Thank you for writing regarding Bill C-311, The Climate Change Accountability Act. The Canadian Chamber continues to support actions to reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. Our main concern with Bill C-311 as it now stands is with the commitment to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next ten years by 25% from 1990 levels (which in fact represents a reduction of approximately 40% from current figures). This commitment, which is considerably out of step with Canada’s main economic partners, would create serious harm to the Canadian economy and more importantly to Canadian workers and their families, causing economic activity and jobs to move from Canada to other countries without achieving the global emission reductions that are needed.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s position on Bill C-311 is outlined below in our response to a letter that we received from John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada.
Honourable | L'honorable Perrin Beatty
President and Chief Executive Officer | Président et chef de la direction
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce | La Chambre de commerce du Canada
420 – 360 rue Albert Street | Ottawa, ON K1R 7X7
Tel.: 613.238.4000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 613.238.4000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
July 14, 2010
Mr. John Bennett
Sierra Club Canada
412-1 Nicholas St.
Dear Mr. Bennett,
Thank you for your letter of July 5, 2010 to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce regarding our position on Bill C-311, The Climate Change Accountability Act.
We are disappointed that the Sierra Club would misrepresent our position on this Bill, indicating that we believe “developing the fossil fuel industry is the best way to fight climate change” and that the “Canadian Chamber of Commerce does not welcome real action on reducing emissions”. This is not true. Since 2005, the Canadian Chamber has called for a sustainable energy strategy for Canada that will respect the environment, provide secure and affordable energy and support the standard of living of Canadian families. This includes meeting our energy demand through the sustainable development of all energy sources, including non-fossil renewable energy and fuels. Our discussion paper in this regard, released last October, is available here: http://www.chamber.ca/index.php/en/policy-and-advocacy/C214/
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has long supported actions to reduce the growth in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Continued uncertainty regarding future climate change policy brings significant environmental and economic risks for business. It is important that the federal and provincial governments act decisively and in a coordinated manner to produce a Canadian solution that addresses these concerns. In particular, the government must continue to work on the development of a Canada-wide carbon pricing system as well as focusing on targeted actions where there are opportunities to achieve significant emission reductions. Our formal position on climate change, approved by our membership at our 2009 Annual General Meeting, can be found here: http://www.chamber.ca/images/uploads/Resolutions/2009/E-Climate_Change.pdf
In order to properly and responsibly address this global issue, it is also important that Canada move forward in cooperation with our major trading partners, and in particular, the United States. The Canadian government has set a medium-term reduction target of 17 per cent below 2005 emission levels by 2020 – the same goal as the United States. Setting targets that are unachievable, unrealistic and out of line with our trading partners will endanger Canadian jobs and prosperity and would result in jobs being transferred abroad, with serious effects on our economy while having no net benefit to the environment.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce will continue to welcome partnerships with any interested stakeholders to help to develop the path forward on climate change. An important part of this path forward will be the development of a national strategy for energy production and use.
Director, Energy and Environment Policy
From: Scott Campbell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Perrin Beatty <email@example.com>
Sent: Fri, July 16, 2010 10:46:33 AM
Subject: RE: Canadian Chamber of Commerce Stance on Bill C-311
To: Cheryl McNamara
Thank you for writing.
We agree that Canada must move forward with a credible and achievable plan to combat climate change. Dealing with the issue will be one of the most massive undertakings ever made, and it will require tens of billions of dollars of new investments by Canadian businesses. They will not make those investments unless they know what the rules will be and understand that those rules will allow them to receive a return on those investments. This is why we have asked the Government to move more quickly.
However, we disagree that setting unachievable and impractical short-term targets for GHG reductions (which this Bill does) helps to move the discussion forward. Setting targets that are significantly more onerous that our trading partners would cause economy activity to move from Canada to other countries, with a loss of jobs for Canadian families without achieving the global emission reductions that are needed. As well, a reduction in prosperity would reduce the resources that Canada has to respond to the effects of climate change.
Last fall, the Canadian Chamber released a report, “Powering up Canadian Prosperity” which calls for all stakeholders to come together to develop a Canadian Sustainable Energy Strategy, which looked at how we can ensure that all of Canada’s energy resources, including non-fossil resources such as nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, etc, responsibly and economically.
Finally, here is a link to our climate change policy, passed by the delegates to our Annual Meeting in 2009. You will see that the Canadian Chamber does take this issue very seriously.
Director, Energy and Environment Policy
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce
55 University Avenue, Suite 901
Toronto, ON M5J2H7
Direct Tel: 416-352-8530
From: Cheryl McNamara [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2010 2:06 PM
To: Perrin Beatty
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Subject: Canadian Chamber of Commerce Stance on Bill C-311
The Honourable Perrin Beatty
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Dear Mr. Beatty,
Through an article in the Montreal Gazette I have learned that the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is urging its members to sign a letter to Senators stating that Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, is a threat to Canada's economic competitiveness.
According to the article, you believe that the science-based targets that the bill supports will impose "great costs on the Canadian economy.” The reasons you cite are: the targets do not correspond to the targets set by the United States; the 2020 target is too steep; and the targets will eliminate consumption.
You also acknowledge that “responding to climate change will take the biggest single investment in the history of humankind.” This implies that you acknowledge that anthropogenic climate change is real and requires a significant response. The challenge is: how do we effectively transition to a low carbon economy, quickly, while safeguarding economic well-being during the process?
As you know, the challenge faced by the global human community is Herculean. Based on the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the average global temperature must not exceed two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels if we are to avoid dangerous runaway global warming. The Minister of the Environment himself joined the chorus of global leaders acknowledging that warming must not exceed an additional two degrees.
The consequences of limited action will be staggering. As Sir Nicolas Stern outlined in his Economics of Climate Change, ecological fallout will lead to economic fallout. According to Sir Stern the “costs of action – reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change – can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year.” The costs of inaction, he warns, could rise to a crippling 20% of GDP or more. In other words, the measures required to stave off runaway global warming are akin to a rain shower, compared to a hurricane if we do not act.
What are the targets required to prevent a two degree increase in global temperature?
The IPCC, which has gathered data from thousands of climatologists from approximately 130 countries, has advised that in order to avoid this dangerous tipping point, global emission targets must be 20-40 percent below 1992 levels by 2020 and 80-90 percent below 1992 levels by 2050. There is now mounting evidence that even this target will not be enough to avoid the tipping point we’re all struggling to avoid.
The IPCC did not pick these targets out of a hat during the time of its latest report. They are not based on targets acceptable to current business-as-usual practices. They are based on the findings of thousands of climatologists from around the world. If these are the targets to avoid a greater than two degree Celsius increase in global temperature, why is the Canadian Chamber of Commerce insisting that we set the targets well below the mark? Does industry believe that it can negotiate with our planet’s climate system and biosphere?
As to your point that the science-based targets to which Bill C-311 are more stringent than US targets (and will therefore compromise the Canadian economy), please consider the following:
During his tenure as Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney did not wait for the US to lead on issues concerning the environment. He stepped in and actually affected change in the United States. He was instrumental during the ratification of the biodiversity convention and the climate change conventions in the early 1990s. He states: “Under Jean Charest's inspired leadership, at the Rio Conference in 1992, we helped bring the United States on board in support of the Convention on Climate Change, and we were the first industrialized nation to sign on to the Bio-Diversity Accord.”
Mulroney instructs, base on his own experiences: “So there are three elements to Canada playing an important role on the environment: First, leading by example, claiming the high ground. Second, engaging the Americans, and at the highest level of government. Third, involving industry in solutions.”
Our elected representatives are prepared to lead on this issue and set the bar for the United States to follow. Given that President Obama once embraced these targets, Canada, and Europe, will help Obama send a strong message to Congress and the Senate to take meaningful action to address greenhouse gas emissions. Canada, however, must be the first to act, as Mulroney wisely advises.
Finally, regarding your concern that these targets will undermine our economy, why are you so sure about that? Limitation can lead to great innovation and economic diversification if managed well. We need to understand and respect the science-based targets and bring our best minds together to find ways to make Canada a world leader in clean tech development. As you may know Canada trails woefully behind Europe, the US and Asia in this area. This is not a good situation. Clean tech is the industry of the 21st century. Canada cannot afford to trail behind everyone else. We are losing our talent to other countries, potential jobs and the opportunity to diversify our markets.
You claim that the targets will eliminate consumption. How so? Why are you so sure? There is an exciting market opening up. The fastest growing industry is green tech and other green products. Programs are opening up at universities to teach and train students for these industries.
There is no doubt that we face great challenges in transitioning to another economy, quickly. Countries such as Spain have suffered by moving too quickly. Others, like Germany, are enjoying success. We can learn from these experiences.
Perhaps the greatest challenge in shifting from a carbon-based economy to low carbon involves the shift in the way we think of ourselves in our world. Consider the following:
· Is the economy a static system or is it best described as a highly complex ecosystem whose very survival depends on how it can adapt to a changing climate?
· What does economic well-being look like on a planet with finite resources?
· Does economy come before ecology, or is it the other way around?
· Does resiliency come from a top down approach, or bottom up?
· Do the current Canadian government and industrial leaders truly understand the constantly changing socio-economic environment? Why did the economic meltdown come as such a surprise to so-called economic experts?
· Must consumption be linear, or can it thrive in a circular system where waste is a valuable input?
· Are our current measures of economic well-being limited? Do they take into account true human wealth, well-being and output?
· What will our grandchildren ask us in ten or 20 years? Were we the generation that faced a Herculean challenge and saved the day? Or were we the ones who blew it, paving the way to unimaginable suffering.
When it comes to climate change, we need to get moving immediately. Killing Bill C-311 will only stall legislative action and continue to waste precious time.
I have a niece and nephew, ages six and four. They and those of their generation will live with the consequences of government policy on climate change, and the course it sets at this time. We still have time. I implore you and your colleagues to seriously consider the fall out of weak emissions targets and the missed opportunity to lead on transitioning to a low carbon economy. This is a moral issue. It’s also a strategic one. We don’t want to miss out on the clean tech revolution. And we don’t want to miss Mother Nature’s deadline. We have a short window to get this right. Emissions must peak and then fall by 2015. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. We just need leadership.
The House of Commons has offered that leadership. Please do not deny it. In the spirit of democracy and in the spirit of our greenest Prime Minister, please endorse Bill C-311.