Mr. Speaker, I stand today to address three items that are contained in Bill C-43, as they relate to environmental issues. The bill presents details of two funds announced in budget 2005: the climate fund, which was referenced in the budget as the clean fund and is now known as the climate fund; and the greenhouse gas technology investment fund.
In addition to that, the bill refers to and introduces amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to remove the word toxic from certain sections and place greater emphasis on the criteria in section 64 of the act. These changes will preserve CEPA's ability to reduce harm to human health and the environment.
Let me speak first of all to the climate fund. Indeed, this whole element of the greening of the Liberal budget was certainly not just an initiative by the Minister of the Environment or by his parliamentary secretary, who did an extraordinary job of bringing initiatives forward for the consideration of not only the Prime Minister and the finance minister, but all of my colleagues in this side of the House did an extraordinary job of looking at all elements of the budget from an environmental prospective through the green lens and as a result contributed to that element of the budget.
The purpose of the new climate fund is to create a permanent market based institution as one of the primary tools for Canada's approach to climate change. By tapping the potential of the market, Canada will stimulate innovation, enable Canadians to take action, encourage energy efficiency, deliver cost effective reductions and sequestration, and drive the adoption of best available technologies.
I had the pleasure, as did my colleague from Thunder Bay--Rainy River, of being involved with the national board of directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Through the strategic investment of the federal Government of Canada into green municipal funds or green municipal enabling funds, it put $250 million into creating a reference bank for those municipalities to access. Part of our investment in this budget is a further enhancement of $300 million, of which $150 million will be toward the restoration of brownfield sites. That is a perfect example of strategic investment of our funds.
The climate fund's purpose will be under the authority of the Minister of the Environment. It will be funded at a minimum level of $1 billion over five years. The fund's primary mandate is to promote domestic greenhouse gas emission reductions with a view to positioning Canada to compete in the 21st century.
This economy is very interesting from the standpoint that this new 21st century economy appears to be focused on a carbon restrained global economy, so not just what we do ourselves, but what we do ourselves affects the global economy and our neighbours. We just cannot do one-offs. We must work hand in hand and in concert with our global neighbours.
The fund will also invest in internationally recognized Kyoto emission reductions to the clean development mechanism and joint implementation, as well as thorough procedures for greening other international credits. Only green credits, that is, credits that represent real and verified emission reductions, will be recognized.
The proposed legislation says that the climate fund agency will be an agent of the Government of Canada, meaning that it would carry out all of its activities on behalf of the Government of Canada. The Minister of the Environment is accountable to Parliament for this agency.
A number of aspects of its mandate, such as how to assess the benefits to Canada from investment in international emission reduction, will be the subject of public consultations planned for later this spring. The funding levels reflect the reality of start-up for the climate fund agency receiving and reviewing applications and ensuring that Canadians understand that qualifying projects must demonstrate real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. As understanding of the fund grows and more and more quality applications are received, the funding levels will grow.
The funding levels as set out in budget 2005 are $10 million in this budget year, $50 million in the 2006-07 budget, $300 million in the 2007-08 budget, $300 million in the 2008-09 budget, and $340 million in the 2009-10 budget. That totals $1 billion, and that is a minimum of $1 billion.
The climate fund will be established by legislation. Aspects of the fund's mandate, such as how to ensure benefits to Canada from investment in international emissions reductions, will be put forward for public review and comment very soon.
The second fund I referenced was the greenhouse gas technology investment fund. It is an innovative funding arrangement that will recognize qualifying investment in research and development as a way of meeting mandatory greenhouse gas emissions requirements.
As announced in the 2005 budget, in the coming weeks the Government of Canada will set out the details of a mandatory emissions reduction regime and emissions trading system for Canada's large final emitters, companies in the oil and gas, thermal electricity and heat intensive mining and manufacturing sectors. As part of this system, large final emitters will be able to make contributions to the greenhouse gas technology investment fund in exchange for special emissions credits. Companies can then use these emissions credits toward meeting their emissions targets.
The revenue generated by the fund will be used to make strategic investments in innovative technologies and processes that will reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.
The greenhouse gas technology investment fund will support the development and application of new emissions reducing technologies by large final emitters in meeting their greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Natural Resources Canada is best placed to manage the greenhouse gas technology investment fund as part of its ongoing operations due to its position as the lead federal department on energy technology development. This will allow it to apply the expertise and experience it has gained over the years in order to ensure that investments under the fund are allocated to projects that will yield optimal emissions reductions for large final emitters on a sector by sector basis. It will also encourage potential synergies between technologies for large final emitters supported by the fund and the department's responsibilities for management of other technology investment programs that support energy efficiency and emissions reductions on a more general basis.
Finally, I reference the changes we are proposing to CEPA, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Amendments are being made to CEPA to remove the word “toxic” from certain sections and to place greater emphasis on the existing criteria for assessing and managing substances under section 64 of the act. Part of that section would read “a substance may be added to the list in schedule 1 if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity”. That is the intention of making those particular changes.
The proposed change is one in pursuit of smart regulation. It brings clarity by eliminating a confusing term without altering the Government of Canada's obligation and authority to protect our environment. It also positions CEPA as a viable regulatory tool for use by the government and Canadians to more effectively and efficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
When the Government of Canada was assessing and then taking action to reduce the risks from road salts and other substances, we heard numerous representations, including from members of Parliament, that the term “toxic” was confusing and misleading. We are responding with this legislative change to reduce that confusion.
The amendments proposed for CEPA are designed to not change the regime that was endorsed by the Supreme Court and therefore do not change the basis for the act's constitutional authority.
Further, budget 2005 set out the key parameters for a system to obtain greenhouse gas emissions reductions from industrial large final emitters. In this system, reduction targets will be based on emissions intensity in order to accommodate economic growth.
As with any other effective regulatory obligation, there will be penalties for non-compliance, but we do not expect non-compliance. We have modified the system to address industry concerns and we expect there will be broad agreement with our approach.
In conclusion, these three initiatives alone contribute in a major way to a very purposeful and contributing budget. The fact that we are able to address the concerns not only here in Canada but globally through the green lens is very important for all of us.
As I and other members have said, certainly what happens on a day to day basis is of concern. More important, it is not what affects me but what affects my children and grandchildren. The initiatives laid out in Bill C-43 are very positive and I encourage all members of the House to support that legislation.