Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Canadian Provinces are Doing to Combat Climate Change

Climate action is largely a provincial matter in Canada. This is the view of both the former Conservative government and the newly elected Liberals. This means that provincial and territorial climate plans are crucially important to Canada's collective effort.


The newly elected premiere of Alberta is Rachel Notley. Alberta generates 249.3 Mt CO2 per year representing 35.7 percent of Canada's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Notley has announced sweeping reforms to the province's energy sector that are intended to balance the economic concerns with climate concerns. The plan includes an economy-wide price on carbon, the phase out of coal, methane reductions l and a commitment to renewables and energy efficiency. The goal is to derive nearly one-third of the province's power from renewables by 2030. The plan also includes a 100-megatonne cap on carbon emissions from the tar sands (it currently emits 70 megatonnes annually).

The government of Alberta has put together a climate change panel, chaired by Andrew Leach, the University of Alberta environmental economist. The panel will examine a wide assortment of potential actions and deliver a report to the government in the fall.

The NDP's climate-change policy puts Alberta on track to reduce emissions by approximately 20 megatonnes in 2020 and 50 megatonnes by 2030.

British Columbia

The Premier of British Columbia is Christy Clark, the provinces Annual GHG emissions are 60.1 Mt CO2 representing 8.6 percent of Canada's emissions. B.C. invested $5.2 billion in renewable energy from 2010 to 2014, There are a number of climate concerns that are in evidence in BC including the fact that the provinces glaciers are melting. In 2008, B.C. imposed a carbon tax that has been a driver of economic growth.

Since its inception in 2008, B.C. has reduced its annual CO2 emissions by 2.2 gigatonnes, taking strides towards its goal of a 33 per cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020.

B.C. is steadily building green infrastructure to power a decarbonized economy, such as new buildings that use ‘net zero carbon.’ The province is even greening its fossil fuel sector, using electricity to power gas wells instead of burning the product itself for fuel and cutting pollution rates.

"British Columbia has a growing number of clean-tech companies that have produced the services developed for the B.C. market that they can now export abroad," said Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada.

Clark has pledged to deny provincial operating permits to both Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain expansion unless they meet five conditions ranging from safety to profit sharing.


The Premier of Manitoba is Greg Selinger. The provinces annual GHG emissions (2012) are 21.2 Mt CO2 or 3.03 percent of the Canadian total. Since taking office in 2009, Premier Greg Selinger has been outspoken on climate change and Manitoba’s need to adapt and take action. His administration held knowledge-sharing sessions with experts in neighboring Wisconsin; he’s spoken at sustainability conferences in India and committed to a robust set of climate adaptation goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels, to about 17.5 megatonnes.

Manitoba invested $1.7 billion in renewable energy from 2010 to 2014 and in October 2015, the province became the first in Canada to sign on in support of the Blue Dot movement. The Blue Dot movement enshrines in law people's rights to clean air, water and soil.

Selinger says Manitoba is aiming to be a leader in developing electric vehicles to help cut greenhouse gas emissions. The Manitoba government is investing $3 million to develop a model for an all-electric transit bus in partnership with Winnipeg-based bus manufacturer New Flyer Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Manitoba Hydro and Red River College. The province is also putting up money to create an electric-vehicle learning and demonstration centre at Red River College.

New Brunswick

The Premier of New Brunswick is Brian Gallant. The province's annual GHG emissions (2012) are 16.4 Mt CO2 or 2.35 percent of the Canadian total. Gallant has imposed a moratorium on fracking across the province. However, he has done little else to support climate action. Speaking at January news conference, Gallant said:

"There's no doubt as a nation we have to do a better job on climate change…On top of that, we also have to have a conversation about developing our economy throughout the country in a responsible way. We believe the Energy East pipeline is one that will help us grow our economy, create jobs; it's one we that we can do, we believe, in a sustainable way."

Nova Scotia

The Premier of Nova Scotia is Stephen McNeil. The provinces annual GHG emissions (2012) are 19.0 Mt CO2 or 2.7 percent of the Canadian total. In 2010 McNeil implemented a law that required the province to meet 25 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources. The province is now on track for a second goal: generating 40 per cent of its electricity by 2020. In fall 2014, the province also imposed a moratorium on onshore fracking.

Speaking to delegates at a conference, Premier McNeil said, “Nova Scotia is a small province with a big future in sustainable energy. We're addressing climate change and the need for a lower carbon future by embracing change through innovation that focuses on one of our greatest advantages — our proximity to the ocean and its tides.”

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is Paul Davis. The provinces annual GHG emissions (2012) are 8.7 Mt CO2 or 1.2 percent of the Canadian total. In the 2014 election Davis won his seat by pledging to protect the province’s offshore oil and gas extraction industry and ensure the billions of dollars it generates in royalties are better shared around the province.

On Friday April 10, Premier Davis announced his plan to attend a premiers climate summit, citing an opportunity “to discuss best practices and future solutions in the fight against climate change and strengthen intergovernmental cooperation.”

The Premier NWT is Bob McLeod and the Premier of Nunavut is Peter Taptuna. The Annual combined GHG emissions (2012) of both places is 1.7 Mt CO2 or 0.24 percent of the Canadian total. The vast expanse of land has about the same amount of GHG emissions as the tiny province of Prince Edward Island.

In 2014, the Premiers of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut met in Iqaluit to develop a strategy document for northern Canada, entitled ‘A Northern Vision.’ In it they agree that “clean, reliable, affordable energy is the backbone of a sustainable economy, is essential for the well-being of northerners, and fosters investment and economic growth in the North.”


The Premier of Ontario is Kathleen Wynne. The Annual GHG emissions (2012) of the province is 166.9 Mt CO2 or 23.9 percent of the Canadian total. This is the highest GHG total of any province in Canada except Alberta. Ontario has invested $12.7 billion in renewable energy from 2010-2014. In April, Ontario joined Quebec and California to implement the world’s largest carbon cap-and-trade market that is worth more than $1 billion.

Wynne has instituted a province-wide Smart Grid program, a $24 million initiative to fund energy storage, electric vehicle infrastructure, and micro-grids. These programs have created hundreds of jobs.

Her predecessor Dalton McGuinty passed the Green Energy Act in 2012, and pushed forward legislation to end urban sprawl, protect clean drinking water and limit toxic chemicals in manufacturing. The Green Energy Act spawned SolarShare, an organization that has now sold $10 million in solar bonds to regular people and built six megawatts of solar projects worth $30 million. Wynne has elaborated on the work of McGuinty and seems poised to take things even further and removed all coal-fired power production. She has also pledged seven conditions before new pipeline infrastructure projects such as Energy East will be allowed to go forward.

Together with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Wynne helped to development the Canadian Energy Strategy — the framework for the Premier’s Climate Summit last spring.

The combination of shutting coal plants, increasing renewables have helped the province to reduce its GHGs.

"Getting off coal is the single largest climate change initiative being undertaken in North America, equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road," says Bob Chiarelli, Ontario’s minister of energy."

Ontario is achieving its energy goals and it has built a thriving renewable energy industry that is providing jobs and helping the economy to grow.

Ontario has than 23,329 microFIT small rooftop solar projects have been installed with 2,356 megawatts of solar PV Ontario also has also installed 3,498 megawatts of wind and another 2,228 megawatts are under development, making it the leader in wind energy in Canada. Even, Ontario Power Generation, the organization that used to run Ontario’s coal powered electricity plants, is now building solar farms on the sites of those former coal plants. Ontario is also a leader in biomass and biogas projects. Ontario is on track to get a quarter to a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2021.

Despite small increases in the price of energy, the people of Ontario remain strong supporters of solar and wind energy. A 2015 poll commissioned by the Canadian Solar Industries Association found that 77 per cent of Ontarians believe that their provincial government needs to invest more in solar.

Ontario has also mandated a build-out of 50 megawatts of energy storage; three utility-scale projects that add up 34 megawatts worth of energy storage are being built right now.

Ontario is a climate change leader in Canada. As such Ontario is a model for other Canadian provinces and territories.

Prince Edward Island

The Premier of PEI is Wade MacLauchlan. The annual GHG emissions (2012): 1.9 Mt CO2 or 0.27 percent of the Canadian totals. In his speech accepting the title of premier designate, Mclauchlan called P.E.I. a world leader in renewable energy, but said we can do more as “an important first step as we turn our attention to climate change.”


Quebec's current premiere is Phillippe Couillard. In 2012 the province had GHG emissions of 78.3 Mt CO2 representing a total of 11.2 percent of Canada's emissions. Quebec invested $8.6 billion in renewable energy from 2010 to 2014.

Couillard has worked closely with Ontario Premier Wynne on developing the Canadian Energy Strategy and his administration implemented a cap-and-trade scheme in partnership with California starting in January of this year. He opposed the Energy East pipeline and fracking. He’s also repeatedly said that he hopes for Quebec to have an important voice at the COP21 Summit in Paris.

"I will ensure that Quebec is not only present, but also that it has the opportunity to make its voice heard."

Electricity will play an increasingly important role in transportation and the government of Quebec has provided incentives for the buyers of hybrid vehicles.

As of April 2015, Quebec alone had generated $330 million in revenue from its cap and trade program, and the province expects to get $2.5 billion by selling permits to high-polluting industries. These revenues are helping to fund Quebec’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Four months later, Quebec earned another $205 million from its fourth carbon auction held jointly with California, money that will fund the implementation of measures in that province’s 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan.

“The carbon market is the centerpiece of Québec’s strategy for fighting climate change. In addition to ensuring GHG emission reductions, it is a green fiscal tool that bolsters the re-launching and sustainable development of our economy," said David Heurtel, whose lengthy job title is Quebec’s 'Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change.'

"By 2020, more than 3.3 billion dollars will have been invested to support Québec’s businesses, municipalities and private citizens in their transition to a low-carbon world," said Heurtel. "Together, we can fight climate change in order to ensure a better quality of life for our children."


The premiere of Saskatchewan is Brad Wall. The provinces annual GHG emissions (2012) are 74.8 Mt CO2 or 10.7 percent of the Canadian total. Wall recently announced that his province will get half of its energy from renewables by 2030. This includes a combination of wind, solar and geothermal energy. To achieve this goal the province will have to double its renewable energy production. Saskatchewan currently gets 25 percent of its power from renewable sources, mostly wind and hydro.

Yukon Territory

The premier of the Yukon is Darrell Pasloski. The Territory's annual GHG emissions (2012): 0.4 Mt CO2 or 0.06 percent of the Canadian total. In 2012 Pasloski’s government announced:

"Rather than commit to an arbitrary target based on estimated projections of Yukon’s economic growth, the government is working with key players in the electricity, building and energy efficiency, industrial, and transportation sectors to identify actions that will lead to realistic and measurable outcomes to minimize growth in Yukon’s overall GHG emissions."

Instead, the government has committed to a reduction in emissions for its own internal operations — 20 per cent lower than 2010 levels by 2015.

Canadian PM and Provinces Unified for COP21
Alberta's New Climate Plan is a Quantum Leap Forward
Saskatchewan to Get Half of its Energy from Renewables
Canada's Provincial and Territorial Governments Draft Principles for a Clean Energy Strategy
The Merits of Carbon Pricing in B.C.
Canada's Green Provincial Report Card

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