Looking for green in federal budget

Environmental and policy groups are calling on the government to commit to funding green technologies in the 2010 budget to create new jobs and promote clean energy.

Environmental and policy groups are calling on the government to commit to funding green technologies in the 2010 budget to create new jobs and promote clean energy.

The Liberal Party wants the government to present a climate change plan, allocating money to green technology and clean energy.

Both the Liberals and Bloc Québécois proposed tax incentives for companies in emerging sectors, including alternative energy projects and electric cars.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has called for a plan to create green jobs, with an investment of $5 billion over three years "to green our economy."

The 2009 budget included $1 billion over five years to support projects that encourage sustainable energy, and a $375-million Clean Energy Fund to develop carbon capture and storage technology.

The government said its total invested in clean technologies in the 2009 budget was $2.5 billion over five years.

That included government money for the development of the Advanced Candu reactor at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., but the agency is having trouble finding buyers for the next-generation reactor.

The ACR-1000 is reported to cost $26 billion. The Ontario government has suspended its procurement process to build two reactors at the Darlington nuclear station.

Both Greenpeace Canada and the Green Party of Canada oppose new nuclear reactors as part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Likely no new greenhouse gas target

The 2009 budget recommitted the government to its target, set in 2007, of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent below 2006 levels.

The government isn't likely to include a new greenhouse gas target in the 2010 budget, since Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced revised targets Jan. 30.

Prentice said Canada's goal is now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent below its 2005 levels by 2020, bringing Canada's plan in step with that of the United States.

The announcement was part of the government submission to the Copenhagen accord, a non-binding document that came out of the international conference in Demark in December 2009.

Greenpeace Canada said the new target would result in significantly higher emissions than the previous 2007 goal.

The new target, the environmental group said, would put emissions at about 2.5 per cent above 1990 levels by 2020, while the previous target was three per cent below 1990 levels.

The Kyoto Protocol, ratified by Canada in 2002, calls for emissions to be cut to six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Arctic researchers hope for polar policy

Arctic scientists are also hoping for new funding in the 2010 budget. Canada allotted $156 million for Arctic research during the International Polar Year from 2007 to 2009.

"We've had two wonderful years of well-funded research in the Arctic," said Steven Bigras, executive director of the Canadian Polar Commission. "This sudden splurge of research going on, and all these young people getting interested in the research."

But researchers are worried the funding could dry up, sending Arctic scientists to other disciplines or other polar countries.

"The capacity to support researchers in remote field sites has plummeted, making it difficult for Canadian researchers to continue crucial monitoring of the fast-changing Arctic environment, from receding glaciers to disappearing polar bear habitat," wrote John England of the University of Alberta in a recent letter to the scientific journal Nature.

England called for a national Arctic policy, "which would commit Canada to clear objectives and better co-ordinate research activities."

The 2009 budget included $2 million for the federal Indian and Northern Affairs Department to conduct a feasibility study into the High Arctic scientific research station.

The facility was first promised in the government's 2007 throne speech.