February 19, 2007

Eastern Premiers, New England governors reach agreement on clean energy, GHG reduction

A regional forum on energy and the environment, held under the auspices of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP), yielded a resolute commitment in favour of responsible energy choices based on clean energy sources. The commitment was backed up by a number of joint recommendations for reducing greenhouse gases.

The February 11-12 forum, co-chaired by Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Vermont Governor James Douglas, also brought together the energy and environment ministers, commissioners and secretaries of the Eastern Canadian provinces and New England states in Quebec City. It gave the representatives of the region's governments an opportunity, for the first time, to discuss fundamental energy and environmental objectives simultaneously, with input from experts and representatives in the relevant sectors of activity.

Their joint recommendations take into account the growing environmental concerns of the population. They will be presented to the 31st Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, to be held in Prince Edward Island this coming June 25-26.

The forum participants acknowledged from the outset that energy efficiency must be the first and most important measure taken to ensure protection for the environment, energy security and economic development. Consequently, they agreed to consider energy efficiency as a genuine energy option and to discuss the adoption of joint standards. In addition, protocols will be introduced to measure the energy savings achieved and to help the region as a whole work within the same framework.

With respect to trade in energy products, the discussions centred on the best possible use of the region's potential for renewable energy production. The resulting recommendations in this area target more widespread use of the existing capacity for exchanges of electric power, as well as better integration of intermittent resources such as wind and wave energy.

The energy and environment ministers, commissioners and secretaries of the Eastern Canadian provinces and New England states intend to increase the use of renewable energy from all sources. They also agreed to look at the overall environmental costs of energy production.

Lastly, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, a regional action plan will be tabled at the 2008 Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers. The plan will include various measures, including biofuel development, the promotion of energy efficiency, the development of public transit and cooperation with the private sector to improve the efficiency of goods transportation. The introduction of environmental standards on atmospheric emissions, similar to those in effect in California, will also be recommended.

The Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, established in 1973, is made up of the governors of six New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) and the Premiers of Quebec and the Atlantic provinces ( New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). For over thirty years, the governors and premiers have met annually to discuss various issues of shared interest, adopt joint positions and agree on intervention strategies for regional issues.

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