Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today on Bloc Motion M-287, which reads as follows—it is important to have it in the forefront of our minds:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should work with its North American partners to promptly pursue a North American cap-and-trade market with absolute greenhouse gas emission targets based on scientific knowledge, using 1990 as the base year.
All the wording of this motion is important, and I will try to explain it during my brief remarks. Since the beginning, the Bloc Québécois has advocated the creation of a cap-and-trade market, or carbon exchange, as an indispensable tool in the fight against greenhouse gases and climate change.
Until Quebec becomes an independent country that makes its own economic and environmental choices and participates freely as a sovereign nation in the discussions on climate change, we are left with this environmental millstone around our necks—Canada’s terrible reputation in this area.
That is why the Bloc Québécois has moved this motion today.
The Bloc has a clear, credible plan here that includes what Quebec thinks are the four key elements in successfully establishing a carbon market. First, the plan offers absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets and a cap-and-trade system. This system is a carbon exchange located in Montreal. That is what we want. The fourth element is the use of 1990 as the base year for evaluating how far we have come and recognizing the considerable efforts that some companies have made since then. Finally, we want reduction targets based on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge.
Contrary to the Conservative government, the Bloc Québécois believes that science, innovation, research, development and North American and international cooperation are essential for the establishment of a carbon market. Unfortunately, this government does exactly the opposite. The Conservative Party and its leader, first and foremost, long refused to see the reality. Global warming is a real, scientifically proven phenomenon. The Kyoto protocol is the only method we have on the international level to fight this scourge. It is not a socialist plot, as the Conservative Party claims.
This way of looking at the world—the Conservative way—belongs to the previous century. The states which, in the future, are going to oppose the environment and the economy will be the losers of the future economic growth. For example, unlike the Minister of Natural Resources, who feels she should threaten trading partners who are doing something about energy problems and their impact on climate, the Bloc Québécois supports these initiatives, because oil dependency is unhealthy, harmful and inefficient from an economic and environmental point of view, whether in Quebec or in California, which is the state that the Minister of Natural Resources is threatening.
This government has a truly abominable record as far as climate change is concerned, and it is a shame for all Quebeckers who care about protecting our planet. The more Canada will look at the tar sands, at oil exploration and at polluting industries, in relation to the development of its natural resources, the more Quebec will look at hydroelectricity, renewable energy and a knowledge-based economy, and the more the environment will become the primary argument for Quebec to become independent.
The international community needs players who want to deal with changes and who cooperate with trading partners. It does not need a country like Canada, which threatens progressive states with reprisals, and which disrupts international talks by claiming that it is the world's most vulnerable oil supplier from an environmental point of view.
The Bloc Québécois has a credible plan that is based on four pillars. The first one, which we mentioned earlier, is to set absolute greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. The government prides itself on having set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and it wants to reduce emissions by 20% by the year 2020, based on the 2006 levels. However, the Bloc believes that this is just wishful thinking.
Indeed, the most recent report released by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development is an eloquent reminder of that.
Not only does the government overestimates its ability to reduce greenhouse gases, it is also unable to measure what little progress it has made, if any. This government has obviously failed its test on the economy and the environment.
By stubbornly refusing to set clear absolute greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, the Government of Canada is preventing the market from correcting by itself the increase in greenhouse gases.
I thought the Conservatives supported free market, but here they are refusing to create a carbon exchange based on absolute targets that would allow an environmental financial market to solve, thanks to the invisible hand, part of the problem.
Alas, the Conservatives prefer strong government intervention to help the oil industry and big polluters, while preventing the creation of a carbon free market, both in North America and at the international level.
The second element of our plan is a cap-and-trade market, commonly known as a carbon exchange. As I just said, setting absolute reduction targets will make it possible to create a carbon exchange.
This market would operate in the same way as a traditional exchange, using permits that represent rights to emit GHGs. There would be buyers, sellers and intermediaries, who in other fields are known as brokers. Instead of buying shares, companies would buy CO2 emission rights and credits.
But for that to work, we have to impose emission quotas on the government, companies and organizations, and those quotas have to be complied with. In a free-market system, good students are rewarded and poor students, penalized. But the Conservative federal government, under pressure from the oil lobbies, is refusing to go this route.
The Conservative government is defending poor students and refusing to penalize companies that do not want to invest in technologies of the future to improve their environmental record.
The federal government is refusing a free-market system for GHG emissions. This government wants to keep on favouring one sector over the others. It wants to keep on favouring big oil at the expense of other sectors of the future.
There is a clear and simple concept in environmental economics and economics in general that is known as negative externalities. In environmental economics, it is clear, except to this government, which is fanatical about economics, that the negative externality is pollution and GHG emissions.
By refusing a carbon exchange based on absolute targets, the government is making the people of Quebec and Canada pay so that the oil industry can get rich at the expense of the environment and health.
Hon. members need to understand that this is really important to us, and especially to our businesses. The manufacturing industry, particularly forestry companies like the ones in my riding, has worked hard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% since 1990.
By not recognizing these companies' efforts by setting absolute targets, with 1990 as the base year and a real carbon exchange, the government is hurting these companies and refusing to support economic development.
That is why I invite all our colleagues to vote in favour of this Bloc Québécois initiative.