Mr. Speaker, I have today the great pleasure to speak to a motion introduced by the leader of the Bloc Québécois which has to do with the Kyoto protocol. The motion proposes:
That, having recognized the principle of complying with the Kyoto targets, it is the opinion of this House that the government should provide the Government of Quebec with the sum of $328 million to enable it to implement its plan to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets.
We also took note of the amendment introduced by the NDP, the purpose of which was to indicate clearly that the $328 million is of course a minimum and that the government should also give the appropriate amounts to the other provinces that wish to embark on the fight against climate change.
I would say that the original Bloc motion plus the NDP amendment prove one thing. The first part of the motion refers to the fact that the principle of complying with the Kyoto protocol has been recognized in this House. What does that mean? First, it means that through the House of Commons and parliamentarians, we have taken strong action to send to the government the clear message that we want a credible plan for fighting climate change that incorporates the Kyoto targets.
I will remind you that last May, the Bloc Québécois tabled a motion calling on the government to table this credible plan incorporating the Kyoto protocol targets. The majority of members in this House—from the Bloc, the NDP and the Liberal Party—voted in favour. The principles of compliance with the Kyoto protocol that are included in the Bloc’s motion today are thus repeated, and we would like the majority of the House to repeat this support many times expressed by parliamentarians, in the Bloc Québécois motion in May, in Bill C-288 tabled by the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier, and again this week in an opposition motion calling for compliance with the Kyoto protocol.
However, the reality is quite different. Greenhouse gas emissions have risen 27% since 1990. So billions of dollars have been invested in Canada to fight climate change, but the results have not come. This means that, to comply with its Kyoto targets, as things now stand the government will have to reduce its emissions not just by 27%, but also by another 6% on top of that.
In my opinion, the results presented by the Conservative government in Nairobi—results that can be attributed to the Liberal efforts of recent years—must drive home to us the importance of changing our approach to combating climate change in Canada.
What is that approach? First of all, it is a voluntary approach which—if absolutely necessary, of course—would establish regulations, as proposed by the Liberal finance minister of the time, in a budget for example. But it was also an approach that would provide for regulations based on emission intensity.
What does that mean? It means that in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions imposed on industry, we would take production into consideration and not set a reduction target based on the total quantity of greenhouse gases produced by these different industrial sectors.
This approach which has been adopted by the federal government, both Liberal and Conservative, is nothing but a gain, a savings and an advantage for the oil companies and the big polluters.
We are calling on the government to base its greenhouse gas reductions and its emission targets for large industrial emitters on the total quantity discharged by the different industrial sectors. But the Conservative government, which has adopted the same policy as the previous government, an approach that is ineffective, inefficient and unfair, is perpetuating an approach that has not yielded the desired results in the battle against greenhouse gas emissions.
We are today proposing to change this approach, to adopt a territorial approach whereby the provinces would be asked to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in binding fashion, obliging them to cut emissions within their territory by 6%, while leaving them free to establish the plans, policies and programs they want.
The reason for doing this is quite simply because the energy policy of Quebec, which generates 95% of its power from hydroelectricity, is not the energy policy of Western Canada, which depends on hydrocarbons, oil sands and fossil fuels. The energy policy of Quebec is not that of Alberta. Neither is it the energy policy of Ontario, which has favoured coal in recent years, and more recently, nuclear power.
Therefore, since there is no common energy policy across Canada and since energy and natural resources are managed by the provinces, we must ensure that the provinces are involved.
Remember what the environment commissioner told us in her report on climate change programs. The provinces must be part of the solution because that is where electricity is produced, distributed and used.
The government must recognize today that we should stay away from a sectorial approach and adopt a territorial approach that will allow us to put in place an effective, efficient and fairer national policy with regard to climate change. Canada's problem in fighting climate change has nothing to do with the programs themselves, as they already exist, but it has to do with the fact that they are not adapted to the provinces' energy reality.
Tuesday, at the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, we heard from a prominent climate expert who is a professor at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. He told us, and I quote:
One of the reasons for Canada's failure is its desire to have the same approach for all the players, supposedly because it is more equitable, even though the situation is not the same for all the players.
Mr. Villeneuve also said:
It is clear that regional approaches are much more interesting since decisions regarding energy policies are made at the provincial level and natural resources are managed by the provinces.
Canada did commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 6%. But can we adopt a so-called common approach that would be tailored to each province, something similar to what Europe did?
In 1997, Europe committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 8%. That same year, Europe went to Kyoto with specific objectives and a territorial approach to meet that 8% target. Under that approach, its sovereign countries—there were 15 at the time—would have different targets where some could increase their emissions and others could reduce them, taking into account various parameters such as the climate, which has a considerable impact on energy consumption. The economic structure has to be taken into account.
Each country's energy policy and wind energy potential must be taken into account in the targets negotiated with these countries.
This is a flexible approach that would let Canada continue to demonstrate to the international community that it is determined to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet its international commitments. Canada could also reach agreements with its provincial partners in order to develop a more effective climate change policy.
The third demand is the carbon exchange. Companies and industrial sectors are just waiting for greenhouse gas emissions regulations.
The government told us that it was going to base its regulation of the industry on emission intensity. In other words, in setting a target for each industrial sector, it was going to take into account production and greenhouse gas emissions. This approach cannot work.
On the one hand, this approach is unfair to industry sectors that have made efforts in the past, such as the industrial sectors in Quebec. Meanwhile, industrial sectors in the rest of Canada have increased their emissions by over 20%, nearly 30% since 1990. The industrial sectors in Quebec have succeeded in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 7%.
Sector-based intensity targets would clearly penalize companies and industrial sectors that have made efforts in the past and can show progress in fighting climate change. Not only is this intensity-based approach to climate change unfair, but it clearly jeopardizes the implementation of a carbon exchange in Canada.
The government has to understand that if it wants to set up a carbon exchange, which we support and would like to see in Montreal—I know that there is some discussion as to whether the exchange will be in Montreal or Toronto—then we must set strict reduction targets. Intensity targets will complicate Canada's implementation of a carbon exchange, a special tool allowed under the Kyoto protocol so that countries can reach their greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.
This morning, the minister appeared in committee. I asked him whether he favoured a territorial approach or a carbon exchange. His response was clear. Quebec was asking for too much. That is what the Minister of the Environment said. He made it even more clear how little he understands the establishment of a carbon exchange. This morning he told us that Quebec could not call for a territorial approach as well as a carbon exchange. It is totally illogical.
How can the minister say such things when Europe has indicated it will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 8%? In Europe, the Kyoto protocol targets were divided territorially and the world’s most innovative carbon exchange established. It is so innovative that the Montreal climate exchange signed an agreement with the European carbon exchange, a side agreement to the conference on climate exchange in Montreal.
At the economic forum in Davos on January 25, the Premier of Quebec, it will be remembered, called for such an exchange to be established as quickly as possible.
What is the government waiting for then? The Montreal exchange is waiting for the federal government. All of Quebec is waiting for the Montreal exchange to be established to help improve Canada’s situation generally in the fight against climate change.
The government must commit as soon as possible to formulating regulations and targets for the industrial sector. It must let Quebec achieve the Kyoto protocol targets within the province and establish a carbon exchange.
There is a fourth element: the $328 million we are demanding from the government.
The minister told us in committee this morning that he was consulting, discussing and negotiating with the Government of Quebec for the $328 million. I have been the environment critic for years. I have seen a succession of ministers. I have seen them say no to Quebec over this significant transfer of $328 million. The former Liberal Minister of the Environment, the former Conservative minister and the current minister have all turned a deaf ear to Quebec’s demands, although it has a strategy for climate change.
With Quebeckers ready to commit public funds to meeting 72% of the Kyoto targets in Quebec’s plan of action we are asking Ottawa for some 30% only of the financial effort required to meet Kyoto targets, and time is a-wasting.
It is odd that when we discuss, here in this House, bills such as Bill C-48, which gives tax breaks to the oil industry, things move along more quickly, bills get passed and there is agreement.
I am talking about $250 million granted annually to the oil industry, according to the figures from the finance department. Let me quote some of them. The oil companies will have saved $55 million in 2003-04, $100 million in 2004-05 and $260 million in 2007-08.
Does anyone realize that the $328 million is the total for just two full fiscal years that the oil industry will have benefited from through Bill C-48? For 2007-08 alone, oil companies will save $260 million, while Quebec has been negotiating for years to get $328 million to meet Kyoto protocol targets.
We, on this side of the House, are saying that the policies of the Conservative government and of the Liberal government promote nothing less than a polluter-paid policy rather than a polluter-pay policy. This is an example. While the $328 million would be used to fund a plan to combat climate change in Quebec, the government is saying no, but saying yes to the oil companies. This does not make sense.
The government needs to acknowledge that the Kyoto protocol targets are, for the opposition in this House—including the Bloc Québécois, of course—a non negotiable objective. The government need not expect that we will negotiate on achieving the targets in the Kyoto protocol or its inclusion in Bill C-30. We want the Kyoto protocol targets to be part of Bill C-30. Let that be clear. We feel that a refusal by the government to include them would be nothing short of a slap in the face in the fight against climate change.
Finally, giving $328 million to Quebec has nothing to do with the tax incentives given to the oil industry. It has to do with fighting climate change and having a sustainable transportation policy in Quebec that is in line with Kyoto targets.
In closing, I hope members will consider this amended motion and vote in favour of it.