First Regional Energy and Resource Table Collaboration Framework Released
The Government of Canada, the Government of British Columbia, and the First Nations Leadership Council have collaborated to advance the first ever Canada-British Columbia Regional Energy and Resource Tables to accelerate a low-carbon economy.
The Framework is set to build on British Columbia’s competitive advantage in developing clean energy and resources, as well as to propel the province to achieve Canada’s environmental goals. Furthermore, through the multi-governmental, Indigenous, labour, and industry contributions, the Framework is intended to set the stage for ongoing partnerships between the groups that will achieve the following desired outcomes:
British Columbia’s energy and resource sectors are globally competitive and drive clean and inclusive growth, job creation, and new investment in the province and Canada;
British Columbia produces clean energy and resources that support decarbonization and the achievement of Canada and British Columbia’s climate goals;
British Columbians have the skills and training they need to support competitive energy and resource sectors and to secure well-paying jobs in a net-zero emissions economy; and
The laws, stewardship, values, priorities, knowledge, and perspectives of First Nations in British Columbia are reflected in the long-term vision of a net-zero future, which have contributed to the establishment of an inclusive net-zero economy where First Nations in British Columbia are full participants and economically prosperous.
As defined in the Framework, which is considered a groundbreaking point of collaboration for all parties involved, the long-term strategic vision for a low-carbon economy will be achieved through the following six areas of opportunity:
1. Critical Minerals
The Framework will enhance foundational knowledge to target increased investment, critical minerals exports, and value-added production to enable growth of the value chain. This will be achieved through unearthing the province’s geoscience potential; advancing exploration projects (province has significant nickel, cobalt, graphite, rare earth elements, niobium, platinum groups, tantalum, vanadium, and zinc opportunities); developing the entire value chain; and pursuing opportunities in the circular economy. These activities will all be complementary to the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy, the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan, British Columbia’s planned Critical Minerals Strategy, the currently in development First Nations’ Critical Minerals Strategy, and the First Nations Major Projects Coalition’s Critical Mineral Roundtables Overview.
The Framework will pursue cross-sectional electrification opportunities that support the achievement of climate targets and accelerate economic growth. This will be achieved through advancing priority transmission projects to support electrification; enhancing energy efficiency programs; and accelerating clean transportation goals. Electrification efforts will be supported by the substantive investments in the area, including most recently in the federal Budget 2023, where the Government of Canada announced an investment tax credit projected to cost $6.3 billion over four years and over $3 billion in targeted programming to support clean electricity, as well as a planned maximized investment tax credit in British Columbia.
3. Clean Fuels / Hydrogen
The Framework will accelerate the production and use of clean fuels – in particular, hydrogen – to foster British Columbia’s position as a world leader. This will be achieved through enabling foundations for clean fuels competitiveness; developing the hydrogen economy to support the entire hydrogen value chain; and advancing bioenergy and synthetic energy. Efforts will be consistent with the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada, the British Columbia Hydrogen Strategy, a planned First Nations Hydrogen Strategy, and the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030. As part of this goal, partners will look at opportunities to support low-carbon fuel project development and hydrogen hubs, promote exports, and support First Nation-led clean fuel projects. Partners will also work with industry to maximize private sector investment, simplify federal and provincial government funding processes, and enhance regulatory certainty.
4. Forest Sector
The Framework will develop British Columbia’s bioeconomy and markets for forest-based products domestically and abroad to maximize the forest sector’s contribution to emissions reductions targets and to advance First Nations’ participation in the sector. This will be achieved through growing the production and exportation of high-value forest products; supporting markets that use forest harvest and processing residues; improving resource utilization for British Columbia commercial harvests; increasing Indigenous training, participation and decision-making; and accelerating the deployment of opportunities that contribute to Canada’s net-zero goals.
5. Carbon Management Technology and Systems
The Framework will develop a regionally specific carbon management approach that supports competitive clean energy and resource sectors. This will be achieved through advancing the development of a provincial carbon management approach; and addressing knowledge gaps that enable and incentivize the development and deployment of carbon management systems. Furthermore, British Columbia’s priorities in carbon management technologies and systems include attracting private investment by leveraging provincial programs, including the CleanBC Industry Fund, and federal measures, including the Investment Tax Credit for carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), direct funding supports, and other financial support measures. Furthermore, British Columbia is working to introduce an additional supporting policy for CCUS in the province.
6. Regulatory Efficiency
The Framework will foster engagement between Indigenous rights-holders, Canada, British Columbia, and key industries to align expectations and opportunities, as well as to test innovative approaches to improve the efficiency of the regulatory permitting system. This will be achieved through increased collaboration between all of the above parties.
As for the implementation of this Framework, the next phase of this initiative will involve broadened and more substantive engagement with the objective of developing a comprehensive strategy. Over the coming months, the Regional Table will pursue ongoing collaboration to explore more systematic and effective ways to identify, prioritize and advance regionally significant projects in British Columbia, including through improving program alignment and complementarity, exchanging technical expertise, and co-funding strategic projects. As this work is taking place, implementation of the actions listed in this framework will be a primary focus over the coming year. This announcement gained political traction not only for its multi-organizational collaboration and diverse strategic goals to achieve a low-carbon economy, but also for the announced $100 million in complementary federal and provincial funding, including:
Up to $48.7 million to support production projects and feasibility studies related to hydrogen and other clean fuels from Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Clean Fuels Fund;
A $15 million contribution from the Strategic Innovation Fund for AVL Fuel Cell Canada Inc. to support a portfolio of innovative hydrogen fuel cell technologies and world-class engineering solutions for customers in the global transportation sector;
Up to $10.8 million from NRCan’s Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program to support capacity building, demonstration projects and feasibility studies in rural, remote and Indigenous communities to reduce their reliance on diesel through renewable energy projects, enhanced energy efficiency, and local skills and capacity building;
More than $12.3 million for projects, research and development, and promotional activities to strengthen the provincial forest sector’s competitiveness and sustainability while encouraging greater use of wood in non-traditional construction; and
Over $6.7 million for projects from the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways program to support clean energy projects and critical regional priorities, including capacity building, and feasibility studies to support Indigenous communities.