House of Commons Hansard #60 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organ.

Topics

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Langley has five minutes left to conclude his remarks.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was speaking to the NDP's disingenuous motion on a very important topic, the environment, and what we do to provide a clean environment for this generation and the generations to follow. I was sharing with the House what we are doing in the way of funding in Canada and internationally.

Internationally, Canada was one of the first countries to step up with its fair share of climate change adaptation funding for developing countries, something we pledged to do under the Copenhagen accord. The opposition opposed those dollars going to developing countries, countries that are in need.

We heard from a number of opposition members. They get that the climate is changing. A changing climate it is having a very serious effect on a number of people in Canada and globally, yet when it comes to approving the funds for adaptation, opposition members vote against it. I am having a difficult time, and I think Canadians are having a difficult time, connecting the dots. The opposition members say they care about a changing climate and call on the government to take leadership--and we now have a government that is taking leadership, getting things done and providing funding--yet they vote against that funding. Canadians have great difficulty with that, as do I.

Internationally, we are contributing $45 million this fiscal year to help developing countries adapt to climate change as part of fast-start financing under the Copenhagen accord. Opposition members voted against that. Over four years, we have also contributed over $238 million to the Global Environmental Facility. Some of that came from our fast-track financing envelope, and the rest came from our international assistance envelope. Of course, being consistent, they voted against that. In turn, this funding reinforces our $100 million contribution in 2008-09 to the World Bank's pilot project in climate change resilience. Of course, they voted against that.

Helping Canadians and our international partners around the world adapt to the challenges posed by climate change is an important part of our overall approach to climate change. Making adjustments in our decisions, activities and thinking because of observed or expected changes in climate is essential if we want to manage the risks associated with a changing climate.

If we were to ask the average Canadian if they would support an international agreement that included 27% or 85% of emitters globally, we would find Canadians support 85%. They disregard the 27%. That is the Kyoto protocol; the Copenhagen accord is the 85%. The 27% includes no major emitters; the 85% under the Copenhagen accord includes all the major emitters. Not only do all Canadians support that, all scientists support it. If we take the issue of climate change seriously and really believe it, we have to have all the major emitters participating or it will not be possible to address the issue globally.

About a month ago we had a delegation from the EU. That was exactly their message: that we have to have all the major emitters included.

This is what Nature magazine had to say about a month ago:

One of the goals of Kyoto was to make a relatively small dent in emissions, with the prospect of significantly bigger dents to come. Without the world's two largest polluters--the United States and China--on board that now seems impossible.

There is no need to kill it. The treaty is already weakened and will prove hard to revive. The Durban meeting should be where the Kyoto Protocol, as we know it, goes to die.

A well-known Liberal made this comment in speaking about the former Liberal government. He said:

Instead, the government's plan in terms of the Kyoto agreement was basically written on the back of an airplane napkin on the way to Kyoto... There was no real negotiation with the provinces or with industry sectors. In fact--

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I have to interrupt the hon. member as his time has expired. We will move on to questions and comments with the hon. member for Etobicoke North.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the government is abdicating leadership in meeting international targets and in setting science-based targets. In meeting these targets, it has reduced its own targets by 90%.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development recently examined 35 federal climate change programs. Some had performance measures, but some did not. No one was responsible for the “disjointed, confused and non-transparent patchwork”. No one was tracking the results of the demonstration projects and clean technology incentives, industrial subsidies and tax credits that the government had announced. The environment commissioner told parliamentarians that he could find no link between the government spending $9.2 billion and progress on climate change.

Could the hon. member tell us what progress on climate change Canadians are getting for their $9.2 billion?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, if the member remembers her history, it was her leader in the last Parliament who said, “We didn't get it done”, referring to the previous Liberal government. It was a reference to 13 dark years when the Liberals had a chance to sign on to Kyoto, ratify it and get something done, but they got absolutely nothing done. He asked why we did not get it done.

We hear the echoes in this chamber of the former Liberal environment minister saying, “Do you think it is easy to make priorities?”

We listen to the echoes of history and it was the environment commissioner who said that the Liberals were really good at making announcements, but before the confetti hit the ground they forgot those promises.

That all changed in 2006 when the Conservative government came into power with a strong mandate. We have been tirelessly working for a cleaner environment. Canadians know that. Internationally, we are well respected. We have said that we need a new international agreement with all the major emitters and that is the way the world is heading.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the motion could perhaps help this government, because we want the government to take action. The government must think about the future, about the long term and about future generations. It must think about the future economy. A green economy is coming. Countries like Germany and even China are already investing in this economy.

So the government must take action now to reap the benefits later. We are proposing that the cost of pollution be included in the price we pay now. If we do not pay for pollution now, future generations will end up doing so. The government is not preparing for the future. We are proposing a system such as cap and trade. That is why we want to put a price on carbon.

Could the member opposite confirm that the Conservatives will ensure that future generations do not end up paying for this government's inaction?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Europe addressed the issue of the price of carbon continentally. We have said that we will deal with the issue of a cap and trade agreement continentally, if the United States does the same thing continentally.

The United States has a target of a 20% reduction of 2005 levels by 2020. We have exactly the same target. We are doing it continentally.

When we brush the facade off the question, it is: Do we support a carbon tax?

Absolutely not. We heard from the member for Vancouver East just moments ago saying that Bill C-469 was a wonderful bill and it passed through the House. That was because of the coalition that had come together to support a carbon tax.

Canadians said no to a carbon tax. That is one of the big reasons why the Conservative Party is the Government of Canada.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking on the issue of climate change today, the opposition supply day motion. This is an incredibly important topic for discussion in the House. The science is overwhelmingly clear on the matter of climate change. Anthropomorphic-caused climate change is happening. We as a society, as Canadians and as citizens of this planet need to act to reduce emissions.

I was reading a report published in September 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, in which it surveyed all of the scientific research on climate change. It found 98% confidence among 1,372 climate change researchers that climate change is caused by human activity, largely by the emission of greenhouse gases. This is overwhelming evidence. The conclusion was clear.

It surveyed some 1,372 researchers who had produced many publications. The paper was written by professors Anderegg, Prall, Harold and Schneider, from leading universities like Stanford University in Stanford, California, the department of engineering at the University of Toronto, the Hewlett Foundation in California and the Woods Institute at Stanford University. These are leading researchers at respected academic institutions. They produced a peer-reviewed paper and the evidence is clear and overwhelming. Climate change is happening. It is caused by human activity, and it will have serious effects on our climate and ecosystems unless we act.

The science is clear. Most people who have read the research understand that the evidence continues to build and there is need for action on the part of governments. In fact, the Prime Minister, in addressing the Australian parliament some years ago, made the same point. Climate change is a serious challenge for humanity. We need demonstrated international action in order to combat this challenge.

Many of us in the House understand that climate change is a challenge that the federal government needs to address. The big question then becomes what exactly we are going to do about it. This is where the debate really starts to take hold.

The government has argued, and I support the government's position, that the solution is not for an extension of the Kyoto protocol. In fact, there are a number of third parties who have made this case. Recently, in Nature, the well-respected scientific journal, both an editorial and a separate commentary article suggested that clinging to the hope of an extension or phase two of Kyoto was not constructive. This would do more harm than good in achieving meaningful dialogue on how to fight climate change.

The editorial and the article both made the point that there is no chance that the world's two largest emitters, the United States and China, would agree to binding commitments within the Kyoto protocol. Leaving out those two major emitters would not be a good approach. In their words, it would do more harm than good to seek an extension to the Kyoto protocol. The article underlined that a binding all-or-nothing mentality has held sway ever since and the result has been nothing. The government also understands this. This is why the Minister of the Environment today in Durban announced that the government would not be agreeing to an extension of the Kyoto protocol.

Other third parties have made similar points. In fact, the United Kingdom's former chief scientist, Sir David King, has suggested that we abandon any approach that would see an extension to the Kyoto protocol. Instead he advocates a bottom-up approach, or what he terms “muscular bilateralism”. Countries would make commitments on carbon reductions without the overarching framework of an international treaty.

Other respected third party research institutes, like the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a respected American think tank, agree. Just last month, the Pew Center made the case that Kyoto needs to be let go and a new framework needs to be negotiated. That was in a paper by Elliot Diringer in Nature.

A number of respected third parties, people who do not deny the science of climate change, who do want to see meaningful reductions in emissions, have all made the case that the Kyoto protocol is not the way to go. Instead, they suggest that, as called for in the Copenhagen and Cancun agreements, we should work toward a brand new global treaty that would do two critical things. The first is that it would include all major emitters around the world, whether developing or developed economies. The second is that it would ensure there is a mechanism by which member states can be held accountable.

This is exactly what the Government of Canada has been arguing we need to do in Durban as we undertake these negotiations under the UN framework.

It is clear that the government has a plan and a clear target. It has yet to be fully rolled out, but the government is committed to its plan. If there is anything that I know about this government and the Prime Minister, it is that when the government makes a commitment, it will do everything it can to achieve that commitment.

On many public policy files, the government has demonstrated that, time after time, when it makes a public commitment and reiterates that commitment, it is serious. It will ensure that public policies are put in place to achieve that commitment.

Our commitment is to reduce greenhouse gases by 17% below 2005 levels. In fact, since we took office in 2006, greenhouse gas emissions are down substantially. We are not there yet, but we are moving in the right direction.

Do not just take it from me. It can be taken from a report that was recently published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, an OECD-affiliated research organization. It analyzed federal and provincial greenhouse gas reduction plans throughout Canada. It concluded that, with all the measures that have already been announced, the government is 47% of the way to achieving its 17% reduction by 2020.

We have been in office now for five years. We have put in place measures that will achieve a 47% meeting of our 17% target. We have yet another eight years to go to achieve the other 53%.

I commend the Minister of the Environment for recently gazetting the draft regulations for the electrical and coal sectors. Other sectors, like the oil sands sector, will also be dealt with at some future date. Other major industrial emitters in the heartland of Ontario and Quebec will also be brought into the plan.

I am cautiously optimistic that our government will achieve its target of 17% reduction. Ensuring that we agree to an international framework that is consistent with these domestic targets is not only rational but also bargaining in good faith, rather than making commitments that we cannot meet.

These targets that we have in place domestically are aggressive. They will achieve meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases by 2020 that we have not been able to achieve in the period from 1990 to 2005.

I strongly support the government's position at Durban. I strongly support our approach to greenhouse gas reductions.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very encouraged to hear the hon. member state that climate change is real, that it is clearly anthropogenic and that he recognizes the science. That is a rare opinion on that side of the House. I laud him for his courage in standing and saying that he believes in science and climate change science.

I was less impressed, though, with his feeling that the very weak targets and lack of commitment by the Conservatives was adequate and appropriate.

When moving past weak targets, will the hon. member move to real science-based targets, a real plan, a real strategy and a real accountability, as was found in the climate change accountability act introduced, first, by Jack Layton, then in the last House by myself and will be introduced again this time? I hope he will support that.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with the comment of my colleague from the NDP that our target is not aggressive. It is actually quite aggressive. If we look at the period between 1990 and 2005 in Canada, greenhouse gases rose some 25%. What we have said is that for the period from 2005 to 2020, the second 15 year period of that 30 year period, we will reduce submissions by 17%. Not only are we stopping the growth in emissions under our plan, we are actually going to reduce them by 17%.

He is indeed right. The new target of the government that we announced after we took office in 2006 is not as aggressive as the Kyoto protocol that the former government signed on to and that was later ratified in early 2005. Nevertheless, we felt we were not able to achieve a 30% reduction, but we could achieve the 17% reduction. Therefore, I think that these are very aggressive targets. The plan has yet to be fully rolled out, but when it is, Canadians will see true action on climate change in the second 15 year period of which we are in the middle.