Mr. Speaker, it is with great joy that I am taking part in this debate on the New Democratic Party's opposition day.
The opposition motion reads:
That, in the opinion of the House, given the desire of Canadians that this Parliament meaningfully address concerns about air quality and climate change, the government should call Bill C-30, Canada's Clean Air and Climate Change Act, for debate and decision at Report stage and Second reading as soon as possible.
From the outset, I would like to indicate to this House that the Bloc Québécois intends to vote in favour of this motion, which, according to our party, is essential. It is essential for facing the climate change phenomenon, which will have consequences for the environment, our ecosystems and our natural resources.
Global warming will have a very negative economic impact if we do not soon start to correct the situation, if do not soon force those who are considered major industrial emitters responsible for increasing greenhouse gas emissions to commit to a real change in their production methods, and if we do not soon reduce our dependence on oil. Major economic consequences will result from our inaction.
We needed to proceed with consideration of Bill C-30 quickly. It was the responsibility of the opposition to amend the bill to meet the expectations of the people of Quebec and Canada. On October 19, 2006, when Bill C-30 was introduced in the House of Commons by the former Minister of the Environment, this government tried to have people believe that Bill C-30 was an adequate solution to combating climate change and that just because this government introduced a bill on air quality, which did not integrate the Kyoto protocol targets or targets for the short and medium terms, that the public would give it a blank cheque.
The response was exactly the opposite. In Canada and Quebec, there was an unprecedented angry outcry against this government, a government that decided to scrap the Kyoto protocol targets. Quebeckers reacted strongly, in the streets of Montreal, for example. They reacted through their civil society, through community organizations, as well as in the business community, the Cascades company, for instance, and through other Quebec businesses that saw that the government's decision to do away with the Kyoto protocol would have serious repercussions for the Quebec economy.
This became clear when the new President of France, Mr. Sarkozy, clearly indicated during a debate and again following his election that he planned to impose a carbon tax on all countries that refuse to comply with the Kyoto protocol. This is no trivial matter for Quebec. Forty percent of Canadian exports originate in Quebec. What is this, if not a telling blow against inaction? To not take action against climate change will not only decrease business opportunities for Quebec companies that wish to sell carbon credits they have amassed as a result of changes made to industrial processes, but the tax will also have repercussions for our economy, if the WTO deems such a tax legitimate.
The government is trying to make us believe that implementing the Kyoto protocol will lead Canada into one of the worst economic recessions ever; however, the opposite is true, Madam Speaker.
We have had a change in the chair occupant. We seldom have a woman in the chair, and I congratulate you.
It is not true that implementing the Kyoto protocol will lead to economic catastrophe. Some say that it will be worse than the 1929 crash. That is what we were told in recent weeks by economists hired by the government. We would have to look back 60 or 70 years to find a catastrophe of such proportions. The reality is quite different. It is inaction that will lead to economic decline.
It will be a lasting decline because we will not have adjusted to this paradigm shift, the change in the development of our economy, which was originally based on investment in natural resources. Given that climate change is a phenomenon which must be addressed with urgency, it is not right that we learn today that the government is thinking of buying the Mackenzie pipeline. Two years ago, it was valued at $7 billion and today we learn that it is valued at approximately $16 billion.
What hope do we have of this government fighting climate change when it is thinking of saving from bankruptcy a project whose sole purpose is to develop the oil and gas industry, which, in future, will contribute to the increase in greenhouse gases? It makes no sense for the government to table a plan that looks at greenhouse gas reductions in terms of emission intensity and not in terms of absolute results. It does not make sense to promote reductions by production unit. It is not right to try to make Canadians believe that they want to decrease greenhouse gases by 18%. On the contrary, the facts show that greenhouse gas emissions in one industrial sector alone—the tar sands—will increase by179%, and that increase will have an impact on the Canadian economy and the Canadian reality.
So, this is a government that must side not only with Canadians, but also with international opinion and consensus. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change keeps releasing new reports. There is confirmed scientific evidence that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions is, at 90% to 95%, an anthropogenic phenomenon, that is, caused by human activities. There is increasing evidence to that effect, yet the government refuses to take action in the short term. That is totally unacceptable.
That is unacceptable, because we, the opposition, had decided to act responsibly, despite what the government would have people and the public believe. As early as November 1, after accepting the Prime Minister's invitation to refer Bill C-30 to a legislative committee, the opposition had decided to act responsibly. The word “responsible” must be remembered, when we look back to the review of Bill C-30. We set aside the partisanship that sometimes comes into play here. In this House, we do not always agree with the Liberals or the New Democrats, but the one thing on which we do agree is that climate change requires immediate action.
We will not accept a plan—or a bill such as Bill C-30—which pushes back to the year 2050 the greenhouse gas reduction targets. We, on this side, and this includes the NDP and the Liberal Party, are making a solemn commitment to make the fight against climate change a priority, and rest assured that we will remain focused on that objective.
We made that commitment consensually, by telling the government that we want greenhouse gas reduction targets of 6% based on 1990 levels. We did that by setting a medium-term greenhouse gas reduction target of about 20% for 2020, again based on the 1990 levels. We also increased this Parliament's sense of responsibility, by setting a longer term objective of between 60% and 80% reductions.
We did not limit ourselves like the government did by setting a long term objective because we set short and medium term objectives and we also reiterated our commitment to setting up a carbon exchange. This is essential for Quebec and it is the best tool available to help us achieve our greenhouse gas reduction targets. This is a growing market, and we think it will be worth over $70 billion in a few years.
The government believes in implementing the market system, yet when it is time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to apply this market theory to environmental policy, the government is not on board. The reverse must be done.
If it works for Europe, which has six exchanges that enable it to meet its environmental targets while keeping the impact on its gross domestic product below 1%, why would it not work for Canada? If we continue to delay, Canada might no longer be competitive in foreign markets.
Protecting the environment is not a constraint. Since when have development and technological innovation been an economic constraint? On the contrary, this is a golden opportunity for Quebec to develop new markets. We must not leave this to others. If we take up this challenge, Quebec and Canada will come out on top. Canada has every opportunity to become one of the most competitive countries in foreign markets.
We believe in this exchange because it is better than a carbon tax. I think this exchange will enable better trading. The European experience has shown that the exchange can meet the targets. We believe in absolute targets, and we reject intensity targets. Large industrial emitters emit between 40% and 50% of our overall emissions, which means that implementing a system based on intensity reduction targets does nothing more than let big industrial emitters off the hook and make it more difficult for us to achieve our greenhouse gas reduction targets.
So we must jump into this fight and push for absolute reduction targets. We must also actively and confidently jump into a carbon market system currently estimated at more than $20 billion by the Business Development Bank of Canada. We must give an opportunity to companies like Biothermica in Quebec, which wants to sell its credits outside the country, and which wants to be recognized for the efforts it has made in the past as part of a Canadian plan.
We must also let Quebec implement its own approach and plan. We must trust the provinces, who are responsible for natural resources. Quebec and Manitoba are examples of what a province can do when its government decides to attack climate change. Quebec's previous governments have shown this, from Robert Bourassa to Jacques Parizeau. All of Quebec's governments, regardless of their political affiliation, have shown that when we implement a plan to fight climate change with clear goals, we can succeed in keeping greenhouse gas emissions in check. We are also able to strive for and respect our Kyoto commitments.
This is what Bill C-30 is calling for. Some people think that the Bloc never makes any progress. But after negotiations with the Liberals and the New Democrats, the Bloc was able to incorporate a territorial approach into Bill C-30. Under this approach, if a province, such as Quebec, decides to meet its greenhouse gas reduction target, it can implement its own climate change plan.
Why are we demanding that? Not because we are so attached to the principle of sovereignty, but simply because this is the most effective way of reducing greenhouse gases. For every dollar invested in the fight against climate change, we must maximize greenhouse gas reductions.
It is not true that a dollar invested in Quebec will lead to the same reduction in greenhouse gases as if it were invested in Alberta. Quebec does not have the same energy policy as the rest of Canada. We generate 95% of our power from hydroelectricity; 95% of our energy comes from renewable sources. When we invest in energy efficiency in our homes, that does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whereas in the rest of Canada, increased home energy efficiency reduces the use of fossil fuels and consequently greenhouse gas emissions.
This example shows that we need a shared commitment in Canada, but that each province needs to take its own approach to meeting that commitment so that this plan to fight climate change is adapted to the realities across the country. That is what Europe did when it set a reduction target of 8%, negotiated in Kyoto in 1997. I was in Kyoto. I saw the Europeans come prepared. All the sovereign members of the European Union were in agreement at the time. They had a plan and targets. They knew how to address climate change because they had reached agreement with their partners, because they had understood that there could not be a target for Europe without equitable territorial reduction targets.
That is the commitment the Bloc Québécois made when it introduced this territorial approach, which aims to set a common target for Canada—we hope it will be the Kyoto target—but with a different approach for each province. Some greenhouse gas-emitting provinces have made huge profits in recent years. How did Alberta get rich? By developing an industry that, unfortunately, causes pollution. What we are asking for with the territorial approach and an emission credit trading mechanism is that the government apply the polluter-pay principle rather than the polluter-paid principle.
That is what we want. We want Quebec's efforts—because Quebec did not sit on its hands—to be recognized. Furthermore, we believe that Bill C-30 meets that expectation and we want it to be debated and voted on as soon as possible.