A low-carbon future is good for growth

October 2012 | National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Canada

A global transition to a low-carbon economy is afoot. Markets for low-carbon goods and services (LCGS) are expanding. The upward trend in global investments in renewable and ”œclean” energy weathered the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009 and remains strong, with investments growing by 30 percent over the past two years. Nations are seeking first-mover advantages in this global transition. Several have issued low-carbon growth plans, aiming to reduce the energy and emissions intensity of their economies all the while building on their existing competitive advantage. Carbon is increasingly a factor in global trade. Absent a cohesive global climate regime, countries are starting to employ trade measures to limit the entry of high-carbon goods and help achieve objectives for mitigating domestic emissions…

Canada needs a low-carbon growth plan… The reality is that Canada is unprepared to compete in a carbon-constrained world. Despite a growing cleantech sector, challenges remain in bringing low-carbon ideas to market. Although venture capital investments in cleantech are at a healthy level, overall low-carbon investment and investor confidence is low. Canada’s current market share as a global supplier

of LCGS is far from what it could be. Canada’s LCGS sectors could well face labour shortages in a world competing for skills and innovative talent…

Provided we as a nation go about it strategically, Canadian firms can become global suppliers of low-carbon technologies, services, and know-how, and Canada can become a global player in low-carbon markets. Canada’s diverse and abundant low-carbon natural resources, highly educated workforce, research capacity, advanced manufacturing skills, and strong institutions are but a few reasons to support this. The challenges our nation faces in bringing down the energy and emissions intensity of its economy also present opportunities. For example, solutions to cutting emissions from transportation, Canada’s single largest source of emissions, could target export markets.

To remain competitive in a global low-carbon economy Canada needs to do more than harness the low-carbon opportunities available to it. Governments should build on the current discussions about a Canadian energy strategy and put in place stringent climate policy that would affect the country’s economic make-up. The economic risks of inaction are too significant to ignore. For one, billions of dollars in

Canadian exports could be subject to trade measures that penalize emissions-intensive industries and products. For another, our international reputation could suffer and with it the marketability of Canadian products and the ability of Canadian firms to invest abroad. The cost of policy delay is also clear. Every year of delay in sending strong, economy-wide policy signals represents a wasted opportunity to take advantage of natural cycles of infrastructure and equipment renewal, making it more difficult and expensive to meet emissions reduction targets. Our analysis shows that waiting until 2020 to implement climate policy aimed at cutting emissions by 65 percent from 2005 levels by 2050 implies close to $87 billion in refurbishments, retrofits and premature retirement of assets…

Public opinion can help or hinder federal government leadership and, in the case of climate policy and low-carbon growth, public and media interest have inhibited political endorsement to date. Framing of low-carbon growth hasn’t aligned with Canada’s core interests. Due to Canada’s fossil-fuel energy wealth, a low-carbon growth plan is not seen to promote either energy security or economic expansion, but rather is seen to solely promote environmental merits… Public engagement is central to low-carbon growth planning. Communication, information sharing, education, and awareness building are all essential. These activities legitimize low-carbon goals by clarifying what the low-carbon economy is and what its long-term benefits could be.


From the organization’s final report, ”œFraming the Future: embracing the low-carbon economy.” 

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Taxing for tomorrow

October 10, 2012 | Norwegian Ministry of the Environment

The Government is following up on the Climate Agreement in the National Budget for 2013. The CO2 tax on offshore operations on the Norwegian continental shelf is being increased from 1 January, NOK10 billion [$1.73 billion] extra is being set aside for a new climate and energy fund, the Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative’s allocation is being increased to [$518 million], and more money is being earmarked for public transport…

The Government is going to raise the CO2 tax for the petroleum sector on the Norwegian Continental Shelf by NOK200 [$34.57] per tonne from 1 January 2013. This corresponds to an emissions charge of roughly NOK410 [$70.87] per tonne of CO2. It has also been proposed that a CO2 tax of NOK50 [$8.64] per tonne of CO2 emitted be imposed on the fishing industry…

It has been decided to establish a new fund for climate change mitigation, renewable energy and energy conversion on the basis of the Basic Fund for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. The Government is going to inject NOK10 billion [$1.73 billion] into the fund in 2013, yielding a total fund capital of NOK35 billion [$6.05 billion], and is going to increase its transfers to the Energy Fund from 2014. The Energy Fund will have a total estimated income of NOK1,836 million [$317 million] in 2013.

The purpose of the focus on technology is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide lasting energy savings in industry by developing and implementing new technologies…

It is stated in the white paper on climate change that the Government is going to tighten the energy use requirements in the building regulations to passive house standard in 2015 and to close to zero-energy standard by 2020. The Government is going to introduce measures to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.

In 2013 the Government is also going to continue its work on the collaboration programmes Cities of the Future, FutureBuilt and the Low-Energy Programme to increase and spread knowledge about energy requirements and energy-efficient buildings…

Investments in clean energy and climate change adaptation with a special focus on food security are being increased to approximately NOK2 billion [$345 million] in 2013. The purpose of climate commitments in Norway’s development cooperation is twofold: both to help reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases and to help poor countries adapt to the changes in their climate. Norway also gives priority to helping developing countries exploit renewable energy resources (hydropower, solar energy and wind power) instead of using fossil energy sources…

The Government is giving priority to strengthening public transport and other non-polluting transport solutions. Approximately NOK114 billion [$1.97 billion] has been allocated for investments, operation and maintenance of railways in Norway, an increase of …14.3 percent from 2012. The reward scheme for improving public transport and reducing use of private cars in urban areas is receiving a NOK262 million [$45 million] boost, bringing it up to NOK673.1 million [$116 million] million in 2013.


From a press release announcing the doubling of its carbon tax on the offshore petroleum industry and investments in a low-carbon economy.