Lisa Raitt is a former Conservative cabinet minister and Jim Dinning is a former Alberta Progressive Conservative cabinet minister. They are the co-chairs of Conservatives for Clean Growth.
The Conservative Party is the natural home for Canadians seeking better jobs and prosperity. That is why, at Conservatives for Clean Growth, we believe Canada has unprecedented economic and technological opportunities as the world tackles climate change and moves to net-zero carbon emissions.
As Sean Speer, Kim Henderson and Katherine Feenan of the Public Policy Forum wrote, “Net zero … is not about slowing progress for the betterment of the planet; it is about accelerating progress on behalf of the planet.” And Canada can be at the forefront of that progress.
For one, Canada is rich with energy sources that are key for the transition away from dirtier fuels. This includes natural gas, which can be used to produce the low-carbon fuel of blue hydrogen. There is also nuclear energy: Saskatchewan has the largest high-grade uranium deposits in the world, while the source powers almost two-thirds of Ontario. Canada should be at the forefront of supplying these energy sources and technology to the world, while we also get a jump on hydro, solar and wind technologies. We can also lead the world in carbon capture and storage – which can clean existing energy sources.
For another, Canada has access to all the the minerals required to build the batteries increasingly powering our appliances, tools and cars. Our mining sector should be at the forefront of supplying the global demand for energy storage. Furthermore, the Ontario and federal governments are looking for ways to make Canada a hub for manufacturing electric cars, which is important in the shift to net zero.
And as we embark on the energy transition, Conservatives should be counted on to protect thousands of Canadian workers who step up every day to find, ship and refine oil, gasoline, natural gas, truck fuel and airplane fuel under some of the strictest environmental, human-rights, health and safety standards on the planet. These fuels will continue to be consumed by everyday Canadians and our trading partners – and can help finance the transition to clean energy.
These strategies are just the start of how Canada can position itself to attract investment into new and existing green technologies as the world moves to net zero. And investors are ready to invest. Smart money is increasingly green money: There is an insatiable appetite for green bonds – floated aggressively by Doug Ford’s government, for example – providing billions of dollars toward environmentally friendly projects.
A credible climate plan is the first step for Canada to take advantage of clean-growth opportunities. Canadians – including both core Conservative voters and especially swing voters – know this and are demanding a political party that delivers with action, not simply words. Our party has moved in the right direction in the past two elections.
But Conservatives need to do better. Conservatives need an exciting, forward-looking climate plan that positions Canada to for a future of clean growth.
Is there one, single policy that gets us there?
The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices looked at 60 scenarios where Canada meets its net-zero targets. Across the board, accelerating existing policies and technologies gets us at least two-thirds of the way there – what it calls “safe bets.”
But what’s exciting is that the report also identifies “wild cards [which] are big-risk, big-reward technologies,” which are clean-growth solutions that are yet to be developed. They can get Canada the rest of the way to net zero and then be exported to help the rest of the world meet its targets – if we rely on ingenuity and appropriate climate regulations and incentives, such as industrial carbon pricing.
And to add to this diversity, Canadian provinces, not the federal Liberals, have been at the forefront of developing climate plans to suit their own regional economies. Energy-rich Alberta doesn’t need, and shouldn’t have, identical climate policies as mineral-rich, nuclear-powered Ontario or hydro-powered Quebec. But the federal government may be better incubators of technology and should oversee stringency of provincial climate plans.
Conservatives need to stop focusing our climate policy on what we are against – which Canadians can be forgiven for interpreting as a sign that we will do nothing. Instead, Conservatives need to focus our climate policy on what Canada, and Conservatives, do best – from developing and exporting clean fuels and minerals, to building the cars of the future.
Conservatives for Clean Growth stands ready to work with any and all Conservative Party leadership candidates to develop a credible climate, energy and economic plan. Because such a plan is not just a win for Canada, but a win for the Conservative Party. And that is something all leadership candidates should be excited about.
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