VANCOUVER — The David Suzuki Foundation is encouraged to see the federal government following through on its commitments to invest in clean energy and transit in the 2017 budget. However, the budget misses crucial protection for nature — the backbone for a healthy environment and thriving economy.
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On funding Canada's clean energy economy:
The Foundation applauds the ongoing support for national programs to support the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
"We welcome this budget as a step forward for all communities that want to transition to renewable energy, especially in the North," Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce said.
Following the $1 billion commitment to clean technology in the 2016 budget, the 2017 budget made a commitment of $2.37 billion over four years to Canada's clean technology industry. As well, the government outlines its plan to invest $21.9 billion over 11 years in green infrastructure.
"Investment in renewables will help stimulate jobs and economic growth — far more so than supporting a fossil fuel economy," Bruce said.
On stable transit infrastructure:
As many areas of Canada experience increased gridlock, the Foundation welcomes the commitment of phase two public infrastructure funding — $20.1 billion over 11 years — to solve this problem.
"This is ongoing, stable funding needed across Canada," Foundation transportation policy analyst Gideon Forman said. "It will engage provinces on national solutions to climate change. Supporting transit is one of the most effective ways to cut down emissions, and improve both air quality and economic performance.
"We applaud the commitment to this, but hope to see an acceleration of the funding to meet these goals."
Missing protection for oceans:
While budget elements for climate are robust, nature protection falls short of our expectations.
The Foundation, along with 16 environmental non-profit partners, had advocated for $146 million a year for five years toward marine protected areas and fisheries conservation. Yet, there is no funding allocated in the budget to address this need.
With overwhelming support for ocean protections from Canadians, the Foundation is concerned that this budget falls short.
"Ocean conservation and climate change solutions need to go hand in hand. While developing a clean energy economy we must also make a concerted effort to conserve nature," Foundation Western Region science projects manager Bill Wareham said.
"Last year we applauded the federal government for confirming its mandate to establish new marine protected areas with a goal of protecting at least 10 per cent of our oceans by 2020. This commitment is admirable, but means little if there's no funding to do the work required to meet the goal.
"We're asking the federal government to provide more detail on the Oceans Protection Plan, and how it will help achieve the 10 per cent goal. With less than one per cent currently protected, there's a lot of work to do over the next three years," he said.
Climate, clean energy, and transit