It's not the sort of thing I expected to read in the pages of Macleans but, there it is, the case for Canada to rapidly grow the nation's green energy technology. There's nary a word about the environment. The argument is based on growing Canada's economy.
There’s an estimated $26 trillion global opportunity in clean growth coming in the next 12 years, and a trio of new regulatory initiatives from last week’s federal Fall Economic Statement might help Canada grab a bigger share of it through green innovation. If the federal government gets the details right.
The announcement to allow for the immediate expensing of clean energy investments has rightly received the most attention from the business and environmental communities. In fact, it’s surprising that the regulatory reform initiatives have received any attention at all, given they were buried on page 74 of the update and have low dollar figures attached.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has committed to creating a “Dedicated External Advisory Committee on Regulatory Competitiveness” and a “Centre for Regulatory Innovation”. There is $10 million earmarked to help government incorporate economic and competitiveness factors when designing and implementing regulations.
...The government has set an ambitious goal of increasing overseas exports by 50 per cent to 2025. It is difficult to see how we will accomplish this by simply cutting business costs, though that can help. We need to be tapping into where the global economy is going—by building Canada’s brand as a leader in clean performance and innovation.
This should not be about deregulation. It should be about smarter regulation.
Strong, well-designed and flexible environmental regulations create sizeable domestic markets for new technologies, which helps our homegrown companies in meeting our export targets.Some Canadian industries are already heeding the call.
This creates the opportunity for firms like Quebec-based aluminum manufacturer Elysis that has innovated a carbon-free smelting process that eliminates all direct greenhouse gas emissions and replaces it with pure oxygen. This has the potential to eliminate the equivalent of 6.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions—improving Canadians’ health and our environment while at the same time generating massive export opportunities and good jobs.
That is what we need to be relentlessly focussed on: building the conditions for Canadian companies to compete and thrive in a growing global clean growth economy, while putting rules in place that will protect the health and environment of Canadians.
Business leaders largely recognize what needs to be done to do that.
And they recently provided this advice to government in the Resources of the Future Economic Strategy Table report. A group of business leaders from across resource sectors recommended that Canada’s regulatory system be “outcomes-driven, stringent, flexible and predictable” and “designed to improve health, safety and environmental performance, stimulate innovation, boost sector growth and competitiveness”.The stumbling block isn't economic. It's federal-provincial politics in our modern petro-state. Justin Trudeau doesn't want to be seen as "clean energy hostile" to the bitumen pit producers of Athabasca. Trudeau may still believe that Notley can deliver on her promise that Alberta will back his carbon tax initiative but, with Kenney breathing down Notley's neck, that's a real "faint hope" gamble.
Nine to twelve billion dollars for a pointless pipeline? That's money the federal government could put to better use kickstarting a rapid transition to clean energy technology.