Will US climate change policy finally have an impact in Canada?

Is change in the air, and will it influence an energy strategy in Canada? That Washington area code (202) seems to really influence media reaction to discussion of climate change and its implications. The Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) Report certainly got more attention than the International Panel on Climate Change scientists did! Maybe the installation of solar at the White House is what it takes…

The NCA report basically says that climate change is real and that Americans must do something about it. Since the Canadian government has kept insisting that they will move on climate change along with the Americans, will we see new moves from Ottawa? We can hope, but reality is that their problem is electricity powered by coal and ours is fossil fuel development powered by fossil fuels, and we are an energy exporter and they are still an energy importer. Apart these small differences, surely we are on track for a bright new future.

The International Energy Agency’s 2014 Technology Perspectives report takes a look at that future, the expanded role of electricity and the reversal of the roles of fossil and renewable fuels in providing it by 2050. The transition is huge and the many solutions will take time.

Marine Renewables Canada has been involved in a number of discussions that could contribute to a national energy strategy. We have pursued one for our sector and had buy-in in British Columbia (now un-bought-in!), Manitoba, Quebec and most of all in Nova Scotia. Our strategy sees economic wins in working to develop a marine renewables sector that later this century will deliver significant amounts of competitive clean electricity.

The IEA’s ETP 2014 identifies challenges in triggering the needed investments, but argues that a $44 trillion investment by 2050 results in a worldwide fuel cost savings of $115 trillion.

If the world is making this change, Canada should engage in the investment in the “future energy” mix or simply see markets for its hydrocarbon fuels become part of that reduction in fuel costs.

Maybe when the message comes from another area code, it will impact thinking. In the meantime, let’s keep working toward marine renewables as part of the solution, and the opportunity.