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Carbon Reductions, ‘Clean Growth’ Remain Top Priorities for Federal Budget: Morneau

While contingency planning for the coronavirus is gaining prominence as a focus for this year’s federal budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau says carbon reductions and energy sector transformation will still be a major priority.

“The budget’s climate measures are expected to focus on three main areas: meeting emissions targets, helping the fossil fuel sector transform itself, and offering support to workers displaced by that transformation,” CBC reports, citing a speech Morneau delivered Friday in Toronto.

“There is no path forward for Canadian businesses that doesn’t include reducing their carbon emissions. Investors just won’t be there,” Morneau told the Canadian Club of Canada. “For the [fossil] energy sector, we intend on working together on approaches that reduce emissions and create more economic opportunities for the workers and businesses, including in the Prairies.”

Citing a senior government official, CBC says the budget will be a first step in looking at what clean growth can look like for Canada. “We’re not anti-oil. We’re not anti-steel. We’re anti-carbon,” the official said.

That means the budget “will build on the message Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered recently to a mining conference about the need to find common ground on the path to reaching net-zero carbon emissions in 2050,” the national broadcaster adds. “Trudeau has said consultations with industry and Indigenous communities will start in earnest in April on how to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 without crippling resource industries.” 

Meanwhile, when first ministers meet in Ottawa this week, “there will be political pressure on all levels of government to work together on a coordinated health and economic response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” CBC adds. “But there also will be political tensions over the state of resource development in the country and outstanding provincial demands for larger cash transfers from the federal government.”