House of Commons Hansard #40 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was kyoto.

Topics

Kyoto Protocol
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the possibility of creating new jobs and new technologies as a result of the need to meet this challenge of the environment, surely having a target is precisely what we want to have to stimulate this kind of activity. To not have a target, I would suggest, would not give the kind of incentive to developing these new technologies that we know on which Canada is capable of leading the world.

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1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is all very well said but targets without any idea of what it will cost to hit them is totally counterproductive. We have to know where we are going with this. We have to know what the cost will be in terms of dollars, jobs and of lost opportunity.

To simply say that we will do it and let the jobs move across the border to the lower 48th does not make any sense whatsoever. It is not good for Canadians. It just will not work. We need to keep the dollars in Canada, develop technology and deal with the problem in Canada with Canadian labour and people.

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1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on the motion to ratify the Kyoto protocol.

What does protecting the environment mean? It means clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, clean food to eat, clean surroundings to live in. It means pollution or contamination free, pesticide or chemical free surroundings, no smog, no acid rain. It means protecting our forests, endangered species and natural resources.

The Kyoto accord will not do any of these things. Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring substance that is essential to plants and animals. Kyoto restricts carbon dioxide emissions, not the air pollution that causes smog or acid rain, et cetera. The Kyoto accord does not deal with environmental contamination or controlling air pollution.

Greenhouse gasses, which include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide, et cetera, comprise less than 1% of the air. Water vapour, comprising 99% of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere, provides most of the greenhouse gas effect.

So far science on the causes of global warming is not conclusive. Global warming is a natural phenomenon that has been happening for millions of years. There are other factors at play that account for global warming and need to be addressed.

The Kyoto accord does not require Canada to actually make carbon dioxide reductions. Therefore, being opposed to Kyoto is not the equivalent of being opposed to all efforts to curb climate change. It is opposing a wrong political decision with a wrong approach to dealing with a serious problem without properly consulting and evaluating the repercussions and impact on Canadians and on the environment.

Funding Kyoto would drain billions of dollars, and some from developing countries, away from worthwhile environmental concerns. The Kyoto accord will not cover countries producing two-thirds of man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

More than 160 countries are signatories to the protocol but imposes emission limits on just 38 countries. Countries such as India, China and Indonesia have signed on but they do not have to talk about reducing emissions until after 2012. Of the 38 countries, 13 have been deemed economies in transition and are essentially exempted from any deadlines for meeting targets.

The fifteen countries that are members of the European community are likely to meet their targets through creative accounting. Six nations are extremely small and have equally tiny targets. That leaves just four countries; the United States, Australia, Japan and Canada.

However, the United States and Australia have already decided not to ratify. China and India each spew as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day as does Canada in an entire year.

The Kyoto accord cannot come into force unless 55 countries that collectively produce 55% of the developed world's carbon dioxide emissions ratify it. The U.S. abandonment of the treaty makes the backing of other signatories critical to the agreement's survival.

Countries that have refused to ratify are not required to reduce emissions in phase 1 of the Kyoto protocol.

The vast majority, 95% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, is naturally occurring. Of the 5% that is man made, two-thirds is produced in countries not ratifying Kyoto or are exempt from its targets. There are no real penalties for those countries in the Kyoto treaty. Countries that do not meet their targets have their overruns added to the next target like the interest on credit cards.

Canada accounts for only 2% of global greenhouse gases. It will be the only country in the western hemisphere required to make significant reductions under the protocol to meet 1990 emission levels. Taxpayer dollars should be used for something worthwhile and for an effective cause, not for something ineffective or doomed to be a failure.

Both the Liberal cabinet and the caucus are divided on whether or not the government should ratify the Kyoto protocol. Ministers of Natural Resources, Industry and Finance have varying and contradicting opinions about Kyoto. Some have indicated their reluctance to see the government ratify it at this time. Other Liberals have been sitting on the fence and watching their wet finger figuring out which way the wind is blowing.

The former finance minister and the Liberal leader in waiting could have shown some leadership. How can he oppose the plan and then promise to vote in favour of it? I do not understand that. The Liberal record on protecting the environment and endangered species or dealing with pesticides, contaminations and pollutants is dismal. The Liberals have repeatedly broken their red book promises.

The provinces have no confidence in the federal Liberal government. The provinces have not been provided with a plan, even though they must find money to meet the targets. Conferences with the premiers have been postponed many times. British Columbia, for example, has invested heavily in the past decades in clean, renewable hydroelectricity, which supplies 90% of the province's energy needs. British Columbia's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are the third lowest in Canada. Yet under the government's implementation plan B.C. would suffer the worst job and economic impacts.

The federal government has spent millions of dollars on so-called consultations. Despite this Canadians are generally poorly informed on the Kyoto accord. Some think the Kyoto accord is a model of a Japanese car like the Honda Accord, while others visualize images of huge plants and factories billowing great mushroom clouds of poisonous smog. Most people believe that the protocol would affect only big businesses. It is not a joke, but rather a very serious matter.

The federal government, because of the lack of a clear approach and plan, has been unable and unsuccessful in educating and informing Canadians about this most expensive initiative ever. There is no legislation in the pipeline, so how can we believe the government? To meet the 240 megatonne made in Japan commitment, the government acknowledges there is still a 60 megatonne gap and it has been unable to close the gap. The plan has a few flaws. The figures do not add up and the government does not have a plan. Just like Humpty Dumpty, the Liberals think Kyoto can mean whatever they want it to mean. This is a recipe for abuse, fraud and corruption. Kyoto is an inadequate public relations scam and fraud.

Kyoto has never been about science; it has only been about politics. The only climate it would change would be the economic climate. Implementing the treaty would result in massive losses in jobs, productivity and wealth, unfairly affecting some regions of the country far more than others and devastating communities in the process. Job losses would be massive, about half a million. Domestic emission reductions alone could cost as high as $45 billion.

The Kyoto protocol is unfair to Canadian industry and would put us at a competitive disadvantage internationally, particularly with the U.S. Businesses may simply move across the border to avoid the costs of Kyoto. With no public benefits or even global ones, we would all lose. It is a lose-lose proposition. In B.C. pulp mills could ship wood chips to the United States for processing rather than run mills in B.C. Consideration should be given to the Dutch example. A strong economy would result in better environmental protection.

We must continue to conduct the necessary research to properly understand this complex issue. Clearly, today's climate change science does not provide a sufficiently robust foundation on which to base a significant and costly international treaty.

We should reduce real pollution as well as greenhouse gases which might be contributing to climate change by promoting: energy and resources conservation; transitional fuels such as propane, natural gas, ethanol and other biofuels; wind, solar and other alternative energy sources; and a society wide conversion to clean hydrogen fuel. We should not leave the minister's car running and thus setting a bad example. We should also work on adapting to climate change, whether natural or man made.

The Canadian Alliance opposes ratification of the protocol, but supports policies that would lead to both a healthier environment and a growing economy. The Kyoto environmental accord is a deeply flawed international deal. We should find scientific reasons and invest in technology so we could make significant contributions for generations to come.

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1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House on such an important issue to the future of Canadians. I will be sharing my time with the member for Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Aldershot.

I would like to describe the issue as people across Canada see it and as I see it. About 90% of scientists agree that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming. There are about 10% who do not agree and have alternative theories. An intergovernmental panel of 1,800 scientists has recommended a 60% reduction in CO

2

emissions. We are looking at 6%. This is a serious problem.

Let us look at the evidence. The boreal forest out west is in recession. In the last five years Nova Scotia has had some serious storms. Manitoba had four or five serious floods in the nineties. There is also the unprecedented melting of polar ice caps.

This is a problem which we can try to ignore. There are some members who claim we should do nothing about greenhouse gas emissions because they say they are not a problem. The argument that greenhouse gas emissions do not contribute to global warming is absolutely false. Let us recognize at least among us here that this is an issue.

Some members look at this issue as a problem, and preach doom and gloom. I and many members of our government believe this is not a problem, but rather an opportunity for Canadians and for Canadian industry as well. Opposition members should get down off their soap boxes and stop preaching doom and gloom for the Canadian economy. Let us look at this as an opportunity and progress as opposed to doom and gloom.

In 1973 the head of Ford said that the company and the industry were forced to install catalytic converters in cars to reduce air pollution. This would cause Ford to shut down and reduce gross national production by $17 billion, increase unemployment to 800,000 and decrease tax receipts of $5 billion at all levels of government. This would result in some local governments becoming insolvent. Some years later that same leader in the American industry said his company was continuously faced with great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems. That amazing and accomplished leader of industry was Mr. Lee Iacocca. This was an example of how people who preached doom and gloom at the beginning, but through time and actuality realized it offered solutions and opportunity for industry, private citizens and governments.

It has been predicted that 60,000 jobs would be lost as a result of the Kyoto implementation.

Kyoto Protocol
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1:35 p.m.

An hon. member

It is 450, 000.

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1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, various people have predicted 60,000 jobs, others 450,000, depending on whose estimates we look at.

Let me talk about the cost of inaction. Let us talk about quantifying those costs of inaction in terms of health costs and costs to various industries such as the insurance industry. Let us talk about the opportunities such as helping new industry evolve in Canada and becoming a centre for environmental technologies geared toward greenhouse gas emission reduction. Those opportunities have not been quantified. In fact, if we look at the cost, often the cost of inaction is not mentioned whatsoever.

There would definitely be health impacts by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are not only talking about CO

2

emissions. When we reduce emissions, we are reducing all emissions and CO

2

is certainly the target. However, we are looking at and dealing with NO and NO

2

, and SO and SO

2

in particular. They all have levels of chemical loading in our atmosphere that are serious. It is not only CO

2

emissions, there are many other types of noxious chemicals as well.

We can agree there is a problem. Most members would say greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are issues that must be dealt with. If members talk to their constituents they would also say that yes, we understand there are issues around global warming. Where should we go from here because we know there is a problem?

The intergovernmental panel consisted of 1,800 scientists. It talked about a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We are talking about 6%, which is modest. The question is, where do we go from here? How do we implement this? How do we work with industry, governments, and various stakeholders to bring in an implementation plan that would be as user friendly and built on consensus as possible?

I had a round table in my riding specifically on Kyoto. Some of the recommendations that came from industry, government, and individual citizens were heartening to see. They came up with a number of recommendations and thoughts on this issue. One gentleman, for instance, said that he had solar panels installed in his summer cottage to heat his water, operate his lights and heat his home in general. He said the payback on that looked like it would be about six years. It is heartening for me to see people looking at those opportunities, coming up with their own solutions, and in fact working with renewable energy technologies like solar power.

There are other renewable energies that we could look at: geothermal technology, ethanol and biofuels. Coming from an agricultural riding I am happy to see that biofuels offer an opportunity. Farming is very difficult and farmers are going through rough times. We know they face international market conditions that are difficult. Farm profits are decreasing. We have seen problems with smaller farms as well. There is a reduction in the numbers of smaller farms.

Biofuels would offer farmers an alternative revenue source because they do have the input or the natural resource to put into a biofuel process. That is something that we can explore and that is good news for the agriculture sector.

Another example is wind energy. California has made great strides with wind energy. Prince Edward Island has 11 wind turbines that are working very well. They are feeding into the provincial grid system and doing a great job of it.

One other example that was mentioned at this round table was how hot water heaters are some of the least efficient appliances in our homes. Why is that so? It had not been significantly questioned before. Issues like this were brought forward by citizens who were concerned and I thought that was commendable.

Habitat protection for species at risk was mentioned. I had a hard time equating that with Kyoto. However, people said that we could look at our forests and reforestation to help rebuild habitats.

I would like to voice my support for Kyoto. We should look at creating an implementation plan where we look, on a regional basis, to come up with regional solutions involving the consultative process. We should bring all sectors, industry, municipalities, provincial governments, the energy sector, the resource sector, the citizens coalitions and non-governmental organizations around a table, to develop a regional approach that would address the regional issues and challenge this group to come up with solutions in conjunction with the federal government.

This cannot be a top down process. The implementation plan must be a “community up” process in my mind, where we build consensus among all the stakeholders around the table, bring them to Ottawa and hash out a plan.

Kyoto Protocol
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his intervention. We do get a little enthusiastic about some of our discussions around here and there is quite an ideological debate going on about how we should proceed to address some very important issues.

The hon. member mentioned that jobs would be created to offset the losses in industry. Jobs would be created by innovation and by advancing energy alternatives. Is the member implying that the only way to achieve these job gains in energy alternatives is by signing on to the Kyoto accord, which is outside of Canada?

He mentioned alternatives, and some good ideas came forward, such as wind, hydro, hydrogen, solar energy, geothermal, ethanol and bio-fuels. He mentioned someone in his own riding who used solar panels to greatly increase the efficiency of his home. But that was done, might I suggest, without Kyoto. It has been done already.

We have talked about what happened in California, where great strides are being made in this area toward energy alternatives, but that was done without Kyoto.

There are great penalties associated with Kyoto if Canada does not reach these unachievable or unrealistic targets. They are very difficult targets. We do not know how we are going to get out there without a plan. If we do not reach them, there are very severe penalties to our economy and that will require emissions trading abroad and transfers of great sums of money from our country to other countries. Therefore, would it not be better to spend that money by investing in this country, advancing the concerns and alternatives that we are all interested in?

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1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, one aspect I would like to address immediately is U.S. support for Kyoto. In fact, the Attorneys General of 11 major states, including California, New York and Massachusetts, wrote to President Bush deploring his current policy as failing to mandate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. They stated:

To fill this regulatory void, states and others are being forced to rely on their available legal mechanisms...[which] will necessarily lessen regulatory certainty and increase the ultimate costs of addressing climate change, thereby making the purported goals of the Administration's current policy illusory.

I think there is widespread support for addressing climate change, but I think the process is what we should be focusing on. I feel that the goals, at 6% below 1990 levels, are very modest, and I understand that there have been issues around consultation.

What I would like to focus on now in going forward is setting a target and trying to achieve that target in consultation, with industry, provinces, municipal governments, provincial governments, NGOs and citizens' coalitions around the table, so that we can all work together to look at a solution that is implementable.

This has to be done on a regional basis to make sure that regional interests and concerns are addressed. Certainly in the case of Alberta, for example, which has a large oil and gas sector, we must take that into account in looking at job creation and opportunities for corporate growth in the oil sector.

I think that the issue here is not about the ratification, but more so about the implementation, in a consensus building fashion.

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1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned the United States in his response. In Sumas, Washington, there is a plant being built, just across the 49th. We already have one plant pulling out of B.C. to move to this new location just south of the 49th. A little community with 780 people will get 56 jobs from a formerly Canadian plant. It will get all the hundreds of construction jobs. There is a 600 megawatt power plant going in there, just south of the 49th, to serve this little community. Presumably that power is destined for Seattle and California, but it is not legal for them to build the plant near Seattle or in California because of the pollution concerns there. Yet it is being built just south of the 49th.

Does the hon. member really not think that with our dependence on the U.S. for our exports and our energy products a lot of our industry will just go south of the 49th? Canada will still receive as much emissions or more and it will be at the expense of the Canadian economy and Canadian jobs.

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1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, again I thank the hon. member for his question.

If what he has stated, that lesser degrees of environmental compliance or regulations are the basis for companies to move to some constituencies from others, California would be bankrupt. California is one of the most progressive environmental communities in the world, certainly in North America. We have seen California put forward a number of environmental issues and it was one state that said to the president that the developed countries should take the lead in combating climate change. Developed countries should also commit to voluntarily stabilizing their emissions--

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1:50 p.m.

An hon. member

It has as many people as we do in all of Canada.

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1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

I understand, but just in closing, if we are trying to say that because of a different level of environmental regulations the exodus of companies from one jurisdiction to another will happen, then California should be an example because it has been this way for 20 years and California has seen wonderful growth.

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1:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, the definition of leadership is to be willing to lead when the way ahead is unsure. Anyone can go forward when the future is full of certainty, but few are prepared to go forward to show true leadership when the future is uncertain. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that is the case with the Kyoto accord.

As with countries, as with prime ministers, as with heads of corporations and businesses and as with ordinary people, when the time comes to lead, it has to be when one realizes it is necessary, one is called upon to lead, and the way ahead is unsure.

I have been following the debate on Kyoto. I actually have on my desk a very thick file of all the speeches in Hansard . There is no doubt that there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding what we are proposing to do about ratifying the Kyoto accord.

There is no doubt in my mind that there is a huge political element in the lead-up to the Kyoto accord, that indeed there are some countries in the world that hope to see countries like Canada and the United States indeed sign on to the commitments involved in Kyoto to make them less competitive, so that these countries in the third world, or even in the second world, if we will, in Europe, can compete better with the products that are produced especially in North America.

There also is no doubt that there is dispute on the scientific evidence. It is true that finally, after many years of debate, the consensus among scientists is that the climate is changing. But there is not consensus that the climate is changing because of world contributions of greenhouse gas emissions. That is not proven. However, what is known, what is established, is that the world is under threat of pollution caused by human activity and that populations around the world are growing. What is happening, and we saw it so well with the former east bloc countries, is that when the desire is to produce, to manufacture at any cost, there is a tremendous cost to the environment, an unacceptable price paid on the loss of environmental integrity.

All we have to do is to go to today's East Germany or Taiwan, for example, or many of the cities in the countries in the Far East and eastern Europe and see the effects of unregulated pollution, where the rivers are poisoned and the air is poisoned. Visitors from Taiwan will comment when they have been here in Ottawa for 24 hours or 48 hours that they do not have to change their shirts because they do not have a black ring around the neck. The air pollution in Singapore, Mexico City and so many places around the world is very severe.

I would suggest that the Kyoto accord is not really about carbon dioxide, because again we acknowledge that carbon dioxide is something that plants use and it is a non-poisonous gas that is part of the natural environment. But the reason why one focuses on the question of carbon dioxide is that it is an indicator of other human-produced pollutants.

The reason why it is so important, in my view, that despite the uncertainty Canada stands up at the plate on Kyoto is that the leading developed nations have to lead on this, because the third world looks to us with great envy and sees us as the ones who have it all our way. They want to catch up and they want to compete with us in any way they can, and if that any way involves contributing to world pollution then that any way is what they will do. So the developed nations have to lead the way on air pollution control is what it really amounts to, on cutting back on the pollutants in the atmosphere.

There is no doubt that whatever we do here in Canada is not going to account for that much difference in climate change. If we want to see where the real problems in air pollution are coming from, all we have to do is get on the Internet and get into those satellites that are looking down into the Middle East or Africa and see those natural gas flares that are blowing into the air in Saudi Arabia or Nigeria, or see the plumes of smoke from the forest fires and the clear-cutting in western Africa, in the Amazon and in Malaysia. This is serious pollution. The only way that the western world, the developed countries, can get any kind of moral authority to persuade these other countries not to do this is to lead the way in cutting back on the emissions that we ourselves create.

It is important to lead. One of my great disappointments in this whole Kyoto process is the fact that the United States did not take the lead. I believe that there is a tremendous will in the United States to lead in this particular way because Americans and Canadians, North Americans, are renowned worldwide for the ability to innovate. If there were any two countries in the entire world that could face this challenge and employ high technology and creativity to develop new strategies to control pollution, be it carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, or any of these things, it is Americans and Canadians.

It is sad that the American leadership has decided not to go down this avenue that the rest of the world is calling upon it to do. Therefore Canada has to take the lead. We are the only G-7 nation that is prepared to take this kind of leadership.

I really believe that when we made this commitment, and we are going into a world of uncertainty, I think we will show that we can meet the challenges. I would suggest that within a few years of going down that road, that road of uncertainty, I believe that the Americans will follow the Canadians.

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2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to what the member had to say. I would simply reflect back to him what I have said to others when I have engaged in the comments on these debates and that is, it is based on huge assumptions on all facets.

First, on the environmental facet, one must recognize that carbon dioxide, which is the main element of the Kyoto accord, is the fourth element in our atmosphere. As a matter of fact, nitrogen and oxygen comprise 99%, actually it is 99.03%, of our total atmosphere. Everything else is less than 1%. The next one is argon and following that is carbon dioxide at .033% by volume. Therefore, when one says that carbon dioxide emissions will greatly affect our atmosphere, our weather, our global temperature, I think it is a huge leap of assumption.

Furthermore, Canada emits about 2% of man-made carbon dioxide. The man-made portion of carbon dioxide production in the world is an infinitesimal amount of the total if we think of things like volcanoes and forest fires. Every swamp that is rotting away produces carbon dioxide. It is not reasonable to assume that the small proportion of carbon dioxide that is emitted by mankind worldwide can really have a sizable affect on the total amount of carbon dioxide in the world. It is the same as saying that the oceans are too high so we had better take a couple of cups of water out of them. Numerically that would reduce the volume of water in the oceans, but it would be an infinitesimal amount. That is the first assumption.

Then the big assumption is that by actually reducing our production of carbon dioxide, even by the percentage proclaimed here, it would have any affect at all. I think that is a huge leap.

I am a mathematician, a math physics major. I did a little chemistry but probably only enough to be dangerous. I think we need to be very careful with what we are doing.

The question is are we ready to risk such huge economic repercussions for something that may not make any difference at all?

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2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Elk Island really has demonstrated that he does not have a grasp of chemistry beyond early high school. None of those arguments have any bearing on what I said.

The point is simply that we have to lead the way in struggling to create environmental technologies that combat all forms of air pollution. There is no doubt. If he had listened to my speech I would have acknowledged that carbon dioxide is not the ultimate problem. It is the problem of leadership. We have to get out there and show the undeveloped world that the developed world is willing to lead the way in reducing air pollution of every kind. It is a matter of the future of the world, the future of the planet, not a matter of a chemistry lesson that obviously the member opposite did not learn very well.