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e-2962 (Natural resources and energy)

E-petition
Initiated by Chris Keefer from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

Whereas:
  • Canada is a party to the Paris Agreement whose goal is to keep global average temperature below 2°C and has agreed to CO2 emissions reductions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030;
  • The Integovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its four decarbonization pathways calls for an increase in nuclear power by 98-501% to avoid catastrophic climate impacts;
  • Nuclear Energy in Ontario provided 90% of the ultra-low emissions power to remove coal from the grid;
  • Nuclear Energy is the most environmentally friendly form of energy generation requiring a tiny fraction of the mining, processing and infrastructure compared to other sources of energy including renewables due to the energy density of its fuel which contains 1 million times more energy than fossil fuels;
  • Nuclear is the only form of energy that fully accounts for and contains its waste and that all of Canada’s spent nuclear fuel would fit inside 1 hockey rink piled 32 feet high;
  • Canadian Nuclear Energy plays a vital role in the COVID pandemic by producing the majority of the world’s Cobalt-60 in quantities sufficient to sterilize 20 billion masks, gloves or COVID-19 swabs; and
  • Nuclear Energy provides high paying jobs to 60,000 Canadians with a 95% made in Canada supply chain.
We, the undersigned, Citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to
1. Uphold its commitments under the Paris Agreement by maintaining and expanding its CANDU nuclear reactor fleet in Canada and abroad; and
2. Continue to support research and deployment of small modular reactors.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable JONATHAN WILKINSON

In pursuit of efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the Government of Canada is committed to announcing its enhanced target or Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement by the U.S.-led Climate Summit that will take place on April 22-23, 2021.  

In December 2020, the Government released a plan to exceed Canada’s current 2030 emission reduction goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels, and lay the foundation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy is Canada’s strengthened climate plan of federal policies, programs and investments to build a stronger, cleaner, more resilient and inclusive economy. This plan builds on the important accomplishments and work underway with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners under the 2016 Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

The Pan Canadian Framework has done more to cut pollution in a practical and affordable way than any other climate plan in Canada’s history. Canada’s 2019 greenhouse gas emissions projections show a widespread decline in projected emissions across the economy, reflecting the breadth and depth of the Pan-Canadian Framework. In fact, the policies and measures now in place, including those introduced in 2019, are projected to reduce emissions by 227 million tonnes in 2030. Taken together with A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, Canada will exceed its current 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target with projected emission reductions of 31% below 2005 levels by 2030.

A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy outlines 64 new and strengthened federal climate measures and $15 billion in new investments. Some of these investments have already begun while other measures are being refined through engagement with provinces and territories, Indigenous partners, stakeholders, and with Canadians.  Like the Pan-Canadian Framework, this plan is not an endpoint: the transition to a cleaner, more prosperous economy needs to be both an immediate priority and a sustained effort over the years and decades ahead.

Key initiatives announced in the plan and subsequently include:

  • Proposing to continue to put a price on pollution through to 2030 rising at $15 per tonne after 2022, while returning the proceeds back to households such that the majority receive more money back than they pay in provinces where the federal system applies;
  • Creating thousands of jobs retrofitting homes and buildings including an investment of $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their homes more energy efficient, cutting energy costs for Canadian families and businesses;
  • Investing $1.5 billion over three years for green and inclusive community buildings, and require that at least 10 per cent of this funding be allocated to projects serving First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities;
  • Investing $14.9 billion for public transit projects over the next eight years, including $2.75 billion to support zero-emission public transit and school buses, and $400 million to help build new and expanded networks of pathways, bike lanes, trails, and pedestrian bridges across Canada, as well as permanent funding of $3 billion per year for a permanent public transit fund beginning in 2026-2027.
  • Continuing to make zero-emissions vehicles more affordable by extending the Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) program until March 2022, while investing an additional $150 million over three years in more charging stations across the country;
  • Investing in renewable energy and next-generation clean energy and technology solutions;
  • Introduced Canada’s Hydrogen Strategy, which sets out a path for integrating low emitting hydrogen across the Canadian economy;
  • Launched the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Action Plan for the development, demonstration and deployment of Small Modular Reactors at home and abroad;
  • Working with businesses to make Canada the best place to start and grow clean technology companies; and,
  • Planting 2 billion incremental trees over the next 10 years as part of a broader commitment to nature-based solutions that also encompasses wetlands and urban forests, and announced the Growing Canada’s Forest Commitment as the next step of the Government’s commitment to plant two billion trees;.

On February 23, 2021, the Prime Minister and U.S. President Biden released the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership, and launched the U.S.-Canada High Level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Ambition. This included a commitment to work together to increase ambition under the Paris Agreement, and to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The Government of Canada and the Government of the U.S. are exploring opportunities to align policies and approaches to create jobs and reduce inequality, and enhance adaptation and resilience to climate impacts.

In addition, in November 2020 the Government of Canada tabled the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, which delivers on the government’s commitment to legislate Canada’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Once the bill becomes law, it will establish a legally binding process for the Government to set five-year emissions reduction targets based on the advice of experts and Canadians to ensure transparency and accountability as Canada charts a path to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The Act also requires emissions reduction plans for each target and the publication of interim and final reports on implementation of the plans and the emissions reductions they achieve, as well as periodic examination and reporting by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development on the implementation of these mitigation measures. The Act will also enshrine greater accountability and public transparency into Canada’s plan for meeting net-zero emissions by 2050. To provide independent advice to the Government on the best pathways to reach its targets, a Net-Zero Advisory Body was established in February 2021.

 

Response by the Minister of Natural Resources

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Mr. Marc G. Serré

Nuclear energy plays an important role in Canada’s current energy mix and is expected to continue to play a key role in transitioning Canada to a low-carbon future. Electricity generated from nuclear energy is the second largest source of non-emitting electricity in Canada after hydro. It provides approximately 15  ercent of current generation, including 38 percent of electricity generated in New Brunswick, and almost 60 percent in Ontario. The Government of Canada recognized in its enhanced climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, released in December 2020, that nuclear energy has the potential to reduce emissions within Canada and abroad. The sector also delivers a wide array of benefits to Canadians. Nuclear energy contributes $17 billion per year to Canada’s gross domestic product and accounts for approximately 76,000 jobs. More than 200 small- and medium-sized enterprises make up Canada’s nuclear energy supply chain.

Canada has successfully developed CANDU reactor technology that has been deployed domestically and exported around the world. Decision-making related to electricity supply is the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments. Governments in both Ontario and New Brunswick have chosen to extend the life of their CANDU reactors through refurbishment. The refurbishments in Ontario, at a cost of $26 billion over 10 years, are expected to offset over 40 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

The Government of Canada also promotes the export of CANDU technology. It will support countries interested in using nuclear energy to achieve their climate change and development goals. And the government will help build capacity so that they are prepared to adopt CANDU and other Canadian nuclear technologies.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are part of the next wave of innovation in the nuclear sector. SMRs have the potential to become an affordable, reliable source of non-emitting power that can help Canada reach net-zero emissions by 2050.  In 2018, Natural Resources Canada convened the SMR Roadmap. This was a 10-month stakeholder-driven engagement initiative that brought together provinces and territories, power utilities, industry and other interested parties to explore priorities and challenges related to possible SMR development and deployment in Canada. The Roadmap found that SMRs could provide significant opportunities and benefits for Canada’s economy and environment.

Following the recommendations made in the SMR Roadmap, the Government of Canada, along with partners, released Canada’s SMR Action Plan in December 2020. The Action Plan is the result of a pan-Canadian effort that brings together key enablers from across Canada, including the federal government, provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous communities and organizations, power utilities, industry, innovators, laboratories, academia, and civil society. Each of these enablers has contributed a chapter to the Action Plan that describes a concrete set of actions they are taking to seize the SMR opportunity for Canada. The Action Plan responds to all 53 recommendations in Canada’s SMR Roadmap and includes voluntary actions that go beyond the SMR Roadmap recommendations. In developing the SMR Action Plan, Natural Resources Canada engaged with over 100 Indigenous communities and representatives, as well as a number of civil society organizations. The Government of Canada chapter in the SMR Action Plan reflects Canada’s ongoing commitment to meaningfully engage on SMRs.

The government recognizes that SMR technology, while still in the development phase, has potential applications in electricity generation, resource extraction, and desalination. It can also offer an alternative to diesel in rural and remote communities that choose to explore its potential. The government has pledged to make sure the federal legislative, regulatory, and policy framework is sound and ready for SMR deployment. It will also working with bilateral and multilateral partners to align international engagement and cooperation with Canadian priorities on SMRs. This includes investments in the nuclear sector and in SMR technologies, including $1.2 billion to revitalize Chalk River laboratories, and $20 million to support Terrestrial Energy's Integral Molten Salt Reactor. Most recently, the Government of Canada announced $50.5 million in funding for Moltex Energy Ltd. to support the development of SMR research and technology in New Brunswick. These investments reflect the government’s recognition that it has a role to play in supporting innovation in this emerging sub-sector.

Protecting the health and safety of Canadians and the environment is the government's top priority as it supports the nuclear industry. This includes ensuring that all radioactive waste in Canada is managed safely for generations to come. The Government of Canada has launched a public engagement process to develop a modernized policy for radioactive waste management. It will cover Canada’s existing radioactive waste, as well as potential future wastes, including waste resulting from new technologies like SMRs. The government’s goal is to ensure that Canada has a strong policy framework that continues to reflect international practices in the area of radioactive waste management, the best available science, and the values and principles of Canadians, including Indigenous Peoples. All radioactive waste in Canada is safely managed according to international standards at facilities that are licensed and monitored by Canada’s world-class regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). With respect to nuclear liability, Canada’s regime is modern and adaptable, and the government is currently reviewing the liability limit for power reactors to ensure the limit is appropriate.

The Government of Canada, because it prioritizes public safety and environmental protection, has established one of the world’s most stringent and internationally recognized nuclear regulatory systems. The CNSC is positioned in a state of readiness to ensure the effective and safe regulation of SMRs. Any new SMR project will have a thorough and transparent regulatory review and consultation process led by the CNSC. Projects will only receive approval if the commission concludes that they are safe for people and the environment, both today and in the future.

The pathway to net-zero by 2050 is the challenge of this generation. To be successful, the government has to consider all options. The International Energy Agency, in its 2019 report Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System, found that removing nuclear energy from the equation would not only increase the risk of failure to meet climate targets, but would also result in higher electricity prices for consumers. According to the report, it would cost an estimated US$1.6 trillion more to achieve global climate targets without investments in nuclear energy. The government takes these recommendations seriously and believes all low-carbon technologies should be evaluated and allowed to compete on their merits.

Open for signature
November 12, 2020, at 5:10 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
February 10, 2021, at 5:10 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Julie Dzerowicz (Davenport)
March 24, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00709)
Government response tabled
May 7, 2021
Photo - Julie Dzerowicz
Davenport
Liberal Caucus
Ontario
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