Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
My name is Bob Page. I am vice-president of sustainable development for the TransAlta Corporation in Calgary.
We're Canada's largest private sector electrical utility. We have assets in Canada, seven U.S. states, Mexico, and Australia. We're a Canadian success story of internationalization. In terms of power generation, we use coal, natural gas, hydro, wind, and geothermal. We have been a pioneer in offsets and emissions trading.
Before we get into the substance of the bill, I want to emphasize that our climate change strategy has been to have continuous improvement. We are currently at 8.8% in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, which is intensely below our 1990 levels--and that's with our capacity being up 77%. We've had a very important growth phase in Alberta and also into the international market.
In connection with it, we've been a pioneer in Canada on offset projects and credits--by that I mean CO2 capture. We are the largest investor in wind power in Canada. We are also a major player in geothermal in California.
Along with several of the other witnesses here this morning, we're strongly into the bioenergy area. I currently chair BIOCAP Canada, which this committee has heard from before.
On technology change, as quickly as the public policy framework is in place, we're very committed to developing clean coal. By clean coal, I mean the gasification of coal, the capture of all emissions and impurities, and the underground sequestration of that total package. In terms of this, our company's overall policy goal is for no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2024. This is a commitment our company made in 2000. We hope the public policy framework will be such that we'll be able to keep to that time schedule.
We were invited to testify about our Canadian policy to the U.S. Senate environment committee because of its interest internationally.
In terms of where we're going today, I just want to take a couple of moments to talk about the cost of the Kyoto target. This is background to your bill, and it's something where I may differ from my learned colleagues on the panel this morning.
Under the 2005 Martin plan, the target was 270 megatonnes, which has grown since then. Currently, we are approximately 35% short of that target of minus 6% of 1990 levels. Canada is a tougher target than any of the other countries. The 2005 plan included companies such as my own under the large final emitters program. This program was to deliver about 15% of the Canadian target.
Other parts of the plan involved soft estimates. We were supportive of those, but nonetheless they were soft in terms of being able to ensure delivery.
The remaining 190 megatonnes would come from international purchases, which the Auditor General estimated could be $20 a tonne. The basic economics with 190 megatonnes, times $20 a tonne, times five years, is $19 billion for Canada. This is a significant hit for the Canadian taxpayer.
There would be no environmental benefits from some of the international credits such as Russian hot air. The bureaucracy and the corruption involved with securing some of those credits would make the delivery difficult. I have spent significant time in Russia on credits issues, so I am very aware of what I'm saying here.
I am just trying to lay this out in terms of background to what I'll be saying.
The next area I want to talk about very quickly is thermal electricity. Most of the electricity sector in Canada is owned by the province; all of it is regulated by the provinces. It's something we have to keep in mind as we go forward. Thermal electricity involves Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.
For our company and our PPA partners—these are the wholesalers of electricity for our generation—the economic cost of the Martin LFE plan would be about $37 million a year. The total over five years for our company and our electricity partners would be $185 million. This is our estimate, given some uncertainties in terms of the market.
The hit for the Alberta electricity system as a whole has been estimated at about $1.4 billion over the same period. Under Canada's Clean Air Act, we would face equal or even larger costs, especially involving mercury. These have to be added to the climate change costs that we're dealing with as a company.
Clean coal is just around the corner. It is a solution, but there can be no commercial-scale development before 2012. That is the difficulty for the bill in terms of delivering in the Kyoto period. Secondly, we have a 25% capital cost and a 25% operating cost premium that we would have to meet.
On the targets, in our opinion, the scale of the Canadian target is not achievable at this late date. The committee must look seriously both at the timing issues and at the cost issues in connection with it and the equity issues across Canada. The point I want to make is that the issue is not the target per se. The issue is the timing in terms of the delivery. Our company has no hesitation with the targets if they can be integrated in the technology sense.
The policy tools are not available to the government today on climate change. I co-chaired one of the sector tables in connection with this several years ago, and we've gone through this in great detail in other formats. In trying to look at the targets, we have to look at the fact that, domestically, the Martin LFE program would have covered 25% or 30% of our Kyoto target. If your focus is domestic policy, what are the new measures you're proposing that would increase that up to 100% of those targets, changing it from 30%? In our opinion—and I say this very respectfully to the committee—the bill is useless without an implementation plan with the costs attached.
I understand the frustration that all members of the committee are facing in terms of the issues of Kyoto. At the same time, I have to say, on behalf of our customers and our shareholders, that this has to be put into a doable, viable program.
On other matters, just very quickly, most of the Kyoto countries will not meet their targets, in our opinion. I've been in Europe twice in the last month, at the International Energy Agency meetings and at other meetings in connection with it. The offsets in credit system and emission trading will take five years to establish. So, please, when we're looking at that, understand the time delay in delivering for a Kyoto target, given its timeframe.
The greatest emphasis today needs to be post-2012, when I think we're all facing real challenges in terms of going forward. Our investors need certainty if we're to invest in coal plants or if we're to invest in offset projects.
Lastly, I do want to emphasize that if we can move quickly to develop a policy framework, Canada has the real opportunity to be a world leader on clean coal and sequestration and other climate....
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, in my view, the issue here is a very serious one, in that we're proposing a timeframe under Kyoto that is not doable for industry, especially large final emitters like us. The only way this issue can be addressed is with the purchase of very large quantities of international credits. Given my own experience in terms of the international market, I'm not sure this would deliver very much, certainly in terms of Russia or the Ukraine, in terms of environmental advantages.
Secondly, in connection with it, our company does not have the resources needed both to do the large purchase of credits for immediate compliance purposes under Kyoto and also to fund the technology change that is essential for our long-term future in terms of the deep cuts in the post-Kyoto period.
Thirdly, we really want to emphasize the importance of the longer-term technology change that is the real solution and will keep the money in Canada, on something that will be of benefit to our country later on.
Fourthly, this will allow our company to go way beyond Kyoto by taking this longer-term approach with deep cuts. As I mentioned, our commitment is carbon neutrality by 2024, which is a major commitment for a thermal utility.
Lastly, in connection with this, by trying to meet the immediate short-term Kyoto targets, we will in fact impede the kind of investment pattern for technology change that, for Canada and globally, is so important in terms of trying to address those long-range targets.
Mr. Chairman, thank you.