Monday, October 09, 2006

"Green" Gerard

As Stephane Dion has performed at least a highly questionable act, missing the vote on Kyoto, I was motivated to reflect on Gerard Kennedy's platform on the environment. One of Gerard Kennedy's papers on the environment can be found here.

It begins with an introduction by former Minister of Environment, Charles Caccia, MP for Davenport, 1968-2004. Mr.Caccia outlines the importance of certain environment policies, such as the Kyoto protocal, and he also emphasizes the need for a leader who is dedicated to achieving those policies and goals.
To this end we need a leader with a strong commitment to the environment and to environmentally sustainable development; a leader who will not only talk but also walk the talk; a leader who sees beyond the horizon of the next election; a leader who can make difficult decisions. We have such a leader in Gerard Kennedy.
A prominent feature of Gerard's motivation for environment prosperity, is that he knows that our climate, our earth needs real policies that work because of the growing problems we face.
Energy and the environment are becoming the most crucial issues Canadians face. How we produce and consume energy and what we do to protect and preserve the environment, will determine the sustainability of our economy and our lifestyle.
This is what differentiates Kennedy from the other candidates, the role of the economy in relation to the environment. A major factor of the American's not signing on to Kyoto was that other countries would profit by the U.S. being hampered by environmental restrictions. Thus economic concerns outweighed the environment to the Americans. Mr. Kennedy does not place economic interests over environmental interests; he sees them as mutual perpetuating forces, that with the guidance of the federal, provincial, and municipal governments can better both spheres.
While markets are important and have an important role in solving our energy and environmental challenges, it is only by combining markets with federal, provincial, business and NGO leadership that we will become a clean energy superpower.
Having environmental and economic interests working towards a successful Canada, industry and technological advances will serve as a byproduct which will only serve to further the virtuous cycle of environment sustainability and growth.

Gerard Kennedy is putting forth a National Strategy for Energy and Environment. Planning to work with the provinces is necessitated by the reform needed to thoroughly direct environmental policies; "We have to merge and integrate environment and economic policies. We have to modernize federal and provincial tax systems. We have to give momentum to environmentally beneficial technologies." Kennedy advocates such a strategy, a strategy that will work with the provinces and regions to protect the fragile ecosystems that exist in Canada while fostering green-friendly industries, "There is a role for a national framework – a strategy to get the provinces working, in their own way, toward the same common environmental goals and targets."

Energy and environment issues are gaining momentum and importance. As an advanced nation, we have a duty and responsibility to develop a plan that maximizes the value of our resources, minimizes the impact of their extraction and utilization and also protects our environment.

We have to decentralize the decision-making process and seek the input of those who are most actively involved in energy production and environmental protection. We must adopt energy and environment policies that reflect the challenges our producers face from the oil fields off Newfoundland’s coast to the energy sector in Alberta.

Gerard Kennedy does not leave it at just talk, a crucial difference between Gerard and others, is his reliance on results. If a policy isn't working, if it's just talk it is worthless. He provides not just policies but a system of assurances to determine if these policies are as effective as they should be. His framework for his strategy on Environment and Energy has three pillars:

• it will be based on supply and demand of energy
• it will encourage and reward conservation and the production and use of clean energy
• and it will be measured relentlessly: Is it working? Is it cost-effective? Is the environment getting better and the economy getting stronger?

We will recognize sound environmental stewardship – as a driver for creativity, innovation, product development and ultimately profitability and we will encourage enterprise -- innovators and risk takers should be rewarded for their leadership and for driving innovation.

Elements of the plan include:
1. Setting national objectives for alternative fuels and sources of energy including:
• 5 per cent renewable fuels by 2010 and 10 per cent by 2015 (for example, ethanol, bio-diesel)
• 5000 MW of wind energy by 2010, and 10,000 MW by 2015
• 500 MW of new biomass, geothermal and solar energy by 2010, and 3000 MW by 2015

2. Providing reasonable production incentives to produce renewable energy. For example, we will drive innovation by using the tax code to encourage investment in environmental technologies that will result from higher risk, longer term R&D.

3. Optimizing our national transmission and distribution system (including pipelines and the electricity grids) by:
• Creating national systems that are safe, efficient and secure
• Encouraging investment and development by committing to streamlined and transparent processes (ex. removing duplicative federal and provincial work) and reasonable permitting timelines

4. Encouraging, through federal policies and assistance, provincial utilities to embrace renewable projects and integrate them into their transmission and distribution grids, and to explore energy storage solutions that will make intermittent clean sources of energy more useful in our energy networks

5. Setting national objectives on conservation:

• One per cent improvement in energy consumption per capita in five years and three per cent over the next 10 years. Our energy consumption per capita has been rising over the past 30 years, despite the availability of new technologies. We need to turn this around, and start investing in and using the most efficient equipment and processes available.
• Raising our standards by 25 per cent for energy consumption in new home construction and new appliances by 2015 (through building codes, equipment and appliance standards).

6.Committing government support to smart energy alternatives including:
• Hybrid vehicles
• Hydrogen and fuel cells vehicles and power plants
• Modern, high-efficiency and ultra clean bio-diesel vehicles

7. Introducing a GST exemption of up to $5000, for smart energy vehicles and a progressive gas-guzzler tax on all vehicles that have worse than average fuel consumption.

Canadian cars are typically on the road for more than 12 years. We need to encourage consumers to buy fuel-efficient vehicles, which will have an important impact on the environment for years to come.

8. Ensuring that 50 per cent of the government’s fleet purchases are hybrids or alternative fuelled vehicles by 2010 and 100 percent by 2015.

9. Creating programs and greater incentives for conservation including home retrofit programs, pilot programs to monitor energy consumption and energy cost by the minute. At the same time, speed up the approval process for new energy-savings products and systems.

10. Encouraging the highest possible efficiency in home and commercial heating and cooling by providing incentives for ground-source heat pumps. The province of Manitoba has made important strides in this area, and that good work should be replicated nationally.

11. Instilling reachable goals. All new, large energy development projects should have an “environmentally neutral footprint” (for example, if greenhouse gases and local pollutants will be increased, there must be an offset for the project to move forward). Further, we should introduce a mandatory market-based system that allows companies to register and trade emission credits.

I am sure other campaigns have quality environment platforms, on my opinion in substance and practicality Gerard Kennedy has the most principled and applicable strategy. Gerard not only seeks to revolutionize government's outlook at the environment but having it working with it in the economic sphere as partners to feed off of each other to create a more prosperous and successful Canada. It is only through the use and measuring of results that this can happen, and this is a quality that only Gerard Kennedy's platform has.


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