Mr. Speaker, on September 21, I asked a very clear question: why is the government not taking action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? Unfortunately, once again, I did not get an answer to my question. The situation is urgent. There is a growing number of alarming studies about the warming of the Arctic. There are serious consequences for Canada.
This week, the World Meteorological Organization published a report indicating that the layer of ice in the Arctic has never been so thin. Between March and September, the Earth lost approximately 12 million square kilometres of ice sheets, which is more than the total land mass of the United States. According to the Forum for Leadership on Water, the melting glaciers and global warming have already started to have disastrous consequences in terms of the quality of fresh water in Canada. The spreading of cyanobacteria, the acidity of lakes, and the drop in the water level of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, are very real.
What is the government doing? It is cutting the number of scientists and researchers, abandoning the Experimental Lakes Region, axing programs to evaluate the toxicity of the St. Lawrence, including the program at the Institut Maurice-Lamontagne in Quebec, and doing away with the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, whose principal mandate is to find solutions to climate change. Why? To make it easier for the big polluters to destroy out air, our water and our environment, without us being able to notice. Honestly!
While heads of state are currently gathered in Doha to hammer out an agreement to follow the Kyoto Protocol, what is the federal government doing? It is announcing that it will no longer contribute to the climate fund for developing nations. It is saying that Canada will make no commitments unless other countries act first. What a lack of leadership. Canada, with its abundant natural resources, should be a role model when it comes to the environment and be paving the way for an international agreement to counter global warming. But no, the Conservative government prefers to play the role of saboteur of the negotiations.
The United Nations Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diver, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, has said that Ottawa was making a mistake withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. He said that:
It is worrisome, because we are all in the same boat. Either all countries work together to address the problem of climate change, or else we shall all fail.
Can we permit ourselves to fail? The future of the planet is at stake. Moreover, this is not a moral obligation, but a question of economic common sense. A low carbon economy is the way of the future. The Blue Green Alliance, a civil society initiative, recently published a study demonstrating that transitioning towards renewable energy may create over 18,000 jobs in Canada. Were the government to stop giving handouts to polluters, like big oil, in the form of tax credits, and invest this money, $1.3 billion, in green technologies, it would create real wealth and long-term jobs for all Canadians.
Moreover, former Conservative Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, backs this idea. According to her, Canada is at a crossroads and must go down the path of an economy based on sustainable development. There needs to be investment in solar, wind and electric energy. Because of its inaction, Canada risks losing jobs and its competitive edge.
While the emerging economies are investing in green technologies, the Canadian federal government is doing nothing. The Round Table on the Environment and the Economy estimates that it will cost $87 billion over the next 30 years if we do not act. So, what does the government intend to do? What is its strategy?