Public Statement for the Strategic Environmental Assessment of Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a detailed strategic environmental assessment was completed to determine the potential environmental impacts associated with the initiatives identified in the new defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged.

Strong, Secure, Engaged articulates the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF’s) core missions and lays out investments in core capabilities and in a number of new capability areas like space, cyber and remotely piloted systems. It also puts forward changes to the way National Defence does business, including “greening defence” to advance the Government’s goal of a clean environment.

Given the diverse nature of activities undertaken by National Defence, the main environmental risks associated with the policy relate to the consumption of resources and efforts to reduce greenhouse gases; impacts that affect the quality of air, water, and soil; the protection of biodiversity and habitat; and impacts to the Arctic environment.

National Defence’s environmental program is in place to support operations and activities in dealing with these environmental risks. As stated in Strong, Secure, Engaged, National Defence will be a good steward of the environment by working proactively to mitigate the impacts of military activities. Many initiatives are in place to avoid, prevent, reduce or mitigate negative environmental impacts in accordance with federal government requirements and expectations. With a commitment to continually improve the way it does business, National Defence will analyze new environmental concerns that may affect or be affected by its activities and adjust when necessary to meet federal environmental requirements.

The strategic environmental assessment also identifies those initiatives in the policy that contribute to the commitments within the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS). In general, military operations and equipment are outside of the scope of the FSDS. Those elements within Strong, Secure, Engaged that align to the FSDS relate to the management of National Defence’s infrastructure portfolio.

As custodian of over 50 percent of the federal building inventory, National Defence represents more than half of the government’s greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, it has a critical role to play in helping meet the government’s climate objectives. In support of the FSDS, National Defence will play a leadership role in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions from both its infrastructure and operational portfolios, where feasible. Under the FSDS target, National Defence is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions in its infrastructure and commercial vehicles by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 (excluding military fleets). Actions to achieve this target will include designing and building infrastructure projects to meet industry recognized standards for energy and environmental performance as well as purchasing hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric light duty vehicles as part of the commercial fleet. 

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