As a country that shares a border with the Arctic Ocean, Canada plays an active role in international negotiations to develop a new post-2012 agreement on climate change. In October 2008, Canada announced that it would set aside a significant amount of money for projects to support international climate change adaptation in those countries most vulnerable.
Domestically, we have set targets for greenhouse gas emissions, and are committed to reducing them by 20 percent from 2006 levels by 2020. We have also set an objective that 90 percent of Canada’s electricity needs be provided by non-emitting sources, such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal, or wind power by 2020. Canada is making one of the world’s cleanest electricity systems even cleaner.
Our approach to protecting the environment goes beyond climate change, as it must for a country blessed with abundant natural resources. Thanks to sustainable forest management practices, for example, Canada’s forest cover has remained constant over the past decade. There is more original and protected forest in Canada than in any other country and an area of certified forest greater than the combined area of all other country certifications. With virtually zero deforestation, an excellent track record in forestry sector recycling and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and some of the toughest forestry regulations in the world, Canada leads in sustainable forestry. We are adding to our already-stringent environmental regulations this year with significant increases in fines and new enforcement tools.
But to make changes happen, we have to live by the adage “think globally, act locally.” Here in Washington, the embassy staff demonstrates Canadian commitment to volunteerism, partnering with local environmental organizations to plant trees and engage in local clean-up projects. We are also long-time supporters of the DC Environmental Film Festival, screening Canadian films that focus on environmental issues.
On a larger scale, our embassy is part of a government project (the Federal Buildings Initiative) to retrofit all government buildings to reduce electricity and water consumption. We already purchase all of our electricity from wind power, have low-energy lighting and full recycling throughout, require compliance with strict environmental standards for building maintenance, and are well on the way to replacing our embassy fleet with low-emission vehicles. Each project takes us that much closer to obtaining the esteemed LEED green-building certification, and reflects Canada’s commitment to acting to protect our shared environment.