July 30 – The province of Manitoba is taking a new direction to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and become better able to withstand climate change, starting with a ban on petroleum coke and coal heating, and emission taxes on both those products for other industrial uses, as well as holding public consultations on the next phase of its climate change strategy, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.
“Between 2000 and 2011, Manitoba’s population grew by 9.6 per cent, the economy grew by 78 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by seven per cent, the biggest reduction in the west,” said Mackintosh. “This is a positive trend, but we need to carefully build on these recent efforts by introducing timely new actions, and designing fair and effective new greenhouse-gas reduction mechanisms for the longer term.”
The minister said the new actions include focusing on reducing emissions and improving the province’s resilience to climate change by:
– introducing North America’s first petroleum coke (petcoke) heating ban and a new petcoke emissions tax for other industrial uses effective June 30, 2014;
– phasing in North America’s first coal heating ban Jan. 1, 2014, with a grace period up to July 1, 2017, if an approved conversion plan is filed by June 30, 2014;
– investing $500,000 from coal and petcoke tax revenues to help coal users convert to biomass;
– promoting an online biomass brokerage to connect new biomass energy customers and suppliers through the creation of the Biomass Economy Network;
– developing mandatory reporting for emissions greater than 10,000 tonnes by consulting with stakeholders to establish efficient reporting and more stringent requirements for the public sector;
– implementing Canada’s first greening-of-government-vehicles law to mandate maximum fuel efficiency, annually reduce emissions and require idling reduction;
– implementing a greening-of-government-buildings law for 33 per cent greater energy efficiency for all new or renovated buildings including leased buildings;
– developing a boreal forest plan starting this fall, which will recognize the boreal forest as one of the world’s great storehouses of carbon;
– assessing climate change risks on the province’s programs and services; and
– building on leading-edge efforts to build resiliency in the agriculture sector to severe weather events resulting from climate change.
The emissions tax on coal was announced in 2011 along with the pending ban on coal heating. The minister said, since that time, many small coal users have switched to alternatives or have plans to do so, adding the ban will reduce emissions by 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes, the equivalent of taking between 10,000 and 20,000 cars off the road.
“Building on Manitoba’s carbon tax on coal, this phased-in approach to the coal heating ban is hugely important,” said Bruce Duggan of 50by30. “This approach allows coal users the time needed to convert from coal and to guard against conversions to other fossil fuels which may be easier to access but more detrimental to the environment. It also allows our new biomass energy network to help to develop a strong biomass market to step in to replace coal.”
“Manitoba farmers contribute to a clean environment as they make their living and the development of markets for biomass is an additional economic opportunity for us,” said Doug Chorney, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers. “By delaying the enforcement of the ban on coal use for space heating until 2017, the Government of Manitoba is providing the necessary time for farmers and potential users of biomass to make the necessary investments.”
The minister noted the province has now completed all 67 actions in the 2008 Beyond Kyoto Climate Change Action Plan and a new long-term plan is needed to ensure future reduction plans are based on detailed knowledge about where emissions are coming from and what effects the reduction mechanisms will have on Manitoba.
To help the province develop an updated climate and green economy plan, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) will lead targeted public meetings with Manitobans beginning this fall. This new plan will be designed to address public concerns about the need to reduce emissions and plan for climate impacts. This process will generate detailed knowledge about where Manitoba’s emissions are coming from and how various reduction mechanisms would impact Manitobans, said Mackintosh.
The consultations will be chaired by IISD chief executive officer Scott Vaughan, Canada’s former commissioner of the environment and sustainable development.
“Manitoba is developing a plan which will help address the challenges ahead to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate,” said Vaughan. “I believe Manitoba’s plan will be further strengthened through public engagement and I look forward to the insights offered by Manitobans.”
“Working together to preserve our environment and promote sustainability is the most effective way to continue to manage climate change,” said Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Ron Kostyshyn. “By providing money and expertise for converting to biomass, the province is helping producers make a change that is good for business and the environment. That’s what growing a green economy is all about.”
Mackintosh noted the new plans fulfill commitments outlined in TomorrowNow – Manitoba’s Green Plan, an eight-year plan guiding provincial investments and initiatives to build a green economy while protecting the environment.
The minister noted a summary of the public consultations on the effectiveness of a cap-and-trade approach to managing carbon is available online at: http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/climate/capandtradeconsultation.html.
Among the themes in the feedback is the need to ensure the source of emissions are accurately identified and mitigated fairly, he said.
More information on TomorrowNow is available at: http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/tomorrownowgreenplan/.