On March 7, the Coalition for a Better Future launched “Canada at a Turning Point,” the Scorecard Report — an update on how Canada is faring on 21 economic, social, and environmental indicators.
They group these indicators into three themes: Winning Globally, Growing Sustainably, and Living Better.
As it turns out, we’re doing well in some areas and are lagging behind in others. The Coalition was formed mid-pandemic, during the summer of 2021. Led by Co-Chairs the Hon. Lisa Raitt and the Hon. A. Anne McLellan, the group was seized with the idea that the global chaos ushered in by the Covid-19 virus acerbated existing challenges, as much as it created new ones for Canada.
But it also introduced an opportunity to bring together different groups to pull towards a common goal: inclusive, sustainable economic growth. The Coalition was formed “to reject the idea that slow growth and stagnation were inevitable” while challenging the false dichotomy between doing good by people, the planet, and a thriving economy.
In many ways, the goals of the Coalition echo the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals but focus sharply on Canada’s unique circumstances. The first step toward building a more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future for all Canadians, they argue, is “to embrace a much higher level of economic ambition for our country.”
Obviously, this is something that Canada’s Forest Trust Corporation is aligned with. But a key takeaway from the Coalition’s new report was that reaching net zero will play a key role in Canada’s economic growth. In the report, we see incredible opportunities for Canada in this area.
CFT is happy to be playing a big part in this.
In the first report on how we are doing, the Coalition points out that accelerating progress to net-zero goals is a key driver of economic prosperity.
The Coalition highlights that Canada’s share of electricity production from renewables is higher than most and that opportunities exist to exploit carbon capture and other technologies to facilitate the transition for the oil and gas sector.
We see additional opportunities too. Here are five:
- A renewed focus on nature – including its preservation, conservation and resources is a source of new jobs. For example, forestry programs across Canada, which have seen declining enrollment for decades, are experiencing a renaissance because the path to meaningful, interesting jobs is growing and diversifying.
- A renewed focus on nature offers a path to authentic reconciliation. As Jesse McCormick of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition said on the “growing sustainably” panel at the report release, “the road to net-zero is through Indigenous lands.” Indigenous communities are increasingly taking on leadership roles in conservation and protection, reviving traditional knowledge that has stood the test of time. This contributes to economic development and self-determination.
- Our purchasing power can be harnessed to make real investments in the low-carbon economy. As Adam Radwanski noted in his Globe and Mail column this week, as the United States and other countries are making significant investments in the transition to a low-carbon economy, “Canada has only just started to use one of the more useful tools at its disposal: its own purchasing power.” By the government of Canada requiring procurements of over $25 million to provide plans to reach net zero, it has introduced a more complex equation than simply finding the best price or service from businesses, but also drives changes across industries to commit to net zero, which is expected to drive change across several industries.
- Globally, the voluntary carbon credit market is in its infancy, but the need to draw investments in credible climate solutions and to restore and protect biodiversity is enormous. Moreover, while ESG investing is going through some growing pains at present, the appetite for ESG investment products only grows. This is the space Canada’s Forest Trust Corporation is exploring. We saw a gap and now provide turnkey solutions for businesses, organizations, schools, individuals, and families to invest in building a Smart Forest™ to grow to carbon-zero emissions.
- Nature has real, tangible, bottom-line implications. For example, municipalities in Canada are increasingly learning that investments in managing areas such as aquifers, forests, and wetlands reduce service delivery costs and improve engineered assets efficiency. Conversely, many industries, like the insurance industry, for example, are learning how costly unmitigated climate change can be. The move toward nature-based accounting has already begun.
In its conclusion, the Coalition’s first report points out that Canada is “a human resource powerhouse.” To that, I would add that Canadians have a lot of ambition, creativity and appetite to contribute to a competitive green economy. Whenever and wherever that can be encouraged and supported, we will make great strides toward our desired future.