Trudeau’s First Budget Makes Good On Some Climate Promises – But Not All

High Voltage Lines at Sunset

By Arman Kazemi

March 31, 2016

Last week’s federal budget put ink to paper on many - but not all - of the Liberal government’s election promises concerning the environment.

While Green Party Leader Elizabeth May criticized Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s inaugural budget last week, saying it “misses the mark on climate action,” the Liberals did put forward a host of commitments intended to make good on Trudeau’s campaign promise to take the lead on climate change.

Importantly, the budget allocates $5 billion to green infrastructure projects and $3.4 billion towards nationwide public transit initiatives.

Furthermore, over $130 million has been dedicated to Canada’s clean technology sector, with $50 million supporting “the development and demonstration of new technologies” through Sustainable Development Technology Canada. Natural Resources Canada will receive a further $82.5 million to help “accelerate the innovation required to bring clean energy technologies closer to commercialization.”

While the first ministers meeting between Trudeau and the premiers earlier this month failed to deliver a national carbon-pricing scheme, the budget attempts to lay the groundwork for an eventual framework by providing $3.4 billion for projects that “address climate change and air pollution.” This includes the establishment of a $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Fund targeting initiatives that “yield the greatest absolute greenhouse gas reductions for the lowest cost per tonne.”

“We were quite pleased with the way the budget treats clean energy more broadly,” Clare Demerse, a senior policy adviser for Clean Energy Canada, told The ECOReport.

“We have a lot of catching up to do because this was not a priority under the previous government. So it is a really important signal to say the budget is there, people can get down work in Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada, and other parts of the government and really focus on climate action and clean energy as a priority.”

However, the budget does seem to back down on one important election promise Trudeau made, to cut subsidies to energy producers by $250 million from around $1 billion. Instead, one liquefied natural gas subsidy has been allowed to run its course until it expires in 2025.