Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members. Thank you for the invitation.
My name is Julia Langer. I'm director of the climate change program at World Wildlife Fund Canada.
World Wildlife Fund's mission is to build a future in which humans can live in harmony with nature. We work at conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that renewable resources are used sustainably, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. But our 40 years of work in Canada to protect and manage and restore biodiversity could well be for naught if we don't avert the über-threat posed by global warming and climate chaos. It is with this perspective in mind that WWF is speaking in favour of Bill C-377.
We feel that Bill C-377 reflects the science, and the science calls for immediate action to achieve deep reductions. The reduction targets outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are not arbitrary; they reflect the work of thousands of scientists over many, many years. They tell us we must reduce global warming pollution by at least 25% by 2020 and 80% by mid-century against the internationally referenced baseline of 1990. I am repeating and endorsing what Mr. Marshall has said. That is our reference point. There is no other way to look at this picture. I would also note that it means “at least”, because these are the bottom end of targets that are considered appropriate for industrialized countries like Canada.
Calling global warming a “hypothesis”, as the Prime Minister did less than four years ago, is now considered irrational. Governments of all political stripes around the world, including ours, are starting to reflect climate change science in policy. But accepting the science is only the first step. It is absolutely necessary and appropriate at this stage of the game to entrench targets and implementation requirements in law, because the current government's approach is a public relations ploy. It has to be brought into a management system.
I say it's a ploy because it's out of line with the science by virtue of having moved the baseline. It is ineffective because emissions will continue to explode--with more pronouncements than actions so far--and it's provoking some federal-provincial battles, which are not helpful toward getting on with the solution.
By way of looking at some of the targets we need, I want to focus on the tar sands as a prime example of how the government's proposed greenhouse gas rules for large final emitters would give a free pass to pollute and perpetuate the biggest source of emission contributions in Canada.
An important point to focus on when we're setting targets is what it is going to affect. Consider that emissions from the major emitters constitute 47% of the national total. The proposed targets call for greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced 23% against a unit of production basis by 2020, with a 6% exemption for fixed process emissions. This might sound like reduction, but it's not.
I'm not going to do a PowerPoint presentation, but maybe you can follow those charts. That graph is NEB's projections of tar sands growth, which has unmitigated emissions on a very steep climb. That's the blue line. Industry has already said it would continue to reduce emissions per barrel, and in fact it has set some targets for that. That dampens growth, but it doesn't reduce it overall. That's the green line. The proposed large final emitter rules, which is the red line, more or less matches these existing commitments and technically feasible mitigation options. This is a free pass. Further, more aggressive improvements have been targeted by some companies. That's the purple line.
The gap there, this excess reduction, can be turned into credits and sold within the LFE emission trading system. When you multiply that by $15 a tonne, that will generate millions in profit for an already profitable industry. The real bottom line is that emissions will double or triple by 2020. This elephant in the room cannot be ignored, and it has to be factored into our target setting.
It would be impossible to act in keeping with the science and with the proposed purpose of Bill C-377, or to deliver expected reductions as set out in the bill, without addressing the exploding emissions from tar sands operations. Uncontrolled, they will undermine action by other jurisdictions and other sectors and Canada's international reputation. How is Alberta's 14% reduction from 2005 levels by 2050 consistent or justified?
Parliament needs to set extremely clear rules that will work in the real world of the Canadian federation. So-called equivalency agreements, without a firm national cap, which needs to be set in this bill, will further undermine the objective.
With many, many provinces starting to make commitments and moving ahead, we need to ensure that the efforts of leading provinces are not cancelled out. Requiring the minister to demonstrate measures taken to meet the targets, including cooperation or agreements with some national governments, may not be clear or an ample enough mandate to allocate and distribute expected reductions among regions or sectors.
To help with this dilemma--I'm not suggesting this is an easy one to tackle--lessons can be taken from Europe for achieving fairness in a national climate action plan. As a federation, the EU's approach is to set the clear, binding targets, to divide up the responsibility on a transparent basis--they call it burden sharing, and it's not easy but it has to be done--and they create regulatory, market-based, and fiscal tools for implementation. And they require accountability--for instance, the ability to approve or reject plans, with repercussions for non-compliance.
There is a lot of moaning about the difficulties Canada faces. No one can really pretend that we have an easy road to hoe. But as numerous analysts have highlighted, there are significant costs of inaction. Canada is falling further and further behind on energy productivity and will suffer under high fossil fuel costs. With oil pushing $100 and more and government's refusal to go ahead on sustainable energy, our economy, our businesses, and consumers will be left exposed, not to mention the risks associated with extreme weather and warming itself.
Europe, on the other hand, is leaping ahead with a low carbon economy as a centre point. Last week the EU adopted a new package of climate and energy measures, including a 20% target. They said they would go to 30% if other countries came on board. What a bonus it would be if we set a target commensurate with the 25% or 30%. I think that would motivate Europe to go even further.
Renewable electricity and biofuels commitment is in their bill, as well as a new emissions trading system and very, very aggressive efficiency requirements, as Ken has put forward.
People like to complain about China and India, but they are very noteworthy because they are growing in an energy-constrained world that is forcing them to be super efficient, a claim that Canada cannot make, as we have the highest per capita energy consumption and the second-highest energy consumption per GDP.
In closing, WWF urges Parliament to get on with meeting the climate change challenge. It is essential to have a national law that entrenches the science, that positions Canada as a good-faith international player, and that reflects public expectations for avoiding dangerous climate change. The government has accepted the science and is a party to UN climate agreements, yet targets and proposed measures are inadequate. Emissions will continue to burgeon without appropriate binding targets and requirement for implementation.
As we enter Kyoto's first period and look to the next phase of multilateral collaboration, clear direction and expectations are essential. Bill C-377 fits the bill, and that's why we're supporting it. We urge all the parties to endorse the greenhouse gas reduction targets and timelines, and the government's obligations, as set out in the bill, in the spirit of creating a low-carbon society. We can't afford any other excuses and delay. Let's just get on with it.