Option 1: Environmental Assessments & Indigenous Communities
To enhance the mechanisms available for Indigenous communities to meaningfully participate in development project proposals. This could be attained through amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and mitigation measures such as Impact Benefit Agreements. Specifically, this goal does not look to hinder development projects; rather, to promote a more productive relationship between developers and governments, with Indigenous communities.
Current Status of Indigenous participation in EAs
- Inclusion of traditional knowledge
- “Aboriginal consultation is integrated into the EA to the extent as possible”
- Public participation period is currently 20 days long
- Funding for Indigenous experts and technical evaluation is not a requirement
- Indigenous group’s consent is not a requirement for approving development project
- There is a constitutional requirement to consult Indigenous Groups
- Developers are not responsible for ensuring the duty to consult Indigenous communities is met
Proposed amendments to increase Indigenous participation
- Integrate Indigenous environmental assessments into the regular environmental assessment process. This includes spiritual significance and interference with traditional use of land.
- Include mandatory funding for all Indigenous groups looking to provide technical expertise or analysis of environmental impacts to the land for traditional knowledge studies (or a minimum of 80% of costs covered)
- Royalties or funds received from resource development projects on traditional territory should not diminish the annuities that communities receive from the government (currently in the Indian Act, the government can reduce payments to reserves if they receive certain royalties from resource development)
- Create a mandatory public participation period for Indigenous communities, regardless of the required level of consultation (required constitutionally). There should be a public comment period extension to minimum 40 days (up from 20 days)
- Increase accountability for developers to address the main concerns or barriers for Indigenous participation. Specifically, this would require developers to “attach” responsibilities for consultation sessions and integration of Indigenous environmental assessments.
Evidence of potential implications
- Help to achieve reconciliation (or meet TRC call to action)
- Enhance relationship between the Crown and Indigenous groups
- This policy option would entail a specified time for Indigenous peoples to voice their concerns, in addition to the participation throughout all steps of the CEAA.
- Better mitigate environmental concerns from Indigenous perspective, which would contribute to achieving the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Goals
- Allow for developers, governments, and Indigenous communities to have an adequate economic benefit to allow Indigenous communities to prosper
Who is making change?
- Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada
- Minister of Natural Resources, Canada
- Ministry of Natural Resources
- Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Indigenous communities
- Resource development companies
- Canadian Government
- Legal - The current legal framework surrounding Aboriginal rights or title to land complicates the addition of social sustainability guidelines in the CEAA.
- Political - The turnover of political parties in power could result in fluctuations in incorporating new guidelines.
- Financial - The potential for a loss of economic revenue due to prolonged consultation processes.
- Social - Not all Indigenous communities will want to approve or refuse natural resource development projects. It’s a case-by-case basis, which could hinder possible economic prosperity in some regions if consultation periods are extended.
- There is a lack of consensus within the 526 First Nations communities in Canada - some are pro-development and some are against
- Finding the balance between respecting the land preservation requested by some groups and providing the economic opportunities requested by others creates significant challenges.
Option 2: Carbon Pricing
Carbon pricing is a frequently used method of reducing emissions, and is currently applied to 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon pricing can be established at a national level, where the federal government dictates a consistent framework across the country, or can leave provinces to decide independently how and if they would like to adopt carbon pricing.
Canada has chosen to adopt a hybrid of these two models: the federal government will set a floor for carbon pricing, mandating that each province and territory have a minimum carbon price of $10/tonne of GHGs consumed by 2018, increasing by $10/tonne each year until a maximum of $50/tonne in 2022. The implementation and details are left to each province and territory, and must be in place by 2018.
What are the arguments in favour of carbon pricing?
- LOWER EMISSIONS: A carbon price incentivises lower emissions from consumers and industry, supporting a joint effort to reduce emissions throughout the economy. If the U.S. had implemented a carbon tax of $25 per tonne in 2015 and increased it by 5% each year, CO2 emissions would have fallen to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.
- REINVESTMENT: A revenue-neutral carbon price can be used to reduce emissions without hindering the economy, as the money from the carbon price can be used to invest in lower emissions technology.
- FAIR: Carbon pricing can be applied to all areas of the economy, instead of penalizing specific sectors. This allows for the fair treatment of carbon, and mitigates the ability to use the tax as a political tool.
What are the arguments against carbon pricing?
Most international jurisdictions do not self-impose carbon prices. By increasing the cost of doing business in Canada, companies may shut down, or choose to do business elsewhere in the world.
- JOBS: when a company leaves, they also leave their employees behind, which means that several jobs will be lost. The resource sector provides 10% of jobs in Canada, and supports many more jobs.
- TAXES: Canada would lose the tax revenue ($25 billion annually!) that currently funds Canadian services such as health care and education.
- GDP: Canada’s economy would take a significant hit - 16% of GDP is currently created directly and indirectly by natural resources.
EXPORTING EMISSIONS: If Canada continues to retain companies, we can encourage emissions reductions. If Canadian policies lead to higher carbon costs relative to other jurisdictions, economic activity and investment, along with carbon emissions, may shift to a jurisdiction with lower policies. This is commonly referred to as ‘exporting emissions’, or ‘carbon leakage’ - if emissions are not avoided, but just produced elsewhere (without a carbon price too!), then we have failed to reduce emissions.
Who is making change?
- Heads of state (Prime Minister and Premiers)
- Environment ministers from each province and federally
- The Federal government has already announced that the floor price for a direct carbon tax
- Most of the decision making that is yet to occur will be at the provincial/territorial level, as we are currently in the implementation stage
Economy-wide vs. industry only carbon pricing
- An economy wide carbon tax means that all industries and consumers are taxed
- If industry reduces emissions to zero, 80% of emissions are still being produced. Because of this, it is important that consumer emissions are factored into a plan
- Energy and electricity costs are the highest, by percentage, for low income families.
- Lower income families may spend approximately 10% of their income on heating and powering their house, while higher income families are likely to spend significantly less
- This means that an even carbon tax disadvantages the poor more than the rich
Provincially determined vs. nationally consistent carbon pricing
- If each province and territory is able to determine their own carbon pricing mechanism, they are each able to adopt the form that works best for their economy, given that each province has a unique industry and consumer demographic.
- This allows provinces to retain their autonomy, and collect the revenue from the carbon tax (depending on how the system is designed; Canadian provinces and territories are responsible for the revenue they collect)
- If carbon pricing is decided at a national level, there is less incentive for companies to move interprovincially for tax benefits.
- This would ensure that wealth across the province is not distorted because of separate tax regimes
Cap and Trade
A system for controlling carbon emissions and other forms of atmospheric pollution by which an upper limit is set on the amount a given business or other organization may produce but which allows further capacity to be bought from other organizations that have not used their full allowance.
Direct carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade
- A direct carbon tax provides a stable carbon price, so energy producers and entrepreneurs can make investment decisions with certainty, which is one of the most key requirements to retain business in Canada
- Cap-and-trade is based on market demand for carbon, the pricing can vary quite significantly over time, and between international markets
- Cap-and-trade caps emissions at a maximum
- Historically been less successful at reducing emissions
- Direct carbon tax encourages emissions reductions below targets
- Continue producing emissions until we are no longer willing to pay for them - which could be much higher
Revenue neutral carbon pricing
- Consumers and businesses generally have a strong preference towards a revenue neutral model
- If you reduce your emissions, you pay less; whereas if you income is higher, you must pay higher tax
- Non-revenue-neutral carbon price, the government can choose to allocate funding to innovation to reduce emissions in various sectors of the economy
- Likely receive pushback from consumers and businesses
Option 3: Gender Targets and Quotas
A lack of role models is a barrier for women assuming leadership roles in STEM. Future generations of women can benefit from the implementation of targets. Further, by allowing women the opportunity to demonstrate their competence by working in STEM fields, uninformed negative stereotypes, attitudes and opinions will fade.
Who is making change?
- Engineers Canada
- Engineering regulators
While quotas may help women enter these fields, retention of women in STEM is also a major challenge
While quotas have been shown to be effective for increasing the number of women in STEM, it is argued that it is not the best way to do this for the following reasons:
- Quotas could take away freedom of organisations to recruit and hire talent
- Any adverse selection may give the push for gender parity a bad reputation
- Sharp shifts in organisational culture may hurt firms
- Quotas do little to address external issues holding women back, such as maternity leave
- Quotas can be seen as a way to belittle the contributions of women, suggesting that they were only selected for a position because of a quota