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Leading environmental organizations endorse new green recovery guidelines, including strict conditions on oil and gas industry

July 7, 2020, Ottawa—As the federal government works out its COVID-19 economic recovery, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) today released seven principles that outline a roadmap for meeting Canada’s 2050 climate commitments while spurring economic resiliency and creating good jobs. Canada’s leading environmental groups, who represent close to two million people, have signed on to the new recommendations. Several of the groups, including the Pembina Institute, Climate Action Network Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, and Équiterre, met last week with key federal ministers to provide a more detailed path forward as Canada moves out of an emergency phase and into recovery.

"The federal government is spending billions on economic stimulus and has signalled that it is committed to a green recovery. This report shows the vital importance of strong climate action if we are to be effective in creating good jobs, a resilient economy and a healthy, fair society,” says Vanessa Corkal of IISD, lead author of the report. “Our response to COVID-19 must put us on a better path to confront the climate and biodiversity crises, which in their own way will have major health impacts."

Several organizations, including the Climate Action Network Canada, Leadnow, and Greenpeace Canada, have started mobilizing their members across the country to ask MPs to commit to the seven green recovery principles. Mobilizing efforts, including days of action and e-rallies, will continue through the summer.

“This spring, while over 400 organizations across Canada united to call for a transformational and just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, oil and gas companies were lobbying hard to take Canada backwards. This is unacceptable,” says Catherine Abreu of Climate Action Network Canada (CAN-Rac). “If applied by government, the principles of the Green Strings report will ensure the federal government steers our economy towards a climate safe future that protects people and the planet.”

The report Green Strings: Principles and Conditions for a Green Recovery from COVID-19 gives policy-makers concrete steps to act on. These steps include adding conditions, or “green strings,” to funding given to industry, such as requiring concrete plans for net-zero emissions by 2050, with immediate action for reducing emissions in key high-carbon sectors. The report also recommends financial conditions—including prohibiting corporate stock buybacks and executive bonuses, and withholding support from companies using tax havens—coupled with strong transparency and accountability measures.

The paper provides guidance on using stimulus to facilitate a fair energy transition, supporting workers and providing training for low-carbon jobs, and investing in solutions like clean electricity and low-carbon fuels while protecting and strengthening environmental regulations and policy frameworks.

The authors of the report urge policy-makers working on recovery to take steps to increase equity and well-being and uphold Indigenous rights. To truly build back better, the authors say, recovery must address societal inequities, which are magnified by COVID-19 and climate change.

“This report is a roadmap for ensuring the coherence of reconstruction projects with Canada's environmental objectives,” says Caroline Brouillette of Équiterre. “We are optimistic about the possibility of integrating these principles into the plans and policies that will be developed by the federal government in the coming weeks.”

As Canada’s post-pandemic future comes into focus, authors of the report say that, in order to reach our economic, health, and social goals, climate considerations must be at the forefront of our recovery.

"This is a historic moment—not only are we dealing with a global health crisis, but how governments put recovery into action will lock in our environmental footprint for decades,” says study co-author Aaron Cosbey of IISD. “We’ll end up spending hundreds of billions of dollars on relief and recovery—an unprecedented investment by Canadian taxpayers. It’s the government’s right and duty to attach conditions to that spending, making sure it drives us toward the future we all want: a green, prosperous Canada.

Pembina InstituteClimate Action Network CanadaDavid Suzuki FoundationEnvironmental DefenceGreenpeace CanadaÉquiterreEcojusticeEcology Action CentreConservation Council of New BrunswickStand.earthLeadnowSierra Club of Canada, and Wilderness Committee have all signed on to the report.