New funds must avoid subsidizing fossil fuels, ensure nature protection

OTTAWA | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE – The Canada Growth Fund and other new measures to support investments in clean electricity will be good news for the planet if pitfalls are avoided, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.

Reacting to the fall economic statement tabled by Canada’s finance minister this afternoon, the Foundation’s climate director Sabaa Khan said, “The cost-of-living and climate crises share the same root cause: expensive oil and gas with volatile prices attached. The high cost of fossil fuels is driving inflation. We know we need to transition to clean and reliable electricity — to protect the planet and our health, and make life more affordable for everyone.”

Details of the new Canada Growth Fund will be announced later this year, but the fall economic statement suggests fossil fuel companies may be able to access the credit for carbon capture and storage projects — an unjustifiable misstep, according to the Foundation.

“We agree with Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s recent statement that Canada’s oil companies are failing to pay for their promises to reduce their emissions and help tackle climate change,” Khan said. “Oil and gas companies are earning record profits, while people struggle to pay their basic bills. People in vulnerable situations are hit the hardest. In this context, it’s unconscionable to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize wealthy corporations for expensive technologies like carbon capture, utilization and storage.”

The economic statement included a tax credit to support new clean electricity projects, totalling $6.7 billion over five years. Technologies supported include wind, solar, energy storage technologies, zero-emissions vehicles and electric heat pumps.

“The way out of this affordability crisis is to move away from fossil fuels toward stable, affordable, clean electricity,” Foundation clean energy manager Stephen Thomas said. “This is one important step in that direction. While more is needed, we welcome this specific support for clean electricity technologies that we know are ready to be deployed in Canada to create jobs and provide stable, low-cost electricity where and when it’s needed. After all, we now know that a fully clean, reliable, renewable Canadian electricity grid is possible and affordable by 2035.”

In the leadup to the two global conferences to address the climate and nature crises (COP27 this month and COP15 in December), Canada must end its dependence on fossil fuels and halt and reverse nature loss.

“We can’t simply electrify Canada at the expense of healthy ecosystems, which are key to solving the climate and nature crises,” Foundation nature director Jay Ritchlin said. “We must meet the need for critical metals, while also protecting and restoring caribou habitat and at-risk forests.”

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The David Suzuki Foundation is a member of the Green Budget Coalition, which has presented the government with a suite of recommendations for investments in climate action, nature conservation, environmental justice and more.