With the pressing reality of climate change and its serious consequences to all, Canada and 194 other signatories reached an agreement in Paris two years ago to limit global average temperatures increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius. To comply with the 2015 Paris Agreement, the Government of Canada has committed us to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Canadians must find a way of eliminating 219 megatonnes of the country’s GHG emissions within the next 13 years. This is a very ambitious goal.
As part of its on-going study on transitioning to a lower-carbon economy, the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources spent four days studying the effects, challenges, opportunities and costs of this transition with a fact-finding mission to Eastern Canada. The study included stops in St John’s, N.L., Summerside, P.E.I., Saint John, N.B. and Halifax, N.S. The committee is expected to present a final report on its findings with key recommendations to the federal government by December 2017.
The first stop on the itinerary brought the senators to St. John’s, N.L. for a full day of meetings about clean technology and environmental innovation.
Senators learned about the Lower Churchill River Project, a hydroelectric resource that will offer long-term, clean, renewable power and listened to suggestions about making use of carbon pricing revenue.
From St. John’s, senators arrived in the pastoral province with red soil, touching down in Summerside, P.E.I..
Senators met with a variety of city officials and climate change experts at Credit Union Place, which boasts many sustainable features including geothermal wells, heat transfer technology and even an on-site solar farm.
Other highlights included the wind turbines at Summerside Wind Farm, a visit to the Summerside waste water treatment plant, and the chance to see a passive house — an ultra-low energy building— built by a local energy-efficient home builder.
The next morning, the members arrived in Saint John where committee chair Senator Richard Neufeld met with Ray Hubble, acting regional director of New Brunswick Community College, to tour the campus before speaking to students at the school.
Senators continued their fact-finding mission at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station and learned about the TransCanada Energy East pipeline project during a meeting with local oil officials.
On the final day of their fact-finding mission, senators arrived in Halifax where they learned about recycling waste carbon dioxide to make affordable, greener concrete products. They were hosted at Dalhousie University by the College of Sustainability and explored laboratories in the Faculty of Science and participated in an open forum with students, faculty and the public. Senators capped off their fact-finding mission by engaging with members of the public after their presentation at the university.
The fact-finding mission offered the committee a chance to understand and identify key considerations and challenges while moving toward a lower-carbon economy in Canada.