House of Commons Hansard #35 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was investment.

Topics

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

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.

Business of the House
Private Members' Business

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

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I apologize for interrupting the next speaker.

There have been discussions among the parties and I believe that if you seek unanimous consent you will find there is agreement for the following motion. I move:

That, at the conclusion of tomorrow's debate on the motion to concur in the First Report of the Standing Committee on Transport (recommendation not to proceed further with Bill C-310, An Act to Provide Certain Rights to Air Passengers), the question be deemed put, a deferred recorded division be deemed to have been requested and deferred to Wednesday, May 5, 2010 immediately before the time provided for Private Members' Business.

Business of the House
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to present this motion?

Business of the House
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, be read the third time and passed.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

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

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

That's all.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

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

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Nothing.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please.

Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

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

6:50 p.m.

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.