Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to the motion presented by my colleague from Vancouver East. The motion seeks to divide Bill C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change.
A little context is needed to explain why we are looking at Bill C-311 today. I was in Kyoto in 1997. When I was elected 12 years ago to this House, that was one of the first parliamentary missions I went on in 1997 and it allowed me to better understand climate change and its impact not only on the environment, but also on future economic systems.
I remember the debates we had in the House. We had the Liberal Party on the other side of the House and on this side, the official opposition's side, we had members from the Canadian Alliance, not the Conservative Party but the Canadian Alliance, which later became the Reform Party and then the Progressive Conservative Party. It ended up dropping the word “progressive” and simply became the Conservative Party. Nonetheless, throughout all these name changes, which are just superficial changes, the fundamental political philosophy of that party's members stayed the same. In other words, the members, who are now the government, do not believe or have a hard time believing in the very existence of climate change.
I remember in 1997 the debates we had here in this House when the members of the Canadian Alliance denied the existence of climate change. They thought climate change was a natural phenomenon, that mankind was not responsible for the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and that human activity was not responsible for the chaos that was to come a few years later.
Twelve years later, the impact of climate change is omnipresent. Extreme weather events take place constantly and spontaneously and are recurrent in certain areas, Asia and Indonesia for example. Consequently, on the basis of the scientific reports of the International Panel for Climate Change, it is with confidence that we can officially state today in this House, 12 years later, that the Canadian Alliance, the Reform Party and the current government were wrong and that in 99% of cases, global warming is caused by human activity.
I am returning to that moment in time because it is the very basis for this government's political position on the fight against climate change. Today, what we are first asking this government to do is to recognize that in the next few years we must prevent temperatures from rising more than 2 oC above pre-industrial era temperatures.
According to the models and figures presented by the International Panel for Climate Change, temperatures could increase by 3 to 4%. Scientists are telling us that if temperatures rise by more than 2o C, our climate could run amok. That is at the very core of the bill being introduced. Bill C-311 clearly states in the preamble that Canadian targets, plans, policies and programs to combat climate change must be based on scientific facts and evidence. That is the first thing. There is proof that the government does not acknowledge these scientific facts. I have probably attended 10 international climate change conferences and Canada has tried to trivialize the reports of the International Panel for Climate Change. The government wants these reports to be a mere addendum; it wants to hide them. Why?
Quite simply because the government does not want to follow the scientists' second recommendation, which says that to limit the rise in global temperature to 2 oC above that of the pre-industrial period, industrialized nations must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 25% to 40% relative to 1990 levels by 2020. That is the commitment Canada should make today. Instead of trying to set aside Bill C-311 on the pretext that it makes no sense, the government should first recognize the scientific evidence, then make a commitment to reduce emissions, as the scientists suggest.
But what is the government proposing to do? First, it is proposing to use 2005 or 2006 as the base year, instead of 1990. Moreover, instead of setting absolute greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, it is proposing to set targets per unit of production. But the problem with this approach is that, although we may reduce our emissions per unit of production, if production goes up, emissions will as well. It does not take a degree in math and econometrics to understand this model.
Why does the government want to use 2005 or 2006 as the base year? Why is it refusing to set absolute targets, preferring intensity targets instead? The answer is simple: it wants to protect certain political, electoral and economic interests, primarily in western Canada. The government's measures are designed to protect the oil sands industry, which creates so much pollution that Canada ranks as one of the worst polluters on the planet in the national reports submitted to the conference of the parties on climate change.
The government believes that science-based targets would come at a disastrous economic cost, as it stated again recently. But the government does not understand one thing: the economy and the environment are connected, and any dramatic change in our ecosystems, especially fragile ones, as a result of higher temperatures will have a direct impact on our economic life.
Developing countries are often food producers; they produce many agricultural products. This morning I was again reading a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute, which estimates that climate change will have a direct impact on what we eat. The price of wheat is expected to increase by 194%, and that of rice by 121%. Yields of these two crops will decrease by 30% and 15% respectively.
So imposing strict rules to fight climate change is not what will cause an economic catastrophe, but rather inaction. Indeed, it will jeopardize our ecosystems. We risk seeing a considerable increase in the price of food. Who will pay for this price increase? It certainly will not be the oil industry; it will be the citizens of Rosemont and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. They will be the ones to pay, because their government did not act responsibly. There are costs associated with inaction, and the government, which for years has been boasting about its economic ideas, has failed to see the models that have been presented.
What are we asking of the government today? We are asking the government to pull itself together, be a world leader, and look at what is happening to the south. The government wants to take a continental approach to fighting climate change; so be it.
Consider, for example, the plan proposed last week by Senator Kerry and Senator Boxer to fight climate change. They are proposing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 7% below 1990 levels, while this government is proposing reductions of 3%.
Look at the Obama and Harper plans proposed so far.
Madam Speaker, I am talking about the plan, not about the Prime Minister. I called the plan—