It has only been a few days since prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau’s election win and we are still over a week away from cabinet appointment announcements. It will be some time before the new federal Liberal government’s energy policy begins to take shape. However, the Liberal platform holds some clues as to what Ontario’s energy sector may expect to see in the near future.

Investment in Clean Tech and Green Infrastructure

The Liberals pledged new investments to support clean tech, including $200 million annually to support clean tech in the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agricultural sectors and $100 million per year in clean tech incubators, including Sustainable Development Technology Canada.

Clean tech will also be specifically incorporated into the existing scientific research and experimental development tax credit to facilitate investment. Electricity storage technologies and electrical car charging stations will be added to the list of investments eligible for accelerated capital cost allowance.

In order to encourage private investment in green infrastructure projects, the Liberals proposed the development of Green Bonds to support large- and community-scale energy projects. The Green Bonds will fund projects such as electric vehicle charging stations, transmission lines for renewable energy, smart grid technology, the electrification of transportation, building retrofits and clean power storage.

Just how much of these investments will be directed to Ontario industries, organizations and projects will not be known until a Minister of Finance is appointed and budget tabled.

Climate Change

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Trudeau refused to commit to specific emission targets, stating that once elected he would work with the provinces and territories to establish national targets. The Liberals did promise to put a price on carbon and put funding in place to allow provinces and territories to design and implement their own carbon pricing policies. Mr. Trudeau also pledged to attend the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this December with territorial and provincial leaders and to hold a First Ministers’ conference within 90 days thereafter to discuss a national framework to combat climate change.

Ontario has already announced its plans to move forward with a carbon cap and trade system tied to Quebec’s and California’s existing cap and trade systems. All three are members of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a collaboration of a number of provinces and U.S. states working together to implement emission trading policies to address climate change at a regional level. British Columbia and Manitoba are also members of the WCI, but have not moved forward with their own cap and trade plans. With the pledged federal political and financial support, we can expect to see the WCI market grow.

Looking Ahead

Mr. Trudeau has not yet set a date for reconvening Parliament and many of these policies will not be detailed or implemented until a budget is passed. As well, the specifics of the Liberal climate change plan are unknown at this point, awaiting consultation with the territories and provinces. Of course, promises made during an election campaign are not binding and we may ultimately see changes in the days ahead from what was set out in the platform. We will continue to monitor and report on these developments and their impact on the energy sector in Ontario and across the country.