The federal government will announce its 2023 budget in two weeks, on the heels of a new IPCC report underscoring just how urgently Canada needs to step up our response to the climate emergency.

Here are the three key things we’ll be looking for in the upcoming budget to see if it meets this moment.

Spending what it takes

One of the biggest flaws in the Trudeau government’s approach is that they’re simply not investing in green solutions at the speed and scale the climate crisis demands.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the Climate Action Network (CAN), the federal government is currently spending $10 billion per year to reduce our carbon emissions, or a meagre 0.5% of Canada’s GDP. To accomplish the epic task of rapidly transforming our economy away from the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels, we need to increase those investments to about $57 billion per year, about 2% of Canada’s GDP.

That might seem like a lot, but it’s equal to just 11 weeks of federal government spending at the height of the COVID pandemic. That crisis proved the government can spend what it takes when lives and livelihoods are on the line. We must demand they do the same for the climate emergency.

Powering down the bad

The other huge flaw in Canada’s climate investment approach is that we’re stuck in neutral, with one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator. No matter how much the federal government invests in clean energy, we won’t get anywhere if they keep propping up the fossil fuel industry with billions in subsidies.

News just broke that the cost of expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline has surged again, this time rising 43% to an eye-watering $30.9 billion.

Export Development Canada has provided financial support to both TMX and the Coastal GasLink pipeline. They’ve even given loans to big oil companies in Mexico, Brazil and India.

Now, tar sands companies are lobbying hard for billions in new subsidies to develop carbon capture, utilization and storage technology (CCUS) so taxpayers get stuck with the bill for this risky, fake climate solution. We’ll be ready to push back if those subsidies are part of Budget 2023. Polluters, not the public, must pay to clean up their messes, whether it’s the greenhouse gases they’ve been dumping in our atmosphere or the toxic tailings contaminating our watersheds.

Powering up the good

Decades of fossil fuel industry obstruction and political delay mean time’s up for incremental action. We need to ramp up truly green investments right now.

But Big Oil and the Trudeau government are muddying the waters, lumping real zero-emissions tech, like renewable energy, with blue hydrogen, carbon capture and other fake climate solutions designed to keep business as usual going as long as possible.

Powering up the good means making transformational climate investments now. Here are some highlights, according to our friends at CAN and the CCPA:

  • $25 billion to support Indigenous-led climate policies and solutions
  • $20 billion to build a clean electricity grid
  • $66.5 billion to make homes and buildings energy efficient
  • $40 billion to support zero-carbon public transit with stable, long-term funding
  • $80 billion to support good jobs and vibrant communities by targeting public investments in the areas facing the most challenging transitions

The climate crisis threatens everything we love, and the IPCC report makes it clear that we’re still on track for catastrophe. But if our leaders step up and make transformative investments now, we can still change course and build a climate-safe future where everyone can thrive.

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This blog post was informed by the report Spending What it Takes: Transformational climate investments for long-term prosperity in Canada. We highly recommend diving in if you’re interested in learning more about the money side of climate action.