So, it’s an interesting time to be an environmentalist in Canada. On one hand, we have a federal government whose green policies were described as “a complete and total fraud … designed to mislead the Canadian people” by no less than the Goreacle himself.
In this case, however, one of the sometimes-maddening aspects of Canadian politics is of some benefit. You see, natural resources (including all energy sources) are matters of provincial jurisdiction in Canada. This is problematic if you want to see a national plan on fossil fuels, because as a political reality you’d have to get all 10 provincial premiers to sign on — and that’s like herding cats. But it does have its virtues on some days, and yesterday the Toronto Star reported that the government of Ontario (Canada’s most populous, most industrial province) is set to announce a far more ambitious green plan than the one announced by Ottawa.
It’s still not great — Ontario, like the rest of Canada, is going to miss its Kyoto targets, though by a smaller margin than oil-rich, coal-fired Alberta. But there’s plenty in there to love, hate, and discuss further, I’m sure. Some of the high points:
- Coal, being the enemy of the human race, will no longer provide electricity in Ontario by 2014. The problem is, the same government promised in 2003 that this would happen by … 2007.
- A passel of programs for small-scale, distributed power: heat recycling, solar, other renewables all get a mix of price supports and tax breaks.
- Increased tax credits (already $2,000) for purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles.
One of the interesting things will be to see the interplay between the provincial and federal Liberal parties. The Liberal Party of Stephane Dion in Ottawa has been maintaining that Canada still has time to meet it’s Kyoto targets, which frankly strains credibility. The Liberal Party of Ontario (led by Dalton McGuinty) seems to be accepting that Ontario cannot, in fact, meet it’s Kyoto target by the deadline. Talking-point fratricide is something I like to track among politicians, but it’s possible I’m the only one interested in this stuff.