What would happen if Canada’s major cities prioritized a green recovery in response to COVID-19? Their investments could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds by 2030, create over 2.9 million jobs, and reduce air pollution by 32%, preventing 3,950 premature deaths over the next decade.
Those are the findings of Canada: The case for an urban green and just recovery, a new report by C40 cities that was created with input from SSG Principal Yuill Herbert. Unfortunately, “Canada does not yet qualify as a leading nation when it comes to support for a green recovery,” the report says.
The analysis incorporated models of three scenarios to assess the impact of different types of green recovery packages on Canadian cities:
- A “Green Recovery” scenario, in which capital investment occurs over the next five years and climate action occurs from 2020 to 2030;
- A “Slow Green Recovery” scenario, in which delayed capital expenditure causes climate action to occur between 2020 and 2035; and
- A “Business-As-Usual” scenario that projects current levels of climate action into the future.
The report concluded that timing matters. It’s “better to invest as much as possible as early as possible to generate maximum employment opportunities, emission reductions and health benefits near-term,” the report says. The analysis underscores the point by highlighting that:
- A Green Recovery would prevent almost double the number of premature deaths as a Slow Green Recovery;
- Depending on the city, a Green Recovery would also lead to 30-35% fewer per capita emissions than a Slow Green Recovery and 40-50% fewer per capita emissions than business as usual; and
- A Green Recovery would create 1.35 times many jobs as a Slow Green Recovery.
In short, it’s time to shift into high gear on green spending in Canada’s cities. As we noted in our open letter to Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna last year, green investments create financial returns and jobs, enhance quality of life, and safeguard our planet for generations to come.
You can read the full C40 report here.