Carbon Province, Hydro Province: The Challenge of Canadian Energy and Climate Federalism

By Douglas Macdonald

© 2020

Why has Canada been unable to achieve any of its climate-change targets? Part of the reason is that emissions in two provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan – already about half the Canadian total when taken together – have been steadily increasing as a result of expanding oil and gas production. Declining emissions in other provinces, such as Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, have been cancelled out by those western increases. The ultimate explanation for Canadian failure lies in the differing energy interests of the western and eastern provinces, overlaid on the confederation fault-line of western alienation. Climate, energy, and national unity form a toxic mix.

How can Ottawa possibly get all the provinces moving in the same direction of decreasing emissions? To answer this question, Douglas Macdonald explores the five attempts to date to put in place coordinated national policy in the fields of energy and climate change – from Pierre Trudeau’s ill-fated National Energy Program to Justin Trudeau’s bitterly contested Pan-Canadian program – analysing and comparing them for the first time. Important new insights emerge from this analysis which, in turn, provide the basis for a new approach. Carbon Province, Hydro Province is a major contribution to the vital question of how our federal and provincial governments can effectively work together and thereby for the first time achieve a Canadian climate-change target.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

Carbon Province, Hydro Province is a major contribution to both academic understanding and the vital question of how our federal and provincial governments can effectively work together, and thereby, for the first time, achieve a Canadian climate-change target.

Carbon Province, Hydro Province: The Challenge of Canadian Energy and Climate Federalism

By Douglas Macdonald

© 2020

Why has Canada been unable to achieve any of its climate-change targets? Part of the reason is that emissions in two provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan – already about half the Canadian total when taken together – have been steadily increasing as a result of expanding oil and gas production. Declining emissions in other provinces, such as Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, have been cancelled out by those western increases. The ultimate explanation for Canadian failure lies in the differing energy interests of the western and eastern provinces, overlaid on the confederation fault-line of western alienation. Climate, energy, and national unity form a toxic mix.

How can Ottawa possibly get all the provinces moving in the same direction of decreasing emissions? To answer this question, Douglas Macdonald explores the five attempts to date to put in place coordinated national policy in the fields of energy and climate change – from Pierre Trudeau’s ill-fated National Energy Program to Justin Trudeau’s bitterly contested Pan-Canadian program – analysing and comparing them for the first time. Important new insights emerge from this analysis which, in turn, provide the basis for a new approach. Carbon Province, Hydro Province is a major contribution to the vital question of how our federal and provincial governments can effectively work together and thereby for the first time achieve a Canadian climate-change target.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "This book is essential reading for all of those struggling to find a path to bridging Canada’s deep political and regional divisions over energy and climate policy. Macdonald’s authoritative analysis identifies the structural roots of this stubborn Canadian dilemma, and offers creative and practical solutions. His call for a long-overdue national dialogue on burden-sharing is critical to those solutions."v


    George Hoberg, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, Vancouve

    "In this timely work, Douglas Macdonald draws on a meticulously researched review of energy and climate change policy in Canada over the past three decades to offer recommendations for more effective federal leadership in these critical areas. Macdonald’s analysis of the dynamics of intergovernmental relations and policymaking offers important insights into the obstacles to progress on national greenhouse gas emission reductions. He goes beyond diagnosis, however, to identify elements of a new approach that may be more successful in overcoming the inter-regional conflicts that --constructed as such--have played a large role in preventing Canada from achieving its international commitments. This book is highly recommended for scholars, civil servants, and politicians concerned with intergovernmental relations, federalism, and Canadian energy and climate change policy."


    Laurie Adkin, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta
  • Author Information

    Douglas Macdonald is a senior lecturer emeritus at the School of the Environment at the University of Toronto.
  • Table of contents

    A Parable of West and East                                                                           

    1. Introduction
    1.1 Subject
    1.2 Purpose
    1.3 Methodology
    1.4 Theoretical approach       
    1.5 Format

    2. Energy and climate change intergovernmental relations
    2.1 Historical evolution of Canadian intergovernmental relations
    2.2 Mechanisms of Canadian intergovernmental relations
    2.3 A flawed policy making process
    2.4 Intergovernmental policy co-ordination
    2.5 Energy and climate change jurisdiction
    2.6 Energy and climate-change policy co-ordination
    2.7 Federal government energy and climate-change strategy

    3. Historical overview: Canadian energy and climate politics
    3.1 Energy policy 1867 to 1989
    3.2 National climate change policy in the 1990s
    3.3 The Martin government
    3.4 Public opinion on climate change
    3.5 The Harper government
    3.6 Provincial climate change policies
    3.7 Energy policy 1989 to 2019
    3.8 The Justin Trudeau government
    3.9 Summary

    4. Three underlying challenges                                                                     
    4.1 The West-East divide
    . Differing fossil fuel energy interests
    . Differing interests respecting climate change policy
    . Alberta's planned emission increases undercut reductions elsewhere
    . Western alienation
    4.2 The inherent need to allocate greenhouse gas emission reductions
    4.3 The weak intergovernmental process

    5. Canadian national energy policy, 1973 - 1981                                                      
    5.1 Narrative
    5.2 Analysis

    6. The first national climate change process 1990-1997                               
    6.1 Narrative
    6.2 Analysis

    7. The second national climate change process 1998 - 2002                        
    7.1 Narrative
    7.2 Analysis

    8. The Canadian Energy Strategy 2005-2015                                               
    8.1 Narrative
    8.2 Analysis

    9. The Pan-Canadian Framework 2015-2019
    9.1 Narrative
    9.2 Analysis

    10. Drawing lessons  
    10.1 The three challenges and federal strategy
    10.2 Factors affecting case outcomes

    11. Putting in place an effective national climate change program

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