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Canadian Green Bank needed to fuel low carbon economy 

Message from Geoff Cape, Evergreen CEO

Globally nations are pouring trillions of dollars into infrastructure for cities and here at home we have seen all three levels of government poised to invest billions - with the private sector positioned to follow suit.

Markets have been provided clear policy signals across all Canadian jurisdictions that a low carbon economy is not only important for meeting climate and environmental goals, but it is also good for economic prosperity and job growth. Such investments will enable innovation and push for higher standards in how we build sustainable and economically vibrant cities for the future.

Evergreen, a national not-for-profit, has been convening leaders from Canadian financial sectors, non-profits dedicated to clean energy and multi-levels of government to discuss and recommend a major opportunity, one that would support more than ever the shift from fossil fuels to renewable and efficient energy across the country -- the creation of a green bank unit in Canada within the planned Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Earlier this year, Evergreen released a report outlining this potential. Green Bank Financing: Accelerate Clean Energy Deployment in Canada through the Canadian Infrastructure Bank was created in partnership with the Coalition for Green Capital and with support from The Ivey Foundation and The Trottier Family Foundation. 

In it we outline how a Green Bank in Canada can:

  • attract and stimulate private-public investments and growth into new revenue-generating green infrastructure projects
  • remove institutional gaps by providing financing rather than subsidies, helping public dollars flow back into the market to create new private capital
  • eliminate market barriers by offering up to 100 per cent upfront financing, eliminating that initial and primary barrier to market growth
  • lower energy costs (or keep similar price but lower GHG emissions) by only financing the construction of projects that create value for the user and generate revenues to repay the loans
  • create more local jobs by supporting construction and service at a specific location

Already countries and regions - such as the Australia Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the New York Green Bank, among many others - use public-private partnerships to reduce barriers to investment and rapidly grow clean energy markets. 

In Canada, the federal government has an opportunity with the new Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) to ensure that this area of expertise is clearly identified within its structure and its policy priorities are consistent with those that Canadians support. 

Given Canada’s immense geographic size and distributed investment needs, the opportunities are far-reaching. A national-level green bank unit within the CIB could support an entire network of localized entities across the country to serve local market needs.

The green tech sector is a natural fit for this type of investment and crucial to ensuring that Canada continues to build the best cities in the world, and ideally develop a strong capacity in Canada that will contribute further as exportable competitive advantage globally.

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