June 5, 2006

Ministers lend support to 5% renewable fuels standard

Prince Edward Island Minister of Environment, Energy and Forestry Jamie Ballem called a recent meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for biofuels "very productive," with federal and provincial ministers supporting a renewable fuels standard of at least 5% by 2010. This means that gasoline and other liquid fuels would contain 5% renewable fuels such as ethanol or biodiesel by 2010.

Federal Environment Minister Rona Ambrose and Saskatchewan Environment Minister John Nilson co-chaired the meeting, which was held in Regina to discuss a national renewable fuels strategy. While both PEI and Saskatchewan supported a renewable fuels standard of 10 per cent, Ballem said a standard of at least 5% is a good starting point.

"Increasing the renewable content of fuels clearly has environmental benefits because it will reduce greenhouse emissions which contribute to climate change. However, just as important are the opportunities this presents for farmers to grow energy crops such as canola. For a renewable fuels standard to truly be successful, that has to be part of the strategy," he said.

Ballem told his counterparts that PEI's renewable portfolio standard for electricity of 15% by 2010 has sparked wind energy development in the province and PEI expects to reach its target by 2007. Federal and provincial ministers will be meeting in the months ahead to move forward on the renewable fuels standard.

Meanwhile, World Wildlife Fund-Canada was critical of the government's support for a 5% ethanol in fuels policy, saying this is no substitute for living up to Kyoto obligations. Julia Langer, director of WWF-Canada's global threats program, pointed out that all cars can operate on up to 10% ethanol. "Further," she said, "Canada really should be aiming for tree/fibre-based, not corn/food-based fuel and much more fuel-efficient vehicles."

WWF-Canada cited Natural Resources Canada figures showing that 10% of Canada's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from cars and light trucks and 9% from heavy trucks. Therefore, 5% ethanol would reduce Canada's GHG emissions by less than 1%, said the group.

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