As you prepare for the March 3 meeting of First Ministers to discuss Canada’s climate change policy framework, we are writing to suggest your government’s consideration of a “Carbon First” principle for infrastructure spending and procurement policy decisions. This information is also being provided to your respective environment Ministers.

We are a group of organizations committed to supporting the transition to a low carbon economy, and helping Canada achieve the ambitious goals it agreed to at the recent COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Briefly, the concept of Carbon First is intended to encourage economic actors to consider the carbon footprint of their decisions with the intent to select the least carbon intensive option. Actions might result in fuel switching or modal shifts, manufacturing improvements, design optimization and material substitutions. It can also be applied as a principle to instruments of public policy such as infrastructure spending and procurement. Your government has the capacity to influence both areas through billions of dollars in associated spending and commitments every year.

There are many ways in which your government could help Canada transition to a low carbon economy. Improving the infrastructure for public transit but also commodity supply chain logistics can lower transportation related GHG emissions. Consideration should also be given to improving the carbon footprint of supply chains for infrastructure as well as procured goods and services.

Carbon First as a principle is supported by science-based carbon accounting tools like life cycle assessment (LCA) and by other existing resources like carbon accounting frameworks and green building programs.

We understand that the implementation of a Carbon First principle is not a simple one for any government. However, your consideration of Carbon First at your upcoming meeting would be a meaningful first step towards Canada’s long term path toward a low carbon economy.

We hope this information is useful to you. For more information you may contact any of the signatories below. In the meantime, best wishes for a successful meeting.