Letter: How we define Canada's clean growth century

The 150-year history of Confederation is but a speck of time compared to the lifespan of planet earth.

Birthdays are a good time to look back, but an even better time to look forward. As Canadians, we sometimes downplay what we have accomplished and underestimate what we can do next. But let’s step outside our humble comfort zone for a moment.

By population, we rank 35th in the world. But our economy has the potential to ensure a strong standard of living for all who live here.

Our climate makes it harder to produce things – but we’re the world’s biggest exporter of grain, forest products, and many minerals and metals.

Our transportation routes are among the longest in the world, but we’ve become enormously successful traders with the rest of the world.

Some believe in this agenda because of the severe risks that climate change poses to the planet. Some feel an acute sense of responsibility to future generations. Some see the biggest economic opportunity in hundreds of years.

We know that much of what makes Canada special is the strength of Indigenous communities and peoples, our unique mix of anglophone and francophone heritage, and the incredible diversity of our population. There’s work to be done nurturing relationships and rectifying wrongdoings, but we see a genuine desire to share this place and its abundant opportunity more equitably than ever before.

While building a strong economy, Canadians respect our natural spaces. We feel duty bound to leave the generations that follow us with a healthy and beautiful place to live.

To live up to that duty, science tells us we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and find better ways to create and use the energy we need. We are warming the planet and upsetting the balance that has sustained life. Fortunately, the history of human civilization has proven we can adapt to challenges and find better solutions.

When it comes to climate change, we know what a better approach looks like, if we have the will to pursue it.

The strongest economies of the world for the next century will be those that find cleaner ways to generate, store and use energy. These economies may experience some adjustment along the way, but greater prosperity over the longer term.

Fortunately, the low carbon economy will need our responsibly produced natural resources, several of which are vital to the livelihood of many Canadian communities. Electrification, batteries, wind turbines and solar panels all rely on a variety of our minerals and metals, and our wood products are essential to low carbon buildings, just to name a few examples.

We believe that Canada’s First Ministers can put us on a path to meaningful progress on climate change, and a stronger economy, by pursuing these six areas of policy and innovation:

• Greening our electricity supply – by phasing out coal-fired power and supporting clean technologies;

• Creating cleaner transportation options – by investing in public transit infrastructure, improving our fuel efficiency and transitioning to low-carbon options like electric vehicles;

• Enhancing the energy efficiency of our buildings – by setting ambitious retrofit targets and investing in high-tech new buildings;

• Pricing pollution and rewarding change – through carbon pricing and smart investments in technologies that reduce emissions;

• Seizing clean growth economic opportunities for Canada – by achieving our climate targets and increasing collective ambition over time to contribute our fair share to the global effort; and,

• Ensuring a just transition for workers, families and communities where jobs and livelihoods are at stake – by developing an industrial strategy designed to support and retrain displaced workers, so they can find gainful employment in clean growth industries.

Some believe in this agenda because of the severe risks that climate change poses to the planet. Some feel an acute sense of responsibility to future generations. Some see the biggest economic opportunity in hundreds of years.

There are lots of good reasons to accelerate our shift to a cleaner economy. We don’t all need to have the same motivation, and we won’t all agree on how quickly we change some things.

But if we have a new conversation, one that focuses on smart choices and seizing opportunities, we’ll honour the country we all have pride in. Our future starts right here, right now. Let’s make the next 100 years of this great country Canada’s Clean Growth Century.


Pembina Institute
David Suzuki Foundation
The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
Ivey Foundation
Clean Energy Canada
The Trottier Family Foundation
Environmental Defence Canada
Metcalf Foundation
Catherine Donnelly Foundation
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
North Growth Foundation
InvestEco Capital Corp.
Renewal Partners
International Institute for Sustainable Development
Responsible Investment Association
Nature Canada
Greenpeace Canada
SHARE Canada
Forest Products Association of Canada
Canadian Business for Social Responsibility
Canadian Urban Transit Association
Climate Smart Business
Genus Capital
JCM Power
Corporate Knights
Toronto Atmospheric Fund
The Asthma Society of Canada
Bullfrog Power
NEI Investments
Sitka Foundation
Alterra Power Corp.
20/20 Catalysts Program
Renewable Cities
Canadian Solar Industries Association
Anglican Church of Canada
Blue Green Canada
Network for Business Sustainability
Canadian Wind Energy Association Canada
Quebec Employers Council
Dunsky Energy Consulting
NAIMA Canada
Alliance québécoise de l’efficacité énergétique
Marmott Énergies
Association québécoise de la production d’énergie renouvelable
Canadian Labour Congress
Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada
Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de l’environnement
Business Council of Canada
Sustainability CoLab
Écotech Québec
National Union of Public and General Employees
Insurance Bureau of Canada
Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources
Iron & Earth

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