Canada Looks to Boost Renewable Energy Use

The Honourable Stephane Dion, Canada’s Minister of the Environment, has outlined his perspective on renewable energy, including Canada’s accomplishments and challenges. Speaking last Thursday at a meeting organized by the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Minister Dion indicated that Canada’s future is closely linked to the development of renewable energy.

“Over the next several decades, thanks to their continually improving performance, their decreasing cost, and the growing recognition of their environmental, economic and social value, renewable energy technologies will grow increasingly competitive compared with traditional energy technologies,” Dion said. “By the middle of the 21st century, renewable energy, in all its forms, should be making a significant contribution to meeting energy needs.” Minister Dion noted that “Canada is well aware that renewable energy is gaining ground throughout the world” and that Canada was at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 when agreement was reached on a program for renewable energy. He also indicated that Canada endorsed the United Nations declaration “to significantly increase the global share of renewable energy sources.” The Minister said Canada is behind most of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries in its development of emerging sources of renewable energy and that it obtains only approximately three percent of its electricity from emerging renewable sources. “It is not hard to see the reason for this,” Dion said. “Canada is blessed with abundant quantities of traditional energy resources – oil and gas, coal, hydro power, and uranium. As a result, our energy prices have been relatively low and we have not had the incentive to invest in emerging renewable energy sources to the extent some other countries have.” The Minister provided a perspective for the future of emerging renewable energy in Canada indicating that Canada is making significant progress with programs such as the Wind Power Production Program (WPPI). He also highlighted the federal government’s commitment to purchase 20 percent of its electricity from emerging renewable sources as of 2005, as well as recent investments of $78 million (US$64 million) for ethanol production, that will increase production by 750 million liters. The Minister noted that the commitment in the Speech from the Throne to quadruple the size of the WPPI program is a signal of Canada’s determination to become a leader in wind energy. “Canada intends to make up the gap that now exists; but, in order to do so, we will need to redouble our efforts. We firmly intend to go much further, and make Canada a leader in the world of renewable energy just as we are in traditional forms of energy.”
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