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Researcher says net-zero transition in Atlantic Canada will be costly

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia think tank says reaching climate targets won’t be easy'
Nova Scotia think tank says reaching climate targets won’t be easy
WATCH: A Halifax-based think tank says the race to zero emissions by 2050 will come at a great cost. The group says to remain on track, governments, businesses and homeowners will need to make big investments. As Skye Bryden-Blom reports, the research also shows life will look very different for Canadians – Mar 1, 2023

A Halifax-based think tank says the race to zero emissions by 2050 will come at a financial cost.

The president and CEO of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council says to remain on track, governments, businesses and homeowners will need to make big investments.

David Chaundy wants the government to be open and honest with Canadians when considering the shift needed to get rid of greenhouse gas emissions within 30 years.

“We have to realize that’s going to affect our whole way of life, the way we heat our homes,” Chaundy says. “I have an oil furnace — that will have to change. I’m driving a gasoline-powered vehicle — that is going to have to change.”

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He says these changes will have an impact on your wallet.

“I need to invest in solar panels or a heat pump,” he says. “I need to invest in an electric vehicle at some point.”

Chaundy also says governments need to monitor emissions closely to ensure Atlantic provinces are on track.

Click to play video: 'Fraction of Nova Scotia’s Green Fund spent on climate change programs: auditor'
Fraction of Nova Scotia’s Green Fund spent on climate change programs: auditor

The Sierra Club Canada Foundation also wants to see more frequent updates and less reliance on self-reporting from emitters.

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“We asked for some kind of oversight position,” says National Programs Director Gretchen Fitzgerald. “We all watched and were reassured to have Dr. Strang reporting on progress on COVID during the COVID crisis. I think we need to have a position like that who would be independently monitoring things.”

She adds although progress has been made, the province is not working to cut down emissions fast enough.

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Fitzgerald points to the operation of Cape Breton’s Donkin coal mine as an example. She wants to see the province shift totally to renewable forms of energy.

Meantime, the Director of Environment and Climate Change for the Halifax Regional Municipality says the city is doing well in meeting its emissions targets under its climate action movement HalifACT.

Shannon Miedema says another big thing to consider is adapting to climate change.

“So not just driving our emissions down,” she explains. “But safeguarding our communities and our infrastructure and our environment against what we’ve already been experiencing and what is predicted to happen over time is really important.”

She points to initiatives in HRM like cooling centres, heat response plans, and the rollout of a refrigeration truck to keep food safe in vulnerable communities during long-term power outages.

Miedema adds mitigating climate change might be expensive, but the cost of not doing something would be far worse for Nova Scotians.

On Tuesday, Nova Scotia’s auditor general reported about $60 million earmarked to fight climate change had not yet been spent under the Green Fund established in 2019.

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Environment Minister Tim Halman says there will be better tracking when the government shifts to a modified Nova Scotia Climate Change Fund.

“My department will be enhancing the monitoring processes and that work is ongoing,” he says.

He adds the province is on track to meet its ambitious environmental targets.

“In my estimation, we’re a leader in Canada on climate change initiatives,” Halman says.

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