OTTAWA, October 21, 2021— Canada’s economy faces a “sink-or-swim” decade, according to the first study to assess Canada’s economic prospects in the face of accelerating global market shifts responding to climate change.
Sink or Swim: Transforming Canada’s economy for a global low-carbon future is a major new report from the Canadian Climate Institute, Canada’s independent climate policy research institute. The report assesses Canada’s economic prospects in response to the global low-carbon transition and offers recommendations for successfully navigating that transition.
Countries responsible for over 70 per cent of global GDP and over 70 per cent of global oil demand have committed to reaching net zero emissions by mid-century. Trillions of dollars in global investment will move away from high-carbon sectors. The impact of these global shifts will be profound, shifting trade patterns, reshaping demand, and upending businesses that are too slow to adapt.
To better understand the risks and opportunities of this transition for Canada, Sink or Swim stress tests publicly traded companies under different scenarios. Without major investment, the report finds, many exporters and multinationals will see significant profit loss in the coming decades. The stakes are high for Canada, with almost 70 per cent of goods exports and over 800,000 jobs in transition-vulnerable sectors, including oil and gas, mining, heavy industry, and auto manufacturing.
To succeed in this global transition, the report concludes, Canada must use climate policy, company disclosure, and targeted public investment to mobilize private finance and improve the resilience of Canada’s workforce and impacted communities.
“Our analysis shows that global policy and market changes will have a profound impact on Canada’s economy and workforce. To stay competitive, Canada needs to rapidly scale up new, transition-consistent sources of growth—and successfully transform existing ones. Moving too slowly is now a greater competitive risk than moving too quickly.”
—Rachel Samson, Clean Growth Research Director, Climate Institute
“The global transition means Canada must transform its economy in the face of new market realities. With smart, certain policy and innovation across the private sector, there is a path to strong economic growth, gains in well-being, and lower emissions.”
—Don Drummond, Stauffer-Dunning Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University and fellow-in-residence at the C.D. Howe Institute
“Major Canadian investors understand the pressures our economy will be facing as a result of accelerating global market shifts, and we’re issuing a strong call for increased climate accountability and transparency in the corporate sector.”
—Dustyn Lanz, CEO, Responsible Investment Association
“The Aluminum Association of Canada supports a holistic view of Canada’s trajectory towards net zero emissions. A multifaceted approach with room for everyone will support a transition to a prosperous and sustainable economy.”
—Jean Simard, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Aluminium Association of Canada
“Canadian businesses and investors need clarity on which economic activities are consistent with the transition to a low-carbon future. Without that clarity, there is a risk that finance will flow in the wrong directions and miss areas of great opportunity. The analysis in this report will support the development of practical taxonomies that can be used for transition-consistent investment decisions and financial products.”
—Barbara Zvan, CEO & President, University Pension Plan and member of Canada’s former Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance. UPP is a participating organization of the Sustainable Finance Action Council
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