Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect us to act on climate change, and that is exactly what we have been doing since we formed government.
In Paris almost two years ago, the world and Canada decided to take hold of an enormous opportunity.
After some long nights and tense negotiations, 195 countries reached this historic agreement, which will limit the global average temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius, with efforts being made to keep it below 1.5 degrees, reduce carbon emissions through measures taken by each country, protect vulnerable countries against the most serious impacts of climate change, and contribute to clean economic growth by freeing up market potential.
We can be extremely proud of the role Canada played in negotiating the Paris Agreement. In the end, our work was instrumental during the negotiations, which included advocating for indigenous rights and indigenous traditional knowledge, acknowledging the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women, and recognizing the importance of market mechanisms to reduce carbon pollution.
Our delegation not only included mayors, premiers, business, labour, youth, and indigenous leaders from across the country, but it also included members of the opposition, and together our delegation worked passionately to bring consensus and to push for stronger measures.
Not only will the Paris Agreement help us avoid the worst impacts of climate change; it will usher in economic opportunities of an unprecedented scale in the clean growth century.
A recent report from the International Energy Association found that the Paris Agreement would boost the global economy by $19 trillion over the next three decades as the world moves toward renewable energy, zero emissions transportation, and increased energy efficiency.
Already we are seeing seismic shifts.
In 2013, for the first time, the world added more low-carbon electricity capacity than fossil fuel capacity. Two years later, nearly one-third of $1 trillion was invested globally in renewable energy generation, nearly double the amount invested in fossil fuels.
Nearly 10 million people around the world today work in the renewable energy sector, and new jobs are being created every day.
This energy transition is unprecedented, and around the world countries are already taking hold of the growing opportunities. In China, two wind turbines are erected every hour of every day, and in 2016, China added roughly enough solar panels to cover three soccer fields every hour.
Just last month, over the course of an hour, renewable energy supplied nearly all of Germany's power demand for the first time. In the U.S., the solar and wind industries are creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. In fact, the U.S. has twice as many solar jobs as coal jobs.
A decade ago these remarkable achievements would have seemed impossible, but technological innovations, market demand, and a desire to leave future generations with a cleaner planet have together sparked an energy revolution. These are the innovative actions and bold solutions our generation demands.
For too long, the former government worked hard to stall action on climate change. Some failed to see the enormous opportunity before us, and others simply did not believe that climate change exists.
However, the time for inaction is over. Today, the Paris Agreement is a testament to collaboration across borders from countries, to cities, to businesses, working toward a common cause.
Just recently, a group of 1,100 businesses with a combined valuation in excess of $3 trillion reiterated its commitment to the Paris agreement. In a public letter, companies like Walmart, Google, and Nike indicated that, by taking measures to prevent climate change now, we could create jobs and enhance economic competitiveness. What is more, many companies are matching their words with action.
The private sector accounts for close to half of the world's electricity consumption, and some of the world's largest companies are stepping up and making dramatic changes. Walmart has committed to running its facilities from 100% renewable energy, and so have Google, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks. They are all part of RE100, a group of major companies working to procure their power from renewables.
Cities too are taking the lead. Half of the world's population lives in cities, and cities produce 70% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. They are also being hit hard by the impacts of climate change. In Canada, by 2020 cities could be hit with $5 billion a year in costs from extreme weather events, and by 2050 that number will rise to a striking $43 billion a year. Therefore, many cities are taking independent action to mitigate these effects. In Canada, Vancouver has committed to cut emissions by at least 80% below 2007 levels before 2050. It has joined Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, and 18 other cities in the Compact of Mayors. With more than 7,000 members around the world, this group commits to cities' taking tangible actions to reduce emissions.
New York, Seoul, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong are just some of the big cities that have committed to drastically reducing their carbon emissions. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York and businessman, told me that cities, companies, and individuals will continue to reduce their emissions because they have understood that it is in their own best interest to do so.
I quickly learned in this job that the topic of climate change can raise strong views and emotions. There are some who want to transition from fossil fuels overnight, and nothing the government does will ever be fast enough. For others, any climate action is wrong-headed. People can just read my Twitter feed and watch these views battle it out. However, I have learned that the majority of Canadians understand that Canada and the world are transitioning to cleaner forms of energy. They understand this transition will not happen overnight. They understand that oil and natural gas are essential bridges to the low-carbon economy, and they want to ensure that their family and all Canadians benefit from this transition. In Canada, the shift to a cleaner future is already under way, and it is not only reducing carbon pollution; it is fostering innovation, strengthening our economy, and creating the jobs of the future.
In my travels across this country, I have seen so many companies that embody innovation and entrepreneurship. They are the scientists, the engineers, and the inventors who are catalyzing the future economy.
In Burnaby, B.C., General Fusion is developing a process that could unleash the energy potential of fusion to power our cities and communities.
In Calgary, Carbon Engineering has created a technology to capture carbon from the air and use it to produce fuels. Bill Gates is its biggest investor, and the company is also a finalist for the $25 million Virgin Earth Challenge prize.
While in Edmonton, I visited a manufacturing facility that makes net-zero homes that look like any suburban home. The company, Landmark Homes, employs more than 300 people, uses energy-efficient materials, and puts solar panel roofs on its houses. I met a family who lives in one of these homes, and instead of paying hydro bills, the family earns revenues from selling electricity.
Alberta is also home to Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, which through collaboration and the sharing of technologies among companies, is creating cleaner air, bigger efficiencies, and better-protected lands. Canadian companies are helping to drive innovation in the clean-growth economy.
In Winnipeg, I visited a factory that makes electric buses. They are incredible. They run smoothly and quietly with zero emissions. The company, called New Flyer Industries, is creating good, middle-class jobs. Today, we can find electric buses and electric cars humming across the country, and we are going to keep on seeing more of them.
In Toronto, SkyPower exports solar power to more than 30 countries around the world. It has new projects that could potentially power tens of millions of homes.
In Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CarbonCure has created cutting-edge technology. It captures carbon pollution from industry and then uses it to create stronger, lower-emission cement.
Farmers across the country are using zero-till agriculture and climate-resilient crops. They are a part of the solution to tackle climate change.
By changing the way we commute, heat our homes, and run our industries, as well as the way we power our towns and cities, we are helping to achieve our Paris targets and creating well-paying jobs while doing it.
Canada is quickly becoming a major competitor in the renewable energy and clean tech sector. Earlier this year, 11 of Canada's clean tech companies were ranked within the top 100 in the world. We are punching well above our weight.
However, for Canada to continue innovating and creating good, middle-class jobs in a clean-growth century, we must signal to the market that we are open for investment. That is why our government has pursued pragmatic, flexible, and smart climate policies. Canadians expect us to uphold our commitment to the Paris agreement, our commitment to growing our economy and strengthening the middle class, and our commitment to future generations. In fact, they told us so last year, when members of Parliament hosted town halls across the country, from Newfoundland, to Manitoba, to British Columbia, to the territories, and thousands more people participated in stakeholder round tables and contributed on line.
Canadians of all ages, young and old, business representatives, unions, indigenous communities, scientists, and environmentalists have spoken.
I believe that Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and a great Canadian, put it best when he said, “The more we invest with foresight, the less we will regret in hindsight”.
With that in mind, I will reiterate our plan to fight climate change.
Canada's climate plan will not only reduce carbon pollution; it will renew our infrastructure, strengthen our transportation networks, and through smart and strategic investments, spur innovation and opportunity in Canada's towns and cities.
First, we will price carbon pollution across our country. The concept is simple. We are pricing what we do not want, pollution, so that we can foster the things we do want, like stronger businesses, well-paying jobs, innovation, and cleaner and healthier communities.
However, there is so much more to our climate plan. We are investing $21.9 billion in green infrastructure to build energy-efficient homes and offices and to help families save on their energy bills. We are investing $20.1 billion to support urban public transit to help reduce commute times in our cities, increase the use of clean transportation, and allow people to spend more time with their families and less time in traffic.
We are also phasing out coal from our electricity system by 2030. This is the equivalent of taking 1.3 million cars off the road, significantly reducing our carbon emissions, and it will prevent more than 1,000 premature deaths and save billions in health care dollars.
Our climate plan needs to help all Canadians, in every part of the country. That is why we are investing $21.4 million, over four years, to support renewable energy projects in indigenous and northern communities, many of which rely on diesel for electricity and heating.
Finally, Canada is making historic investments in rapidly growing clean technology and clean energy sectors. With a $2.2-billion investment, we are fostering clean research and development production and exports, and we are accelerating the growth of the industry to capture an increasing share of the global market.
This is how we are fighting climate change. This is how we are strengthening our economy and protecting our environment. This is how Canada is leading during the clean-growth century.
It is obviously very disappointing to hear that the U.S. federal government plans to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Some suggest that, as a result, we should back off from acting on climate change. In response, I would say two things.
As our foreign affairs minister put it so eloquently this morning, Canada must set our own clear and sovereign course, working with like-minded people and communities who share our aims. That is what Canadians expect from us when it comes to tackling climate change.
Second, in the face of the U.S. federal government's decision, the world is even more resolved. India, China, France, and countries around the world are all doubling down on their efforts to reduce carbon pollution, and express their support for the Paris agreement. Already, more than 1,000 governors, mayors, and businesses have signed on to America's pledge, where they commit to uphold the goals of the Paris agreement.
I personally spoke with the governor of California, Jerry Brown, and the governor of Washington state, Jay Inslee, and they reiterated their commitment to the fight against climate change and their support for the Paris agreement.
I also know that my colleague, the Minister of Transport, spoke to the mayor of Pittsburgh about his commitment to reducing emissions and the Paris agreement.
The Paris agreement is a sustainable framework. People of the world are showing more determination than ever as we deal with one of the biggest challenges that the earth has ever faced.
If the U.S. administration is going to step back from climate action, Canada is going to step up. Almost a century ago, one of our greatest prime ministers, Wilfrid Laurier, issued a warning to future generations. He said, “It is often the mistake of nations that they do not apprehend fully the necessities of the situation. They fail in boldness.”
Today, our world is at a turning point. Climate change represents both the greatest challenge of our time, as well as the greatest opportunity. Therefore, I want to give my assurance that we will face this challenge. We will take hold of these opportunities, and Canada will not fail to be bold.
As we meet here today to reaffirm Canada's commitment to the Paris agreement, let us not forget that this is also a commitment to our children and grandchildren. As a mother of three children: Madeleine, Isabelle, and Cormac, I often ask myself what the world will look like when they are my age. While I do not have the answer to that, I do know that if we work hard and make the right decisions, we will leave our children and grandchildren a better world, one with a strong, diverse, and clean economy, with healthy and dynamic communities, and with pristine mountains and lakes. That is what they deserve.
My friend, Elmer Courchene, from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, put it this way. He said, “At the end of your life you'll be asked, did you take care of the garden?” Today, we have an opportunity to make a real difference, to take care of the garden that we all love and share.
I hope that all members will be voting in favour of tonight's motion supporting the Paris agreement.