Climate Change Accountability Act

An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

Bruce Hyer  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Report stage (House), as of Dec. 10, 2009
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

The purpose of this enactment is to ensure that

Canada meets its global climate change obligations

under the United Nations Framework Convention

on Climate Change by committing to a long-term

target to reduce Canadian greenhouse gas emissions

to a level that is 80% below the 1990 level by

the year 2050, and by establishing interim targets for the

period 2015 to 2045. It creates an obligation on

the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable

Development to review proposed measures to meet the

targets and submit a report to Parliament.

It also sets out the duties of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • May 5, 2010 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • April 14, 2010 Passed That Bill C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, be concurred in at report stage.
  • April 1, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

moved that Bill C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-311, the climate change accountability act, before its final vote here in the House of Commons. It is a private member's bill and should be non-partisan. It has taken a long time to get here. Essentially, we are in the same place, deciding on the climate change bill, as we were two years ago before the 2008 election killed Bill C-377.

We have lost many valuable years, years in which action could have been taken, years in which Canadian businesses could have had some sense of direction from the government, something they have been demanding for a long time, years in which Canada's international reputation could have been enhanced instead of damaged, years in which we could have shifted beyond stagnant questions like, “Is there really a problem”, or “Will we set science-based targets and timetables”, to “How will we meet targets in a timely fashion?”

A month ago Canada joined 126 other countries in the fourth global Earth Hour, where we turned off electric lights for one hour. However, it is not just about saving electricity. The annual event was started just a few years ago to send a message to leaders to get moving on tackling climate change. It has grown quickly, with just two million people taking part in 2007 to this year when more than a billion people took part. They include millions of Canadians in more than 300 municipalities. In towns and cities, large and small, there were concerts, candlelight parties, educational events and all manner of people getting together across Canada to send us, here in this House, a message to please show leadership on climate change.

These events are becoming more common and they will not stop. A few months ago Canadians joined in a global day of climate action in every major city. A clear majority of Canadians demand action. Naysayers and cynics will not stop them. A minority prime minister intent on delay and obfuscation will not stop them either.

I sincerely hope that a clear majority of members will stand in favour of action on climate change. I also hold out hope that Conservative members who disagree with the Prime Minister on this issue will demand a free vote and vote in favour of a sustainable energy future. Historically, private members' bills such as this are not whipped votes.

Many members are weighing their options on what legacy they will leave, how they will be judged by history. Regardless of the rhetoric on either side of the debate, members must decide if the right choice is to stand up for action on climate change, even if they are unsure of some of the scientific details, while considering the consequences of making the wrong decision.

Here are the choices. Climate change is either substantially caused by human activity, or it is not. The vast majority of scientists, most Canadian citizens and, indeed, most of the world, now agree that humans have influenced the climate. However, for the sake of argument, let us entertain some of the remaining naysayers in this House who cling to the belief that it is purely a natural phenomenon.

Faced with these two possibilities, that human-caused climate change is either the scientific truth or it is not, there is something we do control. We can either act or not act. That is the real question before us in this House.

Imagine a chart or a table with the intersection of two rows versus two columns, with action versus non-action on one axis; and climate change, true or false, on the other axis. Thus the risk and benefits could be reduced to four possible outcomes. First, human-influenced climate change is real, and we take decisive action. Second, climate science is wrong, but we take decisive action anyway. Third, the science is wrong, and we take no action. Fourth, it is here, it is real, but we do not act.

Each of the four scenarios is a window to a different Canada of the future. Because the fate of our country and indeed the world is potentially held in the balance by this decision, it is important to consider objectively each of the four future possibilities for our country in turn.

Here is the first scenario. Consider the option that the science is reasonably accurate and humans could have, and have, influenced the climate. Canada and other countries move to take decisive action. It costs money and resources. Our economies are transformed with new industries, and consumption habits change. The world is a different place and it is a lot more sustainable. It took hard work, and sometimes we stumbled along the way, but we averted disaster.

Will it have been worth it? We would end up with a liveable, comfortable, and prosperous Canada to leave to future generations. In the face of possible dangerous and destabilizing climate change, the majority of citizens, scientists, and businesses believed that it was the logical thing to do.

Here is a second scenario. What if the world's economies devote serious resources to mitigating climate change, but they do not have to? Science is imperfect, and there is a tiny possibility that human influenced climate change might not be significant. Yes, if this scenario is realized, there is no question there will be changes to our economies.

Our Prime Minister has argued that these changes would be unaffordable, while other countries, like the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, and a growing pantheon of other nations, see them as more of an economic opportunity.

However, even if we took action that we did not need to take, what will we have done? We will have increased fuel efficiency standards and improved energy conservation. We will have reduced our dependence on coal, and oil and gas, and increased our use of clean renewable energy. We will have shifted from old industries to new green technologies and have been able to compete in the global economy of the future. We will have reduced waste and pollution. We will have increased our national productivity and efficiency. Will that all be so bad? These things are worth doing even if we did not have the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

Our final two scenarios paint bleak pictures of the Canada of the future. They are what will come about if we continue to do nothing to tackle the threat of climate change.

The third possible future, for the sake of argument, is that climate change is a vast scientific conspiracy, aided and abetted by everyone from industry to three Liberal provincial governments, to conservation organizations, to ordinary citizens, both in Canada and the world. Maybe 99% of the world's climate scientists have all read their graphs upside down by mistake.

Either way, the Government of Canada would be one of the few governments in the world that continued to do nothing, and in this hypothetical scenario, they would happen to be right. In that case, we would still have to deal with our drooping economic productivity and the problems associated with peak oil, while most other countries will have greened their economies. It is obvious that this scenario is where our Prime Minister is placing his bets, but then our Prime Minister seems inclined to place the demands of big oil ahead of the needs of Canadian citizens and a truly sustainable Canadian economy.

Finally, the fourth possible future is that climate change is real, but we do not act. The consequences we have all heard about will be disastrous: drought; famine; skyrocketing food prices; new pests; coastal cities drowned; fire storms decimating our forests; and worldwide, millions will become desperate refugees; bloody wars will be waged over dwindling resources; and there will extinction of countless species. Future generations will look upon us with dismay and disgust. We knew the consequences, yet selfishly and indecisively, we did nothing. We feasted on oil and gas and coal and passed the bill along to our grandchildren.

Considering all of these options, there is only one thing we can control: we can choose to act or not to act. Let us consider taking action. By acting, we either devote the effort and resources to get a liveable and more productive Canada if climate change is not as serious as most fear, or we devote the effort and resources to build a prosperous, green and efficient Canada that has averted catastrophe, if what science has told us is real. Either way, Canada would be a productive country that we could feel proud to pass on to our grandchildren. Yes, there is a small possibility that we were misled in our good intentions, but let not history say that we were malicious or cowardly.

Let us consider inaction. By not acting or by delaying, we would continue the steady increase in greenhouse gas pollution that previous governments have delivered for 20 years. If human influenced climate change is not real and we do not act, then the best that may happen is that we will be way behind other nations in the competitive industries of tomorrow. The worst case scenario of inaction, the one that science tells us is most likely, is truly catastrophic. It would be an economic and ecological disaster.

I would urge parliamentarians to do everything they can do to avoid this scenario even being a possibility for us. The only way to eliminate this terrible outcome from our future is to act, and to act now. Decisive action is the only logical thing to do. It is the most economical thing to do and it is the only moral thing to do.

In one week, we will face a choice here in the House. We can vote at third reading to take the first steps with this private member's bill, Bill C-311. The bill gives us clear targets. It requires the government to ensure that Canada reduces its absolute greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. It introduces real accountability by requiring the government to publish five-year target plans, starting in 2015, and report on progress every two years. The independent National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy will review and report on the feasibility of each and every target plan.

This bill gives us flexibility. The government will have the option of setting flexible interim targets, if changes are needed. The bill gives us certainty, with published plans, long timelines, and much greater predictability for business and industry. It gives municipalities less risk and enhances investor confidence.

In the complete and total absence of any government plan, Bill C-311 remains the only climate change legislation the House is considering and voting on. Unfortunately, it was held up for half a year, when some Liberals voted with the Conservatives to delay the bill at committee until after the Copenhagen summit.

That being said, during the better part of a year of committee deliberations, no party proposed any amendments to the bill before it was finally returned to the House. I hope this means that the official opposition is satisfied with it as is. I hope all opposition parties will be fully present for the vote to ensure that this most vital legislation is passed.

The choice is up to us in this Parliament what Canada we want in the future. Yes, there have been a few isolated incidents in the research that do raise questions, but when thousands of scientists build any complex scientific picture of a world, there will undoubtedly be a few gaps, misperceptions, and mistakes that are made. Cynics will focus on specific incidents and bits of data rather than the bigger picture.

As a scientist, I realize that most citizens and many politicians want proof and certainty from science. Unfortunately, science can never conclusively prove or disprove anything. The best it can do is to give us a probability that we almost proved or disproved something. Even that requires an experimental design that has dozens of replications and many controls.

However, fellow members of the House, we have only one earth, with no replications and no experimental controls. We never know the future of climate change with certainty. The best we can do is to make educated predictions and then err on the side of caution and survival. Last year, the prestigious magazine, The Economist, said, “The doubters are right that uncertainties are rife in climate science. They are wrong when they present that as a reason for inaction.” It continued that most research supported the idea that warming was man-made, and that while uncertainty remained, that argued for—not against—action. Moreover, while the range of possible outcomes was huge, with catastrophe one possibility, The Economist noted that the costs of averting climate change were comparatively small.

It is not too late. We can still leave better options and a better Canada for our children and grandchildren, but we must take the first real steps now. The costs of inaction, on the other hand, are likely so great that if we fail in this one moment of truth, we will have broken our sacred duty that all parents have to their children and grandchildren to leave them better options and a better world.

I encourage the members of the House to show up for the vote on the third reading of this historic bill next week, and to vote for the climate change accountability act.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague across the way and appreciate his dream of seeing a cleaner environment. He made a very important statement. He said we can choose to act or not. He is actually very right.

Unfortunately, Bill C-311 is all about a photo op, a publicity stunt. It does not act on the environment. The fact is, the Liberals called it the “tiddlywinks bill”. They said at committee it was so bad that we should just sent it back to the House because it was not supportable and not even bother amending it. That is how bad it was.

We heard from scientists at committee that what we needed was a continental approach, as Europe had a continental approach by tackling climate change and setting targets, and that is exactly what the government is doing. We are acting aggressively. Every year the NDP votes against the good environmental programs, which makes no sense and again shows this is just about photo ops and publicity stunts.

Why would the members support Bill C-311, which is now no longer relevant? Canada has moved on to the Copenhagen accord. The Kyoto accord is over. Why would he support something that is just a photo op?

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, many Conservative members have come to me and said they would love to vote for the climate change bill. They believe in it. However, it is a whipped vote, and the Prime Minister and top brass in the party have decided they will represent the interests of big oil and Alberta, at best, and the interests of the United States at worst. That is unfortunate, but I remain hopeful that, on this private member's bill, some Conservative members will have the courage to stand up and vote for it.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North for his incredible persistence and his eloquence today in the House. I applaud him for his very cogent final speech on the bill. It certainly has touched me.

He raised the issue that, in my mind as a lawyer, is really the issue of the precautionary principle. I would be interested to hear his response to the fact that the Government of Canada is actually bound by the precautionary principle. The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld that Canada is bound by the precautionary principle. The member talked about the whole issue that we do not necessarily have to have a definitive answer in science. In fact, as I recall, our federal legislation leads us to that determination.

There is also the issue that if we actually began to reduce the major sources of emission of greenhouse gases and moved toward cleaner forms of energy, we would deal with other problems as well, including smog and the depletion of our water resources.

I would appreciate the member's response to those questions. The final one, if he has a chance, is the matter that has been coming before the natural resources committee. We have been hearing testimony after testimony to the effect that we have lost ground on the renewable clean energy sector because of the government's profound disregard for the value of that industry in addressing the problem of greenhouse gases.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, those are quite the questions for the remaining minute or two.

I profoundly believe that this is an opportunity for Canada. It is an opportunity for the energy industry. It is even an opportunity for Alberta. So we can be like the horseshoe-makers guild and the horse salesmen of a century ago who thought the newfangled automobile was a fad and a threat, or we can shift our economy, our ecology and our public.

Those who want to cling to the politics of the past, the economies of the past and the technologies of the past will vote against the bill. Others will want to shift to a new, brighter, cleaner, greener future that will make a better and more sustainable world for us, whether or not it is a catastrophe for climate change. I believe it is, but even if it is not, as I said in my speech, how can it be a bad thing to have a cleaner, safer, more sustainable world?

I thank the member for the question and I hope some Conservatives will vote for the bill.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this debate. I am going to lay out the effective systematic measures our government has delivered to deal with climate change.

Internationally, Canada joined the Copenhagen accord, a significant breakthrough. Thanks to Canada's efforts, major emitters have committed to climate change action for the first time in history. Canada pledged in the accord economy-wide emission reductions by 2020 of 17% below 2005 levels.

Copenhagen may have generated the most public attention, but it is only one part of our government's strategy to combat climate change, which includes extensive work from the departments of the environment, transport, industry, public works, agriculture, foreign affairs and natural resources.

Another crucial part of our approach to climate change is our government's ambitious conservation initiatives. Parks are not only a spectacular part of Canada's natural heritage and a habitat for many species but they also help to combat the effects of greenhouse gases.

We recently created a new 11,000 square kilometre national park at Mealy Mountain in Labrador. Last year we expanded Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territories by more than 30,000 square kilometres. Our close partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada has already resulted in the protection of more than 300,000 hectares of sensitive areas across the country.

The government's view is that Canada's ability to forge a strong national policy is significantly enhanced if we equitably accommodate differing energy and environmental profiles across our vast land. That means ensuring that provinces and territories can implement whichever initiatives work best for their circumstances, as long as they avoid measures with adverse environmental or economic consequences.

We have also consulted representatives from a wide range of industry associations and environmental groups, and we consult with first nations communities on all projects that affect them.

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles, we have introduced tough regulations that align with the U.S. standards beginning with the 2011 model year. This will create significant emission reductions, since transportation accounts for over one-quarter of Canada's total emissions.

Canada has long been committed to increasing energy efficiency. Building on the success of the eco-energy initiative, which was an investment of $4.1 billion, Canada achieved significant improvements in energy efficiency in every sector.

The eco-energy efficiency initiative, for example, is investing more than $675 million to promote smarter energy use in our homes, in our buildings and on the road.

In 2009 alone, the government earmarked $1 billion over two years to support renovations and energy retrofits to make social housing more energy efficient. We also introduced energy efficiency standards for a number of new products and set higher standards for several existing products.

Canada is a world leader in the use of renewable energy. Our electricity supply is the cleanest and the most renewable in the world. Renewable hydroelectricity accounts for 60% of our electricity generation, making Canada the world's second largest producer of hydro power. Our government is deliberately building that capacity.

Canadian federal and provincial governments have committed $11 billion to support clean energy and technology, just since 2008. Since 2005, annual federal investment in clean energy and technology has increased by about 50%.

A big part of Canada's stimulus spending in 2009 focused on developing and deploying clean energy technologies in areas where Canada can make the greatest contribution. These include carbon capture and storage, electricity grid efficiency, fuel-efficient vehicles, bio-energy and renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal.

We invested $1.5 billion in the eco-energy for biofuels program to encourage the development of a competitive domestic industry for renewable fuels. This provides an operating incentive to facilities that produce renewable alternatives to gas and diesel.

Canada's federal and provincial governments have committed approximately $3 billion in funding for carbon capture and storage alone.

We are going to support large-scale CCS demonstration projects in Canada. One of these will be the construction of one of the world's first fully integrated CCS projects, in partnership with the province of Alberta. The world is counting on Canada to make carbon capture and storage work.

Other federal investments in clean energy technology include $500 million to establish commercial-scale facilities for the production of next-generation renewable fuels; $1 billion over five years for improved public transit, sustainable energy and waste-management infrastructure; $1 billion over two years to support renovations and energy retrofits; and $3.4 billion for eco-energy initiatives, helping Canadians use energy more efficiently, boost renewable energy supplies and develop cleaner energy technologies.

We share a common environment with the United States. Our efforts will be harmonized, consistent with the close integration of our economies and our geographic proximity.

We have worked closely with the United States and launched the Canada-U.S. clean energy dialogue in February 2009 to collaborate in the development and deployment of clean energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gases.

On the continental stage, Canada is engaging with the United States and Mexico on key climate change programs. At their summit in August 2009, the leaders of our three countries agreed to collaborate in areas such as carbon capture and storage, gas flaring and energy efficiency. They also agreed to work toward a 21st century continental smart power grid.

We are also working actively with other international partners through multi-lateral channels, such as the G8 and the major economies forum and through bilateral agreements. For example, Canada and China signed a memo of understanding on climate change on December 6, 2009. This strengthens Canada-China co-operation in energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, CCS, methane recovery and sustainable land management.

Canada is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a public-private partnership of seven countries that will accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technologies. To date Canada has pledged $12 million to 28 projects under the APP.

We are also helping developing countries adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. The government has made significant contributions to adaptation, including $318 million under the global environmental facility trust fund between 2002 and 2010. About one-third of this funding went to climate change activities. One hundred million dollars was allocated to the World Bank's pilot program for climate resilience between 2008 and 2010 alone. This makes Canada the largest donor to that program.

The Copenhagen accord provides significant international adaptation funding, including a commitment by developed countries to provide new resources approaching $30 billion U.S. for the 2010 to 2012 period, focused on those who need it most.

The accord also established the Copenhagen green climate fund to mobilize $100 billion U.S. per year by 2020 in public and private investments for the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries.

Canada will deliver its share. We will continue to support action that strengthens the capacity of the most vulnerable to adapt to climate change.

The challenges posed by climate change are very real. As a developed northern nation, Canada embraces its leadership role in addressing them. It is a long-term undertaking. There are no quick and easy fixes, especially when it comes to balancing the needs of the environment and the economy.

The government is confident in its strategy. I would rather have this kind of concrete action than a thousand empty target-setting exercises such as those proposed in Bill C-311. I urge the House to reject this misleading and ineffective bill and join us in delivering the real solutions Canadians want.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, of course I would like to welcome my hon. colleague back to the House. I know he had some health challenges at one point. He is looking fantastic, and he gave a vigorous speech in defence of his bill.

Climate change is a huge challenge. It is a complex problem, and as parliamentarians and as a society, when we are called upon to deal with complex problems like climate change, what is really important at the very base of everything is truthfulness. This is not just a platitude. By truthfulness, I do not mean simply avoiding the spreading of flagrant falsehoods. I mean ignoring the temptation to indulge in political spin aimed at convincing people of the rightness of one's position. I am talking about the need to avoid specious arguments for the sake of political gain.

In my view, the climate change debate illustrates why truthfulness is important, and why avoiding the temptation to spin facts in an effort to reach one's political objective more quickly is counterproductive and harmful to the greater good.

I would just like to set the record straight on one issue, and again I commend the hon. member on his bill. However, I recall that in the fall, the NDP was spinning in overdrive as the Copenhagen conference neared. Again I do not say this with any rancour. I congratulate the member on his work, and we have a very good NDP member on the environment committee. However, the NDP was in overdrive when it kept telling us that we had to pass this bill before Copenhagen or the world as we knew it would end. That came complete with a protest in the gallery, an interruption of parliamentary debate, which we could even call a mini-prorogation during that moment of protest during question period.

If we look at the situation a little more closely, we see that it was not absolutely imperative to pass this bill before Copenhagen. First of all, if the bill had passed the House of Commons, it would still not be law, because it could never have passed in the Senate before Copenhagen. Second, anyone who was observing the goings on, the negotiations and the deliberations at Copenhagen would understand that President Obama and the leaders of great nations such as China and India had a lot of things to deal with and a lot of things on their minds other than a private member's bill by the fourth party in the House of Commons. That was an unfortunate spin, because it created a kind of cynicism about the environmental movement.

However, now I would like to move on to the spin that comes from the other side of the House, the spin of the climate change deniers. That is even worse, because it is creating this false belief within public opinion that we do not have a problem, and we do have a problem.

As the hon. member from Thunder Bay mentioned, science is never exact. It is a question of probabilities, but the fact that we do not have absolutes in climate change science does not mean that we should not do anything. It is very important that we address the issue of climate change denial, and many members on the other side can be said to be climate change deniers.

During the debate on this bill that preceded Copenhagen, I remember driving home to Montreal, listening to the radio in my car and hearing advertisements by a group called Friends of Science which claimed, in very strong, baritone voices, that climate change is just a myth, that global warming is caused by the sun. At one point I thought I was listening to an outtake from Saturday Night Live and I was not sure whether to laugh or cry, but unfortunately it was a serious attempt to derail public opinion against action on climate change.

I will address the scientific issues as well as I can as a non-scientist. It is very clear that human activity since the industrial revolution has been adding to CO2 in the atmosphere. There are measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. I think we are now at 385 parts per million, whereas for 10,000 years we were at 280 parts per million. When the industrial revolution came along in the 1750s, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere started to rise. It is measurable and this is fact.

We also know that temperatures are rising. We can measure that. There is a hockey stick phenomenon, as we all know, in which CO2 was level until we hit the industrial revolution, and then it went up quite drastically and, of course, we see temperatures going up.

The climate change deniers say that we do not have really good readings of temperatures because the temperature monitoring stations are in urban areas, and urban areas are hot spots, and therefore the readings are all wrong. However, that myth has been put to rest, because we see that the readings in urban areas are really no different from the readings elsewhere.

There is another intervening factor, of course, because it is not as simple as saying that there is more carbon and, therefore, the temperature goes up as a result of the carbon in the atmosphere. There is another greenhouse gas that affects temperature readings and, of course, that is water vapour. Water vapour means the planet is heated up more than it otherwise would be based on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. These myths have been put to rest, and I think the climate change deniers, many of whom sit on the opposite side, are doing humanity and the planet a great disservice by persisting with these arguments.

I do not believe that these targets can be achieved if we have a Conservative government in Ottawa much longer. We are voting for the targets, but, let us face it, every day the Conservative government is in power makes it less probable that we will reach these targets. In fact, the targets right away are very different from those being proposed in the United States. What is being proposed in the United States is a 3% to 6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from a baseline at 1990 by the year 2020, whereas we are talking about 25%.

We in the Liberal Party are supporting this bill because it is important to put pressure on the government. It is important to start somewhere. In fact, that is why the Liberal government signed Kyoto in the first place. It did not put all the measures in place and did not know exactly how it was going to get from point A to point B, as is the case with any great endeavour, such as the space program. On the day that John F. Kennedy called for putting a man on the moon, the scientists did not have it all worked out in advance. They did not wait until they had it all worked out in advance on sheets of paper before making the commitment and effort.

By signing the Kyoto agreement, a Liberal government got Canadians talking about climate change.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

We have been debating the issue to the point where Canadians are better versed on the issue of climate change than Americans are, because we have been dealing with it.

Let me go back to the second thing the Liberal government did. I will remind the hecklers on the other side of what the Liberal government did and what transpired around that action.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

The hon. member was here at the time, so he should know that.

The Liberal government decided to put greenhouse gases under CEPA. I do not know if the hon. member remembers, but at that time, the Conservative opposition said that was a carbon tax and it was going to defeat the government for putting greenhouse gases under CEPA. I think the NDP was toying with joining the Conservatives and defeating the government on that, but I cannot recall for sure.

The third thing the Liberal government was about to do when it was defeated by the NDP, the Bloc and the Conservatives was to issue a regulatory plan for different industries in Canada to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, events transpired to prevent that from happening.

I congratulate the hon. member on his bill, and I look forward to the vote.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:50 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the very important Bill C-311 today. I will probably not take all the time I am allowed, because I want to give more of my colleagues the opportunity to speak.

This bill is very crucial because it is part of a strategy to fight climate change. Yes, it is a Canadian strategy, but it is first and foremost an international one.

I remember when Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol in 1997. A few years later, the protocol was consolidated by the introduction of Bill C-288 by the Liberal Party. Countries like Canada must not just sign international agreements or an international protocol on climate change. They must follow up with legislation supporting these agreements. That was the reasoning behind Bill C-288, introduced by our Liberal colleague at the time.

With only months before the important conference on climate change to be held in Cancun in December, Canada must wake up and be a leader on the international stage. The government must immediately invite its counterparts to discuss climate change at the G8 and G20 summits. Discussions will focus on three aspects—financial reform, banking reform and international assistance—but the issue of climate change must also be addressed.

For that reason, the Minister of the Environment must invite his G8 and G20 counterparts to a meeting as soon as possible to discuss the issue of climate change. Why? Because the discussions prior to a conference of the parties on climate change are vital. If the major players—the industrialized countries or the emerging countries—are unable to come to an agreement in the weeks or months ahead, the success of the Copenhagen summit will be compromised.

We must also send a message to Canadians and Quebeckers indicating that we are prepared to adopt legislative measures to fight climate change. A law must be passed to engage in this fight. Section 5 of Bill C-311 provides all that is needed to send a clear message.

First, we must prevent temperatures from rising more than 2°C above industrial era temperatures. This must be very clear because a number of international studies, in particular those conducted by the IPCC, no longer refer to a 2° increase in temperature, but an increase of 4°C or 5°C. We must make it very clear to our partners, and to all those concerned, that we must prevent temperatures from increasing by more than 2°C.

Now, how can we limit that increase? By setting clear objectives and specific targets. Bill C-311 goes beyond other bills that I have read or motions that have been passed in the House. It does not just set a long-term goal like 2050. An 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 is fine, but there need to be short- and medium-term goals. The proposal is for a 25% reduction by 2020, in relation to 1990 levels.

This is what experts and scientists are recommending in order to limit the increase in temperature. The bill has the advantage of using all available options to reach these objectives.

One of these options is the creation of a carbon exchange to cap greenhouse gas emissions. We have been proposing this for a decade or so.

The entire Montreal market was ready. At the end of the 1990s, when an agreement was signed with the Toronto Stock Exchange and Montreal decided to specialize in derivatives, some specialists in the Quebec financial sector brought up the carbon exchange. They knew that it was an attractive derivative and that Montreal could make a significant contribution to this specialization. And that laid the foundation for the Montreal climate exchange.

Then two weeks ago, the government announced that we would have to wait at least a year, if not two, before a carbon exchange could be set up in Canada. Two years ago, the environment minister at the time was so pleased with himself when he launched the Montreal climate exchange. Two years later, his successor announced that the whole thing was being put on hold. The government has refused to set targets that respect scientific recommendations and has decided to ignore all of the options set out in the Kyoto protocol. Yet it is allowing some large groups to contribute to the fight against climate change. Basically, this government has decided to give up.

I remember making similar speeches in the House in the 1990s. I was sitting in more or less the same place, but about four rows back. Back then, Reform and Alliance MPs said that climate change was a natural phenomenon and that there was no link between human activity and rising temperatures.

Now we are back at square one. We are back to having to discuss the issue yet again. How long will that last? Nobody knows. But one thing is for sure: the G20 summit in June will provide a golden opportunity to put this issue on the agenda and to make sure that the G20, which is made up of important partners, can agree on a plan for the Cancun conference in December.

That is why I see this bill as part of a comprehensive strategy to fight climate change that starts with getting the G8 ministers together as soon as possible and ensuring strong support in the House for Bill C-311.

I thank my colleague for introducing this bill. We will be very happy to vote in favour of it.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 7 p.m.
See context

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, we are at a critical point where we need to confront climate change head on but we are also at a critical point where we as a country can seize this moment and see it as an opportunity.

My friends across the House have tried to scare Canadians into believing that committing to reducing greenhouse gases will be bad for jobs, bad for communities and bad for the economy. They are very carefully constructing a culture of fear. We know this has to be a fear campaign because making a commitment to fight climate change is actually an opportunity.

It is an opportunity to grow our economy, to foster innovation and to be leaders when it comes to research and development of renewables, energy efficiency and other green technologies. We know historically that certain technologies have created waves of innovation and that if nations can position themselves strategically within these dynamics, they will achieve economic performance.

The moment is happening right now. This is a period of change when new technologies break through. An event like this is an opportunity to position Canada for the next wave of innovation and the next wave will be one based on ecologically friendly technologies. It needs to be if we are going to avoid catastrophic climate change and it will be because we are seeing governments take bold action around the world. This is where Canada should be: building new knowledge and expertise and encouraging entrepreneurship.

I am one of the younger members of the House. Not many of us are under the age of 40 and we have only two members under the age of 30. That means that we often talk about subjects that leave out youth and we leave out subjects that youth often talk about. We talk about pensions all the time but when do we talk about post-secondary education, about jobs for youth or the fact that the next generation is the generation that will inherit a planet on the verge of catastrophic climate change?

This is a matter of intergenerational equity. Our governments are making decisions that those decision makers do not have to live with. We are being left with the legacy of those decisions: a crumbling education system, scraps of a social safety net and a poisoned planet. Young Canadians deserve better than this. All Canadians deserve better than this and Canadians want better than this.

One of the most exciting things about this bill has been that it has captured the hearts and minds of Canadians. Since this bill was introduced, I have been getting emails and phone calls non-stop from people asking how they can help to get this bill passed. The result has been such an incredible demonstration of what democracy is all about.

I have been cc'd on letters to the Prime Minister and opposition members asking for swift passage of this bill. I have read countless letters to the editor by concerned constituents. I have attended panel presentations, workshops and information sessions hosted by concerned citizens and grassroots organizations, all of whom are trying to educate their neighbours about this bill and are working together as a community to try and get it passed. I have been a part of marches, candlelight vigils and church services, all in the name of Bill C-311.

Change happens when a variety of communities work together to demand it. We need lawyers to challenge unjust laws. We need artists to tell our stories. We need organizations mobilizing communities around issues. We need citizens writing letters to the editor. We need street theatre, protest songs, articles, chants, teach-ins, policy debates and film screenings, and we need elected officials introducing good legislation, raising the level of debate and speaking the truth. I support Bill C-311 because it speaks the truth.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 7:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank all the members who have commented today and at other times. I especially thank the member for Halifax for her insightful and eloquent words.

Members' consideration is very important, given the urgent climate crisis that our country and the world faces. I was dismayed to hear the speech from the Conservative side, which had a number of non sequiturs, but I will pick just three. One was the idea that somehow carbon capture and storage has the potential to obviate the need for Bill C-311. I do not get that.

If the Conservatives truly believe that carbon capture and storage will be effective, then they should not be worried about the bill. It would be the way the bill was implemented. The bill says nothing about how we are going to do it. It sets targets, timetables and processes in place to set those targets and if carbon capture and storage can help do it, more power to us all.

The second one was when he talked about all the wonderful things that various departments are doing that eliminate the need for the bill. He specifically mentioned eco-energy. Unfortunately, we had expert testimony from the departments that actually put eco-energy into place. They made it very clear that they would be continuing the eco-energy program because it was a real winner, except that the government decided to remove and eliminate the funding. The Conservatives killed the program they are talking about. If they are really proud of it, they should reinstitute that funding.

The thing that bothers me the most is when I hear, again and again, the Conservatives say that they will just rubber stamp, although they do not use those words, but it amounts to rubber stamping U.S. policy. I find that particularly ironic given that the first prime minister of Canada, who was a Conservative, fought to keep other weaker-kneed politicians from allowing the Americans to build the Trans-Canada railroad and build the Canada that we have today. John A. Macdonald fought hard every time other parties and other people tried to say, “Just let the Americans do it, it will be easier”. It has been a while since we have had a prime minister with the courage to stand up to the Americans. I hope we get one soon.

As I mentioned in the House when I introduced this bill over a year ago, we need to have a clear destination if we want to get anywhere. The destination that Bill C-311 gives us is a temperature rise of 2°C or less. That is what the science tells us we need in order to avoid the truly disastrous effects of climate change.

We need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in a prompt and orderly fashion if we hope to keep to that 2° limit. The bill legislates achievable targets and keeps the government accountable to them.

Canadians do not want more delay. They know they will not reach the needed reductions if we do not start soon. The bill requires immediate action. Interim targets will need to be in place within six months of the bill being adopted after it passes.

I was pleased to hear in the House and over the many months that the bill was in committee that just about all members spoke about the need, even members on the Conservative side, for real action to tackle climate change. I, personally, have taken a constructive approach with this private member's bill, open to working with all parties on possible amendments and ways forward. After all, climate changes poses such a huge threat that we cannot afford to slow or sacrifice the only climate change bill before Parliament to mere partisan politics. This issue is just too important to the future health and prosperity of all Canadians.

As I mentioned earlier, we can never be 100% scientifically sure of anything, certainly not something as complex as climate science, but what we can do is make an ethical choice using the abundant evidence we already have and err on the side of caution. We can weigh the costs and benefits of the thing we do to control, which is our response. Do we act or not act?

We need to transform our economy to one that is more efficient, more productive, more competitive and less carbon-intensive. Investments that will see our economy grow almost as much as if we continue with business as usual. I think most of us know what will happen--

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

March 26th, 2009 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to resume this debate, rise again here in this chamber, continue on with the good news that the Government of Canada has in regard to our environment, and obviously address Bill C-311. I will just be picking up where I left off last.

Through the ecoEnergy for renewable power program, the Government of Canada is investing $1.5 billion to provide incentives to increase Canada's supply of clean electricity from renewable sources such as wind, biomass, low impact hydro, geothermal, solar and ocean energy.

Through budget 2007, we established the trust fund for clean air and climate change which provided $1.5 billion to Canada's provinces and territories for projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their respective jurisdictions.

The Government of Canada knows that provincial and territorial governments are committed to taking action on climate change and that they control many of the important levers for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our government continues to believe that it is legitimate and necessary to work with our partners in this and other ways to achieve our shared and common goals.

The government has already begun to catalyze investment in critical clean technologies in Canada. We began in budget 2007 by providing $500 million to Sustainable Development Technology Canada to enable projects that will spur the development of next generation renewable fuels.

More recently, through Canada's economic action plan, we are investing $1 billion in the research into and development and demonstration of promising technologies including large scale carbon capture and sequestration projects. These funds, under the clean energy fund, build on the $250 million invested to build the same technology through budget 2008.

I could not imagine resuming debate on a more profound day. Members will be delighted to know that March 26 is the day that my minister of energy in the province of Alberta, the hon. Mel Knight, is in Aspen, Colorado receiving the Aspen environment award on behalf of the Province of Alberta for the insightful and, shall I say, inspiring work that the Government of Alberta is doing through its $2 billion commitment in its previous budgets to move ahead on carbon capture and storage. This is a tremendous opportunity for Albertans. It is a tremendous opportunity for our country and I just want to congratulate my province and my minister on that.

Also, through Canada's economic action plan, we established the green infrastructure fund through which it will invest $1 billion in the construction of infrastructure across Canada that will both create jobs and growth in the short-term, and help us transform to a green economy through the long-term.

Canada's economic action plan also announced an investment of $300 million in the ecoEnergy for home retrofit program, which will support an additional 200,000 energy-saving home retrofits.

Our government has a great deal to be proud of in terms of the actions it has taken to address climate change since taking office in 2006, and with President Obama's recent visit to our country, we have opened a new and exciting chapter in those efforts.

It is not at all surprising that Canada would want to work closely with our greatest allies and trading partners on our southern border. Not only do our two countries share similar objectives in addressing climate change, but we are working from similar principles. In fact, our emission targets for 2020 are very closely aligned, though Canada's proposed reductions are in fact slightly deeper.

The Prime Minister and President Obama recently agreed to begin a clean energy dialogue that will see our two countries co-operate on several critical energy, science and technology issues. First, we will work to expand clean energy research and development by expanding collaboration on energy research related to advanced biofuels, clean engine technologies, energy efficiency, and a multitude of other areas.

The clean energy dialogue will also help us to develop and deploy clean energy technology. Carbon capture and sequestration technology holds enormous potential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as we use our own energy resources to power our economy.

Canada and the United States will co-ordinate research and demonstrations of the technology at coal-fired plants, building on our experience with the North Dakota-Weyburn project. This will help accelerate private sector investment in commercial scale, near-zero-carbon coal facilities to promote climate and energy security.

Last, we will seek to build a more efficient electricity grid based on clean and renewable generation. Our countries have significant expertise to share with one another on things like smart grid technologies. By investing in new transmission options, we will make electricity delivery more reliable, help avoid blackouts, promote energy efficiency, and increase the supply of renewable power.

In conclusion, this government, under the leadership of the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment, understands the critical nature of the needs to address climate change. We are implementing a number of responsible domestic initiatives to help reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions, while acknowledging that climate change is a problem that does not respect national boundaries. To this end, we are working with our partners in the United States, as well as within the broader international community, on solutions that will benefit us all.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

March 26th, 2009 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I would like to thank the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North for bringing forward this bill.

I have had an opportunity very briefly to talk to the member. I know that he is serious, sincere, and committed in mobilizing every resource possible to deal with the serious issue of climate change. I know that he believes that in this bill, as his party does, that they are putting forward the mechanism that will challenge the government to in fact enunciate by setting targets a strategy that conforms with the Kyoto protocol, and that in fact will serve as a legacy for future generations.

In that statement of mission, I think that the member and his colleagues are to be congratulated because in that mission we should all very emphatically state that we support the objective. In fact, we can see that the science tells us irrefutably that climate change is going to be probably the most significant threat to civil society globally in the near future.

Even this morning, we were reminded of the juxtaposition of the towns and villages in Nova Scotia that would be affected with just a small temperature change. That cataclysmic effect will be felt around the globe. Therefore, the seriousness of the bill and its relevance to climate change cannot be denied.

However, there are other issues at this particular point we also should keep in mind. The government, through its members, has spoken very eloquently with respect to the most recent action plan statement as a stimulus menu of those areas through research, commercialization and technology and is starting to seriously confront climate change with a template for action.

I appreciate that there are those who doubt what the impact is going to be. In fact, as we look at the very near past many have said that the government de facto had said that we have withdrawn from the Kyoto commitment and others have said that we are the only country in the world to have signed on to the treaty to have unilaterally declared we will not use, for example, the 1990 baseline, or at worst, we will not even try to meet our targets.

That has been suggested and it will be for the government to have the opportunity to illustrate very clearly that it is not true. On this side, we hope it is not.

I just came from the natural resources committee where in a non-partisan way the committee is looking at part of a strategy to deal with climate change across the country from sea to sea to sea with what is called a comprehensive investment in technologies that will be integrated and that will seriously reduce the threat of climate change and contribution to the targets that Canada implicitly at least has said that it is dedicated to.

The members of the committee have been, I think, tremendously impressed with the engineering and practical implications that this has on the future economy in terms of creating jobs, in terms of creating high value added investments, and at the same time dealing with climate change. In other words, we are combining the most important ingredients of sustainable development, economic growth on the one hand, and meeting our environmental challenges together, and not one to sacrifice the other, but both together marching down and meeting our climate change targets.

The reason we are having a bit of difficulty with this bill is we have already been on record, through two acts that were designed as a template to deal with climate change.

Prior to Bill C-311, in its last sitting, this Parliament approved the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which are superior to this private member's bill. If they were seriously used as the template for the mission that has been the subject of Bill C-311, those two acts have within them the mechanisms to deal with the issues and to measure the accomplishments that we discussed at our natural resources committee.

The worst thing in any organization is to have a goal that is very complex in a very large country like ours, which is to achieve sustainable development in our climate change objectives, but never get the feedback and measure what we have accomplished. If we do not stand back every so often and take account of what is happening, then we have this doubting Thomas approach that nothing is being accomplished, which is not altogether true.

A careful reading of those two acts would show us that the opportunity for measurement is encompassed with them. This private member's bill has suggested that we should have periodic reports, with the baseline targets of 1990 and the target of 2050, from either through the Auditor General or through the round table on the economy and development. In fact, those mechanisms are being used under Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.

I have sat on the environment committee when the Auditor General, for example, has reported department by department. She has reported on how the department has met its sustainable development objectives. The committee has an opportunity to suggest what remedial action is required.

At some point we try to separate the politics of environmental sustainability and our strategies to deal with climate change and accurately position us in a non-partisan way with respect to what our mission is and how we have been dedicated to it.

In bringing this bill forward, I know it was not the intent of the member to detract or add a political dimension to it. When we do not use the acts we have passed, which are affirmations of what we believe, then we place ourselves in the position where we may marginalize the issue because of the politics.

I know this is not what has been intended, but if the alternative course had been taken that there are shortcomings to the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and the Federal Sustainable Development Act, they should have been the subject of the bill, not one that appears to transplant them.

At this point we will be observing very closely what is happening in Copenhagen with respect to establishing those targets and we will support those. However, this bill marginalizes the two acts that are already affirmations of the mission we have to deal with climate change.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

March 26th, 2009 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, or as it is known, the climate change accountability act.

This is issue is very important to me as a Nova Scotian, as a Canadian and as a citizen of the world. A desire to see meaningful action on climate change is one of the reasons I decided to run for election, and it is one of the reasons I decided to run for the New Democratic Party, the party that first raised this issue in the House over 20 years ago.

That spirited advocacy on behalf of our planet continues today with the bill. I am pleased to see the bill returning to the House, after the endurance test that it faced in the last Parliament.

In my work with the Halifax Ecology Action Centre, we watched from a distance as Conservative filibustering at committee kept the first version, Bill C-377, in limbo, from December 11, 2007 to April 28, 2008. When that bill finally passed, I joined with thousands of other Canadians to celebrate in this world first, a victory for climate change and for Canada.

Bill C-311 would mandate the government to live up to Canada's obligations under international climate change agreements. These agreements are not merely suggestions, and governments are expected to have policies in place to bring them into compliance.

While the failures of governments for the last 15 years to deal with climate change are well documented, it must not be used as an excuse to do the minimum when faced with a crisis of this magnitude.

At this point in our nation's history, we are past the debate about whether climate change is real. We are past the debate about what causes it. We are nearly past the point of debate about how we should address it. There is consensus among the world's leading scientists, environmentalists and ordinary Canadians. We know we need targets for reducing greenhouse gases. We know those targets need to be science based and enforced by binding caps. We also know these measures need to be organized through a national emission trading regime.

The government has failed to act on each of these areas, but I am happy to say the bill would provide some real direction on climate change policy in Canada. The reduction targets in the bill are specified for the short, medium and long term, but with built in flexibility to adjust over time. Most important, as others have pointed out during the course of this debate, the bill would introduce legal certainty, as well as government accountability, something we have heard the government aspire to on so many occasions.

With targets set into law, Canada can finally make progress on an international obligation and our already germinating green economy can flourish and bloom.

Our country is filled with great minds who have already been tackling the climate change issue with innovative solutions, many of which I have had the opportunity to see first-hand in Nova Scotia. Industry recognizes that it must adapt or it will vanish, and it is taking steps to get where it should be. All it lacks is a partner in the federal government and some certainty that emission regulations will be predictable and stable.

The climate change accountability act does just that. It sets out these regulations in five year increments until 2050. It is legislation that is the first of its kind in our country and it deserves the support of the House.

Opposition to the bill from the government side has unfortunately relied on that tired argument that we can choose either the environment or the economy, but not both. Previous governments have been trying that one for quite some time and the result is a world that is even closer to catastrophic climate change and an economy that are both in shambles.

Now is the time when we should be taking stock of where we have been and where we want to go. Our twin crises, economic and environmental, can both be addressed with smart public policy that measures sustainability and prosperity with the same yardstick.

Therefore, why the same rhetoric about the economic cost of a bill that would finally take on climate change? There is really no excuse. The economic costs are significantly greater if we do not act now. For every moment that we waste, the greater cost will pass on to our children and our neighbours' children.

It calls to mind a novelty mug that my partner was given as a gift. It has this map of the world on it. When hot water is added, the shorelines change based on rising sea levels, thanks to a warming earth. Suddenly, Brazil is gone. It is bye-bye Bangladesh and so long Indonesia. By the time my tea is cold enough to drink, Nova Scotia has all but disappeared. This mug can get a chuckle out of our guests, but the sad fact is it is an accurate description of what we can expect to happen if emissions are allowed to grow unchecked. It is not a joke. We are only a few years away from a projected 2° temperature rise, after which we may be too late to halt some of the worst effects of the crisis.

In a column in the Halifax ChronicleHerald, Professor Sheila Zurbrigg describes the realities in much more compelling terms. I will quote from her article. She says:

The ultimate irony is that those least responsible for global warming will bear by far the most catastrophic consequences. Most [greenhouse gas] emissions (over 80 per cent) added to the atmosphere are ours, not theirs, and continue to come from the rich industrialized countries.

Yet the gravest outcomes the IPCC scientists warn about are to a considerable extent preventable. The necessary technology and energy-efficiency methods already exist that would allow us to make major GHG reductions right away. But only if we act immediately, intelligently, and together.

Professor Zurbrigg is a medical historian whose area of expertise is the history of famines. The last time she and I spoke, we talked about climate change. She looked me in the eye with such fear in her eyes. She said that a 2° increase would mean widespread, devastating famines unlike we had ever seen in the course of human history. She told me that we needed to act now or we would be unable the world's citizens.

Another signal that the time is right for this bill is the change of administration in the United States. The new President was elected, in part, because of his dramatically different vision for environmental policy. This shift represents a unique opportunity for Canada to act in concert with our largest trading partner.

I acknowledge my hon. colleague from Wetaskiwin who earlier commented about our partnership with the United States. Let us go further. While some states and provinces have gone forward with emission trading markets between themselves, Canada as a country has not acted to promote this sector. It is just one of the ways the bill could help steer our country in the right direction.

We must, as parliamentarians, as Canadians and as global citizens, support the bill. We need to be visionary, bold and innovative and we must act now before it is too late.