A Green New Deal in Nova Scotia | Ecology Action Centre

A Green New Deal in Nova Scotia

A Green New Deal in Nova Scotia

In May 2019, A Pact for a Green New Deal was launched in Canada. Inspired by the Green New Deal in the United States, the Pact for a Green New Deal was launched with the aim of creating a Green New Deal (GND) for Canada, and gathering support for it. The goal was to have Canadian create a GND for Canadians.  

 

The Pact for a Green New Deal reports that: 

 

“[Over the time span of] less than a month, volunteers organized an astounding 150+ town halls, taking place in every single province and territory, to build alignment towards a set of shared principles for a Green New Deal.  

 

Of these 150+ events, about half were held in large communities (over 100,000 people), and half in small communities (under 30,000 people). The organizers we heard from hosted town halls ranging in size from four people, in Iqaluit, to over 300 in Edmonton. All in all, more than 7,000 people joined Green New Deal town halls in their communities — representing environmental groups, labour unions, faith groups, political parties, city councils, community and neighbourhood associations, Indigenous organizations, women’s organizations, the Fight for $15 and Fairness, student unions, local media, and more.” 

 

In Nova Scotia, public town halls were hosted in Truro, Antigonish, Wolfville and Halifax.  

 

During the town halls, attendees were asked to consider what should be included in a Green New Deal (i.e. a green line item) and what should not be (i.e. a red line item). Data from the 150+ town halls were collected and analyzed by a consultant, and used to form a set of recommendations for a Canadian GND.  

 

This report is an analysis of the data that was collected from the 4 public town halls that happened in Nova Scotia. This analysis was done separate from the work done by the consultant hired by the Pact for a Green New Deal. This report is meant to provide some insight into what a Green New Deal for Nova Scotia would look like, based on the people who attended the town halls.  

 

Limitations 

 

The data below represents discussions that were had in the context of a Green New Deal. GND was defined as “…a vision of rapid, inclusive and far-reaching transition, to slash emissions, protect critical biodiversity, meet the demands of the multiple crises we face, and create over a million jobs in the process”. As a result, it is likely that many people who are actively interested in climate change and the environment were present at the town halls. It is important to note that some communities and sectors were not present and so their voices are not a part of this analysis. This presents an opportunity for further conversations of a similar to nature to be had with these communities and sectors.  Further spaces need to be created and discussions need to be had where people can bring forth their realities, insights and visions. In particular, these discussions must be had with Mi’kmaw, African Nova Scotian and other underrepresented communities.  

 

Findings 

 

Text Box 

 

Figure 1 lists the topic areas that were brought up in all 4 of the Green New Deal town halls that happened in Nova Scotia. Each one of these topics should be given equal consideration by policy makers and decision-makers, as they are clearly topics that are top of mind for Nova Scotians.  Figure 1 also shows the level of discussion that happened on each of the topics. The two topics that were discussed the least within this list are no poverty, basic guaranteed income and labour rights. These should not be dismissed as being less important than the others. The level of discussion around these are somewhat reflective of the level of public discourse on them, as well as their integration with other topics. For example, eliminating poverty could be the result of addressing many of the other areas of concern, like housing, jobs, just transition, agriculture etc. Finally, the topic of basic guaranteed income is one that was brought up in all 4 town halls, but that was not discussed in depth as it is more of a yes/no topic area (results show Nova Scotians are in strongly favour of it).  

 

Below is a further breakdown of what was discussed on each topic: 

 

Politics 

 

Of all the topics brought up in all 4 town halls, politics was the one that generated the highest number of suggestions for change/ improvement. The following suggestions were brought up in 3 out of 4 of the town halls: 

 

  • Creating a non-partisan, evidence and Indigenous knowledge based, climate cabinet responsible for long term commitment and accountability 
  • Electoral reform 
  • Conduct all decision making through climate crises lens 

The following suggestions were brought up in 2 out of 4 of the town halls: 

 

  • Greater transparency 
  • Multiple lenses for policy development (feminist, anti-oppression, rural etc.) 
  • Conduct all decision making through truth and reconciliation lens 
  • Valuation of ecological services in policies and procedures 

Finally, the suggestions below were brought up in 1 of the 4 town halls: 

 

  • Implementation of improved monitoring and evaluation practices 
  • Indigenous representation in all levels of government 
  • Lowering voting age to 16 
  • Creation of a feedback loop for calling out injustice/ racism/ exclusion and getting answers 
  • Conduct decision making through social lens 
  • Restrict influence of economic elites 
  • Create valuation system that accounts for carbon costs of all goods and integrate into decision making 
  • Increasing accessibility of environmentalism and sustainability  
  • Creation of an Environmental Bill of Rights 
  • Legislated protection of the oceans  
  • Equate Indigenous law with colonial systems 
  • Pass Bill 262 and integrate into law 
  • Add clean air to charter of rights and freedoms 
  • Impose stringent penalties on all forms of pollution 

 

Biodiversity 

 

The second topic that generated a wealth of suggestions was biodiversity. Of all the suggestions made on biodiversity, the only one that was mentioned in more than one town hall, was banning glyphosate. Below are the suggestions that were made in 1 out of 4 of the town halls: 

 

  • Afforestation 
  • Reforestation 
  • Creation of protected areas with no anthropogenic influence 
  • Prioritization of restoration 
  • Ban chemicals harmful to micro biodiversity in soil 
  • Establish wildlife corridors 
  • Sustainable management of woodlots through programming and support 
  • Increase regulations on logging 
  • Increase facilitation of wetland growth 
  • Improve regulation and monitoring regarding the fishing industry 
  • Meaningfully incorporated Indigenous informed biodiversity and land protection 
  • Increase preservation of old growth forests  
  • Incorporate community interests/ and non-economic value in provincial environmental assessments 
  • Fast track environmental protection measures 
  • Ban clear cutting 
  • Ban bottom trolling  
  • Increase amount of marine protected areas 
  • Implement sustainable forestry practices 
  • Rebuild fish stocks 

 

Renewable Energy 

 

The third most mentioned topic area among the 4 town halls was renewable energy. The following (in no particular order) were mentioned and discussed at all 4 town halls: 

 

  • Attaining 100% renewable energy 
  • Investing in renewable energy implementation 
  • Investing in infrastructure to accommodate and make best use of renewable energy 
  • Issuing a moratorium on new oil and gas pipelines 

 

In 3 of the town halls, investing in renewable energy and battery research was discussed. In 2 of the town halls, demand side management (i.e. efficiency), addressing energy poverty, and banning offshore drilling were discussed. Finally, the following were each discussed at one of the town halls: 

 

  • Implementing comprehensive C02 emission reduction policies 
  • Implementing regional energy generation (i.e. municipal green energy) 
  • Implementing/ transitioning to smart grids 
  • Banning biomass as a source of energy generation 
  • Exploring and implementing community ownership models 
  • Stop the exportation of fossil fuels 
  • Provide subsidies for renewable energy generation for local farms/ homeowners in a simplified process 
  • Provide green technology to people experiencing poverty 

 

Transportation 

 

As people discussed transportation, two main issues of concern and areas for action merged: 

 

  • Transportation access (i.e. routes, quality of infrastructure etc.) and affordability 
  • Green transportation infrastructure 

These two areas related to transportation were discussed in all 4 town halls.  

 

The topic of active transportation was brought up in 3 of the town halls and investment in transportation, public transportation subsidies, and electric vehicle subsidies were all discussed in 2 of the town halls. The following were each mentioned in 1 of the town halls: 

 

  • Transportation accessibility for those of different abilities 
  • Lower speed limits 
  • Government sponsored electric car share groups 
  • Rest stops for long distance cycling 
  • Free public transit 
  • Diversifying models for vehicle ownership 

 

Indigenous Rights 

 

The discussions around Indigenous rights were deep, meaningful and diverse. What was clear was that everyone believed that we as a society have a great deal to do on this. The discussions that emerged in all four town halls encapsulated the following: 

 

  • Acknowledge that Indigenous voices are marginalized 
  • Respect Treaty rights 
  • Abide by Treaty rights 
  • Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 
  • Make change that brings a stop to the atrocities  
  • Implement the recommendations from the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Report 
  • Ensure access to clean and potable water 
  • Tangibly respect Indigenous knowledge and spirituality regarding the environment 
  • Transfer child welfare to Indigenous communities 
  • Prohibit industrial projects that violate treaty rights 
  • Meaningfully incorporate Indigenous communities into decision making on all levels (municipal, provincial, federal) 
  • Return of Indigenous land 

 

Agriculture 

 

The following topics on agriculture were brought up at 3 of the 4 town halls: 

 

  • Improving and mandating sustainable agricultural and aquaculture practices 
  • Increasing support for local agriculture.  
  • Reduction of food waste 
  • Increasing plant-based diets 

 

The following suggestions were brought up in 2 of the 4 town halls: 

 

  • Increasing monetary, insurance, mental health and educational supports for farmers 
  • Increasing support for small-scale sustainable farming 
  • Increased promotion for and implementation of food gardens 

 

Other topics that brought up under the topic of agriculture included: 

 

  • Supporting non-GMO 
  • Supporting organics 
  • Managing land use based on optimal productivity 
  • More support for agricultural sector on innovation as it relates to carbon and agriculture 
  • Elimination of the use of dangerous chemicals 

 

Housing 

 

Housing was a topic that came up repeatedly in conversations and was discussed in all 4 of the public town halls. The discussions around housing were diverse and comprehensive.  

 

In 3 of the town halls, the issue of building codes came up. More specifically, attendees were interested in Nova Scotia adopting a building code that explicitly included efficiency and net-zero energy ready practices. In 2 of the town halls, attendees mentioned amending the building code/ adopting a building code that included mandatory solar on all new builds.  

 

Areas of discussion also mentioned in 2 of the town halls were: 

 
  • Efficiency retrofits 
  • Affordability 
  • Accessibility 

Other topics mentioned in 1 of the town halls were: 

 

  • Exploration of co-housing models 
  • Creating more supportive housing for elderly and those living alone 
  • Amending the building code to include self-electricity generation for all new industries/ industrial buildings 
  • Amend the building code to include circular systems in homes (e.g. heat from air conditioners is circulated and heats water in home) 

 

Investments in a Green Economy 

 

Investing in a green economy was discussed in different ways at every public town hall. Ending and redirecting fossil fuel subsidies was brought up at every town hall. Discussions at different depths and detail were had on how the subsidies could be redirected in order to support growth of the green economy.  At 3 of the town halls, attendees discussed redirecting subsidies from industry to citizens and communities as a way of supporting the green economy.  

 

Taking initiatives to foster a circular economy was also discussed at 3 of the 4 town halls.  

 

Other topics related to green economy that were discussed were: 

 
  • Diversifying ways to fund citizen renewable energy 
  • Incentives 
  • Implementing higher taxes on fossil fuels 
  • Establishing carbon credits for sustainable forestry practices 
  • Developing microloans for community climate/ carbon reduction projects 
 

Waste 

 

On the topic of waste, one recommendation strongly emerged in all the town halls- there should, and needs to be a ban on single use plastics. As part of this, was a suggestion to implement corporate responsibility of the lifecycle of products abd implementing a national waste management strategy so no waste is shipped abroad.  

 

Other suggestions mentioned during 1 of the town halls were: 

 

  • Development of sustainable alternatives 
  • Implementing a tax on plastics 
  • Lowering the demand for single use plastics within large corporations/ chains 
  • Instilling and fostering a culture of durable vs disposable 

 

Carbon Pricing 

 

The following were included in the carbon pricing discussions at the town halls: 

 

  • Ensuring the provincial green fund money goes to lowering emission levels 
  • Ensuring accountability and reporting on green fund subsidies 
  • Carbon neutral redistribution of carbon pricing funds 
  • Ensure carbon pricing does not harm the most vulnerable communities and people 
  • Put a price on all forms of pollutions, and not just greenhouse gas emissions 
 

Just Transition 

 

Just transition was discussed in many different ways at all of the town halls. At 3 of them, the specific suggestion of investing in support for fossil fuel workers was brought up. At 2 of them, suggestions were made to provide structured investments alongside criteria for spending into the industries that need to switch, and committing to efforts to transition in an inclusive way.  

 

Other suggestions brought up at one of the town halls were: 

 
  • Providing transportation support for those experiencing low income, to help support labour connection 
  • Protection of all natural resources and workers as economy and society shifts 

 

Inclusion 

 

Although inclusion was raised explicitly discussed as something to consider and implement in the vision for a Green New Deal, it was often included in other recommendations as a lens through which projects and initiatives should happen. At 3 of the town halls, meaningful inclusion of underrepresented/ marginalized communities in governance, processes and decision-making was explicitly discussed and recommended.  

At 2 of the town halls, the inclusion of youth and LGBTQ2S+ were explicitly suggested. 

 

Finally, the following were mentioned at 1 of the 4 town halls: 

 

  • Mandatory incorporation of Indigenous perspectives in legislation 
  • Diverse representation on regulatory boards 
 

Migrant Rights 

 

Support for migrants and refugees was brought up in 2 of the 4 town halls. Also mentioned at 1 of the town halls was: 

 

  • Ending the safe third country myth 
  • Improving the path to citizenship 

 

Jobs 

 

Similar to inclusion, the topic of jobs was discussed directly as part of many of the other suggestions noted in this report (e.g. just transition, green economy, etc.) However, at 3 of the town halls, attendees directly suggested that a Canadian Green New Deal foster low carbon jobs (e.g. efficiency jobs). Also directly mentioned at one of the town halls were: 

 

  • Creating training/ education for low carbon jobs 
  • Ensuring good careers that are stable, safe, well-paying etc. 

 

Labour Rights 

 

Labour rights was discussed as part of the suggestions mentioned previously such as just transition, green economy, jobs, inclusion and Indigenous rights. At one of the town halls, a suggestion of leveraging union support and expanding labour rights was made.  

 

No Poverty 

 

Addressing poverty was brought up continually in the town halls. It was recognized that achieving no poverty happens as a result of many of the ideas mentioned above. 2 suggestions directly about poverty alleviation were: 

 

  • The needs of the most marginalized must come first 
  • Taxes redistributed to assist those experiencing low income would be most effective 

 

Basic Guaranteed Income 

 

This was suggested in all 4 town halls, and the data shows that there appears to have been wide consensus among attendees, of the importance of this suggestion and the important implications of its inclusion in a Green new Deal.  

 

Analysis 

 

According to the provincial government, Nova Scotia has long been a leader in the environmental sector. This is largely in thanks to the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act (EGSPA), which was legislated with all party support in 2007. It brought together the importance of the integrated well-being of the economy and the environment.  

 

Public discourse and society, however, has changed since 2007. Public discourse has shifted from the environment to climate change, there are more ways of defining and measuring well-being and prosperity and the percentage of the public that now believe they have been impacted by climate change is the majority. With this changing landscape comes a new type of leadership that is being called on by the public. This is reflected in the number one mention across all 4 town halls in Nova Scotia- politics.  

 

GND data shows that Nova Scotians are interested in creating a non-partisan, evidence and Indigenous knowledge based climate cabinet responsible for long term climate action and accountability. It is important to examine how this might fit into the current provincial political landscape. 

 

Cap and Trade and the Green Fund 

 

On January 1, 2019 Nova Scotia’s cap and trade carbon pricing system came into effect. It requires that 21 industry participants adhere to a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions, and participate in auctions where they must purchase credits which will account for the GHG’s they do emit. Revenue from these auctions will be placed into a provincial green fund. The provincial government currently has the opportunity to design how funds in the green fund will be spent, based on the following parameters set out by the Environment Act:  

 

  • Programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Research and development, innovation or clean tech investments 
  • Programs to help mitigate higher costs of energy 
  • Public awareness and education on climate change 
  • Adapting to impacts of climate change 

 

As the Ministry of Environment develops the green fund it would be recommended that they consider results from the GND town halls in Nova Scotia. Applying findings from the GND town halls in the province to the green fund might suggest that the provincial government: 

 

  • Develop a non-partisan accountability body to oversee the work and effectiveness of the green fund. It could be similar in nature to the EGSPA round table.  
  • Apply a series lenses  (e.g. inclusion, reconciliation labour and migrant rights, poverty, justice, anti-racism, feminism etc.) onto any programming done through the green fund in order to ensure that funds are effectively and equitably spent 
  • Establish clear monitoring and evaluation process for programs and initiatives funded by the green fund in order to establish and maintain transparency and legitimacy with the public 

 

In addition, it is recommended that the provincial government look into the many suggestions raised at the GND town halls in Nova Scotia for green fund program and initiative ideas related to biodiversity, renewable energy, transportation, agriculture, housing, growth of the green economy, and waste.  

 

In the development of the green fund, GND findings would also urge the provincial government to work with Mi’kmaq, African Nova Scotian and other underrepresented communities to ensure that green fund programs and initiatives are inclusive and recognize the disproportionate impact that these communities experience from the climate crisis.  

 

Sustainable Development Goals Act 

 

On October 30, 2019, the provincial government passed Bill 213, the Sustainable Development Goals Act, which brings together the integrated pillars of sustainability; environment, economy and society.  

 

The provincial government will be undertaking public consultations in order to develop the targets and goals that will a part of the regulations under Bill 213. Consultations will also inform the Sustainable Community Challenge fund, as well as the provincial Clean Growth Strategy.  

 

During the legislative process regarding Bill 213, there was a lot of discussion about public input. The GND town halls were well attended in Nova Scotia and many connected and innovative suggestions emerged. Suggestions that would result in sustainable development that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting the quality of life for people and communities in Nova Scotia and fostering the green economy. It is therefore, recommended that the provincial government consider the data from the GND town halls in the further development of Bill 213. 

 

Conclusion 

 

The Green New Deal is about a vision for a future that addresses the climate crisis and economic inequality. It is about a future that addresses inequities and between people, and between people and the environment. It is a vision that people and communities across Canada, and here in Nova Scotia are actively interested in.  

 

On September 27th, 2019, over 10,000 people marched in Halifax and even more marched in communities across Nova Scotia. People took to the streets to call on government for more action on the climate crisis. The public are ready and wanting to engage on action.  

 

This combined with the in-depth data from the 4 GND public town halls, and the current development of the provincial cap and trade green fund and Bill 213 mean that Nova Scotia has the ingredients to take ambitious action and demonstrate itself as a leader for the rest of Canada. Action that recognizes that climate justice is social justice, and labour justice, and Indigenous justice etc- a key theme in the GND town halls. 

 

The pieces are in place and now the responsibility lies with the provincial government to put them together.