Federal Budget 2024: Generational fairness means protecting the environment

Traditional territory of the Wabanaki Peoples/Fredericton  Beverly (Bev) Gingras, Executive Director of the Conservation Council, today issued the following statement:

“True fairness for every generation means we need a healthy environment.

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick is pleased to see the federal government taking measures to address the affordability crisis in the 2024 budget but is disappointed to see a dramatic drop in new climate-related spending. Additionally, critical issues like biodiversity, forest management, and freshwater protection were not given enough attention.

We are also dismayed to see that the federal government backed down on a windfall tax for the oil and gas sector. Instead, they are continuing to support the fossil fuel industry with tax credits that benefit billionaires while Canadians struggle to put food on their table and a roof over their heads. 

Climate change is at the front line, fuelling our current affordability crisis. Addressing climate change is addressing our affordability problem. Investing in energy-saving retrofits is a clear example of how we can make life more affordable for Canadians as we switch to clean, efficient energy. 

The 2023 federal budget saw $63 billion in new climate-related spending. However, the 2024 budget has only $14 billion in new climate-related spending spread out over 11 years. This falls significantly short of the $100 billion gap that the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says we need to make up to reach a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. 

The budget addressed affordable housing but neglected forest management, freshwater conservation, and biodiversity. The Green Budget Coalition recommended spending $16 billion over seven years and $1.8 billion annually thereafter on nature protection. However, this budget falls significantly short. This year, $4.6 billion was allocated to protect nature and species at risk but without any clear details. There was also good news with $6.3 billion for drinking water advisories in First Nations communities, $1.4 billion for water and wastewater, and $800 million for Indigenous-led conservation. However, future budgets should prioritize energy efficiency and Indigenous-led conservation.

Canada has surpassed China in its potential to build a secure supply chain for lithium-ion batteries. We are pleased that a new investment tax credit has been introduced to promote further production of electric vehicles (EVs) in Canada. The budget also committed $3.8 billion to develop Canada’s position as a global supplier of critical minerals that fuel clean technologies like EVs. However, this mining should be approached with the goal of creating a circular economy to prevent increasing the number of contaminated sites in Canada, with over 1,000 contaminated sites in New Brunswick.

We also hope that the federal government will develop policies that reduce demand for new metals and minerals to limit the harm done to the environment and Indigenous and settler communities from resource extraction.

The 2024 budget also provides continued investments to help Canadians buy EVs and support building additional charging infrastructure. However, we need to continue to invest in rolling out electric school buses across the country to ensure the health and safety of our children and the environment.

The Conservation Council does not support further investment in nuclear energy. In light of this, we are worried about the federal government’s decision to reduce approval timelines for nuclear projects to three years. Despite the shortened timelines, we expect thorough impact assessments, given the substantial financial investments in nuclear technologies. 

A staggering $1.3 billion is being spent on the deployment of these technologies across Canada, and an additional $3.1 billion has been allocated for nuclear research over the next 11 years. These figures underscore the importance of careful consideration and assessment in the nuclear sector.

Nuclear projects are also eligible for the clean electricity tax credit, something we are also concerned about. In order to have the greatest impact, this tax credit should target proven and fast-developing technologies like wind and solar, rather than unproven technologies like small nuclear reactors (SMRs).

Investing in environmental initiatives and energy efficiency programs helps mitigate climate change, enhances affordability, improves public health and promotes social equity. Despite our recommendations to Ottawa, we feel this budget lacks the urgency needed to deal with the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. We urge the government to take action to mitigate these risks and help create a healthier, safer and more affordable Canada.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Corey Robichaud, Director of Communications, Conservation Council of New Brunswick | corey.robichaud@conservationcouncil.ca | 506.458.8747

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