Lobbying hard for policy change

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Canada is putting its economy at risk by continuing to rely on non-renewable, carbon-intensive energy sources, the country's wind energy industry told a meeting of federal and provincial energy ministers last month. The Canadian Wind Energy Association pointed out that the country's major trading partners have begun the shift to renewable electricity supply by investing in wind power. But Canada, despite enjoying some of the world's largest and highest-quality wind resources, remains stalled with few installed wind energy facilities and almost no manufacturing or industrial capability. If we don't begin to participate in the renewable "retooling" of the global energy infrastructure, CanWEA's report warns, our economy will suffer. "Potentially we will be competitively left behind, having to purchase technology and expensive offsets from others and suffer large penalties for our lack of action." With skyrocketing natural gas prices and increasing demand, electricity diversification is a key advantage of renewables, the report says. It estimates that as much as 30% of Canada's electrical supply could be generated by wind energy at cost-competitive rates -- and in the near-term 5%-10%. On the climate change front, wind and other zero-emission renewable technologies have the potential to yield significant emissions reductions. To realise that potential, however, Canadian governments need to "walk the talk" on climate change and begin to implement mechanisms like emissions trading and credit for early action, the report says. Government also needs to re-examine its spending priorities, CanWEA argues. While the federal government spends roughly C$500,000 per year on wind energy research and development, it has spent an average of C$280 million a year on fossil fuel and C$140 million a year on nuclear energy over the past ten years.

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