Madam Speaker, first off, is this 2021? I only ask because, after reading Motion No. 61 moved by my colleague from Edmonton Manning, I wonder if I travelled back in time.
This motion echos the language of another century. It illustrates the deep divide between a green, progressive Quebec that is ready to deal with climate change and an official opposition that, unsurprisingly, is digging in deeper and deeper in oil.
What part of “climate emergency” does the Conservative Party not understand? The Bloc Québécois is firmly against this motion, but I do not have enough time to raise every argument I have against this motion from top to bottom, so I will limit myself to paragraphs (i) and (iii) of the motion.
Paragraph (i) calls on the House to recognize that:
(i) replacing oil and gas with more environmentally sustainable options is not technologically or economically feasible;
I would like to come back to what a former Saudi oil minister said in 2000, “The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” That is where we are right now.
By saying the transition is not feasible, the motion flatly denies the growth potential of renewable energy in Canada. It is just not true for Quebec, for Canada or for the rest of the world. It is so off the mark that I want to point out that the renewable energy sector has grown at an unprecedented rate, according to the International Energy Agency's 2020 report. According to the IEA, “Last year, the increase in renewable capacity accounted for 90% of the entire global power sector’s expansion”.
Earlier this week, Le Devoir reported on massive wind farms under construction in China. We may have legitimate complaints about China, but it has made huge strides in beginning its transition while maintaining its economic growth.
In the United States, the Biden administration has given the green light to the Vineyard Wind project, which will include 84 turbines producing 800 megawatts and supplying power to 400,000 households. By 2030, wind power projects that are currently under way could supply enough energy for 10 million households.
This transition is not only technologically feasible, it is already under way and is economically necessary. I do not want to dwell on that, so I will simply say that countless investment funds understand this already.
If the Conservative Party is determined to remain in the last century with this unfortunate and backward point of view that will deprive future generations of access to economic progress and prosperity, that is their choice. Just because the Conservatives refuse to consider the immense progress of renewable energy technologies and to recognize their potential does not mean that they do not exist. Willful blindness does have its limits.
Quebec's innovative and creative society, rich in clean energy and renewable resources, is eager to contribute to the post-pandemic world. Where do the Conservative members from Quebec stand on this issue? Do they not have a responsibility to promote the regions they represent? Repeating the same message over and over again, just with different wording, does not make it any more true.
Paragraph (iii) of the motion calls on the House to recognize that:
(iii) Canadian oil and natural gas are produced with the highest environmental standards in the world, and domestic producers are global environmental leaders and responsible corporate citizens;
Here is the truth. Even if Canadian producers complied with the highest environmental standards, we are talking about the standards set for their industry, which is an undeniably polluting industry. Complying with environmental regulations is not a moral accomplishment, nor is it an act of good corporate citizenship; it is a requirement.
Sure, producers make an effort to mitigate some environmental impacts by using technology that improves efficiency. However, the problem remains that greenhouse gas emissions associated with these industries are the primary source of emissions in Canada. These industries, from production all the way to the end use of this resource, account for 81% of our total emissions.
Even more worrisome, the technologies to make operations more efficient simply allow for increased production. There is not a single technology that is capable of reversing the very nature of this industry, which will forever be incompatible with the Paris targets. I remind members that the signatory states to this agreement committed to preventing the climate catastrophes that are threatening life as we know it now, not just for polar bears or belugas, but for humans as well.
Greenhouse gas emissions have reached troubling levels. Greenhouse gas emissions directly produced by energy industries have increased by 38.5% since 1990. In 1990, oil and gas emitted 106 megatonnes of CO2 compared to 195 megatonnes in 2017. In 1990, oil sands operations emitted 15 megatonnes of CO2, while in 2017 they emitted 81 megatonnes.
I remind members that Canada has 0.5% of the world's population and is responsible for 16% of all carbon emissions. I think that the worst phrase I have ever heard is “green oil”. I even am disgusted putting those two words together. The Canadian industry began using another phrase because “green oil” drew outrage. Now we hear “the greenest oil in the world”. No. The oil sands are an environmental disaster that has resulted in clear-cut forests, destroyed landscapes, air pollution and the contamination of water tables. All these sad realities and many others have been well documented.
You cannot develop the third-largest oil field in the world and think you are doing the planet a favour when it comes to climate change. That is not how it works. The Bloc Québécois will repeat this as long as it takes: The government must stop subsidizing fossil fuels. Our position reflects what Quebeckers want. We are proposing that we create wealth and avoid generating even more greenhouse gases.
The Bloc Québécois believes in the principle of a just transition. This involves recognizing that it would be unjust to expect workers and their families to make this transition happen overnight, especially since they are the primary victims of the crisis in the energy sector and of the challenges associated with climate change.
Our leader, the member for Beloeil—Chambly, has said more than once that the obscene amounts of public money, billions of dollars, invested in Trans Mountain should be put towards helping the workers out west through the transition and establishing geothermal, wind and clean energy sources in these areas. The parliamentary secretary was just saying that Trans Mountain shows that government can make a difference. That is true, but only if it acknowledges its mistake.
In a study published in March, Simon Fraser University confirmed that the pipeline will put taxpayers close to $12 billion in the hole. The facts are clear. The government must abandon the pipeline and invest in renewable energy. Even BP, Total and Shell are more lucid than the government. Believe it or not, given shrinking demand for oil, these industries and companies are moving their investments over to green energy.
As the saying goes, a fault confessed is half redressed. Is there any hope that the government will admit it made a mistake and start walking its constant talk about fighting climate change for real? The government loves to use the word “leadership”, it really does, but true leadership shows in actions, policies and responsible legislation. A government embodies leadership when it has the courage to make tough decisions and stick by them.
I still believe that the Conservative Party is not some monolithic organization. Conservative MPs are ready to consider that climate change is the challenge of the century. However I will tread with caution in these considerations because, apart from withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol, the 10-year reign of a Conservative government resulted in the review of the environmental assessment process for the sole purpose of reducing barriers for oil projects, major cuts to climate research, the muzzling of government experts preventing them from speaking publicly on topics related to their expertise, and, now, this motion asking members of the House to celebrate the existence of the fossil fuel industry. Members will forgive the play on words, but it is high time Conservative members pulled their heads out of the tar sands.
I will close with the following words, which are just as important. The current government should stop saying one thing and then its opposite. It should seize, immediately and firmly, the opportunity presented to it, namely to be responsible, diligent and consistent regarding its commitment to put climate action at the centre of all its governmental and environmental decisions.
Other countries have done it. What is the Canadian government waiting for?