We are talking about increased production costs for businesses and the possible loss of 275,000 jobs, not to mention higher energy costs, including natural gas, electricity and gasoline.
We know the Liberals have tried to scare Canadians by misrepresenting the report but the facts are clear and have been independently validated by some leading Canadian economists and experts.
Some members of the opposition have also tried to mislead Canadians. For example, they have said that the report issued by U.K. economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, debunks the report on Bill C-288. Sadly, they are wrong.
While the Stern review is an important study that we should all read, it focused on the cost of global climate change action over the next 30 to 50 years. It has almost nothing to do with the cost Canada would face to implement Kyoto over the next five years, which Bill C-288 would require by law.
Our report on Bill C-288 takes into consideration Canada's unique circumstance. It is the only up to date report in existence that reflects the reality of our geography, demographics and economy.
Some opposition members would want us to ignore the socio-economic effects of attempts to reach the targets of the Kyoto protocol. However, as a government, we must act responsibly and adopt measures that are based on a balanced commitment between protecting the environment and managing the economy.
We recognize that the environment is the number one concern for Canadians. We share that concern and this is why, as soon as the new Government of Canada took office, we immediately introduced a number of initiatives that will not only clean up our environment, but will also protect the health of Canadians.
In October, we stated our intention to develop and implement regulations and other measures to reduce air pollution and tackle the issue of climate change.
The government is working to set targets for industrial greenhouse gas emission reductions that will be more aggressive than those proposed by previous governments. We are working on setting short term targets for industrial air pollutants, reductions that are among the most aggressive in the world.
Rather than do as the previous Liberal government did and announce unrealistic and unreachable targets, our government is focusing on setting targets that will strengthen Canada's long-term competitiveness. These targets are a major positive step forward in the fight to reduce dangerous emissions, air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
Canada's new government will soon announce a regulatory framework that will give industry clear guidance for reducing greenhouse gases. The framework will include emissions credit trading. Currently, there is nothing preventing Canadian exchanges from creating carbon exchanges similar to those now operating in Chicago or in Europe.
Canadians will soon learn more about our environmental plan, which will set achievable targets to improve the quality of the air Canadians breathe and enable Canada to take its place as an international leader in the fight against climate change. Our plan will include a commitment to developing integrated regulations governing outdoor air pollutants and greenhouse gases. It will set performance standards concerning products that may release air pollutants when they are in use.
Our approach will avoid regulatory overlap and support the development of national standards to eliminate emissions into the atmosphere. This government is committed to making environmental progress while managing the economy. We must ensure that regional economies will not be annihilated in the process. We are determined to find solutions without creating new problems. We will establish mandatory reduction targets for big industries that produce greenhouse gases. These targets will be strict and will become stricter over the years. As a result, Canada will achieve absolute greenhouse gas emissions reductions, reductions that all Canadians and opposition members will be able to support.
This government is already headed in the right direction, I believe, in view of all the environmental initiatives it has introduced over the last few months. These initiatives bear out our promise to provide solutions that will protect the health of Canadians and their environment. We obviously take our promise very seriously, as can be seen in the implementation of financial and tax incentives to encourage Canadians to drive green vehicles and the support provided to sources of renewable energy, such as wind and tidal power. We are also giving Canadians incentives to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Recently in the 2007 budget, we announced a $4.5 billion investment to help clean up our air and water, manage chemical substances, protect our natural environment and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This investment plus more than $4.7 billion in others add up in total to more than a $9 billion investment in the environment.
As we have said on many occasions, Canadians are very interested in their environment. They constantly demand that steps be taken to clean it up. Before our new government took power, though, nothing was done in response to these demands. Now our government is taking concrete action, as can be seen in the examples I just enumerated. We know, though, that a lot more needs to be done in order to ensure that future generations have a clean environment.
Air pollutants and greenhouse gases have many sources in common, and that is why we are taking a coordinated, integrated approach to protecting the health of Canadians and their environment. The federal government not only intends to make major reductions in emissions but promises as well to monitor emissions and report on them in a completely transparent, public, responsible way in order to ensure that the announced reductions are actually achieved.
Regardless of their political allegiance, all members of a government should strive to achieve the objective of improving and protecting the quality of the air we breathe.
Everyone has a responsibility to take action on climate change, and the Canada's new government is clearly doing this.
Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this morning to speak to the Bloc Québecois motion tabled today. I am hoping it will lead to a very fulsome and honest debate. I am not overly encouraged by some of the things I am hearing from the government, but I am pleased, as I said, to rise to speak to this motion put forward by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Let me preface my comments today by saying that I was very disappointed by the environment minister's remarks last week before a Senate committee examining Bill C-288, the Kyoto implementation act. The minister's remarks dealt with the subject we are debating today: the need to meet the objectives of the Kyoto protocol.
Bill C-288 restates Canada's commitment to the Kyoto process. The government signed the treaty. Parliament ratified it.
Now that Bill C-288 has passed through the House of Commons, the democratically elected House of Commons has shown twice and for all time that we are fully committed to this goal.
The minister's comments were defeatist. His confused rhetoric talked about a “more realistic” way forward. What he meant was that he is not willing to show any leadership whatsoever. He could not get the job done and neither could his predecessor who was summarily dispatched for failure for doing anything in the first year of this government's short life.
The new minister tabled a dishonest economic analysis that refuted a plan to meet Kyoto that no one is proposing anywhere in the world.
If the government were serious about analyzing economic possibilities, it would not have done it on the back of a napkin. The Department of Finance would have been engaged and would have done the job, or at least would have been involved in some small way. But that was not the case at all. Its analysis would have included benefits, as well as costs, to come up with a reasonable conclusion and we would have seen that Kyoto is not only feasible but economically sound.
We should not overlook the fact that the Conservatives have been trying for years to prevent the implementation of concrete measures to fight climate change. We are asking the Prime Minister to ensure that Canada joins the rest of the world in significantly reducing carbon emissions. Let us remember that, when the Prime Minister was the leader of the official opposition, he wrote a letter to his supporters to raise money and to “block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto accord”. In his letter, the Prime Minister makes his views on the Kyoto protocol perfectly clear: “Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations”.
Yes, the Prime Minister described Kyoto, the protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by 168 nation states, as a socialist plot. It is hard to believe. It is actually outrageous, ludicrous and ridiculous.
There has been some very serious scientific and economic work done only recently. Scientists have established that global warming is real and caused in large part by human activity. Economists have worked to demonstrate what strategies we can take to fight climate change.
In keeping with past behaviour among those who would deny climate change and drag their feet, it is interesting how, when we look back at the familiar pattern of conduct over the years, those who would have us not respond to such environmental challenges rallied first around the case of acid rain when Inco in Canada was the largest single source of acid rain, causing emissions in North America. Inco, once regulated, went on to become one of the most efficient companies in North America, leading the way and taking credit now for significant environmental achievement.
Then it was followed with the United States clean air act and the example there, where U.S. electrical utilities denied the need to take action and hollered and shouted to the sky that the atmosphere itself would collapse if they had to put a price on their emissions. We now know that industry's estimates, in terms of the costs per tonne of acid rain causing emissions, were $1,500. The United States Environmental Protection Agency was predicting $750. Only several years later, when these tonnes of pollution were being traded in a domestic emissions trading system in the United States under the U.S. clean air act, the real cost was about $100 per tonne.
Finally, the third example of a familiar pattern of conduct is the Montreal protocol and our global efforts to eliminate CFCs. This engaged one major company, DuPont, that went on to eliminate the lion's share of the problem and became a significant environmental player in the industrial world around the world. It went on to reduce its greenhouse gases.
What is interesting were the comments made by the Prime Minister himself on March 22, less than a month ago. I quote the Prime Minister when he said:
|| In 1990 my predecessor, Brian Mulroney, convinced the US government to sign a treaty requiring industry to drastically cut sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions.
|| The alarmists said this would bring about a terrible recession.
|| Quite the contrary, the North American economy thrived, posting one of the longest and strongest periods of growth in history.
That was said by the Prime Minister of Canada four short weeks ago, just before he dispatched his Minister of the Environment to use shock and awe communications tactics to try to frighten Canadians into believing we could not achieve our Kyoto protocol targets.
The House will recall, and so will Canadians, the Stern report, which was conducted by the esteemed former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern, the man now teaching at the London School of Economics, my alma mater. In his time at the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern was hardly ever conceived of or seen as a socialist economist who would pursue a socialist plot to strip the north and the industrialized countries of their wealth.
Sir Stern's widely accepted report concluded that 10% of global output could be lost if we allowed our actions to raise temperatures by 5° over the coming century. In other words, if I can paraphrase the 681 page report of Sir Nicholas Stern, we are looking at the mother and the father of all market corrections if we wait until we are forced to take real substantive climate action.
I have long said that we must stop the fiction, that we can continue to expect our biosphere to assimilate unlimited amounts of waste without consequence. Much of our economic activity is financed by the DNA bank of nature, where the accumulated capital of 500 million years of evolution is on deposit. We need a new economics that values and in many cases gives a dollar value to our natural capital.
We measure our financial capital. We measure our social capital. We even measure our human capital. How well educated we are. It is time for us now to move, take the final step and start to assign a value to our natural capital, and Kyoto is essential to this evolution.
The World Bank reports that carbon markets were worth $10 billion in 2005 and slated to triple in value this past year. We are looking at a market of hundreds of billions of dollars at the very least. According to Deutsche Bank, one of the largest investment banks in the world ranked by revenues and profits, a fully operational international carbon market would surpass in size every single stock exchange on the planet today.
This is why the Minister of the Environment received a pointed letter from the president of the Toronto Exchange, Richard Nesbitt, on December 21, four months ago, in which he made it clear that Canada must be involved in an international emissions trading system.
We must not turn our back on free market mechanisms. Free markets are well known for encouraging behaviour in the most cost efficient way possible. I can say that the opposition has been in favour of this approach every step of the way, provided of course that emissions reductions can be properly verified.
However, the minister has made it clear as recently as yesterday, once again, that Canadian businesses will remain on the outside looking in as long as the Conservatives have their way. The government by denying that there is a problem will ensure that Canadian businesses and average citizens end up paying much more than they have to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
In short, we will become, under the present government, policy and price takers, not policy and price makers, something heretofore reserved almost exclusively for the governments of Australia and the United States of America. Is it only coincidence that the only country not to sign the G-8+5 memorandum, just three short weeks ago, was the United States, trying not to participate in the multilateral and emerging Kyoto based international emissions trading systems?
Every family understands the importance of a budget. Income and expenditures must be balanced. If we save, we can invest in our future. It is time to adopt such a strategy in order to reduce carbon emissions.
A balanced carbon budget is an innovative and bold plan enabling large industrial emitters to reduce, in a tangible and significant way, their carbon emissions. Our plan provides a concrete and effective strategy for significant reductions in carbon emissions. It will also serve to stimulate the development of green technologies here in Canada. We know that our businesses will seize the opportunity to promote environmental technologies and that Canada will seize the opportunity to become a green superpower.
Our companies are aching to take advantage of a new green economy, but only if they have certainty and clarity. They need to know in which direction our country is moving, especially those that have moved so aggressively to reduce their emissions of those greenhouse gases since 1990, like the pulp and paper sector in our country, which is already 44% below its 1990 collective greenhouse gas emissions, using 1990 as the baseline.
It has been three and a half weeks since Liberal, Bloc Québécois and NDP amendments to the clean air act were passed to set tough but realistic targets for absolute emissions reductions.
Yesterday the minister was saying that he still had not made up his mind about whether we would ever see the clean air and climate change act again. However, he certainly made up his mind to spend millions of dollars hiring economists to mount a case to frighten Canadians to the greatest extent possible, telling us again what we could not do, rather then what we could do.
Meanwhile, behind closed doors this last weekend, he was saying that the clean air act was dead. Then yesterday, in the national media, he denied having said so. That is no way to provide certainty. That is no way to provide clarity. That is no way to provide leadership.
The retrofitted clean air and climate change act has so much to offer. Cast in the form of a national carbon budget, our commitment to the Kyoto process will allow us to create a green economy, an economy that profits from the move, the shift to sustainability.
We have already achieved substantial reductions in emissions on an intensity basis, something the government continues to pursue and refuses to acknowledge that if we adjust for growth in the economy, that is, if we look at greenhouse gas emissions on an intensity basis, our emissions fell over 10% from 1993 to 2004. Now we know the reductions have to be in absolute terms. It is non-negotiable. We are not addressing climate change unless we are reducing the amount of CO2 and CO2 equivalent gases that we pump into the atmosphere.
We must act now. We cannot fight climate change with a strategy that deliberately plans for an increase, rather than a decrease, in pollution.
This government wants to make Canadians believe that it is doing what is required to combat climate change, but it is incapable of making the necessary decisions.
It is time to give industry a carbon budget and to develop a policy that establishes the financial incentives required for this budget to work. That is exactly what we did with our amendments to Bill C-30.
Yesterday in the House the Prime Minister almost had me in guffaws of laughter when he actually said that if the opposition had a plan to meet Kyoto it should table it. Members can check Hansard. He actually said that.
The plan that we have delivered for the country, a positive, workable strategy to fight greenhouse gases in a cost effective way, is in the government's own clean air and climate change act. The government asked for a solution. It referred the bill to a special, powerful legislative committee to have it completely reworked.
It was reworked. The Conservatives got a plan, a real made in Canada plan, from the opposition parties. It makes real reductions, absolute ones, not intensity based. It puts a price on carbon. It sets short term, mid term and long term targets for the country.
It does everything that the government should have been working to do from day one, and it goes further, because for months the government has been trying to frighten Canadians, misleading them into believing that this involves somehow transferring billions of dollars to purchase hot air. The bill was fixed again. Hot air purchases from any jurisdiction have been expressly ruled out.
Instead, we have had delays, we have had distractions and we have had excuses. I do not think it is a coincidence that the only speech the current Minister of the Environment has posted on the Environment Canada website in three months, actually four months now, is all about what we cannot do. It exaggerates the costs. It ignores the benefits. It is a vision that wants to fail. It is a defeatist speech.
This week, the government has once again promised us action, but I can tell members that we do not need regulation that ignores the principles of innovation and refuses to cooperate with 168 partners around the world. We need to buy into a system that leverages Canada's intellectual powerhouses: our research and development institutes, our universities, and our federal, provincial and municipal R and D.
There are massive billions of dollars of research, development and innovation in these intellectual powerhouses. We need to harness these powerhouses to move forward.
We know that we Canadians led the world as the driving force behind the Brundtland commission and the earth summit. Both of these were, of course, the foundations of the Kyoto protocol. It is time for us to take the reins of leadership again. We can become the clean energy superpower. We need to be able to deliver our know-how to the other 98% of the world. The opportunity is clearly there.
Thanks to Kyoto, markets elsewhere now price carbon. This integrates economic and environmental imperatives for the first time. Pricing carbon enhances measurement and management of a product that ought to be scarce: our emissions. As well, it allows private operations to efficiently invest to reduce emissions. However, it will not happen here with a fearmongering government that does not believe we need to act and get out in front of the issue.
I am here and my Liberal colleagues are on board because we will not accept defeatism. There will be costs, but there will also be great opportunities. We cannot afford to keep our foot off the pedal any longer.
Finally, let me say this for those who mischaracterize multilateral action as an unjustified transfer of billions of dollars offshore: they need to go back to biology 101. There is only one atmosphere, something I am regularly reminding the government of so that it can actually make the right choices.
Those are my comments. I look forward to the debate.
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his motion on climate change, especially concerning the carbon exchange. This concept is really necessary for our country, which should make an immediate commitment to emission trading. Otherwise, it will be impossible for Canada to meet the Kyoto targets and to continue discussions with the rest of the world.
The government is somewhat confused because I believe that the government will support this motion. However, it is possible that the confusion is caused by language. The French version contains some very specific elements that do not appear in the English version. Therefore, we should closely examine the French text today. First, there is this sentence:
|| Que la Chambre invite le gouvernement à établir au plus tôt des cibles absolues de réduction des gaz à effet de serre permettant d’atteindre les objectifs du Protocole de Kyoto—
The words “cibles absolues”, or “absolute targets” are very important, and they are the reason that the NDP will support this motion.
The English version has a slightly but important different expression that is important for us to rectify here today. I know members in the House will work with us to perhaps fix this.
The motion reads:
|| That the House call on the government to set fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets as soon as possible so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol--
The language around the mechanisms in Kyoto is very specific in its use and phrasing. In English, the government may be reading in some cover for its intensity based targets because the word “absolute” is not applied. In the language of Kyoto, absolute targets mean an absolute cap. That is the common reference that we use when talking about large industrial polluters.
It is also the language that we use when we talk about an absolute target for countries, not a moving target, not a target associated to energy intensity, which was previously supported by the current leader of the Liberal Party and his party in the former Parliament. This intensity based target was supported actually by the current leader of the Liberal Party all the way through his leadership campaign. These are the same criticisms the Liberal Party is now vaunting upon the Conservatives, that an intensity based target was the way to go.
Let me explore this topic for a moment because it is important for Canadians listening to understand the differences between an absolute target and an intensity based target.
Intensity allows a country to set intensity based targets. That means if a country becomes more efficient in its business processes and industrial process, if that intensity improves over years, then that country gets credit for having improved when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.
The problem with an intensity based target is that it can allow, under an expanding economy, and as we have seen in Alberta that attempted this in its provincial targets, an improvement of 19% in intensity over a 10 year period, but an increase of almost 40% in the absolute greenhouse gas emissions for the province.
When countries come together at international conferences to talk about reducing our impact on the planet and the planet's atmosphere, what they are always talking about is an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. That is the only conversation held. It does not matter one's political perspective on the topic, right, left, American, Australian, or Canadian. They are talking about seeking a way to lower the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are sent out by our industrial processes. That is the critical component of this.
This issue seems to have been a bit of a moving target over the last number of weeks. The government says we are within the Kyoto protocol, but we are not going to meet the targets.
Now, it is suggested that we support the Bloc motion to have absolute targets for reduction of greenhouse gases. The words “absolute targets” are very, very clear. They establish a very strong connection with the Kyoto protocol and Canada’s international commitments. It is also necessary to establish a carbon exchange in Montreal, or a general carbon exchange, wherever it may be located.
In the context of all this, as we have heard in the speeches from the environment critics and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, the parties will take out their natural barbs and hooks for each other around the issue of the environment, which has become increasingly important for Canadians.
There has been almost a seismic shift in the consciousness of Canadians who are interested in the affairs of government and their nation to say that the environment, and climate change in particular, has become one of the leading issues for our country.
I would strongly suggest the government did not get elected on an environmental platform. I clearly remember the platform document the Conservatives ran on. I think there were three phrases in the entire document devoted to the environment. It was a platform piece. The Conservatives were vague. There was something in it about clean air and clean water, and a third one that has since been forgotten.
Now arriving in government, those members find themselves in a bit of a predicament, having spilled much ink in their brochures and pamphlets about the evils of international obligations like the Kyoto process, and are now faced with a population that wants something done.
To take some small pieces in lessons from history, when the Conservatives introduced their clean air act last fall, there was much excitement and anticipation by many in the Conservative cabinet at least, but I am not sure about the Canadian public. Minister after minister came to me and said how impressed I was about to be with what was going to be called the clean air act.
It was the clean air act. According to them it was very strong, very specific and very generous.
At the end of the day we found out that the act was wanting in specifics, deadlines and lacking in efficacy. We were unable to support the act and were able to encourage the other opposition parties in the House to do the same because there was almost no moral ground to stand upon in pushing off serious action in respect to climate change for another 20 years, 30 years or 40 years. That was not responsible.
What is responsible is to recommit to our international obligations, a legally binding document which we have not heard a murmur from the government on how it is going to square this circle in being signatories, which it is in representing the Canadian people, to this protocol that has built-in penalties for countries that do not abide by that signature or their targets.
The government is trying to square the idea that it can both be in the protocol, adhere to international obligations, and yet not meet those obligations. It is fundamentally flawed and intellectually dishonest at worst.
When the act was introduced, it was dead on arrival. It was disappointing and frustrating because the legacy that the Liberal Party had left behind in government was known throughout the land as being a record of an over concentration and focus on media and optics, spin and announcements, and little to do with concrete action.
The sad part of this conversation for Canadians, and there is a great deal of skepticism in the public when the government makes announcements, is that they have some justification for the skepticism when looking at the so-called new government because after some 13 months or 14 months, some incredibly long feeling period of time short on the calendar but long when we look at the amount of delay, we are still waiting for serious action.
It may feel beyond even 10 years for some in the Liberal Party who are not quite used to the feelings of what it is not to be able to control the media's spin cycle. However, when we look at the principles of their bill, we realize that the bill as proposed was dead in Parliament.
I remember the leader of the NDP, the member for Toronto—Danforth standing in his place, two weeks after the bill was introduced calling upon the government and the other parties to work together, to form a special committee, give us a forum to bring the best ideas forward, and to rewrite the bill from top to bottom in order to include within it things that are called for by the motion from the Bloc today, and other motions that have come from Conservative and Liberal members.
It was a fascinating experience and important because Canadians heard stories of parliamentarians attempting to work together, of finding common ground. Looking through the record, as I have, for the various votes cast for this particular piece of legislation, I found members from the Conservatives, Liberals, Bloc and New Democrats voting for many aspects of it. They did not agree with all of it, but they say the principles of a good negotiation are always based upon each party giving up something. No one gets it all.
As much as the Prime Minister would like to wage a war of attrition and decide that whatever he writes is law, he must come to the realization that he is working within the confines of a minority Parliament. This is the House that Canadians constructed for us and most clearly want us to work together, particularly around issues that we have said from all four corners of the House go beyond narrow partisan interests because it is the future of the environment, the climate and future prosperity of generations to come.
We rewrote the bill and adopted aspects of the bill that were written initially. Much of the actual air pollution sections, the air quality sections, were modified but adopted by the various committee members. We included new pieces, leading edge ideas, that have been accepted by the parties and no one party voted for every one and no one party voted against every piece. It was a mix.
To my perspective, and I believe the perspective of many Canadians, that is the sign of a healthy Parliament, a healthy debate, when people are able to give their input and have various coalitions form around the table on any given day. As members from that committee know, there were various votes cast. Some things were defeated and some things not. To make Parliament work, to make Parliament deliver for Canadians on the environment, that is what the NDP was focused on. That is what the member for Toronto—Danforth, the leader of the NDP, was entirely focused on through the process and he has received proper credit for his work there.
I will now break down the notion of a carbon exchange market.
It is very important to understand to what extent this tool is good for Canadian companies and for everyone, and that it will make it possible to advance this concept of greenhouse gas reduction.
I will quote a brief extract from the testimony of Mr. Bertrand, the president of the Montreal Exchange, on the subject of absolute targets. In response to a question from the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, Mr. Bertrand stated the following: “We think that an intensity-based system would add another element of uncertainty to the market.”
All the business witnesses said that it was impossible to invest in the reduction of greenhouse gases with a system that creates uncertainty. The concept of intensity targets does not work for Canadian companies or for our country’s Kyoto targets. It is not possible for the Conservative government, on one hand, to say that intensity targets are sufficient and, on the other hand, to support the motion of the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie which begins, “That the House call on the government to set fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets as soon as possible so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol—”.
That is the intention of Bill C-30. They have changed the name because it is a very important bill that deals not only with air quality, but also with climate change. That is the reason that the NDP will support the motion. It will support the effort to put more pressure on this government. It is necessary to ensure the passage of Bill C-30 concerning climate change and Canada’s clean air act, as it has been called by the government.
For Canadians watching who are not familiar with carbon exchange markets, it is a very simple concept based fundamentally upon market concepts that exist. Canadians invest in the markets every day, for their retirement, for businesses to secure enough capital to make the investments, create an economy, hire more people and put Canadians to work. The market based system, the exchange of value for future promised value that is the basis of the Toronto Stock Exchange and other stock exchanges around the world is the same concept that was borrowed from those trying to fight this climate change process.
A very wise witness came before the committee and said not to think of the Kyoto process as an environmental negotiation as much as it is an economic negotiation because this is changing some of the fundamentals of our economy. It is demanding that at long last the polluter must pay. This is a concept that has been bandied around in this Parliament and others for far too long. It is simple. The concept says that those who pollute, in this case those who emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, must pay for that pollution, otherwise we invoke the greatest tragedy we have ever known. Who is responsible for the atmosphere, who is responsible for the quality of the air if not those who are contributing to the ruination of the atmosphere and the quality of air?
It seems to us and to many others that this market based approach is one of the most effective tools that government can apply in setting up the terms of reference, in setting up clear rules and regulations so that companies can compete. It will allow industries to choose the lowest cost solutions to reduce their pollution and have a net overall benefit to our atmosphere and our economy.
At the end of the day, in order to achieve the short term targets that are outlined in the Kyoto protocol, and to which Canada has obligated itself, unless the government plans on tearing up the protocol, which it may be doing quietly but has certainly not publicly said it will do, then we need this tool. Businesses which are unable to make the transition in three to four years, which is Kyoto's requirement now because we have wasted so much time in the 13 years previously and in the almost year and a half with the present government, need this tool.
We have made some shift with the government. There has been some release of the ideology in small ways. I can remember the minister coming to the committee and when asked about the clean development mechanisms and other trading mechanisms that are available within the protocol, he said absolutely and definitively no.
At the time I thought he may have misspoke himself. It was not until we saw business representative after representative come before the committee and say they want access to these tools. The oil and gas sector, the coal fired energy sector are saying they want access to these tools and mechanisms because they think it is important and useful for their business. They need to be able to factor into their spreadsheets and costs of doing business the concept of pollution, the concept of greenhouse gas emissions. The notions of a carbon exchange allow them to do that and they want access to it. Why would the government deny them? They are supposedly much of the government's support base, certainly within the Alberta energy sector. They asked for access to this market. It becomes a question of who the government is defending from these tools. It is certainly not the companies that are most involved with the process, the large polluters in this country.
The government made an absolutely false and almost silly presentation on the cost of these international obligations to which we have committed. The minister was out trumpeting that last week. That needs to be set aside once and for all. We can no longer have this pitched battle of ideology between doing things for the environment and doing things for the economy. That debate for many Canadians is long since over. If the government continues to wage this campaign and die on this hill, I believe both politically and personally the Conservatives will be punished for it because it is a false debate. We have moved well beyond that. Our international competitors have shown us that.
Canada runs the desperate risk of being left in the dust in innovation, new energy production, and a more sensible and sane policy for this country and for our economy.
We will be supporting this motion and look forward to the support of all parties. We look for support from all parties to finally move forward the so-called clean air and climate change legislation, so that we can get the solutions on the table that will allow industry and Canadians to engage with government and not have a government in direct opposition to those efforts.
Mrs. Claude DeBellefeuille (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in this House to speak on the motion introduced by the Bloc Québécois on this Bloc opposition day. This is a clear and straightforward motion calling on the government “to set fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets as soon as possible so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto protocol, a prerequisite for the establishment, as expeditiously as possible, of a carbon exchange in Montreal”.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my speaking time with the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.
The debate we are having in the House of Commons today is a very important one, a debate on one of the greatest challenges we have ever had to face: climate change. In recent months, numerous credible scientific studies have improved knowledge of the magnitude of the environmental issues and challenges we are currently facing, and explained to some extent what most people have been realizing for themselves: we have a role and responsibility where the current climate disruptions are concerned.
I will not discuss the research commissioned by the Conservative government, which serves as the basis for the campaign of fear it has been engaged in for the past week. Acting like a lobby for the oil industry, this government has always denied the existence of climate change. One can hardly lend any credibility to such a catastrophic, apocalyptic scenario.
Instead, I will remind the members of this House of recent reports by a former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The first report recommends that each country invest 1% of its GDP in fighting climate change to prevent future economic losses up to 20 times higher than the cost of reversing the trend now. There is increasing certainty about climate change, and particularly its effects: increased tropical storms, heatwaves, smog episodes, hurricanes, forest fires and droughts, not to mention glaciers melting, sea levels rising and reduced availability of drinking water.
While we do not want to be alarmist, we must be clear and honest. According to the second report, the UN report, at least 30% of the species in the world are in danger of extinction if temperatures rise two degrees above averages in recent years. As well, 250 million people could be without water by 2020. In addition, an increase in extreme weather, such as tsunamis and storms, may occur, along with other disturbing events.
During this time, as if to justify its failure to act, the Conservative government has continued to blame the Liberals' poor performance in combating climate change during the time they were in power.
Day after day, since they were elected, the Conservatives have promised us action. After 14 months in power, we see that Quebeckers and Canadians have lost 14 months in the fight against climate change. That is precious time, and in this important battle no responsible government can stand by while time is lost.
And yet after slashing climate change programs at the beginning of its term, the government then recycled the Liberal programs, under public and political pressure. Once again, precious time has been lost.
The Conservative government underestimates Quebeckers and Canadians when it comes to the importance they place on the environment and climate change. It still does not seem to be hearing them today, or even to understand what they are saying.
Issues relating to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are very important to Quebeckers. In fact, 76% of Quebeckers believe that the government must reach the objectives in the Kyoto protocol. Quebeckers are actually the lowest producers of greenhouse gas emissions in North America, and we are one of the only developed societies, with Norway, where oil does not account for a majority of our energy consumption. This is explained, in part, by the choice we made to develop the hydroelectric system.
We in the Bloc Québécois have echoed the concerns of the Quebec public regarding these environmental issues, on the federal scene, at least since the 2000 election campaign in which we made it one of the central topics. In 2003, the Bloc Québécois made a major contribution to the ratification of the Kyoto protocol and since then has made implementation of the protocol a priority.
Recently, we helped to collect over 120,000 signatures on a petition calling for compliance with the commitments made in the Kyoto protocol.
Quebeckers demand an exemplary contribution to environmental protection both from themselves and from their elected representatives. This fact is one of the major reasons why the Conservative government, which is trying to seduce Quebeckers by every imaginable means, has for some time been trying to portray itself as a green government.
Quebeckers are not fooled, and they are well aware that the Conservative government has never had any genuine interest in environmental causes. Its heart and soul have long been promised to the oil industry in western Canada. That is no secret to anyone. That is why it does not believe in the Kyoto protocol.
Here are some examples to illustrate that fact. First, the House of Commons has twice given official recognition to the importance of meeting the Kyoto targets, and rather than honouring the wishes of a majority of the members of this House, the Conservative government commissioned a study to justify its failure to act, because the Kyoto protocol would cause significant damage to companies in the west, and especially oil companies.
Then there was the Conservative government's refusal to put an immediate and complete end to the accelerated capital cost allowance (CCA) deduction available to oil companies exploiting the oil sands, in spite of the billions of dollars in profits they are pocketing.
In addition, the government has long refused to meet its own time frames and set targets for greenhouse gas reduction. It is proposing to set intensity targets rather than fixed targets. Now we learn that it is considering changing the reference date for these reductions, making 2006 the reference year instead of 1990.
Furthermore, we do not know the future of Bill C-30, which required so many hours of work over many weeks by parliamentarians on the Standing Committee on the Environment and which was significantly improved by the opposition parties. We have a good bill at the moment, which meets the expectations of Quebeckers and Canadians. What is the Conservative government going to do? It may well be in no hurry to bring it back to the House for passage.
The Conservative government is once again demonstrating that Canada's interests are at the other end of the spectrum from Quebec's. While oil makes Canada rich, it makes Quebec poor.
The oil and gas industry substantially bolsters the Canadian economy, be it oil in Alberta, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan or natural gas in Nova Scotia. The inflated dollar fluctuating with the cost of a barrel of oil and heavily impacting the manufacturing sector affects Quebec's economy.
Quebec produces no oil. It must therefore import it. In 2006, Quebec purchased $13 billion worth, while facing a trade deficit of $7 billion. This dependence on oil has plunged Quebec into a full blown trade deficit. In truth no one can deny anymore the problem with climate change or that specific and effective action must be taken immediately.
This is why the Bloc Québécois is repeatedly calling for the implementation of the Kyoto protocol to reduce Canadian gas emissions by 6% under the 1990 level, with absolute targets.
This is why the Bloc Québécois is demanding a mechanism based on a territorial approach, that is, an approach that will give Quebec the fiscal instruments to enable it to implement the most effective measures possible to reduce greenhouse gases within its borders. This is the most effective approach, the only truly fair one reflecting the environmental efforts and choices made by Quebeckers and by the province's industrial sector in recent years, especially in the area of hydroelectricity.
And this is why the Bloc Québécois is insisting that the plan include the establishment of a carbon exchange, to compensate the provinces, companies and organizations that lead the way in the reduction of greenhouse gases. Such an exchange is needed urgently in order to impose reduction targets on the major polluters. That is the producer pays policy. A business wishing to modernize could therefore finance the modernization to some extent by selling credits to other companies. The oil industry would be one example.
Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry for her excellent presentation. I also thank her for splitting her time with me.
I want to read the Bloc Québécois motion, which was so well presented by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who is our environment critic and who, incidentally, does an excellent job. He is now recognized in Quebec, and even across Canada, as an expert in this field. I will read the French version of the motion because, before the end of my presentation, I will amend the English version, which is slightly different. The French version of the motion reads as follows:
|| Que la Chambre invite le gouvernement à établir au plus tôt des cibles absolues de réduction des gaz à effet de serre permettant d’atteindre les objectifs du Protocole de Kyoto, une condition préalable à l’établissement, dans les meilleurs délais, d’une bourse du carbone à Montréal.
Before getting to the essence of this motion, I want to talk about the differences, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, between the Canadian provinces, by taking as a starting point the date set under the Kyoto protocol, that is the year 1990. I am referring to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, by province, between 1990 and 2004.
Greenhouse gases have increased by 10% in Prince Edward Island, by 6.1% in Quebec, by 16.5% in Nova Scotia, by 11.4% in Manitoba, by 15% in Ontario, by 4.3% in Newfoundland and Labrador, by 29.9% in British Columbia, by 46.9% in New Brunswick, by 39.4% in Alberta, and by 61.7% in Saskatchewan.
For Canada as a whole, that is a 26.5% increase in greenhouse gases, using 1990 as the baseline. Without Quebec, it would be 30%.
Clearly Quebec has made its energy choices, namely hydroelectricity. Once again I am pleased to say in this House, to all my colleagues from the other parties and the other provinces, that Quebec, without any federal contributions, has paid for its own hydroelectric resources out of the taxes and the hydro bills of the taxpayers of Quebec.
Quebec decided to go for hydroelectricity, which today makes it the province where greenhouse gas emissions have increased the least since 1990. I think that this is an example that the rest of Canada should follow. It is not for nothing that Quebec and the Bloc Québécois are today defending Quebeckers, who are prepared to meet the targets of the Kyoto protocol and are asking the rest of Canada to follow Quebec’s example and meet those targets.
This is a choice that Quebec has made. When we do an inventory of greenhouse gases in Quebec, the picture shows us that the transportation sector is the largest source of emissions, representing 38.5% of Quebec’s total emissions. Of our 6.1% increase, 38.5% is from the transportation sector. In this sector, road transportation accounts for 85.3% of greenhouse gases.
So we have to get to the heart of the problem, and one of the most significant parts of this problem is road transportation, passenger motor vehicles and oil pollution. This is the battle to be waged. We have to be able to reach our objectives.
This is why the Bloc Québécois tabled this motion in the House today. This motion is based, as I mentioned earlier, on absolute targets so as to allow the creation of a carbon exchange in Montreal.
I am going to talk about the advantages of a carbon exchange. This will create a market in tradable permits. The carbon exchange is not new and it already exists. There are carbon exchanges in Chicago and in Europe. The principle is operational. I am going to summarize this and take the trouble to read my notes because it is important for things to be understood clearly.
A carbon exchange is a tool that a company, government or organization that reduced its greenhouse gas emissions to below its reduction targets could use to sell the tonnes of greenhouse gases that it would still have been entitled to emit. That allows companies that make an effort to sell the surplus greenhouse gases they saved.
Unsurprisingly companies in Quebec that have made that effort, as compared to their 1990 emissions, for example in the forestry and aluminum industries, are impatient to see this kind of carbon exchange in place, so that they will be able to sell credits in order to make savings and increase part of their assets.
A permit market will, for example, allow a company that exceeds its targets to sell its surpluses to another company that is finding it difficult to reduce its emissions.
We are accused of taking government money so that we can finance this whole carbon exchange objective. The opposite is true; companies, including oil companies, that want to exceed their emissions will have to buy credits or permits from companies that have made savings. The companies will be the ones paying; there is no government money. That, as my colleague explained so well, is the polluter-pay principle.
My colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie has always argued that principle in this House. I have heard him on many occasions asking the government whether it would one day accept the polluter-pay principle. Someone who wants to continue polluting will have to buy credits in order to do so. It is as simple as that.
This is how Europe has managed to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets. At the same time, this is a powerful financial incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because the company can cash in on its reductions. This system will encourage the most successful companies to be in a position to make money on emission credits. Those who cannot, and we often think of oil companies and their enormous profits, will take their surpluses, and rather than paying dividends to shareholders every three months, may be able to use part of them to stay in business.
But a carbon exchange cannot be created unless absolute greenhouse gas emission targets are set. The reduction is simple: 6% under 1990 levels. The Bloc Québécois had good reason to be very logical in drafting its motion. We are calling for absolute reductions in order to be able to establish a carbon exchange. This requires, however, that an independent body or bodies be created and given the task of certifying greenhouse gas reductions and imposing financial penalties on organizations that fail to meet them.
The principle adopted by the Bloc Québécois is obviously that a carbon exchange be established in Montreal, based on the principles of absolute reduction targets. That is why I am moving this amendment. I move the following amendment, with the consent of the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and supported by the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry:
|| That the motion be amended by substituting the word "absolute" for the word "fixed" in the English version.
That is the amendment I am moving.
Mr. Steven Blaney (Lévis—Bellechasse, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I find it pathetic to see that the Bloc members are giving themselves a lot of credit for environment issues in this House. There is not one single person here who does not want to take real action to improve the environmental situation of Canada.
I remind my colleagues from the Bloc that the prime minister whose record is most praised by environmentalists was the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney, who was a Conservative Prime Minister. I would also remind the members from the Bloc who are in opposition—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Steven Blaney: I would like them to let me speak because I let them speak when they are on their feet. I would like to remind them that it is our government that gave $300 million to allow Quebec to implement its sustainable development plan. It is also our government that took measures that benefit public transit users. It is also our government that, yesterday, announced a $200 million investment to develop biofuels.
Businesses from my riding of Lévis—Bellechasse which are doing three feasibility studies were here yesterday. In both biofuel and biodiesel, big agricultural cooperatives are taking part in the studies and it is our government that is taking action. The record of the present Conservative government is entirely comparable to that of previous governments. It is important to mention that.
I am also pleased to rise today and speak to what we will do henceforth to achieve something that the previous government never did, that is to say, targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. To do this, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Alberta, the hon. member for Fort McMurray—Athabasca, who is very environmentally aware and is dealing with stupendous challenges of growth and the environment that sometimes boggle the imagination.
We have proposed a clean air and climate change program. In many cities, even Quebec City, a grey cloud can sometimes be seen hanging over the city in the summer. We did not see this 10 or 15 years ago. Now we do, and we want action. We want action to ensure there is clean air in our cities and to avoid health problems.
Let me be perfectly clear. Our government realizes that climate change is one of the most serious threats to health and world economy. Our government is taking action, therefore, while the Bloc just isolates itself. We know now that the targets that were set cannot possibly be achieved in the prescribed time. Greenhouse gas emissions increased by 35% while the Bloc members sat there representing Quebeckers in the House. Now we have Conservative members here from Quebec who are taking action on behalf of the environment.
The voluntary measures and laisser-faire policy advocated by the previous government not only proved ineffective but left Canada in a position that made it impossible for us to achieve the targets in the Kyoto protocol in the prescribed time. That is very clear. We are doing away, therefore, with voluntary measures. For far too long, our efforts to improve the environment were thwarted by unrealistic objectives like those the opposition parties sometimes propose and by the timidity of a government that showered us with fine words but did not actually do anything out in the field where it counts and did not dare to assume its responsibilities.
We are the ones, therefore, who are taking action. We have proposed a regulatory framework that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants in all sectors of the economy. We are introducing and will continue to introduce other measures as well that fight climate change and air pollution.
I would like to add that the reductions we are instituting in greenhouse gases and pollutants are mandatory under the regulations. The leading organization in the Quebec environmental movement, RÉSEAU, says that legislation is the driving force behind the environment industry and it provides the tools to stimulate the development of environmental technologies in Canada.
We are setting strict but achievable targets. Sustainable development, I would remind my hon. colleagues in the Bloc, is a balance between the economy and the environment in a context in which social measures are also taken into account.
It is the spirit of the Kyoto protocol we want to honour, obviously. Furthermore, our program sets out results obligations. We insist on results—something we have not seen in the past 13 years—in order to speed up reduction target achievement, as required.
I will turn my attention to what I consider some key aspects of the government's approach, aspects which set it apart from the actions, or more accurately, lack of action, by the previous government.
Our goals are the goals of Canadians and Quebeckers: to protect the health, environment and prosperity of Canadians now and in the future, our children's future.
This government respects the principles of the Kyoto protocol and is committed to making real progress toward achieving those objectives. We are setting targets that contribute to significant reductions, not only of greenhouse gases but also of the air pollutants, which originate from many of the same sources, to provide immediate and long term benefits for Canadians.
Over 3 million Canadians have asthma, bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and air pollution is a major factor. Air pollution is also a factor in cardio-vascular diseases, which are the cause of 40% of all deaths in Canada and the source of $25 billion in costs annually. The prevalence of these diseases will increase as Canadians grow older. So we must work to reduce the vulnerability of the elderly to the dangers of these pollutants. Poor air quality has other harmful effects—lung cancer, respiratory ailments, reduced activity and absenteeism from work or school.
The intent of the government is to minimize, indeed eradicate, the health risks posed by environmental pollutants in the air. Clear air is essential to the life and health of all Canadians. We do not consider the approach of the previous government—which obviously failed and which have put us in our present situation—was effective or appropriate. Agreeing to the Kyoto targets without a plan is tantamount to burying one's head in the sand. It will take more than a magic wand to achieve the targets.
Even attempting to achieve them would mean significant risk to our society and our economy. Just last week, a professor from Laval university said that, while we have to reduce greenhouse gases, the method proposed by the opposition will result not in sustainable development, but rather in the destruction of the country's economy. This must be recognized. A balance such as the clean air agenda has to be found. Our government is proposing effective legislation on climate change.
We can say to Canadians and Quebeckers that the Conservatives in Ottawa are getting things moving, working for the environment and inviting the opposition's support in its actions to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, here in Canada and around the world.
Mr. Brian Jean (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak today to this important bill. This government is taking real action to address the issues of air quality and climate change, which are of concern to Canadians in every region of our vast country.
Harmful emissions continue to affect our environment, our health, as well as our quality of life. It affects us every day in everything we do.
As we on this side of the House have said before, we believe that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing the world today and we take it very seriously.
The Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment have been very clear that this government intends to bring in a short term regulatory framework very shortly. This is the first government in history to actually take this step for Canadians and the quality of life for Canadians.
Canada's new government wants industry to do a U-turn but instead of talking about it, we are taking action. Instead of 13 years of increased emissions under the Liberals, we want to turn the corner and reduce emissions and get real results. Under the watch of the previous Liberal government we are now 35% above the agreement it signed on Kyoto.
These tough new industrial regulations that our Conservative government will be bringing forward will give real, tangible health and environmental benefits for Canadians, on the ground benefits, as well as some positive economic effects. We will do that without stopping the economy or slowing down the economy. We will do it by keeping pace with the economy and adding to it.
Obviously we cannot put a price tag on all these benefits, such as cleaner communities and natural spaces, of healthier children, of fewer premature deaths, of more sustainable natural resources and, for the first time ever, meaningful contributions to the global effort to control greenhouse gas emissions through a strong regulatory agenda, through a government that gets results and sends a clear message to industry that we want results.
Today I am pleased to have an opportunity to discuss some of those initiatives, specifically in the area of transportation. It is very important to realize that transportation is one of the largest sources of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Our efforts in this sector will play a very key role in Canada's environmental agenda.
The movement of people and the movement of goods causes significant environmental consequences. We are a trading nation. We are a nation of movers. Things such as air and water pollution are so important and they are caused by this area of transportation. These environmental impacts in turn result in real social and economic costs and affect the health and quality of life of Canadians from wherever we are, whether we are in the city or the country.
Transportation has been linked to over half of Canada's total carbon monoxide emissions and nitrogen oxide emissions. The growth of emissions in this sector is caused in large part by the growth in our population, which is obviously growing at quite a pace in some parts of the country, our economy and its growth, as well as improvements in our standard of living. We like to travel around in the summertime to our cottages or in our boats. This leads to more road and air travel.
Total transportation related greenhouse gas emissions increased by 27% between 1990 and 2004. These emissions now account for 25% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions, the largest single source of gas emissions.
In October 2006, the Conservative Government of Canada issued its notice of intent to regulate major emitting industry sectors of the economy. In terms of regulatory action in the transportation sector, this Conservative government will be taking action with respect to motor vehicles, rail, aviation and marine. I think industry overall, in all parts of Canada, is looking forward to knowing with certainty what this government intends to do and we will tell them.
Emissions from road transportation accounts for 75% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions and passenger travel accounts for over half of that. Those are unbelievable statistics. Our goal is to establish a regulatory regime with targets that promote concrete environmental improvements that are also consistent with the need for industry to remain competitive in the North American context and in the world. This includes the auto and oil sectors. They must remain competitive. We must keep the jobs in Canada.
With respect to the rail sector, the Minister of Transport and the Minister of the Environment support the current voluntary agreement negotiated with the Railway Association of Canada. This agreement will ensure that the rail industry reduces its emissions of air pollutants consistent with the United States Environmental Protection Agency air pollutants standards and continues to improve the performance of its greenhouse gas emissions between 2006 and 2010. This will get results. Through the current Railway Safety Act, this government will develop and implement new regulations to take effect following the end of the voluntary agreement in 2010.
For the marine industry, the Government of Canada supports the development of new international standards because, obviously, we share the water with so many other countries. These were established by the International Maritime Organization for controlling air emissions from ships. The government will ensure their application domestically under the Canada Shipping Act and this will also include support for a process to designate North American coasts as areas where ships must reduce sulphur emissions.
For the aviation industry, the Government of Canada supports the development of international standards and recommended practices through the International Civil Aviation Organization for emissions from aviation sources. We believe that this is the best way to get results in the short term and in the long term.
Our approach to dealing with environmental issues does not end with regulations. We have some hands-on approaches that will bring tangible results very soon. This government is making complementary investments to encourage the development of environmental technologies and to stimulate behavioural changes through consumers, which is where I think we will see the best results.
In February, the government announced its ecotransport strategy, an excellent strategy that is aimed at reducing emissions from the transportation sector. Initiatives under the strategy include the ecomobility program aimed at working with municipalities to help cut urban passenger transportation emissions and develop programs, services and products for urban areas.
The next initiative is the ecotechnology for vehicles program which will provide funding for testing and promoting advanced, environmentally friendly vehicle technologies and building partnerships with automotive industries; in essence, to get more fuel efficient vehicles on the road and with consumers.
The third initiative is the ecofreight program which is aimed at reducing the environmental and health effects of freight transportation through the accelerated adoption of emissions reducing technology. Technology is the goal and reducing it today for tomorrow's generation is what we will do.
The ecoenergy for personal vehicles program, which is delivered by Natural Resources Canada, will be especially interesting to some people because Natural Resources Canada will provide fuel consumption information and decision making tools to encourage consumers to purchase those more fuel efficient vehicles that are currently available in the market. We believe this will bring even more vehicles into the marketplace for consumers.
In the past year, Canada's new government has taken real tangible steps to get results for Canadians with more than $2 billion of investments in a cleaner and more efficient transportation system. Budget 2007 builds on these investments by encouraging the purchase of more fuel efficient vehicles, the retirement, which is very important, of older and more polluting vehicles, and the domestic production of renewable fuels, which will help not only our economy but our environment and our farmers generally across the country.
In budget 2007, this government announced the ecoauto program, a new performance based rebate program offering up to $2,000 for the purchase of a new fuel efficient or efficient alternative fuel vehicle.
These steps are excellent and this government is taking tangible steps today to get results for Canadians.
Initiatives in budget 2007 to create an infrastructure advantage also helped. On the Bill C-30 committee, we heard from a witness from Quebec of how important green spaces were, not just to people but to the environment itself and to Canada for long term strategy.
We are including the transfer of $2 billion per year to the municipalities from 2010-11 and 2013-14 by extending the gas tax funding. We have listened to the stakeholders, to the municipalities and to the provinces and we are taking steps to ensure we provide what they want, which is a cleaner environment, more green spaces and a better quality of life for the people.
This Conservative government is meeting the challenge to foster cleaner air and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The transport sector, the sector that we are responsible for, is a key part of our strategy and we are going from the bottom to the top to ensure we find all the places on which we can move forward for a cleaner environment.
I have provided some concrete examples of the actions that Canada's new government is taking now to protect and improve the health of Canadians and the environment by reducing the environmental impacts of transportation.
This government wants our air and our water to be clean and we want to take action on climate change. We want our communities, our families and our children to be healthy.
I am confident that in working with all members of the House and with all levels of government, industry and all Canadians, we will ensure that improvements are made, not only to our environment but also to the health and quality of life of all Canadians today and for future generations.
We are getting the job done.
Mr. Marcel Lussier (Brossard—La Prairie, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, the motion from the Bloc Québécois is structured around three elements, including the fixed targets that will allow us to meet the Kyoto targets. These targets will be achieved swiftly with the implementation of a carbon exchange.
Before going any further, I would like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Brome—Missisquoi.
The Bloc Québécois has been constantly urging the federal government, both Liberal and Conservative, to act in order to meet the Kyoto targets. Twice recently, the House officially recognized the importance of meeting these targets. The Bloc Québécois notes that, instead of developing a truly effective plan including the establishment of a carbon exchange, the Minister of the Environment dedicates himself to rejecting Kyoto, as he has shown in his last document released on April 19.
For the Bloc, there are not a thousand solutions. The polluter-pay principle must apply, fixed reduction targets must be established and Quebec as well as other provinces wishing to do so must be allowed to use a territorial approach.
It is time for the Conservative government to stop blocking the efforts of companies hoping to be part of this solution and to benefit from the progressive replacement of oil with renewable and clean sources of energy.
Given the certainties that are piling up in respect of global warming, it is obvious that investing in combating climate change is no longer optional, from both the human and the economic perspectives. The report recently produced by Nicholas Stern, formerly an economist with the World Bank, in fact recommended that all countries invest up to 1% of gross domestic product, starting now, in combating climate change, to avoid the potential economic costs, which may amount to as much as $7.5 trillion dollars, on the global scale, a cost that will be 20 times more than the money needed now to reverse the trend.
The recent study released by the Minister of the Environment is completely silent on the far more significant consequences of doing nothing, consequences that will cost billions of dollars, certainly, but that will also involve serious losses in terms of biodiversity, millions of refugees and much more frequent extreme weather events.
Moreover, the economic impact predicted by the study released by the Minister of the Environment is based on a tax of $195 per tonne of greenhouse gases. That is a completely exaggerated figure, if we compare it to the $20 that credits now cost through the clean development mechanisms, and in particular to what it costs to institute greenhouse gas reduction measures.
A far more credible UN study estimates, rather, that a tax of from $25 to $50 per tonne is effective. Obviously, the Minister of the Environment has opted for the worst-case scenario, rather than telling the public the whole truth.
In 2004, Canada emitted 26% more greenhouse gases than the limit set for it in 1990. This means that in order to reach the target of 6% less than in 1990, Canada will have to reduce its annual emissions by nearly 260 megatonnes each year. Quebec has made different choices. Between 1990 and 2004, its greenhouse gases rose by barely 6%, four times less than the Canadian average. As well, Quebec has already been showing leadership, with a very concrete plan to address climate change that incorporates all of the Kyoto objectives.
It is the Conservative government, whose ministers directly concerned do not believe in the Kyoto protocol, that is trying today to give itself a green veneer, when it is still not able to meet its own deadlines for deciding what targets will have to be met.
This is a government that is even considering changing the reference dates for reduction efforts, using 2006 as the reference year rather than 1990. The federal government is doing nothing to recognize the efforts put into this by Quebec companies over the last 16 years.
In recent years, Quebec's manufacturing industry has continued to make sacrifices, while the polluters, primarily the oil companies in the west, have continued to increase their production and emission of greenhouse gases. The government, not satisfied with continuing its already impressive contributions to the oil companies, is preparing to completely negate all of the efforts that Quebec has undertaken, in order to reward those polluters yet again. The unfairness embodied in that attitude is disturbing, and Quebec finds it unconscionable. It is essential that the federal government use the 1990 reference year and give more recognition to the work done in Quebec.
When the government pits economic development against environmental protection, there is one thing it is forgetting: in a context where pollution would be costly and non-pollution profitable, Quebec enjoys a relatively huge comparative advantage, one which ought to ensure its prosperity. With the situation in Quebec being different, it is only normal for Quebec to be able to implement a different plan adapted to its situation. If the federal government is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, if it is really serious about this challenge and wants to find a solution, the Bloc Québécois calls upon it to take some simple yet effective measures in order to meet Kyoto protocol targets.
The Bloc Québécois therefore proposes integration of a trading permit market, called a carbon exchange, with a territorial approach. A carbon exchange is a tool which enables a company, government or agency which has brought its greenhouse gas emissions below the objectives set by the absolute targets to sell the tons of greenhouse gas emissions it would still be entitled to emit. For example, a carbon exchange would enable a company that has exceeded its targets to sell its surplus to another experiencing difficulty reducing its emissions.
This becomes a powerful financial incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because the company can reap a financial benefit from its reductions. Creating a carbon exchange is, however, possible only if absolute greenhouse gas emission targets are predetermined. What is more, the reduction is simple: 6% less than 1990 levels. An independent body, or bodies, will have to be created, however, to certify greenhouse gas reductions and impose financial penalties on those who do not produce the permits relating to their emissions.
To state the situation clearly, to have a carbon exchange in place on other than a voluntary basis, the following are necessary: set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, a specific effective date for the targets, and a certification mechanism for each ton of greenhouse gas emitted.
Mr. Christian Ouellet (Brome—Missisquoi, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, we were in Rio to represent Canada in 1992 when Mr. Mulroney signed on to the concept of the Kyoto protocol.
Climate change remains a political problem today and a solution will require political will, but Brian Mulroney is not there anymore.
We need to take action, but what kind of action? A good number of the proposed solutions are inadequate or ill-conceived. We are now in the unfortunate situation where the Conservatives are giving us an inaccurate economic message at odds with what the public wants.
Because of their poor policy analysis of the role of economy, environment and social responsibility, the famous mandatory and egalitarian treaty of sustainable development, they cancelled all existing policies and programs. Because of that and their immature behaviour, they lost a year and a half. They do not even fully understand now the need for absolute targets, fixed amounts, for the reduction of greenhouse gases for a particular region or industry. Without absolute targets, it will be impossible to achieve any fixed target.
Bush managed to convince the public that he could successfully reduce greenhouse gases with relative targets. The Conservatives, however, will not be able to fool Canadians like this and especially not Quebeckers, because the game of deception played by Bush and, unfortunately, by his spiritual son, our Prime Minister, will not pull the same rabbit out of the hat a second time.
Let us look at what the Americans did. When Bush became President, the Kyoto denigration and procrastination strategists realized that, given that they were opposed to real climate change action, they had better find a way of looking as though they were doing something. The result was to set relative targets while trumpeting the new technologies. It was all meant to be better, more effective and less restrictive than joining the other countries and moving ahead with Kyoto. That was the sham.
So the American “conservatives” decided to campaign with the emphasis on individual voluntary action and environmental progress, much like our Minister of the Environment, who makes his point loudly, as do all the powerless people of this world.
In February 2002, after a year of non-stop criticism by the Democrats and the informed members of the public, Bush responded by setting a relative target for his nation, that is, to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions by 18% by 2012, in other words, in 10 years. The word “intensity” comes back often in the United States because it is based on a complex concept, unlike the Kyoto protocol, and this fools people. But without the words “absolute and mandatory targets,” the Bush administration deceived the public, who actually got the impression that Bush wanted to reduce emissions, not let them increase.
The subterfuge was linked to the absence of the word “absolute,” by sector and by region. The subterfuge was the quantity of emissions per unit of economic activity measured on the basis of the gross national product.
As our Prime Minister is getting ready to do, Bush used two different lines to confuse the public, and the result of this was that, instead of falling by 18%, as promised, emissions in the United States will have increased by 14% over a 10-year period, given that the projected total increase was 32% for this period.
This shows how an illusion can be created. When someone cries wolf as loudly as our Minister of the Environment, it is because he is feeling weak and powerless among his pack of wolves.
The Kyoto protocol, with its absolute objectives, and its moderate, realistic and thus achievable goals, is what Canada and Quebec have committed to. It is not by rejecting Kyoto as a solution botched by the Liberals that the government will fulfil the obligations expected of it by the public. The Bush model revisited by the Conservatives and supported by the Canadian oil companies with foreign capital so as to supply the United States—how very convenient—allows the government to take the short view. I would like to debate something like that in an election campaign in Quebec.
Twenty-five thousand people marched in the streets to show how much support there is for Kyoto.
I would like to conclude with a word on the carbon exchange. Projections of American utilities are that the cost of a tonne of carbon should not exceed US $55 in 2020. This is the price that is actually accepted. There is a consensus on this in the American business community in January 2007. This cost represents 1.5¢ a kilowatt-hour for a coal-fired power plant, according to Joseph Room, whom I met personally in Atlanta a few years ago.
This is a far cry from the outlandish $195 a tonne figures that came out. These are figures the Conservatives are using to scare people. Unless I am mistaken, the increase will simply be one that promotes energy efficiency.
As a matter of fact, this new government, with its ideology and lack of experience, wants to use health and pollution as a diversion to try to hide the most important problem that will affect all of us, and that is climate change. In its diversion tactics, how is it going to deal with the mercury emissions of coal-fired power plants, 90% of the effects of which affect our children? Conservatives may not have children, but I have a seven and a half month old daughter, and I wonder what kind of air there will be for her to breath and on what kind of planet she will live.
A carbon exchange, or the setting of a market price for a tonne of carbon in the exchange, is after all a conservative and capitalist concept. The new government should buy into this old concept that everyone should pay the price they want to. This would promote energy efficiency, cogeneration, renewable energies, the sequestration of enormous amounts of CO2 released by the production of oil from tar sands, and the sequestration of CO2 in coal-fired power plants.
Conservatives try to make believe they do not understand what the real solution is. I have this to say to them. Their grandchildren, for those of them who will have some, will tell them one day, “Hey, grandpa, it was really stupid of you to consider just the financial side of things”.
Mr. Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I should indicate that I will be sharing my time with the member for Don Valley West.
I am pleased to rise today to take part in this important debate on one of the most fundamental issues we are facing today, which is the protection of our environment and the future of our children.
We are once more discussing the issue of climate change, because the government refuses to understand.
I want to thank and congratulate my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for introducing this motion, which reads:
|| That the House call on the government to set fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets as soon as possible so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol, a prerequisite for the establishment, as expeditiously as possible, of a carbon exchange in Montréal.
This motion is directly linked to my private member's bill, Bill C-288, which seeks to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto protocol. This motion, as well as my private member's bill, are primarily focused on taking concrete action immediately for the future.
I think, however, that the motion, and my private member's bill, should not have been necessary.
Indeed, as a Canadian, I would have expected the government of my country to take action against climate change and to respect international agreements. Unfortunately, violating international law does not seem to bother this government. Nor does it seem bothered by the fact that we are headed for a climatic catastrophe and must face the irreversible consequences.
The Prime Minister spent his career denying the existence of climate change, questioning both the science and the need to act. Now his government has spent more than a year, consistent with its Reform and Alliance past, trying to avoid taking action, looking for sound bites, excuses, misleading statements and misinformation, instead of making good policy.
That is wrong. As elected officials, we have the political and moral obligation to work toward building a better society, not only for those around us but, more important, for those who will follow us, for our children and for our grandchildren.
This is why, when it comes to climate change, failing to take action is not an option.
Let us take a moment to look at the state of our planet today. Without being alarmist, I would like to share a few facts.
We all know, for example, that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are at their highest levels in 650,000 years. We also know that 11 of the last 12 years have been the warmest years ever recorded. Average Arctic temperatures are increasing at almost twice the global average rate. Scientists have also discovered that Arctic sea ice is melting even faster than their models predicted.
Here is what scientists predict a rise in temperature of 2° Celsius would mean for the planet: tens of millions of environmental refugees fleeing from rising sea levels; more intense rainfalls and storms; tens of millions of additional people at risk of hunger from crop failure; and increased water shortages that could affect billions.
Add to that the economic impact, which we know would be considerable, and we can see how unacceptable, even irresponsible, the government's failure to act is.
If I may, I would like to focus for a few minutes on the economic aspect, since the Conservatives are trying to instill fear in this regard. They are trying to scare Canadians with their completely apocalyptic scenarios.
Last week, the Minister of the Environment appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, where he put on quite a show. He had one goal in mind, and that was to instill fear in all Canadians. He shouted himself hoarse as he presented a study based on false premises, a study that is incomplete. That study does not take into account all the mechanisms set out in Kyoto and claims:
||—that there are no breakthroughs in current energy efficiency and other technologies pertaining to GHG emissions.
The minister does not, in fact, at any point see the campaign against climate change as an investment. His hatred of the Kyoto protocol is so strong that it renders him incapable of seeing beyond its costs. He is incapable of seeing the benefits in the short, medium or long term. He just envisages one disaster after another. For him, the beneficial impact of energy efficiency does not exist. Job creation in fields related to the new environmental technologies does not exist. The export potential of these new technologies to such countries as China, Brazil or Mexico does not exist either.
What makes me say this? Because there is no sign of any of these in his apocalyptic report. His report does not mention a single benefit. It is as if he had instructed its authors to set aside anything that was good, to take no notice of it, and to merely focus on all the bad things; to focus on all the things that will cost the most and to tell us just how much they will cost. It is as if he had done exactly that. The minister has made a fool of himself in everyone's eyes. He has shown himself to be incompetent, so much so that he should even be apologizing.
What he does not understand is that an end must be put to this old-fashioned attitude of forcing us to make a choice between jobs and a healthy environment. In this 21st century governments need to understand that economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand. He does not get it.
In a highly credible study, former chief economist of the World Bank Nicholas Stern has calculated that the cost of unchecked global warming would be somewhere between 5% and 20% of the world GDP. However it would cost around 1% of the GDP deal with the situation. According to Mr. Stern, addressing climate change is good for the economy and ignoring it is what is likely to create a recession in the long term.
There are, in fact, a number of examples of businesses or sectors which do consider action against climate change as fostering economic growth. British Petroleum, for example, has managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 10% compared to its 1990 level. It did so as long ago as 2001, nine years before the deadline, and estimates that the changes it made to achieve this have increased its worth by $650 million.
The Forest Products Association of Canada tells us that in the last ten years, the forest industry has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% compared to 1990 levels. Why has it done so? It has done so voluntarily because this is good for the environment and also because it is good for the economy.
As the Pembina Institute has shown, it would be possible and affordable to set targets for heavy industry in line with the Kyoto protocol targets. Even in the tar sands, reaching those targets would only cost $1 a barrel, when right now, oil from the tar sands costs $60 a barrel.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, neither the motion nor my private member's bill should have been necessary. The government should have taken concrete measures to fight climate change, but it did not do so.
Instead it chose to renounce the Kyoto targets. It decided to do nothing and refused to act.
I want to say again that when a government does not comply with international law, when it does not recognize the will of the people, when it does not shoulder its responsibilities to address one of the most important challenges facing our planet, the opposition can and must force it to act.
Today's motion is an important step in the right direction, because it is clear that Canada must adopt absolute targets and establish a carbon exchange right away.
That is not an end in itself, but it is a tool to reach the Kyoto targets. It is a lot more than what the government is prepared to do. The government says that it would be difficult to reach the Kyoto targets. To that, I reply that just because something is difficult to do is no reason not to try. The sheer difficulty of the task makes it more important to fight with energy, courage and determination. When one wants to find solutions, one can find solutions. They do exist. One only needs the courage and the determination to put them in place, and the government does not have that courage or that determination.
Hon. John Godfrey (Don Valley West, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support the motion of the Bloc Québécois which really has two elements in it. It first talks about the importance of fixed targets, a regulated system for Canada's greenhouse gases; and second, that it has to be a precondition for the establishment of a carbon market in Montreal or indeed anywhere else in Canada.
I would like today to focus on the carbon market aspect of this and I think there are 13 important lessons when it comes to carbon markets.
Lesson number one is that a carbon market, in and of itself, does not lower emissions. To be real, somebody somewhere has to be undertaking activity, whether it is industrial or agricultural, that actually demonstrably lowers greenhouse gas emissions. This is why we keep asking the minister and his parliamentary secretary for the government to show its plan, so that we can get on with establishing a carbon market.
Lesson number two for the minister is that we cannot have a carbon market if carbon emissions are treated as free if the atmosphere is treated as a waste receptacle. If emissions are free, there is nothing to trade and that is why the Liberal Party put forward its carbon budget plan to put a value on CO2 emissions. That was further demonstrated in Bill C-30, which was amended to reflect a true climate change plan and a true clean air act.
Lesson number three follows, therefore, that to have a carbon market carbon has to have a precise value or price. It has to be determined by the market and in order for that to happen emissions have to be capped by regulation and, hence, targets. That is why our carbon budget plan said that the price of carbon for those who exceeded their budget would be $20 in 2008, rising to $30 in 2012. That is what it means to put a value on carbon.
Lesson number four, which follows, is that caps on emissions have to be absolute, not intensity based. I am told that it is theoretically possible to have a market with intensity based targets, but it will likely be more complex and not fungible or compatible with systems like that which have been set up in the European Union.
This is why the Bloc motion is so important. This motion puts the emphasis on absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets so as to meet the Kyoto targets.
Targets have to be tough and get tougher to create a sufficient price signal to provide incentive for the formation of a market.
We will see how tough these targets really are next Thursday, if I understood correctly, when the government's intentions will be made known.
Lesson number five is that a carbon trading market needs to be simple, completely transparent and liquid. It cannot be complex. It cannot be an over the counter system where only big players can understand it and participate. It has to be accessible and fair to smaller companies and to individual investors.
Lesson number six deals with quality. Credit certification must be of top quality, of top environmental transparency and integrity.
Lesson number seven is additionality. We cannot give credit for carbon reducing activities that would have happened anyway.
Lesson number eight is that for maximum efficiency a domestic carbon trading market has to be compatible or interconvertible with the North American market, such as the Chicago exchange, and ultimately with Europe and with the United Nations clean development mechanism. That again is why we need absolute targets to establish an absolute price.
Lesson number nine is that, as with any market, we need to give this new derivative market time to work out the bugs, to establish investor confidence and to build credibility. Both the European system and the United Nations clean development mechanism have gone through a pilot period project where mistakes were made and the learning from those mistakes was used to improve the system. Perfection is not automatic or instantaneous.
The Chicago market is essentially a voluntary market for carbon where participation is not mandatory, as it is in the European Union. Chicago, too, is learning a great deal about how to build a successful carbon market. I would note that, because the Chicago market is voluntary, carbon prices in Chicago are lower than they are in Europe. We also need to learn from these types of experiences so that we can avoid their early mistakes, and there were mistakes.
Lesson number 10 is that it is a huge political challenge to explain to the public in simple language what a carbon market actually is and why it helps. As I have said before, an atmospheric tipping fee no longer treats the atmosphere as a free waste receptacle for what we call CO2.
Lesson number 11 is that it is extremely important that we have a carbon trading market located in Canada. Otherwise, it will end up being located in Chicago or elsewhere, which is why we need a clear signal now from the government about the nature of the system it intends to create.
That leads to lesson number 12, which is that it is critical that we get a regulated system in place as soon as possible in Canada for greenhouse gases and the carbon market.
As for lesson number 13—and I see my friends from the Bloc—it is not for me to decide between Montreal or Toronto. It is as if I was asked to choose between the Senators, the Canadiens or the Toronto Maple Leafs. Personally, I always choose the Maple Leafs, because that is where I was elected. Nevertheless, we must let the market decide, as we must let the Stanley Cup decide among these three teams; it is not up to us. Ultimately, quality will win out.
In closing, I can certainly say that the Liberal Party supports the concept of creating a carbon trading market in Canada.
The Liberal Party also supports the development of an integrated climate change plan that deals with all the major sources of emissions in Canada, that is to say, industrial, electricity, upstream oil and gas, big industrial energy consumers, transportation, residential, commercial, agricultural and waste, but we have to be part of the only global system going, the United Nations framework convention on climate change and the Kyoto protocol, which flows from that.
We have to set ambitious fixed targets for ourselves and give it our best effort to reach them.
We have to honour our international obligations and Canada's promise to the world.
We have to save our country and our planet.
Most of all, we have to pass a better world on to our children and to their children.
A Canadian carbon trading market, wherever it is ultimately located, is a small but important part of that effort.