Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington.
Around the world, the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly evident. Sea levels are rising, threatening coastal regions with increased erosion. Extreme events, like floods and wild fires, are becoming more and more common and severe, and in the north, where temperatures are rising at three times the global average, the permafrost is thawing and sea ice is melting. As the climate continues to change, these effects will only become more frequent and more severe.
The government is taking the challenge of climate change very seriously. We have a comprehensive clean growth and climate plan that includes historic investments in public transit, green infrastructure, and clean innovation. It includes phasing out coal, improving energy efficiency, and cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, and it includes a national price on carbon pollution.
I am quite proud to say that our plan now also includes putting a climate lens on infrastructure funded by the federal government. I would like to pause on that new green filter for just a moment, because it is a recent development and one that I have been working towards since my first days as a member of Parliament.
In 2016, I introduced private member's Motion No. 45 to this House, calling on the government to take into account the impact infrastructure has on Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. As the MP for Halifax, I represent one of Canada's primary coastal cities, and it is no exaggeration to say that Halifax is on the front lines of climate change when it comes to threats like worsening storms and sea level rise.
At the same time, our government is making an historic investment in infrastructure, $180 billion over 12 years. That is an investment that is going to transform our communities for the better. We also know, at the same time, that infrastructure has the potential to lock in greenhouse gas emissions for years to come.
We find ourselves at a pivotal moment in our history. It is a moment that comes with a remarkable opportunity and a responsibility to get it right. That is why, in 2016, I put forward Motion No. 45, requesting that the government put a climate lens on infrastructure that it chooses to fund. It passed, and I am so glad that this climate lens has now been worked into federal policy as a required part of the bilateral funding agreements being signed between the Government of Canada and all provinces and territories. That means that as part of our infrastructure plan, applicants seeking federal funding for new major public infrastructure projects will now have to undertake an assessment of how their projects will impact greenhouse gas emissions and consider the climate change risks in the location, design, operation, and maintenance of those projects. As a city planner and as the MP for Halifax, I view that as a significant win for our city and for the sustainability and resiliency of communities all across Canada.
I have just outlined some of the measures our government has put in place to protect our environment, but of course, we are here today to talk about putting a price on carbon pollution. Why? We are doing it because pricing carbon pollution works. It is the most effective, least expensive way to achieve our climate goals. It encourages innovation and keeps our economy strong. The simple fact is that without carbon pricing, cutting pollution would be much more expensive.
Canadians know that pollution is not free. Climate pollution leads to droughts and floods and wild fires and extreme weather, and all of these have major costs. Insurance claims from severe weather in Canada have been going up. They are more than three times higher today than they were in the 1980s and 1990s, a trend that is expected to continue.
Pollution also harms people's health, which has personal physiological costs and monetary costs for our health care system. Right now, it is the people most affected by these impacts who are paying the price: northerners; coastal communities; the people whose homes are flooded, as we saw in New Brunswick this spring; or those with asthma or other health conditions worsened by pollution. That is not right.
Carbon pricing, on the other hand, is based on the idea that the polluter should pay. Experts around the world agree. Carbon pricing is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. That is because it is not prescriptive. It allows companies and individuals to make their own decisions on how best to cut their emissions.
In Canada, more than 80% of us already live in jurisdictions with carbon pricing in place. Recognizing that each province and territory has unique circumstances, the pan-Canadian approach would allow provinces and territories the flexibility to choose a system that makes the most sense for them: an explicit price-based system, like in B.C. or Alberta; or a cap and trade system, like in Ontario and Quebec.
To ensure that a price on carbon pollution is in place across Canada, the Government of Canada has also committed to developing and implementing a federal carbon-pricing system as a backstop. This system would apply in any province or territory that requested it or that did not have a carbon pricing system in place by 2018 that met the federal standard.
We have seen how carbon pricing has worked in British Columbia. Over the past decade, B.C.'s carbon price has reduced emissions by between 5% and 15%. Meanwhile, provincial real GDP grew by more than 17% from 2007 to 2015, and per capita gasoline demand dropped 15% over that period. B.C.'s growing clean technology sector now brings in an estimated $1.7 billion in annual revenue.
In 2017, B.C., Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, the four provinces with carbon pricing systems in place, were also the top four performers in GDP growth across Canada. Anyone who says that carbon pricing hurts economies is not basing their arguments on science or the evidence but rather on ignorance and fear.
Consider this. People may have seen recently that the Government of Canada released a report showing that carbon pricing could reduce carbon pollution by up to 90 million tonnes across Canada by 2022. That is like taking 26 million cars off the road for a year or shutting down more than 20 coal plants.
At the same time, the report also found that GDP growth would remain strong with a nationwide price on carbon pollution. Canada's GDP is expected to grow by approximately two per cent per year between now and 2022, with or without carbon pricing. Regular changes in energy prices have a much bigger impact on the GDP than our carbon pricing plan.
We do know that carbon pricing will affect the price of fuel and other goods and services. Today the opposition is asking what it will cost families. Here is an example. The Government of Alberta has calculated the cost of its system. The direct cost for a family of four is about $500 per year. However, that is not the whole story, because if that family makes less than $95,000 a year, it will get a rebate of $540. That is right. It will actually come out ahead because of carbon pricing. About 60% of Alberta households receive a full or partial rebate to offset the cost of the carbon levy.
External studies have come up with a variety of estimates for what carbon pricing might cost. What these studies tend to agree on is that actual costs depend a lot on how provinces and territories design their carbon pricing systems and how they reinvest carbon pricing revenues back into the economy. Some households will face costs, but others will come out ahead financially, depending on the choices in each jurisdiction.
The Conservative opposition knows that, despite all this misdirection and pointless droning on on this point. It knows that the federal government has asked the provinces and territories to confirm the details of their systems by September, and it knows that wherever the federal system applies, all direct revenues will be returned to the jurisdiction of origin.
What the Conservatives may not know, and what they do not seem to care about, is just how expensive inaction on climate change could prove to be. Estimates suggest that climate change could cost Canada $5 billion a year by 2020 and as much as $43 billion by 2050.
With that in mind, I would like to conclude my remarks with some reflection on a quote earlier this month by Steve Williams, the CEO of Canada's largest oil company, Suncor. He was speaking in Calgary, right in the heartland of Canadian climate change denial, and he was talking about the current Conservative political discourse around climate change.
It is a matter of profound disappointment to me that science and economics have taken on some strange political ownership, why the science of the left-wing is different than the science of the right-wing....
Climate change is science, hard-core science.
He is right. There is no good reason why all members of this House cannot work together, agree on climate science and agree on the evidence that carbon pricing works and move forward to protect our planet for our kids. This does not have to be a political partisan spectacle. I will continue to work, as will this government, to make sure that one day, before it is too late, we will all see that we have no other choice.