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New group joins talks on federal climate action plan

Climate Smart, Sustainability CoLab, The Natural Step and QUEST are the four groups that make up The Low Carbon Partnership.


PUBLISHED: FRIDAY, 07/08/2016 4:07 PM EDT

Image of Minister McKenna Courtesy of Hill Times photographer Jake Wright

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna addressing the media on Parliament Hill.

In the federal government’s ongoing talks on addressing climate change, a new group has come together to provide possible solutions regarding the transformation of Canada’s environment.

The founding members of The Low Carbon Partnership, include Climate Smart, Sustainability CoLab, the Natural Step and QUEST – Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow, came together “in an effort to help the Government of Canada reach its Paris Agreement climate goals and accelerate the nation’s shift to a low-carbon economy,” a June 28 press release from the group indicated.

Brent Gilmour, executive director at QUEST, said in a phone interview with The Lobby Monitor that the group is focused on helping people use energy for their daily needs more effectively and efficiently. He added that each partner works not only with local governments but also utilities, the owners and operators of buildings, school boards, and transportation authorities, among others.

“We help coach and mentor businesses and help communities effectively make good strategic infrastructure investments, green infrastructure investments, that’s how we’ll grow our low carbon economy in Canada,” Gilmour said.

Collectively, the four partners reach more than 1,200 businesses that generate over $100-billion in revenue and are also in direct contact with 200 communities, the press release indicated.

Gilmour noted that the partnership has made submissions to the government’s Let’s Talk Climate Action portal and also had the opportunity to engage in some of the working groups that have been established to evaluate the Pan-Canadian Climate Change Plan.

“We are directly engaging with the federal government to talk to them and have more conversations about how we can help them respond to meeting their expectations in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as a result to the targets they established and how we can help them do that by our partnership,” Gilmour said.

On April 21, the government launched an interactive website on clean growth and climate change. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna announced then that the website would be used to “seek input from Canadians, including indigenous peoples, on how to address climate change and promote clean growth.”

“Engaging Canadians on our plans and efforts to address climate change is something I view as essential,” McKenna said in the release. “I encourage everyone to join the online conversation and be part of the solution by making your suggestions online or hosting a town hall on climate change and clean growth in your communities.”

Other groups also taking part in climate talks

At the same time that a new partnership was formed, the Canadian Wind Energy Association released a study Thursday that details how “Canada can get more than one-third of its electricity from wind energy without compromising grid reliability – and at the same time realize economic and environmental benefits.”

Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA, said in a phone interview with The Lobby Monitor that the government is increasingly seeing climate change as a priority and renewable energy as a key contributor to solutions. He added that the study provides timely value and added that wind is a variable source of electricity generation.

Hornung added that CanWEA was part of three different submissions to the climate change portal. The first with a group called Canadian Council on Renewable Energy comprised of CanWEA, the solar industry’s association, Canadian Hydro Power Association and Marine Renewables Canada, and focused on “the importance of cleaning the grid and electrification in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The second submission was part of a larger group that included representatives from the environmental sector, the building sector and the transportation sector “that was a submission that was coordinated by the organization Clean Energy Canada.”

The third submission was the CanWEA’s personal proposal in conjunction with the solar industry’s association.

“I think we are hoping to see the very good intentions that we see now across the country in terms of climate change increasingly translated into actions that support the deployment of renewable energy,” Hornung said.

CanWEA is registered to lobby in-house with Hornung as of March 9, 2004, its filing in the federal lobbyists’ registry indicates. In the past six months the group reported two communication reports.

The group’s main asks in its filing, among others, are “federal policies that seek to address climate change by decreasing the carbon intensity of Canada’s electricity grids.”

Importance of different voices

Elizabeth Sheehan, president of Climate Smart, said in a phone interview with The Lobby Monitor that while there are so many groups that are taking different approaches to reducing carbon emissions, each voice adds to the final action plan that the federal government will take to fulfilling Canada’s low carbon economy.

“I think it’s all of the kinds of efforts and articulations on tax policy, energy policy, the idea of a study where the potential is for building supply of renewable energy, identifying technology that will lead us forward and making sure there is capital available, all of these are actually each part of the menu and kind of essential for moving this transition forward,” Sheehan said.

She added that while the Low Carbon Partnership’s focus on small to mid-sized businesses are a key partner in the transition, “they’re not the only ones, and that’s why this coalition is working with communities and large businesses.”

“We are just the slice of practical help and measure to identify ideas and roll that forward, but we need the policy environment, we need options on district energy, new forms of renewables,” she said.

“It’s all kind of interlocking.”

Among others on the climate change files include the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Forest Products Association of Canada, Environmental Defence Canada, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, Climate Action Network Canada, and Solar Global Solutions.

Sheehan added that: “I think our collective view is that this is really Canada’s moment. For the first time we have the federal government, provinces, territories, all pulling in a similar direction and the role of governments is really to tackle climate change from a policy perspective the top down

“Our work is really about the bottom up, this idea of ensuring that our businesses and enterprises large and small and the communities in which they’re operating in are prospering and taking action and benefiting…we’re helping organizations with [providing] specific tools for measuring and reducing their costs and emissions at the same time.”

Click here for link to story in The Lobby Monitor

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