Business of Supply

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for sharing his time with me.

I am very pleased to address one of the most important issues facing our country. I am extremely proud of the work our government has done to address climate change, both in Canada and internationally.

Climate change is a global challenge that first and foremost needs a global solution. I am also pleased to say that our government is the first Canadian government to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This reduction, 4.8% lower emissions when compared to 2005, is significant and should be recognized as such, particularly because our economy has grown by 8.4% over the same period. This reduction is significant because a generation from now, Canadians will look back and see that it was our Prime Minister and our Minister of the Environment who ushered in a new era of pragmatic and effective greenhouse gas reduction.

This reduction will not satisfy our critics here today. I know first hand of the passion the member for Halifax has for the environment and for climate change in particular. I can respect that passion, but I am here to remind her today that what is critical for Canadians, and indeed the world, is to have a climate change strategy that is balanced. Any plan must be effective and achievable and the important balance to strike is to lower emissions, like our government has done since 2005, without disrupting our economy.

We have to work collaboratively with Canadian employers and Canadians themselves to achieve meaningful targets. We cannot be tempted to foist unachievable and potentially disruptive policies from Ottawa on employers across the country at a time when employment is tenuous in Canada and when families are worried of a job loss for mom or dad.

While the NDP have well-intentioned but incredibly naive plans with respect to climate change, I must also highlight the sorry track record of the Liberal Party with respect to this file. Although the last Liberal government liked to talk an incredibly good game with respect to climate change and the Kyoto protocol, the reality is that government did absolutely nothing to address greenhouse gas emissions, nothing.

The Liberal critic continues the strategy of talking a very good game. She claims her speech in the House today was well researched and free of hyperbole. She spoke with conviction about Liberal plans, strategies, one-tonne challenges, signings and announcements, but the reality is that nothing serious was done to lower emissions by the Liberal government. On the contrary, the Liberals talked as if they were doing something, they appeared very attentive to the issue and even named pets after Kyoto, but after we pushed aside the window dressing, their true record was on display. The record shows that the Liberal Party led Canada through one of the largest period of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

I saw a new Liberal commercial for the Liberal leader and he said that he had been working hard in recent months to earn trust. I would invite him to also study hard, to study the record of his party when it comes to climate change. Studying the record on climate change would make a good lesson at Degrassi High or any school in Canada on the meaning of the term hypocrisy.

This government is also attempting to work actively and constructively with all of our international partners. The Prime Minister and the minister have consistently built solid and professional relationships with our trading partners on environmental issues. This stands in sharp contrast with the NDP, which is only too happy to travel to the United States to use Washington as a bully pulpit to attack its own country. Sadly, the New Democrats do not even seem to realize that this undermines their very credibility as a party that wants to lead Canada.

To be effective, an international climate change agreement must involve meaningful commitments by all major emitters. Countries involved in the ongoing negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have now moved beyond the Kyoto protocol toward a new and comprehensive international climate change agreement that will include significant action to reduce greenhouse emissions by all the world’s major economies.

Canada is part of this international movement. Under the 2009 Copenhagen accord, Canada made a solid commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels. The commitment set a goal of reaching these reductions by 2020. We stand by this commitment and are taking a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reducing emissions, with a goal to meet this target.

Our approach also works with Canadian employers to help sectors achieve their targets, while providing that important balance to ensure our economy keeps moving forward and the men and women from across our country keep their jobs in these challenging economic times.

Our government has already expressed our intention to continue this work with our international partners in establishing a new post-2020 climate change agreement that would more effectively serve to meet global climate change goals. This is not to say that international action cannot take place until a new agreement is established. Indeed, Canada has been actively collaborating with international partners outside the United Nations’ process for effective action that can be implemented now.

The Prime Minister and his ministers travel around the world to work collaboratively and effectively with our global community, while NDP politicians travel the world only to find new ways and new locations to score political points, weaken our reputation and denigrate Canadian employers.

We need only look back a few weeks to see Canadian leadership and collaboration in this regard. At the major economies forum, Canada took a leadership role to address short-lived climate pollutants. These include methane, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon. It is estimated that these pollutants, whose lifetime in the atmosphere is shorter than long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, will contribute significantly to global warming in the coming decades. These short-lived climate pollutants are of particular concern to Arctic countries like Canada because they may be responsible for the more rapid warming we are currently experiencing in the far north, notably due to the effect of black carbon deposited on snow and ice.

Another long-standing initiative in this area is the global methane initiative. This March, Canada hosted the Methane Expo 2013 in Vancouver, an international meeting and technology forum. Addressing methane emissions can result in a range of benefits, including air quality, human health and sustainable development.

Canada has also been working to address these pollutants within the Arctic Council as a founding member and lead partner in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition established in early 2012. We have been very encouraged to see the coalition grow from 7 to over 56 partners. Canada was the first out of the gate on this critical initiative by donating $3 million to the coalition. The Minister of the Environment just announced this month that Canada would contribute a further $10 million.

In meeting and exceeding the joint developed country goal under the Copenhagen accord to mobilize fast-start financing in the period from 2010 to 2012, Canada and other industrialized countries have provided funding of over $33 billion to help strengthen the capacity of developing countries that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and contribute to global mitigation efforts. I would like to talk to some of these countries that we have been helping directly.

In Haiti, $4.5 million of fast-start financing helped build climate resilience through rehabilitating 253 kilometres of shoreline, planting 500,000 trees and the construction of nearly 15 kilometres of irrigation corridors.

In Lesotho, $1.2 million went to support an 18-month feasibility study for the development of two potential wind power projects with the combined potential of 900 megawatts.

In Honduras, $5 million in Canadian support is unlocking up to $50 million to allow a local bank to provide affordable financing for renewable energy and energy-efficiency improvements at small and medium-sized businesses.

The track record of this government is clear. We are working in reducing emissions at home and are taking a major role internationally to help developing countries address climate change impacts and grow sustainably. Our plan is balanced, collaborative and effective, both at home and abroad. Canadian employers can find solace in the fact that our government will work collaboratively with them, industry by industry, to reach achievable goals without disrupting our economy and potentially putting Canadians in a position of unemployment.

These are important times and our government has taken important steps to ensure we address the reduction of greenhouse gases.

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