Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to thank the committee members for providing the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy with this opportunity to present you with our views on the issue at hand.
At the outset, I would like to apologize for not bringing the documents that I would have liked to have with me today. We had problems with translation and producing these documents, but they will be available from the clerk as soon as possible.
My testimony today, Mr. Chair, is going to be of a fairly general nature. I'm going to talk about work the national round table has done on the issue of long-term targets for the country, specifically with reference to an advisory note the national round table released this summer on how Canada could achieve a 60% reduction in its GHG emissions by 2050 while still meeting the energy needs of its growing economy.
I'll also talk a bit about the fact that the round table has been asked under Bill C-30 to provide some advice to the government on a number of matters. That's an issue I'll discuss later, but just to say at the outset that our response to that is being developed right now, so I'm not in a position to comment too much on the specifics of that advice as yet.
Over the years, the round table has provided a number of reports related to the subject before the committee. We've done reports dealing with GHGs in transportation, we've done reports on domestic emissions trading, and we've done reports on the use of fiscal policy when it comes to energy and the need to decarbonize our energy system.
Our signature work in this area is a report that was issued in June 2006 called Advice on a Long-Term Strategy on Energy and Climate Change. That piece of advice to the government, requested by the previous government, was an analysis that we undertook using a model of stabilization wedges that had been pioneered by some Princeton professors. As I said, what we did, essentially, was lay out a long-term scenario by which Canada, through a series of technology measures and energy efficiency measures, might in fact reduce its emissions by 60% while maintaining economic growth in the context of a growing population as well.
To provide the right context, our analysis violated just about every principle of scenario planning, as our consultants reminded us regularly. We did one scenario, and you're never supposed to do just one; you're always supposed to do more than one. You're never supposed to do an odd number because people think you're suggesting the one in the middle. We did just one, and it does have some important messages and some important lessons have emerged from it. Those, generally speaking, are that it can be done in terms of meeting our energy needs while substantially reducing our long-term emissions. If it is to be done, it has to start now in terms of the policy response required. It will require all available technologies and all available energy efficiency opportunities to be realized. There is no silver bullet when it comes to this question. It presents a massive energy technology and energy efficiency technology deployment and uptake challenge. That is the message we want to carry forward.
In terms of the particular focus of this committee, the basic message I would like to offer is that whatever decisions are taken about short-term targets need to be set in the context of a long-term framework and a statement of a long-term objective. It's no coincidence in the minds of the round table members that the most successful of the OECD economies when it comes to meeting or substantially reducing emissions of GHGs is the U.K. We see that as proof of the necessity of setting in place a long-term target and a long-term framework for approaching this issue, as the U.K. has had for a number of years.
Turning now to the Clean Air Act notice of intent, I won't go too much into the details of what's being requested at the round table, as I assume members are familiar with that. Essentially, we have three separate issues before us: advice about national ambient air objectives in the long term; advice on national emission reduction targets in 2050; and criteria on air contaminants in specific sectors--and I can remind the members what those sectors are if it's required.
On greenhouse gases, here I'll use the specific language of the notice of intent, because I do want to be precise. The round table has been asked to provide advice on emission reduction targets for 2020-25 for specific sectors. I can identify these sectors, if required. This advice should be based on a recognition of the outlook for Canadian economic growth and the government's intention to build on an emissions intensity approach, with targets that are ambitious enough to translate into a fixed cap on absolute emissions.
The second piece of advice sought on the GHG side is advice on the national emission reduction target that should be adopted, within the range of 45% to 65% from 2003 levels, by 2050. Of particular importance, obviously, are the scenarios by which Canada could in fact meet the target that, as we are going to be suggesting to the government, should be the one to adopt.
There are a couple of things to note here. One thing that we know is going to be very difficult in terms of the basic research we need to conduct is this transition period that clearly will occur between 2010-15 and 2025, when, as is anticipated in the act, there is this transition from an intensity-based target approach to an absolute target approach. It's an issue that needs considerable thought and to which we will be devoting considerable research resources.
The second point I'd like to make is on the question of that long-term range, the 2050 range. Obviously it's consistent with the approach or the research that we've already undertaken, looking at that 60% number, the number that we've already provided our advisory note on. I should be quite clear on that. The round table was not advocating that particular target when that advisory note was put out. That was a nominal target chosen for research purposes, but we now have, from a research perspective, the beginnings of an approach towards meeting the requirement to actually come up with advice on a particular number.
Just to wrap up, Mr. Chair, as I said at the outset, we have been given this piece of work under the Clean Air Act notice of intent. The timelines are fairly short for the round table. We have been asked by the government to provide advice in the form of a preliminary report by the spring of this year, with a final report to the government by the fall. We are right now in the course of developing the research agenda, the basic methodological approach that we're going to use.
A large part of this is still to be discussed with the members of the round table. We're meeting with them later this week to walk them through our suggested approach. So I may not be able to give you a clear sense of what the round table members themselves are feeling about this question right now, but I'll try to answer whatever questions you might have.