Evidence of meeting #124 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was countries.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Chair  Mr. John Aldag (Cloverdale—Langley City, Lib.)
Isabelle Bérard  Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment
Anar Mamdani  Director, Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Catherine Stewart  Director General, Climate Change International and Chief Negotiator for Climate Change, Department of the Environment
Leona Alleslev  Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC
Wayne Stetski  Kootenay—Columbia, NDP
Matt Jones  Assistant Deputy Minister, Pan-Canadian Framework Implementation Office, Department of the Environment
Lucie Desforges  Director General, Bilateral Affairs and Trade Directorate, Department of the Environment
Joe Peschisolido  Steveston—Richmond East, Lib.
Mark Warawa  Langley—Aldergrove, CPC
Shannon Stubbs  Lakeland, CPC
Judy O'Leary  Group Leader and BC Coordinator, Nelson-West Kootenay Chapter, Citizens' Climate Lobby
Laura Sacks  Group Leader and BC Coordinator, Nelson-West Kootenay Chapter, Citizens' Climate Lobby

3:35 p.m.

The Chair Mr. John Aldag (Cloverdale—Langley City, Lib.)

I call the meeting to order.

Good afternoon, everyone. It's a special day, with a lot of new faces at the table today.

Before we get started, I would just like to acknowledge MaryAnn Mihychuk, whom we have on the Liberal side, and Pierre Breton. Welcome to the committee.

Leona, welcome. I don't know if you've had a chance to participate on the environment committee before, so it's good to see you here.

Shannon Stubbs will be joining us.

Today we're starting a study on international leadership. This flows from the pan-Canadian framework on climate change. Last spring our committee decided that we would do a number of short studies, usually about six hearings. For this particular study coming from the pan-Canadian framework, we had determined on February 1 that we would agree to study Canada's international leadership as part of our study on clean growth and climate change in Canada. There are really three pieces that flow from the framework.

The first is delivering on Canada's international climate financial commitments. In this, Canada committed $2.65 billion by 2020 to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

Second, we're looking at acquiring internationally transferred mitigation outcomes. The Paris Agreement had allowed for mitigation outcomes to be transferred between countries, but the mechanisms had not been fully developed, so Canada's first priority was ensuring that any cross-border transfer of mitigation outcomes should be based on rigorous accounting rules to be developed with input from experts.

Finally, engaging in trade and climate policy with our international partners was the third aspect. In that, we talked about how Canada has raised trade and climate policy issues in international forums and is positioning the country as a global leader on clean energy and innovation, as well as aiming to support business opportunities for Canadian clean energy companies.

That was the basis for the six sessions that we have coming up, including today.

With us today we have Environment and Climate Change Canada and Global Affairs Canada. Each department will be given 10 minutes for introductory comments, and then we'll get into our usual questions and answers.

I know many of the department officials have been here before, so I am going to use the yellow cards. When you get to one minute left in your presentation, I will show the yellow card. When you are out of time, I will show the red card and you should just try to wrap up as quickly as possible.

For anyone who is new at the table, the same holds true for you. When you get the red card, wind it up and we'll move on to the next person so that everybody gets a chance to participate in today's dialogue.

With that, we will go to Environment and Climate Change Canada's Isabelle Bérard. Would you like to start?

3:35 p.m.

Isabelle Bérard Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am pleased to be here today to speak about Canada's climate leadership on the international stage.

My name is Isabelle Bérard and I am the assistant deputy minister of the international affairs branch at Environment and Climate Change Canada, or ECCC.

I am joined today by colleagues from my department: Matt Jones, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Pan-Canadian Framework Implementation Office; Catherine Steward, Canada's Chief Negotiator for Climate Change and Director General for Multilateral Affairs and Climate Change; Lucie Desforges, Director General of Bilateral Affairs and Trade Directorate; and Erin Silsbe, Acting Director, G7 Task Team. I am also joined by my colleague from Global Affairs Canada, Anar Mamdani, Director of Environment.

I would like to begin with an overview of ECCC's international engagement. I will then turn to my colleague from Global Affairs Canada who will describe her department's activities on climate change from the broader development assistance perspective.

When it comes to international engagement, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, is the primary forum for advancing global climate action. I’m very pleased to note that Canada is a key player in this arena. There is a lot of growing momentum, by all actors, on climate change. The growth in size and scope of the UN climate change conference, or COP, is a clear reflection of this reality.

Under the UNFCCC, the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, establishes global climate goals, including to limit the increase in global temperatures to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

Canada is a strong advocate of the Paris Agreement because it has obligations for all parties. Under the UNFCCC, what we are doing now is negotiating the implementation guidelines for the agreement, often referred to as the Paris rule book. In general, these guidelines will set out how each party will communicate its plans and actions to address climate change, how it will measure and report transparently on progress and how this information will be used to measure global progress.

The robust and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement is a top priority for Canada. We know that the adoption of common and robust guidelines for all countries will promote ambitious, credible and transparent climate action.

The Paris Agreement also offers the possibility to co-operate with other countries using market-based measures. Markets can help increase mitigation ambition and provide the incentive for public and private investment to achieve the necessary shift toward low-carbon pathways.

Last, if we are to successfully implement the Paris Agreement, we know that we need to continue to deliver on climate finance. As you may know, Canada is delivering $2.65 billion over five years to help developing countries transition to low-carbon, sustainable and resilient growth. Canada has already announced over $1.2 billion of this commitment, providing direction and stability to developing country partners. I will leave it to Anar Mamdani to provide further details on this commitment.

We believe fundamentally that the Paris Agreement will help drive global ambition on climate change. But there are other ways that Canada is providing global leadership on this front.

For example, on the margins of COP23 last year, Canada and the United Kingdom launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which is a voluntary coalition of governments, businesses and organizations that are helping to end the use of unabated coal power around the world. The Alliance continues to grow, with 74 members now who recognize the value of this initiative.

Canada has also demonstrated global leadership this past year through the G7 presidency. Just this past September, Minister McKenna hosted the G7 environment ministers' meeting and co-hosted the G7 joint ministerial session on climate change, oceans and clean energy.

We had good exchanges among G7 ministers and representatives of business and civil society on several important issues related to environment, oceans and energy. For example, we saw a number of countries, such as Jamaica and Norway, as well as major multinational businesses, such as Unilever and Volvo, make important commitments to reduce plastic pollution by supporting the Oceans Plastics Charter announced at the Charlevoix G7 Summit. G7 members also came together to establish a G7 Innovation Challenge to address marine plastic litter.

I would like to highlight a few more international initiatives that my branch has helped to further this past year.

For one, Canada, along with China and the European Union, launched the ministerial on climate action, and has co-hosted two meetings among ministers to identify common ground towards adopting the Paris “Rulebook”.

Last May, Minister McKenna also hosted the “Climate Leaders’ Summit: Women Kicking It on Climate”, which brought together high-level women influencers from all sectors to develop climate change solutions that contribute to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

My branch also does a lot of work to advance our bilateral relationships around the world. ECCC works in close collaboration with several countries to advance Canada’s international climate change and environmental protection agenda.

For example, in North America, Canada undertakes co-operative work with the United States and Mexico under the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the CEC, which is a trilateral organization that has facilitated environmental work since 1994. Under the CEC, parties are committed to continuing this existing co-operation as part of a new environmental co-operation agreement that is being negotiated.

In November 2017, Canada joined with like-minded U.S. states and Mexico to create the North American climate leadership dialogue, committing to work co-operatively on clean transportation, vehicle efficiency, and clean power, and on reducing short-lived climate pollutants. In September 2018, a new statement was endorsed in San Francisco.

Another key partner that we have been working with is China. During Prime Minister Trudeau's visit to China in December 2017, he and his Chinese counterpart issued a joint leaders' statement on climate change and clean growth. This statement establishes the new ministerial dialogues on climate change, environment and energy and recognizes the leading role that Canada plays in the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, CCICED, for which Minister McKenna is the international executive vice-chair.

We also have considerable engagement with Europe. Canada and the EU have strong bilateral relations on the environment and climate change. On May 24, Canada hosted the Canada-EU high-level dialogue on climate change to share expertise on climate change issues and negotiations.

On April 16, 2018, the France-Canada climate and environment partnership was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron. The partnership includes nine areas of co-operation.

Canada is also working with the U.K. on issues such as climate change adaptation, carbon pricing and phasing out traditional coal under the Canada-U.K. partnership, which was announced by Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister May in September 2017.

ECCC also works closely with Global Affairs Canada to advance Canada's trade and environment objectives which are based on the principle that trade and environment are mutually supportive. A prime example is the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The USMCA incorporates the most ambitious environment commitments Canada has ever included in a trade agreement. It integrates substantive environmental provisions into an environment chapter, subject to dispute resolution, which aims to level the playing field by ensuring parties do not lower their levels of protection to attract trade or investment.

This chapter also includes new commitments to address a range of global environmental issues, such as illegal wildlife trade, sustainable fisheries and forestry management, species at risk, conservation of biological diversity, air quality and marine litter.

To conclude, I would note again that Canada's significant engagement on climate change on the international scene is designed to build trust and capacity among parties for progress on climate goals, to ensure that leading emitters—developed and developing countries—are accountable, and to create conditions for innovation and clean growth for all.

Thank you for your time.

I would now like to turn to my colleague from Global Affairs Canada.

3:45 p.m.

Mr. John Aldag (Cloverdale—Langley City, Lib.)

The Chair

Thank you.

Anar Mamdani, you have 10 minutes as well.

3:45 p.m.

Anar Mamdani Director, Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am pleased to be here to speak about the approach of Global Affairs Canada on climate change, focusing on our ongoing support to developing countries.

Canada is helping to lead global efforts to support a low-carbon, sustainable and climate-resilient future for all and is delivering on its pledge to provide $2.65 billion by 2020 to assist developing countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Canada's climate finance is contributing to the ambitious global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while placing a strong emphasis on support for the most vulnerable people, communities and countries, including small island developing states.

Our climate financing is aligned with Canada's feminist international assistance policy, which places women and girls at the heart of our efforts. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change. Moreover, their important roles as entrepreneurs, farmers and household decision-makers mean that their voices and experiences are needed to contribute to climate change solutions.

However, according to the OECD development assistance committee, in 2014 gender equality dimensions were integrated in only 31% of bilateral climate official development assistance from all donors. To address this gap, Canada's feminist approach to environment and climate action is focusing on supporting women's leadership and decision-making; ensuring that climate-related planning, policy-making and financing address the particular challenges of women and girls; and, supporting employment and business opportunities for women in the renewable energy sector.

One example of the work that we are doing is in the area of increasing the access of women and girls to clean energy, which can create economic opportunities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, Canada is investing $20 million over five years to improve access to clean cookstoves in Haiti, thereby reducing health problems associated with indoor air pollution while opening new business lines for firms in product design, production and marketing.

In terms of delivering on our climate finance commitment, to date more than $1.2 billion in funding has been announced as part of Canada's $2.65-billion climate finance commitment. These initiatives are the result of joint efforts involving both Environment and Climate Change Canada and Global Affairs Canada.

While the majority of our climate finance is channelled through multilateral partnerships, a significant portion is also delivered bilaterally. Canada's bilateral funding has emphasized support for developing countries to adapt to the challenges of climate change. The funding has supported priorities such as clean technology, climate-smart agriculture, sustainable forestry, watershed management and climate resilience. Our bilateral climate finance has already supported 20 projects in climate-vulnerable areas in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia-Pacific, totalling $137 million over five years.

Women's livelihoods in climate-smart agriculture are being supported, for example, through a $3-million project in Ghana, which aims to increase food security and nutrition for families. The project provides financial and technical training to women farmers to increase agricultural production, strengthen links to markets and diversify food production.

Canada also recognizes that small island developing states have particular vulnerabilities in the face of climate change. To help address the challenges of Caribbean states in the face of catastrophic climate events, Canada is providing $25 million to the innovative Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility. The facility provides quick liquidity to countries to enable restoration of critical infrastructure and address humanitarian needs. Following the severe Atlantic hurricanes in late 2017, this facility provided payouts of $50 million to nine significantly affected states. At the G7 leaders' summit on June 9, Canada announced that it will invest a further $162 million to support coastal resilience in climate-vulnerable countries, including small island developing states.

Canada's contributions through multilateral mechanisms help to address common challenges faced by climate vulnerable countries and enhance their resilience. Canada has contributed $30 million to the Least Developed Countries Fund, which supports the world's 51 most vulnerable countries, including Afghanistan, Nepal, Senegal and Tanzania, in their efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change. This support has directly helped to improve the lives of over 4.4 million people and bring over 1.5 million hectares of land under more climate-smart management.

Canada has pledged $300 million to the Green Climate Fund, which was established as the financing mechanism for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to address both adaptation and mitigation needs.

The estimates for the financing required to tackle climate change run into the trillions, and this cannot be met by the public sector alone. Public sector climate finance can help leverage the private sector to advance innovative and viable climate solutions. That is why Canada will be providing $1.8 billion of our climate finance through repayable contributions, including through dedicated private sector facilities at multilateral development banks.

This funding incentivizes the private sector to do business in a way that contributes to a low-carbon future. Canada has been a pioneer in this regard. We were the first donor to establish dedicated climate finance funds at the International Finance Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank. These investments have been pivotal in helping to catalyze private sector investments in renewable energy and private-sector-led climate mitigation and adaptation projects in developing countries.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, for this opportunity to present this overview of Global Affairs Canada’s approach and key achievements on climate change to date.

3:55 p.m.

Mr. John Aldag (Cloverdale—Langley City, Lib.)

The Chair

Thank you to both of the departments for their opening comments.

Committee members, we were originally going to have the full time with departments today. Mr. Stetski has an organization from his home area that is in town today only, and they had asked if they could appear in person instead of being brought in by teleconference or something else down the road. I did reach out to Mr. Lake, but unfortunately we didn't connect, so I made the decision to change the schedule.

We have about 90 minutes for the departments and then 30 minutes for the other witnesses. We started a few minutes late, so we'll see just how we get through the round of questions, but I'll try to compress everything into the meeting that we have today. That's how we got to the two panels today when it was originally going to be just the departments. I just wanted to give that as a word of explanation.

With that, Mr. Amos, you have the first round of questioning, for six minutes.

October 16th, 2018 / 3:55 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our hard-working civil servants for bringing this before us. It's an important discussion, and I think that too often this aspect of the climate issue gets overshadowed by the job-killing carbon tax on everything under the sun.

I'm really appreciative that we're going to get to discuss matters of substance. I have a few questions, and I may ask that you provide written responses if we can't get to all of them.

I'll start with a couple, and then I have three more to go.

To what degree, if any, does our investment in the Asian Development Bank come with any strings attached, such that we can give confidence to Canadians that it will enable investment that is going to get us towards our international climate objectives?

My second question is this: To what extent—and this is probably more for Environment and Climate Change Canada—is the domestic approach that we are bringing forward in relation to establishing a price on carbon pollution relevant and important in relation to our international leadership?

I'll leave those two questions out there now, and I'll come back with a few more afterward.

3:55 p.m.

Director, Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Anar Mamdani

In terms of how our investment in the Asian Development Bank is enabling us to get to our climate objectives, I would say that all of our investments in the multilateral banks are made with the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Those are the strings that are attached, if you like. We set out agreements with these multilateral development banks to ensure that we are achieving the objectives that we are trying to achieve with them.

I would just say that with regard to the multilateral development banks, a lot of our support is being used to ensure that we help to remove the barriers to private investment for climate action. We are using the facilities that we've developed with these banks to be able to move in that direction.

3:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment

Isabelle Bérard

I might add on this one, as well, that we're sitting on the boards of all of these multilateral organizations, so we do have an influence on how the organizations program and deliver their business.

On your second question, we'll start with Catherine from the international angle, and then go to Matt for the domestic.

4 p.m.

Catherine Stewart Director General, Climate Change International and Chief Negotiator for Climate Change, Department of the Environment

Thanks.

From an international perspective, what we're doing in Canada on carbon pricing is of great interest internationally.

We are part of a lot of different carbon market forums where we are asked to come and speak and talk about the Canadian experience, but there are also different forums where we go to share experiences and lessons learned from others. For example, recently I co-chaired a carbon markets platform in Halifax with Germany, where we brought together other governments, subnational governments, businesses, think tanks, academics and other interested parties that were interested in talking about carbon pricing and different pricing policies, as well as carbon markets. There is a huge interest in what we're doing and also in the international community on carbon pricing and carbon markets writ large.

From a negotiating perspective, parties recognize that there's a value to carbon markets and international emissions trading as a way of accelerating GHG emission reductions. That's why we have article 6 of the Paris Agreement. That's what I'm working on as chief negotiator for climate change, to ensure we have rules under the Paris Agreement that ensure real and verifiable emissions reductions so that we're not double counting. For example, if two parties are engaged in emissions trading and one person wants to claim the offsets, the other party shouldn't be claiming those offsets as well.

As an example, a lot of what we're doing under our negotiating on the rule books on article 6 is to ensure that double counting isn't there, as well as to ensure we have a system of carbon markets trading that is credible and transparent and that we all understand. This is very important work that we're doing right now in our Paris Agreement negotiations on the work program.

My role is to ensure that we get the guidelines that will enable Canada to conduct emissions trading and recognize current activities that are already under way in Canada. Carbon markets are part of the ambition cycle of the Paris Agreement. Businesses, as an example, are very interested in carbon markets and are very keen to showcase what they're doing to advance clean technology and innovation.

4 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Thank you.

Because I don't think there's a lot of time left for Mr. Jones to respond, I ask that he provide a response in writing. I'm going to put three quick questions on the record so that written responses can be provided.

First, to what extend does our work with the Arctic Council speak to the objectives of the study?

Second, to what extent is the work we're doing in relation to France's proposed global environment pact relevant to this study?

Third, I note that Canada has ongoing negotiations with the U.S. and Mexico about a parallel environmental co-operation agreement. How does that discussion impact this study?

Thank you for providing written responses on those questions.

4 p.m.

Mr. John Aldag (Cloverdale—Langley City, Lib.)

The Chair

Thank you.

We'll go over to you, Ms. Alleslev.

4 p.m.

Leona Alleslev Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Thank you very much.

Ms. Bérard, my question is for you. You stated that we're focused on our international climate change and environmental protection agenda. One of those pillars is around vehicle efficiency, clean power and reducing climate pollutants, yet in 2015 we had a Volkswagen emission cheating scandal right here in Canada, when a device that defeated the emissions standards, allowing for 35 times higher emissions than the standards, was on cars sold in Canada and 11 million cars worldwide. This kind of pollution is 700 times more potent than others. We can attribute a significant number of deaths to it.

It's been three years. Could you give us any indication as to when and if charges will be laid against Volkswagen for this infraction?

4 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment

Isabelle Bérard

Thank you very much for your question. I'm afraid I'm not the person responsible for this file. I'm very much dealing with our international partners. There are definitely people within ECCC who are looking into that question. I'm sure they would be more than happy to provide you with—

4:05 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

It's interesting, though, because $2.4 billion has been fined in settlements for only 125,000 of those cars that have been sold worldwide, and we're looking at investing $2.6 billion in this climate financing around the world, yet we're not generating any revenue by enforcing our own regulations at home.

I'm wondering if it affects in any way our credibility on the international stage to claim that we are leading in this area when we don't have the ability financially or legislatively—or the enforcement, in terms of regulation—to be able to lead in that regard. Could you comment?

4:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment

Isabelle Bérard

Again, on the issue of enforcement, we will have to have people who have worked on the file respond to you very specifically. The issue of climate finance and what is happening domestically are of course two separate issues—

4:05 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

Oh, but it's still out of Canadian taxpayer money—

4:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment

Isabelle Bérard

Yes, it is.

4:05 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

—so we do have a responsibility to enforce our own regulations. Would you agree?

4:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment

Isabelle Bérard

Absolutely.

4:05 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

Does it speak to our credibility internationally—

4:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment

Isabelle Bérard

I was getting to the credibility issue.

4:05 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

—to be able to police our own regulatory structure?

4:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment

Isabelle Bérard

Definitely, on the credibility issue, in Canada, in terms of climate financing, as Anar has explained, we are providing support to the most vulnerable countries on issues related to mitigation and to adaptation as well. We do have quite a lot of things to show for.... You are raising an issue related to enforcement, so this is being tackled—

4:05 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

4:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Department of the Environment

Isabelle Bérard

—but on the international front, definitely Canada has credibility on a number of fronts, because we do have—