Derek Leahy's blog

Federal Clean Fuel Plan Could Slash Transport Emissions

Electric car charging station

A little known federal plan to adopt a clean fuel standard could cut Canada’s emissions by as much as Ontario’s coal phase-out (North America’s single largest emissions reduction initiative) — if done right.

The clean fuel standard, announced last November, will require fuel suppliers to decrease the carbon footprint of the fuels they sell in Canada.

But unlike similar regulations in British Columbia and California, which target transportation fuels only, the federal government is considering using the clean fuel standard to also target emissions from fuels used in buildings and industrial processes, such as heating oil and petroleum coke.

Gas, solids, liquids, whatever. If it is a fossil fuel, it is going to be subject to this standard,” Clare Demerse, policy advisor at Clean Energy Canada, told DeSmog Canada. “That is a really … powerful signal. All fossil fuels in Canada have to improve their carbon performance.”

Canada Can Make Huge Climate Gains by Cleaning Up Transportation Sector: Experts

Two weeks before the premiers met in Ottawa to finalize the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, the federal government unveiled plans for a national clean fuel standard. If adopted, the measure could drive down greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector, Canada’s second biggest contributor to climate change.

One of the root issues around our climate problem is the fuel that we use to heat our homes and move our cars and so I think this is an excellent first step,” Dianne Zimmerman, director of Pembina Institute’s transportation and urban solutions program, said.

The other piece of the puzzle is ensuring the infrastructure is in place to support alternative forms of fuel.”

In all provinces and territories, transportation ranks among the top emitters. Despite advances in vehicle fuel efficiency, emissions from transportation have barely moved up or down from 171 megatonnes annually or 23 per cent of Canada’s overall carbon footprint since 2005.

Has Clean Energy's Time Finally Come in Canada?

Solar panels

Federal and provincial climate policies unveiled over the last year are paving the way for Canada to massively increase the amount of energy the country gets from renewable sources, according to a new analysis released today by Clean Energy Canada.

For the first time the federal government and the provinces are working together to establish a national climate plan,” Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, said. “A big piece of the puzzle is not just cleaning up the grid, but electrifying other parts of the economy reliant on fossil fuels.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is drafting a ‘pan-Canadian clean growth and climate change framework’ to be released this fall. Meantime, last year Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada’s main oil and gas producing provinces, set ambitious renewable energy targets. And Ontario recently announced one of the most cutting edge greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plans in Canada to date.

All of that means things are finally looking up for clean energy in Canada. Federal and provincial politicians now need to make good on their climate pledges for the country to reap even bigger benefits from this $500 billion global industry.

The Maritimes: Canada’s Secret Trailblazer in Wind Energy

You probably wouldn't guess it, but Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia are unsung heroes in Canadian wind energy — producing more than 10 per cent of their electricity needs from wind, more than any other provinces.

Some electricity utility companies in Canada will tell you all you’ll ever get from wind is 10 per cent of your electrical needs,” Carl Brothers, an engineer and wind energy consultant, said. “In PEI, we are closing in on 30 per cent.”

By comparison, Ontario, Canada’s biggest wind power producer, manages to meet about four per cent of its domestic demand through wind energy.

The shift to renewable energy in Nova Scotia and PEI in the last decade has been nothing short of remarkable.  At the turn of the 21st century, both provinces were dependent on coal and oil-fired power plants for nearly all of their electricity. Neither province possesses the massive waterpower resources Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia rely on to produce renewable electricity.

Regulations, Not Carbon Pricing, Are Key to Reducing Emissions, Expert Says

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna earlier this month said the federal government does not have a preferred carbon pricing system. Whether the provinces and territories go with cap and trade or a carbon tax, McKenna simply wants to see Canada produce less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“I just care about how do we reduce emissions at the end of the day,” McKenna said during a panel discussion on Canadian climate action in Ottawa. “That is the most important piece.”

Unlike the previous federal government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has made putting a price on carbon pollution a priority. A recent meeting between premiers and the federal government on a national climate strategy nearly broke down last March because of the Trudeau government’s insistence on a national minimum carbon price.

“The carbon pricing lobby sucked all the air out of the room,” leading Canadian energy economist Mark Jaccard told DeSmog Canada. “What we should be doing is looking at those jurisdictions that have made progress and learn from them instead of closing our eyes saying ‘I want a carbon price and don’t bother me with the evidence.'”

Indigenous Leaders Cry Foul About Lack of Input Into National Climate Plan

Melina Laboucan-Massimo

Many Indigenous leaders have expressed disappointment that only the leaders of the national organizations representing Inuit, Métis and First Nations were allowed to fully participate in the talks at a climate strategy meeting with the prime minister and premiers earlier this month. Other Indigenous leaders in attendance for the meeting in Vancouver were relegated to the role of spectators.
“Limiting conversation to three Indigenous voices from over 600 Indigenous communities across Canada is a vast under representation,” Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a climate and indigenous rights activist, said. “At a bare minimum, the regional chiefs should be at the table as well, but also Indigenous leaders and experts who work on climate should be as well.”
Regional chiefs were also frustrated that their input into the pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change is limited, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise of a “renewed, nation-to-nation relationship” with Indigenous people in Canada.
“We thought we’d have a chance to speak, but it was the national chief who was permitted to speak for about ten minutes. Ten minutes for all First Nations in Canada? That is a slap in the face to First Nations and embarrassment for Canada,” Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day told DeSmog Canada. “Climate change is a matter of life and death. Our kids and grandkids will suffer if we fail to act and we only have a 20-year window to act. Clearly, we all need to work together.”


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