“Jim Flaherty delivered his eighth budget at a time when the federal government’s track record on the environment and climate change is under heightened scrutiny, and when the cuts to environmental protection contained in last year’s budget bills are starting to take effect.
“The big picture from Budget 2013 is that the federal government largely missed an opportunity to invest in the clean energy transition we need to make to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and to compete globally. Indeed, the 433-page budget plan fails to mention climate change even once.
“In a letter to his caucus colleagues, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty committed to use this budget to support ‘high-quality, value-added jobs in important sectors of Canada’s economy.’
“The trillion-dollar global clean energy economy creates exactly those kind of jobs.
“Today’s budget could have pushed Canada into a leadership role in this critical sector. Unfortunately, the federal government chose to largely ignore the promise of clean energy, offering just one new tax credit whose value is estimated at a tiny $1 million over two years.
“The budget provides a lifeline to support clean technology research and development with an investment of $325 million over eight years in Sustainable Development Technology Canada. It’s less than half the investment level recommended by a coalition of environmental groups, including the Pembina Institute, but this long-term commitment is still good news for the more than 700 clean technology companies that Analytica Advisors estimates are operating in Canada today.
Fossil Fuel Subsidies
“Any action to cut tax breaks for fossil fuel producers is worthwhile, and Budget 2013 contains two commitments in that area, both for the mining sector.
“But because these tax breaks are being phased out gradually, the two subsidy reductions are forecast to save Canadians just $35 million by 2017. In contrast, the government’s decision to renew a tax credit for mining exploration will cost Canadians $100 million this year.
Public Transit Investment
“Improving Canada’s public transit systems would reduce greenhouse gas pollution and save Canadian commuters hundreds of dollars a year. Today’s budget made a number of new infrastructure commitments that include public transit as a potential use of the funds, but it does not carve out funds for public transit specifically. It remains to be seen whether the federal government, along with provinces and municipalities, will make public transit a priority in investing these funds over the years to come.
“Today’s budget did almost nothing to get Canada on track to hit its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target, and took few steps towards more responsible development of our natural resources. The budget was also silent on Canada’s obligation to provide support to poorer countries to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the consequences of climate change.”