April 1, 2019

Clean Growth and Climate Change: How Canada can Lead Internationally

Between 6 October 2018 and 20 February 2019, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (the committee) conducted the second part of its study on Clean Growth and Climate Change, which focused on international leadership. The committee heard from witnesses about steps being taken in Canada to reduce emissions and address climate change within the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, including putting a price on carbon pollution. The committee also heard about complementary actions such as providing international climate finance, addressing links between trade and climate policy, and developing rules for the international transfer of emissions credits.

The committee heard from witnesses about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s October 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, which highlights the extensive environmental and human costs anticipated if global emissions are not significantly reduced in the next 12 years. The Special Report notes that “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities would be needed to keep warming to 1.5°C and avoid these costs.

The report describes the international climate change agreements and negotiations Canada is part of, and outlines Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and emission reduction plans. It outlines how pollution pricing works in Canada and how putting a price on pollution can reduce emissions, spur innovation, and support the transition to a low-carbon economy. The report also outlines the numerous other measures Canada has taken to reduce greenhouse gases and to address climate change internationally.

All witnesses in the study placed a high priority on tackling climate change. The vast majority of witnesses supported putting a price on carbon pollution, and the report outlines their reasons; notably, recognizing it as the most cost-effective way for a society to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. The report outlines input from sectors that would like to see changes in the way carbon pollution pricing applies to them.

The report notes that Canada is seen as a leader in pricing carbon pollution, and the report recommends ways in which Canada could increase its leadership in climate policy more broadly. The committee recommended that the Government of Canada provide policy certainty to Canadian businesses and spur low-carbon innovation by ensuring that the price signal of carbon pollution pricing remains intact. The committee also recommended that the Government of Canada support an increase in global ambition— that is, a faster reduction of greenhouse gas emissions both in Canada and elsewhere,— and that the Government make climate policy a non-partisan issue.
The committee recognizes that Canada has many advantages in a global shift to a low carbon economy, and believes that this is a time when Canada can be innovative, build on strengths, and not only bring Canadians together to mitigate climate change, but also play a leading role globally in addressing the challenging global issue of climate change.