Canada’s Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change: an important first step

first ministers.jpgOn December 9, a Communique from the First Ministers of Canada announced the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, following the commitments made in the Vancouver Declaration of March 2016 . The Framework promises that 90 percent of Canada’s energy needs will be met by clean sources by 2030, and  emphasizes carbon taxes and new investment in clean technologies.  For a general summary, see the CBC here  .  Unsurprisingly, Saskatchewan, which has been steadfastly opposed to carbon taxes, refused to sign the agreement; Manitoba, more surprisingly, also refused, and has been accused of attempting political horsetrading by linking support for the climate pact to health care budget needs.  See “Trudeau claims victory on national climate framework”  and  “Inside Christy Clark’s climate change brinksmanship”  in Maclean’s (Dec. 9 &  10) for reporting on what went on behind the closed doors of the premiers’ meeting.

There is scant reference to jobs or workers in the Pan-Canadian Framework.  A weak and unique reference to Just transition appears in this statement on page 40, in the “Section on Clean Technology, Innovation and Jobs”:  “Further development of clean technologies could create new opportunities in Canada’s resource sectors, increase the productivity and competitiveness of Canadian businesses, and create new employment opportunities, while also improving environmental performance. Canada will need to be able to access the skills and expertise of talented workers from around the world to enable Canadian businesses to succeed in the global marketplace. It will also be important to ensure a commitment to skills and training to provide Canadian workers with a just and fair transition to opportunities in Canada’s clean growth economy.” Civil society groups are only vaguely indicated in the statement:  “Governments, Indigenous Peoples, industry, and other stakeholders all have a role to play and must be engaged.”

See a dedicated website with details of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change . The Framework document is here .   The Ministers’ discussions were informed by the reports of the four Working Groups struck following the Vancouver Declaration : the Working Group Report on Carbon Pricing;    the Working Group Report on Clean Technology, Innovation and Jobs;  the Working Group Report on Specific Mitigation Opportunities ; and the Working Group Report on Adaptation and Climate Resilience .

Climate Action Network has compiled responses to the Framework  in “ Civil Society Responds to Release of Canada’s National Framework for Climate Action”;  most reactions reflect the  common theme that this is a commendable good start, but much more is required to meet our Paris commitments.  The comment from the David Suzuki Foundation was also typical:  “For a plan to be credible, it must not send mixed signals about national priorities. Responsible action on climate change means shifting from fossil fuels and diversifying the economy to ensure Canadians have good jobs today and into the future while also protecting the environment.”

The Pembina Institute says specifically:   “We applaud the first ministers’ effort made to date and expect continued collaboration and swift implementation of all recently announced climate measures. In particular, it is essential that provinces work with the federal government to adopt strengthened building codes, to implement an effective clean fuels standard, and to increase the carbon price after 2022.”

The Climate Action Network also cites specifics  in  A Canadian Accountability Mechanism ,   asserting: “Canada must adopt a more ambitious climate pledge (NDC) in 2018, by which time all countries should come up with the tougher actions they will take after 2020. …  “It’s time to break the cycle of empty target-setting in Canada. We know it’s absolutely possible to reach Canada’s current goal of reducing GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. We also know the 2030 target does not represent our fair share of addressing global climate change and that Canada needs to do more. CAN-Rac’s estimations of Canada’s fair share contribution suggests we should be reducing emissions by 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 while increasing our contribution to international climate financing to $4 billion/year by 2020.”

The Framework highlights all the right things, including: “ respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, with robust, meaningful engagement drawing on their Traditional Knowledge” , and  “the importance of ongoing collaboration”, “leveraging technology and innovation to seize export and trade opportunities for Canada, which will allow us to become a leader in the global clean growth economy”.  But it is not yet a plan: (“We have tasked our ministers and officials to implement the Framework and report back to us on progress within a year, and annually thereafter.”) Nor will it be implemented quickly: (“ Federal, provincial and territorial governments will work together to establish a review of carbon pricing, including expert assessment of stringency and effectiveness that compares carbon pricing systems across Canada, which will be completed by early 2022 to provide certainty on the path forward. An interim report will be completed in 2020, which will be reviewed and assessed by First Ministers. As an early deliverable, the review will assess approaches and best practices to address the competitiveness of emissions-intensive, trade-exposed sectors.”)    An essay by the Pembina Institute, from the Pembina Institute, “Canada is back” — on Friday, let’s hope for one more time with feeling”  (Dec. 8) anticipates what should be included, and thus   provides a yardstick by which to measure how successful the Framework agreement will be.

Landmark Clean Energy Legislation passed in California

The Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, (Senate Bill 350) was signed into law on October 7th, 2015,  requiring the state to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, as well as double energy efficiency in homes, offices and factories. It also sets up a framework for an integrated electricity grid, and encourages utilities to install more charging stations for electric vehicles. The Natural Resources Defense Council called it “one of the most significant climate and energy bills in California’s history”. An earlier version of Bill 350 had been defeated – see the New York Times (Sept. 10) “California Democrats Drop Plan for 50 Percent Oil Cut”. Using regulatory authority instead, on September 25, the California Air Resources Board approved the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which requires reduction of the amount of carbon generated by gas and diesel fuels by at least 10 percent by 2020. See “California Says ‘Yes!’ to Clean Fuels and ‘No!’ to Oil Industry Lobbyists”.
 
 

The Future of Canada’s Electrical System

On March 25, the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) released Vision 2050: The Future of Canada’s Electricity System, a report which offers recommendations and calls for urgent decisions and action. The report concludes with “Principles for Prudent Investment” which include: reliability, equity (calling for social policies to support ratepayers and protect low income consumers from energy poverty), integration of intermittent sources of electricity (i.e. solar and wind), innovation and modernization of infrastructure, energy efficiency improvements, and the electrification of transportation. See http://www.electricity.ca/resources/publications/vision-2050-the-future-of-canadas-electricity-system.php; See also the Sustainable Electricity Annual Report 2013 at: http://www.sustainableelectricity.ca/media/AnnualReport2013/2013SustainableElectricityAnnualReport.pdf (published August 2013), and Power for the Future: Electricity’s Role in a Canadian Energy Strategy (July 2013) at: http://www.electricity.ca/media/ReportsPublications/PowerForTheFutureElectricityRoleCanadianEnergyStrategyE.pdf.

Québec’s New Job Creation Strategy Capitalizes on Surplus Electricity

On October 7, the government of   Quebec released a new job creation statement: “Economic Policy – Putting Jobs First”. The strategy includes an “investment-job pricing offer”, which offers reduced electricity rates to industries related to natural resource processing, renewable energy component manufacturing, green technologies and transportation electrification, and information technology. This initiative is projected to attract investments of $1.6 billion and create 10, 300 jobs in the short term. The program will remain in effect as long as Hydro Quebec has surplus electric capacity, which the government estimates is until 2027. In addition, $111.5 billion was announced to stimulate green renovation through EcoRenov, a refundable tax credit program which will be offered to individuals for residential green renovations done by October 31, 2014, up to a maximum tax credit of $10,000. In addition, funding for the existing Rénoclimat program will be increased by $37 million to add a component for the replacement of fossil fuel-burning heating systems.

LINKS:

“Quebec to invest $2 billion in jobs to stimulate sluggish economy” in the Globe and Mail (Oct. 7) at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/quebec-to-invest-2-billion-in-jobs-plan/article14725423/