Thank you very much and good afternoon, members of the committee. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to testify before you.
Our organization, Équiterre, has existed for over 12 years and we promote solutions to individuals, businesses and governments. We work with over 100 organizations every year and we reach approximately 300,000 people in Quebec.
In its current form, Canada's Clean Air Act will not allow us to appropriately address problems related to pollution and greenhouse gases in Canada. Équiterre believes that serious changes need to be made to this legislation in order to ensure sustainable protection of our environment.
Canadians and Quebeckers have high expectations with regard to the environment and Kyoto in particular. Équiterre believes that Parliament and the government must take action in seven areas of intervention that we have identified.
First, reaffirm Canada's long-term commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. Second, set specific and quantifiable targets for 2008-2012 in order to honour our commitment to reduce emissions by 6% below 1990 levels. Third, set intermediate and long-term reduction targets in order to ensure an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. Fourth, regulate heavy industry, which represents 50% of GHG emissions in Canada. Fifth, regulate energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for auto manufacturers that meet or exceed the best practices in North America. Sixth, adopt an ambitious energy efficiency strategy for the country. Seven, adopt a sustainable transportation strategy for the country.
For more detailed information on the first five items that I mentioned, we invite you to refer to presentations made by our partners in Climate Action Network Canada: Greenpeace for points 1 through 3, the Pembina Institute for point 4 and Pollution Probe for point 5, as well as to the other organizations and partners who spoke on this issue.
For its part, Équiterre wants to speak on the last two elements, in other words energy efficiency and transportation.
According to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, 40% of greenhouse gas emission reductions in Canada could be achieved through energy efficiency. Équiterre believes that improving energy efficiency is the way to go, since this is the least costly way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and there is an enormous technological economic potential. Furthermore, this option will create the most jobs per billion dollars invested. It comes as no surprise then that, in the British plan on energy and climate change, energy efficiency measures represent 50% of all GHG emission reduction initiatives.
There are many things that Canada can do in this area, many of which are surprisingly simple. The round table said, in particular, that it was not so much about determining which technology to implement, but rather deciding how to implement nearly all possible technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Équiterre encourages the government to be proactive in adopting regulations prohibiting the sale of products that are not energy efficient.
I want to give a very simple example, and it might seem somewhat insignificant: incandescent light bulbs. We believe that this technology should no longer be sold in Canada. In passing, Australia did just that by announcing, last week, that traditional light bulbs would be banned by 2010. This is the kind of regulation that we want. The resulting energy savings and reduction in greenhouse gases are possible with measures that cost the government very little and push industry to adapt in order to improve energy efficiency.
Naturally, other areas could be regulated, including household appliances and heating and cooling systems, which should not be sold unless they meet the ENERGY STAR program criteria. In other words, instead of making ENERGY STAR an optional incentive program, we propose making it mandatory in order to ensure even greater efficiency.
We estimate that up to 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada come from building operation. Therefore, significant action needs to be taken in this area. Unfortunately, take-up of some programs is insufficient at present. For example, the ecoENERGY Retrofit program offers incentives for owners in order to urge them to invest in energy-saving improvements. However, this program targets barely 140,000 homes over four years! In comparison, the round table previously mentioned advised the government to provide support to at least 165,000 households per year. Équiterre believes that a target of 200,000 would be achievable and more appropriate, given the enormous potential of homes across Canada.
The EnerGuide program, which preceded the ecoENERGY Retrofit program, had demonstrated that we could achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of 3.9 tonnes on average per home. So this is an interesting program to develop.
If the ecoENERGY Retrofit program remains unchanged, results might not be forthcoming. In fact, the program does not directly relate financial incentives to concrete energy efficiency improvements, whereas the former EnerGuide program did to a greater extent. It would be worthwhile looking more closely at the implementation of this program in order to ensure that targets in which we are investing are being achieved.
Another example of some inconsistency with regard to energy efficiency is the cancellation of the Commercial Building Incentive Program, which has encouraged energy efficiency improvements in buildings since 1998; the Canada Green Building Council recognized the success of this program. It should not only be renewed but also improved.
The Government of Canada should also lead by example in this area. Public Works and Government Services Canada currently requires new buildings to meet the goal-rating of LEED Canada or Leadership in energy and environmental design standard, which is the main standard in green architecture in North America. Équiterre believes that the government can and must do better by aiming for platinum, which is the highest rating, for buildings that it builds itself or rents on a long-term basis. This is an achievable goal, as the Gulf Island National Park Reserve Operations Centre in British Columbia proves, which Parks Canada opened this fall. This is the first building in Canada to have obtained the platinum level accreditation from LEED.
Canada should also reduce the amount of energy being used by the transportation sector. In order to do this, we will need to not only improve vehicle energy efficiency, which is essential, we will also need to review the entire transportation system. Because the criteria used to assess road infrastructure needs in urban areas will need to be reviewed, Équiterre encourages the Government of Canada to impose a moratorium on funding for highways and roads in urban areas. This moratorium should be maintained until Canada has, in particular, adopted a cohesive strategy on urban sprawl. This strategy must then guide the granting of federal funding, as well as the activities of the government itself. In fact, the location of federal buildings, the number and proximity of parking spots provided and incentives related to purchasing transit passes, for example, are factors that influence how government employees travel. In short, we invite the federal government to ensure consistency.
At the same time, Canada must support the construction of strategic infrastructures in order to reduce the number of motorists driving without passengers. London is an inspiring example. Last week, London authorities extended the perimeter of the urban toll system established in 2003, extending to nearly 30 square kilometres the area within which drivers must pay an entrance toll. This measure has cut traffic in the downtown core by 20%, according to Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, who also wants to impose a special tax on the cars generating the most pollution. To date, nitrous oxide has dropped by 13% in London, particle matter by 15% and carbon gas by 16%. In addition to reducing congestion and GHG emissions, the urban toll has generated significant funding for public transit.
With or without an urban toll, the Government of Canada must make significant investments in public transit and alternative transportation.
Équiterre invites the Government of Canada to more closely monitor compliance with the voluntary GHG emissions reduction agreement for cars and vans that it reached with auto manufacturers in April 2005. Équiterre believes that the bill should include an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumptions Standards Act, in order to ensure that vehicle emissions are regulated once the voluntary agreement expires. Should there be any delays in the implementation of this agreement, Équiterre encourages the federal government to immediately adopt legislation to implement California's emissions standards.
Canadian voters are impatiently waiting for the Canadian government to take significant action. A public poll conducted early this year shows that the environment is the top concern of Canadian voters, before health care, the conflict in Afghanistan and the economy. This poll also showed that this is the area in which the government's performance disappointed them the most. In November, the results of a poll also showed that 71% of Canadians felt that the government's plan to deal with pollution and climate change was not ambitious enough. Last month, a new poll confirmed that the environment and climate change are the main concerns of Canadians, and 68% of those polled stated that they were more concerned than last year. Clearly, Canadians remain unhappy. And they have reason to be afraid, since, in 2004, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada exceeded 1990 levels by 27%.
Canada's Clean Air Act will not reassure Canadians. The government must keep its international commitments on climate change. It can no longer withhold its signature from the Kyoto Protocol, and moreover this is undermining its credibility. Canadians want their country to take action in order to stop climate change, which is the greatest crisis facing humanity according to 72% of polled Canadians.
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.
My name is Gord Steeves and I'm the acting president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. I'm joined by one of our senior policy analysts, Mary Jane Middelkoop.
As you may be aware, Mr. Chairperson, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the organization that represents virtually all Canadian municipalities, from the very largest to the very smallest, encompassing about 90% of the Canadian population.
I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to appear before your committee on behalf of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
I won't speak in detail to all the specific recommendations we are making for . These are spelled out in our submission.
I apologize for not having our brief available in French. It was impossible for us to have both versions ready for today, but we will have the French version tomorrow.
While municipal governments will not be heavily regulated by the proposed, how it is implemented and its effectiveness are important to Canadian cities and communities. Bill C-30 provides the Government of Canada and Parliament with the opportunity to recognize formally the fundamental role municipal governments play in combatting smog and greenhouse gas emissions.
Unfortunately, in its current form, the bill does not meet that criteria. That is why we are proposing specific amendments which I will come back to in a moment.
The 1,500 municipalities that belong to the FCM are already making a significant contribution to Canada's environmental targets. For example, we are taking part in projects to reduce energy consumption, encourage the use of public transit and reduce the amount of garbage sent to landfills.
We could do more. Our current efforts are largely uncoordinated, without an overall plan or design. We could make an even greater contribution to cleaner air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions within a national plan and with national coordination.
A long-term intergovernmental partnership is the only way to meet the challenges posed by climate change and air pollution. In the framework of this partnership, we will have to redefine and clarify roles and responsibilities based on more functional criteria.
It is essential that recognize the role of municipal government in meeting Canada's environmental objectives and that it be implemented in partnerships with cities and communities.
The importance of a coordinated intergovernmental action is illustrated by a recent U.S. report. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a U.S.-based think tank, surveyed climate change activities in ten U.S. cities that signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. It found that while cities' commitments are real and in some cases involve significant programs, they face an uphill struggle. Not more than one or two of the ten cities will meet their goal of reducing emissions 0.7% below 1990 levels by 2012. The report found that some cities had hoped to achieve their goals with the help of state and federal policies such as renewable electricity standards, improved vehicle efficiency, and stricter fuel economy standards.
This offers important lessons for Canada. Despite their good intentions, municipal governments cannot meet the challenge to clean the air and stop climate change on their own. Actions by other governments can have a huge impact locally.
On the plus side, subsidies, standards, and incentives can support local efforts. On the negative side, confusing rules and regulations or a failure to provide resources can hinder them.
Coordinated intergovernmental action is needed to ensure that municipal governments can reach their full potential. Our inability to focus the potential of municipal governments would be a lost opportunity.
Municipalities generate emissions through the operation of buildings and facilities and as a consequence of services like waste management, water treatment, and public transit. In addition, we have influence over land use practices, transportation systems, the energy efficiency of community building stock, and the sources of energy used. Efforts to enlist the municipal sector in meeting broad national environmental goals such as FCM's green municipal fund are producing results. However, the scope of the problem as well as the untapped potential of our cities and communities requires more.
The FCM believes that there is a clear opportunity for the federal government to adopt an integrated and strategic approach to clean air and climate change. However, this approach will not be without its challenges. Municipal governments lack the resources and fiscal tools they need to maintain their infrastructure and meet their other responsibilities.
In addition, we may not always have the legislative authority to introduce new fees or levies to promote emission reduction activities.
The FCM submitted a plan to the previous Minister of the Environment for a collaborative approach towards cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. We met Minister Ambrose and agreed to strike a joint FCM and Environment Canada working group. The working group was designed to make the partnership real by advising us on the opportunities to work together for cleaner air and lower greenhouse gases in our communities.
The municipalities are prepared to help clean our air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and they can start now. We do not need to wait for new legislation in order to start working together. Investments in public transit, energy efficiency and climate change adjustment measures by municipal governments can produce immediate results.
However, framework legislation such as can and does set the tone for government action. Its silence on municipal government's potential and role in combatting smog and climate change undermines the cooperation necessary for progress. For this reason, we are proposing an amendment to CEPA that recognizes the role of municipal governments.
The FCM recommends that the composition of the CEPA National Advisory Committee, as outlined in part I, subsection 6(2) of CEPA 1999, be amended to require participation of a municipal government representative.
Canada cannot achieve its climate change and clean air targets without the commitment and active participation of municipal governments. And, without this amendment, Bill C-30 will not help to resolve this situation. The municipal governments are prepared to work with the federal government and the governments of the provinces and territories in order to make a concrete and quantifiable contribution to the fight against climate change and air pollution.
should be amended to recognize the role and place of Canada's cities and communities in combatting smog and climate change. Only then can the legislation serve as the foundation of a credible coordinated national strategy on clean air and climate change.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
First, welcome to the committee this evening to discuss the issue of energy efficiency and Bill C-30.
A few days ago, we heard from a renowned Quebec specialist on climate change, Mr. Claude Villeneuve. He told us it was becoming increasingly difficult to really reduce greenhouse gas emissions, quite simply because the energy policy in Canada was different from coast to coast. The example he gave us was, in fact, the difficulty in maximizing GHG emissions reduction for each dollar invested in the fight against climate change, particularly in the area of buildings.
He also told us that, since 95% of electricity in Quebec comes from hydroelectricity, which is quite different from what happens in the rest of Canada, it was impossible to implement a program such as the EnerGuide program or any other program to maximize GHG emissions reduction for each dollar invested in the fight against climate change.
I believe that 40% of GHG emissions could be avoided if we focused on energy efficiency. The figures are quite telling, and you said so clearly. With regard to energy efficiency, how could we maximize greenhouse gas emission reductions for each dollar invested by the federal government or any other government in the fight against climate change?
My question is for either witness.
Thank you for the question. I would like to answer in English.
It was an excellent question. I have a pretty good answer.
If the direct question is how can the federal government maximize its efficiency in terms of dollars spent, I might suggest using programs like the program we have in place at the FCM, which we've called green municipal funds. I wouldn't expect members of the committee to necessarily be familiar with the program, but it provides a lump sum to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in the amount of about $250 million, which municipal governments can access to do grants to municipalities to do studies for energy efficiency in all the projects they are doing--be it buildings, water and waste, rapid transit, or whatever happens to be the order of the day for that particular municipality. That program is then followed up after the grant with a reduced interest loan, not a grant, to municipalities. The municipalities can access that money and leverage it against their own dollars within their municipality to complete the project.
This is done over and over again in municipalities right across Canada, and this is a project that has been going on for the past several years. It's a wonderful project, and a great example of how it can work. It has the beautiful effect of the federal government being able to loan money, not grant, to the larger extent, and have it matched at the municipal level. It is a good example of how those partnerships can be created. What happens from coast to coast is that you see literally hundreds of projects being done, big projects, in municipalities that are completed and have a great effect on greenhouse gases.
The good news in this story is that in many cities over the years, even though the private sectors, the people going to and fro in the cities, haven't made that marked a decrease, there actually has been a great deal of effect made in Canadian cities--Calgary, Edmonton, for example--where the city administration output has been drastically reduced. They're truly good news stories. When Bill talks about domestic offset systems and how those can be arranged, groups like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities are ready to step in and act as clearinghouses and aggregators to collect and distribute those types of offset systems that can work. While every municipality is setting its own course for greenhouse gas reduction, there can be a system that amalgamates it, aggregates it, and keeps track of it over time.
There are really some great success stories out there. That would be my answer to some of the issues you pose.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here. It's very interesting. The topic of today is tools, energy efficiency, so I appreciate your comments.
Mr. Steeves, we haven't met, but as parliamentary secretary I've met with your president more than one time and look forward to meeting with you personally. I believe FCM is very important. I'm glad you're here. After 14 years of local government--that was my background and introduction into politics--I know how important.... You are in the front lines, and we're really excited you're here today.
On tools and fuel efficiency, Mr. Cullen started going down that pathway in asking Mr. Ribaux questions regarding the other half. Half of the greenhouse gas emissions are being created by manufacturing, oil and gas. The other half of greenhouse gas emissions are coming from us as consumers. We have questions from the Liberal members, asking if we can meet the Kyoto target.
We've also heard from a number of witnesses--Professor Boyd, Professor Jaccard. Professor Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University has been to the committee. I guess I'll quote him, and this is in relationship to the Kyoto target. And we acknowledge that we've inherited an environmental mess that we are committed to clean up, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it has to be in a way that has tangible results that reduces greenhouse emissions without destroying the Canadian economy.
Professor Jaccard said, “You would have to destroy one-third of the buildings and equipment in your economy in the next four years to meet the Kyoto target.” He said we'd have to raise $4 billion to $6 billion a year for five years to buy foreign credits--that is, assuming emissions of about 200 million tonnes over target each year between 2008-12. He said that buying credits is an option often discussed but little understood. He said:
||Buying international credits in a four-year time frame is virtually impossible because you have to buy it from someone. Someone somewhere has to have done some greenhouse gas reductions and we have to be able to verify that they did that. That is really difficult.
So we've had a number of testimonies of the difficult mess we're in with the environment. We are committed to doing much more than the previous government. On the question of tools, what really can we do?
Mr. Ribaux, you made a comment saying that one of the tools you'd like to see is a moratorium to stop funding of all roads and bridges. My question to Mr. Steeves is this. What would be the impact if a local government were required by the federal government...? And we're talking jurisdictional problems here, because the municipalities are under the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories, not under the federal government; that's a whole other question, if we start going down that. But what if Mr. Ribaux's suggestion were adopted by the provinces, and you were required to build no more roads, do no more road widening?
I'll just finish here and then you can understand where I'm coming from.
My understanding is that to create a reduction where I can reduce my greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2050, if I'm still alive, we're going to have, say, a 60% reduction of where we are now. To reduce that, if every one of us set even a goal of 40%--right now I'm going to reduce my greenhouse gas emissions as a consumer, as a Canadian, by 40%--we're going to have to change the way our communities are structured. We're going to have to densify. We're going to have to build more public transit. We're going to phase into communities that are different from what we have now. Where we spread out, we're going to have to densify.
What is a realistic timeframe for setting a goal of making a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but doing it in a way considering where we are and where we have to get to? How quickly can we stop building roads and bridges? How quickly can we densify? How quickly can we come up with some of the suggestions that Mr. Ribaux has just said?