Mr. Ian Murray (Lanark—Carleton, Lib.)
Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to address the motion on natural gas introduced by the hon. member for Churchill River.
It is the government's current energy policy not to fund energy megaprojects but to leave it to the competitive market to decide what goes forward and what does not. This is one reason we have difficulty in supporting the hon. member's motion.
This policy has not resulted in a stalled natural gas industry. Far from it. The result has been some very exciting private sector driven developments including the expansion of natural gas distribution and production into new previously unserviced regions.
From an energy policy point of view it would not be sensible to depart from the basic principle that the market must decide where laterals are built. However, for other non-energy policy reasons there may be programs in other departments which seek to achieve economic development or environmental or other goals through the subsidization of laterals.
I repeat what my hon. friend from Halton said earlier, that the western economic partnership agreement was a possible avenue for some federal government support in this area, but the NDP government in Saskatchewan turned it down.
I understand the hon. member's desire to ensure an environmentally friendly and secure energy source for his region. That is what Canada's approach to the complex evolving global challenge of climate change is all about. We see it as a challenge that is both environmental and economic.
The Kyoto protocol in December 1997 reaffirmed the conviction among some 160 nations that the six commonly identified greenhouse gases are accumulating in the world's atmosphere at such a rate and to such an extent that they are putting the world's future climate at risk. For Canada this could mean more severe and more frequent weather disruptions, more inland floods in some areas, more droughts in others, rising sea levels and flooded coastlines, more wind and hail and ice storms, and greater threats to public safety and economic security.
The vast majority of global scientific opinion suggests that human conduct is certainly contributing to the problem and making it worse. The protocol involved a commitment on the part of the industrialized world to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. This action is much like an insurance policy against those future risks, and just like buying insurance one cannot get the coverage one should have had after the fact.
For Canada, our Kyoto target is to get our emissions down by the period between 2008 and 2012 to 6% below the level they were at in 1990. It will not be easy. Canada's northern climate and vast distances, its increasing population and increasing reduction, and its resource based and energy intensive economy all make our commitment much more difficult to meet. If we just carry on from this point forward with no changes, business as usual, by the year 2010 Canada's greenhouse gas emissions will rise to about 25% above our Kyoto target. We obviously have to slow that trajectory, flatten it out, and then turn it downward to reach our target within about a decade.
Where we will be when it ends will depend upon how astute we were at managing our domestic climate change challenges in relation to the rest of the world. We need to marry strong environmental performance with a strong economy.
About 85% of human made emissions are related to the way we produce and consume energy. The more energy efficient we become, the fewer emissions we generate. The more we achieve in this regard through greater energy efficiency, the less we will have to rely on other means to satisfy our Kyoto protocol obligations.
Across our entire national economy, in every sector and in the individual behaviour of each one of us we must achieve energy efficiency excellence. From a government policy perspective we have thus far used a variety of tools to achieve greater energy efficiency.
For one thing, we have tried to improve our own operations within the Government of Canada. We are on track to slash our emissions by more than 20% and to reach that goal by 2005.
Another tool is the provision of accurate information with which people can make informed decisions about energy use. The EnerGuide label is a good illustration. A third tool is peer group challenges like VCR Inc., the voluntary challenge registry program where industries and businesses pledge to improve their performances and report their progress in a tangible and public way.
There are incentives like Natural Resources Canada's commercial buildings program which is putting up some cash to encourage developers and builders to incorporate best practices from the ground up.
Hand in hand with these tools we must achieve a faster rate of new technology development and timely deployment of new technology. This is a key underpinning for everything else.
Consider an innovation like the Solarwall developed by Conserval Engineering, a new solar based energy saving technique for large building ventilation systems. It requires modestly increased construction costs one time but it generates significant savings in ongoing operating costs year after year, a more efficient ventilation system, fewer greenhouse gas emissions and a growing market across North America and around the world.
We must build our capacity for efficiency innovation within government labs, in academic institutions and in the private sector and we must put that new knowledge to work quickly in the marketplace. For our part federally, we are moving in that direction, specifically in each of our last three federal budgets.
Within Natural Resources Canada about $100 million each year is normally invested in the search for climate change solutions. Other federal departments add another $50 million annually. The 1998 federal budget contributed a further $150 million over three years to our climate change action fund. Altogether the annual federal financial commitment is now at $200 million.
There is no one single silver bullet solution to the global climate change challenge. We cannot expect to get everything we will need from energy efficiency and technology alone. Among other things, we must take greater advantage of the diversified mix of energy sources with which we have been blessed, such as hydro, solar, wind, earth and bioenergy. We need progress on a range of other issues such as recycling in the metals industry, municipal landfill management, and biotechnologies that can save energy and agriculture.
We need to strongly engage the enthusiastic participation of the average Canadian consumer. Taken together our collective behaviour can make a big difference. We need to focus on how to get more and more people to think globally about a profound problem like climate change and act locally to do something meaningful about it through their own energy efficiency.
These and a host of other issues are currently being assessed through our national climate change consultative process. It is a very transparent and inclusive process involving more than 450 people representing every dimension of Canadian life working through a series of 16 issue tables. We will start to hear their detailed advice this summer.
The bottom line of all this is there is no one answer.
As we open the 21st century we must establish Canada as the world's smartest natural resources steward, developer, user and exporter, as the most high tech, the most socially responsible and environmentally friendly, as the most productive and competitive. With respect to energy in particular we need to be the very best, the most intelligent, innovative and efficient at finding, developing, producing, delivering, consuming and exporting the world's most sophisticated and diversified energy products, skills, services and science.
I believe that is a worthy Canadian ambition.
Topic: Private Members' Business
Subtopic: Natural Gas