On February 23, 2022, the Government of Prince Edward Island released its 2040 Net Zero Framework; Accelerating Our Transition to a Clean, Sustainable Economy. This plan is note worthy, not just because it provides target metrics and timelines for a path to net zero, but it also sets out to achieve this goal ten years ahead of other provinces. Additionally, the province is continuing its commitment to Net Zero Energy by 2030.

The Honourable Seven Myers, Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Action, stated “All stakeholders have a critical role in creating a better future for all Islanders. Our goals are ambitious, but I know we can reach them.”

Currently, the average household emissions in PEI are the highest in Canada. This is in no small part because of a high percentage of residential buildings still using heating oil. The province has outlined initiatives and targets to help address this issue and others to reduce emissions from four principal sources, while also trying to remove carbon. According to the plan, transportation makes up 44 per cent of the Island’s emissions, agriculture 25 per cent, buildings 18 per cent and waste 12 per cent.

Minister Myers discussed the Island’s 2040 Net Zero Framework with the Atlantica Centre of Energy and other stakeholders on March 15th during the PEI Energy Innovation Roundtable Update & Discussion. The Minister noted that electricity production could need to roughly double to accomplish the Framework’s goals by 2040. However, he noted that innovative technology can help offset and manage peak demand to help reduce the reliance on off-island energy.

The 2040 Net Zero Framework is designed around 6 Pillars:

  • Pillar 1: Transforming the way Islanders move;
  • Pillar 2: Transitioning to cleaner and more efficient buildings;
  • Pillar 3: Shaping agriculture for P.E.I.’s transition to net zero;
  • Pillar 4: Removing carbon through forestry, technology and emerging opportunities;
  • Pillar 5: Creating a clean industry and waste advantage; and,
  • Pillar 6: Inspiring transformational change through leadership and engagement.

Under Pillar 1, the provincial government is targeting a 55 per cent to 65 per cent reduction of transportation emissions by 2040. This will be accomplished by transitioning light and medium duty vehicles to EVs more rapidly, and by converting medium to heavy duty vehicles to non-emitting clean fuels not yet commercially available such as biofuels and hydrogen. The province will also be looking to increase ride sharing and access to public transit to all areas of the province (rural and urban), among other initiatives.

By transitioning residential and commercial buildings to be cleaner and more efficient (Pillar 2), the province plans to reduce these emissions by 65 per cent to 70 per cent by 2030, and by 85 per cent to 95 per cent by 2040. Financial support and incentives will be offered to Islanders and businesses to switch to cleaner energy sources (including biomass). New builds will also need to be more efficient, among other policies.

The province’s plan to recycle revenue collected through the federally mandated carbon tax will likely help fund these emission reduction programs (e.g. expanding a heat pump program). PEI’s carbon pricing plan is currently being developed. This plant will likely deploy a hybrid model where residents will get back some revenues through rebates, but a significant portion may be used for targeted programming. Minister Myers has reiterated that a path to net zero must be affordable: “We’re going to help everybody, we’re going to transition, with a just transition, because that’s what they deserve.

Under Pillars 3 and 4, the province has outlined ways to reduce emissions or increase carbon sequestration by maintaining forested areas, expanding wetlands, improving soil health and deploying better land management practices, among others. Importantly, the province is looking to invest in new technologies for carbon capture and storage applicable to PEI. The net zero plan stops at roughly 0.5 Megatonnes of CO2 equivalent emitted., However, the province is planning to increase carbon sequestration by 10 per cent to 15 per cent by 2030 and 25 per cent to 30 per cent in 2040.

To create a clean industry and waste advantage (Pillar 5), the province is aiming to reduce emissions related to industry and waste by 65 per cent to 70 per cent by 2030 and by 85 per cent to 95 per cent by 2040. This will be accomplished by creating comprehensive efficiency programs to help businesses with cost savings while reducing emissions including energy audits that will support investment decisions for cost effective solutions. The province is also looking to convert waste into biofuels to use in its overall energy mix. Pillar 5 also includes investments in next generation technologies, such as completing a jurisdictional scan on projects that convert non-recyclable waste into biofuels.

The Atlantica Centre for Energy reiterated its common goals with the province’s last pillar (6), which aims to increase public awareness and participation in the plan, and help create an innovative ecosystem for clean technologies and training to develop. The recently announced Clean Tech Park can serve as an important tool to this end, to help train, grow technologies and find partners to implement solutions.