A watchdog organization is criticizing a government fund dedicated to attracting investments in green technologies.

“The government seems to be saying this is concessional finance,” says Adam Scott, executive director of Shift Action for Pension Wealth and Planet Health. “The goal [of the Canada Growth Fund] is to put the first money into higher risk investments in the hope that this will generate interest from the private sector.”

The federal government announced the $15-billion fund in its 2022 budget. The 2023 budget announced the fund would be managed by the Public Sector Pension Investment Board and will seek to drive investment into carbon capture and hydrogen technology. “The continued focus on the two technologies is strange,” says Scott. “They are over-hyped. There’s a strong focus on trying to put in subsidies there that, if not done properly, could extend the transition.”

Read: What’s in the federal budget for DB pension plans, institutional investors?

According to a statement from Shift, “. . . Both are risky, unproven technologies that, at best, drive incremental emissions reductions while ignoring the need to rapidly transition away from oil and gas to meet Canada’s climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

Scott’s take is that the federal government is heavily lobbied by the oil and gas industry working to ensure business as usual continues. Canada would be better-served if the government spent an additional $15 billion on the electrification of railroads, he adds.

“This is a strategy to get the private sector more involved, which is good. We’d like to see more resources in the public sector as well. The climate crisis is an emergency and requires action at all levels.”

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