Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, for the invitation to appear before the committee to speak to the current and future state of Canada's national energy data.
My name is Laura Oleson and I am the Director General of Energy Policy at Natural Resources Canada. I am joined by my colleague, Drew Leyburne, Director General of Strategic Policy at Natural Resources Canada.
I would like to start by acknowledging that Canada is in the midst of a global transition towards lower energy emission, which is fundamentally shifting how we make, move, and use it. The global energy transition is critical to our economy, where energy industries, including oil, gas, pipeline transportation, electricity generation, transmission, and distribution directly and indirectly account for 10% of our GDP and employ 900,000 Canadians.
That is why this time last year the Minister of Natural Resources launched a broad and inclusive dialogue on Canada's energy future, Generation Energy. The discussion ultimately engaged over 380,000 Canadians through a variety of in-person and online activities. What we heard is that Canadians expect energy decisions to be informed by evidence, using accurate and accessible data. Canadians also feel that people have their own opinions and increasingly their own facts, which makes accurate and transparent energy information important for constructive and fact-based conversations about the costs and benefits, opportunities and challenges of this transition. Moreover, it was clear from Generation Energy that trends like big data, open data, digitalization, artificial intelligence, and blockchain are fundamentally changing both the energy industry and the information available. As government, it is crucial that we keep up with these latest developments.
For all these reasons, it's important for Canada to have a strong energy information system, and we do. At the federal level, Canada's energy information system is a collective contribution of several organizations, including four federal departments or agencies: Natural Resources Canada, Statistics Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the National Energy Board. When it comes to collecting, analyzing, modelling, or disseminating energy information, these departments and agencies play different roles, which you will hear about this morning.
Natural Resources Canada is responsible for the following. NRCan is mandated under the Energy Efficiency Act to provide energy use data to Canadians and to report to Parliament. This includes data such as the energy use of heating systems in different types of residential buildings, the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of different industrial sectors, and more. We are responsible for Canada's monthly and annual submissions to the International Energy Agency. NRCan compiles more than 50,000 data points that it provides to the IEA for use in its global database and reports.
We also publish the annual “Energy Fact Book”, which provides key information on energy in Canada in a format that is accessible to non-experts. It provides information on the relationship between energy, the economy, and greenhouse gas emissions. I have provided copies to the chair for you to look at or to have.
NRCan is also the host of the federal geospatial platform, which brings together data from 21 federal departments and agencies, making it available in a coherent way to the public, academic institutions, the private sector, and others. We've been working closely with the other federal partners to make improvements to Canada's energy information system to also better reflect the transition in the energy landscape. For example, we worked over the last two years with Statistics Canada, and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada to launch a new clean technology data strategy, and we continue to work with Statistics Canada to improve the data on natural resources, including energy, to better track this evolving transition.
Other important partners in the energy information system include provincial and territorial government departments, regulators, and utilities such as Alberta Energy Regulator, the Ontario Energy Board, and Hydro-Québec, which each collect and disseminate a wide range of data.
Finally, academic research institutions and industry associations such as the Canadian Energy Research Institute, Simon Fraser's Energy and Materials Research Group, and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers are additional sources of information. Collectively, all these organizations make up Canada's energy information system.
Canada's energy information system fares well by international standards, with our experts regularly providing advice to the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the International Energy Agency.
Canada also benefits from a strong relationship with the U.S. Energy Information Administration, or the EIA. The EIA is among the best-resourced national energy information organizations in the world, collecting, analyzing, and disseminating independent and impartial energy information. We in Canada consistently look to the EIA for best practices, and take advantage of collaborative opportunities whenever we can. For example, over the last two years, we have worked with the Mexican and American governments, including the EIA, to implement an agreement on North American co-operation on energy information. This has resulted in the first ever shared map of North American energy supply and infrastructure.
As we look to the future, there are promising opportunities for energy data to be used in new ways to optimize industrial processes and reduce environmental impacts. Big data is enabling smart grids to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of electricity. Oil and gas companies are using AI-capable robots in oil exploration and production, which can increase productivity while reducing worker risk.
Incorporating AI, big data analytics, and other information-based technologies into how we make, move, and use energy will be key for the continued competitiveness of Canada's energy industries, and we are seeking ways to work with industry to drive the adoption of such techniques. Maintaining and augmenting a robust but versatile and adaptable energy data system like the one we currently have is indispensable for the transition of our energy industries to the future.
Mr. Chair, thank you once again for the opportunity to address the committee. I hope that this overview has been helpful. I would be happy to respond to members' questions.
Mr. Chair and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to talk to you about your study today.
Since you have our written remarks, I'm not going to go through them, but I'll give you the 30-second version, which will give us more time to turn to questions.
The National Energy Board is both a producer and a user of energy data, probably more weighted towards a user of energy data than a producer. We have a bit that we do from the production side, but most of it is using it.
As Ms. Oleson noted, energy data in Canada is dispersed amongst a lot of different players, and because of that, co-operation is the key strategy. Building co-operative relationships between and among those parties is the critical path forward for us, it has been for roughly 50 years that the NEB has been using data, and it will continue to be, going forward.
As I noted in my remarks, we are co-operating already with many players, but the key to moving forward is co-operating more, co-operating more fully, and possibly even adding some formal governance to those co-operation agreements.
The NEB is ready to continue to be part of the energy information landscape in Canada. We are here to work with our partners towards a better energy information landscape.
With that, I'm happy to take questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all committee members and witnesses for being here today.
Before I proceed with my questions, I want to take a few minutes of the committee's time to put a motion on notice, which I'm sure my colleagues will have anticipated. I do apologize for interrupting the witnesses, but this issue is of utmost importance. I'm sure everyone around this table will agree.
As you all know, on April 8 Kinder Morgan suspended all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain expansion, and provided a deadline of May 31 to stop the challenges, settle the obstacles, and provide certainty for the completion of the approved expansion which is clearly in the national interest.
As recently as April 18, Kinder Morgan reiterated that the expansion might be untenable. This continues to be a crisis for all of us. If this issue is not addressed, and Kinder Morgan halts the expansion altogether, it would, of course, have serious ramifications for the Canadian economy overall, including provinces, municipalities, indigenous communities, interprovincial relationships, energy sector development, and investment in Canada now and in the future.
Given the urgency of this issue, I want to put the following motion on notice:
|| That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee immediately undertake a study to find solutions to the obstacles facing the approved Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion; that the Committee consider factors such as: (a) the May 31st deadline issued by the proponent, (b) the potential economic, socio-economic, investment, and government revenue losses, and impacts on market access for Canadian oil, related to the potential cancellation, especially on Indigenous communities, (c) municipal, provincial, and federal jurisdiction as it relates to the project, (d) potential points of leverage between the federal and provincial governments, (e) potential fiscal, constitutional and legal solutions; that the first meeting take place no later than May 3rd, 2018; and that all meetings be televised where possible; and that the Committee report its findings to the House.
Thank you for allowing me to take the time to provide notice of this motion, Mr. Chair. I'll proceed with my questions. We have copies of the motion for the committee in both official languages.
I'm really interested in this discussion taking place so far. I would ask the witnesses to confirm that this does not necessarily seem to be an issue of a lack of data, information, or sources of information, but that you seem to be suggesting there's a lack of compilation and consolidation of the information.
I want to take this time to recognize the outstanding, and longstanding exceptional work of the National Energy Board. Over the past several years there have been many implications that the agency had not been up to par. Certainly, on behalf of my colleagues in the Conservative Party, I want to recognize, on the record, that the National Energy Board has for decades been recognized as a renowned and exemplary regulator. It is second to none, literally, of any oil and gas producing jurisdiction in the world, including in terms of its consultations; standards; independent and objective evidence; decisions made by experts; its incorporation of indigenous and traditional knowledge; and its assessments of the environmental impacts of energy development and the cumulative economic effects. It's important as committee members that we recognize, particularly in this context, the longstanding outstanding track record of the National Energy Board.
I invite you to expand more on the following. Is it just a mandate issue that somebody in the federal government has to say, “Get more information from the provinces”, where natural resources are their rightful jurisdiction, or does this necessarily need to be the creation of a whole new agency or arm? I respect that each of you can't comment on policy, but perhaps you could address that.
Also, Laura, you mentioned the U.S. Energy Information Administration. I would invite you to expand on that, specifically the key factors that you see setting it apart. Perhaps both witnesses would like to comment as well.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. I'm going to share my time with my colleague, Mr. Mr. Mr. Derek Hermanutz, from the Department of the Environment. We're primarily here today to speak to you about our use of energy data. We are consumers of that data, so we'll be speaking from that perspective.
Every year, Environment and Climate Change Canada obtains statistics on fuel consumption from our colleagues at Statistics Canada. These statistics are a critical input to our annual key deliverables, namely, the national inventories of sources and sinks of greenhouse gases, and of the emissions of air pollutants, and black carbon.
The inventories that we produce fulfill a number of domestic and international functions, such as meeting the international reporting requirements and setting the official benchmark for actual emissions in Canada since 1990.
The national greenhouse gas inventory is perhaps our most visible product. It's updated every year and published on an annual basis, and the most recent one was put out only about 10 days ago. It's published every April. Based on the latest published data, anyone reading the report will see that fuel use in Canada represents approximately 80% of total greenhouse gas emissions. This means that over three-quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions cited in Canada are based on the fuel statistics that we receive from our colleagues at Statistics Canada.
There's been a long-standing and well-established process through which our two departments closely collaborate on the quality control of these fuel statistics and how we use them. Certainly the provincial and territorial stakeholders scrutinize the greenhouse gas emissions attributed to their respective jurisdictions and will alert us when they identify any inconsistencies or unexpected emission data. In turn, we work directly with those jurisdictions and with our colleagues at Statistics Canada to resolve those issues.
Fuel statistics provide the solid basis for our GHG inventory. While it's a well-established process, there are, of course, continuing improvements that need to be made and that we continue to work on. For example, reducing the variation in the quality of the data between jurisdictions is an important issue for us as we produce national inventories. Certainly emerging issues like biofuels are an area that we continue to need to improve the statistics on, and, of course, minimizing any revisions from year to year because we are collecting data on a long trend line, and that information is updated on a yearly basis. We do sometimes pick up issues that affect the longer trends of previous years. That's why revisions and minimizing those disturbances across the trend line are very important.
Environment Canada also recently launched an expansion to its own greenhouse gas reporting program, which collects greenhouse gas emission data from facilities directly, across Canada. That expansion will allow it to feed facility data directly into our greenhouse gas inventory. While there is currently very limited duplication between what Statistics Canada collects and what we will start collecting, we will obviously work together very closely to ensure that there is a minimum of duplication in terms of data collection for those purposes.
I'm going to pass it over to my colleague, Derek, who will also talk about the products that he's involved with.
Thanks, Jacquie, and my thanks to the chair and the committee members for inviting me here today. I'll just build on Jacquie's remarks on the national inventory report, which looks at the historical emissions, and some of our UNFCCC requirements for reporting on projections.
A major UNFCCC report, the national communication on climate change, is due every four years. We just published one in December 2017. In the interim, there are also biennial reports, which are abridged versions of the national communication on climate change, and they are submitted every two years.
The UNFCCC has developed reporting guidelines and a rigorous review process for these reports, and according to the guidelines, these reports also include a chapter on GHG projections among other reporting elements.
The department has committed to publishing updated projections annually, and we've been doing that since 2011, so in between the biennial reports the department publishes a standalone report that focuses on the GHG projections. In order to develop these projections, we rely heavily on the historical energy data from Statistics Canada, as well as oil and gas price and production projections from the energy futures report prepared annually by the National Energy Board.
One of the most important data sources coming from Statistics Canada is the “Report on Energy Supply and Demand in Canada”. It's the cornerstone for the development of our projections and contains information on historical energy use by sector and province. We also use a number of supplementary data sources in the preparation of our projections, including electricity capacity generation and oil and gas production.
In addition to developing projections for greenhouse gas emissions, we also prepare projections for air pollutants based on the same energy dataset. These projections are used to assess progress towards Canada's climate change targets, through the international reporting, as well as to inform internal analysis during the policy development stage and provide the foundation for the cost-benefit analysis that is done for regulatory impact analysis statements for proposed regulations the department is setting forward.
Our publications on projections are used widely by the public, non-government organizations, and academics in their analysis and research.
I'll just close by saying that in the preparation of our projections we consult quite closely with provinces, territories, and other third parties to make sure there's sort of a built-in peer review process.
I'll thank you again and I'll turn it over to Greg.
Coming from Statistics Canada, any morning when we get to discuss data is a good morning, indeed.
My name is Greg Peterson and I'm the director general responsible for agriculture, energy, environment, and transportation statistics. I'm joined by René Beaudoin, the assistant director responsible for the energy statistics program.
I have brought a series of slides and I'd like to go through these very quickly.
The energy sector is very important to Canada's economy. I've presented a few stylized facts on slide 2. I'm not going to read numbers out to you. The key is that energy is important to Canada's economy, society, and the environment. Canada needs good quality and reliable energy to support decision-making, policies, programs, and investments. We need this information also as a feeder into other broader areas, such as estimates of gross domestic product as well as the emissions data that are produced by our colleagues at Environment and Climate Change.
However, this need occurs in an environment where data are ambiguous. They're produced by both the public and private sectors. It occurs in an environment where machines and sensors are producing petabytes of data that are ready to be subjected to visualization, modelling, artificial intelligence, and other data science techniques. Organization of this information is important, otherwise we risk being a country that is data-rich but information-poor.
The third slide in our presentation presents a schematic of our current statistical framework for energy in Canada. Much of the data are collected and disseminated by our energy statistics program in Statistics Canada. In the schematic, that's illustrated by the box is shaded in blue. The data that we produce focuses on the production, transformation, distribution, and consumption of energy.
I'd like to note that the data that we produce are harmonized with international standards for energy data so that we're coherent with other countries. However, there are many other players that are involved in the energy statistics field. We heard this morning about some of the good work that's done by the National Energy Board and our friends at Natural Resources Canada. There are provincial and territorial bodies that collect information for regulatory purposes. Industry associations collect information about their members. There are other areas of Statistics Canada that collect information about the energy sector even if it doesn't relate to energy production, like labour force statistics or information on science and technology.
We have a broad community of data producers and we also have a broad community of data users. My colleagues from Environment and Climate Change have described how they use the energy statistics we produce. At NRCan, our data are used for the production of energy efficiency indicators. We provide information to Global Affairs Canada and have had to help with Emergency Preparedness. We have a broad community of users in the academic community, and, of course, this information feeds into international bodies such as the IEA.
I would argue that currently we already have a solid base and broad range of energy statistics available for Canada.
However, as slide 4 indicates, we don't live in a bubble. We listen to feedback from our users and from other stakeholders. It's clear that Canada's energy statistics are not perfect. From what we've heard, there are a range of challenges on several fronts that probably need to be addressed. In the area of collection, there are many organizations that are gathering energy data for their own purposes, which could create a duplication of effort, additional costs, and an additional burden on respondents. Having these multiple sources of information could occasionally create confusion for users as to which data are official and which ones are the best to use.
Having multiple data sources can also lead to concerns about data that aren't necessarily coherent or of comparably good quality. Then there are some gaps. The energy sector is rapidly evolving. With the advent and growth of new sources of energy, such as renewable energy and co-generation, the environment is changing. We need to keep on top of these changes, and the system has to be able to react.
Finally, there are barriers to access. One important feature of the energy sector in Canada is that it's dominated by a small number of large players. From our perspective this leads to issues of data suppression in order to protect the confidentiality of individual respondents. At Statistics Canada we recognize the need to work to find better ways of getting more data in the hands of users.
These are the issues that we face now, but if we think about where we're going in the future we've moving to an environment where there's going to be a larger quantity of sensory and administrative data available. This will give us great improvements in order to make significant improvements to the energy statistics system, but it creates additional challenges and it will require better coordination in the acquisition, curation, organization, integration, and modelling of these types of information.
We need to take action on these challenges to maintain and enhance our energy data. Here, Statistics Canada has embarked on a modernization initiative that, among other things, is driving us to develop a more user-centred focus, putting increased emphasis on collaboration and partnerships, and a thrust on using more leading-edge methods, moving away from the traditional survey approach to gathering data, more toward adopting an “administrative data first” approach for information gathering.
Through this modernization lens, we're being driven to do better. In the context of energy statistics, we see three things that we need to do as an organization.
The first relates to improved governance. We need to be more efficient in data collection and data sharing. We need to minimize the burden that we place on respondents by tapping more and more into administrative data sources, and coordinating with other organizations on how we gather these statistics. Ideally, we want to collect once, but use many times.
There are a lot of interested stakeholders in the energy community, and we need to get them more involved. Statistics Canada has collection expertise and infrastructure, but we can benefit from existing subject matter knowledge, both within and outside government. We've already entered into data-sharing agreements with most provinces and territories. We already have data moving between jurisdictions, but again this enhanced co-operation would be a good thing.
Second, we need to improve on data access. We realize this is an important goal. We have to get more data into the hands of users. To do this, we have to do a few things. Users need to be more aware of our collective data holdings. We have to reduce barriers to access. There have been discussions about a single point of access, so we should aim toward a one-stop information hub where users can find the data they need, or links to those sources. We also have to do a better job in providing access to micro data for researchers in a secure environment that respects the confidentiality of our respondents.
Third, and finally, we recognize that we need to improve the quality of the data we're producing. In addition to the traditional objectives of improving coverage, timeliness, and comparability, and filling in data gaps, we have to take a more integrated approach to data, taking advantage of these new sources of information that are becoming available and finding mechanisms of putting them together.
In thinking about governance, the issues that I've just raised are not new to Statistics Canada. We've encountered similar issues in bringing together data from multiple jurisdictions. We've done this successfully for years in areas such as justice, health, and education. Most recently, last fall announced the creation of a virtual Canadian centre on transportation data. Without changing any of the machinery of government, we started working much more closely with Transport Canada, with both bodies collecting information on the transportation system. We worked on the coordination of the information that we collect with the objective of those Olympian ideals of being better, faster, stronger, eliminating duplication and operating more efficiently.
In the few short months we've been in existence, we've introduced two significant data products: an economic account or satellite account on transportation, and a Canadian trade analysis framework, which we were able to produce for millions of dollars less and years faster than following methodologies that the United States has used in its Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Through co-operation we've been able to focus our efforts on developing new data products that meet the very specific needs of people in the transportation community. At the same time, we've put a single transportation information hub in the field that was released in the past two weeks, which again brings together data from both organizations to a single point of access. The way in which we developed this has been more like a lean start-up where we bring together what we have, but the objective is to bring in information from other partners with the objective of having one comprehensive site that meets the needs of transportation users.
In conclusion, we recognize there's a strong interest in improving energy data. We at Statistics Canada are keen to work with other key players to continue to improve the state of energy information.
I think I could answer.
First, could we create a data hub? Yes, we've done that in other areas.
Regarding the EIA itself, different countries organize their statistics in different ways. In Canada we have chosen to create one single national statistical office that assembles all official statistics together.
The United States has a decentralized system and has evolved into a governance structure quite a bit different from ours. You have the U.S. Energy Information Administration that focuses on collecting information on energy production and transmission and forecasting. For sure, it has a state-of-the-art system in producing this information, but if you go back to the stylized facts that I gave you in my second slide, if I were to assemble that information from the United States, those data points wouldn't come from the EIA. They would come from the U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U. S. Census Bureau, the National Science Foundation, and I think I'm missing one, but it would be collected from various parts across the federal statistical system in the United States.
For sure, the EIA has centralized some part of its statistical system into one body. However, the United States still operates in a fairly decentralized fashion, which gives them issues from time to time with the sharing of information between different statistical agencies.
There are a number of questions I wanted to ask each of the stakeholder government organizations, and I'll read them out. Some of them are going to be answered in writing. I'll come back to Mr. Peterson about the StatsCan portal in a second.
With respect to energy information, how frequently are we currently disseminating the information that we collect? What's the international best practice currently for disseminating the information? In the case of the user groups, how frequently do they need the information to be disseminated to achieve their policy goals?
Next, how many people in your organization are currently involved in energy data exchange? How many people do you expect to need in order to meet the frequency of distribution to achieve your organization's goals? Have the standards for data exchange in your sector with respect to energy been determined, or are they still being developed?
Would you consider your organization to be a user, a key stakeholder or a data collector—or someone who could supply the back end? I guess that's StatsCan now, as we're seeing.
Are there regulatory changes that would be required to compel energy data exchange to your organization or from your organization in order for us to have an energy data portal that meets the international best practice?
In terms of quality control, if your organization is responsible for collecting and disseminating the data, which independent organization of yours should be responsible for making sure that this data is of a suitably high quality?
We're going to get the blues. Those questions will be prepared in both languages by the back engine of Parliament, so we'll be able to send them to you. I just wanted to make sure that would happen quickly, because it will inform questions that we ask to future visitors.
I've just gone to the StatsCan portal The Daily, and I love it. I just got a password. It's set up very similarly to the Energy Information Administration's page, the U.S. one that I visit. It's all of StatsCan's data, not just energy data.
If there were going to be other stakeholders involved in creating such a portal, Mr. Peterson, who do you feel should be involved? You said there were other stakeholders in your transportation portal—which I wasn't able to find, unfortunately.
Who would you consider to be the key stakeholders that you would work with to make sure that StatsCan could develop this portal for energy?