Green Investment, Fossil Divestment Go Hand in Hand
Two of the most popular household strategies for promoting the post-carbon transition—divesting from fossil fuels and investing in clean solutions—will work best when they go hand in hand, and when the federal government joins individual Canadians who are already making the effort, writes Patrick DeRochie, climate and energy program manager at Environmental Defence.
In a recent guest post for CoPower Green Bonds, DeRochie challenges the Trudeau government to make the same moves on a much larger scale.
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“Pushing for renewables and pulling back from fossil fuels are two strategies that need to work in tandem,” he writes. “On their own, neither will prevent dangerous climate change. Together, they’re a powerful tool for change.”
On a personal level, he explains, making the shift to green investments and thereby accelerating Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy can be made easier by consulting a knowledgeable advisor, or attending local green investment events. He states that SolarShare and CoPower Green Bonds “make up the impact portion of my investments”, helping to directly finance “the climate solutions I’m trying to accelerate—energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.” The rest of his savings “are invested in a custom portfolio built by Investors Group, and fossil-free exchange-traded funds like Genus Fossil Free.”
DeRochie explains that CoPower “offers me as an individual the same climate action roadmap that I expect of our governments: incentivize the clean economy solutions that enable a prosperous shift away from fossil fuels.” While acknowledging that “Canada’s federal government and most provincial governments are making notable progress” on the investment end of climate action, he pans federal reluctance “to tackle the other half of the equation: ending subsidies for oil and gas companies.”
“Preventing dangerous climate change requires an orderly phaseout of the fossil fuel industry and a just transition for workers and communities,” he notes. “But every year, Canada’s provincial and federal governments give at least C$3.3 billion in public money to oil and gas companies”—subsidies that the Bloomberg editorial board called out [subs req’d] as “the world’s dumbest policy”. DeRochie adds that those policies are anti-social, besides, “tak[ing] money away from other priorities like health care, education, and renewable energy.”
Those subsidies are profoundly undemocratic, as well, since they mean “that you and I as taxpayers have no choice but to finance the companies that contribute to climate change and pollute our water, air, and land,” he writes. In February, Environmental Defence launched a petition to shine a light on the average of $234 that each Canadian will give away to Big Oil this year through their tax returns.