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NEWS

The 2% solution: Our stimulus plan for clean prosperity

13
Nov

For less than 2% of GDP, Canada could fund a climate war chest that fends off recession, and get us 70% of way to Paris targets.

Most Canadians understand that climate action and economic prosperity aren’t a zero-sum or either/or proposition. But the scope of the economic opportunity that’s embedded in climate action is still widely under-estimated.

Based on an assessment of five major sectors: buildings, transportation, electricity, heavy industry, and oil and gas, closing the funding gap to take business–as-usual capital expenditure to best-in-class clean would boost GDP and jobs while slashing greenhouse gas emissions, a report by Corporate Knights commissioned by the Council for Clean Capitalism found.

In each sector, we quantified the likely level of business-as-usual capital investment in the six-year period from 2020 to 2025. We then quantified the incremental clean investment (ICI) that would be required to turbocharge demand for viable decarbonization options in sectors with the greatest greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the logic of “what gets funded gets done,” we propose a six-year time-bound clean stimulus program to cover the lion’s share of the incremental clean investment, estimated at 2% of GDP per year. The war chest to provide the clean stimulus could be most logically financed via a Canada green bond borrowing program averaging just under $50 billion per year over the next six years. To put this number in context, Scotiabank’s economists are calling on the federal government to undertake up to a $100 billion per year stimulus program to counteract the coming economic contraction. Directing half this amount toward a clean stimulus is ambitious and aspirational yet realistic.

We would expect a modest increase in Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio, which could be mitigated from incremental tax revenues resulting from additional GDP growth that the stimulus would spur. This stimulus package would drive demand at scale to deploy a host of decarbonization technologies economy-wide, with significant knock-on effects including hundreds of billion of dollars of GDP growth and hundreds of thousands of new jobs, not to mention getting us 70% of the way to our 2030 Paris carbon reduction targets by the end of 2025. It would also place Canadian industry at the forefront of a large growing global market for low-carbon solutions.

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