If there were any doubts how far climate has fallen down Santa’s wish list for the Trudeau government, read Chrystia Freeland’s Fall Economic Statement. She delivered the government’s annual economic strategy without once mentioning “climate change” or “environment.” (“All I Want for Christmas is Two” could be her holiday jingle, as she dreams of 2% inflation.) Such a narrow consumer focus may be bad news for her green caucus. But Freeland’s renewed focus on execution may be welcome. In her government’s strategy for the “clean economy”—Ottawa speak for climate—she made a few things clear.
First, the new Canada Growth Fund will allocate roughly half its $15 billion funding for “carbon contracts for difference”—essentially carbon price guarantees if government policy changes. That’s a lot of money but may not be enough to underwrite a clean economy. Second, the government will soon introduce legislation for investment tax credits for carbon capture and clean technology projects, which were promised a year ago but never finalized. They will be critical to decarbonization projects, and there is some concern they’re still not competitive with U.S. incentives. Ottawa is also pushing ahead with its hydrogen agenda, promising tax breaks for ammonia, and giving more incentives for waste biomass (wood chips and crop residue) that can be used in sustainable aviation fuel. To attract more capital, Freeland gave the green light for a “taxonomy” to help banks and pension funds label investments as “green” or “transition,” and she will push pension funds to invest more in Canada’s “clean economy.”
How a taxonomy treats natural gas will be contentious, as will another Freeland proposal: a national Indigenous loan guarantee. Will Ottawa limit what Indigenous communities can buy, depending on its climate impact? A group of 130 Indigenous nations were quick to say, not a chance. After centuries of colonization, they’ll pick their own projects, including natural gas, thank you very much. Such debates will dominate the winter term, as the Trudeau Liberals try to show they can manage the current economy and help build a new one.
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