Mr. Speaker, I am quite inspired by the speech by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment. We support extending the hours of Parliament, because that will give us an opportunity to consider Bill C-30, Canada's Clean Air Act. I want to pick up on what the member for Wascana said. The time has come to consider the debacle of the Prime Minister's speech at the G-8 meeting last week in Heiligendamm. Extending the hours will give us an opportunity to correct the situation. Now we may finally have time to study Bill C-30.
In the wake of the G-8 meeting, Canada's problem is the lack of consistency between the Prime Minister's international statements on climate change and the reality of the domestic regulations on industry proposed by the government about six weeks ago to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Bill C-30 has had a curious history. It was originally proposed by the government in October, with a series of regulations. Then, it was attacked from all sides: by NGOs, the media, economists and all three opposition parties. The government withdrew the bill. Then it was sent after first reading to a legislative committee chaired by the member for Edmonton Centre.
To everyone's astonishment, the process worked very well in the case of BIll C-30 and produced an extensively amended bill that was stronger, more coherent and more ambitious. What has happened? Once again, the government is refusing to present Bill C-30 and is instead substituting weak, empty regulations under the existing legislation, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
The parliamentary secretary has spoken several times today about the importance of taking the work of parliamentarians seriously. He was suggesting that one of the arguments in support of prolonging the hours of Parliament was to allow a report to be made concerning the activities of a group of parliamentarians, of which I was one, when they took part in a meeting before Heilingendam in Berlin of legislators from the G-8 plus five countries.
However, as I indicated in a previous intervention, while that is important work and while the results of that visit are worth knowing and those discussions should be referenced, how can that compare with the work which many of us, including the parliamentary secretary, put in on Bill C-30?
The hours and hours of debate, the hearings, the extra sitting hours into the evening and all of the work which went into it with the highly successful result under the skilful leadership of the member for Edmonton Centre, to whom we must give credit for helping to get this much improved clean air and climate change bill through.
Surely, the member for Edmonton Centre, even though he is on the government side, would love to see the fruit of his work honoured after putting all that effort into it.
This is a good reason to extend the House sitting hours. The government has now twice failed to bring forward a meaningful climate change plan. The regulations that were proposed instead under CEPA, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, are a complete ecofraud. There are, as the Pembina Institute has pointed out in a very thoughtful piece of analysis, at least 20 loopholes in the entire package that undermine any claim that can be made about greenhouse gas reductions. Until these loopholes are plugged, I can give but a brief example. Pembina says:
In reality, the regulatory framework’s effect on emissions cannot be known with any certainty, because (i) its targets are expressed in terms of emissions intensity, not actual emissions; (ii) we do not yet know how targets will be defined for new facilities; (iii) “fixed process emissions” are exempted but have not been fully defined; and (iv) some of the “compliance options” that companies can use to meet targets will not result in immediate emission reductions, and some may not result in any real emission reductions at all.
That is simply an example of some of the 20 loopholes. The government has misrepresented to Canadians about what this plan will actually achieve. There will be and can be no absolute reductions by 2012 and no absolute reductions by 2020. Not a single government official, when summoned before the environment committee, could guarantee that the so-called plan's claims could be met and it is clear that little analysis has been done. The analysis that has been done was shrouded in secrecy and not a single, independent expert has been called in to verify the so-called plans claims.
Indeed, a leading German investment bank, Deutsche Bank, has produced an extensive report on the subject and it comes to exactly the same conclusion. It says in plain language:
We do not think the Government's alternative plan will succeed. Setting aside the Kyoto target of an absolute reduction of 6% in emissions over 2008-12 against the base year of 1990, the Canadian Government has published a plan that re-defines its GHG emissions-reduction targets.
The turning the corner plan takes 2006 as the base year instead of 1990 and imposes reductions in the intensity of Canadian industry's emissions rather than reductions in the absolute level of emissions.
That means that the redefined targets are much less ambitious than the Kyoto targets. Yet, because the turning the corner plan allows for the offsetting of emissions at what we think is too low in price to incentify investments in new low carbon technologies, we think that even these much less ambitious targets will probably not be achieved. In short, under current policies we would expect Canada's industrial greenhouse gas emissions to continue rising over 2006 to 2020.
The point is further reinforced by a document from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research entitled “Climate Change Policy and Canada's Oil Sand Resources: An Update and Appraisal of Canada's New Regulatory Framework for Air Emissions”, with the same conclusions. Tomorrow, just to put the final and fourth nail in the coffin, the C.D. Howe Institute will be releasing a detailed and critical analysis of the turning the corner plan.
In other words, four major studies continually make the same point that the plan that is on the table now will not do the job and that we need to get back to Bill C-30.
What do we have after 16 months? We have something that is worse than nothing at all, because we have created tremendous uncertainty that will prevent industry from making the rational, long term investments that are necessary for deep greenhouse gas reductions. After 16 months, all we have on the table is a shell, not a single regulation and no promise of regulations for up to 18 months for greenhouse gas reductions, and nothing until sometime in 2010 for smog.
The former government's project green, as has been noted by the Deutsche Bank, not only would have created certainty for industry, but it would have produced almost seven times the reductions proposed by the current government's plan.
Certainly, we need a better plan in place before we break for the summer. Therefore, government should bring Bill C-30 back to the House, so that we can get on with it.