I’d first like to pay tribute to Maurice Strong, an accomplished, industrious Canadian who passed away last November. He was the guiding force behind the 1972 Stockholm Conference, where the foundations of UNEP were created, and he was also UNEP’s first Executive Director. Canada is proud of Maurice Strong’s legacy and of the contribution he made to the founding of this great institution.
UNEP’s mandate is more important than ever as we search for solutions to global environmental issues, and countries are demonstrating that we can work together to address the challenges that face us.
At the historic Paris climate conference, we reached a groundbreaking, ambitious and balanced climate change agreement. Canada worked hard alongside other countries to achieve this outcome. In Canada’s National Statement in Paris, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that climate change is “not just a challenge, but a historic opportunity…to build a sustainable economy based on clean technology, on green infrastructure and on green jobs,” and that “we will not sacrifice growth, we will create growth”.
Economic growth and environmental responsibility are intertwined. World economies are shifting towards cleaner growth, and the global push toward a low-carbon, sustainable economy will produce new companies and new prosperity. The world economy stands ready to reward those who produce carbon-free energy that meets our collective worldwide needs for transportation and heating, and those who can help the world transition to a net-zero carbon economy.
Canada plans to be involved in this transformation by innovating at home and helping to implement lower-carbon alternatives around the world. Canada is already a leader in clean electricity, with the largest percentage of renewable electricity in the G7 and with 79 per cent of our electricity generated from non-emitting sources, but we are also well positioned to do more.
We will foster expertise in clean energy technologies, including energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, renewable energy, fuel cells, transportation technology, energy storage and smart grids. Our clean tech sector is growing quickly and can help Canada’s energy sector become stronger and more sustainable, and can help transition us to a low-carbon economy, creating opportunities for generations to come.
Within Canada’s federal system of government, jurisdiction over energy resources and the environment is shared among the federal government, provinces and territories. We are collaborating with the provinces and territories on a pan-Canadian framework on climate change and clean growth, and developing a Canadian energy strategy that will protect Canada’s energy security, encourage energy conservation, and bring cleaner renewable energy onto the electricity grid.
Our individual choices – like the cars we drive and how far we have to drive them, as well as the efficiency of our houses and the design of our urban landscape – affect Canada’s emissions. So we will support our communities and economy by making new strategic investments in green infrastructure, clean technologies, transit and innovation. In fact, the Government of Canada has committed to creating a $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Trust to fund projects that reduce emissions and contribute to transforming our economy.
The low-carbon innovations we make can be commercialized, scaled up and exported. Done right, this will create good middle class jobs, grow our economy and reduce pollution. Businesses need to be part of the solution.
Canada has notable experience working collaboratively with multilateral organizations to support clean energy deployment, particularly through Canadian facilities established at multilateral development banks that aim to catalyze investments in renewable, low-carbon technologies in developing countries. For example, we are working with the international community through innovative partnerships and investments to deploy clean energy technology to developing countries.
Canada recently pledged $2.65 billion to support developing countries’ transition to low-carbon economies that are greener and more climate resilient. This included a contribution of $150 million to support renewable energy in Africa through the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, which will feed into the goal, supported by G7 Leaders, of unlocking 10 Gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy in Africa by 2020, and 300 GW by 2030.
During COP21, Canada also announced its participation in Mission Innovation, a global partnership of 20 countries aimed at doubling government investment in clean energy innovation over five years, while encouraging private sector leadership in clean energy. The initiative also seeks to better coordinate and report on clean energy efforts.
Respecting our obligation to help protect our planet does not mean sacrificing economic growth. To the contrary, Canada has the potential to prosper in clean energy, technology and other growing industries that are less impactful than many staples of the high-carbon economy.
Beyond that, Canada has the tools to demonstrate throughout the world how a resource-based economy can be developed responsibly, and with the low-carbon future in mind.