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People form a thermometer during a demonstration against climate changes in Quebec City, April 11, 2015. (MATHIEU BELANGER/REUTERS)
People form a thermometer during a demonstration against climate changes in Quebec City, April 11, 2015. (MATHIEU BELANGER/REUTERS)

Bardswick, Elgie and Miller

Provinces can lead in building a low-carbon economy Add to ...

Kathy Bardswick is president and C.E.O, The Co-operators; Stewart Elgie is a professor at the University of Ottawa and chair of Sustainable Prosperity; David Miller is president and CEO of WWF Canada.

Building a high performance, lower carbon economy is a critical economic opportunity and a vital environmental responsibility for Canada. Over the next two days, Canada’s premiers come together in Quebec City for an important Climate Summit meeting. As a diverse group of leaders from business, civil society and First Nations, we applaud the premiers’ initiative, and strongly support their efforts to advance pragmatic policies to help Canada seize this opportunity – building on momentum already underway across the country.

The world’s most advanced economic players are hard at work forging cleaner, more innovative economies, fuelled by a desire to compete in a changing global marketplace – one that offers tremendous opportunities for all parts of Canada’s economy. Clean technology companies can tap into a global market expected to exceed $2-trillion per year by 2020. Resource and manufacturing firms can gain competitive ground by reducing their environmental footprint and using energy and resources more efficiently.

Canadians also recognize a responsibility to future generations to help curb climate change. And we are starting to make progress. Canada’s emissions have been dropping, while our economy has been growing, since 2005. Across the country, initiatives by many different governments, businesses and communities have helped drive a shift to energy efficiency, conservation, renewables and cleaner power, and smarter transportation.

Now let us build on these successes and expand our efforts – to meet our climate commitments, grow our exports of cleaner resources, technologies and products, and position Canada to prosper in a changing global economy. We can do this, and realize this dual economic and environment opportunity, with continued government leadership supporting Canadians’ sustainability efforts.

This will entail a range of approaches. Provincial carbon pricing mechanisms are one important policy tool; they reward people and businesses for lowering emissions while spurring clean innovation. Three provinces are already showing that well-designed carbon pricing can work for the environment and the economy, as well as highlighting different ways to use the revenues – such as cutting income taxes, boosting clean infrastructure and technology, supporting energy efficiency, and helping vulnerable households and businesses to adjust.

Other important measures include energy efficiency standards for buildings, appliances and vehicles (where we have seen federal leadership), as well as targeted public funds to leverage private investment in clean technologies, including carbon reduction, across all sectors. Further investment in public transit, energy transmission and other clean infrastructure will also be key to low carbon success. And a strong policy framework will support world-class R & D, training and education, technology commercialization, and sustainable government procurement.

This mix of public policies (incentives, infrastructure and investment) will help to drive the clean innovation needed to generate climate solutions and secure Canadian competitiveness and jobs in a low-carbon world. By taking an inclusive approach, these measures can benefit all Canadians.

Canada has a history of taking far-sighted policy actions to prepare for global economic changes. We encourage the premiers to continue the collaboration and leadership they have shown. The time is right, and the opportunities ahead are striking. We stand ready to assist in any way needed.

- Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO, The Co-operators;

- Lorraine Mitchelmore, President and Canada Country Cchair, Shell Canada executive vice-president Heavy Oil, Upstream Americas;

- Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director Mckinsey and Company;\

- Alan Nymark Former Deputy Minister, Environment Canada Board Chair, Centre for Study of Living Standards;

- Ross Beaty, Executive Chairman, Alterra Power Corp., Chairman, Pan American Silver Corp.;

- Ken Neumann, Canadian National Director, United Steelworkers;

- Arlene Dickinson C.E.O., Venture Communications;

- Merrell-Ann Phare, Founding Executive Director Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources ;

- Stewart Elgie Professor, Law & Economics, University of Ottawa Chair, Sustainable Prosperity;

- Vicky Sharpe, Former President and CEO, Sustainable Development Technology Canada;

- Phil Fontaine Special Advisor to the Royal Bank of Canada and Former National Chief, Assembly of First Nations;

- Rick Smith, Executive Director Broadbent Institute;

- Greg Kiessling, Executive Chairman, Bullfrog Power President, UpCapital Ltd.;

- Annette Verschuren, O.C., Chair and CEO, NRstor, Former President, Home Depot Canada;

- Monique Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO., Desjardins Group;

- Kali Taylor, Co-founder and Executive Director Student Energy;

J- im Lopez, President and CEO, Tembec;

- Galen G. Weston, President, Executive Chairman, Loblaw Companies Limited;

- David Miller, President and CEO, WWF Canada and former mayor, City of Toronto;

- Ed Whittingham, executive director, Pembina Institute

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