Government of Canada tackles climate change as a policy priority

Photo: Michael Bednar

The Government of Canada has made tackling climate change a policy priority, most prominently through its Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Under that framework, the federal government—together with provincial and territorial governments—has committed to “invest in infrastructure to build climate resilience… reduce disaster risks and save costs over the long term.”

The Government of Canada has prioritized increasing infrastructure investment and cutting pollution across the country. The 2016 federal budget saw the launch of the Investing in Canada Plan, the federal government’s long term infrastructure strategy. This plan marks a historic new investment of $180 billion over the next 12 years in five key priority areas: public transit, green and social infrastructure, trade and transportation, and rural and remote communities.

A cornerstone of the pan-Canadian framework is a national price on pollution, which creates an incentive to cut pollution by putting a price on it. Provinces and territories that haven’t designed their own systems are subject to the national system as of 2019. Carbon pricing plays a critical role because it harnesses market forces to the service of climate solutions: as the costs of fossil fuels increase, so too does the demand for zero-carbon technologies to heat our homes, power our businesses, and fuel our trucks and trains. Lower-carbon building materials to erect our skyscrapers, pave our roads, and treat our wastewater will also become more cost competitive.

But now we need to focus on the next step: bringing the two policy priorities of increasing infrastructure investment and reducing pollution together to transform and improve the way government invests in critical infrastructure. Doing so will create less pollution and waste as infrastructure is constructed, and it will ensure our buildings, roads, and bridges are better able to withstand the negative impacts of climate change—such as extreme temperatures and flooding over the long term.

This policy primer will make the case for why we should look to public infrastructure to build the clean growth economy. It will also provide advice to government on how to do that.

—Excerpt from Building the Future: How Smart Public Infrastructure Decisions Can Cut Pollution, Save Money and Support a Clean Economy