The Smart Prosperity initiative, an Ottawa-based advocacy group, has released an open letter signed by 22 prominent Canadians, mainly CEOs and leaders of civil society organizations, expressing support for the Canada-wide carbon pricing plan outlined by the federal government that met with some controversy upon its announcement earlier this week.
“There is no better way to get clean tech innovation to market, and to have it scale quickly, than a price on pollution and a set deadline for change,” said ex-TV Dragon and CEO of Venture Communications, Arlene Dickinson.”This move will accelerate research and development, increase venture capital investment and ensure large scale commercialization of clean tech by entrepreneurs. And that will help make Canada a global leader in clean growth across all parts of the economy.”
Other signatories include Royal Bank of Canada Senior Vice-President for the Office of the CEO John Stackhouse, Loblaw President & Executive Chairman Galen Weston, Shell Canada Former President & Country Chair Lorraine Mitchelmore, Pan American Silver Corp. Chairman and Alterra Power Executive Chairman Ross Beaty, and TELUS President & CEO Darren Entwistle.
In the wake of the federal government’s announcement to unilaterally impose a national carbon tax, a rift has opened between provincial leaders who have already decided to take a lead on accepting environmental responsibility and those who are determined to drag their feet in order to score political points.
Despite the fact that Saskatchewan has the highest photovoltaic potential in the country, making it ideal for solar development, not to mention wind and geothermal technologies, the provincial government there made the essentially ideological decision last year to double down on coal, pursuing a $1.5 billion project to clean up Canada’s largest coal-generated thermal electric power plant, the Boundary Dam Power Station, rather than move into the 21st century.
In a speech at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce last week, RBC President & CEO Dave McKay pointed out that Canada’s investment in the cleantech sector is behind that of Mexico, Taiwan and the Netherlands, dropping from 14th to 19th spot in the ranking of national exporters of clean technology.
The global market for clean technology is worth $1 trillion, with China accounting for one-third of total global investment in cleantech last year, ahead of other cleantech champions Germany and South Korea.
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Even so, Canada’s cleantech sector now boasts 800 companies that employ 55,000 Canadians, which is nearly the size of Canada’s aerospace manufacturing sector.
“We’re seeing remarkable technologies being developed, including here in Alberta, which are changing the way we use energy. Canada has the chance to lead through this transition,” said McKay. “But it will take time. Technologies can take decades to develop, and to commercialize. Human behaviour does not change overnight.”
While Saskatchewan ensures that “overnight” lasts as long as humanly possible, the rest of Canada has an impulse to innovate and move beyond dirty and inefficient methods of heating our homes and fueling our transportation systems, because it’s 2016.
The statement released by the group is reproduced below:
“We are pleased to hear that Canada will put a price on carbon emissions, as most of the world’s biggest economies are doing. Carbon pricing is the most economically effective way to reduce emissions and stimulate clean innovation – which will be critical to Canada’s success in a changing global economy. The proposed Canada-wide approach works with provinces and territories, building on their existing systems, and allowing for regionally-tailored paths towards a common goal. By starting slowly and ramping up over 5 years, it gives businesses and households time to adjust and plan for lowering their carbon footprints.
A rising carbon price is critical to put Canada on a path to meet its Paris climate commitments, and build the foundation for a cleaner, stronger economic future. It will need to be part of an overall approach that includes world class regulations to promote energy efficiency and clean production, investments in clean infrastructure, and targeted public support to accelerate clean innovation across the economy, leveraging private capital. A well-designed plan will secure Canadian competitiveness and jobs, while buffering any disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations and sectors.”
This unique consensus comes on the heels of the federal plan to bring in a coordinated minimum price on carbon emissions across Canada, built around existing provincial systems.
“This move will accelerate research and development, increase venture capital investment and ensure large scale commercialization of clean tech by entrepreneurs,” says Arlene Dickinson, CEO of Venture Communications and a Smart Prosperity Leader, “and that will help make Canada a global leader in clean growth across all parts of the economy.”
“This climate policy makes economic and environmental sense. A rising, Canada-wide carbon price is the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, spur private investment and stimulate clean innovation across the economy,” says John Stackhouse, Sr. Vice-President, Office of the CEO, RBC. “And by using the revenues to cut other taxes and invest in low carbon technology and infrastructure, Canada can be a global leader in cleaner growth.”
“Pricing carbon is an important tool to reduce emissions and drive innovation towards a low carbon economy,” said Lorraine Mitchelmore, Smart Prosperity Co-chair, and Former President & Country Chair, Shell Canada. “Innovation, together with access to tidewater, will allow Canada’s energy sector to be world leaders in clean production.”
Guy Cormier, Chair, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, added: “Desjardins Group supports the federal government’s decision to impose a price on carbon, in respect to the provinces’ choice to either implement a similar cost or a cap-and-trade system. The time has come for all the sectors of the economy to include climate change considerations into their strategic plans, to take advantage of business opportunities, to reduce risks and to meet the needs of Canadians.”
- Kathy Bardswick, President & CEO, The Co-operators
- Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director, McKinsey & Company
- Ross Beaty, Chairman, Pan American Silver Corp. // Executive Chairman, Alterra Power
- Guy Cormier, Chair of the Board, President and CEO, Desjardins Group
- John Coyne, Vice President, Corporate Secretary and General Counsel, Unilever Canada
- Arlene Dickinson, CEO, Venture Communications (and formerly of Dragon’s Den)
- Stewart Elgie*, Professor of Law & Economics, University of Ottawa
- Darren Entwistle, President & CEO, TELUS
- Jean-François Huc, President & CEO, BioAmber
- Jim Lopez, President & CEO, Tembec
- David Miller, President & CEO, WWF Canada
- Lorraine Mitchelmore*, Former President & Country Chair, Shell Canada
- Merrell-Ann Phare, Founding Executive Director, Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources
- Vicky Sharpe, Founding President & CEO, Sustainable Development Technology Canada
- Jean Simard, President & CEO, Aluminum Association of Canada // Co-Founder & Director, SWITCH
- Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada
- Rick Smith, Executive Director, Broadbent Institute
- John Stackhouse, Sr. Vice-President, Office of the CEO, RBC // Former Editor-in-Chief, Globe and Mail
- Kali Taylor, Founding Executive Director, Student Energy
- Annette Verschuren*, Chair & CEO, NRStor // Former President, Home Depot Canada
- Galen Weston, Chairman, George Weston Ltd. // President & Executive Chairman, Loblaw Companies Ltd.
- Ed Whittingham, Executive Director, Pembina Institute
* Co-Chair, Smart Prosperity