Clean energy, decarbonization, and social acceptability
Considering that Canada is a reserve of minerals, in particular those needed to manufacture batteries for the electrification of transport and energy storage, the projects surrounding this new economy are increasing all the time. Our governments, seeing the economic and environmental opportunities, are multiplying their announcements and investments.
However, there is a shadow over the horizon. Clean, renewable energy—the solution to decarbonization—is not infinite. Unthinkable just a few years ago, projects are being delayed or rejected altogether on the pretext that green energy resources may be in short supply in the next few years.
To meet our insatiable energy needs, several production projects are emerging: wind turbines, water turbines, mini hydroelectric power stations and so on. No one can be against environmental virtue, but, of course, only if it’s not in one’s own backyard!
From renewable energy supply to decarbonization, social acceptability will inevitably be on the radar of current issues in 2024.
A more demanding public when it comes to protecting the environment
Environmental concerns have become more prominent in public opinion, particularly as a result of climate change, the loss of biodiversity and environmental degradation. Citizens are better informed about these issues and more sensitive to the environmental impact of projects, thanks in part to the large volume of information shared on social networks.
Finally, the public is increasingly keen to play an active part in the decision-making process for projects likely to have an impact on their environment. They want to be consulted and have their say in impact assessment processes.
Necessity is the mother of invention! Regulation and innovation in the agri-food sector
Health Canada has introduced a new nutrition labelling requirement for the front-of-package (FOP) of food products containing 15% or more of the daily values of saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium. Such initiatives can improve the diets and health of populations and may motivate manufacturers to innovate through reformulation or the introduction of new products with lower levels of nutrients of concern. The food industry has until January 1, 2026, to make this change, but some relabelled products have already been seen. In the upcoming year, we will see how this affects the industry and consumers’ choices.
Another key issue for the Canadian agri-food sector is their obligation to innovate and use more environmentally friendly packaging. The federal government recently adopted Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations to reduce plastic pollution and meet its target of zero plastic waste by 2030. The implementation of these new regulations for plastic food-contact packaging may impact food safety and lead to food waste. In 2024, we can expect food manufacturers to work with packaging suppliers to innovate and assess the shelf life of their products wrapped with new plastic material containing food-grade recycled resins.
Facing the unaffordable: Canada's housing crisis and government intervention in 2024
Governments at all three levels and across the country regardless of political stripe are grappling with one major problem heading into 2024. Life as we know it is far more unaffordable now than it has ever been, and while the pandemic played a significant role in getting us here, in many ways we were already headed down this path. The housing market is a prime example.
Housing supply is very low, and by virtue of this dilemma, prices are very high. Though there are also other compounding factors like higher interest rates, inflation, cost of living, and an ever-looming recession making it near impossible for many Canadians to afford where they’re already living, let alone purchasing a new home.
Governments are recognizing the need to intervene and incentivize the development of housing to cope with current and future demand. In Ontario, the provincial government has made significant financial commitments to ensure municipalities are on track to meet their newly established housing targets while also introducing several new red-tape reduction and tax-related measures. Similar steps are expected from federal, provincial and municipal governments across Canada to address the housing crisis, now and into the future.
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