Well I might just respond in a couple of ways, and I won't get into the 13 years of inaction. In terms of our approach in dealing with greenhouse gas emissions with our American neighbours, we need to focus on the source of emissions. That includes, first, the transportation sector. I think it's fair to say that President Obama has taken some steps there, and we should speak to what we are doing that's commensurate with those steps. Secondly, we need to deal with the emissions from industrial sources, and I will speak to that. Thirdly, there are other aspects of emissions that relate to all of us as consumers.
However, I think it's important to begin with the targets. You're quite right that the targets we have put forward as a Canadian government of minus 20% by 2020 are in fact more aggressive than the targets that have been put forward by President Obama. This is from a 2006 base. The objective, the level of ambition that the new President has spoken of, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States to 1990 levels by 2020. If you do the math and convert it, it equates to something like minus 14, from a 2006 base. The Canadian and the American targets are similar. They're not identical. The Canadian targets are slightly more aggressive in the shorter term. In the longer term they're commensurate with one another, although at 2050 the American targets are expressed slightly more ambitiously.
Broadly speaking, we have similar targets. I think what is also important is that the principles that our government has espoused in dealing with this are virtually identical to the principles that President Obama has espoused.
First is the importance of balancing economic progress with our responsibility to be stewards of the environment.
Second is the importance of technological innovation. We are talking about essentially step changes in the technological basis of our society. Whether you're speaking of bringing on hydro projects or advancing carbon capture and storage or new generation nuclear, these are significant step changes in technology, so we need to make investments to have that happen.
Third is the long-term nature of this. This will not be accomplished overnight. There is real importance to proceeding very quickly, but to make the kinds of changes that we're talking about, we need a longer-term horizon. Everyone has agreed on that, increasingly.
Fourth is the importance of engaging all major emitters. There's an old saying that if you're going duck hunting, you go where the ducks are. If you're trying to deal with emissions, you're going to have to deal with all of the major economies that emit greenhouse gases. That includes the United States, China, India, Russia, and the so-called BRIC economies. The new President has spoken with clarity and determination about that and so have we.
Finally, the new President has indicated a change of American policy in that he will engage in a very constructive way in the international climate change process. We have similarly said that that's what we are committed to. In terms of our targets and principles, we are on a common footing. In terms of dealing with the transportation sector, one of the first executive orders that President Obama signed.... There were two orders, in fact. One was to direct the American EPA to proceed with the “35 mile per gallon by 2020” vehicle fuel consumption standard. The other was to allow California, essentially, to pursue the California standard.
In Canada we have been in front of this for some time. In January of last year we actually indicated that we would move to the stringent, dominant North American standard for vehicle fuel efficiency. We have been working with and frankly waiting for the U.S. administration to make choices in terms of when they would bring that into place. Now that we know where the new President is going, harmonization of our vehicle fuel consumption standards is not only doable but well under way.
In terms of our industrial emissions, we continue with the Turning the Corner plan. However, I think it is important, as I said earlier, to emphasize the complexity of this and the effects it has on competitiveness. When you talk about regulating the industrial sector, you're speaking of 350 Canadian facilities that emit significant volumes of carbon dioxide. As I recall, that is more than 100,000 tonnes. These are distributed across the country. They involve everything from steel manufacturing facilities to coal-burning electricity plants and certainly oil and gas facilities. It's everything we essentially do as part of our industrial structure.
The way in which these regulations are brought into law and the competitive effect they have, as between Canada and the United States, all require careful consideration. That's why we are seeking additional dollars in the supplementary estimates, to carry on with that work.
I would emphasize that what we are doing, as Canadians, is second to none. No one else has brought in a regulatory industrial framework of this nature.