Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry

Issue 14 - Evidence - March 27, 2003


OTTAWA, Thursday, March 27, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry met this day at 8:36 a.m. to examine the impact of climate change on Canada's agriculture, forests and rural communities and the potential adaptation options focusing on primary production, practices, technologies, ecosystems and other related areas.

Senator Donald H. Oliver (Chairman) in the Chair

[English]

The Chairman: I would like to call to order the 23rd meeting of this committee on the impact of climate change on Canada's agriculture, forests and rural communities, and potential adaptation options that are available to Canadians.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, today we will be continuing our study on the effects of climate change. First of all, I would like to welcome you, dear colleagues, and our observers. I would like to welcome everyone watching us on CPAC and listening to our deliberations over the Internet.

[English]

Over the last few weeks, we listened to various witnesses who explained to us the science of climate change, while focusing on adaptation issues. This morning, we have invited a distinguished scientist, Dr. Mohammed Dore, a professor in the Department of Economics at Brock University. He received his Ph.D. from Oxford University, and his area of specialty is environmental economics. He has written numerous books and articles on forest management and global environmental issues. As well, he has compiled an encyclopaedia for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, entitled The Economics of Forestry.

Following Professor Dore's presentation, members are invited to stay and view a video, produced by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, on the signs of a changing climate in Canada's northern area. I will now invite Dr. Mohammed Dore to begin his presentation.

Mr. Mohammed H.I. Dore, Professor of Economics, Brock University: I would like to focus on some key issues. In my abstract, I summarize a few ideas that I would like to leave with the Senate, particularly the relationship between natural hazards and climate change and the threat posed by the use of coal. On adaptation, I will argue that the main impact of climate change is likely to be on Canada's water resources. These impacts could compromise Canada's ability to meet the needs of Canadians.

I have been able to read some of the previous testimony that has been presented before this committee. I would like to complement this testimony rather than repeat what the committee has already heard.

I would like to try to persuade senators that perhaps the Senate is the only body that has a long-term view of the well-being of Canadians. Since the House of Commons has a four-year horizon, its members are caught up with the exigencies of everyday politics and cannot always focus on long-term issues. I think that climate change and the impacts of climate change really are long-term issues.

I also would like to restrict myself to my own research and expertise, because then I can speak with a little more authority. Finally, I hope to leave you with a short list of issues that I feel the Senate might wish to consider as policy priorities.

I will begin with two premises. I hope that I can persuade you that they make good sense. First, I know that the mandate of this committee is agriculture, forestry and rural life. I would like to persuade you that water is, in fact, a rural resource.

Senator Gustafson: Hear, hear!

Mr. Dore: I am delighted to hear Senator Gustafson agree. If we think of a catchment area within which the water is collected before it goes forward into the rivers and lakes that Canada is fortunate enough to have, the catchment area is, by definition, a rural area.

I also would like to propose a hypothesis, which I think most climate change scientists now accept, which is that the main impact of climate change on Canada is likely to be on its water resources. This will pose some challenges for Canadian governments in the years to come.

In the testimony that the committee has already heard, I do not think there has been adequate emphasis given to the relationship between climate change and natural hazards. If we look at the graph that I will show you, and which is in the brief that I submitted ahead of time, you will notice that we can divide all disasters into two main categories — geophysical disasters and hydrometeorlogical disasters.

This graph is drawn from a paper I just published, based on a database prepared by the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness, OCIPEP, and I am grateful to them for making this data available to me. On examining it, we can see that the geophysical disasters are fairly stationary; the time series does not rise much. However, if we look at the hydrometeorological disasters, which are weather-related disasters like floods, droughts, ice storms and heat waves, we find that, from about 1942, there has been a rise in the number of disasters. I am not talking about dollar damages, because that can become controversial, but simply the frequency of hydrometeorological disasters. These clearly are an area of some concern.

It is possible to do statistical tests that show where this time series has a sudden break — the technical word for that is a structural break — but I do not want to talk about the technicalities here. A visual inspection of this graph will suggest that there clearly is some discernible increase in the frequency of hydrometeorological disasters.

We can now turn to other scientists and say, please try to explain this. It is my belief that the increase in hydrometeorological disasters is intimately tied with climate change, as indeed is the global pattern of precipitation, which is not in here. There is significant evidence that the global pattern of precipitation has changed. For example, sub-Saharan Africa is receiving much less rainfall and North America is receiving more rainfall than it used to receive. There clearly are some global patterns that need explaining and that need the attention of this committee to either investigate further or to see what needs to be done in the light of this change in global patterns.

I will now move quickly to some facts that I am sure are well-known to the committee, but it is a good idea to have them in front of us. I am interested in speaking to climate change and so I will focus on some greenhouse gases. The greenhouse gases, GHGs, are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs. I will not talk about CFCs because, thanks to the activity of countries such as Canada, we successfully concluded a global accord, the Montreal Protocol, which has resulted in the decline of CFCs. There is every reason to believe the Ozone Secretariat, which said that the ozone hole would be mended by the year 2050.

That is a successful bit of international diplomacy that major countries have achieved. I am proud to say that Canada was at the forefront of the battle to ban CFCs, as you probably know. It began with the Toronto Group, as it was then called. After many diplomatic impasses and many setbacks, it was finally passed and we now have the successful Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer. We are hopeful that it will become a model for the more difficult problem of greenhouse gases.

The next slide is about methane, over which there is much concern. Methane contributes about 20 per cent of the GHG emissions. It does not have the same life span in the atmosphere so, unless methane is accumulating rapidly, it is a lesser problem, in my view, than carbon dioxide. I will not talk about the CFCs because, fortunately, they are stabilizing.

Carbon dioxide, CO2, is currently responsible for more than 60 per cent of the enhanced greenhouse effect. Current annual emissions of CO2 amount to more than 23 billion metric tons or about 1 per cent of the mass of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide appears to have varied less than 10 per cent over the last 10,000 years, before industrialization. However, over the last 200 years, it has risen more than 30 per cent. Even with one-half the emissions being absorbed by oceans and vegetation levels, CO2 levels will rise by more than 10 per cent every 20 years. One final fact: Some 77 per cent of the annual carbon emissions in the atmosphere are due to the burning of fossil fuels.

The next slide shows a fact that has not been adequately emphasized by other witnesses before this committee. I would like honourable senators to look at the world carbon accounts. You will see the reservoirs for the carbon: the atmosphere, forests, soil, oceans and fossil fuels. Although there is some concern over oil and natural gas, I would like to persuade the committee that the bigger problem is the reserves of coal. If all that coal were burnt and ended up in the atmosphere, that would truly be a disaster that would cause enormous disruptions to the hydrological cycle and to temperatures.

Who controls these coal reserves? If we look at this chart, we see that the coal is in China, the United States and in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. These countries wield a large threat to global climate change and, obviously, to global warming. They control 82 per cent of the world's coal reserves. We need to take account of this fact because the coal reserves constitute one of the biggest threats that we face.

Current political and economic influences are such that the use of coal is likely to rise and, although we have heard the announcements in Ontario to phase out coal, I do not think that will happen soon. We need to do everything we can to persuade the provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta to abandon the use of coal and to adopt the use of more environmentally friendly sources of energy.

The other great threat is the increased use of coal in developing countries. Although China and India signed the Kyoto Protocol, they do not have any quotas and any reduction emission targets, unlike developed countries. Of course, they signed the protocol because they would like to participate in the other mechanisms that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, makes possible.

I would suggest that one of the key priorities over the next few years would be an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol under the UNFCCC that focuses on coal and discourages the use and mining of coal. I will draw an analogy in this instance. The Montreal Protocol, which was signed in 1987, was followed by a number of amendments: the Copenhagen amendment, the London agreement, the Vienna agreement, the Beijing agreement and back to Montreal. Each successive amendment to the Montreal Protocol tightened the requirements and regulations on CFCs. We hope that we will see a similar process unfold under the UNFCCC such that the Kyoto Protocol will be followed by a succession of other protocols, possibly called the Ottawa amendment or the New Brunswick amendment that will focus on the major threats that we are facing. I would like to suggest that coal is an immediate danger and an immediate threat.

The Chairman: Is possible to place filters on smoke stacks where they are burning coal so that emissions would be reduced? Is that science not well developed these days?

Mr. Dore: It is possible to clean some of the emissions but the carbon dioxide will end up in the atmosphere because that is the by-product. Some scientific experiments are being done in an attempt to see if they could capture the CO2 and pump it back underground.

That technology is unproven. Unless we are talking about a stable reservoir such as the oceans, at the moment I do not know enough about the feasibility of pumping the carbon dioxide back into the holes in the earth from whence the coal is taken. However, that may happen. The immediate threat of coal is not only the other pollutants that are the by- product of using coal, but also the carbon dioxide that will end up in the atmosphere.

The next topic is water and climate change. In my work, I have relied on what I call the Canadian global circulation models. The Institute of Climate Change at the University of Victoria produces the global circulation models. My colleagues are scattered all over Canada, from Quebec to Victoria. These models divide the nation into grid boxes. The studies take into account the implications of greenhouse gas, which simply means the additional impact of greenhouse gases, and in altering the interaction between the atmosphere and the oceans. These models then project things like precipitation, temperature, humidity and so on. I am only concerned with the precipitation projections.

Unfortunately, the general circulation models only take some features into account: latitude and longitude, and the ocean atmosphere, for example. However, the resolution is coarse. At the moment, they do not take account of local features such as the Great Lakes or the Rocky Mountains. These local features are not yet included in these models that project them.

The jargon is that we must incorporate these local features by downscaling them. I will not go into the technicalities, but we have done that. We have incorporated the features that are relevant for us.

The work that I will use to illustrate will naturally be in the grid box that I am familiar with, which is the Niagara region. Niagara and Toronto fall into the same box, but my focus has been Niagara and I will use that as a case study.

The major conclusion that I come to in the case of Niagara is that, because of increasing precipitation, the main impact will be on wastewater treatment.

I will show some graphs and results of these projections. The table before you illustrates the mean, the minimum, the maximum and also the standard deviation. The statistical niceties we can leave aside. It is best to go on to some graphs that show what these projections indicate.

The table before you shows an increase in the mean of the precipitation as well as an increase in its variance. It also shows that maximum precipitation that reflects extreme events is also expected to increase dramatically from the baseline period. By 2040, the mean could rise by 6 per cent and the standard deviation could rise by as much as 28 per cent.

I will look at the existing wastewater treatment capacities and what the increase in precipitation will do to the existing capacities. In the diagram, senators will see the top blue line, including figures under 120, represents the present critical capacity. The yellow line represents the mean. The other two lines represent the 95 per cent confidence intervals. We can be 95-per-cent confident that the mean will lie between those bands. As I go forward in time, these bands shift upwards and overtake the existing capacity. This is just a base period, 1961 to 1990.

The next graph represents the period of 2010 to 2039. You will see the critical capacity. The upper 95-per-cent confidence interval lies above this critical capacity. The mean is still below, but only exceeds in September, October and November.

If we go forward, we see the same thing happening. In the 2070 to 2099 period, the picture is such that the critical capacities are exceeded both in the spring term, if you just look at the mean, and also in the winter.

The next slide displays a map of the Niagara Peninsula and shows where the wastewater treatment plants are located.

The main impacts will be an increase in precipitation. That will tax the existing wastewater treatment capacity. The precipitation projections show a noticeable impact on all the systems, particularly the combined sewer systems in the area. The systems include older areas with combined sewers and separate sewers that were developed in the newer areas.

The combined sewers are designed both for sanitary and sewage flow and for storm water. The combined systems are impacted directly by high precipitation due to storm water runoff.

I have just a few other slides on these impacts. Combined sewers, wet weather flow and peak conditions will exceed the existing transport capacity and could result in basement backups and other problems.

Another critical issue is the water pollution that has resulted from bypassing wastewater flows that go directly into the lakes. Niagara is not the only community that will face this situation. All communities around the Great Lakes will face these problems. They will end up dumping untreated wastewater into our lakes and polluting the precious resource that constitutes the Great Lakes. I use Niagara as a case study to illustrate the problems.

The high wastewater flows during high precipitation times and spring runoff will lead to the combined sewers being bypassed and wastewater ending up in the lakes.

We expect that, as a result of the increased precipitation due to climate change, the design capacities must increase from 32 per cent to 47 per cent. Storage control costs will also increase from present needs to around $80 million. If we take the total of the storage and treatment, it could be as much as $110 million for one community only, which is Niagara.

The variability in precipitation will also have a pronounced impact on water supply. Niagara's water demands are a mix of domestic, tourist, industrial, commercial, institutional and agricultural demands.

Vineyards, fruit and greenhouse operations in Niagara will all demand more water, because the pattern over the last few years in Niagara is a dry summer, a wet autumn and an even wetter winter. This is what we would expect, with the snow being converted over time into more precipitation. Precipitation simply means there is no way of collecting and streamlining it so that it is treated slowly. Because it comes in a rush, it must be either treated or dumped into the lakes. Prolonged hot and dry summers will result in increased peak water demands. To adapt to climate change, Niagara will need the financial resources to increase its capacity to process wastewater, which will be mostly storm water, due to the increased precipitation that will affect much of Eastern Canada.

It is the lowest level of government that now faces the most severe challenges, thanks to the process of downloading.

Here is a graph that looks at the budgets of the federal, municipal and provincial levels of government. This was taken from a recent issue of The Globe and Mail, which looks at the surpluses as a ratio of GDP. If you look at the municipalities, they are not in as good a position as the federal or provincial governments. The provincial governments also seem to be heading towards deficits.

The Chairman: May I interrupt for a minute? We have gone over 30 minutes so far in your presentation. I have a long list of senators who want to ask questions and I would like to have at least 45 minutes for that.

Mr. Dore: I will wrap up right away.

We can see that the adaptation needs are such that the lowest level of government, namely the municipalities, will have to do most to have adaptation, yet they do not have the capacity to do that.

If the committee is persuaded by the recommendations of the IPCC that it is wise to follow a ``no regrets'' policy, then the Government of Canada should think about what needs to be done to increase the resilience of Canadian infrastructure.

I will stop there, because I think I have already taken up enough of your time.

The Chairman: At the beginning, you said that you were not going to repeat what other witnesses have told us, but lead us into some new areas where we did not have a lot of information. Your talk about these natural disasters that can cause flooding and challenge our sanitary and storm systems in Canada is new to us and something we will have to address. Thank you for bringing that to our attention.

The last two witnesses we had here were professors from Yale and MIT. They told us that climate change would be different in Canada than in other countries. They said it would depend on what happens to the precipitation regime. They also mentioned that the models being used to estimate what will happen in the future are weakest when it comes to predicting precipitation, which you have been talking about. What does this imply for your conclusions on water and climate change?

They also cautioned us as to when public funds should be spent on adaptation efforts. In view of what you have told us about storms, sanitation, flooding and so forth, as an economist, when would you say the federal government should begin to invest in things like wastewater infrastructure?

Mr. Dore: I was not aware of the last two presentations, so I apologize if I repeated anything they said. Who was the gentleman from Yale?

The Chairman: Dr. Mendelsohn came from Yale and Dr. Reilly from MIT. They said agriculture and forestry in Canada would benefit from climate change, relative to other countries.

Mr. Dore: The benefits will be localized and there will be costs as well. I do not know whether Dr. Mendelsohn, whom I know, also mentioned the fact that the important problem is variability. There are a number of economists who tend to think that climate change is not a huge problem. Dr. Mendelsohn's colleague, Dr. Nordhaus, is one of them. He said in his one of his papers, and I suppose it is possible that the U.S. policy is partly influenced by it, that they should simply reduce their greenhouse gases by 11 per cent by the year 2075. That is gross simplification of the problems we face. I have disagreed with Dr. Nordhaus in the journals; however, I will not go into that here. I will try to address the question that you posed, which I think is an important one.

It is true that with global circulation models, they are first of all coarse; they do not take local features into account.

It is also true that global circulation models are better at predicting temperature than they are at predicting precipitation.

However, we still have to take into account the interaction of the oceans and the atmosphere to see what sorts of precipitation projections are possible. If we consider things like the mean and the variance, these are called statistical moments, it is likely we can have some degree of confidence in them, especially if we successfully downscale it, so that we take local features into account. It is also true that precipitation is not replicable. No single year's precipitation can be replicated. These are unique time series.

In the technical jargon, we can say those series are chaotic, which means they are not replicable. Yet, it would be a mistake to say that global circulation models have nothing to say on precipitation.

They are probably a little coarse. We know that our colleagues are developing regional climate models that will increase our degree of confidence. Some people at Yale have not accepted the ``no regrets'' policy. They are wedded to high discount rates and particular methodologies in economics, which seem to suggest that global climate change is not a problem, especially for a developed country like the United States. It will have the technology to sell to other people and therefore, from a strictly narrow and nationalistic point of view, the United States economy will benefit.

It is also possible that the Canadian economy will benefit, because our growing seasons will be longer. It is also possible that our heating bills will go down, because we are a cold country and we face extreme temperatures.

The Chairman: Anything will help after this last year we have gone through.

Mr. Dore: This last year shows the increase in variability that we may expect. What will happen for Canada? It is true that there will be some benefits to agriculture as total precipitation increases and the growing season increases. However, I think we will have to worry about the hydrometeorological disasters. I think the extreme events will be something that could wipe out a crop in no time at all, and the benefits of any increased global warming could be wiped out by a couple of disasters.

I am not as sanguine as Dr. Mendelsohn about the supposed benefits of global climate change. I prefer a ``no regrets'' policy. I prefer that Canada prepare and adapt itself to possible changes.

Senator Hubley: Dr. Dore, your interesting presentation opens up new fields for us to discover.

The slide on page 3 of our package represents the national disasters in Canada from 1900 to 2000. Can you give us some indication of what type of disasters we are looking for so that we may have a model in mind when we look at this graph? In the last 50 years we have had extremes. Can you give us some explanation about the zero-to-18 measurements that you refer to here? What would be a level-18 event?

Mr. Dore: The zero-to-18 measurement indicates the frequency of disasters. I should have made that clear.

Senator Hubley: In 2000, we would have had five disasters; is that correct?

Mr. Dore: Yes, that is correct. These are the numbers of disasters.

Senator Hubley: You have given us a new insight into what will happen to our urban settings with regard to extreme weather events. Can you comment on the rural areas? How do you think an interruption in the natural cycle will impact on our rural and farming communities? Do you have confidence that the natural systems will be able to handle these disasters?

Mr. Dore: I have not actually worked on the agricultural impacts. I do have colleagues who work on agriculture, but I will attempt to answer this question as far as rural communities are concerned.

If we look at wastewater treatment capacities and the numbers of plants, I heard a figure at a conference two days ago, when I was in New Brunswick, that 80 per cent of small plants are in the rural areas. This 80 per cent will have to suffer the impacts of climate change. It is also possible that these rural municipalities do not have the tax base to handle the problems of the magnitude that will occur. These events will occur over time. The capacity of these rural areas will be seriously taxed.

On the agriculture front, if we look at what happened at Walkerton, May 12, 2000 saw a major storm that carried the fecal material into the wells. It is also true that we had incompetent managers and that the Ontario government has emasculated the Ministry of the Environment. There were other political problems. However, our agricultural practices were also unsustainable and incompatible with the changing climate.

Agriculture must adapt to a more sustainable way of practising agriculture. To some extent, our farmers are way ahead of other sectors, because they know they are affected directly by climate. If adaptations are to be made, they are often the first to do them.

The farming community, with help from institutions, government at different levels, research and outreach facilities from universities, will probably be the first to make those adaptations. However, the wastewater treatment in the communities will be the responsibilities of those local governments. As I have indicated, their capacity is not there.

Senator Gustafson: You have emphasized the use of coal and the problems involved. In Saskatchewan we have lignite coal, strip-mined. They are installing new screening devices. We are told there are no emissions from them.

Mr. Dore: Are you suggesting there is no evidence of carbon dioxide?

Senator Gustafson: I am not sure about that, but the word in the papers and so on is that this is the latest in scientific development. They are spending millions of dollars on these devices.

If coal is not used, and you emphasized the deposits of coal in China, the U.S. and Russia, what alternate energy is there? Is uranium in your sights? How do you view uranium?

Mr. Dore: This is a touchy political subject. There are a number of people who are afraid of nuclear energy.

I believe that nuclear energy poses less threat than coal. We may have a disposal problem, but given 50 years, it is possible that we can come up with safe disposal methods. I think that given the urgency with which we need energy, if it was a choice between coal and nuclear energy, I would choose nuclear energy.

Senator Gustafson: This question some may rule out of order, but I will ask it anyway. Is there a certain element of fear in the scientific community that is being transformed to our general public that must have a governor on it?

Mr. Dore: Are you referring to the fear of nuclear energy?

Senator Gustafson: No, that is history, as far as nuclear energy is concerned. It seems there is an element of fear in the community, as a whole, due to global warming.

Dr. Mendelsohn and Dr. Riley, who were here on Tuesday, indicated a positive approach to the problem. Has the scientific community taken a look at that?

Mr. Dore: That is a question of perception. I am probably not qualified to answer a question about what the public perceives to be a threat and what the public sees as something to be afraid of.

I may have an opinion, but I do not think I have expert testimony that I can offer on what are the causes of fear and whether the public is afraid.

If you are asking me whether the public is afraid of the implications or conventions of climate change, I believe that Canadians are probably more aware than many other jurisdictions.

I do not know whether that is an adequate answer.

Senator Gustafson: Some would argue that the scientific community is driving the process for their own economic benefit. If you talk to the average citizen at the coffee shop, you will get both sides of the story. That sentiment is out there, there is no question about that.

Mr. Dore: The position taken by the petroleum association is scientifically untenable. Corporations such as Suncor and Shell accept the reality of climate change and that the scientists are not just fear-mongering. There are progressive elements and sensible elements within the petroleum sector that accept this. I realize that for Alberta and Saskatchewan, the oil and gas industry is important. It is important for Canada but we need to help the entire Canadian economy to move forward to the use of an energy that is not based entirely on fossil fuels. We need a long transition and the oil and gas industry is likely to play a role in this. We could use the oil not for transportation but for making plastics instead. We could use electricity produced by renewable resources to drive our transportation system such as our trains.

We need a transition to a hydrogen economy over the next 100 years. Sensible oil and gas corporations are currently investing in those industries to become diversified.

Senator Gustafson: Have you investigated ethanol as a consideration?

Mr. Dore: Ethanol is a good bio-fuel, which Canada should encourage because we are able to produce it in the West. Ethanol requires a thorough investigation and possibly some form of transitional subsidy from the federal and provincial governments to encourage its use to allow us to move away from fossil fuels.

Senator LaPierre: First, I must apologize for being late. It seems that I am in a bit of trouble, which has taken some time to resolve. After 50 years of public life I am accustomed to many kinds of trouble.

I want to pursue the matter raised by Senator Gustafson. When we were in Alberta, a scientist told us that there is an anti-scientific prejudice in many communities. Many think that they are being frightened and that not enough attention is being paid to the normal weather cycles and the resulting effects. Scientists expressed concern that their credibility was being seriously affected and that could well endanger how Canadians react to climate change. What are your thoughts on that?

Mr. Dore: Again, this concerns how the scientific community is perceived in terms of whether it has an agenda of its own. I do not think that the scientific community has an agenda of its own. However, the vast majority of scientists who have examined climate change and all the work that has been done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, and every stage, have taken stronger and stronger positions that there is a discernible human influence on climate. In the scientific community there is little disagreement about the effects of increased GHG emissions.

There is some concern because there are natural cycles. It is argued, for example, that the sun has a number of cycles: an eight-year cycle, a 40-year cycle and a 400-year cycle. The general topic is called ``solar variability.''

When these various cycles, long and short, happen to coincide, it could cause an enormous amount of solar interference, which could possibly explain the variance we are experiencing in the climate.

I believe that the scientists at the IPCC are careful and have taken the evidence of solar variability into account. There are few sceptics, such as the Houston-based oil industry, who are expressing continued scepticism about climate change.

A careful reading of the third assessment report by the IPCC would convince most people that various concerns such as the scientific issue of the solar outputs, which could affect climate, have been taken into account. When you apply a control for that factor, there is still clear, discernible evidence of human interference in climate.

Senator Day: I have two areas of questioning. I am pleased to hear that you were in New Brunswick, which is my home area. That prompts me to ask if you discussed Coleson Cove and the decision of the Government of New Brunswick to convert from the burning of oil to the burning of ore emulsion — a kind of coal that is mixed and powdered and then blown in. Did you discuss that conversion, from a global warming environmental point of view? Is that a positive move on the part of New Brunswick?

Mr. Dore: No, I did not discuss that when I was in New Brunswick because I am a member of the Canadian Water Network, which is an NCE, Network of Centres of Excellence. I am the theme leader for infrastructure, which we talked about. The focus of the meeting was water and not climate change. Although my own research within the Canadian Water Network deals with water and climate change, we did not discuss such a conversion. This is a new feature that I have learned about from you and I would like to look into it.

Senator Day: If you had the choice between natural gas, coal or ore emulsion, and you put aside the cost of the fuel because most people look at the short-term costs rather than the long-term environmental costs, and in consideration of the status of global warming and CO2 release, which is the most desirable? Have you done any analysis in terms of the heating effect of each one of these fuels versus per British thermal unit, BTU, or kilowatt hour, kWh?

Mr. Dore: No, I have not done this. If you would like me to obtain that information, I will do so.

Senator Day: Do you think that someone has done that analysis?

Mr. Dore: I will try to find out.

Senator Day: I would appreciate the information if that analysis has been done.

The other area of questioning, I cannot resist.

Your background is in environmental economics and forest management issues. We are aware of the importance of the forest industry to Canada and it being the largest contributor to GDP and exports, at around $47 billion in 2001. That is a huge contribution to our balance of funds. Are we at the stage where the research is such that we can advise the forest industry on how it should adapt? What effect will these efforts have on productivity in this particular sector?

Mr. Dore: My research on forestry was on the role that forests play in absorbing carbon. Forests are, to use the technical jargon, sinks. They capture carbon dioxide. Once we have a forest that has reached a certain level of growth and maturity, it becomes stable. It is no longer absorbing. However, if we cut that forest, the wood that has been cut will eventually disintegrate and end up in emissions going back into atmosphere. Nevertheless, forests still are a major player in this. In the most recent negotiations, Canada succeeded in getting some sort of credit for its forests.

The management of forests will have to be adapted. We use a lot of energy in cutting down forests and we use fossil fuels in this process. It is not clear to me that a detailed plan of adaptation of forestry has been worked out, as to what would be a sustainable way of harvesting our forests.

Forests continue to be important. However, I think that the industrial sector is probably more important now, in terms of total exports, to Canada as a whole. No doubt it remains important for the West and for New Brunswick. Forestry practices that are compatible with sustainable development need to be investigated. Guidelines should be issued for forest companies to reduce the amount of interference in the hydrological cycle, because forests also play an important role in the rainfall patterns.

A much more detailed study must be done on sustainable forestry that is compatible with reducing the impacts on climate. Details of sustainable forestry and what constitutes sustainable forestry would take us far too long to go into.

Senator Day: Can I ask for clarification? You are talking about sustainable forestry from the point of view of production of fibre, as opposed to sustainable forestry from the point of view of the balance of greenhouse gases, sinks versus cutting down and releasing. Is that correct?

Mr. Dore: That is correct. Sustainable forestry would also have to take that into account. If the practices are such that they are using energy sources that are not aggravating the global climate change problem, then perhaps the two can in fact be made compatible.

Senator Day: Are you aware of any certification programs for sustainable forestry, nationally or internationally, that take into consideration the release of greenhouse gases and the sink effect of forestry?

Mr. Dore: I do not believe that has happened yet. There are ISOs for management of forests, but I do not believe they take other external effects on global climate into account.

Senator Ringuette: You have the other New Brunswicker on this committee.

I certainly appreciate the particularities of your Niagara study, and the fact of the increase in precipitation and its intensity, how we increase the retention infrastructure, complemented by the fact that the agriculture community has been looking at this issue and acting on water retention, because it is the day-to-day livelihood of the farming community. You are talking about municipalities. I look at the geography and you have small, medium and large municipalities. Outside those boxes, the farming community is already aware of, and for the most part acting on, the intention. However, you also have all those non-incorporated, unused and unplanned parcels of land. It is a domino effect, which impacts on retention, therefore, no retention management efforts are being made.

Did your study extend to that area? If so, what is your finding? Do you have recommendations for this committee, with regard to how to incorporate these areas into our recommendations?

Mr. Dore: Senator Ringuette, you have raised an interesting and important problem, which is the loss of these retention areas. They can vary from little dugouts to large ponds. In the rush to make land productive, we have rushed on and cleared these wetlands. The loss of wetlands is a significant problem that has added to the flooding problem. This is also true in Europe, where land is scarce. They have paved, built or turned into a farm every little bit of natural wetland that would normally be holding the water.

In my own study, I have not looked at these retention areas because we need to do manageable, small chunks of research. However, it is also important that someone look at it. There are other people who are looking at it, but not me.

The Chairman: Ducks Unlimited has been looking at it.

Mr. Dore: Yes. In Florida, they are reversing what was a hundred years of policies of draining wetlands. They are now saying this is clearly the wrong thing to do and we must return to what used to be natural wetlands.

I think this is an important issue. In municipalities where there are these natural wetlands, the pressure on land continues to grow, and a lot of this pressure comes from developers who want to put up housing. They need permits, and I think that zoning or land use planning is an important tool.

Land use planning should take into account the impacts of climate change. That is the most important thing that emerges from your question.

Senator Ringuette: I was indeed talking about wetlands and zoning. In addition to that, we have vast parcels of land with owners who have no desire to do planning on it. How can we reach that group of landowners to do some sensitization about the issue? Probably there are more than the municipalities and the agricultural community within a geographic area that need to be encompassed into the discussion and planning. That was the thrust of my question.

Mr. Dore: To be brief, the other thing you have identified is the need for extension and outreach, so that the community is informed about climate change and the role that they can play. These are all what we call mitigation efforts as opposed to adaptation. Mitigation is retaining these wetlands to reduce the problem of flooding.

There are two things we need to worry about. One is mitigation; the other is adaptation. To some extent, my own work has emphasized adaptation, because I am less sanguine about the chances of getting the United States to sign on to things like the Kyoto Protocol. Even George Bush, Sr., refused to sign the framework convention; it was Bill Clinton who signed it. Of course, George Bush, Jr., has now repudiated the Kyoto Protocol; so the United States is outside, and it accounts for a huge proportion of the emissions.

On the global diplomacy front, mitigation efforts will be somewhat variable. I am not saying we should not continue those efforts. In fact, I keep saying that we should. However, in Canada, we need to emphasize adaptation as far as possible, because, to a large extent, the Canadian economy is small relative to the rest of the world. We can do our share, but let us worry about making Canadians safer.

Senator LeBreton: I am interested in this whole issue of managing sewage. I probably have a personal interest in this because I happen to live in the largest town in Ontario that does not have sewage treatment — Manotick on the historic Rideau River, south of Ottawa. Looking at the whole issue of climate change and excessive rainfall and runoff, this morning on the radio there is a ``boil water'' warning for Pembroke, a small city 100 miles from Ottawa. In some areas of the country, we seem to be having excessive rainfall, which has all sorts of implications for individual wells and sewage, drinking water supplies plus the management of sewage. Then there are other parts of the country where the water table has dropped significantly, and they are in periods of prolonged drought.

What happens to the infrastructure of those major cities where there is not sufficient water to properly maintain a sewage system? What are the economic impacts for municipalities and provinces that have to deal with that, or are we facing that in any part of the country right now?

Mr. Dore: Again, you have identified an important problem. The variability of the precipitation is such that there are areas where there will be less precipitation. Highly concentrated sewage pushes the costs up as well. There was a pat phrase that engineers used to use, which is, dilution is a solution to pollution. If the dilution is not there, the pollution is severe. This tends to raise the costs of treatment.

Problems occur both in areas where there is excessive precipitation, and in areas where there is a drop in precipitation. Both will have to adapt. Communities that do not have enough precipitation may have to expand their reservoirs, because they will need water for their citizens.

In many cities in the Niagara Peninsula, we have had days when there have been, not absolute rationing, but recommendations not to water your gardens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There are informal attempts to try to ration, because there is inadequate capacity as a result of the changing patterns of climate.

The summers will be dry and the winters will be wet. The shift in the patterns will mean that we will have to invest in infrastructure.

Senator LeBreton: Using the example of the Niagara Peninsula, is it impossible to do a one-decade or two-decade grid, where municipalities and provinces could, perhaps, using the scientific information we have now, think and plan into the future from a public policy point of view? Is any of that being done now?

Mr. Dore: I am working with the director of water and waste water engineering in Niagara. We did a joint paper. I told him that, as a member of the Networks of Centres of Excellence, NCE, I am required to cooperate and seek their participation, and they were happy to do that.

I think that there is some growing awareness. How extensive it is, I do not know. However, you are right; municipalities need to do some forward planning and incorporate it in their business plans, so to speak. I do not think they have the fiscal capacity at the moment to do much about it. There are various programs, like Infrastructure Canada, which will help. There is SuperBuild in Ontario, which will provide funding; but it certainly is this long-term lead.

If the Government of Canada, as a result of the deliberations of the Senate, were to give an incentive to municipalities and provincial governments to produce a 10-year or a 20-year plan, in which they show some evidence of adaptation that would qualify them for funding or whatever, that would help. These are mechanisms that are probably best left to you to decide. However, I think you need to give them some incentive to say, start this planning and we will help you. If you do not do the planning, we will not.

Senator Gustafson: I have a short supplementary. In terms of the solution to various areas, what is your position on dams? I come from the area where the Rafferty-Almeda dam became a national debate; but that dam has turned out to be tremendously positive for our area. Where some said you would never get any water, there is 51 feet of water at the beginning of that dam; yet it seems the scientific community is divided on whether dams are positive or negative. What is your take on that? You talk about source for the various areas. You talk about treatments and so on. In terms of solutions, our experience has been positive on the dam.

Mr. Dore: For the Prairie Provinces, dams are important because such a lot of the area is dry. It is a natural adaptation. However, for any individual dam, there are almost always associated ecological damages that can occur. I do not have enough expertise in ecology to tell you whether any particular construction of dam will have positive social benefits or not. There are dams that can be managed well, can be useful, can protect the ecology, and at the same time benefit residents, but it is also possible to plan dams that are badly thought out and badly placed.

Senator Gustafson: The committee found when it was in Lethbridge that there are two views. One view is that it is a great thing; the other view is that it is not.

Mr. Dore: Each individual case would have to be examined on its merits. I think the smaller the dam, the less probable it is that it will cause ecological damage. The Chinese Three Gorges Dam will have enormous implications. I do not know whether those kinds of dams have been adequately studied.

Senator Mahovlich: You mentioned that nuclear and atomic energy might be the replacement for fossil fuel. The problem might be waste. Are there any universities here in Canada that have done studies on nuclear waste? I know we have quite a few uranium mines. I was wondering what effect it would have on our lakes and rivers.

Mr. Dore: I do not know the answer to your question. I must plead complete ignorance on this subject. I do not know whether adequate research has been done. If the committee would like an answer to that, I am sure you could get an answer.

Senator Mahovlich: We have to start studying it if we are to look forward to using it. It might be something for the universities to get involved in.

Mr. Dore: Are you thinking that perhaps establishing a nuclear plant could lead to some radioactive leakage and, hence, polluting the waters?

Senator Mahovlich: Sure. There would be leakage just as there was leakage in Walkerton. It would get into our water systems.

Mr. Dore: I do not have the answer to your question.

The Chairman: Dr. Dore, on behalf of the committee, I want to thank you very much for your enlightening presentation today.

This concludes the formal part of our meeting. We will take three minutes and then start the video that deals with the effects of climate change on Canada's North.

The committee adjourned.