Canada’s draft 2019–2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy: Impacts on Clean Technology and Brownfield Development

The Government of Canada recently released the Draft 2019–2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for public consultation and tabled the Government’s 2018 Progress Report of the 2016–2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

The draft Strategy sets out the Government of Canada’s environmental sustainability priorities, establishes goals and targets, and identifies actions that 42 departments and agencies across government will take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their operations and advance sustainable development across Canada.

Of interest to professionals in the environmental sector is some of the Government’s goals with respect to the greening of government. For example, the Government is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal government facilities and fleets by 40% by 2030 (with an aspiration to achieve this target by 2025) and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. It also has the goal to divert at least 75% (by weight) of all non-hazardous operational waste (including plastic waste) by 2030, and divert at least 90% (by weight) of all construction and demolition waste (striving to achieve 100% by 2030), where supported by local infrastructure. The administrative fleet will be comprised of at least 80% zero-emission vehicles by 2030 according to the draft report.

With respect to real property, the proposed actions of the Canadian federal government include the following: (1) All new buildings and major building retrofits will prioritize low-carbon investments based on integrated design principles, and life-cycle and total cost-of-ownership assessments which incorporate shadow carbon pricing; (2) Minimize embodied carbon and the use of harmful materials in construction and renovation; and (3) Departments will adopt and deploy clean technologies and implement procedures to manage building operations and take advantage of programs to improve the environmental performance of their buildings.

For professionals involved in clean technology, the draft report calls for the implement of the Government’s pledge to double federal government investments in clean energy research, development and demonstration from 2015 levels of $387 million to $775 million by 2020.

The 2018 Progress Report shows how the Government of Canada is implementing the 2016–2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, demonstrating that it is on track to meeting many of the commitments laid out in the Strategy. This includes highlighting the leadership role Canada has taken in working toward zero plastic waste and implementing measures to conserve marine areas, as well as actions on climate change.

With respect to clean technology, clean energy, and clean growth, the progress report touts the fact that through three consecutive federal budgets, the Government of Canada has made substantial investments in initiatives to support clean technology, clean energy and clean growth. These commitments include: (1) $2.3 billion in 2017 for clean technology and clean energy research, development, demonstration, adoption, commercialization and use; (2) $1.26 billion in Budget 2017 for the Strategic Innovation Fund; and (3) $4 billion in 2018 in Canada’s research and science infrastructure, much of which helps drive innovation towards a clean growth economy.

The draft Strategy updates the 2016–2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, largely maintaining its aspirational goals while adding targets that reflect new initiatives, updating milestones with new priorities, and strengthening links to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In all, 29 medium-term targets support the draft Strategy’s goals, along with 60 short-term milestones and clear action plans.

Among other results, the 2018 Progress Report shows that

  • from 2016 to 2017, greenhouse gas emissions from federal government operations were 28 per cent lower than in 2005 to 2006—more than halfway to the target to reduce emissions from federal buildings and fleets by 40 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030;
  • as of December 2017, close to 8 per cent of Canada’s coastal and marine areas were conserved; and
  • from 2017 to 2018, visits to national parks and marine conservation areas increased by 34 per cent above the 2010 to 2011 baseline levels.

Canadians have the opportunity to provide comments on the draft Strategy until early Spring 2019. For further information: Caroline Thériault, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, 613-462-5473.

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