Entries in environment (2)

Thursday
Mar242016

It's a question of balance ... and here are the questions

I’ve been participating in Sustainable Peterborough Climate Change Action Plan discussions as a member of the economic and business subcommittee. Throughout the discussions the challenge has become more evident: how do we strike a balance between the current reality and the desired outcome of the future?  

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has spent the past year looking at our natural resources industry through the lens of Why Resources Matter. An infographic released last summer shows natural resources-based industries contributed almost 17% of Canada’s GDP, 14% of Canada’s jobs and resource-based manufacturing represented 46.2% of Canada’s total manufacturing output.  Those numbers show our economy is quite entrenched in this sector and one of the reasons why climate change action plans like the one currently underway for Peterborough and surrounding communities are so important.  We have to figure out how to sustain our economy through a balanced approach to our natural resources.  Take for example the economic impact from a drop in oil prices. How do we push the conversation beyond fear of, for example, nuclear, oil, pipelines, and resource extraction to one of innovation, leadership, and opportunity? 

We have to have a plan and way forward that is sustainable for generations.  The goal of the Climate Change Action Plan is to reduce Peterborough’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  These targets are important because it will foster innovation at all levels of our community.  No one sector, group or level of government can accomplish this goal in isolation. We all have a responsibility.  But do we legislate?  Incentivize?

We also face the challenge of current realities. In the next 25 years the population of the GTHA and the Outer Ring is expected to be around 13.5 million people.  For perspective that’s just slightly below the current population of the entire province (13.8 million approx July 2015).  How will they move around, where will they live, how will we heat their homes, how prepared are our sewage treatment plants? How do we as a province and a municipality prepare?  

The province of Ontario is currently reexamining the legislation around the blue box program.  The current theory is to put the financial responsibility of the program on the producers of materials, with the desired outcome to encourage producers to use more recyclable materials and plan for those products that cannot be. However, I don’t think we can underestimate the responsibility of the consumer as well.  The producer can use a highly recyclable material, but how do we reconcile the issue if the consumer isn’t on board?   

The province announced in the 2016 budget they will be moving toward a Cap and Trade system that is expected to generate $1.9 billion in revenue for the government starting in 2017.  They have also committed to using those revenues to support initiatives to cut GHGs including public transit, clean technology, and making homes and businesses more energy efficient.  Will this sort of incentive legislation work in the business community?  What measures or incentives are there for homeowners?  

In the Peterborough area we are seeing more bike lanes on our streets and more land has been purchased by the City to complete the TransCanada trail.  We are definitely a city and county in tune with our natural environment.  This goes for residents and businesses.   And with a research park around the clean tech sector about spring up at Trent University, it’s quite possible to believe that future companies in this space will help us answer some of the questions above.  However, they need the time, the opportunity, the environment and the support to grow.   The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and GreenUp have the Green Business Peterborough program.  It encourages businesses to formulate goals and a plan of action that will help move them down the path to environmental sustainability.  Check out the program at greenbusinesspeterborough.ca

Canada’s economy is heavily invested in natural resources from water, to forests to minerals to oil and natural gas.  Moving forward from where we are today is going to take strategy, cooperation and balance. 

Monday
Apr132015

ONTARIO INTRODUCING A CAP AND TRADE SYSTEM: WHAT BUSINESS NEEDS TO KNOW

OCC RAPID POLICY UPDATE

 

 

Earlier today, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that her government will be implementing a cap and trade system as part of its strategy to reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Globally, rising GHG levels are the main contributor to climate change.

This represents a significant policy shift that will have implications for Ontario’s business community. This Rapid Policy Update provides you with an overview of what you need to know as government moves forward with a cap and trade system.

 

When will the system take effect?

No details have been shared on implementation timelines.
 

How does cap and trade work?

A cap and trade system is a market for GHGs. The goal of the system is to provide a financial incentive for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.

Under this system, the government sets a maximum limit on the amount of GHGs that applicable businesses can produce (“the cap”). Pollution credits are then allocated to these businesses, which stipulate how many GHG emissions each business is allowed to produce. These credits can then be bought and sold in a newly created pollution credit market (“the trade”). Businesses that reduce their emissions in a given year can sell their leftover credits to those that have emitted more.

Typically, the cap is lowered gradually to reduce the total GHGs emitted by the participating jurisdiction over time. We do not yet know what the emission cap will be in Ontario and if it will change over time.
 

What sectors will be most impacted?

The Ontario government has not indicated which businesses or sectors will be subject to the cap and trade system. However, it has announced its intention to link the carbon market with North America's largest cap and trade system currently in place in California and Quebec.

In Quebec, businesses that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2 equivalent (i.e. GHGs) a year are subject to the cap and trade system. In its first year, only the industrial and electricity sectors were subject to Quebec’s cap and trade system. This year, fossil fuel distributors are being phased into the system, which will affect a more significant portion of the economy.
 

How will the government use the revenue collected from cap and trade?

The provincial government has not indicated how much will be raised by the cap and trade system. It has signalled that it will reinvest the money raised through the system into projects that reduce GHG emissions and help businesses remain competitive. Projects may include building more public transit or providing financial assistance to businesses as they move to reduce their carbon footprint.
 

What is the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s position?

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) recognizes that urgent action is required to mitigate the existing and pending negative environmental and economic effects of climate change. In principle, we support efforts to reduce GHGs.

However, the introduction of a cap and trade system must be viewed within the broader context of the escalating cost of doing business in Ontario. Over the past year, the Government of Ontario has implemented or announced a number of initiatives that will have a direct impact on business, including a new Waste Diversion Act, a review of the Labour Relations Act, the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), in addition to this new carbon pricing system.

The cumulative impact of these changes poses a serious threat to the future competitiveness of Ontario’s business climate. It is incumbent on the provincial government to ensure that Ontario remains among the most attractive places in the world to do business. As such, we believe government must put economic interests, along with environmental ones, at the forefront of the discussion. The following principles should be among those that shape the design of the cap and trade system:
  1. Government must consider the impact that the cap and trade system and regulatory changes have on the economy and job creation in the province.
  2. The cap and trade system must be revenue neutral and the revenue collected should be used to mitigate the impact of the plan on those businesses most affected.
  3. Government should harmonize its efforts with Ontario’s immediate competitors for investment and trade.
 

What are the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s next steps?

In the coming months, we will work with the Chamber Network to advocate on behalf of Ontario’s business community and communicate our position to the Government of Ontario. We will also seek answers to the key design questions that remain unanswered.

Please stay tuned for updates as this important business issue unfolds.
 

Additional resources

How Cap and Trade Works (Government of Ontario)
News Release: Cap and Trade System to Limit Greenhouse Gas Pollution in Ontario(Government of Ontario)
Ontario’s Climate Change Discussion Paper 2015 (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change)
 
Questions or comments? Contact Scott Boutilier, Policy Analyst.