Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you very much, members.
It's a great pleasure for us to present our views on Canada's Clean Air Act today.
As many of you I'm sure know, because you have chambers and boards of trade in your ridings, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the largest advocate for business in Canada. On behalf of our members, once again we thank you.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce recognizes that climate change is a serious and complex global issue that requires effective short-, medium-, and long-term strategies and actions.
The international community is engaged in a variety of processes to determine the most appropriate future framework for international cooperation on action to address the greenhouse gas challenge. This provides an opportunity for Canada and other countries to refocus the domestic and international climate change issue to a discussion of effective actions to improve energy efficiency while still meeting the energy needs of the economy. In addition, a concerted international effort is needed to develop the technological solutions required to bring greenhouse gas emissions under control over the long-term.
Industry is part of the solution. Many members of the Canadian chamber have already taken actions to reduce energy use and slow the growth in greenhouse gas emissions. We are committed to further efforts.
We have been encouraging our members for many years to participate in and to enhance their commitments to programs such as the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation, CIPEC. We've also partnered with Pollution Probe to develop a primer on climate change for SMEs.
I've asked the clerk to distribute copies around the table to you today.
This document is available in French and English.
This describes two smaller enterprises, the challenges of climate change, and the actions they can take individually to contribute to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This is very often a neglected segment of our economy when we discuss these issues, and I would encourage the committee to make sure that small and medium-sized enterprises are considered.
I'd also like to give an example of progress that has been made in manufacturing in Canada, a sector that gets so much attention when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. While increasing production between 1990 and 2003 by 48%, manufacturers reduced their emissions by 7.4%. The large final emitter component of manufacturers reduced emissions by 20%. This represents a 38% reduction in emission intensity. One of the key lessons learned from this data is the important connection between investment and emission reductions. We need to encourage that investment in technology.
While we continue to take action to slow the growth of GHG emissions, there's no doubt that new technologies will be the key to the large-scale emission reductions needed over the long term. As you know, Canadian industries are currently developing new technologies and fuel sources, but many initiatives are only at the pilot stage and will have to be scaled up to full projects and programs to prove successful. Examples to these technologies include recovery of oil from drilling muds, utilization of gas from oil refining that would otherwise be flared, and improved animal waste management.
Given the importance of energy to the economy, new technology such as clean coal and carbon capture and storage deserves significant attention. A longer-term focus is necessary to support full development and commercialization of these technologies and to undertake the necessary research into other potential breakthrough technologies.
The business sector is part of the solution and is always quite prepared to continue doing its bit by playing an active and committed role.
Specifically on the question of targets—I know they are the subject of discussion for this committee today—Canadian industry supports the setting of responsible targets, along with an effective compliance regime. However, any targets, whether short-, medium-, or long-term, must be realistic and reflect the fact that Canada has a very energy-intensive economy with increasing energy exports. Also, in the case of industrial investments, it will be critical to look at investment cycles to ensure that we deal adequately with capital stock turnover realities.
Targets for industry should ramp up over time, recognizing that technical limitations are faced by most firms and that arbitrary short-term targets can divert capital from investments that have the potential for greater reductions in the long term. The key will be to closely integrate the targets with the capital stock turnover cycle so that new investments are timely, affordable, and most likely to have the double benefit of productivity and environmental improvements.
An integrated approach to dealing with both energy and the environment that provides for fair contributions from all regions and segments of society is needed if we want to adequately address both climate change and clean air. It must include a dialogue with Canadians about their own responsibilities and must develop measures that adequately address the consumer contribution.
We agree that the targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction should be based on emission intensity, where emission levels are compared with the level of output of the firm or sector, rather than on absolute emission levels. This ensures that companies are not penalized for growing their business even when they achieve significant environmental improvements.
I have two other points, quickly, Mr. Chair. One is on the issue of equivalency. We support the approach in Bill C-30 whereby regulations are not needed when existing provincial regulations have an equivalent effect. This ensures that industry initiatives to achieve further environmental improvements are not thwarted by overlapping and possibly conflicting regulations. You will agree, I'm sure, that we need only one regulator in each jurisdiction.
Finally, with respect to the notice of intent to regulate that was tabled in conjunction with Bill C-30, a number of principles were listed as guiding the development of industry regulations. The Canadian chamber would like to emphasize our support for these principles, and we hope they will continue to be the foundation on which regulations will be built. I don't need to repeat these principles. Some of them are ones that we feel are very positive—for example, maximizing environmental gains through a multi-pollutant approach; having some flexible compliance mechanisms; and, certainly, promoting investment in the development and deployment of new technologies. If these principles are followed, we believe the resulting regulations will enable us to make measurable improvements to the health and environment of Canadians, while promoting sustainable economic growth and competitive Canadian enterprise.
We would like to thank the committee members for giving us this opportunity to provide you with our comments.
We would encourage you to consider an integrated approach that accounts for energy and environmental issues fairly and equitably.
As one final thought for the members as you proceed with your deliberations, once again I encourage you to avoid artificial targets and instead keep foremost in your mind that in dealing with climate change in particular, we need to take into account the energy and economic realities of the country.
I'd be very happy to answer any questions you might have.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.