Clean Energy and Climate Action: A North American Collaboration

This panel is hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Pembina Institute.

Guest Speaker are:

Jean Charest

Greg Selinger

Shalini Vajjhala (Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of International Affairs, US Environment Protection Agency)

Gabriel Quadri (Director, EcoSecurities, Mexico and Central America)

6:26 – Charest starts off talking about how the sub-national governments are the one’s that will be responsible for a lot of the implementation and how the municipalities and provinces are already moving and if we wait for higher levels of government to act very little will happen.

6:30 – Quebec has adopted the California emissions standards for vehicles, he is glad to see the change in the US administration on this issue

6:34 – Charest wraps up his remarks, now it’s Gabriel Quadri’s turn. Who starts off with the 3 most concerning sectors in Mexico.

6:37 – In Mexico the most important sector, and fastest growing sector is transportation, by 2020 it should make up about a third of our emissions if it continues at the current rate of growth

6:40 – The second largest concern is electricity, and energy use and the third issue is deforestation, which is different then US and Canada

6:42 – Unfortunately in Mexico there is a gas and oil subsidy, an obscene subsidy because of its size in his words

6:46 – Greg Selinger starts off by stating that 60% of Manitoba’s hydro electricity is sold to the US, and that is something that they need to examine as it’s clearly a huge issue.

6:48 – We’re currently under a lot of pressure to start changing things before we pass the tipping point.

6:49 – Pursuing UNESCO world heritage designation for some of the Boreal forest to help preserve them

6:51 – We need a smart grid for keeping track of energy, to allow for energy savings and to allow access for green energies such as wind and solar

6:54 – Also need to be pursing cap and trade

6:56 – Now it’s Shalini Vajjhala’s turn. Federal US government was taken to the Supreme Court by the States for action on climate change. The Supreme Court ruled that CO2 was an endangerment to the public. The endangerment label is good because it has allowed them to start pushing for change.

6:59 – Moving towards creating a GHG emission registry, which makes public the emission that come from different facilities

7: 02 – a number of things that state and local government can bring to these negotiation. 1) helps bring specificity to international negotiations, the negotiated documents are as broad as possible 2) transparency, not required but fundamental so that people see that it is working and that their money is spent well 3) coordination, depends on working together because we are depending on our networks, electricity systems, water systems, etc.

7:08 – we’ve now wrapped up and moved on to Q&A

7:12 – first question is on federal governments role vs. sub-national governments role, are the federal governments needed? Charest takes the question and starts talking about all the deals Hydro Quebec has been making, and all the stuff Quebec in general has been doing (it’s a long list and I would probably miss things) then says the federal government has nothing to do with it. However he ads that the federal government are the best ones to implement things like a carbon tax.

7:14 – Vajjhala says role for both, depends on the specific project

7:15 – Selinger: role for federal government to facilitate things like moving energy east-west, right now it’s easier for them to move energy south. Basically feds need to provide enabling legislation/resources and provinces and municipalities are the one’s who actually implement things.

7:20 – Question on water conservation and water protocol that is way to long and complicated to reproduce, it’s basically on aquifers.

7:24 – Charest: Quebec uses watersheds, they’re better. Water sharing is a long-standing issue between Canada and US, and there is a real anxiety in Canada who are worried about the Americans putting in a pipe and taking all our water.

7:27 – Vajjhala has no idea how to pick up after the comment on the US making a big pipe to take water “this is a concern that we’ve never heard before”, she and Charest are having a laugh about it.

7:28 – Quadri “does this big pipe extend to Mexico?”. The answer to the longest question ever is turning out to have very little to do with the question.

7:29 – Cooperation on water issues is very important, especially now climate change is becoming so important.

7:34 – And we’re out of time so that’s a wrap.