New Federal Budget Will Not Stop Climate and Extinction Emergency

Kjipuktuk (Halifax, NS) — Canada will need to dig deep to stop the climate emergency and protect nature, and the measures announced in Budget 2021 will only get us partway there.

“We are pleased that the government reaffirmed its commitment to protecting 25 percent of land and water by 2025, but we needed this government to show real leadership on the climate crisis, and catch up to the rest of the world in emissions reductions,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director for Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “We’re too far along in this crisis for anything short of an expedited path to zero emissions.”

Canada’s GHG emissions continue to rise every year, despite Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s assurances that we’re “on track” to reach our 2030 targets. 

“The government had a real opportunity to level with Canadians about the seriousness of the global environmental crisis, just as it has with the coronavirus, and to tackle it head-on in this budget,” says Tynette Deveaux, Communications Coordinator for the Atlantic Chapter of Sierra Club Canada. “Unfortunately, its climate lens still focuses on economic growth rather than a sustainable, caring economy.”

“The budget drops the ball on deep energy retrofits,” says Greg Goubko, Clean Energy Campaigner. “A reduction in energy use, through efficiency measures is the most effective way to combat GHG emissions, and the budget announced for retrofits should be doubled—at a minimum. But perhaps more alarming than the small budget is the lack of dedicated grants for folks living in energy poverty. No-interest loans are fine for people who can afford to incur more debt, but not for those making tradeoffs between heating their home and feeding their families.”  

It’s critical that the government reconsider both the dollar amount spent on retrofits and ensure the retrofits are deep, turnkey, and easily accessible. 

Significant investments in “clean tech” indicate a desire to reduce emissions, but it’s unclear how much funding will be earmarked for wind, solar, and battery storage, which is what’s needed for a real energy transition. Fortunately, the budget does not include nuclear investments. However, it does commit to funding biomass, blue hydrogen, and carbon capture, which favor big industry rather than community ownership with a focus on inclusivity. These so-called energy solutions are problematic for a host of reasons.

“As the details unfold on the over $4 billion investment in protecting nature, we will be looking for commitments for protecting wildlife across connected landscapes,” says Fitzgerald. “The first step in doing so is to make sure we are collecting data about wildlife movements and ensuring that roads and other infrastructure make way for wildlife.”  

“Stopping entanglement in fishing gear is a key step to protecting the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale and stopping plastic pollution, and we are happy to see an increase in investment in the area of ghost gear,” says Fitzgerald. “This funding needs to be backed up with timelines to move the industry to adopt gear that will not entangle whales and incentivize gear retention and recycling of gear brought back to the wharf.”

The government has taken some important steps in this budget to address the climate and ecological emergency. But its $17.6 billion dollar investment (less than one-fifth of the total 2021 budget), spread out over a number of years, will not get us to where we need to be by 2025, 2030, and beyond. 

Sierra Club Canada Foundation is a member of the Green Budget Coalition. Please read the recommendations for Budget 2021 here

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For more information please contact:

Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director,, 902-444-7096

Tynette Deveaux, Communications Coordinator, Beyond Coal Atlantic,, 902-719-9083

Greg Goubko, Clean Energy Campaigner, Beyond Coal Atlantic,, 647-381-4425

Local Chapter: