One Tuesday afternoon last month, when almost all eyes were on the Middle East, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson sat next to New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs and Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston at a news conference in Ottawa. stood and “announced the signing of the agreement.”joint policy statement We are committed to developing and transmitting clean, reliable, and affordable electricity. ”
716 word statement commit all aspects The goal is to “decarbonize Canada’s electricity system” by phasing out coal-fired power generation by 2030 and aiming for net-zero electricity generation by 2035. In New Brunswick’s case, the focus will be on developing small modular nuclear reactors. In Nova Scotia, special attention will be given to offshore wind power.
All stakeholders “note that this work must take into account the impact of the Clean Power Regulation” and “in this context, to achieve an affordable, reliable and clean power system They agreed to cooperate on the path to
Of course, this is easier said than done. But the mere fact that this agreement exists is at least part of the argument that federal-state relations, particularly those around climate change and energy, need not be defined by hand-waving disagreements and predictions of doom. Provide irresistible evidence.
“I have often said that I truly believe Canada works best when Canadians work together,” Wilkinson said at the time. “I think what we announced today is a great example of how we can really accelerate and make great progress if we commit to working together.”
Wilkinson did not mention the Alberta government. There was little need for that.
On Monday, Alberta Premier Daniel Smith announced his intention to challenge the federal government’s proposed clean electricity regulations under the Alberta Sovereignty Act. Laws that may violate the Constitution Mr Smith has made this his top priority since becoming prime minister a year ago.
“These measures are not what we want,” Smith said while presenting the motion to be debated under the Sovereignty Act in Edmonton. “They are a plan to counter the federal government’s absurd, illogical, unscientific and unconstitutional interference in Alberta’s power grid. The federal government has a good story of virtue to the left. I don’t really care what happens to our state as long as I have friends and special interests. ”
The Clean Power Regulations still only exist in draft form and are subject to revision. The federal government sought feedback from state governments and other stakeholders. Technically, the proposed rules would not go into effect until 2035.
But Smith’s latest move isn’t entirely surprising.the prime minister had lost in thought She may already be trying to invoke sovereign law. Her government also made extraordinary efforts to resist federal regulation. semi-national advertising campaign.
The $8 million ad campaign includes television ads aired in four states warning of exorbitant bills and power outages. The Smith government also paid for a truck that drove around downtown Ottawa with a sign that read, “No one wants to freeze in the dark.”
Let me be clear: no one supports people freezing in the dark yet. But Smith was encouraged by Alberta’s electricity regulator’s forecast and cautioned that federal regulations may have had an impact. disastrous results — to imaginary prison sentences for power company executives who don’t or won’t comply.
Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault opposed, in particular takes issue with Smith’s theory of imprisonment. But climate policy researchers Sarah Hastings-Simon and Jason Dion explained It says Alberta’s election campaign is “fear-mongering” and that three of Alberta’s central claims “will not stand up to scrutiny.”
Alberta-based academics Blake Schaefer and Andrew Leach lamented Smith’s “arrogance” but criticized the “pace and prescriptive nature of the regulations” proposed by the federal government. He acknowledged the state had “credible concerns.”
To that end, Shafer and Leach We have identified four changes that could be made to the draft regulations This is to give provinces like Alberta flexibility. (Shafer and Leach also note that although the federal regulations were initially touted as “net-zero” regulations, they do not actually mandate that Canada’s electricity system be net-zero by 2035. (Also pointed out.)
The Smith and Trudeau governments actually Federal and local working groupsmade up of senior civil servants from both sides to collaborate on “joint policy priorities” including clean power regulations.
It appears that the working group still exists. On Monday, Smith said he expected the task force to continue meeting despite invoking sovereign law. (Guilbeault told reporters Monday that sovereignty law was not addressed at any of the working group’s meetings.)
But unless these discussions reach an impasse, or the federal government completely eliminates the possibility of amending the draft regulations, the use of television advertising and sovereign law appears to be at least premature.
There’s only a little time left for the battle
When Alberta officials say their priority is building an “affordable” and “reliable” power grid, they’re using adjectives that figure prominently in the federal government’s own statements. There is. Mr Smith said he also supported the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
But for as long as anyone has proposed action to combat climate change, there will be those who argue that the proposed action is too hasty, too drastic, or too risky, and the burden of proof is almost entirely The burden is on the party proposing the action. Additionally, for a long time, Alberta’s premiers have taken every opportunity to demonstrate that they are campaigning against federal government policies and decisions.
But time is rapidly running out to fight over climate change policy, and the need to act as soon as possible is becoming increasingly clear.
Oil and gas drilling in Canada in May fell 3.6% —The sector’s biggest decline since April 2020, when the global economy was disrupted by the pandemic. This drop in May was not the result of a policy devised by an apparently indifferent Ottawa government.it was Caused by wildfires in Alberta.
The laws of the political and media ecosystem mean that a dramatic fight between two levels of government over climate change policy will receive far more attention than a quiet agreement on the same topic. But there is something to be said for moving forward with efforts to build a clean economy. When political leaders engage in fights over climate policy, it is natural to ask whether the fight is particularly beneficial or necessary.