|| That this House: (a) agree with many Canadians and the International Energy Agency that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2 degree rise in global average temperatures; (b) condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments; and (c) call on the government to immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan.
She said: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for reading out our motion, because I think the wording is very important. That is why we are here.
We are here to reaffirm our commitment to the struggle against climate change, as well as reaffirm our commitment and belief in support of the science that supports that struggle.
Members may ask, why today? Why should we debate this issue today? The answer is that we are here today on the issue of climate change because the commented publicly last week in La Presse that he does not believe that people are worried about these changes to the planet. When challenged on this statement, the minister doubled down on his claims, despite zero evidence to the contrary.
It is so bad that the U.S. newspaper headlines today are actually calling this minister “the minister of oil for Canada”. This minister has been defended, remarkably, by the and the . He has been applauded by the climate change deniers in his caucus, who think nothing of the risk to our planet and the burden that their wilful blindness will leave to future generations.
According to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, a round table that the Conservatives have axed, the world has seen an increase in surface temperature of 0.78° since the mid-19th century, and in the last 60 years Canada has already seen a massive 1.3° change.
What does this mean? The 2° threshold is a dangerous tipping point for irreversible, catastrophic climate change. That is what happens if we see 2° of warming.
The keeps quoting the International Energy Agency. When he quotes the IEA and quotes the scenario, he is actually quoting 6° of warming.
What does that mean? The 6° scenario, as set out by the International Energy Agency, takes the planet beyond any reasonable expectation of survival. That is the scenario this minister is quoting. In addition, he does not actually think there is anything to worry about. I disagree with him.
My colleague from also disagrees. I would love to be able to share my time with her so that she could point out the fallacy in the minister's logic.
During this debate, we should prepare ourselves for an onslaught of greenwashing from the government side today. They are going to take credit for the success of provincial emissions reductions. They are going to celebrate the fact that they are on track to miss their climate change targets by 50%. They are going to miss them, and these targets are actually woefully inadequate.
The Conservatives are going to claim that they are responsible for stabilizing emissions in Canada, but they are contradicted by the most recent annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory, which was released earlier this month.
They are going to ignore the fact that they foolishly cancelled the wildly successful ecoEnergy home retrofit program, despite the incredible promise that this program held for long-term job creation, for reductions in emissions and for making life more affordable for all Canadians. I guess that program was just a little too successful for them.
The Conservatives will also allege that they understand and prioritize sustainable development, even though they have gutted environmental assessments in this country so that 99% of assessments will no longer happen. It is almost impossible to wrap our heads around.
They have decimated the protection of our fisheries. We no longer protect fish habitat in Canada. This is fish habitat, and our fisheries are worth multiple billions of dollars a year.
The Conservatives have eradicated protections for our lakes and our rivers, jeopardizing the livelihoods and recreation and first nations traditions of Canadians across the country.
The Conservatives' record on climate change is abysmal. They have repeatedly embarrassed Canada on the international stage by causing confusion during climate change negotiations, pulling out of the Kyoto protocol—Canada was the only country to do so—and pulling out of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, another international first. They slashed renowned programs on ozone and fresh water that were being used around the world. We have become the pariahs of international climate negotiations. The Conservatives have lowered Canadian emission reduction targets by 90% since they came to power in 2006.
To say they do not have the will to tackle climate change would be a huge understatement. They ignore the fact that climate change does not recognize borders, that it is a global problem and that it affects the health of all human beings, as well as the food security and national security of all countries.
The Conservatives are being irresponsible by allowing Canada to fall behind on the diplomatic scene and in terms of commercial and economic development. The delay in transitioning to a greener economy is making Canada less globally competitive. We are not taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by green solutions and technologies, whether in the area of manufacturing, research, innovation or trade.
Instead, the government has taken the inefficient and ineffective sector-by-sector regulatory approach to emissions regulations, although it is grossly delayed at the same time in actually regulating sectors like the oil and gas sector. This sector is the fastest-growing source of emissions in Canada. Keep in mind that the Conservatives promised those regulations on oil and gas. They said they would actually be in place in December 2009. It is 2013.
The Conservatives claim that their approach to emissions reductions is not costing Canadians. We all know that is ridiculous because the cost of regulations is always carried on to the consumer. The issue is that the Conservatives refuse to be upfront about the costs of their sector-by-sector approach on Canadians as well as the cost of their delay to regulate and the cost of their unambitious emissions targets.
It is cheaper to tackle climate change than it is to just allow it to happen. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy predicted that the cost of climate change in Canada alone would be $5 billion per year by 2020; 2020 is the same year that we are missing those inadequate targets by 50%. It also predicted that this would cost us as much as $43 billion a year by 2050. We have to act.
Today, we are calling on the government to table its climate change plan. That is all we want. We want to see what its plan is. I do not have a high expectation that it will, despite the fact that the government committed in 2007 to develop this kind of a policy framework and despite the fact that it actually agreed with the 2010 recommendations of the Environment Commissioner's fall report. It has failed. For good reason in chapter 3 of his report with respect to the need for adaptation measures in Canada, the Environment Commissioner wrote:
|| Government reports have demonstrated that climate change affects all regions of the country and a wide range of economic sectors. These impacts and the need to adapt to them touch on virtually all federal government portfolios, with significant implications for policies and programs related to Canadians’ health and the country’s industry, infrastructure, and ecosystems....The health of Canadians and Canada’s natural environment, communities, and economy are vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate. Some of these impacts are already occurring from coast to coast. They are most evident in Canada’s North where, for example, the thawing of permafrost as a result of temperature increases is affecting the stability of roads, buildings, pipelines, and other infrastructure.
Yet, the thinks that we are radicals for wanting to talk about climate change and the costs of environmental degradation. I think we are radically practical. Throughout the day we will hear the NDP plan to address climate change because we do have a plan that includes a price on carbon, includes adopting our climate change accountability act. We will hear from members of my caucus talk about these measures that the NDP supports. It is only the NDP that can be trusted to tackle climate change because it is at the core of who we are as social democrats. I am proud to stand here today with my colleagues to reaffirm that commitment.
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in the House to support the motion moved by the hon. member for on Canada's recognition of the need to make an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and manage climate change, which has very far-reaching repercussions.
Today's debate centres on the biggest environmental and economic crisis of all time. In response to this crisis, each of us can act according to his or her own conscience or we can ignore the facts, as the Conservatives are doing. Unfortunately, this government chose the second option. The government has the right to make that choice, but this will affect the entire population, since we will all have to live with the consequences of this irresponsible decision.
The planet's temperature is rising. This is an undeniable reality that is hitting Canada hard. Since 1948, the average annual temperature in Canada has risen by 1.3oC, a rate of warming that is much higher than in most other parts of the world. Heavy precipitation and flooding has increased in most Canadian cities. In Quebec alone, the compensation paid by insurance companies as a result of storms and flooding has increased by 25% since 2001.
The most dramatic effects are being seen in our country's north. The permafrost—a subsurface layer of frozen Arctic soil that affects how sound buildings are—is thawing, glaciers are melting, sea ice is shrinking, and habitat loss is affecting marine mammals and polar bears. As a result of those events, there is less fresh water and the habitats of many species, including caribou, migrating birds and fish, are in decline. Then there is the impact on the health, diet and day-to-day lives of the Inuit and those living in the far north.
The southern part of our country is also affected. Researchers with the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, have noted an increased number of heat waves in every major Canadian city as well as more droughts, particularly in the west, Canada's bread basket. There have also been more forest fires.
Instead of recognizing that reality, the Conservative government prefers to ignore it and pull out of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. That is shameful. Agriculture is being hit very hard, and weather patterns are more unstable. Long periods of drought are followed by torrential downpours or hail storms.
Last summer, in my riding of , a storm wreaked havoc on farmers' fields, destroying cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, corn and onions. The hail was as big as golf balls. Insurance cannot handle those types of situations. Moreover, the lack of water is affecting productivity, and that will only get worse as time goes on.
Climate change is also leading to a proliferation of parasites, which is reducing yields for our farmers. The number of family farms has declined by 8,000 under the Conservatives, just since 2007.
The effects are being felt across the country. However, that is nothing compared to what our lives will be like if temperatures rise by two degrees Celsius. If the global climate warms by more than two degrees, the consequences will be even more serious and the effects will be irreversible. As part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which our country signed, the international community committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent us from going over the two-degree threshold.
The vast majority of governments recognize the validity of the scientific climate data—data from the IPCC, which is made up of the world's best scientists, and from the World Bank and the International Energy Agency. According to one of the International Energy Agency's latest reports, we can expect to see a 20% increase in CO2 emissions by 2035. That is just 20 years away.
Why is this two-degree threshold so important? Most experts believe that if we go beyond that threshold, the consequences will be very serious and probably irreversible.
For example, waterfront areas will be flooded. The Canadian prairies, our bread basket, will see droughts that are twice as bad. Polar ice and glaciers will disappear. Lakes and oceans will be more acidic and water levels in lakes will drop. There will be fewer marine species because of the acidity in the lakes. We can expect to see an increase in respiratory and infectious diseases and an increase in mortality as a result of extreme heat.
To avoid going beyond that two-degree threshold, the entire world must work together. This will require developed countries, like Canada, and emerging countries to work together. Unfortunately, that is not at all what is happening, because of Canada's backwards attitude. Today, our government is blaming China and other developing countries for their greenhouse gas emissions. It is telling them that if they do not do anything, neither will we.
However, although it is true that China is now the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, we must also acknowledge that China invests the most in renewable energies. Industrialized countries like Canada cannot back out of their obligations. That is completely irresponsible and reckless.
How can this government preach to others when it has reneged on all of its international commitments? It withdrew from the Kyoto protocol. What message is Canada sending to other nations, to countries that have made commitments and honoured them? We have a historic responsibility. Industrialized nations pursued development without considering its impact on climate, and now we have to show leadership. Unfortunately, this government continues to deny the facts.
For example, the recently said:
|| People are not as worried as they were before about global warming of two degrees. ...Scientists have recently told us that our fears [about climate change] are exaggerated.
Frankly, that is utterly ridiculous, and that is not all. The also dismissed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's criticism of the Keystone pipeline proposal. As recently as this morning, he flatly rejected all criticisms and continued to say that Canada's efforts were sufficient. Then there is Canada's , who also failed to act. He has still not regulated the oil and gas sector, the sector that emits the most greenhouse gases and is the most polluting in Canada.
It turns out that Canada will miss its greenhouse gas reduction targets by 50%. That is serious. That number comes from reports by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the Commissioner of the Environment.
This will cost us dearly. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy says that if nothing is done, climate change will cost $5 billion per year by 2020. Weather-related disasters, lack of investment in new technologies and job losses in sectors affected by global warming, such as agriculture, fisheries, water, forestry and more will cost us $5 billion. We, the taxpayers, will have to pay for that. Climate change gives us an opportunity to invest in knowledge, green technology and sustainable development and to create jobs. That is the smart thing to do. When will the government listen to reason? Perhaps it never will.
The Conservative government must stop blindly forging ahead. It must stop denying the facts and act now, because we are already beginning to feel the effects of climate change. The insists that there is no need for urgent action. That is irresponsible. Our greenhouse gas emissions have risen to 702 million tonnes, which is 1 million tonnes more than in 2011, and we are getting farther away from the 2020 emissions reduction target of 607 million tonnes.
I repeat, the Commissioner of the Environment and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy say that the government will in no way be able to meet its targets. However, the Conservatives would rather withdraw from the Kyoto protocol, make cuts to scientific programs and accuse NGOs of money laundering and being formidable terrorists. They have also eliminated 99% of the country's environmental assessments. Who are the radicals here? What is wrong with this picture?
On the other hand, the NDP proposes taking very real steps immediately. Let me give you an overview. First of all, the NDP proposes putting a price on carbon. That would enable us to take a step toward honouring our international commitments.
Among other things, we asked to have accountability legislation enacted, to have the eco-energy program reinstated, to have the oil subsidies of $1.3 billion a year cancelled and to have that money reinvested in renewable energy.
I hope that the motion moved by my colleague from will find unanimous support and that we can then move forward in the fight against climate change.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today to share our government's commitment to the environment and the concrete actions we have taken to address climate change issues.
First and foremost, let me remind the House that our government recognizes the reality and the science of climate change. We recognize that climate change is a global challenge that requires a global solution.
Although Canada generates barely 2% of the world's annual greenhouse gases, we are addressing our domestic responsibility to mitigate, to reduce, those emissions. Our sector-by-sector plan to meet our Copenhagen reduction targets is measured by internationally accepted protocols and methodologies, and it is working. This government is the first Canadian government to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I want to be sure that the members opposite are clear on this. Our government, the 's Conservative government, is the first to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions. I know that this must be difficult for my colleagues to accept, but it is the truth.
Today's debate I hope will stick to facts and to science, so let us look at the facts.
For 13 years, the previous Liberal government paid merely lip service to climate change. It signed an international treaty without due diligence, a treaty that was ineffective and unfair, and then blithely watched as Canada's greenhouse gases increased by 30%. The Liberals did not have a plan, and as they themselves reminded Canadians in the House this week, they did not get the job done.
The NDP also claims to have a plan, a plan that would see an NDP government pick the pockets of hard-working Canadians, taking $21-billion worth of their hard-earned salaries, costing jobs, hurting the economy, and increasing the cost of virtually everything. To what purpose? The fact is that this tax on everything would only result in funds going into general revenues, in the NDP fashion, for purposes of social engineering, without guaranteeing the reduction of a single megatonne of greenhouse gas emissions. That is not a plan for the environment. At the same time, the NDP wander abroad, attacking Canadian and American jobs and responsible resource development.
Our government is moving ahead with concrete action, well aware of our responsibilities at home and in the wider world and aware of the challenges Canada must face today to better position our country for tomorrow. That is why this government has put in place a sector-by-sector regulatory plan, one that is working to lower emissions and reach our targets.
Canada's 2020 target is very ambitious: 17% lower emissions in 2020 as compared to 2005 base levels. This target matches that of the United States, which is important, considering just how much our two economies are integrated.
We are aligned with the United States to maximize greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time to maintain economic competitiveness. For example, our successful alignment with the United States under the transportation sector standards means that the average greenhouse gas emissions from 2016 model year passenger automobiles and light trucks will be about 25% less than the vehicles sold in Canada just a few years ago, in 2008. By 2025, there will be 50% less fuel consumption and a further reduction to 50% of those greenhouse gas emissions.
We are now building on the existing 2011 to 2016 regulations to develop new and even more stringent standards for that 2017 to 2025 period. This is not only good news for the environment but is very good news for the pocketbooks of Canadians, proving once again that a healthy environment and a strong economy are not mutually exclusive.
We have moved together with the United States on improving standards for heavy trucks. We are continuing our efforts in this direction to achieve the responsible targets we gave ourselves under the Copenhagen accord.
In the second major emissions sector addressed, our Conservative government has taken a leadership role, working with provincial counterparts to reduce electricity emissions through a range of measures to shift away from high-emission sources of electricity to expand renewables and to reduce demand through energy efficiency.
Canada became the first major coal user in the world to ban construction of traditional technology coal units to generate electricity and to establish a performance standard for those units at the end of their economic life. These combined efforts are paying off. Greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector are now projected to decline by a third between 2005 levels and 2020 levels, despite increases in economic activity and electricity production over the period. Our colleagues on the other side of the House should again take note: Environmental protection can coexist with economic growth and with job creation.
According to a report from the International Energy Agency, while we have begun to reduce coal-fired emissions, global demand for coal-fired electricity jumped by 45% between 2000 and 2010, and it is expected to climb another 17% by 2017. As our recently posted annual emissions inventory report confirms, we are half way to achieving the overall greenhouse gas reduction targets to which we committed under the Copenhagen accord. This is a tangible accomplishment; the result of a transparent and accountable plan, something none of the parties opposite have offered in this House or to Canadians.
Even as we focus on our domestic mitigation responsibilities, Canada is fully engaged in climate change challenges abroad. At our most recent meeting of the major economies forum in Washington a couple of weeks ago, Canada and the others continued work on a new, binding climate change agreement, which we hope will include all major emitters in the developed and the developing world. We continue to aim for a new draft treaty by 2015, which would allow for ratification and the beginning of implementation by 2020—a new post-2020 international climate change agreement applicable to all parties, including all major emitting countries, as we have highlighted many times.
At the same time, the Conservative government supports its commitments under the Copenhagen accord and the accord's goal of mobilizing long-term financing for developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation and transparent action. Developed countries made good on our Copenhagen commitment to fast-start financing. Together, we have delivered $33 billion between 2010 and 2012 in mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. Canada's share, $1.2 billion in fast-start financing, is still rolling out and will for years ahead, supporting projects around the world that address, for example, clean water projects, reforestation, clean energy, food security and much more.
As Canada continues to contribute to the process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, we are working at the same time on climate change initiatives beyond that body. Last year, we proudly participated as a founding member in the launch of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. As an Arctic nation, our government understands first-hand the importance of addressing short-lived climate pollutants, which have a significant impact on the rate of the Arctic ice melt.
We are delighted to have been joined by the developed and developing world to see the coalition grow, in barely a year, from 7 to now 56 partners. Not only was Canada, under this government, the first out of the gate by contributing start-up funding for the coalition, but we also delivered additional millions of dollars directly to projects in developing countries. This once again demonstrates that Canada not only has a plan and is taking action but is taking a leadership role internationally to address climate change issues right around the globe.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition is taking action on several fronts, in areas such as the capture and utilization of methane from landfill waste sites in the developing world as well as the developed world, reducing black carbon emissions from heavy-duty diesel generation facilities in the oil and gas sector in the developing world, as well as brick production for housing in the developing world.
I believe the coalition has a bright future, and to help it achieve its goals to significantly reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, I was pleased to announce at the Washington meeting that Canada would invest a further $10 million in the coalition and its projects. Our contribution to the CCAC was its largest to date and will help support its implementation of projects in developing countries. We hope it will signal a new phase of scaled-up action and growth in the coalition's membership, funding activities and tangible results.
I was also proud to announce a contribution of several million dollars to the Climate Technology Centre and Network, CTCN. This initiative, launched by parties to the UNFCCC, responds directly to the expressed need of developing countries for more rapid deployment of the best available technologies to help them confront the climate challenge, both to reduce their emissions and to build their resilience to climate impacts.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the Climate Technology Centre and Network have the potential to make a real difference. Our Conservative government is working with the global community to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants, and to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to a changing climate.
As members know, our government has made a strong commitment to developing Canada's abundant natural resources while at the same time strengthening environmental protection. We have put that commitment to action by strengthening and modernizing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which was passed in this House last year, as part of the government's responsible resource development initiative.
I could not stand here this morning without underlining an important announcement that I participated in just a few short days ago right here in Ottawa with my colleague from the Government of Alberta. Almost a year ago, I had the pleasure of announcing, with Diana McQueen, Alberta's Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, the joint Canada-Alberta implementation plan for oil sands monitoring to ensure the environmental integrity of Canada's oil sands.
With this monitoring plan, our two governments showed our commitment to implement a scientifically rigorous, comprehensive, integrated and transparent environmental plan. It will deliver the most scientifically credible picture of the water, air, land and biodiversity issues in the region and will ensure that this important resource is developed in an environmentally responsible manner.
The join data portal, formally launched this week, provides the public with ongoing open access to the most up-to-date scientific data collected through the joint oil sands monitoring plan and the methodology used to produce it. More importantly, it encourages informed discussions and analysis of the impacts of oil sands development.
I would invite members opposite to take a few minutes to visit the portal. They should be enlightened by the abundance of information available, and it may—one can only hope—help reshape their unscientific perspectives of a responsible resource industry. This data portal follows through on an important commitment we made to ensure that the scientific data from the monitoring activity is both transparent and accessible to all Canadians.
Even as we address climate change mitigation, we must recognize the need for adaptation to the changes that have and continue to take place. Although we see the impact of climate change right across our great country and around the world, nowhere is change more evident than in our Canadian Arctic.
Canada assumes the chair of the Arctic Council next month. The appointment of our to lead Canada's chairmanship reflects the importance that our government attaches to the north. The overarching themes for Canada's term will be sustainable circumpolar communities, safe Arctic shipping and responsible Arctic resource development.
Of course, Environment Canada has long had a leading role in protecting the Arctic's unique environment, and we will continue to work to balance conservation, sustainable use and economic development. As well, Environment Canada continues to be a world leader in Arctic research. Our scientists are key players in three of the six Arctic Council working groups and will be major contributors during our Arctic Council chairmanship over the next two years.
I would again remind colleagues opposite of the new federal initiative of $35 million for climate change and atmospheric research, led by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
In 2011, Environment Canada published close to 100 peer-reviewed articles related to the Arctic. The majority of these were the result of national and international collaborations, primarily with the United States but also with other Arctic Council member states such as Russia, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
The research continues to address areas of common concern such as mercury, persistent organic pollutants, ozone depletion and, of course, climate change.
Our government has a plan where none has been offered by the opposition.
Our government has a plan and is taking action. That is a recipe for success.
Canadians want a government that is protecting the environment for future generations.
Mr. Speaker, climate change is the most pressing environmental issue facing the planet. Climate change is real. It is happening now. It is an issue of today and not of tomorrow. Serious impacts are associated with the two degrees Celsius stabilization target, including an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and sea-level rise.
The World Economic Forum, or WEF, recently ranked climate change the third-biggest concern, overall, of 1,000 experts surveyed. Failure to adapt to climate change was listed as the biggest single environmental hazard facing the planet. Moreover, the WEF listed runaway climate change as its first serious x factor, an emerging concern with unknown consequences. It even raised the question of whether humans have already triggered a runaway chain reaction that is rapidly tipping earth's atmosphere into an inhospitable state.
Canada's 1998 ice storm cost $5.4 billion. The 1996 Saguenay flood cost $1.7 billion. A 2005 rain event in Toronto cost $625 million in insured losses. The now defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy warned that climate change is expensive, with annual $21-billion to $43-billion adaptation costs for Canadians by 2015.
The countries most vulnerable to climate change understand that 2015, the date by which to adopt a universal climate change agreement, is already too late. The two degrees Celsius target will likely be missed. Some developed countries remain insensitive to their predicament. Some islands will likely become submerged. Their hopes for enhanced global support to aid their efforts have continually been disappointed.
At stake is the future of our children and grandchildren. In light of the financial burdens to the next generations, the impacts on Canada's agriculture, environment, fisheries, forest, water, et cetera and ultimately on Canadians and on international communities, such as Bangladesh, which might lose one-fifth of its land mass and suffer the displacement of 20 million people with a one-metre rise in sea level, it is extremely disappointing that instead of having a serious debate on what Canada should be doing to mitigate and adapt to climate change, the New Democrats have chosen to politicize a fundamentally human issue.
I am very surprised that the New Democrats would choose to attack the Liberal Party on this issue, given their party's less than stellar role in combatting climate change.
In 2005, it was the NDP's political antics that led to the fall of the Liberal government, thereby knowingly ending any chance that Canada would take real action on climate change. The Liberal government's project green would have, in fact, taken Canada 80% of the way to meeting its Kyoto targets. The Conservatives have since reduced the previous Liberal government's greenhouse gas emissions targets by an astonishing 90% and will not even meet their very weak target.
My friend and colleague for over two decades, the leader of the Green Party, blamed the NDP for putting politics ahead of the planet, risking the collapse of an urgent climate change conference in 2005 aimed at salvaging the Kyoto protocol. She begged the NDP to rethink the issue. A newspaper article stated, when the leader of the Green Party wrote her 2009 book,
|| “It was to no avail,” she wrote, highlighting the incident as proof that both [the NDP] and [the current Prime Minister] were willing to sacrifice the key Kyoto negotiations...
I have spent the last 25 years researching climate change, consulting for Environment Canada, serving on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaking around the world on climate change and its impacts, undertaking research 500 miles from the North Pole, and watching the glaciers recede and recede. I came to Ottawa to fight for real action on climate change, and I currently chair the all-party climate change caucus, which I founded. I also serve on two United Nations bodies, one regarding climate change and the second one regarding disaster preparedness.
It is, therefore, painful to say that the Liberal Party will not be supporting the NDP's motion as the motion is dishonest about my party's record on climate change. I ensure my speeches are accurate and scientifically rigorous, and that my arguments are fact-based and not hyperbole and rhetoric. The Liberal Party does agree with two of the three sections of the NDP motion, namely, that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2° Celsius rise in global average temperature and the government should immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan.
Let me set the record straight on the Liberal Party's action on climate change and then outline the wilfully blind position of the current Conservative government and what it should be doing to protect the future.
In 1998, Canada signed the Kyoto protocol, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% from 1990 levels by the commitment period ending in 2012. In 2000, the Liberal government introduced its action plan 2000 on climate change and committed $500 million on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or GHGs.
In 2002, Canada formally ratified the Kyoto protocol. The Liberal government called it “an important milestone in Canada's contribution to addressing climate change”. The government also released “Climate Change: Achieving our Commitments Together”, which proposed a three-stage strategy to achieve GHG reduction goals through incentives, regulations, and tax measures.
In 2003, the Liberal government pledged an additional $1 billion for its climate change plan and offered incentives to consumers and industry. Total federal spending on Kyoto reached $3.7 billion. In 2004, the Liberal government issued the one-tonne challenge, which called for every Canadian to cut GHG emissions through such activities as recycling, taking public transit, and using programmable thermostats. From the early 1990s, I have been challenging my own students at the university to reduce their personal and family GHGs.
In 2005, the Kyoto protocol officially came into force. Within three weeks of the date, the Liberal government and Canada's carmakers reached an agreement regarding emission standards. Car companies were to produce vehicles that would cut emissions by 5.3 megatonnes by 2010 as part of Ottawa's Kyoto plan. Within two months of Kyoto coming into force, the Liberal government announced details of its Kyoto implementation plan, project green, pledging $10 billion to cut greenhouse gases by 270 megatonnes a year by 2008 to 2012. However, in 2006, with the help of the NDP, the Conservative government came to power and immediately killed project green. Independent third-party stakeholders stated that the plan would have allowed Canada to come close to meeting its Kyoto targets.
Since coming to power the Conservative government has reduced the Liberal GHG targets by an astonishing 90%, spent $9.2 billion and claims it is half way to meeting its very weak GHG targets. The Conservative government's latter claim is particularly remarkable given that as recently as the fall of 2011, the government was on track to reach only 25% of its very weak target.
Weak target or not, how did the government manage to improve its performance by an astounding 100% in just over six months? First, the government used a higher start value, a projected value, rather than actual emissions. Second, it changed the accounting rules. Third, the government took credit for someone else's hard work. The June 2012 report from the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy made it clear that action taken by the provinces and territories is really responsible for three-quarters of Canada's GHG reductions. Moreover, the round table's report echoed that of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which showed that in 2020 Canada's emissions would be 7% above the 2005 level rather than the promised 17% below.
Fourth, the government removed any climate accountability measures through its draconian omnibus bill, Bill , which repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. Because of the repeal, the government will no longer have to publish the climate change plan each year, detailing the measures being taken to meet Canada's commitment. Moreover, the round table will no longer be required to assess each year's plan and offer expert feedback. In fact, the round table no longer even exists as it failed to comply with Conservative ideology. Moreover, the commissioner will no longer have to report regularly on Canada's progress in implementing its climate plan.
Because of the lack of climate accountability measures, Canadians will continue to suffer a who casts doubt on climate change science saying that, “People aren't as worried as they were before about global warming of 2° and scientists have recently told us that our fears on climate change are exaggerated.” Even flat earth proponents eventually came around. What will it take to convince the natural resources minister that climate change is real?
Because of the lack of climate accountability measures, Canadians will continue to suffer a government that repeats its mantra, namely, that its sector-by-sector approach to climate change is working. Sadly, the approach is just a delay tactic. The government has tackled only two sectors in six years and is yet to take action on the oil and gas sector. Perhaps instead of repeating tired lines, the government should actually review the evidence and experience first-hand what Canadians are living.
The reality is the world is getting hotter. The warmest 13 years of average global temperatures have all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. Increased global average temperatures are expected to increase droughts and floods, and other extreme weather patterns. Recent record-breaking temperatures for June 2012 are what we would expect from climate change. In fact, records for the contiguous United States that have been kept since 1895 show that July 2012 was the hottest month ever.
Whether the government accepts or minimizes the fact that record-breaking temperatures and extreme precipitation are likely changing on a global scale as a result of anthropogenic influences, many Canadians are feeling the economic impacts. In Canada, catastrophic events cost approximately $1.6 billion in 2011 and almost $1 billion in each of the two previous years. In 2012, in many regions across Canada, farmers struggled with hot, dry conditions that devastated their crops.
The Ontario provincial government asked for federal support to help farmers dealing with drought. Farmers were forced to sell their livestock at low prices because the drought had raised feed costs beyond what they could afford. Increasing evidence shows drought conditions will become the norm rather than the exception.
What needs to be done on climate change and done immediately? The NDP is calling for a climate adaptation plan and this is important. For many years, I consulted to Environment Canada's adaptation and impacts research group. Many of its members share the 2007 Nobel Prize on climate change, but it has since been dismantled by the Conservative government. The NDP fails to mention mitigation in its motion. We need both mitigation and adaptation. I will briefly describe omitted mitigation options.
We need sustainable development of our natural resources and all decisions must be based on scientific evidence, must safeguard our environment and natural habitats, and must respect the legal and historical rights of aboriginal people. The federal government must recognize that non-renewable high carbon energy sources are unsustainable. Canada must also have a plan for a transition to more sustainable energy sources and a pan-Canadian sustainable energy and economic growth strategy to succeed in the global economy and to make progress on this 2020 GHG reduction target.
The federal government should collaborate with relevant federal ministers and departments as well as with provincial, territorial, and municipal leaders in Canada to develop a pan-Canadian sustainable energy strategy.
It must also fully consult and accommodate aboriginal peoples when development projects affect their rights and traditional territories. Such a strategy should ensure fairness to all emitters and emitting sectors and regions. It should also include the creation of new markets and opportunities, and improve competitiveness for Canadian companies, particularly regarding low carbon technologies.
Both renewable energy and energy efficiency offer the promise of economic growth, job creation, energy security, and reductions in GHG emissions. The government should therefore develop an action plan to achieve identified targets for the deployment of low-impact renewable energy in Canada for the years 2020, 2030, 2040, and 2050.
The federal government should also develop an action plan to achieve energy efficiency targets for the same decades. The European Union is now on track to deliver a 15% energy saving below business-as-usual by 2020.
To address climate change effectively, we also need a strategy for sustainable transportation in Canada that sets targets for the coming decades and an action plan for phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies in order to achieve the G20 goal of a medium-term phase-out.
The government should develop an action plan and milestones for increasing energy literacy and research, development and deployment of low carbon technology in Canada. It should work in partnership with the provinces, territories, municipalities, labour organizations, industry sectors, aboriginal peoples, and others to develop a clean energy employment transition strategy.
The stakes are enormous. Leading countries are creating a new energy future and investing billions to be at the front of the curve in the new green economy. While the government invested only $3 billion in green stimulus spending, Germany invested $14 billion; the United States, $112 billion; and China, $221 billion in green infrastructure, and in the process created thousands of new green jobs.
Instead of reverting to 1950s thinking of development at any cost, the government should be mapping the best way forward to a prosperous, energy-secure, and healthy future. The government must understand that it is a choice between being a producer and a consumer in the old economy and being a leader in the new economy. It is a choice between decline and prosperity.
Finally, the government must stop embarrassing Canadians on the world stage. Canada's withdrawal from Kyoto sparked outrage in the global community. A spokesman for France's foreign ministry called the move “bad news for the fight against climate change”. Tuvalu's lead negotiator said, “For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, it’s an act of sabotage on our future…Withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is a reckless and totally irresponsible act.”
Try as the government might, through cutting climate programs and research, and muzzling its scientists, the science of climate change simply will not go away, nor will the recognition of the economic impacts of warming and the growing chorus of countries taking action to combat climate change and gain competitive advantage by transitioning to the green economy.
The NDP and the Conservative government must stop polarizing the climate change discussion and resorting to ideological extremes during debate on the issue. Sadly, while climate change is speeding up, Canada continues to slide backwards on the issue. The Conservative government's only response is to greenwash its deplorable record on the environment.
Canadians deserve better, and our children and grandchildren deserve better, and should not be held hostage to the government's short-sightedness, skepticism, and stonewalling on the greatest challenge facing our planet.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for , who is a fine member.
I would like to introduce this motion that I will, of course, be supporting.
We are asking:
|| That this House: (a) agree with many Canadians and the International Energy Agency that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2 degree rise in global average temperatures; (b) condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments; and (c) call on the government to immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan.
I want to add some of my personal experiences relevant to this motion before I get into spelling out what I would call government inaction and then expand on the New Democrats' position in terms of what we would like to see happen on climate change.
I got my start in terms of taking action when I swam the length of the Fraser River in 1995. It was a 1,400-kilometre swim. I did that both in 1995 and in 2000 to draw attention to the issues threatening the health of the Fraser River.
The Fraser River is known as one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world, but it is under threat. It is on the B.C. endangered rivers list. It is threatened in many different ways, but certainly climate change is one of the biggest threats to the health of the river and to the salmon that make the river so majestic. The Fraser River is known for its cultural, historic, environmental and economic values, but climate change threatens all of that.
I could speak quite a bit about the ten years of swims that I did to draw attention to the threats facing our environment on the west coast, but I want to move to my experience as an elected official.
Soon after those swims, I was asked to get involved to change public policy and speak out at the local level. I was a city councillor in the City of Coquitlam for seven years, from 2002 to 2009. In those early days Coquitlam was certainly very aware of the impacts of climate change and was trying to do its share as a municipality to make a difference in dealing with climate change, even at a local level. The city implemented many initiatives to try to mitigate the damage caused by climate change on the municipality of Coquitlam.
I was also a representative on the board for Metro Vancouver, and I want to talk about a specific motion I brought forward that I feel dealt with climate change, which was to move to zero waste. In fact, I was the director who put forward the motion calling on the region to move to zero waste. That is an ambitious target, but it has moved us from a 55% waste diversion up to what is now 75% diversion rate. Of course, the region is ideally looking to moving to 100% diversion, or zero waste, and recycling all the material it produces.
This is a part of defining what I have been involved with in terms of action on climate change and the environment and also to point out that there are many ways one can take action. The critical thing is the will to change and to outline how important it is to make change. This is where I have to turn to the Conservative federal government's inaction on this file.
In fact, it is an embarrassment that in this day and age we have a government minister who is accused of being a climate change denier. It is out there, people are talking about it, and it is unfortunate. Canadians from coast to coast to coast understand the urgency of the climate crisis. It seems that it is just the Conservatives who are out of step with Canadians and our closest allies when they refuse to take action.
I held town hall meetings just recently. This year I heard from many constituents who were very concerned with the government's refusal to act on climate change. They spoke out to me. They brought it up. They identified it in New Westminster, in Coquitlam and in Port Moody when I held town hall meetings in each of those communities. Even on the phone, when I talked to thousands of people, climate change was brought up. Certainly, health care was identified as the number one priority, but climate change was up among the top priorities on which they wanted to see the federal government take action. They pointed out that the Conservative government, in their opinion, was not taking action and they were very alarmed.
Let us identify the record of the Conservatives. They have been systematically dismantling environmental laws since they were elected, using omnibus legislation to weaken environmental protections. When I held my town hall meetings, the residents were very concerned about the undemocratic use of omnibus legislation. Attacking environmental legislation, using budget bills, was something they found to be very disingenuous.
The has vilified those who oppose the government's position, calling them "radicals". This is divisive and unnecessary and it is, in fact, appalling that the minister would come out and label people radicals. These are people who work, sometimes their entire life, or continue to passionately try to make change, on climate change.
This is not the way forward. It is not a healthy way to address such a serious topic. We need everyone working together, trying to make change. This is a huge issue and challenge that we are facing as Canadians.
The has even accused unspecified Canadian charities of money laundering and has refused to either retract, apologize or name names. This, I find, is very disingenuous. If the minister knows something, he should specifically cite those examples where this is the case, not put out fear and turn people away. Again, I have talked to many organizations or representatives of organizations trying to make change on climate change and the environment, and they are feeling the heat of these kinds of comments, this divisive language and these attacks on their work.
The and the Conservative government have made Canada a global laggard on climate change and green investment. The Conservatives have reduced Canada's national greenhouse gas emissions targets by 90% since taking power in 2006. They pulled out of the Kyoto accord just recently and pulled Canada out of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. Meanwhile, they have given billions of dollars in annual tax breaks for fossil fuel companies and they have failed to monitor or regulate their emissions.
Conservative inaction on climate change is costing Canada jobs. The U.S. has again delayed approval for the Keystone XL project due to further climate change analysis. The European Union has plans to put a carbon penalty on Canada's unconventional oil and gas products because they have higher emissions than traditional fossil fuels. These decisions are the result of a Canadian government's failure and inaction. Despite promises to have the oil and gas regulations in place by 2010, there are still no regulations.
Budget cuts to environmental protections include gutting the Fisheries Act, weakening protections for endangered species, muzzling and firing scientists and defunding critics like the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
Let us not forget that it has been over six months since Justice Cohen released his landmark report on the sustainability of Fraser River sockeye. The government has not said one word about whether it will implement Justice Cohen's 75 recommendations. Again, I talked about the Fraser River, one of the key rivers in British Columbia, which is a Canadian national heritage river. Here are a series of recommendations that the government spent $26 million on and they have not said a word after half a year.
This is abysmal and it is not the record I support, but I am glad we have put forward this motion and I am happy to support it.
Mr. Speaker, I apologize for my voice. I am not a smoker. This is not a smoker's voice, but I do have a cold. I will, however, fight through this cold because I am pleased to speak to the motion moved by my colleague from , who does an excellent job working on the environment, an issue that is very important to our present and especially our future. Today's motion has to do with climate change.
When we hear the call climate change into question, and when he is referred to as “Canada's oil minister” in The Guardian or The New York Times—both prestigious newspapers—we realize that this rhetoric is irresponsible and shows that the government lacks leadership on environmental protection.
Based on my own experience in political science, more specifically in international development, I have seen that the fight against climate change has often been referred to as the tragedy of the commons.
In matters such as these, people need to have the courage to take the first step. That is never easy to do. We are comfortable with the way we are currently using our natural resources. Change is never easy, but we must always consider the long term. Although they are often afraid to do so, the countries of the world must be prepared to show leadership in order to prevent the “tragedy of the commons” and must not wait for others to act.
We have heard this rhetoric a lot over the past 10 and even 15 years. At one point, countries like Canada and even the United States were often heard saying that the onus was on countries such as Brazil, India and China. These developing countries are currently producing large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions because of their significant growth and natural resources development. People are always trying to put the ball in someone else's court.
Today, it is important to recognize that this inaction has gone on for far too long. The motion refers to the lack of effective action of successive federal Liberal and Conservative governments. We must have the courage to act and to rise on the international stage and face the challenges related to climate change.
Let us review the history of this subject. My Liberal colleague criticized the Conservative government. We agree with those criticisms, but I do not agree that anything good has been done. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Like the hon. member for said, the most the Liberal Party did in this regard when it was in power was to name a dog Kyoto. At the end of the day, although the government promised in 1993 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, this objective was not met and we even took a step backward by increasing our emissions by about 30%, if I am not mistaken.
This shows that there has been and still is a lack of leadership. The government will talk about its various programs, which have clearly not done enough to meet the challenges before us. If they had, recent reports would not be indicating that there has been an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. If these measures were effective, this would not be the case. Clearly, not enough is being done. That is why I am proud to be a part of the NDP team, which is proposing practical measures.
A few years ago, Jack Layton, our former leader, introduced a bill to put in place a real strategy to fight climate change. However, true to form, the unelected and unaccountable Senate pushed aside the bill, even though it was passed by the House of Commons, whose members are elected.
However, we know that this is a priority for Canadians. We have to wonder why the Senate did not think it was a good idea to take a step in the right direction to fight climate change. Unfortunately, we have no answer to that.
This is another fine, if not the most obvious, example in favour of abolishing the Senate, but I will save that debate for another day.
We have some very critical and overwhelming examples in Chambly—Borduas that show the effects of climate change. Members will recall the flooding in 2011.
Some people, especially people like the , do not believe in the impact of climate change. They tell us that climate change was not the cause.
However, a significant number of people in my riding live along the shore, around the Chambly basin or along the Richelieu River in towns like Saint-Mathias-sur-Richelieu, Saint-Basile-le-Grand, Beloeil and Otterburn Park, and the list goes on. These people say that the flooding was caused by climate change.
Moreover, homebuyers are seeing a decline in the real estate market because the river's ecosystem is changing. We are seeing physical proof at home.
The flooding in 2011 received a lot of media coverage, and people know exactly what happened. The same thing happened in Saint-Paul-de-l'Île-aux-Noix and Venise-en-Québec, in my colleague's riding, Saint-Jean. It was not a one-off. It was not an isolated incident. The impact is still being felt today.
Take, for example, La grenouille en fête, an event held by the organization Bassin en fête. A former minister in the Quebec government, Louise Beaudoin, has participated in this event, where people go diving in the Richelieu River and the rapids near Chambly. However, there has been such a change in the rapids that this event has been cancelled four times in the past eight years because the ecosystem is changing. The Quebec Lifesaving Society has said repeatedly that it is no longer safe to dive in these rapids. That adversely affects the region.
The economy is another aspect we often hear about and it is an interesting topic. La grenouille en fête is an economic and recreational tourist activity in the region. It is being adversely affected by climate change. We could also talk about the maple syrup season, which is different in some years because the temperature is rising and the seasons are mixed up. Some of my colleagues could provide similar examples I am sure.
The government often talks about the economic side of things. This morning, the said that his government is implementing measures that protect the environment and are also good for the economy.
I would say the opposite is true. In fact, chambers of commerce are awarding prizes to organizations and businesses that support a green economy and green jobs and that focus on protecting the environment.
We could talk about this all night long. I will close by saying that the NDP strategy would encourage the development of a green economy. This would protect current jobs and tackle the transition towards green energy and a green economy. It is important for the future of our country and the world.
I welcome questions and comments.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
It is my pleasure to be here today to participate in this opposition day, and to share our government's progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada is in a unique position to help the world address this issue. Our nation is a leading source of energy and energy technologies. Canada's electricity supply presently is among the cleanest in the world, with more than 77% of our electricity coming from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources, including renewable energy and nuclear power. This transition to cleaner energy is supporting our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is our Conservative government that deserves credit for finally tackling some of the bigger issues around emissions reductions. We are taking a results-oriented, sector-by-sector regulatory approach that is targeting the largest emitters.
Our coal-fired electricity regulations are among the toughest in the world. This will make Canada the first nation to ban new construction of traditional coal-fired plants. The regulations also require all existing coal plants to shut down on a schedule that reflects their economic life. I am sure members are also familiar with our vehicles emissions standards that we have brought in, which will do much to improve greenhouse gas emissions as well. Also, our government has committed to introducing new regulations for the oil and gas sector, making Canada one of the few major oil-producing countries to do so.
Our energy sector has already experienced considerable success in reducing emissions. For example, the emission intensity from the production of a barrel of oil sands crude is down 26% since 1990. We know that our Conservative government has done this on this front, and we are seeing results. The economy is growing and we are keeping taxes low.
I will take a few minutes to talk about the opposition and some of those parties' positions on these issues. They have both been clear in the past that they want some variation of a carbon tax. At the natural resources committee, we talk about this often, and it starts with the issue of carbon pricing. There is an insistence from some people that carbon must be priced by someone somewhere. It is very interesting at committee when we have these discussions. When we ask witnesses if there is a real and natural developing economy around carbon, if there is a price that is naturally being set around carbon, the answer is virtually always no. It is not like beef, or going out and buying a cellphone or a car, where there are options on the market and we can pay for a product, and if we do not like it we do not have to buy it. We are told at committee that, if it is going to happen at all, the government needs to step in and price carbon. The average person really has no idea what a ton of carbon is and does not know what carbon pricing is. However, on one side there is an insistence that government must establish this.
The establishment of that is given as the usual reason that we can then establish a system of taxation based on that pricing. We have seen a variety of carbon taxation suggestions come up, particularly from the other side. We hear about things like a carbon tax, which would be a straight-up tax related to carbon, which would result in things like higher fuel prices where we would see that applied and there would be a direct impact on consumers. Often that carbon tax would go to general revenue.
There is a cap and trade system that the opposition members talk about once in a while. It would allow trading in carbon credits, usually with the goal of avoiding real reductions, so we get a lot of rhetoric around this and lots of noise but very little results. Sometimes we see these revenues also going into general revenue in the government's coffers. These have consistently failed to work. We have seen in particular the failures in Europe of their carbon trading systems. They have failed for a number of reasons. It could be dysfunction, or in some places there is corruption in that system.
The other option is a carbon levy, where there would be a levy put on a particular area of industry, which then normally would get passed on to consumers. All of these things have one thing in common and I am going to talk about that in just a few minutes.
There are three groups that stand out in support of these things. One is industry. We often seen enthusiasm in industry for carbon taxation. Industry is fine with that; it gets a scheme and taxpayers often get a bill from that.
The second group that really eyes this up and thinks it is a great idea is those big spenders, typically the left-wing governments that really want to see a rise in revenue. From the opposite side, typically those members have taken this stand because they see this is as a revenue generator. They get stars in their eyes if they can begin to tax every molecule in the universe. There is really no end to the amount that they can then tax Canadian citizens.
The third group is the environmental group. We talked at committee about this. These groups really want to apply these things, because they think they can get results. The problem is that we first need to establish an artificial market, and then we need to use taxation to change behaviour. We need to price carbon so high that we actually force people to change their behaviour. Witnesses at committee talked about the fact that to do this, we would need to make taxation so high that it would quadruple utility rates so that people would have to change their behaviour. Canadians need to ask themselves if they are ready to have these kinds of prices in their lives. I think most of them would say absolutely not. These three things have one thing in common and that is that taxpayers pay the bill, either directly or indirectly.
Our approach is different from the opposition's. The opposition wants a carbon tax. We heard about $20 billion in the NDP's last election campaign. Those members told Canadians that they were going to do that. They seem to be a little shy about that now.
In 2008, our colleagues in the Liberal Party campaigned nationwide on a carbon tax, which was completely rejected by Canadians.
Consumers really need to pay attention. We are coming back with a sector-by-sector approach. We set realistic goals for improvement and actually get results. That annoys the opposition to no end, but the reality is that it is the way we can improve the environment.
The Liberals signed on to their plan that would have omitted the world's highest emitters. They had no intention of reducing emissions. They wanted a plan that would make it sound as if they were doing something without actually having to do it. When they brought forward their carbon tax plan, as I mentioned, Canadians rejected it outright. They completely turned against it.
The NDP has not learned that lesson yet, because it proposed a $21-billion carbon tax in its last election platform. I am surprised, because in many ways, that kind of tax is really a licence to pollute. It would allow companies to pay the government and then pass that cost on to consumers, all without taking a single ounce of carbon out of the air. I guess that makes sense, perhaps, coming from the NDP. It would allow government to use tools to shut down jobs, cripple industry and slow development. Those members seem to specialize in that. In my own province, we saw the NDP's ability to do that for over 50 years. We finally rejected that and moved on, and now the province is really prospering.
Our government's plan is working. The results speak for themselves.
I want to talk a bit about the advantage of becoming energy efficient. Energy efficiency improved by 25% between 1990 and 2010. Without those efficiency gains, Canadians would have paid $32 billion more for energy in 2010 alone. Our efforts to improve energy efficiency have been widely recognized. The International Energy Agency has determined that Canada was second only to Germany, among 16 countries, in its rate of energy efficiency improvement. One would think that once in a while, the opposition might mention that. It might be willing to acknowledge that some of these things are working and that we are making progress and doing very well. In 2011, the IEA ranked Canada fifth out of 28 countries for its efforts to implement a broad spectrum of energy efficiency initiatives.
I am very proud of Canada's efforts to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency and our success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while growing the economy. I should point out that our economy has grown. Our greenhouse gas emissions have declined. Between 2005 and 2011, our economy grew by 8% and our greenhouse gas emissions declined by almost 5%.
Canada is clearly making progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, we will continue to make improvements to our diversified energy economy and energy sector that can help drive the global economy and help build energy security, while producing energy responsibly.
Mr. Speaker, the motion in front of us today has three parts, parts (a), (b) and (c).
Part (a) says that the House “agree with many Canadians and the International Energy Agency that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2 degree rise in global average temperatures”. I think we can all agree with that statement, part (a) of this motion. In fact, it is something the government and the have agreed with.
I have a copy of the Copenhagen accord in front of me. It is the accord the signed on December 18, 2009. I just want to take two quotes from this accord, which the agreed to, which is the official policy of the Government of Canada. It is Canada's reputation that has been committed in this document with the 's signature.
Article 1 says:
|| We underline that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time.
Clearly the Government of Canada acknowledges that climate is one of the greatest challenges of our time.
I would like to quote from article 2.
|| We agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius...
Clearly, the government understands and acknowledges that it is a necessity, and part of all people living on this planet, to keep the temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.
The attended that Conference of the Parties, 15th session. He committed Canada and the government to the 2% target.
I think part (a) of this motion is reasonable. It is consistent with what the government has stood for and is consistent with what the has committed to.
Part (b) of the motion says that this House “condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments”. This is the part of the motion I cannot agree with. The reality is that from 1998 to 2005, emissions rose.
Part of part (b) is true: from 1998 to 2005, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada rose from approximately 680 megatonnes to 737 megatonnes. Clearly, during that seven-year period, greenhouse gas emissions rose. Clearly, one could say that for that particular period of time, there was a lack of effective action to reduce greenhouse gases in Canada. However, part (b) of the motion says “since 1998”, and it fails to acknowledge the actions and meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases that have taken place since the government came to power at the end of 2005.
At the end of 2005, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada were 737 megatonnes. At the end of 2011, the most recent year for which data is available for the UN reporting system, greenhouse gas emissions were 702 megatonnes.
From the end of 2005, when the government took power, to the end of 2011, over that six-year period, greenhouse gases dropped in Canada. They fell. They decreased, from 737 megatonnes to 702 megatonnes.
Part (b) of the motion is not consistent with that reality. These numbers were pulled from the “National Inventory Report: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada”, which the Canadian government submits to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This submission was made fairly recently for the period of 1990 to 2011. It is available on the government's Environment Canada website for the public and for members to see.
Part (b) of the motion simply does not reflect reality. It is not something I can support.
What is interesting about the fact that greenhouse gas emissions have dropped from the end of 2005 to the end of 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, is that during that period of time the Canadian economy grew. Therefore, the most important thing to acknowledge about what has happened over that six- or seven-year period, since the government has come to power, is the trend line that parallelled economic growth to rising greenhouse gas emissions has been broken and we are now in a period where, with increasing economic growth, we are seeing decreases in greenhouse gas emissions.
Part (c) of the motion asks the House to call upon the government to immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan. I would like to explain what we as a government have already done.
We have taken a sector-by-sector regulatory approach, consistent with what our largest trading partner south of the border has done. That is an incredibly important fact to acknowledge because we cannot go down one type of approach to reducing emissions while the United States goes down a different path. Our economies are far too integrated to take a disparate approach. Therefore, like the United States, we have taken a regulatory sector-by-sector approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In the last year, the government has introduced a number of significant initiatives that need to be acknowledged. The first is the electricity sector regulations, the second is the passenger car and light truck regulations and, more recently, the heavy duty vehicle regulations. I would like to highlight some of the details about those regulations because I do not think the government is getting enough credit for the actions it has taken.
The passenger car and light truck regulations that are being proposed for the 2017 and beyond model years are anticipated to reduce fuel consumption by 50% for passenger cars relative to the 2008 model year.
We have taken the same approach for the heavy duty truck regulations as we have done with passenger cars and light trucks. We expect that for the 2014 to 2018 model years, these new stringent emission regulations will achieve meaningful reductions in emissions for full-size pickups, semi-tractor truck trailers, garbage trucks and buses.
With respect to the electricity regulations that we announced last September, coal-fired electricity-generating plants account for 77% of emissions in the electrical sector and 11% of overall emissions in Canada. The regulations we have introduced will reduce, over the next 21 years, emissions from coal-fired electrical generation plants by 214 megatonnes. As well, between now and 2020 it is anticipated they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 41 megatonnes in the next six short years from the coal-fired electrical generation sector.
These are significant regulations that are achieving meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases. Since 2005, we have seen a reduction in greenhouse gases from 737 megatonnes to 702 megatonnes, while as the economy has grown.
These regulations are not fully in effect yet. Over the next six years they will achieve even more reductions.
If members do not want to take that from me, in November of 2011 the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a well-respected independent research organization based out of Geneva which the OECD consults, said that Canada's:
||—federal and provincial...actions were estimated to likely deliver about 46 per cent of the 2020 national target, or...103 million tonnes...of the 225 Mt needed.
We will do even more with the announcements already made, but clearly more action needs to be taken. The government and the has committed to that further action by indicating oil and gas regulations will come out shortly.
I cannot support the motion because it does not reflect the reality of the work that the government has done over the last six years. Climate change is a serious issue. Anthropogenic climate change is a challenge for our planet and this government is committed to taking action and has already taken action. That is not being acknowledged in this motion. For that reason, I encourage members to vote against it.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
We have had a bit of debate about who is responsible. In reality, the responsibility for the development of the fossil fuel industry in our country lies with the Liberals. It was a Chrétien government, along with Ralph Klein, that set up the deal on the oil sands. That favourable tax deal and the lack of proper regulation drove the development of this industry, which is causing us extreme problems right now in our presence on the world stage and our greenhouse gas emissions. There is culpability on the part of both of these governments since 1995, dealing with the oil and gas industry.
I come from the north. We know about climate change. Environment Canada's temperature data for the Mackenzie Valley since 1951 has shown average temperature increases of 2.5° Celsius. For Inuvik, this data shows an annual increase of 3.1°. The average winter temperature increases are even greater. Inuvik has seen an increase of 5.8° Celsius over that period of time. Norman Wells and Yellowknife have seen average increases of 3.9° Celsius. We understand about climate change.
We understand the impact, whether it is on our forests, or on our permafrost, where in some cases we have lost 40% of it, or on the ice melt in the Arctic, of the changing conditions on our climate, the increased temperature causing those effects. The Mackenzie River spring melt and ice-free dates have advanced by about 20 days in the last century.
On September 26, 2012, our environment critic and I tried to have the House conduct an emergency debate on the rapidly decreasing amount of summer Arctic ice. Why did we do that? Because that summer, Canadians were experiencing, not just the north but the rest of Canada, the impacts of climate change. Why was that? Because things were changing and changing rapidly. Before we reach 2° Celsius, we will be impacted tremendously by climate change.
The United States had the highest August temperature since 1885 and droughts throughout the country. What caused that? A report by Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University and Stephen Vavrus of the University of Wisconsin showed that the extreme weather was directly related to the loss of Arctic summer ice cover. Arctic summer ice cover has dropped precipitously in the last decade, and it was at its lowest level last summer. It is 50% below what it was in 1979. It is adding heat to the ocean and the atmosphere to redirect the jet stream, the fast-moving, high altitude river of air that steers weather systems across the northern hemisphere.
The studies show that jet stream is behaving differently. It is becoming slower, with bigger troughs and ridges. This is causing major impacts to our climate. This is causing greater large-scale climate events like the storm, Sandy, that hit the New York coast.
I will not go into the details of why this is happening. Members can look on the website. They can find those details for themselves. This is an issue for all Canadians.
The changing jet stream is the main culprit behind the extreme weather events that we see, so we know we will continue to see those major and extreme weather events moving forward. We need to understand how to deal with that in Canada.
I will take a step back now and talk about how we should be dealing with it in the north. It is clear the Conservatives and the Liberals before failed completely to deal with northern Canada and effectively with climate change, to help northerners reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and make their communities more sustainable.
Instead, governments looked on the north as a resource extraction area. That goes for both those governments. They both considered the north to be of prime importance. Instead of the north improving its situation, it will add to the world problem of climate change.
The other path that should be taken in the north is northern sustainability. Sustainability is a word thrown around to cover a variety of situations, from large industrial projects that support local employment and business to the allowable yield of wild animals for human consumption. As a long-time northerner, I would see sustainability defined as the ability to maintain a modest lifestyle that can be enhanced and made prosperous with the addition of carefully managed medium-term resource development projects. I want something that gives me confidence that my grandchildren will have a prosperous future. We need to look at how to change the north's reliance on fossil fuels.
Southern Canada has been in a bit of an artificial envelope because people use natural gas to heat their homes. The price of natural gas has not gone up in 10 years. In northern Canada, where people heat their homes with fuel oil, the increase in the last decade has been 400%. Considering the amount of heating required in the north, it is a big problem, a big problem that is not being solved, yet it is an issue that the government could deal with. It could work with the people in the north. Northerners are trying to make a difference there. The Government of the Northwest Territories has been very successful in converting many of its buildings to biomass. It has come out with a solar energy strategy. These are things that can help people in the north, but where is the federal government on this? It is not there yet.
Obsolete thinking about energy as an exportable, non-renewable resource has taken Canada out of step from where it should be. It is more involved in increasing greenhouse gas emissions in this global environment than simply within Canada. That is where see the failure of the Conservative government right now.
What have been the actions of the Conservative government over the last year in terms of influencing the world on climate change?
It has stepped out of the UN committee dealing with desertification, one of the serious issues that is going to be in front of us with climate change.
It has refused to deal in the House with the serious issues facing our weather systems.
The Arctic Council has worked for years to put climate change as the main item on its agenda. What is the new minister, who is taking over the chairmanship, talking about for the Arctic Council? She is saying we should talk about resource development. She is saying we should move this international body away from dealing with the impacts of climate change and more toward exploitive behaviour.
We have disengaged from Kyoto. We have given up on major agreements that can drive the rest of the world to join us in improving greenhouse gas emissions. We need to work together in this world. This is not a problem that can be solved in Canada by improving our efficiency or setting regulations for Canadians; this is a problem that has to be dealt with around the world.
Now the President of the United States is geared up for climate change. What major effort is Canada putting into the United States right now? We are trying to sell oil that has a large greenhouse gas profile attached to it. We are pushing it very hard in the United States. Where are we working with the United States on the issues surrounding greenhouse gas emissions? Where are we trying to deal with the President, who said that is going to be one of his major priorities?
We are religiously promoting the sale of fossil fuels. That is what the government is doing. That is its direction. That is the intensity of its efforts in the international field. How does that fit with dealing with the crisis that is coming with the change in climate? How is the government being responsible? It is not.
The government needs to understand that climate change is not a situation that we can gradually improve in the future: climate change is here today. The government should deal with it and get on it.
Mr. Speaker, today there is no denying it: the situation is critical. This is not the time to celebrate, and the time for empty rhetoric is over. We have heard many facts today. I think that in the days and years to come, it will be time to take action.
Here on this side of the House, no one is denying the importance, the extreme importance, of this issue. No one is denying the facts about what is happening around the globe. The planet is suffering from the actions of human beings and the actions of several governments, including the Conservative government, that have not been at the forefront of international action.
Some members of the government do not even believe in climate change; they do not believe it exists. The is even denying the significance of a two-degree temperature increase. At least on this side of the House, we care about these issues and know how serious they are.
I do not know if people know how old I am, but I hope to still be here in 80 years and I hope to see my 100th birthday. As a young person, this issue makes me think carefully about the decisions we make today and the long-term repercussions they will have.
We must not spend the next two years thinking about making a decision and see whether it will get a party elected or whether it will be good for winning an election. Instead, decisions must be made in the interest of all generations, particularly the younger generation.
I am sure that many people have children or know young people. We know how important it is to work to ensure that our planet is still in good shape for the people who will still be here when we are gone. That is why I think that today's topic is extremely important.
I am therefore pleased to speak, particularly on behalf of the people of Sherbrooke who I have been representing in the House of Commons for nearly two years now. It is only natural that I talk about my riding in all of my speeches. However, an issue like the one in today's motion knows no borders. It is truly a global issue that will have an impact on all of the earth's inhabitants.
In my opinion, the House is debating a very worthwhile motion, which I would like to read. The motion makes three main points. It was moved by the hon. member for who is also the environment critic. She does excellent work. Here is the motion:
|| That this House: (a) agree with many Canadians and the International Energy Agency that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2 degree rise in global average temperatures; (b) condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments; and (c) call on the government to immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan.
The members on this side of the House know that action must be taken. That is the purpose of this motion being debated today. This motion serves to try to wake up the Conservative government, which seems to be currently ignoring this issue. The Conservatives seem to think that all is well, that everything is rosy, and that their actions will resolve everything.
Over the past few years, the government has won fossil awards. It has received the attention of international groups that severely criticized its actions. The Conservatives seem to be living in a bubble, unaware of what is being said about them. Anyone who dares to criticize the government is treated as though they are a radical and basically a terrorist who wants to attack the government.
The Conservatives are the only ones in Canada who believe that there is an easy solution to all this, that there is no need to intervene and that small measures here and there will solve the general problem.
They have also gone ahead with deregulation. This is not a lack of action, but action that goes in the wrong direction. They have taken action, but the measures taken, especially with regard to deregulation, are not the right ones. I am thinking primarily of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which was completely overhauled. The people of Sherbrooke are being told that, with this law, the Rivière Saint-François is no longer protected. Thus, projects that go under or over the river, such as a pipeline or electrical lines, will no longer have to be approved by anyone. A number of projects could go ahead which could have direct consequences for navigation and possibly the environment.
Getting back to the minister. He denies that there is a problem with respect to a two degree rise in global average temperatures. I often ask myself which scientist he has been talking to. Is he referring to those who are systematically muzzled or those who work for the oil companies and promote the oil sands operations?
The minister has selective hearing. When scientists dare contradict him, he muzzles them outright and does not consider their scientific data. When other data suits his agenda, then he is very happy with it. Unfortunately, the data comes from just a few people, who are often linked to very powerful lobbies that have specific interests in a number of areas.
The minister adds insult to injury by saying that he is not aware of a recent warning by the International Energy Agency that two-thirds of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to ensure that global average temperatures do not climb by more than two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial temperatures.
The fact remains that climate change is a reality. It is an issue that we must take seriously. For far too long, the Conservatives and the Liberals have done nothing to reduce greenhouse gases. What is worse, we were the first to withdraw from Kyoto and, just a little while ago, we were the first to withdraw from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
That brings me to the Liberals. As I was saying, they are hypocrites, if I may say that in the House. They talk the talk, but they are all talk and no action, as we say. The Liberals like to talk and say that they are on top of this issue and that it is important to them, yet when they had the chance, they did not take any meaningful action to resolve this problem that has been around for a very long time, long before the Conservatives took power.
Today, the Liberals are claiming to want to protect the planet and our environment, but not once did they do anything when they had the chance. This is unacceptable, and today's motion reflects the fact that there have not been any meaningful measures from successive federal governments since 1998. I must point out that the Conservatives are not the only ones who have failed to act and who continue to ignore the problem, since the Liberals did the same thing and will likely continue to do so, as they have always done.
I see that my time is running out, so I will conclude by saying that I hope we never have to debate this again. I hope this motion will wake the government up and inspire it to act. I also hope that future parliaments will not have to discuss this subject, since action will have been taken and the issue will have been resolved once and for all, to make the planet a good place to live for future generations.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise on this topic today because usually I get about 35 seconds in question period to talk about it. It is a topic that is worthy of debate in the House, not just in terms of content or validity, but also in terms of form: how our House should approach this debate and approach the policy as we go forward.
The first part of the motion talks about acknowledging the fact that climate change does have a major impact on the environment as well as on our economy, that it is happening, that this is something about which we should be concerned. I certainly agree with this part of the motion. In fact, it is actually at the core of why our government has been working on a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Perhaps to reinforce my opinion on this for the House, I would like to give a little back history on my experience with this topic. It is interesting how fate puts us in positions, over and over again, of looking at a certain issue. I remember in 1990; I was the ripe age of 10, and it was the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. I remember I was a voracious reader, and my mom gave me a book we found in the checkout line of a supermarket, which was published for the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. It talked about reducing, reusing and recycling, but it also talked about this concept called climate change. I remember even at 10 years old reading the book and being completely concerned.
I was a bit of a science geek—I am not going to lie—and I remember taking this concept even in elementary school and learning about it. This is something that all Canadians understand, that it is impactful and something my contemporaries have grown up with understanding—not just understanding but also understanding the need to act. When I entered into my professional career, I was quite blessed to work with some of the best academic researchers in the country. I have worked at two different academic institutions supporting research administration activities for folks who are not just working on the data collection and monitoring of the effects of climate change but also looking at the analysis of this data, to come up with effective policy. They are looking at ways to mitigate the effects of climate change.
I spent several years of my career at the University of Calgary. We have such a robust set of researchers looking at things like carbon sequestration and at ways to make energy extraction more efficient, production more efficient, energy usage more efficient and also, at the end of the spectrum, acknowledging the fact that the climate is changing and asking how we mitigate this impact. We have research that shows how we can mitigate the effects, whether it be in producing better soil, reforestation techniques, dealing with the rise of sea levels. All of these things have Canadian researchers at the forefront and also at the forefront of implementing.
It is interesting to have that type of a background and then now work in the environment portfolio in Parliament, which is a great privilege, but it is also a great challenge given the fact that this is something that is a very important part of our government's questions in the House.
If we look at the first part of the motion, I think everyone in the House would agree on it. The second part of the motion is where I have some questions and concerns from my colleagues in a variety of different areas. First of all, I should spend a little bit of time talking about the fact that if we look at effective action by successive federal governments since 1998, we should be concerned. The reality is that the Liberal government had 13 years to address this problem. Whenever I am on panels with my colleague—and I understand her concern—she talks about agreements like Kyoto being an effective symbol, or hope and good feelings. They did nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I find it incredibly rich for them to stand in the House and claim to have any credibility whatsoever on this issue.
The Liberals absolutely refuse to acknowledge that their action over the years resulted in an increase in a 30% increase in greenhouse gas emissions. For anyone watching today, I have no idea why this is not being discussed as one of the key credibility planks of the Liberal Party. With a 30% rise in greenhouse gas emissions, for my colleague here to stand up today and talk about Canada's policy on greenhouse gas emissions being this or that because the NDP brought down the Liberal government, I do not know how that even enters this debate. How does that enter this debate?
This is a very serious issue, and where my concern about this part of the motion comes into play. Why are we politicizing this issue to that type of rhetoric? That is just absurd. I think that this issue deserves a higher level of debate for all six of us who are in the House today enjoying this topic.
My colleagues have talked about this issue and its impact on our children. I hope that somehow we can prevent this debate from dissolving into that type of rhetoric and talk about what we can do to actually affect this issue.
In the last two years, I have spent a lot of time with the media. I have talked so much about what we have been doing as a government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I hope to do that from a position of authenticity because it is something that I care about. Therefore, I refuse to participate in that type of debate.
What I want to talk about today is the third point in this motion. I cannot support the motion because I refuse to buy in to the fact that our government has not done anything on this issue, which is patently false. To contrast our record with that of the Liberal government, the most recent emissions trends report that was just published, and available to anybody on the Environment Canada website, once again shows something that the Liberals were not even close to achieving, which is decoupling the growth of greenhouse gas emissions with economic growth.
What does that mean for the average person watching this at home today? It is means that our economy has continued to grow. We have seen growth in the natural resource sector, energy sector, and manufacturing sector. These are all sectors that are so vital to our economy that continue to have revenue produced for our government and jobs created for people in this country. They continue to grow, but our greenhouse gas emission growth has decreased. That is the first time in Canadian history this has happened. This is something we should be celebrating.
Therefore, when my colleagues rise in the House here and talk about Canada's international reputation on the world stage, I do not know how can they rise and talk about fossil awards when this is a fact. We have seen a decrease in the growth of greenhouse gas emissions while our economy grew. This is something we should celebrate.
Is there more to be done? Yes, of course there is. This is why we have been continuing on our path to assess each of the major sectors that emit greenhouse gas emissions and ask this fundamental policy question: How can we reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in a tangible way without impacting the lives of everyday Canadians?
This is the policy question that we should be asking this House and not talking about how the NDP brought down the Liberal government. Come on. How can the member stand here with any level of credibility?
Today we are here to talk about policy and practice. In that practice, our regulatory approach has done several things.
First, it is difficult to put into place a regulatory framework that does not impact the economy. That is why we have devoted time, rigour, and diligence to do economic modelling to show that we are not affecting consumer pricing. We have been rigorous in ensuring that any regulations that we put in place will actually achieve a result. We are not signing on to something because of a photo-op. This is hard work.
We have also made sure that we are tackling areas that other policy-makers around the world are not tackling, like the coal-fired electricity sector. Anyone in this House should be able to acknowledge that is one of the major sources of emissions around the world.
From this record, from the fact that we have put regulations in place in each of these areas, we have now been able to say, through measuring greenhouse gas emissions in a transparent way, that we are now over halfway to reaching our Copenhagen targets, and I will talk about those targets for a minute.
Under the previous government, we signed on to an international agreement, and I am sure the intent was good, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. However, here is the rub, it did not include binding targets and it did not include all major emitters.
For us to say that we, as a country, should accept an agreement that does not have binding targets on major emitters, such as China, Brazil, the United States, and India, is something that we should be concerned about. We cannot ignore that fact in this House, that that agreement will not reduce greenhouse gases in these major emitting countries. That is why our country has said, “No, this is not good enough.”
We are not going to just take a PR ploy, we are going to take the hard stand and make a tough decision to push forward with an agreement that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. What is wrong with that? What is wrong with pushing forward an agreement that will actually see results across the world? That is what our government has stood for.
We are well on our way to meeting our targets under that agreement, the first step, the Copenhagen targets. Meaningful action and meaningful results, that has been the record of this government.
Let us talk about the other half of the equation, which is the economy. I am very concerned that throughout the debate today on the opposition side of the House, I have not heard one ounce of acknowledgement about the major sectors of our economy. I have not heard anyone talk about the fact that the natural resource sector employs hundreds of thousands of people across this country, or the energy sector, or the manufacturing sector.
We have not talked about the economy once today. Why have we not talked about that? It is because somehow this is just a forgotten concept in dealing with environmental policy, when we should be talking about the intersection point. The environment and the economy are hand in hand. We cannot have one without the other. However, how can we forget the fact that Canada's economy is based on these different industries? We cannot forget that point.
Over the last two years, as I have sat here, as I have answered question after question in the House of Commons, I hear my colleagues arguing against these sectors, arguing against jobs, and flat out rejecting proposals rather than talking about how to make these environmentally sustainable or even backing up one step and saying that maybe they are environmentally sustainable.
Has that intersection point been reached? No. They do not talk about that here. They talk about killing jobs, environment, or economy, and that is not right. That is not fair. That is not what this debate should be about.
I am going to take the time to talk about that today. Representing an Alberta riding, I think it is absolutely shameful that members from both sides of this House have come into my province and talked about the energy sector being a disease on the economy.
When we are looking at regulating sectors, we need to make sure that we as a government are not impeding investment, that we are creating a situation of certainty, that we are making sure that when we put these regulations in place, they achieve what they set out to do, to have an actual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring that that industry continues to thrive.
My colleagues will talk about a transition to a non-carbon based economy, which is something that is laudable and we should be talking about. However, the reality is we are in a carbon based economy, so why are we not acknowledging that we can have a policy debate about how to make those resources more efficient and more effective?
That is exactly what industry has been doing. However, industry has been doing that in partnership with government. Our government has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development to partner with industry on these specific policy questions. We are starting to see the results.
Let us look at the oil sands as an example. The per barrel emissions of that industry have been reduced by 30% since technology started to be adopted in the 1990s to address this problem. I believe that one of the major downstream producers has a site called the Kearl project, which is going to see oil sands oil be produced with relatively the same emissions output as other types of oil.
This is the Canadian way. We understand. We respect the environment. We can also meet the challenge of respecting the environment through innovation while growing our economy. That is what this party is about.
Why can we not talk about that intersection point? Why do we always have to talk about dismal failure, or how Canada is the laughing stock of the world? That is not right. It denigrates this country. It denigrates the tens of thousands of people who work in these sectors, who put their time and effort into researching and trying to address policy changes. It ignores the fundamental fact that Canada is not North Korea, as opposed to what one of my colleague so gleefully pronounced in the media. We are a world leader in environmental stewardship.
I want to talk a little about our record with regard to adaptation, which is the third component of the motion today. I am quite proud of the track record that we put in place, both at home and internationally, to deal with climate change adaptation.
First, I would like to point to the fast start financing fund that our government has committed to through various international agreements to address climate change adaptation and mitigation internationally. I have not heard recently any discussion of the fact that Canada has contributed over $1.2 billion to international groups to address these challenges through meaningful, impactful, on the ground programming, such as programs to deal with deforestation, to help farmers make their soil more arable, and to deal with cleaner energy projects. These are actual, tangible, on the ground projects to deal with the impact of climate change. This is what our government has invested in heavily over three years.
However, we are not just sitting back on our heels here at home. We are actively pushing forward to address this challenge. I saw first-hand some of the research that was going on, from both a policy and a technology perspective, to deal with the effects of changing climate. That has come under our government's watch. There is $35 million for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to deal specifically with the effects of climate change.
Some other programs with regard to adaptation that our government has funded have focused on four themed areas: science to inform adaptation and decision-making, human health and well-being, the northern aboriginal communities, and economic competitiveness. If my colleagues, instead of writing this motion, had actually looked into these theme areas, they would have seen that we put $29.8 million into Environment Canada's climate change prediction and scenarios program. I think they voted against that. There is $16.6 million for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans aquatic climate change and adaptation services programs. There is $2.4 million for Parks Canada's understanding climate-driven ecological change in the north program. There are all sorts of programs that we have invested tens of millions of dollars in that are on the ground and being implemented right now to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation.
At not one sitting have I heard any of my colleagues acknowledge the fact that they exist or that they voted against them. Instead, I hear about how the Liberal Party somehow did not reach its greenhouse gas emissions target because of the NDP in the last election. I just do not get how that math adds up.
Do we have more to do? Sure we do, but this is why in our economic action plan 2013 we have continued to invest at record levels in our tri-council granting agencies, which are dealing with many of these issues. We have also continued to invest in other science-based capacity. A great example I always get the chance to mention is SDTC, which is a federal organization that invests in clean energy and helps to not only develop but also deploy these technologies into market. It has a phenomenal track record of doing so.
Moreover, there is something I encourage all my colleagues to look at and that is the fact that Natural Resources Canada has established an adaptation platform as part of the enhancing competitiveness in a changing climate program. To date, this platform's 200 working group participants have collaborated to identify activities that advance adaptations in several activities, such as coastal management, measuring progress, and economics.
I wonder how the 200 people in this working group feel about the debate in the House today, which has completely ignored the fact that it has been under our government's watch that we have seen this program come to be and continue to put its policy initiatives into practice?
We talk about “for the good of our children” and “how we approach this debate in the future”. I implore all of my colleagues to tone down the rhetoric, to talk about the fact that we can look at the intersection of the environment and the economy, and to actually acknowledge the fact that our government has done some meaningful work here. We can surely talk about the best way to proceed in the future, but not in the manner that is here. Also, I certainly do not support any sort of activity that would impede the economy of our country, that would add to government revenues, such as a carbon tax.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from .
I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this motion today. In particular I want to thank my colleague, the member for , for her tremendous work on this very important file and on the issues we are addressing today.
Today I want to talk about facts, about science-based evidence, rather than convenient ideals. The suggests that people are not as worried about climate change anymore. Well, I and all of my New Democrat colleagues are worried, and yes, Canadians are worried about climate change. We are worried about it because we inform ourselves of facts, and reputable scientists and scientific research firms concede that two-thirds of the existing known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground to prevent average global warming of more than 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The 2° threshold is a dangerous tipping point. Beyond it, we cause irreversible damage to our planet's ecosystems, yet Canada's emissions continue to rise despite Conservative claims. In 2011, Canada's emissions rose to 702 million tonnes, moving us even further away from our 2020 target of 607 megatonnes. Even worse, Environment Canada's most recent projections show our emissions will continue to go in the wrong direction unless we bring forward policies that are very much stronger.
Provinces with significant climate policies in place, such as Quebec and Nova Scotia, are also seeing a gradual decline in their emissions. More work is needed to build on these successes, but they are encouraging nonetheless. It works.
The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development reported in his fall 2010 report that although the federal government acknowledged 20 years ago that climate change would have significant long-term impacts ranging from severe storms to droughts, the federal government still lacks an overarching federal strategy that identifies clear, concrete action.
At the Doha climate change talks in December of 2012, the UN Secretary-General stated:
|| From the United States to India, from Ukraine to Brazil, drought decimated essential global crops. ...tens of millions of people endured another year of vulnerability, at the mercy of the slightest climate shock. No one is immune to climate change—rich or poor. It is an existential challenge for the whole human race—our way of life, our plans for the future.
Multi-billion-dollar disasters are becoming more common around the world. Munich Re, a global reinsurance company, reported that in 2011 worldwide economic losses from natural catastrophes were a record $378 billion. In the Northwest Territories, the Mackenzie River ice road crossing has seen delays in the average opening date of about three weeks since 1996.
The list goes on. These are facts. They are not convenient ideals to excuse continued tax breaks for big polluters. They are not convenient ideals so that we can avoid talking about something we do not want to talk about.
Unlike the Conservatives and the Liberals before them, New Democrats are committed to addressing climate change. We accept it as a fact and we have a plan to take urgent and immediate action to avoid catastrophic climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep the global average temperature increase below a maximum of 2° Celsius.
We will put a price on carbon and establish hard emission caps for large industrial emitters. We will enact the climate change accountability act, which would put in legislation a framework for achieving the national target of 80% below 1990 emission levels by 2050. We will establish a permanent federal energy-efficient retrofit program to reduce residential energy use, cut GHG emissions, create jobs and save Canadians money.
We will establish effective programs to help communities deal with the impacts of climate change in Canada. We will fulfill our international climate obligations. We will cut more than $1.3 billion in annual subsidies to fossil fuel industries. We will restart federal investment in renewable energy; and we will create a green jobs fund to support just employment transition to the new economy; and we will reinvest to give Canadian green tech researchers and developers a leading edge in the global market.
We cannot saddle future generations with the health problems caused by the pollution of our air, water and soil, or the insecurity of a planet affected by floods, food shortages, population displacement and border disputes. Science shows climate change is already causing many of these problems, and Canada is and will be affected.
Environment Canada and the minister himself admit that current actions by the Conservative government would only get Canada half the way to our already weakened target for greenhouse gas emissions. That target falls far short of the reductions Canada has committed to making to avoid catastrophic climate change. Canadians are united in concern about the impacts of climate change, and they support the development of renewable energy projects, including wind, geothermal, solar power and energy-efficient technologies, as well as long-term investment in public transit.
The current government claims to want to make Canada a clean energy superpower but has in fact cut funding for climate change. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, in his 2010 report, chastised the Conservative government, and the Liberal government before it, on its failure to develop a national plan to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Yet the current government has failed to act in the face of mounting evidence and increasing concern from municipalities and the provinces and territories.
Let it be known that the Liberals' track record is no better. Although they signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol, they did absolutely nothing to try to reduce our emissions until it was too late. In 1993, the Liberals promised to reduce greenhouse gases by 20% by 2005. They instead allowed them to increase by over 30%. In 2005, the United Nations reported that Canada's pollution increased more than any other signatory to the Kyoto protocol. The federal environment commissioner said that even if the measures contained in the Liberal government's 2005 plan had been fully implemented, it is difficult to say whether the projected emission reductions would have been enough to meet their own Kyoto obligations. Quite simply, their plan was not up to the task of meeting the Kyoto obligations.
Finally, and perhaps more tragically, on October 8, 2009, Liberal and Conservative MPs formed a coalition in this House to defeat a motion by the New Democrats to return Bill , the climate change accountability act, to the House for a vote prior to the Copenhagen climate conference that December. The NDP bill would have committed Canada to science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets and worked to hold the government publicly accountable for action on this issue.
We can do better. We can have a greener Canada and a prosperous economy. We can fulfill our environmental obligations. We can be wise investors and we can be responsible global citizens. We can leave to our children and grandchildren an environment, a Canada and a world of which we are proud.
New Democrats condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal Conservative and Liberal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments, and we call on the current government to immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan.