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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives provides alternative budget proposals for 2013 which, they estimate, will create 200,000 to 300,000 full time jobs in any given year. Among a full-range of budget items, there are many environment- and energy-related proposals, including targeting research and development for “fostering innovation in energy storage, investment in Sustainable Development Technology Canada, supporting “Green Energy Bonds”, a National Green Homes Strategy for energy efficiency, and securing Arctic and remote communities’ local energy supplies.”
The Alternative Budget calls for a collaborative National Energy Plan which would “slow the pace of bitumen development and use it for domestic needs first; upgrade the resource in this country before it is exported, and develop linkages to upstream and downstream energy related activities.” In the category of Sectoral Development, the report proposes to enhance value-added production and investment in key sectors, including manufacturing, automobiles, aerospace and forestry, with funding to come from cancelling biofuel crop subsidies and the Green Car Levy.
See the Alternative Budget in Brief (34 pages) at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2013/03/AFB2013_BudgetInBrief.pdf and the full document (172 pages) at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2013/03/AFB2013_MainDocument.pdf. For French language versions, go to: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/abgf2013.