Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to share my time with the member for .
I am very honoured to stand here today and debate this NDP motion on climate change and what is happening in Durban. I am proud to be here with my colleagues in the House who are clear supporters of internationally binding agreements when it comes to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and actually taking action on climate.
In question period afew weeks ago, the stood and responded to one of my questions. He said:
Mr. Speaker, the NDP members keep talking about the environment.
I would like to thank the minister for that observation. He is absolutely correct. We do stand up for the environment. I am proud to be here today once again standing up and talking about the environment in the House with an NDP opposition day motion that encourages the Canadian government to take a leadership role in tackling global climate change and ensuring that Canadian jobs are not lost as the rest of the world moves on toward a sustainable energy economy.
The minister pointed out that the NDP is always standing up for the environment because in his mind that cannot be done while we are also standing up for the Canadian economy. However, I believe that the environment and the economy absolutely go hand in hand, and we can work on both together.
I think the Conservative government lacks the creativity and vision to create an economic strategy that goes beyond the fossil fuel industry. This lack of creative vision and this attitude cuts short Canada's future economic possibilities and has led to a government that actually advocates and celebrates ecological destruction. We have heard its members applaud it here in the House.
We in the NDP think that our economic future is also our ecological future. We want to think about the economy for the next 20 or 30 years and recognize that there is more potential for innovation and job creation in a transition to a green economy. That is the end goal.
Before I was elected, I had the opportunity to work with a group of stakeholders on designing ratepayer-funded energy efficiency plans for the province. We were in a situation where the Nova Scotia power utility realized that it was cheaper to invest aggressively in energy efficiency than it was to continue on our path of increased energy use. This was a move that was good for the environment, but it was also really good for the utility's bottom line.
When we were designing these programs, we realized we needed a line item in the budget for training, because we knew that jobs would be created as a result of these programs and we knew that there was not the capacity in the community to actually fill these roles. Therefore, there was a specific line for training to create new jobs in energy efficiency, whether in auditing or doing home retrofits.
These are good-paying jobs that we cannot ship offshore. They are jobs that are not located in one city or one region. They are jobs that are in every community across Canada, and we are missing out on that with our failure to take action on climate change. We can see how the economy and the environment do go hand in hand if we just think strategically and creatively.
The has said that Canada will not agree to any international climate commitments unless big emitters such as India and China also follow suit. On the face of it, this sounds like a compelling argument. Of course we all want China and India to come on board, absolutely, and other rapidly industrializing countries should all be included in this international effort. However, I believe that the Conservatives only use this line to confuse and to create more deadlock and delay.
It is noteworthy that this minister calls China to task for not committing to a climate plan, but at the same time threatens the United States with the idea that we will sell our bitumen to China if the U.S. will not expand Keystone. What he is saying is China is a bad country for being a major emitter, but it is a good enough country for us to sell our raw products to. I think we cannot have it both ways.
The government's intentions here are transparent. It is trying to throw a monkey wrench into the good faith negotiations of other countries that want to take action on climate. We all know that if we really want these countries to come on board, the best way to do that is to lead, show good faith and take action domestically.
What the Conservatives are not telling Canadians about China is interesting. China is already aggressively investing in clean energy technology in a way that our own country is not. By failing to invest here in Canada, we are missing out on these economic opportunities. We see the government actively attempting to deadlock negotiations in the international community.
Canada is being left behind because of our failure to take action on the environment. The European commission has recommended a carbon penalty on our oil. The U.S. has ordered an environmental review of Keystone that takes into account climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. These are some of our strongest trading partners.
Canada is being punished because while other countries are moving ahead on climate, we are doing nothing. We have no plan on how to develop the oil sands. The oil sands are a precious natural resource, a resource we can use to leverage a larger transition to a green economy.
We need to go beyond thinking about the short-term and having that colony mentality, looking for the empire that will save us when we export our raw natural resources. We need to look to the next 20 to 30 years and think about our long-term energy future.
The Conservatives have absolutely no plan to make oil sands development consistent with the GHG or greenhouse gas reductions that we need to make through either technological investments or a diversification of strategy for our energy economy and for the economy of Alberta.
We need to diversify our energy economy. We need to invest equally in wind, solar and tidal energies. We need to think about how Canadian natural resources can benefit Canadians first. We need to invest aggressively in energy efficiency. We need an environment minister who understands that he is the and we need a who understands that he needs to advocate for all of our natural resources, not just one.
We have some mixed media reports coming out of Durban today, just an hour or so ago. Some reports say the minister has announced that Canada will formally withdraw from Kyoto and other reports say that is not in fact what he said, that what he said was that we are not going to recommit to Kyoto 2 or Kyoto plus, the next stage.
I just came from a meeting with the South African high commissioner where she laid out so eloquently what is happening on the world stage around Kyoto and Canada's involvement, Canada's active sabotaging of these international agreements.
It was eloquent and moving, and it made me quite sad to hear her first-hand account of what it is that Canada is doing and how we are failing on the national stage. She said that the worse thing that could happen in Durban is that Kyoto fails to exist, and with Canada passively sitting by and not doing anything, and with reports that Canada is actually pulling out, it just makes things worse.
She talked about how it would have been better for members and parties to the Kyoto protocol to drag their feet and maybe not even quite live up to the expectations than to have people pulling out altogether.
She talked about the equity involved internationally and how this is not something we can leave to developing countries or countries in the global south. They are not historic emitters. Countries like Canada are, so we need fair and equal but differentiated targets when it comes to countries around the world entering into these agreements if we are to have any success at all.
I am proud to have brought this motion forward today. I am saddened to see Canada's international reputation on this issue, but I am hopeful that the Conservatives are listening to this today and that they will take heed because there is always time to do the right thing.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in this House to represent young Canadians, who seem to have been forgotten by this government. I am proud to talk about issues that are close to my heart and to the hearts of my constituents. These issues are already affecting our communities and are threatening our future.
For over 30 years, hundreds of publications have been highlighting the various consequences of our ancestors' choices. For over 30 years, an international movement has been organized around the idea of improving our living conditions to give future generations the gift of a balanced and healthy environment. A number of national and international initiatives have been presented, approved and ratified by previous governments, which has enabled Canada to build a reputation as an international environmental leader.
Our reputation has really been tested since this Conservative government was elected. The government has repeatedly denied and refused to listen to the facts, studies and truths about climate change. I am appalled that a self-proclaimed responsible government is endangering its own children's future by denying well-documented scientific facts.
Many international experts agree on a number of facts that are evident when we look at the effects that have been directly experienced by Canadians. In Canada, temperatures have already increased by 1.3oC over the past 60 years. This has led to increased flooding in Quebec, for example, and the costs associated with these tragedies keep increasing as well. Something else that can affect the whole country is the transformation of seasonal landscapes. Heavy equipment operators, who transport large loads and equipment to support the economy in Canada's north, have noted that they are able to use ice roads for much shorter periods. Thousands of Canadians depend on these roads to receive essential commodities. A young Inuit man even went to Durban to talk about the consequences of climate change. These effects are threatening Canadians' lives. This many effects cannot be a lie.
The many disasters that have been happening outside Canada also attest to the consequences of climate change: the devastating fires in Russia, major floods in Thailand, increasingly extreme droughts in Africa, increasingly violent hurricanes in coastal regions, and the melting glaciers in Greenland, which will speed up the rise in global temperatures and the rise of sea levels. Concrete examples from around the globe support what scientists are saying. When we do not see these things with our own eyes, it is easy to ignore the facts or try to explain them all individually, without connecting the dots between them.
More and more Canadians need to use their cars, because the absence of a national transit strategy or green alternatives that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions is only making matters worse.
These data are not being invented by political lobby groups. More and more independent experts have condemned this government's failure to act and its laissez-faire attitude. Not only did the Conservatives fire Environment Canada experts who could have produced excellent scientific data specific to our needs, but they also like to ignore all science when it does not serve their purposes. That is what happened with Bill , which is completely irresponsible. To young people, climate change is clearly not just a political theory, but rather a reality they need to face immediately in order to reduce the negative impact it will have on their future.
The Conservatives have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have failed when it comes to environmental vision and leadership. What is surprising, however, is that they are not taking advantage of this opportunity for Canada to become a global leader in green power production, given that climate change affects everyone. This economic vision would guarantee a future for our businesses and for Canadians, since we would be able to meet the rising global demand while creating thousands of well-paid jobs.
Unfortunately, with the end of government subsidies for programs like eco-energy after just one year, the small and medium businesses are the ones taking a direct hit. Many of my constituents will not have the opportunity to benefit from those subsidies. However, the biggest failure is that Canada has been alienating itself from its economic allies for the past few years. The hope for international co-operation, in which Canada would lead by example, is fading after the many fossil awards we have been winning these past few years.
My constituents have sent me hundreds of reply cards from my householders indicating how important the environment and international leadership are to them. They deplore Canada's new reputation, which does not reflect their many efforts and numerous accomplishments. They simply do not understand why individuals can be prepared to take action but the government is not willing to support them. The people of Terrebonne, Blainville and Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines are worried about the state of our environment.
In each of those towns that I proudly represent, we can easily find agencies, businesses and citizens' groups that struggle daily to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but more than anything, we find people who have taken their future into their own hands in order to ensure a better future for their children.
I would like to highlight the work of Compost Ste-Anne, a not-for-profit organization that helps the Town of Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines reduce its waste while creating jobs. That organization is celebrating its 10th anniversary today.
Young people are also showing leadership by becoming more informed and understanding the impact of their actions. Students from the Collège Saint-Sacrement are contributing to the environmental initiative in my region by setting up a sorting centre at their school. This summer, the young people from Terrebonne formed an environmental patrol that went door to door to inform families about how to protect their environment, how to recycle and how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Even businesses in my region understand that a healthy environment is essential to a vibrant economy. That is why Tricentris obtained LEED certification.
The environment is such an important issue in my riding that people from one neighbourhood in Blainville fought to stop trees from being cut down in a wetland because they understand that our ecosystem needs those trees.
I have mentioned just a few of my constituents' initiatives. These people are committed to saving our planet because they realize there is a significant problem. The young patrollers and the Saint-Sacrement environmental committee know that we must take action now or our generation will inherit a massive problem. None of these people understand why their government is not on board with these initiatives. On the contrary, the government has decided to ignore the problems and to work against initiatives taken by the people.
Young people are increasingly cynical about politics, but I am proud to see that those in my riding realize that they can take their future into their own hands. I believe that it is my duty to support them during my term of office.
That is why I am pleased to represent the NDP, which has the courage to put forward bold environmental solutions to secure our economic future and offer Canadians an even more promising path: a path that recognizes the responsibility of the people's representatives towards youth and future generations; a path that recognizes the need to act now in order to lessen the economic and environmental burden that will be placed on my generation and those to come; a path that ensures that industry and the private sector work together to ensure a transition towards a clean environment and a green economy that is not dependent on fossil fuels.
In short, the Conservatives' lack of vision and responsibility is punitive for our children. The government is acting like an absent parent who does not take his or her responsibilities seriously. It is time to restore hope to future generations.
We need practical, science-based, fair, ambitious and binding legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We will not reach our targets with good faith and promises about taking action in the future, which is what this government is doing. It is time to revive the climate change accountability bill.
We need carbon emission regulations that will provide economic motivation for reductions to ensure that we can reach the targets to which we have made committed international commitments.
We need money to make this transition to a greener economy. It can be done if we make major emitters pay higher taxes and stop subsidizing the oil sector, the richest sector in Canada.
We must remain ahead of the game in order to take advantage of the considerable economic benefits resulting from the inevitable transition to a green economy. In the next 50 years, the oil sands resources will be depleted. We must build sustainable industries that will create more and more jobs across Canada. We must make long-term investments in programs such as the eco-energy initiative in order to motivate Canadians to decrease their energy consumption.
We must take action that reaches beyond policies and laws—not like the Liberals, who gave us the Kyoto protocol but, in the long term, failed to honour the commitments they made in that regard.
Finally, we must work together. We must recognize that we have an international responsibility since our choices influence other nations. We are all in this fight together. Young Canadians are growing up in a country that is currently seen by the world as a pariah because of the Liberals' broken promises and this government's complete lack of action.
It is time to act courageously. It is time to help Canadians regain their pride in their country. It is time this government recognized that science is right, that excellent solutions exist and that action will drive the economy and provide more sustainable jobs for future generations.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on a very important issue. I am going to start by talking about Canada's role in this.
It has been deeply disappointing to me as a young Canadian to hear the opposition parties denigrate our country and our reputation in this area. It is false to say that, because we are taking tangible action at home, we are not leaders. We have made billions of dollars in investments and we have seen great improvement in our technology. This commitment is not just from our government, but also from all industry sectors. Our government has taken a strong action-focused approach to produce reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We have already started to see those results at home. More importantly, we are going to be doing this in such a way that our economy will not suffer.
The opposition talks about the need to balance the economy with the environment, yet I notice that it has no plans to do so. When opposition members talk about economic instruments to do this, they never talk about the cost or the long-term effects on our children. We can manage our environment. We can have environmental stewardship while having economic sustainability. That is where real action-focused results come into play and that is what our government is doing.
I would like to take the opportunity to present, once again, the Government of Canada's sector-by-sector strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change. It is a national plan with a strong corresponding international component. We believe the best way to achieve results on climate change management is to better integrate our environmental objectives into Canada's economic structure. It is one way to maximize our competitiveness in a rapidly evolving global field.
There is no question our domestic businesses can be more productive and more efficient than ever while meeting our greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. We have aligned this target with that of the United States. Given the degree of integration within the North American economy, we will align our approaches to reducing emissions in a manner appropriate to the Canadian context.
One of the key pieces to our sector-by-sector approach is the new emissions regulations for cars and trucks. This is tangible action. Canada has already completed standards for regulating GHGs from new passenger cars and light trucks for the 2011 through 2016 model years, aligning with the U.S. on a common North American approach.
We have also issued a notice of intent to continue to develop more stringent standards for new cars in model year 2017 and beyond, working closely with the United States. Again, we are making sure that our industrial partners, stakeholders within the economy and international trading partners are included in the dialogue so that we can achieve real action while ensuring economic sustainability.
We are taking action in the area of electricity generated from coal-fired plants. In August, our government published new draft electricity regulations in the Canada Gazette, the result of extensive discussion with industry, provinces and stakeholders.
Our renewable fuel standards have mandated a 5% ethanol content for gasoline used by cars and trucks and a 2% average renewable fuel content in diesel fuel and heating oil. These regulations are one element of our broader renewable fuels strategy. They will bring significant environmental benefits to our country.
Clean and renewable energy has been a central focus in the government's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The various eco-energy initiatives of this government are helping to develop clean and efficient energy. My colleagues opposite spoke about this earlier today; however, they have consistently voted against these measures in our budget.
The eco-energy initiatives facilitate research and development in clean energy and renewables. The eco-energy efficiency initiative will make the housing, building and transportation industries more energy efficient and increase energy performance. The eco-energy retrofit homes program is helping Canadians to make energy-efficient home renovations.
In addition, we have invested another $40 million in Sustainable Development Technology Canada for the commercialization of clean technologies. This fund is becoming self-sustainable thanks to industry commercialized technologies that make tangible benefits to our environment in Canada. We are exporting this technology and seeing the growth of clean energy tech industry here at home.
As of 2010, the energy efficiency regulations' minimum energy performance standards have resulted in an annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 26 megatons.
Through the eco-energy for renewable power program, we will see $1.5 billion in investments over the next 10 years to support our renewable energy industry. The eco-energy for biofuels program will provide production incentives to producers of cleaner renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel.
Our investments through the clean energy fund, eco-energy technology initiative and carbon capture and storage projects are helping to position Canada as a producer of clean, reliable electricity for decades to come, again, measures that the opposition continues to vote against in our budgets.
Last month, our government also announced that we will spend over $148 million over the next five years to help our country adapt to climate change. This funding will help us frame credible, science based responses to the impacts of climate change here at home. This funding builds on the $85 million that we have already spent over the past four years to help provinces, territories, municipalities and others develop important strategies for domestic adaptation to climate change.
The government made another important announcement for the environment last month. In recognition of the important work being carried out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality since 2006 through the clean air regulatory agenda, we announced that over the next five years our government will invest a further $600 million in the clean air regulatory agenda. This investment in the clean air agenda will help us to identify emerging air quality issues, measure and monitor the status of existing ones and evaluate action focused solutions that ensure that our economy is stable. It ensures that Canadians will literally breathe easier.
At the same time as we are focused on the long term, we are not neglecting the shorter term opportunities to address climate change here at home. For example, we are looking at ways to reduce soot, or black carbon, methane and ozone, which are short-lived climate forcers. Reductions of these climate forcers produce near-term benefits for the climate, particularly in the Arctic. We are also doing this work collaboratively with our partners in the United States, Mexico and elsewhere.
Our approach, along with the work done by the provinces, has brought us 25% of the way to reaching our 2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, action-focused results.
It is work that complements a variety of existing regulatory and international efforts and holds the promise of some significant results.
It is also important that the reality of climate change be well understood and proactively managed. Our government firmly believes that, on the international front, only an agreement that includes all major emitters can deliver the greatest impact in addressing climate change. Canada is engaged at the international negotiations in South Africa in developing a strategic response to climate change. It is a question of enlightened self-interest. If we want Canada to meet the environmental challenges ahead, we need to help others do the same.
That is why Canada has stepped up with its fair share of climate change funding for developing countries, something that we pledge to deliver under the Copenhagen accord. We have already provided $400 million in fast-start financing in 2010-11 to help the world's poorest and most vulnerable nations develop clean energy options, address the problems caused by deforestation and boost sustainable agriculture. In turn, this funding reinforces our $100 million contribution in the 2008-09 World Bank pilot program on climate resilience.
In other words, we have implemented a proactive climate change action plan on domestic and international fronts, one that is tailored to our country's specific needs but based on our commitments at recent UN climate change summits in Copenhagen and in Cancun.
Canada's position is very simple: We will only support climate change agreements that are signed and ratified by all major emitters because the reality is that we are an integrated global economy and we need to be cognizant of that fact for our children. It is a straightforward, practical approach.
We have already declared that, however acute the international pressure, we will not agree to a second commitment period under the Kyoto protocol. The Kyoto protocol does not meet our simple criteria. It does not include targets for all of the world's greenhouse gas emitters. It ultimately covers less than 30% of global emissions. This is not what we need to do to achieve a global international binding commitment. We can do better than this. This is the way forward that has been discussed in the Copenhagen accord and in the Cancun agreements, which we are committed to continuing.
The agreements reached in Cancun a year ago established a workable template for continuous improvement in the future. Establishing a program to implement agreements is a major focus of the negotiations that are taking place right now in Durban, South Africa. Canada, led by our , Peter Kent, is playing an active and constructive role in these negotiations.
The reality is that Canada emits only 2% of the world's total emissions. That is why we need to work hard to get the 98% covered by a new agreement. Kyoto does not do that, never did that and cannot do that in the future. We need a new agreement that is fair, effective and applies to all major emitters to see real change.
This is not an easy task. However, we do not shy away from difficult tasks and we are not swayed by pressure and criticism from those who want to retain the status quo. The status quo was not good enough domestically, which is why we have established a strong regulatory approach to addressing climate change.
The status quo of Kyoto is not good enough on the international front. That is why Canada is showing brave leadership to address the reality of international climate change actions. If they are to be effective, they must include all major emitters, including the United States and China.
Currently, the 37 countries, plus the European community, that have commitments under the Kyoto protocol represent less than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Two of the world's most significant GHG emitters, China and the U.S., are currently responsible for close to 40% of global emissions and yet China and the United States are not parties to the Kyoto protocol and have no international legally binding emissions reductions commitments.
What is more, it is expected that China and other emerging economies will be responsible for almost all future growth in emissions and are expected to be responsible for about two-thirds of global emissions by 2020. As such, it will be essential for ensuring sustainable global development that major emerging economies take effective action now and in the future to mitigate emissions growth, as their economies grow.
The fact that the New Democrats and the Liberals have stubbornly adopted a nothing-but-Kyoto approach just shows that neither party is willing to face reality. When they signed on to Kyoto, the Liberals privately knew that they could not meet Kyoto's emissions targets.
Eddie Goldenberg, one of prime minister Jean Chrétien's former aides, revealed that the Liberals went ahead to the Kyoto protocol on climate change even though they knew there was a good chance Canada would not be able to meet its goals for pollution reduction. In a speech prepared for the Canadian Club of London, Ontario, and reported by the Toronto Star in 2007, Mr. Goldenberg said:
Nor was the government itself even ready at the time with what had to be done. The Kyoto targets were extremely ambitious and it was very possible that short-term deadlines would at the end of the day have to be extended.
Mr. Chrétien's ego wrote cheques that his party could not cash.
Then there is the NDP. Never having been in government, the NDP has often been the party asking questions and rarely the party answering them. That is convenient for the NDP. It does not need to answer the tough questions on its nothing-but-Kyoto policy, questions like these: how many thousands of Canadian jobs would be lost as Canada hopelessly tries to meet unachievable Kyoto targets? If Canada signs on to a second Kyoto commitment period, how many billions of dollars in penalties will Canada have to pay for not meeting our unrealistic targets? Those countries producing over two-thirds of the world's greenhouse gas emissions have no obligations under Kyoto. How many megatons of greenhouse gases will be emitted by non-Kyoto parties? How much will these rise before the NDP realizes that Kyoto is not working?
This government is willing to ask the serious questions and deal with realistic achievable plans that involve all of our stakeholder groups across this country and internationally. Unlike the Liberals, we will not enter into agreements that we have no intention of keeping, and unlike the NDP, we base our plans on science and on reality.
As we continue this debate today, I want to ensure that what we talk about here is action-focused, that we talk about the realities that Canada has at home and about the economic sustainability factors that we need to look at for our children. When we are talking about the debate on how we will manage our country, our greenhouses, et cetera, for our children, we also need to ask how we can do this sustainably and how we can do this in such a way that we can achieve real action.
I am proud to say that our government's plan can do this, it will do this and we will continue moving forward as an international leader.
Mr. Speaker, I will begin by sharing a story about a young woman who was forced to give up farming in southeast Asia. The rising sea level meant that saline water had stopped crops from growing in her fields. As a result, her husband was forced to leave their village to look for work in the forest where he was killed by a tiger. Her husband's family then sent her back to live with her family. Her family's home was subsequently destroyed by a hurricane. Thankfully, the family stayed alive by living on an embankment for a month. Now the monsoons are changing and new diseases are coming. She understands that these changes are not acts of god, but rather are caused by other countries with big factories and smoke.
When parliamentarians from the Commonwealth gathered for five days in London in 2009, she asked all of us big important people to please do justice for them; there was no water to drink and people were leaving their villages. She said, “Climate change is deep down in my heart painful”.
I spent the last 20 years of my life studying climate change, particularly the impact of climate change on human health. I had the privilege of serving as lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for two reports and consulting to Environment Canada's climate adaptation and impacts research group for many years. However, it is that young woman's words that haunt me every day.
It is for these reasons that I spent four months building the first ever all-party climate change caucus on Parliament Hill. I hope all parliamentarians, as well people who are watching this debate, are encouraged by this news as we are enormously excited about the prospects. This morning the climate change caucus had the privilege of listening to the South African high commissioner. We thank her for her time and effort.
Climate change is our most pressing environmental issue, perhaps the defining issue of our generation. It will profoundly affect our economy, health, lifestyles and social well-being. It requires moral responsibility and intergenerational responsibility. How we respond will define the world our children and their descendants grow up in.
Canadians know about climate change. We have had our climate change wake-up calls: the 1998 ice storm, which cost $5.4 billion; the 1996 Saguenay flood, which cost $1.7 billion; the 1991 Calgary hail storm, which cost $884 million; and the 1997 Red River flood, which cost $817 million. Those are just a few extreme weather events.
Today in the Canadian Arctic, permafrost is warming. The annual thaw layer is deepening and damaging infrastructure. In British Columbia, glaciers are retreating at rates not seen in the last 8,000 years. On the Prairies, lake and river levels are lowering in summer and fall and are impacting agriculture. In Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, sea level rise and increased storminess are accelerating coastal and dune erosion.
As a result of climate change around the world, we see dwindling fish stocks in the Atlantic and other oceans, encroaching deserts in northern Nigeria, flooding lowlands in Bangladesh, shrinking rain forests in Asia and the Pacific, and rising sea levels around the Maldives which lie only 1.5 metres above sea level.
In the Maldives, weather patterns are shifting. Fishing is poor and people are starting to relocate. There, sustainable development means climate-proof development. After the 2004 tsunami, 16 sewer systems were built, but there was no money for maintenance and 16 islands were bankrupted. As a result, the Maldives will be carbon neutral in 10 years and will invest in tomorrow's technology, not yesterday's diesel. Even these actions will not guarantee its future as its tomorrow will in part depend on international climate negotiations today.
Climate change is not just an environmental issue; it is also a human rights issue: the right to live. Climate change is also an international security issue and a justice issue; that is, the ones who are suffering most had the least responsibility for it.
We must listen to leaders of small island states who remind us that climate change threatens their very existence. Recently, the island nation of Kiribati became the first country to declare that climate change is rendering its territory uninhabitable and asked for help to evacuate its population.
In any struggle, it is important to listen to the front lines. In the case of climate change, they are aboriginal peoples, those living in low-lying states and those living in the Canadian Arctic. If people are being meaningfully impacted by climate change, they should be meaningfully involved in negotiations. Governments must be accountable to those who are impacted. Tragically, Kiribati and the Maldives are the canaries in the coal mine. If the international community cannot save the front line first, it will not be able to save itself down the line.
Globally, this year's floods that devastated Colombia, Pakistan and Venezuela, and the wildfires that gripped Russia are more climate change wake-up calls. There will be more extreme events, worse impacts, and no country will be exempt.
Yet, despite this year's weather warnings, the government failed to even mention climate change in the throne speech. Sadly, at the UN climate talks, my beloved Canada, which once had a reputation as a green country, wins fossil awards for being a follower instead of a leader on the world stage. Canada has won fossil awards three of the first four days at COP 17 in Durban for signalling pullout of Kyoto and actually influencing other countries to do the same. The failure to win a fourth award was the result of no award being offered on Thursday.
Canadians should be highly critical of the government's abdication of leadership on issues related to climate change, specifically: its performance in meeting international climate commitments; setting science-based emissions targets; developing incentives for low-carbon technologies; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; pricing carbon; and putting in place adaptation measures necessary to respond to the risks of climate change.
Comprehensive climate actions include developing a cap and trade system, eliminating subsidies for dirty energy, and providing incentives for low-carbon technologies and infrastructure investments.
Before I discuss what is needed in Durban, let me address Liberal action on climate change.
The Liberal government was up against the Conservative-Reform alliance that did not even believe in the science of climate change and threw up every conceivable roadblock. For example, Liberals attempted to hold a debate in the House of Commons to discuss the merits of the Kyoto protocol, but the party of the members opposite, many of whom are now ministers, filibustered and slowed down progress considerably.
While Kyoto was signed in 1997, it was not ratified until 2002. In 2005, the Liberal government introduced project green, a comprehensive plan developed with stakeholders across the country to put Canada on the right track to meet commitments. The Conservatives killed the plan when they became government. Conservatives are trying to rewrite history by calling the Kyoto protocol a blunder. The only purpose is to mask their own inaction.
Incidentally, although I was not granted an emergency debate on climate change last Monday, I am still hopeful the government will consent to a take note debate on Earth's most pressing environmental issue.
Today we are halfway through COP 17, the United Nations climate change conference in Durban, South Africa. This year's theme is “Working Together. Saving Tomorrow Today”. There is an absolute urgency, first, as Kyoto comes to an end, and second, as the world tries to hold the average climate warming to just 2°C, the threshold associated with dangerous climate change.
Parties must strive to find solutions for scientifically defensible targets in Durban and build on the work undertaken in Cancun, Mexico at COP 16.
Fortunately, climate change is not a closed case. We can rise to the challenge as in the past when major powers rose to the challenge. They built countrywide railways. They fought in World War I and World War II. The government should take a lesson from history. It should negotiate for our children and our grandchildren who are yet to be born.
In 1987, Canada was one of the original parties to the Montreal protocol, largely recognized as the most successful response to the global environmental challenge to date. Canada took a leadership role in examining the science underlying ozone depletion and acting to eliminate its causes.
Parties must first come to the negotiating table in good faith, and the expectation is that they must work toward an outcome that is balanced, credible and fair. Unfortunately, instead of the government engaging Parliament, its environmental critics, its human rights experts, it has shamefully signalled its abandonment of Kyoto and has, as we learned, been secretly urging other countries to pull out of the agreement as well.
As a result, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other South African leaders from government, labour and non-government organizations recently placed a full page ad to remind Canadians of the leadership our country once showed.
We parliamentarians therefore have a pivotal role to play in setting the necessary regulatory frameworks here at home and in building political resolve toward strong multilateral action, and our action must be swift and it must be collective.
At home, the government must absolutely make progress on its 2020 emission reduction target, but its own plan shows that federal and provincial government actions, announced or already under way, are projected to reduce emissions by only one-quarter of what is needed to meet the 2020 target. Canadians are waiting to hear how the government plans to address the remaining three-quarters.
In seeking an effective and just agreement from Durban, I see several key challenges and opportunities. The challenges are: first, to build trust and strengthen good faith; second, to push for strong action despite difficult economic times; and third, to make any agreement an inclusive deal that leaves no country or group behind, deepening world poverty and threatening international security.
Let me therefore talk about financing climate mitigation and adaptation, which has always been a key challenge. The government will rightly ask, why take on more debt? The answer is simple. The benefits of strong, early action on climate change dramatically outweigh the cost. For example, it has been estimated that to stabilize emissions at manageable levels would cost about 1% of global GDP, but that not to act would cost at least 5%, now and forever.
While the numbers can be debated, the essential fact cannot be. In fact, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy predicts that climate change will annually cost Canadians $21 billion to $43 billion by 2050.
We must therefore adapt. While adaptation is not cost-free, it is the cost-effective way to alleviate some climate impacts. I must then ask why the government is cutting climate impact and adaptation research at Environment Canada. The research group was started 17 years ago. It performs groundbreaking research by examining how climate change affects agriculture, human health and water quality in Canada. Some of its scientists shared part of the 2007 Nobel Peace Price on Climate Change.
Let me come back to the fact that those who have the most to lose from climate change are the ones who have contributed least to the problem and who are the least equipped to deal with it. Many of the least developed countries and small states are already struggling to achieve the millennium development goals, particularly since they lack the necessary financial and technical resources. On top of these challenges, many face severe physical impacts from climate change and have economies that are particularly sensitive to climate variations, such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism.
Thankfully, we also have opportunities at Durban to reflect the increase in concern of Canadian business, citizens and municipal and provincial governments regarding climate change and to use the economic and environmental crisis to green our economy.
Many Canadian businesses, governments and citizens are already doing their part, improving energy efficiency, reducing energy use, reducing waste, using forest-friendly practices, using green power, et cetera. Now they are looking to us to be their voice on the national stage and to demand a decisive response to climate change in Canada and internationally.
Groups from wide walks of life, such as Canada's faith communities, the Climate Action Network, Citizens Climate Lobby, Citizens for Public Justice, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the Pembina Institute want their political representatives to show vision and a long-term commitment on climate change.
Let us therefore be inspired by two examples of parliamentary action. First, the Maldives government has pledged to become the world's first carbon-neutral nation. Second, the United Kingdom parliament passed its climate change bill, the world's first long-term legally-binding framework to tackle climate change.
One of Canada's reforms must be a shift to the green economy. Governments worldwide are concerned with making the shift to stimulate growth, create new jobs, eradicate poverty and limit humanity's ecological footprint. It is no longer a choice between saving our economy and saving our environment. 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.
Therefore, we should be critical of the government's efforts to green our economy. For example, in 2009 the government missed a real opportunity for a triple win, a renewable stimulus with positive impacts on the economy, jobs and the atmosphere. While the government invested $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.
Going forward the government should develop a green economy strategy to create a more environmentally sustainable economy. Specific measures might include green agriculture, energy supply, forestry, industry, the building sector, transportation and waste. This will require meaningful engagement of all stakeholders, progress in investment in renewable energy and tough questions about the government's management of the oil sands. Where is the long-term plan? What action has been taken to regulate the pace and scope of development? What progress has been made to protect air quality, boreal forest ecosystems and water resources. What assessments are being undertaken to investigate the potential human health impacts of development as well as the environmental impacts? What solutions is the government considering?
More stringent actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions cannot be postponed much longer, otherwise the opportunity to keep the average global temperature rise below 2ºC is in danger. Serious impacts are associated with this limit, including an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, shifts in growing season and sea level rise.
My grave concern is that the government wants as little as possible to do with climate change. It can get us 25% of the way there. Where is the other 75%? It has allocated $9.2 billion in funds and has reduced our targets by 90%. It wants to pass the buck to the provinces and the municipalities and wants to walk away from its international obligations.
The government must realize our home, the planet Earth, is finite. When we compromise the air, water, soil and the variety of life, we steal from the endless future to serve the fleeting present. Therefore, when we parliamentarians contemplate environmental policy and legislation, we must ask if it is something of which our children and grandchildren would be proud.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from .
I am happy to speak today on the NDP's official opposition day motion that is, indeed, very timely. As I speak, the eyes of the world are on Durban, South Africa, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Canadians are watching, too.
We have good reason to be concerned about Canada's role there with talk from the in moving countries away from their obligations to be good citizens of the planet and good stewards of the environment. This motion is timely because in Canada there are important pipeline projects from the oil sands being reviewed and debated: Keystone, northern gateway and others. This motion is timely because we know the economy is moving slowly through a deep, damaging recession as we try to figure out a way forward for Canada and other countries.
Our motion today addresses all of these issues. It makes it clear that Conservatives and their spin masters across the aisle have it dead wrong to frame our debate and choices as one between the economy and the environment. It is not jobs or the planet, it is jobs and the environment. We and others know it can and must be both.
There is a way forward to creating good paying jobs for Canadians at the same time as making sure the development of the oil sands is done in a coherent, thoughtful way that pays attention to both the economy and the environment. That was the message the NDP environment critic and I brought to Washington. While some across the aisle were hysterically screaming treason and treachery, we were actually talking about a rational energy strategy good for Canada, good for the planet, and good for Canadian jobs. There are good jobs in sustainable clean energy and renewable energy. That is possible with a coherent Canadian energy strategy that, to date, the Conservative government has shown little interest in.
I know something of the importance of good paying jobs in the community and also the need to pay attention to our environment. For 34 years I worked in the mines of Sudbury. I value a company coming to town, offering stable, permanent, good paying jobs. I value the importance of unions that fight for workers, their pay and benefits, pensions and safety concerns. I saw the need for companies to also pay attention to environment regulations, to do something about pollution, and damage to the air and neighbouring waters.
We must act now. The evidence is irrefutable. The Arctic is heating up. Just last week an Arctic report card was released by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate program office. This agency tracks the Arctic's atmosphere, sea, ice, biology, greenhouse gases, ozone and UV radiation. What it reports is not pretty: the Arctic is shifting to a new permanent stage, warmer, greener, less summer ice, a change in ocean chemistry, and more.
What is worrisome is not the year-to-year change only, but especially the rates of change. The rates of change are speeding to greater risks. With a greener Arctic, there will be even more projects involving northern resources. We need to be smart about this production and our motion offers a way forward.
The natural resources committee is studying the development of northern resources. Back in October, it heard a witness, Dr. Steve MacLean, president of the Canadian Space Agency. He was in space twice as an astronaut, both times in the month of October, once in 1992 and again in 2006. When I asked him to compare the two missions, 14 years apart, and tell us if things had gotten worse, this is what he said:
I was fortunate to fly in the same month, October, in 1992 and then again in 2006. As you know, seasonal changes are still larger than the yearly climatic changes that we're seeing, and so having the privilege of flying in the same month allowed me to see the climatic changes and not just the seasonal changes.
The amount of ice in the mountains all over the world is substantially reduced...The tongues of the Columbia Icefields, for example, are reduced by two to three kilometres depending on where you are. Pollution indexes were visible to the naked eye.
Back in 1992, China was dirty at the centre of Beijing, for example. The air was dirty. Now the entire region is dirty. I just came back from China, and it's a major problem for them over there...That local pollution problem is causing a pretty substantive problem in our north...the ice, for example, used to be open in M'Clintock Channel four weeks of the year. Now it's open six weeks of the year. In the time we've been measuring it, that is a substantial difference. The average temperature in the north is several degrees higher. There are parameters that indicate that change is taking place.
He said there were definitely changes taking place in the north, and if we do not react to them, we can consider them a disaster or an opportunity. If we consider them an opportunity, then we need to react to them and mitigate them.
We also spoke with the astronaut on the massive Arctic ozone hole two million square kilometres, twice the size of Ontario, opening up. Scientists say this means higher degrees of harmful ultraviolet radiation hitting northern Canada and our northern hemisphere.
How does the government react? Just as with crime, just as with the census, it stops funding the groups reporting the problem. Canada has been a leader in Arctic ozone observation, but the Conservative government is now cutting Environment Canada's ozone monitoring.
What is happening in space, what is happening in the north, is also occurring in all of our communities.
Last week I met in Ottawa with the Sudbury citizens climate lobby from northern Ontario. It is part of an international movement of citizens wanting action. They want to ensure that clean energy becomes competitive within a 10 year time frame. Among many environmental issues, they asked for an end to our fossil fuel subsidies, including the tax credits, and to invest the money in the development of alternative energies. My party is committed to doing just that.
This too is captured in our official opposition motion today as we call for immediate action to lower the net carbon emissions in Canada and increase Canadian trade with our major partners in a new sustainable energy economy.
Canadians want us to act. Over 150,000 Canadians and 150 organizations signed the Kyoto plus petition calling for an emission reduction plan to reduce emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, the target necessary to avoid catastrophic climate changes.
New Democrats have an action plan to address climate change. We will put a price on carbon and establish hard emission caps for large industrial emitters. We will enact our climate change accountability act, which will put in legislation a framework for achieving the national target of 80% below 1990 emission levels by 2050. We want to establish a permanent federal energy efficient retrofit program to reduce residential energy use, cut GHG emissions, create jobs, and save Canadians money.
At the natural resources committee recently we heard departmental officials say how wildly popular the eco-energy program has been, how much it is helping the planet. Over 250,000 Canadians have participated in it. This program is set to end at the end of March 2012. The Conservative government needs to make this program permanent.
New Democrats are committed to fulfilling our international climate obligations. We will cut over $2 billion in annual subsidies to fossil fuel industries. We will restart federal investment in renewable energy. We will create a green jobs fund to support the employment transition to the new economy.
It is clear Canadians want their government to lead. The world needs Canada's leadership. Climate change does not respect international borders. Here at home, the government must not shirk its responsibilities in finding a way to develop the oil sands in a way that is a win-win for the economy and the environment. There are good jobs there for Canadians if we do so.
We can move forward here in Parliament by all parties supporting this motion.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the official opposition motion on climate change. I would like to thank my colleague, the member for , for his very personal and graphic description of the changes that have taken place that he has seen from the air when he is flying over his community in the north. It is a very good example of how serious this issue of climate change is here in Canada, and of how much we are missing the boat on what needs to be done.
As the Durban conference gets under way, it is very timely that the NDP has put forward this motion today calling on the federal government to show leadership on climate change. This is nothing new for the NDP; it has been doing it almost every single day. Certainly our environment critic, the member for , has been very front and centre, and very forthright in calling on the federal government for leadership and action.
This motion today is an opportunity for us to debate this important issue and to show where NDP members stand. We hope that the federal Conservative government will move and change its position.
For New Democrats, some of the key priorities for the next international climate change protocol include ensuring that there is a fair, ambitious and binding agreement. We want to ensure that there is adequate financing for the green climate fund from 2013, and we want to close the gigatonne gap between promised emission cuts and actual action. This is critical, because saying one is going to do something is one thing, but actually not following through and doing it is very serious. This is why Canadians in the environmental movement generally feel so hugely disappointed in the government's lack of performance.
We also want to make sure there is no gap in legally binding commitments.
What has the NDP been calling for? It has had an astounding track record on this issue. When our former leader, Jack Layton, came into the House, the first thing he did was ensure that we tabled a bill on climate change. That bill passed through Parliament by a majority vote. Then we had an election. We reintroduced the same bill after that election, and for a second time the bill passed through Parliament. However, as we know, it was killed in the Senate. In terms of climate change, that was a very bad day for Canada; we had a fantastic bill that was doing everything that needed to be done, and it was killed by the unelected Senate.
New Democrats have a very good track record on this issue. We have always said that we would put a price on carbon and establish hard emission caps for large industrial emitters. We have said that we want to enact a climate change accountability act. This will now be the third time. It would put into legislation a framework for achieving the national target of 80% below 1990 emission levels by 2050.
We have said that we would establish a permanent federal energy efficiency retrofit program for residential energy use, cut GHG emissions, create jobs and save Canadians money.
We have said that we would establish an effective program to help communities deal with the impacts of climate change. One very important element of that is the transition fund for jobs. The issue of jobs is very important in this debate. They are linked. As we move to a greener environment and a greener economy, we have to make sure that people are not put out of work. We have to make sure there is a transition to new jobs, new training, and good-paying jobs.
We would also fulfill our international climate change obligations and cut the over $2 billion in annual subsidies to fossil fuel industries.
Let us contrast that plan with what the federal government is not doing. It is a fact that Canadian greenhouse gas emissions were 24% above the 1990 level in 2008, setting Canada up to exceed its Kyoto commitment by almost 30% in 2012. A recent study from the International Institute for Sustainable Development makes it clear that Canada's plan is inadequate and that the current and planned measures by the provinces and the federal government combined will only achieve an emissions reduction of 46% of the government's own, and very weak, GHG emissions target by 2020.
What kind of record is that? It deserves an 'F' as a failure.
We know that the government has weakened its climate change targets by 90% since 2007. To make matters worse, on the 2010 annual climate change performance index, Canada finished 54th out of the 57 countries evaluated. There will be a new index published tomorrow, and we fear that it will not be any better for this year's index. Of course, to add insult to injury, Canada won three Fossil of the Day awards during the first two days at Durban. Unfortunately, we are a repeat winner.
This is a terrible record, and it is all the more reason we need to have this motion debated today.
I want to contrast that performance with what one city in Canada is doing. It is my own city, Vancouver. The City of Vancouver launched a program called Imagine 2020, which aims to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world in just nine years. The program's goals include green buildings, green transportation, growing local food and becoming a centre for green enterprise.
This is what is quite incredible: emissions have already been reduced to 1990 levels, and Vancouver is on track to meeting the Kyoto target, which is 6% below 1990 levels by 2012, at the same time that its population has grown by 27% and its jobs by 18%. As a result, Vancouver has the lowest per capita emissions of any major city in North America, at 4.6% tonnes per person.
I offer this because to me it is a brilliant example of how, when there is a political will--in this case, from the Vancouver City Council under the leadership of Mayor Gregor Robertson--the targets can be met and can be exceeded. We have seen this with the City of Vancouver.
Vancouver tops the chart of Canadian cities leading the fight against climate change, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The city ranks the highest on the organization's list, released in March of this year, based on indicators such as cutting greenhouse gas emissions, using renewable energy and encouraging green building and transportation. It can be done.
In fact David Cadman, who is an outgoing city councillor in Vancouver and well known in his role as president of Local Governments for Sustainability, was in Durban. I would like to quote something that he said. I quote:
Fundamentally unlike the nations of the world we are committed to action and a future for humankind. While the nations of the world like Nero fiddle while the planet burns, cities and millions of their citizens are doing the right thing and urging the nations of the world to come off this precipice that big oil gas and coal have taken us on to.
That is an initiative of a local municipal government. Here we have a federal government that claims it is interested in responding to climate change, yet every indicator, every report, every record that we have shows us that we are falling further and further behind, and now Canada is an embarrassment in the international community.
In British Columbia we have some very special and key concerns about climate change. One of them is the Enbridge pipeline. We know this massive proposal would carry over 500,000 barrels of tar sands crude each day over very sensitive and precious mountains, farm land, the Fraser and Skeena Rivers, and straight through the Great Bear rainforest to the Pacific coast, where it would be picked up by supertankers that would try to navigate some very difficult waters. I am very proud of the fact that Rob Fleming, the NDP environment critic in B.C., along with our B.C. NDP members of Parliament, have been very outspoken on this issue.
This motion today is absolutely critical if we are to see the federal government change course and move to action. That is what we need: a move to action to say that climate change is a priority, that we are not going to divide people or pit jobs against the environment, that we are going to recognize that we have to deal with the problems of fossil fuels and energy resources in Canada and that we have to move to a new green economy.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
The motion today talks about leadership. It is this government that has provided the leadership through the international negotiations to deal with a changing climate. I am very proud of the accomplishments of the government. In fact, we are already seeing greenhouse gas emissions going down in Canada because of the breadth of actions of the government.
The previous member for mentioned that she thought Canada was a laughing stock. That is not true. The fact is that Canada has great respect internationally. The only people who were laughing at these international conferences were some of the opposition members. They go on these junkets at taxpayers' expense and laugh at Canada disgracefully. That should never happen.
I appreciate the opportunity to highlight the government's recent announcements to help Canadians adapt to a changing climate, and changing it is. The government recognizes the need to address adaptation to climate change in Canada. The reality is that the climate will continue to change, regardless of the effectiveness of greenhouse gas reduction measures. Our commitment to this important area of climate change is part of our national plan with a strong, corresponding international component.
Unfortunately, the members across the way have consistently voted against these strong, concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At a time when economic recovery, jobs and prosperity are the primary focus at home and abroad, it is more important than ever to ensure that we remain committed to providing a clean, improving environment. That means, even though we are currently in a period of real fiscal restraint, something this government takes very seriously, it is the right time to make investments that will protect the environment and position Canada's economy for the future. It is important that the reality of climate change be well understood and proactively managed.
In 2007, our government announced funding for six climate change impacts and adaptation programs totalling over $85 million. These programs have laid the foundations for future work by strengthening the climate science knowledge base and addressing urgent risks in the north, infrastructure and human health. One would ask why opposition members would vote against that. It is actually shameful that they would vote against climate change and the environment.
Northern communities are of particular concern as they often are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. As a result, we are actively consulting with aboriginal and northern groups on climate change adaptation issues.
Our government recently announced $148 million of new adaptation programs to enable the government to continue to provide Canadians with information that supports their efforts to better understand and plan for climate change impacts. Building on the work already under way, these programs focus on four priority areas of action to ensure the safety and prosperity of Canadians for the future. Did the members opposite vote for that? Tragically, no.
This important funding, which extends and expands 10 programs across 9 government departments, will help us frame a credible science-based response to the impact that climate change has and will have on our economy. It is science-based, not rhetoric-based. This will ultimately serve to improve our health, our security and, in particular, our northern and aboriginal communities. There has never been a government in Canada that has cared more about our northern and aboriginal communities.
Our adaptation efforts do not just stay within our borders, though. Internationally, the government is also engaged in adaptation efforts. We believe that if we want Canada to meet the environmental challenges ahead, we need to help others do the very same thing.
That is why Canada, which I am so proud of, was one of the first countries to step up with its fair share of climate change adaptation funding for developing countries, something we pledged to deliver under the Copenhagen accord and we are delivering. The one thing this government is known for is getting it done and taking action on the environment.