Atlantic Canada needs to adopt a cohesive regional approach to building a clean energy future or it risks being hamstrung by outdated government policies and regulations, says a new discussion paper and commentary from the Atlantica Centre for Energy.

In the discussion paper, released last month, the Centre calls for a regional effort backed by the premiers of the Atlantic provinces to drive innovation in clean energy solutions and modernize regulations.

In a commentary, Atlantica Centre for Energy Chair Stephen MacMackin says the region needs a modernized and agile energy regulatory framework so the Atlantic Provinces can collaborate to develop and adopt cleaner energy.

“A regional approach to building a clean energy future would be far more powerful than any we could undertake as individual provinces or communities, and would also ensure that we are well-represented in Ottawa during this time of unprecedented economic and environmental transformation,” MacMackin says.

In an interview with Huddle, Atlantica senior policy consultant Neil Jacobsen stressed that regulations need to match Canada’s urgency around reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent by 2030, achieving a net-neutral national power grid by 2035, and the goal of 50 per cent of Canadian vehicle sales being electric by 2030.

“It’s an evolution of policy and regulations to adapt to a very aggressive timeline of aggressive climate change and decarbonization targets,” Jacobsen said.

MacMackin says he is confident governments and the public want action in addressing climate change. He says modernizing the regulatory environment therefore must be a priority, even an imperative.

“Transforming the energy landscape in this country will require a level of commitment, ingenuity and investment unlike we have ever seen before,” MacMackin says.

“Governments at all levels are prioritizing action on climate initiatives. The federal government has mandated carbon reductions and tax schemes on emissions to spur action. Collectively, local, provincial and federal governments are investing billions of dollars in energy projects and programs.”

Among the recommendations in the discussion paper is the formation of a regional clean energy task force backed by the Council of Atlantic Premiers focused on clean energy innovation, energy policy and regulatory clarity. The task force would include representatives from all four provincial governments, the Government of Canada and the region’s energy utilities and producers.