Here are some ideas our panelists shared in the April 29 webinar on climate policy in the context of COVID-19. To watch the virtual town hall in full, click here.

Catherine AbreauExecutive Director of Climate Action Network Canada, on learning from the mistakes of the 2008 recession and recovery:

“I think the biggest risk is we’re in this moment of intense anxiety and in times of great anxiety and uncertainty, the familiar is very comforting and tempting. It can be understandably appealing to retreat into the status quo, and indeed that’s what we saw in 2008 with the responses to the economic downturn, that there was really this doubling down on existing industries. So if we can get governments to deviate from that conventional path of pumping funds into fossil fuel and greenhouse gas-intensive growth plans, and to instead pivot to these renewable energy, clean energy, low carbon-driven economic sectors, then we have the chance to really learn from the mistakes of the 2008 crisis.”

Stewart Elgie, Founder and Chair of Smart Prosperity Institute, on incentivizing businesses to invest in cleantech:
“For businesses just trying to get back to work right now, thinking about a whole new realm of technology is just an extra constraint. But there are some things you can do. One of them is to use the tax system. If you want to actually lighten the tax burden, at a time when companies really need tax relief, you can target that to clean investment. You could have a 100 per cent capital cost allowance write-off for all investments in clean technology next year that cuts across every sector. You can do the same by having an incentive for anyone that makes an investment in a clean technology firm — a 30 per cent tax incentive to get equity flowing into those small Canadian cleantech companies at a time when they need it.”

Toby Heaps, Founder of Corporate Knights, on increasing the presence of electric vehicles in Canada:

“Canada is probably the 10th largest market in the world for passenger vehicles. We have enormous purchasing power. We could go and tell global automakers that if you want to sell vehicles into the 10th largest passenger market, you’re going to need to up the pace and start selling some good electric vehicles at, say, 10 per cent of your total sales portfolio, and rising by 5 per cent a year, every year. And if you don’t want to to play ball with that, that’s fine. You don’t have to sell in our market. And I think if we started getting a little more muscular like that, then things would start to take shape.”

Comments have been lightly edited for clarity.

Event Date

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020


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