Madam Speaker, I rise here today to once again reaffirm our clear commitment to tackling climate change.
Canadians understand that climate change is real. They know the governments at home and around the world must urgently address this challenge. That is what Canadians elected us to do, and we have a serious, practical, and cost-effective plan to tackle climate change. It is important that we take action to ensure our children and grandchildren live in a world where our environment is clean and our economy is strong.
Canadians understand that climate change is real. They know that the governments at home and around the world must urgently address this challenge. It is the right choice to make for our children and grandchildren. That is what Canadians elected us to do, and we have a serious, practical plan.
Today we are seeing the impacts of climate change across the country, and Canadian families are already affected. Let me provide a few examples.
One of the hardest calls I have ever had to make was to a rancher in Alberta's interior. Her family ranch was destroyed by intense wildfires that spread through B.C. and Alberta. Today, as a result of climate change, these wildfires are raging longer and are harsher than ever before.
Last year, I was in Gatineau, Quebec, helping to fill sandbags. As I was talking to the families who were protecting their homes from the rising flood waters, some homes were saved and many more were destroyed. We are seeing devastation like this across Canada and around the world.
Then there is the heart-breaking story from last summer when I was visiting the high Arctic. I spoke to an Inuit boy from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, who told me about the impacts of climate change that he was seeing in his homeland. He told me about his feet getting stuck in thawing permafrost like quicksand when he was hunting. He told me about the disappearance of the caribou, their country food. He also told me of experienced hunters—fathers, uncles, brothers, providers—dying after falling through the sea ice that they could no longer tell the thickness of. Today Canada's high Arctic is warming at three times the rate of the rest of Canada. Climate change is real, and it is having a real impact on Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Pollution is not free. It is a tax on future generations. From 1983 to 2004, insurance claims in Canada from severe weather events were almost $400 million a year. In the past decade, that amount has tripled to $1.2 billion a year.
By taking smart, sensible, and practical action, we can avert the worst impacts of climate change and grasp the enormous economic opportunities around the world worth trillions of dollars. By acting today, we can protect our environment and strengthen a clean growth economy.
The previous government was never serious about climate change. The Harper government announced targets with no intention of meeting them. Today we have the Leader of the Opposition saying that he is against the price on pollution. However, he is once again committed to meeting the Paris Agreement targets. We cannot magically meet our Paris Agreement targets without using the market. Canadians expect us to act, and that is what we have been doing since we formed government.
Putting a price on pollution is central to any credible plan to combat climate change. That is exactly why we are working in partnership with the provinces and territories to price carbon.
Central to any credible climate plan is a price on pollution. That is exactly why we are working in partnership with the provinces and territories to price carbon. Canadians know that polluting is not free. We need to price what we do not want, which is pollution, and invest in the things that we do want, like lower taxes, health care, and clean technology solutions that create good jobs here in Canada. Carbon pricing is flexible, is cost-effective, and lets the markets do what they do best: drive creativity and reward solutions. We could even call it a “conservative” idea.
As a recent Globe and Mail editorial put it:
Putting a price on carbon is an effective way of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and fighting climate change. There is ample, persuasive evidence of this.
The research backs this up. Just yesterday, Environment and Climate Change Canada published a study that found that by 2022, a nationwide price on carbon pollution that meets the federal standards would eliminate 80 million to 90 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions. That is the equivalent of taking between 23 million and 26 million cars off the road for a year, or the equivalent of closing 20 coal-fired plants. Without a doubt, pricing carbon pollution is making a major contribution to helping Canada meet its climate targets under the Paris Agreement.
Pricing pollution is not only effective; it also strengthens our economy. Take British Columbia. It put a price on carbon pollution more than a decade ago, and since 2007, it has reduced emissions by between 5% and 15%, while provincial real GDP grew by more than 17% from 2007 to 2015.
Today over 80% of Canadians live in a province that already has a price on pollution—in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia—and last year these provinces led the country in economic growth.
Carbon pricing is the approach that economists overwhelmingly recommend. In fact, it is the policy that over 30 governments and 150 leading businesses have come together to support through the international Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition. This group includes Canada's major banks, alongside Canadian companies in the consumer goods, energy, and resource development sectors. Steve Williams, the CEO of Suncor, Canada's largest oil producer, put it this way: “We think climate change is happening. We think a broad-based carbon price is the right answer.”
Around the world, governments are realizing the efficiency and effectiveness of pricing carbon pollution. Today some 40 countries, including Canada, are pricing carbon pollution, and more governments are planning to implement similar systems soon.
According to the World Bank, a price on pollution covers nearly half of the world's economy today. China recently launched the world's largest carbon pricing system, and last year Ontario, Quebec, and California signed an agreement to create the world's second-largest carbon market. A carbon price works best when people and businesses find ways not to pay it by investing in clean solutions to save money. This is not about raising money; it is about sending the right signals to spur clean innovation.
We have been clear that any revenue will remain in the province and territory it comes from. Provided they meet the federal standard, our approach gives provinces and territories the flexibility to design their own systems and to decide how best to use the revenues from pricing pollution to support families and businesses and to strengthen a clean growth economy. Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec are reinvesting the revenues in their own provinces through measures such as targeted rebates or tax cuts to households and businesses, investments in public transit, clean technology solutions, and home retrofit programs that help families and businesses save money.
These investments are already making a big difference for Canadians. They are creating good jobs, supporting cleaner growth, and driving investments in cities and communities. Importantly, governments can and should design their own carbon pricing systems to avoid putting extra financial pressure on low-income and middle-class households. For example, provinces can choose to provide money-back rebates, to cut taxes, or to fund discounts on technologies that help people save money on energy bills. Governments in Canada are already making those kinds of choices.
British Columbia's carbon price system has a tax credit for low-income groups. It helps many offset the cost of that province's carbon price through direct payments to low-earning families. By cutting personal or corporate taxes, B.C. also returns revenues from its carbon tax to households and small businesses.
I am very proud that our government is taking the steps to price pollution across the country. The evidence from at home and around the world is extraordinarily strong. It shows that pricing pollution creates good middle-class jobs and gives families and businesses an incentive to make choices that will help them save energy and money. Canadians expect a healthy environment and a growing economy, and that is exactly what we are doing right.
In Alberta, about 60% of households receive full or partial rebates to compensate for the cost of the carbon tax. Families whose income in less than $95,000 a year receive a full rebate. Putting a price on pollution can protect families from the net costs. It helps reduce pollution and sets Canada up for success in the global transition to cleaner growth. The environment and the economy go together. Canadians expect a healthy environment and a growing economy, and that is exactly what we are doing right.
For too long in Canada and elsewhere, cynics have worked hard to stall action on climate change. Some have failed to see the enormous opportunity before us, while others simply refuse to acknowledge that climate change is real. However, the time for inaction is over, and that is why Canada is leading during the clean growth century.
Part of our plan is pricing carbon pollution, but it involves so much more. Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England and a great Canadian, put it best when he said, “The point is that the more we invest with foresight, the less we will regret in hindsight.” According to the World Bank, the Paris Agreement will help us open up nearly $23 trillion in new opportunities for climate-smart investments in Canada and emerging markets around the world between now and 2030.
With that in mind, let me lay out other parts of our climate plan, which together will not only reduce carbon pollution but will also renew our infrastructure, strengthen our transportation networks, and, through smart and strategic investments, spur clean innovation and opportunity in Canada's towns and cities.
We are investing $21.9 billion in green infrastructure to build energy-efficient homes and offices and 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, to increase the use of clean transportation, and allow Canadians to spend more time with their families and less time in traffic.
We are going to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030. This will help prevent 260 premature deaths, 40,000 fewer asthma episodes, and 190,000 fewer days of breathing difficulty and reduced activity, providing health benefits of $1.2 billion during the regulated period. With the help of an expert task force, we will make sure the transition is a fair one for Canadian workers and communities that depend on coal.
We are implementing a clean fuel standard to encourage Canadians to use cleaner fuels, and we are improving energy efficiency through stricter building codes and standards.
Finally, Canada is making historic investments in our rapidly growing clean-tech and clean energy sectors. With a $2.2 billion investment, we are fostering clean-tech research and development, production, and export, and we are accelerating the growth of this industry to capture an increasing share of the global market.
These investments will create well-paying middle-class jobs across our country, and we already see Canadian companies leading the way. In Burnaby, B.C., Ballard Power Systems is creating fuel cells that are used in zero emission vehicles around the world. While I was in China on a trade mission, I saw city buses that were using Ballard's innovative technology.
In Edmonton, Alberta, I visited a manufacturing facility, Landmark Homes, that makes net-zero homes that look like any other suburban home. This company employs over 300 people. It uses energy-efficient materials and puts solar panel roofs on its houses. I met a family that lives in one of these homes, and instead of paying hydro bills, they earn revenue from selling electricity.
Alberta is also home to the 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.
In Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, Milligan BioFuels is turning damaged canola seeds into biodiesel, a cleaner fuel that can power the cars, trucks, and buses in our towns and cities.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, I toured a factory last year that makes electric buses. These incredible buses run smoothly, noiselessly, and emission-free. The company, New Flyer, is creating good middle-class jobs. In Toronto, the award-winning company ecobee makes smart thermostats that can easily be controlled from a smart phone. They help consumers save money and reduce their emissions while making their homes more comfortable. GHGSat, a company in Montreal, uses satellites to monitor industrial greenhouse gas emissions around the world. In 2016, it launched its first satellite into low earth orbit. Lastly, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CarbonCure has hit on a solution that will benefit everyone by developing a technology for capturing industrial carbon dioxide and using it to produce stronger concrete.
In short, Canadian companies are stimulating innovation and creating jobs in a clean-growth economy. In doing so, they are showing the whole world what Canadian innovation looks like.
Today Canada's clean-tech sector ranks first among the G20 countries, according to the 2017 “Global Cleantech Innovation Index”. This year, 13 of Canada's clean-tech companies were ranked within the top 100 in the world, and Canadian companies are blowing away the competition for the Carbon XPRIZE, an award for companies that find innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions. This year, four Canadian companies reached the final round for the $20-million award.
However, for Canada to continue innovating and creating good, middle-class jobs in the clean-growth century, we must signal to the market that we are open for investment, and 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.
With that, let me end with a quick story. Two years ago, I was in Morocco discussing climate change with leaders from around the world. While there, I witnessed a telling conversation. It was between an Inuit elder and the leader of a Pacific small island state, both places where the impacts of climate change are drastically altering the landscape and people's way of life.
We know that Canada's High Arctic is warming at three times the rate of the rest of the country, and many small island states are facing rising sea levels that are destroying the infrastructure, and ultimately, their homelands. As the leader of the island state was describing the devastation of storm surges and rising ocean waters on his land, and the Inuit elder was describing the effects of warming weather and melting sea ice on his land, the Inuit elder realized something. He said, “So my homeland is melting, and it's causing yours to go under water.” It was a powerful moment, and it underscored our need to work together with the entire world to tackle climate change.
Our government is going to continue to act for the benefit of our environment and our economy. We are going to put a price on carbon pollution to reduce emissions, create jobs, and stimulate clean growth.
Our government will continue acting in the interest of our environment and our economy. We will price carbon pollution to reduce emissions, create jobs, and spur clean growth. We will continue investing in the future, making our buildings more energy efficient, our transportation cleaner, and our industry more innovative and competitive. Ultimately, why will we do this? It is because we owe it to our kids and our grandkids.