A supremely constitutional climate policy, an unexpected endorsement for it, and a new question for your bank.


The next frontier in a cleaner economy

The big news last week was hard to miss, as the Supreme Court of Canada declared the federal price on pollution constitutional. It's great news, which we'll come back to in a second, but at the same time, in the words of our executive director Merran Smith: “We shouldn’t still be debating whether to fight climate change and modernize our economy—but rather how we do so in a way that plays to our strengths and ensures our long-term competitiveness.”

Enter our latest report, The Next Frontier. As more and more countries pledge to reduce emissions, including Canada’s closest trading partners, the materials required to build a net-zero world are increasing in demand. The good news is that many of Canada’s heavy industries—like steel, mining, cement, and wood—have a major low-carbon opportunity.

Already, heavy industries employ 300,000 Canadians, more than oil and gas, and with 127 countries around the world now working toward carbon neutrality, Canada’s comparatively clean sectors are ideally positioned to grow. But to seize this significant opportunity, Canada needs a federal action plan for clean industry. For the longer read, here's our report; for an abridged version, check out our latest op-ed in iPolitics or coverage in the National Observer and Business in Vancouver.

Carbon pricing constitutional

Back to the big news: Last week's Supreme Court decision made clear that the federal government has the authority to tackle climate change at the level required—something Canadians both want and expect from their political leaders. “Any serious climate plan needs a backbone that does the heavy lifting, and carbon pricing is widely considered the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions," we said in a statement. "It’s the intersection of climate ambition and smart economic policy." For more on the topic, here's a helpful explainer.

Provincial premiers respond

As for the provinces that challenged the federal price on pollution, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is suggesting the Prairie province will introduce its own pricing plan ASAP, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is "obviously disappointed,"  and Ontario Premier Doug Ford should actually consider this a political gift, according to Clean Prosperity's Michael Bernstein.

A less expected endorsement for carbon pricing

Carbon pricing was also in the news down south, as the American Petroleum Institute endorsed the policy, a symbolic pivot for the oil and gas industry's largest trade group, which has long resisted climate action. Leaders from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, and ConocoPhillip also signalled support for carbon pricing on a call with the White House last week, revealing, perhaps, a very different approach for a very different administration.

Speaking of oil and gas interests

Alberta will see the most growth of any province in renewable energy capacity between 2018 and 2023, according to a Clean Energy Regulator report, as new wind and solar projects replace phased-out coal plants. Alberta's renewable power capacity is expected to increase to 26% from 16%, while neighbouring Saskatchewan's will jump to 33% from 25%.

A Conservative climate plan, take two?

Speaking to reporters, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said last week his party will unveil its climate plan before the next election; the comment comes after his party voted down a resolution to acknowledge the existence of climate change. We look forward to seeing that plan sooner than later. The party has yet to explain to Canadians how exactly it would meet the climate challenge, instead focusing its efforts to date on how it would dismantle our biggest climate policies like carbon pricing and the clean fuel standard.

Will the U.S. set an expiration date for gas car sales?

That is the question being asked by certain Democratic lawmakers, though the answer remains unclear as U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said last week that, when it comes to adopting California's decision to ban the sale of new gas-powered passenger vehicles after 2035, Buttigieg had "not heard of anything to that effect at the national or federal level," noting that automakers like GM had set their own 2035 goals.

Meanwhile, in Germany

Carmakers in Germany say they're ready to meet stricter climate requirements, after the European Commission endorsed vehicle emission reductions of at least 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels. Germany's auto industry credited the rapid growth of electric cars as the reason they can meet the challenge. Europe overtook China as the world's biggest EV market last year, helped by government incentives and more offerings from carmakers.

A more detailed roadmap

For the first time ever, B.C. has established sectoral emissions targets. And while these new targets neither increase nor decrease the province’s larger 2030 climate target, they do provide a more detailed roadmap for where B.C. will decarbonize its economy over the next decade. Read our response here.

Banking on the climate crisis

The world's largest carbon-emitting companies are nowhere near aligning themselves with Paris climate goals, a new report finds. While another, similar report reveals that the world's largest 60 banks have provided $3.8 trillion in financing for fossil fuel companies since 2015's Paris accord—with little sign of slowing down. Canadian banks RBC (#5), TD (#10), and Scotiabank (#11) all ranked in the top 12 fossil-fuel financiers globally.

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IMAGE & MEDIA CREDITS: Clean Energy Canada
Clean Energy Review is a weekly digest of climate and clean energy news and insight from across Canada and around the world.

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