We need a healthy economy to support a healthy society. The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a huge blow to our economy. The 2020 deficit is likely to be in the region of $260 billion. Greens are committed to seeing our economy open up and to seeing Canadians from coast to coast to coast get back to work.
Two of the world’s leading economists, Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Nicholas Stern, say that the investments that will yield the strongest results in restarting the economy are those in renewable energy and energy efficiency retrofits that move us toward a carbon neutral economy. Their recent study involved interviews with over 230 economic experts and members of central banks in all G20 countries. It advises the strongest economic recovery will be green.
As demand for oil and gas plummeted during the pandemic, renewable energy was able to grow. This is a signal rising above the noise. The days of fossil fuels are nearly done. We need a planned and orderly retreat from fossil fuels to ensure workers and communities are part of a just transition. All future public investments must be consistent with climate goals. We need to value the contribution of all Canadians who depend on this fossil fuel industry and invest in people as we move to a sustainable energy future.
Climate lessons from COVID-19:
- Canada needs a Chief Climate Science Officer to whom we defer, just as political leaders have deferred to chief health officers in every province and federally.
- Scientific advice is not negotiable.
- Set Canada’s required 2020 GHG reduction target at a level that reflects Canada’s fair share of holding global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5°C, and take into account our emissions relative to other countries.
- Pass legislation committing Canada to reaching net zero carbon by 2050 with five-year increments.
- Canada needs an all-party Climate Cabinet, working together as we did during the pandemic.
- Canada needs a Just Transition Act to protect oil and gas workers as they move to other jobs and careers.
Other actions we must take to restart our economy and restore our economic health:
- Invest in a national electricity corridor – the Canadian Grid Project.
- Ensure that 100 per cent of Canadian electricity is from renewable sources by 2030.
- Cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline and invest those funds in a national electricity grid.
- Convert infrastructure from buildings that are expensive to maintain and create GHGs to buildings that produce more energy than they use.
- Launch a massive program in building retrofits – commercial, institutional and residential – employing millions of skilled tradespeople.
- Infrastructure stimulus spending should be for publicly owned and operated projects (no more P3 projects).
COVID-19 bailout payments must be transparent. We demand corporate bailout accountability by:
- Creating a database of which companies received what level of government funding.
- Tie bailouts to performance requirements to maintain the workforce in Canada, prohibit executive bonus payments or share buybacks based on the standard set by Denmark.
- Ensure that to receive a bailout companies provide plans for reducing GHGs, solid and toxic waste, and plans to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- Bar companies using offshore tax havens from access to bailout funds.
- Institute tax reform – a root-and-branch review of Canada’s tax system is long overdue.
- Institute taxes on wealth, not just income.