Evidence of meeting #38 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 cepa.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Parisa A. Ariya  James McGill Professor, Departments of Chemistry and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, As an Individual
Bill Erasmus  Regional Chief, Northwest Territories, Assembly of First Nations
Jason McLinton  Senior Director, Retail Council of Canada
Channa Perera  Director, Generation and Environment, Canadian Electricity Association
Ahmed Idriss  Senior Advisor, Environmental Policy, Capital Power Corporation, Canadian Electricity Association

3:45 p.m.

Jason McLinton Senior Director, Retail Council of Canada

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you, esteemed members of the committee. It's a great opportunity to be here to speak with you today and also to meet many of you. Before these hearings started, I think almost every member of the committee I met, almost without fail—I think there might have been one—was saying to me, we're all interested to know why the Retail Council of Canada is here and what their interest is in CEPA.

I'm here to answer that question. It has to do with the chemicals management plan and the reporting on chemicals as they appear in finished consumer products. Before I go there, I will give a quick introduction to the Retail Council of Canada, or the RCC, for those of you who aren't familiar with us.

The RCC has been the voice of retail in Canada since 1963.

In the private sector, the retail industry is the largest employer in Canada. Over 2 million Canadians work in our industry. It is estimated that our industry generated over $59 billion in salaries and $340 billion in sales in 2015. Moreover, these figures exclude the sale of vehicles and fuel. Members of the Retail Council of Canada, or the RCC, account for more than two-thirds of retail sales in Canada.

The RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association. It represents small, medium and large retailers in all communities, right across Canada.

Recognized as the voice of retailers in Canada, the RCC represents more than 45,000 store fronts of all retail formats, including department, grocery, speciality, discount, and independent stores, and online merchants.

The Retail Council of Canada and its members are strong supporters of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, otherwise known as CEPA.

The act establishes pollution prevention as a cornerstone of national measures to reduce toxic substances in the environment. It also offers a wide range of tools to manage toxic substances, other sources of pollution, and waste. Finally, it encourages greater public and industry participation in decision-making.

Retailers are also very supportive of the chemicals management plan under CEPA, which is widely recognized as a world-class program. The chemicals management plan, of course, as members of this committee will know, is Canada's approach to assessing and managing chemicals under CEPA.

Chemicals are an integral part of our everyday life, essential to our economy, our communities, our homes, and of course, the products we buy. While chemical substances have benefits, they may also have harmful effects to human health and the environment if they are not properly managed and depending on how they're used.

Founded in 2006 and managed by the Departments of the Environment and Health, the chemicals management plan builds on previous initiatives to protect human health and the environment by assessing chemicals used in Canada and by taking action on those chemicals found to be harmful. The chemicals management plan uses a variety of tools to gather information from businesses, including voluntary surveys, as well as non-voluntary or mandatory surveys under section 71 of the act.

The chemicals management plan originally targeted importers of chemicals, or the manufacturers of the chemicals themselves. This made sense and this approach continues to make sense. After all, if you are making a chemical, or if you're importing a chemical, you know exactly how much you are making or importing. More importantly though, this is how the bulk of chemicals are introduced into Canada.

In late 2012, though, under section 71 of the act, the section that allows for legally mandatory surveys, it was interpreted to include finished consumer products for the first time. For the first time, the act was used to require reporting on chemicals as they appeared in finished consumer goods, things like this table, the microphone, my jacket or tie, or whatever. That particular survey was requesting information on over 2,000 substances.

Retailers found themselves scrambling to determine how much of any particular substance appeared in the jackets they were selling or bracelets, or glassware, or whatever it was. It was really a brand new thing for them. Again, with the chemicals management plan, we're not talking about restricted substances here; we're talking about substances that are used every day.

As you can imagine, this came at a great expense of time, writing letters to suppliers and vendors, often overseas, trying to get at information with very little return. One of our member's estimates that two months and 160 working hours was spent writing to suppliers on the survey for over 2,000 substances.

This is because they, like many of our members who have legal counsel, were advising them that this was a mandatory survey and they had to take due diligence, and the definition of due diligence is to write to the manufacturers and suppliers.

Another member estimates that they wrote to 215 suppliers, 20 of whom responded to them, which represents a response rate of less than 10%, of which 0% was usable. In addition to that, we did a quick internal survey of 10 of our members and found that three surveys done toward the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 had less than a 5% response rate. This has to do, again, with the notion of due diligence and when it's a mandatory survey, having to write to all your suppliers because you don't know whether these substances are going to appear or not.

This was a lot of legal red tape, and the cost of these mandatory surveys very clearly outweighed the limited benefits. Of course, any new cost introduced to the system ultimately gets translated to higher prices for consumers, so that would contribute to the U.S.-Canada price gap and things like that, which is significant enough already.

Another approach has been taken during that time and since then. We have great working relationships with officials in the Departments of ht Environment and Health, and a couple of voluntary surveys have been conducted that have yielded better results, but at the same time retailers were able to focus their efforts on the vendors where they suspected that some of these chemicals would be found in some of their products and where they'd get better response rates, so the same retailer that spent two months and 160 working hours to write suppliers on a mandatory survey estimates that they spent five hours on a voluntary survey and were able to achieve similar amounts of information, because they were able to target their efforts.

This voluntary approach frees up time and resources and allows retailers to pursue information where it most likely resides, rather than going through the motions to satisfy legal red tape. A smaller, more manageable number of substances, perhaps four or six substances of the highest concern rather than 2,000-plus, would allow retailers to track down information on those chemicals of greatest concern. Therefore, in this particular case of finished consumer goods, less yields more and therefore provides better protection to human health and the environment.

We are suggesting that CEPA would benefit from targeted amendments to specifically exclude mandatory legal reporting on substances as they appear in finished consumer goods. Targeting manufacturers and importers of the substances themselves is what makes the most sense, not finished consumer goods. In the instances where there are substances of great concern and it's deemed necessary, the voluntary approach has already demonstrated to be more cost-effective and yield better results, and of course the Retail Council of Canada would be happy to provide this committee with suggested wording on what that amendment would look like.

I have one last comment, if I may. It's not specifically related to the act but has to do with communication around the chemicals management plan. We have found that both communication to the public and communication back to businesses could be improved upon. A lot of Canadians aren't familiar with the chemicals management plan. A lot of what is available is written in fairly technical language, so it would benefit from additional communication and more plain language. In addition to that, I can only speak on behalf of retailers, but retailers providing all this information to government and not hearing back on what that information was used for, I think that would go a long way toward building good faith with businesses so that people know what they're feeding that information into.

To conclude, RCC and its members support CEPA and the chemicals management plan. It would benefit from targeted amendments to specifically exclude mandatory legal reporting on substances as they appear in finished consumer products. The primary focus of the program must remain where accurate information is obtainable from the importers and manufacturers of chemicals themselves, and when necessary, a voluntary basis should be used for finished consumer products. This would free up resources that are currently being used on legal red tape, allowing retailers to focus limited resources on tracking down information on the substances of greatest concern.

In turn this would help keep the price of consumer goods in Canada as competitive as possible while also providing more information more quickly, thereby helping to better protect human health and the environment.

Merci.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much. That's perfect timing.

Next up is the Canadian Electricity Association. Go ahead, and thank you very much.

3:55 p.m.

Channa Perera Director, Generation and Environment, Canadian Electricity Association

Thank you, Madam Chair, and members of the committee, for inviting the Canadian Electricity Association to appear before you on this important review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

I'm very pleased to represent the association, along with member and colleague, Dr. Ahmed Idriss, senior environmental adviser with the Capital Power Corporation, based in Edmonton, Alberta, and the chair of the CEA's air issues committee. Together, we'll provide you with the electricity sector's perspective as it relates to CEPA.

First, a few words about our association. The CEA is the national voice and forum for the electricity sector across Canada. This year we will celebrate our 125th anniversary. Our membership comprises generation, transmission, and distribution companies from across Canada, as well as manufacturers, technology companies, and consulting firms representing the full spectrum of electricity suppliers.

The association and its corporate utility members are also committed to sustainable development, a key goal of CEPA, 1999. In fact, our journey on environmental sustainability started way back in 1997. We were the first sector to mandate member companies to implement the ISO 14001 standard on environmental management systems.

Since 2009, we have expanded the scope of our sustainability efforts through the creation of the sustainable electricity program, which is a triple bottom-line program consistent with national and global principles of sustainable development.

Electricity is, in a word, indispensable. It is indispensable to the quality of life of Canadians and to the competitiveness of our economy. In fact, the electricity sector contributed $30 billion in 2015 to Canada's GDP, making it a significant contributor to the Canadian economy. Over 80% of our electricity generation portfolio is also greenhouse-gas free, making us one of the cleanest in the world. Compared to our neighbours to the south, we have an enormous clean-energy advantage and we must work hard to maintain that.

It is with pride that I tell you that no other Canadian industrial sector has reduced their carbon footprint to the extent that our sector has over the last decade. Since 2005, the sector has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, and it is expected to decrease significantly more by 2030, through more efficient technologies and renewable power.

Given CEPA's focus on pollution prevention, you should also note that the electricity sector's contribution to other air pollutants is also steadily declining, helping to reduce smog and associated health impacts. Relative to 2000, the electricity sector's sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury emissions have all declined by just over 50%.

On many environmental issues, the sector has made significant progress. It is not the same sector relative to when CEPA came into force in March 2000. Electricity in society is also more prevalent today than ever before. From smart phones to electric cars, you need safe, sustainable, and reliable electricity, and we must continue to renew and modernize our infrastructure to meet the needs of the 21st century.

The Conference Board of Canada estimates that electricity infrastructure renewal and modernization will require an investment of $350 billion between 2010 and 2030. This represents a significant capital investment and speaks to the importance of having a clear, consistent, predictable, and efficient regulatory system.

CEPA is critical in this regard. We have seven specific issues to address today. I will speak to the first two, and Ahmed will speak to the rest.

First, on consistency of federal legislation, it is important to remember that the electricity sector is regulated under many environmental statutes in addition to CEPA. We would ask the committee to consider the overall burden on our sector and ensure other statutes will not lead to duplication of effort.

Second is the use of aboriginal traditional knowledge. CEA members also have a long history of consulting and working with aboriginal people. Just recently, CEA released a set of national principles for engagement of aboriginal peoples. We are supportive of the use of aboriginal traditional knowledge where applicable. We believe that any concerns with either consultation with aboriginal peoples or aboriginal traditional knowledge are best addressed in the preamble to the act.

Now, I am going to ask my colleague, Dr. Ahmed Idriss, to speak to some of the other issues related to CEPA.

November 24th, 2016 / 4:05 p.m.

Ahmed Idriss Senior Advisor, Environmental Policy, Capital Power Corporation, Canadian Electricity Association

Thank you, Channa.

I would like to thank the committee for this opportunity. I will speak to five additional issues of importance.

Our third issue is equivalency agreements. The act should continue to facilitate the use of equivalency agreements with the provinces to leverage local knowledge and avoid duplication of federal and provincial efforts. A positive example of this arrangement under CEPA is the arrangement between the federal government and Nova Scotia regulating greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production. As well, we believe different levels of governments should be able to negotiate appropriate expiration dates on agreements.

Fourth is transparency and public participation in cases of significant environmental harm. The sector supports enhanced transparency through the CEPA registry and greater opportunities for public participation in cases of significant environmental harm. However, emphasis on insignificant incidents is neither a practical nor an efficient use of resources for individuals, industry, or government.

Fifth, on information gathering, the electricity sector is supportive of current provisions related to information gathering. We have been reporting emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants to the national pollutant release inventory, NPRI, for many years in a timely and accurate manner. If further information is necessary, the government can request such information through regulations where applicable. We do not think an amendment to the act is necessary to enhance this function.

Sixth is on the risk-based system. CEA members believe that CEPA currently achieves an appropriate balance between risk and hazard, and the current focus on managing risk is balanced, reasonable, and should be maintained. The electricity sector activities are based on risk assessment and management, whether the issues are related to environment or human health. Hazards can never be 100% eliminated, nor would attempting to do so be a wise use of effort and resources. However, risks can be and are being well managed in the electricity sector. We do not think further amendments are needed in this regard.

Seventh, with regard to the chemicals management plan, it has a long track record of success. Under the current system, an assessment of possible alternatives occurs whenever a chemical is assessed and determined to be toxic. We support maintaining the current system and not imposing mandatory assessment of alternatives to substances before they are deemed to be toxic.

This concludes our comments on specific issues.

I will pass it back to Channa.

4:05 p.m.

Director, Generation and Environment, Canadian Electricity Association

Channa Perera

Thank you, Ahmed.

In closing, I'd like to emphasize that the issues just outlined strike an appropriate balance. We have made significant progress as a sector since CEPA came into force, and we look forward to continuing to provide Canadians with safe, reliable, and sustainable power.

Thanks for your attention. We would be pleased to respond to any questions.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much. We appreciate that.

We have one more witness. We'll turn it over to Ms. Ariya.

4:05 p.m.

Prof. Parisa A. Ariya

Good afternoon. I am Parisa Ariya, James McGill professor, McGill, Canada research chair, tier one, senior chair.

I had the opportunity to train over 150 people in my laboratories in the departments of chemistry and atmospheric and oceanic sciences at McGill, leading to five high-tech spin-off companies, 15 professors, and many leaders in government as well as the environment. I've had the opportunity also to act as the lead author for two UNEP science reports in the chemical and physical transformation of compounds, as well as acting as the chair of the joint European committee for climate change.

As a scientist, I am here, and I find it illogical to not be able to present you, as a physical chemist and a physical scientist, the data on which my arguments are based. Having said that, as a physicist and chemist, I'm going to show you what I think using also last-minute experiments.

What I'm getting at is, when you look at CEPA, there are lots of good things about it. But since 1999, there are lots of shortcomings as well. For example, the nanoparticles, emerging contaminants, and so forth were pushed into the existing laws, which are not characterized. What I'm going to show you is what more should be done. We have recommendations about aerosols that are regulated but not enforced.

What I'm trying to do today is, starting with one sentence, I think cutting carbon is good, the carbon tax is good, but based on the data evaluation of over 12 years of data, I don't believe that a cap-and-trade system is a logical process to follow because it has resulted in contradictory data over the years. However, the carbon tax is a good idea.

Actually I want to bring something that brings people together. Environment is not a Liberal platform or a Conservative platform or an NDP platform. Environment is not right wing or left wing. It's everybody's problem. It affects our health. It affects our climate, and we have to find solutions together.

I have heard many times how much it costs, and I bring you some of the costs, but one of the questions I would like every single one of you to think about is this: what is the cost of doing nothing? What is the cost of continuing to do the things you do, which is basically nothing?

What I know is our planet, we call it metastable. Because I was deprived of my audio-visual because of the French language.... Funnily, I must be the only native francophone in the room.

It is at a metastable position. Metastable means that, like my keys, which go back and forth around what we call the “axis of symmetry”, when we have some changes, which we call “forcing”, our planet can go back naturally to its original position; that is, until the emissions go so far that the planet cannot seek its natural position, and then it goes to an unstable position. That's why we are worried about climate change.

Not that many of the natural processes are strong, but many of the anthropogenic-emitted processes are such that they can bring the planet, which is naturally in a metastable position, to an unstable position. That's why there is urgency to act now.

What we do know for sure is that human anthropogenic activity, including fossil fuel-based processes, do impact climate. We also know what the sound policy evidence and sustainable technology can do. I want to respectfully make a comment about sustainability. Sustainability is a beautiful word that has been used by different people in different contexts, but in many cases doesn't mean what we want it to mean.

One of the first molecules that was called sustainable and green was chlorofluorocarbons, which led to the destruction of the ozone because we didn't do the life-cycle analysis at the beginning. We thought it was energetic, and it was. We thought it was facile, or very effective, and it was. That's because of not thinking it through, not looking at it in depth. We had to stop that process, which was led by someone who was actually my supervisor, Paul Crutzen, who got the Nobel Prize. We could reverse the process through regulations such as the Montreal protocol.

I looked at bringing you costs because you will appreciate costs better than numbers that form from science. One thing that we have to keep in mind is that climate change is estimated to cost approximately $5 billion by 2020 in Canada; air pollution, $8 billion. For extreme weather, the number is more rounded. On average, it's about $630 million.

When you look at these processes, what are you looking at when we talk about air pollutants and contaminants? With regard to air pollutants, there are millions of compounds, such as ozone, NOx, VOCs, SOx, and particulate matter, which are particles that are very small, from zero to 100 nanometres. In a minute, I will get to why I care about these small particles.

Also, there are emerging contaminants, composites. Many of them are natural, but when you combine them, their life-cycle analysis in nature isn't the same. Therefore, you can actually pass it in law as natural or green or sustainable, but the life-cycle analysis has been shown in many studies to not be identical.

Regarding the effect of air, air is important. It is the fastest-moving fluid in the environment. This means that as soon as you emit pollutants from water or soil, when they get to air, they are subject to long-range transportation. Therefore, the effects can be not only local, but also regional and global. For example, when you mentioned mercury that was a problem from the electricity companies, yes, they did decrease it, but still they have a lot of black carbon and particle emissions coming in. The effect is that, from the air, they affect water and soil and biota, in general.

One thing I would like to mention is that, yes, the environment is complex. Yes, there are lots of chemical and physical processes that are going on at the same time, but if we are smart enough, we will be able to see the trends. That happened when we regulated, very beautifully, the complex reactions of ozone. They showed that actually we don't need to cut all the precursors at the same time. We scientists showed that when you have, for example, huge amounts of NOx, or low amounts of NOx, or low amounts of VOCs, by cutting one, not two, you can bring about the same reduction in ozone.

That's what I want to make sure that the industry knows, that the science right now, since the 1999 CEPA, has evolved significantly. We have to have more interaction amongst scientists, industries, and policy-makers to know that, yes, there are intelligent ways to cut and save money and be good for the environment.

One of the areas of CEPA where we have not done a good job is aerosols. Aerosols are airborne particles that go from a few nanometres to a few microns. Their lifetime is long. They can go into nanoparticles. They can be subject to transport. They can go to the native communities and to many others, even from, say, Montreal. In that case, they also can have a global effect. If they are larger, they go very quickly to places close to their origin.

What are they? They are pollen. They are bacteria. They are dust. They are emerging contaminants. They are nanoparticles. Those are the composites, and so forth. They have one thing in common. Two agencies, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the World Health Organization—two different international organizations for health and climate—both concur that aerosols are their priority, for totally different reasons.

For climate, aerosol and cloud interactions are the major uncertainty in all domains of climate change. The uncertainty is in the magnitude of all greenhouse gases together. In health, aerosols are a cause of respiratory and other diseases. One of the nanoparticles, for example, black carbon, has both health effects and climate effects. Nanoparticles have many properties, such as size, composition, surface properties, and so forth. The major question becomes whether we will be able to see them. Will we be able to characterize them to mandate them? The answer is, after the last 17 years, I would say, yes.

We have the capability to do analysis. We have the capability to do chemical characterization and laboratory experiments, and yes, we are able to do modelling at the moment from the satellite, from the ground, and so forth.

Last, we can use these particles for green technology. These are natural and abundant particles, and in many of the papers right now they are becoming the top articles for many associations, including for the American chemical associations, and including our own work.

Absolutely—and I concur with Bill—as Canadians right now, because of the American election, we need to take the leadership. The time is now. There is a huge opportunity for us to start regulating the aerosols and particles that we have recommended but you have not enforced yet. We have a huge opportunity for emerging contaminants and nanoparticles. It brings us highly qualified personnel and it brings jobs, and it also answers the question, what is the cost to our health of not doing anything?

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much. You did an excellent job, without any visuals, of explaining the points you were trying to make. I believe I certainly got them, and I believe other people were able to get that, so thank you for accommodating the needs of the committee. That was excellent.

Our first questions are from Mr. Amos for six minutes.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

I have a forewarning before I thank all of you. We tend to be ruthless in this committee in seeking short responses, because we have six minutes and we're not looking for long responses.

Thanks to all of you for coming, particularly Chief Erasmus. That's a long journey. Your experience is great and I appreciate your being here. To all of you, a lot of preparation has gone into your presentations, clearly, so thank you.

My first question goes to Mr. McLinton. I'd like to know where I should be investing my Black Friday money. No, I'm sorry.

4:20 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

I'd like to ask about your perspective on the retail sector's interests in ensuring that CEPA is strengthened. This is a law that has been in place in its current form for a number of years, and obviously consumer confidence is crucial across the various subsectors. Would you agree that, as a general proposition, it is in the best interests of both the retail sector and the consumers for the safety of Canadian products to be maximized, and therefore, that in terms of the utility of CEPA as a health- and safety-maximizing statute, it is appropriate to review it with a view to strengthening it?

4:20 p.m.

Senior Director, Retail Council of Canada

Jason McLinton

Thank you for the question, Mr. Amos. There are two parts to it, but before that, I would say that the Canadian retailers have really started getting very competitive in the area of Black Friday sales, so do get out there and do some shopping.

4:20 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:20 p.m.

Senior Director, Retail Council of Canada

Jason McLinton

To the first part of the question, yes, absolutely. Retailers are very committed to selling safe products, both for human health and for the environment, and for the obvious reasons you've mentioned, such as consumer confidence and that sort of thing.

I think where the discussion becomes interesting is at exactly the point that I was making, which is one of mandatory versus more flexible and voluntary approaches. When you get into the mandatory stuff, you get into the legal and red tape, with the lawyers telling you how to interpret these things, and you're focusing your energy on that as opposed to actually making a difference.

Beyond CEPA, I can give you numerous examples of where retailers meet and most often exceed federal and provincial requirements, such as things around recycling programs for electronics, tires, and packaging. I think the figure is $1.6 billion per year—our estimates—that retailers are investing in these programs, and they exceed these programs. Grocers spend a lot of energy on tracking greenhouse emissions from food waste and transportation and that sort of thing.

Definitely, retailers care, for all the reasons that you articulated, but the question becomes one of a more flexible and voluntary approach versus a red-tape, legal, mandatory one.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Okay. I understand that.

I'll ask for a very quick response. I think of products like personal care products that contain microbeads, which were brought into the market with insufficient scrutiny and ultimately have been found to be highly problematic. From a broad retail perspective, do you think that's a good example of how we need to ensure that CEPA is enforced stringently enough so that retailers aren't in a position where they find themselves selling products that the consumer ultimately finds out are really bad for the environment?

4:20 p.m.

Senior Director, Retail Council of Canada

Jason McLinton

I'm not as familiar with that case. It's difficult for me to comment on that specific case, but I don't know that having strong legislative authorities would have been what would have made the difference in that particular instance, as opposed to voluntary information sharing between Canada and the U.S., or between suppliers in Asia and that sort of thing. It's an issue that retailers care about. I just don't know that the legislative route is necessarily the best one.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

In some respects, the mandatory aspects that may be needed are less around the product sellers and more around the governments doing the analysis of the products that are proposed to be used.

I'll shift over the the Canadian Electricity Association.

Thank you for the presentation. You mentioned the issue of equivalency agreements, and you highlighted the importance of those. We've had other witnesses come before us and suggest that while equivalency agreements may be appropriate, there has to be a greater commitment on the federal government's part to follow up on the equivalency agreements that are reached to ensure that there's a reporting mechanism or some kind of oversight, so that it's not simply a downloading of responsibilities over to the provinces and a presumption that they're doing the right thing and doing the thing that the law requires.

How would you respond?

4:25 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Environmental Policy, Capital Power Corporation, Canadian Electricity Association

Ahmed Idriss

Equivalency agreements require, within the agreement, monitoring and making sure that the federal government and the provinces are delivering an equivalent environmental outcome. It is built into the agreement. The good thing about the equivalency agreement is that you address different circumstances that every province has from the other ones. For example, the latest one, which we signed with Nova Scotia, addressed the needs of Nova Scotians and addressed the climate change there. It's built within the agreement, the ability to track the environmental outcome established under the federal regulations.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Okay. Thank you for that.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

You're out of time. Thanks a lot.

Mr. Shields.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses today. It's always a learning experience, with the broad information you bring to us from different sectors.

To the professor first, I'm intrigued by the science and how much it has changed since CEPA started. You mentioned there's good and bad. From your view, I would believe that it's changed a lot in 20 years, and then we'll see a lot of things possibly changing quicker in the future. How would you write CEPA, so that tomorrow it isn't out of date?

How would you take a broader view? How would you do that? I understand the aerosols and the rest of it, but what's produced may be very different tomorrow, if we have a machine that can reproduce anything.

4:25 p.m.

Prof. Parisa A. Ariya

Aerosols weren't generated yesterday and will change tomorrow. They've been there for a long time, a few billion years.

Coming back to your question, your question is very nice. The way I would write it, I would do it the same way as I did with the Europeans, by looking into what we know now and what the emerging fields are that are coming. Provide the solid regulations on something that we know for sure. For example, the aerosol nanoparticle that I mentioned to you, we know for sure that two completely different international organizations, for totally different reasons, put them as a top priority.

In climate change, we don't put it as a second or a third priority, but as a top priority. It shows you it is certainly...and the organizations normally are a little conservative, because we don't want to say something that is not going to be true. In that case, for example, the aerosol is a priority because it is coming from two totally different communities. That is what we know. We know 400 million people every year die because of that. We see the particles in their systems. When you go to Beijing and you look at the cancers, that is not something that is imaginary. Those are real.

What should a good plan be? It constitutes the facts that we know of, and those are the emerging domains. We need to provide facility for the future ones. That's why I chose the words “emerging pollutant”. Emerging pollutant, by putting that in, gives you the facility for future incorporation, because it means anything. Right now, the term “new material” is used. New material means it is new. As I mentioned to you, many of the materials really are not new material, they are a twisting of the old material in a recombination.

In that case, the vocabulary I use provides flexibility for future things. For example, aerosol is mandated and enforced in the EU, and it is enforced even by the EPA in the U.S. I don't know what Trump is going to do. I don't know if his thoughts are logical to start with. Those systems, for example, for ozone formation, also have a health impact. It's not only for one reason, for climate; it's also for the health impact, as well. Those are the things that we know for sure now, and we will be able implement them. It just makes sense, because the data is overwhelmingly in favour of that.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Okay, thank you.

To the Canadian Electricity Association, you have a couple of figures out there. One was a decrease of 30%. Another was a decrease of 50%.

Can you give some specific examples of what steps you took to make those decreases over the last 10 years?

4:30 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Environmental Policy, Capital Power Corporation, Canadian Electricity Association

Ahmed Idriss

Some of these were based on provincial regulations and some were based on federal regulations. For example, in 2006 Alberta came up with a framework for electricity, and that was translated by the federal government into a mercury reduction. That basically led to a reduction from 2,600 kilograms of mercury emissions to, right now, in the range of about 666 kilograms. That was one approach.

The other approach, in terms of electricity and greenhouse gases, was the introduction of the provincial programs, the gas-emitter regulations in Alberta or other provinces, including greenhouse gas measures. As well, the shift in generation from a coal base to a natural gas base led to these reductions.

4:30 p.m.

Director, Generation and Environment, Canadian Electricity Association

Channa Perera

If I may add to what Ahmed said, in Ontario, for example, the coal shutdown had a major impact in terms of bringing greenhouse gas emissions down, but at the same time a lot of the utilities across the country were investing in renewable energy, from wind to solar and so forth. For example, wind capacity in Canada is about 11,000 megawatts right now, going from almost 500 to 11,000 over the last decade or so. Then we have the growth of renewable power across Canada from B.C. to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In Ontario, we also have investments in conversion of some of the coal plants into biomass.

In terms of air pollutants, a lot of the companies invested in retrofit technology way back in the late nineties and the early part of 2000. It's a little bit easier in terms of investing in air pollution technology, but on the climate change side, it takes a lot of investment. One final example is SaskPower's CCS project.

Is the time running out?