Governments have been subsidizing “dirty and dangerous” energy sources in Canada for decades, and an energy group wants government to put more emphasis on renewable energy sources.
OTTAWA, Ontario – “Canada is lagging behind most other countries in developing new markets based on clean, renewable energy sources,” says Brenda Morehouse, manager of www.EcoAction.ca. “As a result, Canadians are being denied access to cleaner air and exciting new economic development activities.” The Canadian government provided more than $40 billion in direct spending on fossil fuels between 1970 and 1999, and $2.8 billion of federal loans to fossil fuel industry that have been written off since 1970, above direct spending, she says. Total subsidies to the nuclear industry since 1953 surpass $16 billion, with $156 million in federal subsidies in 2000 alone. There was another $55 million in fossil fuel R&D expenditures by the federal and provincial governments in that year, too. By comparison, the total average annual federal funding for renewable energy is $12 million. “This is clearly NOT a level playing field,” she says. The Pembina Institute wants federal and provincial governments to implement a comprehensive package of policy, legislation, and financial incentives that will strengthen both the demand and supply for renewable energy in Canada. “Developing Canada’s low-impact, renewable energy capabilities will have substantial benefits for the environment, the economy, and our health,” she explains. For every million dollars invested, an average of 36 jobs are created in the energy efficiency sector, 12 jobs in the renewable energy sector, and only 7 jobs in the development of conventional energy. Currently, air pollution from fossil fuel use kills 16,000 Canadians prematurely each year and results in hundreds of thousands of incidents of illness, absenteeism and asthma attacks, costing the economy billions of dollars. In addition, Canada has signed the Kyoto Protocol to manage greenhouse gas emissions, and meeting Kyoto’s targets will require us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. www.EcoAction.ca has designed a site to allow people to lobby provincial, territorial and federal officials to become a global player in the new energy economy.