Mr. Speaker, why do we need the clean air act when we have the Canadian Environmental Protection Act?
Canadians are concerned about the quality of the air they are breathing, as well as climate change. Harmful atmospheric emissions are continuing to impact on our health, our environment, our economy and even our quality of life. Our government is aware that global warming is a serious threat to the health and well-being of Canada. So the new government of Canada has taken measures designed to reduce air pollution and climate change in order to protect Canadians’ health and their environment.
The report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has just been released, once again sounds the alarm. Growing levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere may exacerbate climate change, and this may prove to be devastating in many parts of the world.
This government’s long-term integrated regulatory approach to the reduction of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions will be strengthened by the improvements that the bill aims to make to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, or CEPA. By relying on the considerable powers already provided under CEPA, Bill C-30 will ensure a much firmer foundation for concerted action to be taken against smog emissions, acid rain pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions produced in many cases by the same industrial and vehicle sources.
Concerted action will make it possible to avoid so-called “pernicious” effects. Sometimes the technologies used to reduce air pollution have unfortunate side effects, which actually increase greenhouse gas emissions. By tackling this problem, our government will maximize the advantages for the population of Canada and Quebec. Our approach will also provide the certainty necessary to industry so that it can make the most of technology and invest the necessary money to reduce both air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
The previous government committed itself to meeting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, but the emissions increased by 27% during its mandate. Consequently there was a increase in smog in our cities and an increase in the incidence of asthma and other respiratory diseases. That is why our government is taking a dynamic new path.
The clean air act creates new powers to allow for regulation and surveillance of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.
Allow me to give a few examples of the effects the changes to CEPA will have.
The clean air act will be the legislative basis for a made-to-measure approach to regulate indoor and outdoor air pollutants as well as greenhouse gases. By adopting regulations based on the act, we will be in a position to impose requirements and to take enforcement measures against offenders.
Our clean air regulation initiative comes as a radical change if we consider all the missed opportunities of the past. For the first time, the environment and health ministers will be legally forced to establish national objectives on air quality, to follow closely the progress in meeting those objectives and to produce a progress report every year. This is a very strict obligation that we think will ensure that successive governments make a priority of improving air quality.
With the clean air act, Canadians will be in a position to hold the government accountable for real progress in reducing air pollution.
Bill C-30 will also amend CEPA to enable us to make full use of the emission-trading market so that industry can comply as efficiently as possible with the regulatory standards that are going to be instituted.
The bill will also improve our ability to regulate air emissions from various products.
Along with the provinces and territories, our government promised to require that the renewable fuel usage rate be set at 5% by 2010. This objective is stricter than the American one and comparable to that of our European partners. The amendments to CEPA will allow us to regulate the fuel mix and thereby institute national standards on renewable fuel content in as efficient a way as possible.
Canada's Clean Air Act will also improve the Energy Efficiency Act, enabling us to set solid energy efficiency standards for a broader array of consumer and commercial products, especially household appliances and electrical products.
Finally, Canada's Clean Air Act will amend the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act to modernize the government’s ability to regulate the fuel consumption of new motor vehicles. For the very first time, we will be able to regulate the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles beginning in the 2011 model year.
We already have some legislative power to protect Canadians’ health and the environment from air pollution. That is why we do not expect the amendments to unleash new regulatory measures. The notice of intent we issued last October described a certain number of regulations that will come into force over the next 12 months under the existing legislation.
Canadians will see real reductions thanks to these regulations imposing mandatory requirements. The era of voluntary compliance is over.
In conclusion, Canada's Clean Air Act will be the first comprehensive, integrated effort that Canada has seen to fight air pollution and greenhouse gases. It will give all Canadians cleaner air while also fighting climate change. Our health has suffered long enough and our environment has been degraded enough. Canada's Clean Air Act is absolutely necessary to achieve real progress for our generation and those to come.
Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of the Environment.