$1.5B EcoTrust Program announced

Ottawa, Canada - The federal government has announced plans to provide $1.5 billion to help the provinces and territories to pursue initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Also announced was $10 million in funding to support increased public transit use in Canadian cities.

The $1.5 billion Canada EcoTrust will be established in the upcoming federal budget, using part of the anticipated 2006-07 budgetary surplus. If approved, the funding will be allocated to support provincial climate change plans.

The first wave of funding was announced today, as the government said it intends to provide Quebec with $349.9 million to support the province’s 2006-2012 Action Plan for climate change. The Plan includes twenty-four actions to either cut greenhouse gas emissions or to adapt to climate change, and will be partially paid for by a royalty on hydrocarbons totalling around $200 million a year.

  • See: Québec to levy carbon tax

  • As a result of the federal funding, Quebec will be better able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 13.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalent below its anticipated 2012 level, thereby meeting the target established for Canada under the Kyoto Protocol of 6 percent below 1990 levels.

    Quebec projects using the funding may include:

    • Investments to improve access to new technologies for the trucking sector;

    • A program to develop renewable energy sources in rural regions;

    • A pilot plant for production of cellulosic ethanol;

    • Promotion of geothermal heat pumps in the residential sector;

    • Support for technological research and innovation for the reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases;

    • Support for the capture of biogas from landfill sites;

    • Support for waste treatment and energy recovery from agricultural biomass.

    The funding for Quebec follows up on an agreement with the previous federal government, which was to provide $328 million. Other provinces may now get the funding they had expected last year, as the federal government says it will work with will each province and territory to develop the national fund.

    Ontario had agreed to a transfer of $528 million, mostly to help shut down coal power plants. Saskatchewan had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the federal government to receive around $20 million annually, to be used on research initiatives such as clean coal technology.

    Newfoundland and Labrador have signed an MOU outlining areas for cooperation between the levels of government, including the development of the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had agreements as well.

    $10M for federal ‘ecoMobility’ program

    The federal government has also announced a $10 million investment over four years in the ‘ecoMobility’ program to support public transit and sustainable transportation options for Canadian cities.

    The initiative will help cities develop policies, programs, and services that encourage people to reduce car use, increase transit ridership, and promote alternative options such as car-pooling.

    The funding will go towards collaborative research, development of professional resources, implementation of cost-shared pilot projects, and dissemination of information.

    The government notes that the funding will support existing agreements to transfer $5 billion in gas tax funds over five years to Canadian municipalities to support environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure, specifically for water treatment, wastewater, local road systems and public transit infrastructure.

    The Federation of Canadian Municipalities wants more for public transit, outlining the need for a national transit plan in a pre-budget submission (PDF) to the Minister of Finance.

    Canada is the only G-8 country without a national transportation program, affecting the country’s global competitiveness, quality of life and ability to meet clean air and climate change objectives, says the FCM.

    The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) estimates that Canada’s public transit authorities will require $20.7 billion in capital investments between 2006 and 2010 to maintain and expand our current public transit systems.

    Further announcements are anticipated in the weeks ahead as the federal government rolls out more details of its environmental strategy.

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