Canada Puts Conditions on Support for Renewables Abroad

The Canadian government will promote greater use of fossil fuels and nuclear at an upcoming global summit on energy, while encouraging renewable energy technologies only if they are driven by market demand.

OTTAWA, Ontario, CA 2001-03-14 <SolarAccess.com> The ninth session of the United nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-9) will be held in New York next month. The CSD process was established to monitor progress in implementing the environmental decisions approved in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The eleven-day summit in New York will discuss energy and four other themes, and will involve 200 nations. “The energy sector makes an immense contribution to Canada’s economy and to the well being of individuals, families and communities,” says the Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade in its draft position paper. “At the same time, the production, transportation and consumption of energy affects our environment.” Renewable energy technologies, “while generally more benign” than fossil fuels, large hydro and nuclear, “also have environmental impacts.” “Recognizing that fossil fuels will continue to make a substantial contribution to meeting the world’s energy needs for at least the next several decades, greater and more widespread use of cleaner fuels (such as natural gas) should be encouraged, as well as the adoption of cleaner fossil fuel technologies, including carbon dioxide capture and storage,” it says in conclusion. “Nuclear energy should be retained as an energy option, particularly in view of the probable need to reduce reliance on fossil fuel energy during the coming decades.” “Renewable energy technologies should be encouraged as a means for improving the accessibility and diversity of energy supplies while minimizing environmental impacts,” it adds. “Strategies for renewable energy should increasingly be driven by market demand rather than by artificial incentives that favour particular technologies.” The draft conclusions also supported energy efficiency and better processes. “All countries should be free to develop their energy resources and sectors in accordance with their own national circumstances, and should be encouraged to do so in an economically efficient, environmentally sound and socially responsible manner,” it concludes. Canada can change its position on energy right up until the summit starts in New York, explains Yvan Jobin of the department. Countries will meet in a special stakeholder meeting prior to the actual summit, which he says is always a productive session. “Given the long lifetimes of energy infrastructure and equipment, it is crucial that new energy investments incorporate clean and efficient energy technologies and make increasing use of renewable energy sources where practicable.”