Public consultation opens in Nova Scotia on new climate change regulations

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Environment and Climate Change Minister Keith Irving says the consultation process is designed to reach as many people as possible while being mindful of COVID-19 protocols. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)
Environment and Climate Change Minister Keith Irving says the consultation process is designed to reach as many people as possible while being mindful of COVID-19 protocols. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)

Public consultation is now open to help develop regulations and a strategy for Nova Scotia to reach new climate change targets.

The 60-day process runs until July 27 and is being managed by the Clean Foundation, a Nova Scotia-based, independent environmental charity.

The key targets — reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and new greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by 2030 — were set in legislation passed in October 2019. But all other details related to the Sustainable Development Goals Act were left to regulations.

Those regulations were supposed to be complete by the end of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of public consultations. On Thursday, the province officially kicked off that work.

Variety of ways to participate

Environment and Climate Change Minister Keith Irving said the public has a huge stake in the matter, given that Nova Scotia is a coastal province.

Irving said the feedback gathered in the next 60 days will help inform other targets for the environment to go into regulations. It will also inform the plan for how to achieve the goals.

Noreen Mabiza, an energy co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, welcomed the start of consultations.

"We know that the [legislation and regulations] are going to set the direction for climate and environmental policy here in Nova Scotia for the next decade, so it's really pleasing to see," she said.

People can share their views using interactive online tools such as Zoom sessions, a do-it-yourself kit for groups and communities to facilitate their own discussions, as well as email, mail and phone submissions.

Want to hear from as many people as possible

Government officials are making a concerted effort to reach out to as many people as possible through a variety of avenues, said the minister. In particular, Irving said it's important to hear from communities that haven't always been consulted and included in past policy discussions, such as Black, Indigenous and low-income communities.

"I want to let all Nova Scotians know that we're extremely interested in hearing their ideas, their visions, and are committed to having those voices help form the direction for government," he said.

Mabiza said setting measurable goals now is the best chance at creating an equitable and sustainable future. It's why she's particularly pleased to see the use of do-it-yourself kits to allow groups to facilitate their own meetings to gather information and feedback.

Although consultation will wrap by the end of July, Irving wasn't ready to commit to when the regulations and strategy would be complete and in place. The minister said he wants to hear what people have to say before making decisions and he also wants to ensure that whatever the province does aligns with looming plans from the federal government.

Groups that have already contacted government

Although the public is now getting its chance to provide input, some groups and organizations have already communicated with the department about the act and regulations. They are:

  • QUEST Canada – Nova Scotia Municipal Energy Learning Group.

  • Halifax Regional Municipality.

  • Efficiency One.

  • Offshore Energy Research Association.

  • Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

  • Town of Bridgewater.

  • Town of Wolfville.

  • Affordable Energy Coalition.

  • Heritage Gas.

  • Ecology Action Centre.

  • Vershuren Centre, Cape Breton University.

  • Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.

  • Nova Scotia Power.

  • Maritime Energy Association.

  • Clean Foundation.

  • Forest Nova Scotia.

  • Town of New Glasgow.

  • Arts Nova Scotia.

  • Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities.

  • Association of Municipal Administrators.

  • Crown corporations and agencies (NSBI, Innovacorp, Develop NS, Tourism NS).

  • Solar Nova Scotia.

  • Canadian Propane Association.

  • Sierra Club.

  • East Coast Environmental Law.

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