Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to address the Canadian Alliance motion on the ratification of the Kyoto protocol.
I am taking this opportunity to sincerely thank the hon. member for Red Deer for bringing forward this motion in the House, thus allowing us to have a debate on this issue. We must not wait for the government to consult us or to consult parliament, because there is no consultation. Even though I basically disagree with the hon. member's motion, I thank him for initiating this debate in the House of Commons today.
During oral question period and debate, I have said repeatedly in the House that, as far as we are concerned, the Kyoto protocol is essential from an environmental point of view, not only to provide increased protection for our ecosystems and our natural heritage, but also to deal with the issue of costs now. It is not true that this international agreement has only an environmental dimension, as I will try to demonstrate over the next few minutes.
In our opinion, there is a major economic dimension to the challenge posed by the Kyoto protocol. It is true that, in western Canada, there is some opposition to the protocol as such, but all the letters written by provincial premiers that I read show that they support the principle underlying the Kyoto protocol. I emphasize the term principle, because it is ultimately the essence of that agreement.
In recent weeks, some provincial ministers from western Canada—I am thinking of Alberta's energy minister—alluded to the possibility of dire consequences for the Canadian economy, should Canada ratify the Kyoto protocol. A cost of close to $40 billion to the Canadian economy was mentioned. A few days later, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce indicated that the costs to Canada would be some $30 billion.
These figures attracted a great deal of attention because, after all, they were from a provincial minister and a chamber of commerce. However, we have seldom seen a breakdown of costs for each province. This is why I have serious reservations about the figures mentioned so far by some industry and private sector representatives.
There have been other studies, and it is important to mention this, because the Alberta minister's presentations are not the only ones. There is also Nick Marthy, a renowned researcher my colleagues probably know, who did an estimate based on an econometric model of the possible costs of ratifying the Kyoto protocol. It was his view that the cost to Canada's economy would be on the order of 0.17% to 0.19% of GDP. Clearly, there would be an impact, but it would not be as great as certain representatives of western Canada and the Canadian Alliance claim.
The Canadian Alliance says that this impact would take the form of negative growth of $2 billion a year for ten years. In other words, a cost to Canada of approximately $22 billion, in 1995 dollars.
Representatives of western Canada have said that the costs would be approximately $40 billion but, according to this researcher's study, they would be only $5 billion to $9 billion for the Alberta economy. This would be four to six times less than certain provincial ministers from western Canada and Canadian Chamber of Commerce representatives have estimated.
In terms of GDP, this would represent a reduction for the province of Alberta of 0.58%, if the European formula is used, but I will come back to this. We know that there are basically two methods of sharing the burden of the Kyoto objective; the European method based on a triptych approach to sharing the burden, or the 6% approach, which is better known internationally.
Using the European approach, however, the impact on Alberta's GDP would be 0.58%, while the impact on Canada's GDP using the 6% international approach would be 0.38%. What would a 0.19% reduction in GDP mean for Ontario? It would mean $8.5 billion. For Quebec, the reduction in growth would be 0.06%, or $1.4 billion. And I could go on like this.
Having said that, studies must be considered in a context, because it is impossible to come up with figures as astronomical as the ones that some people have been suggesting over the last few weeks. I obtained a copy of a brief from Environment Canada dated March 4, 2002, which forecasts that the annual costs would vary between $300 million and $7.3 billion. This is a recent study prepared by Environment Canada, and it demonstrates that there will indeed be costs, as well an impact on the growth of the economy, but that the costs are not as high as some would imagine.
We have talked of costs, however it is equally important to talk about benefits. If we only see the Kyoto protocol in terms of how much it will cost to implement, as seems to be the case with the motion moved by the member for Red Deer, then we are not really taking into consideration the reality of the situation. This is what explains that the forecasts, the estimates indicate that the decline will not as sharp as some would imagine.
It is important to point out that some industries will experience growth, in particular those in the environmental sector, which are expected to grow from $427 million to $7 billion per year. This according to a study from November, 2001 by the analysis and modelling group of the national climate change process. Therefore, for some sectors of the Canadian economy, the benefits will be considerable.
We also need to look at this issue in terms of social benefits. If there is doubt about the science, and denial that climate change has any effect on human health, we are not starting from the same premise. I believe that greenhouse gases and fossil fuel production, whether it be coal, natural gas or oil, have a direct impact on public health.
The most recent studies on the social benefits, savings and health advantages puts the savings at $500 million per year. These are benefits relating to public health in economic terms.This is another benefit resulting from the implementation of the Kyoto protocol.
There is one other major advantage, which my colleague has mentioned. The Canadian insurance industry is probably in the best position at this time to estimate the actual costs of climate change. This industry has, and will continue to be, affected. To give Quebec as an example, no one can forget that the two greatest natural disasters relating to climate in Canada occurred in Quebec: the ice storm and the floods in the Saguenay region.
The 1998 ice storm alone is estimated to have cost insurers $3 billion, and this is for a single climate-related event. According to current estimates for the Saguenay flood, the economic loss for the region totals $6 billion.
All this to say that I am indeed in agreement with my colleague that there are costs associated with ratification of the Kyoto protocol. There cannot, however, be a fair, equitable and realistic evaluation unless consideration is also given to the benefits as far as public health is concerned, as well as the economic repositioning of certain industries as far as the choices relating to the Kyoto protocol are concerned. There are, therefore, major benefits as well.
I would like to quote the findings of one final study. They are not the only ones who can make use of studies. A recent Standard & Poor's study—a firm not to be taken lightly—feels that there will be continuing growth. I will just read one except, which says:
Growth will continue in all regions of Quebec subsequent to ratification of the Kyoto protocol. In Alberta, there will be an average annual downturn of 0.14% between 2000 and 2014.
I am not saying that there will not be a downturn. Growth will slow down, but 0.14% is far from the catastrophic $40 billion prediction by ministers of certain western Canadian provinces or by the Chamber of Commerce. The latter predicted approximately $30 billion would be lost to the Canadian economy.
As for Ontario and Quebec, this study continues:
—growth would develop at 0.10%.
For Ontario and Quebec, growth would develop at 0.10%, so this would not be a downturn.
Why? Because there would be a repositioning of certain industries within the Canadian economy.
This is the end of my presentation on costs, because this is now being debated. I wanted to take at least half of my time, if not more, to discuss the pros and cons of ratification of the Kyoto protocol.
There is one other aspect of the motion which troubles me, namely paragraph (c), which reads as follows:
(c) the Kyoto Protocol would do little or nothing to benefit the environment.
Since when do greenhouse gas reduction requirements not provide increased benefits to the environment? With all due respect for his presentation, if this is the hon. member's premise, he must not believe that fossil fuels, be it coal, natural gas or oil, or the energy generated by these three sources, have a negative impact on the environment. It seems to me that if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it will benefit the environment.
I am also concerned by paragraph (a) of the motion, which reads:
(a) Canada's principal economic competitor, the United States, together with most of the world's developing countries, would not be bound by the Protocol's emission reduction quotas;
According to the hon. member, the fact that the United States are not ratifying the Kyoto protocol will have a negative impact on Canada.
When one is familiar with the emissions trading system, one should know that if the Kyoto protocol is not signed by the United States, this will directly impact on the costs of such trading, and thus on demand. Therefore, it is wrong and biased to say that the fact that the United States are not ratifying the Kyoto protocol will impact negatively on Canada, quite the contrary. Our emissions trading system will have a positive effect.
Some studies, which were not done in Canada but in other countries and which I read just last week, confirm that this would indeed be the case for Canada. I do not know whether there are Canadian studies that demonstrate this, but last week I read studies from foreign countries which show that there will be very positive consequences resulting from the fact that the United States will not be ratifying this protocol.
I cannot believe that there are still people who think that the energy produced by the three fossil fuel sources I mentioned earlier does not affect climate.
In 1998, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, founded by the United Nations and jointly sponsored by the United Nations environment programme and the World Meteorological Organization, presented its conclusions regarding the level of knowledge about climate change. Their 2001 report is even more pessimistic than their earlier reports. Confirming the impact of human activity on global climate, the group announced that temperatures will continue to climb during the next century and could cause “serious damage”, including a rise in sea level of 88 centimetres by 2100. The group also reported that Arctic glaciers have already shrunk 15% over the past 40 years and that the snow cover has retreated by 10% over the past 30.
The report also gives various examples of the impact of human activity on the increase in temperatures recorded over the past 50 years. It contains new analyses of data from certain cambium layers, trees, corals, glacial core samples and northern hemisphere records showing that the increase in temperature over the past 100 years has undoubtedly been the greatest recorded for a single century in the past 1,000 years.
The authors note that the 1990s have probably been the warmest decade, and that 1998 has probably been the warmest year on record.
In conclusion, I wish to say that our party will not be supporting the motion put forward by the member for Red Deer. Once again, I thank him for having raised this issue in the House of Commons.
I see this evening's vote as follows: should this parliament vote against the Canadian Alliance motion calling on the government not to ratify the Kyoto protocol, the vote should be interpreted as meaning that this parliament wants the federal government to ratify the Kyoto protocol. It is all very fine and democratic to move this motion, but there has to be consistency.
People should be aware that if parliamentarians vote against this motion, it can only be interpreted as meaning that they want the government to ratify the accord by June, as the Quebec coalition requested last week, and we hope that this will extend to the rest of Canada.