Government of Canada actions and plans for climate change, environmental accounts, fossil fuel subsidies, fair trade procurement, and public consultation in preparing the government’s position for Rio+20

Petition: 329

Issue(s): Climate change, federal provincial relations, governance, international cooperation, and natural resources

Petitioner(s): One Earth Initiative Society

Date Received: 29 December 2011

Status: Completed

Summary: The petitioner asks about the Government of Canada’s consultation with the public and provinces in preparing its position prior to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The petitioner also seeks clarification about Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, about its future plans and regulations to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and about its reporting on reductions. The petitioner asks the government about its carbon pricing plans and how it measures financial assistance to the oil and gas sector. In addition, the petitioner asks whether the government intends to develop and use alternative measures, such as well-being indicators, in addition to traditional measures of economic activity, such as gross domestic product, and if it plans to integrate fair trade concerns into public procurement.

Petition

December 22, 2011

Office of the Auditor General of Canada
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
Attention: Environmental Petitions Process
240 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0G6

RE: Canadian governance and decision-making relating to public consultation, climate change, environmental accounts, fossil fuel subsidies, carbon pricing, fair trade procurement, and federal priorities for Rio+20.

I. Introduction

In accordance to Article 22 of the Auditor General Act, please accept this environmental petition submitted by the One Earth Initiative Society as a partner of the Canadian Earth Summit Coalition (the Coalition). The Coalition is a self-organized, independent and informal civil society network of non-governmental, non-profit, academic and research organizations created to push for Canadian leadership at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD 2012, also known as Rio+20), to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The Coalition has launched a series of Earth Summit dialogues and will lead a cross-Canada tour in early 2012 to reach out to Canadians on the important question of sustainability through the coalition’s bilingual public engagement initiative “We Canada”, available online at www.EarthSummit.ca.

One Earth and a multitude of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across Canada are greatly concerned by Canada’s recent efforts to undermine national and global efforts to move towards sustainable development. Examples of troubling actions include: ignoring the science of climate change and withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol when the International Energy Agency warns that the world is headed for irreversible climate change in five years1; supporting the oil industry through financial assistance and purported relaxed environmental regulations, while seeking to expand tar sands production; cutting core funding to NGOs and networks such as the Canadian Council for International Cooperation and the Canadian Environmental Network; and, not engaging citizens and provinces on critical issues of sustainable development. In a time in history when the world desperately needs real leaders for the great and urgent global transition to a sustainable future, a wealthy industrialized country like Canada must step up to the plate with true leadership to ensure we do not undermine the lives of future generations.

On November 1, 2011, the Coalition made a submission to the UNCSD 2012 compilation document (also known as the “Zero Draft”), the document that will form the basis of the negotiating text for Conference. The submission included a number of priority policy areas that the Coalition feels should be a prominent part of any agreement emerging from UNCSD 2012. The submission was also received by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) on November 1, 2011, and we were informed that it would be brought to the attention of all the federal departments represented in the Rio+20 Interdepartmental Committee. These policy priorities are described in sections IV to VI, providing background and context for the questions in the latter half of the petition.

Demonstrating the inter-connected and wide-reaching nature of sustainability concerns, the petition questions are directed to Environment Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department of Finance, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Industry Canada, the Canadian International Development Agency, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and any other appropriate responsible departments and agencies.

II. Public Consultation, Civil Society, and Recent Changes to Environmental Governance in Canada

In our submission to the UNCSD 2012 Zero Draft, we expressed deep disappointment for not having been consulted by the federal government of Canada on the development of its own submission to the Draft. Elsewhere, governments have been providing support and developing frameworks to coordinate and incorporate civil society perspectives in preparation for the UNCSD 2012; for example, the European Commission on Environment has been consulting with stakeholders through an open, democratic process that welcomes and encourages “contributions from citizens, organisations and public authorities.”2 The lack of Canadian consultation goes against a long-standing Canadian tradition dating back prior to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 of engaging with civil society on important issues, including sustainable development.

In the lead-up to, and during, the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, the Canadian Government established an exemplary public participation and engagement process,3 which contributed to the determination of Canada's areas of focus at the Summit. In addition, Canada has been one of the few UN-member states to include civil society representatives as part of its official delegation to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development since 1992. We are concerned that Canada will no longer pursue this valuable form of collaboration with Canadian civil society, particularly since the Federal Government of Canada has declined core funding to the Canadian Environmental Network (RCEN) after having provided such critical support for 34 years. The RCEN has been a key stakeholder in ensuring transparent civil society representation on delegations for United Nations (UN) meetings. We are advocating for a commitment to include a civil society and youth representative on the Canadian delegation to UNCSD 2012.

Until May 2010, the portfolio for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development was coordinated by DFAIT’s Sustainable Development Division, which has since been dissolved. The Division performed an important lead role coordinating the Canadian delegation position and acting as the focal point in international sustainable development negotiations, and was valuable for its connection to the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN.

Questions:

  1. Why did the government of Canada not consult the Canadian public before making its submission to the UNCSD 2012 Zero Draft Document on November 1st, 2011?
  2. Could you please detail the nature and frequency of public consultation processes the federal government will undertake to prepare for UNCSD 2012, indicating examples of planned upcoming opportunities? How will these consultations be assessed for effectiveness? What will the government do with the results of these consultations, and how will the perspectives, values and advice of multiple stakeholders be visibly and measurably implemented?
  3. How were Canadian provinces consulted in the development of Canada’s submission to the UNCSD 2012 Zero Draft? If the provinces were not consulted, please explain why they were not consulted. If they were consulted, please provide specific examples of provincial input that have been captured in Canada’s submission.
  4. How will the submission the Canadian Earth Summit Coalition made to the UNCSD 2012 Zero Draft be integrated into the Canadian position for UNCSD 2012? If no such mechanisms exist to integrate the policy proposals, why are no such mechanisms in place?
  5. Please explain the decision to cut the relatively small, but crucially valuable, core funding to the RCEN in October 2011 – after the federal government stated in the spring and summer of 2011 that they indeed intended to renew core funding support?4 Please also provide references to studies or research that prove that the proposed web-based consultation undertaken by Environment Canada will be a more effective method of receiving Canadian citizen input on environmental and sustainable development issues.
  6. Given the increasing urgency of shifting to a green economy, and in light of the importance of sustainable development in the lead up to UNCSD 2012, how is the dissolution of the DFAIT Sustainable Development Division a benefit for Canada? On what basis was the decision made to dissolve the Division, and who was involved in making that decision? Was the decision discussed in Parliament? If not, why not?
  7. Will the Government of Canada include a Youth and NGO delegate as part of the official Canadian Delegation to the UNCSD 2012? If no, why not, when there has been a historical precedence to do so? If yes, will the government go through the RCEN selection process, which has been developed for greater transparency and accountability?

III. Climate Change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol, and Domestic Plans

According to an April 2009 Hoggan poll surveying 5,300 Canadians, “three-quarters (75 percent) of Canadians feel their leaders are not doing enough to address climate change. Just under three-quarters (72 percent) are convinced that climate change is happening now. And about 70 percent say Canada should lead the world on solving global warming.”5 Further highlighting the importance of strong and immediate Canadian leadership, 72 percent of those polled also believe that the impacts of climate change will be very serious.6

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan on December 11, 1997 and entered into force in February 2005.7 It is the binding international protocol under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits developed countries to reducing and stabilizing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There are 195 countries which are Parties to the Convention.8 Based on the recognition that “developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities.’”9 Further, the UNFCCC emphasizes that “the Kyoto Protocol is generally seen as an important first step towards a truly global emission reduction regime that will stabilize GHG emissions, and provides the essential architecture for any future international agreement on climate change.”10

Under “key documents” on the UNFCCC website are the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Road Map, and the Cancun Agreements. The Copenhagen Accord is not acknowledged as an agreement under the Convention – the pledges taken under the Accord are non-binding, and the Conference of the Parties (COP) has simply “taken note of it.”11

By abandoning the Kyoto Protocol, Canada has demonstrated that the Environment Minister did not go to Durban to negotiate in good faith, and sends a message to the world that our country does not care about the effects of climate change that are experienced in other countries12 and even in regions of our own. In response to the announcement, many nations, international organizations and environmental groups have called the action regrettable and continue to encourage Canada to stay in the protocol.13 It is implied that by withdrawing from the Protocol, and not doing our part to “go first,” this decision may have repercussions for the successful development of a new climate agreement which includes all major emitters – an agreement which has been widely reported as a goal of both the Prime Minister and Environment Minister14 (and see quotes, above).

Questions:

  1. Why did the government decide not to include members of the Opposition on the 70-plus member official Canadian Delegation to the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, which reportedly included “members of the governing Conservative Party, as well as business leaders and other experts”15? Why was the announcement made at such a late date, which presumably made accreditation and travel arrangements more difficult for Members of Parliament (MPs) who still chose to attend the conference?
  2. Bearing in mind that the decisions to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and to adopt domestic legislation – the Kyoto Implementation Act, which received royal assent in 2007 – were discussed in the House of Commons, why was the decision to withdraw from Kyoto not similarly debated and voted upon in the House? Why did the Environment Minister decide to wait until after COP 17 to make the official withdrawal announcement?
  3. The Environment Minister stated in his closing statement at Durban that “Canada's goal is to see real reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. That's why we are taking concrete steps domestically and why we are an active member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” and, “as always, we will continue to act in the best interests of Canada and Canadians. And we hope countries will join us in this global effort by undertaking concrete and quantified measures to reduce emissions significantly.”16 Similarly, the Prime Minister has recently stated that “in terms of climate change, we're pursuing policies domestically and nationally and internationally. We're working for the creation of an international protocol that will include all major emitters.”17 Please explain, in detail, how Canada is currently undertaking “concrete and quantified measures to reduce emissions significantly” and plans to meet its often-quoted pledge under the Copenhagen Accord of 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels.18
  4. To that end, please describe the current status of the 2007 Turning the Corner Plan, which “set out an approach for reducing greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions from industry [and] also outlined planned regulatory measures to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, actions on consumer and commercial products, and actions to improve indoor air quality.” 19 What are the current measures in place, when will the government of Canada institute regulations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and which agency will be the lead federal executor?
  5. The leader of the Green Party of Canada has pointed out that the Kyoto Implementation Act “requires Canada to continue reporting and doing its job, fulfilling its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.”20 Please describe the status of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program, “Canada’s legislated, publicly-accessible inventory of facility-reported greenhouse gas (GHG) data and information”21 and indicate when the 2010 emissions reporting will be updated on the website.

IV. Measuring What Matters: Beyond GDP

Until recently, most countries have used measures of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a proxy for development and human well-being. As a measure of domestic economic activity, GDP is a highly effective tool; however, GDP does not capture the full range of economic, environmental, and social realities affecting humans. Industry Canada Statistics notes, “Other costs may occur from sustaining a high rate of economic growth, such as resource and environmental degradation. However, the impact faster economic growth has on our environment and resources are not reflected in the measure GDP growth.”22

Although there is no globally accepted alternative, Industry Canada also remarks that in measuring GDP and evaluating a country’s standard of living, several other indices have been developed to bridge this gap.23 Full-cost accounting, measures of capital stock depletion, and happiness indicators present some of the current efforts to implement a complement to GDP. Indicators that supplement GDP with additional environmental and social information have gained the most traction, and include the System of Integrated Economic Environmental Accounts identified by the UN,24 and the European Union’s (EU) “Beyond GDP” supplement,25 a visual representation of which is displayed below (Figure 1).

The Government of Canada has demonstrated some commitment to evaluating the human economy’s impact on the environment through the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, the Canadian System of Environmental and Resource Accounts at Statistics Canada, and Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators from Environment Canada. These represent crucial first steps in acknowledging the shortcomings of GDP. At various scales across the country, initiatives that go beyond GDP in assessing the well-being of people, their communities, and the natural environment are taking shape. These include the Genuine Progress Indicator in Alberta,26 the Atlantic Genuine Progress Index in Nova Scotia,27 and the Canadian Index of Well Being,28 as well as more subjective approaches that are being researched and developed at top Canadian universities.

Figure 1: European Union Beyond GDP Initiative Indicators

Source: http://www.beyond-gdp.eu/indicators.html

The Canadian Earth Summit Coalition calls for the Government of Canada to develop an official multi-stakeholder consultative process to explore alternative and complementary measures to GDP. Canadians deserve policies that address well-being as well as traditional measures of economic activity.

Questions:

  1. Given that Industry Canada acknowledges that there are other indices developed to measure standards of living,29 and that it is important to limit our consumption in the present to leave resources for consumption in the future,30 how does the Canadian government consider well-being indicators and measures that integrate environmental and economic decision-making as part of accounting in a move toward a green economy?
  2. a) Does the Canadian government foresee implementing a holistic, alternative system of measurement complementary to GDP as part of its accounting and statistics functions? b) Could this be incorporated as part of mandated Strategic Environmental Assessment?31 If no, why does the Canadian government feel this is not a worthwhile activity? If yes, please describe how the government intends to develop such alternative measures, what types of indices might be included, which federal department will be the lead agency, and when we might expect to see such an initiative launched?

V. Getting the Prices Right: Eliminating Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Pricing Carbon

Historically, goods and services produced using fossil fuels have been underpriced in the marketplace, leading to overconsumption of those services (primarily carbon-based energy) and the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) at levels vastly greater than the ecosphere’s assimilative capacity. Canada, as a heavy extractor, user (per capita) and exporter of fossil fuels, is contributing to the problem on a number of fronts, especially given that current market prices do not account for the numerous costs resulting from emitting carbon, and that the oil, gas and coal sectors are subsidized at levels much higher than competing forms of non-carbon energy. Market prices should reflect the true social and ecological costs of energy-intensive goods and services, in particular the impacts of emitting carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change.

The elimination of harmful subsidies and reflecting true social and ecological costs in the price of goods and services by putting a price on carbon are the starting point of shifting towards a green economy. One of the objectives of the UNCSD 2012 is to secure renewed international political commitment for sustainable development. Countries must show real commitment to making the markets work for sustainable development by using effective levers such as taxes, subsidies and procurement to discourage ecologically damaging activities and promote healthy and socially progressive alternatives. A system that eliminates harmful, market-distorting fossil fuel subsidies and that partly shifts taxation systems from “goods” (i.e. employment) to “bads” (carbon emissions) would constitute a significant step to making the markets work for sustainable development without unnecessarily jeopardizing the economy.32

Many countries have implemented carbon tax or trading schemes; some, like Sweden, have even experienced growth in GDP at the same time that carbon tax has increased and greenhouse gas emissions have decreased.33 The EU and New Zealand have emissions trading schemes; California’s is set to commence in 2013.34 Australia, a country with an “emissions-intensive advanced economy” with resource-based industries like those found in Canada, has recently passed legislation for a carbon tax.35 Interestingly, though Australia was not required to reduce its emissions from 1990 levels (their target was actually 8 percent above 199036), they have developed a target of reducing emissions to 5 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.37 Even countries that Canada identifies as major emitters who are not part of the Kyoto Protocol have some sort of planned carbon pricing mechanism: India has a coal tax and China is working on developing carbon trading schemes.38

Questions:

  1. Given the success of the carbon tax in Sweden, and expected economic benefits of carbon pricing in provinces such as British Columbia,39 why has the Canadian federal government resisted implementing a carbon pricing mechanism?
  2. Does the Canadian government have a plan to implement some type of carbon pricing or emissions trading scheme in the near future? If yes, please describe the mechanism and its anticipated timeline for development and implementation. If no, please describe why no such market mechanism is being developed.
  3. How does the Canadian government a) define and b) measure financial assistance – programs, subsidies, promotions or other support – provided to the oil and gas sector? Please indicate the total amount (in dollars), and explain the nature of financial assistance provided to the oil and gas sector each year over the last decade.

VI. Fair Trade procurement policies

The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation calls on relevant authorities at all levels to “promote public procurement policies that encourage development and diffusion of environmentally sound goods and services” (Ch. III, 19 c.). Now is the time to go beyond promoting simply “green” procurement, and include social considerations. Fair Trade addresses environmental concerns such as soil erosion and climate change, and goes beyond “green” procurement by including social and labour considerations.

For example, Germany has a successful and growing Fair Trade market with a wide range of organizational infrastructure, demonstrating the economic viability of supporting Fair Trade initiatives; “between 2005 and 2007 the net retail value of all goods sold under the Fairtrade label in Germany has gone up from €70.9m to €141.7, thus doubling within two years.”40

Many public institutions in Canada are adopting Fair Trade procurement strategies. In 2011, the University of British Columbia (UBC) became Canada’s first Fair Trade Campus. Under this designation, the university and all of its suppliers have committed to purchasing products in which Fair Trade certification is available.41 Similarly, there are 15 Fair Trade Towns across the country – an initiative stipulating that municipal administrations procure Fair Trade products when possible. Wolfville, Nova Scotia, became the first Fair Trade Town in Canada, and Vancouver, British Columbia was the first major Fair Trade metropolitan area; since then, other cities have followed suit. These implementation strategies have not infringed upon Canada’s obligations to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) nor the World Trade Organization (WTO); moreover they advance Canada’s commitment in meeting Agenda 21.

Questions:

  1. Does the government of Canada acknowledge benefits of including Fair Trade stipulations in its public procurement strategies? If the government does not embrace the concept of Fair Trade, can you please explain why?
  2. Does the government – through Public Works and Government Services Canada – plan on implementing a public procurement strategy that includes Fair Trade? If no, why not? If yes, what is the timeline for implementation, and please list what might be some of the specific measures, its associated timelines and federal executors?

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing back from you.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Emmanuel Prinet]

[Original signed by Raili Lakanen]

 

 

Emmanuel Prinet,

Raili Lakanen,

Policy Director

Policy Development Director

One Earth Initiative Society

Canadian Earth Summit Coalition

Contact Information for Petitioners

Emmanuel Prinet
One Earth Initiative Society
# 1205-1255 Main Street, Vancouver, BC
V6A 4G5
1-604-669-5143
emmanuel@oneearthweb.org

Raili Lakanen
[personal information withheld at the petitioner's request]
raili@earthsummit.ca

Name of group:
One Earth Initiative Society

1 “World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns.” The Guardian (9 November 2011): http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/09/fossil-fuel-infrastructure-climate-change?fb=optOut

2 Consultation on the planned European Commission Communication for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20). European Commission on Environment: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/consultations/un_2012.htm

3 Canada at the WSSD: Canadian Preparations. Government of Canada: http://www.canada2002earthsummit.gc.ca/canada_at_wssd/preparations_e.cfm

4 “Longstanding Federal Partnership with Canadian Environmental Network Terminated.” RCEN (14 October 2011): http://rcen.ca/media-releases/longstanding-federal-partnership-with-canadian-environmental-network-terminated

5 Shared Values, Canadians & Sustainability. Survey of the general public. Hoggan: http://www.hoggan.com/shared-values-canadians-sustainability-survey-general-public

6 http://www.hoggan.com/shared-values-canadians-sustainability-survey-general-public

7 Kyoto Protocol. UNFCCC: http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php

8 Background on the UNFCCC: The international response to climate change. UNFCCC: http://unfccc.int/essential_background/items/6031.php

9 http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php

10 http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php

11 http://unfccc.int/essential_background/items/6031.php

12 “May accuses Harper of breaking law over Kyoto.” CBC news (13 December 2011): http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/12/13/pol-may-kyoto.html

13 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/12/13/pol-may-kyoto.html

14 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/12/13/pol-may-kyoto.html

15 “Tories bar opposition MPs from official delegation at climate talks.” The Globe and Mail (16 November 2011): http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-bar-opposition-mps-from-official-delegation-at-climate-talks/article2238545/?from=sec431

16 Canada's Closing Statement at COP17: http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=FFE36B6D-1&news=39FCDB85-A69C-4B71-AC5E-8D14140AADD7

17 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/12/13/pol-may-kyoto.html

18 “Canada lists Emissions Target under the Copenhagen Accord.” Environment Canada (1 February 2010): http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=714D9AAE-1&news=EAF552A3-D287-4AC0-ACB8-A6FEA697ACD6

19 Turning the Corner. Environment Canada: http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=4891B242-1

20 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/12/13/pol-may-kyoto.html

21 Reported Facility Greenhouse Gas Data. Environment Canada: http://www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg/Default.asp?lang=En&n=8044859A-1

22 Understanding GDP and Economic Growth. Industry Canada: http://www.ic.gc.ca/cis-sic/cis-sic.nsf/IDE/cis-sic31-33vlae.html#gdp4

23 Glossary of Terms: Standard of Living. Industry Canada: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cis-sic.nsf/eng/h_00005.html#standard_of_living

24 System of Environmental-Economic Accounts (SEEA). United Nations Statistics Division. http://unstats.un.org/unsd/envaccounting/seea.asp

25 Beyond GDP Indicators. European Commission, DG Environment, DG Eurostat, Beyond GDP partners: http://www.beyond-gdp.eu/indicators.html

26 Alberta Genuine Progress Indicator. Pembina Institute: http://www.pembina.org/economics/gpi/alberta

27 Genuine Progress Index for Atlantic Canada. GPI Atlantic: http://www.gpiatlantic.org/

28 Canadian Index of Wellbeing: http://ciw.ca/en/

29 http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cis-sic.nsf/eng/h_00005.html#standard_of_living

30 http://www.ic.gc.ca/cis-sic/cis-sic.nsf/IDE/cis-sic31-33vlae.html#gdp4

31 Strategic Environmental Assessment. Industry Canada: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/sea-ees.nsf/eng/home

32 “On carbon pricing, private sector shows the way.” The Globe and Mail (31 January 2011): http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/commentary/perspective/on-carbon-pricing-private-sector-shows-the-way/article1889319/

33 “Has BC’s Carbon Tax Worked?” The Tyee (23 November 2011): http://thetyee.ca/News/2011/11/23/BC-Carbon-Tax/index.html

34 “Australian Senate passes carbon tax.” The Guardian (8 November 2011): http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/08/australia-senate-passes-carbon-tax

35 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/08/australia-senate-passes-carbon-tax

36 How the Kyoto Protocol Works. Australian Government, Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency: http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/initiatives/kyoto/kyoto-protocol-works.aspx

37 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/08/australia-senate-passes-carbon-tax

38 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/08/australia-senate-passes-carbon-tax

39 Has BC’s Carbon Tax Worked? The Tyee (November 2011): http://thetyee.ca/News/2011/11/23/BC-Carbon-Tax/index.html

40 Fair Trade 2007: New Facts and Figures from an ongoing success story. Dutch Association of Worldshops (p. 77) http://www.fairhelp.nl/home/files/ff_2007.pdf

41 In this case, all coffee sold on campus is Fair Trade. There are tea, sugar, chocolate, and banana options. Other products are being continually rolled in.

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Minister's Response: Environment Canada

May 2 2012

Mr. Emmanuel Prinet
Policy Director
One Earth Initiative Society
1205 – 1255 Main Street
Vancouver BC V6A 4G5

Ms. Raili Lakanen
[personal information withheld at the petitioner’s request]

Dear Mr. Prinet and Ms. Lakanen:

I am writing in response to your Environmental Petition no. 329, pursuant to section 22 of the Auditor General Act, regarding Canadian governance and decision making relating to public consultation, climate change, environmental accounts, fossil fuel subsidies, carbon pricing, fair trade procurement, and federal priorities for Rio+20. Your petition was received in Environment Canada on January 11, 2012.

Enclosed you will find Environment Canada’s response to your petition. I understand that the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Public Works and Government Services will be responding separately to questions that fall under their respective mandates.

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your petition, and trust that you will find this information useful.

Sincerely,

[Original signed Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment]

The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.

Enclosure

c.c.: The Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable James M. Flaherty, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Joe Oliver, P.C., M.P.


Environment Canada’s Response to Environmental Petition 0329, concerning Canadian governance and decision-making relating to public consultation, climate change, environmental accounts, fossil fuel subsidies, carbon pricing, fair trade procurement, and federal priorities for Rio+20

Question 5: Please explain the decision to cut the relatively small, but crucially valuable, core funding to the RCEN in October 2011 – after the federal government stated in the spring and summer of 2011 that they indeed intended to renew core funding support? Please also provide references to studies or research that prove that the proposed web based consultation undertaken by Environment Canada will be a more effective method of receiving Canadian citizen input on environmental and sustainable development issues.

Answer: For 2011 12, Environment Canada decision making on contribution funding was delayed because the Government was operating on Special Warrants that provided essential funds only to continue operations while Parliament was dissolved.

A key part of the Government of Canada’s plan to return to a balanced budget includes limiting federal spending, which leads to tough decisions being made. For Environment Canada, this means ensuring that our investments protect the environment in the most strategic and cost effective ways possible. Hence, the Department is moving away from providing core organizational funding and shifting its focus to projects that directly provide measurable environmental results for Canadians.

The decision to end the RCEN’s funding is part of Environment Canada’s strategy to modernize how it engages Canadians, including environmental non governmental organizations (ENGOs), in environmental decision making by using new web-based tools. ENGOs with an interest or expertise in issues managed by Environment Canada will continue to be invited to share their views and expertise on these matters. In addition to traditional methods of consultations, the Department will increase its use of web based tools to ensure that it continues to consider the views of ENGOs and other Canadians in its policies, programs and initiatives. Such tools offer significant advantages over traditional methods, such as allowing the Department to reach wider audiences, including non traditional stakeholders; providing participants with greater access to consultation opportunities; and improving the transparency and accountability of consultation processes while reducing their costs.

The environment remains a priority for the Government of Canada, even in times of fiscal restraint. Significant investments will continue to be made towards supporting a clean, safe and sustainable environment, and Environment Canada will continue to deliver on its core priorities such as protecting and conserving our air, water, wildlife and natural areas as well as its responsibilities as a world class regulator.

Question 8: Why did the government decide not to include members of the Opposition on the 70-plus member official Canadian Delegation to the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, which reportedly included “members of the government Conservative Party, as well as business leaders and other experts’’15? Why was the announcement made at such a late date, which presumably made accreditation and travel arrangements more difficult for Members of Parliament, who still chose to attend the conference?

Answer: As part of our ongoing engagement in international climate change discussions, the Government of Canada accredits federal officials, who are experts on the range of climate change issues, to be part of the Canadian delegation and represent Canada at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations, including COP17 in Durban. This group of federal officials is led by Canada’s Chief Negotiator and Ambassador for Climate Change and the Minister of Environment who is the head of Canada’s delegation.

Consistent with our commitment to meaningful consultation and engagement with the provinces and territories in the UN climate change negotiations, the Government of Canada also invites one official from each of the provinces and territories to participate as part of Canada’s delegation. Their role is to provide advice to the Minister of the Environment and to the Chief Negotiator. At COP17, the official negotiating delegation also included a representative of Canada’s aboriginal communities. Canada also accredits other representatives of the provinces and territories to facilitate their engagement in the climate change dialogue. This includes Ministers and other government officials. These officials do not participate as members of the negotiating delegation.

In addition, the delegation to COP17 included officials from Canada’s High Commission in South Africa, who provided logistical and other support to the Minister and the delegation during the conference.

Members of Parliament, other than the Minister of the Environment, were not part of the federal delegation, regardless of political affiliation. In addition, business leaders were not included as part of the delegation. Unlike in previous years, when a range of stakeholders were included in the delegation, the Government made a decision during this time of fiscal restraint to keep the size of the delegation to a minimum.

Arrangements for the federal delegation to travel to Durban were completed well in advance of the conference, and at that time we had received no requests from Opposition members for accreditation. Each year a great deal of planning and preparation is required in advance of these meetings, and the longer we wait to make these arrangements, the more difficult they become.

Inclusion in the official negotiating delegation is not the only way for Canadians to participate in the climate change process, and in fact, many Canadians outside of the delegation did participate in the Durban Climate Conference. Individuals and organizations that wish to attend meetings of the UNFCCC have several options for accreditation, and the process itself is open and transparent, encouraging the sharing of a wide range of views. These options were available to all members of the Opposition.

In addition, the Minister of the Environment and the Ambassador for Climate Change made themselves available for meetings with a wide-range of stakeholders, including Opposition members, in which stakeholders were free to provide advice and views to inform Canadian positions. For example, the Ambassador held a well-attended daily stakeholder briefing.

Question 9: Bearing in mind that the decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and to adopt domestic legislation – the Kyoto Implementation Act, which received royal asset in 2007 – were discussed in the House of Commons, why was the decision to withdraw from Kyoto not similarly debated and voted upon in the House? Why did the Environment Minister decide to wait until after COP 17 to make the official withdrawal announcement?

Answer: Withdrawal is a legal provision under the Kyoto Protocol itself under Article 27, and can be exercised unilaterally by a Kyoto Party at any time. Withdrawal is a policy decision to be made by the government of the day. It is not a legislative act to be made by Parliament. To effect withdrawal, a notification of intention to withdraw must be transmitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Within Canada, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was authorized to submit this notification of withdrawal by an Order-in-Council signed by the Governor General of Canada.

Canada’s official notification of withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol was submitted to the United Nations on December 15, 2011. Withdrawal takes effect one year after receipt of the notification of withdrawal. Until the day the withdrawal takes effect, Canada will continue to comply with its obligations under the Protocol.

Canada was an active and constructive participant at COP17 to achieve a single, new agreement to address climate change that includes all major emitters. This has long been a clear priority for Canada and the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action agreed at COP17 was a significant step in that direction. Canada made clear in June 2011 that it will not be taking a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.

Question 10: The Environment Minister stated in his closing statement at Durban that "Canada's goal is to see real reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. That's why we are taking concrete steps domestically and why we are an active member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change" and, "as always, we will continue to act in the best interests of Canada and Canadians. And we hope countries will join us in this global effort by undertaking concrete and quantified measures to reduce emissions significantly." Similarly, the Prime Minister has recently stated that "in terms of climate change, we're pursuing policies domestically and nationally and internationally. We're working for the creation of an international protocol that will include all major emitters."

Please explain, in detail, how Canada is currently undertaking "concrete and quantified measures to reduce emissions significantly" and plans to meet its often quoted pledge under the Copenhagen Accord of 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels.

Answer: The Government of Canada takes the challenge of climate change seriously. For this reason, the Government is actively pursuing a comprehensive climate change agenda domestically and internationally.

Canada stands firm on the commitment it made when it signed the Copenhagen Accord in 2009, to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels, or 607 megatonnes, by 2020. This target is inscribed in the Copenhagen Accord and is aligned with the emissions reduction target set by the United States under the same agreement.

To reduce GHG emissions to the target level in 2020, Canada has developed a plan that will address all major sectors and sources of emissions and align with the U.S. where it makes sense to do so. This plan is a systematic sector by sector approach involving legally binding regulatory performance standards to reduce emissions while supporting innovation and investments in new clean energy technologies and industries.

Domestically, the federal government has begun to implement its climate change plan by addressing emissions in the transportation and electricity sectors two of the largest sources of GHG emissions in this country. We are also moving forward to address emissions from other major emitting sectors, including oil and gas.

Transportation Sector

With respect to transportation, the Government has implemented Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations, which establish progressively tighter GHG emissions standards for cars and light trucks over the 2011 16 model years, in alignment with U.S. national standards. These are projected to result in a 25 percent improvement in the average new vehicle GHG performance in 2016 compared to vehicles sold in 2008.

The Government is continuing to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop harmonized and progressively more stringent standards for the 2017 and later model years. A consultation document on the development of proposed regulations was released in November 2011.

In addition, regulations are being developed to reduce GHG emissions from heavy duty trucks, harmonized with U.S. requirements. A consultation paper has been released, and proposed regulations are targeted for publication in Canada Gazette Part I in 2012.

As part of its Renewable Fuels Strategy, the Government has finalized regulations requiring an average renewable fuel content of five percent in gasoline which came into effect on December 15, 2010 and has also finalized regulations for a two percent renewable content in diesel fuel and heating oil. When fully implemented, these requirements, combined with provincial regulations are expected to reduce GHG emissions by up to four megatonnes in 2012—about the equivalent of taking one million vehicles off the road.

Electricity Sector

To limit emissions from the electricity sector, in August 2011, the Government published proposed regulations for coal fired electricity generating units in Canada Gazette Part I for public comment. More than 5 000 comments were received during the public comment period. These comments are being considered as Environment Canada works on finalizing the regulatory approach.

The proposed regulations will impose a stringent performance standard on new coal fired electricity generation units and on units that have reached the end of their economic life, thus encouraging electric utilities to transition towards lower or non emitting types of generation (high efficiency natural gas, renewable energy, or carbon capture and storage). The regulations are scheduled to take effect July 1, 2015.

These and other federal measures in place or announced, combined with actions taken by provinces, have brought us one quarter of the way towards our 2020 target. The Government is now developing regulated performance standards for other major emitting sectors of the national economy, including the oil and gas sector.

Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy

The federal government has been using a regulatory approach to update and strengthen energy efficiency standards for products and equipment under the Energy Efficiency Act and, in cooperation with provincial and territorial governments, has recently updated the National Energy Code for Buildings (November 2011). These actions have proven to be effective at reducing energy use and GHG emissions in the buildings and homes sector.

Since 2006, the Government of Canada has invested more than $10 billion to reduce GHG emissions and build a more sustainable environment through investments in green infrastructure, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies and the production of cleaner energy and cleaner fuels.

  • The ecoENERGY Efficiency program is investing $195 million between 2011 and 2016 to improve energy efficiency in Canada. These efforts will make the housing, building, and equipment stock more energy efficient, energy performance more visible, and industry and vehicle operations more efficient, contributing to a cleaner environment, reducing GHG emissions, while saving Canadians money and making the most of our natural resources.
  • The ecoENERGY Retrofit Homes program provides over $1 billion from 2007 2012 to help homeowners make their homes more energy efficient and reduce the burden of high energy costs.
  • The Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program (PPGTP) is investing $1 billion in laying the groundwork for a greener, more sustainable future for Canada’s pulp and paper sector by supporting innovation and investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy production technologies.
  • The NextGen Biofuels Fund, managed by Sustainable Development Technology Canada, provides $500 million to support the establishment of first of kind commercial scale demonstration facilities for the production of next generation renewable fuels and co products.

Through the Canada’s Emission Trends document, the Government has been very clear about what we are doing to address climate change and the expected impact of our actions. This report presents projections of GHG emissions in Canada to the year 2020 and explains how current provincial and federal government actions are having a significant impact on emissions reductions.

Taken together, all current federal and provincial/territorial government actions are expected to generate about one quarter of the reductions needed to meet Canada’s 2020 target of 607 megatonnes. The Government is committed to implementing a sector by sector regulatory plan to achieve additional reductions until the total reduction achieved by federal and provincial measures is sufficient to reach Canada’s 2020 target.

Other Measures

Canada is taking a range of other measures that contribute to meeting our target. For example, in support of the G20 commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, the Government of Canada is phasing out targeted tax assistance to the oil sands sector.

Canada is working hard to be a leader in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Among G8 members, Canada is one of the leading investors in CCS in proportion to its economy. There are currently seven large scale, integrated CCS demonstration projects co funded by Canadian federal and provincial governments. Governments are investing over $3 billion towards CCS projects. Together with private investments, the total being invested in CCS projects rises to over $7 billion.

The Government of Canada has also made significant investments to begin Canada’s transition to a clean energy economy and advance our climate change objectives. Budget 2011, the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, includes $870 million over two years for Canada’s Clean Air Agenda to implement our climate change plan.

The Government is also moving forward to address short lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, methane and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), as a way to make near term progress on climate change. On February 16, 2012, Canada was one of seven coalition partners1 that announced the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants, a new global initiative to combat climate change, improve air quality and protect public health.

For detailed information about existing federal measures, see the May 2011 Environment Canada report, “A Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.” (http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=4044AEA7-1)

Key Provincial Measures to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Provincial and territorial governments also play a key role in reducing emissions and we will continue to work with them towards meeting Canada’s 2020 target. All provincial governments have established climate change mitigation targets and are implementing their own strategies to achieve those targets in a manner that reflects differing individual circumstances.

Alberta
Alberta created the Industrial Regulatory System for GHG emissions management in 2007. Companies that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in any year since 2003 are required to reduce emissions intensity by 12 percent using an average of 2003 2005 emissions as a baseline. Compliance flexibility mechanisms include trading, purchase of provincial offsets or payment into a Technology Fund (at $15 per tonne). These regulations apply to about 10 facilities that make up about 70 percent of emissions.

British Columbia
In July 2009, British Columbia introduced a broad based revenue neutral carbon tax applied to the purchase or use of fossil fuels starting at $10/tonne CO2 equivalent, rising in annual $5 increments to reach $30/tonne by 2012.

Revenue neutrality of the carbon tax is required by law, with revenues returned to taxpayers by reductions in personal and business income taxes.

Ontario
Ontario is phasing out the use of all coal fired electricity generating plants by 2015. This action is expected to reduce the province’s GHG emissions from electricity by 75 percent or about 30 megatonnes of CO2e per year.

Complementary to the phase out, in 2009 Ontario established a feed in tariff (FIT) to encourage the replacement of capacity with renewable energy. The FIT provides renewable energy generation with guaranteed access to the grid and long term payments (usually over 15 to 20 years) that cover the costs of renewable energy generation plus a reasonable return on investment.

Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia intends to limit GHG emissions from electricity generation through imposing a series of staged absolute emission caps that will result in emissions falling from an average of 9.6 megatonnes over 2010 and 2011 to 7.5 megatonnes by 2020 (representing a 25 percent reduction from 2010 levels).

In addition, Nova Scotia’s Renewable Energy Plan sets renewable electricity targets of 25 percent by 2015 and 40 percent by 2020 and the province expects to catalyze up to $1.5 billion in green investment.

Quebec
Quebec introduced a carbon levy in 2007 which applies to approximately 50 fossil fuel energy producers, distributors and refiners. These corporations pay a tax on every unit of fossil fuel distributed or produced (amounting to 0.8 cents per litre of gasoline, 0.9 cents per litre of diesel fuel, and $8 per tonne of coal), equivalent to about $3.50 per tonne of CO2 equivalent. Revenues are recycled through a provincial Green Fund to facilitate GHG reductions and improve public transport.

Quebec has also introduced regulations to establish a cap and trade system with the first compliance period to start in January 2013 for large industrial emitters (including electricity and fossil fuel production) emitting more than 25,000 tonnes of CO2e per year. The system will expand in 2015 to include importers and distributors of fuel, thus covering the fossil fuel related GHG emissions from the transportation and buildings sectors.

Quebec is investing $250 million in the development and use of electric vehicles and measures for the province to develop the supporting industrial sector, through the 2011 2020 Action Plan for Electric Vehicles. The Action Plan sets an ambitious target: by 2020, 25 percent of all new light passenger vehicle sales will be electric vehicles, representing a reduction in GHG emissions of 3.5 megatonnes.

Other Provincial Initiatives
To date, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia have committed to spend around $2 billion on CCS technology (in addition to federal funding of over $900 million).

British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, along with California, are part of the Western Climate Initiative, which aims to create a regional cap and trade system to reduce GHG emissions for the power and industrial sectors beginning in January 2013 and transportation and heating fuels starting in 2015.

Many of the emission reduction measures undertaken by provinces and territories have been supported by the 2007 federal Trust Fund for Clean Air and Climate Change that transferred over $1.5 billion to provincial and territorial governments.

Question 11: To that end, please describe the current status of the 2007 Turning the Corner Plan, which “set out an approach for reducing greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions from industry [and] also outlined planned regulatory measures to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, actions on consumer and commercial products, and actions to improve indoor air quality.” What are the current measures in place, when will the government of Canada institute regulations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and which agency will be the lead federal executor?

Answer: The Government of Canada has committed to a target of a 17 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2020, inscribed in the Copenhagen Accord and aligned with the target of the U.S. Given our highly integrated economies, the Government has a stated policy to align our greenhouse gas mitigation approaches with those of the U.S., as appropriate in the Canadian context. This will work to minimize competitiveness impacts.

As the U.S. is pursuing a regulatory approach, we are developing regulatory measures aligned with the U.S. in a way that makes sense for Canada. We are pursuing this regulatory approach on a sector-by-sector basis. Environment Canada is the lead department, and has begun by developing greenhouse gas regulations for the transportation and electricity sectors – two of the largest GHG-emitting sectors.

On October 1, 2010 the Government released the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations, which establish progressively tighter greenhouse emissions standards for cars and light trucks over the 2011-16 model years, in alignment with U.S. national standards.

The Government has continued to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) on developing harmonized and progressively more stringent standards for the 2017 and later model years, and, on November 10, 2011, the Government released a consultation document on the development of proposed regulations to limit GHG emissions from passenger cars and light trucks for model years 2017 and beyond.

In addition to passenger car and light truck regulations, the Government is also developing regulations to reduce GHG emissions from heavy-duty trucks harmonized with U.S. requirements. Environment Canada is also working through its Renewable Fuels Strategy to promote expanded production and use of cleaner, renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. As part of this strategy, the Government has finalized regulations requiring an average renewable fuel content of fiver percent in gasoline and has also finalized regulations for a two percent renewable content in diesel fuel and heating oil.

In the electricity sector, in August 2011 the Government published proposed regulations for coal-fired electricity generating units in Canada Gazette Part I for public comment. More than 5,000 comments were received during the public comment period. These comments are being considered as Environment Canada works on finalizing the regulatory approach.

The proposed regulations will help enhance Canada’s position as a world leader in clean electricity generation and will reduce GHG emissions and improve air quality. They will impose stringent performance standards on new coal-fired electricity generation units and on units that have reached the end of their economic life, thus encouraging electric utilities to transition towards lower- or non-emitting types of generation (high-efficiency natural gas, renewable energy, or carbon capture and storage). The regulations are scheduled to take effect July 1, 2015.

These and other federal measures in place or announced, combined with actions taken by provinces, have brought us one quarter of the way towards our 2020 target. The Government is now developing regulated performance standards for other major-emitting sectors of the national economy, including the oil and gas sector.

Question 12: The leader of the Green Party of Canada has pointed out that the Kyoto Implementation Act “requires Canada to continue reporting and doing its job, fulfilling its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.”20 Please describe the status of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program, “Canada’s legislated, publicly-accessible inventory of facility-reported greenhouse gas (GHG) data and information”21 and indicate when the 2010 emissions reporting will be updated on the website.”

Answer: The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program (GHGRP) was introduced in March 2004 and continues to collect data annually. Unlike Canada’s National Inventory Report (NIR), which compiles GHG data at a national level and is developed from national and provincial statistics, the GHGRP applies only to the largest GHG emitters in Canada (industrial and other types of facilities). Through the GHGRP, all facilities that emit the equivalent of 50 000 tonnes (50 kt) or more of GHGs (in carbon dioxide equivalent [CO2 eq] units) per year are required to submit a report.

Environment Canada is consolidating the release of its various greenhouse gas reporting products to facilitate greater consistency across its GHG emission data products and to provide Canadians with a coherent picture of emission levels across the country. Given this effort, the release date for the 2010 GHG information reported by facilities will be in April 2012, coinciding with the release of the National Inventory Report. Environment Canada will inform Canadians on its website at www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg once this information becomes publicly available.

Question 13: Given that Industry Canada acknowledges that there are other indices developed to measure standards of living, and that it is important to limit our consumption in the present to leave resources for consumption in the future, how does the Canadian government consider well being indicators and measures that integrate environmental and economic decision-making as part of accounting in a move toward a green economy?

Answer: Recent research, including by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (the “Stiglitz Report”) suggests that there is no perfect single indicator to measure social progress and sustainability, rather there is a case to be made for developing a dashboard of indicators which can help provide a more comprehensive picture. A key element of the measurement shift will be considering longer time horizons, since the relationship between environmental and economic performance is best viewed when the longer term economic benefits of environmental action are visible. While efforts are under way globally to develop aggregate national measures that incorporate well being and welfare, numerous conceptual, measurement and resource constraints remain. Thus, measuring sustainable national well being remains a long term challenge.

The UN System of Environmental Economic Accounts (SEEA) is being updated and is expected to provide a solid foundation for reliable indicators to convey both environmental and economic information. Canada supports efforts with the UN SEEA through Statistics Canada’s environmental economic accounting program to produce integrated statistics describing the relationship between Canada’s economy and environment. Among other things, the accounts describe Canada’s endowment of natural resources (minerals, fossil fuels, timber and water) – underlining their role in our economy, and describe the flow of waste materials (greenhouse gases), energy and water between the economy and the environment.

In addition, Canada has worked collaboratively within the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development in its efforts to refine green growth measures. Canada has supported the initiative to select headline indicators for green growth which focus on the environment economy interface, address decoupling of growth from environmental degradation, and, readily communicate priorities on green growth.

The Government of Canada is also taking steps to develop and produce indicators which capture economic, environmental and social aspects of well being. Some examples include Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI), which are being used to measure environmental progress in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS), and Statistics Canada’s work on environmental-economic accounts (as presented, for example, in the 2011 version of its annual environmental compendium Human Activity and the Environment).

The first FSDS, tabled in 2010, brings together the Government of Canada’s environmental priorities and progress towards supporting sustainability in a whole of government context, measured through the use of CESI. The CESI website provides national, regional, local and international data about the quality and quantity of air, water, and key natural resources. Environmental indicators enable decision makers to place the current environmental status in an overall context, identify areas where action is required, focus efforts where policy change is needed, track progress of the outcomes of environmental policy and legislation as well as inform incentives on green infrastructure and technologies.

Question 14 (a) – Does the Canadian government foresee implementing a holistic, alternative system of measurement complementary to GDP as part of its accounting and statistics functions?

Answer: The Government of Canada currently uses a variety of measures to complement the information provided by GDP, including environmental indicators (please refer to question 13 for further information on environmental indicators).

The Government of Canada also continues to monitor the development of holistic, alternative systems of measurement and continues related work on complementary sets of data and indicators. Examples include:

  • Social and environmental statistics and publications by Statistics Canada, including their Canadian System of Environmental and Resource Accounts;
  • Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators, led by Environment Canada with input from various departments, measures the progress of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, reports to Canadians on the state of the environment, and describes Canada’s progress on key environmental sustainability issues;
  • Indicators of Well being in Canada by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; and
  • As part of Canada’s National Submission for Rio+20, an illustrative set of green growth indicators for international consideration have been identified, building on the ongoing work of the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development, including indicators which measure decoupling between environmental impacts and economic growth.

Question 14 (b) Could this be incorporated as part of mandated Strategic Environmental Assessment? If no, why does the Canadian government feel this is not a worthwhile activity? If yes, please describe how the government intends to develop such alternative measures, what types of indices might be included, which federal department will be the lead agency, and when we might expect to see such an initiative launched?

Answer: A holistic, alternative system of measurement complementary to the GDP is not being considered as part of a mandated strategic environmental assessment (SEA). As noted in 14(a), there are many methodological issues inherent to the design of a holistic measurement system. The Government of Canada will continue to use SEA as a means to systematically analyze the potential environmental effects of a proposed policy, program, or plan, and its alternatives.

Federal departments and agencies are required to conduct SEA under the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (the Cabinet Directive). The Guidelines for Implementing the Cabinet Directive (the Guidelines) set out the responsibilities of federal departments and agencies and the expectations of Ministers regarding SEA. The requirement applies to all proposed policies, programs or plans, including social, economic and environmental ones. The results of this analysis are incorporated into public policy to maximize environmental benefits and mitigate negative impacts. Therefore, SEA ensures decision makers take environmental considerations into account with economic and social considerations when making decisions.

The Guidelines link SEA to the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) to ensure the Government’s broad environmental objectives are taken into account during the development of public policies and strategic decisions. The Guidelines have public reporting requirements for SEA. When a SEA has been conducted for a policy, plan or program that is approved or announced, departments and agencies shall prepare a public statement of environmental effects, including impacts on the goals and targets of the FSDS. Departments and agencies must also report to Parliament on the results of SEAs and their impacts on the goals and targets of the FSDS through Departmental Performance Reports.

Question 15: Given the success of the carbon tax in Sweden, and expected economic benefits of carbon pricing in provinces such as British Columbia, why has the Canadian federal government resisted implementing a carbon pricing mechanism?

Question 16: Does the Canadian government have a plan to implement some type of carbon pricing or emissions trading scheme in the near future? If yes, please describe the mechanism and its anticipated timeline for development and implementation. If no, please describe why no such market mechanism is being developed?

Answer to questions 15 and 16: The Government of Canada is not considering a broad based carbon tax or cap and trade at this time, but is moving forward on a climate change plan that involves regulating domestic greenhouse gas emissions on a sector by sector basis.

The U.S. Congress is not moving forward with cap and trade legislation and is not pursuing a carbon tax at this time. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently developing regulations for specific sources of emissions. Given the integration of our two economies, a similar sector by sector regulatory plan will allow Canada to make concrete progress towards meeting our emission reduction objectives.

Moving forward with either a national carbon tax or a national cap and trade scheme that is out of step with our largest trading partner would undermine economic competitiveness and could risk potentially significant regional impacts on investment and jobs in trade exposed sectors, given the integration of our two economies. Our sector by sector approach considers the circumstances of each sector, and tailors the approach to attain significant greenhouse gas emission reductions while minimizing competitiveness impacts. It will result in real emission reductions, while spurring innovation and maintaining competitiveness.


1 In addition to Canada, the founding coalition partners are the U.S., Bangladesh, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

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Minister's Response: Finance Canada

13 April 2012

Mr. Emmanuel Prinet
Policy Director
One Earth Initiative Society
1205-1255 Main Street
Vancouver, BC V6A 4G5

Ms. Raili Lakanen
[personal information withheld at the petitioner’s request]

Dear Mr. Prinet and Ms. Lakanen:

Thank you for your Environment Petition (No. 329) of January 11, 2012, on the Canadian governance and decision-making processes relating to the conduct of public consultation on environmental matters. Please excuse the delay in replying.

The questions you have raised do not fall under the purview of the Department of Finance Canada. The Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Peter Kent, has the lead for climate change, environmental accounts and carbon pricing. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable John Baird, and the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Joe Oliver, are responsible for the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development 2012 process and support for the oil and gas sector respectively. The President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable Tony Clement, and the Minister of Public Works, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, have the lead for public procurement, including fair trade. I am confident that the Ministers will address the questions you have raised in your petition.

Thank you for writing.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by James M. Flaherty, Minister of Finance]

c. Mr. Scott Vaughan
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

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Minister's Response: Foreign Affairs and International Trade

12 April 2012

Mr. Emmanuel Prinet
Policy Director
One Earth Initiative Society

Ms. Raili Lakanen
[personal information withheld at the petitioner's request]

Dear Mr. Prinet and Ms. Lakanen:

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development of Canada, Mr. Scott Vaughan, forwarded to us a copy of your Environmental Petition No. 0329 on the Canadian governance and decision-making related to various environmental and social development issues.

Please find enclosed the response to questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 of your petition as they fall under the mandate of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT). It is DFAIT’s understanding that other government departments and agencies will be responding separately to the questions that fall within their respective mandates.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your petition. We trust that you will find this information useful.

Sincerely,

[Original signed by Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade]

The Honourable Ed Fast, PC, QC, M.P.
Minister of International Trade

[Original signed by John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs]

The Honourable John Baird, PC, M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Enclosure

c.c. The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.
Mr. Scott Vaughan


Question 1:
Why did the Government of Canada not consult the Canadian public before making its submission to the UNCSD 2012 Zero Draft Document on November 1, 2011?

Canada made its National Submission to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD 2012, also known as Rio+20) on October 25, 2011. It is the result of extensive consultations across the federal government on how best to promote Canada’s interests at Rio+20 and make a significant contribution to the Conference.

In 2010, Environment Canada submitted the Government’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) to the Canadian public for review and comment over a period of 120 days. As well, the Minister of the Environment appointed a Sustainable Development Advisory Council made up of representatives of every province and territory who represented the interests of Aboriginal people, environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labour and business. The FSDS articulates Canada’s environmental sustainability priorities and our progress in achieving them. The inputs received during this process continue to inform the Government’s approach to sustainable development, including on Rio+20. This process is replicated at least every three years as a new FSDS is developed. The next consultation period is scheduled for 2013.

Question 2:
Could you please detail the nature and frequency of public consultation processes the federal government will undertake to prepare for UNCSD 2012, indicating examples of planned upcoming opportunities? How will these consultations be assessed for effectiveness? What will the government do with the results of these consultations, and how will the perspectives, values and advice of multiple stakeholders be visibly and measurably implemented?

In the run-up to the Conference, the Government will take advantage of already scheduled meetings or consultations to engage stakeholders, industry and non-governmental organizations on the objective and themes of the Rio+20 Conference.

Most of the 17 federal government departments and agencies that are engaged on developing Canada’s approach to the Rio+20 Conference already have established processes and mechanisms to assess inputs received from multiple stakeholders and formulate policy accordingly. In this respect, the Government’s approach to the Rio+20 Conference is consistent with existing Government policies and practices.

Question 3:
How were Canadian provinces consulted in the development of Canada’s submission to the UNCSD 2012 Zero Draft? If the provinces were not consulted, please explain why they were not consulted. If they were consulted, please provide specific examples of provincial input that have been captured in Canada’s submission.

On November 15, 2011, the Minister of the Environment sent a letter to his provincial and territorial counterparts seeking their views on the Rio+20 Conference. The Government of Canada welcomes the interest shown by provincial and territorial governments in the Rio+20 process and is committed to engaging with them in developing Canada’s approach to the Conference.

It would not be appropriate for the Government of Canada to disclose proposals made by provincial and territorial governments in the context of federal-provincial consultations.

Question 4:
How will the submission the Canadian Earth Summit Coalition made to the UNCSD 2012 Zero Draft be integrated into the Canadian position for UNCSD 2012? If no such mechanisms exist to integrate policy proposals, why are no such mechanisms in place?

The Government of Canada has taken note of the Canadian Earth Summit Coalition’s submission to the Rio+20 Conference.

In the process of developing its policy approach to the Rio+20 Conference, the Government considers a wide range of inputs from various sectors of Canadian society, including business, industry, NGOs and the scientific community, in a way that is consistent with existing policies and practices.

Since the 1992 Earth Summit, United Nations conferences have become increasingly inclusive, allowing for direct participation by civil society.

Question 6:
Given the increasing urgency of shifting to a green economy, and in light of the importance of sustainable development in the lead up to UNCSD 2012, how is the dissolution of the DFAIT Sustainable Development Division a benefit for Canada? On what basis was the decision made to dissolve the Division, and who was involved in making that decision? Was that decision discussed in Parliament? If not, why not?

The Government of Canada believes that sustainable development is an essential element of each department’s mandate and strategic objectives, and that sustainable development must be integrated into all aspects of government policy.

Work previously carried out by the Sustainable Development Division of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) has been realigned within DFAIT, including through the transfer of resources, to be managed by other divisions in a way that is consistent with the Government’s approach to mainstreaming sustainability across its programs, policies and operations. For instance, the United Nations Affairs division, which has responsibility for coordinating the Government’s engagement with the United Nations system, is leading Canada’s approach to the 2012 UNCSD, or Rio+20 Conference. DFAIT’s Parliamentary Affairs Division carries out strategic environmental assessments and coordinates DFAIT’s FSDS reporting.

Internal resource realignment decisions of individual departments are not normally the subject of Parliamentary interest or discussion.

Question 7:
Will the Government of Canada include a Youth and NGO delegate as part of the official Canadian Delegation to the UNCSD 2012? If no, why not, when there has been a historical precedence [sic] to do so? If yes, will the government go through the RCEN selection process, which has been developed for greater transparency and accountability?

No decisions have yet been made on the composition of the Canadian Delegation to the Rio+20 Conference.

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Minister's Response: Industry Canada

8 May 2012

Mr. Emmanuel Prinet
Policy Director
One Earth Initiative Society
1205-1255 Main Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6A 4G5

Ms. Raili Lakanen
[personal information withheld at the petitioner's request]

Dear Mr. Prinet and Ms. Lakanen:

I am writing in response to your Environmental Petition of December 22, 2011 addressed to the Office of the Auditor General and Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, in which you reference Industry Canada in questions 13 and 14.

Our Government supports increasing innovation in existing and emerging businesses like energy conservation and renewable energy. Industry Canada continues to acknowledge that there are other measures of living standards other than Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which include metrics like environmental degradation, resource depletion, and social developments. Statistics Canada regularly monitors best practices in measuring Canadian output, income and well-being.

Industry Canada is also working with other departments to integrate economic considerations into the Strategic Environmental Assessments, which as your letter notes is a mandatory process across government.

I am sending a copy of my response to my colleague, The Minister of Finance, who is responsible for the government’s macro-economic policy and the calculation of key economic indicators. As well, since Strategic Environmental Assessments fall within the purview of Environment Canada, I have taken the liberty of sending a copy of my response to the Minister of Environment for consideration.

Thank you for the petition and for bringing these issues to my attention.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry]

The Honourable Christian Paradis, P.C., M.P.

c.c.: Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Mr. Peter Kent
Minister of Finance, the Honourable Mr. James Flaherty
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr. Scott Vaughan

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Minister's Response: Natural Resources Canada

3 May 2012

Mr. Emmanuel Prinet
Policy Director
One Earth Initiative Society
1205 – 1255 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 4G5

Ms. Raili Lakanen
[personal information withheld at the petitioner’s request]

Dear Mr. Prinet and Ms. Lakanen:

I am pleased to respond to Environmental Petition no. 0329 to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, pursuant to section 22 of the Auditor General Act, regarding Manitoba Hydro Projects. Your petition was received by Natural Resources Canada on January 11, 2012.

Enclosed you will find NRCan’s response to your petition. I understand that my colleagues, the Honourables Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, James Michael Flaherty, Minister of Finance, Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry, Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment, John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs will be responding separately to issues that fall under their portfolios.

I appreciate having this opportunity to respond to your petition and trust that you will find this information helpful. Thank you for raising these important concerns.

Yours sincerely,

[original document signed by Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources Canada]

The Honourable Joe Oliver, P.C., M.P.

Enclosure: (1)

c.c.: Mr. Scott Vaughan
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.
President of the Treasury Board

The Honourable James Michael Flaherty, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Finance

The Honourable Christian Paradis, P.C., M.P. `
Minister of Industry

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Works and Government Services

The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment

The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs


COMMISSIONER OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF CANADA ENVIRONMENTAL PETITION NO. 0329

Response to Question 17

Q17: How does the Canadian government: a) define; and b) measure financial assistance programs, subsidies, promotions or other support provided to the oil and gas sector? Please indicate the total amount (in dollars) and explain the nature of financial assistance provided to the oil and gas sector each year over the last decade.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) follows generally accepted international definitions set by the World Trade Organization under its Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM) to define the terms “financial assistance programs, subsidies, promotions or other support” (financial assistance). Under the ASCM, financial assistance is defined as a “financial contribution by a government … that confers a benefit.” To be included as financial assistance, a measure must be available only to a certain sector or industry where:

- a government provides a direct or indirect transfer of funds;
- revenue is foregone or not collected;
- a government provides goods or services or purchases goods; or
- a government provides income or price support.

The total financial assistance allocated by NRCan to the oil and gas industry over the last 10 fiscal years is found in the table below (in thousands):

2001/02

2002/03

2003/04

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

2008/09

2009/10

2010/11

14,211

14,632

15,393

17,316

20,278

21,394

28,634

22,898

61,610

115,966

NRCan provides financial assistance to the oil and gas sector generally in the form of direct support to public institutions, such as universities, provincial governments, government research laboratories, and to the private sector.

NRCan’s R&D financial assistance is provided to promote the safe; economically beneficial; and environmentally and socially responsible production, conversion and use of Canada’s oil and gas resources. The aim of this financial assistance is to provide the science and technology for the continued secure supply of affordable and cleaner fossil fuels, with little or no adverse environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria air-contaminant emissions, water quality, land contaminants and footprint. Financial assistance is made through major programs, such as the Program of Energy Research and Development, the Climate Change Action Plan, the Clean Energy Fund (CEF), the ecoENERGY Technology Initiative (ecoETI) and the Climate Change Technology Innovation Initiative.

In particular, carbon capture and storage demonstration projects present an opportunity for Canada to develop world-leading technology that can significantly reduce GHG emissions from the petroleum sector by: capturing CO2 generated from oil sands and heavy oil production; refining and upgrading natural gas processing-facilities; transporting them by pipeline to a storage site; and permanently storing them deep underground in suitable geological formations. Financial assistance for demonstration projects is provided under programs such as the CEF and the ecoETI.

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Minister's Response: Public Works and Government Services Canada

3 May 2012

Mr. Emmanuel Prinet
Policy Director
One Earth Initiative Society
1205–1255 Main Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6A 4G5

Ms. Raili Lakanen
[personal information withheld at the petitioner's request]

Dear Mr. Prinet and Ms. Lakanen:

I am writing in response to Environmental Petition No. 329, which was sent on December 22, 2011, to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and received by departments on January 12, 2012.

I am providing you with the responses to questions 18 and 19, which have been developed in consultation with my colleagues at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Environment Canada.

Public Works and Government Services Canada is the primary procurement service provider of government, offering federal organizations a broad base of procurement solutions such as specialized contracts, standing offers and supply arrangements. The role of Public Works and Government Services Canada is to provide timely, value-added acquisitions and related common services to the federal government. As the management board of the federal government, the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Treasury Board are responsible for setting and approving government-wide administrative policies, directives, standards, and guidelines, as appropriate. These administrative policy instruments are then implemented by individual government organizations and common service providers in the course of managing their operations and activities, including procurement.

The Contracting Policy sets out requirements for how Government of Canada departments and agencies procure goods or services. The Policy reminds departments of the need to conduct procurements according to the underlying principles of fairness, transparency, and value-for-money. Moreover, departments must also meet all legislative obligations, including those relating to environmental sustainability. While government-wide policy establishes the processes that must be followed, decisions regarding how to fill particular requirements for goods or services ultimately rest with each individual minister.

In questions 18 and 19, you ask whether the Government of Canada intends to include fair trade stipulations in its procurement policies. As you know, fair trade is one of many labels under which products are certified. While the concept of fair trade has been discussed for some time, the certification process and labelling system is relatively new.

Departments and agencies are free to explore a variety of environmentally preferable options in meeting the objectives of government. Accordingly, the existing framework set out in the Policy on Green Procurement allows for the consideration of fair trade measures, among others, in government procurement. The considerations of the Policy are carried out within the broader context of the government commitment to open and fair competitive processes, as well as value-for-money.

With respect to procurement in support of sustainable development and environmental objectives, the government commitments are captured in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (which will be renewed in 2013) and the Policy on Green Procurement. I have been advised by Environment Canada that a draft of the renewed Federal Sustainable Development Strategy will be available for a 120-day public consultation period in early 2013, where the public can offer comment on elements such as fair trade procurement. The Policy on Green Procurement is a government-wide measure approved by the Treasury Board, and overseen and administered by the Office of Greening Government Operations at Public Works and Government Services Canada.

I hope that my responses are helpful in addressing your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services]

Rona Ambrose

c.c.: Mr. Scott Vaughan
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
Office of the Auditor General of Canada

The Honourable Tony Clement, PC, MP
President of the Treasury Board

The Honourable Peter Kent, PC, MP
Minister of the Environment

The Honourable James Michael Flaherty, PC, MP
Minister of Finance

The Honourable John Baird, PC, MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Honourable Christian Paradis, PC, MP
Minister of Industry

The Honourable Joe Oliver, PC, MP
Minister of Natural Resources

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Minister's Response: Treasury Board

9 May 2012

Mr. Emmanuel Prinet
Policy Director
One Earth Initiative Society
1205-1255 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 4G5

Ms. Raili Lakanen
[personal information withheld at the petitioner's request]

Dear Mr. Prinet and Ms. Lakanen:

I am writing in response to Environmental Petition No. 0329, which was sent on December 22, 2011, to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and received by departments on January 12, 2012.

I would like to state my concurrence with the response provided to you, for Questions 18 and 19, by the Honorable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada. This response was developed by our colleagues at Public Works and Government Services Canada in consultation with Treasury Board Secretariat and Environment Canada officials.

I hope that you will find this information useful and wish you my best in your endeavours.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board]

The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.

c.c.: Mr. Scott Vaughan, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable James Michael Flaherty, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Christian Paradis, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Joe Oliver, P.C., M.P.