That the House support the government’s decision to ratify the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed by Canada in New York on April 22, 2016; and that the House support the March 3, 2016, Vancouver Declaration calling on the federal government, the provinces, and territories to work together to develop a Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I have had many opportunities over the past number of years to reflect on Canada's success. Every time we have done something well, whether it was decades ago, with medicare and CPP, or more recently, getting our national debt under control in the 1990s, taking steps to ensure the stability of our banking system, or responding to a global refugee crisis, our success has been rooted in two things.
First, when we see a problem, we do not walk away from it or deny that it exists. Instead, we lean in, we work hard, and we work together to solve the problems that come our way. Second, when we say we are going to do something, we follow through, we live up to our commitments. The world expects that of us, so do Canadians, so do the markets.
It is in that very Canadian spirit of solving problems and keeping promises that I address the House today and share the government's plan for pricing carbon pollution.
After decades of inaction and years of missed opportunities, we will finally take real and concrete measures to build a clean economy, create more opportunities for Canadians, and make our world better for our children and our grandchildren.
We will not walk away from science, and we will not deny the unavoidable. With the plan put forward by the government, all Canadian jurisdictions will have put a price on carbon pollution by 2018. To do that, the government will set a floor price for carbon pollution. The price will be set at a level that will help Canada reach its targets for greenhouse gas emissions, while providing businesses with greater stability and improved predictability.
Provinces and territories will be able to have a choice in how they implement this pricing. They can put a direct price on carbon pollution, or they can adopt a cap-and-trade system, in the hopes that it be stringent enough to meet or exceed the federal floor price.
The government proposes that the price on carbon pollution should start at a minimum of $10 per tonne in 2018, rising by $10 each year to $50 a tonne by 2022.
The provinces and territories that choose cap-and-trade systems would need to decrease emissions in line with both Canada's target and the reductions expected in jurisdictions that choose a price-based system. If neither a price nor a cap-and-trade system is in place by 2018, the Government of Canada would implement a price in that jurisdiction.
Whatever approach is chosen, this policy would be revenue-neutral for the federal government. All revenues generated under this system would stay in the province or territory where they are generated.
Because pollution crosses borders, all provinces must do their part. To ensure that this plan continues to meet Canada's targets, it would be reviewed at the end of five years, in 2022.
As we are talking today, the is in Montreal discussing the details of this plan with our provincial and territorial partners.
Over the next two months, the government will collaborate closely with the provinces, territories and aboriginal organizations to finalize this plan.
These discussions are essential, because we know that no plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can succeed without the help our provincial and territorial partners, who have already shown great leadership in tackling climate change.
I am especially looking forward to meeting with provincial premiers and aboriginal leaders on December 8 and 9 to finalize the details of this pan-Canada plan to fight climate change. This framework will include not only the plan for pricing carbon pollution, but will also pave the way forward to better support innovation and jobs in the clean energy sector, manage the effects of climate change, and improve our capacity for adaptation and climate resilience.
I would like to take this opportunity again to congratulate the provinces who have led on this file while the previous federal government abdicated its responsibility to all Canadians. That era is over.
Of course, a plan is only as good as the principles upon which it is based. So I would like to take a few minutes to talk about why the government has decided to act now to put pricing on carbon pollution. There are many reasons to act now, and I am certain that the members opposite are as familiar with those reasons as the government is, even if their track record suggests otherwise. However, today I would like to identify three of the biggest reasons why pricing carbon pollution is right for Canada and for Canadians.
First, pricing carbon pollution will give us a significant advantage as we build a clean-growth economy.
A reasonable and predictable price for carbon pollution will encourage innovation because businesses will have to find new ways to reduce their emissions and pollute less. It will also make our businesses more competitive.
The global economy is becoming increasingly clean, and Canada cannot afford to be left behind. Around the world, the markets are changing. They are moving away from products and services that create carbon pollution and turning to cleaner and more sustainable options.
By giving Canadian businesses the incentives they need to make this change, we are opening the door to new opportunities.
Nobody needs to take my word for it. Last summer, business leaders from across the country spoke out in favour of carbon pricing: retail leaders such as Canadian Tire, Loblaws, IKEA, and Air Canada; energy producers such as Enbridge, Shell, and Suncor; natural resource companies such as Barrick Gold, Resolute Forest Products, and Teck Resources; and financial institutions such as BMO, Desjardins, Royal Bank, Scotiabank, and TD Canada Trust.
These businesses support carbon pricing carbon because they know that, when it is done well, it is the most effective way to reduce emissions while continuing to grow the economy. They know that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. They are anxious to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in a clean growth economy. They, like the government, recognize that if we do not act now, the Canadian economy will suffer.
The second reason to move ahead with pricing carbon pollution is the benefit it would deliver to Canadians, especially for the middle class and those working hard to join it. As the business leaders I just mentioned put it, carbon pricing uses the market to drive clean investment decisions. It encourages innovation. That innovation would bring with it new and exciting job prospects for Canadians.
As one example, last year nearly one-third of $1 trillion was invested globally in renewable power—almost 50% more than was invested in power from fossil fuels. That trend will only accelerate. Simply put, there are billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of good, well-paying jobs on the table for the country to get this right: engineering, design, and programming jobs; manufacturing jobs, whether of solar panels or electric vehicles; and jobs researching and processing biofuels, among many other examples.
If we do not take full advantage of these opportunities now before us, we will be doing Canadians a tremendous disservice.
Finally, I think that all Canadians will understand the third reason why we must move forward with pricing carbon pollution.
It has been proven that it is a good way to prevent heavy polluters from emitting greenhouse gases that fuel climate change and threaten the entire planet.
Carbon pricing is an effective way to reduce the pollution that threatens air quality and the quality of the oceans' water. Just last week, the World Health Organization published a report that said that nine out of ten people live in places with poor air quality. The consequences for human health are tremendous and devastating: every year, three million deaths are linked to air pollution. We must and we will do better.
We have seen what can happen when governments take a stand for cleaner air. In Toronto there were 53 smog days in 2005. A decade later, thanks in part to the phasing-out of coal-fired generating stations, there were zero smog days. This is a very big deal if one's child has asthma and cannot go outside to play with her friends during her summer vacation, or if one has grandparents who have to miss family events because they find it difficult to breathe the air in their own backyard.
If one lives in Canada's north or in our coastal communities, or really in any community that is subject to extreme weather conditions and the resulting floods, droughts, and wild fires, the effects of climate change itself cannot be denied. There is no hiding from climate change. It is real, and it is everywhere.
We cannot undo the last 10 years of inaction. What we can do is make a real and honest effort today and every day to protect the health of our environment, and with it, the health of all Canadians.
The Governor of the Bank of England, one of Canada's best exports, by the way, has spoken to this issue on many occasions. Mr. Carney has an interesting term for it. He calls the unwillingness to act “a tragedy of the horizon”. What he means is that the truly catastrophic effects of climate change will be felt in the future, or as he puts it, “beyond the traditional horizons of most actors—imposing a cost on future generations that the current generation has no direct incentive to fix”.
With great respect to Mr. Carney, because I think that when it comes to climate change we are very much on the same page, I actually believe that current actors, such as the government, do have a direct incentive to fix things.
From a more personal standpoint, I have to say that I have three motivating reasons: they are Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien. I am not alone in worrying about the type of world we are leaving for the next generation and future generations. I have spoken to parents and grandparents in countless communities who shared their concerns for the future and who challenged the government and their provincial and community leaders to take immediate action to prevent the tragic and devastating consequences of climate change.
We hear their concerns and respect their voices. It is because we respect the will of Canadians that we are moving forward with putting a price on carbon to address the pollution it causes.
As members know, the government is not obliged to seek the approval of Parliament prior to ratifying the Paris agreement, nor do we need the House to demonstrate its support for the Vancouver declaration. We have, however, chosen to bring this issue before the House, because we think it is important that all parliamentarians, and through them all Canadians, be given a chance to debate and vote on this crucial issue.
Therefore, I look forward to what I hope will be a spirited yet respectful debate on this important topic, because it is one that will shape the country we live in for generations to come.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to engage in this debate. Over the next three days, we members of Parliament will take up the precious time of the House to debate a Liberal motion which asks us to do two things. First, we are being asked to support the Liberal government's decision to ratify the Paris agreement on climate change. Second, we are being asked to support the own interpretation of the Vancouver declaration which came out of his meetings with the premiers this past spring. There is a lot of confusion about what the Vancouver declaration actually meant.
Last November, in Paris, the global community met to chart a course forward to address the very real impacts of climate change. Each country was asked to commit to firm targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, developed countries like Canada were asked to help the least and less developed countries of the world to mitigate against and adapt to the impact of climate change. The result was the Paris agreement.
I want to be very clear. On this side of the House, we Conservatives support the Paris agreement. We clearly understand that Canada must do its part to help address the most significant environmental challenges facing the planet today. However, there was more that came out of Paris.
Members will recall, freshly invigorated by the champagne and the canapés in Paris, that the also promised that within 90 days of the UN climate change conference, the would meet with the premiers of the provinces and territories to deliver a pan-Canadian framework to address climate change. The meeting did take place in Vancouver last spring, but to no one's surprise, no climate change plan was forthcoming. The only thing coming out of the meeting was the so-called Vancouver declaration, which was simply an agreement to agree at some time in the future, with some studies thrown in for good measure.
Here we are almost a year later in the House, debating the Paris accord and the Vancouver declaration, and all we get from the is a top-down approach to government where he reiterates that he is going to force carbon taxes on the provinces and territories without their consent.
Indeed, the remembers the Vancouver accord that happened last spring as being one in which the premiers agreed that he could unilaterally impose a carbon tax grab on all of them. I was at the news conference as the Prime Minister and the premiers came out to speak to the media. After the Prime Minister's prepared statement, one of the first questions from the media was whether the Prime Minister and the premiers had agreed to a national carbon tax plan. After some hesitation, and more hesitation, the Prime Minister finally blurted out that they had agreed that a national carbon tax plan would be imposed.
That forced the premiers to come out and challenge that assertion. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall scrambled to deny that a national carbon tax had been agreed to. Other premiers followed suit, including all three northern territorial premiers, and Premier McNeil of Nova Scotia. All essentially said that they strongly opposed a top-down carbon tax being imposed upon their provinces and territories.
Premier Wall said this: “If there is a notion that comes forward that this [referring to the Vancouver declaration] is some sort of [notion] to pursue a national carbon tax, I'll be in disagreement with that, because that's [certainly] not my understanding.” Premier McNeil of Nova Scotia said, “What the national government needs to do in my view is set a national target, and let the provinces achieve that how they best see fit.” The three territorial premiers stood united and said, “[We] believe a carbon tax would have a negative impact on quality of life in the North.”
Yet, since the conference, the has used every opportunity to confirm that she plans to impose a massive carbon tax grab on the provinces and territories whether they like it or not, and today the has confirmed that.
Just today, David Heurtel, the minister of the environment for Quebec, stated, “Quebec, Ontario and other provinces have serious issues because, first of all, a national carbon tax hurts existing systems like cap and trade. And also it does not respect the Vancouver Declaration principles. And also it does not respect provincial jurisdictions.”
The Liberal government is making the same mistake that Jean Chrétien made with the Kyoto accord, by trying to act alone without the support of the provinces and territories. To paraphrase Forrest Gump's mother: Liberal is, as Liberal does. Remember the PM's election promise to usher in a new era of co-operative federalism, of collaboration and respect between the provinces, territories, and the federal government, a new partnership? He even included this in his mandate letter to his environment minister.
This is what the said in a mandate letter to the environment minister. He stated, “We made a commitment to Canadians to pursue our goals with a renewed sense of collaboration. Improved partnerships with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments are essential to deliver the real, positive change that we promised Canadians.”
“In partnership with provinces and territories”, we will ensure they have the “flexibility to design their own policies...including their own carbon pricing policies.”
What happened? All of those promises of co-operative federalism have gone by the wayside, another one of the 's dozens of broken promises. In fact, the last year has been littered with the 's broken promises.
However, it goes far beyond just abandoning his promise of co-operative federalism. Without a national climate change plan for Canada, one of the very first actions that the took in Paris was to commit $2.65 billion of Canadian taxpayers' money to fight climate change. That was not to fight climate change here at home, by the way, but in foreign countries. He had no national climate change plan in place, no plan on how he was going to invest in our efforts to address climate change, yet he made an announcement in Paris that he would be spending $2.65 billion of taxpayers' money in foreign countries. He was perhaps more concerned about making friends at the United Nations, burnishing his international reputation, complete with the ubiquitous selfies. Whatever the case, the was quick to proclaim that Canada was back. We asked, “Back from what? The 10 dark years of the Chrétien Liberal government, when absolutely nothing got done on the climate change files, except for empty promises and lofty goals?”
Members may recall that when the was in Paris, she cheekily proclaimed that the greenhouse emission reduction targets that our former Conservative government had carefully selected were somehow insufficient. She called them a floor and implied that she would implement much tougher targets. If we fast-forward to today, the environment minister now admits rather sheepishly that our targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% over 2005 emissions by the year 2030 is now the standard that the Liberal government will pursue. Therefore, although I do commend the and the for finally coming to their senses and adopting our ambitious yet achievable Conservative emissions targets, the duplicity with which the Liberal government arrived at that conclusion is breathtaking.
Here we are now, almost a year later. We have seen the propose what he claims is a national climate change plan, which is simply to repeat what he has been saying to the provinces. He wants them to accept a carbon price for their provinces, for their territories, but if they do not, he will jam it down their throats. He will use a sledgehammer to force them to accept a carbon price. All we have is bickering and fighting over carbon pricing between the federal and provincial governments, reflecting the Liberal government's profound disrespect for their jurisdiction and for the unique and pressing economic challenges they face.
What is worse is that the ongoing uncertainty over what that national climate change plan would look like is chasing away investment, resulting in the loss of Canadian jobs and hurting our competitive advantage in the global marketplace. In fact, over the last year Canada has seen a dramatic flight of investment from Canada, with investors choosing to park their capital on the sidelines or invest it elsewhere around the world where more predictable investment environments exist. If the Liberal government is looking for a culprit upon which to blame Canada's current economic malaise, it need look no further than itself.
To be constructive, what would a national climate-change plan look like? Let me respond by proposing five key strategies: first, smart regulation; second, innovation; third, bilateral and multilateral regulatory alignment; fourth, conservation; and fifth, market-based incentivization.
Let me begin with the first one, smart regulation.
Long before the Paris agreement and long before the Liberal government's preoccupation with top-down carbon taxes on the provinces and territories, our former Conservative government had embarked upon a sector-by-sector regulatory approach that allowed us to protect both our environment and the economy. In fact, ours was the first government in Canadian history to actually see greenhouse gas emissions reduced by establishing regulations for two of Canada's largest sources of emission, transportation and electricity. As a result, our greenhouse gas emissions regulations for passenger vehicles and light trucks will result in those vehicles emitting significantly fewer greenhouse gas than 2008 models.
We went on in 2012 to finalize regulations to address carbon dioxide emissions from the coal-fired electricity sector, which made Canada the first country to effectively ban construction of traditional dirty coal facilities. In fact, over the next 21 years, those regulations are expected to result in a cumulative reduction in GHG emissions of about 240 megatonnes, equivalent to removing some 2.6 million personal vehicles from the road. That is a great achievement. We also established an air quality management system, which resulted in ambitious air quality standards for fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone, the main components of smog, as members know.
Under the watch of our previous government, pollutants causing acid rain were cut by 15% as part of this program. I noticed the referred to pollution in addressing air pollution. We support all efforts to reduce the impact of toxins within our air sheds.
We also invested billions of dollars in science and technology initiatives to address air quality and climate change. These investments included the development of CO2 capture and storage technologies to reduce atmospheric carbon emissions from large-point sources. We launched the eco-energy biofuel initiative, which invested $1.5 billion to support the production of renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel.
However, one note of caution is that when governments raise taxes in order to purportedly invest in green solutions, as I understand the Liberals are proposing to do, history shows that they are notoriously bad at picking winners and losers. Any investments in technology must, to the greatest extent possible, be market driven and free of political manipulation.
We are also proud of our record of working closely with the United States on joint North American initiatives. In 2009, our former Conservative government established the United States-Canada clean energy dialogue to enhance bilateral co-operation on the development of clean energy science to combat climate change, which as of 2015 included over 50 projects either completed or under way. It was through our government that major headway was made in joint Canada-USA electricity connectivity and cross-boundary clean energy research and development.
Through the Canada-United States air quality agreement, we began to work to align our regulations with the United States in order to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The fruits of this labour were announced by the Liberal government early this year in Washington, D.C., and we applaud that.
The long and short of successful bilateral and multilateral regulatory co-operation alignment is that it ensures a level playing field for businesses and industries in Canada that want to do their part to respond to climate change, but do not want to be rendered uncompetitive. I encourage the current government to continue to advance regulatory co-operation, especially with our NAFTA partners, the United States and Mexico.
I have a few thoughts on conservation.
Under our former Conservative government, Canada was the first industrialized country to sign and ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity. We subsequently launched the national conservation plan under which we took significant strides to restore, conserve, and expand Canada's natural spaces. Indeed, over a period of 10 years, we were able to increase by 50% the amount of Canadian parkland that had been set aside for protection.
Alan Latourelle, the former CEO of Parks Canada, recently explained that:
...the last 15 years have seen one of the most significant national park expansion programs in the history of our country...As we prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of our nation, we need to stand tall and proud and celebrate the exceptional contributions we have made to conservation internationally, while charting a bold and inspiring path for the future.
Some of the things that we were able to achieve over the last 10 years were the following: the world's first protected area extending from the mountain tops to the sea floor, Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site in British Columbia; the world's largest freshwater protected area, Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area; a sixfold expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories; three new national wildlife areas in Nunavut, protecting close to 5,000 square kilometres of marine coastal and terrestrial habitat, including the world's first sanctuary for bowhead whales; three new marine protected areas under the Oceans Act, Musquash Estuary in New Brunswick, Bowie Seamount off the coast of British Columbia, and the Tarium Niryutait in the Beaufort Sea; and finally, the expansion of Canada's national parks network by creating Canada's 44th national park, the Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve. We also played a major role in the creation of the world-class Great Bear Rainforest agreement through an ecological investment of $30 million.
Why is conservation so important to us as Conservatives and should be important to the Liberal government? Because our natural spaces are highly effective in capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide.
Indeed, it is estimated that Canada's forests, wetlands, and farmlands absorb significantly more carbon dioxide every year than Canadians collectively emit. Given the size of our country and the nature of our geography and population, we know that improved forestry management practices, such as ecosystem-based management, wetland reclamation, boreal forest protection, and low and no-till farming methods can contribute significantly to not only reducing our national carbon footprint, but absorbing global greenhouse gas emissions.
Any national climate change plan must include a conservation strategy in partnership with first nations, which builds upon the significant successes of the past 10 years. Sadly, most of the Liberal government's discussion of a pan-Canadian framework on climate change has been monopolized by a fixation on carbon taxes: taxes, taxes, taxes.
We should not at all be surprised. Every few years a creature in the form of a Liberal government arises from the ashes and its members immediately morph into the quintessential tax-and-spend Liberal. Such members are characterized by a penchant for raising taxes in order to increase the amount of money their government has to spend on its priorities rather than on the priorities of Canadians. The current Liberal government is, of course, no different. That is why Canadians are hearing so much about carbon pricing, which is nothing less than an effort to tax Canadians into doing the right thing on the environment.
Sadly, most of the efforts to implement carbon pricing at the provincial level play into that narrative and are doomed to failure. It is incumbent upon the federal government to learn from carbon pricing mistakes being made, both at home and in other parts of the world.
Witness the European experience with cap and trade, in which carbon credit prices effectively collapsed under the weight of corruption, abuse, and favouritism, where we now see countries like Germany building new coal-fired power plants instead of permanently phasing out coal. A number of my environment committee colleagues and I recently met with seven MPs from Norway. They shared what a disappointment the EU's cap-and-trade system had become.
Witness also the failed environmental policies of the Ontario provincial government under Wynne Liberals that have embarked upon a disastrous green energy program, and a cap-and-trade program that will dramatically increase taxes on Ontarians. It has resulted in the most expensive electricity prices in North America, and is chasing thousands of businesses and job creators out of the province.
In light of the recently unsuccessful carbon auction in California, prospects for a successful North American carbon market are becoming even dimmer, and perhaps dumber. Indeed, many are speculating that California might soon be forced to shut down its cap-and-trade system as its legislative mandate expires.
What we can learn from these examples is that increasing the overall tax burden on Canadians will not achieve the desired long-term emissions reductions and will only serve to exacerbate the economic challenges our country faces.
That is why it should not surprise anyone that many of the provinces and territories have strongly resisted efforts by the and his to use a sledgehammer to force them to accept a carbon pricing system or an additional tax on the existing provincial system.
That said, all federal spending should support a market-driven approach to green energy, enhance Canada's global economic competitiveness, bring our resources to market in an efficient and environmentally sustainable and responsible way, and encourage the creation of high-paying jobs for Canadians. I think that reflects what the said. We just have different approaches to achieve that goal.
I believe Canadians are prepared to do their part to reduce their carbon footprint on this planet. What they will not accept is a and a whose definition of co-operative federalism is to bludgeon the provinces and territories into accepting an immensely harmful carbon tax grab, one that will only increase the amount of cash that the government has to play with. Increasing the overall tax burden on hard-working Canadians and their families at this difficult time is not the solution.
Returning to the motion before us, let me summarize. The first part of the motion reads as follows:
That the House support the government’s decision to ratify the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed by Canada in New York on April 22, 2016.
We unreservedly support that portion of the motion. The second part of the motion, however, reads as follows:
....and that the House support the March 3, 2016, Vancouver Declaration calling on the federal government, the provinces, and territories to work together to develop a Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
As I mentioned earlier, no one can agree on what the Vancouver declaration actually intended to say. The says that it gives him carte blanche power, the moral authority to actually impose a carbon tax on all the provinces. The premiers are saying that this was not what was agreed to. Clearly, there is no consensus on what the Vancouver declaration actually means.
Just as disturbing is the abject failure of the Liberal government to live up to its promise to deliver a pan-Canadian framework on climate change for all Canadians that is supported across our provinces and territories.
With the second part of the motion, what the and his are apparently saying to us is “Trust us, we're from government”, essentially asking us to buy a pig in a poke.
We as Conservatives will not do that. We never have; we never will. That is why we cannot and will not support the motion as presently worded.
With that in mind, I would like to move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the words “April 22, 2016”, and substituting the following: “And that the House call upon the federal government, the provinces and the territories to develop a responsible plan to combat climate change that does not encroach on provincial or territorial jurisdiction or impose a tax increase on Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, in tabling the motion, the government has presented us with a quandary. My constituents, in fact, the majority of Canadians, want Canada to take action on climate change. There was cheering when the Paris agreement was signed. Canadians were delighted when the took Canada's commitment one step deeper and agreed to take action to limit temperature rises to only 1.5o
However, all in this place, including her own colleagues, are faced with this dilemma. Are we facing a repeat of 2002 when another Liberal government ratified Kyoto with no plan to deliver and then did nothing for 13 years? Absent a concrete action plan with measurable carbon reductions to achieve that target, is this just another photo op?
As the stated in this place, last January, “It would be irresponsible to come up with a new target without actually having a plan to implement it, as the Conservatives did.” However, is this not exactly what she agreed to in Paris, deeper reductions?
The Department of the Environment has reported that even with collective action on the commitments made to date by the present government, the provinces, and the territories, Canada will fail to meet even the pathetic reduction target set by Harper.
The motion before us says that the House support the government's decision to ratify the Paris agreement, and second, support the Vancouver declaration, calling upon the federal government, the provinces, and the territories, to work together to develop a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change.
What exactly has the government committed to deliver under the Paris agreement?
In Paris, last December, the committed this country to take action to support global actions to deliver deep reductions in greenhouse gases. Canada committed to do our part to ensure that the world can hold the increase and global average temperature to well below two degrees centigrade, above industrial levels, and pursue efforts to a lesser increase of 1.5oC.
Less than a year later, the same government is asking members in this place to embrace its decision to backtrack on its promised greenhouse gas reductions. While the Paris agreement allows the parties to adjust their nationally determined commitments, the undertaking is to move to reduce more, not less, greenhouse gases. Paris calls upon parties to expedite action as rapidly as possible, reflecting the highest possible ambition.
Canadians are aghast that the Liberals are seeking support for the decision to ratify the agreement, while simultaneous backtracking on their commitments here at home. The present government is now adopting the same Harper reduction targets that the Liberals called inadequate, the weakest, and catastrophic. Today, it has asked us to vote to adopt them. This we cannot and will not do.
Our glaciers are melting. Arctic ice is receding at an unprecedented rate. I learned last evening that the major glacier in Kluane National Park has receded so far, it is now only feeding one of two rivers. Communities are experiencing catastrophic fires and flooding, with experts advising they will only worsen as the climate changes.
Second, the motion before us calls upon members to agree that Canada has shown sufficient evidence of an action plan to be made binding to our share of reductions by submitting to the Vancouver declaration.
Yes, Paris also commits Canada to recognize the importance of engagements of all levels of government and other actors in addressing climate change. The present government has engaged the provinces and territories in a dialogue and an aspirational agreement for action. However, the Vancouver declaration is just an aspirational document, not an actual strategy for action. It offers no concrete plan with concrete actions to achieve measurable reduction targets. It simply says the signatories will “work together to develop”.
The Paris agreement requires that Canada, in ratifying, provide clear, accurate, and transparent information on how exactly it will deliver the reductions. As the Climate Action Network has said, “Show us the tonnes”.
We have yet to have presented to us the action plan showing the quantity of emissions that will be reduced under provincial, territorial, and federal initiatives, and by what date. Surely, we are not setting about ratifying another international agreement without a clear, credible action plan, and the legal measures to measure how exactly Canada can and will deliver its commitments. We witnessed that with Kyoto. Surely this time around Canada will not move to ratify the Paris agreement until first finalizing and submitting a credible plan with legislative measures and a timeline to achieve compliance.
Today the announced targets appear encouraging but where is the implementing instrument? The starting point of $10 a tonne is far below that imposed even by the provinces. What concrete measures if any are actually offered by the Vancouver declaration? The declaration states:
First Ministers commit to:
Implement GHG mitigation policies in support of meeting or exceeding Canada's 2030 target of a 30% reduction below 2005 levels of emissions, including specific provincial and territorial targets and objectives....
Again, as noted, this target backtracks on Liberal promises of deeper reductions.
The Vancouver declaration provides no actual reduction targets nor does it specify the measures that would be taken to achieve those targets. The declaration states that it provides merely a vision and principles. It does not document how any of the commitments would deliver specified reductions. As the Climate Action Network has called once again, “Show us the tonnes”.
The provinces, territories, and federal government admit they need to act to address the climate risks facing our populations, infrastructures, economies, and ecosystems, particularly in Canada's northern regions. They all agree our country needs investment in climate-resilient and green infrastructure, including disaster mitigation, but to date, the provinces and territories have merely agreed to develop a strategy. Where are the working group reports? What concrete progress has been made? As far as we are made aware, there is no agreed strategy, most certainly no comprehensive reduction commitments. Where is the accountability?
We still await the federal law that would impose national reduction targets either on emitting sectors or the provinces and territories with potential for equivalency. Some provinces have stepped forward with concrete measures and target dates and in some instances the intent to impose caps on specified sectors. To its credit, Alberta has committed to accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired power and is imposing a cap on greenhouse gases from the oil sands. Is this enough?
The commitment under the Vancouver declaration is to increase the level of ambition of environmental policies over time in order to drive greater greenhouse gas emissions reductions consistent with the Paris agreement. However, the Liberal government is already backtracking to a low bar starting point. The Vancouver declaration also provides no clear timeline for improvement, by how much or by taking what specific actions.
Under the Vancouver agreement, the jurisdictions promise to promote clean economic growth to create jobs. They assert this will be achieved by a transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy but only by 2050. In the meantime, Canada will continue to support their agreed Canadian energy strategy for sustainable energy and resource sector economy as Canada transitions to a low-carbon economy.
The measure of commitment to an energy transition is zero emission target dates and zero commitment of dollars to renewable energy, jobs, and training. We see some evidence of that commitment at the provincial levels by way of an example of the Northwest Territories, which is adopting a renewable energy strategy. Alberta has at long last committed to joining others and establishing an energy efficiency program.
The Vancouver declaration promises the development of an integrated economy-wide approach that includes all sectors, creates jobs, and promotes innovation to be determined at a later date. The same goes for investments in clean technology solutions, especially in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner energy production. Few solid commitments are yet stated on achieving reductions.
While the federal government and the provinces promised to make deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, to foster and encourage clean technology, and to implement measures grounded in the idea that clean growth and climate change are of net economic development, we still await the concrete measures.
On the central issue of imposing a price on carbon, we are advised there is no consensus. It is equally important to recognize that the Vancouver declaration specifically references the Canadian energy strategy, a strategy developed through a process excluding the public. It is a strategy that in large part endorses co-operation and continuance of the carbon-intensive energy sectors.
What concrete actions has the federal government taken to reduce greenhouse gases? The federal government committed under the Vancouver declaration to take specific and early actions, including investments in green infrastructure, public transit infrastructure, and energy-efficient social infrastructure. However, the government has yet to release any detailed plan for green infrastructure, including what portion of infrastructure dollars would be dedicated to greening.
During the election campaign, the Liberals promised to tackle climate change and invest in the green economy. However, even their first budget came up far short. After promising over $3 billion for public transit and over $3 billion for green infrastructure in the first two years of their platform, budget 2016 was short by over $800 million for transit and green infrastructure. The budget failed to deliver on their promise to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, which continue to give hundreds of millions of dollars to polluting industries.
Much of the funding announced in 2016 is just repurposed money, with only $100 million in new money out of the $300 million promised for a clean growth economy this year. The investment in Sustainable Development Technology Canada is just $50 million over four years, far less than previous investments in this entity of $40 million each year. Is this enough action to deliver rapid change? The Canadian investment in clean tech has fallen by 41% over the last decade, while global investments in this sector grew exponentially, surpassing investments in fossil fuels.
We have a lot of catching up to do if we hope to provide economic opportunities for our youth. The Liberals promised to advance the electrification of vehicle transportation, foster regional plans for clean electricity transmission, and invest in clean energy solutions for indigenous, remote, and northern communities, yet their budget commits to levels that will not deliver expedited action on any of these. At least their commitment to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production substantially by 2025 is good news, as it finally plays catch-up with Alberta.
Canadians had hoped for better. Of concern, the thrust of the Liberal action plan to date has, in the majority, been to download the federal duty to reduce greenhouse gases to the provinces and territories, not to mention the municipalities. When asked what actions her government is taking, the minister now repeats the same refrain, that she is consulting the provinces on a plan.
We are expected to agree to ratification without the courtesy of even seeing the working group reports, which I understand may be coming forward today, including, for example, the report on carbon pricing mechanisms. It is important to recognize that the burning of fossil fuels delivers impacts beyond climate change. They emit significant sources of pollutants, causing well-documented impacts to our health and the environment. The Government of Alberta strategy recognizes this aspect in announcing the accelerated phase-out of coal power. Many others are calling for the federal government to follow suit and amend its regulations. It is high time the federal government finally replace its absurd Canada-wide standard on industrial mercury with a binding regulation. Also, when can we expect federal action on harmful particulates?
It is also important that we pursue energy generation alternatives that reduce environmental impacts or impacts to treaty or constitutional rights. The over 190 conditions to the approval of the Petronas LNG plant and the associated pipeline of fracked gas indicates additional significant, and in some instances, unmitigable impacts to the environment and indigenous rights and interests. Government and independent scientists have documented significant environmental impacts from oil sands operations, including localized and long-range pollutant loading. Indigenous communities near the oil sands operations still await a health impact study and have called for action.
What would an ambitious strategy actually look like?
Both the Paris and Vancouver agreements commit the government to a just transition to a clean energy economy. The federal government must contribute more generously to programs already in place, including building Canadian expertise and offering hands-on training in the renewable and energy efficiency sectors. In my province alone, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and the Lethbridge College, all provide these programs, and they are oversubscribed.
As the Pembina Institute has said, Canada needs to be at the front of the race for a new global, clean, sustainable economy.
First and foremost, the government must expedite the promised removal of the perverse fossil fuel subsidies. Some have called for a 2050 target of zero-emitting electricity. This could readily be enabled by federal investment into a grid that better serves renewable power sources, including localized generation sources. While support for cleaner energy research must continue, with particular emphasis on energy storage, I encourage much greater support and attention to increasing the actual deployment of renewable power.
By finally imposing a price on carbon and a steadily rising price, the federal government will provide an important driver for both investments in renewable technology and cleaner technology, but also hopefully for installation.
A report by a parliamentary committee a few years back documented the potential for substantial savings if the government committed greater funds now to retrofit federal facilities, saving in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars. Canada could also mirror U.S. federal directives prescribing efficiencies in energy and water use and purchase of renewable power.
It is long past time the government revised the National Building Code and the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings. The federal government should also contribute more generously to provincial and municipal energy retrofit programs. Some have called on the federal government to assert its powers to take concrete measures to expedite greenhouse gas reduction in transportation by prescribing targets for Canadian manufacturers of electric vehicles and zero-emission vehicles. People have also called for increasingly stringent low-carbon fuel standards for all transportation fuels.
Where is the promise in the Vancouver declaration for public engagement? What Canadians want more than vacuous consultations is measures to actually help them lower their heating bills or to install solar panels. They want their governments to switch to cleaner energy sources that do not impact their health, their environment, their farming operations, or their treaty rights.
Finally, Canadians want the right to share their voices for a cleaner energy future. Let us expedite the reform of federal law, policy, and practice on environmental protection, assessment, and project review to actually enable that voice. Therefore, I wish to move the following subamendment.
I move, seconded by the member for :
That the amendment be amended by:
a) replacing the words “, the provinces, and the territories” with the words “to work with provincial, territorial, municipal and indigenous governments and the Canadian public”; and
b) deleting all the words after the words “combat climate change” and substituting the following: “that commits to targets that deliver on Canada's undertakings from the Paris Agreement, and finalizes the specific measures and investments to achieve those greenhouse gas reductions prior to ratification.”
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be sharing my time with the member for .
As we know, rapid global climate change is occurring, which will have far-reaching impacts on society, biodiversity, and ecosystems. We have only to look at my own riding of Hastings—Lennox and Addington, which stretches from Lake Ontario to Algonquin Provincial Park. This summer, for the first time ever, a level 3 low water condition was declared by the Quinte Conservation and the low water response team. This is the most severe low water level.
In parts of my region, we have experienced the driest summer since 1888. The rivers are so low, conservationists had to go out with nets this summer to rescue fish trapped in tiny ponds caused by the historic low water levels.
The effects of climate change in my community are real. I cannot tell members how many times I have witnessed farmers pulling tanks of water multiple times a day in order to get enough to take care of their livestock. Wells have dried out earlier than anyone can remember.
This year, those conversations about the weather that take place in coffee shops everywhere across my community have taken on a sadder, more ominous tone. People are worried. These are people who know the land well. They take pride in being the caretaker of their farms to protect them for the next generation.
I have also met with countless people from a wide cross section of businesses, and they have told me of the efforts they are taking to adapt to and tackle climate change. Farmers, businesses, community organizations, and ordinary Canadians are all showing real leadership in combatting climate change. Our government should do the same.
Increasingly, protected areas are being recognized for the important role they play in adapting to and mitigating climate change. There are many ways in which they will form a part of our natural solution to climate change, through the actions of our municipal, provincial, territorial, and federal departments, agencies, indigenous people, also private landowners and not-for-profits.
Canada has a long tradition of establishing and managing protected areas. Whether in the form of national and provincial parks, national wildlife areas, migratory bird sanctuaries, marine protected areas, ecological, or nature reserves, protected areas in Canada safeguard important ecosystems and habitat, maintain the essential ecosystems services, and provide opportunities for personal connections with nature. Protected areas strengthen both our ecological and social resilience to climate change.
Like so many Canadians, I grew up inspired by the wilderness that surrounded us. I have many fond memories of hiking around the forests in Madoc where I grew up and taking my kids to Bon Echo Provincial Park in the north part of my riding near Cloyne.
Those who have visited Bon Echo might have seen the pictograph markings on the spectacular cliff base. There are places like this through time and across culture which draw us in and show us that there is much to learn from our natural environment. It is fitting that these very old indigenous pictographs in Bon Echo show us how Nanabush, the trickster figure, was sent by the Gitche Manitou to teach the Ojibwe people, and who named the plants and animals around us.
We still have a lot to learn. I know I do. The more I speak to indigenous people both in my riding and in my work as an MP, the more I know for certain that there is much we can learn from them about protecting our lands and waters.
Water is sacred, and it gives life. In protecting our watersheds, we protect the life that springs up around them. Yet up to 70% of historic wetlands have been filled in or drained in settled parts of Canada, particularly in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region. This contributes to some of the terrible flooding we have seen along places like Moira River, Thurlow, and Tweed, where a short few years ago, historic spring flooding forced the community to come together to fight against the rising water. The community did come together, because that is what neighbours do, but these types of events have a very large economic cost to them.
By protecting our wetlands and allowing them to do their job of natural flood mitigation, water purification, and provision of wildlife habitat, we not only live in better harmony with our environment but we also save money, too. We ensure that people continue to benefit from the services that are supported by healthy and diverse terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Protected areas also support the capture and storage of carbon in terrestrial and marine vegetation, soils, and peat. Conserving and protecting natural areas help to maintain their ability to sequester carbon and avoid greenhouse gas emissions that come from disturbance.
It has been estimated that 15% of the world's terrestrial carbon stock, 312 gigatonnes, are stored in protected areas around the world. In Canada, over four billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is sequestered in 39 of our national parks.
We know that climate change will also increase the risk of extinction for many species. Projected temperature increases may exceed the biological tolerances of many species and ecosystems in Canada. A large, connected, and diverse network of protected areas can help wildlife adapt to a rapidly changing climate by ensuring that the loss of suitable habitat is offset by access to other similar habitat. It will ensure that areas of refuge from climate change impacts are identified and protected for species to migrate to.
The preamble of the Paris agreement notes the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans, and the protection of biodiversity when taking action to address climate change. Article 5.1 of the same agreement requires parties to take action to conserve and enhance sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases.
Last year, Canada adopted the 2020 biodiversity goals and targets for Canada, which described results to be achieved through collective efforts of public and private players. Canada's targets are aligned with the global targets in 2010 under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which includes a commitment to conserve by 2020 at least 17% of terrestrial areas and inland water and 10% of coastal and marine areas through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.
This target presents a powerful and timely opportunity for Canada to make progress and demonstrate leadership on climate change and biodiversity conservation. At the end of 2015, only 10.6% of Canada's terrestrial area and 0.9% of its marine territory were recognized as protected so far.
Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada are working with provinces and territories to develop a pathway to achieving the land-based target. On World Oceans Day in 2016, the Government of Canada announced a five-point plan to meet marine targets, to increase marine and coastal protection to 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020. This plan includes establishing areas already under development, including five proposed marine protected areas under the Oceans Act.
Also being explored are possibilities to establish new Oceans Act marine protected areas in pristine offshore areas and in areas under pressure from human activities and to identify existing and establish other new effective area-based conservation measures, such as fisheries closures to protect sensitive coral and sponge concentrations. Budget 2016 allocated $81.3 million over five years to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada to support this effort.
Budget 2016 also proposed more than $42 million dollars over five years for Parks Canada to continue the work to create the Thaidene Nene national park reserve in the Northwest Territories and a new national marine conservation area in Nunavut's Lancaster Sound.
To sum up, healthy, biologically diverse ecosystems increase climate resilience. They reduce the vulnerability of communities to climate change and increase their capacity to recover from climate change impacts. The careful management and expansion of our protected areas networks will help Canada protect our biodiversity and help us to succeed in the fight against climate change.