$150M for clean tech ahead of climate meeting
Realities of that transition to low carbon to intrude on Globe conference.
VANCOUVER — For at least an hour or two this morning, Justin Trudeau will be preaching to the choir. The prime minister addresses the opening plenary session of the Globe clean tech conference in Vancouver, alongside BC Premier Christy Clark, where they will sing the gospel of environmental innovation and the global investment and job opportunities that come with it.
Trudeau will also commit some $150 million to two new clean tech funds in an effort to spur faster industry growth.
It’s the optimistic and widely appealing upside of the global low-carbon transition that 195 countries signed on to in Paris at COP21, the United Nations climate conference in December.
But the difficult, fractious and immediate realities of that transition appear likely to intrude before the day is over.
Premiers from all 13 provinces and territories, along with indigenous leaders, are in Vancouver to begin hammering together a pan-Canada climate policy framework.
There are more than a few bruised thumbs and discordant notes already.
Indigenous groups have complained the invitation list was not wide enough. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has levelled a series of broadsides at the federal Liberals’ promised carbon pricing. And Quebec managed to inflame much of western Canada – again – with an ill-timed court intervention in the contentious Energy East pipeline project.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard took pains to assure reporters in Vancouver that his province really wasn’t joining the court fight to shut down the $15.7-billion project, but was only attempting to assert provincial environmental jurisdiction.
“This is not a message for or against the project,” Couillard said. “It’s a message based, notably, on a recent decision from the Supreme Court of British Columbia which states that provinces must have their say on pipelines that pass through their territory via their environmental assessment process – even with interprovincial pipelines.”
Couillard described the timing of the court intervention on the eve of the premiers’ meeting with Trudeau to discuss climate policy as an “unfortunate coincidence.” By then, Wall – who is seeking re-election in Saskatchewan in just more than a month – had already sounded off.
“Why slap an injunction against (Energy East) except if it is about environmental politics and I think it is going to be divisive,” said Wall.
Rachel Notley, the Alberta premier who doesn’t face the electorate this spring, was somewhat more restrained but still fired a rhetorical warning shot, saying she plans to “leave the gun in the holster until we are actually at the gunfight, and we are not there right now.”
The key to bringing the fractious premiers together might be foreshadowed by Trudeau’s Globe conference appearance: Talk up the economic opportunities and bring a cheque book.
For the investors, inventors, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and non-governmental organizations from some 50 countries attending the biennial Globe conference, going green has taken on a market-oriented hue.
Many participants at last year’s Paris climate conference commented on the almost trade show-like atmosphere of the gathering.
“It was a different COP than any of the other COPs I’ve been to,” said Mike Gerbis, the president of Globe foundation.
“Business was around there wanting to take action, rather than trying to stifle the negotiations.”
This week, Trudeau received some unsolicited advice from 50 BC clean tech industry executives, who wrote an open letter touting the estimated $1 trillion in global investment that is anticipated from the low-carbon transition.
“The only question is whether Canada will be a buyer or a seller,” wrote the executives.
© 2016 The Canadian Press