SSG Open Letter to Minister McKenna on the Green Recovery

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

CC: Mr. Andy Fillmore, M.P.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

 

Dear Minister McKenna,

As we respond to the recession caused by the pandemic, Canada has an important opportunity to simultaneously address the climate crisis. We ask that you support the strong work cities have already done with their climate action and investment plans. Implementing the plans creates hundreds of thousands of jobs and high financial returns, while greatly reducing GHG emissions, but they need support for full realization. Federal stimulus in the form of a  revolving loan facility of $100 billion could enable plan implementation, giving the needed economic boost to move past the recession.

There is good precedent for green stimulus. Renowned economists Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern crunched the numbers on 700 stimulus programs launched after the 2008 global financial crisis. They determined that green stimulus programs outperformed traditional ones, generating more jobs and higher monetary returns while addressing environmental and climate issues.

As government economic recovery plans are developed, we ask that you take this opportunity to harness and support the unique powers of cities. At Sustainability Solutions Group (SSG), we have seen the power of climate action and investment plans to create jobs and address the climate crisis firsthand. Over the past five years, we have developed dozens of these plans, covering over 30 percent of the Canadian population in 60 municipalities across the country, including Toronto, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Halifax, Markham, Ottawa, and Sudbury. We also have projects underway for Vancouver, Hamilton, and many other communities.

Each plan shows the numbers behind new job creation estimates, equitable development investment required, and what the expected returns will be. For example, a $60 billion (incremental) investment in Toronto’s decarbonization over the next three decades—including residential energy efficiency retrofits, renewable energy installations, and electric vehicle infrastructure—would create 327,000 person years of employment and create $62 billion in avoided costs, savings, and returns ($2 billion net). In Saskatoon, a similar decarbonization plan with $11.5 billion (incremental) investment over the next three decades would generate 54,800 person years of employment and create $17.7 billion in avoided costs, savings, and returns ($6.2 billion net).

Cities are ready to go. The plans are supported by communities, have been passed by Councils (most unanimously), and implementation has begun. The hitch is that full implementation requires significantly more capital than cities can access, through funds from Federation of Canadian Municipalities or otherwise. Much of the investment must be made in the 2020s to jumpstart burgeoning green industries and avoid locking in emissions from the development of more carbon-intensive infrastructure.

This is where green stimulus comes in. Targeted investments, in coordination with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, financial sector, and all levels of government, would firmly place Canada on the path to a zero-carbon future while kick-starting the economy and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Most of the plans’ investments generate financial returns. Establishing a revolving loan facility of $100 billion for city climate action plan implementation across Canada would provide the level of capital required, safeguard that capital, and limit the new debt added to the books.

The actions you take today in response to the worst recession since the Great Depression will lay the pathway to Canada’s future. We have a choice between carbon-intensive economic development that locks in emissions levels that are disastrous for the planet, or low-carbon investments that safeguard the planet for generations to come while providing enhanced quality of life and rewarding jobs. Our cities—home to 80 percent of our population—have a critical role to play.

We would be pleased to share our insights and expertise on these roadmaps to support your efforts in developing a green stimulus. Thank you for your consideration of our request

On behalf of Sustainability Solutions Group,

Yuill Herbert, Co-Founder and Principal

Jeremy Murphy, Principal

Naomi Devine, Communications Director and Senior Consultant