Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Eglinton—Lawrence.
The Kyoto protocol is an international accord established five years ago, which led to several large international conferences where the world community negotiated, sometimes bitterly, the conditions for the implementation of the accord. It was at the Conferences of the Parties held in Bonn and Marrakech in 2001 that the international community, or some 178 countries, came up with the realistic framework that gave each country a certain flexibility in determining how they would meet their targets.
This is the context in which the government has already, it should be noted, committed more than one billion dollars toward measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and undertaken studies and consultations leading to an action plan tailored to the realities and the limitations of our country.
Through, on the one hand, our sustained participation in this international process of unprecedented scope and complexity, and also through a large-scale mobilization here within Canada, we have paved the way toward the ratification of the Kyoto protocol
Now the time has come for our Parliament to approve the process and to ask our government to ratify the protocol, in other words, to announce officially that Canada will take part in this international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By this agreement, we send the message that our country agrees with this major international contract to fight global warming within the framework of a combined effort involving dozens of other countries.
I wanted to recall briefly the international context surrounding the ratification procedure that we are now debating, in order to show that our actions here in Canada will be an integral part of international actions.
I wanted to remind members of this to demonstrate that one cannot contrast—as some have tried to do—a completely Canadian action plan with the enormous international effort resulting from the Kyoto protocol.
Our action plan fits within the international action plan, and is not independent of it. However, it can be completely tailored to Canadian realities.
In the past few days, our colleagues have debated the Kyoto protocol and Canada's ratification of it in scientific and economic terms, and in terms of the political repercussions.
As far as the scientific aspects are concerned, I will refer to the findings of the three working groups of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This panel brought together the best government experts in the world and prepared consensus reports that the Financial Times considered to be models of their kind. These reports describe what we can expect. When I say we, I mean the earth, the oceans, the climate, human beings and other life forms if we continue down the current slope in terms of climate change brought about by human activity. These reports suggest possible adaptation strategies, while noting that “tackling climate change is now a political, at least as much as a technical or economic, problem”.
As for the economic aspects of the issue, during this debate we have seen numerous scenarios unfold, often with alarmist predictions, including an economic slowdown, loss of competitiveness, loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, unknown costs, unfair distribution of the burden, and so on.
In reality, the most credible numbers come from the National Climate Change Process, Analysis and Modeling Group, a group comprised of representatives from all levels of government in Canada.
What does this group predict? After consulting with experts from business, universities and environmental groups, this group predicts that our GDP will increase by 30.4% in 2012, instead of 31%.
Is there really cause for concern with such a prediction that is well within the standard margin of error? More importantly, this prediction does not weigh the possible positive impact on our economy, health and lifestyle stemming from innovation, new investment, new developments in energy and so on.
We also know that hundreds of businesses in many European and Asian countries and even in the United States, with billions in sales have joined in support of the Kyoto protocol under the banner “e-mission 55--Business for Climate”. These businesses believe Kyoto is appropriate.
We also know that dozens of Canadian companies, including oil companies, have taken the lead and understand that reducing greenhouse gases will in no way harm their ability to compete or be efficient.
We also know, and the Canadian Labour Congress reminded us of this point, that the Kyoto protocol is not seen as a threat to jobs in Canada. On the contrary.
The CLC urges the Government of Canada to ratify Kyoto because, they say, it would be good for the Canadian economy, for job creation, for the health of workers, for our children and for our cities.
Furthermore, we know that the federal and provincial governments can negotiate sectoral agreements with industry and unions, while ensuring that fair transitional measures and incentives for change and adaptation measures are established to ensure the necessary flexibility.
Over and above these measures, however, what counts the most, both now in the debate and in the years to come, is our capacity for innovation and creativity as far as clean and renewable energies, as well as new construction materials, new technologies, transportation and bioeconomics, are concerned.
Then there are the political dimensions of this debate, which merit considerable attention also.
I feel that our primary responsibility as elected representatives is to call upon the business community to show greater vision, to move beyond short term considerations and follow the lead of the numerous companies that have already embarked upon new practices which have proven that economy can go hand in hand with respect for the environment, and that it can be profitable to work with the environment.
We also have a duty to point out the path we want our country to follow, while still keeping the door open to bilateral, multilateral and sectoral negotiations, with a view to ensuring all necessary fairness to the various parties to the action plan, and while respecting jurisdictional limitations and the past efforts of certain provinces, as well as their specific characteristics.
In my opinion, this is not the right time for the federal government to wait for consensus on an action plan that would dot all the i's and cross all the t's, as far as each measure to be adopted and each phase to be undertaken are concerned.
We are not here for the purpose of micromanaging every transitional and adaptive measure arising out of the action plan. What we are here for is to define the horizon and the vision that is right for this country and for the international situation.
The cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action. The time for action, concerted action, has come. It is time Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol.