A strong climate plan is key to Canada’s economic prosperity

Business Coalition for a Clean Economy letter to federal party leaders

Business Coalition for a Clean Economy letter to federal party leaders
More than 40 business leaders have sent the following open letter to the federal party leaders.

October 8, 2019

Mr. Yves-François Blanchet
Leader, Bloc Québécois
402–3750 Crémazie Boulevard East
Montréal, QC  H2A 1B6

Mr. Andrew Scheer
Leader, Conservative Party of Canada
1720–130 Albert St.
Ottawa, ON  K1P 5G4

Ms. Elizabeth May
Leader, Green Party of Canada
812–116 Albert St.
Ottawa, ON  K1P 5G3

The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau
Leader, Liberal Party of Canada
920–350 Albert St.
Ottawa, ON  K1P 6M8

Mr. Jagmeet Singh
Leader, New Democratic Party
300–279 Laurier Ave. West
Ottawa, ON  K1P 5J9

Mr. Maxime Bernier
Leader, People’s Party of Canada
205–290 Saint-Joseph Boulevard
Gatineau, QC  J8Y 3Y3

Dear Party Leaders:

Re: A strong climate plan is key to Canada’s economic prosperity

We are leading businesses and organizations that are proud to operate in British Columbia and employ Canadians. We believe building a sustainable, clean economy, powered by renewable energy, is key to ensuring Canada’s future prosperity in a rapidly changing world. The Business Coalition for a Clean Economy represents more than 40 companies, 13,000 jobs, and more than $4.3 billion in annual revenues.

For all businesses, climate change is a risk to the bottom line. Taking action on climate now is also a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Canada to demonstrate real global leadership, create jobs, encourage innovation, build healthy and safe communities, and address the growing concerns surrounding waste.

Strong climate policy provides certainty and is good for business. That’s why the Business Coalition for a Clean Economy supports a national climate plan for Canada that makes good on our Paris Agreement commitment to limit global warming to 1.5–2°C (above pre-industrial levels) and calls for renewed leadership on climate solutions in Canada.

As a global player in the energy industry and a leader in environmental performance and the innovation economy, Canada has an important role to play in leading the global transition to prosperous low-carbon economies worldwide. By taking a leadership role in building a clean economy, Canada can nurture the best and brightest minds and most innovative companies to mobilize all toward creating jobs, growth, and affordable clean energy.

We believe Canada’s next climate plan should take action on the following priorities:

1. Reduce carbon pollution in all economic sectors

We need to look at all the contributors to carbon pollution across the economy and take action accordingly. This includes, but is not limited to, the industrial, transportation, and building sectors, each of which is faced with unique challenges requiring tailored solutions. With some of the most ambitious policies in North America, B.C. offers a prime example of how Canada can transition to clean energy, grow a prosperous economy, and achieve climate targets.

2. Invest in renewable energy

A clean energy grid is essential to further decarbonization. When investing in energy infrastructure to fuel our industries, homes, and communities, we need to make choices that will result in jobs for the future, cleaner air, less volatile weather, and a more stable climate.

3. Invest in clean innovation

Canada should be on a path to export both our clean technology and expertise, such as developing renewable energy and low carbon fuels, energy storage, and carbon capture, removal and utilisation. Solving our carbon pollution problems here at home offers environmental gain with a significant economic upside.

4. Put a price on carbon pollution

Simply put, carbon pricing is both the fairest and most cost-effective policy to drive down carbon pollution across the economy. Over time, carbon pricing results in lowered emissions. In B.C., the economy is thriving after a decade under the carbon tax. Canada needs to incentivize emissions reductions with a strong carbon pricing policy that is simple, stringent, and stable.

5. Invest in training for clean economy careers

To set Canadians up for success, we need to seize the long-term economic opportunities that come from the growing clean economy. That means jobs and skills training to design, manufacture, and operate low carbon energy infrastructure and technology in Canada, as well as export our products and expertise.

6. Ensure transparency and accountability

We need a transparent process whereby the government forecasts carbon pollution (with targets for each sector), tracks and publicly reports progress, submits this data for independent verification, and adjusts policies accordingly. Making this a legal requirement will safeguard gains and ensure they are built upon.

7. Protect land and freshwater ecosystems

Significant swaths of Canada’s landscape — including forests and wetlands — store vast amounts of carbon. Canada’s next climate plan should include a commitment and incentives to ensure Canada’s terrestrial and freshwater areas with high-carbon storage value are protected or managed, to simultaneously slow climate change and biodiversity loss.

8. Increase investment in adaptation and resiliency

Climate change is costing Canadian’s taxpayers, governments, and businesses billions each and every year. More must be done to limit these losses. Canada must increase its investment in measures that help Canadian families and businesses adapt and build resilience to the increased risk of extreme weather that has resulted from climate change.

Climate change is both a challenge and an economic opportunity for Canada. Now more than ever, we need to demonstrate bold, sustained leadership by prioritizing investments in the clean future. We therefore call on your parties to incorporate the above criteria into your climate and clean economy plans.

Sincerely,

Jon Hoerauf, president, Arc’teryx

Bob Landell, principal, Avalon Mechanical Consultants Ltd.

Nicolas Pocard, director of marketing, Ballard Power Systems

David Harris, owner, Bulkley Valley Brewery

Christine Carter, regional sales director, Bullfrog Power

Steve Oldham, CEO, Carbon Engineering Ltd.

Robert Niven, CEO, CarbonCure Technologies

Elizabeth Sheehan, president, Climate Smart Businesses

Kristy O’Leary, director of impact, Cove Continuity Advisors

Daniel Terry, president, Denman Island Chocolate

Benjamin Ernst, co-owner, Earnest Ice Cream

Denise Taschereau, CEO, Fairware

Leonard Schein, president, Festival Cinemas Ltd.

Eric Beckwitt, CEO, Freightera

Sonny Wong, president, Hamazaki Wong Marketing Group

Ryan Holmes, CEO, Hootsuite

Colleen Giroux-Schmidt, vice president for corporate relations, Innergex Renewable Energy

George Nickel, director of business development, Innotech Windows + Doors

Lisa Westerhoff, associate, Integral Group

Katrina Shum, sustainability manager for North America, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

Patrick Nangle, CEO, Modo Co-operative

Neil Thomson, CEO, Naked Snacks

Arran Stephens and Ratana Stephens, co-CEOs, Nature’s Path Foods

Karen Tam Wu, B.C. director, Pembina Institute

Shaun Mayhew, sales and marketing manager, Penfolds Roofing & Solar

Jenn Vervier, CEO, Persephone Brewing

Matt Phillips, founding brewer, Phillips Brewing Co.

Julie Strilesky, director of government affairs, Portable Electric

Sarah Smith, principal, Prism Engineering

Louise Schwarz, co-owner, Recycling Alternative

Teresa Reid, principal, Reid’s Automotive Recycling Ltd.

Joel Solomon, partner, Renewal Funds and Interdependent Investments

Elyse Crowston, director of (impact) investor relations, Rhiza Capital

Mickey McLeod, CEO, Salt Spring Coffee

Chris Arkell, cofounder, Sea to Sky Removal

Sean McStay, national sales manager, SIGA

Eleanor O’Connor, president of production services, Sim

Cedric Dauchot, co-owner, Townsite Brewing Inc.

Greg Malpass, CEO, Traction on Demand

Tamara Vrooman, CEO, Vancity

Pete Mitchell, president, Vancouver Film Studios

Rob Baxter, co-owner, VREC Solar

Neal Turner, general manager, Westeck Windows

Melissa Orozco, founder, Yulu PR

Climate action makes good business sense for B.C.

Building the clean economy is an investment in our future

By Tamara Vrooman, Aaron Sutherland, Karen Tam Wu
Published in BCBusiness (March 27, 2019).

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman addresses a Businesses for B.C.’s Clean Economy luncheon in November 2018. Photo: Stephen Hui, Pembina Institute

For all businesses, climate change is a risk to the bottom line.

Floods close workplaces and shipping routes, rising seas threaten coastal infrastructure, droughts inflict crop damage, heat stresses fish stocks, warmer winters pose a challenge to snow sports, and smoky skies discourage tourism. Insured losses due to extreme weather now exceed $1 billion annually across Canada. 

We are proud to operate in British Columbia, and we believe our businesses have a responsibility to be part of the solution. We also see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create thousands of new jobs, build healthier homes and buildings, encourage innovation, reduce waste, and improve air quality.

That’s why we’re joining forces with leading B.C. businesses to champion an exciting vision of a resilient, diversified, thriving, and globally competitive economy with opportunities for all British Columbians.

Our vision includes a province powered by clean, renewable energy, and forward-thinking policies that lead the way to a sustainable, low carbon economy. It also supports cleaner air and water, which in turn supports healthy communities and ecosystems.

Now more than ever, we need the B.C. government to demonstrate bold, sustained leadership by prioritizing investments in the clean future.

According to a new poll by Insights West, most British Columbians rank climate change as one of the top three issues facing the world today. Last fall, a United Nations panel warned humanity has just a dozen years to take urgent action to curb heat-trapping carbon pollution and limit catastrophic impacts to our climate.

Insurance Bureau of Canada vice president Aaron Sutherland speaks about the costs of climate change at a business luncheon.
Photo: Stephen Hui, Pembina Institute

We’ve seen firsthand what our province can accomplish as a climate leader. For example, B.C.’s low carbon fuel standard has effectively reduced pollution from gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles while promoting the production of electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. LiveSmart BC rebates supported energy efficiency upgrades for 10,000 homes per year between 2008 and 2014.

Many B.C. businesses are firmly committed to climate action as well. Climate Smart Businesses, a Vancouver-based social enterprise, has worked with hundreds of companies across the province that have significantly shrunk their carbon footprints while saving a combined $4.5 million a year in operating costs.

A strong B.C. requires a prosperous economy, where businesses are well positioned to be competitive and thrive in the rapidly evolving global marketplace. We urge the government to position B.C. to provide the goods and services needed in a low-carbon world, make clean choices more affordable and accessible, protect our families and communities from climate change, and grow clean jobs and attract global investment.

In this regard, the CleanBC plan is a bold step toward securing a prosperous, low carbon future for B.C. We were pleased to see the plan backed up by $902 million over three years in Budget 2019 — the largest investment in climate solutions and clean growth on an annual basis in B.C. history. Next, we look forward to full implementation of the plan.

CleanBC paints a compelling picture of the future. All new homes and buildings will be low carbon in a little over 10 years. In just over 20 years, all new cars sold will be zero emissions. Going forward, we will generate more clean electricity and renewable fuels, and burn less oil and gas.

Arc’teryx, Climate Smart, Innergex Renewable Energy, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, and Vancity, in partnership with the Pembina Institute, are forming the Business Coalition for a Clean Economy. We believe strong climate and energy policies provide certainty and are good for business. We invite other B.C. businesses to join us.

Climate change is both a challenge and an opportunity for B.C. Let’s work together to secure the health of our families, the safety of our communities, and the prosperity of our economy, and build the clean future.

Tamara Vrooman is president and CEO of Vancity.

Aaron Sutherland is vice president for the Pacific region at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Karen Tam Wu is B.C. director at the Pembina Institute.

This op-ed originally appeared in BCBusiness on March 27, 2019.

For information on joining the Business Coalition for a Clean Economy, please contact Melyssa Hudson.