June 18, 2007

New Brunswick, Saskatchewan climate change plans set ambitious targets for GHG reduction, sustainable energy

New Brunswick has introduced a five-year Climate Change Action Plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2012.

The plan, introduced by Premier Shawn Graham and Environment Minister Roland Haché, addresses all aspects of climate change in New Brunswick and is expected to enable the province to realize further reductions of 10% below 1990 levels by 2020. Haché said the plan will contribute to ensuring long-term environmental sustainability in New Brunswick, while Graham noted that the environmental protection actions in the plan will also play a key role in efforts to achieve energy self-sufficiency for New Brunswick by 2026.

The initiatives outlined in the plan are expected to result in GHG emission reductions of 5.5 megatonnes annually in 2012. Further emission reductions are expected through proposed federal government initiatives which are currently under discussion.

The New Brunswick Climate Change Action Plan sets out specific measures in the areas of: renewable energy and energy efficiency; transportation (the source of 25% of the province's GHG emissions); waste reduction and diversion; industrial sources (which account for 17% of emissions); adaptation; government leadership by example; and implementation and accountability.

Electricity generation is the leading source of GHG emissions in New Brunswick, and the plan will offer practical solutions to promote more efficient energy use, such as expanding energy efficiency programs for businesses and industries as well as the residential sector. The province will adopt an energy performance code, surpassing the national model, for new and renovated commercial and residential buildings; this will be phased in starting in 2009. As well, the government will study the feasibility of building new small-scale hydropower projects and will assess and foster the development of renewable energy sources such as biomass, solar, wind and tidal.

Transportation-oriented measures in the plan include developing a provincial public transportation strategy that significantly reduces GHG emissions from this sector, and working with the trucking industry to take advantage of engine efficiency and aerodynamics technology opportunities in order to reduce GHG emissions and other pollutants. The province will also work with the trucking industry and other jurisdictions to put into effect a 105 km/h speed limit on trucks, and will offer incentives for residents to switch to alternative-fuel and fuel-efficient vehicles. Other action areas will address vehicle emission standards and encouragement of the use of biofuels.

To reduce waste management-related GHG emissions, the plan calls for increased waste diversion and recycling (including composting), and encouragement of projects to capture methane gases from landfill where feasible. The government intends to review New Brunswick's ozone-depleting substances regulation (under the Clean Air Act) to limit the release of replacement substances into the environment.

With regard to industrial sources, the plan includes measures such as using project assessment reviews and other environmental approval processes to minimize project emissions; earmarking funds from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation for environmentally focuses research and development; investigating hydrogen and fuel cell opportunities; and assessing the use of clean coal and carbon sequestration.

Adaptation is critical in New Brunswick, which has already been feeling the impacts of climate change. The plan document notes that the sea level has risen by about 30 centimetres in the province over the past 100 years, with a further rise of between 50 and 60 cm predicted by 2100. Actions to address current and projected impacts will include: implementing a regulatory framework to protect the coastal environment, infrastructure and public and private property; developing and implementing a comprehensive provincial water management strategy; examining options for using abandoned farmland for agriculture and forestry; investing in networks, programs and research to provide a better understanding of climate change vulnerability in the province; and incorporating these vulnerability considerations into departmental decision-making.

Partnerships will be a vital component of the action plan, which commits the province to: establish a roundtable process as a provincial forum with municipal associations to encourage regular dialogue and sharing of ideas and information; amend the Municipalities Act to remove barriers to municipal green energy generation; and work with communities to construct their infrastructure so as to minimize GHG emissions, reduce energy use and function in a changing climate.

A full version of the New Brunswick Climate Change Action Plan 2007-2012 is available on the Department of Environment Web site, www.gnb.ca/0009/0369/0015/0001-e.asp.

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