The reality is that we're kind of bumbling along blindly, and by blindly I mean we have limited information. We have a lack of access to that information, and a lack of transparency around the information we have and how it's used.
I really wonder how we can have an intelligent debate in this country on the emissions potential of carbon pricing if we don't have the data to understand that. How can we have an intelligent debate on the environmental effects of pipelines if we don't have the data and we don't agree to a common set of data across this country?
One of the reasons why people always wonder how industry can say this, environmental groups can say this, and governments can say this—and they all have different answers and different numbers—is because we don't have a shared set of common, adequate, high-quality data in this country. Given that we often talk of Canada being an energy superpower, the reality is that when it comes to energy data, we are anything but an energy superpower.
I would go so far as to say that if some of this information and institutional infrastructure had been available 10 years ago, or perhaps even two years ago, we probably wouldn't be in the energy policy mess we're in today.
There are some great international examples, and I'm going to touch on one. Imagine a world where energy and climate data are made available to researchers, industry, and NGOs alike. Then, imagine well-funded modelling experts producing multiple sophisticated energy and economic models to inform policy. Add to that what I can only describe as the pinnacle of evidence-based policy-making, a group of independent experts with the mandate to set long-range climate policy goals based on expert models and scenarios, and that this evidence produces carbon budgets extending 10 years into the future, and that this is used by governments and evaluated, with the results fed back into those models to inform the next five-year planning window.
This isn't fantasy; this is exactly what the U.K. does. It's called the Committee on Climate Change. We know it can be done, and this frankly isn't a complicated matter.
Everything is politically complicated in Canada, but technically this isn't that challenging. The U.S. does it. The Energy Information Administration in the U.S. does it. The International Energy Administration in Europe does it. The U.K. does it; they do a very good job of it. I think we have a clear consensus in this country, based on the research we've done, the convening we've done, the experts we've talked to, that it isn't that hard for Canada to move forward on it.
Under the pan-Canadian framework, we've committed to an expert engagement mechanism to support climate policy with independent advice. It's been excruciatingly slow for that to develop. I think that needs to move forward. We don't just create energy data because it's fun having energy data; we create energy data so we can use it to inform policy. That's another mechanism that's needed.
I'll end with three main points.
One, we need to build the energy information capacity in this country, and we strongly believe that creating a Canadian energy information organization is something that's well needed. This needs to be an independent entity, and conceived as a partnership between groups like Statistics Canada, NRCan, Department of Environment, and other relevant energy data groups, experts, provinces, and the private sector across Canada.
Two, we need to support independent modelling and analysis. Our capacity in this country has declined to a state where we basically don't have the fundamental modelling and analysis we need to make these complex decisions. I know you heard from David Layzell at University of Calgary a couple of weeks ago, talking about a transition pathways initiative. We are strong supporters of that, and believe that kind of cutting-edge work is needed in this country.
Finally, we need an independent climate expert institute in Canada that will use the modelling and analysis to help provide the policy advice we need to the country. Again, it needs to be independent, transparent, evidence based, and expert. This was referenced in the pan-Canadian framework, but it has been very slow to emerge.
I've provided a couple of little graphics in my speaking notes that you can look at to see how these things might fit together.
With that, I'll thank you very much for considering this important issue and for having me present today. Merci.