I can talk louder. It's a big room, and the sound just bounces, I think.
Welcome today. We really appreciate you and your team coming before us. You have released your fall reports. They're all of interest to the committee, of course, because they're on reducing greenhouse gases, the impacts of climate change, clean energy technologies, and the progress in implementing sustainable development strategies.
Obviously, the last one is of real importance, given our committee's report on FSDA, the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The other ones are of importance to us as we move forward on our fourth study on climate change and clean technologies.
For the first hour, we will have you and your team. For the second hour, we're going to have the departments that we've asked to come before us.
I'll turn the floor over to you, please.
Madam Chair, thank you for the opportunity to discuss my fall 2017 reports that were tabled in Parliament on October 3.
I'm accompanied by Kimberley Leach, Sharon Clark, and Andrew Hayes, who were the principals responsible for the audit.
In this latest round of audits, we examined three areas in which the federal government has been working to address climate change. We looked at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to the impacts of climate change, and fostering the development of clean energy technologies.
Climate change is one of the defining issues of the 21st century. It is far-reaching and complex. These audits show that when it comes to climate change action, Canada has a lot of work to do in order to reach the targets it has set.
Our first audit looked at whether Environment and Climate Change Canada had led efforts to meet Canada's commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada has missed all of its reduction targets since 1992 and is also not on track to meet the 2020 target. Our audit found that the federal government had shifted its focus to a new and more difficult target, one that has to be met in 2030. This amounts to moving further into the future the timeline to reach the emission reduction targets.
Last December, the government released its newest climate change plan—the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. We found that the federal government, provinces and territories established a governance structure to oversee and report on the framework's implementation.
Environment and Climate Change Canada worked with other federal departments to determine roles and responsibilities in order to implement the measures set in the framework and developed processes to track progress and report annually to first ministers.
While Environment and Climate Change Canada has made progress in working with the territories and provinces to develop the pan-Canadian framework to meet the 2030 target, it remains the latest in a series of plans that have been produced since 1992.
Environment and Climate Change Canada already estimates that even if all the greenhouse gas reduction measures outlines in the pan-Canadian framework are implemented in a timely manner, emissions will go down, but more action will be needed to meet the 2030 target.
Our second audit examined the federal government's efforts to adapt to climate change impacts. We just saw some yesterday, probably, here in Ottawa. The impacts of wildfires, floods, and extreme weather events are being felt across the country. Identifying climate change risks and taking measures to address them are another area in which governments can take action to adapt to a changing climate.
We looked at whether 19 federal organizations had identified and addressed climate change risks to their programs and operations. Overall, we found that the federal government is not prepared to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
Environment and Climate Change Canada developed a federal adaptation policy framework in 2011, but the department did not move to implement it. The department also failed to provide other federal organizations with adequate guidance and tools to identify their climate change risks.
As a result, we found that only five of 19 departments and agencies we examined had fully assessed their climate change risks and address them. For example, Fisheries and Oceans Canada determined that rising sea levels and increasing storm surges could impact some small craft harbours. For this reason, in Nova Scotia for example, the department raised a wharf after the harbour flooded, to guard against a reoccurrence.
In another example, as a response to the risk of permafrost degradation and sea level rise, Natural Resources Canada examined the vulnerability of mine waste management practices in the north and developed adaptation strategies.
We found that the 14 other departments had taken little or no action to address the climate change risks that could prevent them from delivering programs and services to Canadians.
Many departments have an incomplete picture of their own risks, and the federal government, as a whole, does not have a full picture of its climate change risks. If Canada is to adapt to a changing climate, stronger leadership is needed from Environment and Climate Change Canada, along with increased initiative from individual departments.
Our third audit examined three funds that support the development of demonstration projects on clean energy technology. These technologies are one way to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from the production and use of energy.
I am happy to report that the three clean energy funds we looked at were working well overall. The money was spent properly, it was easy to track which projects were funded, and projects were approved through a rigorous and objective process.
Our fourth audit examined whether six federal organizations were providing ministers and cabinet with assessments of the environmental impacts of the proposals they were putting forward.
We found that almost 80 percent of proposals to ministers did not provide assessments of positive or negative environmental impacts. The Public Health Agency of Canada gets the gold star this year, as it was the only one of the six organizations we examined to include preliminary assessments with almost all its proposals to its minister and with all of its submissions to cabinet.
You may recall that last year Parks Canada was the agency that was able to do the same.
Turning now to the environmental petitions process. In the 2016-17 fiscal year, we received 16 petitions from individuals and organizations.
This year, our annual petitions report to Parliament includes a 10-year retrospective of the petitions process.
Addressing climate change is not only difficult and complicated, but also important and urgent. Addressing climate change requires whole-of-government action across all departments and agencies.
The federal government has come up with a new climate change action plan and worked with important players to develop it. That sets this plan apart from the ones that came before, which did not meet any of Canada's climate change commitments. Now the federal government needs to turn its new plan into action. We remain hopeful that progress can be achieved, and we will continue to audit this very important issue.
Madam Chair, this concludes my opening remarks. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you very much.
Commissioner, it's great to see you and your terrific team. I always value your audits and reports and I look forward to the next one.
I'm deeply concerned, Commissioner. We've gone through this series of reports. Going back as far as 2008, we have 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017. Every time, the departments are not delivering their responsibility for a sustainable development strategy.
You say in this report that 80% of proposals submitted to cabinet are not doing the required sustainable development strategy. We have two legal requirements at the federal level. One is the sustainable development act, and then there's an overall strategy. Each department is supposed to do a strategy in tune with that. We have also had this cabinet directive since 1990, and then updates by Treasury Board and by the PCO with guidelines on how to do it, yet you're reporting that neither the Treasury Board nor the PCO seem to be even requiring that these documents be filed.
One thing I found stunning in your report was that they require that a gender lens report be attached to the submission to cabinet but not a report on sustainable development. One of your recommendations was that there needs to be a kind of higher-level central agency oversight over this situation to make sure there is compliance, yet in the bill that is tabled—we'll be hearing from the and her officials on Thursday—that responsibility is still resting with some official within Environment Canada.
I'm wondering if you could give us an idea, if you have looked at other jurisdictions and so forth, of a mechanism we can look to in order to be holding the federal government more accountable in delivering on these requirements and in ensuring that their policies, programs, and legislation are consistent with their commitment to sustainable development.
That's quite a broad question.
Over the past five years, we've been looking at whether or not departments have been implementing the cabinet directive to review environmental impacts of all policies, programs, and projects that are put forward to ministers and to cabinet. The cabinet directive says that each one of these policies and programs is supposed to be vetted for environmental impacts, both positive and negative, and that this information is supposed to be brought forward to the minister and/or to cabinet.
Generally what we've found over the five or six years that we've been looking.... Basically we have 26 agencies that are responsible for doing this, and we've chopped it up and looked at four to six agencies per year. Overall, what we found is that the cabinet directive is better followed when the proposal goes to cabinet, and in that case I'm going to generalize and say that about 40% of the time that a proposal goes to cabinet, a strategic environmental assessment has been done. Very little information goes to a minister, when there is a minister, about either positive or negative impacts. There can be positive environmental impacts as well, and the minister should be aware of that. Very rarely do proposals get vetted for their environmental impacts, either positive or negative, when they go to the minister.
This is just one piece of the federal sustainable development strategy. That strategy and the new act have much broader scope than just looking at environmental effects, but our audits have been on that one piece of the old federal sustainable development strategy. It said clearly that all the departments were going to improve their use of the cabinet directive, so we looked at that slice, not at the whole thing.
You made a flippant comment about yesterday's rainfall being climate change. Those kinds of flippant comments are not helpful in the least. The only thing that's helpful are quantified long-term trends. For example, in prairie Canada, 1961 was the driest year ever, and in Manitoba this year we had a perfect farming year. I would urge the powers that be never to focus on anecdotes but only to look at data. Otherwise, it's all just speculation and opinion.
You talk about Fisheries and Oceans in terms of looking at rising sea levels and so on. The department raised a wharf after a harbour flooded. That's hard infrastructure. Recently, the Manitoba government launched the made-in-Manitoba climate and green plan, and I would urge you to read it because, in addition to dealing with the subject of emissions, the report deals at great length with what I call ecological infrastructure—wetlands, forests, habitats, and so on.
Why do you think there's so little emphasis in the climate change debate on conserving, managing, and protecting our ecological infrastructure, such as wetlands, woodlands, riparian areas, water quality, and so on?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Madam Commissioner, for participating this morning, and thank you to the team accompanying you.
Before joining the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, I was on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and I still come to the same conclusion. I have already made comments about the Auditor General and you, as commissioner, reporting to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and, of course, overall, all of the recommendations you're suggesting are welcomed by the department, which says that it will comply and take the necessary action.
What happens next? The unfortunate thing right now with our management is that there is no adequate follow-up to force departments to comply with the recommendations. In your opening remarks, you said that five of the 19 departments complied and did the right things to achieve the objective, but that it was on their own initiative. It isn't normal that, in 2017, we are still relying on the intention of individuals. I think the government must have the tools it needs to move the issue forward. I find it unfortunate and, I'm saying it again today and I probably haven't finished saying it—I'll probably be labelled as a parliamentarian who wants that things are done well and that the taxpayers' dollars are sell spent—complying with recommendations should not be based on the intentions of individuals.
Then, we see that the objectives that Environment and Climate Change Canada have set are unattainable. You mentioned at the start of your remarks that the department “already estimates that even if all the greenhouse gas reduction measures outlined in the pan-Canadian framework are implemented in a timely manner, emissions will go down [we don't know to what level], but more action will be needed to meet the 2030 target”. Is this all smoke and mirrors? Is it to respond to public opinion and silence it for a little bit or to ease the pressure? Can we be a little more serious in this process?
I'd like you to give us some advice. As parliamentarians, what should we do to remain realistic? Let's stop dreaming; we have to be realistic. Do we have the right targets? Is it responsible to say that we are going to attain such an objective when we don't? It's okay not to attain it, but let's be honest.
Can you tell us what steps we should take to make sure we are a little more serious?
Order. I want to welcome everyone.
We have quite a suite of witnesses in front of us. I'm going to do a quick introduction.
We have less than an hour, so we want to keep your comments really down tight. We ask you to keep them under five minutes so that we can get to the questioning, because the questioning is where everybody really wants to go. We're looking at some long comments here, and if I could ask you to keep them short so that we can get to the questions, that would be great. I think everybody has copies of the comments.
I'll introduce everyone.
From the Department of the Environment, we have with us Matt Jones, assistant deputy minister, pan-Canadian framework implementation office, and Laniel Bateman, acting executive director, policy development.
From the Department of Fisheries and Oceans we have Keith Lennon, director, oceans science branch. From the Department of Industry we have Colette Downie, assistant deputy minister and chief financial officer, and Christopher Johnstone, director general, science and research sector.
From the Department of Natural Resources, we have Amanda Wilson, director general, office of energy research and development, innovation and energy technology sector—wow, that's a big business card—and Marc Wickham, director, energy science and technology programs, office of energy research and development, innovation and energy technology sector.
From the Department of Public Works and Government Services, we have Simon Dubé, director general of strategic policy and planning, and Veronica Silva, director general, service lead, technical services, real property services.
We also have, from the Department of Transport, Ellen Burack, director general for environmental policy.
Thanks to all of you for joining us today. We appreciate your time. We're looking forward to your statements and then getting a chance to get to questions. I think we have Environment and Climate Change Canada up first.
We'll give the floor to you.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here. I'm very pleased to be here to speak about our progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our approach to addressing climate change. This is certainly something that's important to talk about, as it is a top priority for the department and for governments across Canada, as was demonstrated by first ministers when they met in Vancouver and developed the Vancouver declaration.
The first ministers, at that time, agreed to meet or exceed Canada's 2030 target and increase the level of ambition over time to drive greater emission reductions, as required by the Paris agreement, and to develop a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. For the first time there was agreement across all levels of federal, provincial, and territorial governments on an emission reduction target and the need to develop a plan to achieve it.
The declaration also committed governments to the development of working groups to identify options in key areas that we'll be talking about today: clean technology and clean growth, carbon pricing and other mitigation opportunities, and adaptation and resilience, a key topic for today. That menu of options was the first key step leading to the pan-Canadian framework.
Additionally, indigenous peoples were consulted to help shape the development of options and identify opportunities to strengthen collaboration. An extensive engagement process was undertaken to hear directly from Canadians in this process as well.
All of this work culminated, as I think people are aware, in the development of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. This was adopted at the first ministers' meeting last December. The anniversary is coming up. It has a suite of policies across those four pillars that I mentioned: clean growth, carbon pricing, mitigation, and adaptation.
The process there was the Vancouver declaration, which launched a process to develop a menu of options, and then an extensive process to analyze, evaluate, and seek approval and agreement on those options in the form of the pan-Canadian framework. We have now turned to implementing that framework. It is also linked to and supported by a number of other federal funding initiatives, specifically around infrastructure.
At Environment and Climate Change Canada, we've been working extremely hard in the development of this credible, actionable climate plan, and in the implementation of that plan. Since the December 1 ministers' meetings, we have worked extremely closely with our partner departments, with provinces and territories, with indigenous peoples, and with stakeholders to implement the PCF and facilitate this transition to the low-carbon economy. The department has been working with provinces and territories to identify projects that could be funded under the low-carbon economy fund, and we are currently developing legislation and regulations to enact both carbon pricing and other mitigation opportunities.
In considering the conclusions from this audit, it's important to consider the time period covered with respect to mitigation. As discussed, the most recent date available is from 2015, and significant actions have been taken in support of the development and implementation of the pan-Canadian framework that are just happening now.
In terms of reporting, we do report on historical emissions and update our emissions projections annually, and I'm sure we'll talk more about that.
The audit did acknowledge the extensive collaboration with provinces and territories to develop this plan, and we look forward to speaking more about this in the future, as was discussed with the commissioner, as we implement the plan and see the results of those efforts.
The recommendations from the report have been covered. There are two related to reporting, one related to emissions projections, and one related to the 2020 target. We've accepted those recommendations and we've already taken action in a number of areas, including working collaboratively on results with provinces and territories.
In terms of reporting, in addition to the three regular reports that we provide to the United Nations, we've also committed to report back to first ministers on our progress in implementing the pan-Canadian framework. We are on track to produce that report this year.
We are also taking action on clean growth and climate change as a core responsibility in our departmental results framework, and our departmental results reports will focus on these results.
It will require significant action and effort over the long term. We have a lot of work left to do in order to drive down emissions and we look forward to speaking with you more on this topic.
With that, I'll turn to my colleague to speak on the adaptation of it.
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss our response to the findings in “Report 2—Adapting to the Impacts of Cimate Change” in the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's fall 2017 reports. My colleague has already covered some of the broader context of the government's action on the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, and I will be speaking on behalf of Environment and Climate Change Canada on the adaptation audit.
The adaptation audit looked at the 2010-2017 time period and focused on the extent to which federal organizations have made progress to adapt to climate change. It examined federal leadership efforts and assessed whether departments and agencies had implemented the federal adaptation policy framework. While the audit deemed that some departments and agencies took action, it identified that more work is needed.
As important context, I would like to take the opportunity to clarify what the audit covered.
The audit did not examine national progress on adaptation or federal adaptation programs, but focused on whether the government departments and agencies had properly assessed climate risks. To respond to the audit findings, the Government of Canada will continue to implement the pan-Canadian framework. This is the government's plan, in partnership with provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples, to grow the economy while reducing emissions and building resilience to a change in climate. Through the pan-Canadian framework, the federal government has identified priority actions to respond to climate change impacts on federal areas of responsibility; outlined roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities; and developed a process to report on the program.
Important investments are being made to advance adaptation efforts in Canada. These include unprecedented federal investments in things such as the $2-billion disaster mitigation and adaptation fund. Budget 2017 allocated $260 million over five years to implement the federal pan-Canadian framework commitments on adaptation and climate resilience, including the creation of a Canadian centre for climate services, which will improve access to climate-related science and information; responding to the health risks associated with climate change; integrating indigenous knowledge in guiding adaptation measures, notably in flood-prone indigenous communities; continuing to build resilience in vulnerable coastal regions; and assessing and adapting transportation infrastructure.
The Government of Canada will also take action to improve climate risk assessment processes and adaptation planning. Departments and agencies will assess climate risks in their areas of responsibility, and Environment and Climate Change Canada, with central agencies, will provide guidance and support information sharing to increase federal awareness of climate risks and opportunities.
Environment and Climate Change Canada is continuing to undertake a department-wide climate risk assessment process to determine the vulnerabilities of departmental assets, major regulatory activities, and key services, and to develop a subsequent adaptation plan for the department.
In summary, climate change is a government priority. These actions will ensure that departments are prepared to address climate risks. Government-wide efforts will help Canadians understand how they may be affected by climate change and help them make the best decisions to protect their homes, businesses, health, and communities.
I will turn now to my colleagues in other departments to speak to the adaptation audit.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I wish to begin by thanking you for providing me with the opportunity to discuss the important work done by scientists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada to better understand, predict, and adapt to the impacts of climate change on aquatic environments.
As you are aware, climate change poses a serious risk to the sustainability of Canada's vulnerable marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities. The impacts of climate change are growing and are creating a sustained need for scientific expertise.
Climate change is a critical global issue that threatens the sustainable use of the earth's oceans by future generations. It's expected that Canada's oceans will become warmer, fresher, more acidic, and less oxygenated as a result of climate change.
Changing ocean conditions are impacting the distribution, productivity, and overall health of many of our living resources, including key fishery species. Increasing ocean temperatures and declining sea ice are causing sea levels to rise and storms to become more frequent and severe, threatening coastal communities.
To better understand the risks, vulnerabilities, and impacts created by climate change, DFO established the aquatic climate change adaptation services program in 2005. Recent investments have set the stage for continued delivery of this important program in support of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change and will allow our scientists at Fisheries and Oceans to continue to undertake monitoring activities and research activities to better understand the current state and to predict the future state of Canada's oceans. DFO scientists will be able to conduct vulnerability assessments of fisheries and small craft harbours to identify what resources may be most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. They will also be able to continually refine oceanographic models to predict future conditions, such as water temperatures, ocean chemistry, and currents.
The scientific knowledge and expertise that is assembled through the aquatic climate change adaptation services program provides the evidence base necessary to advance the incorporation of climate change considerations into operational decision-making at Fisheries and Oceans.
DFO is committed to better understanding, predicting, and adapting to the impacts that climate change will have on Canada's three oceans, their living resources, and the coastal communities that rely on them for their livelihoods. On behalf of DFO, we look forward to continuing to provide high-quality, credible climate change science advice that will be of benefit to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Again, I'd like to thank you very much for allowing me to join you here today. I look forward to our discussion.
Hello. My name is Colette Downie, and I work at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
Thank you to the committee for the opportunity to appear today to address findings of the Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change report. I would also like to thank the commissioner, Julie Gelfand, and her team for preparing an in-depth examination of the federal government's progress in adapting to the risks associated with climate change.
ISED recognizes the importance of being adaptable to climate change impacts and ensuring the department can continue to carry out its activities and support Canadians despite adverse affects of climate change.
We agree with the commissioner's findings. We've already taken action to improve our internal processes so that the department is better positioned to make informed, forward-looking decisions to manage risks related to climate change.
After considering the commissioner's advice, ISED views that the best way to swiftly implement her recommendations is to improve the department's existing processes to identify, assess, prioritize, and address climate change risks. In particular, we're making changes to our integrated risk management processes. These include a renewed focus on identifying key risks at the sector level to ensure that the risk profile for the department presents a comprehensive picture of our risks.
Any new processes that we introduce as part of these changes will include references explicitly to climate change impacts to ensure that they're one of the factors considered when risks are identified. We are also committed to collaborating with Treasury Board and Environment and Climate Change Canada on guidance for assessing climate change risk.
As I mentioned, we've already started to make progress on our risk management processes. Starting in January 2017, during risk discussions at senior-level management committees, organizations within the department were explicitly asked whether climate change effects were having negative impacts on their business and whether any specific climate change risks could be identified. I'd like to underline that since January, there have been discussions on this topic at senior governance committees, including with deputy ministers and associate deputy ministers in October.
We also noted that other departments, such as Fisheries and Oceans, Natural Resources Canada, and Transport Canada, in addition to looking at risk, also considered how climate change impacts could affect policy development and program delivery. With this in mind, we're going to do the same thing. We're going to analyze climate change impacts to see how they'll affect our delivery, our policy development, our infrastructure assets, our program beneficiaries, and other stakeholders.
We understand that sound and reliable science will be key as we move forward to implement the commissioner's recommendations, and that the current and planned climate change research being undertaken and supported across the government will be invaluable to our work.
Thank you again for the invitation to appear.
Madam Chair, I am pleased to be with you and members of the committee to discuss the measures Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC, has in place to manage climate change risks. I am joined by Veronica Silva, director general of Technical Services in our Real Property Services.
Our department acts as the government's central purchasing agent, linguistic authority, and accountant on behalf of government departments. It also manages its real property portfolio and offers property management services to other departments. As such, climate change adaptation is recognized as a key consideration to ensure our continued ability to deliver programs and services to the Government of Canada and Canadians.
One of our core responsibilities is property and infrastructure as we manage our federal buildings nationally. We recognize that climate change is having impacts on our assets that are felt in areas such as eroding shorelines or loss of permafrost.
As we undertake construction or restoration projects, Public Services and Procurement Canada is taking into account changing climate, vulnerability, and adaptation measures. The department has taken initial steps to address climate change risks. For example, we are working to improve the resiliency of our assets by incorporating new data and research into our building designs to address anticipated changes to climate conditions, and we're conducting assessments of possible vulnerabilities for our facilities and accounting for risks such as rising sea levels.
Climate change is one of the drivers of the “critical systems emergencies” key risk noted in the departmental plan that was tabled in Parliament in March 2017.
In response to this audit, we will undertake a department-wide climate change risk assessment that will better inform integrated risk management at the corporate level. It will also inform future program and operation activities within our branches and regions.
We will collaborate with other departments to develop a common climate forecast model. We will also identify and implement adaptation measures for selected assets or operations based on that climate forecast model.
Our department agreed to the commissioner's recommendation and we will identify, assess, prioritize, and address climate change risks as they relate to the department's area of responsibility. Those will be incorporated more systematically in corporate risk management practices and documents. We are confident that this work will support our progress in that direction.
Madam Chair, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee today as you consider the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's “Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change” audit findings, as they relate to Transport Canada.
Impacts associated with a changing climate and extreme weather are already damaging and disrupting transportation systems, services, and operations across all modes and in all regions of Canada. We recognize that a more resilient transportation system is critical to Canada's long-term prosperity as a trading nation, and also to Canadians' safety and quality of life.
The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's audit found that Transport Canada is one of five departments that have effectively assessed climate change risks to our activities and taken adaptation action. Transport Canada was pleased to see examples of our adaptation work highlighted within the commissioner's report, including the points that follow.
Our departmental climate risk scan focused on identifying potential climate change impacts to Transport Canada's assets, regulatory activities, and programs. Our departmental adaptation plan includes objectives, expected results, roles and responsibilities, and timelines. Our report, “Climate Risks & Adaptation Practices for the Canadian Transportation Sector”, which was co-led with Natural Resources Canada, is a foundational, publicly available source of current knowledge about climate risks to the Canadian transportation sector and about best adaptation practices.
Infrastructure engineering assessments of three northern airports were undertaken by Transport Canada in partnership with territorial governments; these assessments provided information on potential vulnerabilities of the airports' infrastructure to the changing climate, and the observations, conclusions, and recommendations can directly support more informed decision-making about infrastructure operations, maintenance, planning, and development.
Finally, climate risk considerations have been integrated into our departmental risk planning processes, such as our corporate risk profile, since 2011-12.
I'll leave it there. Thank you.
Thanks very much, Madam Chair, for the opportunity to provide comments to the committee on the fall reports issued by the commissioner.
I'll be speaking specifically to “Report 3—Funding Clean Energy Technologies”, which examined compliance and GHG impact reporting for clean energy technology demonstration projects in three funds, two of which were managed by Natural Resources Canada.
For reference, the two NRCan programs reviewed were the ecoENERGY technology initiative, which ran from 2007 to 2012, and the clean energy fund, which existed between 2009 and 2014. Both programs had a strong focus on funding carbon capture, utilization, and storage demonstration projects, and in addition, the clean energy fund also funded smaller renewable and clean energy demonstration projects.
Let me start by noting that NRCan was pleased with the findings related to this audit. The Office of the Auditor General itself issued a tweet on October 3 that read, “Funding for clean energy technology demonstration projects is well run”.
Natural Resources Canada has over 45 years of experience administering clean energy technology funding programs, and we're proud of our track record. Our experience, combined with a continuous drive to improve the way we do business, meant that we welcomed the audit report and its resulting recommendations. We've found these to be helpful, shining a light on areas where we can do even better in terms of strengthening the link between investment and outcomes.
NRCan agreed with the commissioner's three recommendations addressed to the department, the first of which related to clearly documenting project assessment and approval decisions regarding potential GHG emissions reductions. I'm pleased to report that we've developed and implemented a rigorous documentation process for the assessment and approval of projects, including a requirement to provide supplementary information on the potential reduction of GHG emissions.
The commissioner's second recommendation addressed the issue of public reporting on GHG emissions reductions, recommending that NRCan report them for all demo projects intended to achieve reductions and not just for carbon capture, utilization, and storage projects, as had been the practice. The audit did acknowledge, however, that NRCan had internally tracked GHG reduction results for many of these other smaller projects. We just hadn't reported them publicly. As such, NRCan agrees with this recommendation and is working to adopt a process for tracking and reporting on all projects with expected GHG emissions reductions of at least 0.01 megatonnes per project.
The third recommendation put forth by the commissioner suggests that NRCan and ISED work together, in consultation with ECCC, to develop a plan for the measurement and reporting on outcomes for demo projects that aim to reduce GHG emissions. I'm happy to report that we are indeed working with our federal colleagues on such an approach.
Madam Chair, committee members, thank you once again for the opportunity to address the committee. I hope the overview has been helpful. Merci.
The reporting is a bit of a long story, and I'll attempt to be as brief as possible.
There is a large collection of public reports, so we do an inventory every year. We do a new emission projection—what used to be called the emissions trends reports, sometimes called the reference case—around forward projections of emissions. That's updated annually.
Every four years we do a national communication, which is an extremely comprehensive report to the United Nations. I think the view was that every four years was not often enough, so every two years there is something called the biennial report, which is a comprehensive report that we're working on now. I believe those reports are due January 1, so they're nearing completion.
Also, first ministers, as part of the pan-Canadian framework agreement at the last first ministers' meeting, agreed that we should report back annually on results. Because there are so many departments involved, a number of different FPT ministerial tables are reporting on their individual bits, and we're packaging that together. That's due, and our intention is to have that report available in December. It's slightly delayed by the fact that the many implicated ministerial meetings are yet to happen, including the meeting of the ministers of environment later this week.