Time for an unpopular opinion
The outrage machine was in full effect this week regarding an agreement between the Canadian government and Loblaws. It appears that mainstream media in Canada refuses to let facts get in the way of a good headline meant to generate clicks and anger.
Let’s forget about optics and look into the substance of what was announced between the government of Canada and Loblaws Inc.
The government is investing up to $12 million, to help Loblaws convert the refrigeration systems in approximately 370 stores across Canada over the next three years. This project will help reduce Loblaws annual emissions by approximately 23 percent and will include $36 million in investments made by Loblaws. For every $3 invested by Loblaws, the Federal government is investing $1. This takes the equivalent of 50,000 cars off the road when looking at the impact on greenhouse gas emission reductions from this one investment alone. How is this a bad thing exactly? Every $1 spent on energy efficiency generates approximately $7 of GDP. There are very real economic as well as environmental benefits when government and industry partner together.
None of this occurs in a vacuum, however.
The Low Carbon Economy Challenge is a $450 million fund that is part of a broader $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Fund that helps support the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. This fund is meant to spur research, development, and lowered greenhouse gas emissions by leveraging investment with Canadian business and Canadian ingenuity.
Any Canadian business, big or small, is eligible for this funding if it qualifies. I am not here to debate the morality of Loblaws as a corporate citizen, I am merely making the case that to meet our Paris climate agreement targets that a partnership between Canadian business and the federal government will be necessary. With a collaborative process, immediate change and results are possible. If we attempt to legislate or regulate corporate or business participation in energy efficient upgrades without subsidies, investments, or rebates – the effect on our economy would be devastating. We could also be looking at legal delays, as business and lobbyists would fight these changes with every tool at their disposal.
We do not have time for that.
Are we that naive to believe that Canadian corporations are going to willingly invest in energy efficient infrastructure at their own cost because it is the right thing to do? Investments by Canadian governments will fund research and development, research and development lead to new green technologies. By setting the rules on these investments we are able to ensure the desired reductions on greenhouse gas emissions. Investment by Canadian governments combined with investments by the business sector ensures that this money stays in Canada, creates Canadian jobs, and develops a new green economy for Canada.
We cannot pick and choose which partners from the business world we will work with. We need a total buy-in.
To prevent permanent and catastrophic climate change, we must act now. The clock is ticking.
They say that the optics of this deal between Loblaws Inc. and the Canadian government are horrible. I do not care about the optics, I care about what the results will be. I care that we have a government with an actual plan in place, and is implementing that plan.
It will take more than a carbon tax to combat climate change. We have to reduce the environmental impact and carbon footprint on how we produce, transport, store, and purchase the goods we consume. This Investment with Loblaws Inc. starts that process. Optics be damned.
Climate change doesn’t care about the optics.