Ecojustice Blog – Climate change Posted on September 12, 2019 (updated: September 30, 2019)

Election 2019: Comparing the federal parties’ climate change commitments

Julia CroomeLawyer
Polling station

Take action: As Canadians head into the election, concern about climate change is at a fever pitch. Challenge your local candidates to commit to bold action to combat the crisis by sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Click here to help make climate change an issue candidates can’t ignore.

This fall, Canadians will cast their ballots in the country’s 43rd general election.

For many, climate change will be a defining issue (perhaps for the first time in Canadian history) when they vote for their next federal government.

According to polling released in July, climate change is one of the top three issues Canadians say will likely impact how they vote.

It’s not surprising that Canadians are concerned about climate change. We are in a climate emergency and many people living in Canada recognize that the clock is ticking on our ability to address the crisis.

This election, the stakes are high. The incoming government will have a direct hand in putting Canada on track to do its part to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels (the target towards which countries agreed to strive under the Paris Agreement). Or it will leave us on a collision course with climate catastrophe.

How do the different parties intend to tackle the climate emergency? To find out, Ecojustice is keeping track of the major parties’ climate commitments as they happen*, and evaluating them according to three criteria:

1. A strong target – Does the platform include a clearly defined target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Does this target align with what the science says needs to happen to ward off the worst impacts of climate change? And will this target be legally binding?

2. A realistic plan – Is there a clear plan to actually hit the emissions targets? And do the numbers in that plan add up?

3. Tools to hold the government accountable – Does the platform include tools that will help Canadians hold government to account for its climate promises? Are there mechanisms to make sure future governments stay on track?

To set these benchmarks, Ecojustice looked to leading climate laws from around the world, including places such as the U.K., Denmark and New Zealand.

Any Canadian party serious about combatting the climate emergency must be willing to put forward a plan that meets all three criteria.

Anything short of this will jeopardize the health, safety and security, and well-being of all Canadians — and burden young people and future generations with the consequences of doing too little, too late.

A closer look:

Bloc Québécois

Party expected to announce climate commitments at a later time. Ecojustice will update this blog as that happens. Please check back in the future to read more.

Conservative Party of Canada

In a line… The Conservative platform fails to commit to a strong emissions target and lays out a plan that would put Canada even further behind in reaching its 2030 Paris target.

The Conservatives’ A Real Plan to Protect Our Environment doesn’t adopt or endorse the existing Canadian Paris target of an emissions reduction by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Nor does it calculate the level of reductions Canadians would see under the plan.

Third-party projections are not promising.

Based on modelling by Clean Prosperity, A Real Plan would increase the current gap between Canada’s projected emissions and its 2030 Paris target by 30 megatonnes. This would mean a total gap of 109 megatonnes. That’s equal to the emissions of driving more than 23 million passenger vehicles for a year.

Green Party of Canada

In a line… The Green Party platform commits to a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, in line with the Paris Agreement — though it does not explicitly call for climate accountability laws.

Under Mission: Possible – The Green Climate Action Plan, the Green Party promises to set a target of reducing emissions by 60 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. That’s double the current Liberal target and in line with what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is necessary to keep warming to 1.5 C.

The 20-point plan also includes promises to maintain a price on carbon, ban fracking, ensure all new cars are electric by 2030, and create millions of new jobs.

While the Greens do not commit to climate accountability laws, they do promise to start a cross-party cabinet to combat climate change, modelled on war cabinets from WWII.

Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberals are expected to make further climate commitments throughout the campaign period. We will update this blog as that happens. Please check back in the future to read more.

New Democratic Party

In a line… The NDP’s platform may be vague when it comes to emissions reductions targets, but it offers the strongest vision for laws that will hold the government to account for its climate promises.

In their climate platform, Power to Change: A new deal for climate action and good jobs, the New Democrats vow to reduce emissions in order to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. The plan doesn’t give a specific percentage target for Canada, but it does commit to a 450-megatonne reduction by 2030. That works out to a 37 per cent reduction of emissions below 2005 levels.

In terms of a practical roadmap to reach these targets, the NDP promises to earmark $15 billion to create 300,000 jobs in industries to drive the low-carbon transition, in addition to supporting a price on carbon.

Most notably, Power to Change includes strong measures to hold the government accountable for taking action on climate. It promises to make emissions reductions targets legally-binding, to set interim targets to keep governments on track to meet their 2030 and 2050 goals, and to establish a Climate Accountability Office to report on regular progress.

People’s Party of Canada

In a line… The policies outlined in the People’s Party of Canada’s proposed climate plan do not meet any of the criteria for a strong climate plan and would put Canada on a dangerous path to climate catastrophe.

The People’s Party of Canada would not commit to strong emissions reduction targets, does not propose a realistic plan for reaching targets, and has no intention of creating climate accountability laws.

Instead, the party’s Global Warming and Environment: Rejecting Alarmism and Focusing on Concrete Improvements plan promises to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, get rid of the price on carbon, and end government funding for green technology and helping developing countries reduce their emissions.

We’ll continue to update it on a rolling basis as parties unveil, clarify, or revise their climate commitments. Please check back soon or follow Ecojustice on Facebook or Twitter for the latest on how we’re building the case for a better earth.

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