The throne speech we want? A pledge for a low-carbon, competitive economyThe time is now to invest in a healthier, more resilient future that leaves no one behind

Blog - Sept. 21, 2020 - By Josha MacNab
Parliament Hill Centre Block with scaffolding

The pandemic has made it plainly clear that our health, economy and environment are intricately linked. The upcoming throne speech must reflect these connections by reaffirming the federal government’s commitment to containing COVID-19 and rebooting our economy while putting Canada on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050. The immediacy and force with which climate change can also devastate local economies and impact our health and communities is all too evident with every extreme drought, flood and wildfire. 

Governments across the globe will spend billions of dollars to rebuild their economies; the time is now to invest in a healthier, more resilient future that leaves no one behind. 

We commend the efforts of the Canadian government to provide relief to Canadians through these difficult times. This must remain the nation’s top priority. We also commend the government’s efforts to align recovery efforts to date with climate objectives and for standing strong on pillars of the climate plan like carbon pricing and the clean fuel standard. 

Governments across the globe will spend billions of dollars to rebuild their economies; the time is now to invest in a healthier, more resilient future that leaves no one behind.

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In this they aren’t alone. Over the past few months an unprecedented level of broadly-based support has emerged across diverse groups, including business, the financial sector, the environmental sector, labour, and local communities for public investment in a green recovery as a strategy for creating more resilient jobs, communities, and economic opportunities. There are promising indications our government will build on its early first steps and provide clarity of direction for investors here and abroad. 

To accelerate the transition toward job creation in a low-carbon and globally competitive economy, Canada should take a number of important steps.

Invest in building an inclusive net-zero workforce

Invest in resilient, job-intensive, clean and natural infrastructure

  • Grow economic activity in sectors with high jobs per dollar investment ratios, like retrofitting existing, and building affordable but more energy efficient and climate-resilient, homes and buildings. 
  • Build the transportation and energy infrastructure that will enable Canada to extend clean electrification leadership to non-emitting movement of passengers and goods. 
  • Further decarbonize Canada’s electricity system through updated infrastructure, clean energy technologies, improved connectivity between provinces, and small-scale renewable energy generation, including in remote communities. 
  • Support Indigenous and community-based leadership in the development and deployment of new strategies for ecosystem health and restoration for climate resilience and economic diversification.

Invest in low- and non-emitting goods and services

  • Invest in the development of industries and businesses producing, and scaling up the use of, goods and services that are low- and non-emitting
  • Align support across sectors with commitments and plans to meet net-zero emissions. 
  • Grow Canadian leadership in manufacturing sectors that are already in demand, such as near-zero and zero-emissions vehicles. 
  • Support self-sufficiency in Canadian communities by developing the decentralized, clean supply chains, such as batteries and building retrofit components.
  • Grow Canadian exports of clean technology and clean energy. 
  • Grow Canadian expertise and next generation technology for emissions reduction in large, carbon-intensive industrial sectors

We hope the upcoming throne speech will provide an unequivocal pledge to Canadians to build back stronger and healthier in the face of disruptions and global emergencies. With the right investments now, our economy, our health and the environment will benefit. 


Josha MacNab

Josha MacNab is the national director of policy and strategy for the Pembina Institute. She is based in Vancouver.


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