Lloyd Longfield, MP Guelph

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

We cannot allow ourselves to forget the means by which we got to this point. By draining marshlands, clearing rain forests, and burning fossil fuels, we released millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Will we assume our responsibility as stewards to this fragile planet or will we simply sit back and continue to watch our shared planet slide further into the environmental abyss?

Our responsibility as parliamentarians is to address this global challenge and the part that Canada plays in its resolution. On behalf of the people of Guelph, I am here to say that inaction is not an option at all. As a community, Guelph has mobilized in defence of the well-being 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 of Guelph, which trains half of Canada's environmental engineers every year, to the city of Guelph's community energy initiative, and the residents and businesses that combine to conserve energy and water.

In Guelph, businesses, government, and education always look for ways to collaborate and innovate. The challenge for Guelph has been to reduce its per capita energy and water consumption by 50% between the years 2006 and 2021. Due to Ontario's places to grow legislation, Guelph has been mandated to grow by 50% in the same time period, accepting 55,000 more people and creating 31,000 more jobs.

Guelph's challenge reflects the global challenge. We have limited resources on which to draw from in 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 lake or river water for its supply. We are also limited by access to power through the power grid and the transformer capacity feeding Guelph. Our community energy initiative is on target to reach its targets.

Over 50% of Guelph's 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. Through efficiencies in its waste water management plant, we have increased its capacity by over 50%. Solid waste from its waste water facility is now available for fertilizer and further opportunities are being investigated for biogas applications. Our closed landfill has been generating power from methane for over a decade and now is 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, Guelphites are not finished. We are, in fact, restless and we will continue to lead the way and push to reduce their community's carbon footprint.

In fact, last Friday, I attended a groundbreaking ceremony of Gatto Homes. Gatto Homes will be the new net zero ready townhouse development that, upon completion, will have net zero town homes developed in Guelph. Innovative and green developments like what Gatto Homes is doing are precisely the kinds of projects we need if we to seriously tackle the issues of climate change and win. This first-in-Ontario net zero townhouse development will provide homes that use under one-tenth 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 its new net zero design of homes greater than 2,500 square feet.

Battling climate change does not need to come at a sacrifice to comfort or cost. Economics is tied with the environment, saving life-cycle costs and, at the same time, reducing our environmental footprint.

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

Carbon pricing gives reasonable and predictable pricing that will drive innovation and encourage businesses to be more competitive and increase efficiency. Giving incentives opens the door to new projects. Clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand, as I have just said. Reducing our carbon footprint is a benefit that Canadians, especially the middle class, will enjoy. Using pricing on pollution to drive market innovation and to create new and exciting jobs will be something that our communities could look forward to under this new pricing regime.

One-third of $1 trillion was invested last year alone in green technology globally. Pricing pollution is a proven way to stop major emitters from increasing air pollution and the pollution of waters across the globe. In fact, nine out of ten people live in areas where air quality is poor. Every year, three million people die from causes due to air pollution.

For proof that carbon pricing works, one does not need to leave the province of Ontario. Toronto experienced 53 smog days in 2005. Last year, it was zero. Numbers do not lie. Carbon pricing works.

On a local level, Guelph is taking action. It is our duty as members of Parliament to ensure communities from coast to coast to coast have the funds and guidance to carry out this crucial work. A lot of attention has been paid to putting a price on pollution and coordinating this effort 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 footprint. In Europe, where energy costs are more accurately reflected in the cost of pollution, communities have implemented district energy programs, installed combined heat and power solutions, and implemented alternate energy programs.

I recently visited the city of Bottrop, Germany, with a population of 86,000 people. Bottrop has labelled itself “Innovation City” for the work it is doing on energy and water management. Germany has a word for the programs that Canada would be embarking on: energiewende. By learning from innovative international partners like Germany, Canada can accomplish the targets set in the Paris agreement.

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

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 would open 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 important agreement.