Climate change is a pressing business issue.
We’re dealing with the effects on a regular basis with extreme weather events happening far more frequently than decades ago. Referring to disasters as once-in-a-century events has lost its relevance. Floods, wildfires, wind storms, and hurricanes have shuttered businesses, cut off supply chains, spoiled goods, and taken lives. And we’re paying the insurance premiums to prove it.
All levels of government have pledged some form of commitment toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling the effects of climate change.
The federal government has established its goal of creating net-zero emissions by 2050 with Environment and Climate Change Canada supplementing it with the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. It established the Net-Zero Advisory Body in 2021 as a group of independent experts to provide advice on pathways for Canada to achieve net-zero emissions. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Net-Zero Council is part of this advisory body.
The CCC along with partners at PwC Canada have put together a report titled How We Get There Matters: Establishing a Path to Net-zero in Canada. It has four core principles:
1. The 2030 roadmap must firmly position Canada to achieve its net-zero target for 2050
This means that a key goal of actions taken between now and 2030 should be to enable delivery of the 2050 target, rather than short-term measures that may help deliver on 2030 targets but cannot be leveraged thereafter. These actions may consist of pilot programs, feasibility studies and consultations to position initiatives for major emissions reduction in the coming decades. In the absence of this, we risk our ability to reach our net-zero goal and/or risk needing to resort to extreme measures in later years.
2. Canada’s net-zero plan must be tightly coupled with its economic goals
This will ensure that fulfilling Canada’s commitment to contribute to the global fight against climate change and maintaining/improving our standard of living will not be seen as either/or.
3. Canada’s economic plan and the net-zero transition plan must consider the global context
This consideration is necessary to protect competitiveness of Canadian businesses and avoid carbon leakages to other countries.
4. Canada’s net-zero plan should deliver an orderly and inclusive transition
This is critical to avoid economic crises and energy crises and to ensure the ongoing support of Canadians for Canada’s commitment to net-zero.
Among its key recommendations are that Canada should:
• Increase overall net-zero funding and do more to de-risk and address barriers to private
• Adopt a common definition for what constitutes investment that supports net-zero
• Consider a holistic picture of emissions
• Design policy options to incentivize emission reductions in Canada’s international
• Develop a detailed net-zero skills plan to unlock the opportunities that net-zero will bring
• Develop a plan for funding decarbonization equitably
• Develop a public engagement and information strategy
It’s going to take intentional investment from both the private and public sector to tackle climate change and make meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. At this point, all options involve significant investments and costs — including inaction. It’s critical that we work as effectively and efficiently together across sectors to make the best use of time and money and position us to be competitive now and in the future. As the report says right at the start — how we get there matters.