June 11, 2012
Nova Scotia, Opinions

Conservation and energy efficiency: The first fuel

The Reporter, www.porthawkesburyreporter.com 6 June 2012

What is the Government of Nova Scotia doing to address our urgent climate change issues and is it effective?
In June 2007, the Government of Nova Scotia adopted the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act or Bill C-146. The act set out 21 goals for the province, ranging from reduced air emissions and waste, to new energy standards for buildings and increased protection of our land and water.
Bill C-146 is to be commended in its breadth and intention, particularly the principles that it is based on, which recognize the interconnection between the economy, the health of the environment and health of Nova Scotians.
There is one piece of this bill however, section (4) sub-section (g), that appears to be an industrial and political objective grafted onto a purely environmental plan. While Bill C-146 is essentially a set of goals, this part poses both a solution and a mandate to dramatically increase the output of renewable energy in Nova Scotia.
The provincial government’s current legislated mandate is to obtain 25 per cent of our electricity needs from renewable energy by 2015 and an additional non-legislated 40 per cent by 2020.
Section (4) sub-section (g) is being widely implemented in Nova Scotia without answering two essential questions: How much is actually being saved in CO2 emissions by the governments’ quest for 40 per cent renewable energy by 2020? And, what is the full cost to Nova Scotians in implementing this policy?
According to a 2010 CBC News article, Alan Richardson, vice-president of customer service at Nova Scotia Power said that “The cleanest, cheapest kilowatt hour is the one customers don’t use.”
And according to the Ontario Power Authority’s 2010 annual report, “Conservation can reduce operating costs, is less expensive than building new supply and leaves a smaller environmental footprint.”
In November of 2011, the International Energy Agency wrote that “the world is hurtling toward irreversible climate change” and warned that bold action must be taken in the next five years.
In its annual World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency said that the world will lose the chance to limit warming if it doesn’t act now. And what is this bold action that the International Energy Agency is encouraging the world to take: energy efficiency.
The International Energy Agency considers increased efficiency “the easiest way to reduce consumption since it has a price incentive built in.” The report stated that “the most important contribution to reaching energy security and climate goals comes from the energy that we do not consume.”
The International Energy Agency’s chief economist, Fatih Birol, said that “after 2017, we will lose the chance to limit the temperature increase to two degrees celsius…
“Energy efficiency costs a fraction of the price of generating power;” therefore it should be considered the “first fuel,” says the Government of Massachusetts.
Conservation actually creates jobs and if funds raised from conservation were used for forest restoration, the CO2 reductions per dollar would be even greater.
Nova Scotia’s own energy strategy should be reconnected to the environment and should deliver three aims: a secure, adequate and affordable energy supply, reduction in CO2 production and a commitment to protect our local and global environment.
The major problem with section (4) sub-section (g) of Bill C-146 is that by continually focusing on energy production, we are trying to spend our way out of a crisis that has been caused by excessive consumption, rather than tackling the problem at the source – which is our energy demands.
As Paul Kingsnorth of The Guardian noted, in the end, climate change presents us with a simple question: Are we willing to face up to the radical challenge of living within our means? Or will we blindly pursue the idea that technological gigantism can save us, and our lives can go on much as they always have at the expense of the planet?

Susan Overmyer,
President, Eco Awareness Society
Bailey’s Brook

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/06/11/conservation-and-energy-efficiency-the-first-fuel/