Mr. Speaker, on March 30, I asked the Minister of Natural Resources when he would recommend to cabinet the proclamation of the 1982 Motor Vehicle Consumption Standards Act. Given that reaching the Kyoto targets on climate change will require considerable improvement in automotive fuel efficiency, I thought that was an appropriate question at that time.
The minister's reply was not very encouraging. He provided no evidence of future regulation, but rather support toward the continued reliance on so called voluntary measures. It seems to me at this point that the reply given by the minister was not sufficient, given the following reasons.
First, according to a recent report by Environment Canada, greenhouse gas emissions from all personal vehicles has increased by 16% from 1990 to 2001, and within that figure, emissions from SUVs in particular, as well as pickup trucks and vans have increased by 79%.
Second, as verified by Transport Canada, Canadians are driving more than ever, with large relatively fuel-inefficient cars such as trucks, vans and SUVs becoming the fastest growing segment of the market. At the same time, rising gas prices have been met with popular demand for hybrid vehicles that has been outstripping current supply. That is an interesting development.
Third, if links with the automotive industry south of the border are an important consideration, it is interesting to note that both President Bush and likely presidential candidate Kerry have recently spoken out about promoting alternatively fuelled cars, with Mr. Kerry campaigning on increasing mandatory fuel economy standards to 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres by 2015. It is evident that without mandatory standards, the 12% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions attributed to automobiles and light trucks will only continue to grow.
This evening, could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources tell us when a decision will be made to introduce mandatory standards for fuel efficiency?
Mandatory standards to substantially improve fuel efficiency in the automotive sector are indispensable. They can be particularly effective when accompanied by tax incentives. For example, British Columbia and Ontario already offer $1,000 to each purchaser of a new hybrid vehicle. Ottawa, namely the federal government, presently offers no incentive whatsoever.
The frequently mentioned reduction of fuel consumption by 25% by the year 2015 is possible, but industry needs a lead time to adjust production plans. Therefore, the government, namely the Departments of Transport, the Environment and Natural Resources need to make a decision this year or at the latest next year.
I therefore urge the government, because of its commitment to the Kyoto agreement, to announce a mandatory fuel efficiency program together with a national tax incentive program to encourage the purchase of hybrids and any other vehicle performing efficiently.