Election 2021: How the four main federal parties plan to fight climate crisis

·3 min read

This article has been updated to include the most recent information available.

Climate change will almost certainly be top of mind in the upcoming election after a summer of intense heat waves has left apartment dwellers roasting with no relief and wildfires are sweeping through Ontario and B.C.’s rural communities.

A recent landmark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) foresees a grim future with more of the same — and worse — if we don’t act now. An urgent call to action from the International Energy Agency (IEA) mapped out a path to net-zero emissions by 2050, but Canada has yet to meet an emissions reduction goal and the Paris Agreement climate targets may soon move out of reach without immediate and massive greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, according to the IPCC report.

Here is where the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Green Party and Bloc Québécois stand on climate action.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s new GHG reduction target will be 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Whether we will meet this remains unknown, and given the country’s track record, some have doubts. Canada’s emissions jumped 3.3 per cent from 2016 to 2019, according to a report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Corporate Mapping Project, the Parkland Institute, Stand.earth, West Coast Environmental Law and 350.org. Trudeau’s new target fails to keep pace with the Biden administration’s commitment to a 50 to 52 per cent reduction by 2030. On Sept. 1, the Liberals released their costed election platform, which promises roughly $7.4 billion for climate initiatives over the next five years.

Earlier this year, a Supreme Court ruling put an end to legal challenges from the governments of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario that the federal government’s carbon pricing law encroached on provincial autonomy and was unconstitutional. After the release of Erin O’Toole’s climate plan in mid-April, all four major federal parties now support some variation of carbon pricing.

After the Supreme Court ruled the implementation of the Liberals’ carbon tax was constitutional, MP Laurel Collins, the NDP critic for environment and climate change, issued a statement saying, “The Liberals have staked their entire climate plan on the carbon tax,” which “isn’t nearly enough.” The statement decries the Liberals’ ongoing support of big polluters and calls for immediate investment in transit, energy-efficient homes and buildings, and clean energy. The NDP’s costed platform is expected to be released Sept. 11.

When Trudeau announced Canada’s new target of 40 to 45 per cent emissions reductions, federal Green Party Leader Annamie Paul told Canada’s National Observer those “unambitious targets” will be impossible to meet if the federal government continues to subsidize the fossil fuel industry and greenlight projects like the three offshore drilling projects recently approved off the coast of St. John’s, N.L. The Green Party released its election platform on Sept. 7; it has not been costed.

On Aug. 22, the Bloc Québécois released its 2021 platform complete with a pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies, pointing out that under the Liberals, fossil fuel subsidies increased beyond the Stephen Harper era. The platform says money from subsidies would be redirected to clean energies and research centres in Quebec while maintaining funding for Western Canada to transition away from fossil fuels.

Natasha Bulowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Canada's National Observer

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