Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan - Annex 4
Pursuant to the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, when establishing an emissions reduction plan, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change must, in the manner the Minister considers appropriate, provide interested persons with the opportunity to make submissions. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) launched a public engagement process for the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) to seek submissions from interested persons, communities and organizations. The public engagement process focused on identifying measures to meet Canada’s 2030 target of reducing emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels, opportunities and challenges associated with achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as how the public would like be to engaged in the future on setting targets and establishing ERPs under the Act.
An online submission portal was launched on December 10, 2021, and stakeholders were also invited to send their submissions via email. In the first few weeks, ECCC received a large volume of submissions, demonstrating the importance of climate change issues to Canadians. Due to this high level of interest in the engagement process, on January 14, the Minister announced the deadline for submissions would be extended to January 21, 2022 at 11:59 PM (PST). In the end, ECCC received over 30, 000 submissions from stakeholders and Canadians.
Number of responses: 15,788
- completed responses: 12,390
- incomplete responses: 3,398
- completion rate: 78.48%
Province of residence (top 5)
- Ontario: 35%
- British Columbia: 20%
- Alberta: 20%
- Quebec: 9%
- Saskatchewan: 3%
Sectors seen as opportunities to reduce emissions
- Heavy industry:15%
- Transportation: 14%
- Buildings: 13%
- Electricity: 13%
The online submission portal was programmed and administered using Simple Survey. The online submission portal received 15, 788 total responses with a 78% completion rate. 90% of respondents were individuals and 3% indicated they represented a business or business association. Submissions were received from all provinces and territories, with 35% of respondents from Ontario, 20% from British Columbia, and 20% from Alberta. ECCC also received 14, 380 submissions via email from Canadians and stakeholders, which include municipalities, businesses, industry associations, and non-governmental organizations.
Departmental officials used a qualitative analysis software to review and analyze the submissions. In addition, an in-depth review was conducted of the letters and reports received from stakeholders via email, and a sample of the online portal submissions.
Stakeholders and CanadiansFootnote 1 shared a wide variety of ideas on how to reduce emissions in Canada, and despite broad perspectives, a number of common themes emerged. The vast majority of submissions were supportive of increased climate action. Submissions often indicated concern about the affordability of climate solutions for Canadians, calling on the Government to increase funding, incent investment from the private sector, and ensure financial inequalities are addressed in climate policy and programming. Another theme was the importance for a just and equitable transition for workers. Finally, the engagement process demonstrated that Canadians are eager to be engaged in the future on climate change issues, and would like to see the Government increase public awareness of climate impacts and action, and reporting on progress towards our targets.
2030 and 2050 pathways
The majority of Canadians expressed agreement with the current approach to carbon pollution pricing model and trajectory, or stated it should be increased, while some Canadians did not support carbon pollution pricing. Regardless of their support for the current approach, many mentioned considerations regarding the applicability of carbon pollution pricing (e.g., which sectors should be included, whether it should target industry or individuals, etc.), and how carbon pollution pricing proceeds should be returned. Some submissions also mentioned that the Canadian economy would benefit from border carbon adjustments to remain competitive.
Many stakeholders also expressed their support for carbon pricing, and indicated the importance of establishing a clear carbon pollution pricing trajectory. They also noted that policy predictability with regards to regulations is key to supporting the transition to net-zero emissions, and suggested exploring Border Carbon Adjustments. It was also highlighted that the Clean Fuel Standard and other policy tools properly value the carbon being reduced, and suggested redirecting the use of industrial carbon pricing proceeds to low-emitting electricity generation.
Many Canadians were supportive of energy efficient retrofits, specifically regarding incentives to complete retrofits on older homes, with retrofits undertaken in an accessible and affordable way that takes into consideration socio-economic factors. Another focus was on developing building codes to achieve energy efficiency, with many respondents wanting to require buildings to be net-zero and/or implementing passive house standards. Many Canadians noted the importance of net-zero building codes and deep retrofits to decarbonizing the buildings sector and achieve net-zero by 2050.
A focus on renewable, clean energy was also an important point for many Canadians, moving away from fossil fuels and towards electrification, solar, geothermal, and heat pumps. Canadians were split on the issue of natural gas heating, with many people in support of continuing to use natural gas, but more people opposed. Many submissions also referenced building materials, including reducing embodied carbon in building materials, using recycled materials, and increasing insulation of buildings. Some Canadians supported higher density housing to discourage urban sprawl, and encouraged walkability in cities. Finally, Canadians expressed support for outfitting buildings and homes with green roofs, as well as electric vehicle charging capacity.
Stakeholders expressed support for encouraging low-carbon materials in construction, expanding investments and incentives for retrofits, and accelerating the development and adoption of building codes. Municipalities noted opportunities to align federal deep home energy retrofit loan programs with provincial and municipal loan programs, and suggested expanding eligibility of funding programs. Other suggestions included funding and supporting best-practice research on cold-climate residential net-zero and net-zero ready retrofits, creating a national commercial and institutional energy benchmarking standard to minimize duplication of efforts across municipalities, provinces, and territories, and exploring the manufacturing and/or bulk purchasing of energy efficient technology and equipment, such as heat pumps, net-zero hot water heaters, solar panels, and renewable energy technologies.
Canadians often mentioned support for more renewable electricity generation sources in Canada. Geothermal, tidal, wind, solar and hydro power were often mentioned, as well as nuclear power generation. Submissions noted that by 2050, the demand for electricity would have increased significantly due to electrification in other sectors. For this reason, they noted Canada would need to increase renewable electricity production, modernize and improve grids, and improve grid storage. However, many Canadians outlined concerns with the environmental impact of large dams, as well as the GHG emissions generated by the production of solar panels and windmills and the disposal of materials such as cobalt. Other common ideas included additional support for interties, the nationalization of the grid, microgrids, and the possibility for consumers to generate electricity (mainly from solar).
Many Canadians indicated support for a transition away from coal and fossil fuels, and often noted natural gas, renewables and nuclear as potential alternatives. It was noted that nuclear would be an option to explore to replace coal and fossil fuels in remote communities and where hydro power is not possible. Canadians also suggested applying Canada’s carbon pricing system to electricity generation plants, a ban on coal-powered and gas-powered facilities, and the use of carbon capture and storage on site. A shift in consumer habits was also mentioned, as well as incentives for both individuals and companies to reduce their energy consumption.
Stakeholders noted that new low-carbon technologies and infrastructure would be important to meet increased demand of electricity, as well as an expanded workforce. Key suggestions to transition the sector include policy predictability, identifying region-specific opportunities for emission reductions, and updated regulatory frameworks. They also recommended facilitating partnerships between electricity companies and Indigenous communities on clean energy to reduce reliance on diesel and other fossil fuels in northern and remote communities. Municipalities expressed support for a national clean electricity standard, and encouraging utility scale renewable electricity generation in jurisdictions that have a carbon-intensive grid.
Heavy industry/oil and gas
There were a broad range of opinions expressed regarding the oil and gas industry. The majority of submissions from Canadians urged for stronger climate action, with common themes including eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, phasing out oil and gas and replacing it with cleaner energy sources, and ensuring a just transition for affected works. Canadians often advocated for phasing out use of fossil fuels over a shorter timeframe and replacing those with clean energy sources such a wind, solar, and geothermal, while also strengthening regulations on corporations to eliminate emissions.
For submissions that noted the importance of the oil and gas industry in Canada, common themes included replacing coal with natural gas, using clean technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage to continue resource extraction in a cleaner way, and the import and export of oil and natural gas, including exporting to replace coal and other emissions-intensive fuels internationally. The majority of submissions were in favour of other industries such as cement or steel using clean technologies to reduce emissions from their operations.
Some stakeholder recommendations for the heavy industry sector include implementing unified regulatory requirements with long-term clarity and stability, and a comprehensive regulatory impact assessment system. Stakeholders also expressed support for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) incentives. Stakeholders noted many considerations for emissions reductions in the oil and gas sector, including supporting investment and innovation, developing consistent legislation and regulations across the country, and ensuring a competitive economic environment with tax credits for CCUS, green hydrogen and partnerships with Indigenous Peoples. They also emphasized the importance for climate policy to reduce the risk of carbon leakage, and to align with the U.S. as much as possible to minimize impacts on competitiveness.
These themes were also shared when Canadians and stakeholders outlined perspectives for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Some Canadians expressed concern regarding relying too much on CCUS for emissions reductions, noting it should only be used once all efforts to eliminate emissions are exhausted, and suggested that only green hydrogen should be explored. Many stakeholders expressed that meeting net-zero targets would require significant changes to traditional regulatory and legislative models, and recommended establishing joint task forces with industries to further explore net-zero pathways in those sectors.
Many Canadians expressed support for greening fleets with electricity and alternative fuels through purchase incentives, improved charging infrastructure, targeted regulations, sales quotas and support for ongoing research and development. Affordability and accessibility were frequently-expressed concerns: increased funding to make ZEV purchases, the installation of charging infrastructure, making public transit more affordable and accessible, and an increase in safe, active-transportation facilities were widely promoted. Canadians noted that by 2050, infrastructure for electric vehicle charging, hydrogen or other alternative fuels would have to be installed across the country, especially in rural and northern regions where people cannot rely on public transportation. They also noted the importance for improved high-efficiency rail systems, expanding public transit and active transportation infrastructure to reduce reliance on individual vehicles where possible. A number of Canadians also encouraged governments to lead by example by greening government fleets and minimizing government air travel.
A number of Canadians supported a made-in-Canada approach to greening the transportation system as a whole, including manufacturing, fuel production and energy self-sufficiency, and many of these submissions supported the use of pipelines to transport Canadian fuel across the country. Other recommendations included better, long-range urban planning, for livable communities where goods, services and jobs are readily accessible without extensive vehicle travel, and for increased opportunities for telecommuting. The decline in inter-city/province bus service was noted, with support for a national bus service in addition to improved rail transportation, including in rural and remote communities.
Stakeholder recommendations included ongoing alignment with U.S. light duty vehicle GHG and criteria emissions reduction standards and a holistic strategy to boost consumer adoption and utilization of ZEVs. Stakeholders also recommended establishing a vehicle scrappage program to encourage uptake of ZEVs, and demonstrates support for an Investment Tax Credit for CCUS and hydrogen production. Municipalities expressed support for ZEV incentives, funding for the electrification of public transit systems and for active transportation infrastructure. They also advocated for financial incentives for home, workplace and fleet electric vehicle charging infrastructure, as well as funding for provinces, territories and municipalities for public electric vehicle charging infrastructure, including bi-directional chargers.
Agriculture and waste
Many Canadians encouraged more sustainable agriculture practices, with suggestions to encourage small-scale local farming, adopt electric farm equipment, and make increased use of urban and vertical farming, polyculture, and other regenerative methods. Submissions also suggested fewer chemical-based pesticides and fertilizers which are harmful to surrounding flora and fauna and damage the soil, which affects its usefulness for carbon sequestration. Some Canadians also expressed concern around methane emissions from livestock, and meat and dairy farms, and suggested reducing subsidies for the meat and dairy industry. Some submissions recommended the promotion of plant-based diets for Canadians.
Stakeholder recommendations in agriculture included infrastructure and government support for CCUS, including the ongoing development of a CCUS Investment Tax Credit that is competitive with credits in the U.S., as well as broadening the scope of programs such as the SIF-NZA to allow farmers access to more funding. Other recommendations included implementing incentives for carbon sequestration through agricultural practices, such as the use of biochar in fertilizers and as soil amendments.
In regards to waste, Canadians’ main concerns were around waste reduction, and proper waste management and disposal. They also noted opportunities to improve recycling and composting programs across the country – many respondents noted that many small municipalities across Canada do not have composting programs, and many urban areas do not offer a composting solution for multi-unit housing. Canadians also suggested better recycling practices, and for more importance to be put on recycling and the reuse of waste, with emphasis on the negative impacts of plastics, especially single-use plastics.
Municipalities recommended establishing funding programs to enable and accelerate municipal efforts to improve landfill gas capture and generation of renewable energy, and support to increase organics diversion from landfills, including the recovery of organics from multi-residential buildings and institutional, commercial and industrial properties, in partnership with cities, provinces and territories. They also recommend regulations regarding the management of ‘compostable ‘ plastics, plastics packaging standards to reduce the quantities of different plastic types to reduce contamination in recycling streams and increase ease of material use, and regulations for minimum recycled content in plastic products.
Many submissions from Canadians were supportive of tree planting to fight climate change, including reforestation and afforestation, as well as improving forest management practices to be more sustainable. Canadians expressed their support for land conservation efforts, and increasing investment in ecosystem restoration and reclamation. Many submissions called for the protection of old growth forests, increased greening of urban areas, and also noted the importance of Indigenous-led climate solutions.
Municipalities shared their support for tree planting initiatives, such as the 2 Billion Trees program and the Natural Infrastructure Fund. They noted the importance of investments in natural infrastructure for storm water management, and the protection of urban canopies to reduce the heat island effect, and that further investments in these federal programs and the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund can accelerate this work. Stakeholders also advocated for land conservation and improved forest management strategies to increase carbon storage and sequestration, including forest protection measures against fire and epidemics.
Many Canadians highlighted the importance to improve public education on climate change and the measures that are being implemented to mitigate its effect on Canadians. They encouraged the Government to be more proactive on educating Canadians on the causes and impacts of climate change, as well as Canada’s climate actions, especially carbon pricing. There were many comments on how the Government can do this, including advertising campaigns, working with provinces to include climate change in curriculum starting in elementary school, and investing in environmental studies and skill training. Many Canadians also called for increased transparency and reporting on climate action and progress to date, in an easily accessible manner.
There were many submissions in favour of sustainable finance. They range from better regulations for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria, disclosure by banks and funds of carbon-intensive investments to decarbonizing institutional investments and taxes on investments and dividends link to carbon-intensive projects/business. Stakeholders noted that governments and the private sector should accelerate their efforts to work together to position Canada as a destination of choice for new investment tied to our most promising emission reduction opportunities. Submissions were largely in favour of climate risk disclosure to allow better decision-making. Some municipalities encouraged the Government of Canada to consult municipalities on efforts to encourage greater adherence to climate-risk disclosure frameworks among crown, public and private corporations. Municipalities also supported advancing the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and GHG disclosure, standards, and performance requirements across all sectors to create a culture of transparency and encourage a race to the top. Canadians also expressed concerns about reporting loop holes and greenwashing.
Canadians also expressed the support for a circular economy approach to achieve net-zero, including the reducing waste and changing consumption habits. Finally, many Canadians recommended exploring more natural climate solutions, continued international collaboration on climate action, as well as the increased climate adaptation actions.
Challenges in achieving emissions reductions
Canadians shared their perspectives on challenges to reducing emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Some of the economic challenges identified include the dependence of the economy on high-emitting sectors, like oil and gas. Concerns were also noted surrounding potential impacts of increased regulation in the oil and gas industry, including the possibility of importing oil and gas from countries with more emissions-intensive industries. It was noted that there is currently a lack of infrastructure for sustainable options like electric vehicles, and so the transportation and agriculture sector continue to rely on the use of gas vehicles. Many submissions also noted that advancements in clean technology would be needed to reach net-zero, which will also provide opportunities for Canada’s economy.
Submissions shared concerns that a net-zero transition would encourage a wealth gap and leave certain groups behind, and highlighted the importance for an equitable transition for all. This includes a just transition for workers in high-emitting sectors, including re-training and education opportunities, but also the importance for all Canadians to have access to reliable and affordable energy, energy-efficient housing and transportation, and to alleviate other potential impacts on lower income individuals or other vulnerable groups. The high cost for more sustainable options was noted, and the importance of making solutions more accessible and affordable. It was also noted that a successful just transition would demand an increase in public trust in government.
Other challenges in reducing emissions that Canadians raised include societal resistance or unwillingness to change their lifestyle. Many noted the importance of increasing climate literacy, including information on opportunities to reduce individual emissions and on actions the Government is taking (e.g., programs or incentives available to the public). Other challenges raised include concerns around lobbying groups and their influence on the government’s agenda and policies, the lack of political will throughout all levels of government to reduce emissions, lack of urgency, and effective regulations and enforcement of climate programs and policies.
Many respondents to the online portal expressed interest in being engaged on Canada’s climate plans in the future. Many Canadians noted that an online submission portal or survey was a good method to seek their views. There was also a large amount of interest expressed in more interactive engagement formats, such as town halls, public forums and focus groups. The suggested frequency of these engagement activities ranged from monthly or quarterly, annually, or prior to the establishment of each climate plan or target.
Canadians indicated that they would like to hear more about Canada’s climate plans and progress to date. They expressed interest in being reached by email, social media, traditional media including radio, TV, and newspapers, as well as by mail. They also expressed interest in information sessions or webinars to better inform the public on climate change issues. Others recommended a dashboard online that could provide Canadians with regular progress updates on the climate plan, as well as more reporting from third-parties on Canada’s progress.
Some Canadians expressed concern with the short time period of this engagement process, and urged more time should be allotted for these processes in the future. They also expressed concern with how widely the engagement process was promoted. Some Canadians supported more community-based approach to engagement, to better represent regional needs, and would support leadership from their local member of Parliament.
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