Trade Deals for Green Growth: Economic Integration Brings Environmental Collaboration

Five Canadian provincial governments just took historic steps to address the country’s economic and environmental challenges.  In the West, premiers from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan struck an unprecedented deal to further economic integration and spur clean energy technologies, particularly those related to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).  In the East, Ontario and Quebec forged a trade agreement that harmonizes several key policy areas, particularly labor mobility, while charting a course for an emissions reduction policy that would comply with the probable U.S. cap-and-trade plan.

The news is momentous.  In a country known for its north-south economic integration (with the US) and its east-west inter-provincial rows, such policy convergence at the provincial level reveals the two-fold pressure felt to renew industrial competitiveness and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  These trade accords were perhaps bolstered by the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) launched earlier this year between the EU and Canada, which on several fronts envisions deeper economic integration with the EU than with the US.  Though negotiated at the federal level, CETA would rely heavily on inter-provincial commitments.

For industry, both agreements signal seriousness about green growth.  With their major trading partners adopting climate policies, and their federal government unable to issue an enforceable national plan, Canadian provinces are taking the initiative to foster environmental innovation. By launching within these important trade agreements projects like the CCS venture in the West and the GHG reduction collaboration in the East, Canadian provinces demonstrate the building political consensus that tackling environmental concerns can be a vital tool in addressing the economic ones.

By Andrew Gertge, GLOBE-Net

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