Canada’s Changing Climate Report states that Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe. The Liberal, Green, NDP, and Conservative parties have all pledged to meet Canada’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below our 2005 emissions levels by the year 2030. However, based on their climate plans, almost every party falls short of meeting the 2030 emissions target with the exception of the Green party, who are almost
certainly going to lose the election. Meeting this climate target is critical if Canada wants to avoid the catastrophic risks associated with global warming, as outlined in the United Nations’ IPCC Report.
What is each party’s climate plan?
The Liberal and Conservative parties have been leading in this election and are most likely to form government, but whether they gain a minority or majority is still up to debate. However, neither party has a solid climate action plan that will meet Canada’s emission targets. The Liberal party plans to implement policies like the carbon tax in order to reduce emissions, with a minimum carbon price of $20 per tonne this year, increasing $10 a year to $50 by 2022. They would also impose a carbon tax on businesses and individuals in provinces who have no federally approved carbon price plan. The Liberals intend to phase out coal power by 2030, and have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. They want to end “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies and plant two billion trees over 10 years. However, this plan will not be enough to reach our emissions target for the year 2030.
The Conservatives have committed to meeting the Paris agreement targets, but will fall even shorter in meeting the 2030 emissions target than the Liberals. The Conservative Party would cancel the carbon tax. Instead they proposed requiring heavy emitters to invest in clean technology or research, funded partly by polluters who fail to meet new standards. The Conservatives would like to sign agreements that earn Canada carbon credits for achieving emissions reductions internationally, and launch a green-tech patent tax credit for businesses. While they are against a federal carbon tax, the Conservative party would let provinces decide if they want to put a price on carbon. Their plan would miss Canada’s 2030 emissions target by a proportionate amount.
The NDP party have a plan that would reach farther than Liberals and Conservatives, but still fall significantly short of meeting our emissions targets. The NDP says they would retrofit buildings and would create a “climate bank” to invest in renewable energy and clean technology. They want to continue with a carbon tax and the rebate program, but intend to crack down more on heavy emitters. They would also like those who produce the most emissions to “have the most burden,” as leader Jagmeet Singh has stated, and promise to make slight changes to the requirements for industrial emitters. Like the Liberal and Conservative party, however, the NDP would not reach our national emissions target.
The Green party, unlike the rest, has proposed a more radical climate action plan, which would not only meet Canada’s 2030 climate target, but would exceed it. The Green party aims to reduce emissions to 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which is double Canada’s current Paris agreement targets. They would further like to hit net-zero emissions by 2050. The Green Party would implement a ban on fracking and put an end to imports of foreign oil. They would also oppose fossil fuel projects and would end fossil fuel subsidies within a year. The Green party’s plan is the only one out of the above parties who would actually exceed Canada’s climate targets, allowing Canada to combat its ever accelerating temperatures and be a real player in the fight against global emissions.
The issue with all of this?
The main cause for concern here is that the only party with a sufficient climate action plan is not going to win this election. According to their own policies, the rest of the parties will not sufficiently reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This means that whoever is elected, even if they fulfill their climate action plans, will not be doing enough to make a sufficient impact. Canada will continue to heat up and contribute to rising global temperatures.
So, is this a lose-lose situation for the climate crisis?
In short, not entirely. If you are keeping climate action in mind, the best case scenario would be an NDP win. Besides the Green Party, the NDP come closest to the emissions target. Although they don’t make it all the way to our national goal, they would still make more progress in cutting emissions compared to the other major parties. Considering the polls, which have consistently shown Liberals and Conservatives going head to head, an NDP victory is less likely but still possible, so long as enough people go out to vote. The NDP seem to be particularly favored among youth, and considering that eligible voters between the ages of 18-38, that is, young people, make up the largest voting demographic in Canada, we could single handedly elect a New Democratic federal government if we wanted to. However, when you factor in the likelihood of a full turnout of youth voters, and when you consider that people can be Liberal and Conservative partisan voters anyway, the chances for an NDP victory are still slim.
The next best scenario, if the NDP should lose, would be a Liberal
win, since they are next in line to come closest to the emissions target.
Again, while Liberals do have a plan to reduce national emissions rates, it is
one that falls short of Canada’s 2030 emissions target. However, in regards to
climate action, this is still a step forward compared to a Conservative win.
Conservatives would fall the farthest in trying to reach our national emissions
target, and if we