Green Party Leader Annamie Paul stressed the importance of Canada quickly reaching net-zero emissions at a press conference Friday, but critics say they want to see more details from the climate-focused party.
The plan Paul outlined Friday afternoon includes protecting the natural environment, increasing renewables and electrification, tackling industrial emissions, and investing in innovation, but she did not offer specific targets or measures on the plan to curb emissions quickly.
“We're focused this week on outlining the larger ideas, and we will be releasing more details about all of those elements, and more, later on,” Paul told Canada’s National Observer.
Paul added the party is “not doing a complete detour” from positions outlined in the past, like advocating for 60 per cent greenhouse gas emission reductions below 2005 levels by 2030, cancelling all new pipeline projects (including TMX), ending all oil exploration projects, and investing in building retrofits and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
“We've never waited for an election to propose innovative ideas,” she said.
Climate advocacy group 350.org’s Cam Fenton says the Greens are missing an opportunity to move the needle on climate change debates by not putting forward more “specific, bold policy ideas.”
“So far, it seems like they're maybe not owning this moment in a way they could that would both help their party, and I think broadly be more of an effective conversation-mover on climate,” he said.
Fenton said that with the Conservative Party’s platform including a price on carbon, climate advocates should be using the moment to strike while the iron’s hot.
“We're no longer stuck in this climate debate about do we need a carbon tax or not … now we've got an opportunity to have a conversation about what are the 51 other things to close the gap on where we are on climate and where we need to be,” he said.
“Part of the Greens’ reason for existing as a party is to force that conversation to happen, and I didn't get that impression from the press conference today that they're taking that kind of responsibility as seriously as I would hope.”
Fenton also said the Green Party has a unique opportunity to push the climate file forward because the NDP has “internal conflicts it’s constantly battling.”
The two major challenges, Fenton says, are that some of the party’s base comes from private sector unions who can be opposed to “keep it in the ground” climate messages, and the fossil fuel-friendly policies of two of the leading provincial NDP figures, B.C. Premier John Horgan and Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley.
“Jagmeet Singh is always playing a bit of a dance with not being completely offside with leading provincial figures in the party,” Fenton said. “The Greens don't have that, so they have the opportunity to be out front and unapologetically push the window.
“But it does appear, and Annamie Paul has said this, (she) is trying to make the Green Party about more than just the environment and climate.”
Paul defends the decision, saying that in a pandemic, it wouldn’t be possible to only talk about climate change. Moreover, it’s important for Canadians to know the Green Party is responsive to other issues, she says.
“(Canadians) need to know we're a party that also has a plan on how to end the 17 deaths on average that are caused every day by drug poisoning; they need to know we have a plan for what happens after emergency benefits wrap up in terms of making sure that people don't fall through the cracks; they need to know we have a plan for affordable housing in this country,” said Paul.
John Woodside, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Canada's National Observer