Canada’s Premiers Agree to Address Climate in Proposed National Energy Strategy

Canada’s premiers have agreed to expand the nation’s developing energy strategy to address climate change and green energy while acknowledging the Alberta oilsands are still an important part of Canada’s economic future.


Endorsing the proposed Canadian Energy Strategy when they met last week at an annual conference on Prince Edward Island, the premiers said in an accompanying document that the plan “will express a renewed vision that describes the kind of energy future that provinces and territories aspire to achieve.”


The premiers added visions and principals included in the plan will allow “provinces and territories to work together, in respect of their own jurisdiction, on energy issues and grow the economy, protect the environment, mitigate climate change, create new opportunities for individuals, organizations and businesses, and enhance the quality of life for all Canadians.”


In a section called “Climate Change and Social and Environmental Responsibility,” the plan included a strategy to address global warming and move towards a lower carbon economy.


The strategy would recognize the importance of environmentally and socially responsible energy development, transportation systems, and enabling technologies to support conservation, efficiency, and effectiveness in the use of energy resources.


And it would allow the nation to “transition to a lower-carbon economy through appropriate initiatives, such as carbon pricing, carbon capture and storage and other technological innovations, while meeting current and future energy needs.”


A related article in The Globe and Mail said the recently-elected premiers of Ontario and Quebec — Kathleen Wynne and Philippe Couillard — suggested they were the driving force behind the strategy’s climate change considerations.


Despite the agreement, Wynne said there will be tensions between provinces that want to achieve progress on climate change, and others eager to boost oil exports.


“I think that is a tension that will continue to exist but the reason it is important to have a Canadian energy strategy is that we’ve got to manage that tension – it exists and we’ve got to deal with the realities of the oil sands, and we’ve got to deal with the realities of transporting that fuel, and we’ve got to deal with the realities of climate change,” she told the Globe and Mail.


The premiers agreed to finalize the strategy before their 2015 summer meeting.


While the proposed energy strategy does not include firm targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, under the Copenhagen Accord, has committed to reducing domestic carbon emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020, a level many analysts say will not be met. A recent report from Environment Canada shows that without stronger emissions reductions Canada will not meet that target.


By way of comparison, the European Union has set three key targets for 2020. These include a 20 per cent reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels; raising the share of the region’s energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20 per cent; and a 20 per cent improvement in Europe’s energy efficiency.


EU projections indicate the region will comfortably meet its 20 per cent emissions-reduction target by 2020.

Image Credit: Premier of Ontario via Flickr.

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