Ottawa | Traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg People – Environmental Defence experts on climate change, climate finance, Just Transition, clean transportation and, safeguarding freshwater react to the Federal 2023 budget, released today.
Julia Levin, Associate Director, National Climate:
Today’s budget does include significant investments in renewable energy and electrification, however, the support given to climate solutions is still a fraction of what is being spent on subsidizing the fossil fuels that are causing the climate emergency. Rather than finally delivering on the government’s promise to end fossil fuel subsidies, this budget throws more fuel on the fire by funneling even more public dollars into false solutions that serve to prop up the fossil fuel industry. Carbon capture and hydrogen are great for greenwashing oil and gas, but they won’t deliver meaningful emissions reductions.
Michelle Woodhouse, Program Manager, Water:
For decades, elected governments have chronically underfunded fresh water initiatives, including those in the Great Lakes basin. Today’s federal budget announcement finally includes much-needed funding for fresh water, and that’s a reason for celebration. We welcome the government’s decision to provide $650 million over ten years to restore and protect Canada’s precious fresh water resources – including the Great Lakes. These investments must address the most critical threats facing Canada’s fresh waters, including nuisance and toxic algae blooms, toxic chemical and plastic pollution, deforestation, and wetland loss. The funds also need to support climate resilience and adaptation, address the impacts of environmental racism, and prioritize just and equitable outcomes for fresh water communities.
Nate Wallace, Program Manager, Clean Transportation:
Public transit systems across the country have been crying out for operating funding support to stave off steep fare hikes and deep cuts to service that will push people into their cars, further reducing revenue, and lead to a transit death spiral. A public transit death spiral will make cities more congested, increase carbon emissions, and have the greatest impact on society’s most vulnerable. It is very disappointing to see that this budget does not include much-needed funds to support transit systems now. The federal government’s update on the future of the permanent public transit funding program later this year must accelerate the start of this program and include much-needed funds for transit operations.
The tax credit for investment in Canada’s zero-emission vehicle manufacturing, batteries and critical minerals is a well measured response to production incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act. Scaling-up investments in clean electricity sourced from renewables will help support grid infrastructure needs for meeting regulated zero-emission vehicles sales targets. Helping more automakers invest in Canada to make more clean cars for more Canadians is a win-win for both the economy and the environment.
Keith Brooks, Programs Director:
Budget 2023’s investments in clean electricity are welcome and needed, though extending that support to abated natural gas fired power is a bad idea. There are no examples of natural gas power plants with carbon capture and storage – and the attempts that have been made for coal plants are abject failures. Additionally, even if the emissions from the plant itself could be captured, that would not address the massive fugitive emissions that come from fracking and other forms of gas extraction.
Aliénor Rougeot, Program Manager, Climate and Energy:
Today’s budget makes investments in climate solutions that have the potential to create good, green jobs across the country. We welcome the historic addition of labour conditions to tax incentives and the reserved seats for unions on the board of the Canada Growth Fund. However, the government still needs to detail how it will support workers and communities directly impacted by the transition as we phase out fossil fuels and other high-carbon sectors. Canada needs dedicated funding for communities and Indigenous nations to diversify their economy and prepare for a global energy transition – and ensure income support and retraining programs are accessible to those who have been historically excluded from economic opportunities. Regrettably, today’s budget still embraces a polluter-gets-paid principle. While Indigenous communities downstream from the tar sands are currently grappling with massive toxic leaks, the government is handing our taxpayer dollars to the companies causing the damage.
Julie Segal, Senior Manager, Climate Finance:
The federal government seems to understand that both public and private dollars must flow to climate solutions. Today’s budget creates incentives for private capital to shift towards climate action, but still no rules to make sure it happens.
This budget should have also put money on the table to support vulnerable communities across the world who face the biggest burdens from climate disasters. Canada could have shown leadership by proactively reserving dollars for the United Nation’s loss and damage mechanism. This would have shown the federal government’s commitment to paying off global climate damage debts. Canada previously helped advance commitments from high-emitting countries to support communities and countries most vulnerable to climate damage, and this year Canada needs to step forward with the accompanying funds.
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.
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