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In Parliament: Second Reading of My Bill on CCUS

On April 12 I rose in the House on the Second Reading of my Bill C-262, an act to encourage Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage. Here is the video clip; the text of my remarks is below the video.

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise in the House today to present this private member’s bill at second reading: Bill C-262, an act to amend the Income Tax Act regarding carbon capture, utilization and sequestration.

I want to start by acknowledging all the people in the riding I represent, Calgary Centre, who gave me the honour of being their representative in the House of Commons 18 months ago. Many of those Calgarians joined my campaign or lent me their support in the hope that there would be better options for the way in which our country deals with the myriad challenges we face together.

Greenhouse gas accumulation and its effect on the world’s environment are large and complex issues we need to address as a society and as a world.

I sought to represent my constituents in this place with the belief that Canadians were not well served by politicians who dwelled on trite slogans or divisive attribution, and avoided real solutions to these difficult and complex problems. This month I have heard the gross misrepresentation of my party’s position on the necessity of lowering greenhouse gas emissions. I have heard the cheap, unconstructive and divisive repetitions of this misrepresentation from shallow voices, including in the House, as well as from members of the cabinet. Perhaps Canadians need to roundly tell the current government that the division it has created, and continues to create, in this country on this fundamental issue should be curbed. Climate change is an issue not to be addressed in a partisan and divisive fashion. That approach of division, regionally and sectorally, must stop.

It is not an issue that we can shrug our shoulders on and be smug toward Canadians whose lives and livelihoods are being ruined as the government chooses an approach, selectively and inadequately, to address this matter.

At the risk of sounding trite, which I would detest, I speak here today on behalf of 120 colleagues on this side of the House, all of whom are of one mind in our approach to tangibly address the underlying causes of climate change. Canadians have experienced over five years of broken environmental policies. The government is long on studies. It is long on expensive and connected insider consultants, virtue-signalling and extending regulatory timelines. It is long on pretend solutions: the latest expensive, subsidized, faddish non-solutions and new taxes wrapped in virtue, but it is short on any results for accomplishing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

I am not here now to dwell on the current government’s failures, but I question the failed approach. As with its record on a multitude of projects, talk is cheap. Sooner or later we need to see results. In 2018, Canada emitted the highest amount of greenhouse gases since 2007. I will not give any previous government credit for the 9% reduction in GHG emissions in this country between 2007 and 2009, as the economy also shrank by 7%. As the Government of British Columbia has clearly learned, and the Government of Canada is learning now, a carbon tax has no discernible effect on greenhouse gas emissions despite notable academic input to the contrary, particularly when the carbon tax is a wealth-distribution mechanism and not a true tax on the use of carbon.

I would say the same for any reduction that occurred in 2020-21. I expect the numbers reflect a reduction, but it is not our actions that will have reduced these emissions. It is the pandemic that has shut down our economy. Bill C-262 is not about another speculative approach to greenhouse gas emissions. It is not another unaccountable money pit for taxpayer funds to provide another non-solution to climate change. It is not another mechanism to transfer funds from taxpaying, contributing, employment-generating, sustaining scientific sectors of the Canadian economy. It is not another mechanism to transfer funds to connected, virtue-signalling, speculative, non-transparent, ineffective, subsidized, self-interested actors with no accountable stake in the environmental outcome, who are protected from the devastating economic outcomes of the proposed new solutions.

Bill C-262 is about a real, tangible approach to address the causes of climate change. The bill is about obtaining real results in carbon reduction. The bill is about leadership: national leadership, financial policy leadership and environmental leadership.

Eleven days ago, I had the pleasure, along with five colleagues, to visit a CO2 utilization sequestration facility in Clive, Alberta, hosted by my colleague from Red Deer—Lacombe. The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line is one of Canada’s projects that has shown the world how we will lead in carbon reduction. That is the objective of Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement: to reduce our carbon emissions. It is not to reimagine the economy, tear down what we do, displace productive Canadian jobs in industries or ignore how Canadians can contribute best to the world’s efforts to decarbonize.

This is how we contribute. We will lead the world in a technological approach in which we led the world for a decade until 2018. How did we lose this environmental leadership?

The United States recognized the need to move forward on carbon capture utilization and sequestration, and implemented a tax credit known as 45Q to move these investments forward. Such was the success of the tax measure that the sectors participating in capturing and sequestering carbon increased significantly. The tax measure effectively allows a sharing of the tax credit associated with the expenditures required for the successful capture, utilization and sequestration carbon. Economic modelling shows that for every dollar of tax revenue that the government would forgo through this tax credit, it would see $4 of added economic activity. This is crucial as Canada looks toward economic recovery post-pandemic.

Illustratively, one can see that carbon emitters, industrial entities that contribute to Canada’s economy, are not always the same entities that have the ability or the option to utilize and store carbon, or transport it to utilization or storage, or verify permanent sequestration, yet they are the entities that must obtain the equipment to capture the carbon. Captured carbon is not worthwhile unless we utilize it or sequester it effectively. Hence there is an ability to split the credit among various entities.

This tax innovation led entities that had started and advanced in Canada to move to projects in the United States. With one piece of smart legislation, the U.S. effectively led an industry, which Canada had led for a decade, to its jurisdiction, all with the objective of reducing carbon emissions and contributing to the world’s efforts to decarbonize.

I should point out that the United States has met its Paris targets, whereas Canada has not. I admit there were different starting points between our countries and much of the U.S. success has been the result of moving away from using thermal coal for its power. Canada needs to step back into the lead and ensure that Canadian entities have the opportunity to retake their leadership in this technology and contribute to the world’s decarbonization efforts with Canadian leadership.

The International Energy Agency recognizes carbon capture utilization and storage as the third most important measure for the world to attain its Paris Agreement targets. I will also note that the legislation and approach embodied in the bill align with the U.S. in an era when Canada’s approach to climate change needs to be in lockstep with our trading partners, or it will lead to the concept of carbon leakage. This will mean no reduction in carbon, but a clear reduction in Canadian jobs. This reality should be at the forefront of our concern.

I will close by telling the House that this legislation is over two years late. Losing two years of economic and environmental leadership to our major trading partner means that we have been asleep at the wheel on advancing climate solutions and leading the world as we once did. The economic benefits are clear. The environmental benefits are proven and clear.

The leadership needs to be clear. Let us wait no longer.