September 4, 2006

Energy ministers focus on collaboration, sustainability at annual meeting

At the 63rd annual Energy and Mines Ministers' conference, held August 28 and 29 in Whitehorse, Yukon, federal, provincial and territorial representatives reaffirmed their commitment to improving collaboration between jurisdictions to better address energy issues of concern to Canadians. They emphasized the need to develop energy supply, infrastructure, efficiency and conservation options in a timely and responsible manner, and pledged to ensure a secure, reliable and competitively priced supply of energy that maximizes economic benefits and minimizes environmental impacts.

The ministers reviewed a new model of technology collaboration which would bring together industry, academia and governments in public/private partnerships to strengthen the development and demonstration of energy technologies. The model, which would link with other domestic and international programs, focuses on priority technologies needed to deliver a clean, secure and prosperous energy future. The ministers asked their officials to continue developing the model with the aim of finalizing it early in 2007.

Recognizing the need for further work on improving regulatory efficiency, they also directed their officials to seek out and develop pilot projects demonstrating the effectiveness of single-window approaches for regulatory processes. They expressed unequivocal support for setting timelines for the environmental assessment and permitting of energy projects.

As a follow-up to a federal, provincial and territorial meeting held this past May in Regina, the ministers discussed recommendations for a bio-fuels strategy in preparation for a dedicated intergovernmental meeting to be held this coming November.

The Whitehorse meeting was co-chaired by Natural Resources Canada Minister Gary Lunn and Archie Lang, Yukon Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. The next Council of Energy Ministers' meeting will take place in Whistler, British Columbia in September 2007.

As a lead-up to the event, the Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance (CanREA) urged the federal and provincial energy ministers to develop a National Renewable Energy Strategy based on recommendations contained in a new Model Renewable Energy Strategy drafted by the Alliance. Among the elements of the CanREA strategy are:

*recognition of the environmental, economic and social value of renewable energy in meeting Canadian and international targets to reduce harmful environmental emissions (including greenhouse gases);

*co-ordination of federal and provincial targets and actions to achieve the maximum potential from renewable energy;

*establishment of energy efficiency as the foundation for building the green power sector; and

*creation of a comprehensive strategy to include green power, green heat and green transportation.

CanREA notes that renewable energy is the fastest-growing energy sector in the world. In Germany alone, for example, 130,000 people are currently employed in the renewable energy industry. In Canada, said CanREA member Ken Ogilvie, executive director of Pollution Probe, "We have an incredible opportunity to embark on a sustainable energy path - one that is economically and environmentally sound, as well as socially productive."

The Model National Renewable Energy Strategy for Canada may be viewed on-line at www.canrea.ca. More information is available from Ken Ogilvie at Pollution Probe, 416/926-1907, ext 231, E-mail kogilvie@pollutionprobe.org.

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