Posts Tagged ‘Conference of the Parties (COP-21)’

Our “En Route to Paris” series is coming to an end.

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Quite a lot has changed since we started our blog series just six months ago. Sadly, Paris has been the target of terrorist attacks. Innocent people lost their lives, and global insecurity levels have gone up a few notches. For a few days, several journalists expressed doubts about whether the climate summit would still take place. Many feared that the climate of fear and uncertainty might overshadow the climate of planet Earth. Although one can wonder which is the greater threat to humankind, terrorism or climate change, this polarization is not quite necessary.

In fact, a growing number of opinions establish a connection between the two threats. In an interview with Radio-Canada in Malta on Saturday, November 28, Ban Ki-Moon said that if climate change goes unaddressed, its effects on certain regions of the world may foster feelings of frustration in entire populations, which in turn may create a fertile breeding ground for radicalization. In an October 2014 study, the Pentagon used the phrase “threat multiplier” to qualify climate change as a catalyzer for a host of problems, including the rise of terrorism. Restricted access to water and food, massive population displacements, worsening poverty and higher political instability may all contribute to creating favourable conditions for the inception of terrorist groups. Therefore, talks about world peace belong side-by-side with discussions about climate change, and the 147 world leaders at the Paris summit owe it to humankind to find solutions to global warming.


Getting the Facts on Carbon Pricing and Business Competitiveness

Ecofiscal Cover

By Chris Ragan, Chair, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission

The Ecofiscal Commission’s first carbon pricing report, The Way Forward, made the case that provincial carbon pricing leadership is both a practical and effective way to make urgent climate policy strides. But different carbon prices raise valid concerns about business competitiveness.

Today we’re releasing new research to shed light on those concerns.

Our findings: business competitiveness challenges are likely smaller than often thought, but nonetheless present decision-makers with important considerations as they develop new provincial carbon pricing polices.

The Road to Paris and Back is Anything but Linear

Our new research comes as governments across the world prepare for next week’s Paris Climate Summit. Addressing climate change is a clear priority for the world’s nations. This is evidenced by the fact that more than half of the 155 countries that have submitted Intended National Commitments include or consider carbon pricing within their plans.

However, no matter what commitments or decisions governments make in Paris, the road back will be anything by linear. That is as true on the international stage as it is here in Canada. Provincial governments are adopting different carbon pricing policies at different paces.

Provincial leadership protects our long-term economic interests by getting policy in place now, which can be ramped up and coordinated over time, steadily encouraging low-carbon innovation. But in the shorter-term, it does beg the competitiveness question.

Different Carbon Prices and Competitiveness Pressures


En Route to Paris: How Can Clean Energy Clean Up?

Guest blog by Dan Woynillowicz, Policy Director at Clean Energy Canada. This blog was originally published on Policy Options. It has been reproduced here with the author’s permission.  


Part 2 of our analysis on how Ottawa could chart a new course in its approach to energy and climate policy — and thrive


In the first part of this series, we explored how Canada could benefit from changing its tack on energy and climate. Specifically, we recommended that Ottawa show up as a constructive participant in global climate talks and support provincial leadership on clean energy and carbon pricing; we also encouraged Ottawa to make better use of the carrots and sticks it has available to expand clean energy and cut carbon pollution.

This post explores three remaining actions Ottawa could take to rewrite its reputation and position Canadian companies and citizens to prosper in a world embracing cleaner energy systems and technologies. There’s clear evidence the global clean energy revolution is well underway — the question for our new federal government is just how much skin Ottawa is prepared to put in the game.


#3: Use Energy More Efficiently and Use More Renewable Electricity

While the previous federal government didn’t appear to give much thought to how it might decarbonize Canada’s economy, let alone meet its 2020 or 2030 climate targets, a group of Canadian researchers fortunately have done just that.

As part of an international research effort that will be tabled at the Paris climate negotiations this December, the Low Carbon Pathways Group of Carbon Management Canada has produced Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in Canada. As the report notes, “fuel switching to decarbonized electricity is the single most significant pathway toward achieving deep emissions reduction globally.” In other words, ditching fossil fuels in favour of clean, renewable electricity is our best tool in fighting global climate change.

And the same is true for Canada. What does this look like? First, we need to use energy much more efficiently. Second, we need to rely far more on solar, wind and hydro and a lot less on coal and natural gas to power our lives (and use carbon capture and storage where we do consume fossil fuels). And third, we need to replace fossil fuels with clean electricity. Rather than filling up with oil, we would drive electric cars. Electric heat pumps, not natural gas, would keep our homes warm in winter.

In each of these areas, the federal government can play a critical role in guiding Canada down the low-carbon path by regulating, coordinating and collaborating with other levels of government and industry.

The Liberals have acknowledged this role and the opportunity, promising to shift subsidies from fossil fuels to “new and clean technology”, provide funding to expand both large-scale and community-level renewable electricity generation, support energy efficiency in product manufacturing and building retrofit programs, and add electric vehicles to its fleet. While the scope of each of these commitments remains to be seen, they’re on the radar (for a change).


En Route to Paris: A Clean Energy Agenda for Canada

Guest blog by Dan Woynillowicz, Policy Director at Clean Energy Canada. This blog was originally published on Policy Options. It has been reproduced here with the author’s permission. 

As a new federal government gets up to speed, here’s how Ottawa could position Canada to compete and prosper in a world embracing clean energy. (Part 1)

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With the longest election campaign in more than a century now behind us, our newly elected federal government has a clear mandate to get moving on a climate change and clean energy agenda. Prime minister-designate Trudeau’s Liberals campaigned on a platform that recognizes environmental protection and economic prosperity must go hand-in-hand, and sees clean energy infrastructure as a key climate solution. Having won a majority, his government must now figure out how best to capitalize on the tremendous potential of Canada’s clean energy sector, while renewing Canada’s commitment to climate leadership.

It will be no small challenge given Canada is a resource-driven economy and one of the world’s leading fossil fuel suppliers. Yet this past June in Germany, Canada committed, along with our G7 counterparts, to decarbonize the global economy before the end of this century.

Achieving this goal requires a global shift from fossil fuels to clean energy — an energy revolution that is already underway, even in Canada.

The global energy system is changing rapidly. Clean Energy Canada produces a pair of assessments each year, Tracking the Energy Revolutionboth globally and within our borders. Although we follow new developments in energy technology, government policy and investments day-in and day-out, the sheer pace and extent of the clean energy shift isn’t apparent until you step back and look at the key trends, moments and milestones:

  • Investors moved USD$295 billion into renewable energy-generation projects in 2014 — an increase of 17% over 2013.
  • The value of the broader clean energy market in last year  (including buildings, vehicles, and more) grew to USD$788 billion.
  • The prices of solar technology and advanced batteries continued to drop — and will keep dropping.
  • The United States and China signed a ground-breaking climate and clean energy cooperation agreement.
  • India set a target of 175 gigawatts of new renewable electricity capacity by 2022. (For comparison, the capacity of Canada’s electricity grid in 2013 was 127 gigawatts.)
  • Within a couple of years, a price on carbon pollution will apply to more than half of the global economy.

Many Canadians will find these facts surprising — which is understandable, given the scant attention typically paid to such stories on Parliament Hill, Bay Street or in the news. As a nation, we predominantly continue to think of energy in terms of commodities (oil, gas, coal, uranium) rather than advanced technologies and services — to our own economic detriment.


En Route to Paris: From the Ground Up – How Small Businesses are Cutting Carbon and Growing the Economy

Guest blog by Elizabeth Sheehan, Founder and President, and Michelle Bonner, Vice President and Training Manager, Climate Smart


It’s official. Pretty much everyone and her sister is going to Paris.


Provincial leaders are already working to upstage one another at the forthcoming COP21 climate summit. Senior executives will be talking up their renewable energy leadership. Expect rock stars, rap stars, and a full-on media circus.

But one band of climate warriors will likely be staying at home here in Canada: the entrepreneurs who run small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the country. Instead, they’ll just keep on doing what they have learned to do—drive down carbon emissions across the value chain.

Here in British Columbia, where I live, these businesses constitute a stunning 98 percent of the province’s private sector, and employ more than one million people. The sector largely flies under the radar, but it’s arguably Canada’s true innovation engine. These companies are driven by passionate, committed entrepreneurs who know how to get things done and make things better.


En Route to Paris: Getting to an agreement to catalyze our economies’ transition toward decarbonization


Guest blog post by Hugo Séguin, Cérium Fellow and Senior Consultant, Copticom – Strategy and Public Relations.

Disclaimer: the views expressed in the following blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

Climate issues have been at the heart of negotiations for over two decades now. It has been a long, difficult journey, rife with harsh disappointments. And yet, paradoxically, we can all agree on the essentials.

There is consensus on the urgency to act, on the goal to achieve (to keep the temperature rise below two degrees Celsius), on the importance to protect the most vulnerable countries from climate change, and on the need to decarbonize our economies and phase out fossil fuels, which constitute the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions.

It is now time to distribute the work and the responsibilities. And again, therein lies the rub.

Most signs point to the signing of the Paris agreement. The two biggest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, China and the United States, are working together and have finally committed to decarbonization. Last July, the G-7 leaders set the goal of decarbonizing the world’s economy by the end of the century.



En Route to Paris: Buildings Responsible for 25% of Canada’s Emissions – It’s time for Energy Efficiency


Guest blog post by Julia Langer, CEO, Toronto Atmospheric Fund

Disclaimer: the views expressed in the following blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

We live in them, we work in them, we play in them. We heat them and cool them, we plug in our many appliances, run elevators, pump the water in and out. So it shouldn’t be surprising that one-quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from buildings, about the same amount as those now produced from Canada’s oil and gas sector. If we expect to avoid dangerous climate change, dramatically improving the energy performance of our buildings is vital.

Commercial, multi-unit residential and institutional buildings comprise about a billion square metres of floor space, consume nearly 2,000 PJ of energy (about a fifth of total secondary energy use Canada-wide) at a cost of over $35 billion annually. Large residential buildings alone represent 10 percent of the energy load and GHG emissions in urban centres. Numerous studies show that energy use in existing buildings can be reduced by 25-40 percent, cost-effectively, with existing technology. That’s why our focus at Toronto Atmospheric Fund (the first municipal climate agency in the world) is on accelerating efficiency retrofits of larger buildings.


En Route to Paris: Local to Global Carbon Pricing

Guest blog post by Dale Beugin, Research Director, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission

Disclaimer: the views expressed in the following blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation. 


Launched last November, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission is a group of prominent economists, supported by a trans-partisan advisory Board. Its mission is to identify practical fiscal policies to spark the innovation required for increased economic and environmental prosperity.

In July, climate policy folks from across North and South America converged on Toronto, with the role of subnational carbon pricing policy as a major focal point. Since Ecofiscal has put quite a lot of thought into the idea that provincial carbon pricing might be a practical way forward here in Canada, we thought the Climate Summit of the Americas provided an opportunity to take a quick look at subnational policies elsewhere in the world as well. I want to make three main points on that note.

Climate momentum in provincial, state-level, and regional carbon pricing

First, Canada is not alone in seeing subnational carbon pricing policy play an important role. The World Bank Group and Ecofys find that carbon pricing policy now applies to almost a quarter of global emissions, including more than 20 subnational policies, as illustrated in the figure below. British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and California all have carbon pricing policies, and Ontario is soon to follow. Oregon is considering its options. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative prices GHG emissions from electricity generation in nine U.S. states. Three subnational carbon pricing systems operate in Japanese cities. And seven city-level pilot projects are underway in China.

carbon map

Subnationals are taking the lead on carbon pricing policies globally.


En Route to Paris: Quebec commits to reducing its GHG emissions by 80%. Should we be thrilled or skeptical?



Guest post by Sidney Ribaux, Équiterre Cofounder, executive director and spokesperson

Disclaimer: the views expressed in the following blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

Last month, at the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard committed to an 80 to 95% reduction in the province’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. In my opinion, this represents the largest commitment ever made by Quebec regarding climate change.

Several people are skeptical, however. They wonder how the Premier can set such an ambitious target while also investing in oil exploration on Anticosti Island and spending $500 million to expand Highway 19. Besides, these skeptics think, Couillard won’t be Premier in 2050 anyway.

I tend to believe in the Premier’s sincerity on this point. Here’s why.


En Route to Paris: The key ingredient to a successful climate plan is a stronger carbon tax

Guest blog post by Matt Horne, Associate Regional Director, British Columbia, Pembina Institute

Disclaimer: the views expressed in the following blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

Please increase B.C.’s carbon tax.

If I had only five words to share about B.C.’s forthcoming Climate Leadership Plan, those would be the five. Given I have a few hundred, I’ll elaborate a little.


B.C.’s carbon tax was implemented in 2008 and has proven to be an economic, environmental and political success. B.C.’s economy has outperformed the rest of the country, per capital fossil fuel consumption has dropped and all parties with seats in the legislature support the policy.