Remarks by Andy Fillmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
2023 Smart Energy event in Halifax, NS
April 18, 2023
Good morning everyone. Thank you for having me. My name is Andy Fillmore and I am the Member of Parliament for Halifax, and Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
Allow me to begin by recognizing the organizers of this important event who have pulled together a fascinating agenda with many impressive participants and companies, all of whom are helping forge a path forward to net-zero.
Events like this provide for unexpected collaborations that often produce breakthroughs in innovation, so I encourage you all to take every opportunity you can to exchange your big ideas. And I look forward to learning from you all as well.
To those joining us in Halifax from afar, let me assure you that you’ve come to the right place. Not just an economic, innovation, and cultural hub of Atlantic Canada, but also a city that is very much on the front lines of climate change, and climate action.
To give you a bit of background on my own experience – before I made the jump into politics in 2014, I was a city planner for more than two decades – frankly I’m still a city planner.
That’s a profession that plays a major role in how governments fight climate change, whether through dense and walkable community design, public and active transit, or decarbonized energy systems.
It was my experience in that role, and in that fight, that propelled me into politics, and still informs my practical approach to climate change today.
And that’s because the way we build our communities, the way people move around our cities and our towns, the way people live in our neighbourhoods, the way goods and services are delivered to and from our municipalities – and all the infrastructure those things require have a direct impact on whether or not, as a global community, we will succeed in curbing emissions, transitioning to a low-carbon economy, and ultimately: whether we hand off a livable planet to the next generation.
And at the centre of it all is the manner in which we power our communities.
Look around and it’s no surprise that it requires a lot of energy to make our cities and towns work – and as a result there’s no denying that the time to kickstart the transition to cleaner, smarter forms of energy is now, right now, because time is running out.
For its part, our federal government’s ambitious climate agenda is showing encouraging results. Since 2015, we have taken substantial climate action to set Canada on the path to net-zero emissions.
Just this past Friday, Environment Canada published the National Inventory Report that showed our 2021 emissions – the most recent year for which we have the data – were lower than projected. In fact, they were 7.5% less than 2019 levels, and 8.4% less than 2005 levels.
And while this is promising news – and while it shows that our plan is working – this is not the moment to take our foot off the pedal. The bicycle pedal! We need to go further, and faster, in the fight against climate change.
To do any less would fail to mitigate the existential threat we face, as if that weren’t reason enough.
But it would also ignore the incredible economic opportunity the low carbon transition offers – and for a nation like ours, that would be a missed opportunity unlike any other in modern times.
Around the world, companies large and small, unions and governments are in a race to reduce carbon emissions.
Global financial markets are driving this change through their investment decisions.
The smartest money, looking for long-term gains, is moving away from assets that will underperform in a low-carbon world.
As you folks know very well, successful businesses interpret and adapt to changes in the environment in which they operate – it’s what their shareholders expect, and their employees depend on.
Governments are no different. To effectively serve their citizens, they must also map out thoughtful responses to changing circumstances and then take decisive actions. The economic future of Canadians depends on us making the right choices to make sure that Canada will thrive in a low carbon world.
The good news is that Canada is very well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that this global shift presents.
Successful strategies leverage competitive advantage and make no mistake, Canada has a lot going for it to help us win on a global scale. We have:
- Well educated and highly trained people;
- An abundance of the natural resources that are increasingly in demand including critical minerals and hydrogen;
- Strong and innovative energy and clean technology expertise;
- Banking, regulatory, political and legal systems that are stable;
- Trade agreements with major economies around the world; and
- World-leading Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards.
We’re also a living laboratory for responding to the impacts of climate change, like: extreme weather, forest fires, sea level rise, and more.
And so the federal government is focused on setting the conditions for success by calling upon these competitive advantages.
That focus has been clear in successive federal budgets, and it was again in the 2023 federal budget that was tabled last month.
For Atlantic Canadians, the 2023 budget is a treasure trove of positive measures for some of our region’s most promising clean energy initiatives. I’d like to spend the remainder of my time today highlighting a few of those:
Starting with clean electricity, then to green hydrogen, and finally, to wind.
So, Clean Electricity.
As Canadians replace their oil furnaces with electric heat pumps, we need to make sure there is clean power to make those heat pumps work.
As people plug in more EVs overnight, we need clean power to charge those cars.
As companies look to grow and decarbonize their warehouses, offices, factories, work sites, and more – they need affordable clean power to succeed and be competitive while creating good-paying jobs.
And as Canadians seek to offer low carbon products to the world, products such as green steel and cement, processed critical minerals, batteries, EVs and other low carbon products – we will need significantly more non-emitting power to do it.
All of this progress depends on building out a bigger, higher capacity power grid that delivers clean energy when you need it, where you need it, and at a reasonable price.
If we achieve this, we will have a massive competitive advantage throughout the global energy transition.
Building out of a Clean Canadian Power Grid, at the pace and scale necessary, is an enormous undertaking – a nation-building project of as great scale and importance as any in our history.
And that is why, for the first time ever, we are committing to work with provinces and territories to get it done.
For our part, the federal government is all-in on building the grid that our country needs to thrive in the decades to come. In Budget 2023, we present an historic, $40 billion investment in the backbone of the Canadian economy: The Grid.
This investment will be delivered via:
- A 15% refundable tax credit for non-emitting electricity generation, abated natural gas electricity-fired electricity generation, stationary electricity storage systems, and equipment for the transmission of electricity between provinces and territories;
- $20 billion in low-cost financing from the Canada Infrastructure Bank; and
- Targeted electricity programs, where needed, to ensure critical projects get built
I also want to touch on a related topic that is of great personal interest to me and I know to many others in this room, – who may be waiting to hear the words – and that is the Atlantic Loop.
The Atlantic Loop is a series of interprovincial transmission lines that will move clean energy between Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
It’s a project that has supporters across industry and governments, and we want to see it happen. In fact, it has its own dedicated section in the budget to reaffirm our commitment to this project.
The federal government’s lead negotiator, Serge DuPont, is engaged in ongoing commercial negotiations with utilities and provinces, and he has a robust mandate and the tools to get a good deal for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
With 2030 just around the corner, we want to move quickly to get this project underway and we’re ready to put in the work to reach an agreement to move forward.
Next up is Clean Hydrogen, another area of great personal interest to me.
I’ll never forget the day I sat in my grade 9 science class in Halifax, watching with absolute fascination as my science teacher, Mr. Nichols, manufactured hydrogen at the front of the classroom with a beaker of water, an inverted test tube, and a cut off extension cord. Electrolysis! And then, to the delight of the class, lighting a match he combusted it – POP! And he taught us that the only byproduct of its combustion was water vapour.
That day he gave us an astonishing glimpse of a future whose time has come.
Today Mr. Nichols would love to see the growing number of people who are increasingly excited by the potential of green hydrogen, including this former student, and who are increasingly turning that excitement into action.
Some have called hydrogen the Swiss-Army Knife of decarbonization because it provides dense and transportable energy critical to decarbonizing heavy industry and transportation across Canada.
Green hydrogen, for example, presents one of the most promising opportunities for decarbonizing our ports, and I know many ports are actively pursuing it, including right here at the Port of Halifax.
That’s because green hydrogen is a clean energy source that can power the landside operations of our ports, and also fuel our shipping industry in a time when the combined emissions of the global marine transport sector are equal to that of the nation of Japan, which is the world’s 5th largest emitter after China, United States, India and Russia.
Our region’s abundant hydroelectric and wind resources, coupled with our proximity to Europe, position Nova Scotia to become a major hydrogen producer, for domestic and international markets, and the world is taking notice.
That has been on clear display over the last year, as Germany and Canada signed a historic hydrogen alliance deal in Newfoundland this past August.
And when the Port of Halifax and Port of Hamburg signed a memorandum of understanding with the export and import of green hydrogen at its centre.
And a month before that, I sat in Halifax with Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Yuliya Kovaliv, and the only thing she wanted to talk to me about was how much, and how fast, can Atlantic Canada produce green hydrogen to displace Russians natural gas in Europe.
For Canada, unlocking the potential of hydrogen is an essential part of our government’s plan for a sustainable economic future because it offers, not just enormous export potential but also significant opportunities for emissions reductions domestically by greening our grid.
And so, our government released our Hydrogen Strategy last year — with an ambitious call to action: to make Canada a Top-3 global producer of low- and zero-carbon hydrogen.
Building on that strategy, in the 2023 budget, we are moving forward with a Clean Hydrogen Investment Tax Credit, with the levels of support varying between 15 and 40 per cent of the project costs, with the projects that produce the cleanest hydrogen receiving the highest levels of support.
Finally, let’s turn to wind
As a coastal province, we have a lot of it.
It was just this past summer that the Prime Minister was in Nova Scotia to announce a $125 million investment in the Red Spruce Wind Energy Project in East Hants.
Developed with Glooscap First Nation, it’s a project that will create over 500 middle class jobs across NS and will deliver clean, Made-in-Nova Scotia power to 350,000 homes in our province.
These are exactly the kinds of clean energy projects we need to achieve net-zero by 2050.
I’m glad to say our government has been working closely with provincial partners, including with Nova Scotia, to advance the enormous opportunity we have to develop our world-class offshore wind resources.
This past September’s announcement of a target to develop five gigawatts of offshore wind energy to support Nova Scotia’s emerging green hydrogen industry is a necessary and exciting step forward.
The 2023 budget continues our support for wind projects, which are eligible for the proposed 15% refundable tax credit for non-emitting electricity generation I mentioned earlier.
The budget also provides $3 billion to Nature Resources Canada to, among other objectives, create new investments in science-based activities to help capitalize on Canada’s offshore wind potential in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
As we all know by now, there’s no single way to reach our climate goals.
When I was working as a city planner holding community consultations, I would always tell citizens that no one person holds the answer to any given challenge but rather, that many people each hold a piece of the answer, and we all must come together to put all the pieces together.
That’s certainly true when it comes to our transition to a clean energy future. And it’s why events like this one, with folks like you coming together with your pieces, are so very important to meeting our shared existential threat.
Thank you for the work you do, for being here today, and for your kind attention this morning. I look forward to continued conversations and hearing the outcomes of your conference.