We will vote against the bill for one very simple reason. We refuse to provide this type of subsidy for fossil fuels and non-renewable energy. That is what Bill C-262 is about. It is a new subsidy for fossil fuels disguised as a tax credit. Let us be clear. Some subsidies can be effective for fighting climate change. However, tax breaks for carbon capture and storage, which is what Bill C-262 provides, are not effective.
In this case, the captured carbon is actually being used to continue extracting oil and extend the lifespan of aging reservoirs. In addition to being ineffective in terms of protecting the environment, the proposed measure is unfair to taxpayers. Quebeckers' money should not be going to fill the coffers of Canadian oil companies. To encourage businesses to capture and store carbon, we must increase the price per tonne of carbon. It is no secret that there should be a financial cost to polluting for oil companies. Why else would they stop polluting?
If we increase the price per tonne of carbon, that upholds the polluter pays principle. That is the key to an effective environmental policy, but when it comes to the environment, Canada is behaving badly. It is on track to miss its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, and it is failing to reduce its fossil fuel subsidies.
Economic recovery and support for jobs must not come at the expense of climate action. It is high time we invested in a real transition focused on our renewable resources, our knowledge and our regions. That is what an independent Quebec would do, and Canada would be well advised to do the same. Let me get back to Bill C-262.
It is quite clear that the purpose of this bill is to weaken the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. It is no secret that the Conservatives oppose the carbon tax, even if they now claim the opposite.
The numbers speak volumes. The effects of climate change will cost Canada dearly. According to a new report released yesterday that was spearheaded by 20 or so researchers and funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada, in addition to multiple environmental threats, climate disruption will also have a major impact on Canadians' health, and that will result in huge costs to society.
In fact, the scientists estimate that the costs of death and lost quality of life will be $86 billion per year by 2050 and $250 billion per year by 2100. That is enormous. They also warn of the effects of the increasingly frequent and severe heat waves happening across the country. The report shows that this widespread increase in temperature will have “a large negative impact on productivity”. The researchers calculate that it could cause the loss of 128 million work hours annually by end of century, which is the equivalent of 62,000 full-time jobs, at a cost of almost $15 billion. Those are frightening numbers.
The climate crisis is not a myth. We must fight it and stop presenting bills like Bill C-262 that only serve to delay debate on tangible, effective solutions for reducing greenhouse gases. The worst part of all this is that we are lagging far behind.
Already, in 2019, a report produced by Environment and Climate Change Canada concluded that Canada's climate was warming twice as fast as the global average and that over the next 10 years, the whole country would be severely affected as the consequences of warming continued to intensify. It is clear that we have not a moment to lose.
The problem with moving forward with carbon capture and storage technologies as proposed in Bill C-262 is that they distract from the need to reduce sources of emissions and divert attention from the actions required to do so quickly and effectively.
The tax credit proposed in Bill C-262 is actually inconsistent with the logic of carbon pricing and the carbon tax. Setting a price on pollution will never be an incentive if the public absorbs the cost of managing emissions. The price on pollution must lead to changes in behaviour and to commitments to start working on an energy transition. Bill C-262 undermines that goal.
With Bill C-262, the Conservatives are once again proposing a solution that socializes the environmental costs of economic activity while retaining the profits and benefits in the private sector, namely the oil companies. What is appalling, not to say completely ridiculous, is that the Conservatives are trying to sell this as an ecological solution to fight climate change when they do not even recognize its existence. If they believed in it, they would bring forward credible, science-based solutions, not bills that seek to destroy the only serious, concrete tool Canada has implemented to reduce its emissions, namely carbon pricing.
Earlier I said that the economic recovery and support for employment must not happen at the expense of the climate, and I want to come back to that because it is a crucial point.
The Bloc Québécois believes that it is quite legitimate for the government to make public expenditures, including tax expenditures, to support employment and the economy. This obviously includes the energy sector, but is not limited to the western oil and gas industries. If Quebec already relies on the production of renewable energy for almost 99% of its needs, Canada also has potential renewable energy and can choose to end its dependency on fossil fuels.
If the government believes that the recovery is an opportunity to accelerate the energy transition, as the Bloc Québécois and Quebec do, federal investments must be made in sectors of the future. Oil is not one of them. Oil is not a renewable energy despite what certain members believe.
In the first months of the pandemic, the Bloc Québécois brainstormed about the type of economy we want for Quebec and how to launch a recovery that serves the transition to a green economy. After extensive consultation throughout Quebec, the Bloc Québécois presented a green recovery plan that includes transferring adequate financial resources to Quebec to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time prepare for an ambitious green recovery with a focus on the regions.
We are not fooled when a bill like Bill C-262 is introduced in the House. It pretends to be green, but in fact it serves those who oppose the fight against climate change and want to perpetuate Canada's dependence on fossil fuels. We are not fooled when the Liberal government promotes a green image in public, but in fact funds outdated energies to the tune of billions of dollars. I am thinking about Alberta oil. I am thinking about the Trans Mountain pipeline. I am thinking about the transfers to support the offshore oil industry in Newfoundland. These are all examples that clearly illustrate the inconsistency between the Liberals' environmentalist claims and their support for the fossil fuel industry.
The Bloc Québécois will do everything in its power to prevent even more of Quebeckers' money being spent at the expense of the planet, which is what is currently happening. Despite the Prime Minister's rhetoric about climate change and a green recovery, federal subsidies for fossil fuels reached $1.91 billion in 2020. That is an increase of 200% compared to 2019.
The other parties may like to apply a green sheen to their policies, but our support for public-funded environmental measures is based on the intrinsic value of each of those measures. Our challenge for the recovery, in addition to proposing bills that build on the strengths of Quebec and its regions, is to remain vigilant and to oppose false green economy solutions. As for the fossil fuel subsidies, we will oppose them vigorously, every time. We will storm the barricades every time the government tries to use the pandemic to justify them.