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)
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.