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Building Retrofits, Clean Transportation Lead Green Budget Coalition’s 2020 Recommendations

The Green Budget Coalition is calling on the Trudeau government to include C$10 billion for building energy retrofits, $4.8 billion for clean transportation, $4.8 billion for protected areas, and $2.6 billion for nature-based climate solutions in its 2020 budget.

“As a society, we are at a crossroads,” the 22-member coalition stated in a release last week. With the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic on the horizon, “we can choose to reinvest in the status quo, or we can rebuild better and more safely. The choices we make will define our ability to deliver a society, economy, and environment that is more resilient, just, and sustainable for current and future generations.”

The plan calls for the federal government to scale up its “fiscal action” in response to the climate emergency by “eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and allocating major funding to building energy efficiency, transportation, community energy, international climate financing, nature-based solutions, and marine shipping.” It also envision “a number of complementary measures, including on carbon pricing, the Sustainable Finance report, and a just transition for energy sector workers.”

The coalition lays out priorities for nature conservation and biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, and toxic and pesticides.

“We think there are clear numbers around job creation and economic growth,” said coalition co-chair David Browne, director of conservation at the Canadian Wildlife Federation. “There are health and psychological and physiological health benefits to (tackling) toxics, parks, and pollination services for agriculture, and we think those benefits are quantifiable and worth their investment.”

The lead investment of $10 billion would get Canada’s buildings and homes off fossil fuels, boost their energy efficiency, make them more resilient to future climate impacts and health crises, and “help integrate more clean, renewable sources of power in the electricity grid,” says the Pembina Institute, identified as the coalition’s lead on building retrofits. That would mean increasing the ambition in programs the federal government has already announced and co-financing deep energy retrofits of public and commercial buildings through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Pembina also has a breakdown of the recommended funding for clean transportation: it includes $200 million over five years for fuel-efficient heavy trucks, $250 million for a “sustainable and circular” battery supply chain, more favourable tax treatment for zero-emission vehicle manufacturing, and clean fuel investments to complement the upcoming federal Clean Fuel Standard.

Pembina says a commitment now to continue raising the federal floor price on carbon beyond 2022 would “offer much-needed certainty for investors and long-term incentives and flexibility for industry and consumers to move toward low-carbon options.” While “it is appropriate to address competitiveness risks,” the Calgary-based think tank adds, “the federal carbon pricing system subsidy for large emitters must apply only to those that can demonstrate material competitiveness pressures that result from a carbon pricing differential between Canada and competing jurisdictions.”