By Chris Kantowicz
November 7, 2013
Last week the leaders of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California announced plans to align their approaches to climate change and promoting clean energy. The Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy commits the four jurisdictions to a unified strategic agreement that places a price on carbon and encourages the linking of climate programs. In a region that is home to 53 million people and represents the world’s fifth largest economy, the opportunity for wide-ranging impacts is real.
The announcement afforded an opportunity for B.C. leaders to boast of the leadership role the province played in launching its carbon tax in 2008. B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak enthused that the example set by the B.C. carbon tax was key to the U.S. states embracing carbon pricing schemes of their own. This new west coast policy initiative may also ease the worry that the carbon tax was putting some provincial industries at an economic disadvantage compared to B.C.’s neighbours.
The agreement also highlights the state’s and province’s low carbon, future priorities around transportation, energy and “climate-resilient infrastructure.” Despite the Action Plan’s lack of any new funding, businesses in the green building, electric vehicle and renewable energy sectors, in particular, can anticipate a favourable policy landscape for the foreseeable future. The four leaders also pledge to steer more investment dollars towards these industries in the future.
While the regional funding commitments are still vague, the Canadian federal government just announced new funding for some of the same clean tech and energy sectors that should be bolstered by the Action Plan announcement. The Western Innovation Initiative is providing up to $100 million over the next five years in repayable assistance to small- and medium-sized enterprises working to commercialize their products, processes, and services. Companies can apply for funding for numerous areas including product testing and technology demonstrations, equipment purchases and installation, regulatory approval, marketing, and intellectual property protection. The goal is to help companies survive the period between product development and commercialization.
Given these new government commitments and support, B.C.’s clean energy and cleantech industries have more opportunities for growth.