GreenPAC wants to change the game on the environment in Ottawa

Reprinted with permission from The Hill Times, March 30, 2015

GreenPAC’s goal is to make environmental concerns politically relevant by recruiting, nominating, electing, and supporting environmental champions.

Experts and activists often point to the devastating consequences of government failures to enact policies that protect our environment. And understandably, this is what public and media attention is drawn to when a mining disaster destroys a salmon fishery, when floods, storms and droughts are exacerbated by unpredictable changes in our climate, or when we lose an endangered animal or plant forever.

But when governments shirk their responsibility on the environment, there is an even greater consequence: the failure to reap the broader benefits of environmental solutions.

A recently launched organization, GreenPAC, will build the leadership we need in Canada to implement these solutions.

Consider a few opportunities that have emerged in recent months. Early this year, Deutsche Bank joined an emerging chorus of financial institutions that recognize solar energy as now more cost-competitive than conventional electricity sources, including fossil fuels. It is poised to leap from 1 percent of the world’s electricity market today to 10 percent by 2030, and 30 percent by 2050. Yet the International Monetary Fund notes that the Canadian government continues to subsidize fossil fuels at an astounding $34 billion a year.

Second, a study this month by Cambridge, Princeton, and the World Wildlife Fund found that every dollar invested by governments in parks and protected areas generates 60 dollars in tourism revenue. Yet Canadian governments continue to compromise and under-fund what makes these areas unique – their ecological integrity.

Finally, climate skeptics are fond of saying that Canada shouldn’t have to do much to combat climate change, because we only contribute about 2 percent of global emissions. But imagine if we were 2 percent of the solution. Imagine if we had 2 percent of the emerging $2.5 trillion market for clean technology. This would mean a $50 billion industry in Canada creating sustainable, well-paying jobs, that punches above its weight in research and development investment. We could be creating environmentally friendly consumer products and technologies that reduce pollution rather than contribute to it. That vision for Canada is well within reach, according an extensive new report by Ottawa-based Analytica Advisors, which states, “we can and should build a significant economic sector, relevant across the countr