Government of Canada's response to the reports tabled by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

OTTAWA, ON, Nov. 7, 2023 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada welcomes the tabling of five reports from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and thanks him for his important work in reviewing federal programs and policies to help deliver the best possible results for Canadians. Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and other departments are already taking action to address the Commissioner’s recommendations.

The Government of Canada is taking extensive action to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets; promote sustainable development; increase the protection and conservation of nature, including the marine environment; and address the impacts of climate change. Important to the success of our actions is transparency and accountability of our programs and policies to ensure they achieve their objectives. The work of the Commissioner is an integral part of this process.

The Ministers of Environment and Climate Change, Energy and Natural Resources, Fisheries and Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard provided the following statements on the five reports tabled today.

Report 1 – The Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program

“I am grateful for the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development’s report today and his continued efforts to help the Government of Canada remain accountable as we work to achieve our ambitious objectives. I have accepted all five of the report’s recommendations, and I am pleased that work is already ongoing to address many of them.

Since 2019, we have worked to make EV charging more accessible for more Canadians through the Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP).

Already, projects selected for funding will result in over 45,000 charging and refuelling stations, meaning over half of our target is already funded and, as the Commissioner recognizes, we are on track to meet our first target of installing 33,500 chargers by 2026. Further independent analysis has indicated that Canada needs 4,500 fast chargers in 2025 to meet increased demand. This is a target we have already achieved two years ahead of schedule.

Through ZEVIP and complementary programs, the Government of Canada has invested over $1 billion to help advance the deployment of up to 84,500 EV chargers by 2029.

A number of improvements have been made or are underway to improve the program, many of which are in line with the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development report’s recommendations about reliability, underserved areas, collaboration with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and pace of funding rollout.

Work is already underway to address charging infrastructure gaps and identify targets focused on charger use types that will be in place in 2024, which will be used to guide ZEVIP funding decisions in the new year.

Additionally, work is being done to strengthen tracking and reporting to ensure the program is working as intended.

Canada is a global leader in EVs. We have recently been ranked as having the second-best EV battery supply chain in the world, due in part to historic multibillion-dollar investments from Volkswagen, Stellantis, and Northvolt, along with new critical mineral mining projects like the recently approved James Bay Lithium Mine Project.

I look forward to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development report’s recommendations informing our continued acceleration of Canadian leadership in the EV economy to create jobs across the value chain, reduce costs for Canadians, and fight climate change.”

– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources

Report 2 – Monitoring of Marine Fisheries Catch

“Ensuring dependable and timely fisheries catch monitoring information is a priority for our Government. I want to thank the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development for his report, Monitoring of Marine Fisheries Catch, and agree with all his recommendations.

DFO has a number of sources of information that enable us to effectively monitor fisheries and incorporate data into the decision-making process. That said, better is always possible, and that is why we continue to make improvements to the management of our fisheries based on the best available scientific evidence, and in conjunction with other reliable sources of information, to promote healthy fish stocks and productive ecosystems that contribute to the economies of coastal communities and help us meet conservation and biodiversity objectives in the marine environment.

While many actions are already underway to implement the Commissioner’s recommendations, DFO will continue to work closely with his office and thus continue to sustainably manage the harvesting of commercial marine fisheries for future generations.”

– The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Report 3 – The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act

“I want to sincerely thank the Commissioner for his report and welcome his findings.

The climate crisis is clearly upon us, with record wildfires, floods, and hurricanes costing Canadians and governments more and more every year. As the Commissioner says, the window of opportunities to address it are closing quickly. We must act. Everyone in Canada, all our leadership, must take this seriously and have a vision for our future.

With the costs of climate rising dramatically year-over-year, a climate plan is a plan to make life more affordable for Canadians.

The Commissioner is correct—there is still work to be done to meet our ambitious, but achievable, 2030 goal of at least 40 percent emissions reductions compared to 2005 levels.

Our Government is already substantially bending the curve on emissions in Canada. Since we launched the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan last year, we have been working extremely hard with partners on over 130 concrete measures in the plan. Based on the 2023 editions of the National Inventory Reports, we now have the best emissions performance among G7 partners since 2020.

We still have major initiatives under development and will continue to look for more opportunities to reduce emissions. Every sector of the economy has a role to play, and by taking these actions, our economy will be stronger and more sustainable well into the future. Progress toward that future is already underway, as evidenced by booming supply chains supporting the up-and-coming electric vehicle industry and construction of clean electricity infrastructure, which are providing good jobs and helping create cleaner, healthier air.

Putting a price on pollution is a cornerstone of Canada’s climate plan, accounting for up to one-third of the emissions reductions projected by 2030. Pollution pricing works by encouraging businesses and consumers to choose less carbon-intensive options for energy production, home heating, and transportation. Canada’s pollution pricing policy is designed to make life affordable while growing a clean economy by providing rebates to families, with low- and middle-income families benefitting the most. It’s a system that gives both an incentive and the means to switch to cleaner options wherever possible.

Make no mistake, failing to address climate change will only make things more expensive for Canadians. The Canadian Climate Institute estimates that climate damages could slow Canada’s economic growth in 2025 by $25 billion annually, effectively cutting projected GDP growth in half. Our Government’s climate plans are having a positive impact, far beyond what we could have envisioned just a few short years ago. We will continue working hard to bend emissions toward our 2030 goals, so that Canadians can count on having a more secure, more prosperous future.”

– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister Environment and Climate Change  

Report 4 – Departmental Progress in Implementing Sustainable Development Strategies-Zero Emission Vehicles

“In December 2022, the Government of Canada announced proposed regulations for new light-duty vehicles with requirements. These regulations will soon be finalized and will ensure that at least 20 percent of new vehicles will be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2026, with 60 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035. These regulations will help increase supply and reduce wait times for federal departments that need to add ZEVs to their fleets. Furthermore, the supply chain issues we saw in the auto industry during the COVID-19 pandemic have greatly improved with many types of ZEVs now available today that Canadians can drive home.

The shift to zero-emission vehicles is good for our workers; for our automotive, battery, and mining supply chains; and for our economy, creating jobs and prosperity for generations of workers to come. The shift is good for our environment, keeping our air clean.”

– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister Environment and Climate Change

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