Economic and Environmental Prosperity? Yes. We Can Have Both.
The existing national discussion surrounding Canada’s economy and environment assumes a fork in the road ahead. One path leads to good jobs and profitable businesses; the other to a clean environment and sustainable natural resources. No one really wants to choose between those futures, for themselves or their children. Like a growing number of economists, I don’t believe we have to. More to the point, I don’t believe we can.
Our economy and environment are inextricably linked. It’s not a question of which one we need more. But rather, what it will take to secure both. There are policy options available that can achieve this. But how do we get those options on the table? This is the challenge that brought me here: to this group of people, to our shared mission, and to the messages you’ll read in the pages that follow.
We should not forget that markets are remarkable institutions and that well-designed public policy can make them work even better. Good economic and environmental policies harness the power of markets to drive solutions that are both impactful and cost-effective.
We have yet to really apply this principle in Canada. But a growing body of evidence suggests this approach deserves our serious consideration.
Experience shows that fiscal tools can be used to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and waste, while at the same time stimulating innovation and economic growth. We’re calling these “ecofiscal policies”—a new term to facilitate a new conversation about market- based solutions rooted in both economic and ecological objectives.
The individuals who have gathered to form this Commission are some of the most policy-savvy economic experts in Canada. With hundreds of years of combined experience, they have helped design, implement, and analyze policies for governments across the country. They represent no particular party or ideology. Their commitment is to examine the available evidence and to follow it to its rational conclusion.
The Commission’s Advisory Board includes some of the most respected leaders from across the Canadian political spectrum. Diverse in their experience and perspectives, these individuals have disagreed on many things. But they agree on this: a new set of choices is critical to Canada’s future. That’s the opportunity ecofiscal policies provide, and that’s what has brought all of us together.
We’re sitting down at the table to examine the evidence and to have the pragmatic discussion warranted by concerns for our national prosperity. I’m inviting you to pull up a chair and give us your views.
Let’s talk about the Canadian jobs, technologies, and industries we need for an innovative and prosperous economy in the 21st century. Let’s talk about how we can best create that economy and still pass Canada’s natural wealth—rather than an ecological debt— on to our children and grandchildren.
This is the great policy opportunity of our generation. Let’s seize it together.