Canada lagging behind on renewable energy spending, environmental groups say

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      The federal government’s budget is receiving criticism from some environmental groups, who say Canada is lagging behind other countries on investment in renewable energy.

      While the 2011 budget did include some new spending for green initiatives, including $400 million for the renewal of a home retrofit program, the budget contained nothing for renewable energy, according to Ian Bruce, climate change specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation.

      “The federal government missed a huge opportunity to be investing in clean, renewable power for Canada, and instead it’s encouraging more polluting sources of energy with the continued subsidies to the oil and gas sector, which tally up to a massive amount of money of about $1.4 billion per year,” Bruce told the Straight by phone.

      Tim Weis, the director of renewable energy and efficiency policy for the Pembina Institute, said he was disappointed in the lack of re-investment in renewable energy, given the level of spending in other countries.

      “Europe is really heavily investing in renewable energy, China has become the world leader in investment in renewals, and the Americans are doing the same,” Weis told the Straight by phone from Ottawa following the delivery of the budget. “We’re kind of going in the opposite direction, where we’ve had support for renewables in the past, but we’re letting most of that support actually sunset.”

      Other spending measures announced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty Tuesday (March 22) included $252 million over two years to support regulatory activities to address climate change and air quality, $86 million over two years to support clean energy regulatory actions, $48 million over two years to develop transportation sector regulations and $25 million over two years to advance Canada’s international engagement on climate change.

      Bruce described the funding for regulatory activities as “status quo”.

      “We’re still missing an effective climate change action plan for the country, and this is highlighted by the fact that the federal government has promised to bring in regulatory measures to ensure cleaner air, and to reduce global warming emissions,” he said. “They’ve made promises three times, yet those regulations have yet to be enacted.”

      Bruce said while he was encouraged to see continued support for the home retrofit program, he said the initiative plays “a very small part” in reducing pollution in the country.

      “Currently, greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise dramatically with the current approach that the federal government’s taking,” he said.

      The budget’s other environmental measures include about $200 million over two years for the Chemicals Management Plan, $27 million over two years to improve Canada’s weather services, and $8 million over two years to promote clean energy technologies in Aboriginal and Northern communities.




      Mar 23, 2011 at 4:48pm

      I wonder if their calculations include the massive Hydro investments in BC and Quebec? As for climate change we do have an action plan - the cliamte changes, it's not our fault, get over it.


      Mar 24, 2011 at 2:55am

      The current government cares abut getting as much oil out of the tar sands as fast as possible and whatever will facilitate it (see the absurd amount of money being thrown at tradespeople for their tools.) Nothing else.

      Second Nation

      Mar 24, 2011 at 2:05pm

      I have a friend who develops wind power projects. He's done such work as far away as Europe. He's had zero support from the Canadian gov't, in the way of incentive programs, etc.

      His biggest national customer base? China. They've sent over twenty different business delegations to meet with him.