The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has published an important and timely report on Canada’s recent loss at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a case brought by the EU and Japan against local content rules in the Ontario Green Energy Act. Saving the Green Economy: Ontario’s Green Energy Act and the WTO, by CCPA trade researcher Scott Sinclair, argues that the ruling “is based on an overly restrictive interpretation” of international trade rules, but that there are “options for Ontario to comply with the ruling while preserving the vital job creation component of the Act.”
The Council of Canadians was one of several organizations, including UNIFOR, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, United Steelworkers, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), and Blue-Green Canada, that helped fund the report. We all believe that provincial and local governments should be able to prefer local bids, content and labour when spending public money on major projects. As the CCPA study explains, the Green Energy Act, with its high domestic content quotas for solar and wind power components, was a perfect example of the real “green economy” in action: it combined environmental objectives with a plan to create a greener manufacturing sector in the province.
Unfortunately, the WTO decision threatens to stunt the growth of green policies around the world. And it is not the only threat to Canada. The CCPA report “stresses that it is essential for Ontario to fully safeguard its existing policy flexibility over renewable energy procurement under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and future trade agreements.”
This is important because while Ontario is reforming the Green Energy Act to favour municipal production of green power, a technical briefing of the recently concluded Canada-EU deal suggests the province has covered most (75-80 per cent) public energy utilities by CETA procurement rules that would forbid domestic content rules on wind and solar projects. If the EU deal is signed and ratified, Ontario municipalities would forever lose the ability to create spin-off benefits from public spending on green power and other areas.
It’s not too late to talk to your local council about this oversight, no matter which province you live in, and to have them demand a provincial review of the Canada-EU deal. Find out how here.
This study finds that the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling—that the Ontario Green Energy Act’s local content requirements conflict with international trade rules—is based on an overly restrictive interpretation. The study explores options for Ontario to comply with the ruling while preserving the vital job creation component of the Act. The study also stresses that it is essential for Ontario to fully safeguard its existing policy flexibility over renewable energy procurement under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and future trade agreements. – See more at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/saving-green-economy#sthash.N6wuLKkD.dpuf