Alistair MacGregor column: It’s time for a National Clean Energy Plan

The International Panel on Climate Change woke up the world last December

The International Panel on Climate Change woke up the world last December with a life or death warning for more and immediate action to limit global warming. However, Canada has not heeded the call for action and is still not on course to meet its emission reductions target under the Paris Agreement.

Energy systems in Canada are currently responsible for more than 80 per cent of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The ways we transport ourselves, heat our homes, and fuel our industry all urgently need to change.

The solution has long been obvious. Transition to clean, renewable energy and away from fossil use is the only clear path forward. The sun, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat are all naturally-occurring energy resources that can be harnessed to generate clean renewable electricity. Coupled with a transition to electric transport, these initiatives can drastically reduce our carbon footprint.

From an energy perspective, Canada is very fortunate. We have a large land mass, small population and one of the largest and most diverse supplies of energy in the world. Our rivers discharge close to seven per cent of the world’s renewable water, a tremendous source of hydroelectric power.

Many Canadian cities that currently rely on high-carbon sources of electricity (Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon) receive more than 2,200 sunny hours per year. Unfortunately, according to Natural Resources Canada, renewable energy sources currently only provide about 17 per cent of Canada’s total primary energy supply.

Although we have significant capacity for development in clean renewable energy, we are lagging behind many other countries, such as China, India and the U.S. Canada has an opportunity to drive innovation and deliver benefits now and into the future by tapping our vast renewable energy potential and know-how to make the transition away from fossil-fuel-based energy systems.

Unfortunately, our federal government is not acting with the urgency that is required. Despite a promise to end oil and gas subsides, a report released last year by the Overseas Development Institute concluded that Canada leads the G7 in oil and gas subsides per capita, spending $6.25 billion annually. These subsidies are hindering our transition and need to be re-allocated to clean, renewable energy initiatives.

Federal government leadership and a national plan to transition to clean, renewable energy are vital to our future. Not only will this help with desperately needed climate change mitigation, but the investment in clean, renewable energy resources will significantly increase national energy security and provide long-term economic benefits for Canada. Given the seriousness of the IPCC’s report, it is critical that we embark on the transition to low-carbon energy systems.

Please join me and local guest panelists at my upcoming town halls to learn about local clean energy initiatives and have your say on Canada’s Clean Energy future.

Cowichan: It’s time for a National Clean Energy Plan

Date: Saturday, March 16

Time: 1-3 p.m.

Location: VIU Cowichan Lecture Theater, 2011 University Way

Alistair MacGregor is the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.

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