N.B. still working on long-term energy strategy

N.B. committee on climate change and environmental stewardship meet to face questions
WATCH: As New Brunswick’s committee on climate change and environmental stewardship faced questions from MLAs it was revealed that the department of natural resources and energy has yet to develop a long-term energy strategy. Silas Brown has more.

Over three years after the release of the province’s climate change plan, the Department of Natural Resources and energy development has yet to create a long-term energy strategy.

“To say that’s there’s no long term energy strategy that would be put together in point form and bullets, that’s in essence correct, however, that work is taking place,” said Minister Mike Holland.

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Green Leader David Coon asked department staff about the lack of a strategy during an appearance before the committee on climate change and environmental stewardship on Wednesday. He says the province needs a road map if it is to meet its emissions goals, which includes a 2050 target of 5 megatonnes of CO2. Currently emissions sit at about 14.3 megatonnes per year.

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Coon says without a clear plan of how to get there, targets are useless.

“It’s very disconcerting because it’s absolutely what we need to ensure that we get off fossil fuels by 2050 and meet the targets along the way that have been established for our carbon budget,” he said.

Holland says a strategy is in the works and will hopefully be complete by the end of the year. Part of the delay is due to the changing landscape of energy technology and the department will spend the next several months formulating the best way to go about developing a strategy.

“Although the strategy isn’t in place, the ingredients are there and there’s significant work taking place to put together a mold and put a strategy in place,” he said.

Cancelled Energy East Pipeline project emerges as NB campaign issue in federal election home stretch
Cancelled Energy East Pipeline project emerges as NB campaign issue in federal election home stretch

During the department’s appearance, questions were asked of a target the government has already missed.

The climate action plan hoped to see 2,500 electric vehicles on the road by 2020. According to DRC staff there are only a couple hundred on the road as of today, despite large investments from NB Power in a charging network that some consider to be one of the best in the country.

New Brunswick Minister of Environment and Local Government Jeff Carr said he hopes to see that change soon as vehicles become more affordable.

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“I think people want to go there, but the price of them is another issue,” he said.

“The federal government had announced that they would be giving a rebate to those that wanted to buy them. I think it’s access, I think the supply just isn’t there yet and we do like our 4x4s in New Brunswick so it is a change.”

READ MORE: Is Energy East cancellation a “threat to Confederation”? Just ask Alberta.

Liberal MLA Andrew Harvey, who chaired the temporary committee that put together the climate action plan, says government has to ensure that the public is incentivized to buy electric in order to capitalize on the existing network.

“We’ve set up the infrastructure,” he said. “We probably need to do more, but the next step is to have incentives to put people over the top making that investment.”