Skip to Content
 

Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Issue 2 - Evidence - April 15, 2010


OTTAWA, Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources met this day at 8 a.m. to study the current state and future of Canada's energy sector (including alternative energy).

Senator W. David Angus (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Good morning, honourable senators and Mr. Minister. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen in the room and guests sharing this time with us on the World Wide Web and on the CPAC network. This is an official meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

My name is Senator David Angus. I am from Quebec, and I chair this committee. With us today is Senator Grant Mitchell, our deputy chair, from Alberta; our two Library of Parliament support staff, Mark LeBlanc and Sam Banks; Senator Dan Lang from the Yukon; Senator Judith Seidman from Quebec; Senator Linda Frum from Ontario; Lynn Gordon, our efficient committee clerk; Senator Paul Massicotte from Quebec via Manitoba, a great Franco-Canadian; Senator Tommy Banks from Alberta; Senator Richard Neufeld from British Columbia; a guest senator today representing one of our colleagues, Senator Dennis Patterson from Nunavut; and Senator Bert Brown from Alberta.

Mr. Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment for Canada, is appearing today. We are delighted to have you back to the committee, minister. Much has been happening since we last saw you at the committee. We have an enthusiastic group of parliamentarians looking at what we are told by the private sector and the energy sector in particular is an investigation into the ways and means of establishing a national strategy for clean energy and a framework for government policy. The vibes we have been getting over the last year tell us the government's running rules and that we will spend the money needed on technology to deal with the issues.

We recognize, minister, that your department is more focused on environment and climate change and that Natural Resources Canada, NRCan, is more directly involved with the resource sector. We have found the two fields not to be oxymoronic, but synergistic and complementary. We have been focusing our study in both areas. We have been interested in following your developments since the Copenhagen conference in December. I was privileged to be one of the 35,000 people who descended on Copenhagen.

We have reviewed the speech you gave on or about January 30 in Calgary. You outlined the government's policy to work toward having Canada become a clean energy superpower, to focus on clean energy and the dialogue you are having with our friends to the south in furthering your initiative to harmonize Canadian policy on environmental issues with our neighbour.

We have noted other public statements. This morning, the government made a statement about the potential acquisition of a small percentage of Syncrude by China and potential exports of the added-value element. We are all interested in that.

We have found, minister — and I believe you also found this — that quite a few organizations in Canada have received the same message we did. They are engaged in studies analogous in trying to develop an energy policy framework. On Tuesday evening, we had Bruce Carson here from the Canada School of Energy and Environment at the University of Calgary. We know you have met with him; he told us that. He gave us a wonderful bird's eye view from the academic perspective of studies happening. They have all agreed to work with us as the group that is probably the closest to the ultimate policy-makers here in the cabinet, of which you are a prominent member.

I would like to introduce another senator who has just arrived as a guest this morning, Senator Art Eggleton from Toronto.

Minister, I understand you are able to be with us until ten o'clock. We would love it if you could stay longer, of course, but we recognize the pressures on you. We understand you have arranged for your officials to be with us to talk about the Clean Energy Dialogue with the Americans and the sustainable development consultation paper, which you have asked us, amongst others, to review and comment on. After you speak, we are ready to question you and to have a dialogue. Hopefully, we can work together as we further our study.

Hon. Jim Prentice, P.C., M.P., Minister of the Environment: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning honourable senators, ladies and gentlemen. I see the Senate commences early.

The Chair: We have a big subject matter to discuss.

Mr. Prentice: I am not inherently a morning person, so I am sure you will work with me on this. I understood that I was to be here until nine o'clock, but I have some flexibility in my time. In terms of the sustainable development strategy, I have our officials here to deal with that issue. I can answer questions, but they can get into the detail with the committee and allow us to focus on other things.

The Chair: On that particular aspect, minister, we received the sustainable development strategy, and we acknowledge its receipt. We understand it has been widely circulated, including at a press conference. We are happy to provide whatever input you think would be valuable. On the other hand, we would like to know exactly where it fits into the government agenda. Hopefully, we will then be able to add some value.

Mr. Prentice: Thank you. I will begin with opening statements, and then we will have ample time for discussion about climate change and other issues relevant to the committee.

Thank you for the invitation to speak about the climate change summit in Copenhagen last December. I will share my thoughts on how the accord will allow us to go forward from here. There is no question that Canada's participation in that meeting and the reaching of an accord at Copenhagen was an important part of our overall environment and energy strategy.

This past weekend, our climate change negotiators participated in the first post-Copenhagen meeting in Bonn where decisions have been taken on the next steps to lead up to the next United Nations summit in Cancun in November. We framed those in Bonn.

[Translation]

Next week, I will be attending the Major Economies Forum in Washington, a group comprising 17 countries that get together so as to develop a common strategy in preparation for the Copenhagen meetings so as to obtain better results.

[English]

This is the Major Economies Forum struck by President Obama. I participate as Canada's representative in the Clean Energy Dialogue and as our negotiator at the Major Economies Forum. We will begin that process this week in Washington.

I would be remiss if I did not take the time to clarify that the United Nations-driven process, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, is only one part of the overall equation. Climate change, as everyone at the table knows, is an issue that cannot be easily contained. Neither is it a file that moves as quickly as we would all like, because of the breadth of the stakeholders and the complexity of the issues involved. As a result, we have been busy making inroads on a number of other closely related files, taking immediate action and leadership where and when we can make immediate progress.

Most recently, we announced stringent new tailpipe emission standards for vehicles — at one time they would have been described as fuel economy standards — which will start in 2011. We have done this on a continental basis in tandem with the Obama administration.

This is part of a bigger regulatory approach to deal with transportation emissions, which are the source of 27 per cent of Canada's emissions. We can speak more specifically to that. It is also one example of our strategy of aligning key environmental and energy related policies with the United States, an approach that is dictated by the integration of our respective economies.

[Translation]

Afterward, we will intervene in the same way with regard to greenhouse gas emissions coming from heavy trucks, and then we will focus on the standards that apply to marine transportation and aviation.

[English]

We have put in place working groups with the United States that will deal with heavy truck emissions, ships, trains and planes. All of that work is under way at this point in time on a continental basis.

Just to make it clear that we are pursuing other environmental objectives at the same time, in February we also introduced the first national standards for municipal waste water disposal. It is unacceptable that Canadian communities are still pouring millions of litres of raw sewage into our waterways. Therefore, for the first time, Canada will have national standards that will apply to 4,000 such facilities across the country. We have provided the standards and the funding to address that.

Our commitment to improve the quality of the Great Lakes continues as well. The federal government currently spends in excess of $50 million per year to protect the Great Lakes and to remediate the most severely contaminated sites. We have also embarked on an initiative with the United States to renegotiate the terms of the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to help guide our cooperation in the future. Essentially, we are modernizing that agreement, which at this point is in need of generational change.

The conservation file has also been a busy one; you may wish to pursue that. In the course of the time that our government has been in office, we have expanded the size of Canada's national parks system by close to 30 per cent in only four years, which is an incredible achievement. We have significantly expanded the Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada, and earlier this year we created the largest park east of Manitoba when we created the Mealy Mountains National Park in Labrador, in concert with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

[Translation]

We have broadened the scope of our legislation on the enforcement of environmental laws. Moreover, we led the charge in the file for the protection of polar bears and we signed a memorandum of understanding with Greenland for that purpose.

Finally, we also worked closely together with Nature Conservancy of Canada to ensure the protection of environmentally-sensitive areas.

[English]

Interestingly, when I was in Greenland signing that protocol, it was the very first agreement signed by the new Greenland Home Rule Government.

These are some of the ways we are dealing with climate change, an issue that cuts across every sector of the economy and affects every Canadian, whether you are a rural or an urban dweller, on pretty much every level of our daily lives. It is an issue that is at once local, regional, provincial and also global. As you all know, it is simultaneously an issue of science, public policy, the environment and energy — and, of course, politics.

When we headed into the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the government firmly grasped the importance and complexity of this issue. I would submit, Mr. Chair — and you were there — we were well organized and prepared. In the run-up, we had fully participated in a year of parliamentary discussions and preliminary negotiations and discussions in particular with the provincial delegations and premiers.

The agreement that was ultimately forged during the summit in December represents a major turning point on the global effort to deal with climate change. It is a turning point for Canada and for all of the other nations that have signed it. For one thing, it includes the United States, which means that our stated objective of aligning our environmental regulations and policies with theirs has now a reinforced framework.

As you know, the United States refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which was a major limitation of that protocol, given that the United States emits about 25 per cent of the world's carbon.

[Translation]

On the other hand, the agreement enables the creation of a functional international community that shares a common objective, which is the fight against climate change, and it does so exhaustively and in compliance with certain principles.

[English]

This is a functional international agreement; it is an agreement that acknowledges that climate change is a global issue, requiring a global response. It provides for specific mitigation commitments by major emitters, and all of the major emitters are now formally associated with the Copenhagen Accord. As well, it provides for international reporting and review of the progress that all parties are making toward their commitments. This has been referred to as the issue of transparency, which was previously lacking.

It provides also for predictable, ramped-up flows of support for mitigation and adaptation efforts globally — the so-called fast action fund, which you may wish to explore.

Going forward, the Copenhagen Accord will be the foundation for all international and domestic policies of Canada and all the other signatories to the accord. It is the first time there has been a comprehensive global agreement that deals with climate change and includes commitments from every single major industrial emitter on the planet. In that sense, it is a major turning point.

To be sure, there is work to be done to convert it from an agreement in principle — a two-page document negotiated in Copenhagen — to a full, binding, international treaty. That will take some time, but we have commenced down that road.

[Translation]

The government will honour the Copenhagen accord because this accord enables it to work toward the concrete achievement of its ultimate objective, which is to become a clean energy superpower. The accord is also a practical document which recognizes that several mechanisms exist that can be used to fight against climate change.

[English]

The accord attempts to build a sustainable bridge between developed and developing countries. Canada's desire to maintain the political momentum behind the accord is the reason we will be providing our fair share to the Copenhagen fast action or green fund. The pledge is that developed countries will provide $30 billion in quick-start financing. That is over a three-year period. We have made financial allowances and provisions for our share of that contribution. When the details of our contribution have been formally pegged, along with those of our allies, we will announce that.

The government will also be taking every opportunity to achieve and to actively contribute to any and all multilateral efforts to translate the accord into a binding treaty. That is the beginning of the Major Economies Forum process this next week in Washington. We have also formally inscribed our targets to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, which we have filed with the United Nations. They entail a reduction of 17 per cent in our emissions by 2020, from a base year of 2005.

We have exactly matched the United States' targets because, given the degree of economic integration between our two countries, it makes no sense for Canadian consumers and businesses to strike out to set and pursue targets that will ultimately create barriers to trade and put us at a competitive disadvantage.

We will continue to work closely with our American colleagues. We work under the umbrella of the Clean Energy Dialogue, which was established when President Obama came to Canada in February over a year ago. In fact, the first item we discussed at those meetings on the environment was continental tailpipe emission standards, which we put in place this past week. That is how we will optimize our cooperation on such areas as emerging technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, smart electricity grids, and clean energy research and development.

As I draw to a close, Mr. Chair, I will point out that not all the work on climate change and the environment will be on the international or even the continental stage. In 2009, Canada's Economic Action Plan included billions of dollars spent on initiatives like the Clean Energy Fund and the Green Infrastructure Fund. They provide close to $2 billion for promising clean energy technologies and for green infrastructure projects.

[Translation]

At another level, the federal government has made great progress in building a consensus on climate change among the provinces and territories.

[English]

As part of the preparations for Copenhagen, I personally met with every single provincial and territorial leader to discuss Canada's policies and positions. Those premiers who were not able to accept our invitation to travel to Copenhagen did send cabinet ministers or other senior officials to observe and to participate.

Another important part of our domestic strategy was to pull together a distinguished group of advisers. Mr. Chair, you were there. We had Canadian leaders from various sectors from across the country. It gave them an opportunity to have a look at the engine room, if you will, of international climate change policy development and to better understand what Canada and the other nations at the table are facing.

For all the challenges it presented, and there were many, I regard the past year as one of steady and significant environmental accomplishments for our countries.

At the beginning of my remarks, I enumerated some of the specific steps we would take to address specific sources of emissions and to ensure that we set out clear environmental objectives and that we achieve them. It is sometimes not flashy or glamorous work. It is about the constant development, refinement and enforcement of regulations and standards. It is about building a community that recognizes and respects the value of environmental stewardship and acts upon that consensus.

Copenhagen was an important step in that regard. It was not the only step. There is much more work to be done, and I look forward to discussing that with you, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Thank you, minister. Since you began your remarks, we have welcomed another senator from Nova Scotia, Senator Fred Dickson.

Minister, I understand you have to leave at 9:00.

Mr. Prentice: I have some flexibility on that time.

The Chair: Colleagues could ask one question, and we will try to keep it down to two minutes per person. This is different from our normal process. I know the minister will try to keep his answers as brief as possible so that everyone will get a chance to ask a question.

Having had a peek into the engine room you referred to, I know it is a pretty frightening prospect. That is why we are concentrating on what is going on in Canada, which is a less frightening and more orderly place. We are interested in hearing the specific measures you are taking to deal with the files.

Senator Neufeld: Thank you, minister, for your remarks. I realize time is short, but with your indulgence, I want to ask about the environmental assessment. I know there will be witnesses afterwards, but perhaps the minister could answer at least one question on the changes that are happening with environmental assessment.

For a long time I have tried to encourage better cooperation between the federal government and the provinces to facilitate environmental assessments, which have been lengthy, to say the least. I read in Bill C-9 that there will be some changes such that some responsibility for environmental assessment will be transferred to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission — I can understand that — but also to the National Energy Board.

I also understand that the minister will make that determination, and also the scope. Could you give me some sense of this to make me feel more comfortable that we will not continue down the months and sometimes years of process to get an environmental assessment for a large project?

As I understand, oil and gas issues will fall under the National Energy Board. Maybe I am wrong there, but that is what I am reading. Is that for all projects for oil and gas, regardless of how big or small?

I know that is a lot to put in one question, but I would appreciate it if you could answer that.

Mr. Prentice: That is fine. It is an important question. I will need some latitude from the chair on short answers as well.

The environmental assessment process has not been working very well. It has been the subject of criticism on the part of virtually every respected commentator who has looked at it, including the Commissioner of Environmental Sustainability in 2009 and the report on the smart regulator in 2005. The environmental assessment process has been the subject of scathing, ongoing criticism from the provincial premiers for more than two years.

You are quite right; the process is not working. If you require proof of that, you could look at the Ruby Creek mining project in British Columbia, where the federal process did not finish until 18 months after the provincial process; you could look at the Wuskwatim hydro project in Manitoba, where the project did not finish for 21 months after the provincial process; or you could look at the Keltic liquid natural gas project in Nova Scotia, which did not finish for, as I recall, more than a year after the provincial process.

The result is a federal process that is delaying development, duplicating environmental reviews, not improving or ameliorating environmental outcomes but simply introducing delays and, in some cases, jeopardizing jobs and investment. That is nowhere more clear, I would submit, than in British Columbia.

To deal with that, we have introduced in the budget implementation bill three specific measures that warrant explanation. First, there is an exception list for routine public infrastructure projects. That list is being built into the sea of legislation as a formal schedule. It has worked successfully over the last year, where we have undertaken the construction of approximately 5,000 public infrastructure projects without one single environmental complaint — not one. We will put in place a schedule to the statute. There will be a safety provision that allows the Minister of the Environment to direct an environmental assessment in any case where he or she feels that is necessary.

Second, the difficulty with the federal process has been a diffusion of authority. No one has effectively been in charge of the process. A project would come in the front door of the federal government and it would in equal measure be the responsibility of the departments of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, Transport Canada and so on to deal with the project. Someone must be responsible for the process and to make the decisions.

The second measure we have introduced puts that authority into the hands of the Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Henceforth, there will be someone who is responsible and who has timelines to make decisions.

The third measure in the budget implementation bill involves the proper scoping of decisions. It is a response in part to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in MiningWatch Canada v. Canada (Fisheries and Oceans) regarding the Red Chris project. It simply ensures that someone in the federal government has the authority to properly scope a project, which is to say to determine what the environmental assessment relates to, and that person henceforth will be the Minister of the Environment.

These are all important changes. They streamline the process and will speed it up markedly. They are not the end of the process. Other changes are under discussion.

Finally, I will reference your comment about energy projects. There are no changes to the jurisdiction of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or to the National Energy Board. This has been misunderstood in the media. There are no changes to their jurisdictions. They will continue to be responsible for the very kinds of projects they were responsible for before. However, we are eliminating the duplicative Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency involvement in terms of a second or overlapping environmental review.

The National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission are two of the most respected regulatory bodies in the world, I would submit, and they are fully able to undertake their environmental responsibilities without the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency introducing duplication. That is accomplished not by legislative changes but, rather, simply by a direction on my part as the minister, as I recall under section 43 of the statute, which is being done.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you, Mr. Minister, for being here. It is very interesting. We appreciate your time. I have, as I am sure all of us do, a whole series of questions, but I will limit myself to one and hope we can get a second round.

With cap and trade, everyone knows we have to price carbon. You have committed to doing that through cap and trade. What is the level of your continuing commitment to that? Is it sustained? If the U.S. does not do it, would it still be your intention to do it? How do you square that now with the oil industry cap? For example, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers from our province, yours and mine, are in favour of a cap, a carbon tax.

Mr. Prentice: The Canadian public spoke quite clearly on carbon taxes in the last election, and their wisdom guides us. I think that is quite clear. The government has no intentions of introducing a carbon tax.

To respond to your question regarding the United States, it is important to go back to the overall objective here, which is to achieve high environmental standards and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but to do so in a balanced way that does not damage our competitiveness, in particular vis-à-vis the United States. We begin from a premise of the importance of harmonization with the United States to make sure that we achieve high environmental standards but do not damage our competitiveness.

I would point out that this past week the International Energy Agency released an exhaustive report country by country, analyzing the climate change and energy policies of all of the major industrial democracies. They specifically say that Canada is on the right track with that policy, that given the economic integration with the United States, we have to do this together. They applaud the steps Canada has taken to harmonize with the United States. I would commend that report to you.

Specifically to your question, we have said that if the United States is prepared to go down the road of a cap and trade system, we are as well. We have done the analysis. We are set to go. However, if the United States is not going to proceed with the cap and trade legislation in their Senate, Canada will not. We will not introduce cap and trade legislation that is divorced from our principal economic and environmental partner. However, if the United States is prepared to go down a regulatory road, then we are prepared to go down that road on a continental basis.

At this point, my assessment is that it is unlikely that the U.S. Senate will introduce or pass cap and trade legislation in this year, and possibly unlikely even next year. You can talk to other people who know more about that and are more involved than I am.

From our perspective, we are proceeding apace with regulatory harmonization. The clearest illustration of that is the transportation system responsible for 27 per cent of Canada's emissions. Two weeks ago we brought in continental tailpipe emission standards, something we have been searching for in North America for a generation. We now have them. There will be one tailpipe emission standard. When you go to an automobile showroom in July, the cars you will see will have harmonized standards. The next step after passenger vehicles and light duty trucks will be heavy trucks, which will follow on a continental basis later this spring. As I said earlier, we have working groups in place on ships, trains and planes, again to introduce a continental approach.

Over the course of the next year, you will see, for what is essentially a third of all of Canada's emissions, a complete set of continental standards that we are developing in unison with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. That is the approach you will see over the course of the next few years on all sources of emissions.

Senator Mitchell: You are saying that you are seriously considering cap and trade. Obviously, you are going down that road, and this report you referred to by the International Energy Agency encourages that.

Are you actually talking to industry? Have you talked to industry about what caps might be placed and on what sectors and on what plants? Are you getting that specific yet? How long will that take once you get the okay from the U.S. to go ahead with this?

Mr. Prentice: I would submit that Canada is significantly more agile on these issues, in part because of our size. Over the course of the last four years, we have undertaken a lot of very detailed stakeholder and industry consultation. That process is never really finished, if you will. It has to be an ongoing iterative process, but we are well ahead of the United States in the detailed microeconomics analysis on a sector-by-sector basis of the implications of all kinds of climate change policies. That is why we are mindful of the industrial competitiveness, and in particular the trade-exposed industries, which account for 30 per cent of Canada's emissions. Thirty per cent of Canada's emissions come from industries that compete on a daily basis with industries on the other side of the Canada-U.S. border. We are mindful of the consequences for jobs and investment and of the environmental outcomes, so we will proceed in a measured way.

[Translation]

Senator Massicotte: Mr. Minister, thank you for being here this morning, we appreciate it very much. We must recognize that the fact that you have adopted new environmental policies in the transportation sector shows that you have certainly made progress in these matters and that you deserve to be congratulated for it.

However, you know that Canadians are very worried about the environment. After having been disappointed by the Copenhagen conference which was not very progressive, they are waiting impatiently to see the progress that will be made in Canada and in the world. Naturally, they are always searching for even more substantial results, if they can get them.

I agree with the argument that Canada is a sovereign country, and that it is not entirely dependent on the Americans with regard to the environment. Even though Canada has close ties to the United States, it should establish its own regulations for the environment, similar to those established by the Americans.

However, the worry that nothing will be done is still there and we must ask about the consequences that would follow if the Americans did not act before 2012 or 2013. Would Canada also do nothing?

Canada should take up a firm stance, even if the Americans do not act; we will have to act or encourage people to act. What will Canada's strategy be concerning the development of its own environmental policy?

Mr. Prentice: I will speak in English.

[English]

First, in terms of the Copenhagen process, I think it is important to recognize how significant a change this has been and just how deep the international commitment to Copenhagen is. To be sure, it was a difficult meeting. Much continues to be said about that, but at the end of the day 117 countries have come forward and formally associated themselves with the Copenhagen Accord and have tabled specific actions that they are prepared to be bound by.

Those 117 countries compare to a much smaller subset of countries that had embraced the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol essentially contained obligations on the part of only some of the larger Western democracies — as I recall, fewer than 35 countries.

The obligations now are deeper. They apply to all 117 countries. They represent in total somewhere between 85 per cent and 90 per cent of the world's emissions, again compared to the Kyoto approach, where fewer than a third of the world's emissions were covered.

There is no doubt that Copenhagen holds the promise of success on this, and it is important that we succeed. As I have said, we believe that harmonization with the United States is important. That is not to say that we are waiting for the United States. We are ahead of the United States in many areas. We are working in tandem with them in many areas.

I described the transportation sector, which constitutes one third of our emissions. We have agreed on a continental approach. We are now breathing life into it. As you said, the first and very important step forward is passenger cars and light trucks. Together, they are about 12 per cent of the emissions.

We are not trade-exposed in some sectors. Canada's thermal electricity sector, for example, accounts for 17 per cent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. We are blessed with resources in this country that are unmatched anywhere in the world. As a result, we have an electricity system in Canada that is the envy of other industrial democracies. Seventy-five per cent of our system today does not emit any carbon.

The government set a target to get to 90 per cent by 2020. That is a tall order, but we are working on how to achieve that. This is an area where Canada can and will do things that the United States, for example, is not able to achieve. As we sit here today, the United States has over 615 coal-burning thermal plants at work. Canada has only 21. As a country, we have a truly extraordinary capacity to do things in terms of carbon emissions from our electricity system.

The trade-exposed area is the most difficult. This is where we have to deal with environmental objectives, but we need to do it in a way that we do not face carbon leakage, which is a loss of jobs and investments. That constitutes about one third of Canada's emissions. About 20 per cent of those emissions are oil and gas. Another 10 per cent are other trade-exposed industrial sectors. For that 30 per cent of Canada's emissions, we need to proceed in a measured way to ensure we do not damage our competitiveness. We also need to ensure that we fulfill our obligations under the Copenhagen Accord. Leadership is being shown by our country.

I am not describing some other sources of emissions, such as residential and commercial buildings and waste facilities. These are all areas where Canada can and will make specific progress.

The Chair: It was a good question.

Senator Lang: I want to commend the government for its initiatives in the treatment of waste water across Canada. I think you mentioned there are 4,000 plants. It is long overdue that Canadians make advances in that area to take care of our future.

My question relates to the 17 per cent target that Canada agreed to. Canadians hear this number of 17 per cent, and quite frankly I do not think they understand what it means. A number of us around this table probably do not understand what the implications of this 17 per cent target by 2020 are for Canadians. In your opening remarks, you indicated that the steps being taken affect every Canadian.

Could you elaborate further on what this 17 per cent target means to the ordinary Canadian? Does it mean added costs? What will it do to our lifestyle in how we conduct ourselves 10 years hence? It is a very broad question, but I think it is a question that should be put.

The Chair: It means no travel for you, senator.

Mr. Prentice: That is right.

Senator Lang: Too far away.

Mr. Prentice: I know your question does not relate to waste water, and I will try to restrain myself. However, this issue is very important to Canada. I would appreciate the support of your committee and senators on this. To have a patchwork of regulations across Canada where 4,000 individual facilities are discharging sewage at different standards into the natural environment is not acceptable in 2010 in an industrial democracy like Canada.

These standards will work. We have allowed adequate time to upgrade facilities — a period of between 10 and 30 years depending on the risk rating of the facility. Significant investments will be made and can be made. Over the last four years alone, the government has dedicated $3.5 billion of federal infrastructure money to water and waste water. These kinds of facilities are eligible under all federal infrastructure projects.

In terms of the 17 per cent target, it is important to underscore that the objective of reducing Canada's emissions by 17 per cent by 2020 from a 2005 base is a very ambitious objective. It is easy for people to go to these international conferences and toss around large numbers. However, when you get into the public policy implications of reducing our emissions — in large measure, our consumption of energy — in a country as broad and geographically dispersed as Canada, and with the climate and industrial base we have, it is very difficult. If you do not wish to hear that from me, read the International Energy Agency report. That is exactly what it says. This is very challenging for us given our industrial base, geography and climate.

Moreover, for those very reasons, reductions of 17 per cent in Canada and 17 per cent in the United States entail a higher level of effort on the part of Canadians to achieve those reductions.

What does it mean for consumers? It is important to recognize that if we are to do this in an effective way, it must be done over a period of time that will allow the transformation of society's capital stock — everything from the cars we drive and the flat screen televisions on the wall to whether you leave your BlackBerry charger plugged in 24/7 and how you get your electricity. We need to do that in an orderly way. We need to green all of those systems, but this is a major transformation that has to happen.

I think the best illustration is the auto regulations on tailpipe emission standards that we recently introduced. They will achieve a 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and light trucks. You cannot do that overnight. It will take five years. We will start in the 2011 model year. It will take five years from 2011 to 2016 to put those reductions in place. The auto industry describes those objectives as extremely ambitious. They think they can get there, but they are extremely ambitious objectives. They will entail all consumers eventually starting to drive lighter and smaller cars with new technologies in them.

Our analysis is that this is affordable. As I recall, the indication we had at the time of the announcement was that it is a modest cost of $89 to a new car in the 2011 model year with the new fuel efficiency standards. The standard increases over time, but the payback is there. Even at year five, the payback is a little over one year in terms of lower fuel consumption.

There are implications for all of these measures.

Senator Banks: Minister, congratulations on these steps. Small or large, they are all steps in the right direction.

My question is in regard to the regulations you announced last week on renewable fuel standards. In December 2006, your government gave notice that it was intending to regulate those fuel standards. The regulations — the other shoe to drop, the meat and potatoes of what the regulations would require — came last week. If I were a refiner — and the province in which I live has significant interests in that respect — I would be worried about the short timeline. Would you please talk about three points with respect to the renewable fuel standards.

First, have you given refiners enough time to reach the first compliance level? There are fairly stiff penalties, including imprisonment, for failure to observe these measures. It is only a couple of months away, yet regulations were announced last week.

Second, would you talk about whether those regulations supersede or somehow have the effect of harmonizing the disparity in provincial renewable fuel regulations across the country? Refiners do not all sell their product within a particular province.

Finally, would you also, if you have time, talk about the relative costs that are involved? Are we getting value for dollar from the huge capital costs that will be involved in meeting those renewable fuel standards? I am sorry that the question is three-pronged, but they issues are inescapably joined.

Mr. Prentice: It is an important question, and these regulations are intricate. You are quite right that these regulations were published in the Canada Gazette last week. Not a lot was said about them, but they are another specific step we are taking to deal with greenhouse gas emissions.

We are dealing with automobiles as a source of the emissions. We are also dealing with the fuel content that goes into the emissions.

Regarding the adequacy of the notice, these regulations and the implications for the refinery industry have been under discussion since I have been in cabinet, which is I guess into the fifth year. There has been much discussion with industry, and industry is well aware of what has been coming. As you said, the notice of intent to regulate was passed in 2006.

When I became the minister about 18 months ago, we set some target dates to get these regulations through. We have now published them in Canada Gazette, Part I, which is essentially a continuation of the consultation process. That is the second part of your question on some of the concerns that have been raised about the regulations.

We expect to hear back from people. That is the purpose of publishing the regulations in Part I of the Canada Gazette. There is a period now where people can respond and tell us about any difficulties they see in the detailed regulations, and we welcome their input.

Some concerns have been raised about the timelines within which we can fully achieve the regulations, and we will be listening closely to what people say.

Senator Banks: Might you consider expanding them a little bit?

Mr. Prentice: Certainly we will look at what industry says and what other stakeholders say about how quickly we can achieve the full obligation. The full obligation is a renewable fuel content of 5 per cent in gasoline and 2 per cent in diesel.

As you pointed out, we have also had to wrestle with the fact that again we have sort of a patchwork of individual provincial standards across the country. In many of the provinces, these regulations are already being achieved. They are already essentially the subject of provincial regulation, and these renewable contents or even better are already being achieved.

Other provinces have not made any progress whatsoever. We need to be cognizant of that, and we need an implementation plan that allows everyone to get up to speed without ending up with fuel shortages. We are being quite careful in how we go about that.

There is also the ongoing Canadian challenge of our climate. That is the price of living in a country with 10 months of winter and two months of bad skating. Renewable fuels, particularly in diesel, gum up at lower temperatures; so we face the challenges of what to do in the North, where some renewable content is impractical, and also the disbursed nature of our country.

In Newfoundland, we have had to build in an exemption because there is just no capacity to get the renewable fuel contents into Newfoundland, certainly in the shorter or medium term. Therefore, we have tried to be flexible on that.

They are complex regulations, and we await industry and other stakeholder input. We will do what needs to be done.

Senator Banks: What is the cost benefit?

Mr. Prentice: A detailed economic analysis was published with the Canada Gazette regulations. It points out that as with all of these investments where we are reducing our consumption of energy or adopting new technologies, investments need to be made over time. If we are going to achieve our obligation to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, that will be an essential consequence. We think those costs are absorbable over a longer term.

Senator Seidman: Thank you for coming to see us this morning, Minister Prentice. I am interested in the federal government's first municipal standards on waste water, and I would like to go back to discussing that. You touched on it very briefly when Senator Lang mentioned it as a great initiative on the part of the federal government.

I am interested in it from two perspectives, one as an environmental protection initiative, but the other as an outreach to municipalities. As you have heard already, I am from Montreal, and it was quite shocking to many of us there to discover that still in this day and age, waste water is being discharged into the St. Lawrence River.

Clearly it is important that there should be more collaboration and integration among the provinces and territories at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. I would like to hear a bit from you about this initiative, what the responses of municipalities have been to these waste water standards and to funding and how you envision facilitating more collaboration.

Mr. Prentice: I will not reiterate my point on how significant I think this is, other than to say that in our country today, this is the largest single source of pollution as it relates to water in particular, so we need to deal with it. The volumes being discharged are quite staggering, if you look at individual situations.

In terms of collaboration, it is important to point out that this was not simply an initiative of the federal government acting alone. These regulations were developed over the course of many years with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. A lot of exceptional work has been done by civil servants in all levels of government to develop these regulations, which are very detailed.

A lot of really fine work has been done over 10 years to get to the point where we now have national standards. It is important that we maintain this momentum. All the provinces have been involved in those discussions and have been, in a sense, representing their municipalities.

We will carry on in that same vein with collaboration. We have recognized that not all sewage treatment facilities are of equal risk. It depends on many factors: the volumes, where that sewage is being discharged, who is downstream, the effect on the environment.

We have rated the 4,000 facilities across Canada and put them into three groupings: high risk, where we need to move quite quickly; medium risk, where we have a bit of time; and low risk. At the two extremes, cities such as Victoria, Montreal and others are situations where we need to move fairly quickly. They have very significant implications in terms of the need for upgrades and infrastructure, so we need to work together on those.

At the other extreme, there could be a large number of small communities. Take a community in rural Newfoundland, where the treatment facilities require upgrading but we are talking about small volumes. They are at the other extreme, where we have an extended period of time to deal with those issues.

We will be working together with the provinces and with municipalities to deal with the high-risk situations quickly and to deal with the other situations as time proceeds. We have defined a period of 10 years for the higher-risk situations, 20 years for the medium and, as I recall, out to 30 years for the longer term.

We recognize that as capital stock turns over, people will need to make new investments. These will tell them what the standards are so that they can make the appropriate investments.

We need to ensure that federal infrastructure dollars that are available are eligible investments. They have been in the past. Whether you are talking about the Building Canada Fund, the economic stimulus dollars, the Gas Tax Fund, or the Green Infrastructure Fund, water and waste water have been eligible investments under all of those. As I mentioned earlier, the federal government alone has put forward as our contribution $3.5 billion over the last three or four years on those kinds of investments. The Gas Tax Fund will continue to be available to municipalities directly for those kinds of investments as well.

Senator Eggleton: Minister, you mentioned the government's goal of bringing electricity production from clean energy sources up to 90 per cent from the current level of 75 per cent. I gather from what you said a few moments ago that you are still developing a strategy on that. Could you indicate where you are likely going on that strategy and how you think you might achieve it, particularly considering that the electricity systems are under the jurisdiction of the provinces? How many megawatts do you have to achieve to get to the 90 per cent level?

Mr. Prentice: I neglected to mention one point before I left the issue of waste water. This is not simply a province-by-province situation. Even within provinces, there are significant differences in the kinds of facilities. In Quebec, for example, we have Sherbrooke, which has just constructed probably the finest waste water system of its kind in Canada. Even amongst and within provinces, there are quite different standards being pursued, which is interesting.

Senator, I return to your question regarding the 90 per cent objective. As I mentioned, 73 per cent of Canada's system today emits no carbon. That is because of the emphasis we have on hydro and nuclear, and in particular because of our resource endowment. This speaks to incredible achievements in Quebec, British Columbia and elsewhere in the development of hydroelectricity.

My view is that over the course of the next 20 years in this country, we have the capacity to bring on as much as 25,000 megawatts of new hydroelectricity capacity. That would include Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, Northern Alberta, Northern Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador and some other projects.

This holds significant promise for Canada to get to the 90 per cent standard, but it also is one of the keys to greening the North American electricity system because of the heavy dependence in the United States on the burning of coal. Canada has the capacity, if you agree with my premise of bringing on 25,000 megawatts, to significantly reduce the consumption of coal in the United States and significantly reduce our continental greenhouse gas emissions. I would submit that if this is done in a proper and environmentally responsible way, it could be a very good thing for Canada. We need to be focused on that and to ensure that we adopt public policy that allows us to fulfill that promise.

In terms of your question relative to the provinces, the immediate challenge would be the 17 per cent of Canada's emissions that come from burning coal, spread out over 21 individual facilities. Those facilities are located in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, and two plants in Ontario. The issue is quite focused, if you will. These are the provinces that made decisions some time ago to focus on consumption of thermal coal as the method to create electricity. The Alberta and Saskatchewan systems are, in the main, thermal coal generation.

The challenge we face as a country is that a significant number of those units are reaching the end of their useful economic life. We are reaching the point of capital stock turnover, and so there is the opportunity as we go forward to make proper decisions on reinvestment. As I recall, those 21 units involve some 54 individual coal units, and close to 60 per cent of those reach the end of their useful life before 2025. There is an opportunity to make the right choices to significantly green the system.

My discussions with the premiers of all of those provinces indicate that they are prepared to work in cooperation with us. They have similar objectives, and they have all been quite supportive. Ontario, your province, has already passed a regulation to close the two large plants. The date has been changed at least once, as I recall, I think 2014 is the most recent date to close those two plants.

These will be important steps for reducing our emissions, and important for all of us for the individual consequences of reducing our emissions.

Senator Eggleton: Will additional money go to the provinces to assist them to accomplish this?

Mr. Prentice: The short answer is no. This is a question of regulatory standards and how we achieve those objectives over time in an orderly way.

The Chair: Senator Eggleton, thank you for raising that question. You brought the question back to the sources of energy, and the minister was able to outline the 25,000-megawatt potential, which is a key element of the future strategy for this country.

Senator Frum: I would like to express my appreciation for your presence here this morning.

As a follow-up on the sources of energy question, and also being mindful, as you say, of the ambitious targets the country has set for itself in carbon emission reduction, could you briefly describe your attitude or this government's attitude towards investing in greater nuclear energy capacity for the country heading towards 2020 and our targets?

Mr. Prentice: I think it is fair to say that if you take a long-term perspective on how we produce electricity, nuclear is an essential part of the mix. I mentioned that at this point we have the blessing of significant hydroelectricity resources. As I recall, close to 60 per cent of our generation comes from hydro. Another 12 per cent or so, as I recall, comes from nuclear.

Canada has had a strong nuclear industry and a well-developed nuclear supply chain. We need to continue to improve that, and it needs to be part of the long-term mix. It may be that in the shorter and medium term, natural gas is the bridging fuel, if you will, in the generation of electricity, but in the longer term the advantage of nuclear is of course that there are no emissions whatsoever. We need to work towards that and be focused on that as an objective.

The environmental objectives that we achieve are to limit the burning of coal. Until we get to much cleaner coal technology or carbon capture and storage, it is not only the greenhouse gas emissions that are of concern; it is also the NOx and SOx and mercury emissions, which we can also reduce. The sooner we move to those kinds of cleaner fuels, the better. As I say, natural gas could be a bridging fuel. There is certainly an interest across the country in nuclear as an alternative, and in the longer term it is very much part of the equation.

Senator Patterson: Thank you, minister. I want to take a little bit of a different tack. I know that one of your other responsibilities in cabinet is for the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline project, which you have had for some time. I do not think that is inappropriate for an environment minister. Would you comment on whether you would characterize the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline as having environmental benefits and impacts, in addition to the obvious economic benefits, by providing a new source of clean energy as an alternative to coal-fired generation in Canada and the U.S.? Could you comment on where things are at with that project now that what I would say was a painfully long and maybe record two-year environmental process is complete?

Mr. Prentice: I am pleased to answer the question. As you have indicated, I have been the minister responsible for the Mackenzie Valley project for some time. I am also responsible at this time for the government's response to the Joint Review Panel for the Mackenzie Gas Project ultimately as it comes through cabinet. That panel's report is before us, as you know, so I will be somewhat measured in my comments.

The joint review panel did complete its report. It is an exhaustive report and has significant implications for that project and for associated development in Northern Canada.

We are in the midst of reviewing the joint review panel's recommendations. I will withhold comment on any of those specific recommendations and how we will respond, but the panel members have weighed the environmental and socio-economic benefits and made their recommendations. At the end of the day, they have said the project is, from their perspective, in the public interest, providing that their recommendations are pursued. We are looking closely at that and will be dealing with it.

It is important to note that natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel, and in terms of reducing our emissions of greenhouse gas as well as other pollutants, the more natural gas we can bring on in this country, the more desirable it is. We know the supply is there, and that includes the gas in the Beaufort Sea that the Mackenzie Valley pipeline could move as well as gas up the Mackenzie Valley. We know the resource is there; it is a question of the private sector making the necessary decisions to develop that resource and move it to market. Certainly, the economics of all of that have been rendered more complex by the emergence of shale gas. I know the proponents are factoring that into their discussions.

It does bring on much cleaner energy. Natural gas has the capacity not only to green our electricity system but also even to make significant improvements to things like our heavy trucking system. It is a cleaner fuel, and it is advantageous.

Senator Dickson: Thank you very much for your succinct presentation and your knowledge overall. I was really impressed.

My question relates particularly to the steps you have taken in relation to a national electricity grid and the interconnections with the U.S. from the supply side as well as the vast hydro resources, some of which are in Atlantic Canada. I want to remind you — I know I do not have to — of the Fundy tidal projects. We are grateful that you are funding some of those experimental projects.

Before you comment on that, as you know, the national power grid was around this table about 30 years ago by Robert Coates, a member of a similar party to your own. He was going to move forward. That was 30 years ago. Hopefully, we will make progress on that.

I also want to thank you on behalf of all Nova Scotians for the maintenance and capital works in the parks, and, being a native Cape Bretoner, particularly down in Louisbourg and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I look forward to your comments on the national power grid.

Mr. Prentice: Thank you for your comments on the park system. We did not mention that, but over the course of the economic stimulus investments we have made in the last two years, the investment in Canada's national parks system has been historic in scope. These were much needed investments. The national parks system is run by Alan Latourelle, the CEO of the Parks Canada Agency. He does extraordinary work on behalf of Canadians. We take great pride in our national parks system. We think it is the finest in the world. Mr. Latourelle deserves much of the credit for making that happen.

In Cape Breton, we have made significant investments, and I look forward to seeing those.

Regarding other sources of renewable energy, you make a very good point about tidal. We are investing with the government of Nova Scotia in exploring the potential of tidal. It is certainly true that if we can determine how to make this work on an economic basis, it is an unbelievable resource. In my last discussion with Energy Secretary Chu in the United States, he was fascinated by the prospect of Bay of Fundy tidal and the sheer horsepower capacity it has to produce electricity if we can work out the technical issues. This is very exciting for all of us.

The prospect of a national electricity grid has been under discussion for many years. Under the rubric of the Clean Energy Dialogue with the United States, we have been exploring what we need to do on a continental basis to ensure we have smart grid technology and an efficient transmission system. It is fair to say that the axis of the distribution system today has been aligned largely on a north-south basis as opposed to an east-west basis. There are east-west connections for sure, but by and large it has followed the marketplace on a north-south axis. That is where the economics have driven the interconnections.

We are examining the overall system and how it would link with the United States and between provinces. As you know, it is not without its complications, because there are publicly owned utilities in place in some provinces and private utilities in others, and we are essentially into the fundamental question of the supply-demand balance for the electricity system in each province and how those provinces will interconnect. It also has significant bearing on the kinds of electricity that we bring on, particularly in those provinces that will be reducing their coal thermal emissions in favour of greener sources. We will need distribution systems to access that power.

These are important questions. We welcome your thoughts. At the end of the day, the economics have to drive many of the decisions about is practical and which sources of greener electricity we should be bringing on first and the orderly development of those processes. I know the committee is looking at this, and we welcome your thoughts.

The Chair: Minister, you have been generous with your time. We would like to thank you for being with us this morning. You have highlighted for members of the committee the vastness of the scope of the undertaking we have done with respect to fulfilling our mandate. It also highlights the breadth of your own responsibilities in these areas that overlap.

We are now privileged to have with us two senior officials from Environment Canada. We have Michael Keenan, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy Branch; and David McGovern, Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch and the Clean Energy Dialogue.

I went as one of the members of the minister's advisory group to the Copenhagen conference. David McGovern was clearly the man in charge of coordinating what the minister referred to this morning as a very well-organized Canadian delegation. Belated congratulations to you, Mr. McGovern. Thank you for being with us today. This is a nice surprise because I know you are deeply and intimately involved with the ongoing international aspects of this issue.

Mr. Keenan will talk to us about the sustainable development consultation paper, which was circulated. We have those two subject matters before us. It is a great opportunity for us to understand the bones or the framework of how this Clean Energy Dialogue with our friends to the south is going. We all refer to it and we hear about it a lot in the media and from the minister, but we do not know how it works. We went to Washington as a committee and learned a lot from the American perspective.

Mr. McGovern, it would be nice if you could tell us how it works. After we have heard from and questioned Mr. McGovern, we will go to Mr. Keenan.

David McGovern, Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Environment Canada: Thank you, honourable senators and thank you, Mr. Chair, for your kind words about Copenhagen. I have some brief remarks. I will try to give them very quickly.

[Translation]

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to update you regarding the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue (CED). Canada has adopted a way of fighting against climate change that includes the implementation of initiatives on the national, continental and international levels.

[English]

From a continental perspective, the government recognizes how connected the Canadian and American economies are. For this reason, it believes that one of the most successful ways to advance real action on climate change is to harmonize our policies.

The Clean Energy Dialogue is an important way in which we are doing this. This initiative is enhancing our collaboration with the U.S. while helping us to achieve our own climate change objectives.

Since Prime Minister Harper and President Obama announced over a year ago that the Clean Energy Dialogue would be established, joint Canada-U.S. working groups have been set up to advance cooperative activities in three priority areas. First is developing and deploying clean energy technologies, particularly carbon capture and storage; second is expanding clean energy research and development; and third is building a more efficient North American energy grid.

[Translation]

Since its inception, the CED has initiated many positive activities that then led to concrete measures to advance the work done in cooperation by both countries. Within the framework of the CED, the working groups have developed an action plan comprising 20 commitments that were agreed to by the leaders of both countries in September 2009. The working groups then undertook the implementation of the 20 commitments and they are well on their way to realizing them.

Pursuant to these commitments, a binational conference was held in February about the issues related to training and recruitment in the electricity sector.

[English]

We also launched a number of workshops to support collaborative research on lightweight materials for vehicles; algal biofuels; and monitoring, reporting and verification for clean energy technologies.

This spring, we will finalize a commissioned paper that maps out existing electricity storage potential and identify market barriers to make more efficient use of storage. In May, a new bi-national conference bringing together key industry and government stakeholders on carbon capture and storage, CSS, will take place in Pittsburgh. The conference will look at our best practices and lessons learned from CCS projects in both countries. In 2011, we will continue this work with a second conference to be held in Canada. Also, in May, a conference on Canada-U.S. clean energy trade will seek recommendations on how to facilitate trade in this area.

These are only a few of the many activities linked to the Clean Energy Dialogue. By focusing our initial efforts in these areas, the Clean Energy Dialogue will serve to facilitate a broader alignment of energy and climate change policies to better enable our countries to achieve our climate change and clean energy goals.

Committee members, I look forward to your questions and comments on this topic.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. McGovern. Honourable senators, perhaps it would be better to have Mr. Keenan make his statement as well and then we can proceed. Try not to lose sight of Mr. McGovern's remarks.

I will sneak in a preliminary question. Are the conferences that you mentioned at the end of your remarks public or closed-door sessions?

Mr. McGovern: I believe they are by invitation. The results of all the conferences we are trying to make as transparent as possible. When I address questions, I can give you some of the ways we are making all of this information public on both the Department of Energy website in the U.S. and the Environment Canada website in Canada.

The Chair: That is excellent.

I might remind colleagues that we received the consultation paper from the government about a month ago. I think a press conference subsequently launched it nationally. The paper was entitled Planning for a Sustainable Future: A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada. We were asked to give our input by mid-July of this year. It is against that background that I thought it would be helpful for us to have Mr. Keenan tell us the highlights and areas we should focus on.

Michael Keenan, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy Branch, Environment Canada: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will just speak briefly, giving a few highlights of this program.

[Translation]

The draft strategy that is proposed for sustainable development at the federal level is intended to improve the way in which the federal government plans for sustainable development and the way in which it deals with concerns raised about previous approaches on several occasions by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

Basically, the draft strategy makes environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable with three key improvements.

[English]

I would like to walk through those three key elements and then wrap it up.

First, the proposed strategy provides an integrated, whole-of-government view of federal actions and results to achieve goals in environmental sustainability. Instead of 32 stand-alone reports under the previous system, the government would produce one sustainable development strategy reflecting all actions with respect to sustainable development across the government.

The second key improvement is that it proposes to link sustainable development planning and reporting directly to key planning and decision-making processes in the government, particularly the expenditure management system and the estimate cycle.

Third, it proposes to establish an effective monitoring, measuring and reporting system on results. Hopefully, in turn, this will provide parliamentarians and Canadians with the information they need to track progress across the Government of Canada toward meeting sustainability goals and targets.

The paper that has been submitted to this committee is geared around those three key priorities. With this foundation in place, the paper also describes four key areas for environmental sustainability proposed to track goals, targets and implementation strategies. They are addressing climate change and air quality; maintaining water availability and quality; protecting nature; and reducing the environmental footprint, beginning with government.

Of course, sustainable development is a long-term issue. Updating the strategy and reporting on results every three years provides the basis for constant improvement and progress over the long term.

As you indicated, Mr. Chair, this paper was released quite recently, but we are starting to receive useful insight and feedback on the draft. We are looking forward to the direction, insight, comments and advice from members of this committee.

Our next step after the consultation period will be to bring all the advice we receive into consideration in establishing a final strategy and tabling that strategy in both houses of Parliament shortly after Parliament returns from summer recess.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you, gentlemen, for your help here this morning. Mr. McGovern, I am interested in that relationship with the U.S. We discovered this morning — the minister was open about this, to his credit — that if the U.S. does not do cap and trade, we will not; and it is probably no earlier than two years — and the way these things go, maybe even more — once you figure in the regulations that would underscore cap and trade. It could be 2013 or 2014 before we even start in a serious way.

We still have 17 per cent below 2005 to get to by 2020, so we would have six years to do it. Is the department aware of initiatives or contingency plans to achieve that goal in that kind of timeline?

Mr. McGovern: I will put my response in the context of the Clean Energy Dialogue. If you indulge me for a second, I will run quickly through the steps we have taken so far.

In February 2009, Prime Minister Harper met with President Obama, and one of the outcomes of their first meeting was a decision to establish the Clean Energy Dialogue. They nominated the energy secretary in the U.S. to be the U.S. lead and my minister, Minister Prentice, to be the Canadian lead.

They focused on three key areas: clean energy research and development; clean energy technologies, particularly carbon capture and storage; and clean and renewable electricity generation.

It is important to go back to that first news release from the first meeting. The purpose of the Clean Energy Dialogue was to enhance bilateral collaboration to develop clean energy technologies, but it was also focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That is one of the underpinnings of the whole Clean Energy Dialogue.

After the first bilateral in June of 2009 in Washington, the U.S. Department of Energy hosted a round table meeting of the three working groups assigned to the three priorities. They brought in key U.S. and Canadian stakeholders to take two days to brainstorm about what is achievable in the short term.

In July, we put together an action plan that was submitted to Minister Prentice and to Energy Secretary Chu. In September, when the President and the Prime Minister got together again, they submitted the action plan, which contained a series of recommendations about practical steps we could undertake with the U.S. on those three priority areas.

I was very thankful that the President and the Prime Minister accepted the recommendations. The result is that we have 20 specific initiatives, which we started work on last fall to implement. We sort of agreed on a two-year work plan, and we are at the midpoint, looking to provide an update to the Prime Minister and the President on the progress to date on those 20 action plans. We are looking for the appropriate venue when the Prime Minister and the President can accept the next report to leaders.

Senator Angus asked a question before about the transparency of this process. We hope at some point in the next few weeks to post on the Environment Canada and the Department of Energy websites the 20 action plan summaries so that we can give people an opportunity to look at the activities we are engaging in across those three big streams: carbon capture and storage, the clean energy grid and also the research and development.

We do not lose sight of the fact that we were tasked by the President and the Prime Minister to work on cooperative activities that are underpinned by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is one of the key objectives.

Senator Mitchell: It is so important that those things add up to 17 per cent reduction — those 20 action plans and whatever else you are doing. Cap and trade is a big part of that, and the tailpipe regulations are a big part of that, but we are not seeing how that actually adds up — and adds up within the time between now and 2020.

Mr. Keenan, on the sustainable development process, when you refer to 32 reports, that is what each department submits to say this is what we are doing and how good we are at it with respect to green and the environment.

When members of the committee were in B.C., it was made known at the Globe 2010 Conference, and it is public, that the B.C. government has a zero-carbon-footprint policy. Through the Pacific Carbon Trust, it is establishing one million carbon credits to do that. In fact, Senator Neufeld was instrumental in the cabinet that saw that policy brought in. It is a wonderful idea.

Is there any room or any thought within this sustainable development reporting process for us, federally, to begin to focus on departments, and ultimately for the federal government to establish that very same goal — a zero-carbon footprint and developing carbon markets and the businesses and the farmers that can produce those carbons and make money doing it — to mimic the B.C. model?

Mr. Keenan: One point that I think is useful for thinking through the review and advice on the federal sustainable development strategy is that its purpose is to bring some transparency and clarity about what is happening, what the goals are, what the activities are. The strategy itself is not a vehicle for trying to establish targets.

I will give you an example. The government established the target you were referring to before — the 17 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 — through its decision-making process and notified it in Copenhagen. The sustainable development strategy automatically brings that in, if you will.

We are collecting all of these targets and activities and are trying to give a picture of what they add up to. With that said, the report is interesting. Presenting all of the targets across government has established a benchmark that they have to be smart targets. It is a criterion the Auditor General uses for the usefulness of targets.

Some are smart, some are not smart, and some are missing. The report notes that we do not currently have targets for the greenhouse gas emissions from government operations. It also notes that Public Works and Government Services Canada is currently working to sort through what a feasible target is in that area. We are hopeful that by the time we publish a final report and table it in Parliament in the fall, that process will have come to a culmination and there will be, for the first time, a target for emissions from government operations, primarily from buildings and from fleet.

Senator Mitchell: Great. Thank you.

Senator Lang: I want to follow up first on Senator Mitchell's statement that cap and trade was to be part of the criteria that had to be put into place in order to meet our 17 per cent target.

Perhaps Mr. McGovern could clarify for the committee whether that is one of the items that must be put in place to reach that 17 per cent target.

Mr. McGovern: I think Minister Prentice did a very good job of answering your question. He discussed the current state of play in the U.S., and he also clarified that the stated policy of our government is to align our climate change policies with those of the United States. I do not think I will try to clarify what Minister Prentice did a very good job of earlier.

Senator Lang: Perhaps, Mr. Chair, I did not ask the question clearly enough. Is it necessary to put a cap and trade program in place to meet our 17 per cent target by 2020, or can we do it without that?

The Chair: Mr. Keenan will answer that, I believe.

Mr. Keenan: I will try to build on my colleague's answer. The minister laid out a fairly robust range of actions that he is undertaking and contemplating with the view of eventually having policies that address all sources of emissions. I believe he actually walked through all of the major sources. In essence, it is an ambitious goal, and there are many pathways to that goal. Cap and trade is one that is often discussed, and a lot of work has been done. There are also regulatory approaches, such as what the minister indicated has been done on passenger transportation and other areas.

There are a range of choices and different ways to get to the 17 per cent target. Cap and trade is one of the most discussed and most analyzed options, but a rigorous set of regulations, sector by sector by sector, can conceivably get us there also. There is a range of choices that come from deliberating all the factors the minister laid out earlier this morning.

The Chair: May I interject and see if this would help? Senator Massicotte asked a question of the minister earlier: What will happen if the U.S. does nothing? We are committed under the Copenhagen Accord to reduce by 17 per cent. I thought the minister answered that very well. He said if the U.S. does nothing, it does not mean we are not doing other things.

As Mr. Keenan is now saying, there are many ways to skin a cat. There are many pathways, but we are committed to the 17 per cent. I am just paraphrasing what I am hearing. There are many ways to get to that goal. However, one clear thing regarding cap and trade that the minister said and that Mr. McGovern did not want to contradict is that in that area we will not do anything until we know what the U.S. is doing.

Would that be a fair summary, gentlemen, of what the government policy is here? We are not just stopping all action if the U.S. does nothing. In fact, you said the U.S. is doing many things with us in 20 different areas.

Mr. McGovern: That is actually a very good assessment, senator. Another important factor to remember is that the United States has also ascribed its commitment in the Copenhagen Accord.

The Chair: Exactly. It is the same as ours.

Mr. McGovern: The U.S. will have to find a way to reduce its emissions by 17 per cent by 2020, whether through cap and trade or other methods.

The Chair: You may continue. I just usurped a bit of your time. Go ahead.

Senator Lang: That is fine, Mr. Chair. I was following up on Senator Mitchell because he stated that cap and trade is a requirement to meet that 17 per cent target. At least, I thought that is what I heard.

Senator Mitchell: I still think it is a requirement. I do not think that has been answered.

Senator Lang: I want to follow up on a different matter here. I have a concern from the provinces and territories. These negotiations that are happening will impact every part of the country in one manner or another if we are to meet these objectives. What involvement do the provinces and the territories have in these bilateral discussions occurring with the United States?

Mr. McGovern: I will break the question down into two pieces, because all the climate change work is interrelated. On the international negotiations, there was an unprecedented level of consultation with the provincial and territorial governments last year in the lead up to Copenhagen. Minister Prentice noted earlier today that he met with all provincial and territorial leaders. We also had extensive consultations at the ministerial level with provinces and territories.

We established a working group with provincial and territorial representation throughout the entire year. That was chaired by our climate change ambassador, Michael Martin. As Senator Angus can attest, we also brought with us representatives from all of the provincial and territorial governments; they were full members of the Canadian delegation in Copenhagen. Therefore, I would suggest they were fully aware and able to provide input, and they were engaged in the lead up to Copenhagen.

We have three working groups for the Clean Energy Dialogue. One of the key factors that will help us succeed in the work we are doing is having senior representation from provincial governments on, I believe, two of the three working groups; we have a range of either assistant or deputy ministers from provinces. They are providing input and they are full members of those working groups.

Again, I suggest that we are actually trying to build on successes of the provinces and territories with climate change, but we are also trying to ensure we have a team approach to ensure success, especially with the Clean Energy Dialogue with the U.S. and in the international negotiations that started up again last weekend.

[Translation]

Senator Massicotte: I would like to put a theoretical question regarding the choices that we have before us. We hear about carbon tax, about cap and trade. The minister's position is that we cannot enforce the carbon tax because the public is not favourable to it, supposedly according to the results of the last federal elections. Besides, we cannot implement the cap and trade option without the prior approval of the Americans. Thus, we are tending towards some kind of system of regulations, if I understand correctly.

However, and I would like to hear your comments on this, we cannot believe that regulations will not cost anything. Recently, a newspaper article even said that the biofuel policy may perhaps be five times more costly to producers than are the benefits for the public with regard to carbon.

Regulations are not always necessarily good. As far as I am concerned, I am very confident in the market as it is, and I wonder whether regulation is not an easy way out for the political system so that it does not have to make good decisions in the public interest.

The experts often argue that putting a price on carbon will the most efficient way to get good results for consumers, et cetera. I wonder whether the regulations do not constitute an easy way for politicians to proceed, even if it is the most costly way for our system.

I would like to have your opinion about this. Am I wrong in saying that this may be the easiest political solution, but it is not necessarily the most efficient solution for reducing carbon emissions?

Mr. Keenan: The minister replied well to this question in a broad perspective, in view of the strategic considerations regarding the price of carbon and the regulations.

[English]

I propose that the minister's answer covered that broad strategic issue and the question the senator has presented. I will offer an additional helpful detail regarding the many debates and discussions about the best policy mix. There is a wide range of different policy mixes that any one country could take to reduce emissions. When the discussion is focused on market-based mechanisms, such as cap and trade, it tends not to exclude regulatory mechanisms. You can see that in any number of strategies that have been published; there is a need to supplement the market-based mechanisms even if you do it with regulations. Depending on the circumstance, regulations can be a highly cost-effective way of achieving emissions.

The minister pointed out that the passenger tailpipe regulations require capital costs up front and people to accept lighter, smaller cars. At the end of the day, they reduce the total cost of driving for Canadians over the life cycle of their cars. They drive as much or more; it costs them less; and emissions are reduced.

There are circumstances where there is the trade-off the senator pointed to. Many circumstances exist where it is very cost-effective to include regulations. Probably the best possible example is the passenger tailpipe regulations announced recently.

Senator Massicotte: I understand it is regulation with a carbon tax and even with cap and trade. However, if we do not establish any carbon tax or cap and trade, the amount of regulation to the industry will be significantly greater. We often forget that any form of regulation costs something to someone. We always think in Ottawa that we can employ these measures and they disappear. They probably disappear in the consumers' eyes, but not for the producer of the oil and gas or the plant. They are incurring significant costs.

Most studies would suggest that if you put in a price system somewhere, the market is usually the most efficient way of allocating resources, not the government and certainly not parliamentarians.

I am not saying your answer suggests that. However, your answer suggests that we will follow the American way, including by way of regulation if necessary, in spite of the fact that it may not be the best system. That is not what you intended to say, but if we blindly follow the Americans in spite of contrary knowledge that the most efficient way is through pricing, why would we do something dumb and stupid if we think it is dumb and stupid?

Obviously, there must be a solution, a trade-off point where we say we will not do so, but we seem to get simply a blanket answer that we will follow the American way. They are certainly more political than we are, as we saw in the health care debate. When do we say stop and let us do it our way regardless because we want to do it the best way?

The Chair: I do not know whether you want to take that question. We recognize that you work in the department as bureaucrats and you are not in the cabinet. As a committee, we try to be non-partisan. We try to get to the best solution on these issues of the day.

Notwithstanding what the minister said, the vast body of evidence we have heard has been in favour of a carbon tax vis-à-vis cap and trade. We have been across the country. We also heard that perhaps the whole issue might become irrelevant with the price of oil rising as it is.

I think Senator Massicotte, in his rhetorical question if I can put it that way, is reflecting some of the frustration and our thirst for knowledge on this committee.

Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I could respond only that having listened to the minister earlier this morning, I think he gave a complete, substantive and expansive answer to that question.

The Chair: If I were the minister, that is the answer I would like you to give, but I am not and we can try.

Senator Neufeld: I have a number of questions I will pose all at once. Most are for Mr. McGovern.

In your presentation you used the phrases "building a more efficient North American energy grid" and "greening the grid." I think I know what you mean by both of those. "Let us have a more efficient grid" is a standard reference we hear all the time. However, the transmission and distribution grids are the responsibility of provinces. Some are owned by provinces and some are private.

I know what we have done in B.C. Members of this committee saw one of the most modern and up-to-date centres for generating and distributing electricity in North America in Vancouver. Smart metres are being introduced. That is part of what I think you mean. However, could you elaborate on what you mean when you use those terms? I think "greening the grid" is simply sending more green electricity through it, but you can respond to that as well.

The minister talked about north-south markets and how they will dictate issues in that direction. There is more talk about east-west, of which I am not a fan. I think north-south markets are the ones in which we live. Please explain more on that.

You talked about launching a number of workshops to support collaborative research on algal biofuels. Are you doing anything with cellulosic biofuels? That is a huge advantage in all of Canada, and I am not sure whether the federal government is involved.

You also said you have commissioned a paper to map out existing electricity storage potential and identify market barriers to making more efficient use of storage. I can read between the lines, but I would like you to put it into words. Are you talking about hydroelectricity? If you are, do you mean run of the river? Do you mean all types of hydro generation, or is there something else involved?

Regarding carbon capture and storage, are you looking mostly at coal-fired plants? The minister said that most of those plants are reaching the end of their life and that natural gas is probably the next step in most cases. If that is the case, is it carbon capture and storage from natural gas plants rather than coal plants? The U.S. has to work with coal plants, but we have other opportunities in Canada.

Mr. McGovern: I will do my best to answer as many of your questions as possible.

The electricity grid working group focused initially on trying to identify Canada-U.S. collaboration to facilitate what they called the long-term transition to a modernized electricity system. The action plan that I talked about was presented to Minister Prentice and formed the basis for the report to leaders in September. We have also talked about options for increasing Canada-U.S. trade and clean electricity, including the role that energy storage technologies might play in helping to accommodate the increased penetration of renewable sources in that trade.

We will provide an updated report to leaders at some point in the spring or perhaps this summer. We are working on a commissioned paper that I mentioned to map out existing storage potential and to identify market barriers to making more efficient use of storage. We had a very good meeting in February 2010 about building the power workforce of tomorrow.

You noted that there is an issue of jurisdiction within Canada with respect to responsibility for electricity. It is the same thing in the United States. One common element from all of the U.S. and Canadian stakeholders is that they need new entrants into the electricity industry because they will see a significant demographic shift when much of the expertise that has built the current North American grid retires.

We have a conference coming up in Chicago in May that will look at clean energy trade. They are trying to encourage that conference to make recommendations that would enhance the cross-border clean energy trade.

There are ongoing discussions between NRCan and provincial and U.S. regulators on reliability standards and cyber security, including advancing the North American SynchroPhaser Initiative. If the committee indulges me, I will get back to you and let you know what a synchrophaser is, because I have no clue, for which I apologize.

You also talked about the involvement of provinces and the need to have provinces involved because of their responsibilities. The electricity working group, for example, is led by one of our assistant deputy ministers at Natural Resources Canada, but its membership includes deputy ministers from Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba and an assistant deputy minister from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are trying to signal that we are very aware that for there to be success in the Clean Energy Dialogue between Canada and the U.S., we also have to promote success within Canada.

You had another question with respect to carbon capture and storage. You are right that the U.S. focus on carbon capture and storage relates to their energy mix. As Minister Prentice noted, a significant portion of electricity in the United States is generated from thermal coal, so the U.S. interest in carbon capture and storage is related to coal.

That being said, they are also interested in the carbon capture and storage experience that Canada already has coming out of our experience with Weyburn. Many of the technologies they are talking about have similar principles, so there is a significant component of information sharing between engineers and between people who run power plants.

Senator Neufeld: The working group on clean energy ended coming west where?

Mr. McGovern: I do not understand the question.

Senator Neufeld: You mentioned the provinces that were involved with the working group on clean energy, and I think the furthest west you came was Manitoba.

Mr. McGovern: That is correct.

Senator Neufeld: Could you tell me why those choices would be made, why you would end that at Manitoba? I am speaking as a Western senator.

Mr. McGovern: I do not think we used a geographic determination of where we set the membership. For example, in the carbon capture and storage working group, we have representatives from the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Alberta Energy and the Saskatchewan ministry. We have a good mix of provincial and territorial representation. We also consulted with the provinces and territories when we set up these working groups to ascertain that there was interest by provincial governments.

Senator Neufeld: I will check.

Senator Banks: My question is to Mr. Keenan. Before I ask it, I want to make sure that I heard you correctly about a three-year report on the sustainable development strategy. Is it every three years, the new regime?

Mr. Keenan: Yes, the new regime requires that individual departments include in their estimates key information related to their sustainable development strategies, and that is annual. The whole-of-government picture that looks out prospectively in terms of a strategy — which we are working on — and then reports on progress happens on a three-year cycle.

Senator Banks: Will we still see on an annual basis the sustainable development strategy reports of the respective departments?

Mr. Keenan: Yes, but they will not be as per the old system. A key feature of the new system is that we link the sustainable development strategies straight into the expenditure management system. They have to be integrated into the estimates properly; they are not just a separate tab, if you will.

Senator Banks: I will exaggerate and simplify my question in order to make my point clearly so that you can answer it clearly. This committee has had and has expressed in the past great interest in these sustainable development strategies from the respective governments. You mentioned that the commissioner has commented on them; so have we at length, and scathingly.

One reason we were able to do that was because of being able to determine that, of the 32 government departments, these guys are doing a really good job, these guys are doing okay and these guys are not. That kind of information access and transparency is fundamental to the functioning, if it is going to have a function, of the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Can you assure me that the new process is, first, consistent with that act's intent and, second, that it will not have the effect of partially obscuring what we want to look at? In other words, will the sustainable development strategy reports of the individual departments still be as forthcoming as they are now, or will they be less so?

Mr. Keenan: Our intention and our proposal with the strategy that is in the consultation paper would make the individual reports of departments significantly more transparent. It would facilitate both a comparing of activities and results between departments and, quite importantly, an aggregating of those activities so that parliamentarians such as yourselves can get a fix on what the government is doing overall in terms of activities, what progress it is making toward its stated goals and whether or not there is a gap, so that you have information to render account on that.

Two things do that. One is the fact that by creating a whole-of-government reporting system, we create a template that is standardized. Everyone provides information on the same basis, so it is comparable.

Second, by linking it to the expenditure management system, we hook in to a very deep, broad, detailed system through the estimates and expenditure management information system to pull out of government the information that is already there on what is being spent and what is being achieved.

I believe, having read some of your scathing comments on the existing system, that you currently cannot find that information in those reports. My favourite example is the clean air agenda. It is 44 programs, over $2 billion a year and nine departments; it is a major investment on the part of the Government of Canada on a very important environmental issue. Yes, you would be hard-pressed to get any sense of what that agenda is, reading the 32 sustainable development strategies that currently exist.

Our hope is that under the new system you can get a very clear picture of what it is and what is good and bad about it.

Senator Banks: I applaud the addition of the umbrella approach every three years, but I take it you are assuring me there is no obfuscation involved in respect of what we would find out about the individual departments on an annual basis.

Mr. Keenan: In fact, not only is there no obfuscation, but our intent is that by requiring the program activity architecture and all of the estimates that departments do, by requiring them to bring the sustainable development strategies right into those estimates, when parliamentarians such as this committee are providing scrutiny of the estimates, they have much better information with respect to sustainable development, department by department.

Senator Seidman: There has been a lot of discussion on this committee as we hear from witnesses who have so much expertise in old and new energy technologies and alternatives. One subject we have heard is debate about whether we will have alternative clean energy renewable substitutes for fossil fuels to any degree by 2020.

It has been suggested here that much of what we need in the area of new clean energy technology has not been developed yet. On the other hand, we have heard that most or even all the research and development has been done and that we have all of the technology. Now, it is just a question of making it operational.

Mr. McGovern, I noticed in the Canada-U.S. Clean Energy Dialogue that one of the working groups in your three priority areas is expanding clean energy research and development. Has a preliminary report already come out of there? If not, when might we see one, if we could see it? Also, would the working group be doing an assessment of current research and development and then deciding which direction to take it in? Please give us some sense of what is happening.

Mr. McGovern: Thank you very much for that question. The working group on clean energy research and development is chaired by an assistant deputy minister in our department, Dr. Brian Gray. Its focus is to try to connect the Canadian and U.S. experts to promote cross-border collaboration in the priority areas, including future-generation biofuels, clean engines and vehicles, and energy efficiency in homes and buildings.

I should point out that the action plans in the report to leaders I have referred to quite extensively this morning are all publicly available. They are available on the department's website. However, at the conclusion of the meeting, I will pass on a link to the clerk of this committee so that members here will get access to that information. That is the most extensive report we have done on this so far.

The members of the R&D working group have so far focused their attention on exploring options to try to develop what they call an RD&D — research, development and deployment — framework and then a roadmap. They have also looked at advancing some of the collaborative projects identified in the action plan. If you give me a second, I will give you some of the projects we hope to be updating later on this spring.

They are working on scoping out the framework for clean energy, RD&D, to link projects and institutions both within Canada and with the United States. To date, the Canadian working group has funded a number of partnership development workshops that are intended to connect researchers on both sides of the border.

As an aside, Secretary Chu in the United States is keenly interested in collaboration between researchers. He spent a significance portion of his career doing research on clean energy.

We have also worked closely with the U.S. Department of Energy on what is called a strategic technology energy plan, or STEP, which is a modeling and mapping initiative designed to orient the U.S. policy-making and R&D program development at the highest levels. We think there are real opportunities to replicate some of that work in Canada.

I will give you one more, though I could talk about this at length. We have also launched a number of collaborative research initiatives tying into U.S. researchers and putting them in contact with Canadian ones. They are focused on the development of lightweight materials for vehicles, on biomass, and on looking at cooperation on solar energy. It is a huge area. The challenge we are facing is to try to hone in on what the Prime Minister and the President tasked us with — practical areas of cooperation.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We are hitting the wall here. I hope we can perhaps call on you again, Mr. McGovern and Mr. Keenan, on these two areas that are obviously current and moving. I hate to do this, but I will let Senator Dickson and Senator Brown ask their question. Then I will ask the witnesses to send us their answers in writing. The next meeting starts at 10:30 and the witnesses are starting to arrive.

Senator Brown: My question is a yes or no question. So far the witnesses, including Minister Prentice, have said that Canada is doing what is practical, possible, reasonable and sustainable while we are harmonizing our plan with the United States. Since the United States emits 27 per cent of the world's emissions and Canada about 2 per cent, does that sum up our goal?

Mr. McGovern: We could send you a written "yes" or give you the answer: yes.

Senator Brown: I wonder whether the term "synchrophaser" is not a synonym for "harmonizing."

Senator Dickson: My question relates to the North American energy grid. What actions are planned in that area? My second question relates to the supply and demand side, not only in North America, but globally. China has emitted more emissions while we have been talking here than we will emit in whatever time frame. What consideration has been given internationally?

I am a rather practical person. Last night, we heard from Bruce Carson. His philosophy is that you have to start with the policy and the rest of it kind of comes around the policy. President Obama is opening up offshore stuff on the east coast — drilling and whatever. If you carve up the policy, what share of the market will Canada get of the North American market; what share will the U.S. get; and what is the time horizon?

The Chair: Could you give us something in writing through the clerk, Mr. McGovern?

Mr. McGovern: Yes.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Keenan and Mr. McGovern. Thank you, Environment Canada. We have had a good morning, and we feel that we have common interests with you folks. We are hoping to continue the dialogue. I gather you have assured us we will be able to. Good luck in your ongoing efforts with the U.S., and keep us informed.

Colleagues, thank you for your attention and input. I think we have had a great session this morning. I will adjourn this meeting until Tuesday at five o'clock.

(The committee adjourned.)