Mr. Speaker, I am indeed delighted to participate in this very worthwhile debate today.
With regard to the hon. member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, I am a little surprised. Although he does speak very eloquently and very passionately for the cause in which he believes, I noticed that throughout his dissertation he kept using the word “think” many times: I think, I think, I think.
It might have been a relative of his for all I know, but there was a famous king called Solomon who at one time said that people use thought or thinking only to conceal their actions and speech to conceal their thoughts. I know it is a little twist in the words but I am just trying to figure out what he is trying to conceal.
I believe that perhaps he is trying to conceal the real agenda of his party, which is basically debt driven. His party is of the belief that the government, the taxpayer of Canada, should, in all circumstances, financially support any institution that they believe in their own minds—and I disagree with him on that—the people need. I personally believe that people need to take responsibility for their actions.
I would like to take this opportunity to address the motion on natural gas put forth by the hon. member for Churchill River. It is the government's current energy policy not to fund any megaprojects but to leave the competitive market to decide what goes forward and what does not. It is our firm belief that we should not be an interventionist government with regard to megaprojects. This is one reason, among a few others, that we have difficulty in supporting the hon. member's motion.
I understand the hon. member's desire to ensure an environmentally friendly and secure energy source for his region, but that is what Canada's approach to the complex, evolving global challenge of climate change is all about. We see it as a challenge that is both environmental and economic. We on this side of the House look upon challenges as opportunities in work clothes to work for the benefit of each and every Canadian, to work for the benefit of each and every province; in other words, the opportunity to do the right thing.
The Kyoto protocol in December 1997 reaffirmed the conviction among some 160 countries that six commonly identified greenhouse gases were accumulating in the world's atmosphere to the point that they must be altering the earth's climate. The majority of global scientific opinion suggests that human conduct is certainly contributing to climate change.
The protocol involved a commitment on the part of the industrialized world to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. This action is much like an insurance policy against those future risks. Just like buying insurance, we cannot get the coverage we should have had after the fact. We must do it before.
For Canada our Kyoto target is minus six, to get our emissions down during the period between 2008 and 2012 to 6% below the level they were in 1990. We are well on our way to that, but it will not be easy. Nothing in the world is easy, unless we are constantly critics. If we constantly criticize, that is easy, but when we have to make definitive decisions that will have a positive impact on the people of Canada things on occasion are not easy.
The hon. member opposite spoke about Canada's northern climate. I come from northern Ontario so I know of what she speaks, but Canada's northern climate, vast distances, increasing population, increasing production, and its resource based and energy intensive economy make our commitment to that road much more difficult to meet. If we can carry on from this point forward with no changes and business as usual, by the year 2010 Canada's greenhouse gas emissions will rise to about 26% above our Kyoto target.
We obviously have to slow down that trajectory, to flatten it out and then turn it downward to reach our target within this decade. Where we will be when it ends will depend on how astute we are at managing our domestic change challenges in relation to the rest of the world. We need to marry strong environmental performance with a strong economy. The Canadian public wants to have both together.
About 79% of human made GHG emissions are related to the way we produce, transport and consume energy. The more energy efficient we become, the fewer emissions we generate. The more we achieve in this regard through greater energy efficiency, the less we will have to rely on other means to satisfy our Kyoto protocol commitments.
Across our entire national economy in every sector, in every individual behaviour, each and every one of us must achieve energy efficient excellence. From a government policy perspective we have thus far used a variety of tools to achieve greater energy efficiency. For one thing we have tried to improve our own operations within the Government of Canada. We are on track to slash our emissions by more than 20% and to reach that goal by the year 2005. People can make informed decisions about energy use. The EnerGuide label for equipment, houses and vehicles is a great illustration.
The third tool is peer group challenges like the VCR, the voluntary challenge registry, where industries and business pledge to improve their performances and report their progress in a tangible and public way.
There are incentives like Natural Resources Canada commercial buildings program which puts up some cash to encourage developers and builders to incorporate best practices from the ground up. Hand in hand with these tools we must achieve a faster rate of new technology development and timely deployment of new technology. This is the key underpinning for everyone's use.
Let us consider an innovation like Solarwall, for example, developed by Conserval Engineering. It is a new solar based energy saving technique for large building ventilation systems. It requires modestly increased one time construction costs, but it generates significant savings in ongoing operating costs year after year. We get a more efficient ventilation system, fewer greenhouse gas emissions and a growing market across North American and around the world.
We must build our capacity for efficiency innovation in government labs, in academic institutions and in the private sector. We must put that knowledge to work quickly in the marketplace. Federally we are moving in that direction, specifically in each of the last four federal budgets. Within Natural Resources Canada about $100 million each year are normally invested in research for climate change solutions. Other federal departments add another $50 million annually.
The bottom line in all this is that there is no one simple answer. Regretfully, although I have great respect and admiration for my colleague from Churchill, I cannot support the hon. member's motion because it advocates a megaproject policy for energy which has been replaced, as we speak, by a successful, competitive market based approach.
The focus of the Government of Canada's policy is on providing environmentally friendly and secure energy solutions for all Canadians. This approach encourages energy solutions through initiatives that address the complex global challenge. In my great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke I have two of Canada's greatest diversified energy producers: a hydro electric dam at des-Joachims and the Atomic Energy of Canada Laboratories in Chalk River.
We need to be the very best. We need to be the most intelligent, innovative and efficient at finding, developing, producing, delivering, consuming and exporting the world's most sophisticated and diversified energy products, skills, services and science. The Liberal government will be very ambitious in this regard. The upper Ottawa valley is leading the way. My great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke is at the cutting edge. I believe that is a worthy Canadian ambition for one and all.