Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am honoured to be here with you today. I am joined at the table by Mr. John Cooper, Director of the Water, Air and Climate Change Bureau at Health Canada, and Ms. Carol Buckley, Director General of Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada.
With your permission, I would like to start by making a brief statement providing some observations on specific sections of Bill C-311. My colleagues and I will then be pleased to respond to questions.
Sections 5 and 6 of the Bill define a long-term emissions reduction pathway for Canada by means of a target plan with an ambitious medium-term target of a reduction of 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and a long-term target of an 90% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050.
The concept of a long-term emissions reduction pathway is already reflected in Canadian government policy. As you know, the government has defined a pathway that would reduce Canada's GHG emissions by 20% below 2006 levels by 2020 and by 60% to 70% by 2050. As a point of comparison, current legislative proposals in the United States also define a long-term pathway for U.S. emission reductions of 17% to 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% below 2005 levels by 2050.
In the current UN climate change negotiations, Canada and the United States have both supported the idea, consistent with the imperative of achieving deep global reductions in emissions, that all countries should articulate a long-term emission reduction pathway. Each country's pathway would guide national policy-making and help to provide a clearer sense of global emission trends.
This recognition of the importance of long-term pathways was reflected last July in the outcome of the G8 summit in Italy. Canada and other G8 countries recognized the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees Celsius. Further, G8 leaders reiterated their support for a long-term global goal of at least a 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050 and, as part of this, also supported a goal of developed countries reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in aggregate of 80% or more by 2050 compared to 1990 or more recent years.
As I noted, clause 6 of Bill C-311 clearly requires the Minister of the Environment to define a long-term emissions reduction pathway in the form of an interim target plan for the years 2015, 2020, 2025, 2030, 2035, 2040, 2045 leading to the target for 2050 described in paragraph 5(a). I note as well that paragraph 5(b) defines a target for 2020, to be “valid prior to the target plan referred to in subsection 6(1), to a level that is 25% below the 1990 level by the year 2020.” This proposed 2020 target would represent a 38% reduction in Canadian emissions below 2006 levels, which would be one of the most ambitious of any developed country, in particular given Canada's strongly growing population.
New emission reduction commitments by developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the post-2012 period are a key issue in the current negotiations. These commitments are likely to take the form of quantified, economy-wide emission reductions for the eight-year period 2013 to 2020. At Bali in 2007, Canada and other parties agreed that the negotiations on these new emission reduction commitments by developed countries should reflect “comparable efforts”. This concept, which has its origins in article 4.2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, suggests that developed countries should each make a fair contribution to the aggregate emission reduction effort by developed countries based on their national circumstances and their mitigation potential.
In the government's view, the key consideration of any assessment of comparable efforts is cost. An important assumption in any calculations of cost is the extent to which the reductions would be achieved domestically and what percentage would be achieved through the use of international offset credits. It is the view of the government that its 2020 target is comparable to that being proposed by other developed countries, in particular given the fact that it does not assume significant purchase of international offset credits.
Finally, I would note that clause 9 of Bill C-311 suggests that Canada's positions in all international climate change discussions and in all negotiations must be “fully consistent with meeting the commitment made under section 5 and the interim Canadian greenhouse gas emission targets referred to in section 6”. I expect Canada will bind its 2020 target internationally as an outcome of the current negotiations. I would note that Canada's commitment to achieve a 20% reduction in GHG emissions below 2006 levels by 2020 is not conditional. Similarly, based on the language of Bill C-311, I assume the proposed 2020 target of the 25% reduction below 1990 levels would not include conditions.
It strikes me as unlikely that Canada would be able to revise the proposed 2020 target once announced internationally, unless we plan to adopt an even more ambitious target. Therefore, the 2020 target in paragraph 5(b) would not readily be subject to revision through the process described in clause 6. If the 2020 target in Bill C-311 were to be dependent upon the purchase of international offset credits, there may be some risks, including in terms of the costs of compliance associated with such an unconditional commitment.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.