Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my opposition to ratifying the Kyoto protocol.
The Canadian Alliance supports the policies that contribute to creating a healthier environment and economic growth. The Kyoto accord on the environment is an international agreement with grave deficiencies, and it does not advance either of these objectives.
We oppose the Kyoto protocol and, instead, advocate the adoption, together with the provinces, of real Canadian policies to meet our environmental objectives.
In discussing Kyoto today, I have to point out, first and foremost, that we are debating this in an atmosphere of closure. Why? Is it because we have a real deadline to implement concrete plans to achieve national or international targets? The answer is, of course, no. It is precisely the opposite.
We have closure today precisely because there is no deadline and there are no plans. Instead of having deadlines, plans and goals, we must insist on moving forward because the government is simply increasingly embarrassed by the state of the debate and it needs to move on.
In many ways this is like gun control, the sponsorship program, GST corporate rebates and the HRDC scandals. The government does not know what it is doing but it must proceed to pretend that it does know what it is doing. And to show that it is moving on, it must of course spend money, and not just Monopoly money. We have talked about this and have thrown figures around as if they were just accounting abstractions. This is the money of ordinary, hardworking people, that was taken off their paycheques.
We will waste in this protocol, not hundreds of millions of dollars, not billions, but the potential wastage of tens of billions of dollars and perhaps the destruction of the economy itself. If this pattern continues, not only will we waste that kind of money but the government will engage in an elaborate cover-up as long as possible to ensure that the costs are not known until a true crisis is reached.
So far what has the debate on Kyoto revealed, not just in the House but in the public over the past few weeks? It has revealed the following, and I will go through these step by step.
First, the Kyoto protocol does not deal with critical environmental issues. Second, it does not even deal sufficiently with those it is actually supposed to address. Third, it unfairly penalizes Canada. Fourth, the costs, if implemented, will be astronomical. Fifth, I will review the actual state of the plan to achieve these targets and, in particular, look at the implementation status in light of the coming to office of a new prime minister some time within about a year.
Let me start first with the fact that the accord does not deal with critical environmental issues. It is time to tell the truth about the Kyoto accord. I have been saying this across the country and I understand full well that this is politically difficult. Kyoto has been sold as a motherhood issue; the simple good of the planet versus economic greed. It is far easier to stand for the simple moral certainties of Kyoto's environmentalist rhetoric than to understand the messy reality of the accord's contents and their effects on our economic lives.
The truth is that many people who should have known better have been all too quiet for all too long as fearmongering, myth making and, on the part of the Prime Minister, legacy building, have seen the country stumble blindly toward implementing the worst international agreement the country has ever signed.
We have all no doubt seen the TV images that Kyoto has refuted to address. The huge plants and factories billowing great mushroom clouds of poisonous smog into the air. It is little wonder that a large percentage of the public thinks we should do something about this. We should, except that this has nothing to do with the Kyoto protocol. Missing in this utterly bogus sales job is one inconvenient little fact, the Kyoto accord has next to nothing to do with controlling pollution. Kyoto does not target particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide or any number of other pollutants. A couple are mentioned but none are targeted.
Kyoto simply does not target air quality. It is designed instead to address the so-called greenhouse gas phenomenon. The hypothesis is that the increase of certain gases, not necessarily pollutants, contribute to a long term global warming trend.
I will not comment at any length about the science of this other than to say the science remains in flux and is controversial. This is not just about issues of global warming or how these gases contribute to global warming, but the very reality that there has been constant climate change in the earth's history. We know this and quite frankly science knows very little about why over the epochs and the centuries those temperature changes have taken place in the first place.
Second, it does not matter what view we have of the science in any case since Kyoto has little to do with that anyway. The accord focuses on only one greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is a naturally occurring gas essential to the life cycles of the planet.
The Kyoto protocol targets only a small percentage of carbon dioxide. Man-made carbon dioxide is only about 5% of the earth's today. Even more significant, two-thirds of man-made carbon dioxide emissions occur in countries not ratifying or that are exempt from Kyoto's targets. Worse yet, it is not even intended in Kyoto that a handful of implementing countries will achieve reduction targets. Instead the accord provides for an emissions trading credit scheme that allows countries like Canada to simply transfer money to other countries, some with far worse environmental records than our own, instead of cutting CO
The upshot is this. Canada's implementation will not lead to global reductions of CO
. In fact, the transfer of wealth, jobs and emissions to non-target countries virtually ensures that carbon dioxide emissions will increase under the Kyoto Protocol.
My third point is that this unfairly penalizes Canada. The hon. member for LaSalle—Émard, the former finance minister, says that international problems require international solutions. He is right about that, except that under this accord there are very few countries that will limit CO
emissions and most will do so only marginally.
Let me just go through the list. There are India, China and Mexico, our trading partner. India and China, two of the five biggest emitters in the world, are exempt from the accord. The United States and Australia are not ratifying it. Japan has ratified it but apparently will not implement it. In the cases of the European Union as a group and Russia, only the most modest targets have to be achieved. In fact, not a single other country in the western hemisphere, that is to say the Americas, has accepted a target under the Kyoto plan.
This government negotiated for Canada the toughest standards in the world. By ratifying this accord, we will be obligated to reduce emissions by a whopping 30% over projected levels by the end of the implementation period in 2012. In setting this target, our government failed to get for Canada consideration of things that cause high energy consumption in our country. It utterly failed to get recognition of our cold climate, our large distances and our population growth.
Fourth, as I said, the costs of this accord if implemented will be astronomical. We do not know precisely what the costs will be because we have no implementation plan, but it is not hard to figure out that the impact of reducing energy emissions on the scale of Kyoto will be enormous.
Independent estimates suggest that to achieve our Kyoto imposed targets, Canadians could be looking at 50% increases in the costs of gasoline and heating, up to 100% or a doubling of the cost of electricity, the loss of close to half a million jobs and economic costs of up to $40 billion for the economy. To put that in context, we are talking about $2,700 per household.
The government's own estimates on this have varied wildly over the past two years. We have had report after report with estimate after estimate. None of them are as high as the independent estimates, but they are all shockingly high.
Something to remember is this. Most of these costs will be borne by consumers, since almost 80% of CO
emissions are produced from the consumption of energy rather than the production of energy.
Today the government ministers have confirmed that the government will cap the cost of CO
reductions at about $15 per tonne for large emitters. The government thinks that this subsidization is somehow a wonderful thing and has attacked us for not backing it. However it has missed the point. We are not here, unlike the Liberal Party, to simply worry about the costs of this for business. We are here to worry about the costs of this for the country and for the ordinary people who will have to bear these costs.
Do not be led also, as the government would hope, that Kyoto's impact would be primarily regional in nature. Because it attacks energy consumption, much more so than production, the negative economic impact of Kyoto will be felt from coast to coast, which is why virtually every province began to balk as we began to move closer to ratification and implementation plans.
Let me talk about the state of the implementation debate, because that is really where we have to go. For reasons that are beyond frankly convention and legal practice, the government is intent on ratifying without a plan or without any implementation, regulations or draft legislation of any kind.
The state of implementation the last two years has been the most bizarre barrage of constantly revised draft reports, whether it is in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, or a comic book or whatever the latest thing is. There is no legislation, no regulations, few costs, no explanation of how it we will really meet the targets and no concrete actions.
In the latest version of the plan the government has said that it will meet its targets by taking three steps. I will go through them one at a time. Unfortunately I do not have as much time as the member for Red Deer to go through all this details, but let me summarize where we are at in the current implementation plan.
The first step is actions underway from action plan 2000 and budget 2001 from which some of the costs have been provided. However it is important to note that most of the measures mentioned are just demonstration projects, negotiations, incentive programs or cooperation with provinces rather than actual plans to limit emissions. It does suggest, and this is fascinating, that already the costs the government has agreed to, direct governmental costs to meet Kyoto, are running about $1.6 billion. What has this achieved? The government claims it will achieve reductions in the order of about 80 megatonnes. Our review of this on a step by step basis suggests that a claim of any more than about 40 megatonnes is an exaggeration.
The second step is a list of actions for which no cost estimates of any kind have been provided. Many of the items on the list of upcoming actions, double count items that are already in step one. Our repeated requests to the Minister of the Environment to provide specifics on this list have been rebuffed. What are the likely achievements? My office went through the proposals on a step by step basis and we can find no more than about 45 megatonnes of concrete reduction measures.
The third step in the government's plan descends into complete wishful thinking. For example the government is still including clean energy exports to the United States, even though Canada's request to include these exports has been repeatedly denied by the United Nations. The government admits that there is a gap of about 60 megatonnes in terms of achieving the 240 megatonne target that Canada will accept by ratification. The bottom line is this. Our analysis suggest that this plan has no more than about 85 megatonnes out of 240 megatonnes where there is a concrete idea of how we will proceed.
We will soon be left by the Prime Minister and it will soon fall to the member for LaSalle—Émard, the former finance minister, to deal with this and to move us forward. I would like to spend a few minutes to try to assess the implementation plan and where the member for LaSalle—Émard may go with this. In his early days of course he was a disciple of Maurice Strong, the international Canadian environmentalist, who not only had radical views on this issue but had been very close to the minister and, I understand, to the amassing of his personal wealth. In 1992 the former finance minister wrote the following:
We can begin by pressuring for an international convention to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 20% worldwide by 2005, using 1998 as a base year. We should set the example by exceeding that target at home.
He had no doubt back then. He was fearless. It was a proposal as radical, if not more radical than Kyoto. He was proposing to ram it down the throats of the provinces. He said in that period:
I am simply saying that if you are going to attack the problem of global warming, which is not only going to drown an island in the South Pacific but is also going to drown Anticosti Island, then you bloody well better understand that it is not going to be done from some provincial capital; it is going to have to be done at the federal level.
That is not just a very radical position, but radical terminology. Frankly it is the same line throughout his nine years as a cabinet minister.
However, recently the former finance minister has had many positions on the issue. I am tempted to say how many positions but I think I might exceed good taste here.
Two weeks before the Prime Minister went to Johannesburg to announce he would ratify the Kyoto accord, that was in September, the former finance minister said that he should do just that. Later he said that before Kyoto was signed there must be a comprehensive plan with a detailed study of the costs, benefits and impacts. Then he said that Kyoto should probably not be ratified unless and until all provinces were all side, the so-called national consensus.
Then he announced that he would vote for Kyoto when it came to this Parliament, as it will tomorrow, but the vote should be delayed. Then last week we had a virtuoso flip-flop performance in the House of Commons. I am tempted to call it, using the terminology of Rodney Dangerfield, a triple lindy. The former finance minister suggested that first, and I could read the quotes but I will not, that there would be great changes to our economy and lives because of Kyoto, but then suggested that he would ensure they would be absolutely costless.
He said that he supported ratification, but categorized the protocol as inadequate and rejected its centrepiece, the emissions trading scheme. Then he demanded there be investment certainty around the plan but said that the plan had been wrongly developed and must go back to the drawing board of public and parliamentary hearings. He said all this in the course of 10 minutes with his patented introduction “let me be very clear”.
The former finance minister did have one concrete proposal. It was to lob a cool $1.5 billion into green research technology and infrastructure. Let me quickly say that this reminds me of the first modern boondoggle, the scientific research tax credit that in 1983 exploded from $200 million to $3.5 billion in a matter of months. These programs are inherently difficult. It is inherently difficult to subsidize the development of cutting edge technology without subsidizing economically efficient technology that would be introduced anyway.
Let me summarize by saying that we will do this while the former finance minister stumbles around with his implementation plans. We will on this side of the House monitor the costs and the progress of this international agreement every step of the way. We will highlight ways of achieving modest CO
and pollution reductions and will make it very clear when we identify such reductions taking place. We will also monitor the costs closely and ensure that those costs do not fall inordinately on ordinary people.
We will highlight failures to achieve the outrageous targets until those targets are reduced. We will keep an eye on the government and an eye on its constant attempt to cover-up costs every step of the way.
On this side of the House we will do the only responsible thing, that is to vote not just against closure, not just against implementation, but frankly under the circumstance to vote against ratification of this accord without a plan.
I put the government on notice that this is only the beginning of the debate. We will fight this every step of the way. We will ensure that the government pays the price every step of the way either for the outrageous costs they have placed on Canadians or for its failure to achieve the targets to which it has unwittingly and irresponsibly committed the country.