Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 2 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Tuesday, November 18, 1997
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
met this day at 9:05 a.m. to examine such issues as may arise from time to time
relating to energy, the environment and natural resources generally in Canada
Senator Ron Ghitter (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: Dr. Janzen, I welcome you on behalf of the committee. Please
proceed with your presentation.
Dr. Henry Janzen, GHG/C Sequestration Researcher, Lethbridge Research Centre,
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Mr. Chairman, at the outset let me thank you
for inviting us to appear before your committee to make this short
presentation. With me this morning is Dr. Ray Desjardins, a greenhouse gas
researcher with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada here in Ottawa.
With your permission, I will take my place by the slide projector and make a
short presentation from there.
I will briefly address three questions this morning. First, what is
agriculture's contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions? Second, what
options do we have to mitigate or reduce some of these emissions? Third, what
are some of the uncertainties that await us as agriculture itself faces
impending global changes?
By way of background, I will briefly review the greenhouse effect. We know that
solar radiation strikes the earth's surface, thereby warming it. The earth, in
turn, emits long-wave radiation back into the atmosphere, some of which is
absorbed by various gases in the atmosphere, including methane, carbon dioxide
and nitrous oxide. The absorption of this long-wave radiation essentially warms
the atmosphere and the earth's climate. This is a favourable effect. Without
this greenhouse effect, the global temperature would be, on average, 33 degrees
lower than it is now.
The problem, of course, is that the concentration of these gases is increasing.
Methane concentration is increasing at a rate of about 0.9 per cent per year;
Nitrous oxide at a rate of about 0.25 per cent per year; and carbon dioxide
concentration is increasing at a rate of about 0.5 per cent per year. In the
last few decades we have seen carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere
increase from about 320 p.p.m. in 1960 to about 360 p.p.m. presently.
While there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the impact of these
changes on eventual climate, we now know, with a great deal of confidence, that
the atmospheric composition itself is changing. We are concerned about the
eventual impacts of that.
What is agriculture's contribution? Agriculture plays a significant role in the
emission of all three of these gases. It is, first of all, a source of nitrous
oxide. Much of this nitrous oxide comes from agricultural soils, especially
those which have been amended with various nitrogen materials; for example,
nitrogen fertilizers, animal manures and various organic residues.
Agriculture is also a source of methane, primarily from animal agriculture, both
from the animals themselves and from the wastes they generate. To some extent,
there is a slow flux of methane from the atmosphere into the "agroecosystems."
There is a slow rate of absorption of atmospheric methane by soils, so there is
a slow downward flux into these agroecosystems, though the rate is very small
relative to the rate of emission from the agricultural ecosystems.
Carbon dioxide is unique among these three gases in that there is a strong flux
out of the agricultural ecosystems into the atmosphere. Agriculture also serves
as a sink for CO2. In other words, there is a strong rate of CO2 absorption by
agricultural systems. When we look at the impact of agriculture on the
atmosphere, we must look at both directions of flux.
Shown on the slide are some current estimates of actual fluxes from agricultural
ecosystems in Canada. The three gases are listed on the left. The next column
under "Actual" represents the absolute rate of gas release, and that
is shown in million tonnes per year. You see quite a range of rates.
We should emphasize that these gases are not equal in their global warming
potential. Nitrous oxide is much more potent, roughly 300 times as potent as
CO2, for example. In the last column, we show the CO2 equivalent in an attempt
to account for the variable global warming potential of the three gases. You
can see from that that nitrous oxide may be the most important of the three
gases with respect to emissions from Canadian agriculture.
The Chairman: What is the third column?
Mr. Janzen: That is the CO2 equivalent. If we were to convert the impact of that
N2O emission to CO2 units, that would be the equivalent.
In this slide,we are looking at emissions from agricultural ecosystems expressed
as a percent of anthropogenic emissions in Canada. You can see that
agricultural ecosystems are an important source of nitrous oxide and of
methane, but a relatively minor source of CO2 when expressed in this way.
All told, when we account for the variable warming potential of the various
gases, shown in the column on the far right, we estimate that agriculture
accounts for roughly 11 per cent of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions
Canadian agricultural ecosystems are currently a source of all three of these
gases. However, there is some uncertainty in these estimates, especially for
nitrous oxide which is very difficult to measure and very sporadic in its
The next question is: What can we do to mitigate these emissions? What can we do
to reduce the rate of emissions?
There are a number of proposed strategies with respect to nitrous oxide. Most
focus on improving the efficiency of nitrogen use in agricultural ecosystems;
for example, developing more efficient methods of fertilizer application and
judicious animal manure application.
With respect to methane, much of the mitigation work is focusing on developing
more efficient utilization of feed, for example, changing rations to some
extent; the consideration of various feed additives; and improving manure
A great deal of the interest in mitigation has focused on CO2 because CO2 is
both released by agriculture and absorbed by agriculture.
To explain that a little further, I have a simplified diagram of a carbon cycle
in agricultural ecosystems. Essentially, CO2 is absorbed by crops and converted
to various organic carbon forms. Some of that organic carbon is removed in the
form of products. The remainder enters the soil and is stored there as soil
organic matter and as soil humus. This organic matter gradually decomposes back
to CO2, thereby completing the cycle.
Throughout the millennia of soil development, these soil carbon pools have built
up to the extent that there is more carbon in the soil than in the atmosphere
above it. If there is a change in the amount of soil carbon stored, that has
implications for atmospheric CO2. If soil carbon is depleted and the
concentration goes down, that means a net emission to the atmosphere. On the
other hand, if there is a gain in soil carbon, that results in a net withdrawal
of CO2 and storage in the soil. That process is referred to as "carbon
A number of strategies have been proposed for changing that. In other words, the
soil carbon pool is dependent on management. If we look at the historical
effect of management on soil carbon, we see that before the inception of
cultivation early in the century there was quite a sharp drop in the amount of
carbon stored in the soil. Historically, agricultural soils have been a large
source of CO2.
Senator Gigantès: Perhaps I do not have sufficient technical knowledge,
but at this point I am not quite sure whether you are telling us it is good to
have a lot of carbon in the soil or not.
Mr. Janzen: My apologies. It is a favourable process. As we increase soil
carbon, we remove CO2 from the atmosphere. From the standpoint of atmospheric
CO2 reserves, we would consider it a favourable process.
Presently, we are interested in reversing that historical trend. We would like
to promote practices which result in the gain of carbon back into the soil
carbon pool. A number of practices have been identified which, at least in some
locations, can increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil. On this slide,
we have shown a reduction in tillage intensity, less reliance on summer fallow,
an increased use of various forage crops, and improved crop nutrition increase
the amount of carbon. Summer fallow is still a widespread practice in the
Prairies where the soil is left unplanted for a growing season. Forage crops
are grasses and legumes. Improved crop nutrition is achieved through the
application of fertilizers and various nutritive additives.
Senator Gigantès: That will increase carbon in the soil.
Mr. Janzen: Yes.
The Chairman: This would absorb the additional CO2 we are emitting into the
atmosphere by various modes, particularly those related to oil and gas. This
would absorb more CO2, which may be beneficial in the global warming issue.
Mr. Janzen: You are quite right.
The Chairman: Can you extend the reasoning that far?
Mr. Janzen: If the soil carbon pool increases by a tonne, all of that carbon
will have come from the atmosphere. Any increase in the soil carbon pool
results in withdrawal of CO2 from of the atmosphere.
Senator Spivak: These practices, apart from the fact that they are related to
global warming, are also very good for sustainable agriculture. They are things
we should be doing anyway.
Mr. Janzen: Precisely.
The Chairman: Is a "carbon sink" and "sequestration"
basically the same thing?
Mr. Janzen: When I refer to soil as a carbon sink, I mean that the soil has a
capacity to accept and absorb CO2. When I say that soil is a source, that means
there is a net emission from the soil into the atmosphere.
Senator Taylor: With respect to soil absorption through photosynthesis and plant
growth, is that not how the carbon gets into the soil? Sequestration takes
place through photosynthesis.
Mr. Janzen: Yes.
Senator Taylor: A carbon dioxide particle does not fall on the ground and simply
be absorbed by the soil. It has to be absorbed through photosynthesis.
Mr. Janzen: You are correct.
Senator Taylor: Therefore, the more growth on the soil, such as trees and summer
fallow, the more photosynthesis we can expect.
I understand that the oceans also absorb a lot of CO2. Is that because of the
algae in the water? The oceans absorb more CO2 than our land base, but I am not
sure I understand the process.
Mr Janzen: The next question we pose is: What would happen if we were able to
increase the use of these various practices on the agricultural landscape of
Canada? You see here a diagram of the agricultural areas of Canada. If we were
to make much more widespread use of these practices across the country, how
much carbon could we pull out of the atmosphere and store in the soil? We do not
yet have good estimates of that. The best I can do for you now is to provide a
very hypothetical example to, if nothing else, give an order-of-magnitude
estimate of the amount.
Take the hypothesis that soils gain carbon, in other words, draw CO2 out of the
atmosphere, to an amount of three megagrams, which is three tonnes, per hectare
over a period of 20 or 30 years. If that gain occurs on an area of about 35
million hectares, which is roughly the area of cultivated land on the prairies,
that will give us an amount of carbon sequestration or CO2 withdrawal of
slightly more than 100 million tonnes. To put that number in perspective, it is
approaching the amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere annually from
fossil fuel combustion. It is, in theory at least, not an insignificant amount.
There are a couple of factors we must take into consideration. Soils cannot gain
carbons indefinitely. It is a short-term process. Eventually, the carbon gains
stop as the soils reach a new equilibrium. This happens over a number of years.
It is a relatively slow process.
The other important point is that most agricultural ecosystems rely on
supplementary energy. Our ecosystems themselves use fossil fuel so, over the
long term, the emissions of CO2 from this fossil fuel use may negate many of
these gains in soil carbon. In fact, they may negate them entirely in the long
term. Therefore, the net effect of carbon sequestration is a short-term benefit.
To review, there are a number of mitigation strategies for N2O, for methane and
for CO2 and, in the short term at least, it may be possible to move that point
for CO2 below the zero line. In other words, it may be possible for
agroecosystems to effect a net withdrawal of CO2 from the atmosphere. We think,
however, that that will be only for a relatively short period of time, perhaps a
matter of some years, or one or several decades at the most, at which time they
will revert to being net emitters of CO2 again.
Many of these practices, as has been previously pointed out, are very favourable
practices to follow in any event. Agronomists will say that we should want to
increase soil carbon regardless of any impact on the atmosphere. We promote
many of those practices that we spoke of earlier for reasons of sustainability
and productivity, quite apart from benefits to the atmosphere. Any improvement
in the greenhouse gas situation is an additional benefit. The same can be said
for the other mitigation practices for the other gases. Some of them at least
lead to greater efficiency and better use of resources.
We have talked quite a bit about the impact of agroecosystems on the global
environment, on potential global warming and so on, but there is also a
feedback. If the global environment changes, that has obvious implications for
I list here a few of the uncertainties that may arise from that, the first one
being changes in production practices themselves. For example, increased demand
for food production will put pressures on agricultural systems which may induce
changes. Increasing livestock numbers can have implications on methane and
nitrous oxide emissions. Another uncertainty relates to climate change.
Increases in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns affect
productivity of our systems.
The final uncertainty on the list is a change in CO2 concentration itself. We
know that CO2 is a raw material of agricultural production. It is CO2 that
crops use to generate organic material. Therefore, an increase in the
concentration of atmospheric CO2 could have some benefits on yields, and some
researchers say there may be some slight positive effect, although there is a
still a great deal of uncertainty attached to that. These uncertainties await
Senator Gigantès: What does all that is happening in Canada have to do
with the rest of the world? Is the polluting that goes on in other parts of the
world so extensive that what we might be doing here almost irrelevant? It is,
after all, a global atmosphere.
Mr Janzen: My understanding is that Canada produces roughly 2 per cent of the
world's greenhouse gas emissions. That is a relatively small proportion. On the
other hand, speaking first about the agricultural community, we would like to
at least keep our own house in order and ensure that we are not contributing to
the problem. The greenhouse gas problem is unlikely to be solved by a single
measure. There is no easy solution. Within the agricultural community, at least,
we would like to say that we are at least not contributing excessively to the
problem ourselves and taking whatever small steps we can to reduce the impact
of the problem.
Senator Gigantès: That is morally very satisfying, but is what is
happening in the rest of the world so horrendous right now that, even if we
perform at our best level, it will not make any difference?
Mr Janzen: You are quite correct that the amount of change in greenhouse gas
emissions that we can effect through changes in agricultural practices will
have only a small impact on the global environment.
Senator St. Germain: My question relates to climatic change. Are your
departments monitoring climatic change and the effect it will have on
agriculture? We have recently seen ads by certain sectors or the industry
stating that there is no global warming. Some even say there is global cooling.
Does your department and your particular sector of the industry monitor any of
Dr. Raymond Desjardins, Research Scientist, Micro- meteorology, Agriculture and
Agri-Food Canada: Agriculture Canada has research stations around the country .
We have weather stations at these research stations which have collected
weather data for quite a few years. That data is sent to Environment Canada and
we examine it. There is much variability in this data, but there are trends in
the last fifty years. On a monthly basis we sometimes see no trend but, if we
look at an entire growing season or an entire year, we see an increase in
temperature of about .9 degrees in the last 100 years in some places. In other
places it is less. We have seen, for example, in the last 16 years, 10 of the
warmest years on record on a global scale. Ontario and Quebec have been warmer
in 8 of the last 10 years; but the prairies have been cooler than normal 6 of
the last 10 years.
The picture is not completely clear, but there is no doubt that, on a long-term
basis, the growing season or the number of growing days will increase. That is
bound to happen. With the projected increase, if we accept the model, it is
bound to be even more considerable.
Senator St. Germain: Your records are only 50 years old. I remember flying over
southern Saskatchewan and thinking that, at one time, it must have been desert
from Moose Jaw to Medicine Hat, Alberta. Is there anything definitive related
to what man is doing, or is there a possibility that these changes are
cyclical? If you look back a million years, or even a thousand years, could
these changes in temperature be attributed to natural, cyclical changes as
opposed to man's intrusion into the environment?
Mr. Desjardins: It could be attributed to cyclical changes, and it is difficult
for us to prove the contrary. There is no doubt that we are closing some
windows in the atmosphere. Emissions of some greenhouses gases is increasing.
We know there were some places for the heat from the earth to escape, and, by
increasing these gases, we know from physics that we are closing some windows.
You are correct that the water records are fluctuating, and there could be an
argument in favour of what you are saying. However, I do not think there is
much doubt that there is a warming trend, and there is no doubt that the
increased concentration of greenhouse gases has an effect on the global
Senator Spivak: The international panel on climate change, which has been in
existence since around 1988, uses the services of 1,000 scientists and others
who are particularly skilled in assessing climate changes, and they seem to
suggest that there is increasing evidence of an anthropogenic impact on the
climate. Is that not the most definitive statement that has been made recently?
Mr. Janzen: That is certainly my understanding as well.
Senator Spivak: You are looking at practices in agriculture which can produce
not only beneficial results as far as climate change is concerned, but
beneficial results for the agricultural industry in terms of soil loss and so
forth. Why are you looking at the pattern? After all, because of government
policies such as transportation subsidies being removed and so on, we have seen
the beginning of a huge change in agriculture. For example, there has been an
increased amount of hog production and a decrease in grain production.
What impact will that have, not only on climate change, but on agriculture
generally and in the production of foods? What are your powers as a Department
of Agriculture, given that the provinces control almost everything, to, in a
macro-economic fashion, look at these changes and direct them? Why are you not
suggesting that we produce bison instead of hogs for reasons such as nutrition,
climate change, and sustainable agriculture? Are you letting hog production
proceed unimpeded, with no direction from the federal government?
Mr. Janzen: I am not sure quite how to respond except to say that I am only
familiar to some extent with what we are doing in the research branch of
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Many of us are looking at developing more
sustainable systems. Much of the work prior to our work on greenhouse gas
emissions was focused on sustainability. Initially, many of us worked on carbon
cycling and nitrogen cycling, not from the standpoint of emissions to the
atmosphere, but from the standpoint of conserving soils. We do have some
expertise and some ongoing research into the impact of changing management and
conversion to more livestock-based systems and on the broader sustainability of
these systems, not just from the standpoint of greenhouse gases.
In partial answer to the question, increasing livestock numbers has,
potentially, both positive and negative impacts on sustainability and the whole
greenhouse question. Increasing amounts of livestock can lead to increases in
emissions of methane and nitrous oxide. On the other hand, we also know that
greater numbers of livestock may increase the area of soils related to forage
crops, and forage crops can have favourable effects on soils and on the
sustainability of the agricultural landscapes. The overall picture is quite a
Senator Spivak: Is some assessment being made of the various types of livestock,
such as cattle, hogs, or bison, and which is more suitable, and which will have
the greatest impact on greenhouse gases in the prairies? Huge changes are
taking place. Is someone studying this?
Mr. Janzen: The issue of waste management, which is one of the primary
questions, is receiving increasing attention among the various research centres
in Western Canada, and I am sure in Eastern Canada as well.
The Chairman: Coming from Lethbridge, Dr. Janzen, you are undoubtedly familiar
with the problems being experienced because of the high concentration of hog
production. It is a major issue. There are immense hog lots and feed lots in
that area.Has there been an impact on your area as a result of this high
concentration of livestock?
Mr. Janzen: A flurry of research activity is being initiated right now. Some
longer-term research has been conducted, but there is also a renewal of
interest in areas such as water quality. For example, they are trying to
determine the impact of increased manure application, of the leaching of
nitrates into ground water, on the quality of well water and so on.
The issue of livestock numbers is, in simple terms, related to a potential
excess of nutrients. The nutrients from livestock manures are beneficial. The
problem arises when we concentrate them to a greater extent than the plants can
pull them out of the soil. You then run into problems with these nutrients
leaching into the ground water and being emitted into the atmosphere as
greenhouse gases and various other pollutants.
Senator Hays: You conclude that there are benefits to be derived from changing
farming practices, not only in terms of soil conservation and other reasons,
but also for carbon sequestration reasons. There are some benefits to be gained
from changing farming practices to follow the four suggested methodologies you
have shown us on the screen by, basically, leaving more trash, more cellulose
and more carbon materials in place. We know the value of roughage, forage, to
ruminants as opposed to Senator Spivak's example of hogs which are dependent on
At the other end of the scale, we know that, in agricultural policy, we are
moving to a more market-driven or market-based decision-making paradigm. Would
you care to comment on how you might bring these two ideas together? Do you let
farmers do what they want to do and, if people want to eat more pork, encourage
them to grow more pork? Alternatively, knowing that there would be a benefit to
the world environment, do you encourage farmers to do something that is not
market driven? Would we pay them to go out of hog production? Have you given
any thought to that?
Mr. Janzen: There could be the development of farming practices that would make
these measures economically desirable. For example, there has been quite a lot
of research into the development of so-called "conservation tillage"
or no tillage farming practices, which is a technique by which farmers can grow
crops with minimum tillage. There was quite a research thrust into developing
the equipment, the weed control methods, and the agronomic practices that would
allow this procedure to work, to be economically viable and, perhaps, even
profitable. As a result, this practice is now being widely accepted across much
of Canada. We have seen quite a high rate of adoption, motivated to a large
extent by economicfactors.
Senator Hays: Are you saying that only carrots and no sticks would be used to
Mr. Janzen: In the case of conservation tillage, certainly, it has been a
carrot. I am not familiar enough with how one might go about it.
Senator Hays: If there are only these kinds of incentives, do you think you
could bring any predictability to this as a means of offsetting carbon
emissions from the use of fossil few fuels? For instance, will we be able to
say, in the year 2005, when Canada is comparing its carbon emissions to the
year 2000, that we are much better off because there has been a contribution to
carbon removal from agriculture, given that there is no way of mandating that?
Mr. Janzen: I am not sure how predictable it would be, no. It comes back to
demonstrating some of the argonomic benefits.
I should make the point, too, that there is some value in interactive education
among farmers, researchers and so on. Farmers have a strong sense of soil
conservation. They recognize that it is important to ensure that the next
generation has the resources to continue farming. That is an another motivating
factor. It puts the onus on us to continue to work on education and the
dissemination of information.
Senator Hays: You have already done a lot of that. Have you quantified its
value? For instance, in areas subject to wind erosion, farming practices have
changed. When flying from Calgary to Lethbridge you see less summer fallow. You
see more farming techniques which will result in more crop residues being in
place. Have we quantified that as a benefit already?
Mr. Janzen: Certainly, surveys have been done, and perhaps Mr. Desjardins can
comment on those surveys.
Another technique now being used is remote sensing. Some of these changes can
now be quantified by satellite imagery.
Mr. Desjardins: We have done what you have said, Senator Hays. We have looked at
how much carbon we were losing in the 1990s. Based on the current trend of
no-till practices and the increased use of fertilizers, we have noted that, by
1998-1999, we will be at a point of equilibrium and will not be losing carbon.
Soils will start to sequester carbon until at least 2010. If agricultural
production increases by between 10 per cent and 20 per cent up until 2010, then
the reduction in carbon loss from soil will be equal to the increased emissions
caused by methane gas being produced by cattle. Agriculture from 1990 to 2010
will be at a zero gain or loss. That is a short-term solution. In the future,
agriculture will continue to be a source.
Senator St. Germain: Does this balance to which you refer apply only to the
amount of CO2 which is emitted into the air as a result of agriculture, or is
this the overall picture of emissions in the country?
Mr. Desjardins: It is just the on-farm agricultural emissions. It has nothing to
do with the country as a whole because agriculture is a small player in the
whole greenhouse gas issue. We account for about 11 per cent of the overall
Our calculations show that we can compensate for our increased emissions up to
the year 2010, but only from the agricultural sector. That does not take into
account transportation, the production of food or the manufacturing of
Senator Hays: Does that 11 per cent take into account all greenhouse gases,
Mr. Desjardins: Yes.
Senator Gigantès: Has there been any study done in which the gas
emissions from the production of meat from various animals been compared? Per
pound, are hogs worse polluters than bison, for example?
Mr. Janzen: From the standpoint of methane emission, ruminants have a higher
emission of methane, ruminants being cattle and bison as opposed to hogs, for
Senator Gigantès: Is not more nitrous oxide produced by hogs?
Mr. Desjardins: Yes, from their manure. Cattle produce about 75 per cent of
methane, while hogs produce about 25 per cent.
Senator Gigantès: Is that because there are fewer hogs than cattle, or is
that per pound?
Mr. Desjardins: Per pound, cattle produce a lot more. Dairy cattle produce 500
litres per day, while non-dairy cattle, such as a steer, would produce 200
litres per day.
Senator Buchanan: I wish to ask a question about CO2. I come from a part of the
country where we burn coal to generate 70 per cent of our electricity. We built
five 150-megawatt plants from 1977 to 1990. This was a rather interesting
period in the politics of Nova Scotia.
We were under attack during the late 1980s for building these plants because of
SO2 levels. The premiers of the Atlantic provinces signed an agreement with the
New England governors to maintain a certain level of SO2, which has been done.
The last plant built was the Point Aconi fluidized bed plant. The fluidized bed
plant reduces SO2 by almost 90 per cent, that is, to negligible amounts. We
then came under attack for CO2 emissions. David Suzuki came to Halifax and
accused me of being a dinosaur for ever agreeing that these plants should be
built. I suggested he go down to Cape Breton and make that statement.
At the time, many people, who I suspect knew what they were talking about, said
that we should plant, literally, millions of trees, not just in Cape Breton,
but throughout Nova Scotia. They even said that, if we funded the planting of
trees as far away as South America, we would be aiding in the fight against
CO2. Is that true?
Mr. Desjardins: New Zealand takes the same approach. It depends on what kind of
land the trees are planted on. It is probably true if you plant trees on
marginal land because, in the long term, they will sequester carbon. If you use
good agricultural land, it is not true.
Senator Gigantès: Nobody would do that.
Mr. Desjardins: Some people might.
Senator Spivak: It is the other way around.
Mr. Desjardins: There is no doubt that forests are a very important sink for
CO2. The question right now is whether or not our Canadian forests can account
for all the carbon dioxide that we are generating in Canada. There is a missing
carbon sink. Some people think it is in the ocean, and others think it is in
the boreal forest.
Senator Buchanan: Before I leave that, I want to make this clear: Even though we
burn coal and will continue to burn it, we produce less than 0.1 per cent of
the carbon dioxide that is emitted into the air in Canada.
The Chairman: I am sure the witnesses understand that is not a question; it is a
statement from the senator from the Maritimes.
Senator Gigantès: I did not quite understand the point about the Canadian
Mr. Desjardins: Plants use carbon dioxide to grow. The carbon dioxide
concentration is increasing by about 0.5 per cent per year. This increased
carbon dioxide means that more is available for plants to grow, and some people
think that forests could be growing faster and taking in more carbon in trees
and in soil and that that would account for much of the carbon that is being
generated by fossil fuel.
Looking at the equation, six gigatonnes of carbon dioxide is generated per year
by burning fossil fuel. That is world wide. Analysts who review the numbers,
say about two gigatonnes go in the ocean. There are some other sources. In the
final analysis, it appears that two gigatonnes go into the atmosphere, two
gigatonnes go into the oceans and we are still missing two gigatonnes which are
being absorbed in the world. Otherwise, the concentration of CO2 would be rising
faster than it is.
Scientists are looking at different places which could be absorbing that carbon
dioxide. It is possible the boreal forest could be absorbing these amounts.
Senator Gigantès: Even though rain forests are being devastated?
Mr. Desjardins: It is suggested that a large amount of carbon is being released
into the atmosphere by the destruction of the tropical forests.
Senator Taylor: I wish to ask a question relating to global warming.
Am I right that there is little or no carbon sequestration in the winter time,
when the ground is covered with snow?
Is it not true that global warming would result in a shorter winter and a longer
summer, more growing time? Have we not set out a self-controlling mechanism,
that the longer the growing season, the more carbon is absorbed, therefore, if
more carbon is absorbed, the less global warming, and the process continues? In
other words, is it possible that perhaps nature has developed a self-governing
system? Would you argue that that is possible?
Mr. Janzen: As Mr. Desjardins mentioned, increases in CO2 are not as high as one
would calculate from the increases in emission. There is some absorption going
into plant growth, the oceans and so on. There is some suppression. However,
despite that, CO2 emissions are still increasing or have increased which would
lead me to believe that, although there is some compensation or negative
feedback happening, it is not enough to maintain concentrations at the
The Chairman: Did I understand you to say that, in the prairie provinces, some
100 million tonnes per year of CO2 are absorbed within the carbon sink?
Mr. Janzen: I meant to say that it is 100 million tonnes over the duration of
the increase in soil carbon. That may take 20, 30 or 40 years. That is not an
annual increment. That is an important point. It is a relatively slow accrual.
It is not a huge number, considering the rate of emissions. It is a relatively
small portion of the fossil fuel CO2 emissions.
The Chairman: Could those absorption figures be increased based on the matters
Mr. Janzen: Again, the curve that I showed was a theoretical projection of the
amount removed, if we adopted these practices.
At the present time, we would guess that soils are almost neutral. They are not
releasing CO2 or gaining CO2. At the present time, they are close to zero, and
neither releasing nor absorbing.
If we adopt these practices -- and this is a rough guess -- we might gain an
additional 100 million tonnes of carbon. But that is not an annual increment,
that is cumulative, over a number of decades. When compared to the annual rate
of emission of CO2, that is a very small fraction of the annual emission from
The Chairman: On an annual basis, can you give us any indication as to what the
agricultural community is doing with respect to absorption, or is that too
difficult to assess?
Mr. Janzen: I think we have some projections based on model outputs.
Mr. Desjardins: In 1990, we were losing about 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide
per year, and we are still losing carbon dioxide. Since the beginning of
cultivation, we have lost 1,600 million tonnes of carbon, 6000 million tonnes
of CO2 from our agricultural soil. However, we project that, by the year 2005,
we will begin to gain 1 million to 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year
in our soil.
Senator Gigantès: In what sense does the witness use the terms "losing"
and "gaining" in this instance?
Mr. Desjardins: Before cultivation, there was a fair amount of carbon in the
soil, and the carbon has decreased steadily to reach a point where it is at
equilibrium. Given current management practices, carbon content in the soil has
started to go up slightly. As the carbon content goes up, the soil is absorbing
carbon dioxide from the air via the plants.
Senator St. Germain: There is a cost attached to these changes. The individuals
involved in agriculture are price takers. They do not set prices. This has a
The most vociferous polluters in our society are city and urban dwellers. There
will be a cost to someone. If agriculture is seen to be a possible source of
reducing greenhouse gases, do you see a change ahead that would create
adjustments in regard to these imposed costs? People tend to gravitate to the
most economical and the most productive change.
I went into the cattle business 12 years ago, and the price is still the same
today, if not less. However, all the expenses have quadrupled, from tractors to
taxation. Are any studies being done into how these price increases to farm
producers will be dealt with?
Mr. Janzen: I am not aware of a lot of research in that area. I do know that
there has been some discussion of giving farmers credit for carbon stored in
soils. I am not sure about the source of funding for that credit. In any case,
it is probably relatively small and perhaps not enough to entice farmers to
adopt those practices from an economic standpoint alone.
Even if these measures are adopted on a widespread scale, agriculture will still
be a source of greenhouse gases because of the methane and nitrous oxide
Senator Taylor: I have a question about carbon sequestration.
As you know, you can put ammonia gas in the soil. Is there such a thing as
putting carbon under pressure into the oil. Would anything bond to it?
Mr. Janzen: There may be some possibility of that. The rate would probably be
There has been some research into carrying out that procedure in the oceans. The
Japanese have looked into pumping CO2 into the oceans. There are some chemical
mechanisms that could trap that CO2. However, as far as I know, the economics
are not very favourable.
Senator Taylor: This might work in Nova Scotia. I am referring to taking the
carbon dioxide from coal plants and piping it into greenhouses. Can you foresee
a Nova Scotia radish that is grown in half the time using coal gases? Does
carbon dioxide piped into greenhouses really make a difference?
Mr. Janzen: I believe that is routinely done in many greenhouses. They do enrich
the atmosphere with CO2, and it does increase the rate of growth. The
difficulty is that the amount of CO2 generated by fossil fuel combustion is so
high that the benefit of that practice from the standpoint of atmospheric CO2
reduction is negligible.
The Chairman: Thank you, Dr. Janzen and Dr. Desjardins for sharing your thoughts
Our next group of witnesses is from the Canadian Association of Petroleum
Mr. David J. Manning, Q.C., President, Canadian Association of Petroleum
Producers: Mr. Chairman, as you can appreciate, climate change is a very
topical issue. For some reason, we seem to be pretty much in the thick of it.
We represent the upstream industry, that is, the industry which seeks out,
drills for, and produces oil and natural gas, primarily, and liquids. As an
organization, we represent about 95 per cent of Canada's production.
As of today, I can announce with great pride that six provinces are now oil and
gas producers in Canada. Hibernia commenced production yesterday in
Newfoundland. They have almost doubled their estimates of oil in place off
Newfoundland in the Hibernia field alone. That single platform will produce 180
barrels per day next year, which is almost unheard of. That is very close to the
production of the Syncrude plant from a single platform. We are very proud to
represent the industry in the Maritimes as well as in Western Canada. We think
that is key.
Senator Buchanan: You did not mention offshore Nova Scotia.
Mr. Manning: I was coming to that. The survey to which Mr. Peirce will allude in
a moment, which we conducted as an industry, sought the opinions of Canadians
about our industry, climate change and various other issues.
One of the key questions that an industry always asks is: How important do you
think we are? I was very proud that 48 per cent of Maritimers think we are one
of the most important industries in the Maritimes. Much of that is as a result
of the tremendous interest in offshore Nova Scotia and the Sable field.
When I was based in New York for a number of years as a trade lawyer for
Alberta, the talk was that Sable would be on stream in about 2020 to 2025. That
was the official statement from the Consul General of the day. We have now
moved that up to 1999. We are very optimistic that this project will proceed
now that we are getting over a number of regulatory hurdles.
Climate change is an interesting issue for Nova Scotia. As you have probably
heard, one of the only areas where acid rain is still a problem is in the
Maritimes. Of course, over half of that SO2 is U.S. produced. The natural gas
from Halifax, which will move in part to the U.S., will have the opportunity to
fuel much more efficient plants and reduce CO2 emissions. It will also back out
those smokers in the north-eastern United States and in the Maritimes which are
contributing to the SO2 problem. Halifax has a very strategic role to play in
the CO2 debate.
We have turned over to the committee a document we have just produced. You will
find some key points in the small booklet which catches our theme, "Better
Global Rules Solid Local Action." This is also the cornerstone of a public
information campaign we have embarked upon across the country. We have copies
of our advertisements in the package.
I want to commend the our governments on the Regina meeting. As a former deputy
minister of energy with Alberta, I have attended probably half a dozen joint
ministerial meetings over the years. I was waiting outside the room last
Wednesday in Regina as the provincial representatives and representatives of
the federal cabinet met to try to strike a consensus on this issue. I was struck
by the ability to form consensus. As the Prime Minister of Canada made
reference to an opportunity to improve upon the United States position, it is
most important to note that he did improve on the U.S. position immeasurably on
Wednesday in that we have a consensus in Canada.
The provinces have a suite of implementation options and, of course, the federal
government has the responsibility for international agreements. The U.S. has
been unable to bring those two elements together.
I met two weeks ago with the chief of staff from the department of energy in the
U.S. who took the ads which CAPP has been sponsoring in national Canadian
newspapers to the President so that he can see the level of cooperation between
governments and industry in Canada.
As I understand it, the U.S. delegation to Kyoto may include up to 12 Republican
senators and their staff. It will be a massive undertaking. I suggest that the
opportunity for consensus in the U.S. will be quite strained.
The first challenge of this issue for us all relates to Canada's growth in
population. Our population growth since 1990 has exceeded 10 per cent, which is
three times that of the nearest country in the OECD.
The second challenge relates to economic growth. The charts in our material show
that 1990 was a low point in the Canadian economy. We have had growth since
that time, and that growth has driven more activity and more CO2 emissions.
The third challenge relates to the growth in exports; exports in natural gas and
oil, obviously, from our industry, but also export in energy-laden goods. For
example, we export far more cars than we import. A lot of energy goes into the
manufacture of vehicles. There is a high energy component within agriculture.
Every one of those numbers is up, which is one of the reasons the Canadian
economy is strengthening. We are in fact an exporting country.
Those are the main factors with which we have to come to grips. We will do that
by maintaining some solid local action, which we have always supported, in
order to give us an opportunity to create an international platform for better
global rules, because the real growth will take place in the developed world.
That is not to say that we cannot take steps here at home, and not to say that
we must be engaged at home to ensure that credibility, but Canada, with our
experience in the land mines issue and our vast experience in terms of UN
activity, has a real opportunity to assist.
As you know the APEC meeting will be held in Vancouver next week. The President
of China will visit Calgary on his way to that meeting. I have just returned
from Beijing myself. I am pleased that a small group will be having dinner with
him. What a contrast from his trip to the United States where he was called
upon to debate Tiananmen Square in the international press and where he
encountered resistance at every step. Who better than Canada to work positively
with China at the Kyoto Summit?
Mr. Chris Peirce, Vice-President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers:
We would like to spend most of our time answering any questions you may have.
We are willing to do that now, and in the days and weeks to come, once you have
had a chance to review our material. You are only the second group to have
received our materials. They have just come together over the last couple of
weeks and we are pleased to be able to put them before you, Mr. Chairman.
CAPP became involved in the public debate around climate change because,
frankly, we felt that the debate, as it was surfacing in the public in the
run-up to Kyoto at the beginning of this year, seemed to be skewed by the
extremes; the extremes representing both those who felt that action was called
for that would, in our view, jeopardize the economic growth Canada has
experienced over the past few years and not get us where it was purporting to
get us in terms of progress on greenhouse gas emissions; and those who would
say that it is not a problem, that nothing needs to be done.
We commissioned a public opinion survey at the beginning of this year which was
completed in the spring of the year. The executive summary from that survey
forms part of the materials before you today. Intuitively, we felt that did not
sound like where Canadians would be on the issue of taking real and substantive
action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We felt that the results of our survey had some clear messages for our industry.
We also felt that it had some clear messages for government. The message for
our industry was that it did not behoove us to be engaging in any sort of
debate over the science of climate change, that we were not a credible voice on
that topic, regardless of what we may feel, and that that issue will be resolved
by others in other locales, by others who are trusted to have information and
expertise on point. However, there was an appetite for us to be talking about
what we do. We are a technologically innovative and driven industry, one that
we believe is one of the most environmentally efficient in the world, an
industry that is perceived as having part of the answer to any global solution
to the issue of greenhouse gas emissions.
The other point that we really felt underlay our public opinion research was
that Canadians want both responsible environmental action and economic growth.
They are not prepared to have solutions proposed to them which would jeopardize
either one of those.
We felt that we had a balance to offer in the public debate that would both help
the proper formation of public policy and provide our industry with the type of
certainty that is required to facilitate the long-term capital investment that
started in 1979 off the coast of Newfoundland which is finally yielding oil
today. That type of investment does not happen overnight. We need stable rules
to attract the type of investment that will lead to further development of the
oil and gas sector in Canada.
Our pragmatic approach to the issue of climate change is intended to balance
both economic growth and environmental sustainability. Our materials before you
today indicate that we should be taking prudent steps which will lead us to
better control of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and work to encourage and
further spur economic growth in Canada.
We recognize as an industry that we must take proper action at home rather than
no action. We must take steps to broaden and deepen the efforts of our
In terms of government, the current global regime does not recognize certain
Canadian perspectives, quite apart from the perspectives of any other nation.
The first of those is the fact that we export over half of the natural gas and
oil that we produce in this country. The notion that Canada is the leader in
per capita consumption of energy is wrong, if one looks at what we do with the
energy we produce. We do not consume over half of it here at home in Canada; we
Senator Gigantès: Does that include oil?
Mr. Peirce: That includes oil, yes. Exporting, especially natural gas to the
United States, is a positive environmental step, because when that natural gas
arrives in the United States, it invariably displaces other more emissive or
less efficient fuels. Canada now provides over 14 per cent of the U.S. domestic
consumption of natural gas.
As many of you will be aware, with the realities of international trade, that is
a huge market share for any Canadian product in the United States. There have
been no trade disputes in that area. With Sable Island and other natural gas
production, that is on the verge of further growth.
We need a global regime which gives us credit for the fact that we must emit
greenhouse gases in order to produce that natural gas and export it. Right now,
those are seen to be a debit on the Canadian ledger sheet. There is no
recognition of the fact that this natural gas must be produced to be exported,
and that it is not consumed in Canada.
We also need a global regime which recognizes actions taken to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions, wherever those actions are taken. If Canada or Canadian firms
are taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions here, in China, or
anywhere else, we need a global regime that recognizes that and gives us credit
for it. That does not happen currently. When a CANDU reactor is being built in
China or when a Canadian natural gas pipeline company is building a natural gas
pipeline in South America, there is no credit given to Canada for the
greenhouse gas emissions those actions will reduce or eliminate.
As well, we believe that the developing world must be involved in any global
approach to greenhouse gas emissions, not that we need to seek from them the
same type of commitments for greenhouse gas reductions that we are seeking here
in the developed world. That is not what we are saying. The developing world
needs to be engaged, which will promote the kind of transfer of technology that
we have here in Canada and in the developed world and help assist economic
development in the developing world, while promoting actions which reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.
We underlay all three of those points with the notion, that we understand we
must do more. We must do all that we can in Canada, and therefore, with respect
to the voluntary challenge and registry we, as an association, have now
increased participation in our industry to over 96 per cent of domestic
production of oil and gas. We know that we have to walk the walk and show that
we can translate that participation into further real reductions in CO2
emissions. Right now, we have reported reductions in CO2 emissions at 8 million
tonnes between 1992 and 1996. We know we must do more and do better. We also
know that all sectors of the Canadian economy have to do more. We are
responsible for only about 12 per cent of CO2 emissions in Canada.
Those are the fundamental points of our position on climate change. We would be
pleased to answer your questions.
Senator Gigantès: You mentioned the developing world and China. If I am
not misinformed -- which I often am -- China has enormous reserves of dirty
coal. It is difficult to see how they can avoid using it, considering the size
of their population and their need to grow industrially.
Is your industry doing research on scrubbers to clean the emissions from coal
plants and reduce those emissions, as Nova Scotia has done, to export and
implant in places like China? Can China afford it?
Mr. Manning: The efforts of the Canadian oil and gas industry will be to provide
natural gas infrastructure. China also has substantial reserves of natural gas.
China is quite preoccupied with water quality. Nationally, their main goal at
the moment is to improve the quality of their water. They are also aware that
40 per cent of their rail system is taken up by coal and that it is a very
Because of the inefficiencies in their system, our industry is not engaged in
assisting their coal industry. You should appreciate that we do not speak for
coal concerns here in Canada either. However, we have been organizing and
contributing financially to their oil and gas upstream sector and importing our
technology, as well as our environmental technology, for the development of
natural gas particularly, and investing and developing pipelines to bring
natural gas in China to the cities. It is quite a mountainous region, and the
costs of transportation are very high.
In terms of clean coal technology, there are programs, primarily based in the
United States, which include the coal firing of natural gas and coal, but they
are not yet in commercial use. Scrubber technology is being continued by the
coal industry, and primarily by the electrical power producers. Sixty per cent
of the United States electrical power still comes from coal, so that is,
primarily, an investment of the Department of Energy, the electricity
producers, and the Edison Electric Institute. Those are the sources of
development on clean coal technology to date. Our industry is not engaged in
that, but we do think there is a future for coal firing where coal is burned and
natural gas is burned above it. Natural gas burning above a bed of coal has the
ability to take out many of the impurities which are emitted. That is not yet
in commercial use.
Senator Buchanan: You mentioned that in Nova Scotia, in the 1980s, we started
with what is called a fluidized bed technique. We built the largest fluidized
bed generating plant in the world. I am not sure anyone has overtaken us as
yet. It is operated in a fluidized bed, and an absorbent like gypsum or
dolomite is introduced which absorbs the SO2 before it has a chance to escape
into the atmosphere. It has worked extremely well, and it has reduced SO2 by as
much as 90 per cent in that plant. There are similar plants in the U.S. We
visited some of them in the 1980s.
In Nova Scotia now, with Sable Island coming onstream, we are looking at the
technique of using natural gas and coal in the generating plants, because the
burning of natural gas will absorb many of the gases that would otherwise be
Senator Gigantès: I know this is not in your field, but what I am about
to mention may affect you in the future. Mercedes Benz has already produced an
engine, which it will be putting in motor cars, which uses hydrogen as a fuel,
and the only emission will be H2O. The hydroelectrical potential of Labrador
comes to mind. Your industry could be furnishing the power that would help to
produce that, or you could be involved in it in some way. Have there been
developments in producing commercially exportable hydrogen as fuel?
Mr. Manning: Interestingly enough, the only commercial use of hydrogen in North
America today is in our industry, in particular from petrochemicals, oil and
gas, and oilsands. We have commercial pipelines for hydrogen. As you know, much
of the challenge with hydrogen concerns its storage and transportation.
Hydrogen can be produced from natural gas, which is presently how it is produced
for our industry. We have related industries to oil and gas which are
producing, using and shipping hydrogen. That is the contribution of the oil and
gas sector. The Alberta Department of Energy has funded a hydrogen research
program for a number of years. That is our contribution to future hydrogen
Senator Gigantès: You said that it goes through pipelines, did you not?
Mr. Manning: Yes. We have commercial pipelines in Texas and Alberta which
presently ship hydrogen.
Senator Gigantès: Would you be involved if hydroelectric power were used
in Labrador to produce hydrogen? Would you have the technology to move it from
there to export markets or to other parts of Canada?
Mr. Manning: Yes.
Mr. Peirce: Directionally, that is one of the key routes that we think the
federal government should be following in promoting the right kind of
innovation to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because there are nascent
technologies and alternative energy sources out there, it is possible to
balance different sources of energy. Our industry, which is the oil and natural
gas industry, can be a big player in helping to develop those technologies. The
government can help that process along by creating the right kinds of
incentives toward technologies that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Senator Spivak: I would like to congratulate you in general on your no losses/no
regrets policy. I do not know the details, so I would make that a qualified
congratulation. It certainly seems to be in the right direction.
Have you been influenced by the statement signed by 2,800 economists, including
eight Nobel Prize winners, which is quoted by the Royal Society and which says
that not only can these measures not result in costs but, through increased
productivity, they will probably produce great benefit? That is what this very
distinguished group has said.
Mr. Manning: With respect, that statement is very generally worded, senator.
There are some very critical qualifiers in terms of timing and capital stock
turnover. Some of the misinterpretation from that type of statement will lead
one to think that there can be tremendous transitions in how Canadians are
employed in a short span of time. Our view certainly picks up on that. However,
it is a more constructive approach. Exporting the technology that we have
available today and improving upon it at home will get us there. That is the
kind of economic growth in the near term that we can see.
Others have quoted that same study more expansively. For example, Greenpeace
would be of the view that the carbon industry can be replaced immediately by
alternative fuels. I think we must be cautious.
Senator Spivak: I agree with you that caution is necessary. One area they
emphasized in their report was productivity and reduction of inputs, something
which has been demonstrated in the oilsands.
Senator Gigantès: Could you explain that, senator?
Senator Spivak: The cost per barrel of Syncrude and Suncor has gone down
immensely through efficiencies and input reduction measures.
Mr. Manning: That is true.
Senator Spivak: We were told by the Sierra Club that one way to reduce emissions
would be to replace coal with gas for the generation of hydroelectricity. I am
not saying that would happen tomorrow. Could you comment on that statement?
My second question has to do with the transportation sector. There can be great
reductions of gas emissions in the transportation sector, a major problem, if
the technology of the car engine were changed. There was a great kerfuffle in
this committee about MMT and there will be further discussions surrounding
changes in technology. Can you comment as well on what has been termed "eco-efficiencies"?
Mr. Manning: I would make three points. First, with respect to oilsands
eco-efficiencies, I shall give you two examples related to that. Sand is taken
from the earth and put into huge drums. Heat and chemicals are applied and oil
and sand are separated. The sand is returned to the hole and the oil is
consumed. The temperature used in the process has been reduced through
improvements in technology.
Senator Gigantès: Reduced from what?
Mr. Manning: It has been reduced from 80 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees Celsius.
That is not yet in place, although the design work to implement it has been
completed. Its installation will take place over the next two to three years.
Another area of improvement involves truck and shovel technology. Mining trucks
now have a 240-tonne capacity and will soon be able to accommodate 370 tonnes.
The massive equipment which is more expensive to maintain and less efficient is
Another area of improvement involves hydro transport. Instead of conveyors
carrying the material, the material will be moved in closed pipelines where the
separation starts to occur within the transportation cycle. It will be mingled
and heat will be applied throughout. Once again, less energy will be used.
The next issue I wish to deal with is coal in Alberta.
Senator Spivak: Do you mean for the generation of electrical power?
Mr. Manning: Yes, for electrical power generating. Part of the difficulty is
that coal-generated power in Alberta is highly efficient. You have a hard,
clean coal in western Canada as opposed to the Virginia coal which Ontario
Hydro uses. It contains less than .05 per cent sulphur. The power plants are
sitting on top of coal seams. There are no transportation costs. We have to be
careful when we talk about replacing that kind of efficient production.
In terms of CO2 emissions, Weyburn is a good example. There, we are using CO2
thrown off by a power plant in North Dakota. It is the world's largest
injection program. CO2 is being injected into the ground for enhanced oil
recovery. There may be other opportunities for sequestration. Certainly, the
CO2 emissions could be reduced, but it would be done at an unnecessary cost. We
are not representing coal.
Over the next 20 years, China will be building some 110 coal plants, each one
with a 75 year to a 110 year life. One could argue where to best spend the
Transportation is a much larger issue. Our industry has gone to high efficiency
motors. In that way, we have been able to reduce our consumption of energy.
Mr. Peirce: You raise one other important point, senator, when you used the word
"efficiency." We think it is important that the global regime,
whatever it is, recognizes efficiency. When Mr. Manning refers to the great
gain being made in Syncrude, especially with the tarsands, I would point out
that that is still a newly developing industry. There is great possibility for
huge gains in efficiency, that is, emissions per unit of production.
One of the problems we see with the 1990 base year is that Canada, when you
compare it with East Germany, West Germany and Britain, was far less efficient
in 1990 than was the Canadian economy. In 1990, we were the second least
reliant on fossil fuels of those already in the OECD, second only to France in
terms of our lack of reliance on fossil fuels. Therefore, the marginal cost for
us to become more efficient is consequently higher than for many other nations.
Senator Spivak: Are you wedded to the voluntary system or do you not think that
regulation will be necessary, particularly for transportation?
Mr. Manning: The flexibility of the voluntarily system is beneficial, but it
must be substantially broadened and deepened.
Our industry does not fear the concept of regulation, but there are certainly
great gains still to be made within the flexible system of voluntary measures.
Senator St. Germain: The Canadian Coal Association has made the statement that
there is no global warning. What is the position of your association in regard
to that particular question?
The question of accounting is a major concern. Is there no other accounting
method that would give us the credit we deserve when we do export natural gas?
It seems unfair that, if a system is upgraded in the U.S. by virtue of the
utilization of our natural gas, we do not receive a credit for that.In fact, we
are actually debited. Has there been any movement or have any steps been
initiated to try to change this accounting method, or is it possible to change
this accounting method?
Mr. Manning: First, with respect to the science, our position has always been
that the science is unclear. We know that the IPCC has indicated that they have
found a link between man-made activity and global warning. They have not been
able to quantify that. The next report of the IPCC is due in the year 2000.
CAPP's position throughout is that there has not a fruitful debate and that the
science will be resolved elsewhere. That is not our area of expertise. It is
our view that there are steps we can take in the way of efficiency and whatnot,
regardless of the outcome.
Turning to your second question about international accounting, in 1988 when I
first went to the U.S. to represent Alberta, Canada had 4 per cent of the
market share and the American domestic industry was fighting vigorously to keep
Canadian exports out. We now have 14 per cent.
I am constantly asked by representatives of the U.S. domestic oil and gas
industry how reliable our supplies are, and how much we can expand. They have
had a significant downturn in the Gulf Coast. They are most anxious that
Canadian supplies be maintained.
We are in a different position now, as a necessary part of the U.S. energy mix
and as the "friendly" part of their oil imports. The vast majority of
our oil exports go to the U.S., primarily to the midwest, the Chicago area.
These are not even considered to be imports, psychologically, by the U.S.
We are now in a better position than ever before to start the discussion which
must take place at the level of government as to how credits should be given
for the upstream production which is consumed in the U.S. That discussion has
not commenced. We do not have a platform. The U.S. has only become engaged in
this issue, fully, in the last three or four months.
Senator Hays: I would like to join with others in congratulating CAPP on your
engagement in this issue. I think it augurs well for a good solution for the
portion of the industry that you represent, and I know how difficult that must
be, given the different views that would be expressed within your organization.
I have two questions. I assume you have been consulted by the government in its
process of preparing for negotiation. Could you tell us, within a range, what
you see as a success for Canada as an outcome of the Kyoto Conference?
Mr. Manning: Canada has positioned itself to play a constructive role in the
developing world. We are reluctant to engage in a numbers game. We are
reluctant to see the federal government proceed beyond the mandate it was given
by the provinces, because that was an important success. The Prime Minister has
an opportunity to deliver where the U.S. cannot, in terms of that consensus.
If Kyoto were an endpoint, I think it would be less than successful for all
parties. We must develop a system, an understanding and a process where we can
work this through, be it like a GATT arrangement or a Uruguay Round
arrangement. We need longer term solutions.
Mr. Peirce: We understand that there is a political reality in that the world
has been setting targets, and that, perhaps, there will be a need to set
Far more important in terms of a global strategy to reduce emissions, are issues
like recognizing contributions to reduce emissions, wherever they take place,
and recognizing real contributions to emissions difficulties, to which Senator
St. Germain referred.
Canada, like most other developed nations, did not reach the target set in Rio
in 1992, so I think it is foolish to set further harsher targets before we
reach the 1992 goals.
We were heartened by the Prime Minister's indication a couple of weeks ago, here
at the dinner in Ottawa, that Canada was going to take forward to the
international table these issues that we think are so important, like credit
for actions taken in the developing world or here, and credit for exports of
natural gas from Canada. Those issues have not been discussed before at the
international table. It will take great resolve to carry those issues through
Kyoto. It is crucial to the attainment of any target to give proper credit to
Canadians who were trying to do the right thing.
Senator Taylor: Am I correct in my understanding that carbon emissions from a
vehicle using natural gas would be about 25 per cent of what it would be if
gasoline were being used?
Mr. Manning: I cannot confirm that number. Our association has not been directly
engaged in the natural gas vehicle issue, but there is an advantage.
Senator Taylor: If we are trying to back out coal, why are we not trying to back
out foreign crude into Montreal and Toronto, which now supplies all our
gasoline, when we have all this natural gas from the Maritimes? Why not use the
Maritimes natural gas in Montreal and Toronto rather than Algerian crude?
Mr. Manning: Certainly, the natural gas vehicle effort has been more or less the
purview of the downstream gas industry. Again, I cannot speak knowledgeably in
terms of their issues or efforts.
There is no question that natural gas is a proven and established transportation
fuel. However, you will appreciate that the gains that have been made as a
transportation fuel have involved government incentive, particularly in fleet
In cities like New York, for instance, Brooklyn Union Gas has three natural gas
vehicle buses. The taxi fleet in New York, which is probably one of the least
maintained in the country, could easily be running on this. There are only half
a dozen petroleum stations in New York City.
You will not hear our association engaging in a public debate between the two
fuels. However there is no doubt that there are real opportunities for natural
gas as a transportation fuel.
The Chairman: Thank you very much for your presentation today.
The committee continued in camera.