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Sunday, February 26, 2012

A clean energy future for Canada

A clean energy future for Canada

Millions of Canadians are looking for affordable ways to cut costs and build a more sustainable economy. But instead of realizing Canada’s clean energy potential, the Harper government is locking Canada in to yesterday’s fossil fuel energy – and locking us out of the emerging clean energy market in the process.
Canada has incredible opportunities to create jobs and build a sustainable energy economy, but without a vision and leadership these opportunities are being squandered. Instead of inaction, Canadians deserve solutions that make our energy future sustainable, reliable and affordable.
A New Democrat government led by Paul Dewar will realize Canada's green energy potential by:
1. Promoting Energy Efficiency: Home retrofits and supporting research and development in energy efficiency
Currently, Canada is falling short of its efficiency potential: only 8% of homes have had a retrofit, and many buildings operate at 50% below their efficiency potential. Retrofits are an affordable and effective way to improve energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Instead of making the most of the enormous resource pool of energy efficiency that exists in Canada, Mr. Harper has played games with the sector – leaving Canadians and the efficiency industry out in the cold. Just months after touting the “unprecedented demand” for the ecoENERGY Home Retrofit program, Mr. Harper shut the program down – even though the government’s own data showed that the successful program created more than 5,000 direct jobs and more than 10,000 indirect jobs.
Home retrofits have to date resulted in $25 billion in spinoff economic activity, tens of thousands of jobs for Canadians, and the elimination of 20 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of a boom and bust approach that puts the industry and jobs at risk, it’s time to make a full fledged, permanent initiative to retrofit Canada to higher energy efficiency standards.
An NDP government led by Paul Dewar will boost energy efficiency to put money back into the pockets of consumers and create jobs in the residential and commercial retrofits industry. As a first step, working with provinces, Dewar will introduce a permanent Green Retrofits Fund for residential and commercial retrofit, which will provide much needed stability in the market. Additionally, Dewar will deliver programs for lower income Canadians to improve energy efficiency in their homes.
Dewar will also provide incentives to encourage research and development in energy efficient products and processes by Canadian manufacturers. His proposal for phasing out energy inefficient light bulbs has already been adopted by the government in the form of a regulation. Dewar will work toward adopting energy efficiency standards and providing incentives for research, development and manufacturing of other energy efficient products in Canada.
It’s time for Canada to become a leader in this growing market.
2. Supporting diversification of our energy economy: 
In a world that is increasingly looking for clean energy, Canada has vast opportunities for growth in this sector. Our fossil fuel resources are being fast-tracked in the absence of a long-term energy strategy. Since 2004, Canada’s fossil fuel industry has nearly doubled its revenues – it simply doesn’t need taxpayer-funded handouts.
Canada has yet to take significant steps in eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. Unlike the Harper government, the Obama administration is in the process of eliminating twelve tax breaks to the oil industry, worth $36 billion over the next ten years, as well as making significant investments in renewable energy. It’s time for Canada to catch up.
Instead of investing in the clean energy economy of tomorrow, the Conservatives allowed the major federal funding mechanism for renewable energy in Canada, the successful ecoENERGY for Renewable Power Program, which supported wind, solar and other renewable energy, to run out of funds in 2010.
This neglect is putting Canada at a disadvantage as worldwide investment in renewables grows: per capita, the US spent 18 times more on renewable energy in their 2010 budget than Canada. On the international stage, Canada dedicated less of its stimulus spending to clean energy compared to Mexico, the U.S., Australia, China and South Korea.
Neglect of the renewable energy sector is costing Canadians jobs. It’s estimated Canadians have missed out on approximately 66,000 jobs in the last two budgets alone because the federal government has failed to match President Obama’s investments in renewable energy.
It’s time for a leader who will foster the transition to a Canadian green energy economy. Paul Dewar will deliver on the international commitments made at the G20 to remove the tax benefits to the oil and gas industries. He will invest in the renewable energy sector neglected by the Harper government. Dewar will also target development and deployment of more efficient, affordable small-scale, community-owned and operated renewable energy projects with a focus on northern and isolated communities.

3. A Smart Grid: Sustainable, reliable and affordable Canadian power
As other jurisdictions are implementing innovative changes to improve the efficiency of their grids and manage the integration of new forms of renewable energy, Canada is falling behind.
Together, we can work toward the goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity by 2030. Electricity production currently accounts for 16% of Canada's GHG emissions. Dewar's Greening the Grid Agenda would take a major step toward reducing Canada's emissions.
Paul Dewar’s Greening the Grid Agenda would prioritize working with provincial and territorial governments to promote renewable energy innovation and development.  It will support regional interconnections that will enable the sharing of renewable energy sources, enhanced grid reliability and development of local green energy initiatives and the reduction of costs to consumers through enhanced grid efficiency and the avoidance of unnecessary new generation.
Paul Dewar aims to build a truly “smart” electricity system that will leverage Canada’s existing knowledge of electricity systems to make our country a green innovation leader.  The green grid is the backbone Canada will need to spur the development of a green economy in areas such as new renewable energy, energy efficiency, electricity system management, and green vehicles.
4. Green Government Initiative: leading by example
In Ottawa alone, the federal government spends more than $100 million a year to heat up and cool down its properties.
A New Democrat government led by Paul Dewar would lead by example by reducing government energy costs. Dewar will save tax dollars and support the energy efficiency sector by retrofitting its buildings and making energy efficiency a requisite for government procurements.
As an added benefit, Dewar's plan will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and associated air pollution. It would also leverage government's purchasing power to promote and support environmentally-sustainable products and technologies.
5. Carbon Pricing: capping emissions and investing in a clean energy future
The largest emitters continue to account for more than 50% of Canadian GHG emissions. Despite repeated promises, Stephen Harper has yet to require reductions in industrial greenhouse gas emissions. The direct effect of this failed policy is to reward major emitters and deter investment in a cleaner energy economy.
According to government reports, Canadians are already experiencing adverse effects of climate change. The impacts are felt by the agriculture sector, damage to Northern infrastructure, and documented risks to our environment, our communities, our health, and our prosperity. The impact of climate change on the Canadian economy is estimated to top $5 billion per year by 2020 and between $21 and $43 billion per year by 2050, with major impact on forestry, coast line damage, floods and air quality.
Despite this, Stephen Harper’s government has been the first signatory to the Kyoto protocol to withdraw and has refused to commit to national reduction targets. His policies could also jeopardize our competitiveness overseas where other jurisdictions such as the European Union are putting barriers against Canadian businesses.
Paul Dewar will deliver on Canada's international commitments made at Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban. Dewar’s policies will put Canada at the centre of the new energy economy.
It’s time for Canada to become a leader, not a laggard, in global efforts to combat climate change. With federal leadership, jobs and innovation in energy efficiency, climate change adaptation, and other linked industries could bring enormous benefits to Canadians.
A New Democrat government led by Paul Dewar will put a price on carbon through a cap-and-trade system that would set binding targets on Canada’s largest emitters, while stepping up investment in national environmental solutions including public transit, energy efficiency retrofits, clean energy technologies and a smart grid.
Dewar’s plan will reward innovation and early action, support Canada’s continued economic growth in every region, and deliver long-term emissions reductions.

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