FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, March 26, 2019
K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) - Today, the Nova Scotia government released the 2019-2020 Nova Scotia Provincial budget. The Ecology Action Centre says the budget takes some positive steps, but does not reflect the urgency of the climate and biodiversity crisis or the opportunity of the growing green economy.
“We need a budget that recognizes the fact that we’re in the midst of a climate crisis,” says Stephen Thomas, Energy Campaign Coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre. “We know that we need stronger climate targets, policies to address energy affordability, and action that will create tens of thousands of green jobs. We can do this now. We’ve run out of excuses as to why we’re not.”
On climate change, the province made some positive steps in continuing important energy efficiency programming for low- and middle-income homeowners and renters. They have yet to commit to stronger overall goals for climate action, energy affordability or green jobs.
The province also continues to invest millions in offshore oil and gas development.
“We know that more than 80 per cent of existing fossil fuel reserves need to be kept in the ground to avoid the worst of the climate crisis. Every new fossil fuel project that is approved, and every public dollar that is spent on exploring for more oil and gas, or burning more coal is an investment that’s betting against our future,” says Thomas.
Earlier this month, Environment Minister Margaret Miller committed to a full review of the Environmental Goals and Sustainability Prosperity Act before the end of 2019. Mark Butler, Policy Director at the EAC says the Act provides the Nova Scotia Government the perfect platform to integrate environmental and economic goals, and would include public consultations and significant work to develop new goals on climate change, energy efficiency, green jobs, forestry, food policy and more.
“We need to go beyond an online submission,” says Butler, “We need to ensure Government is deploying adequate funds and imagination to ensure these important consultations are broad, public and productive.”
The Provincial Government has made a number of other commitments to upcoming consultations including on the Coastal Protection Act and Biodiversity Act. No new funds were allocated in the budget for consultations on these new Acts or on the renewal of EGSPA.
The province has also promised to implement the Independent Review of Forest Practices (Lahey Report) and has allocated $1.7 million in this budget to do so of which $1 million will go toward silviculture. The EAC questions whether the amount of funding, and how it is being implemented, is commensurate with the challenge and opportunity of how we do forestry in this province.
Further Information on Environment in NS Budget 2019-2020 (based on our assessment as of 4:00 pm, March 26)
Please note ‘+’ is good and ‘-‘ is bad
Lands and Forestry
+$1.7 million for ecological forestry to implement Lahey Report of which 1 million will be spent on silviculture and the remaining amount on LIDAR mapping and two new positions in the Department
-no new money for consultation or implementation of Biodiversity Act
+$238,000 for climate adaptation leadership
-no new money for consultations on renewal of EGSPA or Coastal Protection Act
-no funding for land acquisition by Protected Areas and Ecosystems Branch; this fund is currently empty and has been for a number of years which prevents NSE from purchasing land or even receiving donations of land
Energy and Mines
+$7 million provincial contribution for green infrastructure funding
-no new funding for sustainable transportation as of budget day; this may change as departmental budget developed
-$800,000 additional for mineral prospecting
Communities, Culture and Heritage
-$2.5 million for Let’s Get Moving Nova Scotia(rebrand of Thrive Strategy) and $879,000 for a new Active Communities Fund which is replacing the Walkability Grants; none of this funding is new or additional funding
Mark Butler, Policy Director
Stephen Thomas, Energy Campaign Coordinator