Budget 2023 recognizes that we can’t afford not to spend on climate action. It shows serious dedication to scaling up renewables and building a clean grid to underpin our future energy systems, with tens of billions for clean electricity. This substantial carrot must be matched by an equally robust stick: the Clean Electricity Standard the government is developing must be stringent and exclude loopholes for fossil fuels.
However, limiting warming to 1.5°C requires that as renewables are phased into our energy system, fossil fuels are phased out. Some investment tax credits in the budget could instead offer extra support oil and gas industry – an especially worrying development in light of the approaching deadline for Canada’s commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2023. As well, the budget fails to make necessary investments in public transit and low-income housing efficiency, which are key to a safer, more affordable and healthier future for Canadians.
At a time when the world is facing a convergence of crises, today was not the day Canada presented an international vision for transformative change. The lack of new investments for foreign aid is disappointing, with overall international assistance cut substantially from Budget 2022, which undermines Canada’s leadership abroad.
Caroline Brouillette, Acting Executive Director, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada:
“When it comes to the transformation of the Canadian economy in the face of the climate crisis, Budget 2023 phases in the good and fails to phase out the bad. Groundbreaking investments in clean electricity will build the grid of the future and provide Canadians with safer, cleaner, and more affordable energy – if underpinned by solid regulations and respect for Indigenous rights and sovereignty. It’s also encouraging to see the investment tax credits come with solid strings attached for good labour conditions.
“At the same time, this budget doesn’t show any progress towards fulfilling Canada’s promise to end fossil fuel subsidies this year. The absence of an honest examination of the future of the oil and gas industry in this rapidly shifting global economy, which could have been illustrated through new and transformational investments for a Just Transition, is also glaring.”
Stephen Thomas, Clean Energy Manager, David Suzuki Foundation:
“The David Suzuki Foundation welcomes the historic investments in clean electricity in Budget 2023, while identifying continued support for fossil fuels as a historic mistake.
“Overall energy costs will go down for everyone as we move away from fossil fuels and instead use electricity sources like wind and solar – all while creating millions of jobs and bringing real benefits to communities. If we achieve 100 per cent zero-emissions electricity throughout Canada by 2035 – which we can – we will improve our health, affordability and the climate. No one will ever want to look back.
“However, subsidizing big oil and gas companies is not only unjustifiable given their record profits, but also completely incompatible with the government’s focus on clean technology. Canadians should be angry their money is being wasted supporting the very companies that are making life so unlivable for so many.”
Julia Levin, Associate Director, National Climate, Environmental Defence:
“Today’s budget does include significant investments in renewable energy and electrification, however, the support given to climate solutions is still a fraction of what is being spent on subsidizing the fossil fuels that are causing the climate emergency. Rather than finally delivering on the government’s promise to end fossil fuel subsidies, this budget throws more fuel on the fire by funneling even more public dollars into false solutions that serve to prop up the fossil fuel industry. Carbon capture and hydrogen are great for greenwashing oil and gas, but they won’t deliver meaningful emissions reductions.”
Kate Higgins, CEO, Cooperation Canada:
“The word of the day is ‘undermine’. This budget undermines Canada’s standing in the world, it undermines progress on development, and it undermines our security. At a time when the world faces compounding global crises, Canadians expect their government to commit to bold global leadership. This budget does not deliver on this.”
Lauren Ravon, Executive Director, Oxfam Canada:
“Cutting official development assistance by $1.3 billion – a 15% cut – is unconscionable at a time when women’s rights are under attack, poverty is on the rise and so many people around the world are facing climate chaos, hunger and conflict. This move does not lead to feminist action, justice, development or security but rather hurts those who need it most. At a time when the world faces compounding global crises, including an erosion of human rights and democratic values, Canadians expect their government to commit to bold global leadership. Cutting foreign aid does no such thing.”
Jamie Kneen, National Program Co-Lead, MiningWatch Canada:
“Mining for the energy transition has to be done in the safest way possible. If Canada wants to claim leadership, instead of just shovelling money to mining companies, we need to improve regulation and enforcement. Just last week we saw the provinces, led by Alberta, going to the Supreme Court of Canada to try to get the federal government out of environmental assessment altogether. Yet Ontario, for example, doesn’t even require mining projects to be assessed, and has just introduced measures to further weaken and deregulate environmental protection and leave even more of the financial risk of cleaning up mine sites to taxpayers.”
Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director, Stand.earth:
“Today’s federal investment in clean energy solutions like solar, wind and geothermal are a positive step. However investing public dollars in false solutions like carbon capture and storage, fossil fuel-derived hydrogen, and abated natural gas electricity are undercutting Canada’s climate progress. What’s more, the federal government has yet to fulfil its promise to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. Oil and gas companies reported tens of billions in record profits this year – it shouldn’t be up to taxpayers to help them meet their climate targets and clean up their messes.”
Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Destination Zero:
“Budget 2023 offers unprecedented investments that will make huge moves to level the playing field for clean energy and green industry in Canada.
“We’re seeing Canada adopt the lesson our largest trading partners in the US, UK and EU have put into practice in recent years – success and prosperity in the 21st century depends on governments laying out policies and budgets that deliver fiscal, environmental, labour, and social benefit outcomes at the same time, rather than in piecemeal increments.
“We need a vision of a Canadian clean economy that takes care of people, and a plan to get us there – budget 2023 puts Canada firmly on that journey. Absent a plan, and as long as public dollars are still being funnelled into dirty energy, it will be difficult for any budget to do what’s necessary: change the game.”
Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist, Greenpeace Canada:
“This budget is the first to fully recognize that the only route to a prosperous and secure future lies in aggressive action to combat the climate crisis, though there is still work to be done before the fine print on the investments fully match the fine words on paper. Greenpeace Canada welcomes the unprecedented federal investments in greening the grid, which will be critical as we phase out fossil fuels by replacing them with electricity from renewable energy sources.
We are concerned to see new subsidies for oil and gas companies making record profits. No money in the world could convince oil companies to become good actors on climate change, so it would be far more effective to simply regulate their emissions and invest scarce public funds into accelerating investments in efficiency and electrification.”
Dylan Penner, Climate and Social Justice Campaigner, Council of Canadians:
“This kind of business-as-usual budget is so detached from the realities of the climate and inequality crises that it may as well have been written by CEOs. Just last week the latest UN climate report warned that we’re on thin ice and it’s melting. And yet, this budget doesn’t even mention a just transition, let alone fund what’s needed to support workers and communities in the shift to a post-carbon economy. While there are some notable investments in our electricity grid, if this budget is a sneak peek at the government’s so-called Sustainable Jobs legislation, it doesn’t bode well.”
Amara Possian, Canada Team Lead, 350.org:
“Last week, the IPCC issued a clear warning: we need bold and sweeping government action to avert climate catastrophe. Despite its new investments in clean energy, today’s budget falls short because the Trudeau government is still handing billions over to the fossil fuel industry and wasting public money on fake climate solutions like carbon capture and blue hydrogen. To secure a liveable future, we must power down the fossil fuel industry while powering up renewables.”
Cathy Orlando, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada:
“There is a lot in this budget for clean tech. This is exciting news. Of concern is the 15 per cent refundable tax credit for abated natural gas-fired electricity generation. Natural gas is a fossil fuel – methane – a very potent greenhouse gas. The latest IPCC report was clear – no new fossil fuel infrastructure can be built. Given the inequitable and catastrophic impact that exceeding a global temperature rise of 1.5 °C will have on everything and everywhere, planning for any new fossil fuel infrastructure on the premise that it can be reversed by unproven carbon capture and sequestration funded by taxpayers is indefensible.”
Justin Murgai, Chief Executive Officer, WaterAid Canada:
“To protect the environment and promote peace and security in North America and around the world through a clean transition, substantive investment in water security for climate-resilient populations and confronting biodiversity loss is essential. A clean and just transition must also prioritize the human rights to water and sanitation and support health, education, gender equality and rights of Indigenous peoples. Canadians can certainly celebrate the historic investment to accelerate protection and restoration of the Great Lakes, as well as moving forward with the Canada Water Agency, yet achieving a water secure world requires Canada to invest in SDG 6 – including the universal right to water and sanitation for everyone, everywhere – and demonstrate the fundamental link for national action on sustainable water resources management with Canada’s international assistance priorities.”
Susan O’Donnell, Spokesperson, Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick:
“We are disappointed to see tax breaks for nuclear fuel reprocessing under the guise of “clean tech.” Extracting plutonium from used nuclear fuel has nothing to do with climate mitigation. It is a dirty, dangerous distraction from real climate action.”
Nika Moeini, Executive Director, Youth Climate Save Canada:
“We are disappointed to see the lack of investments in sustainable agriculture or any tangible measures to reduce food waste and promote the transition to sustainable, plant-based diets. If we are to meet 1.5 degrees of warming, we cannot do so without addressing animal agriculture, even if we phased out all fossil fuels.”
Kim Fry, Coordinator, Music Declares Emergency Canada:
“To avoid climate catastrophe, we need Immediate Ambitious Climate Leadership from every corner of the globe and from every industry and sector. The message from last week’s IPCC report is crystal clear: we need decision makers at all levels of government and in civil society and business to become part of the solution and raise ambition with bold and courageous actions. This budget does not take the necessary leadership. It is deeply disappointing.
Marc-André Viau, Director of government relations, Équiterre:
“This budget is aligned with the government’s environmental vision, which relies heavily on some clean – and not-so-clean – technologies to achieve its environmental objectives. Some of the measures announced, such as decarbonizing the electricity grid, are promising, but some, such as the significant funding for carbon capture and storage, are perplexing.”
Shanaaz Gokool, Executive Director, Leadnow:
“People across Canada are buckling as corporate greed wrecks our climate and communities. Budget 2023 was an opportunity for the government to lay out bold investments to build a fairer, more sustainable future for all of us. It sadly falls short. While news of investments in green energy is welcome, they’re nowhere near the scale that’s needed. And it’s disappointing to see huge amounts of public money go to the oil and gas industry for fantastical carbon capture technology. Big oil companies are reporting record profits. They need to be paying their fair share to build a climate-safe future for all of us, not taking more money from the public purse.”