All right, I'll speak to that, then.
The first point I want to make is that we're learning something about the use of the word “targets”. That is, one can talk about targets quite loosely, and those targets may not mean a lot in terms of what actually happens in the economy and what actually happens to emissions. I'm pointing that out simply because when I hear some of the other witnesses just now, or politicians in general, or the media, or interest groups talking about targets, I immediately get a little bit edgy and nervous, and curious to see what someone will say next in terms of how we actually achieve those targets.
I wanted to just make the point that discussions about targets in the absence of very specific, compulsory-type policies that are strongly linked to those targets are highly suspect. I think we need to start getting that into our discourse and not be as loose with terms like “targets”. In my view, for our discussion, what we've learned is they have to be linked to the actual policies.
What I'd like to report in the few minutes that I have is on what we're learning from a lot of independent research around the world that I'm engaged in with other independent experts from academia, from government, from various institutions about policy effectiveness, how to link targets to policies, and therefore some things to watch out for that I want to alert the committee about.
If you look at the overhead, what you see on the bottom in red are the different targets that Canada has set at various times. What you see on the top of the line are the policies we enacted that we said would get us to those targets. Of course, the line you have going up shows the actual emissions and what they've done over that timeframe.
It was hard to argue in 1992 or 1993 what might happen with various types of policies looking at the Canadian data, but now we have the advantage in 2007 of looking at data and experiences in Canada--the example I'm showing you here--and in other countries around the world with their ability to link policies that actually are effective in achieving the targets they set. So there are a couple of points I want to make about that, some of which are hopefully very obvious; nonetheless, I think they bear repeating.
The first point is that voluntarism does not work when we're talking about something that is as profound a technological change as dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By voluntarism, I mean policies that are primarily subsidy based or providing information: television advertising, labelling of products, small subsidies, large subsidies, those kinds of things.
I also want to point out that to the extent that policies have been very focused on energy efficiency, there's an additional challenge. I can talk to this later in questions if someone wants to speak about it, and I have a slide on it that I don't have time to talk about right now.
Research from electric utility programs over 25 years in the United States and from government programs in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere is indicating that energy efficiency is much more expensive than its advocates would have us believe because of differences in risks of the new efficient technologies and the length of paybacks from those technologies. Energy efficiency is much more difficult to achieve from a policy perspective, because when you're giving a subsidy it's hard to sort out who was going to make an efficiency investment in the first place.
Then, finally, when you improve the productivity of energy in your economy through energy efficiency actions, we talk about small rebound effects where people might actually demand more of a service if it becomes cheaper, such as heating and so on. I think that's small and is dwarfed by a larger rebound effect that I and several international researchers are very interested in right now, which is that general productivity gains in energy lead to a plethora of new energy-using technologies that are all around us.
So if you were to ask me if I thought that Canada would use dramatically less energy 40 years from now, even after having made a concerted effort to do so, I would be very skeptical of that potential.
What that tells me is that from a policy perspective, we need to be focusing increasingly on emissions, rather than on energy efficiency. When you do that, there will be energy efficiency gains that come from that. But when I hear people say we should work on efficiency first, and then we'll turn to the more difficult question of emissions, that, to me, is part of the explanation for the figure I just showed you, which represents a huge gap between the targets we set and what actually happened with the policies we used. Those policies shown in green along the top were all primarily dominated by subsidies and information programs, so there was a voluntary approach.
What I also want to point out is that advocates of renewable energy will argue that if subsidies are provided for renewable energy and removed from fossil fuels, very soon renewable technologies will beat out fossil fuels, so that's a good policy approach.
I would argue that the evidence does not support that. The evidence tends to support that as long as fossil fuels, which are a very rich and in many ways wonderful form of energy, can use the atmosphere as a free waste receptacle, we are going to see that innovations will continue to find ways--developing a backyard patio heater that burns propane, or whatever--of using fossil fuels to provide new services that you and I can't even imagine right now, but which will emerge over the next 10, 15, 20 years.
This leads me to the point that our policies have to be of a compulsory nature. They can be designed in ways so they don't have huge economic impacts in the short term, and that's where I would put my effort, on that design side. But those policies have to be something that constrains people in a regulatory way or through financial penalty from using the atmosphere as a free waste receptacle.
All other discussion about targets and voluntarism and energy efficiency should be dwarfed by our policy focus in that particular area. What this means is that all sorts of subsidies are probably not as important. So when people talk about super-funds and getting government to spend more money, I'm not convinced of that.
When it comes to policy design, we're now in a conundrum in Canada. We're looking at a large final emitter policy that would have a cap-and-trade character to it, which is something I support, but which would only apply, then, to about half of the economy. So we may be heading down a road where--and I heard people say we really need industry to cover its load--I would argue that we're going to end up with industry perhaps cutting emissions with the LFE program, depending on how it's designed, and if it doesn't have too many escape clauses, but the rest of the economy will continue to follow the same trajectory unless we get those kinds of signals out to consumers.
To do that, for example, the large final emitter program would actually go further upstream and would be a program not looking at emissions from industrial facilities, but instead one that looked at the carbon content coming from the fossil fuel sector, and charging for that. Otherwise, the large final emitter program would have to be tied to strong similar types of policies affecting the transportation sector and affecting the building sector, including everything that's inside of buildings, such as appliances and so on.
I have some proposals that are well recognized around the world, and that various governments and countries are starting to implement now, for how one would get there, but I won't talk about the details of those right now.
This can mean that when we look at the wedges of emission reductions that Alex Wood was just talking about from the preliminary study that the national round table did, one showed a considerable amount of energy efficiency being the way to get to deep greenhouse gas reductions in Canada over several decades.
I just want to alert you to the fact that there is research out there that suggests that such energy efficiency, when you get down to its cost and policy constraints, could be much more difficult to achieve, which means we need to be focusing right now on forceful policies to get the signal out there that you can no longer emit greenhouse gases. And those policies need to be coming into place right away with this act.
Thank you. I'll conclude there.