Environment Minister Tim Halman speaks with reporters on Oct. 27, 2021. Photo: Tim Bousquet

The Houston government is today tabling a “Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act,” which is in essence of an updated version of the previous Liberal government’s Sustainable Development Goals Act of 2019, with some important differences.

Most notably, the 2019 Act was never proclaimed because the Liberals said they needed to go out for consultation on the goals and necessary regulations. The new act legislatively establishes 28  goals, and so will be proclaimed as soon as it makes its way through the legislature.

Climate change

Among the legislative goals are some specific to climate change, including:

  • reduce GHG emissions by 53% below 2005 levels by 2030 (same as Liberals the NDP wants it to be 58%)
  • by 2030, all coal plants will close
  • by 2030, 30% of all vehicle sales will be zero emission vehicles 
  • by 2030, electricity generation will be 80% renewable
  • the province will be “net-zero” by 2050

To reach the ambitious renewable electricity goal, Nova Scotia’s electrical grid will have to be integrated into the “Atlantic Loop,” which will give this province access to Quebec hydro power.

The Atlantic Loop is “a fundamental component,” of the new legislative goals, said Environment Minister Tim Halman in a press briefing this morning. “I believe that has the potential for transformative change in terms of how we we produce electricity here in the province.”

Department staff added that the Atlantic Loop will also allow renewable electricity generated in Nova Scotia — for example, by offshore wind — to be exported to other provinces.

Implementation of Lahey Report delayed

The new legislation includes a goal to “implement an ecological forestry approach for Crown lands” — i.e., the recommendations of the Lahey Report — but not until 2023. The Lahey Report was issued three years ago.

Asked about the reason for the delay at the press briefing, Halman punted the question to Tory Rushton, the minister of the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables; Rushton was not present for the briefing.

Reporting requirements

By next spring, a “Climate Plan for Green Growth” will be developed, which will spell out specific ways to implement the goals.

The legislation require an annual update on progress meeting the goals by July of each year, starting next year, and a five-year review of the act itself, with the possibility that goals will be strengthened.

Reactions

“It meets everything that was in the [PCs’] election platform,” said Noreen Mabiza, the Energy Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) in a phone interview. “We’re happy to see these goals embedded in the legislation.”

“Of course more work has to be done,” she added. “We’re in a climate emergency, so there’s more work to done — we need to get rid of offshore oil, for example.”

Overall, however, the EAC is supportive of the legislation.

The NDP had a more nuanced reaction.

“While it is encouraging to see environmental goals moved out of regulation and back into law, the Conservatives’ plan lacks the urgency that this moment requires,” said NDP MLA Susan Leblanc in a press release.

“The plan announced by the Conservatives today holds greenhouse gas emission reduction goals at the same level set by the past Liberal government – which we know will not be enough to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

“As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) begins this weekend, jurisdictions around the world must level up their efforts to meet the climate emergency head on. To do our part to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees we must reduce emissions to 50 per cent below 1990 levels, which is 58 per cent below 2005.”


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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6 Comments

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  1. I think the Department of Natural Resources needs to be cleaned out, Westfor and Irving have too much influence in that department. There will be nothing left to the mature forests in Nova Scotia and people will be complaining about the wildlife coming into towns.
    Lets see what Houston does with Owls Head.

  2. Really disappointed that the gov’t still plays to the logging lobby and ignores what science has consistently about carbon sequestering in forests as well as the affect in-tact forests have on the global temperature & watersheds – it takes 80-100 years for hardwood trees to mature & only a few minutes to take them down with the heavy fuel consuming, ecology damaging logging equipment that is so freely used to clear cut our crown land and private lands. Why are still waiting to have the Lahey report implemented when thousands of tax payers have asked for this!

  3. On one hand the champion the cause of dealing with climate change while on the other they proceed to thrown $200 million of public funds into constructing major public infrastructure in a red zone for climate change impacts and sea level rise. There are many other, more responsible options of where to construct the new Art Gallery of NS.

  4. This does not bode well for forestry reform on Crown land. There is a saying about climate change that applies to forestry policy as well: “Winning slowly is the same as losing”.