Photo credit: Lufa Farms. Source:

Climate: 66. Oil: 47.

While far from an exhaustive analysis, a quick word search reveals a bit about the priorities in Justin Trudeau’s latest budget, released March 22 to mixed reviews from environmentalists. 

The fiscal plan aims to put Canada on the path to a low carbon economy, while at the same time banking on pipelines and an oil and gas recovery to power economic growth. 

In his budget day speech, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the budget aims to strike a balance between the economy and the environment. But, like many initiatives from a government championing both pipelines and carbon pricing, pulling it off will be a high wire act.

“By investing in clean technology and responsible resource development, we will preserve our environment for future generations, create great jobs, and re-stake our claim as a leading supplier of energy to the world for the next 150 years,” Morneau said.

The budget includes around $1 billion over four years in financing to help support the clean tech sector, including the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and agriculture industries. Around $400 million will go to the SD Tech Fund, a pot of money created in 2001 to “support the development and pre-commercial demonstration of clean technologies.” The government estimates the fund has contributed to 6.3 megatonne reduction in carbon emissions each year.   

The budget also includes funds to help communities adapt to climate change. The spending includes $73.5 million over five years to help Environment and Climate Change Canada and Natural Resources Canada establish a Centre for Climate Services that will “make it easier for governments, communities, decision-makers, businesses and organizations to access data and information on climate science, and help support climate adaptation decision-making.” Another $18 million will support Inuit and First Nations communities combatting the health effects of climate change.

To cover the new spending, though, the government is banking on help from the energy sector. While Canada’s GDP growth remains moderate (1.4 per cent in 2016 compared to 0.9 per cent the year before), the budget points to stabilizing investment in the oil and gas sector as a sign that the worst of the slump is over. Employment in oil and gas has increased by 10,000 since July 2016, and the government expects new pipelines will allow producers better market access.

Alberta’s NDP government got at least one item on its wish list: around $30 million to help create jobs by cleaning up “orphan” wells abandoned by oil and gas companies. However, the budget also eliminates “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” that analysts say will lead to a slump in exploration and hurt small oil and gas companies.

By Jonny Wakefield, 6 April 2017


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This article was written for Clean Capital News a free bi-weekly publication dedicated to producing topical articles on sustainability and clean technology that advance our understanding of issues like climate change and help generate solutions for a more sustainable future.

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