Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I am sharing my time with my esteemed colleague, the member for Timmins—James Bay.
I am trying at this late hour to not simply repeat some of the excellent points that have been made already. I know that the motion involves three things. The motion talks about the desire to invest in renewables rather than leaky pipelines. It talks about the just transition and making sure workers are not left behind as we move forward to a low-carbon economy. Last, it asks the government why it chooses to continue with fossil fuel subsidies when the rest of the world seems to be moving in a different direction.
I have to start with a bit of repetition, however, on some of the points made about the famous Kinder Morgan project. I guess we now call it the Government of Canada pipeline and tanker project and its impact, not only on climate change, but no surprise to you, Mr. Speaker, as someone from a coastal community, its potential for a devastating oil spill that needs never to be forgotten in this place. It is the government's choice to spend our tax dollars and indeed it seems even to have the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board consider putting our pension funds behind this leaky 65-year-old pipeline.
In my part of the world, that is not going over well. Not only because of climate change, but the thought that we would be subsidizing our potential destruction of the coastal economy is causing a lot of my constituents to be very concerned.
It is also the opportunity cost point. The passionate speech from my friend in Courtenay—Alberni a moment ago points that out. Here is a government that has let the coastal restoration funds essentially disappear in his part of Vancouver Island on the Somass River. The Conservatives were criticized for how little they spent. The Liberal government is spending nothing on that.
The chinook salmon stock is what we depend on for the orca whales that are also going to be endangered by this tanker project. The opportunity causes a lot of Canadians to wonder where the government's priorities are.
As I said in question period one day last week, I do not remember any mandate that the government had to buy a pipeline. I do not remember any Canadians who were consulted. The government consults on what time of day it is, but there was no consultation of which I am aware among voters in our part of the world that the Liberals would spend, everyone says $4.5 billion, but that is just for the leaky 65-year-old pipeline, not for the $8 billion more or whatever it is going to cost to do the additional 1,000 kilometres of pipe and to do what is required to expand this project almost threefold. That is another part of the expenditure.
This is a speech and a day devoted not to talking just about the lunacy of the decision to buy this pipeline with Canadian tax dollars and as I said earlier, potentially pension funds of Canadians as well. It is about why we are not moving like the rest of the world is so aggressively toward a low-carbon economy based on renewables. That is what I would like to spend some time on.
We not only have the climate crisis before us and the implications of that at stake, but also the positive benefit that would come from investment in some of the new technologies, the battery revolution that might be part of that and so on. This needs to be discussed up front.
An article about Sir Nicholas Stern, an economist in the U.K. who studied climate change, said:
Failing to curb the impact of climate change could damage the global economy on the scale of the Great Depression or world wars by spawning environmental devastation that could cost 5 to 20 percent of the world's annual gross domestic product....
The implication of not spending money on these things also needs to be taken into account.
Meanwhile, as I said earlier, the government seems to be full steam ahead with fossil fuel subsidies. According to one recent study, the government now is spending $3.3 billion on these fossil fuel subsidies, a massive public investment that means, because of the tax expenditure policy that it is based on, less money coming to build hospitals and the like. That seems to be often forgotten as the government pats itself on the back for its current fossil fuel lunacy.
As was said yesterday in debate, Canada is now number seven out of seven in the G7 for its fossil fuel expenditures, notwithstanding a promise in the 2015 campaign by the government to do away with fossil fuel subsidies. They are not being done away with whatsoever. One could argue that buying a pipeline is another subsidy ultimately to the fossil fuel industry. Therefore, it is a little hard for a lot of people to understand why that is the case. That is not just people outside of the province of Alberta. Of the Albertans who were polled, 48% disagreed with public subsidies for the oil and gas industry. The vast majority of Canadians agree that it is the wrong thing to do.
Another interesting wrinkle on this is in a study that was done not long ago by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and others, it was pointed out that Germany and the United States scored the highest on transparency about these fossil fuel subsidies among the G7 nations. Can members guess who is the worst? It is Italy and Canada.
We are number seven out of seven when it comes to fossil fuel subsidies. I guess we should take some solace in the fact that we are number six out of seven when it comes to transparency about what we are doing. According to an EKOS poll, 96% of Canadians believe the federal government should disclose how much it is spending on oil and gas subsidies. Thank goodness for our independent officer, the Auditor General, to be able to ferret out, with some great difficulty, exactly how much these fossil fuel subsidies are costing us as Canadians.
Canada has a lot of explaining to do at the international level. It is also remarkable how out of step we are with other countries in the world. I would like to contrast China and its record with that of Canada in this regard.
Last year, according to The New York Times, China aimed to spend at least $360 billion on renewable energy by the year 2020. Another study by Clean Energy Canada, citing McKinsey & Company, shows that China is building a new wind turbine every hour. It is spending $360 billion. It wants to dominate the world. It figures it has created 13 million jobs in China based on this solar, wind, and geothermal, and other things that it is doing, while Canada lags significantly behind. I think a lot of Canadians wonder why.
Members may remember the retrofit program for homes a while ago and how popular that was in small communities as jobs were generated. We were getting a handle on the climate change implications and the loss of our energy. Canada uses a massive amount of energy, which we waste.
Our energy consumption is five times the world average on a per capita basis. It is the same for natural gas. We are 5.8 times the global average, and so forth, yet we do so little with respect to renewables. A lot of Canadians wonder why we cannot get the jobs that this will create, the positive climate change impacts this will generate, and deal with the workers affected, who will be left behind if we do not have a serious adult conversation about the just transition that is required.
The government finally got around to doing something about the just transition with respect to the coal industry. We heard about that today. However, not so much has been done with respect to the oil and gas industry. Where is that after this many years, and the government bragging about it at the Paris talks as well? We see nothing except with respect to coal, which is obviously worthwhile. However, other workers are going to be affected as well.
In conclusion, this is an important opposition day motion. It is designed to not simply be critical of the government's decisions, although there is a lot to be critical of with respect to Kinder Morgan and fossil fuel subsidies, but to be propositional as well, and to try to drive Canadians to understand how many jobs would be created, how much better we would do for climate change, and how much the workers could be protected if we actually moved to a just transition to a low-carbon economy.