Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pride to rise and speak to this motion, and I thank my hon. colleagues for their comments. I look forward to seeing the Conservative Party's environmental platform tomorrow, as I hope it will show that they have finally become serious about climate change. Given that members of that caucus still share the musings of climate change deniers on social media and howl for us to give up fighting for a better future because it is difficult, I will admit I am skeptical.
Conservatives have consistently ignored the science and the economics behind climate change, and I have seen nothing to indicate that they have changed their thinking. In 2006, the first year of the previous government's mandate, a report on the economics of climate change commissioned by the British government was released. It was led by the former chief economist of the World Bank, Nicholas Stern.
The Stern review concluded that inaction on climate change “could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.”
Stern stressed that governments needed to take action then, saying that the next 10 to 20 years would be critical in laying the foundations for combatting climate change. He also concluded that tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy for the long term. The U.K. listened and cut its emissions. Europe listened and cut its emissions. Both regions became leaders in combatting climate change.
What did the members opposite do? Did they retrofit our buildings and infrastructure? No. Did they commit to diversifying our economy to reduce our reliance on finite and environmentally unsustainable resources? No. Did they work with heavy industry to meaningfully reduce its emissions? No. Did they invest in new infrastructure, grow the green tech industry or expand protections for natural areas? No. Did they discuss climate change abroad? No. The members opposite ignored the data, ignored the science and stuck to a business-as-usual approach. They ignored the science and economics.
They ignored the economic growth and energy security that come from investing in green energy and technology. They ignored the massive costs that climate change would have, from disrupting trade and transportation to mass displacements and a global refugee crisis.
From 1983 to 2008, Canadian insurance companies paid out an average of $400 million per year for climate-related claims. The floods and fires this year alone will cost $1.8 billion. According to the Stern review, damages are projected to force 20% of global annual GDP to be spent on repairing, strengthening and replacing infrastructure. Notably, severe weather events like the floods, fires, and heat waves we have experienced in the past few years are only among the earliest symptoms; it will get worse.
Many of my colleagues opposite are quick to criticize any government investment made to make Canadians' lives better, insisting that it is an “unacceptable” debt to leave to our children. Neglecting our responsibility to take action on climate change is the unacceptable debt we leave to our children.
I have received many letters from men and women, parents and grandparents, adults and children. The text may vary, but the message is the same: to recognize the situation we are in, look at the extreme weather events we are experiencing and see the link between the two, study the science behind greenhouse gas emissions that cause our climate to change, and listen to our first nations, which have been saying for centuries that our planet's resources are not there to be recklessly exploited but must be used responsibly and sustainably. They implored me to act now, before it was too late, and I am proud of the fact that our government is doing just that.
Our government has committed to phasing out coal by 2030. We have invested over $2.3 billion to support clean technology. We have helped schools, hospitals, businesses and homes become more energy-efficient, and we are providing enhanced disaster mitigation and adaptation funding to help the victims of these natural disasters.
When we discuss these topics, many like to point to House Resolution 109, the recognition of a need for a green new deal proposed in the United States House of Representatives this February. It calls for building resiliency against climate change and reducing the risks posed by climate impacts. It insists upon the necessity of upgrading infrastructure, transportation and buildings to lower carbon emissions.
It calls for growing the green economy and putting in place a transition process that leaves no one behind, including those working in the fossil fuel sector; restoring natural ecosystems by protecting agricultural and rural lands; and supporting the clean tech industry here, and exporting our expertise abroad.
It is a pleasure for me to point out that many of the components of the green new deal have already been put in place by our government. We are continuing to invest in developing transition centres for workers in carbon-intensive industries, and we are working to diversify our economy across the country by creating good green jobs. This also means helping carbon-intensive industries like the oil and gas sector become more efficient and substantially reduce their emissions.
Our 10-year infrastructure plan is an unprecedented investment in public transit and green infrastructure, to which we have committed over $21 billion so far. We are making electric vehicles more affordable and more accessible, and we are committed to ensuring that all new vehicles are zero-emission by 2040.
We are going to get the rest of the way there, and we are committed to taking even stronger action to reduce pollution and invest in a cleaner future.
Pointedly, I have had the honour of being a seconder to the bill by my colleague from Beaches—East York, which would commit Canada to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. I believe that, as a nation, we can do it, while joining other nations, like Norway, New Zealand and the U.K., which are already taking this path. I also know that we need to do it.
Change cannot happen overnight. There is more to do, but we must do it responsibly and we must keep at it. We will not give up. Recognizing a national climate emergency affirms how seriously we are taking these issues.
One of the most important steps we are taking to lower our emissions in a responsible manner is the price on pollution. The PBO recognizes that the price on pollution not only puts more money in the pockets of Canadians, but it is the least expensive and most effective way to substantially lower our emissions.
We are not deaf to the very real concerns from Canadians regarding their future without action on climate. In Kitchener Centre, I watched with pride as young Canadians stood up to implore us to take action on these issues to ensure our collective future. Climate change affects every single Canadian: rich or poor, man or woman, adult or child. It affects us all. This is why we will not give up. Business as usual is not an option. The longer we wait, the steeper the cost will be.
I will continue to support policies to implement the changes that need to happen. We must protect our environment and end our reliance on fossil fuels so that we can grow the green economy of the future. We are stepping up now to ensure that it is not too late and that Canada can once again be a leader on this issue.
I encourage all my colleagues to have foresight on this issue and not just think until the next year or the next election. We must treat this issue not as a partisan issue to be won or lost, but as a human issue that we must work together to solve. We have to look beyond that.
The 26th president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, recognized that we need to think about our planet in the long term. After viewing the natural beauty of Yellowstone National Park, he said, “We are not building this country of ours for a day. It is to last through the ages.”
Let us strive to ensure that our country and our planet not only last but thrive through the ages.