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Speech

Speech for

The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment

The 10th AMERICANA, International Environmental Technology Trade Show and Conference

The Palais des congrès de Montréal,

Montreal, Quebec
March 19, 2013

Thank you. Good morning everyone and to those of you who have travelled from other countries—welcome to Canada.

This year’s Country of honour is Belgium. This distinction is well-earned for setting the pace on environmental issues, innovation and leadership.

With fifty countries and more than 10,000 participants, Reseau Environnement has once again done a fantastic job organizing what is now one of the premier environmental events in the world.

This year’s slogan “ideas that build the future” reflects the challenges and opportunities created by our stewardship of the environment which we all wrestle with. And it underscores how ideas, ingenuity and imagination are providing us with solutions to help us build a sustainable future.

Ideas and innovation are changing how we interact with our environment, how we power our vehicles, how we heat our homes and how we produce our energy. They are creating new products, processes and organizations and are leading us to sustainable societies and economic growth.

Here in Canada, that’s exactly the approach our Government is taking. We are offering strong leadership—working with businesses and our international partners—to protect the environment and encourage innovative environmental technologies. Equipped with the best possible scientific evidence, we are proceeding systematically and collaboratively.

Our Government actively supports business efforts to develop innovative and sustainable solutions, advance technologies and promote a green economy.

We are doing thisthrough Sustainable Development Technology Canada—a not‑for-profit foundation supported by the Government of Canada. This foundation acts as a catalyst for building sustainable development technology infrastructure. And it is a significant driver of environmental innovation here in Canada.

Its Tech Fund finances and supports the development and demonstration of clean technologies. These technologies provide solutions to climate change and help to improve the quality of air, water and soil. And they deliver economic benefits to Canadians at the same time. 

Over the past 10 years, Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s Tech Fund has supported more than 230 projects, worth nearly $600 million—boosted by another $1.4 billion in funding from other partners. 

In addition, the NextGen Biofuels Fund supports large-scale demonstration facilities for tomorrow’s renewable fuels. 

And just a few weeks ago, I was here in Montreal, with my colleague, the Minister of Natural resources, to announce that our Government is investing another $61.8 million to fund 23 new projects, ranging from an innovative, environmentally-friendly way to control bacteria in crops to making heating and air conditioning systems more energy efficient.

One of these projects, here in Montreal, is a $1.8 million investment to Développement Effenco. These funds will support a large-scale demonstration of an engine-off hybrid system for heavy duty utility trucks. A project that will result in estimated fuel savings of as much as 25 percent, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality.

Like Développement Effenco, all these projects drive a vibrant clean energy sector, create high quality jobs and strengthen Canada’s position as a global leader in clean technologies.

We also introduced “Responsible Resource Development”—our comprehensive plan to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity while strengthening our world-class protection of the environment. This will provide companies with the stability, clarity and predictability that will allow them to invest and innovate with confidence.

We’re looking at the big picture to determine where we can bring the greatest benefits to the environment, which key sectors contribute the most greenhouse gas emissions, and how we bring about the changes we seek while maintaining the economic growth we need.

And we have taken on a sector-by-sector approach to address the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions—introducing new standards to safeguard our environment, stimulate our economy and spur innovation.

We made Canada the first country to ban the construction of traditional coal‑powered generation units.

Our greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector are projected to decline by one-third between 2005 levels and 2020.

Yet, we are anticipating significant increases in both economic activity and electricity generation during this same period—proof positive that you can have economic growth and lower emissions at the same time.

In the transportation sector—which accounts for about one-quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions—we are working with our American partners to harmonize standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.

As a result of our actions, by 2018, heavy-duty vehicles will have 23 percent fewer emissions.Passenger vehicles and light trucks rolling off the assembly line in 2025 will produce almost 50 percent fewer emissions and consume up to 50 percent less fuel than 2008 models. The standards we introduced in the marine sector will further these reductions.

These actions will help to drive innovation in everything from the design of more fuel-efficient engines to the development of more aerodynamic cabs in trucks and buses.

This is all good news for our environment, for consumers and businesses. 

Also, our Government continues to work with the provinces and stakeholders to develop greenhouse gas emission regulations for the oil and gas sector. These regulations will be announced when they are ready.

To ensure the most responsible development of these resources, we continue to work, along with our provincial partner, on a new scientifically rigorous, comprehensive and transparent monitoring system to generate the best possible data on the cumulative effects of oil sands projects. 

It is this kind of federal-provincial collaboration that has also built a strong foundation for protecting the St. Lawrence—a major economic corridor responsible for the safe transit of billions in trade and supporting tens of thousands of jobs.

In 2011, the Governments of Canada and Quebec renewed the St. Lawrence Action Plan for 15 years. With this plan, we are focusing on comprehensive monitoring with a view to biodiversity conservation, improved water quality and sustainable use of that great river.

Of course no country can act in isolation when it comes to the environment. 

And no international partner is more important to Canada than the United States, our closest neighbour and largest economic partner. 

That’s why we are working so closely with our American friends—not only on vehicle emission standards, as I mentioned a moment ago, but on a whole range of issues, including cleaning up the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater system in the world.

Canada’s work with the United States to protect these lakes and the health of the surrounding communities is driving the scientific expertise and technology required to meet our responsibilities and commitments.

Last fall, we collaborated with the United States to enhance and renew the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. We reinforced our efforts to deal with harmful algae, toxic chemicals and discharges from vessels using the lakes. We also included new provisions to address issues such as aquatic invasive species, habitat degradation and the effects of climate change.

Moreover, Canada has been active on the international stage, where we’re focused on achieving a binding global agreement on climate change that covers all major emitters.

And we’re making progress. The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action brings, for the first time, everyone under the same tent to discuss an agreement that would involve the widest possible cooperation by all countries and be applicable to all Parties.

It builds on the Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreements—under which Canada has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. It is estimated that Canada is halfway there in our national effort to meet our target.

Canada was also a founding member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition—an important initiative to reduce short-lived climate pollutants that have a significant effect on global warming.

We are also investing $1.2 billion in fast-start financing to support climate change action and leverage private sector investment for projects in developing countries with a focus on sectors such as clean technology, renewable energy, energy efficiency, water, agriculture, and forestry.

All of these efforts—both internationally and at home—are driving innovation in environmental technology. The Government of Canada knows that the best way to meet our international obligations is to employ the best possible ideas, to encourage and embrace new ways of doing things and to foster a culture of ongoing innovation that sustains our environment while stimulating our economy. 

Which brings me back to where I began—to the importance of AMERICANA in helping us to build a truly sustainable future. Step by step. Idea by idea. Innovation by innovation.

Thank you. I wish you all a very successful time at AMERICANA 2013.