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Fostering a Regional Green Economy: Municipal Roles and Others’ Responsibilities

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Stephanie Cairns, Managing Director, Sustainable Communities of Sustainable Prosperity on municipal roles and others' responsibilities on fostering a regional green economy. Presentation given at the …

Stephanie Cairns, Managing Director, Sustainable Communities of Sustainable Prosperity on municipal roles and others' responsibilities on fostering a regional green economy. Presentation given at the Clean Air Council Green Economy Summit.


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  • My Colleagues David Thompson and Andrew Bevan launched the Sustainable Communities Program almost three years ago with a background paper and toolkit on Environmental Pricing Reform for Local Governments. EPR is the term we use for is a suite of public policy measures that align prices with economic, environmental and social policy goals. Price signals are a central driver of decisions made by firms and individuals; when prices pull in the opposite direction of goals, it is very unlikely that those goals will ever be reached. Pamela gave a great overview this morning about the perverse outcome that happen if price signals don’t align with
  • Since then we have worked with a wide range of partners such as the City of Hamilton, CivicAction here in Toronto, TransLink in Vancouver, and the City of Edmonton to apply the concept of environmental pricing reform to a range of municipal challenges such as sprawl, sustainable transportation, and innovative models for municipal infrastructure financing. We also partnered with the FCM to develop this report on the municipal role in building Canada’s economy, which informs some of this talk today.
  • $3 trillion: Analytica advisors, 2011. From Dana report p. 22. Biofuels & biochemicals; power generation; energy infrastructure’ energy efficiency; industrial process efficiency and abatement; recycling and waste; remediation; transportation; and, water and wastewater. 44,000: Analytica
  • What do we mean by the term “green economy”? Sustainable Prosperity spent some time earlier this year investigating this term, and thinking about what it could mean for Canada. We found that the definition of “green economy” can be ambiguous, and the term is confusing for many…. Sometimes it means a sector — environmental goods and service sectors that produce products or provide services that have obvious environmental benefits, such as renewable energy or water filtration technology. But this doesn’t leave much space for what traditionally might not be considered “green” sectors of the economy (such as mining, oil and gas, manufacturing), and yet surely minimizing the environmental impact of all forms of production and consumption, of our lifestyles So in that context when some people refer to the green economy they are really referring to a state of action—more accurately perhaps the greening of the economy, which includes not only innovative clean technologies, but also the activities that all sectors –industry, households, governments-- are taking to improve their relative environmental performance and improve the efficiency with which we use resources.
  • At Sustainable Prosperity, we are also exploring the green economy as a state of being—an economy that is operating within ecological limits. This take an inclusive approach that includes all sectors in the economy, not just those that create environmental goods and services, ad that looks at how that economy is performing relative to the ecology that underpins it. If sustainable development is the what, then greening the economy would be the how, and a green economy would be the vision.
  • However you define it, what we can say is that working towards a green economy aligns towards many prevailing public policy goals--- Perennial goals. Seem universal among major parties, to greater or lesser degree. Shared by other levels of government. Collectively would amount to a greener economy. As with most of GE literature, we suggest a broad definition of GE, Looking for benefits for wide range of Canadians -- not narrow / niche.
  • WE work at the federal level, with several provinces, and with parts of the private sector— And yet our recent internal assessments concluded once again that municipalities are really the place to get the greatest gains on the sustainability agenda, for a number of reasons: Municipalities have a number of advantages in working toward GE. Experience in relevant areas – water, waste, transportation Less ideological and partisan gridlock. Better accepted by voters. Good at implementation GTD - they get things done.
  • Also have the tools. Again, won’t go through each one. Report does that. Enough to note that municipalities have a lot of tools that can be leveraged.
  • Also have a lot of tools that can be leveraged. Focussing on the area that we highlight Subsidy corrections-- Property tax adjustments—eg to support densification Development cost charges – as discussed by Pamela this morning Unit pricing of utilities—to encourage reduced consumption while also reducing the scale and cost of community infrastructure required Vehicle specific charges—such as municipal fuel taxes and parking prices to recover the costs to the community of actual vehicle use, end encourage more efficient and sustainable forms and patters of transportation Special fees and taxes –that focus on creating a continuous incentives to reduce specific activities that harm the environment, for example some forms of emissions and some pollutant discharges,
  • Governments identify job creation as a rationale for industry support. Resources are limited, so Important to make the best choices.
  • Municips have a key role to play—but can’t deliver alone Focus on two related municipal action areas – sprawl and ST. As per earlier – municipalities can help achieve GE goals. However, omits the larger policy context.
  • Pulling in the same direction. Can achieve far more of GE goals. Policy alignment – the core of Municipal and Federal cooperation on building GE.
  • Report reviews a number of areas where federal policies could boost municipal action.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Fostering a Regional Green Economy: Municipal Roles and Others’ Responsibilities Stephanie Cairns Managing Director, Sustainable Communities Sustainable Prosperity www.sustainableprosperity.ca Clean Air Council Green Economy Summit Toronto, October 26, 2012
    • 2. Sustainable Prosperity• Mission: to generate smart ideas to build a greener, more competitive Canadian economy• National green economy think tank and policy research network based out of University of Ottawa• Focus on market-based instruments in order to achieve both economic and environmental goals• Four areas: Low carbon economy, sustainable communities, ecosystem service markets, and emerging issues Making markets work for the environment 2
    • 3. SP’s Sustainable Communities ProgramEnvironmental Pricing Reform (EPR): using pricing (market forces) to influence behaviour and choices in support of community goals (environmental and economic) – Reduces collective impact of development on the environment, while – Addressing gap at local level of government between current fiscal constraints and much needed fiscal flexibility. Making markets work for the environment 3
    • 4. Sustainable Communities Program Making markets work for the environment 4
    • 5. Green Economy: the numbers!– Green economy is growing • Globally, clean technology worth $1 trillion, could be $3 trillion+ & 3rd largest global industrial sector by 2020– Canadian green tech and services market • $2.3 billion in 2010 • $3.7 billion by 2014– Clean tech sector employs 44,400 Canadians (2010)– But 682,000 Canadian perform environmental work 50% or more of their time. Making markets work for the environment 5
    • 6. What do we mean by “Green Economy”? Greening the Greening the Clean Technology Clean Technology Economy Economy Making markets work for the environment 6
    • 7. What do we mean by “Green Economy”? Ecosystem limits Ecosystem limits A Green Economy A Green Economy Making markets work for the environment 7
    • 8. Alignment with prevailing goals • Innovation • Productivity • Economic growth • Higher employment levels •Green Economy Green Economy Public debt reduction • Climate change mitigation • Clean water & air • Reduced waste Making markets work for the environment 8
    • 9. Municipalities: Key Players• Already drive economic growth—can do green growth!• Front line of many environmental challenges (transport, sprawl, energy use).• Closer to public, pressure to show tangible results• Significant economic, ecological influence/control: – $98 billion procurement – Direct and indirect control over 45% of GHG emissions• Other advantages – Less ideological/partisan gridlock: “Get Things Done!” – Practical, on the ground implementation – Scaled right for experimentation and innovation Making markets work for the environment 9
    • 10. Municipal Green Economy Action AreasSustainable transportationSustainable transportationEfficient urban land useEfficient urban land useEnergy efficiency of buildingsEnergy efficiency of buildingsRenewable energyRenewable energyWater treatment and conservationWater treatment and conservationSolid waste managementSolid waste management Making markets work for the environment 10
    • 11. ToolsPlanningPlanningPlanning PlanningZoningZoning Subsidy corrections Subsidy correctionsZoning ZoningDevelopment controlDevelopment control Property tax adjustments Property tax adjustmentsDevelopment control Development controlEstablishment of protected areas Development cost chargesEstablishment of protected areas Development cost chargesEstablishment of protected areas Establishment of protected areasADJUSTING COST SIGNALS Unit pricing of utilitiesADJUSTING signals SIGNALS Unit pricing of utilitiesAdjusting cost COST Adjusting cost signalsCapital cost financing assistance Vehicle specific chargesCapital cost financing assistance Vehicle specific chargesProcurement policies Special fees and taxes Special fees and taxesProcurement policies Making markets work for the environment 11
    • 12. Many benefitsBang-for-Buck: job-creation of different investments Making markets work for the environment 12
    • 13. But can’t deliver alone--Sprawl and Sustainable TransportationFed/Prov GE goals: climate change mitigation, cleaner air Fossil fuel subsidies, Fossil fuel subsidies, rules for rules for infrastructure funds infrastructure funds Externalized costs Externalized costs (smog, GHGs…) (smog, GHGs…) Municipal actions: Development charge & Municipal actions: Development charge & property tax adjustments property tax adjustments Making markets work for the environment 13
    • 14. Policy Alignment:Sprawl and Sustainable TransportationFed/Prov GE goals: climate change mitigation, cleaner air Reformed subsidies, Reformed subsidies, costs internalized costs internalized (user fees, c-price…) (user fees, c-price…) Municipal actions: Development charge & Municipal actions: Development charge & property tax adjustments property tax adjustments Making markets work for the environment 14
    • 15. Needs Alignment with Federal and Provincial policies– Predictable long-term infra. funding, emphasizing: • Priority on sustainable transportation • Climate change adaptation– Energy efficiency building retrofits (targets, funding)– Subsidy reform– Knowledge and capacity building around sustainability– National user fee policy– Harmonize carbon prices (implicit and explicit)– Extended producer responsibility framework Making markets work for the environment 15
    • 16. Stephanie CairnsManaging Director, SustainableCommunitiesSustainable Prosperitystephanie@wrangellia.cawww.sustainableprosperity.ca Making markets work for the environment 16