This is a work of imagination. But the urgency of the crisis is real, the need for the suggested programs is real, and the data included in these proposals is real. — Guy Dauncey
In this post we imagine a world where my country Canada recognizes we’re in a full-blown climate emergency, one that requires unprecedented war-time-like measures. The reader is asked to assume that the Canadian government is acting on this emergency by launching a 26-week climate transition program consisting of a climate action announcement every Monday for 26 consecutive weeks.
This post features the first 8 weeks of the 26-week climate transition program. Subsequent posts will feature weeks 9-16 and weeks 17-26 respectively. You can download a copy of the 26-Week Transition Program here. It’s also available at The Practical Utopian.
The Climate Emergency 26-Week Transition Program
What could the government of Canada do if its Ministers, Members of Parliament and civil servants really understood the severity of the climate emergency, and the urgency of the need? This paper shows how we could target a 65% reduction in emissions by 2030 and 100% by 2040. It proposes 164 new policies and programs, financed by $63 billion a year in new investments, without raising taxes or increasing public sector borrowing. The new programs and policies will be rolled-out with 26 consecutive Monday-morning climate announcements following a joint statement from the Prime Minister of Canada and all Ministers of his Cabinet.
Week 1 — Climate Governance
We have formed a Climate Emergency Advisory Committee that will meet monthly, chaired by the Prime Minister. We invite participation from all Members of Parliament who agree that we are facing a climate emergency and who are willing to work together on a comprehensive set of integrated climate solutions. The Committee’s mandate is to upgrade the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change targeting a 65% reduction in Canada’s 716 megatonnes (Mt) of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 100% by 2040. We will:
- Introduce the Climate Accountability Act establishing legally binding five-year emissions-reduction targets for every sector of Canada’s economy.
- Appoint an independent Climate Commission that will produce a professional assessment of progress and make recommendations for further action. Each year in September, the Minister for Climate and Environment will present a climate action program with short-term and long-term initiatives showing how the government will achieve its goals.
- Introduce a Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, making it a legal requirement for all public bodies to consider the long-term impact of their decisions, and how they will affect future generations with regard to their positive or negative impact on climate, ecology, inequality, housing affordability and private household debt.
- Pass the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), measure Canada’s Wellbeing, apply a Climate Discount Rate to economic modeling and use Climate Impact Scorecards.
- Tighten the Federal Lobbying Act to increase transparency, and take steps to ensure that civil society groups have as many opportunities to lobby MPs and senior government bureaucrats as industry lobbyists.
Week 2 — A Green New Deal
- Develop a Green New Deal in partnership with business, labour unions, First Nations and non-profit societies to manage Canada’s 20-year transition off fossil fuels in a planned, coordinated manner.
- Plan for a million new green jobs over the next 20 years.
- Extend the work of the Task Force on Just Transition for Coal Workers and Communities to include all fossil fuel, forestry and agro-industrial workers whose jobs will disappear because of the transition, and enact a Just Transition Act to protect them financially with a two-year Transition Income Guarantee.
Week 3 — Carbon Tax
Carbon taxation is a net benefit to all Canadians and an essential tool as we navigate a rapid transition to renewable energy. The current tax is $30 per tonne in 2020, rising by $10 a year to $50 by 2022. This revenue is returned to Canadians as tax rebates.
The purpose of the tax is to incentivize citizens, businesses, organizations and utilities to switch to low or zero carbon energy.
The tax will remain revenue neutral, but instead of being returned as a tax rebate, the revenue will be distributed in the mail to all Canadians each January as an annual dividend.
We will increase the tax and matching rebates by $25 a year, reaching $155 by 2025 and $280 per tonne by 2030, in keeping with scientific estimates of the price needed to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to meet the Paris climate goals. In 2025, a household that pays $1,855 in carbon taxes will receive $2,268 in tax rebates. As the decade proceeds and the transition to renewable energy accelerates, the taxes paid and rebates received will decline proportionally.
Week 4 — Climate Investments
The Bank of Canada is wholly owned by the people of Canada, enabling the government to work with the Bank to maximize its potential to assist with the investments needed to tackle the climate crisis and achieve the transition to 100% renewable energy.
To enable Canadians to benefit from the money-creating powers inherent to banking we will work with the provinces and professional bankers to establish a Network of Public Banks across Canada.
The expenditures and investments needed to tackle the climate crisis through initiatives come from five sources none of which will increase taxation or public sector borrowing:
- Climate Action Bonds using Green Quantitative Easing capped at 3% inflation rate
- 5% Green Bonds
- Interest-Free Public Bank Loans
- Pay-As-You-Save (PAYS) Utility Loans and Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Municipal Loans
- Fossil Fuel Subsidy Transfers
Central banks also have the power to create money, which they can use directly, as they did after the 2008 financial crisis, or indirectly, by underwriting other loans.
Almost all of these investments will generate income from income tax and GST, adding to government revenues.
Week 5 — Climate Engagement
Without widespread citizen engagement it will not be possible to achieve our climate goals. These new initiatives will build on Canada’s Climate Action Fund, which funds initiatives that raise awareness of climate change and build capacity to increase climate action. We will:
- In 2021 form a Climate Solutions Citizens’ Assembly of 50 people selected at random from across the country who will spend six residential or teleconference weekends learning about the climate and ecological emergencies and proposing additional solutions.
- Offer 500 Community Engagement Grants of $10,000 each to communities across Canada that submit winning proposals to engage residents and neighbours in a six-months effort to reduce their household emissions.
- Invite non-profit societies to organize teams of Climate Action Coordinators, each of whom will help 1,000 people make the transition to 100% renewable energy and climate and ecologically friendly lifestyles over ten years. Funding will provide for 40,000 coordinators.
- Launch and operate Climate Solutions Roadshows to be produced in partnership with the Climate Action Coordinators, to show in multiple simultaneous venues across Canada starting in 2021.
Week 6 — Prairie Solutions
To the frontline workers in the coal, oil and gas industries: we understand your concerns. We need to bring the age of fossil fuels to a smooth but rapid ending, while protecting you and your families and communities. We will:
- Provide financial and other forms of support to affected workers through the Just Transition Act and the Transition Wages Guarantee, as announced in Week 2.
- Engage the citizens of north-eastern British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan in the development of a prosperous post-carbon future and in partnership with their provincial governments fund 9 regional Prairie Solutions Citizens Assemblies… to propose solutions for the next 100 years of life on the Prairies, when the age of oil has ended.
- Create a $5 billion Green Prairies Futures Fund to assist with the transition to a successful post-carbon economy.
- Fund a 10th Citizen’s Assembly in Newfoundland to explore a similar future beyond oil.
Week 7 — Climate Education and Research
A proper scientific understanding of the climate emergency and its solutions is essential for all Canadians as we tackle this massive challenge. We will:
- Ensure that Canadian scientists continue to receive the research funding needed to understand the climate and ecological emergencies.
- Ensure that starting in September 2020, all school students will study solutions to the climate and ecological emergencies for one hour a week…to make sustainability and climate the centre of the educational model.
- Starting in the Fall of 2021, a Certificate in Ecology and Climate Solutions will be required for university entrance. Institutions that do not comply will not receive federal research grants or other funding.
- Provide $50 million in Climate 101 Curriculum Development Grants, including teacher training and rollout.
- Enable every school board to switch to 100% electric school buses by 2030 and create an Electric School Bus Purchasing Pool… to help school boards and municipalities purchase 5,000 zero-emission school and transit buses by 2025.
- Convert the Canada Youth Service Corps to the Canada Youth Green Team and expand it to offer 5,000 jobs paying $30,000 a year by 2022, with a focus on climate, environment, and ecological restoration.
- Expand our Learn-to-Camp Program to reach 400,000 kids each year, adding climate and ecological learning to basic camping skills.
- Ensure that Canada’s future politicians, economists, civil servants, lawyers, engineers, architects, business leaders, journalists and others have sufficient understanding of the economics of the climate emergency by encouraging all Economics and MBA courses taught in Canada to include a module on climate science and solutions.
Week 8 — Cohesive Communities
Every community in Canada needs the capacity and skills to embrace the transition by becoming strong and resourceful. We plan a future in which one of the central roles of government is to support non-governmental problem solvers, reducing the huge annual cost of putting dressings on our many problems, rather than solving them. We will:
- Continue our commitment to contribute $755 million over 10 years to the Social Finance Fund.
- Establish a Cohesive Communities Fund for social enterprise capacity building, comprehensive transition planning, urban greening, and ecologically sustainable community economic development in qualifying communities.
- Provide Renewable Energy Capacity Building Grants at $50,000 each to 500 communities, to ensure that First Nations and all neighbourhoods and communities across Canada are able to form cooperatives and social enterprises to engage in cooperative residential home energy retrofits, the development of renewable energy systems to end the use of diesel and natural gas for heating, transportation, electricity and similar projects.
- Encourage government staff and civil servants to support the transition and establish a partnership with the League of Intrapreneurs and the School for Social Entrepreneurs to offer trainings and on-line courses in social innovation and intrapreneurialism.
- Require all federal agencies and public bodies to seek and measure a Social Return on
Note: the costing for these initiatives and further details and references are available in the PDF document.
Watch for the second post for weeks 9-16 of the Transition Program coming soon.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.