That, in the opinion of this House, the government should renew discussions on climate change through the development of a new transparent, accountable consultation process, based on sound science and economic study, that results in realistic goals for carbon emissions reduction.
Madam Speaker, it is certainly my pleasure to speak today about this most important subject. I think this will be one of the subjects, next to terrorism, that in the next few months will be on many people's minds.
In times of peace and prosperity it is very easy to talk about things, to agree to treaties and to promise things without really knowing what they mean or what they might do to the Canadian public. It would be easy to find the money to cover up some of these loose promises, but now we are in a different situation. In times of crisis like these, talk is expensive. Words are expensive. Every word carries great weight. In times of crisis we must renew those commitments made when we were in a free and easy mode. Those commitments made with great optimism but without regard for consequences were excusable then but are inexcusable now.
This brings me to the subject for today. I think that within the next year Canadians will be facing perhaps the most expensive government commitment since World War II. I am not talking about new security measures, which will undoubtedly be costly. I am not talking about the ongoing war against terrorism, which will also be costly. I am talking about Canada's commitment, signed in 1997, to the Kyoto protocol. As we speak meetings are going on in Marrakesh with the intention of ratifying it. The minister will be joining those meetings next week.
In light of that I have put forward my motion today to, I hope, begin discussion in the House about this most important subject. I strongly believe that the Kyoto protocol is not the right answer for climate change. I agree there is climate change but I do not think the Kyoto protocol is the answer.
I would like to address the specific flaws of the accord and present my vision of an action plan that would much more effectively address the problems of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto protocol would do little to help the environment, yet at the same time it would bring great pain to the Canadian economy. Very simply, I believe that the Kyoto protocol is unworkable, and if this house is built on sand and a storm comes, this house will fall down.
Kyoto is a bad agreement. It is an agreement built on sand. The storms of reality have come since September 11 and the Kyoto house will undoubtedly fall. The best we can do is tear it down before we Canadians get hurt. While filled with good intentions, the protocol would do little to prevent global warming. The actual accomplishments of Kyoto, if its carbon emission reductions were to be met, would be almost nothing.
One of the lead scientists involved in the International Panel on Climate Change has estimated that if all countries that signed the protocol, including the U.S., lived up to their commitments, projected climate change would be reduced by only less than one-fifth of a degree celsius by the year 2100. In other words, projected climate change would be delayed by only six years by 2100, yet developed nations are willing to spend trillions of dollars for just six years. For all those trillions of dollars spent worldwide to implement the protocol, it would achieve almost no reduction in projected temperature increases.
If ratified, the protocol would legally bind Canada to reduce its emissions to 6% below 1990 levels. This is certainly no easy task especially considering that in 1999 Canada was 15% above 1990 levels and 22% above Kyoto commitments. How can we expect to reduce emissions below 1990 levels when we have pushed ourselves so far above them?
Let me remind everyone that in 1997 the Liberal government entered into the Kyoto talks without a plan. In fact, we were the only G-8 country without a public position before Kyoto. The Reform Party at the time pushed for accountability. What was the Liberal plan? How much would it cost? Nothing was forthcoming from the government. There was only constant evasion of the question, with big words but no plan. Let me also remind the House that now in 2001 the Liberal government, threatening to ratify Kyoto, still has very little idea of a concrete plan or its cost. It entered into the Kyoto protocol full of great intentions but with empty words and no notion of the costs of implementation.
The Prime Minister has yet to open his eyes to the drastic effects of ratifying Kyoto. So far the Liberals have plans to meet only one-third of the Kyoto commitment. The most interesting developments and repeated assertions by the Prime Minister and his colleagues are that they support development of Alberta's tar sands and other production for export to the U.S. That is going in exactly the reverse direction of meeting the Kyoto commitment, yet they still claim they can meet their targets.
The United States has now rejected the Kyoto protocol. The country that emits close to 25% of the world's emissions is not bound by the protocol. It has decided there are better ways to fight climate change and in co-operation with industry is looking for more effective solutions. It is looking for solutions and it is getting there. Canada is not.
Our biggest trading partner is exempt from a hugely expensive burden that will affect every person in Canada. Not only would this mean that the much higher energy prices in Canada compared to the U.S. would drive many businesses away from Canada to other countries, and what our dollar is doing now is nothing compared to what it will do if we ratify Kyoto, it would also mean that pollution is not eliminated, only transferred to another country.
As well, not only is the pollution in many cases transferred to a different part of the world but companies will not be pressured into developing and implementing cleaner technologies that can have benefits for air quality.
The government's own projections of the cost of implementing the Kyoto protocol lie between 1.5% of Canada's real GDP per year to an unbelievable 10% of real GDP per year. The Liberals have promised no carbon tax and no new energy program for controlling the wealth of energy rich provinces, but carbon emissions trading schemes being considered in order to reach Kyoto targets are only another name for a carbon tax or a new national energy program and they may be more expensive.
We must remember that economic recessions are defined by 1% to 2% reductions in GDP. We must also note that our economy has been slowing for many months. The September 11 attacks have slowed this growth even further. Adding one recession to the recession that would be brought about by Kyoto would mean economic depression.
Even though the government continues to boast about its spending of $2 billion on climate change, it forgets to tell about the total cost to Canadians, which is billions and billions of dollars in lost revenue in this country. This means that jobs, technological advancements and our very security will be threatened. It also means money for our environmental programs is seriously compromised. Air quality monitoring, particulate reduction, water treatment, endangered species protection and stewardship programs are badly hurt by such ineffective spending, but these programs have the very tangible results that Canadians want and deserve.
Another fundamental flaw of Kyoto is the way it does not include developing countries. While developed countries had in the past been the biggest greenhouse gas emitters and are responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. department of state the net emissions from developing countries now exceed those of developed countries. I have been to Beijing, Mexico City, Rio and Santiago and have literally chewed the air. That is what is happening in those developing countries. I know that these emission problems are our responsibility, but we need to help those developing countries, not simply do things to Canadian industry. How do we help these nations leapfrog the terrible industrial pollution levels that they will face in the coming decade? They must be included in renewed discussions.
That leads me to my vision of renewed climate change discussions and more realistic domestic action. The government's empty words, loose promises and commitments must give way to meaningful words and effective action. We are in a time of crisis and our words carry much power.
We have long been bound by the Kyoto protocol, but it now must die. The protocol has created much awareness of the climate change issue. It has created much that is good but also much that is not good. It is holding us back from new commitments and new action to address climate change. It is Canada's climate change albatross and it has to be taken from around our neck. It is time to move on this issue.
First, I believe that we must break the pressures that Kyoto will create. We must put an extra push on renewed research into the great gaps of climate change science. The Liberal government has invested much in the Kyoto protocol and it will not admit the weakness of climate change science. Much science is not objective here. Much of the time this science is government supported to prove the Liberal government's position. This must change.
It might allow for more recent developments such as prominent U.S. NASA scientist James Hansen's recent research about how reducing certain carbon air particulates may be a much more effective way of combating climate change than the constraints of Kyoto. Such an approach makes sense. Reduce particulates that have tremendous health impacts while reducing climate change. This would be a double benefit rather than Kyoto's double drawback.
A 12 year old girl wrote me horrified by what she thought climate change was going to do. She thought there was going to be a 20 degrees Celsius increase in temperature, massive flooding, violent weather and so on. She was terrified for herself and her family. I sent information to this young girl telling her that things were not that bad, that scare tactics were being used. Let us get back to the real science.
Second, so much potential good is lost when money is wasted. Tangible and necessary environmental programs such as water treatment, air quality monitoring and stewardship programs are compromised when money is wasted. The huge amount of money wasted on Kyoto is much better spent on increased support for research and development and cleaner energy technologies.
An hour ago I visited an ethanol plant here in this city. That is one of the technologies we must promote. By focusing on technology, our economy avoids being depressed while better support for research and development helps to guarantee faster leaps and bounds in clean technologies which we can then pass on or sell to developing countries.
In the present climate of uncertainty and heightened security, it also makes sense to support the development of a diversified supply of energy sources including natural gas, ethanol, fossil fuels, wind and hydro, hydrogen fuel cells, and so on. Five years in energy technologies make a world of difference. A five year old power plant is dirty compared to one built today. With increased support this will occur even faster. A strong economy is critical for these technological leaps and bounds to happen.
Third, while targets in international discussions are possible, they cannot take place without significant experience with domestic localized action. The provinces must agree to any commitments made in these international discussions. More local tangible actions are meaningful and must be where the bigger ideas of international targets find their inspiration and their roots. Commitments must be meaningful rather than being pie in the sky. This means having realistic goals worked out with those who are largely responsible for meeting those targets: the provinces and industry.
Fourth, the United States, Mexico and our other trading partners under continental programs must be in agreement before we sign any protocol. Unlike the European Union, we are just at the beginning of developing new co-operation. We cannot be put at an unfair disadvantage to our key trading partners. Again, this means pollution is only redistributed and we are hit with severe economic problems.
Fifth, we must include developing nations in climate change discussions. This does not mean setting targets for them; it means helping them to leapfrog.
Sixth, we must continue to focus on programs that encourage energy and resource efficiency. Where possible, ways and means that encourage Canadians to be more efficient in their use of these resources must be supported and discussed.