Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to this very important topic. I am certainly pleased the issue of the Kyoto protocol has been raised.
Personally, I hope the government will ratify the treaty. The government is going through an important consultation process which will continue. I hope it will lead to ratification by this country and many other countries.
We should reflect for a moment on what has led us to this. People have become more and more concerned in recent years about climate change, global warming and the CO
gases that are increasingly leading to global warming. We once had the idea that there was lots more where that came from, whether it be air or water, but it has become clear to us that these are limited things. In our lifetime we have had to question the idea that there is no end to our water and no end to our air.
I heard the member for Red Deer say that CO
occurs naturally, that trees consume CO
, as they do, and return it to the earth as carbon. That is accurate, but we have to consider the fact that we can have too much of a good thing. In other words, carbon is a necessary part of life, a necessary part of trees and of the environment but it does not mean it is impossible for us to have too much of it. It does not mean it is impossible for us as a civilization to produce too much of this gas and thereby cause real damage to our atmosphere. It does not mean our atmosphere is unlimited.
We can actually measure how much oxygen there is in the atmosphere around the world. People who have gone to the moon talk about looking at Earth and how tiny it seems to be. We can recognize that it seems awfully enormous to us but in fact there are limits to the amount of water and oxygen we have.
Going back to the matter of CO
, it is true also that water is essential for life. We know that. We have talked about it. We have seen it. We have looked at whether there is water on Mars. There are indications there may be ice on Mars. It is very interesting. Scientists say it may indicate that at some point there could have been or could be life on Mars.
Water is essential to us. We all need it to survive. It is essential to allow the nourishment we take in to go throughout our bodies, yet we can drown. Water can kill us.
The suggestion that we should not worry about CO
because it is a naturally occurring gas is ridiculous. The point is we can have too much of it. As a member said earlier, if we were put in a room with only CO
, we would not last very long. If we were put in a room with only water, we would not last very long. We need a balance of these elements on our planet.
It would be awful if our children or our children's children were unable to enjoy the natural beauty of our planet the way we do today.
Unlike many in the Alliance and in the PC/DRC I believe protecting our environment at a moderate cost to industry is the only responsible thing to do. We have to do this for the future. It is difficult and it will not be easy, but are we going to allow our planet to become overheated? What would that do? What would happen if the planet got hotter and hotter? In the last decade we have seen the hottest years on record.
I heard the idea across the way previously that this was happening naturally and why are we so convinced that the production of all these gases is because of human action? It is conceivable that in the course of the changing environment over millions of years, as science tells us, there have been changes in temperatures. Sometimes they have been rather swift.
When scientists in the 1970s and 1980s began to look at this question, they became concerned about it and predicted what would happen. They predicted violent weather patterns, increasing numbers of storms and so on. We are beginning to see it is not just a question of it being an accident. It is becoming more clear that it is probably being caused by human actions, that human actions are producing CO
and other gases. All the pollution we create is having more of an impact on the world.
We can no longer say there is lots more where that came from. We have to be concerned about what we are doing to the water in our oceans, lakes, streams and rivers, about what we are doing to our air and to our environment generally. We have to be concerned about all of those things.
For us only to consider things like job losses, the possible costs are short term. These are important considerations. We have to weigh these things as the government is doing as it considers and consults on these issues. At the same time those costs are short term when compared to the health of our planet and what is at stake for the future.
The truth of the matter which is often overlooked is that there is a real and immediate opportunity for Canada to make up ground lost to harmful industries by becoming a world leader in green industries. Areas like fuel cell technology, alternative energy and cleaner, renewable sources of power like ethanol provide bountiful opportunities for Canadian businesses already poised to take advantage of them.
As Jeff Passmore, executive vice-president of Iogen Corporation said in the Ottawa Citizen recently:
The whiners and complainers lining up against Canadian ratification of the Kyoto Protocol are masters of single ledger accounting. Whether Canada likes it or not, the world is moving in the direction of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and we can either be a participant or a non-participant in this new world. But if we choose not to participate, there will be significant economic and social penalties to pay.
The development of these green industries will undoubtedly work to counteract possible losses from lessening the use of fossil fuels. In fact, we have not heard from the Alliance or the PC/DRC on this. When they talk about the costs, we have not heard about the benefits of moving to more green industries. We have not heard about the benefits to our health. We have not heard about the benefits to our health care costs of having to pay less when dealing with respiratory illnesses and other kinds of illnesses that result from air pollution and overheating.
There has been a great increase in the heat in the last few years. Last year was the hottest year on record. When we actually say this was predicted to happen and that every year seems to be the hottest on record, we ought to get a little concerned. When is it going to happen?
I recognize that not every Canadian is seized with this issue and is convinced it is vital that we act now. More and more Canadians are becoming concerned. Year after year we see more very warm years and more causes for alarm. We recognize that yes, there have been storms in the past and that ratifying Kyoto will not prevent those storms that have already happened, but we also have to think about the future. Those storms are harbingers of things to come.
We have to consider what other storms there will be in the future and what will happen in the future if the global climate keeps heating up. What will it mean for our ability to produce food? How will we grow anything on our prairies? In the Annapolis Valley how will we grow apples if it is too hot to grow anything, if our crops cannot survive? We have to consider these vital questions.
Members across the way should know that the American senate is currently considering legislation that would put renewable fuels in all gas sold in the U.S. Would that not be a remarkable stance. That is a case where hopefully it is moving forward in the area of a renewable fuel, whether it is ethanol or other things of that nature.
To quote again from the article I mentioned earlier, it states:
The United States is already the second largest producer of renewable fuels in the world (after Brazil), consuming more than six billion litres annually in the form of ethanol.
This has created 192,000 jobs, improved the U.S. trade balance by $2 billion and provided a net annual savings to the federal treasury of $3.6 billion.
We can see that the use of ethanol and other kinds of renewable energy sources is a way for us to go. It can be a source of economic growth. It can be a counterbalance to some of the costs associated with trying to reduce our CO
emissions and our other emissions. We cannot just leave it at CO
. We have to consider the impact on our overall environment.
In southwestern Nova Scotia many of the rivers and lakes are dying. Fish cannot live in the rivers in much of my province. In fact, something like 10% of the pollution that drops in my province comes from Canada. The rest comes from the U.S.
I hope members will oppose the motion today and that the government will support ratification of the Kyoto agreement.