Effective climate regulations and end to public financing of fossil fuel industry still urgently needed
OTTAWA | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE — The historic investment in clean electricity in today’s federal budget marks an important turning point. These investments will help unlock Canada’s potential for affordable, renewable electricity — driving down emissions and positioning Canada as a global leader in the clean economy.
“Climate and environmental policies are no longer afterthoughts,” said Severn Cullis-Suzuki, executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation. “They’re the defining issues of our time. Today’s announcement of groundbreaking investments in clean electricity marks our best opportunity yet to ramp up solutions and move toward ending fossil fuel supremacy.”
Last week, the world’s leading scientists, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, came together to issue a global survival guide. Its key message: the relentless use of fossil fuels needs to stop if there’s any hope of stopping the climate crisis.
“We have absolute certainty that fossil fuels are the cause of this crisis, which means we also know our way out,” said Sabaa Khan, the Foundation’s director for Quebec and Atlantic Canada and climate. “We urgently need these bold investments in climate solutions that will usher in a cleaner future for all.”
Budget 2023 establishes a new Investment Tax Credit for Clean Electricity, worth $6.3 billion over four years, and up to $25.7 billion by 2035. It also provides $3 billion over 13 years in direct funding to support smart grid and other clean electricity projects. In addition, the budget earmarks $10 billion from the Canada Infrastructure Bank for its Clean Power priority area.
The David Suzuki Foundation has been campaigning for renewable electricity investments in this year’s budget as a member of the Green Budget Coalition. The Foundation’s federal budget petition for bold, green investments was signed by nearly 7,500 people throughout Canada.
In addition to the new clean technology investments, the government has also promised to bring in a Clean Electricity Regulation — a requirement for all electricity generation in Canada to have zero emissions by 2035. The investment tax credit for clean electricity in this year’s budget is only for projects in provinces and territories that have committed to meet this 2035 target — an important detail that the Foundation welcomes.
“Overall energy costs will go down for everyone as we move away from fossil fuels and instead use electricity sources like wind and solar, all while creating millions of jobs and bringing real benefits to communities,” said Stephen Thomas, the Foundation’s clean electricity manager. “If we achieve 100 per cent zero-emissions electricity throughout Canada by 2035 — which we can — we will improve our health, affordability and the climate. No one will ever want to look back.”
However, Budget 2023 fails to end public financing support for the fossil fuel industry, including by extending tax credits to natural gas with carbon capture and storage technology.
“Subsidizing big oil and gas companies is not only unjustifiable given their record profits, but also completely incompatible with the government’s focus on clean technology,” Thomas said. “Taxpayers should be angry that their money is being wasted to support the very companies that are making life so unliveable for so many.”
Other important measures in Budget 2023 include:
- A new Investment Tax Credit for Clean Technology Manufacturing, worth $4.5 billion over five years. Eligible activities include manufacturing renewable energy equipment, energy storage equipment and zero-emission vehicles, as well as critical mineral mining, processing and recycling. The Foundation cautioned that climate solutions and protecting nature must go hand-in-hand, which means high environmental standards and recognition of Indigenous rights must be incorporated into mining regulations. Nuclear energy equipment manufacturing and nuclear waste reprocessing are also eligible for the new tax credit, which the Foundation considers a risky diversion of taxpayer funds.
- $650 million over 10 years for freshwater protection, and $85.1 million over five years for the new Canada Water Agency.
- $151.9 million over three years for federal agencies to continue work to protect endangered whales and their habitat.
- $165.4 million over seven years for Transport Canada to establish a Green Shipping Corridor
- $184 million over three years to uphold the federal government’s obligations under the Species at Risk Act.
- $14 million for renewal of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Marine Spatial Planning program to continue work to sustainably manage ocean uses.
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The David Suzuki Foundation (DavidSuzuki.org | @DavidSuzukiFdn) is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, founded in 1990. We operate in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. We collaborate with all people in Canada, including First Nations leadership and communities, governments, businesses and individuals to find solutions to create a sustainable Canada through scientific research, traditional ecological knowledge, communications and public engagement, and innovative policy and legal solutions. Our mission is to protect nature’s diversity and the well-being of all life, now and for the future.