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Water Today Title October 30, 2020

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Updated 2018/6/11
Renewable energy


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Kim Rudd, Parlimentary Secretary to Canada’s Natural Resource Minister Jim Carr revealed that Canada is set to become a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at the Clean Energy Ministerial in Copenhagen.

Started in 2011, IRENA is an intergovernmental organization that assists countries in transitioning towards more sustainable practices. It encourages the use of renewable energy to reach their goals of sustainable development, energy access and security, and low-carbon economic growth.

On behalf of the Department of Natural Resources, Rudd said "international collaboration in this area is vital, which is why we are pleased that Canada intends to formalize its long-standing and robust partnership with IRENA, the largest intergovernmental organization promoting the widespread deployment and sustainable use of renewable energy."

Canada has already participated in several joint studies, reports and events on the renewable energy with IRENA. As a member, Canada will have access to international trade opportunities for Canadian clean technology companies, increased knowledge of the potential of renewables and the challenges and opportunities associated with using renewables on a large scale.

Renewable energy provides as much as a $1-trillion global investment opportunity per year to 2050. Currently, over two thirds of electricity produced in Canada is from a renewable energy source, primarily from hydroelectricity. Wind has been the largest source of new electricity generated for the country for over ten years, with solar power in second place.

At the moment, Canada is ninth in the world for installed wind energy capacity. According to The Canadian Wind Energy Association there is currently a total of 12, 239 Megawatts of wind energy installed across the country, representing roughly six percent of Canada’s power demand.

With associated costs for wind and solar power plummeting and the growing need for renewable power sources, the potential for creating economic opportunities around clean energy is strong.

In a press release IRENA said Canada has confirmed its intention of joining by starting the membership application process. Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said "Canada is an established energy powerhouse with tremendous potential to further scale-up its vast renewable energy resources as part of its low-carbon growth agenda."

Amin noted the importance of tackling climate change and stressed the significance of using renewable energy to do so. He added "through active engagement with IRENA and its Members, Canada will be well positioned to further strengthen its role in shaping the global energy transformation agenda and contribute its considerable knowledge and experience to accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future."

Currently, IRENA boasts 157 members around the world, but a total of 181 countries are engaged in the work. So far this year, three more have been added to their membership. Ukraine, Paraguay, Brazil and Chad have also announced their intention to join.

Five days after announces its intent to join IRENA, the federal government made another announcement, this time concerning the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline.

In a press conference held on May 29, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said "to guarantee the summer construction season for the workers who are counting on it and to ensure the project is built to completion in a timely fashion the federal government has reached an agreement with Kinder Morgan to purchase he existing Trans Mountain Pipeline and the infrastructure related to the Trans Mountain expansion project."

I reached out to Office of the Minister of Natural Resources to ask; how does Canada reconcile their goals towards renewable energy with the acquisition of the Trans Mountain pipeline?

The following is a response from Communications Officer Samuelle Ménard on behalf of the Department of Natural Resources:
    "The Trans Mountain Expansion project was subject to a strengthened federal review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 and the National Energy Board Act, which included increased Indigenous and public consultations, considered climate change impacts, and incorporated stronger science and Indigenous traditional knowledge. The Government approved the project because it is in the national interest and fits within Canada’s climate plan.

    We are in a global transition — from the energy that has powered our societies for generations — to clean, renewable sources. To get to our low-carbon future, we need a sensible, sustainable approach. One that understands that while the path to a low-carbon future may be long, the trajectory is clear.

    As a member country of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Canada will benefit from increased awareness of renewables' potential; the challenges and opportunities associated with the large-scale penetration of renewables in all regions of Canada; international trade opportunities for Canadian clean tech companies; and international recognition of Canada's leadership role in renewable energy. 

    The world is looking to us as a reliable and stable supplier of traditional energy. We will continue to formalize our long-standing and robust partnership with IRENA and continue our work with member countries to grow renewable energy internationally.

    We will continue to support our traditional resource industries even as we develop alternatives, including solar, wind and tidal. We have never accepted that we have to choose between a healthy planet and a strong economy. Canadians want both, and they can have both."

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