Manitoba adds 50% to climate fight funding
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On Earth Day 2022 the province of Manitoba announced that it was increasing the size of the annual budget for its Conservation and Climate Fund by 50 per cent to $1.5 million.
The fund provides grants of up to $150,0000 for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, address climate change and promote sustainable development.
When the fund was launched in 2020 it was capitalized at $600,000 and provided funding to eight projects.
In 2021 the fund grew to $1 million, funding nine projects, including one at the University of Manitoba, where Environment, Climate and Parks Minister Jeff Wharton made the announcement on Friday.
The U of M funding helped finance installation of four electric vehicle charging stations.
Wharton said the province is well aware that significantly more investment will be required from the province to meet the net zero targets.
Along with the $1.5 million for the Conservation and Climate Fund, the province in association with Efficiency Manitoba, invests about $70 million annually in support of retrofitting buildings making them more energy efficient. It has embarked on several other projects including $5.9 million for an efficient trucking program that also receives matching funding from the federal government.
In the meantime, Wharton said the province is “heavily involved” in designing an energy strategy in collaboration with Manitoba Hydro.
The province’s last two coal-fired generating stations in Brandon and Selkirk have not used coal for several years.
Wharton said the province’s electricity is “essentially 99 per cent green” referring to the province’s network of hydroelectric generating stations that use water rather than coal- or gas-fired operations that produce steam to turn turbines.
“We are proud of the investments we have made already and we are going to continue to make as we develop that energy strategy with our stakeholders,” he said. “We are going to take the time to do it right.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report on Friday, called Manitoba’s Road to Resilience: Energy Solutions that shows that Manitoba can produce enough sustainable energy to heat all buildings and run all transportation without fossil fuels, a key step in the fight against climate change.
The report argues the province should not build more hydro generating stations — which are multi-billion investments that cause significant environmental disruption in their own right.
The report indicates the province will need double the amount of electricity currently being produced in the province and argues for investment in significantly more wind and solar generating in the province to create the additional capacity that would be required.
Curt Hall, the report’s lead author said in a statement, “Seventy per cent of Manitoba’s energy use comes from fossil fuels via the gasoline in our cars and the natural gas that heats our buildings. Transitioning these two sectors will take a lot of work, but we’ve shown here that it is absolutely possible. In fact, the transition will be profitable for Manitoba’s economy.”
Christie Nairn, the director of the Office of Sustainability at the University of Manitoba, said the four charging stations built at the U of M’s Fort Garry campus, that include a couple of heavy-duty level-two charging stations, currently meets the demands of the campus.
“It may meet the demands now, but it might not be sufficient for the future,” she said. “Within the university’s climate action plan we are anticipating greater demand and we are assessing what that need will be on campus.”
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.