On October 9th I asked various questions during Estimates for the Department of Sustainable Development. These related to the net impact of the governments climate change program in relation to carbon savings, the plans with regard to nitrous oxide emissions, the plans to address algal blooms - specifically with regard to the City of Winnipeg's need to reduce phosphorous going to Lake Winnipeg and on composting plans. My questions and the Minister's answers are below:
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Yes, it looks like I have a relatively short time, so I'm going to ask several questions at once and the minister can see if she can–what the responses in her–with the carbon savings account, it appears quite possible that there could be savings of energy, fossil fuel use, on an existing building that would be positive, but at the same time there will be new buildings being built, which could actually use more carbon, and so that you could have a net increase instead of a net decrease.
Second, when it comes to agricultural carbon savings, with fossil fuels being used, for example, it's quite easy to measure the total amount, you know, by building or a car, but when it comes to agriculture, the amount of carbon stored in the ground or the amount of nitrous oxide that released into the air needs a more direct measurement or assessment. And so will the Province be prepared to invest in ensuring that that measurement will be made, so that you can actually give people credits for those carbon savings?
Third, there's a priority you have mentioned among many to address the tremendous algal bloom problems. There have been councillors, I believe, who've written to the Province asking for help in pushing forward the interim solution. Will the Province respond to that?
And lastly, with the composting, one of the big problems has been finding a place that–a location where the composting can occur. And the Samborskis have been involved in composting, but there's a major problem in getting a place that's going to be acceptable, and so there needs to be some action, I would suggest, by the Province, in making sure that there's somewhere where the composting could actually be done.
Ms. Squires: Well, I thank the member for those four questions, and I will try to answer all four of those questions in the time allotted to one question. I do ask forgiveness if I am unable to achieve that.
Let's first start with the Carbon Savings Account and the buildings. And we certainly do know that we need to look at retrofits as well as new builds in order to achieve our target of moving towards a low-carbon future.
I'd like to point out that we announced 20 new schools. Some of them are already under construction. They will all be LEED-certified schools, and I would like to point out that we have the first LEED Platinum school in the country, I believe, that was built in Amber Trails. I think it was the second school to achieve that certification, but that's certainly something that we're moving towards.
All of our new buildings will be built to a new standard that will take carbon emission reductions into account. And working with our existing stock of buildings, we need to move forward and apply retrofits and do initiatives to ensure that there are emission reductions savings to be found in existing buildings. And the growth of new buildings, if the member was wondering, is that being taken into account in our reductions? Absolutely. Our reductions target will continuously be growing in ambition, and we will see those reductions that will be reported through the national inventory, but we will be working in concert with both existing buildings and our new buildings to achieve carbon emission reductions.
In terms of giving credit for carbon sequestration on the ground, we know that enhancing our carbon sequestration monitoring systems will enable us to better estimate our GHGs in the future, and establishing this monitoring system is, certainly, a goal of ours. It's not always easy to determine how many–how much carbon is being sequestered on a particular landscape, and so we are–we did receive advice from our Expert Advisory Council on actions that can improve that carbon sequestration potential, and how these actions could be considered in those future carbon savings accounts.
Ultimately, we know here in Manitoba we do want to get credit for the carbon emissions that we're going to pull out of the atmosphere when we are supplying our clean electricity to jurisdictions south of the border through the creation and implementation of the Manitoba-Minnesota transmission line.
We'd love to get those credits for the carbon emissions that will be achieved when Wisconsin shuts off the coal, or if we get–when we get our power into Saskatchewan, when Saskatchewan shuts down its coal.
And, likewise, we also want to have all of our landowners in the province of Manitoba to also achieve credit and feel that they are–that they're getting results when they want to be a partner in transitioning to the low-carbon future. We want them to be assured of their contributions. And so we're coming up with that monitoring system and working with many people to achieve those outcomes.
When it comes to Lake Winnipeg, let me be clear: the Province sets out targets for nutrients in legislation, and we do expect the City to abide by those–abide by that legislation. They did file a notice of alteration, and we are currently reviewing that notice of alteration. But let me be clear: there is no interim plan that the City has proposed in that notice of alteration.
And so I am working very collaboratively with the City to simply say to them that if you want to put forward an interim solution, please do so and the Province would be willing to take a look at that, as well as the other aspects of their notice of alteration, but that has been received by the department and it is currently under review.
In terms of composting, we do work with many licence holders who currently have composting facilities, and anyone who wants to expand their composting facility, or perhaps build a new one, we are working with them to ensure that they get the proper and appropriate licences. Also working with municipalities, and you can imagine, you mentioned, the Samborski situation. We know that there are certain challenges with composting facilities, and it does require collaboration. So we are collaborating with all licence holders and municipalities.