The WTO may halt Ontario’s clean energy program
You may be aware that Canada has a policy under which a certain percentage of music on the radio must be by Canadians. This is not the only reason that Nickelback enjoys undeserved success, but it doesn’t help.
The province of Ontario figured that the concept of building in a home-team advantage could work elsewhere. Like, in renewable energy production.
In 2009, Ontario established the Green Energy Act. The bill created demand for green energy by setting a feed-in tariff — offering long-term contracts to renewable energy producers — and establishing an initial requirement that 25 percent of wind projects and 50 percent of solar projects be made in Ontario. (Nickelback briefly considered going into solar panel manufacturing, but they were too lazy.)
Japan and the E.U. were understandably not happy about the local production requirements, so they complained to the World Trade Organization. And yesterday, the WTO reportedly ruled against Ontario.
From the CBC:
Although the WTO has yet to acknowledge any decision publicly, reports Monday suggest the affected parties have been notified of the organization’s decision to side with the [EU and Japan]. …
The WTO ruling is non-binding, meaning Ontario could simply ignore it and not face any monetary punishment. But such a move would likely be met with the implementation of tariffs against any Ontario-made goods in Japan and the EU. That would also be especially unlikely against the backdrop of a federal government trying to iron out a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union.
In a statement railing against the decision, the Sierra Club notes the program’s initial success, creating over 20,000 jobs in Ontario. And it notes the U.S.’s role in the dispute:
The Sierra Club and Public Citizen are particularly disappointed that the U.S. decided to weigh in on this case by submitting a third-party brief pointing out how Ontario’s program violated WTO rules.
“Instead of attacking another countries’ clean energy program, the U.S. government should focus on how we will build on our own solutions to tackle the climate crisis and create clean energy jobs,” [the Sierra Club’s Ilana] Solomon said.
It is worth giving the United States the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps our bureaucrats were merely concerned that American citizens could end up being subjected to sub-par, grating renewable energy that we largely find unpleasant.
Just kidding! It’s all about money. And this big world keeps on turnin’.
Get Grist in your inbox