Montreal, April 7, 2022 - Équiterre assesses the federal budget as hardly reflective of the climate emergency since the ambitions of its emission reduction plan will be easily canceled out by the development of the Bay du Nord oil project.
"While we acknowledge the intentions of the emissions reduction plan (ERP), the cuts to fossil fuel subsidies are in comparison simply microscopic. We would have expected Minister Freeland to take her environmental responsibilities more seriously, but this budget does not reflect that," said Marc-André Viau, Director of Government Relations for Équiterre.
A government that listens to...the fossil fuel lobby
Équiterre strongly denounces the generous tax credits granted by the government for carbon capture, use and storage: an embryonic and expensive technological option that the fossil fuels’ lobby is using to continue producing as long as possible.
"We saw it with the Bay du Nord decision and we're seeing it again today: the fossil fuel industry lobby is comfortably seated in the government's ear, pushing its greenwashing vocabulary so often used to promote ineffective technological loopholes," says Émile Boisseau-Bouvier, Climate Policy Analyst at Équiterre.
Nonetheless, Équiterre welcomes the commitments regarding mandatory disclosure of financial risks related to climate change. However, there is no reason why reporting should only begin in 2024. The federal Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act came into force in June 2021 and requires the Minister of Finance to report annually. This three year delay in meeting the requirements of the legislation is totally unjustified.
Another missed opportunity in transportation
Équiterre also points to the lack of an effective and fiscally responsible way to fund its zero-emission vehicle incentive program, even though it will be reopened to review the eligibility limit for certain models.
"Although a generous five year $1.7 billion additional funding is being provided in electric vehicle subsidies, the bill is once again being picked up by taxpayers as a whole," says Andréanne Brazeau, Sustainable Mobility Analyst with Équiterre.
For years, Équiterre has been asking for the implementation of a feebate system, whereby an additional tax rate is to be paid at the purchase of the more polluting vehicles and that would help finance the purchase of less polluting ones. This recommendation is equally endorsed by the Green Budget Coalition.
"By refusing to review the program's funding source, we are not addressing the growth of our fleet or the explosion in the size of our vehicles. It's all about the carrot, and we don't dare use the stick. It is high time we put half-measures aside and yet the government is refusing to look the issue in the face," she added.
Techno-optimism in agriculture
Équiterre is also concerned about the emphasis on technological solutions in agriculture, instead of funding the transfer of existing knowledge. Natural technologies are more sustainable than new technologies.