Evidence of meeting #9 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was countries.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Ian Shugart  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment
  • David McGovern  Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment
  • Olivier Jarvis Lavoie  Member, Outreach Working Group, Canadian Youth Delegation to Bali
  • John Drexhage  Director, Climate Change and Energy, International Institute for Sustainable Development
  • Christopher Henderson  Managing Director, The EXCEL Partnership, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Bob Mills

I'd like to ask the members to come to order, please.

I would like to wish everybody a happy new year, and welcome back to the environment committee.

There is an item at the end of the agenda for our work plan. We do need approval of that. That was sent out on December 20. I haven't heard back from anybody about any problems with it. I simply need a motion to accept that work plan so that Norm can distribute it officially. If there is going to be any discussion, I will put that off to the end, because we have witnesses here.

Does anybody have a problem with the work plan as the steering committee has approved it?

Mr. Regan.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Chairman, my only question is whether it would be possible to try to get the eminent persons to come on a different date, as part of the work plan.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Bob Mills

Again, I think that request certainly can be made. We can ask the clerk to check on that and get an answer back to us. I think that's the way we should probably handle that, Mr. Regan.

Does anyone have any problems with the work plan as suggested? Those in favour of the work plan as sent out?

(Motion agreed to)

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Bob Mills

I would like to welcome Mr. Shugart. I would ask you to make a statement of ten minutes maximum, please.

I would draw members' attention to the fact that we have allowed three-quarters of an hour for this first session. If we do have to go over, we certainly could, with your permission. I believe three-quarters of an hour should probably get that report.

Would you like to introduce the people you have with you, please, Mr. Shugart?

3:30 p.m.

Ian Shugart Associate Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Yes, I will, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much.

With me is Mr. David McGovern, who is the assistant deputy minister, international affairs branch in the Department of the Environment, and Mark Berman and Normand Tremblay, who were also part of the team at the conference in Bali and were negotiators in various sessions.

Thank you for the invitation to come and report to you on aspects of the climate change conference in Bali in the first half of December. The minister was attending the high-level segment of that conference, and my colleagues and others were throughout the conference prior to the high-level segment.

Mr. Baird was assisted in these negotiations by a delegation that in fact comprised officials from across the government—the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Natural Resources, CIDA, and others.

In addition, Mr. Baird and the delegation were fortunate to receive advice and assistance from four advisers at the COP—l'honorable Pierre-Marc Johnson; Mary Simon, presidente de l'Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Ian Morton, founder of the Clean Air Foundation; and Elizabeth Dowdeswell, former executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.

As all members of the committee know, the conference received enormous worldwide attention. It was the culmination of a year of tremendous public and media focus on international climate change negotiations, and of course it really kicked off what will now be another intensive two-year process.

One of the events over the last year leading up to the conference was the UN Secretary General's high-level meeting on climate change at which the Prime Minister participated. He laid out the principles underlying Canada's approach to what we hoped would be a consensus at the Bali conference, referring to a balanced approach among the following: environmental protection and economic feasibility and the need to avoid unduly burdening the growth of any single country; a long-term focus, so that there would be a new international framework setting the scale; timing of global emissions reduction through to 2050; and a centrepiece on technology, the development and deployment of new and better technologies, including institutional mechanisms and measures to improve the environment for private sector investment as well as direct funding to aid broad-based technology transfer.

Another principle was the inclusion of all major emitters, and also a framework that would be flexible and able to accommodate a variety of commitments as well as multi-stage efforts by countries and sectors.

As I said, Mr. Chair, these principles formed the basis of our approach as a delegation in Bali.

We sought to ensure that any new negotiating process included participation of all major emitters. It is clear that the ultimate objective of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change cannot be realized through the reductions of a small number of countries alone, essential as those are. Under the current protocol, only developed-country parties representing a mere 30% of global emissions are required to reduce emissions. We believe that real and effective action will ultimately be required by all major emitters, such as the United States, China, India, and others.

We worked to establish a new negotiating process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We believed it had to have a clear mandate and set timeframes. We're glad to say—and the committee knows—that we arrived at a consensus by all parties to develop a new global agreement on climate change that is comprehensive and effective and that would represent a significant step forward.

We wanted to ensure a common end date for the two sets of negotiations that would be going on: the ongoing negotiations by Kyoto Protocol countries, and a new and broader process for all parties under the convention.

For the recommendations coming out of these two negotiations, to be able to inform a new, comprehensive agreement, it was essential that there be the same end date. That way, any commitments under one process would be undertaken with full understanding of what might be agreed to under the other.

We wanted to ensure that the review of the Kyoto Protocol required by the rules of the protocol in 2008 would be substantive. It's important that this mandated review look not only at emissions reductions under the protocol to date--in other words, the performance of parties--but also at the mechanisms and machinery of the protocol itself and at how effective that has been.

Finally, we wanted, at the Bali conference, to operationalize an adaptation fund with appropriate governance. The fund was originally established in 2001 as a voluntary fund under the protocol to support on-the-ground projects. Prior to Bali, the fund had not been operationalized, and getting the fund up and running in Bali was seen as an important and significant priority for the least-developed and small island states.

Given the time available, Chair and committee members, I will quickly refer to a fairly heavy program of bilateral meetings, including meetings with the UN Secretary General on our mutual perspectives on a post-2012 agreement, and also meetings with a number of other countries that were at the conference.

Canada participates regularly in a group of countries known as the umbrella group, which is a useful forum for discussing agenda items and possible common positions. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United States, Norway, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Russia, and the Ukraine are members of the umbrella group, and it is one of the teams, if you like, of countries that meet, and meet with each other to move the negotiations forward.

Our negotiators are often asked in these meetings to chair various negotiating or contact groups in Bali. Individual Canadian negotiators were asked to facilitate a number of negotiations, including those related to compliance with the protocol; those related to a particular amendment to allow Belarus into the protocol; those related to operationalization of the adaptation fund; and those related to Annex I national reporting.

I'll state for the record that in our view, the key outcomes of the conference included the launch of a formal negotiating process to develop the post-2012 agreement, the Bali action plan.

Secondly, the action plan, which will have a clear agenda and work plan, will be based on the four building blocks that were sought in advance: mitigation, adaptation, technology, and financing.

Guided by the need for deep reductions in global emissions, this new process will define mitigation commitments by developed countries and require nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries in a measurable, reportable, and verifiable manner. And we'd be pleased to go into that in detail if the committee wished.

Third, there was the agreement to conclude negotiations of new commitments for developed countries under the protocol by 2009, thus concluding, in parallel with and feeding into, the broader post-2012 agreement.

And finally, it includes the operationalization of the adaptation fund.

The Bali conference ended up being a positive start to what I've suggested is going to be an intense and challenging two years of negotiations.

Under the auspices of the United Nations there will be two sets of parallel meetings every three to four months in 2008-2009 under both the new negotiations process as well as the ongoing Kyoto Protocol process. The first meetings are tentatively scheduled for April 2008. Ministers will meet again for the conference of the parties, number 14, in Poznan, Poland, in December of this year, and negotiations will continue on both tracks throughout 2009, with the goal of coming together in a new global agreement at the 15th conference of the parties, in Copenhagen in 2009.

My colleagues and I would be pleased to elaborate if we can.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Bob Mills

Thank you, Mr. Shugart.

Just as a reminder to everyone, we'll have ten minutes for each party. You can split your time if you so desire, but I'll try to keep it fairly tight on ten minutes per group.

Mr. McGuinty, if you would like to start, please.

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the four gentlemen for being here this afternoon.

I would like to go back, Mr. Shugart and team, to the first principles and get on the record what we said in Bali as a nation-state.

First of all, can you help Canadians understand exactly what we said about our responsibilities, our timelines, our targets, and our participation in the Kyoto Protocol?

3:45 p.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Ian Shugart

The key statement to the conference is the national statement made before all of the delegates, and that is pubicly available. Allow me to summarize some of the key points along the lines you have asked about.

First of all, the minister underlined the government's commitment to the protocol, to the meeting itself, and the intention of the Canadian delegation to work towards a successful outcome. Reference was made, of course, to the policy of the government in relation to the regulatory and program agenda with respect to its own efforts in Canada, and more broadly the provinces and individuals, with a view to reducing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from current levels by 2020. The existing policy of the government on GHG reductions was summarized, and I would say that was explained to other delegates in bilateral meetings over the course of the meeting as well.

With respect to the core principles and features for an agreement going forward, the minister did make reference to the need for a long-term goal, reiterated Canada's objective stated in the Heiligendamm statement and the Canada-EU summit at the time of the G-8 of halving global emissions by 2050—a target for which Canada would share the view that all major emitting countries needed to be part of a subsequent agreement.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Let me stop you there, if I could, Mr. Shugart. I think I get the drift. It's the same kind of message track we've heard here domestically.

Did the minister stand up and tell the international community and the 10,000 delegates there that Canada has unilaterally changed the baseline year from 1990 to 2006 or 2005? Did he say so in his speech?

3:45 p.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Ian Shugart

I believe 2006 has been referred to, but we certainly refer to 2006 very transparently in all of our interactions.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Did any other nation-state stand up while you were there and tell the world that they were unilaterally changing the terms and conditions of their international agreement?

3:45 p.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Ian Shugart

Different jurisdictions do use different baselines.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Did any of them change them unilaterally since the time they ratified Kyoto and announce this in the international community in Bali?

3:45 p.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of the Environment

Ian Shugart

I don't know if any such announcements were made at the Bali meeting.

I would point out that all jurisdictions, and we have been clear on this with the UN, know that it is entirely feasible to make a crosswalk between the 2006 base year and the 1990 base year.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Okay. So that wasn't disclosed as openly as it might have been?