Leading environmental organizations endorse new green recovery guidelines, including strict conditions on oil and gas industry

OTTAWA — As the federal government works out its COVID-19 economic recovery, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) today released seven principles that outline a roadmap for meeting Canada’s 2050 climate commitments while spurring economic resiliency and creating good jobs. Canada’s leading environmental groups, who represent close to two million people, have signed on to the new recommendations. Several of the groups, including the Pembina Institute, Climate Action Network Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence and Équiterre, met last week with key federal ministers to provide a more detailed path forward as Canada moves out of an emergency phase and into recovery.

“The federal government is spending billions on economic stimulus and has signalled that it is committed to a green recovery. This report shows the vital importance of strong climate action if we are to be effective in creating good jobs, a resilient economy and a healthy, fair society,” says Vanessa Corkal of IISD, lead author of the report. “Our response to COVID-19 must put us on a better path to confront the climate and biodiversity crises, which in their own way will have major health impacts.”

Several organizations, including the Climate Action Network Canada, Leadnow and Greenpeace Canada, have started mobilizing their members across the country to ask MPs to commit to the seven green recovery principles. Mobilizing efforts, including days of action and e-rallies, will continue through the summer.

“This spring, while over 400 organizations across Canada united to call for a transformational and just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, oil and gas companies were lobbying hard to take Canada backwards. This is unacceptable,” says Catherine Abreu of Climate Action Network Canada (CAN-Rac). “If applied by government, the principles of the Green Strings report will ensure the federal government steers our economy towards a climate safe future that protects people and the planet.”

The report Green Strings: Principles and Conditions for a Green Recovery from COVID-19 gives policy-makers concrete steps to act on. These steps include adding conditions, or “green strings,” to funding given to industry, such as requiring concrete plans for net-zero emissions by 2050, with immediate action for reducing emissions in key high-carbon sectors. The report also recommends financial conditions—including prohibiting corporate stock buybacks and executive bonuses, and withholding support from companies using tax havens—coupled with strong transparency and accountability measures.

The paper provides guidance on using stimulus to facilitate a fair energy transition, supporting workers and providing training for low-carbon jobs, and investing in solutions like clean electricity and low-carbon fuels while protecting and strengthening environmental regulations and policy frameworks.

The authors of the report urge policy-makers working on recovery to take steps to increase equity and well-being and uphold Indigenous rights. To truly build back better, the authors say, recovery must address societal inequities, which are magnified by COVID-19 and climate change.

“This report is a roadmap for ensuring the coherence of reconstruction projects with Canada’s environmental objectives,” says Caroline Brouillette of Équiterre. “We are optimistic about the possibility of integrating these principles into the plans and policies that will be developed by the federal government in the coming weeks.”

As Canada’s post-pandemic future comes into focus, authors of the report say that, in order to reach our economic, health and social goals, climate considerations must be at the forefront of our recovery.

“This is a historic moment—not only are we dealing with a global health crisis, but how governments put recovery into action will lock in our environmental footprint for decades,” says study co-author Aaron Cosbey of IISD. “We’ll end up spending hundreds of billions of dollars on relief and recovery—an unprecedented investment by Canadian taxpayers. It’s the government’s right and duty to attach conditions to that spending, making sure it drives us toward the future we all want: a green, prosperous Canada.”

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Theresa Beer, tbeer@davidsuzuki.org, 778-874-3396

Notes for the editors:

  • Green Strings: Principles and Conditions for a Green Recovery from COVID-19 in Canada was submitted to the House of Commons on June 19 in response to the official call for briefs for the Canadian Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic committee.
  • The full report can be found here: https://www.iisd.org/library/green-strings-recovery-covid-19-canada.
  • Pembina Institute, Climate Action Network Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, Greenpeace Canada, Équiterre, Ecojustice, Ecology Action Centre, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Stand.earth, Leadnow, Sierra Club of Canada and Wilderness Committee have all signed on to the report.
  • The oil and gas sector represents the most active lobbying group over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quotes from supporting organizations:

“We have an opportunity to address both the economic and climate crises. These conditions are a great starting point for constructive dialogues with government and those in Canada who want a green and just recovery from this pandemic.”

Tom Green, David Suzuki Foundation

“Nous avons l’occasion de nous attaquer à la fois à la crise économique et à la crise climatique. Les conditions énoncées dans ce rapport sont un excellent point de départ pour des dialogues constructifs avec le gouvernement et ceux qui, au Canada, veulent une reprise verte et juste.”

Diego Creimer, David Suzuki Foundation

“As the government prepares historic levels of public finance that will shape our economy for decades to come, we are at a fork in the road. Currently, Canada is already the second largest provider of public finance to oil and gas in the G20. We can either continue to recklessly double down on the boom–bust roller coaster of the oil and gas industry or we can take this opportunity to invest in growing sectors that will leave us healthier, safer and more resilient.”

Julia Levin, Climate and Energy Program Manager, Environmental Defence Canada

“COVID-19 has brought hardships on our families, communities and economy, but we are inspired by the ways Canadians are coming together to tackle this challenge. In this unprecedented time, we must continue to work together to ensure Canada emerges from this crisis better positioned to succeed in a low-carbon, 21st-century economy. Economic stimulus interventions, if designed with climate and economic resilience in mind and paired with increasingly stronger climate policy, represent an extraordinary opportunity to simultaneously boost the economy in the short term and make a down payment on a prosperous, resilient, and more just future.”

Isabelle Turcotte, Director, Federal Policy, the Pembina Institute