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House of Commons Hansard #60 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organs.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

December 5th, 2011 / 12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP wants us to believe that we can grow the economy by Canada assuming the full cost of decarbonizing its own economy while assuming the additional costs of decarbonizing other global economies and simultaneously boosting taxes on Canadian companies and consumers. I do not know about other members, but to me, not growing the economy sounds like a recipe for disaster. That is why the United States never signed on to Kyoto. It is why the EU is backing away from further action under Kyoto. They recognize that everyone in the global economy has to be involved. That is why this country put its leadership behind the Copenhagen process, the only global process that has a real prospect of being able to grow our economies while improving global climate.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment like to answer the question about Canada's global leadership under Copenhagen?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question gives me an opportunity to highlight, once again, the fact that our country is a leader in environmental sustainability and in dealing with climate change in a way that we are going to see real results.

Our government's approach, which includes a sector-by-sector regulatory approach, is designed to ensure our economic sustainability and, as he mentioned, see tangible results with regard to greenhouse gas emissions. The first sector we looked at was the transportation sector. We did that because we know it is a sector that creates a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. We went forward with these regulations through a consultative process to find out how we could actually implement this while ensuring that our economy is not competitively disadvantaged. We are doing the same thing right now with our electricity sector. We are doing this sector by sector because we want to make sure that we are achieving those tangible results.

With regard to the question about economic sustainability, this is something that cannot be lost. It is easy to gloss over. We have heard it in the opposition rhetoric today. When we are looking at binding commitments and agreements in the future, we need to ensure that our approaches are similar to those being taken in the Copenhagen accord. Those approaches ensure that all emitters are on board and working toward the same goal and that our economy is sustained.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, what spectacular stickhandling. Congratulations. Honestly, I have never heard anything quite like that.

I have a question. Last week, I saw, with my own eyes, members on the other side applaud when it was announced that Canada had once again received a fossil award.

What does my colleague think about that?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I cannot support bringing into the House any sort of award that is designed to denigrate this country. This country is a leader in the world, period. The real award that we should be talking about is the fact that our country in a global recession sits atop of the G7 with regard to economic growth. We have seen over 600,000 net new jobs created. We are doing that at the same time as we are protecting our environment. That is an award we should be proud of. That is an award the opposition should be bringing forward.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, where is the credible plan? Where are the science-based targets? Right now the government can only get us 25% of the way there. How is it going to get the remaining 75%?

I would like to know if the hon. member truly appreciates what climate change will mean in Canada. There will be more extreme weather events. A rise in sea levels will affect Vancouver and the Hudson Bay lowlands. Lower Great Lakes levels will impact shipping. An increased frequency and severity of heatwaves will impact the health of Canadians. The melting permafrost will have an impact on infrastructure and housing in the north.

We do not inherit the environment from our parents; we borrow it from our grandchildren.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased that my colleague opposite brought up the topic of climate change adaptation. This is one area where our government has been more than committed with regard to funding, both measures that are designed to mitigate it, but more importantly, designed to produce the research which develops an understanding of it.

What is more unfortunate is that the opposition parties continue to vote against our budgetary measures for climate change adaptation.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will begin by sharing a story about a young woman who was forced to give up farming in southeast Asia. The rising sea level meant that saline water had stopped crops from growing in her fields. As a result, her husband was forced to leave their village to look for work in the forest where he was killed by a tiger. Her husband's family then sent her back to live with her family. Her family's home was subsequently destroyed by a hurricane. Thankfully, the family stayed alive by living on an embankment for a month. Now the monsoons are changing and new diseases are coming. She understands that these changes are not acts of god, but rather are caused by other countries with big factories and smoke.

When parliamentarians from the Commonwealth gathered for five days in London in 2009, she asked all of us big important people to please do justice for them; there was no water to drink and people were leaving their villages. She said, “Climate change is deep down in my heart painful”.

I spent the last 20 years of my life studying climate change, particularly the impact of climate change on human health. I had the privilege of serving as lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for two reports and consulting to Environment Canada's climate adaptation and impacts research group for many years. However, it is that young woman's words that haunt me every day.

It is for these reasons that I spent four months building the first ever all-party climate change caucus on Parliament Hill. I hope all parliamentarians, as well people who are watching this debate, are encouraged by this news as we are enormously excited about the prospects. This morning the climate change caucus had the privilege of listening to the South African high commissioner. We thank her for her time and effort.

Climate change is our most pressing environmental issue, perhaps the defining issue of our generation. It will profoundly affect our economy, health, lifestyles and social well-being. It requires moral responsibility and intergenerational responsibility. How we respond will define the world our children and their descendants grow up in.

Canadians know about climate change. We have had our climate change wake-up calls: the 1998 ice storm, which cost $5.4 billion; the 1996 Saguenay flood, which cost $1.7 billion; the 1991 Calgary hail storm, which cost $884 million; and the 1997 Red River flood, which cost $817 million. Those are just a few extreme weather events.

Today in the Canadian Arctic, permafrost is warming. The annual thaw layer is deepening and damaging infrastructure. In British Columbia, glaciers are retreating at rates not seen in the last 8,000 years. On the Prairies, lake and river levels are lowering in summer and fall and are impacting agriculture. In Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, sea level rise and increased storminess are accelerating coastal and dune erosion.

As a result of climate change around the world, we see dwindling fish stocks in the Atlantic and other oceans, encroaching deserts in northern Nigeria, flooding lowlands in Bangladesh, shrinking rain forests in Asia and the Pacific, and rising sea levels around the Maldives which lie only 1.5 metres above sea level.

In the Maldives, weather patterns are shifting. Fishing is poor and people are starting to relocate. There, sustainable development means climate-proof development. After the 2004 tsunami, 16 sewer systems were built, but there was no money for maintenance and 16 islands were bankrupted. As a result, the Maldives will be carbon neutral in 10 years and will invest in tomorrow's technology, not yesterday's diesel. Even these actions will not guarantee its future as its tomorrow will in part depend on international climate negotiations today.

Climate change is not just an environmental issue; it is also a human rights issue: the right to live. Climate change is also an international security issue and a justice issue; that is, the ones who are suffering most had the least responsibility for it.

We must listen to leaders of small island states who remind us that climate change threatens their very existence. Recently, the island nation of Kiribati became the first country to declare that climate change is rendering its territory uninhabitable and asked for help to evacuate its population.

In any struggle, it is important to listen to the front lines. In the case of climate change, they are aboriginal peoples, those living in low-lying states and those living in the Canadian Arctic. If people are being meaningfully impacted by climate change, they should be meaningfully involved in negotiations. Governments must be accountable to those who are impacted. Tragically, Kiribati and the Maldives are the canaries in the coal mine. If the international community cannot save the front line first, it will not be able to save itself down the line.

Globally, this year's floods that devastated Colombia, Pakistan and Venezuela, and the wildfires that gripped Russia are more climate change wake-up calls. There will be more extreme events, worse impacts, and no country will be exempt.

Yet, despite this year's weather warnings, the government failed to even mention climate change in the throne speech. Sadly, at the UN climate talks, my beloved Canada, which once had a reputation as a green country, wins fossil awards for being a follower instead of a leader on the world stage. Canada has won fossil awards three of the first four days at COP 17 in Durban for signalling pullout of Kyoto and actually influencing other countries to do the same. The failure to win a fourth award was the result of no award being offered on Thursday.

Canadians should be highly critical of the government's abdication of leadership on issues related to climate change, specifically: its performance in meeting international climate commitments; setting science-based emissions targets; developing incentives for low-carbon technologies; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; pricing carbon; and putting in place adaptation measures necessary to respond to the risks of climate change.

Comprehensive climate actions include developing a cap and trade system, eliminating subsidies for dirty energy, and providing incentives for low-carbon technologies and infrastructure investments.

Before I discuss what is needed in Durban, let me address Liberal action on climate change.

The Liberal government was up against the Conservative-Reform alliance that did not even believe in the science of climate change and threw up every conceivable roadblock. For example, Liberals attempted to hold a debate in the House of Commons to discuss the merits of the Kyoto protocol, but the party of the members opposite, many of whom are now ministers, filibustered and slowed down progress considerably.

While Kyoto was signed in 1997, it was not ratified until 2002. In 2005, the Liberal government introduced project green, a comprehensive plan developed with stakeholders across the country to put Canada on the right track to meet commitments. The Conservatives killed the plan when they became government. Conservatives are trying to rewrite history by calling the Kyoto protocol a blunder. The only purpose is to mask their own inaction.

Incidentally, although I was not granted an emergency debate on climate change last Monday, I am still hopeful the government will consent to a take note debate on Earth's most pressing environmental issue.

Today we are halfway through COP 17, the United Nations climate change conference in Durban, South Africa. This year's theme is “Working Together. Saving Tomorrow Today”. There is an absolute urgency, first, as Kyoto comes to an end, and second, as the world tries to hold the average climate warming to just 2°C, the threshold associated with dangerous climate change.

Parties must strive to find solutions for scientifically defensible targets in Durban and build on the work undertaken in Cancun, Mexico at COP 16.

Fortunately, climate change is not a closed case. We can rise to the challenge as in the past when major powers rose to the challenge. They built countrywide railways. They fought in World War I and World War II. The government should take a lesson from history. It should negotiate for our children and our grandchildren who are yet to be born.

In 1987, Canada was one of the original parties to the Montreal protocol, largely recognized as the most successful response to the global environmental challenge to date. Canada took a leadership role in examining the science underlying ozone depletion and acting to eliminate its causes.

Parties must first come to the negotiating table in good faith, and the expectation is that they must work toward an outcome that is balanced, credible and fair. Unfortunately, instead of the government engaging Parliament, its environmental critics, its human rights experts, it has shamefully signalled its abandonment of Kyoto and has, as we learned, been secretly urging other countries to pull out of the agreement as well.

As a result, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other South African leaders from government, labour and non-government organizations recently placed a full page ad to remind Canadians of the leadership our country once showed.

We parliamentarians therefore have a pivotal role to play in setting the necessary regulatory frameworks here at home and in building political resolve toward strong multilateral action, and our action must be swift and it must be collective.

At home, the government must absolutely make progress on its 2020 emission reduction target, but its own plan shows that federal and provincial government actions, announced or already under way, are projected to reduce emissions by only one-quarter of what is needed to meet the 2020 target. Canadians are waiting to hear how the government plans to address the remaining three-quarters.

In seeking an effective and just agreement from Durban, I see several key challenges and opportunities. The challenges are: first, to build trust and strengthen good faith; second, to push for strong action despite difficult economic times; and third, to make any agreement an inclusive deal that leaves no country or group behind, deepening world poverty and threatening international security.

Let me therefore talk about financing climate mitigation and adaptation, which has always been a key challenge. The government will rightly ask, why take on more debt? The answer is simple. The benefits of strong, early action on climate change dramatically outweigh the cost. For example, it has been estimated that to stabilize emissions at manageable levels would cost about 1% of global GDP, but that not to act would cost at least 5%, now and forever.

While the numbers can be debated, the essential fact cannot be. In fact, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy predicts that climate change will annually cost Canadians $21 billion to $43 billion by 2050.

We must therefore adapt. While adaptation is not cost-free, it is the cost-effective way to alleviate some climate impacts. I must then ask why the government is cutting climate impact and adaptation research at Environment Canada. The research group was started 17 years ago. It performs groundbreaking research by examining how climate change affects agriculture, human health and water quality in Canada. Some of its scientists shared part of the 2007 Nobel Peace Price on Climate Change.

Let me come back to the fact that those who have the most to lose from climate change are the ones who have contributed least to the problem and who are the least equipped to deal with it. Many of the least developed countries and small states are already struggling to achieve the millennium development goals, particularly since they lack the necessary financial and technical resources. On top of these challenges, many face severe physical impacts from climate change and have economies that are particularly sensitive to climate variations, such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism.

Thankfully, we also have opportunities at Durban to reflect the increase in concern of Canadian business, citizens and municipal and provincial governments regarding climate change and to use the economic and environmental crisis to green our economy.

Many Canadian businesses, governments and citizens are already doing their part, improving energy efficiency, reducing energy use, reducing waste, using forest-friendly practices, using green power, et cetera. Now they are looking to us to be their voice on the national stage and to demand a decisive response to climate change in Canada and internationally.

Groups from wide walks of life, such as Canada's faith communities, the Climate Action Network, Citizens Climate Lobby, Citizens for Public Justice, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the Pembina Institute want their political representatives to show vision and a long-term commitment on climate change.

Let us therefore be inspired by two examples of parliamentary action. First, the Maldives government has pledged to become the world's first carbon-neutral nation. Second, the United Kingdom parliament passed its climate change bill, the world's first long-term legally-binding framework to tackle climate change.

One of Canada's reforms must be a shift to the green economy. Governments worldwide are concerned with making the shift to stimulate growth, create new jobs, eradicate poverty and limit humanity's ecological footprint. It is no longer a choice between saving our economy and saving our environment. It is a choice between being a producer and a consumer in the old economy and being a leader in the new economy. It is a choice between decline and prosperity.

Therefore, we should be critical of the government's efforts to green our economy. For example, in 2009 the government missed a real opportunity for a triple win, a renewable stimulus with positive impacts on the economy, jobs and the atmosphere. While the government invested $3 billion in green stimulus spending, Germany invested $14 billion, the United States $112 billion and China $221 billion in green infrastructure and, in the process, created thousands of new green jobs.

Going forward the government should develop a green economy strategy to create a more environmentally sustainable economy. Specific measures might include green agriculture, energy supply, forestry, industry, the building sector, transportation and waste. This will require meaningful engagement of all stakeholders, progress in investment in renewable energy and tough questions about the government's management of the oil sands. Where is the long-term plan? What action has been taken to regulate the pace and scope of development? What progress has been made to protect air quality, boreal forest ecosystems and water resources. What assessments are being undertaken to investigate the potential human health impacts of development as well as the environmental impacts? What solutions is the government considering?

More stringent actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions cannot be postponed much longer, otherwise the opportunity to keep the average global temperature rise below 2ºC is in danger. Serious impacts are associated with this limit, including an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, shifts in growing season and sea level rise.

My grave concern is that the government wants as little as possible to do with climate change. It can get us 25% of the way there. Where is the other 75%? It has allocated $9.2 billion in funds and has reduced our targets by 90%. It wants to pass the buck to the provinces and the municipalities and wants to walk away from its international obligations.

The government must realize our home, the planet Earth, is finite. When we compromise the air, water, soil and the variety of life, we steal from the endless future to serve the fleeting present. Therefore, when we parliamentarians contemplate environmental policy and legislation, we must ask if it is something of which our children and grandchildren would be proud.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to praise the member for Etobicoke North for yet another great speech on climate change. She has been a supporter of our bills on climate change accountability for a long time and is really smart and well-spoken.

However, I take issue with one statement she made. I think she is being a little too kind to the Conservatives. She seems to feel that they are being lax. I would go further. This is not ineptitude, nor is it inaction. Is it not really just bowing down to the altAr of U.S. policy and doing what the oil companies want?

Would the member care to comment?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague who is a strong supporter of climate change and of taking moral and intergenerational responsibility. I want to be very clear. The record of the government is appalling on climate change. This is the biggest environmental issue facing the planet.

I want to begin with the science and what is at stake. We want to limit the increase in average global temperature to 2°C above the pre-industrial level, as this level is thought to be the threshold for dangerous climate change. Unfortunately the actions and targets that have been pledged to date fall very short of this goal. Current pledges would lead to warming of 3°C and possibly even more than 3.5°C. For a northern nation, for Canada's Arctic that could be a warming of 8°C to 10°C.

The reality is we need urgent global action to halt and begin to reverse in the growth of emissions within this decade. There are two key issues at Durban: the future of Kyoto and climate financing to support climate action in developing countries. The Kyoto protocol's first commitment will end next year and unless it is extended or replaced by a second commitment period, there will be an era without legally binding international climate commitments.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague. No one will ever doubt her sincerity and I applaud her for that.

She made a couple of points in her remarks about the oil sands and alluded to some things, which I hope she does not think are actually happening, such as the devastation of the boreal forest. Less than 1% of the boreal forest is being used and it is all being remediated back to where it started.

The member talked about water. I hope she would give credit to the oil companies that have invested billions of dollars in tailings pond technology to take a process from what used to take months and years down to a process that takes two or three weeks. I hope she was not referring to supposed damage downstream in places like Fort Chip, where the doctor who proposed that has been shown to be a fraud and has been disciplined by the relevant authorities.

Are these the kinds of things about which the member is talking? The overriding question is if we do not get countries like China on board, what hope do we have?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I discussed the oil sands, I raised key questions that the government needed to answer, such as where the long-term plan was? Are Conservatives making progress on environment health assessments?

I want to bring home the impacts of climate extremes with a Canadian example. The great ice storm, which slammed into Ontario, Quebec and parts of the Maritimes, was the most destructive and disruptive storm in Canadian history. It downed 1,000 power transmission towers and 30,000 utility poles. It left 1.4 million people in Quebec and 230,000 in Ontario without power for at least one week. One month after the storm, 700,000 were still without power. It also had a huge impact on health and medical services. Just one hospital reported over 300 injuries directly related to the ice storm. Multiply that by the area that was covered.

This is food for thought. Climate change means more extreme weather events and in the future we may expect to see an increase in ice storms. Milder winter temperatures may cause an increase in freezing rain if daily temperatures fluctuate around the freezing point.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault NDP Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her speech. My question has to do with the Liberals' record. In 1993, the Liberals promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2005. Instead, they allowed emissions to increase by 30%. In 2005, the UN reported that pollution had increased more in Canada than in any of the other Kyoto signatories. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I realize I did not address something that was said by my colleague across the way. I want to point out it was Liberal colleagues who pushed for water monitoring in the oil sands and it was Liberal action, as I had laid out, that introduced project green in 2005, which the Conservatives killed when they came to government. Again, to point out what is at stake, in a warmer world heat waves are expected to become more frequent and severe, and this may lead to an increase in illness and death.

Members will remember back in 1995 over 700 people died in Chicago from the heat. I have a lasting memory of that event, where there were ice trucks in the streets used as morgues. More recently, 35,000 people succumbed in Europe to the heat. These extreme weather events are increasing. In 1998, China experienced its worst flooding in 50 years, affecting 180 million people; 7 million homes were destroyed; and 4,000 people lost their lives. A cyclone in India affected 10 million to 15 million people; it killed 10,000. Hurricane Katrina destroyed 300,000 homes, displaced 770,000 residents, and cost $200 billion.

Climate change is real, it is happening now, and it means more extreme events and impacts on people.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, what my colleague from Etobicoke North did not tell members, in her modesty, is that she is a member of a Nobel prize winning team that has studied climate change. I would consider her an authority.

While Conservatives spew deceitful, rehearsed lines and talking points, which concerns and alarms the people from Guelph that they are doing absolutely nothing about the environment, we have on the other hand the government's own round table on the environment and the economy, and the Conference Board saying that not only have their targets been set too low but the Conservatives are not passing regulations or developing programs that will even meet those modest targets.

However, I am encouraged by my friend's comments about the ability to join the environment and the economy, to help the environment and create jobs at the same time. I wonder if she could talk to us a bit more about the need to join the environment and the economy.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his work in this area. He does a tremendous amount of work regarding the environment.

The environment and the economy are two sides of the same coin. Business understands that when it is good to the environment, it pays off on its bottom line. When businesses reduce their inputs and their waste, they save on the bottom line. Business is pushing for action on the environment. In fact, the premier of Alberta is pushing for a national energy strategy. When is the government going to call a first ministers meeting to bring the ministers together to discuss energy and climate change?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Vancouver East.

I am happy to speak today on the NDP's official opposition day motion that is, indeed, very timely. As I speak, the eyes of the world are on Durban, South Africa, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Canadians are watching, too.

We have good reason to be concerned about Canada's role there with talk from the Minister of the Environment in moving countries away from their obligations to be good citizens of the planet and good stewards of the environment. This motion is timely because in Canada there are important pipeline projects from the oil sands being reviewed and debated: Keystone, northern gateway and others. This motion is timely because we know the economy is moving slowly through a deep, damaging recession as we try to figure out a way forward for Canada and other countries.

Our motion today addresses all of these issues. It makes it clear that Conservatives and their spin masters across the aisle have it dead wrong to frame our debate and choices as one between the economy and the environment. It is not jobs or the planet, it is jobs and the environment. We and others know it can and must be both.

There is a way forward to creating good paying jobs for Canadians at the same time as making sure the development of the oil sands is done in a coherent, thoughtful way that pays attention to both the economy and the environment. That was the message the NDP environment critic and I brought to Washington. While some across the aisle were hysterically screaming treason and treachery, we were actually talking about a rational energy strategy good for Canada, good for the planet, and good for Canadian jobs. There are good jobs in sustainable clean energy and renewable energy. That is possible with a coherent Canadian energy strategy that, to date, the Conservative government has shown little interest in.

I know something of the importance of good paying jobs in the community and also the need to pay attention to our environment. For 34 years I worked in the mines of Sudbury. I value a company coming to town, offering stable, permanent, good paying jobs. I value the importance of unions that fight for workers, their pay and benefits, pensions and safety concerns. I saw the need for companies to also pay attention to environment regulations, to do something about pollution, and damage to the air and neighbouring waters.

We must act now. The evidence is irrefutable. The Arctic is heating up. Just last week an Arctic report card was released by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate program office. This agency tracks the Arctic's atmosphere, sea, ice, biology, greenhouse gases, ozone and UV radiation. What it reports is not pretty: the Arctic is shifting to a new permanent stage, warmer, greener, less summer ice, a change in ocean chemistry, and more.

What is worrisome is not the year-to-year change only, but especially the rates of change. The rates of change are speeding to greater risks. With a greener Arctic, there will be even more projects involving northern resources. We need to be smart about this production and our motion offers a way forward.

The natural resources committee is studying the development of northern resources. Back in October, it heard a witness, Dr. Steve MacLean, president of the Canadian Space Agency. He was in space twice as an astronaut, both times in the month of October, once in 1992 and again in 2006. When I asked him to compare the two missions, 14 years apart, and tell us if things had gotten worse, this is what he said:

Yes, I did.

I was fortunate to fly in the same month, October, in 1992 and then again in 2006. As you know, seasonal changes are still larger than the yearly climatic changes that we're seeing, and so having the privilege of flying in the same month allowed me to see the climatic changes and not just the seasonal changes.

The amount of ice in the mountains all over the world is substantially reduced...The tongues of the Columbia Icefields, for example, are reduced by two to three kilometres depending on where you are. Pollution indexes were visible to the naked eye.

Back in 1992, China was dirty at the centre of Beijing, for example. The air was dirty. Now the entire region is dirty. I just came back from China, and it's a major problem for them over there...That local pollution problem is causing a pretty substantive problem in our north...the ice, for example, used to be open in M'Clintock Channel four weeks of the year. Now it's open six weeks of the year. In the time we've been measuring it, that is a substantial difference. The average temperature in the north is several degrees higher. There are parameters that indicate that change is taking place.

He said there were definitely changes taking place in the north, and if we do not react to them, we can consider them a disaster or an opportunity. If we consider them an opportunity, then we need to react to them and mitigate them.

We also spoke with the astronaut on the massive Arctic ozone hole two million square kilometres, twice the size of Ontario, opening up. Scientists say this means higher degrees of harmful ultraviolet radiation hitting northern Canada and our northern hemisphere.

How does the government react? Just as with crime, just as with the census, it stops funding the groups reporting the problem. Canada has been a leader in Arctic ozone observation, but the Conservative government is now cutting Environment Canada's ozone monitoring.

What is happening in space, what is happening in the north, is also occurring in all of our communities.

Last week I met in Ottawa with the Sudbury citizens climate lobby from northern Ontario. It is part of an international movement of citizens wanting action. They want to ensure that clean energy becomes competitive within a 10 year time frame. Among many environmental issues, they asked for an end to our fossil fuel subsidies, including the tax credits, and to invest the money in the development of alternative energies. My party is committed to doing just that.

This too is captured in our official opposition motion today as we call for immediate action to lower the net carbon emissions in Canada and increase Canadian trade with our major partners in a new sustainable energy economy.

Canadians want us to act. Over 150,000 Canadians and 150 organizations signed the Kyoto plus petition calling for an emission reduction plan to reduce emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, the target necessary to avoid catastrophic climate changes.

New Democrats have an action plan to address climate change. We will put a price on carbon and establish hard emission caps for large industrial emitters. We will enact our climate change accountability act, which will put in legislation a framework for achieving the national target of 80% below 1990 emission levels by 2050. We want to establish a permanent federal energy efficient retrofit program to reduce residential energy use, cut GHG emissions, create jobs, and save Canadians money.

At the natural resources committee recently we heard departmental officials say how wildly popular the eco-energy program has been, how much it is helping the planet. Over 250,000 Canadians have participated in it. This program is set to end at the end of March 2012. The Conservative government needs to make this program permanent.

New Democrats are committed to fulfilling our international climate obligations. We will cut over $2 billion in annual subsidies to fossil fuel industries. We will restart federal investment in renewable energy. We will create a green jobs fund to support the employment transition to the new economy.

It is clear Canadians want their government to lead. The world needs Canada's leadership. Climate change does not respect international borders. Here at home, the government must not shirk its responsibilities in finding a way to develop the oil sands in a way that is a win-win for the economy and the environment. There are good jobs there for Canadians if we do so.

We can move forward here in Parliament by all parties supporting this motion.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to hear my hon. colleague speaking about jobs.

I want to give an example of a case in my riding of jobs being created. A few years ago the local community college, St. Lawrence College, created a program called the energy systems engineering technology program. It trained students to do things such as energy audits for houses, studying insulation in walls, learning how to mount solar panels and testing systems to make sure they are working properly.

In the first year of the course, a number of students enrolled, and every single one of them got a job. It means there is a lot of demand out there for jobs related to making our energy systems more efficient, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving money.

Could the hon. member give some more examples in his own riding of the demand for these kinds of jobs?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my speech, through the eco-energy program we can create jobs from sea to sea.

Many Canadians are accessing this eco-energy program to retrofit their homes, which creates employment for carpenters, plumbers, people who sell furnaces and people who shingle roofs. It creates all kinds of employment. With the Canada fund program, eco-energy was one of the biggest job creators in Canada.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I find this debate very alarming, and not just today.

I am very proud of the motion that we put forward, but I find the tone of the debate on the other side of the House very alarming. The Conservatives have no plan for the environment, they are trying their best to wreck international agreements, they are cutting funding for our own environmental monitoring here in Canada and they are punishing our scientists for telling the truth about climate change.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague if the Conservatives are taking this approach of undermining our efforts to save the environment, both here in Canada and worldwide, just to please Chinese and U.S. oil companies, or are they doing it just because they are in denial about climate change?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, what the Conservative government is doing is affecting not only Canada but the world.

I tend to agree with my colleague that the Conservative government is in denial. It is refusing to accept the fact that the climate is changing. It is only interested in the oil sands and in creating jobs that will pollute. Instead of refining our oil sands in Canada, it wants to ship to the United States, across environmentally sensitive regions.

The government is really not interested in creating good-paying Canadian jobs. It is more interested in creating jobs in the United States.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, we hear a lot of talk about the Keystone pipeline and how it would go over all these sensitive areas that everybody is suddenly concerned about.

Would my hon. colleague like to address the fact that well over 25,000 miles of pipeline already exist in those same areas, and that this is all about the 2012 presidential election and nothing else?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise my colleague that we did not just suddenly become concerned about the pipeline. As far as the U.S. presidential election goes, I have nothing to do with that and I have no concerns about the presidential election.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the official opposition motion on climate change. I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Nickel Belt, for his very personal and graphic description of the changes that have taken place that he has seen from the air when he is flying over his community in the north. It is a very good example of how serious this issue of climate change is here in Canada, and of how much we are missing the boat on what needs to be done.

As the Durban conference gets under way, it is very timely that the NDP has put forward this motion today calling on the federal government to show leadership on climate change. This is nothing new for the NDP; it has been doing it almost every single day. Certainly our environment critic, the member for Halifax, has been very front and centre, and very forthright in calling on the federal government for leadership and action.

This motion today is an opportunity for us to debate this important issue and to show where NDP members stand. We hope that the federal Conservative government will move and change its position.

For New Democrats, some of the key priorities for the next international climate change protocol include ensuring that there is a fair, ambitious and binding agreement. We want to ensure that there is adequate financing for the green climate fund from 2013, and we want to close the gigatonne gap between promised emission cuts and actual action. This is critical, because saying one is going to do something is one thing, but actually not following through and doing it is very serious. This is why Canadians in the environmental movement generally feel so hugely disappointed in the government's lack of performance.

We also want to make sure there is no gap in legally binding commitments.

What has the NDP been calling for? It has had an astounding track record on this issue. When our former leader, Jack Layton, came into the House, the first thing he did was ensure that we tabled a bill on climate change. That bill passed through Parliament by a majority vote. Then we had an election. We reintroduced the same bill after that election, and for a second time the bill passed through Parliament. However, as we know, it was killed in the Senate. In terms of climate change, that was a very bad day for Canada; we had a fantastic bill that was doing everything that needed to be done, and it was killed by the unelected Senate.

New Democrats have a very good track record on this issue. We have always said that we would put a price on carbon and establish hard emission caps for large industrial emitters. We have said that we want to enact a climate change accountability act. This will now be the third time. It would put into legislation a framework for achieving the national target of 80% below 1990 emission levels by 2050.

We have said that we would establish a permanent federal energy efficiency retrofit program for residential energy use, cut GHG emissions, create jobs and save Canadians money.

We have said that we would establish an effective program to help communities deal with the impacts of climate change. One very important element of that is the transition fund for jobs. The issue of jobs is very important in this debate. They are linked. As we move to a greener environment and a greener economy, we have to make sure that people are not put out of work. We have to make sure there is a transition to new jobs, new training, and good-paying jobs.

We would also fulfill our international climate change obligations and cut the over $2 billion in annual subsidies to fossil fuel industries.

Let us contrast that plan with what the federal government is not doing. It is a fact that Canadian greenhouse gas emissions were 24% above the 1990 level in 2008, setting Canada up to exceed its Kyoto commitment by almost 30% in 2012. A recent study from the International Institute for Sustainable Development makes it clear that Canada's plan is inadequate and that the current and planned measures by the provinces and the federal government combined will only achieve an emissions reduction of 46% of the government's own, and very weak, GHG emissions target by 2020.

What kind of record is that? It deserves an 'F' as a failure.

We know that the government has weakened its climate change targets by 90% since 2007. To make matters worse, on the 2010 annual climate change performance index, Canada finished 54th out of the 57 countries evaluated. There will be a new index published tomorrow, and we fear that it will not be any better for this year's index. Of course, to add insult to injury, Canada won three Fossil of the Day awards during the first two days at Durban. Unfortunately, we are a repeat winner.

This is a terrible record, and it is all the more reason we need to have this motion debated today.

I want to contrast that performance with what one city in Canada is doing. It is my own city, Vancouver. The City of Vancouver launched a program called Imagine 2020, which aims to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world in just nine years. The program's goals include green buildings, green transportation, growing local food and becoming a centre for green enterprise.

This is what is quite incredible: emissions have already been reduced to 1990 levels, and Vancouver is on track to meeting the Kyoto target, which is 6% below 1990 levels by 2012, at the same time that its population has grown by 27% and its jobs by 18%. As a result, Vancouver has the lowest per capita emissions of any major city in North America, at 4.6% tonnes per person.

I offer this because to me it is a brilliant example of how, when there is a political will--in this case, from the Vancouver City Council under the leadership of Mayor Gregor Robertson--the targets can be met and can be exceeded. We have seen this with the City of Vancouver.

Vancouver tops the chart of Canadian cities leading the fight against climate change, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The city ranks the highest on the organization's list, released in March of this year, based on indicators such as cutting greenhouse gas emissions, using renewable energy and encouraging green building and transportation. It can be done.

In fact David Cadman, who is an outgoing city councillor in Vancouver and well known in his role as president of Local Governments for Sustainability, was in Durban. I would like to quote something that he said. I quote:

Fundamentally unlike the nations of the world we are committed to action and a future for humankind. While the nations of the world like Nero fiddle while the planet burns, cities and millions of their citizens are doing the right thing and urging the nations of the world to come off this precipice that big oil gas and coal have taken us on to.

That is an initiative of a local municipal government. Here we have a federal government that claims it is interested in responding to climate change, yet every indicator, every report, every record that we have shows us that we are falling further and further behind, and now Canada is an embarrassment in the international community.

In British Columbia we have some very special and key concerns about climate change. One of them is the Enbridge pipeline. We know this massive proposal would carry over 500,000 barrels of tar sands crude each day over very sensitive and precious mountains, farm land, the Fraser and Skeena Rivers, and straight through the Great Bear rainforest to the Pacific coast, where it would be picked up by supertankers that would try to navigate some very difficult waters. I am very proud of the fact that Rob Fleming, the NDP environment critic in B.C., along with our B.C. NDP members of Parliament, have been very outspoken on this issue.

This motion today is absolutely critical if we are to see the federal government change course and move to action. That is what we need: a move to action to say that climate change is a priority, that we are not going to divide people or pit jobs against the environment, that we are going to recognize that we have to deal with the problems of fossil fuels and energy resources in Canada and that we have to move to a new green economy.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member said that the purpose of the motion today was to call the government to action. In fact, this government has been acting ever since it was elected in 2006. It has been acting aggressively to ensure that something, finally, is happening on the environment. We all know that for 13 long years the former Liberal government did absolutely nothing. However, that ended in 2006. We have received a strong mandate and we have been acting rigorously and have been providing the leadership that the world needs to take action on climate change. We recommended internationally that the world move toward an international agreement that included all the major emitters, and that is exactly the direction the world is heading.

Why would the member want to move back to the Kyoto accord that did not work? It only covered 27% of greenhouse emissions. We are now moving toward 85% when we include all the major emitters. Why would she want to choose 27% instead of 85%? Why would she want to go back to something that does not work? The world has moved on. Why would the member want to go back to the past to a program that does not work?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is the former parliamentary secretary to the Minister of the Environment and probably has a special interest in this, but the fact is that the government's record here is terrible. The Conservatives are the only ones who actually do not agree with that because, obviously, they do not like to admit it. However, any other independent assessment of our government's record on greenhouse gases and meeting our international obligations is just appalling. There is no two ways around it.

The only thing I would agree with him on is that, yes, there were a lot years when we had a Liberal government where it made very little progress. The Conservative government did not exactly inherit a great record. However, the Conservative government had an opportunity to move forward on this file and it has not, which is why Canada is now a laughing stock in the international community. That is why, at this particular upcoming international conference, we need to ensure we meet our international obligations. Do they mean nothing? Do we just throw them out the window?