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Water Today Title November 25, 2017

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Q&A - Environment and Climae Change Canada


The questions below were sent to Minister Catherine McKenna's office, input from Finance Canada, Agriculture Canada and Transport Canada was enlisted to provide us with answers.

WaterToday - The Liberal government's Federal Sustainable Development Strategy proposes five long-term, aspirational goals: Taking Action on Climate Change; Clean Technology, Jobs and Innovation; National Parks, Protected Areas and Ecosystems; Freshwater and Oceans; Human Health, Well-being and Quality of Life. Most of these rely on funding and private-sector participation, yet when it comes to venture capital and debt financing, Canada has a dismal track record. How do you intend to motivate business to step up to the plate? Alternatively, is Canada looking into issuing Green Bonds?

Finance Canada - In general, the Government has access through its existing debt management framework to attractive financing to fund its priorities, which includes $2.8 billion over five years for green infrastructure investments that will sustain healthy communities and lay the groundwork for the low carbon economy.
The Government will consider other opportunities to meet its financial requirements at a low cost, which could potentially include green bonds in the future.

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WaterToday - Agriculture/irrigation is the number one consumer of water in Canada and in the US, it is also its biggest polluter. What incentives does the government intend to put in place to entice farmers to reduce their use of fertilizers and deal more efficiently with farming wastewater?

Agriculture Canada - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) continues to work with provincial governments and agricultural stakeholders under a five-year (2013-1018) framework ('Growing Forward 2' or GF2) to minimize agriculture's impact on environment, including water quality and greenhouse gas emissions, through risk identification (Environmental Farm Plans) and the provision of incentives to support for the implementation of environmentally beneficial management practices (BMPs).

AAFC also works with provincial governments, academia and industry partners to support innovation and research required for the development and testing of BMPs. Many of these BMPs such as precision farming, developing nutrient management plans, and improved irrigation efficiency, result in the more efficient use of fertilizers and reduced risk to water quality. Currently, federal and provincial governments are committed to working together on options for the next policy framework (post 2018), building on the lessons learnt from current and past programs.

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WaterToday - One of the Liberal government's first initiatives was to reclaim Canadians' trust in environmental assessments. For all intents and purposes, these assessments are currently related to pipeline approvals. How do you intend to balance shoring up the current economy with empowering the new green economy? Is there not a very real risk of getting bogged down in the needs of a declining economy to the detriment of the new one?

Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • World economies are shifting towards cleaner, more sustainable growth, and Canada must keep up to stay competitive on the world stage.
  • A clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand.
  • We know that carbon pricing is the most efficient way to reduce emissions and stimulate investments in green infrastructure and low-carbon innovation.
  • We will continue to work toward a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change that will reduce our emissions while ensuring that Canada takes full advantage of the opportunities associated with the emerging low-carbon economy.

    WaterToday - Your web portal, letstalkclimateaction.ca, has currently received over 2,000 suggestions to help shape Canada's approach to climate change; among these several address the need to cut subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and stop building oil and gas infrastructure.

    Meanwhile, according to the National Post, the Liberal government is drawing up a pipeline implementation strategy for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project and TransCanada's Energy East pipeline; reevaluating its tanker ban on BC's northern coast, and quietly approving Enbridge's Line 3 replacement. How do you reconcile the two?

    Environment and Climate Change Canada - Public feedback is an important element in developing a Canadian plan to address climate change and create new opportunities for clean growth. To date, over 9,000 ideas and comments have been shared on letstalkclimateaction.ca, by over 3,500 Canadians.
    There have been many comments in favour of increased urban density, more bicycle lanes in cities, a price on carbon, and greater investment in renewable energies.
    We are interested in hearing all constructive ideas to address climate change, which will be shared with the four working groups for consideration.

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    WaterToday - Another suggestions posted on letstalkclimateaction.ca is to make Canada a leader in Sustainable and Responsible Tourism. We agree. With its vast territory and diversified geography, Canada could also be an ideal eco-tourism destination. Would the rebuilding of Fort McMurray not be an ideal time to diversify its economy and turn its landscape into an eco-tourism model?

    Environment and Climate Change Canada - Please contact the city of Fort McMurray. (NOTE: WaterToday will contact Fort McMurray in a follow-up to this Q&A)

    WaterToday - Canada is the only G7 country that does not have high-speed rail. High-speed rail would address a number of challenges facing the country, including the weak economy, a poor record on innovation and rising greenhouse gas emissions. As a bonus, since Canada was built on a national railway, putting thousands to work on high-speed rail would inspire Canadians from coast to coast. Do such large scale infrastructure projects as national high-speed rail figure at all in the government plans to tackle greenhouse gas emissions while promoting employment?

    Transport Canada - A study completed in 2011 by the Government of Canada, along with the governments of Ontario and Quebec, concluded that high-speed rail in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor would require significant public expenditure.

    For its part, VIA Rail has proposed high frequency rail (HFR) in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor. The Government of Canada is interested in this proposal, and responded with Budget 2016, which announced that $3.3 million would be dedicated to support an in-depth assessment of HFR. It is expected that this assessment will be completed in 2017.

    VIA's proposal has the potential to contribute to the government's agenda of reducing Canada's transportation environmental footprint through the development of green infrastructure.

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    WaterToday - The best laid plans often fail due to the lack of internal communications and procedures. What mechanisms has the government been put in place to ensure that Canada's climate change vision is not simply pious words?

    Environment and Climate Change Canada - Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and also one of the greatest opportunities. The path forward to address climate change and to build a strong, prosperous and low-carbon economy requires the contribution and commitment of the federal government, provinces, territories and municipalities, Indigenous peoples, businesses, innovators, entrepreneurs, and all Canadians.

    In the Vancouver Declaration, the federal, provincial and territorial governments announced the creation of four working groups that will develop reports that identify options for action in four areas: clean technology, innovation and jobs; carbon pricing mechanisms; specific mitigation opportunities; and adaptation and climate resilience.

    Robust and coordinated information sharing will be undertaken with Indigenous peoples, all orders of government, businesses, stakeholders and Canadians to make sure all voices are heard as the pan-Canadian framework on climate change and clean growth is developed.

    This Government has been clear that we will provide national leadership to reduce emissions, combat climate change and price carbon.

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    Other Q&As

    Commissionner for the Environment - Julie Gelfand
    Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr
    Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs, Bill Mauro
    Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation
    Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

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