Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the motion regarding climate change and Kyoto. It is a very important topic, one which I hope all members of the House are taking very, very seriously.
I want to focus on our strong interest in working in much closer partnership with a full range of stakeholders across society as an essential aspect of making progress on climate change. This is required for the development of a truly national response to this challenge.
Climate change is an issue that can either bring the world community together or push us further apart. The choice is ours to make. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, it is either all or nothing, or better, all or none, because we are talking about people in this case. We need to do this in order to draw on the respective strengths and capacities of all constituencies across Canada.
Meeting our emissions gap of some 270 megatonnes will not be achieved without considerable action on the part of all regions and stakeholders.
In our climate change efforts to date, it has been extremely challenging to lever significant changes in a society with a GDP in excess of $1 trillion a year and with expenditures in the order of hundreds of millions per year.
We recognize that we need to move forward with an approach that fully engages provinces, territories, communities, industry, business, as well as individual Canadians if we are to be successful in meeting our Kyoto obligations in a manner that fully advances our economic interests.
In looking to partner with provinces and territories, the federal government clearly recognizes that it does not have jurisdiction in all policy areas that are relevant to climate change mitigation. Our collective efforts need to intersect to provide financial and policy support to drive economic competitiveness while simultaneously addressing urban air quality concerns, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring greater social equity across our communities.
Provincial support and policy alignment are essential for effectively managing our climate change responsibilities, not only in terms of electricity regulation and building codes, but in terms of research and development, in terms of land use intensification and transportation policy, in terms of public transit promotion, and in terms of supportive policy for sustainable rural development, agriculture, forestry and industry.
We can provide incentives to encourage the adoption of far more efficient vehicles, but we need the cooperation of provinces to provide the owners of these vehicles with preferential access to high occupancy vehicle lanes to speed their commute to work, or better yet, to encourage their owners to work from home several days per week.
We need to move forward with all provinces and territories in the areas of clean energy development, energy end use efficiency, renewable energy development, waste reduction, public transit expansion, smart growth, rural development, and dovetailing incentives and disincentives to drive the behaviours that they want. I think the scope for improvements is enormous in this case.
Greater cooperation with industry and business is also needed in moving forward with our climate change objectives. There remains considerable untapped potential in this domain as well.
In a carbon constrained world, business as usual is not a viable option. Industry and business must focus on adding as much value to our resource base as possible while meeting legitimate public expectations for a clean and healthy environment and the continued provision of good paying jobs.
The federal government can assist in a variety of ways, including targeted support through research and development of next generation manufacturing technologies and with the provision of market intelligence that allows for market expansion and product export.
Our progress on smart regulation and in streamlining decision making could also help in this regard. No one benefits by wasted efforts or regulatory inefficiency.
There will be huge markets opening internationally as a result of carbon constraints. We need to ensure that we benefit to the maximum extent possible in positioning our economy to thrive over the longer term.
Market incentives can be designed to encourage the application and deployment of far more efficient technologies and far better designs that entail lower operating costs and environmental burdens without incurring large social costs that are borne outside market transaction by innocent third parties.
The recent announcements concerning large facility emitters, the technology investment fund and the auto industry, along with the introduction of the climate fund, have set the table to allow the private sector to become fully engaged in exploiting the opportunities inherent in the climate change agenda and to better manage the risks inherent in their existing operations.
Through the new deal for cities and communities, we anticipate ongoing investments of a portion of the federal gas tax revenues toward more sustainable municipal infrastructures across Canada. These investments can further Canada's objectives on climate change by promoting more efficient use of water resources, smarter and more energy efficient patterns of urban development, far more efficient public transportation networks, and by capturing landfill gas that would otherwise escape to the environment and combusting it to produce electricity and heat for use by local utilities and industry. There was a very important announcement this very day with regard to these matters in the province of Ontario.
Addressing climate change will require a concerted effort over decades. The growing international marketplace in a carbon constrained future will pose huge opportunities for clean and resource efficient technologies in all fields of human endeavour. Effectively addressing the issue requires leadership at all levels of society, but we need to begin the transformation now.
The pathways forward are known. Energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy, renewable transportation, covenants with industry, restorative agriculture and forestry, investments in R and D and innovation, and adjustment of the tax system to foster sustainability figure prominently in national strategies on climate change.
As we move forward in the next number of months on climate change, we will make concerted efforts to far better align our interests at the federal level with those of the provinces and territories, with those of industry and business, with those of consumers and communities, and those of the professions.
We anticipate having a far more directed ask, where each participant in the process brings something to the table and agrees to make binding commitments. Engagement will be encouraged and will be a prerequisite for gain sharing.