President Joe Biden’s visit to Ottawa has prompted many comparisons between the two countries. Through the Cutting Inflation Act, the US government is investing heavily in climate action. For what ? Because the United States wants to provide affordable energy and bring justice to communities that have been left behind for far too long. By accelerating the decline of the cost curve and strengthening supply chains, our neighbor to the south is helping to make green technologies even more competitive.
In the United States, President Biden and Congress decided they could not afford not to invest in climate action. Here in Canada, similar climate investments would contribute to a more affordable, secure and competitive future – and the upcoming federal budget is an opportunity to launch these investments.
The recent Spending the Right Thing Report1 by Marc Lee, Caroline Brouillette and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood breaks down the types of programs to fund, from public transit to home and building retrofits and renewable energy infrastructure and more. These climate investments are necessary to create an affordable future for Canadians.
In Europe, moving away from fossil fuels is a national security priority. The heat pump market is booming. In contrast, Canada still lacks a national energy efficiency program accessible to low-income Canadians who cannot afford the upfront costs for insulation, sealing and clean heating.
Investments in energy efficiency help fight inflation because they decrease the demand for fossil fuels while directly reducing energy bills. By strategically coordinating large-scale retrofits2, climate-conscious young people can be encouraged to pursue careers in this field and transform supply chains in ways that improve the cost and speed of retrofits and house constructions.
From 2015 to 2025, GDP losses from climate inaction are projected to reach $25 billion, an amount that could rise to $101 billion by 2050. In 2021, Canadians lost about 43 million potential working hours by due to heat exposure, and a heat wave killed 619 people in British Columbia. We must prepare for the consequences of climate change while reducing our emissions: for example, by providing heat pumps that also work as air conditioners, and by protecting and restoring the biodiversity of forests, wetlands and salt marshes that sequester carbon .
Finally, Canada cannot afford not to invest in climate action if it wishes to remain competitive in a world on the road to carbon neutrality. Canada quickly realized that carbon pricing alone is not an industrial strategy. We need to invest in the capacity of the public sector to frame socially relevant missions, to understand the opportunities unique to each sector and to quickly exploit these opportunities.
We cannot afford not to improve the cost of living, safety and competitiveness of Canadians. Climate action has long been seen as a welcome addition. It is now a necessity and we must spend what it takes to make it a reality.