Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
You should have before you a submission from Greenpeace entitled “Targeting Climate Change in Canada”. I would also like to note that you have received a letter dated January 22, with recommended amendments to Bill C-30 from eight different executive directors of environmental groups. Our presentation this evening addresses climate change issues, but Greenpeace would like to adopt those submissions that are in those amendments.
As drafted, Canada's Clean Air Act targets no greenhouse gas reductions before 2020, and only sets a distant and, in our opinion, inadequate target for reductions by 2050. The notice of intent calls for emission reductions of between 45% and 65% from 2003 levels by 2050. Just to put that in perspective, Canadian greenhouse gas emissions in 2003 were 754 megatonnes. That means that by those targets, we would come down to between 264 and 415 megatonnes in 2050.
Reductions of emissions are usually calculated, as you know, against a baseline of 1990. As a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, Canada committed to reduce emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012, so our target for 2012 is in fact 563 megatonnes. In order to prevent dangerous climate change, Greenpeace calls on Canada and other industrial nations to meet their Kyoto commitments as the first step, and then to target further deep reductions of emissions relative to 1990 levels: 30% by 2020, and 80% by 2050.
Why these levels? These levels are science-based targets designed to prevent, in the words of the Kyoto Protocol, “dangerous climate change” by keeping the global average temperature increase as far below two degrees Celsius as possible.
In terms of the actual levels of carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere, pre-industrial levels were at 280 parts per million, and the current level is up to 430 parts per million. The Stern review concluded that the greenhouse gas concentration should be limited to a range of 450 to 550 parts per million. The environmental community thinks we should be targeting it at the lower end of that range. Just so you understand the implications, it's thought that the planet could reach 550 parts per million as early as 2035. At that concentration, there's a 77% to 99% chance that the average temperature increase will exceed two degrees Celsius. It's widely accepted that temperature increases of more than two degrees Celsius will dramatically increase the risk of serious and irreversible climate change impacts.
The longer we delay those emission cuts, the faster they're going to have to be reduced. That's just simple mathematics. We have only a short window of opportunity, so it's vitally important to start reducing immediately.
With regard to intensity-based targets, the notice of intent states that “the Government intends to adopt a target-setting approach based on emissions intensity”. Emissions intensity is a measure of greenhouse gases emitted per unit of economic activity. Unfortunately, these intensity-based targets can be used to misrepresent progress—or the lack of progress—that's being made. Canada's greenhouse gas intensity measured in megatonnes per billion dollars of gross domestic product has actually decreased—that is, improved—14% between 1990 and 2004. However, this improvement has occurred largely spontaneously as a result of energy efficiency improvements, at the same time that the absolute levels of greenhouse gas emissions have increased 27%. Therefore, Greenpeace rejects the use of intensity-based targets and supports the use of absolute targets for greenhouse reductions.
What about Canada's climate crisis? Despite making a commitment to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, Canada has had only three plans: one in 2000, another in 2002, and finally the 2005 project green plan in April 2005.
The early plans relied primarily on voluntary actions instead of effective regulation, incentive programs, or market-based programs. Thus, greenhouse gas emissions were not reduced. We know that by 2004 emissions had risen to 758 megatonnes, 27% above the 1990 level and 35% above our Kyoto target. This places Canada among the worst countries in the world in emission changes since 1990. Canada ranks fourth from the bottom among the 41 industrialized nations known at the annex 1 parties. This is a worsening of Canada's ranking since 2005, when it was sixth from the bottom.
The former Liberal government did a dismal job of fighting climate change, but their 2005 project green plan laid the foundation for positive action to fight climate change in Canada. In our opinion, it would have allowed Canada to meet its Kyoto commitment by a range of measures. The Clean Air Act as drafted would take Canada even further backwards in the fight against the climate crisis.
In our opinion, Canada's Kyoto target is achievable. While the government has not withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol, lack of aggressive action will mean an effective abandonment of our commitment. The Kyoto target has been falsely characterized by the government as unachievable or unrealistic, and it is neither. However, Canada must be prepared to spend money.
The government's first budget in May 2005 slashed climate change spending from $4 billion to $2 billion over the following five years. If we need money, this is the time to create a green fund, a carbon tax similar to that of Quebec, by taxing fossil fuels. Determine the size of the fund by the amount of money required to meet our targets. The design of that fund should be a top priority.
It's scaremongering to suggest that Canada's Kyoto commitment would result in “economic collapse”. Sir Nicholas Stern, head of Britain's government economic service and the former World Bank chief economist, put that fear to rest last fall when he said that the cost of not acting against climate change will be immeasurably higher, typically amounting to about 20% of global gross domestic product per year, whereas the cost of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be limited to about 1% of GDP per year.
Last month, Greenpeace released a global energy blueprint to 2050. It confirmed the findings of the Stern review and emphasized that the world can have its cake and eat it too. We can have clean, safe, renewable energy while improving efficiency, enjoying economic growth, and phasing out dirty and dangerous energy sources such as coal and nuclear power.
We were very glad to hear Mr. Baird say before this committee that the era of voluntary compliance is over. Now is the time for mandatory emission reductions for big business, starting in 2008. These targets should be designed to achieve a Kyoto-level cap for the commitment period. Industry should do its fair share. Since they produce 50% or more of emissions, they should be responsible for at least 50% of the reductions.
Canada also needs automobile efficiency standards matching or improving those of California. We need incentive programs for green energy and conservation to be expanded, and Canada needs a million-solar-roof program for solar hot water.
We need to improve the economic playing field and level it out by eliminating direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power. Start by eliminating the 100% write-off for tar sands under the accelerated capital cost allowance. The tar sands produce five times as many greenhouse gas emissions as conventional oil.
We can also stop the subsidies for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.; $20 billion is enough to have wasted on this dirty, dangerous, and expensive technology. Nuclear power can't solve climate change, and it will actively prevent investment in more cost-effective green energy alternatives.
We also think you should set the market to work with a truly effective emissions trading system. Put tough emission reduction targets in place for each industry. Don't place a ceiling on the cost of emission credits, and don't allow industry to avoid the true cost of their pollution by paying into a technology fund, as suggested in the notice of intent.
It's also vitally important to make this trading system international. Industry should be allowed to purchase offshore credits--not so-called hot air credits, but credits for investment in green technology and other meaningful greenhouse gas reducing activities.
Finally, I'd urge you all to remember that Kyoto is not just about a 5% global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. It's an unprecedented international movement, starting with greenhouse gas reductions by the developed nations, but bringing in the developing nations in the subsequent Kyoto periods. It's the integration of those burgeoning economies into a climate change regime that is so vitally important to preventing a global catastrophe. China, India, and Brazil have already committed to the process, and we can't allow it to falter.
Canada has never before shirked its duty in either wartime or peacetime. I don't think Canadians are quitters, and we have to deliver on our Kyoto promise. We believe that these priorities should be reflected in the upcoming budget. Together we can do it a year at a time. Starting at a level of about 800 megatonnes, a 50-megatonne reduction per year from 2008 to 2012 will bring us to our Kyoto target. So let's get going.