NOTE: The following is an op-ed piece from Premier Stephen McNeil.
This week, Nova Scotia achieved two major milestones on our climate change journey.
We have reached an agreement-in-principle with the Government of Canada on Nova Scotia’s approach to meeting federal emissions reduction goals. The agreement recognizes the great work of Nova Scotians in already achieving the federal government’s 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target, and it protects the pocketbooks of Nova Scotians.
This agreement includes two key commitments. The first is to develop a cap and trade program. This program will set new caps on GHG emissions for major emitters, while recognizing our early action in the electricity sector and the GHG emission reductions to come because of the investments Nova Scotians have been making in that sector.
The second is to develop a new equivalency agreement that includes actions to be taken after 2030. The new agreement, which is necessary to address new federal regulations that speed up the end of coal-fired electricity in Canada, will give our province the flexibility to meet or exceed GHG reductions without closing all our coal plants by 2030. Being able to transition away from coal on our timeframe allows us to avoid costly natural gas infrastructure. The result is a more effective and affordable solution for Nova Scotians.
This agreement-in-principle will be signed by Prime Minister Trudeau and I at the first ministers’ meeting in December. In 2017, staff will work with the federal government to iron out the specifics of the agreement. We will also consult to ensure that the way ahead is both fair and achievable for Nova Scotia companies.
By going this route, Nova Scotia will be part of a pan-Canadian solution with the flexibility to go from coal to clean energy sources and avoid the expense of building costly new infrastructure.
The other major milestone we achieved this week was connecting a two-megawatt tidal turbine in the Bay of Fundy to our electricity grid. For the first time in North America, electricity generated by the power of the tides is lighting homes and businesses. This is a new era in marine renewable energy and an unprecedented step toward a lower carbon future.
Those were the big climate news items this week, but they weren’t the only ones.
Energy Minister Michel Samson spoke about government plans to add more solar power to our energy mix. A new community solar energy pilot project is coming in early 2017 that will promote the installation of solar panels on community buildings such as town halls, fire halls and community centres.
I also announced funding for Halifax Transit, part of a program that supports transit systems across the province. We know supporting public transit is another important way to reduce emissions.
I am proud of the work that Nova Scotians have undertaken to get us to where we are now, and that the next steps on our journey will see us remain a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
More information about our agreement can be found at climatechange.novascotia.ca