Budget Watch, Climate Finance and Divestment

If you want to know what is going on or what are the real priorities, follow the money! Except in election years, the budget cycle is an annual event. Also in our advocacy portfolio is to encourage the City of Ottawa to divest our Endowment Fund from fossil fuels - Lenore Fahrig is our point person on that. Budget watchers are Angela Keller-Herzog, Barbara Ramsay and Dinah Robinson; you can reach them at info@cafesottawa.ca.

The City of Ottawa budget and budget process is not entirely transparent to the public. Even rookie councillors have difficulty understanding what is really going on between the deep pocket reserves, operational budget, the capital budget, and long range financial plans. 

A leading concern is that the City’s climate action has until now been funded out of surplus dividend funds from Hydro Ottawa. Aside from some resources for staffing and consultants the City of Ottawa has contributed no on-budget funds to the climate fight. With COVID-19 hitting Ottawa Hydro like so many businesses, it is unlikely that there will be surplus dividend funds in operating year 2020. We will find out in spring 2021. 

In the meantime much more light is being shone on the private sector in terms of financial disclosures of climate risks, as well as environmental social and governance (ESG) criteria. A March 2021 report shows that RBC is the premier fossil fuel lender in Canada and a public campaign asks you to ask your banker some questions.

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