A continuing review of the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:
2.1 Making real reductions in CO2 emissions
Climate change remains a major concern for Canadians. Despite the immediate concerns over the recession and loss of jobs, Canadians have (by large majorities) continued to say they will not trade off environmental protection to help the economy. In fact, Canadians understand that ending waste is good economics. Real solutions enhance the economy and the environment at the same time. While completely phasing out carbon emissions seems daunting, the challenge looks much less intimidating when we realize that more than half the energy we release is never used, but escapes into the environment as waste heat. Even what is traditionally considered useful energy is questionably so. Is it useful to move 2 tonnes of steel, glass and rubber when our real objective is to move an 80 kg person? Is it useful to heat a home that’s so leaky that most of the heat escapes within an hour? Is it useful to keep light bulbs and televisions on when no one is home? Our real energy needs are a fraction of what we use. Efficiency is our friend. Creating energy from non-polluting sources is neither novel nor difficult. The only challenge is ensuring that energy is available when and where we need it. Fully renewable electrical grids are now being modelled in Germany. Canada is fortunate to have vast renewable energy resources and a sparse population which make a fully renewable electricity system much easier to achieve here than most places on Earth. The Green Party embraces the challenge set by Al Gore and James Hansen to replace all power generation from fossil fuels with renewable energy within a decade. In his report to the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Nicholas Stern, former senior economist to the World Bank, warned that, left unchecked, climate change could constitute a $7 trillion hit to the world economy, create water shortages for 1 in 6 people planet-wide, cause the extinction of up to 40 % of species, and result in up to 200 million environmental refugees. Taking action now, says Stern, would cost just one to 3% of global gross domestic product annually. In Canada, based on our 2010 GDP estimate of $1.335 trillion, 1% means about $13 billion − $3 billion less than the government’s commitment to buy and maintain 65 stealth fighter jets. We will build an economy powered by the renewable energy sources. We will discourage wasteful practices, dramatically reducing our overall energy needs. By phasing out carbon emissions, we will simultaneously clean up our air, improve water quality and help re-establish healthier forests. We will transform our buildings so they stay warm in winter and cool in summer without burning fossil fuels. We will change the way we move, rapidly bringing in an efficient and convenient public transit system supported by non-polluting personal vehicles. We will create thousands of jobs manufacturing, installing, operating and maintaining wind turbines, solar panels, public transit vehicles and infrastructure, insulation, rail stock and other elements of a clean and efficient economy. We will build local economies and strong communities responsive to local needs. In addition to tax shifting and cap and trade of industry, a Green government will leave no stone unturned to establish practical and pragmatic programs in all areas of the economy to accelerate our reduction in carbon emissions.
2.1.1 Government operations
The federal government should apply the same national GHG reduction goals to all its own operations. All new federal government buildings must meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) standards. Federally- owned buildings must adhere to LEED® Gold; leased buildings LEED® Silver standards. Standards should be continuously upgraded.
Carbon conditionality clauses. A Green government will negotiate with the provinces and every business, NGO, institution, city, province or territory that receives funding of any kind from the federal government to establish benchmarks and policies to reduce its GHG emissions in accordance with Canada’s goals. This will be phased on so that after 2012, 25% of all funding will include carbon reduction requirements, rising to 100% by 2025. Carbon conditionality will be a part of a wider set of sustainability conditionality clauses, reflecting other changes that are needed on the road to a healthier economy.
Most of today’s housing stock will still be standing in 2040, the date we target to have achieved an 85% overall reduction in Canada’s carbon emissions, so retrofitting Canada’s existing stock of buildings for energy conservation is critical.
Green Party MPs will:
- Develop a national energy retrofit standard designed for a post-carbon economy that will reduce energy use in existing buildings by an average of at least 80% below that of 2009 average structures.
- Develop timelines and targets for raising existing building stock to the new standard with the goal of retrofitting 100% of Canada’s buildings to a high level of energy efficiency by 2025.
- Promote the adoption of this high efficiency standard by:
- Providing revolving federal loans for retrofits to homeowners.
- Funding a nation-wide program to upgrade all low-income rental housing on a phased year-by-year basis to be completed by 2025, as Germany is doing.
- Identifying the barriers to sustainable energy retrofits and eliminating them.
- Providing refundable tax credits for all energy retrofit costs, based on before-and-after EnerGuide or infrared heat tests for residential, commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.
- Promoting tax-deductible Green Mortgages for home-owner energy retrofit costs.
- Introducing a national program of energy retrofits to public sector buildings such as universities, schools, museums and hospitals.
- Establishing a 100% Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for all businesses for energy retrofit costs.
- Providing revolving federal loans for residential or business energy retrofits.
- Instituting mandatory energy audits of buildings that become available for sale and requiring that the audit results be made available.
- Work with provinces and territories to develop and implement within two years, and update annually after that, a new national building code that:
- Reduces overall energy demand to 15% of current conventional structures.
- Minimizes the use of fossil fuel based heating and cooling systems.
- Considers the embodied energy of construction materials.
- Results in structures where possible that produce more energy than they consume.
- Promotes structures that harvest, reuse and purify their own water.
- Is performance-based, opening the way to innovation and unlocking barriers to green design.
- Require mandatory installation of solar hot water systems and pre-wiring for solar PV on all new buildings.
- Provide grants of 50% of the cost of solar thermal roofs or walls including solar hot water, as in Sweden;
- Green Mortgage loans for the remainder of the cost. Establish free energy audits.
- Provide GST credits for all materials used in buildings that are LEED® Silver or better
Set high performance standards for all major appliances sold in Canada and continuously update this standard.
Eliminate incandescent light bulbs and very inefficient appliances. Encourage industrial efficiency for Large Final emitters (LFEs) through a cap and trade system. Support reductions in emissions through tax-deductible Green Industrial Mortgages, based on annual energy use per unit of production.
Comments and discussion are welcomed. I am examining this as I go to gain a better grasp of their platform and invite all who are interested to do the same with comments and discussion.