Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and members of the committee.
This is the third or fourth time I've been to committee, as I recall. It's always a pleasure. Thank you for the invitation to speak.
As you're aware, joining me today are Ian Shugart, my deputy minister, and Michael Martin, who is our ambassador on climate change.
I will address with the committee, first, the supplementary estimates (B), and second, in the time we have, other issues. My officials are prepared to remain afterwards to respond to questions, which I know the committee members will have, relative to the details of the supplementary estimates.
This has been a pivotal year for this portfolio at Environment Canada and also for Parks Canada and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. We are making progress on major files.
For Environment Canada, the $34 million in supplementary requests arise from, first, $25.2 million to support the regulatory activities under the clean air regulatory agenda, which we can speak to; $6.4 million to modernize six Environment Canada laboratories and wildlife centres as part of the initiatives under the economic action plan; $5 million to support the Mackenzie gas project in the NWT; and $3.1 million to help implement the Canada-United States clean energy dialogue.
Environment Canada is also facing reductions amounting to some $8 million related to updated estimates of moneys needed for things such as the assessment, management, and remediation of contaminated sites that are under Environment Canada's control.
The supplementary requisition for Parks Canada of $13.1 million arises from a number of measures: $9 million for the assessment, management, and remediation of federal contaminated sites; and $3 million for programs to advertise Canada's national parks during this important year for Canadian tourism as we welcome the world to Canada's Olympic Games.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has a supplementary requisition in the amount of $215,000 to support the Mackenzie gas project in the Northwest Territories.
Mr. Chair, I referred to this as a pivotal year for Environment Canada, Parks Canada and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. The spending included in these supplementary estimates will push ahead several of the important projects on which we have been gathering momentum since I last met with the committee in February.
I would like to remind the committee of the important progress already made this past year on a number of fronts. Last April, we announced a notice of intent to regulate vehicle tailpipe emissions under CEPA. We will regulate in a manner that is equivalent to U.S. fuel economy standards for the 2011 model year and match U.S. tailpipe standards for the 2012-2016 model years. The result is a set of ambitious standards that are harmonized in North America with the United States.
A significant achievement this year was that Parliament gave unanimous consent to the expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve to six times its previous size—a contiguous protected area that is about the size of Belgium. This is in addition to the six additional wildlife areas that we will create in the Northwest Territories.
Another example is the action on waste water. For four years, Environment Canada worked with provincial and territorial governments to develop a Canada-wide strategy on the management of municipal waste water effluent. Last February, ministers approved this Canada-wide strategy. Federal regulations under the Fisheries Act will set national performance standards, timelines, and monitoring and reporting requirements.
We've also made progress in our efforts to extend protection of the polar bear population in the Arctic. Earlier this year, shortly after becoming the minister, I hosted a national round table on polar bears. In October, following that and at the recommendation of the round table, we signed an agreement with Greenland, and last month the Canada-United States polar bear oversight committee met. All along we have seen an unprecedented level of effort from aboriginal peoples and all levels of government to conserve and manage polar bear populations in Canada, particularly those we share with Greenland.
This year we've also made significant progress on the world-leading chemicals management plan, which we introduced in 2006. In total we have published a proposed risk management approach for 29 substances found to be potentially harmful to human health and/or the environment.
Mr. Chairman, as one more example, I would cite the new Environmental Enforcement Act, passed last June, which increases fines and provides new enforcement tools. I'm also looking forward to working with this committee on the important review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which is scheduled to start next year. I know that many members of the committee have points of view on this. I also look forward to receiving your report on the review of SARA, which the committee began last spring.
I think it's fair to say, Mr. Chairman, when it comes to the environment portfolio, the top-of-mind concern for the committee and for Canadians is climate change.
Last week the United States President announced a reduction target of minus 17% of their 2005 base by 2020. The Canadian policy for the past two years has been reductions of minus 20% of the 2006 Canadian base by 2020. These targets are virtually identical, and we will make whatever minor adjustments are necessary to make them identical, ultimately with the same baseline.
To achieve real environmental and economic benefits for Canadians, we have been acting on three different tracks--domestic, continental, and international. On the domestic track, we will continue to invest in green technology and R and D, and will introduce a regulatory system for our industries that is harmonized with that of the United States.
As part of our commitment to a North American cap and trade system, we will continue to work together with the United States in that regard.
Our country is also committed to the goal of having 90% of Canada's electricity provided by non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal, or wind power by 2020.
This continental approach includes such initiatives as the clean energy dialogue as well as the harmonization of our measures with those of our neighbour and our largest trading partner.
I am also pleased to report that a month or so ago, at the WILD9 conference in Mexico, Canada signed a historic agreement with the United States and Mexico to build resilient, well-connected networks of protected areas as a legacy for the future.
On the international level, we will remain a full and effective partner in the multilateral negotiations. The United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, which begins next week, provides a historic opportunity to achieve a global consensus on a fair, environmentally effective and comprehensive climate change agreement.
In Canada's view, this agreement should include comparable economy-wide emission reduction commitments by developed countries for the 2013-2021 period. It should include significant mitigation actions by the major developing countries, led by China. A Copenhagen agreement should enhance global action to assist the poorest and most vulnerable countries to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting this past weekend, the Prime Minister joined with other leaders to underline their firm political commitment to a successful outcome in Copenhagen. They endorsed the establishment, as part of a comprehensive agreement, of a fund of up to $10 billion per year by 2012 to support adaptation in the most vulnerable countries, research, development and deployment of clean technologies, and action to reduce deforestation in developing countries.
Mr. Chairman, I would, in closing, just like to also briefly touch on a speech that was recently given by the Leader of the Opposition, in which he listed—