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Environment Northeast's Climate Change Roadmap
Hassan Masum, 13 Jan 07

by Worldchanging Canada local blogger (and WC contributor), Hassan Masum

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Environment Northeast recently released a Climate Change Roadmap for New England and Eastern Canada.

It's a practical, detailed plan outlining what's needed to reach emission reductions of 75% by mid-century. Broken down into three areas of energy, transportation, and carbon storage, the roadmap gets refreshingly specific - this is not a vision statement, but a fact-filled document with policy suggestions and case studies worth emulating. Yet it has vision too:

"Our focus is on solutions...we want to convey a sense of the challenge ahead and provide information that will be useful in charting a course forward. Our ambitions go beyond mere mapping. We want to see progress along the charted course, to see solutions implemented.

...History demonstrates that we are capable of pursuing long-term initiatives to make great technological breakthroughs, build new infrastructure, and improve and fundamentally change the way we live and do business."

Starting with background in each area, the roadmap highlights 10 priorities:

  1. Invest in Energy Efficiency Resources

  2. Increase Energy Efficiency of Buildings

  3. Increase Energy Efficiency of Appliances

  4. Reduce Emissions from Large Stationary Sources

  5. Commercialize and Deploy No-Carbon and Low-Carbon Energy Sources

  6. Transition to No-Carbon or Low-Carbon Transportation Fuels

  7. Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Light-Duty Vehicles

  8. Reduce Emissions from Heavy-Duty Vehicles

  9. Sequester Carbon in Terrestrial Sinks
  10. Capture and Store of Carbon Dioxide from Energy and Industrial Sources

Each priority is itself broken into one or more policy recommendations, containing the case for and benefits from action, and some "how-to" specifics. The writing team astutely emphasizes no-regrets policies like energy and building efficiency and emission standards that "deliver tangible benefits that clearly outweigh the costs, and offer a climate benefit as well".

From a Canadian point of view, it's intriguing to see the Canada-U.S. co-operation implicit in this document. The region discussed includes 6 states and 5 provinces from the Northeast: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Brunswick, Newfoundland-Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Qu├ębec. This kind of constructive collaboration, similar to the potential between British Columbia and the Northwestern states, is itself worth highlighting:

"A regional approach makes possible new initiatives - whether research, commercialization, or construction - by sharing costs and other resources that would be too great for any one jurisdiction acting alone. A regional approach is also the most rational way to deal with policies regarding issues such as commerce, infrastructure (e.g. highways, pipelines, power grids), ecosystems, and pollutants that cross jurisdictional boundaries.

...Together, [the Northeastern] states and provinces can implement climate change policies that will create stronger and more stable economies and position their businesses and consumers to prosper in a world where GHG emissions are dramatically reduced and widely regulated."

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As a resident of Maine, I am heartened to see such wonderful region-wide thinking. The six states that make up New England are already actively working together to reduce the effects of pollution sent on the winds from areas to the west; it's nice to see an even larger concept being taken seriously by our Canadian neighbors, with whom we (especially in Maine) feel special kinship. Keep it up!

Posted by: Mal Gormley on 14 Jan 07



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