Minister Catherine McKenna
Minister - Environment and Climate Change Canada
Part of the Spotlight on Clean Growth

The Economy and the Environment Go Hand-in-Hand

Takeaways

  1. The development of clean technology will be a critical part of Canada’s strategy to reduce emissions and environmental impacts, while stimulating economic growth in a sector predicted to grow significantly over the coming decades.
  2. Pricing pollution, such as through a carbon tax, is a key component of Canada’s plan to fight climate change and the provinces that have already implemented a carbon tax are those that achieved the highest rates of economic growth in 2017.
  3. Canada is already feeling the impact of climate change in terms of more severe weather, flooding and forest fires, so enabling and investing in communities’ adaptation to long-term trends is a central part of the government’s climate plan.

Action

Canada must focus on the development of its clean technology companies and sector in order to claim its share of the massive and growing international market for cleantech and climate-smart investments. We must do so by increasing access to capital to enable our emerging cleantech companies to grow and expand.


You have labeled this “the clean growth century”. How satisfied are you with the progress that has been made in implementing the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change – Canada’s strategy to prepare our country to mitigate the risks of the varied environmental challenges we all face while sustainably growing our economy?

Our government committed to negotiating a plan with provinces and territories to tackle climate change. This is exactly what we did, and we are working hard every day to put that plan into action. Adopted in 2016, we spent an entire year negotiating an ambitious and realistic plan with provinces, territories and Indigenous leaders. Our plan is creating jobs and growing our economy while reducing carbon pollution.

A foundational piece of that plan is ensuring there is a price on carbon pollution across the country. It puts a price on what we do not want – pollution – and makes it possible to invest in what we do want – clean innovation. We know we can do this while keeping our economy strong and creating jobs. For example, last year, provinces with a price on carbon all led the country in economic growth. And today, over 25 leading Canadian companies, from five major banks to major energy companies and consumer good companies are part of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition. They recognize the importance of a price on pollution – not just that it is the right thing to do for our planet, but because it makes good business sense.

“Last year, provinces with a price on carbon all led the country in economic growth.”

Our plan also includes phasing out traditional coal-fired power by 2030, which will result in cleaner air and cut as much carbon pollution as taking 1.3 million cars off the road. It will prevent more than a thousand premature deaths and save billions of dollars in health care costs. To help coal workers and communities during the phase-out of traditional coal power, we launched the Task Force on the Just Transition for Canadian coal-power workers and communities to provide the government with expert advice on how to make that transition a fair one.

Our plan ensures that, throughout our economy, we reduce emissions in transportation, in our homes and buildings, and in the industrial sector. That is why we are investing over $20 billion in public transit and over $20 billion in green infrastructure. This includes a Climate Lens for all federal funding for new major public infrastructure projects, which is an assessment of how projects will contribute to or reduce carbon pollution, and consider climate change risks in the location, design and planned operation of a project.

“As the world’s economy changes, we want to make sure Canadian companies are among the leading suppliers of clean solutions and expertise.”

Finally, our plan includes close to $8 billion invested in clean technology research, development, demonstration and adoption, and support to accelerate the growth of clean technology companies. As the world’s economy changes, we want to make sure Canadian companies are among the leading suppliers of clean solutions and expertise. The World Bank has estimated that climate change will open up $23 trillion in clean investment opportunities globally. Canada is already well on its way. Today, Canada’s clean technology sector ranks first out of G20 countries, according to the 2017 Global Cleantech Innovation Index. Four Canadian companies are among the final contenders for the Carbon X Prize – a $20 million award for companies that find innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions.


Two years on from the Framework’s publication, what do you see now as the most important components of Canada’s Clean Growth strategy and why?

Technology is key to reducing emissions over the long term. Our plan is designed to spur investment in innovation, drive efficiency improvements, and accelerate the uptake of new technologies. Canadian governments are working together to support clean technology investments and innovation to accelerate clean growth at home and abroad. We are also working to increase access to capital so that Canada’s clean technology firms can grow and expand.

Our government is investing nearly $8 billion in clean technology for green infrastructure projects, including those that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, deliver clean air and safe water systems, and promote renewable power. These investments will also support the deployment of emerging renewable energy technologies; programs to support smart grid, storage and clean electricity technology demonstration and deployment projects, and; reduce the reliance of rural and remote communities on diesel fuel, and support the use of more sustainable, renewable power solutions.

“The Paris Agreement will help open up nearly $23 trillion in new opportunities for climate-smart investments in emerging markets around the world between now and 2030.”

According to the World Bank, the Paris Agreement will help open up nearly $23 trillion in new opportunities for climate-smart investments in emerging markets around the world between now and 2030. Our government is investing in the development, use and export of Canadian innovation and expertise to ensure Canadian industries are among the leaders in the North American market and worldwide, to drive innovation and create jobs and clean growth – because the economy and the environment go hand-in-hand.

“A record 13 Canadian companies were named to the 2018 Global Cleantech 100 list.”

Canada is home to more than 750 clean technology companies, which are gaining recognition globally as developers of innovative clean solutions. In fact, a record 13 Canadian companies were named to the 2018 Global Cleantech 100 list, which represents the most innovative and promising clean technologies from around the world.

According to Statistics Canada data, an estimated 274,000 jobs were attributable to environmental and clean technology activity in 2016. The average annual labour compensation per job, including benefits, was $92,000, compared with an economy-wide average of $59,900.

“We are […] working to increase access to capital so that Canada’s clean technology firms can grow and expand.”

We arecommitted to keep working with provinces, territories, cities, and communities across Canada to take climate action for future generations. We also look forward to strengthening our partnerships with Indigenous Peoples as we continue to implement our climate plan.


According to many of the leaders and experts we have interviewed, Canada is quite far off the emission reduction targets we have committed to. Why is that and what more must the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments, as well as the private sector, do to get Canada on target?

Canadians are feeling the impacts of climate change and are experiencing more severe weather, more flooding events, more intense and bigger forest fires and rising sea levels. They see the costs of droughts, floods, and the effects on Canadians’ health and safety. After a decade of inaction under the previous government, our government spent an entire year negotiating an ambitious and achievable climate plan with provinces, territories and Indigenous leaders.

“Putting a price on carbon pollution is central to Canada’s plan to fight climate change and grow the economy. […] It is one of the most effective, transparent, and efficient ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Our plan outlines over 50 concrete measures to reduce carbon pollution, support clean innovation and economic growth, help Canada adapt and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and ensuring we meet our 2030 climate target. Part of Canada’s plan is for adaptation, which means supporting communities, helping communities have the tools so they can understand the long-term trends, and helping communities build better.

We are now starting to see results of our ambitious action and historic investments, and we will continue to see growing results as more key components of our plan are implemented. This includes billions of dollars in investment in public transit, green infrastructure and clean innovation. The cost of inaction is simply too high. We are working every day to put our plan into action, which will protect our environment, grow our economy and create good jobs. We owe it to our kids and grandkids.


What is Canada’s strategy in terms of taxing pollution? How will we ensure that our industries and economy remain globally competitive as we increase our efforts to limit our environmental impact?

Canadians know climate change is real and they know polluting isn’t free. We see the costs of droughts, floods, and the effects on our health and safety. From 1983 to 2004, insurance claims in Canada from severe-weather events were almost $400 million a year. In the past decade, that amount tripled to $1.2 billion a year.

Putting a price on carbon pollution is central to Canada’s plan to fight climate change and grow the economy. We know from experiencing that it is one of the most effective, transparent, and efficient ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 80% of Canadians already live in a province that has a price on pollution. Last year, the four provinces that put a price on pollution – British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec – led the country in economic growth.

“Part of Canada’s plan is for adaptation, which means supporting communities, helping communities have the tools so they can understand the long-term trends, and helping communities build better.”

According to the World Bank, about half of the global economy representing more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions are putting a price on carbon. And that doesn’t include China’s national system, announced late last year, which would be the world’s biggest carbon market.

Putting a price on pollution works. It puts a price on what we don’t want – pollution – and creates an incentive for what we do want – clean innovation, a strong economy and good jobs. With a price on pollution, businesses can save money and cut pollution by investing in better equipment, or smarter practices to reduce their energy use, and investing in clean technologies. To ensure that a price on pollution is in place across Canada, the Government has committed to a national standard for pricing pollution that will apply in provinces and territories upon request, and in provinces and territories that do not have a pricing system in place that meets the federal standard by the end of 2018.


Do you think it is possible to reconcile Canada’s commitments through the Paris Climate Agreement as well as our clean growth goals with a stable or growing oil and gas sector? If so, how will we do so? If not, what is the future of Canada’s oil and gas sector?

The country is in a transition. Transitions don’t happen overnight. Our government knows we need to be ambitious. We have taken an approach to resource development that will grow our economy and protect the environment.  Our government believes that these priorities go hand in hand.

Alberta and B.C. are provinces that have taken serious action while ensuring people have good jobs. They are making investments in a cleaner future. For example, Alberta has shown real leadership with commitments to eliminate pollution from coal-fired power by 2030, put a price on carbon pollution, put the world’s first ever cap on oil sands emissions, invest in energy efficiency and renewable power generation, and encourage clean innovation. We know we need to diversify the economy and make sure we are bringing people along. That’s why our climate plan accounts for emissions from a growing economy, while taking serious and concrete measures to meet our 2030 climate targets and protect the environment.

“We accounted for projected growth in oil sands emissions when calculating what it will take to meet our 2030 target.”

We have a serious climate plan, and we accounted for projected growth in oil sands emissions when calculating what it will take to meet our 2030 target. We’re also making investments in energy-saving technology and cleaner fuels for buildings, industry and vehicles; ensuring there is a price on carbon pollution across Canada; phasing out coal-fired electricity by 2030, and; making important investments to help provinces, territories, businesses, industry, organizations, and Indigenous communities reduce pollution, protect the environment and grow the economy.

And our climate plan is making a big difference. Without our government’s plan, Canada’s 2030 emissions are projected to be 815 million tonnes. Once we put the plan into effect, our model projects 2030 emissions of 583 million tonnes. That reduction – a total of 232 million tonnes – is the biggest drop in our projected emissions that we’ve ever seen in Canada. And we’re working every day to push that plan forward.