Regional Energy and Resource Tables

June 1, 2022 at 2:04 pm  Federal, Politics

Canada holds the resources, clean technology and experience to thrive in the global net-zero economy, creating prosperity and high-quality jobs for generations to come.

The Regional Energy and Resource Tables (Regional Tables) are part of a collaborative initiative with the provinces and territories designed to identify, prioritize and pursue opportunities for sustainable job creation and economic growth for a low-carbon future in the energy, electricity, mining, forestry and clean technology sectors across all of Canada’s regions.

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate stated in its 2018 Report that investments in growing a clean economy and tackling climate change today could result in an additional $26 trillion in global economic benefits. By focusing on opportunities where Canada has a comparative advantage in a low-carbon economy, the Regional Tables process will tackle the urgency of climate change while recognizing that the global shift to low carbon has the potential to create enormous economic opportunities and long-term prosperity in Canada and for Canadians.

How will the Regional Tables work?

The Regional Tables are proceeding using a phased approach, with the first phase announced today beginning with British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Manitoba.

Tables will subsequently be established in all provinces and territories across Canada. Our goal is to establish all tables by early 2023.

There are three main elements to the process:

1.     Close partnerships between federal, provincial and territorial governments to identify and accelerate a common list of the top two-to-four key economic growth priorities in each province and territory;

2.     A tailored approach to engagement with Indigenous governments and groups to reflect their priorities and perspectives on regional opportunities; and

3.     A process to seek input from municipal governments, experts, industry, labour, non-profit organizations and others.

The first milestone will involve identifying and agreeing on a small number of the highest potential clean growth opportunities for each region, such as critical minerals, clean fuels and hydrogen, non-emitting electricity and transmission, carbon capture and removal, sustainable forestry and nuclear technologies.

Next, in each region, a joint action plan will set a path forward for active collaboration between the federal and provincial/territorial governments over the next two years. Each joint action plan would focus on tangible actions to align resources and investment, regulatory and permitting processes, policy tools, identification of key issues and barriers to be overcome.

These efforts will culminate in the development of place-based economic strategies that identify the top economic opportunities in each region and associated plans to advance them. These strategies will integrate Indigenous perspectives on regional opportunities, incorporate input from experts and engage with industry, labour and others.

In addition to addressing key economic opportunities associated with a low-carbon transition, the Regional Tables will provide a forum to discuss how we can work together to ensure that electrical generation capacity and our provincial and regional electrical grids will be capable of meeting the requirements of decarbonization and increased demand associated with broad electrification.

The Regional Tables is a partnership between the federal and provincial and territorial governments. At the federal level, it is a whole-of-government initiative led by Natural Resources Canada that aims to provide national leadership to enable all regions of Canada to seize the economic opportunities enabled by the transition to a low-carbon future.

Who will participate?

The Regional Tables initiative is a partnership between the federal and provincial and territorial governments.

It will also include participation by:

●      Municipal governments;

●      Indigenous communities, groups and leaders;

●      Workers and labour leaders;

●      Industry and business leaders; and

●      Academics and sector-specific experts.

The Regional Tables process will evolve over time in ways that will allow tangible outcomes to be achieved. 

Regional Tables will inform Canada’s approach to supporting workers and communities and creating sustainable jobs. This process will co-operatively and collaboratively develop place-based, resource-based economic strategies that reflect Canada’s regional economic diversity. These strategies will provide direction to workers, labour organizations, businesses and governments with respect to the job opportunities created by a net-zero transition. In essence, it will seek to answer the question: “What are we transitioning to?”

Work is currently underway to consult and get input from Canadians including energy workers and communities through the Just Transition consultations on the development of federal legislation. By meaningfully partnering with provinces and territories and with workers, labour movement, Indigenous Peoples and local governments, coherent strategies to support workers and communities at all levels of jurisdiction will be enabled.

What opportunities will be prioritized and accelerated?

The Regional Tables aim to align priorities, funding and financing opportunities, and policy and regulatory approaches on a regional basis to accelerate economic activity and position every region in Canada as a leader in areas where we have or can reasonably create a comparative advantage in the net-zero future.

Across Canada, regional growth opportunities are likely to come from new products and processes that enable a low-carbon future — such as electric cars, battery technology, critical minerals, clean hydrogen, small modular reactors, carbon removal, renewable energy, biofuels and other clean technologies — and new uses for old products. Other opportunities will come through increased demand for traditional goods produced in an ultra-low–-carbon manner — such as low-carbon steel and aluminum.

Why are we pursuing regionally focused collaboration?

Canada is both a vast country and a decentralized federation where each region has a unique set of natural resources, energy systems, labour markets and regulatory approaches. The economic opportunities available to each region — and therefore the approaches to a net-zero emissions and nature-positive future — are different across the country.

Independent thought-leaders in Canada such as the Transition Accelerator, Quest Canada and the Canadian Climate Institute have been calling on the federal government to play a convening role while each region of the country drives toward the net-zero economy that will work for them. At the global level, the International Energy Agency has also specifically recommended the federal government coordinate closely with provincial and territorial authorities on identifying region-specific opportunities and aligning key actions needed for long-term emissions reductions by 2050.

The Government of Australia, another decentralized federation, has pursued a similar initiative with state governments to accelerate low-carbon energy opportunities and clean electricity grid development with multi-party regional agreements. For its part, the U.K. has developed an energy security strategy that aligns opportunities to invest in renewables, energy efficiency, hydrogen, clean electricity and nuclear with skill development and employment opportunities.

What is at stake?

To build a net-zero economy by 2050, Canada will need between $125 billion and $140 billion of investment from both the public and private sector every year. By collectively identifying and advancing top growth opportunities, both public dollars and private capital can be strategically directed with maximum potential for economic growth, climate outcomes and sustainable job creation.

Budget 2022 announced funding for Regional Tables, and once shared priorities and opportunities are identified, there will be ways to draw on existing funds across government. To support regional opportunities, governments will look to leverage funds through existing and new programs and initiatives. Federal programs that may be drawn on include, for example:

●      the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Fund;

●      the Clean Fuels Fund;

●      the Strategic Innovation Fund-Net-Zero Accelerator;

●      the Electricity Pre-Development Program;

●      the Low-Carbon Economy Fund;

●      Business Development Corporation;

●      Canada Infrastructure Bank;

●      Funding for Canada’s Critical Minerals Strategy that was included in Budget 2022; and

●      the Canada Growth Fund announced in Budget 2022.

These federal funding and financing tools can be coupled with resources from other orders of government, major investors such as public pension funds, and the private sector.

Through the Regional Tables, we will focus on the development of high- impact opportunity areas in each region of the country to develop a competitive and highly prosperous, sustainable natural resources-driven economy —  an economy that creates wealth and jobs in every region of this country while concurrently ensuring that we achieve our ambitious climate and nature goals.

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