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Canadian Climate Groups Urge ‘Green Strings’ on COVID Recovery Funding

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The Energy Mix is a Canadian non-profit that promotes community awareness of, engagement in, and action on climate change, energy, and post-carbon solutions. Each week, we scan up to 1,000 news...

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As Finance Minister Bill Morneau prepares to release a fiscal update today, Canada’s leading environmental organizations are calling for “green strings” on Ottawa’s COVID-19 recovery funding package.

They say the government must limit its financial support to companies that adopt a 2050 net-zero deadline, ensure that funding pays for “jobs and stability, not executives and shareholders”, and support a just transition that prepares workers for green jobs.

The seven “green strings” in the report are:

  • Support only companies that agree to plan for net-zero emissions by 2050;
  • Make sure funds go towards jobs and stability, not executives and shareholders;
  • Support a just transition that prepares workers for green jobs;
  • Build up the sectors and infrastructure of tomorrow;
  • Strengthen and protect environmental policies during recovery;
  • Be transparent and accountable to Canadians;
  • Put people first and leave no one behind.

The release was led by the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and supported by Climate Action Network-Canada, Environmental Defence, Équiterre, the Pembina Institute, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, STAND.Earth, the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation, and the Wilderness Committee.

“The federal government is spending billions on economic stimulus and has signalled that it is committed to a green recovery. This report shows the vital importance of strong climate action if we are to be effective in creating good jobs, a resilient economy and a healthy, fair society,” said lead author and IISD Policy Analyst Vanessa Corkal. “Our response to COVID-19 must put us on a better path to confront the climate and biodiversity crises, which in their own way will have major health impacts.”

The new report “gives policy-makers concrete steps to act on,” CAN-Rac writes. “These steps include adding conditions, or ‘green strings,’ to funding given to industry, such as requiring concrete plans for net-zero emissions by 2050, with immediate action for reducing emissions in key high-carbon sectors. The report also recommends financial conditions—including prohibiting corporate stock buybacks and executive bonuses, and withholding support from companies using tax havens—coupled with strong transparency and accountability measures.”

In an e-blast that coincided with the report’s release, Ottawa cleantech consultant Céline Bak of Analytica Advisors recapped recent developments on the green recovery, including the Building Back Better roadmap that Bak and Cobourg-based energy modeller Ralph Torrie developed with Corporate Knights. Bak said a green recovery package could create 250,000 secure jobs in 2021 and 2022, the beginning of 640,000 jobs and 6.4 million person-years of employment the country could expect through 2030.

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