Good afternoon, members of the committee. I'm pleased to join you. Thank you for letting me appear remotely today.
My name is Sarah Petrevan. I'm a senior policy adviser for Clean Energy Canada. We are a climate and energy think tank based out of the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University, but I am based in Ontario.
I've been asked to speak with you this afternoon about the policies and programs the Government of Canada is bringing to bear via the greening government strategy.
Canada has made tackling climate change a policy priority most prominently through its pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. Through this, the federal government has committed to modernizing procurement practices, adopting clean energy and technologies and prioritizing opportunities to help Canadian businesses grow, demonstrate new technologies and create jobs. While seemingly a tall order, it's vital for government to play a leadership role in the transition to a low-carbon economy and to do so in such a way that not only reduces pollution, but also increases our country's global economic competitiveness.
As you are well aware, the federal government has committed to a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions in its operations by 2030, an 80% cut by 2050 and to using 100% clean electricity by 2025. These goals are to be realized through the greening government strategy, which was released close to this time last year.
Clean Energy Canada was proud to play a leadership role in convening a broad group of stakeholders including academia, business, industry and innovators to provide the government with collaborative solutions to complex problems, and we believe that ultimately helped to inform the strategy. I would be pleased to share our experiences and any written material we've produced with members of the committee.
The government should be applauded for their work and the successful launch of the strategy. We look forward to its continued implementation and would welcome its prioritization within government. The sooner we do it, the sooner we'll begin to enjoy the results.
While there is an abundance of components within the strategy that I could dive deeply into, I will use the remainder of my time to highlight how and why the greening government strategy should be seen as an economic driver for Canada, as well as the broader opportunities contained within it.
Simply put, tackling climate change requires cleaner, smarter, less wasteful technologies throughout the economy. Clean technology, or clean tech, is commonly understood to encompass new technology and related business models offering competitive returns for investors and customers while providing solutions to global challenges. Climate change is one of those global challenges that have motivated and inspired a boom in clean tech, with the development of clean energy solutions ranging from solar panels to smart grids to electric vehicles and more. Canada has many strengths in this arena. This year a record-breaking 13 businesses were named to the prestigious Global Cleantech 100 list.
With the global market estimated to be worth $1 trillion U.S. and expected to surpass $2.5 trillion U.S. by 2020, and close to 30% of Canada's GDP derived from exports, there is much to be gained by seizing a spot in this global marketplace. Therefore, it is imperative the greening government strategy leverage clean tech adoption to help meet its goals. To accomplish this, the strategy contains one of the most important policy tools recognized around the world to help reduce emissions, increase market share, mitigate risk and deliver cost-competitive solutions. That tool is procurement.
Procurement is a means for Canada to get results. To put it more bluntly, the only way we are going to do anything differently is by buying things differently. Governments across Canada spend about 33% of their money on the purchase of goods and services. That's equal to close to 13% of Canada's gross domestic product. The federal government, therefore, has economic heft as a major purchaser within its own economy, and it can and should use this power to stimulate and lead markets. By doing so, Canada will join the ranks of at least 56 other national governments and many local governments that have recognized the power of procurement in supporting their environmental and economic policy goals.
Canada will also be following the advice of world-leading economic institutions, including the OECD, the World Bank, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.
Traditionally, Canada and its provincial and municipal governments have relied on grant programs and tax credits to support innovative sectors—everything from communications to pharmaceuticals to clean tech. These financial incentives help entrepreneurs enter the market with new or improved goods and services to meet latent or unmet demand. While there are many benefits to this approach, it also comes with inherent challenges.
Funding levels can fluctuate because of budgeting or a shift in government priorities. Program dollars are often spread across many priority areas in small amounts that are insufficient to give promising companies the boost they need to succeed in commercialization. Finally, programs that aren’t linked to the needs of the marketplace also suffer because there is not enough demand to support the increased supply.
In recent years, countries such as Finland, the United States and the United Kingdom, alongside emerging economies, including China and Brazil, have adopted more targeted policies, such as procurement, to support innovation. Procurement works because it links government support for innovation to the needs of the marketplace. It also provides a stable source of demand, which is a key attractor for private investment. Therefore, procurement should be seen as a vital piece of the greening government strategy, much more than just greening what government purchases for its own use, like paper, pens, computer servers, etc. Rather, deploying modern procurement practices can provide value for money, while reducing emissions and spurring technology in government buildings, energy supply, fleet vehicles, and even in areas deemed by government as special purpose.
Modern procurement practices used around the world built the world's first electric ferry in Norway, which is powered by Canadian technology. It's creating electric buses for public transit that can be charged in five minutes and building a low-carbon passenger train through Germany. Both examples, again, use Canadian clean technology. Procurement can buy you an electric school bus or build you a net zero carbon building. The possibilities are truly endless.
By nature, I am ambitious. I have to be. I work in climate and energy policy.
To conclude, I want to leave members of the committee with a slightly bolder idea for government leadership, beyond simply looking at how it tackles the low-carbon economic transition in its own operations.
In addition to leveraging its spending power for its own operational needs, the federal government plays a substantial role in provincial, territorial and municipal procurement, when it provides a share of the funding required for transportation, energy, social services, education and other projects via its infrastructure program. Under the current government, the size of that investment is reported to be $180 billion over the next 12 years.
Canada not only has the ability to be a leader in clean tech, but also in low-carbon cost-effective building materials. While the greening government strategy recognizes this and is currently working on a process to prioritize these products to help them meet goals around reducing carbon in areas such as real property, Canada should consider looking outside this box and deepening its impact by partnering with other levels of government. Aspects of the greening government strategy, including clean-tech adoption and modern procurement practices, can generate a magnified positive impact and create a larger, broader competitive low-carbon benefit to Canada's economy. It's an exciting opportunity.
Once again, I thank the members of the committee for inviting me to speak this afternoon. When appropriate, I would be pleased to take questions.