Growing the Green Economy

Lori Gadzala

Already I see the blog comments on the Globe and Mail site resulting from Elizabeth's excellent article today: "Kyoto will kill the Canadian Economy"! We as a party need to address this lie front and centre as part of our election platform.

Business Week had a story earlier this month called "Grab the Green Brass Ring", where it encouraged the U.S. to cut carbon emissions--or get left behind by Europe. Europe is actually cutting emissions faster and more cheaply than predicted. And they are both a) saving money in energy costs, and b) making money by exporting their green technolgies they have nurtured, such as wind technology from Denmark and Germany.

There are more than one way to create Green collar jobs. Certainly incentives are one way. The Liberals tried incentives, then the Conservatives cut them, then they re-jigged it a bit and announced new incentives. True, $1.5B over 4 years (10 years for production of 4000MW,) does sound like a big investment, until you realize it puts Canada on par with Brazil for renewable energy investment. Whoop-de-doo. We're dead last out of G8 countries in terms of wind power targets. And don't get me started on biofuels!

In the meantime, one company, British Petroleum, is investing $8B over the next 10 years into low-carbon technology. Out of the goodness of their hearts? No, they can see where their profits will come from in the future.

We need to convince Canadians that we can actually grow the Green economy with emissions caps. It happened with acid rain (ask Elizabeth, she was there and can tell you all about it!) It took years, but Brian Mulroney’s government eventually acted and set emissions caps on industry, and pressured the U.S. to sign a treaty, all of which succeeded in reducing acid rain levels by 40%. Industry discovered that doing the environmentally responsible thing saved money AND increased profits (they sold gypsum out of their scrubbers).

When push comes to shove, people tend to vote with at least one hand on their wallet. We need to convince them in the clearest possible way that their wallets will not be any thinner with Kyoto. Quite the reverse. /Lori