Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that I will share my block of time with the Minister of National Revenue.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the opposition's motion that the government provide necessary leadership to develop a safe, seamless, integrated transportation system and that it do so by working in conjunction with other levels of government and the private sector to plan, implement and fund such a system.
I will demonstrate that the government is already addressing this motion. I will use its leadership in promoting sustainable transportation as an example.
Sustainable transportation goes above and beyond the motion put forth by the opposition party. Sustainable transportation is all about providing Canadians from coast to coast with access to transportation which is not just safe, seamless and integrated but also is efficient and environmentally responsible.
As we all know, a strong transportation sector is the backbone of a competitive economy. However by its nature, transportation does have an impact on the environment. We see its effects every day from air and noise pollution to greenhouse gas emissions and the use of land and other natural resources. For example, the transportation sector is responsible for approximately 40% to 50% of some of Canada's emissions of smog-forming pollutants. It is also the single largest source of our greenhouse gas emissions.
Achieving sustainable transportation is a long term goal. There are no magic solutions. That is because transportation is vital to our economy. It supports Canada's trade and tourism and underpins our competitiveness as a nation. Transportation will always play an important role in bringing Canadians together and in uniting this great country. Yet as transportation grows, we cannot ignore issues of congestion, air quality and climate change if we are to continue to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.
Making our transportation system more sustainable is not the sole responsibility of the federal government. It is a responsibility shared among all levels of government and all segments of our society. The federal government's approach is to tackle sustainable transportation head on but in partnership with those who can offer solutions and with those who will be most affected.
A good example of this approach is illustrated by the leadership provided by this government in tackling the challenge of climate change. Transportation is the single largest source of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions accounting for 25% of the total and it is growing quickly. If we continue on our present path, emissions will be 32% above 1990 levels by 2010 and 50% higher by 2020. I should point out that we are not alone in this. Climate change is a key issue facing transportation in all developed countries of the world.
What is causing this growth? A large part is due to road vehicles which account for 70% of all transportation emissions. This also means that the actions of individual Canadians, and that includes all of us in this House who drive, can make a difference.
Despite continued improvements in technology which reduce emissions and make vehicles more efficient, the numbers of cars and trucks on the road and the distances we drive are growing rapidly. In the freight sector shipments by air and truck are expected to double in the next 20 years while freight shipped by more efficient means such as rail and marine will likely grow very slowly.
The issues and solutions are complex. In freight, shippers must balance costs, time and service needs which vary depending on the product and the distance involved. For consumers, how we choose to travel depends on factors such as time, accessibility, cost, convenience and personal preference. Thus moving to a more integrated and efficient transportation system, one that maintains public safety and mobility and supports our growing economy but is also polluting, requires both leadership and partnership, the kind of leadership the government has shown.
In 1998 the Minister of Transport along with his provincial and territorial colleagues created the transportation climate change table to identify and evaluate options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The table comprised 25 diverse stakeholders including: local, provincial and federal governments; domestic and foreign vehicle manufacturers; petroleum and alternative fuel producers; carriers, including truckers, railways, airlines and shipping; environmentalists; and consumers. This very diverse group of interests came together because they recognized they have a real role to play in finding practical solutions.
This unique initiative provided a comprehensive and holistic look at our transportation system. Few countries in the world have undertaken such an exercise involving such a diverse range of interests. This group of stakeholders recently produced its final report which identified over 100 possible options to improve transportation. From their work it is clear that there is no single solution.
Canada's urban centres are important as they account for over half of our transportation emissions and face some of the greatest congestion pressures. The table studied over 30 different strategies to improve the efficiency of the urban transportation system.
A key strategy in many cities involves expanding the role of public transit. Improving transit infrastructure and services and expanding facilities to link transit and other options such as cars, rail and air are important.
Strategies need to be co-ordinated across municipalities in a region and integrated with land use plans at the local level. A leading example of this approach is the greater Vancouver regional district which co-ordinates transportation planning and services across a number of municipalities. The new liveable region strategic plan integrates land use and transportation planning over the next 20 years. The province is providing a portion of the taxes from fuel sales in the city to fund transportation improvements. This is one example of the kinds of action taking place in urban centres across Canada.
The table considered options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the movement of goods. New technologies and operating practices offer potential. For example, new trucking technologies using satellites, electronic speed monitors and advanced tires along with better driver training can reduce fuel use by 15% to 20%, cutting costs and pollution.
The table explored opportunities for improving the seamlessness of the movement of goods throughout the system. For example, the railways and trucking industry are now moving from being competitors to being partners in providing shippers with better choices. Both Canadian Pacific's Iron Highway and Canadian National's Roadrailer are integrating truck and rail, offering lower costs and less pollution.
Canada is leading in the development of many new technologies to reduce emissions from road vehicles. New fuels such as natural gas, ethanol from grain, wood biomass and eventually fuel cells, in which Canada is a world leader, hold great promise. New vehicle designs using lightweight materials will improve vehicle efficiency. The challenge will be to encourage consumers to purchase these new technologies as they become available over the next 10 years.
Because the North American automotive market is so highly integrated we will need to work with vehicle manufacturers, fuel providers and the United States to harmonize our standards. For example, the table studied a target of a 25% improvement in fuel economy by 2010 from new cars and light trucks harmonized with the United States.
This is just a snapshot of some of the options examined. More work is needed and the table's work is being reviewed by federal and provincial governments as part of the process launched by first ministers to develop a national climate change strategy.
In conclusion, the federal government has been acting on the opposition party's motion. We have been busy giving Canadians strong leadership and finding practical solutions to make our transportation system better. In the recent budget the government announced up to $2.6 billion for a new infrastructure program in partnership with the provinces and municipalities. Improvements to the national highway system and green infrastructure projects such as urban transit are potential areas for investment.
In addition, the budget announced over $500 million to invest in climate change solutions such as the development of new technologies. Canadian technology such as our past support for Canadian successes like the Ballard fuel cell and Iogen's new ethanol process will play a key role in helping not just Canada but all countries to achieve more sustainable transportation.
All countries of the world are grappling with these important but complex issues, but the government is determined to provide leadership and to work with the provinces, local governments, industry and all Canadians to find common solutions.