From the U.S. to Europe, regions around the world are competing in a race to the top of clean technology, accelerating investments in renewables and climate solutions. It’s time for Canada to join the race.
Backed by expert opinion and research by leading think tanks and research groups, a new report calls on the federal government to increase its clean investments to 2% of GDP (or 2 cents on every dollar of income) over five years to help Canada become competitive in the global clean economy while avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
An investment of 2 cents on every dollar of GDP for five years is a down payment for a fair and safe future for all people in Canada.
Creating jobs for workers and young people to build a climate-safe, resilient Canada powered by renewables
In 2022, renewable energy employed 7 million people globally, a jump of 700,000 jobs in just 12 months. This trend is reflected in Canada — a 2021 report by Clean Energy Canada estimates by 2030, there will be 639,200 jobs within the clean energy sector, an increase of nearly 50 per cent compared to 2020 when 430,500 jobs were reported.
As the global economy moves toward renewables and away from fossil fuels, the oil and gas industry will continue to shed jobs and demand for workers in renewables will grow. Investing in economic diversification projects in communities impacted would create well-paid, local jobs for workers and help build a secure and self-sufficient economy over the long term. Canada has signed binding agreements as part of the International Labour Organization to help transform the workforce to meet climate targets while protecting good work for workers in Canada.
The transformation of Canada’s workforce must include social dialogue, the protection of labour rights, social protection, and additional consultation with affected stakeholders consistent with human rights and equity. Investments in good jobs and skilling up young workers will maintain quality of life for families and help fill the labour gaps needed to power the clean economy.
Strengthening resilience to climate impacts through measures like repairs and upgrades to infrastructure, the restoration of natural areas, investments in public health and more
Investing in climate-resilient infrastructure and processes can help people in Canada prepare for adverse weather impacts brought on by a changing climate. For example, strategies like watershed restoration and permeable paving to reduce runoff can alleviate the impacts of heavy storms and the risk of floods. Investing in public health resources like education, outreach to vulnerable communities, cooling centres, and other support for vulnerable groups like seniors and low-income communities can help alleviate the increased risk these groups face in extreme heat.
Supporting Indigenous-led climate policies and Indigenous-owned projects like community renewable energy, adaptation and land protection initiatives, while ensuring the effective inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in decision making processes
Indigenous Peoples hold deep community-based knowledge on the safe stewardship of nature, and their leadership is invaluable in the climate crisis. In the US and Canada, Indigenous resistance and leadership to fossil fuel projects was equivalent to stopping a whopping 25% of annual US and Canadian emissions.
For climate action to be effective and just, Indigenous Peoples must have a meaningful seat at the table.
Making homes and buildings more resilient, energy efficient, and climate safe, starting with low-income and vulnerable communities
Retrofitting homes and buildings to improve insulation, ventilation, and humidity control improves efficiency, cuts emissions and lowers energy bills through reducing heating and air conditioning needs.Improving air quality also reduces the likelihood of mould and risk of asthma.
In low-income and vulnerable communities, retrofitting homes can save lives. The 2021 summer heatwave in British Columbia claimed 595 lives, most of whom were elderly, and low-income. Ensuring all homes and buildings are resilient to the impacts of climate change and more efficient and affordable, can help protect those who are most vulnerable.
Building more renewable energy power & investing in an interprovincial electrical grid to provide clean, affordable electricity to all communities — rural, remote, or urban
Canada will need to at least double clean electricity production in order to meet climate goals and ensure everyone has access to affordable electricity. This includes investments in new clean generation, storage, and connecting electrical grids in different regions in Canada.
Provinces where the electricity is generated from renewable sources like hydro, tend to have the lowest electricity prices across the country. Scaling up renewable generation and building interregional lines will help ensure all communities have access to affordable rates and lower energy bills.
Protecting and restoring nature, reducing plastics and reusing materials, preventing waste and investing in Indigenous stewardship and land-based initiatives
Instead of seeing nature as separate from humans and a resource to be exploited, greater emphasis on the conservation of intact forests and ecosystems will deliver a myriad of co-benefits, from storing carbon, to providing habitat for animals, to supporting our mental health and wellbeing.
Prioritizing a circular economy through the reuse and recycling of materials can reduce waste and our footprint on the environment.
Growing food sustainably and strengthening agricultural practices to strengthen and protect farmers’ livelihoods
Farmers are calling for investments to help them produce food sustainably, and utilize beneficial management practices like nitrogen management, manure storage and handling, livestock management, soil management, and wetland and tree management. These strategies are proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon, and strengthen the resilience of Canadian farms, to ensure they can continue to produce sustainable, healthy food for generations to come.
Paying Canada’s fair share to support developing nations in the renewable energy transition and to adapt to the impacts of climate change
As a wealthy, developed nation, Canada has generated more emissions and contributed more to climate change than less-wealthy countries in the Global South that are bearing the brunt of climate change impacts. To equitably address Canada’s contribution to global climate change, it must take responsibility for its role in causing climate change. How the world responds to climate change could reduce existing inequities, or further entrench them.
As part of the Paris Agreement adopted in 2016, Canada agreed, alongside developed nations, to provide $100 billion USD annually to help developing countries mitigate climate change. The goal of $100 billion has never been met, and while Canada improved its contribution to international climate finance, it still has a long way to go to meet its Paris commitments.
2 cents on every dollar of national income is a small price to pay for the long list of rewards – from lower energy bills to job creation to a competitive economy – that people in Canada will receive. There is a range of possible funding sources for these investments into our collective future, including repurposing fossil fuel funding, implementing a public green bank, or taxing oil and gas companies’ record windfall profits. The solutions listed here will help move Canada toward renewables and away from burning fossil fuels — the driver of climate change. People in Canada have everything to gain from investing in a fair, safe and affordable future, and everything to lose if we don’t act now.
Poll after poll shows Canadians support climate investments — a recent survey found 8 in 10 people think it’s important to invest in clean energy opportunities in response to the American Inflation Reduction Act.
For more details check out the report Spending What It Takes, a report published jointly by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Climate Action Network Canada with the consultation of a range of stakeholders providing leading climate research in Canada.