Provincial updates: Climate Plan for B.C.; Ontario issues Green Bonds

In British Columbia:   On February 2, with a provincial election approaching in the Spring, the Leader of the B.C. New Democratic Party announced  a new Clean Growth Climate Action plan , based on  “The core principle that we must mitigate financial impacts of the federal government’s carbon pricing increases on low and middle income families, which the Plan proposes to provide relief for 80% of B.C. families.” … After family rebates are paid, the plan proposes to “invest the remaining carbon tax revenues in good jobs building public transit, expanding clean and green technology industries, and building energy efficient construction in every B.C. community.”  A complete summary, along with reaction from environmental experts, appears in “BC NDP climate plan ‘shows real action,’ say environmentalists”  in the National Observer (Feb. 3).   Reaction from the Pembina Institute  : “We are pleased to see the commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Premier’s Climate Leadership Team…  — in particular, the pledge to adopt the proposed 2030 target and sector-by-sector targets for emissions. ”

In Ontario: On February 3,  Ontario announced  the success of  an $800 million green bond issue with a maturity date of January 27, 2023.   This is the third issue of Green Bonds by the province- the first, in 2014, financed the Eglinton Crosstown LRT; proceeds from the third issue will go “to help build clean transportation and environmentally friendly infrastructure projects in communities across the province.” For an overview of the province’s Green Bond program, see  the Ministry of Finance website.  Annual newsletters summarize progress and provide details of the first two issues:  2015 edition and the 2016 newsletter  released in December 2016.

Ontario also announced tweaks to the payment caps of  its Electric Vehicle Incentive program on February 1, and pledged to continue annual reviews of the program (next in Fall 2017). The EVIP provides incentives of $6,000 to $14,000 to support the purchase or lease of eligible battery-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The Electric Vehicle Charging Incentive Program provides up to an additional $1,000 to EVIP recipients toward the purchase and installation of fast-charging equipment for the home or workplace.

Ontario rolls out Green Bonds, and incentives for Green Vehicles, Retrofitting, and Cleantech

A series of press releases from the Ontario government signal the determination of the province to move towards a low-carbon economy. On February 2, 2016 Ontario announced its second green bond issue, raising $750 million to finance low-carbon infrastructure projects. On February 10,2016  new incentives for green vehicles were announced . The February 12 announcement of $92 million for social housing retrofits received favourable reaction  from Blue Green Canada, and the Heat and Frost Insulators Local 95 said “ Smart initiatives like the one announced today are proof that improving the environment and creating skilled jobs go hand in hand.” Finally, on February 17, Ontario announced a $74 million cleantech innovation initiative, to encourage large industrial plants to adopt leading-edge technologies, and $25 million in a Green Smart energy efficiency program for small and medium-sized businesses. Details of the new cap and trade program are promised within weeks.

Ontario is the First Canadian Province to Issue Green Bonds

In early October, Ontario’s sale of green bonds attracted orders of almost $2.4 billion from investors around the world.

The funds will be used to finance clean transportation; energy efficiency and conservation; clean energy and technology; forestry, agriculture and land management; and climate adaption and resilience. Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT will be the first project to receive funding. Read the news release from the Government of Ontario at: http://news.ontario.ca/mof/en/2014/10/strong-demand-for-ontarios-first-green-bond.html. See also “Ontario goes green with the latest bond sale” from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at: http://pics.uvic.ca/news/news-scan/pics-climate-news-scan-september-25-2014#solutions.

For an financial explanation of green bonds, see the TD Economics report Green Bonds: Victory Bonds for the Environment (November 2013), at: http://www.td.com/document/PDF/economics/special/GreenBonds_Canada.pdf. According to a September report released by UNEP, World Bank and others, green bonds are on the rise worldwide and are “integral” to financing the global low-carbon transition. Read Financial Institutions Taking Action on Climate Change at: http://investorsonclimatechange.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/FinancialInstitutionsTakingActionOnClimateChange_Final.pdf.

Bloomberg estimates that the global green bond market will reach US$40 billion by the end of the year, three times more than 2013.

Davos World Economic Forum has Leaders Talking Climate Investment

Climate change and the green economy represented major issues at the 2014 World Economic Forum at Davos, from January 22nd to 25th. UNFCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim called for strong climate action, and Figueres warned that failure to establish a binding international agreement on climate change by 2015 would place the global economy at risk. Talks that addressed global finance and the green economy noted the potential of green bonds to fund adaptive and mitigative efforts while stimulating the economy. Kim suggested doubling the size of the green bond market to $20 billion before the next Climate Summit, and doubling it again before the following summit in December 2015.

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In early January, WEF released Climate Adaptation: Seizing the Challenge that similarly emphasized the role of investment and the private sector in addressing climate change. According to the report, investing in adaptation measures could help avert up to 65% of the projected increase in losses due to climate change. The report presents a framework developed by Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) to assist the public and private sector to quantify possible losses and the cost of adaptation projects, as well as attract private investors to fund those projects. The final day of Davos focussed on discussion of the circular economy – the use of circular supply chains, and increased re-use, recycling, and remanufacture. (See the feature item above for more).

For highlights of speeches, blogs and press releases related to climate change and sustainability at the WEF, see: http://forumblog.org/topic/sustainability/

 

Climate Adaptation: Seizing the Challenge is available at: http://www.weforum.org/reports/climate-adaptation-seizing-challenge

For coverage by the Globe and Mail, see “Davos summit Aims to Press Reset Button” (Jan 20) at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/davos-summit-aims-to-press-reset-button/article16419504/; “Davos summit calls for cleaner energy, focus on climate change” (Jan. 22) at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/davos-summit-calls-for-cleaner-energy-focus-on-climate-change/article16457713/; “Sovereignty is Canada’s top priority in the North, Baird tells Davos forum” (Jan. 23) at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/sovereignty-is-canadas-top-priority-in-the-north-baird-tells-davis-forum/article16470142/.

Live Coverage by The Guardian (U.K.) is at:

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/jan/24/davos-2014-climate-change-resource-security-sustainability-day-three-live?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487 and http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/jan/25/davos-2014-climate-change-resource-scarcity-sustainability-day-four-live.

Ontario Proposes Green Bonds for Transportation

An October 30 announcement from Ontario’s Premier states that Ontario will become the first Canadian province to implement a “green bonds” program to help fund environmentally-friendly transportation. According to the government, the bonds would help address critical infrastructure needs, create jobs, and strengthen the economy while keeping funding interest rates low and minimizing costs for consumers. The bonds would also be internationally certified, so they could be officially recognized as investments in sustainability. Green bonds are securities that raise capital for specific projects with environmental benefits. According to think-tank Clean Energy Canada, green bonds are in high demand which, combined with Ontario’s attractive credit rating, may result in substantial benefit to Ontario’s sustainable transportation sector.

See the government press release at:  http://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2013/10/province-proposes-new-way-to-fund-infrastructure.html?utm_source=ondemand&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=p, and see the Clean Energy response at “Green Bonds: an Investment to Write Home About” at:http://cleanenergycanada.org/2013/11/01/green-bonds-investment-write-home/.

For background on green bonds in Canada, see the articles at the Initiative Climate Bonds website at: http://www.climatebonds.net/category/canada/