Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, standing committee, for the invitation to present today.
My name is Greg D'Avignon, and I am the CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia. We are in our 51st year. We are an organization of 260 firms that have assets and operations in the province, including leading firms in every sector of the economy, including our post-secondary institutions.
My comments today are really reflective of two key areas. One is related to the context of global and domestic energy demand and innovation and the role that Canada can play in meeting our obligations from an environmental and marine protection perspective. The other has to do with seizing the opportunity to export Canadian products to the benefit of the economy and the peoples of British Columbia and Canada.
These objectives were articulated in a submission in September 2016, but they bear repeating for the committee today. As the committee is aware, the International Energy Agency in its latest report showed that the global demand for hydrocarbons continues to grow and is projected to grow by one-third until 2040. Energy demand will be satisfied by a global mix of energy products, including renewables, but for decades to come it will involve primarily energy sources based on fossil fuels.
Canada, in our view, can choose to shut itself off from this demand and these market realities and forgo the benefits, including investment, taxes, jobs, and innovation that flow from our energy sector, which comprises today 10% of our GDP and most recently up to 25% of the capital investment in Canada as a whole, or we can choose to participate by contributing lower-greenhouse-intensive oil and natural gas products based on our baseline approach and innovations, as you heard about a moment ago, and drive change globally through a Canadian impact.
This is a unique proposition, particularly in British Columbia where we have the ability and today are integrating electrification in the upstream and downstream natural gas and oil production. These efforts are reducing by as much as half the carbon intensity of a barrel of oil, compared with the average in the U.S. The irony is that Canada today imports over 400,000 barrels of U.S. oil, while landlocking our Canadian product.
Canada's high environmental standards play a role in this, and Bill C-48 helps to strengthen it. Frankly, however, we have concerns with respect to our ability as the fourth-largest oil producer in the world, and given the innovations in electrification taking place in the market, to actually take advantage of the opportunities we have. The legislation in its persistence levels and schedule preclude both the innovations around the CanaPux, which we heard about earlier, and the opportunities that will arise out of natural gas production, which will include the production of light tight oil, condensate, and methane.
The British Columbia Business Council's concern is that the public narrative has not actually captured the voices of all indigenous peoples either. While many indigenous communities have the right to oppose the ability to ship, particularly diluted bitumen, from their traditional territories, the committee has heard from a great number who would like to seize those opportunities in environmental, traditional, and sustainable manners. This includes the supply chain through British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
Ironically, the oil industry and the energy sector in Canada is among the highest employers of indigenous peoples, creating self-determination, financial independence, and jobs for the future of those communities.
The opportunity for us in Canada is to seize these markets, to build on our innovation, to drive down the carbon intensity of our products, and, most importantly, to make sure that we create economic and cultural opportunities for all Canadians through the energy abundance we enjoy in Canada.
I'll conclude with some suggestions. While we are not in support of Bill C-48, we recognize the government's interest in moving forward with the legislation. Therefore, we would suggest the following. First, despite our views on the potential negative and unintended consequences of the legislation, permitting the export of products of less concern and less persistence than diluted bitumen through our northern deepwater ports must be recognized. Initially, the conversation on this legislation started around diluted bitumen, and, unfortunately, it has captured a much broader array of products and opportunities than was originally envisaged.
Second, reviews within the next 12 months of the legislation being passed and seeking royal assent should focus on the persistence level of products aimed at increasing the precision of in-out definitions, particularly given the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association's independent study on this topic, which is targeted for completion in 2018.
Third, the technology developments and other response capabilities should be reviewed within 24 months of royal assent of the legislation, particularly through the oceans protection plan and some innovations we heard about earlier, such as the CanaPux, to see whether the legislation continues to remain relevant.