Mr. Speaker, the motion from the Bloc Québécois is structured around three elements, including the fixed targets that will allow us to meet the Kyoto targets. These targets will be achieved swiftly with the implementation of a carbon exchange.
Before going any further, I would like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Brome—Missisquoi.
The Bloc Québécois has been constantly urging the federal government, both Liberal and Conservative, to act in order to meet the Kyoto targets. Twice recently, the House officially recognized the importance of meeting these targets. The Bloc Québécois notes that, instead of developing a truly effective plan including the establishment of a carbon exchange, the Minister of the Environment dedicates himself to rejecting Kyoto, as he has shown in his last document released on April 19.
For the Bloc, there are not a thousand solutions. The polluter-pay principle must apply, fixed reduction targets must be established and Quebec as well as other provinces wishing to do so must be allowed to use a territorial approach.
It is time for the Conservative government to stop blocking the efforts of companies hoping to be part of this solution and to benefit from the progressive replacement of oil with renewable and clean sources of energy.
Given the certainties that are piling up in respect of global warming, it is obvious that investing in combating climate change is no longer optional, from both the human and the economic perspectives. The report recently produced by Nicholas Stern, formerly an economist with the World Bank, in fact recommended that all countries invest up to 1% of gross domestic product, starting now, in combating climate change, to avoid the potential economic costs, which may amount to as much as $7.5 trillion dollars, on the global scale, a cost that will be 20 times more than the money needed now to reverse the trend.
The recent study released by the Minister of the Environment is completely silent on the far more significant consequences of doing nothing, consequences that will cost billions of dollars, certainly, but that will also involve serious losses in terms of biodiversity, millions of refugees and much more frequent extreme weather events.
Moreover, the economic impact predicted by the study released by the Minister of the Environment is based on a tax of $195 per tonne of greenhouse gases. That is a completely exaggerated figure, if we compare it to the $20 that credits now cost through the clean development mechanisms, and in particular to what it costs to institute greenhouse gas reduction measures.
A far more credible UN study estimates, rather, that a tax of from $25 to $50 per tonne is effective. Obviously, the Minister of the Environment has opted for the worst-case scenario, rather than telling the public the whole truth.
In 2004, Canada emitted 26% more greenhouse gases than the limit set for it in 1990. This means that in order to reach the target of 6% less than in 1990, Canada will have to reduce its annual emissions by nearly 260 megatonnes each year. Quebec has made different choices. Between 1990 and 2004, its greenhouse gases rose by barely 6%, four times less than the Canadian average. As well, Quebec has already been showing leadership, with a very concrete plan to address climate change that incorporates all of the Kyoto objectives.
It is the Conservative government, whose ministers directly concerned do not believe in the Kyoto protocol, that is trying today to give itself a green veneer, when it is still not able to meet its own deadlines for deciding what targets will have to be met.
This is a government that is even considering changing the reference dates for reduction efforts, using 2006 as the reference year rather than 1990. The federal government is doing nothing to recognize the efforts put into this by Quebec companies over the last 16 years.
In recent years, Quebec's manufacturing industry has continued to make sacrifices, while the polluters, primarily the oil companies in the west, have continued to increase their production and emission of greenhouse gases. The government, not satisfied with continuing its already impressive contributions to the oil companies, is preparing to completely negate all of the efforts that Quebec has undertaken, in order to reward those polluters yet again. The unfairness embodied in that attitude is disturbing, and Quebec finds it unconscionable. It is essential that the federal government use the 1990 reference year and give more recognition to the work done in Quebec.
When the government pits economic development against environmental protection, there is one thing it is forgetting: in a context where pollution would be costly and non-pollution profitable, Quebec enjoys a relatively huge comparative advantage, one which ought to ensure its prosperity. With the situation in Quebec being different, it is only normal for Quebec to be able to implement a different plan adapted to its situation. If the federal government is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, if it is really serious about this challenge and wants to find a solution, the Bloc Québécois calls upon it to take some simple yet effective measures in order to meet Kyoto protocol targets.
The Bloc Québécois therefore proposes integration of a trading permit market, called a carbon exchange, with a territorial approach. A carbon exchange is a tool which enables a company, government or agency which has brought its greenhouse gas emissions below the objectives set by the absolute targets to sell the tons of greenhouse gas emissions it would still be entitled to emit. For example, a carbon exchange would enable a company that has exceeded its targets to sell its surplus to another experiencing difficulty reducing its emissions.
This becomes a powerful financial incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because the company can reap a financial benefit from its reductions. Creating a carbon exchange is, however, possible only if absolute greenhouse gas emission targets are predetermined. What is more, the reduction is simple: 6% less than 1990 levels. An independent body, or bodies, will have to be created, however, to certify greenhouse gas reductions and impose financial penalties on those who do not produce the permits relating to their emissions.
To state the situation clearly, to have a carbon exchange in place on other than a voluntary basis, the following are necessary: set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, a specific effective date for the targets, and a certification mechanism for each ton of greenhouse gas emitted.