Mr. Speaker, at the outset I just wish to say I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Kitchener--Waterloo.
The essential ingredients of engaging the threat of climate change and committing to a remedy are threefold: first, an understanding that the science is real; second, the corollary of seeing through the misinformation and hyperbole that has been employed to blur these realities; and, third, seeing the growth potential and advantages that current and future engagement of the Kyoto process presents.
The science itself is not in doubt. The conclusions that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the main national academies of science, including that of the United States, represent a broad international consensus with little serious dissent. Indeed, the latest findings of the IPCC show that the expected range of temperature change is greater than previously envisioned, that human activities are directly attributable to helping cause the climate change phenomenon and that climate change will, for the most part, have negative impact on the global ecosystem and the human race, particularly those most vulnerable and least responsible for it: Canada's Arctic, small island states and the sub-Saharan.
In Canada the effects have been marked and will become more so: more severe weather events; lowered fresh water level; droughts; sea level rise on all three coasts; longer and more intense heat waves with worse air pollution; and corresponding increase in heat related illness, to name but a few. These realities fly in the face of those who have chosen to balk at the need to address climate change and instead have elected to obfuscate and at times fearmonger with so-called economic forecasts that have no basis in research or fact.
As an example, in a major announcement made in March 2002, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce claimed “Canada's GDP would drop by up to 2.5% in 2010 under the Kyoto Protocol”, but cited no study to back up this number.
In September 2002, at the news conference to launch the “Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions”, the chamber's president made the groundless statement that Kyoto would “destroy the economy”. She cited no study to back up this claim. This is the “Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions”; some responsible, some solutions.
These dynamics underscore in some way the difficulty of communicating climate change. Sir Crispin Tickell, now at Harvard, has put it this way.
He first references those who are in the state of denial, “There are none so deaf as those who do not want to hear”. I think we can safely include therein these irresponsible naysayers who forecast doom and destruction.
He draws a comparison to the beginning of the 19th century, when everyone knew that slavery was wrong. There was a tacit conspiracy to do little or nothing about it. Too many interests were at stake. Leadership, public agitation and a few visible disasters were needed to bring slavery to an end. It also needed morality and a sense of public and private responsibility.
I think his analogy is excellent. Today as we debate the ratification of the Kyoto protocol, we are indeed encountering vested interests, but the leadership of this Prime Minister and this government is clear. We do acknowledge the need for public and private responsibility and the commitment to combat climate change. We realize the need to ratify the Kyoto protocol and thereby engage the mechanism that will help us accomplish this task.
Sir Crispin spoke of the need for public agitation as an ingredient necessary to turn a society and an economy from a routine course to a challenging new redirected course. The public agitation we are experiencing and the engagement of Canadians in the Kyoto debate is exactly what is needed.
Canadians are concerned about their country and their planet. They know we play within a global ecosystem that is seriously stressed by greenhouse gas emissions. They intend to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem. They are not deterred by naysayers and doomsayers. They strongly support the Kyoto protocol as a logical first step to addressing the damage human activities have wrought.
As I mentioned at the outset, I would like to speak, with what time remains, on the growth potential and the advantages, as well as the economic realities of the implementation of the Kyoto protocol and our plan to achieve Canada's objective. I am indebted to the Pembina Institute for much of this research.
Under the most likely implementation scenario, as jointly developed by federal and provincial governments after extensive consultation with industry, Canada's GDP would be just 0.4% smaller with Kyoto than without. This means Kyoto would reduce Canada's projected GDP growth during the current decade from 30% to 29.5%. No province would suffer an impact on GDP greater than 0.5%. Disposable household income would be unaffected by Kyoto. Between now and 2010 Canada would create 1.26 million jobs with Kyoto, compared to 1.32 million without Kyoto. Gasoline prices would be unaffected, while natural gas prices would be 8% higher with Kyoto than without. The cost of producing a barrel of oil would rise by just a few cents. Let us keep in mind that the current cost is $25 U.S. per barrel.
The economic model that produces that scenario, as other economic models, fails to include these essential considerations.
First, the cost of not acting to protect the climate, although the costs of inaction are difficult to estimate, extreme weather events like drought and floods, projected to become more frequent if climate change continues unchecked, routinely cost Canada billions of dollars.
Second, the health co-benefits from reduced air pollution are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Third, there are vast opportunities in technological innovation in a low carbon economy. Kyoto implementation will benefit industries specializing in energy efficient buildings, transportation and industrial equipment, as well as alternative fuels and low impact renewable energy, the world's fastest growing sources of energy.
History has shown that when faced with a major challenge and allowed flexibility in meeting it, the private and public sectors exhibit an enormous capacity for technological innovation to solve the problems more quickly and at a lower cost than forecast. Look back at the Montreal protocol on ozone, the horrors but the necessities and what happened as a result of World War II and the Apollo Space Program.
Innovation is the most fundamental driver of economic growth and the Kyoto protocol can play a major role in stimulating it.
I fear I am almost out of time but I would have also liked to have addressed the Kyoto architecture and the Kyoto mechanisms in particular, such as international emissions trading, which are only available to us as signatories and are important for the House to be cognizant of.
One last point is that the Canadian public is engaged in this debate. That is vital and it is exciting. We have their attention and we must keep it as the implementation of Kyoto will involve every one of us, and Kyoto is just the beginning.