House of Commons Hansard #35 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was kyoto.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-4, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
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10:05 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew for the Minister of Natural Resources

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
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10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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The Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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Some hon. members

Nay.

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10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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The Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the division stands deferred until Monday, December 2 at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

The House resumed from November 28 consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Kyoto Protocol
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to support the ratification of the Kyoto accord, but I do have some concerns. The updated climate change plan for Canada that our government released last week is certainly an improvement on the earlier version.

Governments around the world need to reduce greenhouse gases. We have all seen the evidence of climate change: temperature change, and an increase in the number of natural disasters, including flooding, ice storms and drought.

There is clearly a cost associated with these phenomena. One might initially think that reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions would benefit Canada's agriculture sector—although this sector has been noticeably silent on this matter.

We need to take action on greenhouse gases. The question before us is whether or not the Kyoto accord is the right mechanism for Canada to achieve this objective. There is absolutely no point, in my opinion, in signing the Kyoto accord if Canada cannot meet the targets and timetable implicit in the accord, that is, the lowering of greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. This is an ambitious undertaking and perhaps why the current Canadian plan is still short by 60 megatonnes out of a total of 240 megatonnes that Canada must achieve by the agreed date.

Why sign an agreement if the objectives cannot be achieved? To show leadership? To demonstrate environmental sensitivity? This is not enough in my view. We should sign the accord if it makes sense for Canada and if, and only if, we can achieve the commitments we undertake within the accord. Otherwise, a strictly made in Canada solution is required.

Canada seems to be leading with her chin on greenhouse gases. The U.S. government is not proceeding with the Kyoto accord. The Kyoto targets for the Europeans are hardly stretch targets for them. The closure of a number of outdated and environmentally insensitive factories, in what used to be East Germany and a conversion of coal fired plants in Great Britain to gas fired plants, means that moving from the 1990 levels to the 2008-2012 targets would not be as demanding for the Europeans as it would for Canada. In a sense it is easier for them to achieve their commitments under Kyoto.

Then we have countries like China, Russia and others which are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. They would be required to do nothing until 2012. Even then it would be difficult for the international community to force these countries to honour their commitments beginning in 2012.

What are we left with? The Americans with a made in U.S.A. solution, the Europeans with a made in Europe approach and the Chinese, Russians and others with an approach to Kyoto that meets their needs, and Canada marches on convinced that we must ratify the Kyoto accord. I would prefer a made in Canada solution.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance visited Calgary recently as part of our prebudget consultations. I asked business leaders there whether they believed that a negotiated solution to Kyoto was possible in Canada, that is, a negotiating set of greenhouse gas reduction targets somewhere between those outlined in the Kyoto accord and some stretch targets for Canada, beyond those initially payable by the provinces and industry. The response was yes, such a result was possible in their view. We should strive for this.

Should we be concerned that the U.S. government will not ratify Kyoto? We should not be afraid to embark on a path that is different from our U.S. neighbours, certainly not. But we cannot ignore their position on this important matter because 87% of our exports are to the U.S. market.

As an Ontario MP I am concerned that companies in my province and indeed across Canada which are competing with companies in the U.S.A. would have greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that exceed those of their competition across the border. Will their added costs impact their competitiveness and risk plant closures and job losses? We are told that although the U.S. government is not ratifying the Kyoto accord, many U.S. states are taking action on greenhouse gases, states like Oregon, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and California.

While I understand the need to avoid paralysis by analysis, what do I tell companies in my riding of Etobicoke North which are shipping most of their production to Michigan or New York? What are those states doing? Will the companies in Etobicoke North be at a competitive disadvantage and have to cut jobs or shut down? Surely these are important questions.

The free trade agreement and NAFTA resulted in some major industrial dislocation in my riding of Etobicoke North, and in the rush to sign and implement that agreement there were few, if any, mechanisms to assist employers and employees during the transition period.

We are told that ratifying the Kyoto accord would result in Canada becoming more innovative. It would accelerate the development and adoption of new low emissions technologies. This in itself would result in new economic activity, we are told, and productivity enhancements and would offset many of the negative impacts on the so-called old economy.

Well, certainly some of these developments will occur. However, we must recognize four important points.

FIrst, there is a considerable gestation period between the time that technologies are identified and the time that they are commercialized—often up to ten years. In other words, this pushes us to 2012 for some of these ideas to be implemented.

Second, some of the knowledge and equipment would need to be imported, which certainly does nothing to stimulate job creation in Canada.

Third, we were told in Calgary that a number of clients in Canada are currently employing state of the art emissions reducing technologies. The Kyoto targets they would be handed would require these plants to go beyond where they are today with the latest technology. What are they supposed to do other than buy emissions credits at a cost?

Certainly improving energy efficiency and conservation is a laudable goal that we should strive for in Canada. Improvements in these areas would be good for the environment and the economy. Not all emissions reducing enhancements would result in productivity enhancements. There would be a cost associated with their implementation and in many cases with no corresponding economic benefit. Environmental benefits are positive by themselves but we should not delude ourselves about the economic consequences of our actions.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would require changes in behaviour by Canadian businesses and consumers. I am not sure that Canadians would support ratification of the Kyoto accord until they understand it.

Fully 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada are derived from the transportation sector, that is, emissions from cars, trucks, airplanes, trains and others. We would need to deal with this by travelling less in traditional modes and using more public transport, which would be a good thing, and by employing different fuels that may cost more, by driving vehicles that use less fuel, and by taking a variety of actions with these in concert with one another. Would this happen naturally and without any cost? No, it would not and Canadians need to understand this.

Our government will need to provide policies, signals, incentives and disincentives to facilitate these changes. Some of these will be incorporated into the February 2003 budget—and therein lies the rub.

We do not, and cannot, know what these will be until the budget is tabled. Many of these economic instruments will determine whether or not we have a chance to meet the Kyoto targets. We are being asked, however, to approve the ratification of the Kyoto accord in advance of the budget.

Many less onerous solutions to the problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions are being ignored by governments at all levels. An example is municipal solid waste and landfills which emit huge amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere. Methane is 20 times more dangerous in terms of greenhouse gases than CO

2

We must deal with greenhouse gases aggressively. However we must be responsible and realistic in our approach. We should not ratify the Kyoto accord unless we can meet these commitments. To do less would be dishonest.

I am hopeful that we can find a way to aggressively attack greenhouse gases in Canada. Let us hope and pray that we will find the wisdom to do so.

Kyoto Protocol
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10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the member on a speech that goes along with exactly what we have been talking about and that is a made in Canada solution. The member mentioned the U.S. It is not that the U.S. is not doing anything because there are some 39 states that would probably beat the Kyoto targets and actually accomplish something. We must recognize that but unfortunately it is not talked about very much.

Is the member aware of what the penalties are if in fact we were to ratify Kyoto and then not implement it and not achieve our targets by 2012?

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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I put that very question to the minister yesterday. I was concerned that there had been a lot of discussion about us signing the accord and if we did not meet our commitments, would be some wiggle room. I wanted him to clarify that for me.

As I understand it, if there is some shortfall in the megatonne reduction, those megatonnes would be somehow factored into the next phase. There would not be a financial penalty but there would be a penalty of megatonnes. I was also told by the minister that there would be a negotiated approach. If the targets were too ambitious in the first phase, that would tell us something about the second phase, and those would be negotiated at the time.

I come back to the view that if we sign the accord, we should commit to those results and should not count on failure. I know our government is not counting on failure but I just hope we have the wherewithal.

With all the stakeholders involved, another concern I have is how we effect change when we have this state of play in Canada, where major stakeholders, many provinces and many industrial sectors are not on side? Once the accord is signed, the really tough job will be to implement it. We need to have people on side.

I have cited certain examples of corporations where the CEO has said “here is your target and you tell me how to get there”. That is a good aggressive management style and it is appropriate. However it starts out with a premise that the original target is within the realm of feasibility, possibility or achievement. At this point in time I am not sure that we have the facts or the information to make those conclusions.