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We rigorously research and conduct high quality analysis on issues of sustainable development. Our thinking is original and thought provoking.


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February 21, 2012 – A Low-Carbon Growth Plan for Canada: Managing Canada’s Trade Opportunities & Risks

On February 21th, 2012, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRT) convened a select group of experts to discuss the role of trade in ensuring Canadian prosperity as the global economy becomes more carbon-constrained.

Canada is a trading country. As the global economy becomes increasingly carbon-constrained, trade opportunities and risks emerge. Opportunities present themselves largely in the form of low-carbon goods and services which can serve growing domestic and international markets; risks present themselves in the form of direct and indirect trade and market access barriers and threats to the competitiveness of carbon-intensive domestic industries. Canada has an opportunity to position itself to both harness growing opportunities and manage risks to ensure its ongoing prosperity.

Due to past greenhouse gas emissions some degree of climate change is now inevitable even with drastic cuts in global emissions today. The challenge facing nations is to identify and develop low-carbon growth plans that will ensure prosperous economic growth, while attaining carbon emission reductions for the medium and longer terms. Some countries and organizations have already taken steps towards developing such plans. Canada however has not done so – but must.

We are in a position to learn from others’ experiences, but need to develop a plan that is right for Canada. We can start by identifying our strengths, opportunities and risks; and then identify the key barriers that prevent us from capitalizing on the opportunities or mitigating the risks. We can then map out a policy framework that will help set Canada onto a low-carbon growth pathway.
The objective of the meeting was to explore both the opportunities presented to Canada in the global transition to a low-carbon economy, as well as risks to which Canada may find itself exposed, in order to understand how Canada ought to position itself for prosperity through this transition.

This meeting addressed:

  • The role of trade, trade policy and related policy in harnessing economic and trade opportunities and managing associated risks in the context of the global low-carbon transition;
  • The opportunities presented by trade in the context of the low-carbon transition;
  • The risks to existing and future trade in the context of increasing global carbon constraints; and
  • The necessary components of a low-carbon policy framework, within the context of trade, including the policy directions that governments must set.



Céline Bak
Analytica Advisors

Jill Baker
Senior Policy Advisor
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

Jean Boutet
Senior Policy Analyst, Bilateral Affairs
Environment Canada

Aaron Cosby
Associate and Senior Advisor
International Institute for Sustainable Development

John Cuddihy
Senior Policy Advisor
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

René Drolet
Director, Policy and Research
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

Heather Ebbs
Ubquitext Communications

Denise Edwards
Administrative Assistant
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

Thomas Gillmore
Senior Trade Policy Officer, Trade and Environment and North America Trade Policy (TNE)
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Michael Hart
Simon Reisman Chair in Trade Policy
Carleton University

Sumeet Tandon
Research Associate
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

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