Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Wednesday the federal government will run all its operations on renewable energy by 2025, but that doesn't mean we should expect solar-powered tanks and fighter jets.
"We're talking about greening buildings," McKenna told CBC Calgary, after making the announcement at the Canadian Wind Energy Association earlier in the day.
That said, McKenna noted military buildings will be part of the commitment.
"[Defence] Minister [Harjit] Sajjan, he was very committed to how we can green the military," she said. "He sees this as a real opportunity."
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Few details were immediately available on how the program would work or what its cost implications might be, however.
McKenna said the actual costs would be dependent on what the market will bear when power purchases are put to tender in the future, but she noted renewable electricity generation has become "very competitive already" with fossil-fuel generation, and she only expects that to continue.
"By 2025, you're going to see renewables on par with traditional sources, and so it's just a good opportunity to do our part to reduce emissions," she said.
"It's all about leadership. We can't just be telling provinces and territories, municipalities and Canadians that we all have to do our part. We have to lead by example."
McKenna said the move is part of the government's overall sustainable development strategy released in September.
That plan includes pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets by 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, possibly as early as 2025. It also promises to spend $1 billion modernizing heating and cooling systems in more than 80 locations in the Ottawa region, which the Liberals say would reduce emissions from those buildings by about a third.
The government has also said it will buy clean power for all Public Services and Procurement Canada's facilities by 2025 and modernize its fleet with an eye to using more electric vehicles. It also wants to encourage low-carbon practices within government, such as telecommuting instead of travelling.
"By using renewable energy, we send a strong signal to markets that Canada is serious about reducing emissions, and supporting a clean-growth economy," said McKenna.
"Canadian companies that supply green goods and services will see new opportunities to do business with governments, driving growth in this industry."