Pakistan, a country whose contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is negligible by Canadian standards, knows the fury and injustice of climate chaos. One-third of the country has been flooded this summer due to an extreme rainy season that has directly affected more than 33 million people and killed more than 1,500 people (as of early October), many of them children. The economy is devastated – more than a million homes are lost, 5,000 kilometers of roads and thousands of bridges are destroyed, 800,000 head of livestock are killed or washed away by water, millions of acres are damaged by crops. The dollar seems like a weak measure of destruction, but the costs run into the tens of billions of dollars.
American conservationist David Brower ironically remarked that “we are at war with nature and we are winning.” The floods in Pakistan are one front in our clash with the planetary boundaries that define the rules for everything we do, but the war against nature will soon come to your doorstep.
Of course, such a war cannot be won, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that “reconciliation with nature is the defining challenge of the 21st century and should be the top priority for everyone, everywhere.”
We know how to make this world. The outlook would be bleaker if we didn’t know what to do, or if what we needed to do wasn’t also the path to new prosperity and economic justice.
The Corporate Knights’ Plan for Climate and Economic Renewal outlines a path to peace based on energy efficiency, electrification, and expanding the supply of carbon-free energy. Some of its key components include:
• Modernize, modernize and electrify most of the existing nine million residential and commercial buildings across Canada, prioritizing accessibility for all.
• Rapidly expand renewable electricity supply and storage, and increase inter-provincial grid connections.
• Increase EV market share to 100% passenger cars and 75% trucks, with 10 million EVs on the road by 2030 and a fully built Trans-Canada fast charging infrastructure, complemented by 2,000 km of new bicycle rights. access and infrastructure support.
• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from steel and cement production by 50% or more by 2030.
• Support the economic transformation of Canada’s oilfield in the post-oil era by reallocating expertise and resources to high-value growth sectors and opportunities such as the growing carbon fiber market.
• Increase the supply of critical minerals by demonstrating the social, ethical and environmental dimensions of what mining should be in a sustainable economy.
• By 2030, convert 30% of agricultural land to low-tillage practices.
Compared to Canada’s current climate change response spending of $15 billion to $25 billion a year, the Corporate Knights plan requires capital investment of $126 billion a year over the next critical decade. This is consistent with other estimates that an effective response to climate change in emergencies would require an investment of 5 to 6% of GDP.
How this amount will be divided between public and private sources of capital will depend on policy and will vary by sector, but the total effort required is still within the range of our previous efforts to respond to existential threats and a devastated economy. A $126 billion a year investment plan for climate and economic renewal is certainly possible in Canada, a $2 trillion a year output and $450 billion a year investment economy and whose government has just spent $500 billion on emergency response to the COVID pandemic.
Unlike most COVID spending, many of the investments needed to respond to the climate emergency will not only pay for themselves, but will also provide Canada with decades of economic prosperity. As the world ramps up its efforts to tackle the climate crisis in the 2020s, it will create a $9 trillion a year market for smart building solutions, electric vehicles and related batteries and infrastructure, renewable energy system technologies, critical minerals , sustainable biotechnology. , vegetable protein and other building blocks of a post-fossil economy.
Just as the successful economies of the 20th century were those that were able to benefit from fossil fuels and combustion technologies, the successful economies of the 21st century will be those that have the technology and know-how to operate within planetary boundaries.
As we have seen in Pakistan and in countless other places in recent months, the climate chaos is relentless, relentless and gaining momentum. The status quo is no longer a safe option, and hasn’t been for a while. And in any case, as David Brower once remarked, “I don’t think we’re designed to be safe; I think we were made to try different things.”
Ralph Torrey is Director of Research at Corporate Knights.
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To learn more about the plan, visit Corporateknights.com/investmentplan.