February 19, 2007

Quebec becomes first beneficiary of new federal ecoTrust greenhouse gas reduction program

The federal government intends to invest $349.9 million to support climate change projects being undertaken by the Quebec government. The funding is part of Canada's new ecoTrust, a $1.5-billion initiative designed to support provincial projects that will result in real reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air pollutants.

Quebec's funding under the Canada ecoTrust is intended to support projects described in or building upon Quebec's 2006-2012 action plan for climate change. As a result of this federal funding, the Quebec government says it will be able to reduce GHG emissions by 13.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent below its anticipated 2012 level. The province expects to use the Canada ecoTrust funding to advance several provincial projects. These may include:

*investments to improve access to new technologies for the trucking sector;

*a program to develop renewable energy sources in rural regions;

*a pilot plant for production of cellulosic ethanol;

*promotion of geothermal heat pumps in the residential sector;

*support for technological research and innovation for the reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases;

*support for the capture of biogas from landfill sites; and

*support for waste treatment and energy recovery from agricultural biomass.

Rollout of the new program in Quebec was announced jointly by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest. "In June 2006, our government adopted its plan to combat climate change.," Charest noted, adding, "With Ottawa contributing financially to this Quebec initiative, we will be able to achieve our objectives."

The Canada ecoTrust for clean air and climate change will be designed to allow each province and territory to develop technology, energy efficiency, and other projects that will provide real results. The federal government will work with all provinces and territories to fully develop activities under the new fund.

Funding, however, will be contingent upon two provisions, the first being the anticipated 2006-07 surplus in the federal budget. Secondly, the ecoTrust program funding will be contained in the forthcoming budget and will be available only after Parliament approves the budget.

In related activities, Vancouver and Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will be first urban communities to benefit from a new federal ecoMobility program, which will invest up to $10 million over four years to reduce urban passenger transportation emissions by encouraging increased transit ridership and the use of other sustainable transportation options.

The initiative will help cities develop policies, programs, and services that encourage people to leave their cars at home and choose more environmentally friendly options, such as the bus or car-pooling. Through support for collaborative research, development of professional resources, implementation of cost-shared pilot projects and dissemination of information, ecoMobility will generate enhancedlead environmental benefits from new transit infrastructure investments.

Examples of the measures that the ecoMobility program will encourage include:

*policies such as land use guidelines that complement increased use of sustainable transportation options (e.g. development approval policies that mandate access to transit services);

*programs to raise awareness and motivate changes in personal travel choices (e.g. workplace-based commuter options programs that engage staff and market new incentives to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips to and from work);

*services that offer individuals a tangible benefit or disbenefit related to the use of particular travel modes (e.g. guaranteed-ride home programs for car-pool members or reduced parking rates for car-pool vehicles); and

*products that make sustainable transportation more convenient (e.g. enhanced transit information services or online ridematching systems for workplaces).

As with the ecoTrust program, access to funding for ecoMobility will be contingent upon Parliament's approval of the forthcoming budget.

More information on ecoMobility program is available on Transport Canada's Web site, www.tc.gc.ca.

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