It's not the Economy versus the Environment, it's about creating an economy that delivers the future we need.
By transparently incentivizing and investing our resources, time, and money into modes of production and consumption that build a sustainable future, we can build an economy that enhances well-being for all Canadians and our natural resources too
A JUST TRANSITION TO A DECARBONIZED ECONOMY BY 2050
ENERGY - Build a clean electricity grid across Canada. By investing in local renewable energy, (particularly in rural, remote and Indigenous communities) we can increase energy security, reduce our energy costs and power a clean future.
TRANSPORTATION - Accelerating zero-carbon mobility options, including active transportation (bike lanes and walkable cities), public transit and intercity travel networks where all Canadians can get where they need to go, without emitting carbon.
GOODS - Eliminating unnecessary consumption and production by focusing on local, high quality, and equitably made goods, we can cut our waste and emissions while providing the things we really need.
Economies are the systems of production and consumption of goods and services built on human labour and nature's resources which are meant to enhance our well-being. Instead they've been producing massive amounts of carbon emissions alongside environmental degradation and social inequality. The World Economic Forum identified failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change as the top two threats facing our economy throughout the next ten years (followed by natural disasters/extreme weather and biodiversity loss/ecosystem collapse). To ensure our economies continue to provide us with well-being long into the future we need to address climate change by changing our means of production and consumption to eliminate carbon emissions, and adapt to a warmer climate. Beyond generating a profit, we must ensure our economies are giving back to the people and nature that make them, regenerating so that we can continue to eat, move, play, work, long into the future.
In Canada our top three emissions sources are transportation, energy production and goods manufacturing (as well as food and agriculture - see Protected Nature). These sectors are essential to the lives, livelihoods and well-being of Canadians, yet in their current form they are extracting more than they are providing. We and our government continue to fund and support versions of transportation, energy production and manufacturing that are carbon intensive. Instead we have the opportunity to rethink these systems to find and invest in versions that are equitable, cheaper, and will continue to work into the future.
Currently its nearly impossible to get out of the city and onto the trails without a personal vehicle. To enjoy our favourite activities we must emit carbon and spend money. By funding, building and incentivizing zero-carbon mobility, we can make accessing nature and outdoor recreation accessible to everyone while cutting out carbon and costs. Public transit to and from areas of recreation are essential to ensuring all Canadians can enjoy our country's beautiful nature. As well building usable public and zero-carbon transportation corridors between our urban areas and our rural communities - think trains, light rails, busses, electric vehicles, bike and car sharing networks - all with the ability to bring the gear we need to participate in our favourite outdoor recreation activities. Within our communities, whether urban, suburban or rural, building active transportation networks including bike lane infrastructure, walking zones, e-scooter share systems and many other ideas can allow us to have fun, stay active, and emit no-carbon while living our daily lives.
Decarbonizing our electricity-grid to meet Canada's national commitment to net-zero by 2050 is an essential component of achieving the Paris Agreement targets of limiting warming to below 1.5C. By investing in a clean electricity grid made of local renewable energy we can increase our energy security across the country, especially in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. Furthermore without a reliance on global fossil fuel markets, we can reduce volatile energy prices as clean local renewable energy is stable and secure, providing cheaper energy, new jobs and won't fluctuate based on global politics. While we pursue renewable energy we must have our other impact areas such as hydro-dams and protected water in front of mind to weight to ensure we are making good decisions.
As outdoor enthusiasts we all have a lot of gear. The energy, resources and transportation needed to make this stuff and get it to us costs a lot of carbon. At the same time manufacturing of goods has other environmental impacts like toxins leeching into water ways, and social impacts including unfair treatment of workers. We therefore need to curb our consumerism, focusing on goods that we truly need and ensuring that minimal impact is made in the process. This means eliminating disposable products and fast fashion and shifting to value fewer goods that are made better. But its not just on consumers, we need policies that eliminate packaging and disposable goods, toxins and chemicals that are bad for human health and nature, and end of life-cycle waste. Instead we need to support and uplift small, local and BIPOC owned brands, products that are made with high-quality sustainable products, goods that are long-lasting and reparable, businesses with an end-of-lifecycle plan.
A regenerative economy can provide us what we need long into the future, and every step will build upon each other - for instance a zero-carbon mobility system will ensure the sustainable goods we order get to us without further transport emissions. CAN-RAC's Spending What it Takes report suggests that it would only take government investment of $57 billion per year, or 2% of GDP to drive deep decarbonization of our economy. While we invest in the future we want, to be truly regenerative, we have to make sure we are simultaneously stopping our extractive practices. Therefore to effectively push forward a clean transportation, renewable energy grid, and sustainable production of goods and services we must also ensure no more public money is used to subsidize fossil fuels or undermine the just transition to a net-zero economy by 2050.