Evidence of meeting #33 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was c-12.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Robert McLeman  Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Wildfrid Laurier University, As an Individual
Caroline Brouillette  Policy Analyst, Climate Action Network Canada
Marc-André Viau  Director, Government Relations, Équiterre
Émile Boisseau-Bouvier  Analyst, Climate Policy and Ecological Transition, Équiterre
Kelly Marie Martin  Doctor and Epidemiologist, For Our Kids Montreal, Mothers Step In
Corey Loessin  Farmer and Chair, Pulse Canada
Greg Northey  Vice-President, Corporate Affairs, Pulse Canada
Laure Waridel  Co-Instigator, Eco-sociologist, Adjunct Professor at Université du Québec à Montréal, For our Kids Montreal, Mothers Step In
Paul Fauteux  Attorney and Accredited Mediator and Arbitrator, As an Individual
Shannon Joseph  Vice-President, Government Relations and Indigenous Affairs, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Sabaa Khan  Director General, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, David Suzuki Foundation
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Angela Crandall
Geneviève Paul  Executive Director, Québec Environmental Law Centre
James Meadowcroft  Professor, School of Public Policy, Carleton University, Transition Accelerator

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to all of our witnesses.

Ms. Brouillette you spoke about near-term action and its importance. I'm curious about this. I wonder why we should expand our ambition on near-term actions as opposed to focusing on strategies that might take longer to spool up and don't kick in until the final years of the decade, leading to 2030.

Why is short-term ambition and short-term action so important?

3:20 p.m.

Policy Analyst, Climate Action Network Canada

Caroline Brouillette

Thank you for your question.

Near-term ambition is important. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, we will have to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 if we are to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius and thus avoid the catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change. However, the path we take to do that will be just as important. We'll have to flatten the GHG emissions curve. We're all familiar with the expression "flatten the curve" since we've often heard it in the context of COVID-19.

Canada is a rich country whose level of responsibility has remained high over the years. Consequently, it must do more than the global average established by the IPCC, which is a 45% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030.

The transformation we must make in order to reduce our GHG emissions in such draconian fashion is so complex that we won't be able to do it if we don't attack the problem starting today and if we fail to plan by adding an accountability control point before 2030. In particular, we have to ensure that we model GHG emissions annually. We can't postpone the measures we need to take to meet the 2030 target.

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Thank you for the response.

Moving on, the International Energy Agency came out with a big report yesterday, modelling out a pathway to 2050. I'm sure you're familiar with it. I wonder if you could speak to what the committee should take from that report in the context of Bill C-12. What lessons does that report hold for the importance of this accountability legislation in guiding Canada's progress over the next decade?

3:20 p.m.

Policy Analyst, Climate Action Network Canada

Caroline Brouillette

That's a good question.

The International Energy Agency's report suggests many ideas for specific public policies. Ultimately, the agency informs us on the role that science plays. That's the aim of the agency's report: to demonstrate scientifically what we must do to reduce our GHG emissions in order to stay below the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

I could tell you about a lot more things, in particular the need to stop expanding the oil and gas industry, the need to stop selling gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 and the fact that the liquefied natural gas sector will have to be capped relatively soon.

So we have many findings, but Bill C-12 must reflect the findings of science, with the aid of various mechanisms, and apply them in the specific context of Canada to ensure the country meets its set objectives.

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Thank you, Ms. Brouillette.

Mr. Viau, you mentioned a couple of things that I found very interesting. One was the focus on a 90% absolute reduction in emissions. Now, the question around offsets is a very important one. I know that Mark Jaccard, who's done a lot of policy work in British Columbia, has a very strong view on this. He asserts that we should be allowing only the offsets that either sequester carbon underground or directly capture it from the air, and that these more loosey-goosey arrangements should not be part of our climate commitments.

Could you speak to what that other 10% could include and why it's so important that we focus on absolute reductions?

3:25 p.m.

Director, Government Relations, Équiterre

Marc-André Viau

Thank you for that question.

We actually recommend opting for absolute reductions. In the past, we've tried to use compensatory systems and untested technologies. However, we have to rely on what exists in order to draw a roadmap that works. As my colleague said, the reductions we can plan are the existing reductions.

We can nevertheless continue conducting research and development to discover technologies for sequestering carbon. We could also come up with nature-based solutions. Earlier, and at Monday's meeting, we actually discussed nature-based solutions at length, agriculture-based solutions in particular. However, if we rely on nonexistent technologies, we're relying on probabilities, not on anything tangible. What we want is to make sure we can reduce our current emissions, not the ones we'll eventually make.

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you.

We'll go into our second round, which is the five-minute round, starting with Mr. Jeneroux.

May 19th, 2021 / 3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, witnesses, for all joining us today virtually.

I want to address some questions to Pulse Canada. My opening comment is to Mr. Northey. We won't hold it against you that you're in the province of Manitoba today. The NHL playoffs are starting, but hopefully we can get good, collaborative responses regardless of who wins here.

It seems to me that nobody seems to really be that happy with Bill C-12, regardless of where they are on the political spectrum, for a variety of reasons. However, some of the criticisms we've heard are based on the advisory panel. The panel has already been created before the bill has even had royal assent. I want to get your and Mr. Loessin's comments. Are you feeling there's a voice from your industry on this panel in particular? What would you like to see by way of revisions perhaps to where the panel will focus in the months and years ahead?

3:25 p.m.

Greg Northey Vice-President, Corporate Affairs, Pulse Canada

Thanks a lot for the question.

Obviously we approach a bill like this from the standpoint that it's not in the abstract. We're going to set these huge targets for the country. This is going to involve an incredible mobilization of Canadians and Canadian industry. We need to understand how the targets we're setting are going to be reached by the agriculture sector and pulse growers, and the kinds of innovations that need to go into that, and what impact it's going to have on growers in Canada. The bill contemplates an advisory council. We've seen an advisory council formed already. The net-zero advisory council was formed in February. There's nobody on that who represents agriculture, who can understand agriculture, who can understand the realities of a farmer like Corey, and the many other businessmen and businesswomen across the country who are farming, and how they're going to help reach these targets. We would really suggest that to make it viable, to make it so that everyone is trying to meet these targets together, that the input from those on the ground who are going to be essential to meet the targets are included on any kind of advisory panel like that.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Great.

Corey, from your perspective as a farmer, what would a farmer, or someone from the industry, bring to that advisory panel so that we could perhaps make that amendment or recommendation to the minister?

3:30 p.m.

Farmer and Chair, Pulse Canada

Corey Loessin

To add to what Greg said, the industry needs to be involved and to adapt, certainly. One of the things that was mentioned previously was about soil sequestration of carbon. You can look at the progress that has been made, particularly in western Canada. In fact, right on one of the government's websites it shows the increase in soil organic matter across western Canada over the last 10 years. We need to have agricultural representation on the advisory panel to show how things are evolving and what can happen into the future specifically with respect to soil sequestration and how that will enable the country to meet its targets.

Quite frankly, the country can't meet its targets without agriculture, and that's just the reality of the situation. Why not have those involved who are actually doing it and find ways to perhaps do it better? The reality is that the country can't meet the targets without agriculture's being involved, so why not have them involved at the decision-making level and at the advisory level?

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

I only have about 30 seconds left, but I do just want to reiterate that I think you're absolutely right. I know we've heard from others that having those stakeholders at the table will make a huge difference in seeing a successful piece of legislation going forward.

With that, Mr. Chair, I'll turn my time back.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux.

Mr. Longfield.

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Thanks, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the witnesses for a very good discussion this afternoon, and to my colleagues for the questions that are coming forward.

I want to start with Mr. McLeman from our neighbouring riding. I know that you are also a graduate and proud alumnus of the University of Guelph.

You've done a lot of work on the securitization theory, the theory about the human impacts of climate change, and from that the engagement by citizens in environmental science where the human dimensions are considered. I'm looking at clause 10 of the bill where the goals are being set. Clause 10 has to do with the emissions reduction plan, and then clause 20 has to do with the advisory body that would be reporting on that. Could you comment on how important it is to include the human impact of climate change in our bill, as well as on any international obligations that we might have towards climate change impacts around the world from a human level?

3:30 p.m.

Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Wildfrid Laurier University, As an Individual

Prof. Robert McLeman

Yes, I love Guelph, Ontario, and enjoyed my time greatly at the university there. It's one of the greatest agricultural schools in the world as far as I'm concerned.

Yes, I think we've been talking a lot about the economic impacts of what we need to do to move to a green economy. This is the type of discussion that you see at these conferences of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which I've attended and where you will see the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia saying forget about the impacts of climate change: What about the impact on our economy? I hear the conversation is revolving around that dimension, which is very real—don't get me wrong. Even though I don't farm pulses in Saskatchewan, my pension plan probably benefits from a lot of the agricultural industry that's based in Saskatchewan, and so on.

Nonetheless, at the same time there are human impacts. I mentioned in my talk the community of Tuktoyaktuk where, by 2050, they will have to move. That's a big deal for people, especially indigenous people, who have lived in the same place for a long time and who are told that because of actions they bear no responsibility for, they must now leave and move their homes, families, schools and so on. It's a small microcosm of the risks that we face if we do not implement this bill and move quickly towards actually achieving net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Martin spoke earlier about the health impacts, and that's something I've been working on with the IPCC in our reporting right now, which is looking at not just the health impacts, but also the co-benefits to human health by addressing greenhouse gas emissions, because, of course, four million people each year worldwide die because of air pollution. If we reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are not only just causing climate change but also causing urban air quality problems and child health issues and so on, we can actually have win-win situations. Those cascading risks that we create for ourselves by not addressing greenhouse gas emissions, we can reverse in the other direction.

To circle back to your initial point, you're right: It is an economic conversation, but it is also a conversation about who we are as people and the quality of our life and our broader well-being beyond just our pocketbooks.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Near the end of your testimony, you mentioned provincial jurisdictions and the governance issues there. You said we might want to include that in our bill in some way or another.

I know you said you weren't a policy writer, but is there an idea you had in mind there?

3:35 p.m.

Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Wildfrid Laurier University, As an Individual

Prof. Robert McLeman

If you look at Canada's greenhouse gas emissions over the last two decades, you'll see that the greatest public policy decision to reduce them was the Ontario government's decision to eliminate coal from its electrical generation plants. That, again, had the human health benefit of reducing air pollution and air quality problems in southern Ontario. It's a perfect example of how having that kind of decision, which must be made at the provincial level, built into the steering of this particular piece of legislation will be essential to achieving the long-term goals.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

I think it's a challenge that maybe the U.K. doesn't face to the same extent as us, but we have had some comment on that.

I'd like to go over to Dr. Martin.

Mention was made of the Nanticoke plant closing down. I have asthma, but I don't have as much difficulty now that the coal-fired plant is gone.

A nod towards not only our generation but future generations should be included in some way. Is that what you're suggesting to us?

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Please answer the question briefly.

3:35 p.m.

Doctor and Epidemiologist, For Our Kids Montreal, Mothers Step In

Dr. Kelly Marie Martin

Yes. We're talking about two things. You have asthma, and one is that adults are certainly affected, with increased death from cardiac and respiratory events. We know that. I've been working in the emergency department for 30 years, and while we once had only a handful of kids, now it is no exaggeration to say that our resuscitation bays are full of kids who can't breathe. Our hospitals are full of kids.

My family was in the lumber business. They are all conservatives and have been for many generations. We did clear-cutting because we were following the market economy, and we have really lost our business. Conservatives are not interested anymore in discussions that don't include climate change. They know that it has affected their lives, their businesses and their children.

Yes, we are seeing an impact in the hospitals. Honestly, in the last two months I've had a child of six months and one of nine months die in front of me. They had no genetic history. They had no family history. They were perfectly well babies. We have high levels and—

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you.

3:35 p.m.

Doctor and Epidemiologist, For Our Kids Montreal, Mothers Step In

Dr. Kelly Marie Martin

—they couldn't breathe. My family depends on the lumber business and we care, but this matters—

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

The chair is ringing the gong on us. Thank you for that.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you.

We now go to the round of questions allocated to the Bloc Québécois.

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm going to speak once again, and my questions are for Ms. Waridel from Mothers Step In.

Ms. Waridel, I carefully read your brief, in which you say that climate action must involve a restrictive, cross-sectional and whole-of-government approach resulting in a "climate test" applicable to all major government decisions.

You suggest that Bill C-12 should provide that all government decisions must be put to that "climate test" in order to assess their impact, as the government is already doing on gender and racism issues, for example.

Could you explain to us how the "climate test" might take shape in Bill C-12?