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First Nations group releases framework for low-carbon prosperity

First Nations group releases framework for low-carbon prosperity

VANCOUVER — A new draft policy framework has been released by the First Nations Climate Initiative (FNCI) to push for energy development that meets local and global climate change targets and reduces poverty in First Nations communities.

The framework aims to do this by building the infrastructure and innovation that will be the foundation of a low carbon economy in 2050.

The FNCI was started by the Lax Kw’alaams Band, Metlakatla First Nation, Nisga’a Nation and Haisla Nation.

The FNCI’s goal is a world where global warming can be mitigated to manageable levels and First Nations people can experience economic prosperity on their own terms as the province moves to low-carbon alternatives.

“As Canada looks to stimulate the economy in the aftermath of COVID-19, FNCI is concerned that the environment will be sacrificed for jobs,” reads a statement from the group. “Instead, building low-carbon energy infrastructure in northern B.C. to support the development of domestic net-zero natural gas export facilities can achieve major economic stimulus while also ensuring B.C. and Canada maintain their commitments to mitigating climate change.”

Over the past six months, the FNCI has worked with local and international experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Energy Agency (IEA), major project developers, policy analysts, think-tanks and ENGOs to build a policy framework that it believes can accomplish the following goals:

  • Attract billions of dollars into renewable energy and electrification infrastructure in B.C. that will be instrumental to the long-term recovery and transformation of the economy in Western Canada;
  • Leverage a short-term opportunity to produce domestic net-zero LNG and other gas exports to enable other jurisdictions currently reliant on GHG intensive fuels such as thermal coal to reduce their GHG emissions by hundreds of millions of tons (B.C.’s total emissions are 64.5 million tons);
  • Strengthen First Nation economic self-determination and enable Indigenous communities to be leaders in developing the low carbon economy;
  • Address the legacy industrial footprint on ecosystems in First Nations’ traditional territories by restoring landscapes to be carbon sinks; and
  • Build the energy systems that are necessary for the future low-carbon economy essential to supporting our planet and communities.

Key strategies for producing net-zero in B.C. under the FNCI framework include:

  • Electrifying natural gas infrastructure across northern B.C. through public and private investment;
  • Investing in nature-based projects that rehabilitate ecosystems to act as carbon sinks while simultaneously restoring First Nations’ traditional territories and providing local employment opportunities;
  • Promoting the use of carbon markets and tax incentives to ensure viable project development costs and ensure competitive gas on the global stage;
  • Pursuing bi-lateral agreements with jurisdictions that are high GHG emitters and gas importers to ensure the displacement of thermal coal;
  • Supporting producers to reduce fugitive methane from existing and future operations;
  • Using available carbon capture and storage technologies; and
  • Establishing options for First Nations equity ownership, partnerships or other avenues for projects to benefit First Nation communities.

“The opportunity is now for First Nations, B.C. and Canada to launch the Canadian economy into a new set of relationships where mitigating climate change, ending First Nations poverty and building a low carbon economy are central themes,” stated the group. “The FNCI continues to collaborate with First Nations, other levels of government, climate experts, project developers, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to further refine the policy framework and develop an investment plan that realizes the FNCI vision.”

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