Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to the Kyoto protocol. A lot has been said about it to this point butt his needs to be debated much longer so the facts can get out. I do not believe that will happen because the government does not have a plan.
Under the Kyoto protocol, Canada has to commit to reducing its emissions by 134 megatonnes below the current levels by 2008 and 2012. Canada will have to reduce its emissions by 30%. Canada is only responsible for 2% of the world's emissions so what we do will not have a gigantic impact. That also begs the question as to whether mankind is causing the global warming or are there other reasons. I will get into that in just a minute.
My riding of Selkirk--Interlake is a rural riding and is agriculture based. A lot of farmers these days are very well educated. One gentleman in my riding, by the name of Randall Stefanson, has a bachelor of science in environmental studies. He has spent 30 years at this and he also farms. He is a very well educated, common sense fellow from the Arborg area of Manitoba. I will be referencing some of his material in my speech.
Canada should be going after the whole issue of pollution. Pollution is causing health problems in the country and it is causing smog problems, particularly in the big cities. However that smog and pollution does not just stay in the big cities where it is created. It drifts around and contaminates a lot of the countryside. We had the issue of acid rain years ago and that is still with us to a certain extent. We know that up in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories the pollution from the industrialized world is contaminating the wildlife food supplies of the people.
Canada is looking at committing to the Kyoto protocol. However what about countries like China, India and other underdeveloped countries that are not in it but put out massive amounts of pollution? We need to look at that area. We need to not only clean up the pollution in the first world industrialized countries, but we also need to help the third world countries to industrialized and improve their economies in a clean manner.
What is the Prime Minister getting us into? He is assuming, on what basis we do not know entirely, that by reducing CO
gases that somehow will greatly improve the environment of the world. The jury is a long way from reaching a conclusion as to whether CO
gases are the problem.
As I mentioned, as far as global warming mankind is responsible for such a small amount of the CO
gases produced. Nature is far ahead of mankind. I think that nature will be seen in the future to be the main driver of global warming, if it continues.
In dealing with the pollution issue, I have heard other members in the House speak on this, from the government side and on our side. In the Selkirk--Interlake region where I live, we had a proposed project. It was the Eastern Interlake Regional Co-op recycling facility. I believe this effort went on for eight or ten years.
The municipalities got together and said that there was a better way than just filling up a landfill. They suggested a recycling cooperative where the garbage from all the municipalities would be brought to a central point, probably located north of Winnipeg, within about 15 or 20 miles. It was meant to service rural areas, not Winnipeg. This recycling cooperative would have not only sorted the garbage, but it would have created a gas that could have be used to generate some electricity as well. By doing this, it would not go into the landfill and create methane forever; that gas would enter the environment.
The problem with the project was this. Across all political lines, the municipalities approached the provincial and federal governments to help. They said that they had a good idea and asked if the government could help fund the project. The federal government put in a few thousand dollars and the province put in some.
This is a very viable idea. This type of facility is used in the United States, in Europe and in other countries. However could they get any real support for it?
When the Prime Minister rams this CO
Kyoto agreement through, hopefully there will be some positive silver lining to the cloud and that in fact projects like this will get funded. They could be a real demonstration to the rest of the country on how garbage from municipalities could be handled.
I talked about nature, global warming and how changes in the environment happened. It is pretty presumptuous of mankind to think we can control nature, the firmaments and the heavens. I suppose some day the government would, if it was in power, say that it wanted to change the environment or the moon or whatever.
My question to the government is basic. If global warming is taking place, is it happening as a result of mankind or is it something else? That question depends on the time scale being used. It is a fact that climate change has been going on since the beginning of time. Natural cycles of warming and cooling have been going on before man walked on the planet. Had the earth not warmed 10,000 years ago, the ecology of Manitoba would certainly not exist the way it is today. We would still be under a two mile sheet of ice.
NASA data does not support the warming theory. The United States is not supporting this agreement. I think it is based both on science and the fact that it wants to use its money for its priority, fighting pollution. When we fight pollution, we in fact reduce CO
gases. However, by doing it the other way around, fighting CO
gases, we will not be doing very much about actual pollution. That point was not lost on the Americans or the Australians. However, it sure has been lost on the Prime Minister and the environment minister who are dragging Canada kicking and screaming into this bad agreement.
Just as a little aside, the Prime Minister and cabinet apparently have the full authority to ratify this agreement without any vote in the House of Commons. That of course brings us to the operation and authority of Parliament but I will not go there today. It is a pretty sad fact when Parliament does not have the final say on some of these international treaties which will affect us so deeply.
Global warming will affect the United States more than us. Is there something I wonder that President Bush knows that we do not know? I think the scientific analysis being done in the United States, just through the resources that it has, will clearly show that concentrating on CO
gases is a misguided effort.
On the agriculture side, I would also point out that we have not had any estimates of costs from the government nor have we been told what actually will happen. The estimates that have been put out are pretty questionable. The United States says that the cost impact on its agriculture would be in the $30 billion to $40 billion range. When we look at the net income for farms right now, we can see that these folks are just getting by, with some making a little more than the poverty wage and others who are below that. The last thing we need is much higher costs being put on our agriculture in a dubious cause.
The theory of carbon dioxide causing atmospheric warming apparently was originally conceived to rationalize the high temperatures on the planet Venus, whose atmosphere is composed mainly of carbon dioxide. That theory is no longer in vogue for explaining the high temperatures on that planet. The rationale of those who support Kyoto is that man produces carbon dioxide and releases it into the environment, and therefore it must be causing some of the problem and the problem should be warming because it is a greenhouse gas.
Of course the question is, does that have any basis? Carbon dioxide is perhaps the least noxious product that man has ever produced and released into the environment. Carbon dioxide has never been put on trial to determine whether its concentration is critical in causing warming or cooling cycles. This amounts to a chicken and egg style of debate. The fact is that increased levels of carbon dioxide are associated with warming trends in climate. The fact is that the climate warms the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere and it increases only slightly. This increase does not cause the warming, but is a consequence of warming. If carbon dioxide were put on trial, I think we would find that it is not the major cause of global warming.
These models everybody is talking about are at best just estimates and guesses as to what would happen. We know that depending on what criteria and measures are put on a model that we in fact can get the answer we want out of it.
Should warming be taking place directly driven by mankind and should man's carbon dioxide release be contributing to that warming, then the question that must be asked is whether this is a benefit or a detriment to our society.
As I say, I contest whether or not carbon dioxide is actually significantly changing global warming. If there are plants and forests, for instance, growing in areas that currently do not have it, we know that plants use photosynthesis and the carbon dioxide is used up in that process, so there again, without good scientific evidence it is a little presumptuous to suggest that some warming is going to be bad for the world overall. I think the case can be made just as easily that some global warming will have an overall benefit for the world.
In Manitoba, the premier has been saying that we should in fact be supporting Kyoto. That is the position he has taken on behalf of Manitobans. His eyes, of course, are on the next provincial election and he simply wants to work with the Liberal government for some reason. The big issue in Manitoba is that our economy has not progressed particularly well under the NDP watch. It has always been the idea that if we could get that Conawapa dam going up in northern Manitoba, it would produce some 1.3 million watts of electricity, which we would then be able to export. It would take 10 years to build that dam and that would create a lot of jobs and so on. This proposal was put forward about 10 or 15 years ago and the idea then was to have a transmission line in Canada, particularly down to Ontario, that would buy the electricity from Manitoba.
Now I guess the premier is jumping on the idea that the Kyoto agreement is going to facilitate this somehow. To go back to that time 10 or 15 years ago when Ontario was trying to make some decisions on hydroelectricity, it rejected clean energy from Manitoba. Now, of course, I think there are some serious discussions on the go about building that transmission line and getting it operating. If that is an incidental byproduct of the Kyoto agreement, that will be a good thing for Ontario and for Manitoba, but there again the priorities are all wrong. We are going to be spending and wasting an awful lot of money on the Kyoto agreement and the massive costs it is going to have for individual Canadians, when this hydroelectric project could well have gone ahead without Kyoto.
Ontario could have saved itself all the hydroelectric problems it has now if it had tapped into Manitoba's hydroelectric project. It will probably still be done, but in addition to having to borrow all the money to build and pay for this massive Conawapa dam, and there is only one person paying for all this, the Canadian taxpayer, the taxpayer is going to have to pay for the foolish side of Kyoto as well as for the good projects. I have mentioned two here in a really positive light today: the Conawapa dam in northern Manitoba and the recycling effort that could be made for garbage in my own riding.
These things all cost money and the government has to prioritize where it spends its money. Those two good projects certainly should receive money. I am sure there are many in other provinces that would be the same, but what is the government going to do? It is going to make it harder to fund those projects because we are going to go into the foolishness of this Kyoto agreement, trying to cut down on CO
gas specifically instead of going after pollution, as I said at the start of my speech. That will have a secondary effect if pollution from other gases and other particles besides CO
gases is reduced. Then obviously we would end up with a much better solution and it would be, to a certain extent, market driven. It would be responding to an actual demand in the country for more energy, for cleaner energy. This is where we should be going.
From my speech members can tell that I do not intend to support or vote for this ratification. I would urge the government members who are thinking seriously about this to also vote against it and give a message to the Prime Minister that before he and the cabinet ratify this they really should have some second thoughts.
I do not have much time left and I would like to take a moment now to move an amendment to the amendment. I move:
That the amendment be amended by inserting before the word “costs” the following: “detailed”.