Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s pre-election budget March 19 would have been “an historic milestone of massive proportions” had a government of any political stripe introduced it five, 10, or 20 years ago, but falls short of the climate challenges that every government today must confront, The Energy Mix publisher Mitchell Beer writes in a guest post for the Canadian Science Policy Centre.
In the end, the budget only spotlighted “the gap between incremental progress and the fast, transformative change we need on one of humanity’s toughest scientific challenges,” Beer says.
“A budget that contains major support for zero-emission vehicle (ZEVs) deployment, energy retrofits in homes and commercial buildings, and green municipal infrastructure should be cause for celebration,” he notes. “But this was the first major statement of federal fiscal policy after the October, 2018 report on pathways to climate stabilization, in which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set an urgent, 12-year deadline to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 45%. Against that immutable, non-negotiable challenge, Budget 2019 falls far too short.”
Particularly after Ottawa joined with the provinces to introduce billions in new fossil subsidies in the last year, and is on track to miss its 2030 emissions reduction target by 115 megatonnes—the same target that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment and Climate Minister Catherine McKenna have both repeatedly declared a floor, not a ceiling on the country’s climate ambition.
Beer lists the good news in the budget—targets and purchase incentives for zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure, $1 billion for energy retrofits, $150 million for economic diversification in communities affected by Canada’s 2030 coal phaseout deadline, and $15.2 million over five years to establish a long-awaited Canadian Centre for Energy Innovation. And he cites the climate community’s critiques of Morneau’s $100 million “innovation” subsidy to the fossil sector, doubling down on promises to reduce production emissions in the Alberta oilpatch that have yielded little or no progress in recent years.
“It adds up to a decent effort to lay a foundation that won’t deliver Canada’s fair-share contribution to getting climate change under control,” he concludes. “In the end, pressure for a faster transition will come from other countries seizing their share of the US$26 trillion in post-carbon opportunities and more than 65 million jobs through 2030 spotlighted by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, while Canada lags behind.”