Bill C-30 (Historical)
Canada's Clean Air Act
An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (Canada's Clean Air Act)
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.
Rona Ambrose Conservative
Committee Report Presented
(This bill did not become law.)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North America
Private Members' Business
May 29th, 2009 / 1:50 p.m.
Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON
Madam Speaker, today we are all seized with solutions when it comes to the issue of climate change. The debate on whether the science is valid and whether climate change is caused by human activity is now over and now we are looking for solutions. I am glad about that. There are still doubters out there who deny that there is credible science for climate change, and that is fine, we are in a democracy and people have different points of view, but I think the consensus is that climate change and what we see happening is the result of human activity and human behaviour.
What is incumbent upon us as legislators is to look at solutions. I will be supporting the bill. The essence of it is to have cap and trade as one of those solutions. It is no surprise that I and my party are supporting the bill. In fact, central to our platform in the last election was to set up a cap and trade system.
It is important to look around the globe right now. Often people talk about globalization and the need for more trade. I would say that we have fallen behind on the cap and trade issue. When we look at global markets and their approach to climate change, there is a consensus among many countries that a price needs to be put on carbon. However, there might be a debate about how to do it.
If we look at Europe, at what is happening in the United States and what is happening among provinces here in Canada, the consensus is that there should be a carbon market. We need to have a price on carbon that is dealt with through an exchange.
When we look back to the previous Parliament, Bill C-30, the clean air act, was brought forward by the government. The government at the time allowed it to go to a legislative committee to be amended. One of the things in that bill was to have a cap and trade system, among other changes to ensure we dealt with climate change. Sadly, in a most bizarre outcome, the bill was returned to the House amended but the government would not bring it forward again. That was a missed opportunity.
What is happening in Europe, in the United States and in the provinces in Canada is that people are establishing carbon markets and they are doing it through a cap and trade system.
For those who do not quite understand the essence of this, I would simply point to another environmental irritant that we had to deal with, a catastrophic environmental phenomena known as acid rain, which devastated producers in the fishing industry and the maple syrup industry back in the eighties.
At that time, many people, including myself, were pushing governments of the day to come up with a solution to solve the acid rain problem. It was dealt with through a similar kind of approach and that was to set limits on industry as to how much it could pollute and to put scrubbers on its factories to ensure the amount of sulphur and other irritants going into the air would be capped.
We were able to deal with acid rain by having a strong regulatory framework, by having what I call big sticks and good carrots. If companies did not comply, they would be fined and they did comply, they would be rewarded.
Cap and trade is similar. If members may recall, there actually was an agreement, which the Conservative government brought forward, to have an acid rain agreement with the United States. We need to do that now. We are losing time. The United States is now moving toward a cap and trade system.
We removed the phenomena of acid rain by bringing in a strong regulatory framework, by ensuring the big polluters paid and ensuring there were rewards for those making the transition.
That is exactly what cap and trade is. It is to ensure that there is a coherent market. Those who produce excess amounts of carbon have to pay a price. Those who reduce it are rewarded. There is a exchange for this and that is why there has to be a carbon market.
It is that simple, but it requires leadership and legislation. At the national level, it requires a government that believes in this and goes forward. I am very troubled by the fact that we are so far behind.
The foreign affairs committee was recently in Washington. The U.S. is moving ahead. Copenhagen will be in the fall and that will be a follow-up to Kyoto. Where is Canada when it comes to cap and trade? Are we going to be following behind? Are the Americans going to have the leg up? Are we going to come to the table too late to be able to take advantage of this emerging opportunity?
Some provinces have gone ahead with the cap and trade model, such as Ontario and Quebec. The western provinces are looking at getting together as well.
We need a coherent approach at the national level, a national voice for cap and trade to meet where the Americans are going, but we also we need to be coherent. As we know, greenhouse gas does not know borders. It does not have a passport. It is a shared interest with the Americans. In fact, if we go back to the acid rain treaty, it was Canadian leadership.
I recently talked to Joe Clark and I asked how that happened. He said that MPs pushed it and that they had some leadership. He was the external affairs minister of the day. He pushed it and he was allowed to do that. He was given the power to negotiate with the Americans.
Sadly, we are not seeing that with the government. We heard nice things when President Obama was here. We heard about an arrangement was made, but we have not seen the details.
We are about to find ourselves going into the summer without a coherent plan on cap and trade. If we pick up the paper any day, there is a debate about how the Americans will define their cap and trade system.
When we look south of the border, it is worthy to note President Obama's nomination of Steven Chu as his secretary of energy, which is no coincidence. If we look at his approach, he wants to push the cap and trade framework further ahead. That is why President Obama nominated him.
For those who think this is some left-wing conspiracy, there is a consensus on this. People from the business community and people who are entrepreneurial see this as the way to go because it puts a price on carbon that is determined by a market. The last time I checked, I thought the Conservatives were in favour of that. They claim to be, but we have not seen evidence of action.
Cap and trade, simply put, would finally get us to the point where we could start looking at changing and transitioning our economy from one that is based on carbon, which is having negative effects on our economy, and transitioning to an economy that will be based on new solutions that are viable and sustainable.
The first step in any journey is an important one. The first step in this journey to deal with catastrophic climate change is at the national level to have a cap and trade system. That is why we will support the motion.
Energy Efficiency Act
April 1st, 2009 / 4:40 p.m.
Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act. Earlier, my colleague from Halifax West spoke extensively on the bill and made a number of valid points on energy efficiency. I would refer people to those comments. He talked especially about wasted energy. When politicians are out on a political campaign, we walk into houses and see little lights flashing here and there, on VCRs, computers and telephones that are not in use. All those units are using energy unnecessarily. It is a lot of wasted energy.
The bill makes a series of changes to the Energy Efficiency Act to broaden the scope of the government's ability to regulate consumer products that use energy. We can certainly go the regulatory way with encouragement in that area, but as citizens of the country, we also need to do a lot of individual things to save energy in terms of shutting down computers and so on when we may be gone for more than a day. There are all kinds of things we could do.
The bill is rooted in old Bill C-30 from a former Parliament, which was a plan to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Bill S-3 goes back to some of those points that were made in Bill C-30. After the House committee made wholesale amendments to the climate change provisions in Bill C-30, the government chose not to bring the bill back to the House for further debate. When the first session of the 39th Parliament prorogued, Bill C-30 died. Instead of bringing back the bill in its entirety, the government decided instead to carve off the Energy Efficiency Act provisions and introduce them as a separate bill in the Senate. The bill did not receive second reading in the Senate before the election was called in August, 2008.
The provisions of the bill are not controversial. In fact, it is widely expected that most MPs and most parties will support the bill in the House of Commons because the spirit and the intent of former Bill C-30, what opposition parties mainly drove for, is encompassed in this bill.
An effective regulation of energy-using products is one of a suite of tools the government will have to fight global warming. As my colleague said earlier, there are a lot of global warming deniers on the government side of the House. A lot of points have been raised by previous speakers as to that being the fact. Through this bill we hope the Conservatives will take, not a big challenge, but a small challenge to do a number of small things that can make a difference in terms of energy use itself.
On this point, Canadians know what we should be doing each and every day to improve energy efficiency in many small ways, but sometimes it takes a little encouragement. Although none of us really likes regulations, sometimes it takes a little push with regulations to encourage us to do the right thing on the environment.
Another important area for us to do the right things on the environment and to increase our energy efficiency is a stronger education process. Sometimes we do not realize how the small points on energy efficiency can add up in the global context to big savings on energy.
Let us look at what little things can do. We can go back to Christmastime, when many people light up their houses with Christmas light bulbs and so on. In my province, Christmas was the peak energy period of the year because of the lights on Christmas trees, houses, floodlights and so on. When the LED lights came in, they created such energy efficiencies that the energy use at that time went down substantially.
Therefore, it shows what can be done by both an education campaign and any regulatory campaign. It is one example of many.
It is unbelievable the gains in energy efficiency that have been made in the agricultural industry over the last 15 to 20 years, and there is a lot more we can do. There is a lot more the government can do to assist us in getting there.
It would be really helpful if the government, in its programming, used some of its available resources. We know it has clearly failed the agricultural industry to date, especially the primary producers, but it is not that difficult for it to develop the programs. Whether it is through tax incentives, grants, regional development agencies, Industry Canada or Environment Canada could come up with funding programs that would assist primary producers in purchasing equipment and technology that would reduce the amount of energy used on primary production units on our farms.
Although the government fails to admit it, we know that the agriculture, fisheries, mining and forestry sectors in rural Canada are the generators of economic wealth in the country. Anything that can be done to assist those hard pressed industries in this time of recession would be valuable in moving our country forward.
There is an opportunity, at a time when a so-called economic stimulus is being made available, if the Government of Canada would develop the programming to assist all those industries in reducing their energy use and improving their bottom line. The government seems to have failed to seize that opportunity.
I want to provide some examples in the farming sector. On the equipment side, the tractors we use today are much more energy efficient. Cultivators do a better job with less use of energy on a per acre basis. One of the big areas is the use of GPS equipment, whether it is on equipment used for cultivating potatoes and row crops or whether it is on sprayers where one can do a better job of going over the ground just once. Instead of going over a field or a crop two or three times, one can go over it with a single pass, saving a tremendous amount of energy and greater efficiency. Therefore, less greenhouse gases are put into air for each production unit that is produced on farms.
Many Canadians, especially people who live in urban centres who do not understand the farm community that well, have a strange picture or perception of farmers. Primary producers, farmers, have always been at the cutting edge of technological change. Whether it is energy efficiency, more production per acre, whatever it may be, they have always been at that edge of technological change. This is a great opportunity where we could assist the farm community in making its operations more efficient.
Another example that I could give would be dairy operations. I was a dairy producer, and I have been on many of these operations. More people should see this efficient use of energy. It is an area where expenditures could be made to get more producers on those kinds of efficient uses of energy systems.
To draw a picture, when milk is produced, it is a warm product that has to be cooled by what almost looks like the old type of radiators. The milk is produced by the cows, comes out of the milking system and goes through that radiator unit. The heat is taken out and used to heat water for sanitizing and cleaning up the system and, in some cases, for heating barns. There is great efficiency.
Instead of losing the heat and putting it into a cooler that expends energy to cool the milk so it keeps and can be trucked to the processing plant in a high quality state, the new systems are used to take the heat out of the milk and use it for other purposes, whether it is heating water for sanitizing or whatever. The temperature of that milk is reduced and then when it gets into the cooler, it is already partially cooled. Therefore, it takes less energy to cool the milk product to the proper temperature so it stores safely until it can be shipped to a processing plant for bottling, or for cheese or for whatever its use may be.
From my own experience in the past, I know that originally there were grants from provincial governments at that time to encourage people to move into the earlier concept of bulk milk coolers. This is an area that the government could be assisting the production sector, with stimulus packages and creating energy efficiency as well. I know that goes beyond the concept of this bill, but it is an example of where government action, beyond the regulatory regime, could be a huge help to the farming community.
The same applies in the design of farms. Rather than using the fans, which are used in so many places, there are new concepts where we use natural movement of air.
As another example, this morning I had a great meeting with the greenhouse industry. The Canadian greenhouse industry is one of the most innovative industries in our country. In Ontario alone there are about 1,800 acres under glass. In B.C. there are about 700 acres. I believe it is something like 60 acres or 80 acres in Quebec.
I was in one operation that had 52 acres of tomato and cucumber plants under glass, growing year round. One of the highest costs is the use of hydro. Therefore, farmers have been moving to new concepts. Again, it is an area where the government could assist. In fact, I believe it costs close to $6 million to put the new system in for one of these operations.
Beyond the solar efforts of the sun, using natural gas to heat that generates a byproduct containing CO2, which plants need to produce the cucumbers and tomatoes. A recycling effect is created and it will pay off over the long term tremendously. Again, it is another case of using greater energy efficiency to have greater economic and energy efficiencies in the operation and less greenhouse gases as a result at the end of the day.
There are so many opportunities available to us in terms of energy efficiency. This bill will move us a little farther along that line. It significantly broadens the government's ability to regulate products that affect the use of energy and we support that. It does not have to be an obtrusive regulation. As I mentioned in the very beginning, to a great extent, it can be more of an education campaign to have people understand what is available out there. The regulations can encourage better use of products, whether it is shutting down equipment or buying more efficient equipment or machinery on the industrial operations, on farms, on fishing boats, in the forestry industry or whatever.
We support these amendments, since they are substantially identical to the proposed amendments to the clean air act, Bill C-30, which the Liberal Party supported. For some reason the Government of Canada wanted to make that disappear. Maybe it was too forward-looking a bill for the current government to grasp, take hold of and put Canada in the lead in terms of environmental change.
If we had moved forward with that act, instead of being a follower, we would have been a leader. In this recession, we see more followers than leaders from the government side. Maybe that makes the point as to why the government abandoned the clean air act. Now we have to at least try to encourage it to move a little step forward with the Energy Efficiency Act.
We look forward to seeing regulations, but it will be necessary to ensure that the impact of these amendments are fully felt in Canadian society.
I want to make one quick point about my own province. One initiative of Premier Robert Ghiz and the Liberal government in P.E.I. is on energy. We are increasingly using wind energy to meet our energy needs. The province has laid out a master plan of how we can use the production of energy and hydro from windmills to meet a greater and greater share of the electricity needs of Prince Edward Island. The Canadian wind test site is on Prince Edward Island. I think it shows that a little province is leading the way in this country in terms of using wind energy to meet Canadians' needs and reduce greenhouse gases.
Energy Efficiency Act
April 1st, 2009 / 3:50 p.m.
Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to participate in the debate on Bill S-3, a bill that would amend the Energy Efficiency Act.
The basic premise of this bill is to broaden the scope of the government's ability to regulate energy-using consumer products. We can all think of a whole range of consumer products that people have in their homes, whether it be washing machines, dryers, fridges or so many others. The government already does regulate many of these under the existing act, through standards, through labelling, and through the promotion of energy-efficient products.
Indeed, this is something that needs to be broadened, because there are so many new appliances and new electronic gadgets these days.
So many of us in this House, of course, use the BlackBerry, which is a great Canadian-made product from my wife's home area of Kitchener—Waterloo. I must say, of course, that I am proud that Research in Motion also has a building in my riding of Halifax West. That is an interesting connection that my wife and I have with our hometowns.
There are so many items we have in our homes that use power, and there are programs when one is shopping for these things. One can look for the EnerGuide label or the Energy Star label to find out how, for example, one fridge compares to other fridges in its energy consumption, or whether a computer monitor falls within the group that is low enough in terms of energy use to have received the Energy Star. Those are good programs that have been around for a while.
The issue of standby power is an important one. That is one of the things this bill purports to regulate. That is to say, we all know of things in our homes that use power all the time. It may be only a little power, but they are still using power. Anything that has a light on all the time is using power. Often our televisions, even though they are turned off, are still using some power unless they are unplugged.
I can think of things like the new digital video recorders that use quite a bit of power, I gather, particularly if they are recording. Even if they are not recording, there is still a light on. The VCR has a light on, the stereo system has a little light on, and all these things use power.
Even an intercom system is often on all the time. These things are using power.
What this bill will allow the government to do by regulation is limit the amount of standby power that these products can use. Many of these products today use in the range of six to eight watts. At the same time, some of the new products are able to use as little as one watt of power per product. That would be a much better standard to apply to all of them. In fact, that is part of the plan, from what I hear of the government, and that is a good thing.
There are so many things: computers, battery chargers, adapters, stereos, TVs, and microwaves. If a charger for a cellphone is left plugged into the wall, it will become warm. The adapter will become warm. It becomes warm for a reason. That is because it is using power.
One thing that is worthwhile to mention during the debate on this bill is that it is a good opportunity to remind people to unplug these things. It is costing money and it is using power unnecessarily. We all know there are many good reasons not to do that, notably to save money and to help the environment.
In fact, Natural Resources Canada has an office of energy efficiency that has looked into this. They say that as much as 10% of household electrical consumption in Canada comes from this standby power issue. In other words, we could each theoretically reduce as much as 10% of our electrical bills by unplugging these things.
They say that if we did this and dealt with this issue, it could be the equivalent of turning off the power in 300,000 homes. In other words, 300,000 homes worth of electricity per year could be saved across the country. When we are looking at issues like blackouts in Ontario and problems when there are peak energy uses in the summer in particular, we can all see the importance of having that kind of room in the electrical grid.
However, as many have pointed out before, it is not simply what is in this bill that is of concern here and that we ought to be looking at. In fact, what is not in the bill is of major concern.
The measures in this bill were originally in Bill C-30 in the previous Parliament, the government's so-called clean air act which purported to deal with climate change. A special committee of the House was set aside to deal with the bill. Once it actually got hold of it and made a variety of amendments, it did become what could realistically be called a clean air act, but it certainly was not that when it was proposed by the government. It was the opposition amendments that put it in a form that would have actually achieved something.
What did we see? Did that bill go forward? No, it did not go forward. In fact, the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament and called an election. We have not seen the bill come back from the government. We have had lots of comments from the government about dealing with climate change which that bill purported to do, but no action.
In June 2005 the previous government actually listed in the Canada Gazette the six major greenhouse gases. That is the beginning of the 18 month process of regulating those greenhouse gases.
There is no reason why the following Conservative government that took over in February 2006 could not have regulated to limit the production, the emission, of those various greenhouse gases within that 18 month period.
Now it is more than three and a half years since those were listed, and we still see no regulations from the government in relation to the limiting of greenhouse gases. We have heard the government talk about cap and trade, we heard that it has a so called “Turning the Corner” plan, but we do not see any corner being turned. We do not see any actual regulations, any real action to deal with greenhouse gases or climate change. That is a concern.
The total lack of trust Canadians have in the government is also a concern. The kind of thing I have talked about is one of the reasons they have so little trust in the government. When it actually comes to bringing forth regulations to ensure the impact of amendments outlined in this bill are actually felt, we do not know what the government will do. This bill does allow the government to regulate in a whole variety of areas.
One of the questions we have heard during debate, both in the Senate and here, is this question of whether or not this bill could be used, this law could be used, to regulate automobile emissions. Well, the wording is very broad. I had a look at the law that exists now and it says in section 200, the definition section, “'energy-using product' means a prescribed product”.
Actually, that means that the government can set out in regulation what products are included as energy using products that fall within the scope of this bill. In other words, it could certainly regulate automobiles, as they do use an energy product: gasoline obviously, ethanol, even hydrogen these days or electricity. All these things are using energy. In theory, then, the government could certainly regulate automobiles through this bill, although we would expect it to use other legislation that is on the books to do that. It is interesting that that is one of the options.
The point I am making is that we do not know what the government will do with these regulations. We do not know if it will take any action at all. Its record so far in regulating on the environment is so weak that it is hard for Canadians to have any confidence that this bill will actually be used to do anything worthwhile.
The idea of the bill is a fine idea, but it is how it is used. The bill is all about giving that power to regulate to the government. That is an important point.
There are also concerns about the Conservative government's complete failure to understand that energy efficiency is a fundamental issue not just for the environment but for the economy. Dealing with these things is important in terms of where we go in the economy. What was lacking, for example, in the budget was an understanding of the importance of that.
In the U.S. we have seen the Obama administration's package for economic stimulus. We have seen six times as much spending per capita on the energy efficiency side of things and renewable energies as here in the Conservative government package. That was disappointing. I think the government ought to consider that, reconsider its position, and recognize that it is important for the economy that we become efficient. It can save us in many ways. It can help us with the strains in terms of our electrical grids and in many other areas.
I suspect that the fact that many government members are still climate change deniers is a factor here. I have witnessed that in this House. I witnessed it on Monday during debate on this same bill. My colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca was speaking. He was talking about Antarctica and how we have seen ice shelves, such as the Larsen ice shelf, collapse there and what a concern that is for situations like that around the globe. He gave examples of global warming, examples that are alarming scientists around the globe, and some of the reasons why scientists tell us the evidence is overwhelming that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activity.
However, the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt was in the chamber and he said that Antarctica is growing. I do not know what planet he is talking about. Maybe there is another Antarctica on another planet somewhere that is growing, but I think it is pretty clear that the opposite is happening here.
In fact we understand, and I think most people do, that the ice in Antarctica does not just freeze every winter. With the ice in Antarctica, or on the Greenland glacier or Arctic ice cap, we are talking primarily about ice that has been formed with snow falling and then more the following year and so much over centuries that it pushes down, compacts and turns into very hard and very old ice.
When we see something that is thousands of years old collapse and fall into the ocean, and a colleague thinks that Antarctica is actually growing, I think he ought to give his head a shake.
It is a bit like those who suggest that there is no link between HIV and AIDS. All the science is in the other direction. It is overwhelmingly clear that there is a link between HIV and AIDS. Or it is like the techniques that were used for years by those people who said there was no link between tobacco and cancer. We hear the same kinds of things from the other side.
It seems to me the Conservatives have not gotten the message. It seems to me that they forget the poll that came out in January 2007 which said that the number one concern of Canadians was the environment. This was about six or eight months after Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth came into the theatres and people started to become much more concerned about these issues. The media started to talk about this. People got more and more concerned, but it was only after that, that the government suddenly and totally changed direction and started to admit that there was a concern about climate change, or at least it wanted us to believe that it was reformed, that it actually had bought into the idea that this was a real problem.
Yet, it seems that many members on that side did not get the memo, that they have not gotten the message that in fact they are supposed to believe now in climate change, because we hear them say things like the notion that Antarctica is still growing. We hear them say things that are utterly ridiculous and that fly in the face of the overwhelming science that tells us that climate change is real and is the result of human activity.
Maybe they should work on their messaging over there and get the message out. Maybe they need another memo for more of the members on that side to get this clear. Most of them do not say very much normally without the office of the Prime Minister giving the approval, so one would think that maybe they need clearer direction from the PMO on that. Perhaps it is the fact that they are climate change deniers that accounts for their dismal failure to grasp what really are the larger implications that are at play with this bill and the issues of climate change, to which Bill C-30 in the last Parliament was tied.
When this bill was debated in the other place, that red chamber down the hall on the east side of this building, my colleague from Alberta, Senator Grant Mitchell, raised many important questions about this bill. In fact, while this bill was introduced in the Senate by the government leader there, it was Senator Mitchell who has been the driving force behind this idea for some time, pushing for energy efficiency improvements and pushing for changes, so that the government can regulate classes of products, not just certain products. That is a good thing, there is no question.
He was right, in the Senate, when he noted that perhaps one of the biggest questions was the lack of trust Canadians have that the Conservative government will do anything it promises. I have heard from many Canadians that they do not trust the government. They simply do not trust the government to actually implement this or any significant environmental policy because its record is so dismal.
While the Liberal Party supports a broadening of the government's ability to regulate products that use energy, this does not disguise the fact that these changes are in isolation to create the false impression the Conservatives are actually doing something on this file.
Well, they are not, really. We know that. That is why Canadians do not trust the Prime Minister or the government on the environment any more than they trust them to properly manage our country's finances or our economy.
This is the same government that told us last fall that there were no problems. The Prime Minister said that if it was going to get bad, it would already have been bad. We heard that during the election: if the economy is going to be in recession, we would have already had it here.
Well, things got a lot worse. In September he said it was good time to buy stocks. Not only was that insensitive but it was incredibly bad advice, when we consider what has happened since. For a guy who claims to be an economist, that is a pretty scary bit of prognostication. I think most people would have to recognize that.
Why the lack of trust? That is the result when the Conservatives deny climate change in the face of the kind of overwhelming scientific evidence that exists, or when they deny there is a recession in the midst of a global economic meltdown as we have been seeing over the past number of months, or when they say they will balance the books when they have been in deficit for months, as we heard last fall in the fiscal update, which was clearly absolute nonsense and from which the government retreated.
That is the question. Will the Conservatives actually implement these amendments in this bill and act on the regulatory power that this gives them?
We all saw what the Conservatives did with the Kyoto protocol. We saw an announcement related to cap and trade two years ago, and nothing has happened. We saw what they did with Bill C-30 in a previous Parliament, which is where this initiative first saw the light of day.
And did we not have a bill related to fixed term elections? That seems to be something I can recall; something that evaporated in the mind of the Prime Minister around about last September.
Did we not have a promise not to tax income trusts? Did we not have a signed offshore accord with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador that the Prime Minister said would not be abandoned? I think we did.
On the environment, in general, the trust factor is non-existent for the Conservative government. It announced a $1 billion clean energy fund, which sounded great. But how much of that is going toward things like solar power, wind power, tidal power or geothermal power? When the deputy minister appeared before the natural resources committee, she was asked about this fund and she told the committee that $850 million was targeted toward carbon capture and sequestration. Now, that is an important technology and it is of great concern to the oil sands, certainly. However, it is not the only issue. What is concerning is that the Conservatives want to give the impression they have this wonderful clean energy fund for a whole range of clean energies. We really see it is almost all going to one particular area.
Aside from this fundamental issue of trust, there are also concerns of what is not in the bill that raises other questions. For instance, what kind of consultation took place in relation to the second section which talks about interprovincial trade? Did the government consult the provinces? We do not know.
There are a variety of other concerns. The questions and comments that I hope will follow will give me an opportunity to talk about them more.
Energy Efficiency Act
March 30th, 2009 / 6:20 p.m.
Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC
Madam Speaker, as I was saying, this bill replicates for all practical purposes the now defunct Bill C-30 on air quality introduced by the government. It caused considerable debate, especially at the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. The second part of Bill C-30 aimed to modernize and improve the Energy Efficiency Act. Of course, that legislation needed to be renewed, updated and improved. For that reason, among others, we will support Bill S-3.
However, the fact remains that it is clearly not enough and more needs to be done. It is clear from many of the comments made by stakeholders in the industrial and business sectors, as well as the environmental community, that the industry proposed these regulations with a shrug of their shoulders. That says it all. It is a step in the right direction, since the amendments presented in these regulations were necessary, but it is not nearly enough to address the problem and improve energy efficiency. We simply must go even further on this issue, because it constitutes one of the most important pillars in a real policy to fight climate change.
A climate change policy must have two basic components. The first is the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at their source and changing our industrial processes and lifestyles in order to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One way this can be accomplished is by changing how we produce energy. In the next few years, we must reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, whether coal, gas or oil. We must develop new sources of energy in order to reduce our dependency on oil, for instance, which strains the budgets of individuals as well as of businesses and government. When we reduce our dependency on oil, we create conditions conducive to protecting the environment and improving the economy of our society.
This bill amends regulations to reflect advances in energy efficiency, especially with respect to standby power. That is significant. We must encourage such changes, suited to each type of appliance, especially in our homes. For example, an energy-efficient television will use 1 watt compared to 12 watts for a conventional television set. That is the case for certain appliances. If we really want to eliminate consumption, we should just pull the plug However, quite often we cannot because some devices have a memory and we would lose all the information.
It is important to update these technologies, to introduce regulations and to force businesses to change the manufacture of appliances especially when the technology is available. It is estimated that the implementation of new technologies for standby power alone could save families $35 a year and result in electricity savings equivalent to consumption by 300,000 households.
That part of the bill is good for the economy and for people's budgets.
This bill would also give the minister more power when it comes to labelling products that consume energy, and it would standardize the process, broadening the range of products to which labelling applies. That is important, but we feel that the government should go much farther. This kind of energy use labelling should not be restricted to appliances, such as dishwashers and televisions, or to light bulbs. It should also bring in a vehicle energy use labelling system like the one in Switzerland and elsewhere. In 2002, the Swiss implemented mandatory energy use labelling for new vehicles. That is the kind of energy use labelling we need.
Our proposed measure would require those who make and sell cars to affix a label containing information about fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and energy efficiency to all new and used vehicles for sale. We think that this information should also appear on brochures and all advertising material. Labelling would raise awareness among individuals and companies about vehicle efficiency by providing information about fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. People need that information to make responsible, well-informed choices.
We think that the government should go further than this bill and implement mandatory energy use labelling for new vehicles offered for sale, something along the lines of the Swiss system. I really want to emphasize that because we believe that energy efficiency is about more than the environment and environmental protection. It is also about saving money and creating jobs. This is an opportunity for businesses, states, nations and countries to create jobs based on energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency Act
March 30th, 2009 / 6:20 p.m.
Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC
Madam Speaker, I am delighted to take part in today's debate on Bill S-3 to modernize the Energy Efficiency Act. This bill was introduced in the Senate on January 29, 2009 by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.
This bill represents and replicates, for all practical purposes, part 2 of Bill C-30.
Energy Efficiency Act
March 30th, 2009 / 5:50 p.m.
Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill S-3. This bill would enable the government to regulate products that use energy, as we have heard before, and my party is going to support it in order to move it forward.
Elements of this bill came out of the former Bill C-30, which had the misnomer being called the clean air act, which did a little for the reduction of pollution but missed the central challenge of our times in terms of the environment, and that is how to deal with global warming. The government has essentially been missing in action on this global challenge, which is going to require all countries to move forward.
We heard from the previous speaker about what is happening this year. We are at a fork in the road because later on this year in Copenhagen world leaders will meet to wrestle with and develop a mechanism to effectively reduce greenhouse gases against the backdrop of some new scientific data which, at the very least, should be keeping those tasked with this challenge awake at night.
It should keep all of us awake at night because when we compare the evidence from two years ago, sea levels are rising at twice the speed of what was anticipated. That is shocking. We have seen how the Arctic ice cap, the Antarctic ice cap and glaciers are shrinking at a rate that is absolutely unprecedented. Part of the reason is that global warming is actually causing rifts and crevices within the glaciers, which is causing water to seep through and big chunks to fall off. These areas which reflect sun back into the atmosphere are being removed and it is contributing to the problem in terms of global warming.
It is part of a nasty feedback loop that ties into something I will talk about a little later with respect to the warming of the oceans, but it also has an impact upon how the currents work in the north Atlantic. If that current system changes, we are going to have a catastrophic feedback loop that we have no idea how to address. This is a much more serious problem than scientists even thought.
At the end of the day, we are going to have to put a price on carbon. There is no two ways about that. There is no better system. We are going to have to put a price on carbon. We will have to find a way to develop a carbon trading system so the private sector can trade credits. This will enable us to bring down emissions.
We also have to deal with supporting initiatives that work. We need to encourage the use of solar power, geothermal power and wind power. Many of the technological challenges that have existed around wave and tidal power have been overcome, and I might say proudly that many of those have been overcome by Canadian scientists who have been working very hard to do it. That is an inexhaustible source of energy.
We can also look at some new technologies in terms of rotating buildings. There are new initiatives in the UAE and other countries where buildings can rotate to follow the sun and absorb energy, thereby reducing the amount of energy that is required to heat buildings.
The other issue, which is a new change on an old idea, is electric cars. There have been some new discoveries in electric cars. Lithium phosphate batteries are able to store enough energy but also release the energy quickly. Previously, we never had an effective battery that was able to store energy as well as release it quickly, which is what electric cars require. I would suggest the government invest in and encourage scientists working in these areas. A full court press must be done to support these initiatives.
Unfortunately, what has happened, quite shockingly I might add, is that in the last budget the government actually cut moneys to some key monitoring areas for global warming. Canada was a leader in terms of building a network across the world to address climate change. Unfortunately, as a leader in this, these groups are going to have those moneys eviscerated by the government. That would be a tragedy for our country and for the world.
At the end of the day, we also have to look at how we can educate the public to use inputs that are going to dramatically reduce their use of fossil-based fuels. It is interesting that we can dramatically reduce our utilization of fossil fuels by how we build our buildings. We can reduce the use of fossil fuels by 70% or more if we change how we build our buildings. The member who spoke last gave the very good suggestion that we should work toward a national building code that will set standards on how buildings can be built. That is one of the most effective ways to reduce our consumption of greenhouse gases.
A couple of years ago, Scientific American really did a fabulous job. It devoted a month to climate change. In that, it showcased a number of very effective solutions that have been done around the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with climate change. One of the great articles in that journal was about how we can change the way we build our buildings.
In my last speech, I also spoke about the issue of forests. We know that deforestation is occurring at an unprecedented rate. As our population grows exponentially, our demand for products is also growing, so we are seeing an unprecedented level of deforestation. Madam Speaker, you and I know that our world cannot exist without forests. Forests have a value when they are cut down. Yet, suppose those forests had a value as they stand. In fact, they do because forests are, in effect, public utilities. They function as public utilities because they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis. That has a value.
If we put a price on carbon at $10 a tonne and we know that a hectare of jungle in the Congo River Basin or Amazonia can absorb about 200 tonnes of carbon a year, that is $2000 a year per hectare. Previously, when Kyoto was put together, countries with large tropical forests like Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil were leery of this and did not want to pursue it because they thought it might mitigate and affect their development. However, they have come around because they recognize that those moneys can be used for the development of the country in a sustainable way. In the case of Indonesia, that could be a net benefit of about $2 billion.
The catch in all this is that the people who live around and near these forests have to benefit. Where these programs have been tried, the failure, as it is in many development projects, is that the moneys do not get down to the people who need it the most. That is the central failure. The people who need to benefit, who are frequently the poorest people in the world, do not benefit from this. We need to enable ourselves to have a system with accountability to make sure that the people around those areas get a value for that forest and therefore do not cut it down.
If we do not do that, the system is doomed for failure. Putting a value on our forests, which are the lungs of the planet, is an intelligent way to preserve them. Our country has massive resources in terms of forests and we need to do a much better job of managing those forests. As I said earlier, we have rules and regulations that are governed by the provinces in terms of forestry code practices. However, speaking for my riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca and from having worked up north in B.C., we have found that in many cases those forestry practices are simply not adhered to because the companies doing it know that there is no effective enforcement mechanism.
We are seeing forests cut down right to the edge of rivers and where salmon-bearing streams occur. As a result, we are seeing that it is partially responsible for a massive depletion of our salmon stocks on the west coast. This is not an inevitable situation. This does not have to occur. If we are smart about how we develop and enforce our forestry practices, it will go a long way to ensuring that we have stable fisheries on the west coast as well as a forest that will be there in the future.
Biofuels are the coal of the renewable energy sector. Biofuels, in particular corn ethanol, is a disaster. Corn ethanol is the coal of the biofuel industry. We are subsidizing land to be wiped out and reseeded with corn which has a downstream effect that has been opposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the World Food Programme and others. By taking land and planting corn for biofuels, the energy that goes into processing that corn is much larger than what we get out of it. In other words, we are burning more fossil fuels to get a unit of energy out of corn. Also, we are removing areas that were previously acting as major carbon sinks and replanting with corn.
This is a lose-lose-lose proposition. I would strongly encourage the government to wrap its head around this. Corn biofuels are bad. It needs to stop subsidizing corn biofuels and start looking at alternative energies that actually work, such as solar, wind, tidal power, wave power with geo-thermal.
Some biofuels might work in terms of the detritus from forestry practices, and a few others, but, for heaven's sake, to take land and encourage the planting of corn to warp, twist and distort the system, that is actually causing incredible damage.
Another interesting thing that has happened concerns carbon scrubbers. We now know that there are proposals and developments that enable us to actually scrub the air of carbon dioxide, transferring that into a situation where the carbon is being pulled out of the atmosphere. I would submit that is something we need to consider and need to look at and I would encourage the government to do this.
Something the Liberal Party railed against In the previous budget was the government's failure to support research and development. We know that research and development will be the cornerstone of our country's ability to be competitive in the changing economy that will come out of the economic tsunami that has rolled across our planet and destroyed so many people's finances, so many countries' economies and has hurt so many people here in Canada and around the world.
The government must stop its antipathy toward science and research and understand clearly that research and development is one of the key cornerstones of the future of our country. The failure to invest in this will cause huge economic damage to our people and our country and it will result in the egress of a loss of some of our best and brightest minds.
Back in the late 1990s the then Liberal government saw this as a priority. After the deficits were slayed, the then government of Jean Chrétien put moneys into research and development dramatically. As a result of that, we were able to attract some of the best and brightest scientists from around the world. We have started to actually get to the forefront of science and research in many fields, whether it is medicine, physics, chemistry, proteomics or genomics.
In our neck of the woods, adaptive optics is being done at the Hertzberg Institute of Astrophysics. In fact, we are the third leader in the world in astronomy
What is happening now, whether it is in the Hertzberg Institute of Astrophysics, in Genome Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Research or NSERC, the sudden cut of moneys by the government at a time when an economic stimulus demands that it invests in research and development, will negatively and profoundly affect the ability of our country to be economically competitive in the future.
What the government is doing is harming the future of our children and of our grandchildren and we cannot allow that to occur.
I know that my party, the Liberal Party, has told the government, loud and clear, to get smart and understand the importance of research and development and understand that it is a cornerstone of our economy. We cannot divorce publicly funded research and development from the future of our economy or our nation. It is critically important.
It also speaks to the critical importance of the government to invest in scientific research and climate change. We know there is a great deal of skepticism on the other side that this is even occurring. We know the government thinks this is simply a natural ebb and flow of temperature changes over time. However, that ignores 99% of the scientists who have made a clear, compelling and provocative argument to say that this is not simply the normal variance of temperature over time, that this is a fact. Unless the government deals with this now and works with other countries, the future of our nation and our world will be compromised. It is a very serious problem because we are dealing with the extinction of a lot of species. I do not want to be alarmist about it but we are one of those species. It is critically important that the government do this.
The government also needs to look at best practices. One of the singular failures that we have seen, for some strange reason, is the inability of the government to say that it does not need to necessarily reinvent the wheel, but as a first step we should look at best practices within our country and around the world. We should draw them together to ensure those best practices are moved out from the bench, from theory, from small practices and into a much larger acceptance and involvement by a greater number of people. This can and has to be done and it is simple to do.
Why not create a centre for best practices at the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and all of the different scientific areas, whether it is NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC? We can take best practices in all those areas and do a good job of trying to share them with others in our country and with those around the world.
When the world comes to Copenhagen at the end of this year, Canada will be sitting there but we cannot be a second rate player in this. We cannot sit on the sidelines and simply see where this goes. What is required, before the world comes to Copenhagen, is that we start to develop and begin to lead. We develop a coalition of the willing, and there is no reason the government cannot do that.
We know that President Obama is trying. I believe 10% of the $783 billion stimulus package is devoted to climate change. The Americans are trying to find ways to bring down the utilization of fossil fuels and utilize new tools and new technologies to address that. The president also knows that there will be a global demand for this.
We all know that China and India are producing increasing amounts of greenhouse gases. We also know that as their demand increases, and it will increase geometrically, the impact upon our environment will be huge.
The previous president of the United States and our current Prime Minister have made the fallacious argument that these countries need to grasp onto this themselves and come to the table or we will not play ball. That is not leadership. What the government could do is sit down and engage both of these countries. At the end of the day, they will be impacted by global change just like everybody else. That is not something any government wants to do.
With the diaspora that we have here and have come from Asia, why do we not utilize those folks here and engage both China and India in a way that few other countries can?
We have an opportunity to cease the day and engage other countries. We can use best practices and tackle this beast called climate change once and for all. Failure to do that is not an option.
Energy Efficiency Act
March 30th, 2009 / 5:50 p.m.
Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS
Madam Speaker, when we look at the issues of energy efficiency and we recall Bill C-30 from the previous Parliament, the so-called clean air act which contained some of these provisions, we can also recall the government talked about how it wanted to have a made in Canada plan. That was its position when it took government. Now it seems it is no longer interested in that. It has dropped that kind of phrasing. Now what it looks like is it is waiting and we are going to have a made in the U.S.A. plan.
Could she comment on what the government is doing in this regard?
Energy Efficiency Act
March 30th, 2009 / 5:25 p.m.
Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB
Madam Speaker, I am rising to speak to Bill S-3. It is a very important concept, but as hon. members will see from my remarks today, the bill does not go anywhere near far enough. A number of my colleagues in the House have said it is nice that we are taking some measures, but if we are to get serious about addressing pollution control and climate change, there is far more that needs to be done.
Why is energy efficiency important? Why would we even bother to bring forward amendments like this? We need to reduce our energy use. Why do we need to reduce energy use? Because most of our energy generation in Canada at this point in time, except for hydroelectricity, is fossil fuel based. Fossil fuel based power is the largest source of greenhouse gases that are emitted in Canada, and also the largest source of a number of pollutants.
Coal-fired power, which happens to be the largest source of greenhouse gases being emitted in Canada right now, is also the largest source of industrial mercury in Canada. It has been designated by the Government of Canada as being the priority substance for reduction. By getting more effective with energy use, we can reduce pollution and neurotoxins.
It provides cost savings. By reducing energy use, we save a lot of money not only to individual homeowners and business owners, but also to the Government of Canada. In this time of economic crisis when programs that should be supported are being cut left, right and centre, we could make a lot more revenue available to good programs if we cut energy use.
We can also save a lot of money, if people cut down their energy use, by building new generation facilities and transmission lines. The costs that individual homeowners, businesses and the government pay for electricity are based on the development of new generation and transmission lines, some of those transmission lines being built for export.
There is also the environmental impacts associated with the generation of electricity: the coal mines, the cooling ponds and so forth. Overall, it is a laudatory objective. The preamble of Bill S-3 states:
Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring sustained improvement in the efficient use of energy in all sectors of the Canadian economy;
I will speak to that in a minute and talk about the inadequacies of the bill in dealing with what the preamble states.
Now more than ever the federal government needs to assert its powers to trigger energy efficient measures. We can do that through environmental protection measures. By having strict environmental controls, we encourage industry to be more efficient in how it generates power and to look for ways where it can actually encourage people to retrofit their homes.
One concrete example of that is in California where Pacific Gas and Electric Company determined it made more sense rather than build a new, big, expensive generation facility, to pay people to retrofit their homes and businesses. It has been a very successful program. The end result was that they got a higher rate, but people used less power.
The Government of Canada could also use its fiscal powers. It could impose fees, a higher cost on non-energy-efficient appliances and so forth. There is a lot of market measures we could use that we are simply not using. We could use our spending power. We could put conditions on the transfer of money.
For example, we are sending billions of dollars to provincial governments and to the private sector to test carbon sequestration. We could be putting conditions on that money by saying to industry that if it agreed to phase out some of its coal-fired power plants, we would help pay for its testing of technology.
This bill, as the Conservatives' plan to tackle climate change, is a pretty small baby step in the right direction, but it falls short. The amendments mirror the amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act in Bill C-30, the clean air and climate change bill, which was approved by the environment committee in the 39th Parliament but has not been acted upon. That bill would have added a preamble to the Energy Efficiency Act to support setting continuous economy-wide improvement targets in energy efficiency in Canada, with two sections added to the Energy Efficiency Act.
The first change that would have been made would require the governor in council to prescribe energy efficient standards for all energy-using products, not just a handful, this list of five, but all energy-using products that are responsible for significant or growing energy consumption in Canada.
Second, the cabinet would be required to review all energy efficient standards within three years after they were introduced or amended in after third year thereafter. Through this review, every energy efficiency standard would have had to meet or exceed the most stringent levels found in North America.
Regrettably the bill is not that far-reaching. It is extremely limited.
The bill would delete that second requirement. There is no guarantee that the standards made would be as good as any other North American jurisdiction. This could mean that, once again, Canada could be outstripped by the United States on energy efficiency and ultimately on climate change, including setting standards for the manufacture of equipment. If we do not set higher energy standards, there is a possibility that we could not even ship our goods or sell them to the United States if it has higher standards, which President Obama is moving toward.
President Obama has directed higher efficiency standards for everyday household appliances such as dishwashers, lamps and so forth. He has directed quick, clear progress on energy efficiency. The final rules are to be in place by this August, requiring energy efficiency standards for a very lengthy list of products, three times the list offered up in Bill S-3. I will not go through the entire review, but is a very comprehensive list.
His directive also asks for his department of energy to meet all deadlines in setting energy standards and evaluate them in priority order and finish some ahead of schedule if possible.
Bill S-3 will subject a limited list of products to new energy efficiency regulations for only commercial clothes washers, dishwashers, incandescent fluorescent lamps, battery chargers and satellite set top boxes. There is no indication whether the standards released will be as stringent as those in the United States and whether there will be any mechanism to ensure Canada is a leader in energy efficiency rather than a follower.
Instead of this minimalist approach, why are we not allowing Canadians to buy the best possible energy efficient appliances? Why are we continuing to allow the sale and the manufacturing in Canada of products that are not serving Canadians? Canadians will be best served by the most efficient possible appliance. Why do we not then only enable the sale of the most efficient energy appliances or ban the sale of outdated ones that burn energy and put up costs for all Canadians?
Why not pursue innovative approaches such as what the Pembina Institute has talked about and that some American states have adopted, for example, the innovative electricity conservation option called “virtual power”. If any kind of mechanism, building or part of a building or appliance is not in use, the computer automatically shuts off that equipment. It is an incredibly innovative approach and it is time for our country to move ahead into these more innovative approaches.
Bill S-3 professes to ensure the sustained improvement in the efficient use of energy in all sectors. If we are serious about addressing energy efficiency and energy conservation in Canada, we need to tackle the single largest source of greenhouse gases. Incidentally it is also the single largest remaining source of industrial mercury emissions in Canada and across North America. That is coal-fired power plants.
Canada is criticizing the United States and China for their proposals for the expansion of the coal-fired power plants. The federal government is doing nothing in the exercise of its available powers and mandate to foster the closure of these plants at the end of their operating life. The federal government should take this action if we are really serious about energy efficiency in Canada.
The majority of coal-fired power plants have a 30% energy efficiency. Even the most efficient operate a 40% efficiency. That is a super critical plant. As far as I am aware, there is only one such plant in Canada, and that is in Alberta.
To run pollution control equipment, which we hope these plants will clean up their act and add on more pollution control equipment, they need to burn more coal. We get into this perverse cycle where in order to have energy efficiency and cost savings for the coal-fired generators, we burn more coal.
I want to offer up to the House as well some information that has come to my attention. I sought information from the government on the energy efficiency of public buildings. That is a sector where President Obama is leading. In his new stimulus package he has directed a massive energy efficiency program for all public buildings across the United States of America. We do not have that kind of stimulus package in our budget.
The information provided to me is most invaluable to the House. I have discovered that of the more than 26,000 buildings held by the Government of Canada, only 10 buildings are in the process of doing any energy efficient work whatsoever toward a LEED standard. That is reprehensible. If we are to expect the private sector, or households, or small businesses to move in the direction of energy efficiency, to turn in their older appliances and recyclables and buy more energy efficient equipment, surely the government should set the stage by example.
Environment Canada, alone, owns more than 5,000 buildings, yet only one of those buildings is in the process of being retrofitted. If we retrofitted the public buildings and saved only 1% energy use in our public facilities, we would save $3.5 million a year. If we improved the energy efficiency of our public buildings by 5%, we would save more than $18 million a year. Think of the programs for child care, for education, for seniors, for affordable housing, for environmental protection that we could benefit with $18 million a year. Essentially Canadian money is going out the stack in these government facilities.
I commend the government for bringing the bill forward. It is a nice tiny baby step forward. However, if we are to live up to what the bill says, which is improving energy efficiency in all sectors of the Canadian economy, then it is incumbent upon the government to table legislation forthwith to move us forward into this century and take real action on climate change, pollution reduction and protect Canadian health and save Canadians money.
Energy Efficiency Act
March 30th, 2009 / 4:55 p.m.
Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS
Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member took part in the study in a previous Parliament of Bill C-30 which included some of the measures that are proposed in this bill on energy efficiency. However, what I would like to ask him about are the things that we do not see in this bill.
I know he worked with other opposition parties and members on the committee to make considerable improvements to what the Conservatives called the so-called clean air act, which it clearly was not when it started but by the time it had been amended and revised considerably by the committee, it was actually beginning to look not so bad.
I wonder if the member would like to comment on what has been left out here, what we do not see here.
He talked a bit about ecoENERGY which was gutted in the recent budget. Perhaps he would like to comment again on what is missing in the budget in relation to energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency Act
March 30th, 2009 / 4:30 p.m.
David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to this bill to amend the Energy Efficiency Act.
It is interesting to follow the parliamentary secretary after his remarks and his responses to questions with a couple of fundamental facts for Canadians to understand. First, this bill is actually being sponsored by the leader of the government in the Senate, but of course the critic there is hon. Grant Mitchell, a Liberal senator who has been driving this through the Senate for some time now.
It is a bill that will make, as the parliamentary secretary has said, a number of changes to the existing Energy Efficiency Act here in Canada. It will, in effect, broaden the scope of the government's ability to regulate consumer products that use energy, which in and of itself is a good thing.
The fundamental challenge, the theme I am going to come back to, about this bill and the amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act is that they are now being presented completely and utterly in isolation. They are presented in isolation of a climate change plan for the country. They are presented in isolation from fiscal structures in the country that may or may not be driving energy efficiency because we all know that energy efficiency and a carbon constrained future, with the reduction of greenhouse gases, is a major and massive competitive factor that Canada is now pursuing.
We are in a globally highly sought after race which many jurisdictions want to win, and that is the race to better and higher energy efficiency standards for our production processes, for the services we render, and for the way in which the government procures its goods and services.
There is yet another missing link in this package. How do these energy efficiency measures connect with a comprehensive innovative strategy for the future of Canada? How do they connect to the existing fiscal measures that are in place? How do they connect to the government's overall program expenditures? How do they connect to the government's own procurement system, having watched the green procurement regime of the previous government disappear under this government?
How is it connected to the government's own energy efficient audit system for Canadian homeowners which has been seriously undermined and weakened? How does it connect to the government's new short-term funding for the building of decks and patios to try to stimulate the economy? How does it connect to the standards by which stimulus money is being invested in Canadian society? What is the matrix here that the government is bringing to bear on billions of dollars of necessary stimulus spending? How do these connect?
It is all so passing strange that the government has been mounting for months, now a campaign, the publicity and communications campaign, to tell Canadians that it is a red tape buster or, in the case of energy efficiency and climate change, a green tape buster. The Minister of Transport, for example, regularly talks about being the accountability guy, the efficiency guy.
Why is it, surreptitiously, that just last Friday afternoon the Government of Canada, the Conservatives, tabled an outrageous document which lists hundreds of exceptions for environmental assessment provisions in this country claiming that these have to be removed, these standards for environmental assessment have to be removed because, of course, they will impede, the government suggests, stimulus investment in the Canadian economy.
How do we square this? On the one hand, we have one document that says we have to do away with environmental assessment, and yet now we have a new series of amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act which say that businesses are going to have to abide by a whole new suite of energy efficiency standards.
Is not this suite of energy efficiency amendments yet more red tape being tabled by the Conservative Party, or really is the Conservative Party being disingenuous, being deliberately misleading with the Canadian people about whether environmental assessment is in fact an impediment to getting important stimulus investment out the door?
However, it is worse than that. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities told us there already exists over $13 billion of so-called shovel-ready projects that have been environmentally assessed. So why is it that the government is speaking out of both sides of its mouth? Which story are Canadians supposed to believe?
I think what we are seeing here is the end result of three and a half years of non-stop lurching by the Conservative Party when it comes to energy efficiency and the climate change crisis. It is jumping literally from ice floe to ice floe as the Arctic thaws at breakneck speed.
There is no climate change plan in this country. There is no more Turning the Corner plan. Everything has evaporated into thin air. Instead of actually stopping the nonsense, stopping the lurching from one communications campaign to another over the past three and a half years on the climate change crisis, the government is introducing these minor but important changes to the Energy Efficiency Act and expecting Canadians to believe these amendments constitute a climate change plan. They do not.
There is absolutely no doubt now; it is conclusive. Canada has abandoned the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, although the government does not have the guts to stand up and say it.
It is the only international treaty in existence on the planet today to deal with atmospheric carrying capacity and the climate change crisis. There is no other. For any government that unilaterally changes the baseline year, for example, from 1990 to 2006, which is also part of the government's communications campaign, the universe only started in 2006. In terms of everything that came before, such as Prime Minister Mulroney's work, Mr. Stanfield's work, Mr. Trudeau's work, the work of successive governments, in the communications campaign none of that existed before.
Therefore, in 2006, the government came and unilaterally changed the terms of conditions of our climate change obligations, and instead of coming clean and telling the world, the international community and Canadians, that it was abandoning the only international agreement there is, it bobbed, weaved, lurched and did what it did best. It communicated with shock and awe. It tried to stop the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act by sending a minister into a committee of the other place, making a fool of himself by actually putting up fictitious numbers and then getting caught. Like the schoolchild who gets caught cheating on the exam, the minister was really reminiscent of a child who has an answer for everything except for the fact that he got cheating on the exam.
Therefore, we have a situation now where this is completely incoherent. It attaches to nothing. Eleven independent groups have examined the government's previous Turning the Corner environmental climate change plan. Each and every single group that has examined the government's plan has said it is not real. It cannot possibly achieve the targets that the government says it will achieve.
Is that why, for example, we have heard no talk of this Turning the Corner plan in months since the last election campaign?
Is that why the only thing the Government of Canada can put in the window on climate change is a so-called dialogue with the United States, a dialogue I described as a dialogue of the deaf?
Canada is now apparently entering dialogue and negotiation with the United States on an appropriate so-called continental climate change response, but we have no plan.
Who in their right mind, in any organization—and I defy the Conservatives to name one organization in any sector of Canadian society, business, non-governmental, civil society, government, anywhere—would purport to be entering into negotiations with a sovereign state like the United States that excels at negotiations, and have no plan?
I think the only group that is purporting to foist this on the Canadian people is the Conservative Party of Canada. How can one enter into negotiations without a plan? One cannot.
We now have a situation where these amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act are being put in the window as window dressing, just like the government's environmental enforcement provisions in another act, in order to masquerade or to cover the fact that there is no climate change plan for this country, over and over again. I do not know what it is going to take.
Even the government cloaking itself in the flag of Obama is not working, because Canadians know they should not be taking their climate change strategy and their plan out of Washington. We should not be taking the design for a cap and trade system out of Washington. We should not be taking the price of a tonne of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases in carbon dioxide equivalent measurement out of Washington.
We should not be abandoning the more than 174 countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and wait for Washington. We should not be waiting for 535 congressmen and congresswomen in Washington who have the extremely difficult task of delivering up a cap and trade system and a renewable energy system to President Obama.
This bill to amend the Energy Efficiency Act does not a climate change plan make. It is a simple series of obvious amendments to deal with the fact that the government has no plan.
One of the important provisions of the bill, I will say, is this: It will require that the minister compare Canada's energy efficiency standards to those of the United States and Mexico and report to Parliament here every three years. That is important because of the preponderance of white goods that are now being manufactured in a continental perspective in Mexico.
That is important. It does increase the scope and flexibility of the authority the government can bring for more effective regulation to govern energy consumption. That is a good thing.
We have had this debate. It was at the Canada's Clean Air Act hearings, the hearings of the special legislative committee. We spent hours, for months, sitting until midnight, working and working harder yet again to achieve a proper outcome for the country.
What was the end result? The Prime Minister took his soccer ball and went home with it. He prorogued Parliament. He did not like the outcome of the work of parliamentarians. He was not prepared to abide by the majority wishes of this House and took his ball and went home with it.
We have now been set back at least three and a half years, probably five years, in dealing with the climate change crisis. Once again, Energy Efficiency Act amendments do not a climate change plan make.
Why is the government unable to tell us how the knee bone connects to the thigh bone, or the hip bone connects to the thigh bone? It is incapable of telling us because it has not done its homework.
When it came into power in 2006, it set loose a series of ministers who were two- and three-men wrecking crews. They disassembled the climate change programming that was in place. They cut over $5 billion from climate change programming.
Here are some of the ironic aspects of those changes.
Just a month ago, the Prime Minister's own National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy said that we need a commercial energy efficiency investment program. In 2006, the government killed a program called the commercial building retrofit program because it was brought in by a former government. How could it possibly be good if it was not aligned to the speak-think of the Conservative Party?
The wind power production incentive, the WPPI, as it was called, brought in and providing good fiscal stimulus for our transition to a carbon-constrained future, is gone. The government did not like it. It did not belong to the Conservatives. It could not be Conservative speak-think. The Conservatives could not sell it as theirs. Everything that came before was bad.
The renewable power production incentive, important for solar panels, wave technology, tidal energy sources, biomass and other potentials, is effectively gone. It does not exist anymore.
There is yet another one. All Canadians can see the government's silly ads on television right now about tax credits and picking which one applies to oneself, as if that makes a climate change policy. Forewarned by the official opposition and its own officials at Environment Canada and Finance Canada, the government of tax credits brought in a tax-deductible transit pass.
Just a month ago, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development chided the government, or worse than chided, I think, took the government to serious task about the fact that it claimed it would reduce tens of thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. It cost $637 million, and in the words of the commissioner, had no effect on reducing greenhouse gases. Worse, it had no effect on driving up ridership in our public transit systems. Instead of taking the $637 million and investing it as it should have in the capital needs, the infrastructure needs of public transit systems across this country, it chose to use yet another tax credit to try to convince Canadians it was the right thing to do.
It is no wonder that our allies and countries with whom we have been doing business for 50 years on energy and environmental issues are scratching their heads and wondering in disbelief what has happened to the country of Canada when it comes to environment, energy and economic opportunities.
The government brought in a $1.5 billion ecotrust. Canadians remember that one. It was during the last Parliament.
We had the Minister of the Environment at the committee and we asked him to tell us why the government put $1.5 billion into a trust fund. He said provinces were drawing it down and it was being used for greenhouse gas emission reductions. We asked him if he could illustrate just one project where the money was spent. The minister could not. We then asked him how many tonnes of greenhouse gases have been reduced as a result of that fund, or what metrics were forced on the provinces, what standards he told the provinces they ought to abide by in spending the money. It turns out that there are no metrics or standards.
It is no surprise that this bill on amending the Energy Efficiency Act cannot be seen in isolation. It is being presented in isolation, but it cannot be seen in isolation. It is no surprise that it does not connect to programmatic spending or fiscal stimuli. It does not connect at all to our climate change plan because we do not have one.
Now we are drifting and waiting for Washington. I think it is a shameful thing for Canada to abandon its sovereignty in preparing a climate change strategy for this country such that we can be good international citizens and come to the negotiating table in Copenhagen with clean hands, something that will be very important as we seek the cooperation of the world to achieve an implementable climate change agreement for 2012 and beyond.