Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Japan And Canada Square Off Over Green Jobs

From the Climate Law Blog:

In what may be an ominous shot across the bow for green jobs advocates, Japan on September 13 submitted a complaint to the World Trade Organization alleging that a Canadian renewable energy law violates WTO non-discrimination rules. [1] At issue are a set of domestic content requirements built into Ontario’s landmark green energy law, [2] which are designed to guarantee that local producers – and local jobs –supply a minimum percentage of the technology used to meet the province’s ambitious goals for renewable energy generation. [3] While Japan’s “Request for Consultation” with Canada does not formally initiate a case before the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), it nevertheless sets the stage for a high-stakes showdown between the two countries, with potentially global repercussions for energy and industrial policy linking renewable power to high tech employment opportunities.


What does all this mean for green jobs in the U.S.? The answer is anything but clear, as current and proposed U.S. legislation on green jobs looks quite different than Ontario’s unique FIT program. Rather than utilize conditional feed-in tariffs to incentivize domestic manufacturing, the 2007 Green Jobs Act, for instance, authorizes millions of dollars to create an “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program” to help develop skills in energy efficient construction and manufacturing, among other things. [12] Such workforce training would seem to steer clear of the thorny trade law problems triggered by Ontario’s approach.

A slightly less technical version of the story, which casts the decision making process of the McGuinty government in a rather poor light, can be found here.

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