British Columbia leads, Saskatchewan along with Newfoundland and Labrador lag, and no province receives a score above 58 points on a 100-point scale in the first annual provincial energy efficiency scorecard released yesterday by Efficiency Canada.
B.C. was the only province to score above 50%, in what the report describes as the first “comprehensive scoring of energy efficiency policy in the Canadian provinces”. Quebec, Ontario, and Nova Scotia all show up in a second tier, with ratings of 48, 47, and 45.
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The scorecard appears just a couple of weeks after the International Energy Agency warned that energy efficiency improvements are slowing down worldwide, falling “well below the 3% minimum that IEA analysis shows is central to achieving global climate and energy goals”.
Efficiency Canada’s scoring aims to reward provinces for delivering energy efficiency performance and outcomes that are measurable, comparable, action-oriented, and for which the organization could gain access to qualitative or quantitative data. While the scorecard shows considerable room for improvement in every jurisdiction, the results are still powerful enough to establish energy efficiency as “the unsung hero of our energy system,” the scorecard states.
“Without improvements in energy intensity between 1990 and 2015, Canada would have spent C$38.2 billion more on energy and emitted 94.8 more megatonnes (Mt) of greenhouse gas emissions.”
The organization also points to the estimated 436,000 Canadians directly employed in energy efficiency in 2018, citing a report released earlier this year by ECO Canada. “That is a larger work force than can be found in key sectors of our economy—such as oil and gas, or telecommunications—that receive considerably greater policy attention,” the scorecard notes.
“Imagine thinking of all that energy waste from our homes, businesses, and industry as a ‘resource’, just like natural gas, oil, or wind turbines,” said Efficiency Canada Executive Director Corey Diamond. “Now imagine harvesting that ‘resource’ in every community across Canada, creating jobs, and meeting our climate change commitments. At a time when much of the country is at odds on our energy future, boosting energy efficiency is surely something all Canadians can agree on.”
The scorecard awards points for provincial policies in five key areas—energy efficiency programs, enabling policies, buildings, transportation, and industry—with weightings roughly comparable to a more established scorecard produced by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Out of 100 points a province could theoretically earn, the scorecard assigns 35 to programs, 22 to policies, 18 to buildings, 17 to transportation, and eight to industry.
Then each category is broken down into specific rating criteria. The maximum point scores for energy-efficient buildings, for example, are eight for building codes, three for code compliance activities, four for energy rating and disclosure systems, and three for transformation in the appliance and equipment market.
The breakdowns show different provinces excelling in different aspects of the wider energy efficiency challenge: Nova Scotia leads in program development, with a score of 18 out of a possible 35, Quebec excels in transportation (14 out of 17), while B.C. takes top scores for enabling policies (14 of 22), buildings (14 of 18), and industry (six of eight). Efficiency Canada singles out specific provincial initiatives that lead the country, including B.C.’s Energy Step Code for buildings, Quebec’s work on vehicle electrification, Ontario’s mandatory building energy reporting and benchmarking program, and Nova Scotia’s efforts on program development and energy poverty.
In a post for National Observer earlier this month, B.C. consultant James Glave pointed to the Energy Step Code and Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Plan as two of the country’s most effective—and lowest-profile—climate policies.
“As conservative trolls drown the Internet with disinformation on carbon pricing and cynical politicians force stupid and inaccurate stickers onto Ontario gas pumps, these regulations have been quietly working away in the background out west, driving down emissions in the communities that have been putting them to work,” Glave wrote. “Moreover, according to one recent report, they’re seeding the ground for a low-carbon economic bonanza.”
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