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I’m pleased to welcome Guy Dauncey as a new contributor to Below2C. Guy is an author and futurist who works to develop a positive vision of a sustainable future, and to translate the vision into action. In this first post he writes about a bold new climate vision if he became Prime Minister of Canada following the October 19th election. (Editor intro)

Bold New Climate Vision for Canada

If I Were Canada's Prime Minister. My Bold New Climate Vision, Below2C

New Scientist magazine reported in June that five meters of future sea-level rise is already locked in, due to the steady collapse of the West Antarctic Ice-Sheet. If we don’t act rapidly, their staff reported, it will be twenty metres.

The full extent of the flooding will not happen for several thousand years, but “locked-in” is the phrase they used. ¹Venice, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Vancouver, London, Mumbai, Kolkata; large parts of Holland; a large part of Bangladesh and many cities in China—all will be under water.²

Right now, the climate crisis is causing drought conditions that could end commercial food production in California. The record-breaking heat, drought and forest fires in western Canada are causing distress, fear and death, as well as huge damage. The great blob of warm water and the resulting algae bloom in the eastern Pacific is threatening the salmon as well as the shellfish. With the plankton numbers in the ocean plummeting and rivers being too warm to migrate up to spawn, their future is in peril. Think to the future, and what we’re experiencing today is only a small indicator of far worse to come.

If I Were Canada's Prime Minister. My Bold New Climate Vision, Below2CTo all except the deniers, the climate science explains what’s causing Earth’s temperature to rise. It’s not the Sun, not the Earth’s changing orbit, not volcanoes, not deforestation, not ozone pollution, not aerosol pollution, not chemtrails: it’s the greenhouse gas emissions that result from burning ancient fossil fuels, destroying Earth’s forests, and other human activities.³

If we really understood the severity of the crisis, if we understood in our hearts the grief that our children and grandchildren will experience long after we’re gone, what would we do?

What would I do if I was Prime Minister of Canada in October 2015? It’s an important question that everyone one of us should ask. Canada’s current commitments are abysmal,[4] more informed by religious fundamentalism than by climate science.[5]

My First Week In Office: A Nation-Wide Broadcast 

As the imaginary leader of one of Canada’s main opposition parties, my team would already have already consulted with Canada’s best and brightest climate scientists and renewable energy specialists. As a result, within my first week in office I would host a nation-wide broadcast in which we would lay out the dangers, and show how a future with a greatly reduced use of fossil fuels could be just as comfortable and dynamic as the Canada we know today.

I would then announce a bold new climate vision, telling Canadians that my government would work to achieve an urgent and rapid transition to 100% renewable energy by 2040, moving to the front of technological change and generating hundreds of thousands of new jobs while leaving most of the remaining coal, oil and gas in the ground, supported by public banking to create the credit needed to finance the transition.

To coordinate the process I would create a new department, Climate Canada, absorbing the important energy-related portfolios of Industry and Natural Resources, and my ministers would make two major announcements a week leading up to the crucial UN Paris Climate Conference in December, which I would attend in person, accompanied by the entire Climate Team from my Cabinet.

First Announcement: A Price on Carbon

My government’s first announcement would be in Victoria, BC, where my new Minister of Finance would invite the provincial Premiers to meet as soon as possible to coordinate a plan for a single Canada-wide carbon tax based on BC’s example, starting at $50 a tonne and increasing by $10 a year, with 80% of the income being used to finance the transition to 100% renewable energy and 20% being returned to people on lower incomes. The tax would generate $20 billion rising to $30 billion a year to invest in the transition.

Second Announcement: Greener Buildings

Three days later my new Minister of Urban Affairs would make an announcement in Winnipeg introducing a series of incentives and tax credits to make homes and buildings more energy efficient and to switch to renewable sources of heat. She would announce my government’s intention that starting in 2020 every new building must be zero carbon, and that low cost loans would be available for building retrofits and district energy systems with the goal of reducing emissions from buildings to zero by 2040. In doing so, the work would generate up to 90,000 new direct and indirect jobs. [6]

Third Announcement: Transportation

The following Monday my Minister of Transportation would make a big announcement in Toronto, where he would lay out the government’s commitment to the solar-electrification of Canada’s railways, the integration of provincial electric vehicle incentives into a single Canadian program, and the goal that all new cars and light trucks manufactured in Canada would be electric by 2025.

He would announce a large funding commitment for transit and safe separated bike lanes, that he would work with Canada’s mayors to increase the share of transit and cycling to 50% of trips by 2040, and that Canada would work with other nations to make urgent progress towards 100% renewable energy for the difficult challenges of long-distance trucking, shipping and flying.

The work would generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in transit, 14,000 jobs electrifying the railways, a strong auto-manufacturing industry, and up to 75,000 new jobs in cycle tourism as Canada’s network of safe bike pathways grows.

 Fourth Announcement: Fossil Fuels

The next announcement would be by my new Minister of Climate, in Fort McMurray, Alberta, where she would explain that due to the urgency of the climate crisis no new federal permits would be approved for the transportation or export of Canada’s coal, oil and gas resources, either by pipeline or by rail.

To balance the pain, and to address the gradual loss of 550,000 direct and indirect jobs in fossil fuels, my government would work with communities and the provinces to develop programs to help people retrain for new jobs, and to help affected communities design and build a new future without fossil fuels.

Fifth Announcement: Electricity

The fifth announcement would be by my Secretary of State for Energy at the University of Saskatoon, standing next to a solar home. Working with the provinces, he would develop a plan to phase out all coal-fired power plants in Canada by 2020, followed by all gas-fired power plants, replacing them with solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and other renewable energy resources. He would also launch a Canada-wide drive to increase the efficiency of lights, appliances, fans and other equipment, and to encourage energy-saving behaviour. As an estimate, the work would result in 85,000 new direct and indirect jobs, growing to 125,000 new jobs by 2040.

 Sixth Announcement: Business and Industry

The sixth announcement would be in Halifax, where my Secretary of State for Industry and Natural Resources, based within Climate Canada, would issue a challenge to every business in Canada: become a certified Benefit Corporation, embracing a legal change to your governing principles that commits you to produce social and environmental benefits as well as profit, and the government will give you a tax-break.[7]

He would urge every company to seek ways to become more competitive by becoming more energy efficient, and announce plans to develop a Canada-wide program of Green Business Certification based on the model developed on Vancouver Island.[8]

He would also announce that starting immediately every business seeking a grant, loan or export assistance must submit a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by 5% a year, and that to build Canada’s economy without fossil fuels his department would develop a new program to support innovation and entrepreneurship in schools, universities and communities, including First Nations, women and minorities.

Seventh Announcement: Farming and Ranching

Three days later my Minister for Agriculture would make an announcement from a Quebec organic farm, where she would emphasize the importance of organic farming and management-intensive livestock grazing for sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. She would list the many externalized costs of conventional farming and announce the government’s intention to introduce a new tax on pesticides and fertilizers, with 100% of the revenue being returned to farmers to support the transition to organic status. She would also talk about the climate impact of intensively raised beef, and urge people to join the federal cabinet in making every Monday a meat-free day.

Eighth Announcement: Forests

Toward the end of that week my new Secretary of State for Forests, based within Climate Canada, would make an announcement in Whitehorse, Yukon. Emphasizing the importance of Canada’s forests as another important source of carbon sequestration, as well as of jobs and economic prosperity, he would invite the provincial forest ministers to meet to develop new standards to protect the carbon in the forest, protect the forests from devastating climate-induced wildfires, and come up with new ways to overcome the American softwood lumber agreement and develop more value-added jobs in the forest industry.

Ninth Announcement: Canada’s First Nations

At the start of the next week, my new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs would meet with First Nations leaders in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, where he would make a commitment to regular consultations, and propose an offer to accelerate the treaty-making process, writing off the accumulated legal costs. He would also propose a new initiative to retrofit 200,000 sub-standard First Nations homes, and to train First Nations people in the skills to develop businesses and cooperatives providing solar and wind energy, energy storage, passive house building and zero-carbon home retrofitting in First Nations and neighbouring communities.

Tenth Announcement: Education & Training

That same week my Secretary of State for Climate Education would invite the education ministers from every province to meet in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where, if she has done her homework, they would announce a threefold commitment: to ensure that climate education in Canada’s schools place most of its emphasis on solutions to the crisis, not just the problems; that Canada’s colleges develop the necessary training programs for the renewable energy transition; and that every school, college and university in Canada would convert to 100% renewable energy by 2025.

Eleventh Announcement: Climate Science

For the eleventh announcement, my new Secretary of State for Science, based within Climate Canada, would invite Canada’s leading climate scientists and Inuit leaders to meet with her in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where she would announce her goal that the entire Arctic should become a marine protected area.

She would also announce the restoration of all climate science programs cut under the previous government, and that henceforth all Canadian scientists and researchers would be allowed to speak freely, and never again fear the loss of their jobs for speaking out.

Twelfth Announcement: Community Engagement

For the penultimate announcement my Secretary of State for Community Engagement, based within Climate Canada, would meet in Glassville, New Brunswick, with staff and volunteers from the Falls Brook Centre and with Craig and Marc Keilburger from the youth empowerment organization MetoWe, where they would jointly invite Canadians to gather in stadiums across the country for a series of inspirational celebrations of Canada’s new vision and our determination to be a world-leader in the fight against climate change and our embrace of a renewable energy future. She would also announce a new funding program for community climate initiatives, and invite 20,000 Canadians to train to become Climate Solutions Leaders in their communities.[9]

Final Announcement: The Paris Climate Conference

The Road to Paris 2015. It's a Start, Below2CFinally, before leaving for the UN climate conference in Paris, I would bring my entire climate team to Charlottetown, PEI, where I would once again emphasize the urgency of the crisis and where I would announce Canada’s intentions to work with the world’s nations to achieve three things:

  1. A mandatory global carbon cap set low enough to create a 75% chance that the temperature would not rise by more than 2°C, requiring an average 5% reduction in emissions by every country, every year.
  2. That in addition to their commitments to reduce their emissions the world’s nations would agree to work on a series of climate solutions treaties to accelerate specific solutions.
  3. That the world’s wealthier nations would do everything in their power to produce by 2020 the $100 billion Green Climate Fund promised in 2010 to help developing nations with the cost of coping with the climate crisis and to support the renewable energy transition. I would announce that Canada, with 2.25% of the global GDP, would provide $4 billion at $1 billion a year.

What would these announcements cost? My Climate Solutions Budget (Appendix 1 below) shows annual expenditures of $22.5 billion, set against carbon tax income averaging $22.6 billion over three years.

By retaining 80% of the income from the carbon tax, $20 billion would be withdrawn from consumer spending, but it would all be spent back into the economy, generating jobs and restoring consumer spending. Over the period of the transition to renewable energy, the plan would generate almost twice as many jobs as would be lost, enabling Canada’s economy to come through the transition in good shape.


This is just one possible way to address the climate crisis: there will be many more. What would you do? What would you ask our actual political leaders to do?

With every month that we delay, the carbon emissions keep growing, the forests keep burning, the ice keeps melting, the ocean and rivers keeps warming, the sudden floods and deluges keep coming, the droughts keep lasting longer, the stream of climate-related refugees increases, the death-toll keeps rising, and the likelihood of a locked-in 20-metre sea-level rise keeps growing. We must act now.


Appendix 1: A Climate Solutions Budget ($ CAN billion)


$ IN


A carbon tax starting at $50 a tonne on 500 million tonnes of CO2. 80% of the income to finance the transition to 100% renewable energy, 20% returned to low-income Canadians. Income averaged over three years. For income from future years, see below. 22.6 0
For building retrofits, the tax credits and incentives would pay for themselves through GST on building products. Low-interest loans self-financing through savings. The government would create the credit needed to advance low interest loans by forming a new Public Development Bank. 1.0
The shift to renewable electricity would be self-financed through the normal process of tendering for wind, solar and geothermal power, supported by solar feed-in tariffs until the price of solar PV falls sufficiently. 1.0
Based on the Ontario Metrolinx Go Rail electrification numbers, railway electrification would cost $7 billion a year, split between the railway companies and the government. Canada’s railways hauled 289 million tonnes of freight in 2010.[10] Several studies have outlined the benefits of electrification:

·       50% reduction in rolling stock operating costs.

·       15% reduction in infrastructure operating costs such as track maintenance due to lightweight trains.

·       3% increase in rolling stock availability.

·       22% reduction in vehicle leasing costs.[11]

The investment in safe, separated bike lanes would be shared with local communities, with a $1 billion federal contribution. If the cycling rate in towns and cities reaches 25% there would be $43 billion annual savings in healthcare costs due to increased fitness. This compares to BC’s current BikeBC commitment of $11 million a year and Ontario’s $8 million a year. Vélo Québec has estimated that cyclists on the Route Verte spend $95.4 million annually, generating revenues of $15.1 million for the government of Québec.[12] 1
The investment in transit, at 50% of the level proposed for the MetroVancouver Mayors’ Plan, would cost $12 billion a year. 12
The electric vehicles incentives program, targeting 100,000 vehicles a year with a $5,000 incentive, would cost $500 million a year. 0.5
The transition to organic farming would be self-financed through the new tax on chemical pesticides and fertilizers. 0
First Nations funding for zero-carbon housing and training 1
Climate science, education and community engagement 0.5
Canada’s Contribution to the Global Climate Fund 1
Program administration (spread between initiatives) 1
22.6 22.5

Appendix 2: Carbon Tax Income


Year Carbon tax Tonnes of CO2(million) Revenue (billion) 80% (billion)
2016 50 500 25,000 20.0
2017 60 475 28,500 22.8
2018 70 450 31,500 25.2
2019 80 425 34,000 27.2
2020 90 400 36,000 28.8
2021 100 375 37,500 30.0
2122 110 350 38,500 30.8
2123 120 325 39,000 31.2
2024 130 300 39,000 31.2
2025 140 275 38,500 30.8
2026 150 250 37,500 30.0



[1] Latest numbers show at least 5 metres sea-level rise locked in. New Scientist, June 10, 2015.

[2] Coastal Nations, Megacities Face 20 Feet of Sea Rise. Climate Central, July 9,

[3] What’s Really Warming the World? Bloomberg Business, June 24,

[4] Canada’s INDC Commitment, via Climate Tracker:

[5] Stephen Harper’s Covert Evangelism, by Andrew Nikiforuk. The Tyee, Sept 14, 2015.

[6] All jobs numbers come from Almost Twice As Many: Green Jobs in Canada in the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy, by Guy Dauncey. The Practical Utopian, September 2015.

[7] Benefit Corporation:

[8] Vancouver Island Green Business Certification:

[9] Me to We:

[10] With CO2 priced at an average $100 over 10 years, the carbon tax would add $268 to each 1,000 litres of fuel. In 2009, Canada’s railways used 1.87 billion litres of diesel, costing $500 million a year. With full electrification, fuel costs will fall from $2.8 billion a year (diesel at $1.25/litre + carbon tax at $100 /tonne) to $400 million for electricity, saving $2.8 billion a year. See 2010 Rail Trends, page

[11] Toward a clean train policy: diesel versus electric. West Toronto Chapter, Professional Engineers

[12] Quebec Cuts Funding to Route Verte – Outcry from Cycling Community and Municipalities. Pedal Magazine, Nov 11, 2014.

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  1. Are you kidding ? that the 220 feet of Sea Level Rise in Greenland and the Antarctic will not happen for two thousand years ? It is insane and wrong, to say, the melting from the warm air and warmer ocean waters are calving both of Earths Coolers, and they could be gone with in a decade.

    404 Parts Per Million of Carbon in the Atmosphere and counting.

    Pacific Ocean 3 – 8 degrees warmer than normal, and flowing in to the Arctic Ocean and out towards Greenland and the Atlantic Ocean.

    What will Cool the Northern Hemisphere when Greenland is gone ?

    The Arctic region use to have the job of keeping North America cool, but is 70% gone and going.

      • I think that a number of countries are already looking at the ramifications of sea level rise. While the actual data of how much and when seems to look more likely sooner than later, there is little doubt that it has already begun and is currently displacing native populations in the low-lying Pacific Islands.

        The rise will not be dramatic for most people in the next decades, but even a few inches can bring about devastating and expensive effects. Governments world wide are already looking at sea defence plans to buy them some time.

      • It is interesting to note that researchers today are seeing faster sea-level rise than seen a century ago
        We don’t have to see much of a rise to know that saltwater will inundate freshwater aquifers on land. It isn’t the big rise over a long period of time that will affect us, it is the small rise that affects our food and water security, and creates hardships that we cannot imagine.

        • As we now know, the warming of the planet will go beyond the 2 degree Celsius threshold which is considered to be the point after which all hell breaks lose. Rising sea levels will be a problem – gradual rise for some countries but dramatic for others. But that is only one problem facing our oceans.

          The warming of the oceans will lead to more frequent and intense extreme weather events. Deep water currents will distort weather patterns as warm water reaches the Arctic and causes even greater ice melt. And let’s not forget that life in the oceans is vanishing – from fish stocks to plankton which is the key ingredient in many ocean ecosystems.

          As you point out quite well, we will witness “hardships that we cannot imagine”.

          What a way to start my day.

  2. Daniel, correct, in this scenario there is no carbon budget; it uses a carbon tax instead. But the goal is set at 100% by 2040, which calls for a 5% reduction in emissions every year.

    And as to the full 200 feet of melting being not for 2,000 years – that’s what the science tells us at present. New Scientist magazine crunched the numbers:

    The likely rise by the end of this century is in the 1 to 3 metres range. There is no evidence that I’ve ever seen to suggest that Greenland and Antarctica could be gone within a decade. We need to be careful not to fall into the same syndrome as the climate deniers, or cherry-picking the climate science to support what we want to believe in.

  3. Quite a plan! I don’t know how it stacks up financially?

    Solar power is developing, but it requires more efficient storage media than our usual ‘batteries’ if it is to operate on an industrial scale for mass transport. Ask anyone about using domestic solar panels, how much they can power on a really cloudy, foggy day, and it will be minimal, and of course nothing at night.

    As for power stations…they struggle to calculate what our power needs might be at any given moment. For instance, Christmas light displays put a huge load on the system. In Britain, the power stations have to know the TV viewing habits of consumers…during commercial breaks on popular TV shows, they have to power up immediately to bring more electricity into the grid as millions of TV viewers head for the kitchen to switch on electric kettles. Other than Nuclear, there is not enough power produced in other systems to cope with demand (at the moment).


  4. Quite a plan! I don’t know how it stacks up financially?

    Solar power is developing, but it requires more efficient storage media than our usual ‘batteries’ if it is to operate on an industrial scale for mass transport. Ask anyone about using domestic solar panels, how much they can power on a really cloudy, foggy day, and it will be minimal, and of course nothing at night.

    As for power stations…they struggle to calculate what our power needs might be at any given moment. For instance, Christmas light displays put a huge load on the system. In Britain, the power stations have to know the TV viewing habits of consumers…during commercial breaks on popular TV shows, they have to power up immediately to bring more electricity into the grid as millions of TV viewers head for the kitchen to switch on electric kettles. Other than Nuclear, there is not enough power produced in other systems to cope with demand (at the moment).

    It is interesting to note that a simple woodstove is actually fairly carbon neutral for producing heat. The CO2 produced in burning, is taken up in the trees grown to produce more wood. No need to dig coal reserves, oil or gas. A woodstove could be made efficient enough to heat water for radiators, hot water tanks, and with some ingenuity to run electrical systems (to pump water, and run lights etc., whist burning a minimum of resource ( hopefully with 95% efficiency). With a backup of a small efficient wind turbine and solar panels on each house, each property could become its own power source without the need for large power stations. Individuals would be in total control of what they use. This is off-grid living and anyone who already does this will tell you that they are not wasteful with their electricity! Certainly it leaves power stations with only the need to provide power for infrastructure.

    • I sense some skepticism about the possibility of clean energy replacing the carbon-based energy we are now dependent on. There are times I wonder about that as well. But I’m sure people asked the same questions about the shift from wood to coal and then to oil. And who would have thought that the iphone now has more computing power than computers of the past.

      Right now the technology of renewables is leaping forward to a point where some regions in the developing world are entirely powered by renewable energy. It’s happening, little by little.

      • I believe clean, efficient, renewable energy sources can be developed. I am not sceptical about that Rolly…we humans have the brain power to do a lot of good things. Where it becomes complicated, is time-scales, economics (is it affordable), and incentives (for the developers).

        In the interim, we have to work with what we have.

        I have seen some exciting development stuff (still confidential) to create lightweight, extremely strong, extremely conductance materials which will revolutionise transportation. It is the very next step (already in preliminary testing), but it will take a full ten years before even consideration for real-world production. For most start-up companies struggling to find the vast sums of money required for such things, it can be a make-or-break situation. How do you pay your employees if the funding isn’t there? And what if you spend millions on an idea that suddenly developed a fatal flaw under testing? This is why I ask if a financial plan can stack-up? Even on a simple house building project it is common to make a budget for costs, but then double it to be more realistic about hold ups, bad materials, planning constraints and so on. Ideas are 10-a-penny, but bringing them to market can bankrupt their creators. We must be realistic about what we can do short-term because we need to do something now!

  5. Putting the financial budget aside for Guy’s plan… Because someone with greater financial skills than I is needed for determining any cost effectiveness, I would add a few components if they were affordable.

    1. A governmental Energy fund developed (needs to be fairly hefty), for a grant program to companies who initiate viable alternate energy systems. Applications would require scrutiny by scientific peers before any grant is given for development, and the government would assign suitable overseers to be sure any manufacture meets with specific guidelines.

    2. Requirements for all fossil fuel vehicle owners to declare why they are not able to use equivalent public transport for journeys. There needs to be a set of guidelines to cut down on wasted journeys, and overuse of fossil fuels. While a carbon tax will stop some people overusing their cars, it will not stop everyone, unless a surcharge tax is applied against those vehicles that violate guidelines blatantly.

    3. Not just ‘meatless Monday’s’ but a reduction to meat consumption no more than 2 times per week. Sounds a bit drastic, but it will also serve to temper a burgeoning health problem in older people. A form of ration coupon (or electronic equivalent might work, so people are allotted a limit on how much meat protein they can buy in a week.
    A halt on all factory farming and a return to kinder, more sustainable numbers of farm animals for consumption. This move alone will reduce CO2 output considerably.

    4. To introduce in to the school curriculum, an ‘Earth Balance’ program to be given equal importance to Maths, English, Sciences and History. It would address such issues as symbiotic decision making (do I buy something cheap that destroys the environment, or do I buy something more expensive but sustainable environmentally). The course would look at the true costs of environmental destruction, our own responsibilities and encourage initiative in our students to change bad behaviour that strips the world of other species and degrades the environment. It will incorporate healthy eating, and healthy living, and responsibility to preserve all natural environments for future generations. It is a program that combines elements of faith, fiscal responsibility, housekeeping, and life sciences.

    5. I would completely ban the destruction and clear cutting of old-growth forests. Only planned forestry will be grown and cut for wood products. This will allow a circular cycle that means we only use what we grow. The C02 produced is taken up by the trees grown. As far as wildfires effects go, it will be allowed to cut a fire break only when effects become life-threatening, either to human populations or to the forest itself.

    6. I would implement a hefty tax on fish consumption with all proceeds going to Ocean study and preservation. Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world. It needs to develop ocean sanctuaries to protect species and keep important ecosystems in tact.

    7. I would initiate a series of television programming on environmental action within the home (could be used as an educational tool also in the Earth Balance curriculum in schools). The programming would focus on choices made within the home and then trace it back through the impact on the environment. For instance, a light left on for 4 hrs in an empty room – what it costs the consumer, how much generation is required at the powerplant – how much coal needed to be dug – impact on the environment in land degradation, water contamination, air pollution and species loss. This would educate a population who care not to read much, but who would be shocked to see what a ‘thoughtless’ waste of 4 hrs of electricity really costs.

    • I like the additional seven action points you’ve added to Guy’s plan and I’m sure he will also. I’ve sent him a note about your suggestions.

      Informing and educating our youth about environmental stewardship is crucial – points 4 and 7. Change only happens at a generational pace and I’m not sure that will be fast enough to counteract the effects of accelerating climate change.


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