Climate Emergency Declaration and Pipeline Approval Reflect Progress’ Necessary Shades of Grey


In the wake of parliament’s simultaneous declaration of a climate emergency, and approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) it is imperative that Canadians, and all humans, stay united in our shared ideals of promoting safe, prosperous, and joyful lives.

As a serial entrepreneur, I have learned time and time again that the right answer is often not black or white, but some shade of grey.

The Trudeau government’s approach to fighting climate change reflects this learning. As a Cleantech investor, a hard 100% clean energy policy would obviously reflect my own interests and ideals. Nevertheless, my pragmatic side knows that in order to plan for the future, one must consider the present.

Just this past Monday, I saw Justin Trudeau at a Liberal party fundraiser in Montreal where he said, “tomorrow we will still need to fill up our cars at the gas pumps, and yes more and more people are driving electric cars, but we are not there yet for our whole economy. We’re going to continue to need to rely on fossil fuels for at least a little while longer. Now, if we make the right kinds of investments in the green economy and research in renewables, we’re going to be able to make the transition quicker and better.”  I wholeheartedly agree.

I see both government policy and venture capital as tools capable of turning great ideas to reality.

The public and private sectors must work together to bring about swift action for our changing climate, with the careful consideration of the present situation. Those in government who look forward to a future where energy does not cause environmental catastrophe need to ensure that not just policy, but public dollars, are put to work. The Canadian government has historically been an innovator for environmental protection initiatives.

The declaration of a climate emergency is progressive. Deploying public funding, alongside private, into cleantech venture capital, or subsidizing renewables projects, are executive, tangible actions that will bring about real change. And yesterday’s most recent TMX announcement is, surprisingly, another example. The federal government, which owns the pipeline, has committed to invest the profits from the operation and potential sale of TMX into clean energy transition initiatives.

Clean technologies have positive externalities for society that are not considered in traditional return on investment calculations. Governments should use federal funds or super-deductions to mitigate the systematic underinvestment in cleantech. Programs could include the development of a Green Bank, increasing competition in the power sector, incentivizing utilities to reduce carbon emissions, moreover the national carbon tax should be bolstered, and federal tax credits must be available for fledgling technologies that are trying to cross the commercialization chasm.

As a cleantech expert for the better part of a decade, I am confident that solutions that both address today’s realities and our future targets are most effective, and I will continue work alongside others to execute our shared visions for prosperity on behalf of current and future generations.