This Green House II: A New Way to Fund Climate Action

 When we published our report on residential energy retrofit financing in 2011, on-bill and local improvement charge (LIC) financing for retrofits on private property were both relatively new ideas in Canada.

While Manitoba had been operating on-bill loan programs for almost a decade at that point, the first LIC pilot in the country was still in its preparatory stages in Halifax. Since then, momentum has built with a pilot programs launched and enabling legislation passed in a number of jurisdictions across Canada. Ontario and Nova Scotia have both changed their legislation to allow local governments to use this innovative retrofit financing mechanism and communities in those Provinces are stepping up to the plate.

Beyond climate action, scaling up retrofits has a host of co-benefits: lower residential energy bills, increased home value, job creation and more comfortable, healthier homes.

This Green House II” finds that widespread investments in the residential sector across Canada could mean slicing off about 4% percent of Canada’s emissions from energy use and 2.7% percent of Canada’s overall total emissions. Innovative leadership on energy retrofits, the fastest way to take action on climate change, couldn’t be more timely. At current emission rates, the entire carbon budget for a 50% chance of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees will be exhausted by 2025.

The key to unleashing local government leadership on retrofits is minor provincial legislative change. Local governments have jurisdiction over construction and renovations and bring community know how, initiative and leadership.  LIC financing offers a proven and secure mechanism for financing improvements and ensuring repayment.

This approach offers an innovative way to scale up retrofits and climate action, especially if Federal and Provincial Energy grant programs are re-instated. In the meantime, provinces should open the door to local government leadership and clarify LIC legislation.

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