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Exploring a low carbon economy in Eastern Canada
May 26, 2017

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.


Day 1 – St John’s, (Newfoundland)

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 left, Senator Douglas Black, assistant deputy minister of mines, Perry Canning, senators Diane Griffin, Dennis Patterson, Rosa Galvez, Richard Neufeld and assistant deputy minister of energy, Walter Parsons, discuss creative uses of revenues for carbon pricing in St. John’s.


Senators meet with the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association in St. John’s where they discussed clean technology and environmental innovation in Newfoundland.   From left, association executive director Kieran Hanley, and senators Douglas Black, Diane Griffin, Richard Neufeld and Dennis Patterson.

Senators meet with representatives from Fortis, Inc. in St. John’s, N.L. on Monday, May 1, 2017.   From left, Barry Perry, Fortis president and CEO, Senator Douglas Black, Senator Richard Neufeld, Senator Dennis Patterson, Senator Rosa Galvez.


Day 2 – Summerside, (Prince Edward Island)

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.

Senators toured the Summerside waste water treatment plant.   From left: Senator Diane Griffin, Senator Dennis Patterson, Senator Rosa Galvez, Senator Douglas Black, Sam Arsenault, waste water operations supervisor, Chad Fraser, waste water treatment operator.

Passive house owner Beth Peters, left, shows her home’s energy-efficient windows to Senator Galvez.

Senators Douglas Black, Diane Griffin, Rosa Galvez and Dennis Patterson take in the Summerside Wind Farm in P.E.I..

Day 3 – Saint John, (New Brunswick)

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. 

Senators meet with officials from Irving Oil in Saint John, N.B., to discuss the importance of the proposed Energy East pipeline for its business.   From left, deputy chair Senator Paul J. Massicotte, Irving Oil official James Walsh, senators Dennis Patterson, Rosa Galvez, Percy Mockler, Irving Oil director Joe Harriman and Senator Richard Neufeld, chair.

Peter Clifford, a student in instrumentation control technology, speaks to Senator Neufeld after his presentation to New Brunswick Community College students.

Committee members visit the simulator in the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station.

Day 4 – Halifax, (Nova Scotia)

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.

Committee members learn about the history of the Emera building, an office tower converted from an old power plant.

Senators visit the Dahn battery lab in Halifax, on Thursday, May 4, 2017.

Senators take part in a public forum at Dalhousie University on Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy.