Top 3 Myths About Greening Canada’s Economy

This is a guest post by Sustainable Prosperity, a national green economy think tank.

This is a big week for Canadian energy and climate policy, with Monday’s Canadian Round Table on the Green Economy and Tuesday’s premiers’ climate summit. With all the talk of a “green economy,” we’re releasing a new video explaining what that ubiquitous term really means.  

What better time than now to bust a few myths about the “what” and the “how” of a greener Canadian economy?

Myth #1: A greener Canadian economy only exists in fairy tales.  

Many people view a green economy as something a long way out that will be difficult to achieve. But the good news is that the green economy is already here in many respects. It’s in the new ways to create energy, water, food and many of the other basic necessities. It’s also reflected in programs like British Columbia’s carbon tax and Quebec’s cap-and-trade system for emissions reductions. We already know how to green our economy. We just need to do more of it.

Myth #2: Greening the economy is incompatible with prosperity

Sustainable Prosperity’s vision of a greener economy is compatible with a strong economic future for Canada, including increased productivity, employment and innovation. Leading economic voices are pointing to the tremendous economic opportunities that await those economies that figure out how to “green while we grow.”

The global consultancy McKinsey, for example, believes that by 2020 there will be a global market in excess of US$ 2 trillion for technologies and services that deliver sustainability solutions. The recent United Nations report on the “new climate economy” identified trade in US$2.2 trillion low-carbon and energy-efficient opportunities alone.  Some countries are already taking advantage of such opportunities. Germany, for example, has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 22 per cent during the past 20 years while doubling its economic output.

Myth #3: Greening the economy is just about windmills and organic food.

The view that a green economy is made up of things that are unambiguously “green” – like windmills or organic food – is pretty widespread. But if we are going to green our economy – that is make it truly sustainable in the long-term – we will need to focus on the whole of the economy. In a greener Canadian economy, every sector is improving its environmental performance.

We are not going to stop trading our resources, nor is the world going to stop needing them. But there is a great deal we can do to make our economy as a whole – resource sectors included – greener. The benefits of that will not only come in the form of greater efficiency and a smaller environmental footprint, but also in the development of sustainability solutions that will find their own markets.

Ultimately, every part our economy and society stands to benefit from a focus on “greening while we grow.”

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