Speech on Paris Agreement

October 5, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer my full support for the Paris agreement and the promise this agreement holds for Canada’s future. Climate change is truly unlike any other challenge this House or indeed humanity itself has ever faced; as this struggle is not with any particular nation, or ideology, but with the ever increasing needs of human society.

We cannot allow ourselves to forget the means by which we have got to this point. By draining marsh lands, clearing rainforest, and burning fossil fuels we release millions of tonnes of C02 into the atmosphere. Mr. Speaker, will we assume our responsibility as stewards of this fragile planet? Or will we simply sit back and continue to watch our shared planet to slide further into an environmental abyss? Our responsibility as parliamentarians to address this global challenge and the part Canada plays towards its resolution.

On behalf of the people of Guelph I am here to say that inaction is no option at all. As a community Guelph has mobilized in defence of the wellbeing of the environment and the planet. Guelphites have come together to do our part in curbing the effects of climate change. From our remarkable University which trains half of Canada’s environmental engineers each year, to the City of Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative, to the residence and businesses that combine to conserve energy and water. In Guelph, business, government and education always look for ways to collaborate and innovate.

The challenge for Guelph has been to reduce per capita energy and water consumption by 50% in the years between 2006 and 2021. Ontario’s Places to Grow legislation has mandated Guelph to grow by 50% in this same period, accepting 55,000 more people and creating 31,000 more jobs. Guelph’s challenge reflects the global challenge – we have limited resources to draw from during this period of growth. Guelph draws its water from an underground cistern, being one of the only communities in Ontario that does not have access to a lake or river for its water supply. We are also limited by access to power, through the power grid and transformer capacity. Our community energy initiative is on target to reach these targets.

Over 50% of small businesses have adopted lighting retrofits, and Guelph generates more than 10% of Ontario’s solar power. We are diverting almost 70% of our waste from landfill and through efficiencies and wastewater management we have increased our waste water capacity by 50%. Solid waste from our wastewater facility is available for fertilizer, and further opportunities for biogas are being investigated. Our closed landfill has been generating power from methane for over a decade, and is now one of North America’s only urban pollinator parks.

Through the Royal Flush program, Guelph homes have retrofitted their toilets to low flush models. Similar programs have been instituted for front loading washing machines and rounding up high energy consumption refrigerators.

However, Mr. Speaker, Guelphites are not finished. We are in fact restless. And we will continue to lead the way and push to reduce our community’s carbon footprint. This past Friday I attended the ground-breaking ceremony of Gatto Homes’ which will be “Net Zero Ready” upon their completion. Innovative and green developments like Gatto homes are precisely the kind of projects we need if we are to seriously tackle the issues of climate change and win. This first in Ontario net zero townhouse development will provide homes that use 1/10 of normal energy for heating, and include continuous fresh air intake to provide the ultimate in comfort and healthy living. Similarly, Fusion Homes in Guelph recently was awarded for their new zero design of homes greater than 2500 square feet. Battling climate change does not need to come at sacrifice to comfort or cost. Economics is tied with environment, saving life cycle costs at the same time as reducing the environmental footprint.

As the Prime Minister informed this House on Monday there are three simple and straightforward reasons to implement a carbon pricing policy;

1) Reasonable and predicable pricing will drive innovation and encourage businesses to be more competitive increase efficiency. Giving incentives opens the door to new projects. Clean environment and strong economy go hand in hand.
2) Benefit to Canadians especially middle class. Uses market to drive innovation, new and exciting job prospects will be created. One third of a $.33 trillion dollar invested last year in green technology.
3) Proven way to stop major emitters from increasing air pollution and pollution of ocean waters. 9 of 10 people live in areas where air is poor. Every year 3 million people die from causes due to air pollution.

For proof that carbon pricing works, one doesn’t need to leave the Province of Ontario. Toronto experienced 53 smog days in 2005, last year it was 0. Mister Speaker, numbers do not lie. Carbon pricing works.

On a local level Guelph is taking action, it is our duty as Members of Parliament to make sure that communities from coast to coast to coast have the funds and guidance needed to carry out this crucial work. A lot of attention has been paid to putting a price on pollution, and coordinating these efforts with provinces and territories. Implementing a price on pollution will drive Canadian residents and businesses to implement creative solutions such as those we are working on in Guelph. Commercial opportunities will also emerge as businesses in the green technology space work on ways to further reduce our carbon footprints. In Europe, where energy costs more accurately reflect the cost of pollution, communities have implemented district energy programs, installed combined heat and power systems, and implemented alternate energy programs.

Mister speaker, I recently visited the city of Bottrop Germany, with a population of 86,000 people, which has labeled itself “Innovation City” for the work they are doing on energy and water management. Germany has a word for the programs Canada will be embarking on: “Energiewinde”. By learning from innovative international partners like Germany, Canada can accomplish the targets set in the Paris Agreement.

Guelph spends $500million per year on energy. We have twice the per capita energy cost that Germany has, with half the percapita consumption. Therefore, the economic opportunity on cost savings alone represents $250million for our community. Imagine what freeing up that money would do for our community alone.

Mister Speaker, we are at the threshold of another great industrial revolution, and Guelphites are only too happy to seize this crucial moment to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint and grow Guelph at the same time. The Paris Agreement opens the door for Canada to take a leadership role in the fight against climate change, therefore I look forward to voting in favour of this agreement.