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View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 15:32
As my deputy just said, I'm on Newfoundland time.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 15:32
You have to visit; the weather is perfect.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 15:32
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As you've already said, I'm joined by my deputy minister, George Anderson, and my assistant deputy minister, Howard Brown.
I want to thank you, as chair, and committee members for my opportunity as Minister of NRCan to come and respond to your questions on my department's climate change activities. Natural Resources, of course, is a key player in the government's overall agenda for sustainable development.
We pursue three broad objectives: economic growth, environmental stewardship, and social stability. We take each of these very seriously. Because of the nature of our sector, no other department or agency in the federal government has a bigger stake in the effective implementation of sustainable development practices.
Our business is the resource industries that account for nearly 13% of Canada's gross domestic product. That's nearly four times the value of the telecommunications, electronics, and computer industries together.
We administer some of the most successful green programs and initiatives in the government, which I'll be happy to talk about in a few minutes.
We are focused on the industries that often provide the only jobs in hundreds of communities right across this country, often in the most remote regions of the country. These jobs provide the foundation for social stability in these communities. So when Canadians think about this department, they should not just think in terms of energy, mines and forestry; I want Canadians to think of us as the department of environmentally and socially sustainable economic development for all of Canada.
Let me say that I am proud of our achievements in recent years in promoting sustainable development. We have built up a lot of momentum; we have laid the groundwork for future action. I want to talk to you about these successes today and to offer some views on how we need to move forward from here.
But first, I think it's important to take a step back and look at the enormity of the challenge we are dealing with. Ultimately, while the solutions must be forward-looking, they must also be realistic. Clearly, climate change is the number one sustainability challenge of the 21st century. At the heart of the problem is energy. Over 80% of emissions come from energy production and use. But the challenge is that without significant policy change, global energy use is projected to increase by almost 70% in the next 25 years or so, and over 85% of this will come from fossil fuels.
What does this mean for Canada as an energy-producing country? Forecasts suggest that our energy production will grow by over 40% in the next 15 years alone. We are expected to have the largest production growth of any OECD country. This is good economic news for Canada. Our challenge, of course, is to reap these economic benefits in an environmentally responsible fashion.
The Kyoto framework, while it may not be perfect, provides a solid basis for us to move forward in addressing this challenge.
While the challenges are enormous, we cannot lose sight of the huge progress we are making. When one looks back not so many years ago, the climate change issue was hardly on the radar screen. Today, companies and Canadians all across Canada are becoming engaged with it and are looking to do their part. In no small way, this is the result of the actions this government has been taking, most of which have been implemented by my department.
Our strategy has been in three broad thrusts: promoting cleaner fossil fuel production; improving efficiency and energy use in homes, industry, or the transportation sector; and encouraging alternative energy sources. Time does not permit me to elaborate on our success in all these areas, but let me single out a few examples.
First, let me talk about autos—what all of you have been waiting for. This morning, my colleague, Stéphane Dion, Judi Longfield, chair of the auto caucus, and Jerry Pickard, PS to Minister Emerson, and I were in Windsor, Ontario, for the official signing of an agreement with the Canadian automotive industry, which will result in an annual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks of 5.3 million tonnes by 2010.
This is a major accomplishment. As many of you know, emissions from this sector already account for about 12% of all GHG emissions in Canada and about half of the average Canadian's personal emissions; hence, the need to make and drive vehicles that are more efficient and produce less greenhouse gas emissions.
The government is particularly pleased to have the industry commit to this target voluntarily. The automotive industry has a good track record of establishing and meeting voluntary agreements with government in Canada. This agreement is a good example of how industry and government can work effectively together.
Another success story dates back to before the term “sustainable development” was ever coined.
The Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation has been around for 30 years. Its network includes 47 trade associations and more than 5,000 companies. In 2003, CIPEC partners avoided 27.8 megatonnes in greenhouse gas emissions, relative to 1990, through improved energy management.
I alluded earlier to programs to improve energy efficiency in buildings. We are particularly pleased with the progress we are making with the EnerGuide for Houses retrofit. This has been a highly successful program. Every month, over 6,000 evaluations for energy efficiency are being performed. The program then offers grants for people who improve the energy rating of their houses. The recent budget included $225 million to quadruple the number of retrofitted homes to 500,000 homes.
Our efforts in promoting alternative fuel sources are paying off. We have made significant advances in wind energy. In fact, wind power is the fastest growing form of energy generation in Canada. Through the wind power production incentive we are reaching our goal of quadrupling wind power capacity to 4,000 megawatts. That is enough electricity to power more than a million Canadian homes.
In 2003 we launched a $100 million ethanol expansion program. We've funded the construction of six new ethanol plants that will produce some 650 million litres of fuel ethanol. We're just beginning the second round of funding now.
For two decades my department has been supporting the development of hydrogen and fuel cells. At the beginning, the technology seemed like a long shot, but we invested some $200 million over the years. Now it looks as though it may well provide an important key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and we recently committed another $215 million to demonstrate and to commercialize. For the 2010 Olympics, we will help design, build, operate, and test the world's first hydrogen fueling infrastructure on the highway from Vancouver to Whistler.
While improving efficient energy use and looking for alternative forms of energy are critical aspects of our plan, the reality remains that fossil fuels will be the dominant energy source and the economic driver for decades to come. For these reasons, we have devoted considerable attention to research and development and technologies aimed at producing cleaner fossil fuels.
As an example, the department has been a pioneer in developing technologies to store carbon dioxide. Last September, the International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies concluded that the geological conditions at the Weyburn oil field are favourable for storing CO2 for the long term.
Taken together, these programs and a multitude of others that I do not have time to mention represent a considerable legacy of achievement. Frankly, we have accomplished so much because of the spirit of partnership and cooperation with stakeholders.
But where to next? We are still only at the beginning of a very long journey. Our strategy will need to evolve as we move forward, as we learn more from our experiences, as we receive input from various sources, and as we assess international developments.
I am hopeful that in the very near future we will be in a position to announce refinements to our strategy. I have been working closely with Stéphane Dion and other colleagues on our plan over the past few months. Since the plan has not yet received cabinet approval, it is not appropriate for me to talk about the specifics today. However, I would like to share some of the fundamental principles that will be critical as we move forward.
Firstly, we must build on the successes we have had to date. That does not mean the status quo with all our existing programs. What it means is assessing them and building on those with the greatest potential.
Secondly, it means taking the fullest possible advantage of marketing mechanisms. Governments simply do not have all the answers. What we must do is set out the policy framework within which the market can operate efficiently in meeting the sustainable development goals. The funding in this budget for a Clean Fund will be an important means of pursuing this project.
Thirdly, it means working in partnerships. We are collaborating now with industry and governments across the country. This must continue and must be accelerated. A good example of success has been the opportunities envelope. We have recently approved $24 million for ten initiatives that reflect provincial priorities for emission reductions. The Partnership Fund announced in the budget will enhance our work with the provinces and territories and build on the arrangements we already have in place.
Finally, we need to move in a direction that will promote transformative change. In the long run, the energy economy will need to change fundamentally, and we must begin to sow the seeds for that today.
The development of a science and technology strategy announced in the last budget will be an important step in the process. It will focus on how we might best find long-term solutions to higher energy prices, concerns about energy security and reliability, and above all, the need to reconcile our reliance on energy with our environmental goals.
Let me conclude, Mr. Chairman, with a few final thoughts. I believe Canada is ready to be a world leader in the production and use of energy and in addressing climate change through the realization of its current potential. By working together, we will usher in a new era of greenhouse gas management that rewards innovation and efficiency, that allows for economic growth and regional diversity, and that establishes a framework for effective long-term emissions control.
We will be second to none in the world in our level of effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While it is a daunting challenge, we must embrace the opportunities. Being more energy efficient and at the leading edge of the technologies means that companies can save money in the long run and improve the competitive edge in international markets.
Finally, Mr. Chair, I would like to applaud and to thank the committee for the work you are doing on this very important issue, and I would certainly be happy, with my colleagues, my staff here, to answer any questions you might have.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 15:45
First of all, I'm surprised that you're saying that Environment is taking over the file. We've had many weeks of consultation and discussion with industry, the Minister of Environment, my department, the Minister of Fisheries, and a number of cabinet ministers, but in particular with the Department of Environment and my department, the Department of Natural Resources Canada. So I disagree with your statement that Environment is taking over the file.
Second, in any round of discussions leading up to the final conclusion, which is not yet done, and will not be done until the next cabinet meeting when it's finally decided upon, you always arrive at different numbers and different figures. But at the end of the day, I have no doubt in my mind that the numbers, the targets, and the things that will be discussed and finalized by cabinet will be supported by myself and all ministers on the committee.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 15:47
First of all, let me go back to the first part of your preamble. With all due respect to it, I disagree with a lot of the things you said.
First of all, I tell you, back in Newfoundland and Labrador, I'm going to have to put triple-pane windows in my house because my heating bill has gone up to about $700 a month. So anything we do in reducing greenhouse gas emissions will save money for the Canadian population, whether it's one tonne or a thousand tonnes. Every single tonne we reduce is very important.
Also, in regard to the numbers you're talking about, which you extracted from the news media, really, we've been around politics and we know what the news media does on a day-to-day basis. The government's plan is not yet out in public. It's not yet out in public. You know that as well as I do, so you can't say, and I'm certainly not going to say today, what's in that plan. But believe me, as I said in my opening remarks, the only way it's going to be successful is if every single Canadian plays a role, whether it's from a political position or from the consumer, or whether it's from a citizen living in all the communities that you and I represent. It's not something that's going to be done by merely putting numbers, targets, on a piece of paper. It has to be cooperation, promotion, and education.
As I said earlier today, and I've said this many times in my remarks--and I don't think any of you will disagree with what I'm going to say--this is a file. It's not going to be released next Wednesday and concluded by 2012. This is a file that's going to be ongoing as long as the earth exists. So what we're doing today, what we will be doing next week, in the numbers and the new technology and the investment, is making a vision for the future and for future generations, which your children, your grandchildren, and your great-grandchildren will benefit from. So it's the beginning of a long road into the future.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 15:51
First of all, you're making an awful lot of assumptions, and I guess that's the right of an opposition. I did serve on the opposition from 1985 to 1989, and I guess if you looked back through Hansard, I probably did the same thing in many instances in Newfoundland and Labrador. I respect the right of an opposition because I believe very strongly that an opposition keeps government on its toes, and I've said that through my 20 years, which I celebrated last Saturday, April 2. So I know what you're saying, and I understand your genuine concern for the environment and the consumers and the constituency we all represent right across this country.
But government--and you know how the democratic system works. Ministers have a responsibility to bring forth policies to government for completion. After next week, when the plan is announced, there will be lots of consultation with the industry stakeholders, with the provinces. Everybody will have an opportunity to have input. So let's not put a full stop, a period, on what we're talking about today. This is the beginning of a future. As I said earlier, this is not going to begin and end in a few short years. This is going to be a long time. My real concern is like yours. We have to do it right, and how to do it right is by engaging Canadians, everybody. Leave the politics out of this. This is too important a file to get politically caught up in.
Yes, as opposition parties, I respect your responsibility and your right, and I don't discredit it. In fact, I enjoy the conversation and the dialogue back and forth, but this is something that you and I, and all of us, have a tremendous amount of responsibility for. I'm very fortunate and very lucky to be a grandparent and to be able to say to them, I'm working for your future, not just for what I'm doing today.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 15:54
First of all, you can't call something you haven't seen a pie-in-the-sky idea, so let's wait to have a look at it.
Secondly, with regard to the seven provinces, you develop national targets and then you work with the provinces. You can't sit down with them before you come to a firm agreement on targets. I met with the Alberta Minister of Energy last week, and we had a good meeting.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 15:55
There will be dialogue back and forth. Once you do the national targets, then you go out and meet with the provinces and come to an agreement.
I disagree with your calling the new technology fund a tax. It's not a tax. It has to do with developing new technology for the future, with contributions by the companies. There's a further $200 a tonne if we meet our targets, which we all must do. If we don't, then there will be no $200 a tonne.
I wasn't here this morning when the Deputy Minister of Environment was here. But referencing $200 a tonne, you have to have some realistic measures and a plan in place. What if we just threw up our hands and said we're not going to do anything? What happens to the country? What happens to the future?
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 15:58
That's no problem whatsoever. You just sit back and I'll explain it.
First of all, I disagree with all of the comments you made. Every comment you made I totally disagree with. Let me just itemize some.
Let's talk about California. Under the mandatory agreement that's been opposed by my colleague, the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, by 2009 will accomplish about a 4% reduction. Then they may very well end up in a court challenge. That's the indication that's been shown. Then who knows whether that is going to take one year, five years, or ten years?
We just signed an agreement with the auto industry and we are now starting not to worry about going into court, not to worry about any delays, not to worry if we're going to start reducing emissions into the atmosphere. It's already started. Why would we want to end up with 10 or 15 years of bickering over whether it's going to happen when we can start reducing emissions now?
Now we're talking about--
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 16:00
With all due respect, I gave you the opportunity to make your comments. Allow me the same.
With a five-million-tonne reduction--you're saying the agreement could end given a 90-day notice. Well, if at any time the government decides there's a problem with the agreement by the auto industry, we can regulate. There is nothing stopping us from regulating in the future.
I have confidence in the auto industry based on 14 previous successful agreements, Mr. Chairman. Why are we being negative now by saying this one's not going to work? The auto industry is as concerned about the environment as we are. I'm concerned with the environment. I'm also concerned about the economy. We're going to have a successful thing, and you will see, years down the road, Minister Efford and Minister Dion were right.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 16:02
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I questioned the leader of the NDP on his ability in math earlier in question period today. I have to do the same thing now, seriously, because 5.3 megatonnes, no matter how you mathematically put it down, is 5.3 megatonnes, and if you take 5.3 megatonnes of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, that improves the atmosphere by 5.3 megatonnes.
I never had a chance to deal with a couple of points in the first part of your question. You said, who are we trying to impress? I am trying, as Minister of Natural Resources, responsible in my department, with the Minister of Environment and the Government of Canada, to show leadership on this file. And I believe we are showing leadership, and we want to impress Canadians, give them the confidence that we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and that we are moving this file forward.
In the second part of your question you said there are more emissions today than when the agreement was signed in 1982. I can tell you, there are a lot more vehicles today on the highways than in 1982, so the growing economy and the growing population and the vehicles cause more emissions. But if you look at the new technologies in the vehicles today compared to 1982, you will see a major improvement. Are we satisfied? No. Is the auto industry satisfied? No. Is the consumer satisfied? No. We want to go further. We want to go on into the future, and as I said earlier, the file will never end. You can look for the loopholes that you're talking about, but we don't necessarily have to say we agree with you. You're entitled to your opinion.
I apologize for the discrepancy in French and English, but unfortunately, and I apologize, I don't speak French. The point is you can read it how you like, but you have to understand, 5.3 megatonnes—5.3 million tonnes—is a reduction in real numbers that will not be emitted into the atmosphere.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 16:06
It's amazing how little my friend from the Bloc understands the difference between voluntary and mandatory. First of all, in a voluntary agreement, the officials, the technicians from the department of NRCan, and the industry stakeholders will meet on an annual basis, or more frequently, and they will look at the numbers and the reductions. If at any time there's a concern or discrepancy, they can do what's necessary. If at any time we feel that the auto industry is not meeting its targets, then certainly we can regulate, but the LFEs and the auto industry are two opposites. The LFE's emissions are from their plant, from their equipment. In the case of the auto industry, their plants, where they manufacture the cars, have very little emissions. The vehicles that you and I drive on the highway make the actual emissions, so the technology that has to be implemented by the auto industry is on how we perform. When you're driving in from your riding, do you go 90 kilometres per hour? Do you go 140 kilometres? Do you go 120 kilometres? The faster you drive and depending on the type of vehicle you drive, the more emissions there are, so it's not as simple as just saying they can turn off or put a new piece of equipment in the plant and reduce emissions. This is totally different from the LFEs.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 16:11
I'm going to take the last part of your question first. Any changes in a government or in the organizational structure of a government are.... As much as I wanted to be Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, I lost by eight votes; I never got into the position of making those decisions.
So that's up to the leader of the government, the Prime Minister. As to whether or not that's going to happen any time in the future, it's done in other places, as you said, and it's probably working very well. But I'm also confident that the system we have now, the collaborative system with my colleagues--Minister Dion, Minister Emerson, and my other colleagues in government--works very well.
Do I say that we agree on everything? Well, I believe, and I say this very seriously, there would be something wrong with the system if we agreed on every issue. Challenges cause debates, which improves what happens. The government still has the departments of natural resources and environment and industry--there's no bringing together of the departments--but I'm confident about the approach, and I like what we're doing.
I want to get to the subsidies you were talking about. I believe last year, as I was reminded earlier today by my deputy, approximately $5 billion in taxes were paid by the oil and gas industry into the Government of Canada. That's $5 billion in direct payments.
Now, look at the jobs, at the people working. Look at the spinoffs. Look at the economy of this country today because of the oil and gas industry. I only wish we had a couple more oil sands like you have in Alberta, because that is a tremendous, tremendous opportunity. They're investing in new technologies as they go along. The technology they used a decade ago is not the technology of today, and the technology today will certainly not be the technology of the future. Better and more efficient ways of doing it, with more technology--that's what we're all going to.
So the cooperation between the industry and governments is working very well. Yes, there are incentives. There were more incentives in the beginning, but I mean, that's how we get started. An example is Hibernia, off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Had the federal government not invested in Hibernia, it would not be pumping oil today. At that time, the price of oil was far below what it would cost to get the oil, because of its location off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Investment in Hibernia allowed development, and now 200,000 barrels are being pumped. Royalties are coming to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and hundreds of people are working in that industry. Canadians are benefiting from the investment the Canadian government made in Hibernia.
Some people will say that we shouldn't support industry, but I agree with what you're saying about investment in industry. And I don't call this a subsidy; I call it investing in our future, investing in our people, and providing jobs.
View Ruben Efford Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ruben Efford Profile
2005-04-05 16:16
Oh, I'm sorry; you'd mentioned the non-renewables.
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