Kyoto plan: Emission credits send the wrong message

Focus should be on developing local markets for local technology

On April 13, the feds released Moving forward on Climate Change: A Plan for Honouring our Kyoto Commitment. Clearly the plan lacks certain logic. The most obvious example to me is the encouragement of a large emitter of greenhouse gases to invest in international projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have our own problems right here. It boggles my mind that we are not using those funds in Canada to help create markets for Green and Smart technology.

Without doubt, if we are not creating a market in Canada for the technology, we will have a very difficult time selling it abroad.

However, the fund does emphasize investments that involve Canadian technology, which I do appreciate. One company to benefit from the international market for green technology is Xantrex Technology, which just last week announced a $2-million order for industrial solar inverters for a huge, six megawatt project in Spain.

“In Canada, however, there is little demand today for solar or wind energy products,” explained Xantrex chair, Mossadiq Umedaly. “By supporting renewable energy in Canada, the climate change plan should quickly build solid demand for our leading-edge solar and wind products here in our home market. It will also help us develop and demonstrate other low-emission products, such as a stationary hybrid-electric power system for remote communities that have no or poor access to the power grid.”

Another part of the plan that has some potential to generate demand for local technology is the Partnership Fund. In B.C., if we play our politics correctly, this can lead to the development of ocean energy projects. Nigel Protter, CEO of Sieber Energy, a Nanaimo company developing renewable ocean energy, agrees, but adds, “We like the idea of these projects getting investment; we will never say no that. However the government has to reframe its thinking away from punishing the emitters only, towards rewarding the green technology and projects. We don’t want to be pegged to what the large emitters are willing or able to pay to offset their carbon.”

Another area of the plan that offers the power technology sector in B.C. an opportunity to show off is The Domestic Reduction program. In this program, individuals and organizations that reduce emissions will be able to apply to an offsets body for credit. This program can include, for example, the implementation of electricity generation projects, or conversion of electricity generation in remote areas from diesel to renewable sources.

Then there are the Greening Government program, the One-Tonne Challenge, Sustainable Cities, and Sustainable Agriculture programs. The list goes on. If you can figure it out and play the politics, there are pots of money in nearly every department to pay for some sort of technology.

Which raises a valid criticism by the David Suzuki Foundation, which is calling on the federal government to strengthen the Kyoto plan by establishing targets and timelines for each of the programs in the plan, so the federal government can judge whether implementation is successful. The foundation is also calling on the government to set up a system of accountability and transparency so Canadians can know whether we are on track to meet Kyoto or not.

From a green and power technology industry point of view, I will consider the plan as a first draft. How the next version is written is up to you and me. In the meanwhile, I will be busy trying to access the money floated in front of me to make B.C. a world leader in sustainable technologies.

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