Canada: Paris To Vancouver And Washington DC: Sunny Days Ahead For Cleantech In Canada!

The March 3, 2016 Declaration1 by the Canadian First Ministers in Vancouver marked the dawn of a new era for clean technologies in Canada. The Declaration, together with the U.S.-Canada Joint Statement,2 issued by President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau yesterday, the Paris Agreement,3 and initiatives by a number of Canadian provinces, reflect an unprecedented national and international consensus on the need for a rapid transition to a clean energy economy.

Globally, the Paris Agreement promises to help accelerate the growing clean technology ("cleantech") sector to become a multi-trillion dollar global market in the coming years. The Declaration and the Joint Statement signal that Canada's cleantech sector will comprise an increasingly important part of the Canadian economy and focus of investment activity. Also, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will become a key metric, across all business sectors, as such emissions are increasingly regulated and priced.

The Vancouver Declaration

At the outset, the Declaration states:

Canada stands at the threshold of building our clean growth economy. This transition will create a strong and diverse economy, create new jobs and improve our quality of life, ... We will grow our economy while reducing emissions. ...

... We will build on the momentum of the Paris Agreement by developing a concrete plan to achieve Canada's international commitments through a pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change. Together, we will leverage technology and innovation to seize the opportunity for Canada to contribute global solutions and become a leader in the global clean growth economy.

The Declaration marks a significant shift in perspective. No longer a mere environmental issue, climate change represents an opportunity (which, to date, Canada has been slow to embrace) to participate in the exponentially growing clean energy economy. Global clean energy investments hit an all-time high of US $367 billion in 2015 – almost 50% higher than investments in fossil fuels. In Canada, the results of previous federal climate change initiatives can fairly be described as disappointing, e.g., clean energy investments in Canada fell by 46% in 2015.

Why the Declaration is Likely to Succeed

The Declaration is likely to succeed in accelerating the development and sale of clean technologies by and in Canada (and in reducing GHG emissions) for the following four reasons:

  • Economy. The principal focus of the Declaration is on the economy, and on the opportunities for Canadians to prosper in the more efficient, clean economy of the future. The engagement of the Declaration with industry, innovation, infrastructure, finance, transportation and education, as well as the environment, provides the broad economic base necessary for success.
  • Technology. Clean energy technologies provide greater energy efficiencies, at competitive prices (which continue to fall). The Declaration focuses on: increased efficiency, clean electricity, the electrification of vehicles, and innovation in key technologies for clean energy, energy storage, energy usage and energy management.
  • National and Global Unanimity. Never before have all the provinces and all the world's countries agreed to rapidly transition to clean energy.
  • Urgency. The Declaration recognizes the need to transition to clean energy within the next 35 years. Spurred on by rising CO2 levels and impacts, the race to lead the cleantech market is rapidly increasing the scale and competitiveness of cleantech offerings.

Next Steps Under the Declaration

The First Ministers have agreed to meet again in the fall of 2016 to develop a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. Implementation is expected in early 2017.

Appointment of Working Groups

Working Groups are, by September 2016, to identify options for action in four areas: 1. clean technology; 2. carbon pricing; 3. specific mitigation opportunities; and 4. adaptation and resilience, as follows:

1. The Working Group on Clean Technology, Innovation and Jobs will report on options for stimulating economic growth, creating jobs, and driving innovation through the development and commercialization of new clean energy technologies and innovations.

2. The Working Group on Carbon Pricing Mechanisms will report on carbon pricing options and the role they could play in meeting Canada's emissions reduction targets. It will consider the effectiveness and efficiency of alternative carbon pricing mechanisms, and their implications for Canada's economy, and interprovincial and international competitiveness.

3. The Working Group on Specific Mitigation Opportunities will report on options for promoting clean growth and achieving substantial reductions in GHG emissions in key sectors, including large industrial emitters, transportation, electricity generation, and buildings.

4. The Working Group on Adaptation and Climate Resilience will report on options for adapting to the impacts of climate change and building greater climate resilience.

Interim Federal Measures

In the interim, the Federal Government is:

  • Supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation through investments in green infrastructure, public transit infrastructure and energy-efficient social infrastructure;
  • Investing in reductions in GHG emissions through federal investments in the Low Carbon Economy Fund;
  • Fulfilling Canada's commitment to Mission Innovation, made in Paris in December 2015, by doubling government investment in clean energy research and development over the next five years;
  • Advancing the electrification of vehicle transportation, in collaboration with Provinces and Territories;
  • Fostering dialogue and the development of regional plans for clean electricity transmission; and
  • Investing in clean energy solutions to move Indigenous, remote and northern communities off diesel.

In addition, the Declaration requires the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Energy Ministers to collaborate on energy conservation and efficiency, clean energy technology and innovation, and other initiatives under the Canadian Energy Strategy.

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement follows in the wake of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which did not apply to the largest emitters, but was nonetheless successful in reducing GHG emissions in the countries (principally in the EU) which acceded to it, and set the stage for the exponential growth of renewable energy and other clean technologies.

In summary, the Paris Agreement:

  • Will officially come into force when at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55% of global emissions have signed (expected to occur between April 2016 and April 2017) and acceded to it;
  • Once in force, is legally binding with respect to process, requiring each of the 195 participant countries to set targets, report on them, and review and improve them every 5 years, but not with respect to the achievement of the stated targets;
  • Sets out a collective commitment to keep the rise in global temperatures to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, with efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius; and
  • Aims to stop growth in global GHG emissions as soon as possible, and to achieve net carbonneutrality on a global basis in the second half of this century.

In the absence of legally binding limits, the Paris Agreement's success will depend upon transparency and peer pressure, and, most importantly, upon the rapidly falling prices and growing adoption of renewable energy, electric vehicles and other key clean technologies.

How Canada is Moving Forward

The Declaration reflects Canada's commitments, under the Paris Agreement, to combat climate change and accelerate the transition to a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future. It confirms the need for investors and governments to focus on the further rapid expansion of innovation, adoption and investment in the strategically important cleantech sector.

The consensus on the urgent need for action on climate change extends across business, civil society and governments. For example, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has identified climate change as one of the top 10 barriers to Canada's competitiveness. Large companies are demanding a federal plan for the regulation of GHG emissions to reduce uncertainty and enable investment decisions.

The Declaration and the Paris Agreement have triggered or reinforced a number of provincial initiatives which, together with new commitments and policies from the Federal Government, are creating new cleantech opportunities for Canadian businesses.

Action by the Federal Government

The current federal GHG emissions target, which was inherited from the previous Government and is viewed by the current Government as a floor, is 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

In addition to the Declaration, the Federal Government has committed (as reaffirmed in the Joint Statement) to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States and Mexico, under which it plans to share energy information and to collaborate on climate change, clean energy and innovation.

The Federal Government has also:

  • Introduced interim measures and principles for reviewing natural resource projects such as pipelines, which will assess the upstream GHG emissions associated with the project;
  • Committed to endow a $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Trust to fund projects that reduce emissions, with a focus on renewable energy; and
  • Pledged $300 million to the global Mission Innovation initiative for clean technology development.

Action by the Provincial Governments

Current provincial programs and targets, apart from those in Ontario, include the following:

  • British Columbia has a carbon tax of $30/tonne CO2 eq. and an emissions target of 33% below 2007 levels by 2020, and all new cars will be zero emissions vehicles by 2050;
  • British Columbia and Quebec each provide substantial incentives in the form of rebates for new electric vehicles (EVs);
  • Alberta is implementing a carbon tax, a cap on oil sands emissions, and is phasing out coal power by 2030;
  • Manitoba has announced a new 5-year $5 million Climate Change Action Fund, which will be invested across sectors such as transportation and innovative energy projects;
  • Manitoba has joined Ontario and Quebec in the cap and trade system, and has an emissions target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, with the aim of being carbon-neutral by 2080;
  • Quebec was the first province to implement the cap and trade system, and has an emissions target of 20% below 1990 levels by 2020; and
  • New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have together set a target of reducing emissions by between 35-40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Ontario's Initiatives and Funding of Cleantech

Ontario has taken a number of significant steps to reduce GHG emissions and increase cleantech opportunities. Its targets and initiatives include the following:

  • Ontario's emissions target is 37% below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050;
  • Ontario continues to procure renewable energy under the 2009 Green Energy Act;
  • Ontario issued Green Bonds in 2014 and 2016 totalling $1.25 billion to finance transit and other green projects, and announced a $325 million Green Investment Fund in 2015 for projects to fight climate change;
  • With British Columbia and Quebec, Ontario has signed the "Under 2" MOU, to reduce GHG emissions to 2 metric tons CO2-equivalent per capita by 2050;
  • Ontario has signed an MOU with Quebec and Manitoba linking their cap and trade programs under the Western Climate Initiative with California;
  • Ontario announced a new program to create a network of fast-charging EV stations in December 2015 and in February 2016 updated its EV incentive program;
  • In February 2016, Ontario announced $74 million in cleantech innovation support, to help reduce industrial GHG emissions, and $25 million in a Green Smart energy efficiency program, to assist small and medium-sized businesses to reduce GHG emissions; and
  • Ontario's draft cap and trade legislation, also released in February 2016, is to dedicate the proceeds of emission credit sales, estimated to be $1.9 billion in 2017, to green investments such as:
    • Energy management technologies for load-shifting and energy storage;
    • Geothermal solutions;
    • Insulation and other technologies to eliminate or reduce GHG emissions from buildings and neighbourhoods; and             
    • Infrastructure to support zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles, and low-carbon alternative fuels.

Increasing Investments and Opportunities

Opportunities to invest in renewable energy are growing rapidly. In 2015, despite the falling prices of oil, coal and natural gas, global investment in clean energy was a record US $367 billion.

Moreover, renewable energy is steadily replacing coal, natural gas, and oil, as the principal source of new electrical power generation. The crossover occurred in 2013, when the renewable electricity capacity added to the grid exceeded the additional fossil energy capacity (by 143 GW to 141 GW). The trend is expected to accelerate as the prices of solar and wind energy continue to fall, and volumes continue to grow, in coming years.

The steps taken, and to be taken, by the Canadian governments to transition the Canadian economy to clean energy will create substantial business and investment opportunities. In addition, there will be increasing opportunities in energy storage, EVs, heat pumps, smart grids and the other clean technologies required for the transition to a low carbon economy.

Members of our Cleantech Group are actively tracking legal developments in this area, as the Federal and Provincial Governments continue take steps to implement the Declaration and the Paris Agreement.


1 Canada, Communiqué of Canada's First Ministers, "Vancouver Declaration on Clean Growth and Climate Change" (Ottawa: Office of the Prime Minister, 2016) ("Declaration").

2 Canada, Office of the Prime Minister, "US-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership" (Ottawa: Office of the Prime Minister, 2016) ("Joint Statement").

3 UNFCCC, Adoption of the Paris Agreement, (12 December 2015), UN Doc FCCC/CP/2015/L.9 (2015) ("Paris Agreement").

The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.