During the first week of March Justin Trudeau will discuss climate change measures with the Premiers during the first ministers meeting.
February 29, 2016
NL climate change advisory group
Corner Brook, NL
Dear Premier Ball, Minister Coady, Minister Trimper, and Minister Byrne,
The NL Climate Change Advisory Group is a newly formed independent citizens group focused on climate change policy and research specific to the NL context. We were pleased to see a number of climate-related actions in the mandate letter of the Department of Environment & Conservation, and we look forward to working with you in the coming months and years on this major issue.
As you are aware, this past December, the world’s governments negotiated a landmark agreement on climate change that puts the world on a cleaner energy path. The negotiations sent a strong signal to financial sectors and global markets that investments be redirected to low-carbon and climate resilient development. At the closing of the negotiations, Lord Nicholas Stern, the author of the influential Stern Review on the economics of climate change, stated: “A green race is going on [and] if we get this right, it will be more powerful than the industrial revolution.”
Even Energy UK, which represents the big six providers of energy in the UK, says it now supports phasing out coal-fired stations, after years of defending the use of fossil fuels. And they are even going as far as calling for the UK to develop their own version of the German “Energiewende” [Germany’s plan to move to a majority of renewable energy sources].1
Indeed, the green finance agenda is becoming mainstream, and over the last few years we have seen a growing international flight of investment capital from fossil fuels and other carbon-intensive industries combined with a shift to investment policies that increasingly prioritize socially and environmentally favourable development.
Your government has recently come to power under the banner of a “Stronger Tomorrow.” In early March, Prime Minister Trudeau will host a First Ministers Meeting to discuss what path this country will take as we move at both the national and global scales towards a low-carbon and climate resilient future. We trust your government will show leadership at this meeting to help move our province and country into a cleaner, greener economy.
There are many reasons to begin moving towards a green economy right now.
We are currently in a precarious position where thousands of skilled workers are out of work and are moving back to our province where there are not enough jobs for all.
This shift should of course be based on sound information and we recommend that a feasibility study assesses the right mix of green technologies for the NL context, which is then followed by a strong and bold move towards a green economy. This can help address our unemployment problem at the same time as moving us toward a low carbon future.
More specifically, the policies we need include:
- net metering and feed-in tariffs with attractive rates guaranteed for a certain period of time to encourage rapid development for small scale energy producers
- security measures for private and corporate investments in the green energy sector so that a growth in small scale energy production will benefit Canadian manufacturing
- federal and provincial investments in green tech infrastructure
- a tax on carbon that gets reinvested into the green economy
We know that we cannot expect a rebound in oil prices in the near future. Saudi Arabia recently announced in a press conference in Texas2 that they are not afraid to keep oil prices low and that high-cost producers, such as the oil sands, should get out of the market.
It is time for Newfoundland and Labrador to seriously focus on the urgent need to diversify its economy and move away from a crippling dependency on boom and bust industries. Transformational change and green economies are good for business and job creation. We want to work with your government to help make this change happen, for the good of our communities, our province and our world.