(Montreal) The day after the presentation of the federal budget, several environmental groups welcome Ottawa’s initiative to invest in accelerating the construction of new electricity production projects across the country, but condemn the financial assistance granted to the fossil fuel industry.
Minister Chrystia Freeland unveiled the Trudeau government’s strategy in response to the Cut Inflation Act, the Biden government’s plan that is expected to deploy at least US$369 billion in the energy transition in the United States.
The federal government is planning investments of 80 billion over 10 years to support the energy transition through five tax credits. These measures target new electricity generation projects, the adoption or manufacture of “clean” technologies, hydrogen production and carbon capture.
The Équiterre organization says it welcomes these investments with reservations.
“Some announced measures such as the decarbonization of electricity networks are promising, but some, such as the significant funding of carbon capture and storage, cause perplexity,” said Marc-André Viau, director of government relations at Équiterre.
Tax credits to decarbonize the country’s electricity networks were part of the demands of the Coalition for a Green Budget, of which Équiterre is a member.
According to the environmental organization, “Carbon capture and storage, an unproven technology instrumentalized by the fossil fuel industry to maintain its production, looms large in this budget.”
The story is the same on the side of Greenpeace, which welcomes “unprecedented federal investments in the greening of the electricity network”, but which, through its spokesperson Patrick Bonin, indicates that it “would be by far more efficient to simply regulate emissions” from oil companies and “invest precious public funds in accelerating investments in energy efficiency and electrification”, rather than fund carbon capture projects.
Carbon capture technologies are “perfect for greenwashing oil and gas, but they won’t deliver significant emission reductions,” responded Julia Levin of the Environmental Defense organization.
“This budget does not show progress toward delivering on Canada’s promise to end fossil fuel subsidies this year,” said Caroline Brouillette, Acting Executive Director of the Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada.
Caroline Brouillette also stressed, however, “that certain measures announced, such as the decarbonization of electricity networks, are promising”.
Environmental organizations applaud the Trudeau government’s commitment to put in place, over the next year, a “targeted framework” outlining the right of Canadians to repair faulty appliances and electronics, instead of always having to replace them.
“Good news and a file that will follow closely” Équiterre.
The Trudeau government has pointed out that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to higher fertilizer prices and the budget provides $34.1 million over three years to support farmers who want to reduce their dependence on nitrogen fertilizers, a source significant amount of greenhouse gases.
“We are pleased to see that the government is funding its GHG reduction intentions from nitrogen fertilizers.”
The news, however, aroused the disappointment of the Producteurs de grains du Québec, who wanted the government to reimburse “amounts advanced by producers who have suffered the repercussions of the customs tariffs imposed by Ottawa on fertilizers imported from Russia”.
According to Christian Overbeek, president of the PGQ, “the government must not mix the files of support for climate change and the impact of a measure of geopolitical retaliation such as tariffs on agricultural inputs”.
Budget 2023 proposes $650 million over 10 years, starting in 2023-24, to support “monitoring, assessment and restoration work” in the country’s major water bodies like the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.
The government promises to introduce, by the end of the year, a bill that will allow the creation of the Canada Water Agency.
The federal government is also setting aside $151.9 million over three years for endangered whales, to protect them and their habitats, and $184 million over three years for other species at risk.