That the House support the government’s decision to ratify the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed by Canada in New York on April 22, 2016; and that the House support the March 3, 2016, Vancouver Declaration calling on the federal government, the provinces, and territories to work together to develop a Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
Mr. Speaker, I have had many opportunities over the past number of years to reflect on Canada's success. Every time we have done something well, whether it was decades ago, with medicare and CPP, or more recently, getting our national debt under control in the 1990s, taking steps to ensure the stability of our banking system, or responding to a global refugee crisis, our success has been rooted in two things.
First, when we see a problem, we do not walk away from it or deny that it exists. Instead, we lean in, we work hard, and we work together to solve the problems that come our way. Second, when we say we are going to do something, we follow through, we live up to our commitments. The world expects that of us, so do Canadians, so do the markets.
It is in that very Canadian spirit of solving problems and keeping promises that I address the House today and share the government's plan for pricing carbon pollution.
After decades of inaction and years of missed opportunities, we will finally take real and concrete measures to build a clean economy, create more opportunities for Canadians, and make our world better for our children and our grandchildren.
We will not walk away from science, and we will not deny the unavoidable. With the plan put forward by the government, all Canadian jurisdictions will have put a price on carbon pollution by 2018. To do that, the government will set a floor price for carbon pollution. The price will be set at a level that will help Canada reach its targets for greenhouse gas emissions, while providing businesses with greater stability and improved predictability.
Provinces and territories will be able to have a choice in how they implement this pricing. They can put a direct price on carbon pollution, or they can adopt a cap-and-trade system, in the hopes that it be stringent enough to meet or exceed the federal floor price.
The government proposes that the price on carbon pollution should start at a minimum of $10 per tonne in 2018, rising by $10 each year to $50 a tonne by 2022.
The provinces and territories that choose cap-and-trade systems would need to decrease emissions in line with both Canada's target and the reductions expected in jurisdictions that choose a price-based system. If neither a price nor a cap-and-trade system is in place by 2018, the Government of Canada would implement a price in that jurisdiction.
Whatever approach is chosen, this policy would be revenue-neutral for the federal government. All revenues generated under this system would stay in the province or territory where they are generated.
Because pollution crosses borders, all provinces must do their part. To ensure that this plan continues to meet Canada's targets, it would be reviewed at the end of five years, in 2022.
As we are talking today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change is in Montreal discussing the details of this plan with our provincial and territorial partners.
Over the next two months, the government will collaborate closely with the provinces, territories and aboriginal organizations to finalize this plan.
These discussions are essential, because we know that no plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can succeed without the help our provincial and territorial partners, who have already shown great leadership in tackling climate change.
I am especially looking forward to meeting with provincial premiers and aboriginal leaders on December 8 and 9 to finalize the details of this pan-Canada plan to fight climate change. This framework will include not only the plan for pricing carbon pollution, but will also pave the way forward to better support innovation and jobs in the clean energy sector, manage the effects of climate change, and improve our capacity for adaptation and climate resilience.
I would like to take this opportunity again to congratulate the provinces who have led on this file while the previous federal government abdicated its responsibility to all Canadians. That era is over.
Of course, a plan is only as good as the principles upon which it is based. So I would like to take a few minutes to talk about why the government has decided to act now to put pricing on carbon pollution. There are many reasons to act now, and I am certain that the members opposite are as familiar with those reasons as the government is, even if their track record suggests otherwise. However, today I would like to identify three of the biggest reasons why pricing carbon pollution is right for Canada and for Canadians.
First, pricing carbon pollution will give us a significant advantage as we build a clean-growth economy.
A reasonable and predictable price for carbon pollution will encourage innovation because businesses will have to find new ways to reduce their emissions and pollute less. It will also make our businesses more competitive.
The global economy is becoming increasingly clean, and Canada cannot afford to be left behind. Around the world, the markets are changing. They are moving away from products and services that create carbon pollution and turning to cleaner and more sustainable options.
By giving Canadian businesses the incentives they need to make this change, we are opening the door to new opportunities.
Nobody needs to take my word for it. Last summer, business leaders from across the country spoke out in favour of carbon pricing: retail leaders such as Canadian Tire, Loblaws, IKEA, and Air Canada; energy producers such as Enbridge, Shell, and Suncor; natural resource companies such as Barrick Gold, Resolute Forest Products, and Teck Resources; and financial institutions such as BMO, Desjardins, Royal Bank, Scotiabank, and TD Canada Trust.
These businesses support carbon pricing carbon because they know that, when it is done well, it is the most effective way to reduce emissions while continuing to grow the economy. They know that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. They are anxious to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in a clean growth economy. They, like the government, recognize that if we do not act now, the Canadian economy will suffer.
The second reason to move ahead with pricing carbon pollution is the benefit it would deliver to Canadians, especially for the middle class and those working hard to join it. As the business leaders I just mentioned put it, carbon pricing uses the market to drive clean investment decisions. It encourages innovation. That innovation would bring with it new and exciting job prospects for Canadians.
As one example, last year nearly one-third of $1 trillion was invested globally in renewable power—almost 50% more than was invested in power from fossil fuels. That trend will only accelerate. Simply put, there are billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of good, well-paying jobs on the table for the country to get this right: engineering, design, and programming jobs; manufacturing jobs, whether of solar panels or electric vehicles; and jobs researching and processing biofuels, among many other examples.
If we do not take full advantage of these opportunities now before us, we will be doing Canadians a tremendous disservice.
Finally, I think that all Canadians will understand the third reason why we must move forward with pricing carbon pollution.
It has been proven that it is a good way to prevent heavy polluters from emitting greenhouse gases that fuel climate change and threaten the entire planet.
Carbon pricing is an effective way to reduce the pollution that threatens air quality and the quality of the oceans' water. Just last week, the World Health Organization published a report that said that nine out of ten people live in places with poor air quality. The consequences for human health are tremendous and devastating: every year, three million deaths are linked to air pollution. We must and we will do better.
We have seen what can happen when governments take a stand for cleaner air. In Toronto there were 53 smog days in 2005. A decade later, thanks in part to the phasing-out of coal-fired generating stations, there were zero smog days. This is a very big deal if one's child has asthma and cannot go outside to play with her friends during her summer vacation, or if one has grandparents who have to miss family events because they find it difficult to breathe the air in their own backyard.
If one lives in Canada's north or in our coastal communities, or really in any community that is subject to extreme weather conditions and the resulting floods, droughts, and wild fires, the effects of climate change itself cannot be denied. There is no hiding from climate change. It is real, and it is everywhere.
We cannot undo the last 10 years of inaction. What we can do is make a real and honest effort today and every day to protect the health of our environment, and with it, the health of all Canadians.
The Governor of the Bank of England, one of Canada's best exports, by the way, has spoken to this issue on many occasions. Mr. Carney has an interesting term for it. He calls the unwillingness to act “a tragedy of the horizon”. What he means is that the truly catastrophic effects of climate change will be felt in the future, or as he puts it, “beyond the traditional horizons of most actors—imposing a cost on future generations that the current generation has no direct incentive to fix”.
With great respect to Mr. Carney, because I think that when it comes to climate change we are very much on the same page, I actually believe that current actors, such as the government, do have a direct incentive to fix things.
From a more personal standpoint, I have to say that I have three motivating reasons: they are Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien. I am not alone in worrying about the type of world we are leaving for the next generation and future generations. I have spoken to parents and grandparents in countless communities who shared their concerns for the future and who challenged the government and their provincial and community leaders to take immediate action to prevent the tragic and devastating consequences of climate change.
We hear their concerns and respect their voices. It is because we respect the will of Canadians that we are moving forward with putting a price on carbon to address the pollution it causes.
As members know, the government is not obliged to seek the approval of Parliament prior to ratifying the Paris agreement, nor do we need the House to demonstrate its support for the Vancouver declaration. We have, however, chosen to bring this issue before the House, because we think it is important that all parliamentarians, and through them all Canadians, be given a chance to debate and vote on this crucial issue.
Therefore, I look forward to what I hope will be a spirited yet respectful debate on this important topic, because it is one that will shape the country we live in for generations to come.