Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Feds should invest $50B in green projects for post-pandemic stimulus: experts

A number of recommendations total $50 billion in spending over five years

When the time comes for Canada to turn its attention to post-pandemic stimulus, a group of finance and policy experts says Ottawa needs to invest heavily in green infrastructure projects, including energy-efficient buildings, to secure an economic recovery with staying power.

The Task Force for a Resilient Recovery was struck independent of government in May, with the goal of coming up with tangible actions for governments to help get Canadians back to work while also building a low-carbon economy.

The group, which includes several business and finance experts as well as leaders of a number of policy and sustainability organizations, is releasing its preliminary report Wednesday. It comes with five overarching recommendations and 22 specific measures it believes government should take when contemplating how to kick-start the economy as Canada comes out of the COVID-19 crisis.

The recommendations total $50 billion in spending over five years.

The No. 1 proposal, which comes with the biggest price tag, suggests the federal government spend over $27 billion on retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient.

Andy Chisholm, who sits on the board of directors of RBC and is a member of the federal government’s expert panel on sustainable finance, says “inefficient buildings,” which are not ready for the effects of climate change, represent some of the biggest financial and environmental risks for Canadian economies.

But they also present opportunities.

“This is something where an enormous number of jobs can be created, existing technologies can be accelerated and commercialized and in the event that buildings are improved through retrofit, it will result in a better environment for tenants and workers, it will result in increased value for property owners,” Chisholm said.

“It’s kind of, as they say, low-hanging fruit in many respects.”

Direct government investments in building retrofits can be used to leverage up to $35 billion in additional private capital, the task force’s report says.

Other recommendations include moving more quickly to build widescale use and accessibility of zero-emission vehicles and to support the retention and attraction of clean vehicle manufacturers in Canada.

The group also wants to see the federal government accelerate investments in the renewable energy sectors; spend more on restoring and conserving natural infrastructure and invest in ways to make working for and creating green businesses easier and more sustainable.

The ultimate goal is to ensure Canada is focusing on the future and the needs of the country in the years and decades to come if and when it starts to roll out billions of dollars in economic stimulus once the health emergency spending phase is over, Chisholm said.

“Let’s be strategic, let’s try to achieve multiple objectives, let’s be forward-looking, let’s build long-term competitiveness into the thinking so that what we’re not doing is simply restoring ourselves to where we were previously … but rather puts us in a position to be stronger going forward utilizing the new and emerging opportunities.”

Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics at the World Resources Institute, says recent evidence from global organizations such as the International Energy Agency indicates governments that place a strong focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency can double the number of jobs created compared to the same investments in fossil fuel recovery.

Growing green sectors also creates more opportunities for groups that have been most affected by the pandemic, she said.

“By diversifying the economy in this way and moving towards a more service-oriented economy, a much more innovative economy, you actually tend to create jobs for those groups that tend to be neglected in the workforce or to slip behind, particularly in an economic recession, such as women and youth,” Mountford said.

“The question is what’s going to be best for Canadians, and I think what we’re saying is this is an approach that really would be.”

The group hopes to complete its final report soon and get it into the hands of federal officials as they plan the next phases of Canada’s recovery.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Quick work prevents potential wildfire disaster near Lytton

Blaze sparked by a suspected impaired driver who collided with a hydro pole

UPDATE: Wildfire northeast of Clinton put out by BC Wildfire Service

Fire at 51 Mile Creek suspected to be lightning-caused

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

No new COVID-19 cases for the first time in weeks: Interior Health

Hospitalization also down to zero across the region

Fire chief disturbed by behaviour of drivers following fatality

Collision on Highway 1 south of Ashcroft left two people dead

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Most Read