Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Vaughan—Woodbridge.
I thank the hon. member for Carleton for bringing forward his motion. I welcome this opportunity to speak to an issue that is a key part of our government's plan to make Canada a leader in the clean growth economy.
Listening to the Conservatives talk about pricing carbon reminds me of those old Maytag commercials where some poor Maytag repairman would be sitting, looking bored, and waiting for the phone to ring. He was lonely; nobody was calling him. The world was marching on without him, and he could not seem to figure out what to do.
The world is moving on, and it is time for the Conservatives to catch up, take their heads out of the sand, and recognize that acting as they did for 10 years under the previous government is simply not good enough. It is time to realize that, one, scare tactics are wrong; two, climate change is real; three, the science is settled; and, four, around the globe countries are taking important steps to address it.
An appeal to fear is a fallacy that underpins the entire motion before us today. In fact, the Conservatives find themselves on an increasingly shrinking island of denial. While they spend their days yelling “The sky is falling” over carbon pricing, the world is moving decisively and optimistically toward action. Indeed, in 2017, there were 42 countries and 25 subnational jurisdictions pricing carbon. In fact, the number of carbon pricing initiatives implemented or scheduled has almost doubled over just the past five years.
Among those pricing or planning on pricing carbon are the European Union, China, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Colombia, and California. Of course Canada's four largest provinces, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, representing more than 80% of our country's population, have all adopted carbon pricing.
I mentioned that China is one of the countries pricing carbon. It has already tested a cap and trade system in nine of its provinces, seven since 2014 and two more added in the past two years. The plan will soon go national there, effectively doubling the world's priced carbon. When that happens, fully one-quarter of the world's carbon pollution will be priced at one level or another, one quarter.
Why is that? The leaders of those jurisdictions care about jobs. They read the debates on both sides. They know how devastating business as usual would be. They are taking market-based approaches to effect meaningful change. Governments around the world understand something that the Conservative do not seem to grasp: basic economics.
Let me explain for the benefit of my friends in Her Majesty's loyal opposition. In economics, the law of supply and demand dictates the relationship between supply, price, and demand. To encourage a certain type of activity, a financial incentive could be provided for doing so. To discourage a certain type of activity, such as polluting, a financial disincentive could be created. It is really not that hard.
That is how free markets work. It is good public policy and it takes economics into account. By sending clear market signals, the genius of the private sector is unleashed to find creative and innovative ways to meet market needs for things like home heating and groceries at the lowest price, while at the same time pricing pollution. Unless we price pollution, the laws of demand cannot be unleashed to reduce it.
That is exactly what our government is doing with carbon pricing. We are harnessing the power of market forces to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. This will spur innovation and improve our competitiveness. It encourages companies to look for better ways of doing things, including using different sources of energy, using less energy overall, or converting the pollution into useful or sequestered forms.
Using less energy overall is critical. According to the International Energy Agency, we could get halfway to our Paris commitment just by using energy more efficiently. That is why, together with most provinces and territories, as well as indigenous groups, we adopted the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, which includes carbon pricing.
Those in the private sector understand the benefits of pricing carbon. In fact, they have been asking governments to put a price on carbon for years because they want certainty about the ground rules. They want to know what will be expected of them. They want a level playing field during the transition to a low-carbon economy.
We also know that carbon pricing is the best, most efficient way of achieving the desired public policy objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving our planet. That is why companies themselves are adopting carbon pricing. In fact, as of November 2017, 1,389 companies had disclosed that they were planning to implement internal carbon pricing to the Climate Disclosure Project. This 1,389 is up from just 150 four years ago. Therefore, the Conservatives had better add multinational corporations to the list of folks who just will not get behind their politics of fear.
Quite simply, global momentum for carbon pricing is building in national governments, states and provinces, and the private sector, and Canada will move with them. We are also seeing it in international organizations, such as the United Nations. The UN Global Compact calls on companies to set internal pricing, a minimum of $100 per metric tonne over time, and invites companies to become carbon-pricing champions by aligning with the business leadership criteria on carbon pricing. That criteria is designed to “inspire companies to reach the next level of climate performance and to advocate for a price on carbon as a necessary and effective measure to tackle the climate change challenge.” Under this initiative, companies set an internal carbon price, advocate for responsible policy, and report on their progress.
There is yet another group calling for carbon pricing, the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, which has joined with the World Bank to bring together leaders from across government, the private sector, and civil society to share experiences working with carbon pricing and to expand the evidence base.
We can see that the opposition finds itself increasingly out of step, increasingly out of touch, and increasingly alone. The fact is that when Canadians give climate change serious thought, it is obvious to them that pricing carbon has to be part of the solution. That consensus has been in place for quite a while. Our government is part of that consensus. We know that pricing carbon sends the right signals to the markets. Companies respond by becoming more innovative and energy efficient, and by doing both, they become more competitive.
It was the French novelist Victor Hugo who wrote, “You can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time has come.” The time for carbon pricing has come. It is time for the Conservatives to help Canadians join the international effort to fight climate change.
Her Majesty’s loyal opposition undoubtedly has constructive suggestions. I wait for those members to pull their heads out of the sand and share them with us. On this point I will say that carbon pricing is only one part of the solution. The government has to take a varied approach and come at this problem from different angles.
We are not proposing that the entire reduction in CO2 emissions will come from a carbon price and the market effect of that price. We are proposing things like a greening government solution and efforts to reduce methane gas emissions from the oil sands. We are working with the provinces to improve infrastructure that will drive the green economy. We are investing in innovation across the country in different superclusters and whatnot to ensure that there is an opportunity for Canadian companies to generate the technology, the patents, and the know-how to engage in the clean climate future.
It is not merely about defending the status quo. It is about moving forward and being part of a global solution to tackle a global problem. Canada has the intelligence, the ability, and the infrastructure. There are smart, young, driven people who want to be part of positive change and part of the solution.
I appreciate members opposite, in previous remarks, who said that we cannot move without the United States. In fact, the United States is moving. The 1,389 companies I mentioned include American companies, and Americans are taking steps to reduce their overall carbon demand, with companies such as Tesla, SolarCity, and others making their patents freely available to the world so that the world can reduce its carbon footprint.
This does not happen alone, and the Government of Canada is not suggesting that it does. We are suggesting that if we are going to make change, we should do it right. We should do it in a way that includes market forces. We should not just leave it to the 50% of top emitters, as the previous member mentioned, but include all Canadians by adopting a price on carbon.