Fossil Fuel Subsidies Detrimental to Global Climate

A report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development was presented at the  U.N. Geneva Climate Change Conference, held from February 8-13. Fossil-Fuel Subsidies and Climate Change: Options for Policy-makers within their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions argues that removal of fossil fuel subsidies could lead to global GHG emissions reductions of between 6-13% by 2050. The CEO of IISD also stated: “The billions of dollars spent on these subsidies means less money is available for clean energy, health, education and infrastructure”. The report was financed by the Nordic Prime Ministers’ Green Growth Initiative.  The IISD also provides a comprehensive summary of the Geneva meetings.

Growth of Canada’s Clean Energy, Wind Energy, and more on Grid Parity

Tracking the Energy Revolution – Canada, is the first annual status report by Clean Energy Canada, released in early December 2014. The report states that  $25 billion has been invested in clean energy, resulting in a 37 percent employment increase in the sector in the past five years, so that  by 2013 the clean energy sector (manufacturing, power production, energy efficiency, and biofuels) accounted for more direct Canadian jobs than the oil sands. To back up their job creation claim, Clean Energy published an explanation of the calculations. Full of infographics and tables, the report goes beyond statistics to highlight the leading provinces, companies, projects, and investor groups. It also makes recommendations for the federal and provincial levels and aims to spur laggard jurisdictions to more action.

 

More good news comes in a new report by the Canadian Wind Energy Association: 2014 was a record-breaking year for wind in Canada, with 37 new wind energy projects representing over $3.5 billion in investment. Fifteen of the projects involved municipalities, First Nations, and local farmers; activity was strongest in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. The Grand Renewable Energy project in Ontario can be considered a poster child for the industry, with over 98% of the workforce on the project from Ontario – from turbine manufacture to construction, installation, and operation. Samsung and Pattern Energy are equity partners with the Six Nations of the Grand River, which owns 10% of the project; Samsung and Pattern Energy provided a $400,000 donation to the Grand River Post-Secondary Education Office, to help Six Nations students. In B.C., the government has provided more than $5.8 million since 2011 to support the participation of over 90 Aboriginal communities in the clean energy sector, including wind energy, biomass and run-of-river hydroelectric power. See “First Nations Clean Energy Funding tops $5.8 million” in the Vancouver Observer (Jan. 6, 2015). And also of interest, a report in January 2015 by Oceana conservation group concludes that offshore wind has the potential to generate more jobs (91,000 more over 20 years) produce more power, and lead to a higher degree of energy independence than offshore drilling for oil and gas, while posing fewer environmental threats. Read Offshore Energy by the Numbers: An Economic Analysis of Offshore Drilling and Wind Energy in the Atlantic
All this, despite the assertion in a December report  that the $548 billion that is paid annually in fossil fuel subsidies around the world have impeded the growth of the renewable energy industry by making fossil fuel power generation appear cheaper than it really is. The Impact of Fossil-Fuel Subsidies on Renewable Electricity Generation was published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Yet even so, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014, a landmark report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), states that “biomass, hydropower, geothermal and onshore wind are all competitive with or cheaper than coal, oil and gas-fired power stations, even without financial support and despite falling oil prices. Solar photovoltaic (PV) is leading the cost decline, with solar PV module costs falling 75 per cent since the end of 2009 and the cost of electricity from utility-scale solar PV falling 50 per cent since 2010.”

Should Alberta be the Model?

A Policy Brief released by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in May summarizes the current proposals under negotiation for national GHG emission regulation in Canada, and then models the economic and emissions impacts of four scenarios for the year 2020.   

The IISD judges that the negotiations are likely to use Alberta’s Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER) as the standard.  The paper concludes that “While all proposals on the table will deliver emission reductions at costs that seem reasonable, a 40 per cent intensity standard with a two-tiered price ceiling could strike a good balance.” 

See Regulating Carbon Emissions in Canada: Oil and Gas Greenhouse Gas Regulations: The Implications of Alternative Proposals is at http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2013/oil_and_gas_ggr.pdf.

Fragmentation the Defining Trend in Canada’s Carbon Policy

The International Institute for Sustainable Development has published a policy brief which analyses Canada’s carbon policy developments in 2012 and identifies key trends to watch for in 2013. The authors note that “accommodating the historical patchwork of provincial policy is pushing the country down a path of further fragmentation, increasing the risk of high-cost compliance and decreasing the likelihood of meeting Canada’s aspirational GHG targets.” And further, “In 2012 the federal government set an important precedent …. The Canada-Nova Scotia Equivalency Agreement has therefore established a pattern of federal policy deferral that is expected to become entrenched in 2013. The splitting of policy responsibility, with architecture provincially tailored but GHG performance standards nationally set, will underscore policy development in 2013.” Among the recommendations for 2013: “Mechanisms for coordination of policy, whether through linkage, equivalency agreements or even common LCDR markets, should be nurtured and supported. Quebec’s experiment with linking permit trade bi-laterally with California is an important precedent to watch”.

Canadian Carbon Policy Year in Review and Emerging Trends, 2012 is available at:
http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2012/regulating_carbon_canadian_policy.pdf