41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION – November 29, 2012

Ms. Elizabeth May:

“Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette that, as leader of the Green Party, I pay a lot of attention to measurable actions of the party that he represents. Those measurable actions include recklessly ignoring the worsening state of the Great Lakes; failing to appoint a commissioner to the International Joint Commission, which the Conservatives have left vacant for almost a year; the abdication of responsibility by cancelling science across this country: closing the Experimental Lakes Area; shutting down the Polar Environmental Atmospheric Research labs; cancelling all research into climate science; and pretending, by throwing money at Lake Simcoe, that they are somehow dealing with water quality.

This is a big country and the reality of what the current government has done is an appalling assault of negative action for protecting our wilderness and the air and water that we need to live.”

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Ms. Anne Minh-Thu Quach (Beauharnois—Salaberry, NDP):

“Mr. Speaker, on September 21, I asked a very clear question: why is the government not taking action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? Unfortunately, once again, I did not get an answer to my question. The situation is urgent. There is a growing number of alarming studies about the warming of the Arctic. There are serious consequences for Canada.

This week, the World Meteorological Organization published a report indicating that the layer of ice in the Arctic has never been so thin. Between March and September, the Earth lost approximately 12 million square kilometres of ice sheets, which is more than the total land mass of the United States. According to the Forum for Leadership on Water, the melting glaciers and global warming have already started to have disastrous consequences in terms of the quality of fresh water in Canada. The spreading of cyanobacteria, the acidity of lakes, and the drop in the water level of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, are very real.

What is the government doing? It is cutting the number of scientists and researchers, abandoning the Experimental Lakes Region, axing programs to evaluate the toxicity of the St. Lawrence, including the program at the Institut Maurice-Lamontagne in Quebec, and doing away with the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, whose principal mandate is to find solutions to climate change. Why? To make it easier for the big polluters to destroy out air, our water and our environment, without us being able to notice. Honestly!

While heads of state are currently gathered in Doha to hammer out an agreement to follow the Kyoto Protocol, what is the federal government doing? It is announcing that it will no longer contribute to the climate fund for developing nations. It is saying that Canada will make no commitments unless other countries act first. What a lack of leadership. Canada, with its abundant natural resources, should be a role model when it comes to the environment and be paving the way for an international agreement to counter global warming. But no, the Conservative government prefers to play the role of saboteur of the negotiations.

The United Nations Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diver, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, has said that Ottawa was making a mistake withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. He said that:

It is worrisome, because we are all in the same boat. Either all countries work together to address the problem of climate change, or else we shall all fail.

Can we permit ourselves to fail? The future of the planet is at stake. Moreover, this is not a moral obligation, but a question of economic common sense. A low carbon economy is the way of the future. The Blue Green Alliance, a civil society initiative, recently published a study demonstrating that transitioning towards renewable energy may create over 18,000 jobs in Canada. Were the government to stop giving handouts to polluters, like big oil, in the form of tax credits, and invest this money, $1.3 billion, in green technologies, it would create real wealth and long-term jobs for all Canadians.

Moreover, former Conservative Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, backs this idea. According to her, Canada is at a crossroads and must go down the path of an economy based on sustainable development. There needs to be investment in solar, wind and electric energy. Because of its inaction, Canada risks losing jobs and its competitive edge.

While the emerging economies are investing in green technologies, the Canadian federal government is doing nothing. The Round Table on the Environment and the Economy estimates that it will cost $87 billion over the next 30 years if we do not act. So, what does the government intend to do? What is its strategy?”

Mr. Randy Kamp (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, CPC):

“Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for her interest in this important issue. I want to assure her that our government takes the challenge of climate change very seriously.

Under the Copenhagen accord, Canada committed to a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2005 levels by the year 2020. This target matches that set by the United States. The North American economy is integrated to the point where alignment of certain climate change policies is necessary in order to maintain competitiveness for Canadian industries.

To reach our target, we are implementing a regulatory approach that will systematically address all major sources of emissions. Performance standards are being developed to drive investments in new clean energy technologies and industries, while at the same time generating reductions in emissions.

In August our government released Canada’s Emissions Trends 2012. In this document the government has been very clear about what we are doing to address climate change and the expected impact of our actions. This report presents projections of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada to 2020 and explains how current federal and provincial government actions are having a significant impact on emissions reductions.

This report shows that taken together the measures of Canada’s federal and provincial governments, combined with the efforts of consumers and businesses, are projected to reduce emissions by about half of the reductions needed to achieve the 2020 target.

Our commitment to addressing climate change is demonstrated by the fact that we have already taken action on two of Canada’s largest sources of emissions: transportation and electricity.

This week the Government of Canada took further action to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from passenger automobiles and light trucks, issuing proposed regulations that build on existing regulations for the 2011 to 2016 model years. These new regulations will address the 2017 and later model years.

As a result of the government’s light-duty vehicle regulations, vehicles in 2025 will emit about half as many greenhouse gases as 2008 models. Not only will this help us in addressing climate change, but will result in up to $900 per year, per car in fuel cost savings for Canadians.

In August our government announced the final regulations for Canada’s coal-fired electricity sector. These regulations will impose stringent GHG performance standards on new coal-fired electricity generation units and on units that have reached the end of their economic life. The regulations will encourage Canada’s transition toward lower or non-emitting types of generation, making our world-leading clean electricity supply even cleaner.

Having begun with transportation and electricity, we are now moving to address emissions in other major emitting sectors of the economy, including oil and gas.

This government has a comprehensive climate change plan that is designed to reduce emissions, while maintaining economic growth and job creation, and it is working.”

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