Canada falling behind on sustainable energy investments

Ottawa – Per capita investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transit combined in the United States is now set to surpass Canada’s federal investment by more than 8:1, according to new analysis based on the 2010 federal budget and the latest U.S. Congressional Budget Request, and conducted by the Pembina Institute and Environment Northeast.

“The growing gap in government spending on sustainable energy development between our two countries is significant,” said Tim Weis, director of renewable energy and efficiency at the Pembina Institute. “While the federal government continues to talk about harmonizing with the United States, the reality is that their failure to invest significantly in sustainable energy means Canada is falling behind.”

Electricity generation is one of the largest sources of emissions in Canada. While the oil sands remain the fastest growing source of emissions in Canada, for now coal powered electricity currently produces more emissions than the oil sands do. The government made an election promise to move from 77 per cent non-emitting sources of electricity to 90 per cent by the year 2020 — a goal which will not be achieved without a significant ramp-up of renewable power and energy efficiency. However, not only did the most recent federal budget contain virtually no significant programs to achieve this goal, it also failed to renew the one program that had supported the majority of renewable energy development to date (ecoENERGY for renewable power).

Without any significant federal support or any certainty around emissions regulations, it will become increasingly difficult for Canada as a whole to compete for private renewable energy investment in light of the increasing attractiveness of the market in the United States.

Last year, Pembina’s analysis found a 14:1 per capita ratio for stimulus spending between the U.S. and Canada on renewable energy programs in particular. This year, that ratio is set to climb to nearly 18:1. Overall, the U.S. plans to spend the equivalent of more than C$27.4 billion (US$26,692 million) on green programs including renewable energy, efficiency, technology development and public transit, compared to C$357 million in Canadian spending in 2010, for an overall ratio of 8.6:1.

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