Growing the Green Economy: What is a “Green Economy”?

A green economy encourages more energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable production and consumption. It does so by taking into account the costs of environmental degradation and rewarding more sustainable economic growth.

For example, the proposed Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 would place a higher priority on green energy projects, which would more closely reflect the social benefits of switching from carbon-based energy, such as coal-powered electricity, to clean and renewable green energy.

The global trend towards fighting climate change and ensuring environmental sustainability presents enormous economic opportunities. The potential for growth in sectors such as clean energy, green transportation and energy efficiency is significant. Jurisdictions that embrace the shift to a low-carbon, sustainable economy — aligning environmental goals with economic ones — will see more robust growth, more jobs and higher wages. Investments will gravitate to those jurisdictions that demonstrate vision, creativity and leadership.

Since 2003, the government has pursued policies that position Ontario for success in the green economy, including making its electricity supply cleaner, making breakthrough investments in public transit and preserving natural resources such as the Greenbelt and the northern boreal forest. The current global economic downturn is no reason to slow these efforts. Indeed, the economic challenges facing Ontario families underline the need for the government to work even harder to ensure that Ontario is a leader in the transition towards a greener economy, attracting more green jobs sooner.

Central to the government's thinking on energy has been the remediation of greenhouse gases (GHG). The government's commitment to the replacement of coal-fired electricity generation and support of renewable electricity and conservation programs would reduce GHG emissions from the electricity sector and contribute to addressing climate change challenges. To date, coal use in Ontario is down by almost 40 per cent. By 2014, Ontario's electricity needs will be met without coal. Ontario's coal replacement is the single largest GHG reduction initiative in Canada.

As carbon pricing becomes a reality, those jurisdictions that move away from carbon-based energy will enjoy a significant economic advantage.

The government recognizes that Ontario's power grid is where economic and social interests meet. Ontario's power sector is not only an enabler of efficient, reliable energy, it has the potential to be a key engine of economic development and prosperity.

On February 23, 2009, the government introduced Bill 150, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009, to power the transition to a cleaner, greener economy and support the creation of an estimated 50,000 jobs in the first three years.

The proposed Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009

The proposed legislation would:

foster the growth of renewable energy sources and increase energy conservation;

enable a feed-in tariff program that guarantees specific rates for energy generated from renewable sources, and also streamline the approvals process. A Renewable Energy Facilitation Office would be established to help proponents of renewable energy projects navigate the appropriate approvals more efficiently;

permit the establishment of conservation standards for the public sector and the requirement of regular reporting of energy consumption;

support the establishment and implementation of a smart electricity grid for Ontario by incorporating advanced information exchange systems and equipment. A smart grid would make it easier to connect renewable generation to the system, enhance access to Ontario's power grid and expand opportunities to provide demand response, price information and load control to electricity consumers; and

enable domestic content requirements for renewable energy projects.

“Ontario's Green Energy Act and supporting initiatives are the most comprehensive renewable energy policy entered anywhere around the world.” — Michael T. Eckhart, President, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE)

“Ontario's Green Energy Act represents North America's most ambitious and far reaching enabling legislation and will place Ontario as a world leader in renewable energy development, industrial innovation and climate protection.” — Dr. Hermann Scheer, General Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy, Member of the German Bundestag

Opportunities in the Green Economy

The green economy presents opportunities for new investment that can lead to high-value jobs, including those related to:

wind energy manufacturing (turbines, grid integration and components);

integrated hydrogen delivery and use in warehouse equipment;

high-tech water supply and treatment;

energy-efficient intelligent buildings;

waste diversion and recycling, and bio-waste to energy;

green auto parts manufacturing (interior trim, head restraint coverings and ceilings) using
bio-based materials, such as soy beans and castor; and

services related to green energy and clean tech financing.

The government will make Ontario a champion of a green economy, with a sweeping group of initiatives that build on the province's strong record of protecting its natural resources. They include:

$250 million over five years for a new Emerging Technologies Fund that will include investments in green technology companies;

approximately $390 million to match Ontario's share of the federal Green Infrastructure Fund to develop initiatives that assist in the implementation of the proposed Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009, including expediting the growth, transmission and distribution of clean, green renewable energy across Ontario;

$50 million over five years to enable the research, capital and demonstration projects necessary for the development of a smart grid in Ontario;

accelerating the government's significant investments in public transportation and mass transit;

reducing energy costs and developing marketable expertise through a significant retrofitting program that focuses on government buildings, schools, social housing, homes and commercial buildings;

using Ontario's buying power by dedicating $30 million annually to support Ontario's emerging innovative green technology companies by providing initial purchases of their products and by showcasing and demonstrating the effectiveness of those products to potential customers here and around the world;

$5 million for the Sustainable Prosperity Research and Policy Network at the University of Ottawa, which will help develop a new generation of market-based environmental policy approaches that promote green economic development;

$5 million over two years to develop a Green Jobs Skills Strategy that responds to labour demand in the emerging green energy sector, including electricity;

building on Ontario's world-leading commitment to phase out the use of coal-fired electricity generation, the government will continue to work closely with the province of Quebec on cap and trade and will continue to make progress as a member of the Western Climate Initiative towards the development of a cap and trade system for North America in 2012; and

proposed amendments to the Assessment Act and regulations under that Act to provide that the assessment of properties would not be affected due to energy-efficiency enhancements.

The public sector — both the government and the broader public sector — will show leadership by conserving energy and using it more efficiently. This strategy will help lower GHG emissions. It will be informed by the work of David Ramsay, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier, who has been asked to identify the carbon footprint of the Ontario Public Service and recommend means and strategies to reduce emissions based on expert advice and experience from other jurisdictions.

Ontario is also building a cleaner and greener electricity system. The government's plan for energy includes replacing coal-fired generation, reducing electricity demand by 6,300 megawatts (MW), and dramatically increasing renewable energy capacity. The replacement of coal-fired generation will be completed by 2014. In September 2008, the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure directed the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to review its targets to maximize the potential for conservation and renewable energy.

Since October 2003, approximately 4,700 MW of new power generation have come online, including almost 1,000 MW of new renewables. Another 6,300 MW of electricity supply projects are currently underway, including about 1,200 MW of renewables. These projects underway represent approximately $12 billion in investments and are estimated to create about 100,000 jobs over the construction period.

In addition, the OPA also has 5,200 MW of renewable, cogeneration and gas-fired generation underway or procurement processes in progress or in the planning phase.

The government is moving forward with a competitive process to select a nuclear reactor vendor for two new units at Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Darlington site. In 2008, OPG began planning the refurbishment assessment for Darlington. It is also proceeding with its Pickering B refurbishment feasibility assessment.

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