The federal government is calling for a year of consultation before finalizing plans to meet a more ambitious carbon reduction target by 2030 and hit net-zero by 2050.
In a speech to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in Toronto Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa would seek input from businesses, Indigenous peoples, and the general public “in the next year” on how to make the transition to a low-carbon economy, the Globe and Mail reports.
“Business and environmental groups alike have taken issue with the slow pace the Prime Minister has set for overhauling his government’s climate change plans, but Mr. Trudeau’s speech did not indicate a desire to move any faster,” the Globe says. “During last year’s campaign, the Liberals acknowledged they didn’t have the full plan for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, saying they first needed to win the election. More than four months after their re-election, they are just starting to decide on the consultation framework that will lead to an updated climate plan.”
More recently, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson “acknowledged the mounting pressure on his government to provide more information on climate policy so businesses can adequately plan. But he said the consultations for the new climate plan will only start by the summer and likely continue into next year.”
During his speech, Trudeau name-checked BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who made it clear in January that his mammoth investment management business will give climate risk and fossil divestment greater prominence in its decisions. “Larry acknowledged that climate change is fundamentally reshaping finance, just as it is causing companies, sectors, and entire countries to reassess their core assumptions about what tomorrow holds,” Trudeau told the mining executives. “Our government recognizes that moving towards a low-carbon economy is a big adjustment for many industries, including yours. This transformation won’t happen overnight.”
Three days before the speech, the Commons finance committee issued a report that included action on sustainable finance as a key pre-budget recommendation, the Globe adds. “The committee called on the government to act on recommendations from last year’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance, led by former Bank of Canada deputy governor Tiff Macklem,” which “urged the federal government to establish that the fiduciary duty of money managers to their clients includes a review of climate change risks. It also called for climate change factors to be incorporated into the regulation of Canada’s financial system.”
In its own open letter Monday, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce urged Finance Minister Bill Morneau to “use the coming budget to outline a balance between climate policy and economic development,” the Globe states.
While Mining Association of Canada President Pierre Gratton said Trudeau’s speech this week sent a “positive message” to his industry, PDAC President Felix Lee called the federal government’s climate goals “quite aggressive”, adding: “You might argue that perhaps we’re charging along too quickly.”
MP and House Finance Committee member Julie Dzerowicz (L-Davenport) told the Globe that sustainable finance was the most important of the committee’s pre-budget recommendations. “I think we’re very serious as a government in terms of moving to net-zero by 2050 and achieving our Paris accord targets,” she said.
During his PDAC remarks, Trudeau announced a federal tax incentive covering 100% of the business cost of zero-emission off-road vehicles in use before 2024, CBC reports.
“A thriving mining industry and a thriving natural resource sector don’t have to be impediments to fighting climate change,” the PM said. “To produce high-density batteries and wind turbines, you need copper, nickel, and cobalt,” he added. “To build a solar panel, you need 19 metals and minerals. Canada is home to 14 of them.”