Use Pandemic Stimulus to Create Clean Energy Jobs, Canadian Associations Urge Ottawa
The federal government’s economic stimulus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic must signal continuity in climate policy, provide “sufficient, sustained, and sustainable stimulus”, and use existing programs to quickly support clean energy solutions, a dozen leading energy transition associations said last week, in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau coordinated by Clean Energy Canada.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the vulnerability of the systems Canadians rely on, systems that stand to be similarly disrupted by climate-related impacts in the future absent a sustained and accelerated effort to mitigate carbon pollution while enhancing systemic resilience,” the letter states. “The unprecedented public investment needed to rebuild the Canadian economy is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to position Canada to compete and prosper in the global clean economy.”
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
Signatories include the heads of Clean Energy Canada, Advanced Biofuels Canada, The Atmospheric Fund, the Canada Cleantech Alliance, the Canadian Solar Industries Association, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, Écotech Québec, Efficiency Canada, Electric Mobility Canada, Foresight Cleantech Accelerator, the Ontario Clean Technology Industry Association, and WaterPower Canada.
Citing modelling conducted for Clean Energy Canada by Navius Research, the associations say the country’s clean energy sector is already on track to create 559,400 jobs by 2030, with employment growing at four times the national average between 2020 and 2030.
“Clearly, maintaining these measures—and, where appropriate, adding new investments, policies, and regulations—can play a critical role in stimulus and economic recovery efforts, with the co-benefit of cutting pollution to exceed our 2030 Paris target, and, with additional effort, achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” they state.
At the same time, the letter notes that governments around the world are scrambling to deliver economic stimulus to keep households, businesses, and economies afloat. “While supporting the urgent implementation of these measures, we must ensure that these unprecedented investments pave the way to a more sustainable, net-zero emission economy and avoid measures that lock us into a high-carbon future or risk stranded assets,” the letter urges. “This means that any stimulus must come with conditions, focusing on immediate job creation, mid- and longer-term economic productivity, community benefit, and clean growth,” with any fossil sector investment subject to “stringent conditions to focus on workers, decarbonization, and diversification.”
The letter also points to a path to reconciling the “speed and simplicity” of an economic stimulus plan with longer-term infrastructure investments to drive the transition off carbon. “While new initiatives and programs could be developed and approved over the next several months, significant headway can be made in the short term through existing frameworks,” the associations say. “We can use them to scale up investment in energy retrofits, renewable power production, storage and transmission, clean fuel production, electric vehicle and electric vehicle charging infrastructure deployment, and measures to further green government. Without reinventing the wheel, the federal government—cooperating with provincial and municipal governments where appropriate— can get funding and financing into the economy quickly and productively, while significantly reducing carbon pollution and increasing employment.”
They add that Ottawa can “send a clear signal that the economic recovery will be a clean one by supporting initiatives such as online training, sectoral and project studies, launching competitions, and requests for proposals which enable the clean technology sector to prepare to contribute to recovery while physical distancing measures are still in place.”